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In Uncategorized on April 9, 2014 at 11:34 am

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A Source of Vexation
and a source of ventriloquism. And a source of violence. And a vanishing point.
I shall put the so-called mystery aside for a moment and instead remind the reader of the desolate state in which these words deliver themselves.
I should speak, for one thing, of French Crime.
It is as usual a Sunday morning that has left me with a moment in which to write at any length. My journal has been set aside, and I begin this covert work. In all the time that I have been concealing the larger French crime my public life (which is barely public in recent times) has become rather thoroughly occupied with the subject in general. I mean, of course, crime in the orthodox sense, especially that which leads to violent death.
The case of Raymond and Marcel is not quite that sort of crime. [1] Its deathly work took place more slowly, and in rather less immediately tangible ways. Marcel, as I have touched upon already and as I will describe in fitting detail in due course, came to retreat in illness to a death-bed as a result of his attempt to arrest time, or at very least to slow it down and arrest a course of events that would take place later in time.
Raymond, as he perhaps deserved, died in what have come to be known as rather tragic and ambiguous circumstances. Marcel D., on the other had, appeared to reach a certain sort of serenity. He effected a ‘delay’ on a grand scale, one might say. Chess had a lot to do with this, of course, both the coded intricacies native to the game and in the simple fact of the player’s submission to a nominal system, abstract and simulative of nothing.
This account, it should be stressed, is nothing of the sort.
It is as far from fiction as it possible to be. It is not exactly fact either, nor is it conjecture. It is the the illustration and demonstration of a game and of a pattern. It is, as it were, an annotated diagram or an explanation of moves.
The Year of the Two Moons
Nineteen seventy-two was, for me and for my more official journaled legacy, a year of lunar doubling. [2] Or rather, as in the case of Raymond and Marcel P., the sort of doubling that folds two things already very close into one another. Collapsing the north pole into the south, as it were – something I have wished to do on many occasions when observing the state of the places of people around me and have wished it to be crushed.
But the lunar doubling of which I speak took place through a sacrificial destruction of paper.
There were words and thoughts that had no place surviving, and so they had to be vanished. This applied to [my] journals as well as texts that were quite correctly, in retrospect, called The Alibi and The Idiot Questioner.
I was both the idiot questioner and the idiot being questioned. [3]
The testimony of both bifurcated parties lies elsewhere, absent from this account. Bindings were ripped, pages were torn, and papers were finally burned in the garden. The sensation of weight cast aside was quite pleasant. The burning, blazing sun of the journal died away and in its dusk, its lunation of transference, Two Moons rose.
Twisted Index
My Premature Declaration
‘The two were acquainted, though it is uncertain to what extent’
‘It may have been only some resemblance, real or imagined, in feature, build and attire, but, within the context, the suggestion rather is that their invalidism was of the same kind, so one wonders if, at the time, Raymond Roussel also suffered from nervous asthma.’ [4]
Neuter Discontinuous
Normandy itself, the site of this bequest and of the young Raymond’s burglary, is itself a kind of strange double to the south of England. The sleeve between them is not so wide, and the Norman brambled lanes and farms are very nearly Kentish in character although the people seem to be of a more Northern disposition.
They are more northern in their local context despite being more southern than their English counterparts in respect to their global position. Kent and Normandy are counties and kingdoms of apples. [5] Michael, the German poet, knew this despite living further to the East. [6]
The Year of the Two Moons cont.
The power of three is not a multiple I had anticipated encountering, although it makes perfect sense in one way. The word, its double, and the commentary thereon. This is in the very nature of thought, but it is not without its difficulties. The criterion of ‘worthwhile’ inclusion is quite irrelevant to my account as the words offer no depiction (a better word than ‘rendering’, I now concede). To depict and depick. To predict and deprick.
The Surface of the Threshold
1. The Surface of Things.
The empty theatre, the emptying theatre, the emptying of the theatre, the theatre desolate. Locus Desolatus.
The threshold between the stage and the seats, between the players and the played (the play).
