Marie-Hélène Tessier / What Literature Wants

by Marie-Hélène Tessier

A few months ago, a Canadian poet asked me to translate an essay about What Literature Wants for a French symposium happening this month in Montreal. For various reasons, I never received the text in question, but the title stayed with me, and not a day went by without my asking myself  — What Does Literature Want? — happy to have my thinking space high-jacked with another essential. The power of a title, a mantra, with a life of its own, a business trip in the letter “I”; Shakespearian cliché of To Be or Not to Be which lives in our mind from the tender age of seven, without having ever read the play, the understanding of I Hamlet. One cliché always calls up another; the question of the use of the ‘’I’’ in literature and the idea of moving mindfully (as if we choose how we move), (cautious for who, for what), (parentheses as whispering), which also haunted me in the last few weeks, because someone slipped a destabilizer in my champagne glass, but the antidote of the critical paranoid method, enables to see best friends in apparent enemies, and everything as coming out of the cosmos. Criticism is always a gift, especially when offensive or completely off. Questioning everything I was trying to do, in My literature, as in My Winnipeg, a recent confrontation had the advantage of making my synapses blink, allowing great leaps into thinking about what literature wants; that is, about the nature of the territory I want to defend. One has to be forever grateful for the semi-unsolicited foreign scrutiny of one’s literary visa — visa comes from Latin and means “seen paper” — a renewable opportunity to think about one’s field of action, sharpening an argument to the blade of the interlocutor’s splendid golden plastic sword. It is called criticism (when it is strong, it is called discourse), and, of course, some are more worth the attention than others, but even mediocre criticism works towards the consolidation of one’s practice. To disagree is essential, if we are going to have any debate; anything new happening in the public amphitheatre of expression. The arena is the space made out of sand in the coliseum, to absorb the blood, but disagreeing does not need to be a blood sport; it is about enriching the subject with more questions. That is why the vast majority of collectives (although there are remarkable exceptions) are a drag to work with, wanting to agree on everything, flattening out practices and slowing down the movement stocked in the process of processing, preventing thinking to develop by favouring the “we” against the “I”. Am reading a book about world dictator’s interiors of totalitarian regimes and the solid gold eagle is a recurrent motif. Jean-Bédel Bokassa, emperor of the Central Africa Empire over twelve years until 1979 is wearing a Russian red cape with ermine’s fur and a matching renaissance crown with a miniature rendition of it on his kingly walking stick. He did not have the spirit to get a dignified African design for his attire; he had to borrow it from Walt-Disney. Joseph-Desiré Mobitu, President of the Republic of Zaire, now the Democratic Republic of Congo, self-declared president for life, in power for over thirty-five years until 1997, had a much more vernacular sense of African style, mixing patterns of leopard, bright floral and incredible tone on tone serpentine and leafy batiks, standing in front of the Chinese Dynasty architectural style of his palace, in the heart of Africa. The fiction of the real is what literature wants; somewhere between collective consciousness and dictatorship. The Coming Insurrection, the text, emerged from a community of ideas, but came out from one singular voice, a literary tour de force with the genius idea to borrow the revolutionary tone and throw it in free fall, setting literature off balance, to the point of inciting poets to take the arms on the other side of the globe. Enormous. One has to read literature for literature, not for a new political programme. Enough with agendas and consolidated movements, an insecure vanity protecting a lack of identity. In art, it is not true that together we are stronger (again, there are remarkable exceptions), as almost all significant literature is always tied up with social change of its time. We always speak from and about a time even when we avoid to do so. A recent animated discussion I had about writing brought foreign elements of the careful, trying to offset the chemical imbalance of my natural inclinations towards generalized mental illness. The misunderstanding of my egomaniac neurosis and self-serve schizophrenia, taking deliberate nonchalance for liquid cash, calling me on the absence of footnotes, reinforced an idea that art itself, is only an approximation of living meaning; because art is only one aspect of my promenades, my wanderings, my daily travelings, and a native sense of La