A custom: to save the wishbone of the turkey, of a chicken; let it dry for a time. Hold one end of the inverted Y at the very bottom and your partner holds the other end. Each makes a wish, after which you pull simultaneously until the bone snaps. Whoever holds the larger part gets what was wished for. How widespread is this ritual? For it to be present in a culture requires a population of carnivorous dreamers.
I offer you now this wishbone, only one end of which I can know. I can show you this end, but I cannot tell the hopes I have for it. It is bad luck to tell my wish. The proverb comes to mind: be careful what you wish for, because it might come true. My proposal is for you to compose the other half of this wishbone. We may decide later if we want to risk breaking the wings of the inverted why just in case.
You will recognize in my part of the bone the project of cyberpidgin (the pigeonhole as an image of 'inventio' - but any container is capable of serving as artificial memory). Now is not the time for explanations, as if that were possible. Instead let me tell you how I came to own copies of the sheet music for the first three preludes for guitar by the Brazilian composer Heitor Villa-Lobos. These preludes are the material of my part of the why: 'en mi mineur, en mir majeur, en la mineur'. The economy of do, re, mi, fa, so, la, ti, do. It starts here.
The sheet music came from a man named Bob Long. At the memorial service for Bob I told this story about how we met. A telephone call from a complete stranger named Robert Long. In those days the university library did not recall books from faculty members. If the one requesting the overdue book was also a faculty member, the library provided the phone number of the person holding the book. This stranger named Bob asked if I had checked out the German edition of Heidegger's book on Nietzsche. I had. Having read this book some years earlier, and hoping to find someone to discuss it with, Bob had been monitoring the shelves to see if anyone else would check it out. He did not want to call in the book, but to meet the person who checked it out.
When the muggers confronted Bob on his way home from Albertson's, walking with his daughter at 10pm, Bob had several different kinds of expertise trained into his body - mathematics, classical guitar, and the marines. I never learned all the details. Did he know the young blacks had a gun? It was silver, his daughter said. Was it because he wanted to protect his daughter? She survived as the witness. Which of his skills was the most appropriate one for the crisis? Is the archetypal division of human faculties an adequate measure - mathematics for mind, guitar for heart, marines for guts?
The last time I saw Bob - just a few days before he was murdured - he had justs come out of the Old Book Gallery, the used-book store (no longer in business). I was just on my way in, and he was unlocking his bicycle. We exchanged three or four sentences. Very glad to see one another, but no time to talk. No time at all. The crime remains on the books, unsolved. Statistics suggests the young men will have paid for their actions in any case, without the intervention of the law. Not on purpose for the first time, I was in that part of the stacks, Library of Congress, key of B, German Philosophy, Heidegger, when I glimpsed a man with a bicycle. Sometimes you see it, students with expensive bicycles, take them in the elevator. Heidegger's Nietzsche in German is on the shelf, monitored by this ghost.
I have to invert this why (why Bob? why, Bob?) for it to become a wishbone. The inversion is not Long, but longing: 'saudade', the samba feeling and not only samba, the longing or yearning experienced in the unstable bodies constructed in Brazil. Listening to the music composed by Villa-Lobos, I wonder: that name perhaps is the gift I did not expect? Is there an end to these whys? The electronic question is: at what place might my whys converge with yours to make a pidgin wishbone? Will we recognize that connection for what it is?
Yours in Florida, Greg Ulmer
When I wrote to you a day or so ago, to see if you were 'home', I called this work, writing, that we are doing 'The Wishing Way'. I had translated 'why' as 'way'. And this seems so, that why is a way. That wishing is a way, that wishing is an act, albeit secret, the secrecy being central to the act, upon longing. To dance, with someone, or alone, is to be somewhere, perhaps, one would like/prefer to be, or to be someone one is not, and yet 'is' then, in that moment, for a moment. To be the dance.
I know the wishbone custom slightly differently. The wish is make after the bone is broken, only by the one who 'wins'. There is no wish beforehand. The gift is as much the opportunity to wish, as the wish itself. This, the smallness of the difference, is crucial. To 'win' the right to wish. Or, the right to be known to be wishing. To be watched to wish. To watch a wishing person. And to hope that that wish will come true. Or, not. Depending. Wishing then, the watching of wishing, is such delight, as (could this be so) it brings into view the/a way. There is no wish before the why-bone is broken. And then a ghost of a chance, yearning permitted through the wish.
My mother's name was Mulshine, an American name, apparently, sometime. Now in Australia there are very few with this name. And becoming less. My mother has two brothers, and they have daughters. They each wished for a son. There is no-one to carry the name/way on. I wish I could track down the American Mulshines.
A wish could be a curse. Is the wish close to the curse. The wish, as far as I know, must not be said outloud. The curse is: like chant, a chant can be a cantata: a text set to music. If you tell the wish to someone, make it sound, all is lost. Language, on the air, dispells the wishes chance. Isn't that amazing. When spoken, hope dissolves. So much unsaid then, if life is full of wish, of longing. I never know what you wish, I never know what you think. You might live inside wish, you might live for wish, you might yearn forever. I mull this over. I shine it, rub (up, against) the sense, to make it come out, word by word.
Bo Catlett says to Chili Palmer in Elmore Leonard's 'Get Shorty': ""You asking me do I know how to write down words on a piece of paper? That's what you do, man, you put down one word after the other as it comes in your head. It isn't like having to learn how to play the paino, like you have to learn notes. You already learned in school how to write, didn't you? I hope so. You have the idea and you put down what you want to say. Then you get somebody to add in the commas and shit where they belong, if you aren't positive yourself. Maybe fix up the spelling where you have some tricky words. There people do that for you. Some, I've even seen scripts where I know words weren't spelled right and there was hardly any commas in it. So I don't think it's too important. You come to the last page you write in 'Fade out' and that's the end, you're done."
Chili said: "That's all there is to it?"
Chili said, "Then what do I need you for?"
You can hear Chili mulling over Bo's speech on writing. And it mulls (lulls) him right into writing, no wish needed, just a mull. Mull has heat and sugar and spice, something comes about, changes, appears as something else. You ponder, you cook (you drink that hot wine), you walk (on the promontory). I like to walk (I promenade by the sea, I live by the sea, in the sunshine), I am a Walker, and I have mulshine in me. I mull and I walk. That's life.
The words are said, out loud. Like wish, for death. A little sacrifice. Who knows, things might be better. "When someone says 'drop dead' in a Weldon novel, we start searching for the body." (R. Barreca, Writing as Voodo: Sorcery, Hysteria, and Art, in 'Death and Representation', ed. S. Goodwin & E. Bronfen, John Hopkins University Press, Baltimore & London, 1993: 179) To think those two perfect words, as curse, to be delivered. Drop dead. And to think too: don't think that, it might come true. No way of knowing. That's for sure. Small small words, scarcely there, but sound. Bells, tinkling in the breeze, from the heart, so sad. That has been broken. Meanwhile: the body is parted, from the damned, or so it thinks. The curse has begun. Nothing to see, or hear, on the surface. And is too rich, rich to beyond, at the very moment of entry, ongoing. The folds of the wound are ground, & mute is to cruel, what hope is to pause. Who carries you off, this is the question. Who wants you dead. What is wished, is wished. Requires time, minute work.
