Volume 5: DISAPPEARANCE

Friday, November 19, 2010

Catherine Borders, Lily Robert-Foley, "Telephone"

Catherine Borders & Lily Robert-Foley
Telephone

It’s drowning.  Watch it.  Watch it drown.  And your humanity escapes you.  Passive onlooker.  A nearly infinitely small vortex at the center of everything which surrounds it.  It poses the question:  Is everything at the center of that which surrounds it?  Or are some things truly peripheral, and not by reference to something central?  A periphery that is situated outside of nothing in particular, just some vague heat or mist, the effects of a fire so big it’s like the sun, the burning underground of the sky, or I wandering wild, my eyes like two points, distorting each other, two friends, neither dominated nor dominating, so answer me.  Use the pen.  Draw.  Finally, we have something we can (i)rely(/i) upon, some divisions between things that will not bleed or mutate, some stability around here.  Who did (i)you(/i) vote for? 

I’ve noticed you’re drinking again, thinking, that you are somehow separated from that inner you, the you we all don’t see in the mirror. The you that is central, surrounded by flesh and hair and teeth and bone. Both of (i)youse(/i) (a word that truly isn’t used enough) are like a bush fire, where a dry, hot afternoon bursts into a firewall, thirty feet high, scorching everything in its path. So large, so abominable, that you create your own weather. That from your belly a black cumulus cloud floats up above you and strikes lightning in your stead, naturally, spreading the flames. I guess I’m saying that a cumulus cloud is always peripheral. It’s never the thing, because even when it is the thing, it’s a reference to something else. A sign. “Look, look, Lily, that cloud looks like a bunny.” Sure, we call it a cloud, we say that it looks like something, but it’s not really a cloud, it’s water, it belongs to the earth, to us. Am I saying that clouds exist for us? Why not. I’m feeling narcissistically myopic today, I guess I vote for me.

Did I tell you this story before? French for thread is fil, like I finished sewing, cut the thread and its needle, the e, the needless e.  That’s my way of beginning.  Of saying what is truly said: that the mirror has an inside too, Cath, like I do, a center that surrounds bone, teeth, hair, flesh, in that order, but its combustion is inverse, internal, penetrating (and by penetrating I mean burning, as one sometimes says (red)space(/red) and means (blue)time(/blue)) outwards, like the rings in an animation explaining the origin of an earthquake.  An earthquake that makes weather in me.  That moves me because it moves everything around me.  And then what’s peripheral, everything going up, everything going down, everything going side-to-side.  The thing, the reference, the something else, everything moving as one, like the world as I’m falling, I never have time to think about what I say, maybe I say, “fuck me” or “oh god” or “help” or, on the rare occasion, I might say what surprises me, a word my mother used to use, or a phrase from another language, something I never say anymore, or perhaps don’t yet or just ever say.  Not why, Cathy, not why.  If you vote for yourself, who are (i)youse(/i) really voting for? 

I’m voting for change, but that’s such a cliché at this point I can’t stand typing it. If I had said it, rather than writing it, it would already be gone by now. Like when you said fil. And I heard (i)fille(/i). Like the thread of some poor girl, about to be cut by Atropos the sometimes blind hag. She cannot be turned, she who cannot be turned, snipping at the threads of life. But, luckily for the girl, isn’t the world of the looking glass Opposite Land? Or is that just the little girl in me? The one who wants to be Alice, running in place with the White Queen. The one who’s afraid to die. [Thanatophobia —› Astrophobia —› Kenophobia —› Kolpophobia] I can see why you equated space with red and time with blue. Well, that’s how/why I would’ve done it. Because time does fuck space. That is, if one takes Heidegger at his word, that human beings are embodied time, and if we are also to assume that human beings have mass, then we can assume that they take up space. Thus, penetrating space. Blue in red makes purple. This is why we’re such a melancholy race. That and we can’t possibly say what we mean OR mean what we say. For instance, I do not want you to think that I am afraid of my own vagina. I was trying to show you how (i)one(/i) could go from fearing death to fearing space to fearing voids to a fearing vaginas. See, this is all such a cluster fuck of a problem.

Once upon a time (a phrase that has become something more than a cliché, an idiomatic expression, a suffix, a signatory of a style), in the front of a big truck, my uncle said to me, I think each human has a center, an authentic self, a core around which the rest of being circulates.  Note the difference between memory and history.  But, when you said, “let’s make each paragraph a translation,” I was pulled, as though by gravity which emanates from a center, towards being semantic—towards translating your meaning, or some dense intersubjective core I’ve imagined orbiting your text.  A purple orb looking like light from down here.  And then you go and say, “we can’t possibly say what we mean OR mean what we say.”  And perhaps all meaning in language is metaphorical, based on some “natural” connections between words and the lebenbahn, or even between words and other words.  And when I was younger I used to, when I was younger I used to such, I was younger I used to such a, was younger I used to such a cluster, younger I used to such a cluster fuck, I used to such a cluster fuck of, used to such a cluster fuck of a, to such a cluster fuck of a problem.

