Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Galatea: 1st Fragment

The first part of the first aborted piece, which I'll post in serial. Galatea was a projected 'simultaneous novel' organized around the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea (the latter being the name of the statue that Pygmalion created and with whom he then fell in love, and who was then granted life by Aphrodite.) It was undertaken in the Spring of A.Da. 89 (2005) under the spell of Lautréamont, into whose work I was then being initiated (rather obviously). The writing trailed off around the time that I returned from the UK in Winter, A.Da. 90 (2006).

The manuscript made it up to a bit over 8,000 words; the primary reason for its abandonment being that its prerogatives were folded into other projects. The conceptual and hermetic projects for which it was an index and cipher demanded more subtle and complex textual reflections and processes, while at the same time its formal conception was pretty ambiguous from the start, as was my poorly-articulated notion of a 'simultaneous novel', which I finally decided was essentially an excuse to call a prose-poem a novel and avoid tackling the issues inherent in the fictional form. The prose style, too, is rather flabby; even when crafting the kinds of long, tortuous sentences which I often use, a certain terseness or subtle rhythmic and tonal counterpoint is called for which I had not yet identified. There are a number of little gems, but they are lost amidst a cascade of coloured glass, to borrow a metaphor for this diagnosis from Max Jacob (who I believe cribbed it in turn from Valéry).

That being said, it's not an awful prose-poem, and does include some passages of which I'm quite proud (such as the veiled treatment of the Salomé motif toward the end of this strophe). Certain of its opacities might be more clearly approached when keeping in mind the central themes of The Ecstatic Nerve. From an archival or, shall we say, organicist point of view, Galatea represents my first attempt to seriously grapple with prose in all of its dimensions, and in its mercurial stage-managing of various argots and idioms is the prime prototype of Nerve, the still-underway Yellow Sign, etc. So here's the first strophe. A bit of arcane trivia: some of the text in the last paragraph below, which section is derived from Automatic Writing sessions, was also used in my Feral Pool album which I was working on at the same time as the bulk of my work on the Galatea text.


Love of art is the greatest love of all
-Francis Picabia

I had wanted to write you, my dear, for at least as long as you have been written; and a text is a kind of eternity, for it (you) swallows up all pasts and all futures, endlessly destroying them, a constant present that churns with potentiality. And this, as you have whispered to me in the dark nights, is as close as we can come to eternity, unless we throw all of our faith in the letters of that word itself. And in this way I can say that I have always loved you, will always love you, and love you endlessly; but these words can be turned aside; and so I can say, equally, that I have never loved you, will never love you, abhore you like the vacuum that you are and are not. It is nothing to you- I say nothing in you. I leave you gently and freely to exist as you are, and yet I engage you with the utmost fixation and unfixity; and this, it might be said (though it might not), is itself a species love.

I was once outside the text, and am, and am not, and will be again, and am forever lost. In that place outside, from whence I issue, this jagged edge of me that juts adventurously into this sprawling house of language in which you and I (that jagged edge) reside, I sat with my ribs clenched tight in the fists of my thought. My forehead was squeezed lovingly in a crowd of letters, but the rest of me hovered like a transparent umbrella in the thin and whistling air. Shimmering clicks rebounded against the far walls, long cords of tarantula legs hummed their lengths perniciously between myself and a shadow blazed into a wheeled concrete grave that rolled to and fro with me whenever I stepped outside this iron door.

I have said, and will again, that all is simultaneous in you, my dear, the text. And thus it was that I found you beautiful while yet you were completely unconceived (and now, of course, you are growing still, as I type this; but at that “time” you were not yet begun; though, to demonstrate what we have both discovered, that past when you were not, is now imbedded in the you-that-is, and so within the logic of the text itself- and it is the text that we inhabit, or doubly are, [I might say triply are, if we are read, during this moment, the eternal moment that is] that past is now present, that is, presented to my memory and typing fingertips, to your structure, my dear, and to the reader that may be, or inevitably is, scanning us now). I gazed entranced into this non-idea that you were, this shapeless void with the promise of intricate shapings. And the legs of the spiders contorted with clatters, the concrete grave flung against a far wall in a far wing of this endless house, knocking a bust of Dante to the floor.