I added an 'l' to get mull. And mull is also mould and dirt and dust and garbage. A muller is a stone to crush/pulverize matter on. To break up and make very very small. A stone to grind spices (before they are heated) on.
And mul. A prefix. Seems to come from 'mur' or 'mer': black: mulberry/murberie: black berry. Mur/mul: black. Mulch, the black rotted stuff. And mule and mulatto. A spanish word for mixed breed. And mule, a backless reddish leather slipper. A slip-on.
The bone is still drying, yet, already, I have slipped on the 'shine' shiney past. And slipped on the wish for watching the wish write, as it glows, as it wishes to be said. Wishing talks of wishing, and wishes upon the sound of the snapped bone. On death. Which wishing way to go: the one of wishing before the break, where both players get to think a wish. Or the one where wishing comes after the break, to the one who 'wins' (the bigger bit/part). To lose here is not to wish, to not even think a wish.
I wish you well, LMW
Two ways to wish; and these had only to do with one custom (the wishbone). There must be many others. The pidgin part of this experiment might be satisfied if we collected more examples of wishing practices, as reminders of opportunities to appeal to fortune that might otherwise be overlooked. The archive would show that in the United States and in Australia people wish in these ways, and that this shared wishing might support other kinds of understanding.
The differences in the practices are as important as what they share, as you explained. I started with a pair - the wish and the why - to which you added the way. All of this is so preliminary; so many paths offer themselves. Except the why. I know not to ask why. The wishbone showed me that the wish could be another way to learn about what the why forecloses: the inverted Y with you holding one end and me the other. Make a wish, I said, hiding the why. Now I am in difficulty. I cannot tell the wish either: do not ask why and do not tell the wish. Your reply reopened the way with its alternative to the opposing wishes, so let me try that direction.
Chorography concerns my places, my haunts, and yours now. You know I have to explore this idea since I do whatever Derrida tells me to. The time of my haunts is measured by 'saudade' - the samba feeling. We started this dance with 'Noon Star', introducing the different times of day that mark perhaps a temperamental difference (noon and twilight in my terms). That barscreen is still in progress here as well as there: it is all fetishturgy. 'Saudade' is teaching me how to notice time - the past as regret and the future as wish, for a start. I tell you this so that we might collaborate (I need your help).
Our archive might include then some specific haunts marked by wishbones (why upside down). It may seem that I am changing the subject, changing my subject. It may seem that I am talking about whether at times (or not). This illusion has to do with the flowers planted in the divider of the four-lane street that children must cross to get to Westwood Middle School a few blocks from my home. I do not mean the large beds of flowers tended by city workers. I mean that one plant just at the front corner at the beginning of the turn lane, placed there by the parents of the boy killed by a car on his way to school. Investigators concluded it was the boy's fault; he failed to look behind him when he turned his bicycle out into the street. The car that struck him with the force of the legal limit of 40 miles per hour was driven by the boy's own pediatrician, as it happened. The boy was not supposed to cross at this spot, but to go all the way down to the intersection, overseen by a crossing guard. The last thing his mother said to him as he went out the door was: be careful crossing the street.
Actually it is not this careless boy that concerns me, but another child much younger, still in diapers, whose death was reported in the local newspaper. He died during a toilet training incident, apparently. Tired of soiled pants, the father held his son by the ankles and dunked the boy's head repeatedly into the toilet basin, inadvertently dashing the skull against the porcelain sides. The investigator said: he basically used the kid as a plunger. The two mishaps have come together in the following way. At the modest, nearly invisible memorial planted on the street divider (with permission from the city) the image of this second boy sometimes appears. The effect resembles what happens when a slide is projected without a screen, and then when a person or object is placed in the line of projection, the image becomes visible. Thus the photograph of the two-year-old flashes into view on the sides of passing cars or the shirts of pedestrians.
Whether anyone else has seen this effect I have not been able to determine, since the few times I have tried to speak of it the only words that come out have to do with landscape. My recollections of Gombrich citing the eleventh-century artist Sung Ti take over the conversation: his advice to choose an old tumbledown wall and throw over it a piece of white silk. Morning and evening you should gaze at it until, at length,you can see the ruins through the silk, its prominences, its levels,its zig-zags, and its cleavages, storing them up in your mind and fixing them in your eyes. Make the prominences your mountains, the lower part your water,the hollows your ravines, the cracks your streams. Get this all into you and soon you will see men, birds, plants, and trees, flying and moving among them. You may then ply your brush according to your fancy.
In other words, I can only make excuses for myself, using my knowledge of art history (of the role of projection in the creative process) to conceal my confusion about this experience of glimpsing the face by the flowers. Confusion. Except here, in email, in which the excess of wasted words is already so immense, so infinite, that all censors drop away as if to say: say whatever you want; no-one is paying attention. In this moment of freedom I can tell you that the next picture is always: that father (now in jail) reading a bedtime story to his son. What was the story? A fairytale (in my version). What did Ernst Bloch say in 'The Principle of Hope' about the not-yet? About the fairytale supporting the wish, sustaining that difference, that gap of longing that separates humans from the immediacy of the given world. I know better than to ask why.
Yours ever, U
I read my horoscope (Scorpio) today, 27.2.96, and wished that it come true: "There are times in life when you know that you have made an appointment with destiny, but are frustrated because you can do nothing to hasten matters to resolution. Difficult as accepting that time is one thing you cannot control, developments will have been worth waiting for." I shiver.
Now, I know what this refers to (I reckon). I'm wishing to know this, I'm wishing to know the future, now. It's my wish for today. And I will mull it over, brood on it, taste it, take it as the indicator, as the breathalyser. Am I guilty. I'll wish upon it, the horoscope, marvel at how it 'speaks to me'. That is: I will 'take' hope. This hope of wishing. It's as if this which I have read lays across my day, as a very light veil, or a trellis perhaps, that I can imagine the sweet jasmine creeping over. And this, the jasmine, is an "appeal to fortune". Suddenly my day has opened: something is possible.
Yesterday, the man at the health store said, after I'd made a joke about the vitamins I'd purchased making me into a new-woman: "anything is possible". And immediately I remembered a trip to Srinagar, and a stay on a house-boat in the still misty winter, and the freezing weather that prevented our getting to Leh (Ladakh) several times, and our host saying everytime we packed our bags and headed for the airport (knowing the plane would never leave in 'these' conditions): "anything is possible". It was his joke, although I was convinced by it, it meant nothing more than the three words. It was not about hope at all. So, there in the health store I was in Kashmir. An effect of double 'landscaping', or sort of scratching into the land of my memory, a landscratching. A little like your 'projection' of the little boy. The past and the future: the attempt to leave and the making new, past and future: being haunted.
And the "appointment with destiny" fills me with regret. My life passes before my eyes, death is happening. Dry and brittle. Just like the wishbone is meant to be before it 'breaks'. Here anyway the bone is supposed to be put aside until it is 'dry'. The wishing is deferred, the bone sits on the windowsill, and is watched, is a reminder of the future time, tomorrow perhaps, when the hands of two people will be so close, yet not touch, and they will 'pull' apart a small crucial bird-bone. The drying of the bone, time to think, like with oracles: the 'wording' of the question will determine the answer.