Once upon a time…
Literally: “This one time in a time I recognize as a time before this time, but, certainly, a time after another time.”
It also could simply mean, “I’m going to tell you a story now.”
Or even Shhhh!
What I like most about Once upon a time is the acknowledgment of the buffet of time, as if time were an object, a stick, and this story that we are about to hear is one blip on this stick of time. What blows my mind about God is that God sees all time all at once, which I always thought would be very boring. So boring that it would be impossible, unless God had a creator, a prime mover (ha! Then that would make God a sub-prime mover!), and now aren’t we in a cluster fuck of a matryoshka doll.
I’d rather talk about your avuncular lesson. But first, at what age do we grow out of holophrasis? The minute we learn grammar? Even if you were too young to understand linguistically, your uncle could’ve pointed to his heart and said, “Me,” and I think you would’ve understood him too. (You would’ve had to be advanced beyond Lacan’s mirror stage though.) Because your uncle would’ve been making the point: “I am that which is underneath this skin, bone, and sinew. I am something more than material. I am immaterial.” All this can automatically be expressed in his pointing to his heart and saying “Me.”
Me: Soul. Ego. Personal snowflake that won’t melt.
Whatever’s in one’s heart.
Because, the heart, in all its symbolic glory, signifies the self. This is why Mary Shelley kept Percy Shelley’s heart in her writing desk.
As a body orbits around this invisible spot, to the little girl, an uncle would orbit around her parent. He cannot be at the center, not unless he moves from uncle to father.
And the best way to do that, spluh, is through ear poison.
Which will right stop a heart before you can say intersubjective.
Which reminds me how funny (and awesome) it is that you recognized my celestial body as purple. Do you still loath the color?
Oh my, how many people will get the wrong meaning there?
I see your celestial body as a white orb with a red stain, kind of like the Japanese flag, but the red wouldn’t be centered, or so, so menstrual. It would be a lot like the regressing red string in your Omnia Vanitas Review movie. Not to say that you regress. Just that there’s a spot of trauma on your immaculate sphere. Just as mine’s regal and bruised.
P.S. I found the limitation of “paragraph” restricting.

It may be possible to retain the paragraph form, if we only think the paragraph differently, as a (i)para(/i)graph, off to the side, marginal, beyond graph, as in (i)para(/i)normal or (i)para(/i)site or (i)para(/i)mnesia. Rather than (i)para(/i)graph as in (i)sub(/i)graph.
(i)Para(/i)chute.
For instance, I love the idea of our two orbs (as I often translate soul as orb so the word soul may make sense in my writing), a white orb with a red stain and a purple bruised orb orb(i)iting(/i) within a galaxial structure. And what color is Jil’s orb, for instance? Our mothers’?
And an uncle is a (i)para(/i)father?
And the sun?
Wouldn’t that make God rather a (i)super(/i)prime mover, rather than a (i)sub(/i) one?  If only it could just be a (i)para(/i)God, instead of a God who asks you if you knows what eminent domain means, never without a paper and pen in hand, God.
How many people will get the wrong meaning here?
There once was a time when my father and I were talking about the acceleration of life, that perhaps it does not appear to move forward so much as it seems to get faster.  My father says, “it has to or else it gets boring.”  Meaning that the signs of the body aging are also signs of the body becoming more and more familiar, each body’s orbs peculiar repetitions.
And now I have greater unities, in the linguistic sense, I am more interested in meaning, which is the infinite regress of revisions possible from a syntagm, and although I’m still trying to coordinate the precise correspondences between meaning and grammar, my uncle, my parafather, told me once, when I was 20, that there is an authentic self, did I tell you that story already? At the time I thought it was a bunch of old man hippie bullshit, something my parents and their gang stole from Daoist philosophy, or from some undigested mixture between existentialism (meaning Cartesianism) and Buddhism or Daoism, but time does not go forward it goes down, it rolls down, and as it rolls it accumulates properties of the landscape: grass, rocks, dirt, snow if there is any, stains, color, and therefore gives the illusion of being a ball.

