It sometimes happens that a phantom expects bone and will travel into fulfillment in order to acquire a fat thought to put in a skull and think. Because thinking is what is said, and every human being endowed with understanding understands what is being said here, which is a matter of words, or nails holding wood together. And right away we catch ourselves in the act of picturing an object, a birdhouse, or word like endurance, which gulps its meanings in large drafts, and grows into a bikini, or some other form of apparel, something for the words to go into, something to hold the thought in a fold of matter. What I’m doing here is stressing the idea of structure to include an area of paper, a sheet of paper, which, like a sheet of canvas, will contain whatever wind may fill it, and so blow the ship and its cargo of metaphor across the globe, with all that salty water slapping its bow below, just look at it, white and foamy, each word put in front of another, or following upon one another like waves, which is what waves do, these swells of energy taking form in the water, revealing movement as a woman’s eyes reveal her thought, her mood, her necessities and inquiries. What was once a beginning, a behavior dropping its club on the ground and running into the clouds, now threatens to turn into chatter. This ought to raise serious questions regarding the nature of art itself. Does art in general need to be beautiful? Do the visual arts need to be representational? Do music and architecture, lacking a clear representational content, have other similar, expressive requirements? I have just the parable for this mode of inquiry. Think of a hive and all its honey, its swarm of bees, its wax and hexagonal cells. Think of it as syntax. Our ideas of the structures of language are formed in terms of syntax. Now imagine a viscount examining a viscous comb. The burden of thought is swallowed up in an explanation that dries into wings and compels expansion. Everything depends on the problematic. Such propositions stem from abstract considerations and are the exact counterpart of the fabrications of the age of technology, for the saying speaks where there are no words, but in the field between the words, which is quiet and incandescent in its clarity, its soft abandonment by the visible and its assumption by moss and whatever fugues happen to thicken the mud with contrapuntal viscosity. The fugue possesses a beauty of presence, and is the language of a thinking; it is that thinking itself. This is to say the odor of a novel in its emotion. Its busy little words traveling across a sheet of paper in a jumble of abstractions, folds of protoplasm jerking forward, assuming an identity, however inchoate, but moving, crawling, wriggling, squirming, entering into its essential nature, which is nothing less than a cloud of being, a hand uncurling its fingers, a thought awakening from its slumber in a lava lamp. It hails from elsewhere, and is part of what gives life, by its boiling and linear intricacies, by its openness and transparency and weightlessness, and by its preoccupation with surface as skin alone, and the salts and minerals of the earth return. There is no other way to account for Melville’s prose, or figure out how an escalator works. Gears, my friend, gears. It’s all in the way of syntax, the way of correlation, parts within parts, or whatever other relations may give the tableau its sparkle, its paprika, its geography and pavement stones.
Drums Along the Potomac
2 days ago