I am paying attention, or sometimes I read words and immediately forget them, even yours. Yesterday I read this: "We will project an image of ourselves onto a field of study and recognize our reflection in it."(1)
And this reminded me of graffitti. Which here in Adelaide is an active art, including on the footpath by the front gate. And local councils are just as active at removing it. Today, on the front page of our state newspaper is a large colour photograph of a small section of a dry cracked river bed and a concrete wall. This is the site of a terrible death. A twenty year old man, driving a Mazda RX4, was killed there when he was "shunted through the concrete pillars and guard rails of the Little Para River bridge, on Port Wakefield Road ..." He'd been chased for twenty kilometres (a kilometre for every year) after an argument (called "a verbal exchange") at traffic lights. His two friends with him were injured. In the middle of the picture is a glass coffee jar filled with water and with three roses just poking above the rim: a white one, a red one, and an orange one. Behind, on the wall, is a large piece of orange/yellow graffitti, almost the same colour as one of the roses: R.I.P SHANNON. It's a beautiful picture. Police are still looking for the other car, "a white 1978 Chrysler Sigma". The headline reads: Murder at 140km/h. SHANNON was murdered, early hours of a hot Sunday morning: 3.30. His car had exploded on impact. Language led to flames.
Coming back from visiting my parents in the country at Christmas I passed a gum tree on the side of the road with some type of container nailed to it and full of red flowers. A memorial.
I have realized the terrible potency of the not-yet. The wait (for the bone to dry). For the sun to shine, although it has for days. Does waiting for the bones to be brittle stop the world.
Like when the candles are blown out, or more likely, the brief time between the drawing-in of 'enough' air, and the blowing out of it, onto the flames. The idea being that all the fire be extinguished in one breath. Only then is the wish possible. The body uses its own waste to bring a future gift. The wish come true.
Perhaps graffitti (from 'graffio', a scratch: a scratching onto a surface, a scratching onto memory) is a way to wish too. A way of saying goodbye, of opening up the time ahead, of marking the present onto the past. Of breaking the law of the known, and the acceptance of the known. Of making the dream of 'my' world, somehow visible. Graffitti is another type of scratching now, it isn't into the surface, revealing the underneath, the ground below, it is an addition, a placing over, a changing of the surface by another surface. Like the white silk over the old wall, watching until something else comes about, and 'taking' this as the visible world.
I miss not having the coins in the Christmas pudding. These could be wished upon. Now the currency can poison you. Wish & die. I look for falling stars to wish upon. I am alert to saying the exact same thing at the exact same time as someone else: do you know this one: you entwined your little finger with their's and wish. I don't know why. Just the pleasure of having spoken in unison, a recognition of the slim chance of that.
'Wish' comes from 'venerable'. And 'venerable' comes from uenerari (latine) meaning " to address (to a god) a request or supplication for a favour or a forgiveness, hence to pay the utmost respect to". There is quite a long entry in Partridge's 'Origins'. 'Wish' is a germanic cognate of venerable, and a weakened version of 'to desire'. However 'venerable' moves through a range of opportunities: take pleasure, love, to poison, to pursue, to dwell, to accustom. I guess 'to wish' is to make an offering to the venerable. To the not-yet, but present anyway. Like my horoscope, already destined. The wish is excess, it's the more we hope for (the forgiveness too), for nothing, for the energy it gives, like writing, like the lovely abyss of words. The reason to wish, to write. Like the candles on the cake. Burning, then out. And as the knife is plunged through the chocolate icing we wait, someone closes their eyes, sees something, and dreams.
This is for SHANNON, and his twenty years and his twenty kilometres, and all his wishes.
(1) Paul Mann, The Nine Grounds of Intellectual Warfare, Postmodern Culture, v.6 n.2, 1996
Kind regards, LMW
Landscratch. You have found another one of the markers. I have this scene now of interlocking little fingers. Cyberpidgin has to learn from these traditions of magic, coming out of the shaman's pouch, in order to accomplish the interface design of fetishturgy. We are writing a fetishscreen over a homepage. Landscratch found the dowsing rod.
I am beginning to understand what the bones are saying in this divination process. We are those dowsers who wandered over the grounds of certain premises holding the fork of the rod in their two hands, the rod pointing downwards. A forked stick of hazel was best for finding water, while other woods or even metals were used for finding ore. The Germans referred to it as the wishing-rod and used it the same way fortune tellers use cards or tea leaves. Rhabdomancy or divination by means of little pieces of stick is an ancient practice. George Dowsing had some skill in the art. Those who attempted to turn this natural phenomenon to the ends of finding treasure consulted Dowsing and other scholars for help. Dowsing managed to raise several spirits in a glass of water, those spirits being no more than an inch long and mistakable for a shadow.
This shape repeats, creating the pattern. This time the Y is upright, if I have in mind that letter of the alphabet, that ambivalent vowel (and sometimes why?) of avowal and disavowal. The dowsers were brought to England from the mines of the Harz mountains in Germany. The geology of the heart is in question. The real alchemists always knew the gold was spiritual. The dowsers held the device by the forks of the why, pointing the stem downwards, waiting for this stem to move of its own accord, due to some sympathy between the material of the rod, the body of the dowser, and the treasure below. These shapes - the wishbone or the wishing rod - bear some relationship to the question I am asking (why?), the question I said I had learned not to ask.
Still am I hoping that you will answer nonetheless, if only to delay that moment when I will have given up? Rather, my condition is that of the double-bind, the dilemmatic aporia, which perhaps is why deconstruction attracted me so. My feeling came first; I recognized my feeling in that theory. Intellectually I know that nothing I do will improve the world. Emotionally I believe that my actions may make a difference for the better. Fetishturgy is the style of writing through this aporia. The why is dead and its energy is withdrawn into the wish. Or, I am operating the materials of the why (of enlightenment knowledge, of theory and method) as if they were hazel forks or chicken bones.
Can I do this? Can I inhabit the theory of story as if it were the narrative itself? More than the narrative, as if knowing the theory put the narrative directly into life itself? I know that the fairy tale and the wish it expresses are the safehouse of the utopian impulse. Fetishturgy places me within such a narrative, at once specific and general. From here the Y-why is the circulating prop that is at once the key to the magic tool the donor gives to the hero, and the empty square that makes signification possible. Otherwise the story has disintegrated. Am I the donor in this story? That is what I believe. It does not matter whether or not I have hope, or if I even know what I am doing. Education is like the hut of Baba Jaga, where many are destroyed, but some acquire the magic tool, the wishing why. Or is this just the bedtime story that educators have put themselves to sleep with for so many centuries? Is the inch-long movement in the jar a spirit or a shadow?
