Friday, March 5, 2010


Somewhere in the heap of siding there's a metaphor for what one tries not to spend one's day doing in the Chair's office - siding with, siding against - maybe the pile of torn and jagged edges points in that direction, too. But on the other hand, it's yet more evidence of both work progressing on the house (we now have our own little tower!) and of the the way abstract lines and curves lie around waiting to be noticed. The light was better on this from the stairs window than at ground level, but it still, once one was up close, looked like a version of Futurist lines of force, suggesting energy that's somehow innate in inanimate, artificial, mechanically produced objects.

1 comment:

  1. Two months ago, Marilyn Reizbaum alluded to Sharp's work as "productive of narrative non-commitment". At that moment I thought of your discussion of the potential for transgression encoded within the short story form (Harold Beaver's done some excellent work on this) in a manner exactly correspondent to your current thematic scheme in the blog. For some reason, this conjured the image of Medardo Rosso’s “Impressions of the Boulevard, Woman with a Veil” and I began to think about the ways in which the sculpture elicits an immediate, visceral response from those who see it for the first time: a sort of indignant condemnation of the stone cage tethering this woman to the bonds of man. Her flight is limited, her ever-shifting surreal potential to ascend to heavenly heights encased in a block of granite….and of course this is when the proverbial /facepalm occurs, in tandem with the self-reflective critical moment in which I realize that this violent, non-definitive representation of the feminine figure might be little more than an appeal to the Uncanny and this, I think, is where the difference between the Futurists and the Oulipo Group becomes most evident. Unlike the Futurists, the Oulipo Group tends to refuse this sort of mythic construction precisely by leveling the field of formal interpretation to make even meshed gender categories as logical as binaries; yet they do so without losing the powerful, fiery, abstract sense of energetic manipulation that was among the Futurists’ redemptive qualities. At the ’07 MLA, Peter Brooks spoke of literary studies in the humanities as that which “has renounced the role of instrumentalism in favor of something considerably more complex and abstract.” He went on to discuss the dangers of allowing such rhizomic meanderings to go unnoticed and uncontested, noting the possibility of a state I think eerily similar to the all-encompassing (and all too often chauvinist and obsessively narrow-minded) supposed ‘self-sustainability’ of Marinetti’s cadre. Perhaps the next logical step for literary studies will parallel the parallel I just presented here, with an increasingly playful but highly programmatic manipulation of modes of self-expression that can temper the shock one experiences when the body-politic slithers its way into the carefully constructed persona of cultural symbol and crafter. In other words: “when things fall apart”, when the existential crisis of cultural relativism threatens our ontological security, one might do as the Oulipo did: enact a rational construction of a barrier for interpretation that refuses assumptions of immanence while preserving the formal qualities so necessary to communication. This sort of dissociative play, in which the coda’s programmatic malleability reflects the workings of the Uncanny (in lieu of acting as its agent, or existing as its byproduct) and encroaches upon ‘the real’, fits the model of the twenty-first century scholar: every calibrated strike (every keyboard stroke, every algorithmic note…see is the shedding of one skin for another, a ‘real-time’ manipulation of form that refuses the mythos of the ‘organic’ (which all too often enforces a sort of cultural primogeniture) and denies the sort of immaculate conception of art propagated by the Culture Industry.