INTRODUCTION



Adelaide is so artistically tough and individual. It is different from all other Australian centres, although that difference is hard to define. And not much point anyway, but it is to be grateful for. The art that is made here by established artists and younger artists always excites me. Over the last ten years I have been committed to the work which is undertaken and produced here, there always seems to be so much more risk, and so much more faith in the effect of specific moves and idiosyncratic takes on theories, matter, and material. That is, it is very knowing, and yet already off somewhere else. The intellectual involvement of contemporary artists here is unquestionable, but they are great doubters, and willing to be, themselves, as bodies, in and with the work. Anyway, what they have allowed me to do is write, to practice writing without reserve. They never asked me to shed light on their work, or to engage with the concerns of their work if I found myself going somewhere else. Instead, they allowed me to practice as one of them, to make something that I knew little about before I started. Consequently they let me be completely wrong. But in so doing I could wander around this little thing/idea/memory or that, in terms of theories or influences, I could make my mind up, or not, I could use something, try it out. They saw my work like they saw their work. They gave me a gift. And they never rejected what I did. So, my mistakes are mine, they let me have them. And they let me work, and develop the tonal/textual quality I wanted. At least now I know something of what that looks and sounds like, and without them I couldn't have done that.

Linda Marie Walker

  1. and
  2. dear

  3. chair music

CONTENTS


























And: an exquisite corpse en abime.



This is the weeping song. A song in which to weep.

To continue: this method is, in short, related to rhyme. And. A meaning that lies in itself as sound. It is a matter, then, of the things one does in the meantime or the things one has at one's disposal during this time. Therefore, as time does not belong to anyone as such, one can no more take it, itself, then give it. Time already begins to appear as that which undoes this distinction between taking and giving, therefore also between receiving and giving, perhaps between receptivity and activity, or even between being-affected and the affecting of any affection. And. Glass as the form of transparency, as form en abime. And. The difference between the (readymade) object and the sculpture may be this: that the sculpture makes it absolutely unmistakable ... that the world of things to which it belongs is that of the "part-object". There is no question: it has migrated off the body. There's the universe; and in the dead of its night, you discover its parts and in so doing ... It's as if there's a crab in my head. And. The weeks went by quickly ... I want to write this first of all: once the glass had been removed, they slipped a thin film under my eyelids and over my eyelids they laid walls of cotton wool. (Is that a sentence or are you just happy to see me?) And. It is the moment when the dozen chairs gently come down from the imitation marble tables where they have spent the night. Nothing else. An automaton's arm puts the setting back in place. When everything is ready, the light goes on ... The visitor goes through a low doorway, into a room somewhat on the small side, completely empty. No painting on the white walls. There are no windows. In the far wall, embedded in a brick portal topped by an arch, there is an old wooden door, worm eaten, patched, and closed by a rough crossbar made of wood and nailed on with heavy spikes. In the top left-hand corner there is a little window that has also been closed up. The door sets its material doorness in the visitor's way with a sort of aplomb: dead end. A real condemned door. But if the visitor ventures nearer, s/he finds two small holes at eye level. If s/he goes even closer and dares to peep, s/he will see a scene s/he is not likely to forget. And. The sound sometimes becomes so powerful that one can put meaning aside. And vice versa. A floating world of magic, of anxiety. And. Then one by one the brackets are closed until we have returned to the banal surface of things. And. I grasp the object of my desire. I tie myself to this object, live in it. It's as sure as light, and like the first hesitant star in the night sky, it's a marvel. "But there is in my view, no grandeur except in gentleness." I will say rather: nothing extreme except through gentleness. Madness through excess of gentleness, gentle madness. To think, to be effaced: the disaster of gentleness. Let us suppose that I have wept, on account of some incident of which the other has not even become aware (to weep is part of the normal activity of the amorous body), and that, so this cannot be seen, I put on dark glasses to mask my swollen eyes (a fine example of denial: to darken the sight in order not to be seen). I-love-you is not a sentence: it does not transmit a meaning, but fastens onto a limit situation: "the one where the subject is suspended in a specular relation to the other." It is a holophrase. [And. Sentences are made wonderfully one at a time. A sentence should not refer make it a reference to hyacinths or bulbs or their kind or equivalent it should refer to beauty and decision it should also have contentment it should never think a sentence should never think of letting well enough alone.] And. As I write, a ladybug, flies under my lamp and alights on my hand; I lift her off and put her on a sheet of paper. And. I told them the whole story and they listened, it seems to me, with interest, at least at the beginning. But the end was a surprise to all of us. "That was the beginning," they said. "Now get down to the facts." And. One of the essential characteristics of the dream of multiplicity is that each element ceaselessly varies and alters its distance in relation to the others. "Don't! Don't you do it!" - knowing he was about to shoot, and there was nothing she could do except to unnerve him, to make him miss. His first shot struck some bottles on a shelf maybe eight inches from her head, and now she was stopped, still, paralyzed, and a memory came to her of other times in her life she'd gone too far, made a mistake, like walking through mud she hadn't supposed was quite so deep, and there was a point it was easier to go forward than back, though not easy in any case. And. We're a little lost now: "Miss X claims that she no longer has a brain or nerves or chest or stomach or guts. All she has left is the skin and bones of a disorganized body. These are her own words." Something will happen. Something is already happening. And. I was not supposed to talk because talking pulled at the anchors of the bandage. "You were asleep," the doctor told me later. I was asleep! And. Weariness: hollow eyes, trembling hands, the curtains drawn, end of the day.