Have I put you in an untenable position? Have I compromised you with these demands? Often when teaching informal logic I show that scene from the film 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail' that demonstrates the structure of the joke as a form of fallacious reasoning. The knight helps the villagers determine whether a local woman is a witch by seeing if she floats. The script emphasizes the fallacious inference path torturously drawn through the problem. We all laugh. Recently I realized that this scene is based on the life of Matthew Hopkins, the most famous witch-finder of his day, who travelled the counties of Essex, Sussex, Huntington, and Norfolk, examining females suspected of witchcraft (fetishism). I should have known that they would have researched their jokes. His ultimate test was that of swimming. The hands and feet of the accused were tied together crosswise, after which she was wrapped in a sheet and tossed into a pond. If she sank she was deemed innocent (albeit drowned). If she floated she was deemed guilty and executed. In one year Hopkins oversaw more than sixty deaths by this means.
What the Ys have in common is this searching, looking - the dowsing rod was also known as the detecting wand. The donor does not seek, but gives the magic tool as a gift to those not destroyed by the tests of worthiness. To whom? Someone then must be seeking in order to need the magic tool at all? The wishing why. Without the whole story there is no donor and no gift. Someone always misunderstands, turns the method to digging for treasure, and, as happened with those who consulted George Dowsing, become vengeful once disillusioned. The first to feel the force of the disappointed treasure hunter are the scholars who showed them spirits in a jar. This confusion of the material for the spiritual; perhaps it has something to do with which way the why is pointed (earth or sky, the old binaries, as in 'The School of Athens').
Best wishes, Greg
Do you know the 'hum', a humming sound. The electronic dowsing rod (divining/gramming cyberly). The hum increasing, magicly, as it nears the 'something', water perhaps, gold, silver, a watch or ring, a lost gift. And a humming in and through the air, a stone from a sling-shot, another Y: a little weapon, to kill the birds. A child's machine. The stone humming toward the bird, or the cat, or the window.
A humming machine, a wishing machine. The voice, humming, wishing. This is what I've come to: the ear. Listening. Listening to pieces of sound. What you say, for instance: what I hear. I hear my own voice. I hear 'yes' and 'no'. I am wishing for the machine to hum over me, to divine my ears.
For a sling-shot, a rubber band is tied across the top of the Y, and if you pull it back and release it, it vibrates. Like the ear of the heart. So I am thinking that wishing is sound heard by the ear, the way a chant is said out loud, so others can hear, and so oneself can hear. Says and hears at the same time. I am tone deaf.
The wish-bone is a sling-shot. When it's broken (I, the break), it sends/sets off a hum, a virtual stone, into the world, as a divinating missive, and the ear hears the silent plea. Because this wish must not be heard by the other.
Perhaps it should be, perhaps a wish wants voice. Wants to hum itself into existence. Without the voice, wishing to the ear, the aporia widens to dilemmatic proportions, so much so that it divides, it opposes, it contorts. It hears no hum, it forgets to vibrate, to call, to cry, to want. It falls and falls, anxious. The choral voice, hums. The sweet fragments of opera, for instance. The dead are sung to the underworld ("Struck by tuning forks / the skull sings / on its base of salt / Silver evaporates from the mouth / while the pressure rises / you kick out into the swimming movements / and chop the space" (from: Libretto, by Ib Michael for 'Operation Orfeo', performed by Hotel Pro Forma (Denmark), Adelaide Festival, March 1996).
The wish must be given sound. Do you think, so the ear knows. So it can be scratched, landed, so it can continue narrating, continue like a drawn breath, an expelled note, a sigh even. To hang on a word, to be fetishized by sound: I wish. To be inside the wish, as story. To be the wish's wish. This would be love, and make a difference. To hear the wish wish for me. I am a donor, I can give the ear the wish, the magic. Then I will hear the sound too. At the same time the ear hears, so do I. And I am not the ear. This is not even an echo. Or an oracle. It's the magic itself. And this is no distance, and yet every distance (here) is traversed, just because I tell you. I donate my wish, not to wish for you, but so you know my wish, how I seek the wish's wish. The movement in the glass of water. Can I hear the wish's voice. Can I care enough for it. How can one hear as never before, write the Cage time, the hum. The hum wanders, it's the breeze of the body, detecting other ears, cavity of vibration.
Never put a stone in your ear. The 'coup de grace' was often 'delivered' through the ear. Ensuring 'you' will hear no more.
The wandering breeze, the wish to live, is withdrawn forever. To wish for treasure is the trouble. The why (Y) of it, and the whereall. There's an Ad on TV at the moment which 'stars' the wish. A genie tells a young man he can have three wishes (Y is it always three). He asks to be rich, loved, and 'cool'. He's turned into a packet of chocolate coated biscuits (Tim Tams) in a fridge, and a beautiful woman eats them with passion.
'Someone' always misunderstands. Will my ear re-make my wish-hum. Will I vibrate without rhythm. Can I precisely hear the oblique wish. Can I wish obliquely, I hope so. The hum might warn the wish of ambush. Of the scholar's desire for 'real' treasure. The ear hears via a thin and transparent membrane, easily ruptured and yet rarely so too. Hearing diminishes with age in my family. Sometimes my father doesn't hear the full sentence. The radio is turned up.
I am sometimes afraid of my own voice. I hear what it says, it predicts, it makes an off-the-cuff comment, and this eventuates, almost as if wished into existence. And it is not what I want, but what I fear. It's more a premonition, and yet it wasn't at the time. I wish that I'd never heard my voice. Still, when I wish, I remain silent. I should reverse these. Point the bone down. Feel the ears become three. And listen like never before. A choral listening, which alters speech, and teaches me to hum.
Or, the Y could be laid down, lined up, with the horizon, like a plane, becoming a surface, like this, to work from. This is the wish.
Now I understand you better, but tell me if I am wrong. Embedded in this guess is the future of cyberpidgin. We began with the idea of fetishturgy (apologies for the neologisms), wanting to form an international discourse, a postcolonial pidgin not of trade but of the gift, as a countertalk to the colonial transfer of technology that continues by means of the internet. In principle the question we asked concerned the possibility of communicating across the differences separating one society from another in the absences of shared languages or cultures. Admitting that Australia and Florida are not other, not so alien to one another, still, there was the distance, symbolic of so much else, and all the differences between two people, after all.
Then in the middle of our coming into tune, an event took place, set itself up as a vision, as if addressed to us. I had been reading Michael Chekhov's 'Lessons for the Professional Actor', noticing that each lesson was dated, without remarking at first that these dates were not just any year or season. The lessons covered the autumn of 1941. One lesson each week. When I reached the lessons of December, my memory twitched. December 5, he still has no idea what will have happened. He discusses his key idea - atmosphere - from which everything else follows: gesture with qualities, characterization. The lesson is on the psychological gesture which the actors are to visualize for themselves, but in secret, as the organizing image creating an atmosphere out of which the performance of the actual scenes will unfold. I wonder what he will have said about Pearl Harbor in the next lesson?
The question has to be transferred to us in 1996: what will we have said about Dunblane? In this era of improved global information is there anyone who did not hear the words of the headmaster of the school in Dunblane, Scotland, where a man slaughtered sixteen 5- and 6-year-old students and their teacher before turning his gun on himself? "Evil visited us yesterday, and we don't know why." *We don't know why?* No, we don't know, Y. Mark the site with this Y, this wishing Y. The postcards bearing the single-word question "why," reportedly arriving from around the world, show how difficult it is to learn not to ask why. For us this means: the need for cyberpidgin is local first of all. "Slaughter" - the universal floating signifier. It is understood everywhere yet has no meaning.