Liberté is a universal threat. But the aim of the conversation, with somewhat outdated methodology, encountered in spiritual trainings of Tibetan monks, visibly, was to crush my egg roll. Now that I am very familiar with Chinese food, Chinese food is my comfort food; I have not had an egg roll in a million years. My brother, who is still a sinophile and nipophile, was the first Caucasian in Quebec to make sushi and eat with chopsticks at home in the 70’s. He used to prepare Asian meals for us that simulated dishes from the Sunday night Mandarin restaurant at the end of our street, Mr. Sam. A whole world of exotic objects in black, gold and red, with a hint of baby blue; a very dark interior, a treasure cave with trillions of little figurines of every scale peopling the space and the tables; the invention of the real. It was destroyed last year and replaced by a Jehovah Witness Temple. I wish I could have spent an entire week in that restaurant as a writer-in-residence before it was torn down. Egg as in ego as in œuvre. Œ is a rare combination of vowels. Attached in an embrace, they are mystically connected. Found in œuf, which means egg; in nœuf, which means knot. In the word œil, the eye; also in cœur, which means heart. Eye. Heart. Egg. Knot. Œuvre. A life’s work. Writing is all about getting lost in the fertile desert of the alphabet; the alphabet, our main ecology, there is only one, language, only one, ear. I recently received enigmatic notes, advising me of the Head, by way of the ear to the syllable; the heart by way of the breath, to the line. I thought it came from Charles Olson but I later found an earlier variation in the works of Louis Zukofsky, also connected to Ezra Pound, perhaps much closer even; the pre-war Pound, before he became senile; “The eye is the function of the ear and the ear of the eye, thinking with the things as they exist”, and if I dug deeper again, perhaps I would find these ideas in Spinoza, and yet again all the way back to Aristotle and probably in the Kabala. A friend told me last night that Zukofsky’s son, Paul, who manages his father’s estate, will sue anybody who quotes his father without asking permission. If I received a lawyer’s letter in that regard, I would frame it. Quoting dead authors is bringing them back to life, salvaging them from the lugubrious muteness of the cemeteries which are libraries. Books need to be open to breathe again. Louis Zukofsky’s epic lifelong poem ‘’A’’ was handed to me by a cowboy friend, who earlier in the day had met an older cowboy, for breakfast. The old cowboy told the young cowboy a few cowboy stories, from where he was from, I think Bella Coola, and from where he was driven out of town, I think Bella Coola. The old cowboy threw him a grocery bag with two steaks and a fresh pack of smokes, and the younger one, more and more convinced that poetry was more alive where he was standing than in anything that could ever be written, continued to walk West, until he heard a sound, the sound of a guitar; he followed the sound and he arrived to a garage, and inside it, he found the first member of his new country band. The movie “The Incredible Hulk” was shot in Bella Coola where the green giant escapes to attempt to control his physical transformations. The legend says that Bella Coola means stranger. So Wild West. My cowboy friend handed me the book “A”, after I told him I was writing a fugue, with words, studying Bach, who wrote the Art of Fugue from the letters of his own name. It is also after I told him that I fell into the alphabet, I am not sure how, like I was pushed by an invisible hand, in the house of Beth. B turned on its side is a Book, which I found in the hands of the Phoenicians, who, according to another legend, in turn was found in a mine, where Hebrews slaved in Egypt. It is also after we spent the evening at a performance about White and High; an overtly girly spectacle with a handful of nymphs, dressed in white, flouncing while moving their arms like Polynesian dancers without the irony, in a white paper forest cut, singing higher and higher, with flour in their hair, or was it ashes, baby powder, and I was there as a recipient, trying to reach for the high and white within me, avoiding the analytical to take over my senses, despite the fact that I could see the microphones coming out of the paper wrap, despite the fact that I thought the paper moon was overkill, and then I closed my eyes; the main artist whose predilection for myths and rituals I have witnessed over several years, seeing her perform also in collaborations, usually within intense screaming mode, reminiscent of the formidable Ebra Ziron of Tunnel Canary, a proto-punk band from the 80’s Vancouver scene, had her eyes closed the entire performance which also made me think of Yvonne Rainer’s performance with her back turned away from the audience, which is what literature wants, sometimes. I closed my eyes, but I