This essay is made from the following: Nick Cave, The Weeping Song; Hiroaki Sato, One Hundred Frogs; Jacques Derrida, Given Time: The Time of the King; Rosalind Krauss, Bachelors; Georges Bataille, Guilty; Georges Bataille, The Impossible; Maurice Blanchot, The Madness of the Day; Maurice Blanchot, The Writing of the Disaster; Kit Robinson, Speedball; Alain Robbe-Grillet, The Erasures; Octavia Paz, Marcel Duchamp, Appearance Stripped Bare; John Cage, Interview; Rene Radrizzani, Le Macchine Celebi; Roland Barthes, A Lover's Discourse; Gertrude Stein, How To Write; Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism & Schizophrenia; Joyce Carol Oates, The Assignation; Philippe Soupault, Raymond Roussell.

This text was written for the exhibition, cultic gloss, by Shaun Kirby, The Contemporary Art Centre, Adelaide, Oct/Nov 1992

Linda Marie Walker

Intro








Dear...



I write you a letter. To describe a white room. Because, before, face to face, without warning, I did not say how it had 'turned-out', what it looked like finally, arranged. I could not say what I write. Exactly, that is. And still (now) I will leave out the innumerable little details that are unique to everything, I will make an outline: "Therefore, I must acknowledge that there is something fetishistic about this device of a composite portrait, which reveals but keeps hidden all the various (persons) that it represents."(1)

And yet we (I) spoke at length, explained, exaggerated, improvised, about shapes and colours and at one point, vegetables. About how the lettuce 'is' ... green. Lettuce green. Not "olive, emerald, moss, leaf, myrtle, ivy, avocado, lime, spinach, sage ... majoram, sea, mold (or) slime ..." but lettuce.(2) The thing, lettuce, is green. And it's a lettuce, not a chair, hat, carpet, shed, bird, table. To which will we respond when we see it: the lettuce or the green. Will we eat, finally, the green. It's summer. And while we chew green, mash it with our tongues, inside amongst the mouth's juices, where our eyes can't see (sea-green), where the automatic rhythms of the body take it over, will we for a moment (split second) think (out of the blue) that "our interpretation of green varies according to whether we see it from within a kind of psycho-biological system - such as Jung's schema of the four functions where green is identified with sensation ... or from within the myth of the hero's struggle against matter and Nature ...or from within a fantasy of alchemical stages, enroute from the prima materia to gold ... or from within a fantasy of harmony and balance ..."(3) Will we know that we are eating the "blood of the vegetable world."(4) Then, I must learn to love lettuce more.