There were shadows kissing shadows in this place at that time. My eyes were glued shut with the honey from the sun, and I was drawn into an aery perambulator, was shot along a river of nodes, and I found you smiling in my flesh. I bent my chest in the tower of this mansion with its numberless rooms, the catacombs below digging into the soil like roots of dying. (It is whispered that there are corridors of mirrors there, and worlds made of straw, and a promise that stalks you, and a lovely ghost who shelters you from the jeers of mighty Jove.) In the next room, I heard an electron, abuzz with the sun, humming the typewriter cadenza from Satie’s Parade. Above it, I also heard the booming of a flake of my home, reciting the psalms of Hugo Ball. You know, my dear, because it is the constitution of you, how my brain tends to crawl out through my ears, in order to caress the thing that seduces it; and I was caught, tied to a mast and trapped between these rocks of sound and rhythm. And my brain ripped itself in half to follow these sounds, these rhythms, and in the rift as they ripped, I felt you rush through the tissues that wrapped the nerves of my head.

By what names have I called you forth? and am still calling? and will call long after my death? Yet as I type this I die, have died, my death is a precondition of this missive; and so I love you. This all is sutured tightly together. The word is rooted in the flesh. This fruit is nearing its dreaming in theramin here. I am hiding in leather, and here in the year it is drowning in yearly secretions. Here in the year, wreathingly nearing the red in here, in the year in here, trying to hear in here, in those that are dear. And here, in here, fighting in yearly, were drowning in lowering heat. I am in the red and gyrating lowering heat, in the yearly, in heat. In the upper-side, frowning in lettering here. They are dreaming in your garden of lillies, in the fighting, in dreaming, in nearing and leathery frowns. And nearing in fighting, in typing, a smile in glowing is finicky air. She was there, flowering and shimmered, solid inarticulation of the absent word condensced and yielding only to a point. Small winged mice fluttered around her, harps gestured coyly toward their interior strings, her throatfingers fitted with rings, and here lepidopterous murmers settle on her clavicle, bring marsupial caresses in their satchels, and fling fingerprints daintily at the fritillary significations couched in the carpet; and she sings, a tightened amourous, a language in beguiling movements that stir coyly the air, and this is her skin I speak of, the veins that pulse it subtly.

And didn’t you know, she whispered, when you began this incantation, this peon to the useless word, that the text cannot escape eroticism, that it can be said, (though just as quickly disproven) to be the very constitution of it? Because I am here, I speak to you as you write me, I am, we are, you feel me as you type, the words that I am are felt in your stretching tendons, the quick attention of your fingers as they dart across the keyboard. You write, and you are not yourself; you are the catalyst of a text- your will is the will of the text. We are inseperable, and yet you die as you enter me, lost and disemenated, you are open, a space of ifinite fields of language, immersed in language yet breathing the Inarticulate (the signpost of Desire), and for an instant the duration of the apprehension of a word, you are loosed from ‘your’ ‘self’ into the vast play of signification! Did you not see these things? Then write. Then love me.

Coy, cruel, how I love you. Bring me my head on a plate. I will watch my tongue form my words. I will see it curl and stretch itself to the shapes of serifs, tremble with undulations in praise of the nonexistant gods who have heralded your birth! I will see myself as you bear me, heavy in the soup of my blood, calling out your name and a million others, severed from myself, borne heavy on the shoulders of one that I love. I will see my mouth form words that I have scarcely heard, I will be a mirror, and watch the first startled gaze of my eyes as I tremble at myself, before this fatal split, this split that gave you to the world, and gave you to my gaze.

I am dreaming of you, Galatea, and I’m in between here, in the synapse of desire, but in the snow the cello is chewing on your wallet. It is masticating lovingly, a powdered sheen that lapses in the evenings of desire. A letter in the marigolds. A blind fox dancing merrily over swaying fields of iodine, and licking the heels of mindful indulgence here. It is blocking out the sun, a giant and a little one, a climbing out of interest, a tickling under rhythms. I do not know where the light has gone for today, my dear, nor the green leather mind of our fortuitous undoing. It is dreaming, (though this is merely conjecture) of yesterday, minding the shuttles; dreaming in heavily interested mires of purple arches. And that is where the lace is pointing: deep into a nation of smiling straps; and it is drinking from a pool of gyroscopes. This is where we must follow the little slingless nettles, those that end up looping whistles round a dime.