I am looking now at this story as it is laid out in a major news magazine, with a circulation in the millions of readers. It reveals why Wittgenstein, when he saw one of the earliest examples of this kind of magazine representation of an event - in his case a story about a fatal car accident, complete with diagrams - why he experienced the insight that allowed him to complete the writing of his 'Tractatus', stalled precisely by this difficulty concerning the relation of language to event. Propositions are pictures, he said, pictures of states of affairs (that is how I remember it). It was the diagram of the accident that mediated his eureka. Like the diagrams of the murder scene at Dunblane, tracing the path of the "monster," "Mr. Creepy," through the school, to the spot upon which he put himself down.
Dunblane is a sacrifice in an economy of the gift. Evil visited us yesterday and we don't know Y. Evil found us, with its Y that does not care, but helps all comers find a wish, lets the bullets hum. You and I know that this diagram is an allegory. No, not an allegory but a psychological gesture, this man with a gun running amok here, is an atmosphere we produce in our state of affairs. The event could have falsified fetishturgy, but it did not, as witnessed in the fate of Robbie Hurst, the only child out of the 28 in the gymnasium who escaped unharmed. He was lucky. Luck. I would rather be lucky than good, my old coach used to say. A fetish is fundamentally a good-luck charm. I can imagine that these children already knew about luck, and had picked a four-leaf clover or its Scottish equivalent, on a picnic. Did Robbie think of his sling-shot in those few moments of his meeting with Goliath?
Dunblane is Y. Y = Dunblane, in the calculus of fetishturgy. The event enters culture in many ways. In the discourse of Entertainment (the news report in whatever medium), Richard Hamilton is a monster in a fairy tale, a tale to serve as caveat, by the grim brothers. Beware. We prefer those stories in which the plucky little adventurer confounds the monster and comes through the drama by means of the magic tool whose use suddenly becomes obvious at the moment of need. The donor gives away the Y. We forget about the silent part of the lesson, implicit, in silhouette - that without the magic tool the adventurer perishes, like those children in the class picture taken the day before the event. Even worse: the magic tool may not help. This gift is what our civilization believes in and teaches. Only one of you, it says to all who listen, to the group, only one of you. Each one hears this proposition as if it were addressed personally. Only one. The lucky one. The rest serve as sacrifice in this allegory. No, in this gesture each of us has internalized in the play of life.
That is the lesson in how to write: to take in the event as a figure of speech, the way an actor forms a psychological gesture to inform a scene of words with spirit and life. It may not be this event in particular, it may not be a disaster at all, but such is the breath of meaning, carrying the movement of thought between particular and general through the popcycle of discourses. The event becomes a scene and moves from public history to private image in me: Mr Creepy fits the type of the mass-murderer - a white male loner without hope. Without hope. The only difference between Hamilton and me is that I am able to adopt his action as a metaphor: his action is an image of my own feeling.
As soon as I see the report I recognize a correspondence between this external event and a possible inner atmosphere. Yet once I try that idea and take it as my own - sign it and take responsibility for it - everything is transformed. The scene begins to unfold in its totality, showing me that I am also Gwen Mayor whose dream was simply to have her own class of pupils. I am the parent arriving at the morgue. I am Robbie, marked for life with the holocaust syndrome. The scene becomes a complicated ambiguous drama about hope, and not a proposition about hopelessness. The utopians might say: poetry. If poetry were a greater part of our life, then As in the case of Dante who hated his town so much he put them all in the event called "Inferno." This as-if spared the city and gave history a masterpiece instead of a murder. If only, they wished, Y. Mark it Y.
As for you, you gave away your wish, and that is how I came to know you better. For wishes are transferable; not the content but the event. Y not? Neither wish nor why, but this gesture is what is important. Your nature is to let me have the chance, without judging the comparative value of your wish against mine. Or are they transferable? You sacrificed your wish by telling it. Had you guessed that was my wish, to know your wish? Magic has its rules, too, and luck its own ways. Dunblane is the question; fetish is the answer. The Y is how. The donor has the magic tool. The story comes to us that Mr. Creepy has killed the donor, and we think: so, the story must not be over. We wait.
Afterwards it all lends itself to a diagram; we know exactly the path traced by the monster. We may answer all the journalists questions save one: how, what, when, where. If these were vowels we would say, and sometimes Y; but never why. Instead, the path becomes legend, from which the wish departs, to face into time. Look upstream, they told me, when you stare into the rushing river; otherwise you might get dizzy and jump in. Yes; to jump into the river of time. The Dunblane of why. The 9mm state of affairs. The proposition of hopelessness. Vertigo, becoming disoriented, not telling past from future, turning around, moving through, tracing a path, visiting a site, honoring a memory, sending a postcard, touched from a distance, biting back the question, not asking it, not thinking it, acting as if, making a gesture, gathering the lessons. Always living between December 6 and December 8, always surprised by the totally familiar. The uncanny.
Best wishes, Greg
On Melrose Place this week there was a line, Amanda to Jane: "Just be careful what you wish for Janey."
I was reading The Fragment Word by Maurice Blanchot in 'The Infinite Conversation' and came to this: "Speech as archipelago: cut up into the diversity of its islands and thus causing a surging of the great open sea; this ancient immensity, the unknown always still to come, designated for us only by the emergence of the earth's infinitely divided depths. The eternal wish once again finds its force: "But who can re-create around us that immensity, that density that was really created for us and, once, though not divinely, bathed us on all sided."
And in the local paper, The Advertiser, this morning the cartoon is two smoking bullets (cartridges) forming the word 'WHY?' And there you have it, after Australia's (and perhaps the World's) "worst shooting spree" by a lone gunman. So far there are thirty two people dead and sixteen wounded (five serious: head, chest, abdomen). This happened at Port Arthur in Tasmania - that small island south of here - a tourist destination, an historic convict settlement, on a Sunday, the busiest day: "described by witnesses as in his teens or early 20s and like a 'surfie' in appearance - (he) opened fire on visitors at the site's cafe and souvenir shop with a high-powered rapid fire rifle he slipped from a tennis bag." (The Australian, April 29) He'd arrived in a Volkswagon, he had blond hair.
Overnight he was holed-up at the Seascape Lodge, a small guesthouse a few kilometres from the Port Arthur site, with three hostages. Just a while ago (this morning) he set the place on fire and police where able to 'apprehend' him, and he is described as 'partly burnt'. There is no sign of the hostages.
Port Arthur is, in the pictures, the sandstone ruins of a brutal penal settlement, and set on 45 hectares of grassy parkland. Described in a report as 'strangely beautiful'. "The one time 'model-prison' is set against a typically Tasmanian back-drop of a bay and islands, including the Isle of the Dead, and has become a picturesque drawcard for mainland and international tourists." It is a landmark of Australia's penal past, used between 1830 and 1877. In 1852 it became the 'model-prison', meaning the lash and other instruments of torture were given up as 'methods' of correction, and possibly the panopticon (surveillance) was introduced. Prisoners were then "locked in solitary confinement to work in total silence, with the system extending to prisoners wearing masks whenever they left their cells." (ibid.) And there is more of course ... the crimes for which they were sentenced included "burglury, receiving, forging, uttering and unnatural acts." (ibid.)