It was a hot evening, and I wore ... and the air was noisy. The noisy air drawn in and down, into the medium of the body, breathing while I talked, hearing the air, swallowing, the hot air, full of flavour, no smell, but the taste of nothingness: nothing, the greatest gift of all. Silence inhaled.

DEAR SIR (she wrote) I had an apple is a net is a is a is a or is a is an is an apple ...(5)

Gertrude Stein says of the sentence: "A sentence is an imagined master piece. A sentence is an imagined frontispiece. In looking up from her embroidery she looks at me. She lifts up the tapestry it is partly."(6)

The music in the background, was like fabric on the wall, say silk, say it loudly, like a hammer, can one scream in silk, da da o o oh da la u u u o o da da hm hm hmm da dadada, Minor-Yours, recorded in 1956, similar somehow to the voice of the letter.(7) Every now and then (like the letter: DEAR SIR) a sense (of promise, of hope) of flight. But tightly ordered, anyway. The letter being unfixed and ordered too, both solid and adrift. Like the air sucked into the lungs, into the blood, sort of definite and hard against the throat, almost prickly on the roof of the mouth, and the lungs just doing their work, evenly, quietly, without a hint of pain. Living on air. Floating on air. The words: air. The message of air: life. I had an apple. Such such longing: I had an apple ... is a net ... is a is a is a or ... The apple (air) in the dark, is a net ... on which to fall, saved, or which captures, caught. Tangled, the net made of tongues, licking, poking, splitting, rubbing. "'It's now,' she thought, with cold hands. She did not even have to think about what 'now' meant, because her heart had already beaten as it knew. She knew that if she stayed all alone in the dark one instant too long, she would end up feeling once more the expanse of the countryside in the dark and the little flowers that continued to exist even at night with their soft laughter - by the same process that had made the frogs and the wind real."(8)

The inside of the body (without beginning, with a lip, edged: strawberry) is far away, concealed, beyond the horizon. Its centre circled by other centres, a world of worlds, each full of landmarks, walls of sound, tunnels, gates, blockages, cavities, pumps, surfaces, detours, absorptions, eliminations. We watch for a crack, for the bud of chaos. Our breath is hot, it stinks, its heat is anguish. It's the sorcerer, a refrain. The skin is hot, all over wet, the inside swells, the blood vessels dilate, (oh) my face is red, the body works itself when it is well, and works harder when it is unwell.

And something remembered: home, and a bed, covered with a pale bedspread, and a blue cord hanging over the door knob. "The shortest distance of all is the one between the imagining subject and the imagined image."(9)

"One ventures from home on the thread of a tune."(10) They're playing Minor-Yours again. We are safe, we are laughing: a doubling over of all the inner and outer surfaces, a bubbling up of a vast secret. All down the bedspread now, the refrain, the body likes itself amidst the blue (velvet) of the cord, the eyes have tied it to the spread, spread it all across, made the bed a pillow: sometimes, sometimes, sometimes. This bed will follow me, whoever, forever, it will be a song, a scene, a way into/out of pleasure. The body is a blue cord (yes). Here imagine a flower, blue too, waving in the breeze, on the end of a thin branch. A blue trumpet with a pale green stem (almost lettuce green at its base). It's the tiniest flower in the world, at this moment, and just a few steps away from the bed. The flower is in the air. Should I eat the flower, call it an apple, green.

The refrain of 'a' (from/for apple, for example): is a, is a is a is a or is a is an is an apple or is a is an or is an a net.

"To participate through reverie in the text, we may replace the conjunction or with the conjunction and."(11) Please.

The apple (air) in the dark, is a net ...on which to fall, saved, and which captures, caught.