got dizzy by the bad lukewarm wine — I should know better, but I always need something to set me off balance, to carry me out of my body, just a little bit, like high heels, a bulky piece of jewellery. When I opened my eyes, there was a black curtain covering the choir scene, between the performance and the audience, lifting up only at the very end, and it was the end, and only then I saw the faces, the faces of the Phoneticians, on a boat, in deep prayer, about White and High, while I was awaiting Black and Far, and their gaze reached mine, in a split second, before they closed their eyes again, and something turned into a liquid statue, in a nice way. I would like to see the documented piece as an independant art object in itself. The primordial innocence is an ambitious project I would not have the courage to undertake, and I processed the attempt as a dream, an hallucination, a black and white memory of a fragile deteriorating archive of ancient rites, which I would not forget easily, because of the eyes of the Phoenicians, because of accumulated knowledge, I felt perhaps impure, maybe dark, a little bit low, under the ground, or at least in a cave, away from the full moon, and certainly very cynical, but present, as much as I was able to be. We went to that performance after we were all congregated at another cultural space, earlier in the afternoon; a poetry reading uniting rare poets for a fund-raising event helping a rare publisher who had the rare honour of being bombed with a Molotov cocktail, which crime was apparently part of random ambulant mental illnesses making holes in apparently unconnected places. I considered the result of the investigations of a superior order, feeding my thesis about literature wanting to make holes in apparently unconnected places, but I was disappointed in the absence of conclusion which contradicts my natural preference, but contradiction is what literature wants. My poet friend said “definitely arson, but not an arsonist. The -ist, he said, would suggest a professional. This didn’t seem professional; rather a form of grudge arson over who knows what.” But madness is known to be quite coherent in its own way, at times a bit too systematically coherent as in paranoid madness, and so like everyone else, I was frustrated by the lack of resolution. I wished the arson would have bombed all of the Starbucks and 7-elevens in town. But if the terrorist act stemmed from a bi-polar homeless, he would not bomb these venues, because he uses each of them respectively as a free public washroom and a complete meal for less than a dollar, which plays a part in the ecology of the mad, the dammed, the amended to improved artificial flavour of daily survival. There is not such a thing as randomness. A Molotov Cocktail is a cheaper version of the hand grenade, pretty much the arm of the vanquished, the weaker, but not always the loser. A hand-crafted incendiary arm typically made with a glass bottle and alcohol or petrol, commonly associated with irregular military forces and protests, but also used by official armies who are in penury of anti-tank artillery. The Finnish army, ill-prepared facing Soviet tanks, gave it its name as a satirical response to Viatcheslav Mikhaïlovitch Molotov, Stalin’s right arm, who said on the radio news that the USSR was only trying to ‘’feed the Fins’’. The device itself was also inspired by Franco’s Spain, who also used it against the Soviets. Molotov is a pseudonym replacing Mikhaïlovitch’s birth name and it means hammer. All words seem to be the result of an unconscious metonymy, each one pouring into another, liquid word; the symbol of the infinity, about war and the double meaning of the ‘’enemy of the people’’, and the killing, the Goulag, the Golem, and the message in the bottle. A drink for a drink, and what an embarrassment to leave your name to a bomb aimed against yourself. A list of objects and places named after people demonstrates that Charles De Gaulle has five avenues in Brazil, one in Cambodia, another one in Chad, six in Quebec, only one in Cameroon, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia and Czech Republic; nine in Germany, five in the Netherlands and Poland, one in Moscow; none in England nor English Canada. We are used to scientific discoveries, streets, buildings and cities named after people, but what about the naming of stars and craters? The Van Biesbroeck’s star, the Plaskett’s star; this naming business is most questionable. I wonder about the name of the planets in China and how it relates to their own creation myths. Lists, in poetry, relate to piles in contemporary art which relates to the excesses of neo-liberalism which relates to flow of money, flowing above the flow of waters, flowing under the flow of sound waves, and below the flow of ideas which flows above the flow of emotions. It is an impossible exercise to listen to a rarefied poetry reading without moving