Wednesday, January 21, 2009

The Leurre

Some Chains


How the cognoscenti
say venue (one
lolly-tonguing a

reed unlatches two-
thumbedly the hasps
of a clarinet

case) marks out
a wily in-
adequate music. For

isn’t a venue
a stroke, a
smiting? The lyon

made a gret
venu, / And wolde
have him al

getting in some
idle licks.) Hello

says the unjammed
object of one’s
muster, I am

Hundreds of
black crows sail
into town, gauntly—

tiers and stories
of ash, a
binge medieval impingement.

One way is
to go all
out for “proper

simple speech” dash-
adamant, unfetter’d and
loathe, a clean

mechanical unrused like
a corkscrew. The other
is to do

a mock-up,
a licorice sticking
“fygure of irony”

cojones tuck’d in
a hatband, sweet
venue-animadverter, loud.

Time, that discus hurler who pussyfoots around the projectile object (curl’d in, tuck’d up tight) only to fling it away with untoward suddenness, time’s again timed out, found one unprepared, bereft. Mumbling along within myself (under a cold pre-dawn moon, stars “nicks in the sky’s finish”—or is it “night’s finish”?) thinking how every “thing” must become a verb of itself—so that: the grass grasses, the foot foots, time times and the I I’s, a kind of perfect death of language (or “literature”) as we know it. (And, ruminant in shoes under the cloud my breath made to hide my head, plodding along, the obvious instability of Rimbaud’s je est un autre enter’d my mind unmindedly (which is to say, my mind minding took up the phrase for use (temporary) just as it did Paul Valéry’s je suis l’instable, a kind of self-variance—I I’ing—he associated with dance (the pussyfooting dance of the discus hurler). Or, thumbing (literature is all thumbs) through Nathalie Stephens At Alberta (BookThug, 2009), I see reference to Tzvetan Todorov’s “literature is like a deadly weapon with which language commits suicide” (which puts a newish hollow-eyed physiognomy of “lean Despair” to the “turn to language” crowd, no?) And (“anding”), marveling that in here, under the throb of fluorescents fluorescing, I is I-ing along “out there” under the dangling bright lures of the sky (who sits rocking that rowboat on the surface of the black sea above?) whilst l’instable keeps flipping, or the thumbs do:
Here, then. What I call here shall be ‘the failure of translation’. A place, liminal, interstitial, abyssal—all of these—into which we fall, as one might fall in love, braakingly, or else fall apart, devastatingly, catching on the pieces of our own ruination, jaggedly, tearingly, seemingly (seamingly?). Fall away, imperceptibly. Still, the leurre of falling, is that the movement finds completion. It is not so at all; I have not found it to be so. Is it possible, here, in this moment of failure, of ‘the failure of translation’ (begun before even beginning), to evoke a fall without drawing into this space, a whole exegetical mess? I do hope so. I would like to find fall (find fault?) in a bodily way, with all the bruising this entails, the marking of the body, and the inscription of the fall in the body’s tissue. A downward movement that stops at the breath, that stops at nothing, carried into and by the breath, such that it, the fall, becomes indistinguishable from our own exhalation. We may find, in the end, which is of course neverending, that our failure, the place into which we fall, it’s the very thing that catches us. . . .
Out of Stephens’s “Want: L’intraduisable (Desire in Translation).” Echoes of Barthes, echoes of Stein. The Bartleby motif. I want to say “the fall become indistinguishable from our own exhaltation.” I want to say “the leurre of failing, the lure.” For what is language but a colossal failure?

Nathalie Stephens
(Photograph by Sina Queyras)