Let us consult the OED.
para5
 2. para (or Para) red, any of various dyes that consist chiefly of the coupling product of diazotized paranitraniline and ß-naphthol and are used in printing inks and paints.
para6  (1 pærə). Obstetr. [the ending of nullipara, primipara, multipara.] A woman who has had a specified number of confinements, as indicated by a preceding or following numeral. 
     nullipara: a woman who has never given birth. Compare with primipara.
     primipara: a woman who is giving birth for the first time.
     multipara: a woman who has had more than one pregnancy resulting in viable offspring.
para-1
1. Terms (substantival or adjectival) chiefly of Anatomy and Natural History, denoting or relating to an organ or part situated beside or near that denoted by the second element, or standing in some subsidiary relation to it; of Pathology, denoting diseases affecting such parts, or designating disordered conditions and functions (often Latin in form); and of miscellaneous other terms in the sense ‘analogous or parallel to, but separate from or going beyond, that which is denoted by the root word’ .
|| para-anæst’hesia Path., anæsthesia of both sides of the body, esp. its lower half. (Billings 1980). 
[…]
paranomasia, obs. erron. f. paronomasia.
[…]
Linguistic harmony from infinite regressions? Why regression? Why must it only move backwards? It reminds me of that red string again, perpetually moving backwards. Confined by this dimension, by the infinite (and therefore blank and static) possibilities of the future, by the back and forth restrictions of living in 3-D.
Syntagm: A syntagmic relationship is one where signs occur in sequence or parallel and operate together to create meaning. Like letters in a word. Like words in a sentence.
Paradigm: A paradigmatic relationship is one where an individual sign may be replaced by another. (Gin, Vodka, Tequila, Rum…)
Syntagm and paradigm govern how signs relate to one another. Without them, all signs would be utterly meaningless, useless, as an individual sign, on its own, has no separate meaning.






para’normal, a. [para-1.] Applied to observed phenomena or powers which are presumed to operate according to natural laws beyond or outside those considered normal or known; also absol. Hence paranor’mality, the state or character of being paranormal; para’normally adv. Cf. supernormal a.
Let us proclaim the mystery of faith.
Christ has died.
Santa has risen.
Elvis will come again.
paradigmatic, |ˌparədigˈmatik|b. Linguistics. Belonging to a set of linguistically associated forms…
…† B. sb. One who writes lives of religious persons to serve as examples of Christian holiness. Obs. rare. 1847 in Webster.
paradogmatic: inclined to lay down principles as incontrovertibly true.
The disorder of dogmatism…
perro’dogmatic: Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark. Bark.
Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough. Rough.
As Dorothy Parker says, “You can’t teach an old dogma new tricks.”
The obvious emphasis is on old.
Christianity is old.
Dare I say decrepit?
[Decrepit.]
Christianity’s orb, all mushy yet covered in metal spikes, is rolling down the hill, squashing cities and other orbs as it goes. Christianity’s orb is the reason my orb is bruised. And I’m sure Jil’s orb is nicked in some way. She, too, is a recovering Catholic. I picture her orb, Jil’s orb, as mossy, earthy, completely organic. Jil’s mossy green orb is hard, solid earth. It’s strong like her, except there’s this one spot, a complaint under the skin, like a bruise on an apple, a bruise you didn’t know was there, where your finger can feel the damage, her sore spot.

Compare below and above:

Christianity’s orb, all mushy yet covered in metal spikes, is rolling down the hill, squashing
Islam’s sphere, total malleable but enveloped with ore points, is turning towards the base,
Credo’s world, complete fungible except wrapped by core centers, is becoming in direction
communities, perfect substitute aporia snow ball.  Belief loci become siginification is targeted
metropoles plus para balls like that rolls.  Islam’s balls exist a meaning this ball is contusioned.
cities and other orbs as it goes.  Christianity’s orb is the reason my orb is bruised.  And I’m
metropoles plus para balls like that rolls.  Islam’s balls exist a meaning this ball is contusioned.
heart more allegory love this continues.  Allah’s testicles may be perceived through desire, that
clear steal root is honored until the end.  God, in addition, once was an addict.  In my mind that
certain Jack’s bulb is jewelled to some extent.  He, also, used to be an Alcoholic.  I imagine his
sure Jil’s orb is nicked in some way.  She, too, is a recovering Catholic.  I picture her orb, Jil’s
certain Jack’s bulb is jewelled to some extent.  He, also, used to be an Alcoholic.  I imagine his
heimlich bean stalk is encrusted the free range.  John, additionally, has grown yet remains.  Oz
planet, with lichen, like ours, wholly hormone-free.  John’s lichen like durable emerald planet is
globe, like fungi, hearthy, totally natural.  Jack’s liverwort-like jade globe  is firm, dense hearth.
orb, as mossy, earthy, completely organic.  Jil’s mossy green orb is hard, solid earth.  It’s
globe, like fungi, hearthy, totally natural.  Jack’s liverwort-like jade globe  is firm, dense hearth.
theater, I’m a fun guy, fire side, ultimately mythical.  Sailor’s moldy olive ball has hardened, burn.
sincerity he’s fun loving, rescued by the straw man’s dog, justice concealed within corruption,
hearty love him, save everywhere but here, a lawsuit beneath a membrane, lick the wound over
strong like her, except there’s this one spot, a complaint under the skin, like a bruise on an
hearty love him, save everywhere but here, a lawsuit beneath a membrane, lick the wound over
core desire the object, somewhere outside existence, a court of law under a tent, go on fighting
chest, the desire I unknown beyond existence, a field where I signed a declaration of war, at night
breast, the pain one had no idea existed, in what place one’s digit touches a disaster, those weary
apple, a bruise you didn’t know was there, where your finger can feel the damage, her sore
breast, the pain one had no idea existed, in what place one’s digit touches a disaster, those weary
myself, my love object’s love object is, cogito ergo sum, there is in disaster, the hungry, the poor
that thing there third person present indicative to be all that exists one i one s rhymes with knot
it is what everything else is not
spot