in and out of focus. Like dark chocolate, one only needs a sliver otherwise your heartbeat becomes too agitated. Feasting on such copious fine matter — my eyes started to wonder within the aesthetics of the space around the poets, the backs of their heads, their garments, which revealed specific colours. Humans are pattern seekers. Noticing coherence within the general costume borrowed by the gentle audience — I had not seen so many black and red plaid shirts assembled in one single room since an elementary school excursions to cabane à sucre — something told me that the overall motif was beyond hipster fashion and the consensus of the uniform, with an equal proportion of army green, reflected the general agreement of a rally around the subject of poetry and poverty; of poverty and poetry, against overt types of landed gentry. The more I was listening the less I was hearing, so I focused on the tone rather than the words. One poem read by the author, a charming woman with glasses, who laughed in the same way as Nana Mouskouri when she looks for her glasses while they are resting on her head, had multiple accents inside her story; now Spanish, now French, now Swedish, now Slovak; rich and virtuously agile. Another poem spoke about the desire to vandalize an ATM machine, and perhaps that poem was emblematic of the general tone; something about the war between Love and Money. I swear that each time I heard the word money and its representations I also heard a general whisper (sssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssssss) in the audience ($$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$) the snake, the serpent, the salt, the sugar, the saccharine, the sacred subversive. Perhaps I was sitting in a Marxist meeting, which brought me back to Zukofsky, who considered himself a communist in the 30’s, paraphrasing entire paragraphs of Das Kapital and an anonymous and succint poetry scholar on the Poetry Foundation site explains the theme of “Mantis”,  overtly political: a praying mantis becomes a symbol of “the poor,” lost and harried in a harshly mechanical world. Individually the “separate poor,” like the solitary mantis, are powerless; but the work ends with a vision of the mantis drawing up the “armies of the poor,” which, inspired by this fragile bit of nature that has managed to survive in the stone subway, will “arise like leaves” to “build the new world.” In art school, centuries ago, my voluntary disengagement from the idea of artists being spokes-persons came against the general consensus of injecting social responsibility in our works. Not without guilt though, as I knew that artists were privileged, but later in my “becoming artist”, I also understood “privilege” as a built-in freedom, and the older I got, living with very little, because of the commitments I have made to art, worrying and irritating my family, about being poor and considering myself rich, I continued to think about the sacrality of art and the pollution of current affairs. Marguerite Duras remained angry at the proletarians for their lack of drive and one of her last films was a discussion with a truck driver who in her great disappointment had abandoned the battle which was never his own in the first place. Despite the last demonstrations of historical utopias and hysterical dystopias, she never renounced her communism, like a religion, a vow, something that gave meaning to her existence, as an artist. She wanted to believe in the dream of a paradise lost. The imposture I still feel for art that speaks in the name of someone else’s suffering is still not completely resolved and at times I am almost convinced. It needs to be artful, with a certain detachment, as opposed to some desperate prayer tone for a better world. The infinite zooming out, starting from the face of a young woman living in a vast and all encompassing social housing complex, in the outskirts of Paris, the infinite zooming out forever in one long claustrophobic breath, the social housing tower becoming an infinite mosaic, her face, against the blue and grey landscape of concrete and glass, without a sky, the impossibility of any out of frame, in Godard’s Two or Three Things I Know About Her, was proving my discomfort wrong as it succeeded to make me understand, through art, the limitations of the unprivileged, their alienation, their world, the limits of their language. I was almost converted then. That infinite zooming out, is what literature wants. After that shot though, things got a little stale in the filmmaker’s egg, for my taste, something lost, about art, about poetry. I am well aware that dropping the bomb about politics and art in this “economical climate change”, in this “real estate of the art”, in this skyscrapervesity digging holes in the sky, I am well aware that I might lose a few friends, in the ecosystem where I am growing, as an immigrant, forever a landing alien. Immigration is what