Port Arthur is testament to brutality, and it is spectacle. There are 1769 convicts and paupers buried there. The newspapers are calling yesterday Bloody Sunday. The shooting started inside the Broad Arrow Cafe, after the gunman had eaten. Everyone who heard the gunfire thought a re-enactment was underway and they began moving toward the noise, so as not to miss anything, the spectacle, the entertainment. Other people thought children were throwing pine cones on the tin roof of the cafe. Someone else paid no notice to the first shots "believing they were someone 'shooting rabbits'." (ibid.) The last thing the gunman was heard to say was: "There are a lot of WASPS around today, not many Japs."
The story continues to unfold, with the WHY taking up whole morning radio and tv programs. Who is to blame, etc. What wish did the young man harbour.
This terrible dance of death, and what infinite wishes must it have invoked in those who escaped, had near misses, who are full to overflowing with sudden, unimagined, unimaginable, stories. Already a memorial service has been arranged in Canberra today, to begin the mourning process. The whole fire-arms debate is urgent. Journalists are saying "the politicians have blood on their hands". The weapon was one not recommended for hunting, it was American.
The space opened up by massacre is a world, one which comes into sight as if from the air, and covers the one one thinks one knows, created in a moment, like Dunblane, and: "Evil found us, with its Y that does not care, but helps all comers find a wish, let the bullets hum." (Ulmer, Wishing Y 4)
For as long as I recall I have been fascinated by timing, by the accident say, like the little boy killed by his pediatrician, why did he cross at that spot at that exact moment. And why/Y yesterday did two couples linger at the ruins on their way to the Cafe where they had planned to be just when the gunman was there. And yesterday, too, I was sitting in the sun at an outside cafe with a friend at Glenelg, a popular tourist beach, watching the families walking about, and thinking of what I could wish for at this, a personal death-like, time. And later imagining any one of those other visitors reaching into a bag and shooting me. The fragility of that time drinking coffee and feeling the warmth and the breeze and the relaxed sense of nothingness/suspension.
One of those who lingered said, "It felt as if we were looking at a movie, not real life." (The Advertiser, ibid.) The great wishing medium, film. There it was right at the centre, as a way of description, as a way of telling us, the readers, what it was that was seen, what it seemed to be. The remove, from the scene to the scenario, the great explicitness of make-believe, that gives us a means to share our terror. The wishing-machine, the dream, the Y/Why, the "he just shot them down where they were sitting" (remember that scene is Pulp Fiction in the cafe, towards the end, the menacing of the sitters), he just shot them, how could/can 'why' be even addressed, I mean, how can it be spoken 'to', although it will be, and there will be much written. Grief.
And the distance, the space opened by the 'event', is about the 'something' that happens that, like a blow, a secret, cut free in an instant, exposed, that changes the whole atmosphere, and every breath that one takes.
The site, Port Arthur, is now re-marked, as if finished-off, or re-newed. Horror, blood, spread over horror, blood. Slaughter. Little maps in the newspapers, tracing the path of the gunman, pictures of ambulances, helicopters, victims, lingerers, The Fox and Hound Hotel.
The name of the man is still unknown, we do not have that yet to hang our disbelief on, and what will that bring, what strange and complex commentaries will that generate, as he did not kill himself. What will be invented around him. He has become writing, he is scripted, the X factor as well as the Y factor. And there was no magic, like in the fairy tales, to save the drama from disaster. The disaster went ahead, the explosion happened. Who was listening, the lingerers got the gift yesterday, each one of them, alone, know the gift. Know of timing, and they also know, simultaneously, how near the disaster is. How close a close shave is, how unknown a delay can be, that extra bit of conversation. As their lingering may have meant the opposite. And yes, hope. Someone said to me a few days ago: you're not hoping are you. And there was a radio session today on 'hope', how hope effects the body and thought, and I was happy to miss it. I've wished death, I thought I was dying, and was hoping for someone's death. And this is still going on, in me, presently, like all hell contained across my chest. A disaster in this room, acted out at Port Arthur: a huge rupture on a Sunday, the making of a world before unthought but known, in the heart at least. The luck of the lingerers, two of them from my suburb, being tourists. The question has been tranferred to Port Arthur, Tasmania, it circulates, stopping here and there, touching spots, breaking, smashing, crashing, and the heart on fire wishes to know how to return to love. And I have been dizzy too, looking into the rushing river, hopeless. The honouring of memory is the pain of being being. Forgetfulness: gentle hope.
Kind regards, LMW
*Theoria*- journalism now performs this function, once conducted by the group of men designated each as a *theoros*, one entrusted with travel to the site of an event, to gather all the available information, to return home with a tale authorized as the true account. Our Y probe has given us this figure to contemplate- the newspaper, the news magazine, containing an inventory of modern death. All the old ways of passing on are included, even if carried out by unheard-of tools: Islamic terrorists, genocide in Serbia, homicides motivated by all the known passions, accidents domestic and foreign, natural causes. This series began as a meditation on the obituary of a murder victim, my friend Bob Long. I invoked the mystery of his loss as a new departure in my study of longing, to enter into this mood as a structure of thought. Since then two examples of a new circumstance of death have occurred, one in Scotland, approaching the northern pole of the globe, and the other in Tasmania, approaching the southern pole. This new category might be called *total assassination,* following from *total war,* the term used to describe the extension of warfare to non-combatants. When sociopaths use assault weapons against random anonymous bystanders we are in the era of total assassination.
My opening thought was: I will not ask why this happened. Instead, I will think with this event, in conversation with it, as I formerly conversed with Bob Long. He was a mathematician interested in Philosophy in general, and in Heidegger specifically. This why suppressed in relation to the mathematician became Y. Let why = Y, in order to generalize to the event as such. Let his unsolved murder be the Event (*Ereignis* in Heidegger). I am trying to sum up now, in order to prepare a place for your final invitation to those who might collaborate with us. What was meant to be a prospectus for cyberpidgin- an experiment in developing a global reasoning through mood- is becoming increasingly remote. Yet it is composed as remote sensing in the electronic arts. I thought of the Y as a shape, as *upsilon* for example- the Greek i. This Greek i (or I) could take us in several directions. In Greek all initial *upsilons* were preceded by an *h* sound, or *rough breathing*. When Greek terms beginning in Y are anglicized the *h* is added (HYPERmedia). The H has been waiting before the Y to be noticed once again- the H pattern I first discovered haunting my signature in the mystory, 'Derrida at the Little Bighorn'.
My longing is a kind of dream-algebra, then, and the experiment is: may it be generalized? You will anticipate perhaps where it is leading: to the *H* in Helene Cixous, 'Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing', whose first section is: *The School of the Dead.* We are in that school now, in the era of total assassination. My earliest encounter with the *H* you will remember was the diagram etched on the shift knob of the truck transmission in my father's repair shed at the Miles City Sand and Gravel- the H instructed the user in the relationship among the gears of the transmission. I mention this place as an image of *Chora*, of my personal sacred. I think of it not in the mode of nostalgia, but *saudade* (*saudade* is to nostalgia what bliss is to pleasure, or the sublime to beauty). Cixous begins with the *H* by noting that in French it is out of breath, precisely silent. Much could be said about the rough silence formed between Greek and French, but I cannot stay now. She notes that the H is her first step on the ladder of writing. With this insight she brings us into a certain mystical tradition. One H on top of another, rung after rung, a ladder to be climbed as did Wittgenstein in his 'Tractatus', then to be kicked away.