I have read, that Derrida has said, that, “a ‘good’ translation must always commit abuses.” It gives permission to the text to narrowly escape banality by asserting itself as a translation.
A translation is both aggressive and demure.
A translation must continue “seeking the unthought or unthinkable in the unsaid or unsayable.”
I look at your text, your words, and I read them aloud. To illuminate, and to disappear: used as both verb and noun. One syllable crashes into another, leaving the former a memory. A memory that is never remembered accurately, like a feeling. Is a feeling. Can (also) be a feeling.
A feeling that’s locked in a box. Trapped. From head to paper through pen. Trapped again. Inside a box. Inside a dresser sometimes, like the time I found that pack of cigarettes you meant to throw out (one of my trauma boxes, you could say, nestled within my father’s trauma box, as he cannot bear the sight of Lucky Strikes), next to your trauma boxes. One word written on each cubic side. A terrible memory of yours locked inside.
First roll: On me • down • to • away.
Second roll: Don’t tell • I’m • him • running.
I keep them upstairs with me, scattered around the lamp that used to be in your bedroom, near the yellow table, where I now write again, and it’s still like writing on the surface of the sun.
Because we live in a sphere, the heat from our fireplace floats to the top then trickles down the walls. Sometimes my office is unbearably hot. Sometimes my desk is unbearably yellow.
Sometimes the snow piles on the windows, turning day into gray dusk.
Because we live in a sphere, there are windows on our ceilings, because our ceilings are walls.
When I arrive at the “aporia snowball,” I am confounded. The impossibility of wrapping something in its core: to turn something inside-out and still keep the then outsides as the insides. Two plus two equals five only if words are fungible. This is something you taught me.
I still struggle with the fungibility of words. But I’m supposed to. I’m a novelist, not a poet. I prefer to think of words as containers. Really, really big containers. Like the word now, for instance, holy shit.
Now is everything right now.
And then.
A spot is what everything else is not.
That’s the negative Dave pounded into our heads. It was such a wonderful day when I understood. You were in Paris by that time, but it seems as though you were there. “How so?” you may ask.
The end result would look something like this:
[img unavailable]
(I plan on scanning a drawing I did of a Venn Diagram of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Their respective symbols will be in each of their respective corners in their respective circles, and in the middle, where they intersect, I was planning on writing “One God.” But then I thought: What about Allah? Adonai?)

One night, we all got into the car, we got into the car, the car got into us, a room is a soul, is one’s soul, one of one’s many souls, and drove the snow was like everywhere which could be something one would say but never write, “like, everywhere” and thus like the slippery glide operable within a word as it makes a transition from a graphic certainty located somewhere in a white field which makes an illusion of distance, into a chasm of homophonies of polyvalence only the car can detect, and thus the slippery glide almost an allegory of snow of what the snow did to us, or perhaps the snow was like everywhere in that it shares the necessity everywhere feels, as a word, as though the necessity of meaning in metaphor is emotional, is love, the necessity of love, could be and it occurred to each of us in its way that there was too much snow, that we were committing to a gamble without thinking it through that is thinking through it from its appearance to some other side of it and twist we did on the snowed slope and slip and head for the telephone pole you never told your parents did you, indeed, like that snowball rolling down the hill, collecting meaning as it goes, I thought I saw us go into the telephone pole, I saw the telephone pole merge into the car, and disappear into the car as its disappearance did not merge with my experience as I saw the telephone pole do with the car, the experience did not line up, a part of the message was missing, Cixous says we repeat a lot on the phone, don’t we, we repeat what we said because we are afraid that the other hasn’t heard what we said or we repeat what we think the other said because we are afraid we did not hear what the other said, the definition of the telephone being that it rings and we respond right away and this is what happens to language in translation as it passes from one language to another for instance language in French has two words, langage, which is the structures of language, the way the unities of language, whatever they may be maybe are put together and in what order and with what value, and langue which is the institution of language, those who speak and protect it, the library and the publishing houses, the debates in the government, not just something I wrote to you, but as we say sometimes, a langue  is a language with an Army and a Navy, which is why the Swiss have no langue and that chasm of homophonies, a word or an idiom’s history of iteration, its memory and its interpersonal relationships must be demolished and built up again in a new language, and that’s why Derrida says that translation is impossible, but that it is also necessary, as we slide into the telephone pole and I know we are going to die, that we had not passed through and then we spun our bodies in pieces neither attached neither to neither neither to ourselves nor others nor objects nor nor but floating out there particalized like Willy Wonka’s transportable chocolate bar, spinning  spun wondering what it is exactly snow shares with everything, perhaps the way it smoothes over and hides the topology of longing that lies beneath on me down to away don’t tell I’m him running.  