The threshold between the stage and the text, the text and the reader; the reader of the play is the player, who plays to the played, who read the players, who before playing the play have ceased to read in place of playing.
Interface and surface; subface. The lesser face,
2. ‘The centre is the threshold’
The centre is the threshold so it is being crossed/passed through all the time. But a threshold is both a mark (a kind of line) and a zone. (the zone is the width of the mark). The time spent crossing the line is the time spent in the threshold, and at the threshold.
Are the gallery walls precisely this sort of threshold-zone, the six sides of the cube three sets of parentheses boxing everything within them?
The ‘Tongue Age’
I note in myself a perspiring fury when I consider that my words are of the plainest and clearest expression, but that they may be read as obscure, even deliberately so.
I Object
I may, in the course of this account, become petrified.
The courses of a lute.
The causes of a loot.
The cause is awful lewd.
I Allude
I once knew a manufacturer of glass who would spend the summer walking the ridgeways of Wiltshire, amongst the standing stones and burial grounds. Crushed glass, crushed sands, fired dust, burnt into transparency. Panes from the kiln.
Editor’s Notes (interspersed with notes by the author; notes on the notes made by the editor. These are indicated by letters rather than numbers)
[1] The initial possibility that suggested itself to me was Raymond Roussel and Marcel Duchamp. However, upon the appearance of Marcel D further on in the same paragraph, I revised this to Roussel and Marcel Mauss, or maybe Marcel Pagnol, before realising that Marcel was Marcel D was Marcel Duchamp.
(A) There is another Marcel though, the one who wrote a very, very long book. It’s him that Roussel made a terrible pact with, at least according to this version of events. I concede that it’s rather confusing to have multiple Marcels in operation, as there could be so many of them: Mauss and Pagnol, as you suggest, are candidates. Mauss’ conception of the ‘gift’ is particularly apt given the exchange made in the novel between Roussel and (I shall say his name) Proust. A gift really is never given for free. Marcel Pagnol is a another matter entirely, and I confess I don’t know too much about him. My father likes his books, and I know a young man who likes his translation of Hamlet. But the less said about this the better. Marcel Marceau came onto the scene a little bit later. I hadn’t really begun to think about him until all these other Marcels entered the ambit of the text.
It is something that the narrator states a little more plainly later on, but it’s worth being clear about it (as the narrator of this text will never be clear): the terrible pact involved Roussel and Proust being, at one time, the same person, who came to separate. The results of this were disastrous. As Jean Cocteau observed when Roussel died, there was something oddly twin-like about them.
According to this version of events, a part of their separation-pact was that Proust would try to write such a long book in order to slow down time, and prevent a war. There was probably mischief in Roussel’s insistence that he did so.
[2] In issue #21 of A Prior magazine Dieter Roelstraete (born Holland, 1972) describes how himself and artist Luis Jacob (born Canada, 1971) “are both children of what I genuinely believe will be looked back upon, in the not too distant future, as our culture’s…. finest hour.” Roelstratete goes on to describe them both as being “products of, as well as witnesses to, the twentieth century’s greatest decade – at least in artistic, cultural and socio-political terms.” As (born London, 1972) myself, I was much struck by this comment. And yourself?
(B) I don’t know too much about Roelstraete, although in response to these notes I’ve just been reading his essay The Business: On the Unbearable Lightness of Art. It’s a good essay. It’s exactly the kind of thing my colleagues and I talk about with students in the art school where I teach; questions of contemporary ‘practice’, ‘labour’, ‘work’, ‘praxis’, and ‘interaction’. What is work, and where does it happen? What are its rewards? These are very much contemporary questions; or perhaps it’s the case that the very problematization of these ideas is the contemporary question in art. I think about these things a lot, when I consider my finances and my (social) position in the part of the world of art I occupy.