*To begin (writing, living) we must have death ... but young, present, ferocious, fresh death, the death of the day, today's death,* writes Cixous. Let Y = death, so that I may outline our experiment. Returning to the stacks haunted by the ghost of Long, librarian of Heidegger's Nietzsche volumes, I stood in that pose familiar to all scholars: body parallel to the shelves, head cocked at an angle to read the titles on the spines of the volumes, row upon row (the neckbrace I will one day need for the hours passed in this stance should be covered by workman's compensation). Whatever caught my attention would be a statement from this spirit- that was my way of using fetishturgy. The spine that stopped in my Greek eye said, *the mystical element in Heidegger's thought.* Upon opening to the title page and seeing the author's name - John D. Caputo (someone I once knew) - I realized that I had read this book before (copyright 1978). It is a study of the relationship of Heidegger to Meister Eckhart, especially as mediated through the mystical poetry of Angelus Silesius, whose poem Heidegger took as a touchstone for his study of Being.
*The rose is without why; it blooms because it blooms
It cares not for itself; asks not if it is seen.*
The rose is without why. This thought had been given to me once before, but I was not prepared to receive it. Even now it has to be interpreted. The rose challenges my earlier idea that every suppressed why became a wish (the wishbone as upside down Y, upsilon-down). For the mystic rose the wish is as useless as the why, since the instruction is to let go of the self altogether. I receive everything about Heidegger's project to overcome metaphysics now in terms of writing - as a lesson in writing. As Caputo explained, Heidegger turned to the mystic rose as a counterpoint to Leibniz's principle of sufficient reason - itself a stand-in for the entire tradition of method and science in the West. *We have not yet begun to think* - this phrase has always fascinated me. It means that in the West reason became captured, enframed, entirely within this history of method (of calculative analysis). Grammatology shows that this capture was a feature of literacy. Heidegger's drive to leap out of or step back from metaphysics figures for me the goal of cyberpidgin to invent a discourse of electracy.
How does the mystic rose that is without why contribute to our experiment? My answer to that question concerns the function of the rose from Eckhart through Silesius to Heidegger as a vehicle of poetic reason. Electracy may think in Heidegger's terms, but this thinking does not exclude calculation. Rather grammatology suggests something more syncretic and less oppositional or dialectical, something part calculative and part metaphorical. The mystic and the poet reasoned about the soul by means of the rose, the rose as image, as figure of thought. These incidents of total assassination are this rose too, being without why. Further, they speak of the contemporary soul, revealing something of the violence that is required for a modern person to relinquish the self. These madmen show me what it will take to die unto myself, to become detached, to give up my will and open myself to the event of Being.
The mystic rose asked not if it was seen. My modern feeling has been: not to be seen is not to exist. Mr Creepy and Mr Surfer, in any case, had a global conversation, whose import was an electronic version of the Pyramids in Egypt, saying *look at me, Mom and Dad.* I once used the legend of Herostratus (who burned down the temple at Ephesus, one of the wonders of the Ancient world, in order to acquire the immortality of fame) to discuss existential envy. Once the ancient *Theoria* produced the official account of an event, no other version could be uttered. This power of *Theoria* to control discourse has expanded in the information age to encompass identity itself. No version of existence other than the one represented is permitted, and that version now is *celebrity*. Grammatology shows theoretically that selfhood is the form that identity takes in the apparatus of literacy. Collectively and individually people entering electracy will die to themselves, let go, let things be, detach from the ideology of consciousness. To convert to electracy, however, as you and I must do, is something more complicated.
Releasement has nothing to do with empirical matters; I may still advocate gun control, for example, and continue to be involved with practice, with applied grammatology, with prudence. To speak in this way is in any case too literal. Longing is not mystical as such, but proposes rather a direction for cyberpidgin. The practice I seek for a global discourse capable of sustaining virtual coversations among people with quite different local contexts may be sought in a hybrid of the traditions of calculation and wisdom, of science and mysticism, of method and poetry.
The basic act of cyberpidgin: accept an event - any event - as the vehicle in a metaphor whose tenor is *soul* or *subject.* Explore the properties of *soul* by means of the inventory of attributes available in the vehicle. Learn everything about this event as a provisional container that permits the feeling of Being to come into appearance. Compare these attributes with those produced by others online. Negotiate.
Best wishes, Greg
I was walking down Rundle Street, The Street in Adelaide, and saw in the window of a book/giftshop a 'Wishing Kit'. It costs $19.95. I went in and copied down half of the instructions: "Make your wishes come true with this Wish Kit, for it contains ancient magic for the modern world. This box contains 6 candles and 6 matchboxes. By pairing the appropriate match to its partner candle you can enliven the spirit and inspire the romantic. Categories for inventing your own fortune; Luck, Money, Peace, Friendship, Love, or Any wish of your choice." That's right: a kit for 'inventing' wishes. I didn't buy it but I was tempted. Instead I bought a CD: Cassandra Wilson's 'Blue Light 'Til Dawn' which has a very good version of 'I can't stand the rain'. (Which reminded me that farming is about wishing for rain (and not too much at the wrong time).) I think you might like this version as it has some good bluesy acoustic guitar with a bit of slide happening, I think.
And now I will write to you about your last reply to me (while dinner cooks), about what we might have been doing. It has been a surprise for me that we were taken by the newspaper stories, by the 'news', and particularly by death. But 'why' this has surprised me surprises me. I have been a newspaper addict forever. Wishing is to do with life and death, with how one wants, designs, a particular passage toward death. And every death rubs that - others wish that 'that' death does not happen to them, to me. It amazes us, I suppose, that such lengths are employed to make death happen to others. I've just seen a report on the tv news about a priest (Father Michael) in South Africa who lost both his hands and an eye from a 'parcel bomb'. He has a silver hook hanging off each arm. He lived. Did not pass-on, then. Wishing and longing, of course. To long to-write. I had not thought of that as wishing, for example: I wish to-write.
I was interested in the title given to the Tasmanian 'killer': 'a lone gunman'. It seemed so necessary to say that, while most 'Westerns', the films, books, are about 'the lone gunman'. Yet in Leonard Maltin's 'Movie and Video Guide 1995' I can only find one film that has a supportive title: The Lone Gun: "Standard Western of valiant hero shooting it out with outlaws, winning hand of rancher's daughter ..." About the hero: a curious thing happened this week in the 'news': a prominent historian, Professor Geoffrey Blainey, lamented that there was no "conspicuous bravery" during the Port Arthur massacre. You can imagine how the survivors feel. He said (during a book launch) that "Australians were placing less value on bravery, courage and valor than in previous generations. He acknowledged there were 'quiet acts of bravery' at Port Arthur and that no one had had much chance to overpower the the gunman ... But ... 'If, by chance, ... in the face of those terrible obstacles, somebody had managed to jump forward and disarm the man - even if the rescuer lost his life - in the end they would have half redeemed the episode, having the act of conspicuous bravery alongside the act of villiany." Chance. Redemption. These possibilities in retrospect, what can this mean. Here the why of reflection is even more unknowing, unanswerable, than the why of killing.