Too depressed, too compressed, I’m stuck, literally, we are snowed in, a reverse snow globe (an orb in an orb in an orb in an orb in an orb [the rotund matryoshkas] ), with snow piling on the windows, the windows that are on the ceiling, and painting the triangle windows, as if the snow were attacking, as if, like you said, it were everywhere, but I feel trapped in a different way, in an opposite way, a more literal, for instance, my car has a flat tire, but more importantly, more metaphorical: I feels like there is gas, there is green gas bumping up against the walls of my skull, trying desperately to escape, but it can’t, it’s stuck, and so am I with this feeling of being full, I feel incomprehensibly full, of gas, in my skull, crowding out my brains, giving the illusion of everywhere, this gas, this snow, “like, everywhere” but it’s not near you, but it is in that memory we share, that memory of driving downhill Brown street, away from your house, toward the fraternity house that I knew so well, but the hill was too big, the roads were too icy, slick, cold, and we crashed, or rather, we bumped into the curb, the curb, no doubt, that I knew so well, and we spun, we spun into Burlington, would’ve been hit, who knows in what direction, or which of us would have been hurt, because we were spinning, “out of control” as they say, though we never really were in control, maybe over the car, but never completely over ourselves, or then I wouldn’t have so many memories on the corner of Brown and Burlington, in that once fraternity house that now watches us spin, cringing, holding its breath for the impact that never happens because it’s something like 3am and we’re the only ones on the road because we’ve been up all night reading Sartre or Hamlet and eating fruit and cream that we decided we needed solid food, at no matter the cost, and we rounded up red headed Brandon, and Nathan, and Joel, I think and decided to brave the winter, the ice, and go to Perkins, probably to get milkshakes, the stoners we were, thinking that we were invincible, that a death as mundane as this couldn’t befall us, we were protected, as it were, in our bodies, our bubbles, our orbs, the graveyard for ghosts such as fraternity boys past, and graveyards with mist, creepy alien green gas mist, lingering about the graves of these lovers, bumping up against the walls of my skull so much so that I begin to fantasize about a syringe that will suck out this green gas, no better yet, an incision in my forehead, a gash, a hole that spews out green tinted wind, like a B grade horror film, then I wouldn’t grind my teeth, I wouldn’t need this ice pack pressed up against my forehead, trying to merge, mingle, marry, obfuscate, with the gas, at least meet it halfway, trying to break down the barriers of my skull, evaporate my skull by freezing it, it, the skull becoming one with the ice pack, with the ice, a desire to preserve, to cease movement, painful movement, and benign movement, stay, wait, in a cryogenic freezer, wait until the year three thousand just to be chased by Polyphemus’ great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great, great granddaughter, though, on second thought, she was a mutant, not a Cyclops, and I don’t desire Leela, I desire to be Leela, which at some point I had confused, but not now, as I desire to watch her, and me, though not me, the me that I was confused about, the me Fry, whom at one point I’ve related to, at one point, at many point, but not on this point, which is beside the point of the telephone poll, and our imminent deaths that never happen, but have possibly happened, are eternally happening, as time spins on its orb, eternally returning those moments of eternity and snow and fear and reach out to you on the telephone when you are not there, running away from my problems that I can no longer face, here, sitting, apart from him, arguing, through silence, in silence, still, because there is no argument the argument continues until it can unbottle itself from him, from his silence, my silence, the silence of waiting, a taciturnity, the substance of memory, the language of memories, of analogons, unreadable, illegible, as fungible as dreams, as children’s narratives, their stories of teleportation and how we’re doing just that.