I don’t think about them much when I think about my work, or when I’m making it. I prefer, possibly, naively, to find a de-problematized vacuum in which to work. In interviews about his early career Richard Hamilton talked all the time about ‘other’ kind of work (work outside of his own studio). Design work, model-making work, the assembling of displays of things other than his own paintings. Being interested in things, and allowing these interests to intersect with the canvas from time to time. This is a digression, I admit. When I’m writing these questions are probably even further from my mind. I can’t even really say that I feel like I’m writing ‘now’. I’m writing more towards a productive misunderstanding of the past. Roelstraete wonders why ‘search engines’ are not called ‘find engines’, which I think is a pertinent question when thinking about counterfactual, historical, research-led writing such as the present text. Most of Hypermodernism was written at the British Library, which is rather like a slow-moving internet of paper, with a number of books all over my desk, surrounding the computer on which I was writing. But the computer was at the centre, and almost every little hint or notion picked out from one of the many books was followed up in a number of echoing clicks and hyperlinks. But I’m still digressing! Your question was about a certain sort of generational identification. I was born 10 years later, in 1982. I’m not sure I could identify any firm sense of my own generation, or of the decade it was born in. I suppose that we remember becoming aware of the internet, and I remember moments earlier in my life (as an art student, and afterwards) when I didn’t have a computer. This would be unthinkable now.
(B2) Another thing, regarding the part of the text your footnote [2] actually appears in – it refers to a key element of the research the text is based upon. His name is never mentioned, but the entire project (Locus Desolatus, or Hypermodernism and The Dust of Suns) is written in the voice of the English novelist Rayner Heppenstall. His novels are not so widely known now, although they have been periodically revived and celebrated. He suffered from bad luck, as a man and as an author. The particular voice that Hypermodernism attempts to channel is the Heppenstall of his published diaries, especially those towards the end of his life. In 1972 his son was very badly hurt in an accident, and in 1977 these events produced the novel Two Moons, which comprised two parallel narratives, more or less, one on the left-hand pages of the book and one on the right-hand pages.
The ‘lunar doubling’ and ‘collapsing’ I refer to in the text is in reference to what happened to Heppenstall’s diaries of 1972 – large parts were ripped out and destroyed once the novel was written, as if only one (typographically bifurcated) textual version of these memories could survive.
[3] But what was your alibi?
(C) What was my alibi? Good question. I’ve been unable to find one. Despite submerging myself in research, and despite trying to write in the voice of another, and despite suffering a little under the oppression of this voice, I don’t feel I have an alibi. I am there in the text; it is written by me.
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[4] This recalls your remark when we met briefly in Red Lion Square, which I wrote in my notebook as soon as you had cycled off:
“The present text, this account now being written (and then read, questioned and then answering) is the double doubling of the earlier doubling. It is the equatorial point between the poles of one text’s absence-by-destruction and the eclipse of two moons. I confess to and account for this for personal reasons, although I beg no indulgence, but the metaphor is quite plain to those with half a mind to notice such things.”
(D) Yes, I would have said something like that (although the version of the sentiment you remember comes from the text itself). I get a kind of vertigo reading the words back, as if the project of this book was out of control from the very beginning. I’ve never experienced such a sensation when working on something. In fact, my work is usually pretty slight, and pretty self contained. Even when I wrote another fairly ambiguous and narratively slippery novel a year or two ago it was self-contained. But everything to do with Hypermodernism is at the far reaches of reasonable writing. It’s impossible, or at least impassable.
[5) Sadly my experience of both Kent and Normandy is limited.
[6] This same Michael [Hamburger’s] translation of Ernst Stadler’s ‘On Crossing the Rhine Bridge at Cologne by Night’ concludes:
And then the long solitudes. Bare Banks. And Silence.
    Night. Reflection. Self-questioning. Communism. And
    ardor outward-flowing.
To the end that blesses. To conception’s rite. To pleasure’s
    consummation. To prayer. To the sea. To self’s undoing.
Michael Hofmann ed. The Faber Book of 20th-Century German Poems (Faber & Faber, 2005), 18.
[E] To self’s undoing, indeed. I was thinking especially of the Tacita Dean film in which Hamburger appears, inspecting apples on a long, old wooden table.
The author’s original version of Shelf Two is a PDF here.
Hypermodernism Drawer One (An Extraction) by David Price is here.
More about David’s work here.