Long Cut Up (from the Collected Works of Robert Darry)
The kind of reading I've been doing has involved pushing the words around on the page, trying to bully them into doing what I want them to do. What I've wanted them to do was tell me what to say when the phone rings at night and the unfamiliar, expectant, undebauched womanly voice of a misdialing caller asks, "Who is this?" I never know how to answer that question and not because I have any problems with remembering who I am, but most of all, because of a sense I've developed, a sense that someone's gaze is always at the nape of my neck, like a wart.
When you know you're being watched, you assume a role and play it, even when you sleep—even when you dream. Most of my life I've played Rob Darry, and I am someone else, somewhere else. The ubiquitous surveillance makes everything look differently—you see things through someone else's eyes. Everything is more present—more real—because you see nothing alone. When the phone rings to wake you from sleep and you answer and you try to answer the inevitable question, in that haze of mind with your consciousness elsewhere, you move to answer the question you yourself have been asking, "Who is this?"
In the middle of the day, when no one is around, no matter what floor I happen to be inhabiting at the moment, I find myself walking from the living room to the bedroom, or from the kitchen to the bathroom—and it would seem I had just those four rooms, in that order—and there this person would be, right sprang overhead, the footfalls clumpy but companionate, solicitous.
My own interpretive mechanisms fail me at these moments. Being only and fully committed to the scientific interpretation of sensory input leads me to read as I do, although now, or recently at least, I've become interested in Bren's work—how it's like art in one way or another. Bren gives the world a shape in the form of televisual communication (communion?). Now this may not be what most would call art, but the basic idea is similar and has altered my approach to letters and texts. But art... Art is not taken very seriously elsewhere in this universe or in any other. Nobody's interested in art. They're interested in what everybody else is interested in: the superimposition of will. It may be that nobody's interested in it because nobody's any good at it.
I think I like art now. It takes a while to get the hang of it. What you've got to do is tell yourself 'This won't actually get me anywhere' and then you don't have a problem. It's strange. Our scientists have no idea what to look for or where to look for it, but our poets, I sometimes feel, divine the universal... Forgive me. I shouldn't say things like this, not to you. Like a musical score, all art and all science are written in the curves of the limbs of the ultrasexagenarian ephebe, and their progression to an infinite degree is prophesied therein. All the (uni)verse sent to me appears as the most basic building blocks of something else. What textures and images are coded and locked into those genes, those cells, those bones that drag the world toward my eyes? What do these eyes have to do with surveillance cameras? What do the veins running through my wrists have in common with electric wiring? I'm the robotic kid with caucasian kid programming trying to short-circuit the sensory disks.
My reading is rereading is a prereading, a foreword. It’s the despair of one who tries to hear while writing. It’s a sound, lovable or not, easy or difficult, but recognizable, that is made on the verge of thought, that makes you not hear its silence enough, not long enough. This reading functions in the hypothetical spirit of what one might call a parctice of as if, because the "as if" constitutes a paradox of both contingency and expediency, in which reference is made to an impossibility (the impossibility itself of reading?), but from this impossibility an inference is made: reality… is compared with something whose unreality is at the same time admitted. And reading’s a business, like everything is these days, the having children business, the radical business, the culture business, the collapse of old values business, the militant business… every aberration becomes a style, a business. There’s even a failure business.
Once, years ago, in a warehouse along the beach in Venice, I wrote on an abandoned wall about a man who flew a single-prop airplane over the ocean until it ran out of gas, and I envied the man so much it hurt—In Search of the Miraculous. It happens that you listen to yourself write (read as read). This is something other than hearing yourself write. When you hear, you hear only something that has to be written. You don’t get to it. You keep on going. You don’t worry too much about the manner. You have confidence in it, in the manner. You are ahead of the writing, you are just tracing out its direction. You set the heading. It will follow. It will take care of itself. However, this is also a great mistake, a presumption, a blind confidence in writing (read as reading). You act as if you were destined only for the most noble works of thought.
I read an order of words that makes itself all by itself, behind my back, while I am walking from one room to another. And then there is the supplementary presumption that I can let myself be reached alive, in the raw, up close, by what you (I) are (am) trying to think while you (I) write. Thank God, it’s never like that, you (I) reread your(my)self. These sentences or these words that come about by themselves may hide the thought that was about to speak itself.