Here’s some history:  Great.  Para.  Great. Graph.  Great. Tele.  Great. Phone. Great.  Pole.  Great.  North.  Great.  White.  Great.  Coat.  Great.  Job.  Great.  It grates.  Grate.  Ingrate.  Great. Greet. Great. Eat. Great.  Frite. Great.  Eat and greet. Great.  Turn and.  Great.  Greet and ate.  Great.  η.  Great. Book rate. Great. Gyrate. Great.  Eggs on a plate.  Great.  Open the crate.  Great.  Pirate.  Great .  Pyrite.  Great.  Bi-rite. Great.  Fly-by-night. Great. Have you noticed neither of us can stop writing about memory?  Great.  Is that because we are separated?  Great.  Our ancestors proliferate biblically.  Great.  Frequently sarcastic.  Great.  Lists.  Great. Gravestones. Great. History. Great.  Justified. Great.  Catherine the.  Great.  That’s just.  Great. Until the end of the line. Great.  Over and out.  Great.  Stop.  Why we can return to that moment, spinning in the snow, spinning in the car, because it may have ended us.  Great. Stop.   And indeed end us, in a way, our memories’ collision. Great. Stop.  I think Mark was there too, though.  Great.  Stop.  Joel always used to bring up  how each of us is fundamentally alone, in birth and in death.  Great.  Stop.  Very existential.  Great. Stop.  Having the effect of making me feel alone.  Great.  Stop.  “We are each alone.”  Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Great.  Stop.  “I feel alone (from you).”  Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Great. Stop.  “You should feel alone (from me).”  Great.  Stop.  “You should go sleep with other people, really I don’t mind!”  Great.  Stop. Meaning.   “I don’t want you!”  Great.  Stop. “Have you tried it this way?”  Great. Stop.  Meaning. “You’re not doing it right!”   Great.  Stop. “That’s ok, I’ll just sit here in the dark.” Great.  Stop.  Meaning. “You’re the worst person who ever lived and you don’t care about anyone or anything and your heart is made of ice and coal and chopped up baby parts that you chopped up yourself and laughed the whole time.”  Great.  Stop. Meaning.  That there is a connection between the (i)para-graph(/i) and the (i)tele-phone(/i).  Great. Stop. Meaning.  Because this is the function of a text (our text).  Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Not function as in (i)raison d’être(/i), but function as in (i)mode d’operation(/i). Great. Stop. Meaning.   Operator?  Great. Stop. Meaning. Why did Cixous choose (i)Telephone(/i) as the subject of her seminar this year?  Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  (And us learning this (i)after(/i) having begun this project, (i)after(/i) having dubbed it (i)Telephone(/i).)  Great. Stop. Meaning.  Operator?   Because I can hear you. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator? What did you say? Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator? Because I can hear you? Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator? Yes.  Are you there? Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  Can you hear me?  Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  Yes, I am here. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  I can hear you.  Great.  Stop. Meaning.  Operator?  You are not here. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator? “I am here.” Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  “I am listening.” Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  It’s what’s heard upon hearing. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  A translation. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  Cicero said about his translations of the Greeks. Great.  Stop.  Meaning.  Operator?  The first known writing on translation. Great. Stop. Meaning. Operator?  I translate from the French:

     “… I wrote them in Latin, not as a translator, but as an orator:  the thoughts are still the same, as well as their towers and their figures;  the words have been conformed for their use in our language.  I didn’t  think it necessary to deliver them word for word; I preserved the tone and the value of the expressions.  I believe that it was better for me to pay the reader, not for each individual item, but in bulk weight, so to speak.”[1]

     What he is describing is the act of translation in its most “natural” state.  Translation in practice before theories or guidelines.  When one would have translated by intuition, without wondering about the mutations the distance between languages might effect.  This was when words were merely clothes for ideas, bodies on spirits.  Before Humboldt. And in this (i)land before time(/i), translation occurred somewhere before the rendering of it—I mean to say, before it was written down.  What we now call translation, Cicero considers to be the mere act of understanding, which is actually a form of rewriting:  adding, subtracting, substituting and reording.  And then, only then, once we have translated, I mean, understood, one, the writer, the translator, must render them “as an orator.”   One must study translation, then, in the same way one studies rhetoric. 
     (And what does it mean, in that case, that something might be (i)untranslatable(/i)?)
    
Everything is (i)untranslatable(/i). Everything. Your question. This sentence. Something is lost. You’re not understanding.
I was mauled by a dog.
You don’t understand.
I was mauled by a dog tonight.
Obviously, everything is (i)translatable(/i). Everything. Your question. This sentence. Something is lost. Do you understand?
My hand is black and purple and red and bleeding under a bandage.
If you agree, you have just translated what I said, then you understand. You understand you.
It hurts.
Do you?
I do and I don’t. I do in as much as I translate you.
You say, “Great.  Stop.  ‘You should go sleep with other people, really I don’t mind!’  Great.  Stop. Meaning.   ‘I don’t want you!’ ”

I understand. Great, sarcasm. Stop. Really, you must. “You should go sleep with other people, really I don’t mind.” Great, good. Stop, I’ve changed my mind, just like that. Meaning, “I want to sleep with other people.” Stop. I can’t take that. Not yet. Not like this. We aren’t ready yet. Who will (i)I(/i) sleep with? Meaning. Who will sleep with me? Then, I think. Yes. We are all essentially alone. Meaning. Co-dependency must be obliterated. Annihilated. Decimated. Meaning. I (i)must(/i) fuck other people. For me. Because it’s fun.
Back and forth.
To fuck or not to fuck?
Yes or No?
My situation is not like yours.
He wants me, (i)and(/i) others. I want him and others too.
But it’s safe to suppress. Not mess with polyamory. Not mess with monogamy, not in that way. Meaning. In a new way, not my old way. Meaning. Out in the open. Without veil. Without lying.
Without him.
Sex without him.
Why?
Meaning. Sex without me.
But isn’t it just sex? Aren’t we beyond petty bourgeois squabbles? Base jealousy? The ugliest of the seven deadly sins, the most operatic. Tricking us into thinking sex is love, or death, as people are wont to say. What about the trauma of birth? How we didn’t ask to be born, but then suddenly, thrust into the world, desperately trying to remember before. Before birth. Meaning. Death. Unconsciousness. Same. Death in the womb. Womb as tomb. Mother as tomb. Mother as liberator, tormentor. There. Birthing. With you in birth. One with you in birth. One splitting into two. The trauma of being wrenched in half. Divided. Meiosis. Meaning. Mitosis. Meaning. The origin of love. Of desiring to be one again. With her. Then. Later. With him.
Which can never happen.
Unless we become lantern fish. My light attracts him, as light does, then we do it. It. And he bites onto my skin, my scales, as I am a fish, and he stays there, feeding off of me, I am nourishing him, like cannibalism, until my scales begin to grow over him, covering him, our blood mixing, together, becoming of one blood, cold blood, until I absorb him completely, literally, he is gone.
I don’t want to be lantern fish.
Hiding underneath an upright person lurks the meaning. Under. Meaning. Shadows. The blackest shade, the point where there is no shade, only the lump of black beneath the toes of leather soles. Standing, something lantern fish cannot do, no matter how hard they try, to be upright, erect, is the best place to be. In the now, the know, but under, under an erection. Legs spread. Accepting the word of God.

