Excerpt: Disappearance and Assembly

It is easy to believe nobody built this degradable substrate with that small figurine encysted within, an unsung astronaut; that the condition did not apply or that the machine ‘so disconnected… never got the message.’[1] The pseudo bone increments again. She ascends, follows the hooded figure with the poppy along a drive winding towards the slender palms and their ablated sky but turns aside to see where the steps lead. She sleeps through successive revolutions – a component newly introduced to this circuit.[2] So, although ample, the space is not a dwelling. Low artificial light is conducive to filtering such noise as might afflict us from within or without. In the Salon Carré paintings were stacked regardless of genre. Dogs counted among the sensitive in the democracy of the Enlightenment. The floor, ceiling and walls are stark and capacious. Everything is hollowing out its own place. There’s a buzzing – ‘a dull roar like falls … in the skull’[3]

Conventions are there to be disregarded, much as the inanimate props and backgrounds of the theatre. The steeds on which the Picador or Ceaser make their entrances are living; but only the speaker has a place – even if, like Hamlet or Beckett’s motoric mouth, it vests a power of impersonal negation. Not I.

I should feel paralysis. I shouldn’t be screaming like this.

White purifies or effaces process; not simply the one who sees. The work was for itself. It lived more than the horse, more than anyone. We gathered at its edges like flies. Each look renewed us; a step taken along a path we couldn’t know … Another fallen key. 

I no longer know how to do it – to look and to forget. You are not here. Will you arrive some day? I have every reason to doubt it. Later, we toast your disappearance as a sublime tactic. Let’s say that I did not search. I participated, inspiraling through. You think that image is fanciful? I have been here for as long as I can recall. The space murmurs, billows; collapsing outward to some fateful program. Cézanne’s prominent delineation expects something of us while it is traded and re-used. Nesting, seething exoskeletal dolling-up in the suburb.[4] In Cage’s 4’33” work is sacrificed for murmurs and coughing. Beyond, it is supposed, Nature fibrillates like a bird in a killing jar. What, if anything, limits or bounds form if the outside is so intimate with it? [5] Whitelaw says they removed the bulbs from the exit lights in the Royal Court, leaving the audience and a figure on an invisible platform– ‘sex undeterminable, enveloped from head to foot in loose black djebella, with hood[6]. The observer is finally alone with her, relentless. The mouth agape in its black yoke.  I think of the oddly seductive veil worn by Cranach’s Lucretia for her suicide. It supplements, divides and cuts.[7] We must talk of power; call to order, forget and be forgotten. The entire disposition of the gallery space. Do not to take photographs. Do be quiet. We forget that the cultivated and protected life is framed by separation and resentment while fraternity officiates like a blade. The frame gives us the knot. The inside amputates history with a piece of itself. The promise or division is always mixed or impure.

Having nothing to do with us, they were piled one green afternoon like abstruse rugs, pearled with cosmetic keratosis; fragrant teratomas on their presacral areas. The dogs here are terrified of their handlers. We are more malleable and less exacting than we pretend. Perhaps it is why we tamely accept her repeating past three upstanding palms; their hard sky; through the door, where she waits for another, bleed into another afternoon.


[1] Samuel Beckett, ‘Not I’, in Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. London: Faber and Faber 1984, 218.

[2] Meshes of the Afternoon, (dir) Maya Deren and Alexander Hammid 1943.

[3] Ibid. 218.

[4] Blue Velvet, (dir) David Lynch 1986.

[5] Immanuel Kant, The Critique of Judgement, James Creed Meredith (trans.), (1790; Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1991), §14, 226.

[6] Samuel Beckett, ‘Not I’, in Collected Shorter Plays of Samuel Beckett. London: Faber and Faber 1984, 216.

[7] Jacques Derrida. The Truth in Painting, trans. Geoff Bennington and Ian McLeod (Chicago, 1987) 61 (1987), p. 57. ccent 3;\lsdpr

3 thoughts on “Excerpt: Disappearance and Assembly

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s