Between sleep and wake, calling for limnal readings, ‘-zoic I’ and ‘-zoic II’ by Tomoé Hill mix shards of memory in a medium of unsettled silences. Unpredicted elements appear, in sentences formed in the friction between the precarity of the sensations they hold and the lasting intensity of their reverberations. The reading eye hovers on arrangements of words whose meanings are never declared but are kept in systolic symbols, contracted, sharp, another way of breathing thinking reading. Devoid of ideas du jour because it carries forces that elude the measure of timeliness (and if a belle is to be found, it is to yearn for the rose in the snow, the impossible that is real in reading), this writing touches on deep, difficult senses, difficult because fundamental, senses felt but rarely considered, sen(ten)ses holding the secret of sumptuous accumulation, following the laws of delay which decant the liquid load of the past: sometimes a waterfall, sometimes a swamp, sometimes memorable drops of mercury. And it is not to bring them to the light that she writes those words, but to fall with them in their shades, words like that hyacinth whose fragrance and beauty drew Persephone into hell: it would be a failure, Cristina Campo remarked, if words did not draw readers into the subterranean realms of knowledge and transformation, which require strength to bear and which sometimes prompt terror, so close are they to beauty. In death and regeneration, beauty and danger, attraction and abandon, these words shall be read wildly and be wild, as they continue to present those connections that elude in their dragging wakefulness. Images phosphoresce: sunflower, mercury, statues, and from mercury to statuary to memory, ry after ry after ry, ryading moves and is manifested as mercureading, statuareading, memoreading: a contraction, slightly awkward, a slip. In statuareading it feels as if thought has managed to fixate not only itself, but its distinctive cadence in insistent inceptions, an eternal rhythm, and the glimpse of a still gesture may hold an era. Then, the break: watching a dog run around conjures a deep-rooted memory, a tear in the order of diurnal occurrences, unearthing restless germinations, silent thought contortions. In the reading mind another inner voice murmurs unlikely connections, fractured: …there is difference between wanting to eat a memory and watching it rot from a distance — — — It is not a question of teaching you but of igniting you, wrote Jean Genet in ‘The Tightrope Walker’ — — — refulgent forceful unsteady love letter — — — meditation on excess, artifice and necessity, beauty — — — Emanuele Severino matched beauty to burning… In a burned-down landscape, asynchronous, a vision of Mugler’s gown ‘La Chimère’ glares, and it is not a surprise: after all, both Death and Fashion are children of Transience, Giacomo Leopardi wrote in his ‘Dialogue Between Fashion and Death’. Perceived in excess of reference and sense, this writing is known by sensing its references, even when unfamiliar or undisclosed. It seems to say: Read with your flesh, your arms, mouth, ears. Savour each word not to decode its literal meaning but as a constellation of material conjoining soma and psyche. Do not feel lost. Lose yourself. Find your rhythm inside your relation to these words. On your terms. No external systems. Read and sense exhaustion, excitement, silence: the ways in which a writer (a reader) gets to that hidden core, that mass of yearning, emotion, conflict and thinking that make her words, her world.
Like the Phaeacian ships in the Odyssey, that move without a helmsman because they are steered by thought—invisible but present in leading their necessary movements—certain phrases aggregate in a writer tacitly before they are written and when they do, although they might appear as lacking a visible steering hand, they are led in their articulation by subterranean motions, their apparent freedom driven by necessity. Sometimes the writer carries those phrases within, sometimes unknowingly, across long arcs of time, only and significantly to render them in a shudder, a fraction of an utterance, a pause; their unheard pulsations sustain entire poems, or volumes, with the drive of their insistent invisible tempo. Richard Skelton’s words in ‘The Book and The Lattice’—carrying inside themselves, with weighted reverberance, sites and histories—emerge from a similar interplay of sustained attention, necessity and quietude. Places, held in words here as a dream or vision, are experienced through that luminous regaining of presence after transcendence which the Russian philosopher, mathematician and theologist Pavel Florenskij located in the icon as manifestation of super-sensorial knowledge: their material traces allow to see them, in them, further from them, and in doing so they cause an acute sensation like a burning, present to the spiritual and the corporeal eye in equal measure. How do I navigate a place that has no paths? Could such a map exist?, Richard asks, and in thinking impossible maps of substances not given to the sensible world, in imagining such maps in words, in the book as lattice, the search is for reading thresholds into regions evoked in lines of pressure and traction: they can be conceived although unseen. The lattice cannot be perceived without the growth around it. A significant portion of the way in which it is imagined is drawn from material that exceeds it and troubles its order. Across the unsteady csites and growths of translation—of languages, of landscapes—with marks that are there-not-all-there, never resolved as planned, writing holds the sense of a fleeting moment already lived, a now that is a familiar before, the sudden discovery of the cadence of a life beyond a lifespan, a future that comes to meet those words from their past in the unforeseen geometries of thought, in correspondences which do not rely on pure evidence. Severed from the logic of interpretation, from the rhetoric of finding, these word-maps are morphed according to the shifting perennial motions of reading. The pleasure lies ahead of me: not yet, yearning through attention, that exquisite form of imagination which allows to see things and connect them.
Marks through imaginal strata, sensuous readings, dreamed-up cartographies, a vision in the flames: their hidden intensities, memories of an inner homeland, are encountered again through the words of others who ventured there. They burn in reading, then flow on with the hushed force which replaces the present with presence.
Daniela Cascella is the editor of A Year of Carte Blanche and Other Chimeras, a new series at MAP. Her books articulate tensions and points of contact between the literary and the sonic: Nothing As We Need It (Punctum Books / Risking Education, forthcoming 2022), Chimeras: A Deranged Essay, An Imaginary Conversation, A Transcelation (Sublunary Editions, forthcoming 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).
Voices Heard in Reading
Tomoé Hill, ‘-zoic I’ and ‘-zoic II’, MAP Magazine, 16 December 2021
Cristina Campo, ‘L’intervista’ (1972), ‘Appunti per una rivista di giovani’, in Sotto falso nome, Milano: Adelphi, 1998
Jean Genet, ‘The Tightrope Walker’, trans. by Charlotte Mandell, in The Criminal Child: Selected Essays, New York: New York Review Books, 2020
Emanuele Severino, Del bello, Milano: Mimesis Edizioni, 2011
Giacomo Leopardi, ‘Dialogo della Moda e della Morte’, in Operette Morali, Milano: Feltrinelli, 1998 (1827)
Richard Skelton, ‘The Book and The Lattice’, MAP Magazine, 15 December 2021
Pavel Florenskij, Le porte regali: Saggio sull’icona, trans. by Leonardo Marcello Pignataro, Milano: Adelphi, 2021 (1922)