I’m sorry.  You don’t know why—you don’t understand why I say that.  Only I understand myself—as you say so perfectly that I understand exactly.  But I and my words need you to understand, if words have an essence, that’s it.  A pre-emptive call, a promise to love, an unable-to/need-to of my words as they call out to you to understand.   I’m sorry for something I haven’t done—for words you don’t understand yet. 
And it manifests as a unable to/need to translate.  I need to translate as I need you to understand as I need you to love me as this is my way of loving you, talking, writing, understanding, being understood, translating. 
I’m sorry I didn’t understand that the dog was a real dog and not a dog-metaphor/metaphor-dog.  That your language pain is in your body. 
But the mystery of jealousy remains even after we have apologized in advance for everything we will not translate well.  Even after we have exposed the myth of monogamy (i.e. monogamy does not protect us from abandonment.)
It’s not the lover of our lover who hurts us, but rather uncertainty.  Not that he loves her more than me, but that I cannot know who he loves more.  This I because polygamy is polyvocal—or rather, equivocal.  It multiplies lovers and signifieds.  “I love you” develops a plurality of referents.  The ecstasy of the phrase derives from knowing to whom it refers.   This is also one of the many reasons why we associate it with the bourgeoisie (and their American dream of the correspondence between signifier and signified). 
My lover betrays me, organ schism, blood, surgery, that pain doesn’t understand object, absence?  Stop synonymizing absence and pain.  If the symbol is born of pain, then it does not symbolize absence but its deliverance from it—its reading, translation.   My lover’s betrayal wounds me not because of his death but because of his disappearance, an unexpected ambiguity in his words.  Whether he is there or not.  Pain not from silence but from misunderstanding.  I hurt not because he is gone but because I (i)read him wrong(/i).  Just as, it is always pleasurable to (i)read well(/i) (to guess right). 
I quote DeMan from his essay on Benjamin’s “Task of the Translator”:
“Where the text pertains directly, without mediation, to the realm of truth and of dogma, it is, without further ado, translatable” (Benjamin) ends up being translated into French by Maurice de Gandillac as “Là ou le texte, immediatement, sans l’entremise d’un sense… rélève de la vérité ou de la doctrine, il est purement et simplement intraduisible.” What adds some comedy to this particular instance is that Jacques Derrida was doing a seminar with this particular text in Paris, using the French….. So Derrida was basing a part of his reading on the “intraduisible,” on the untranslatability, until somebody in his seminar (so I’m told) pointed out to him that the correct word was “translatable.”  I’m sure Derrida could explain that it was the same… and I mean that in a positive sense, it is the same, but still, it is not the same without some additional explanation.” (Resistance to Theory p. 80)
Language calls out for its translation precisely because it is untranslatable.  Language produces and is the product of love and suffering, not only because it is the medium in which our beloved speaks to us—but because it is so easily mistranslated.  To hear the other is as fragile as attraction.  I wait by the telephone for hours and hours, suffering, (counting)… why won’t he call?  If (i)only(/i) he would call, that is the only way to lessen  my pain:  the “telephone-vaccination” as Cixous says. 
This is how I translate your anxiety over polygamy (how I empathize with you, talk to you about it).  Language is untranslatable because it means too much—in other words requires translation.  “I don’t understand, please explain it to me.”  Everything is equivocal, everything has an untraceable infinite history of referents, scuse me, of references, everyone has (had) many lovers, and that is why we must translate—to render a univocity, the voice of one among all the jabberwocky, that’s what (i)means something(/i) to me.  We are never sure that our lover will not leave us (that he will (i)keep his promise(/i), that he (i)means what he says(/i)).  There is no ultimate stay, no “unbreakable bond” (Harry Potter) of language that holds us one to the other as skin holds our body together.  If you leave me you will not die.  Only take our pill everyday like I (i)need to hear you say it(/i), “I love you” (i)even if I know it’s true, I need to hear you say it(/i).  I need language to mean what I have interpreted it to mean.  Otherwise I’ll die, (i)I’ll just die(/i). 
How to multiply your lovers without calling out in pain?  You got to find the right way to say it.