If one is not one, then how does one fit the fit of things. If one desires no fixed position/identity, and yet is, anyway, a walking talking subject. Gathering continually within the stable(d) law. How does the tongue speak openly, in tongues then ... like 'a', like a ...a web, a film, a leaf, a wind, a word, a cloud, like an adolescent, as Kristeva says.

"I understand by the term 'adolescent' less an age category than an open psychic structure," she writes.(12) An inconsistency, a lasting sustaining crisis. A state of ambivalence, where one is 'lost', is neither here nor there, is not defined by a knowable (ordained) category, and is instead outside the forces-of-order (DEAR SIR), in "this inbetween space, this topos of incompleteness that is also that of all possibilities, of the 'everything is possible'...."(13) The open structure called subject allows (welcomes) interiority, a calling inward to the fantasies of the unconscious, a real calling which is, simultaneously, an imaginary activity, itself of fantasy, an exchange, a fluidity, a conversation outward and inward, a layering, a shifting, an interleaving, an elaboration and cutting, a continual modification and refinement, a depressive writing practice say (in the terms of Kristeva's text: "a writing as 'guardian of the peace', provisional of course, but which ... affords .. a respite for adapting to the memory of (the) past."(14)), which "gives the subject an opportunity to construct a discourse that is not 'empty', but that (s)/he lives as authentic."(15) This openness, this adolescence, is (says Kristeva) amorous, and this that is called 'writing', and perhaps is the love object, and as such is susceptible to loss, imagined by the adolescent imaginary (which is a current), and is possibly the voice of a depressive state, is a semiotic practice that eases the "reorganization of psychic space"(16)

Minor-Yours played on, as if stuck, or/and as if loved. A bird, and banal, but woven and worn and familiar. An old bird, a plane, at least a sort of transport.

DEAR SIR (she wrote) ... and a bike to ride is a we to ride a bike net is a soon is a is a is a or is a we ...

Gertrude Stein says of the sentence: "A sentence is when they express what they wish that they were made of it as well which is whatever they do. This is a sentence. How do you do is a sentence. How do you do."(17)

The inside, interiority, plays upon the underside of the seeable surface. Right beneath the fingertips. Judith Kestenberg wrote about the inner genitals, of how small children are aware, and do communicate an awareness, by movement and play, of this insideness. They know this invisible part of themselves as an erotogenic zone. The child becomes aware of "stimulations originating from inside her body."(18) And being unrelated, or unperceived as related, to any tangible seeable activity of the body, of food going in and waste coming out, and being unacknowledged by the parents, the inner sensations are a mystery to the child. A feeling begun on the outside, resonates inside (sometimes), and has its own sensual or disturbing presence, and sometimes the feeling begins inside and stays there. Completely encased, invisible, by the heavy flesh of the body-self. "Since children cannot express in words their fantastic theories about the insides of their bodies, they can only hint at these vague, intuitive fantasies through verbalizations and behaviours that accompany their playful investigations of animate and inanimate objects - baby dolls, trucks, balls, blocks, mechanical toys, erector sets, sand, and water. During the inner-genital phase, children can be observed using "everything that moves, appears to move or can be made to move, seems alive and can be used to represent inside stirrings."(19)

Sometimes the little boy or girl wants to eat the teddy bear.

Each of the body's inner sites, or territories, their sense of flutter or crawl or creep or scramble and then stillness, link and merge, as the self grows toward the outside, separates itself from the music on the wall, comforts itself with the controllable exterior, until the body inside becomes the 'insides', becomes material or matter on its own, as if, in a way, in 'exile', and expected to carry on in its moist and pulsing atmosphere, to keep its good works going piece by piece, blow by blow, as time goes by. ("However, the pleasurable excitations of her external organs, as they spread via the expanding and contracting middle organ of the vagina to the innermost uterus, give rise to worrisome interior sensations that cannot be controlled. Unlike the products of digestion, these experiences are of elusive substances that cannot be held on to or expelled with a sphincter. The little girl bends her head down all the way to her knees hoping to get a glimpse of what is going on in there."(20)) Until, until, later later, a sudden piercing stab, just below the breast, for a dark second, or an ache in the joint behind the knee, or a muscle spasm in the lower back, or a slight catch at the back of the throat - the inside comes back. The 'insides' have fantasies. Calls attention to itself. There is no end to the inner-phase (we come from inner-space), it's an always vulnerable 'during'. The insides are adolescent, perhaps. Forever breaking away, a refrain, a million refrains among all the other millions, which go deeper and deeper, ringing dissonant. Innerness is a mode of perception.