literature wants. I do have my alien registration card though, and we usually meet in caves, in clandestine bars, under bridges, strange hotels and in abandoned mausoleum. Something deeply bothered me in the consensus of the discourse that day, but then again, Zukofsky and Pound have survived two gruesome horror movies, and in face of such red and black times that is the first part of the twentieth century, who would not want to be a communist – I heard the Rize has won the battle on the corner of Kingsway and Broadway last week– we will get them later now that we know that Molotov Cocktails are so easy to make and that poets are all mad hatters, the General’s pets of cheaper shows, the D-generation in the process of loss of function in the development of organs. There is also the generation O, feeding on the cosmology of the Cheerio, pondering three holes at once, the OOO; the proponents of Object Oriented Ontology, born in Goldsmith Academy in 2OO7, operating from the assertion that metaphysics has disappeared from philosophy since Kant, which is a gross misunderstanding, but then again, philosophy is based and thrives on a series of gross and subtle misunderstandings. Metaphysics, like phenomenology, is a dangerous thing. It is secretive. It secretes hallucinations, mirages in smooth space, things one cannot force nor prove, like imagination. It has to do with a series of initiations into seeing and hearing, l’entendement, and so is the journey through the alphabet. Where am I? I am lost. Getting lost is what literature wants. I am in the house; in the book, in the window, on the camel, through the gate, the sky, the hand, the obstacle, the palm of the hand. Beside me is the serpent I hold, in my left hand, straight, while sitting facing the tree of life with a million different eyes and faces, and I witness nymphs bringing fruits, on a Sumerian engraving about the magic of weaving, and I wonder what will be the objects of the art ruins of tomorrow, when a thought is already the ruin of a smile. Behind me, all around, is something perhaps more powerful than the S, an ox, or is it a ram, the eye, the letter A falling on its side, can you see the eye, the bull’s eye, the ox, the god’s eye. The OX. I have a cousin who sends cards with this inscription in it. OXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOXOX. There is a whole Hallmark industry out there where relatives send billions of cards a year to say almost absolutely nothing. A whole industry of marked nothingness, flowing on roads in mail trucks and on airplanes in the sky, with no mention of anything but emptiness. The black hole is not empty, it is filled with stars. Through the window, on the left side, I can see the city lights mimicking the agitated firmament. The OOO philosophers say that their philosophy is Jupiterian. That is a bit too messianic for me, knowing that Zeus means Jesus which means Je suis and ham is not kosher. Although, “not kosher”, is what literature wants. Poetry wants poetry, not poets. Cosmic truths stripped bare of poetry, is what literature, and philosophy, do not want. While we know that Friday means Venus, and the evening sun comes back on a rather regular basis, now that we know what literature wants, I hear a song on the radio…Now that you know, the way it goes, You gotta pay back every penny that you owe. Twelve years old, in your mama’s clothes, shut the blinds and lock up every door…And I know it ain’t fair, and if god forbid you care, It’s enough to get you in a whole lot of trouble… I realize it ain’t wise to idealize, or put your life in the hands of any struggle…Never renounce or ever claim to be, never buy that freedom just ain’t free now…Heaven awaits, we’re making our last stand, glory bound and sparrow in our hand…Anything lighting the night is my best friend. During the day, one has to imagine another kind of screen, but it takes practice as the forces of order are wide awake and make sure you cannot hear the music of the spheres. From A to H, I understand that it is the space for the young writer to define his territory, until one day she starts to understand it, and that day should be the only important birthday, and there is no Hallmark card that will ever cover that event, the event of the birth of an I, in literature. But it is also the day where you need to know how to master your sword and shield because things start to happen a little faster and stuff you did not see coming will hit you from every direction, because once people understand that your territory has resources, it becomes vulnerable to attacks, and that is when the fun begins, because peace is not what literature wants. Which reminds me of an “abstract” sculpture from an important sculptor, Mowry Baden, in Victoria, a controversial War Memorial titled Pavilion, Rock And Shell, in front of the unacceptably poorly named Save-On-Foods Memorial Arena; I looked at it for a long time before