Love and Suffering once shook hands as an electric thread wrapped around their wrists, binding them, forever, with the Unbreakable Vow.
Love and Suffering. Two sides of the same coin, merged through sex, the coin, the cynosure, the center. Our universe has no center. That’s what (i)they(/i) say. Maybe this coin, the coalescence of Love and Suffering, could be the center, could be the nucleus of the universe.
Like you say,
Language is the fruit (baby) of Love and Suffering.
The telephone exploits that fruit.
The words go through the machine then come out differently. They sound differently. The inflections are all wrong. They’re faceless. Expressionless. Without eyes.
The machine is not pure, it’s dirty, it crackles. Words mutate, fall through its static. Are dropped unexpectedly.
Yet still, I wait by it. Want nothing more than it.
Ring. God damn it. Ring!!
The telephone alleviates loneliness.
Ring. Hello? I’m here.
Ring. Hello? You there?
Ring. Hello? You’re not alone anymore.
This seems passive. Waiting is passive. Calling is active. Unless the action is cut off, aborted before it began.
Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Ring. Hello, you’ve reached…
Hello, you’ve reached.
You’ve reached.
Reached.
Ached.
Women wait by the telephone. (Though now, women wait for the telephone, as they are mobile, wireless devices, no longer stuck inside the home.) Everyone has waited by for the telephone. I’ve waited by for the telephone. Oh, how I’ve waited by for the telephone. Hoping he would call. He, my absent lover. Hoping he would end my suffering and call. Sometimes he didn’t. Often times he didn’t.
But then sometimes he did.
Ring. Hello? I’m sorry. I was busy. I forgot.
The words were interpreted. The machine spat out what he said and I reeled it in and translated it. He was busy evoked a tree of translations. He was eating, walking, reading. He was out with someone else. He was doing something, anything, other than thinking about me. Busy with life. I was outside of his life.
Ring. Hello? Stop worrying.
Ring. Hello? Tonight.
Ring. Hello? I want to see you.
The Tele-Vaccination.
Tele-Penetration.
Because his voice was an injection, a vaccination. It calmed the storm. Weathered the war within. It penetrated my ears, fucked with my head.
Why is there no painting of woman by telephone?
A woman waiting to be translated, to be understood. To be heard without being seen.
Then, desperately, to be seen, to be loved.
He may be hearing me, unable to see me, but he is thinking about me, imagining my face, my body language as he deciphers my emotions, decodes blindly, compares, contrasts, with deteriorating memories, with metallic interpretations of past experiences. He translates.
(i)To be translated is not to be understood.(/i)
Ring. Hello? Hi?
Ring. Hello? What?
Ring. Hello? Do you hear the words that are coming out of my mouth? Yes.
When I am with you, I hear the words. They float out of your mouth like bubbles, they float overhead, hang above us in a fug, repeating their sounds over and over again, softer, sometimes with a Doppler effect.
Lovemelovemelovemelovemeloveme-emevolemevolemevolemevolemevoL.
Words, words, words.
What is Hamlet reading when he says, “Words, words, words,” ?
I’ve never seen those lines acted to my satisfaction. Nor can I picture how I would do it.
Something, there, for me, is always lost in the translation, because I find those lines untranslatable.
Ring. Hello? Words.
I was always grounded from the telephone.
Late at night I would sneak calls. Sometimes I would set up a meeting time, a rendezvous minute, where I would call a 1-800 number and wait for the other to call, for call-waiting, so my parents wouldn’t know I was on the phone.
Because of this, because of my absent lover, I adopted surreptitious telephone habits. The telephone became a secret. The telephone became a symbol, a portal to an affair, to bliss.
Sacrosanct fantasy.
Ring. Hello? You.
My absent lover was a voice without a face. He could be anyone to anyone else, anyone other than me. He was a secret. His phone call was also a secret.
Ring. Hello? Shhh, they’ll hear you.
But they can’t hear. Only the one with telephone can hear. Ear pressed against the machine, I hear words only spoken for me.
Ring. Hello? I want to fuck you.
The telephone as palliative.
Ring. Hello? Come over.
Ring. Hello? Yes, that feels good.


[1]  Maybe if you stop into a library over there in home, and you’re in the mood, you might remember to see what the actual translation of this quote is from the Latin.  It’s from Cicero’s “Du meilleur genre d’orateur”  Or like, “The best kind of orator” or something like that.  It’s hard to find the English versions over here and I had no luck on the internet, although I did not try that hard. 
_____
RECONFIGURATIONS: A Journal for Poetics & Poetry / Literature & Culture, http://reconfigurations.blogspot.com/, ISSN: 1938-3592, Volume 4 (2010): Emergence

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