Recitation, and hence interlocution, can only be founded upon a deicide; it begins with the nihilist assertion that there is no Other. Recitation, and hence interlocution, can only be founded upon a game; it begins with the nihilist assertion that there must be an Other. Violence stems from this dilemma: either you reject the unknown game of your partner, you even reject the fact that it is a game, you exclude it, pick up your balls, and seek a valid interlocutor; and this is a violence done to the event and to the unknown of such a kind that you stop writing or thinking; or else, you do violence to yourself in trying to learn the moves that you don’t know and that your silent partner imposes upon the balls, I mean upon the words and sentences. This is called the violence of learning to think or write, which is implied in every education.
The conjunction of processes through which we come to narrativize, as such, clearly shows that the meaning of a simulation emerges from dynamic interactions among the creator, the virtual world (and the real world on which its metaphysics is modeled), the creatures, the reader running through the pages, and in the case of visualizations, the viewer watching the creatures cavort. Unlike the traditional blazon, the describer does not reside outside the description, but is actually interpellated within it so that the describer describes an other that is always already the self. The texts I've collected document the gradual conversion of one world into the other through a process of transubstantiation: allowing both these mechanisms to continue operating, one slowly removes and replaces their parts with corresponding and interlocking nothings. This is the creation of fiction through a slow substitution process laid over reality, exchanging one for another.
And there is in this self (myself) another, whomever or whatever I meet or seek to meet during hours of secrecy. This other exerts an absolute right over myself that was never contracted and is unaware of reciprocity. It is utterly other than “the others.” It requires my time and my space in secret, without giving me anything in exchange, not even the cognizance of what it is, or what I am. I have no rights over it, no recourse against it, and no security. Now, all busy with legitimating exchanges in a community of others (Bren and sundry), I am inclined to neglect the duty I have to listen to that other and to annul the second existence it requires of me. And so to become myself perfectly interchangeable, without remainder, within conditions.
This has created a pressure for escape, escape from conditions, which has led us from our tadpole ancestors through time till now to develop an appetite for speed. Speed of consumption, speed of physical movement, speed of transmitting and receiving information. Since speed is a luxury for those who have power and money, many of us have traded physical speed for fantasy like this mental projection: surround ourselves with enough material goods and maybe we won't see the stinking mess outside the windows, if we are lucky enough to have windows.
But now, as I sit writing, over coffee, and remembering the cinematic motions as if witnessed from a discreet distance, I seek to lay the senses down one by one, writing in the winds of a red dusk, as if turning over slowly in sleep. Each movement of the hand revises a prior schema about this structure of exception in order to disrupt normalization. Exception results from the corruption of memories. The text I write, the text I write about, the text I read, the written text I receive describes the universe as exception, as an alien system for explaining the production of its own phenomena, a system to which humanity attributes the hidden operations of a deity that in this case elaborates itself through the physical processes of the natural world, processes impartial to the existence of humanity even though humanity remains unique in its ability to engage with such processes by virtue of being conscious. Unlike the "spirit" that realizes itself through a process of finite becoming, whose operation ultimately results in a transcendent condition of omniscient self-awareness, an absolute state of being without negativity, the deity realizes itself through a process of infinite becoming that never ends in a state of omniscient self-awareness, but continually generates negativity: by becoming myself I have become someone else.
Thus, on the threshold of our space, before an era of our own time, we hover between awareness of being and loss of being. And the entire of reality of memory becomes spectral. Each something is the celebration of a nothing that supports it. And the shadow takes up residence inside the world. And the shadow is a scar that will not soon be put off. Unchained animality, the chaos surrounding, can be mastered only by discipline and brutalizing. What we call life proceeds from a violence exerted from the outside on a lethargy. This violence is a madness we self impose. In madness equilibrium is established, but it masks that equilibrium beneath the cloud of illusion, beneath feigned disorder; the rigor of the architecture is concealed beneath the cunning arrangement of disordered violences. This violence locates madness in an area of unforeseeable freedom where frenzy is unchained.
I also make long cut-up prose poems using fragments of newspaper headlines and sub-headlines and pieces of type from advertisements.