I understood it completely; Territory-Rock-Resources-Metal-Defense-Trade-War-Gains-Retreat. The bullets are made out of the same metal as what is at stake and a stake is what enables you to pitch a tent, a tent as a territory, moving from one space to the other is what literature wants. While some writers are busy destabilizing the “I”, in literature, others seek to put a dent in the excess of capitalism, and others again, seek to bomb not only consensus but literature itself, and to do violence to one’s own is what literature wants. I am not much of a Marxist; I only collect words starting with the letter B. B-words. What literature wants is “to give you a bag of bees and walk off!” said Zukofsky, about Thorstein Veblen, who wrote about ostentatious consumerism, interested in the hidden part of the iceberg; that is the motivation of the buyers. He noted the vanity and desire to distinguish oneself from one’s neighbours, which is what literature wants. He remarked on the elite’s waste of time and goods, which is also what literature wants. Time, whether we spend it or waste it, kill it or lose it, a literature in time and outside of it, a leisurely literature, an ostentatious literature, excess is what literature wants, even in minimalist gestures. Veblen, a socio-economist, reaches the field of poetry when he perceives the similarity and difference in the shine found in the fabric of garments of the late 1890’s, on hats and on pants, which is completely proustian and plain brilliant. In his Theory of the Class of Leisure (1899), he elaborates on the shine found in the hat, which conveys that we only wear new hats; while the same shine found on pants suggests on the contrary, that they are old, even though it is about the same shine. In this example there is in this detail an emission of signifiers about power which is the raiosn d’être of Conspicuous Consumption. Veblen gave his name to the Veblen effect which is about status-seeking, which is not what literature wants. While I relate to the territory of the ‘’objectivists’’ (Zukofsky was forced into coining a term for a literary magazine, about the tendencies found in his work and his comrades’) “seeing and thinking with the things as they exist, and of directing them along a line of melody; a nominalistic approach to the real, which would be closer to primitive art”, I am moving away from the “direct particularities of historical politics” reaching the universal. What literature wants is literature without a programme. We already owe a lot to poverty, but writing from a territory that is already occupied, makes me uncomfortable. Then again, our country has lost its center and we do live under a dictatorship, and the gauche, once in power, was never good for art which they find futile and superfluous, which brings us back to the serpent, which relates to socialism, the Soviets, the SchutzStaffeln, the Smurfs, Stazi, Secret Services, Social Security, Sacred Stuff, Satanic Suns, Sugar and Salt, the true evils. The Left’s populist tendencies requires that it answers social agenda, a disgrace, art is then forced to participate in environmental struggles, fighting poverty, digging cycle paths, cleaning the sea and selling air fresheners; congregating around tenants evictions and children with high fat diet, transgenic junkies and medical zombies on strikes, because art is suddenly responsible for the world’s toxic embarrassment. What about the meaning of life, the infinite layers of existence, the space behind the space? To dedicate your entire life to poetry is already a gesture of résistance, in itself, a privilege acquired from below, a happy sacrifice, an existential act, a way to be in the world that goes against the general traffic. The conscious consolidation of movements is a vanity, unless it happens involuntarily. For instance, I witness a literature that is from here, in its proximity and promiscuity to visual arts, often sitting on the fence between the two, in this specific part of the globe, and that must mean something, you would think. There must be a way to escape unanimity without being an escapist. I is called High Functioning Autism which is what literature wants. A few days later, I thought I found my long lost father when I read, from the same previous anonymous and succint scholarly source that “Zukofsky’s increasing suppression of context actually expands meaning, and that his method results in a multiplicity of meanings having no central point “– then I thought I found my long lost brother when he goes on stating that “while his poems are remarkably assured, the reader is likely to feel considerable insecurity among the rapidly shifting perspectives available in reading any given line” – then I thought for sure that we were lovers as it went on describing that “becoming more or less constantly ironic, the text achieves skepticism which, in Zukofsky’s words, ‘doubts its own skepticism and becomes