One of the survivors, Mr Ron Neander, whose wife was killed, said: "I wish to Christ he was there. He would have done what I did - cowered." Another man said, "We never had a hope in Hades." (The Advertiser, May 23 1996: 4) I see these words now in the news: wish, hope, etc. As if they belong there without question. And they do of course, they are our dreams. Let why = Y = U: you: you to/with the event, as such: u/the event. I think the event is U, as you come to the news, whatever it is. Derrida writes: "The questions of address and destination, of love and friendships (beyond even determinations of 'philea ' or charity) could lead us in numerous directions." ('Sauf le nom' in On The Name: 45) In which case how could there be 'a' prospectus, we are left with 'invitation' which is what we gave each other. Perhaps we both ignored the prospectus (the writing being so small and dense). Our mood though is never remote, it is the 'is' that has been the gift of energy, or irritation (the constant awareness of 'reply'). I think we've re-evaluated the idea of exchange, adjusted the mood of being in-touch. And then you wrote: "This Greek i (I) could take us in several directions. (You and the Big D said that.) The 'I' as address, your murdered friend, my loss, etc. The 'I' addressed gave us our 'directions'. And we allowed this: we took directions, we were available. I am happy with this, a sort of swerving and swaying (without bitterness). And also a respect for the I of us, each, even. and 'I' is generalised only in as much, perhaps, as it lets the I, which it is not, speak. And speaks then itself, and writes, as/at the moment of death, that generates, that throws up, compels, like a motor, that makes it necessary: to-write. I just recall: the first 'piece' I wrote was about suicide. It was called 'Absence of Desire'.
Wishing: "The misfortune or fortune - which will make our lives an unending struggle to be fair - is that 'in losing we have something to gain'. Mixed loss and gain: that's our crime. This is what we are always guilty of, guilt we can't do anything about with these unexpected and terrible gains." (Helene Cixous, The School of the Dead, in 'Three Steps on the Ladder of Writing': 11) She uses the H, from Helene. I have L, which is a glimpse of H, and M and W. I spread outward not upward. And I inverse, I put one letter over another, same shape, but without 'fit'. Unless I up-end the M or the W, and if I up-end both, I am again without fit, but not in the same place. I am WM and not MW. The L, you see, the alone L, must sit at some distance, not being the shape of the others. This is L's fate. Whatever that will be: lovely, lonely, lively, lanquid.
We have had ferocious 'new(s)' death during this writing. It has written itself into our days (of writing), we have written with it. And Y = death. The Y too as a way of looking, the crooked spine is Y. And it too will be a rose. Your spine = Y, not why. Your spine = a rose. And then this insight you handed me, and just now, this instance, I received: the wish is as useless as the why. Thank you. I have been haunted by the wish, by my 'what-if', as if it did dwell as a being in me, and walks, talks, touches, etc. And we did 'let go' (of) this project and see-what-happened. And 'news' affected us, from all of its sources. As a lesson in writing too. As coming inside our experience, outside of calculation or not 'completely' conditioned by (pre)calculation. We gave-in to something very early on. (Do you think.) And as you detect, still it is 'o'f calculation, partly, and I would say partly, it is heart. On my table I have two white roses from the garden. And calculation and heart are not opposed, they meet, rendezvous (you remember Barthes on rendezvous). They have an assignation. to die, to bring the 'I' a bit of relief, and painful still. Another whisky. I recall you like a glass of wine. And here I make myself invisible, so as to say, my version, my treatment (of the song of being-alive), my want to have you hear, my not-you-ness: to be imperceptible and to write imperceptibly and so to write and to-write is to-exist. This is the complication you mention. For me anyway. This electracy is the infinite conversation (Blanchot) where to detach is to go-on, to speak, wish, hop, die. And to-write. There is no release in release, even though it is too literal to say this too. You are right: "longing is not mystical". It is all that we can be, and bring. I guess. And everything comes into play. I do not live an ordinary life, even in its ordinariness, I am like everyone, going about my work: practicing.
Soul and subject and provisional heat. Heart. The fear of being on fire. Abandoned.
And yes, I have gone back to your beginning. We are holding (still) the wishbone (or again). And perhaps we'll not break it now. We'll keep it as bone, singular, intact, and not make it either a short or long end (ending). A win or loss.
And, the majority of Australians had a wish come true last week: "Federal and State governments responded to a sea-change in community attitudes when they agreed to an unprecedented crackdown on guns including bans on the importation, sale and possession of all automatic and semi-automatic weapons." (The Weekend Australian, May 11-12, 1996:front page)
The 'will of the people' prevailed. The gun lobby is protesting loudly, threateningly. There will be blood, they say. Mass disobedience, they predict. Tv stations changed their programs in the week or two after the massacre. They either replaced violent movies, or scheduled them later. Film is being blamed, as a response to 'why'. Why, this is the question. This is the everything of 'news'. It takes up hours of radio time. Everyone tells why. Books: Derrida, even. Y is a shape, and that is like rain.
The name of the killer is Martin Bryant. His first court appearance was via video link (from prison to court room) for security fears. After this 'event' the tape of the proceedings was "replayed to the media on one monitor, while an image of Bryant was frozen on the other to allow artists time to sketch him." (The Advertiser, ibid: 4)
What have we done. Perhaps it is a small act, a tiny movement, the space between two Lennie Tristano notes. We have not tried to write to suppress the world, like Cixous says (writing: "... it's an act that suppresses the world ..." (Cixous, ibid: 19)), we've loved the world somehow, and our lives. And mine in its despair. We've tried, say, to not separate ourselves off, to not isolate our writing, even though it has been between just the two of us. We did not " ... close the door on this world ..." (ibid: 20)
"Reading is escaping in broad daylight, it's the refection of the other; most of the time it's a solitary act, exactly like writing. We don't always think of this because we no longer read; we used to read when we were children and knew how violent reding can be. The book strikes a blow, but you, with your book, strike the outside world with an equal blow. We cannot write in any other way - without slamming the door, without cutting the ties." (ibid.)
We have, we are, we write to not cut ourselves off, to not be the isolates. I begin a writer-in-residency on Monday for 3 months, and the Marketing Manager of the institution asked me if writing is a solitary occupation. Well yes and no. But not in the old idea of heroic solitude, of overthrowing the killer. No. No. No. He also wondered how to get value-added mileage from me, for the institution. He was upset when I resisted.
Your electracy is the open door, is the tie, sure, but uncut and embraced. With all of its torments and doubts. I never forget the people I love, I do not write to die or have die. I imagine I will always wish, but never again without remembering this. Our wishing-Y(-U). I have learnt to answer you, the impossible, I thought. I'm not sure that I have been clear enough, or attended adequately loose ends (endings), and so I wish to go back now to where I/U began this writing ...
With care, LMW