You see this (ringing) in the white room, piece by piece, blow by blow, the 'DEAR SIR I had an apple', all around the walls, a coding and decoding, both repulsive and attractive, between between night and day, black and white, the body is addicted to variation and force, and is haunted, the body loves its myths, it re-members itself more than it admits, it sees itself stretched as an empty skin and as bejewelled, all in the same breath. It's a Minor-Yours (it is still playing) body. It's the exact weight and density of itself, day to day, as it becomes over and over, a vast erotic enterprise.

The body can be lettuce green too, but also another green, a grimmer bitter tasting green. The eyes see green (sea green), and all the sureness of one dissolves, enveloped by a corrosive, raw acidity. That is the green of unripeness, astringent, sharp, and telling, a teaching green, unfixing and invigorating, a counter to dark greys and blues. This is another green to love more.(21)

And so the white room is described. That's how it is, almost to a 't', you'll recognize it instantly. You'll see. In the white room each of the things made elsewhere is here, together, the letter (DEAR SIR), composed without the image of the white room, every other component composed with the image of the white room, and all in all, a territory, a rhythm. A song. Momentarily fixed in space, but subject to the endlessness of looking, territory to territory. This letter (from 'a' Territory) too. The white room, which is another altogether different and imaginary territory (yet real too, (t)here it is, the gallery), is a consistency, a known sound, holding together, like a space between words, the space a refrain - e.g. by that which, in effect, divides: the space and the white room are the components which "release processes of discernibility, specialization, contraction, and acceleration that open new possibilities ..." - the heterogeneous elements. Consistency by inconsistency.(22)

"The refrain fabricates time ..."(23)

Yours (minor), (signed) 'a' Territory ...



Linda Marie Walker




Notes:
1. Louise J. Kaplan, Female Perversions, Pandora Press, London, 1991: 271

2.Peter Bishop, The Greening of Psychology, The Vegetable World in Myth, Dream, and Healing, Spring Publications, Inc., Dallas, 1991: 4

3.ibid: 4/5

4.ibid: 5

5.Cecelia Clarke, 1991 (see catalogue cover image)

6.Gertrude Stein, How To Write, Dover Publications, Inc., NY, 1975: 123

7. Art Pepper & Chet Baker, Minor-Yours, on Playboys, CD, recorded 1956

8. Clarice Lispector, The Apple in the Dark, trans. Gregory Rabassa, Virago Press Limited, London, 1985: 256

9. Gaston Bachelard, On Poetic Imagination and Reverie, trans. Colette Gaudin, Spring Publications, Inc., Dallas, 1987: 103

10. Gilles Deleuze & Felix Guattari, 1837: Of the Refrain, in A Thousand Plateaus, Capitalism & Schizophrenia, trans Brian Massumi, University of Minnesota Press, Minneapolis, 1991: 311

11. Bachelard: 87

12. Julia Kristeva, The Adolescent Novel, in Abjection, Melancholia and Love, ed. John Fletcher & Andrew Benjamin, Routledge, London, 1990: 8

13. ibid: 14

14. ibid: 10

15. ibid: 11

16. ibid: 10

17. Stein: 196

18. Kaplan: 83

19. ibid: 84

20. ibid: 91

21. Bishop: 7

22. Deleuze & Guattari: 336

23. ibid: 349

This text was written for the exhibition possible clouds, recent works by Cecelia Clarke & Bronwyn Platten, Experimental Art Foundation, Adelaide, Feb/Mar 1993


Intro