A Year of Carte Blanche and Other Chimeras
November 2021-October 2022
Vivian Darroch-Lozowski, The Unsaid
Richard Skelton, The Book and the Lattice
Craig Dworkin, Chimère
Patrick Farmer, Humuskind
Sharon Kivland, Envois V
Ella Finer and James Wilkes, By Night, Tidal City
Dan Beachy-Quick and Kylan Rice, Object-urn
Snejanka Mihaylova, On Repentance
Christof Migone, Neverything
Julia Calver, Vocal Recall: Reading for a Friend’s Voice
Helena Hunter and Mark Peter Wright, Listening with Eunice
Autumn Richardson, A Prayer to Tláloc – Fragments of an Invocation
The question that follows ‘where to begin?’ is not ‘what can I say?’ but ‘how can I arrange and transmit what is heard, as it appears to correspond with my hearing-in-reading?’. It might make one silent at times, yet more writing forms, holds what words do and don’t do, does not scream.
A fabric of words spreads all over the space of my mind, as if to take it over completely. It is fabric and atmosphere. It is a non-entity writing, now coarse now silken, made of words-that-remind. I want to tell you a story in which a non-entity creature that once was a dress, and then became words, began to grow fast, especially at the purple hour. Beautiful, it said, we are beautiful when we know ourselves, and because we know that our selves are inevitably torn, exaggerated, nonconforming, and our inner lining intermittently reveals hidden velvet and pearlescent quivers, so this dress is beautiful as it is torn, exaggerated, nonconforming and its inner lining intermittently reveals pearlescent quivers. I like the creature-dress. I linger in liking’s unfinished edges.
A core heard and read, together and slightly out of sync, heard, read where a writer takes psychic being, takes fire from the words of another, as Robert Duncan did, and wrote with H.D.. Ways of wording and of worlding formed in kinship, with the words and the atmospheres of others, by sympathy and slightly unsettling affinities, necessary rhythmic and arrhythmic arrangements instead of theoretical frameworks, csiting (citing, siting), arising from entanglements and their specific qualities.
Their specific qualities. A feeling of fullness and emptiness, embodying circularities that call for openings: the perimeter of confinement must be broken although its boundaries remain, like a spell perceived at infra-thin level so reading continues, between circles and breakthroughs, return and flight. A text that concludes with a significant gesture of nonconclusion, as an intense thread of speculation shifts into an organic, porous growth which gives reading the semblance of a lichen formation: unassuming, slow spreading, attached. Between sleep and wake, calling for limnal readings, someone mix shards of memory in a medium of unsettled silences. Words carry inside, with weighted reverberance, sites and histories, and emerge from a similar interplay of sustained attention, necessity and quietude. Places held in words here as a dream or vision, are experienced through a luminous regaining of presence after transcendence. Something continues to happen and it attracts secrets from the narrator’s life, from nature, other fables, the world, other worlds. In the telling of her story she draws closer and closer to an image, and does not know what it may hold until it is met in its fullness, writing, reminiscing, anticipating, writing. A correspondence does not always imply evenness: it may be in fact unbalanced, in the palpable yet elusive form of a torn together, practiced in other forms of correspondence, in publishing, in sites of reading together and talking together, inciting refrain not reference, and never, ever, reverence. Reading, writing, are not to be restricted to a specific area, or form. Something else weaves a multitude of threads together, a sense of profound connection, the underlying force of transformation. A new term, upreference, might designate all and nothing, a cross-fade of reference and preference driven by u/you (a discerning subject always addressing another); a term driven by attention and care in reading beyond the extant laws of a lexicon. A restless prose draws vitality from its dying, of old things we write something new.
Carte blanche yields trust and surprise in conversations, listening. It is not a topic, it holds ways of hearing in reading that are formed in the disposition to be surprised, interrupted or led astray, as in any conversation that has no purpose other than the fact that it takes place, takes time, and the desire to be there. Composite and yearning, carte blanche is a chimera. Monstrous, entangled, the parts speak to each other, uneven and together in their voices, rhythms, arrhythmias. They exceed written text simply taken as evidence and ignite sonorous readings with thought-material heard beyond words. Chimera can be plural: it is they and are sometimes we. They, we are many-voiced and charged with what is heard and cannot be held in words yet shapes them. Sometimes we drift.
Chimera: Let’s not linger too long on the difficult to read. People do not even know for sure how to pronounce my name. Instead of wishing for certain texts to be read in one fixed way, they should welcome interference and instability; they should want them heard: scramble read into eard, add the h of a breath.
D.C.: Is it necessary, as breath? H is the threshold where words become tacit, opening into a prose which morphs into the tone of the state of mind it writes in, to the point where it is no longer clear whose voice or form or cadence we are hearing, and can only be entangled. What to do with this prose, again, how to read? You cannot treat its charged vaporous threads as if it was a technical dissertation.
These conversations, of rhythm, of analogic repetitions, are the same and not quite so, manifest moving and centred ways of being, forms of words heard on the page, analogous when they follow the same, asymmetrical, rhythm, where I hear your voice that is my voice that is another, sense is manifested, not in a logic formula, but in rhythm which enmeshes various elements, confounds and re-founds them. Conversations of silence and of past, where the tacit and the urn long for another enfolding presence, the gradual materialisation of a sonorous initial and pre-initial utterance.
Chimera, monster, is not afraid of beauty. We linger on the aesthetic encounter, on its importance as depth, as aisthesis: the taking in of the world that scrutinises detail and pays attention, not reassuring but fiery, unsettling, daimonic. The aesthetic encounter interrupts and reminds us of something profound and again, asynchronous and again, together: beauty and monstrosity, ephemerality and presence, Belinda and the rose in the snow, the impossible manifested in a telling, in a singing.
Sing, once more, across reinvented mythologies, psychic knots, symbolic thinking, voices written in remote times heard and told again, sung again. A writing which might sing with the other’s writing, not comment on it, not think, but sing, because something was written already, in the private site of correspondence, in a language that may be simple, simplistic, sentimental, and it is sensed, and sings, with a friend whom I encounter again in their prose, openly, or in a wink of the eye, and when they look at me I smile, and when they turn I darken, and when they write I am enchanted, and as they write I sing.
Daniela Cascella is the editor of A Year of Carte Blanche and Other Chimeras at MAP. Her books articulate tensions and points of contact between the literary and the sonic: Chimeras: A Deranged Essay, An Imaginary Conversation, A Transcelation (Sublunary Editions, 2022), Nothing As We Need It (Punctum Books / Risking Education 2022), Singed. Muted Voice-Transmissions, After The Fire (Equus Press, 2017), F.M.R.L. Footnotes, Mirages, Refrains and Leftovers of Writing Sound (Zer0 Books, 2015), En Abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction (Zer0 Books, 2012).