the only kind of skepticism true to itself” –I almost fainted on the spot. I thought; Zukofsky is inside me. Robbe-Grillet said that “lire c’est se lire”. He also wrote about literature and doubt, the necessity of doubt. All these concordances form communautés d’esprits, lineages and also counterpoints help to shape and unshape what literature wants. The Marxist rhetoric completely vanished from Zukofsky’s works after the war when he focused on love and family and the impossibility of it. It was the end of the poetry reading. I felt I missed everything. Descending the squeaky staircase towards the exit, the bright pink of Instant Coffee was shining through the door of the gallery left ajar, ajar is also what literature wants, so I thought to bring my friends to have a look at the show, even if voided of the million events it generated in the past month, one of them being the event Making Sense Of Things Together while assembling a thousand piece puzzle of a Jackson’s Pollock painting, the kind of performance that still resonates even if you missed it. I wish I brought my polyethylene fibre dress to be painted in pink, while visiting the joke store. Fou-savant is what literature wants. I wish I had been there but these days I prefer to “get lost rather than get social”, but the best performances are often the ones you can be told about and retell, after the fact, succeeding to have a meaningful echo, like the poetry of the impossible Pollock’s puzzle. Clement Greenberg, at least a decade after the fact of Abstract Expressionism, was invited to Edmonton’s art institute to demonstrate how to paint in an abstract expressionist way; Clement Greenberg, milking it in Canada (while you are at it, why not going down south to Guadeloupe and the Philippines to spread the good news), a fraud, should have been driven out of town. Down the staircase, in the vestibule, at the end of the reading, the empty space of Instant Coffee, in-between events, still interested me, as something latent, or as something in memory of, about events in general, and about the ruins of a debate, when you look at a Greek statue and you feel it is just about to move and become alive, but stays still when you stop to believe it could be possible. The built-in roman senate installation was an essay in scales, in architectural hierarchies. My Marxist friends refused to join me, by rolling their eyes. I thought they were joking but they were seriously refusing to step foot in the pink-orange-lime-yellow discourse. Things then took for me a new level of intensity in my personal conversation with what literature wants. I thought that pink was a very powerful colour if one refuses to even look at it in the eyes, and start a conversation, as in at least starting to disagree. Free also means expensive, as it comes with responsibility towards the terrain you are investing in. I heard the best love song ever written, from Momus…I want you but I do not need you to love me to need me to love you to love me to need you to love you to need me to tell you what literature wants. While studying animism I found illustrations in The Masks of God in the Occident, which shows the omnipresence of the serpent, mastered, and the eye, in the process of spiritual initiation, the serpent and the eye was in every frame of my daily optics, but with a gained wisdom, about trade, the flow, which found the alphabet, commanding the buildings of roads, for the alphabet to travel, traded for monkeys and rare fabrics, all metals and a few sheep, traveling to Greece who gave it vowels, and down to the Etruscans who were delighted, and up again north, to Rome and down, to us. The alphabet is both sacred and profane as it speaks about a life’s journey while also recording how many goats were sold and witnessing the cycle of night and day, and the book, the camel, the shield, the eye, the serpent, the constellations, the back of the head, the face, the tooth, the steady study and one, two, three. Studying is the true human condition. Each letter is so loaded that I wonder how we actually dare to open our mouth. As soon as we utter a sound, we either condemn or save; doing both at once is what literature wants. This is not about sincere nihilism, mistaking a camel for a planet, and a star for a Styrofoam cup. Art digs holes here, and fills other ones there, forever only scratching the surface of meaning, that is both there and not there. Art is making an omelette without breaking any eggs. Literature wants to be more and nothing at all. The whole world is an ongoing experiment trying different concoctions, speaking of which I found a recipe for a drink called Cocktail Molotov; pour a shot of vodka, float the 151 proof rum, light, blow out, and take the shot down. If you decide to stick to champagne, never lose sight of your cup. Finally, I do not really care about what literature wants.


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