December 9, 2011

N/-\mers (more Gysin)

The Fall New Puritan (from 'The Complete Peel Sessions')

Mr. Brion Gysin emphasizes that words are not the things they represent.

Take the word 'I.' What is 'I'? In what sense does 'I' exist? What is the thing that the word 'I' refers to? It's not a 'real' thing in the same way your chair is real, right? So what is it?

Maria Minerva Tallinn at Dawn

'I' exists as a word. We know that. It also exists in thought, certainly.
'I' is a thought.

'I' is a thought, and that's all it is. That's all.

Gysin wrote/cut-up (in an untitled piece in Here To Go):

I do not think
I am thought
not by a thinker
who would, too, be
I am thought in action

Federal Duck Peace in My Mind

The word 'I' is referring to the thought 'I.' 'I' is a thought, but our language, the way we talk, makes that realization difficult/unlikely. Words are not to be trusted.

The 'thinker' is actually a thought.


s$s said...

Sinners says Namers should audit a linguistics course if he's gonna make posts like this.

Boyda said...

"Words are not to be trusted." I agree. I also agree that I am thought, but I don't know if I agree that I is a thought. I would have to think about that.

Have you read Derrida? Or Helen Cixous?

I had a quote from Cixous on the "I" on facebook, but apparently I deleted it.

s$s said...

I haven't read Derrida (yet?). And I've never heard of Cixous. I can't even pronounce her name. Key-zhew? See-shewss? No idea. Wikipedia says "siksu"; so is that sick-soo, or sick-suh, or seek-suh? I'm drowning in possibilities.

I find academic jargon unhelpful in approaching this stuff, so I am leery(sp?) of these professor-types; I find their writing pulls me deeper into words, rather than showing me a way out of them -which is my ultimate hope; so I mostly just spin around online, skimming through articles, hoping for diagrams. I'm a dilettante. Or, a wannabe dilettante.

So, I looked up and skimmed through Ms. Cixous on wikipedia and saw that she's got ideas about the relationship between gender and language. I don't know what her particular ideas are, but a couple months ago I was fascinated by a small article I read on this thing called ecriture feminine -which suggests something along the lines of: the way our words have evolved has been driven by men; so language is currently friendlier to the experience of the male body. The experience of the female body has to struggle to find expression in this male-bodied language. Something like that.

Everything in language was phallic, to these french feminists. EVERYTHING. To the point of boring me with all their penis talk. But until it got boring, I was enjoying the ride through their thoughts very very much.

James Joyce's 'Finnegan's Wake,' where every word and sentence can have multiple meanings, is said -in the article I read- to offer a means of expression that is -apparently- friendlier to the female body's experience. If that makes sense. I've only read tiny bits and pieces of 'Finnegan's Wake,' so I dunno. Pretty interesting idea though.

All I know is that it is in the moments when my mind ceases its endless chatter -when the words stop, or slow down enough for me to watch the spaces between the words (or when it speeds up so fast that all the words blur together)- that I feel I am getting closest to reality.

I'm SO over my head with all of this. I just hate that all the folks generally regarded as "great thinkers" in the realm of language bury their ideas under academic jargon. I suspect Derrida and Clixous are very much this way (though I should check them out before judging). I'm smart, but I distrust books that are full of new terms invented specially for the purposes of reading the book.

I find the jargon to be, like, intellectual masturbation. Which is fine, I guess. I'm just not quite on board with the whole academic endeavour.

What am I talking about!??!! Good grief. I'm defensive about it. Some chord's been struck. I'm just too lazy to read the impenetrable Derrida. I've tried, actually. A year ago-ish. It wasn't fun. Not at all. I prefer watching videos of him on youtube, which I've spent a few hours doing. I completely forget what his ideas were though.

ANYWAYS, thanks very much for getting me thinking, Ms. Josa Josa Josa Johnstone. I will defintely give Cixous some serious attention.

s$s said...

oh lordy, that was a mess of a response. Sorry. I made it a couple paragraphs into Derrida when I found some translation of who-knows-what essay or book last year, and it was just like every other "serious" 20th century philosopher I've read: SO DENSE and wordy. Ugh. It produces something instinctive in me. I hate it. But maybe I shouldn't.

Boyda said...

Aahh, I'm sorry I set you off on a path into Siksu, whom I've actually hardly read. I shouldn't have name-dropped her. I really only have one quotation.

BUT about Derrida, I bluntly think you're totally wrong and really everyone is totally wrong about him. He was very much interested in the spaces between words - he made a career out of it, in fact. No matter how hard I try, I *always* come back to Derrida's ideas, on the secret and on the gift for example, in my papers. His writing is occasionally very poetic and experimental, and if he did alienate the nonacademic world, he frequently alienated the academic world as well, keynoting at the James Joyce symposium (for ex.) and accusing Joycians of their own intellectual masturbation. And he is NOT, absolutely NOT "just like every other 'serious' 20th century philosopher." For one thing, philosophers hate him and reject him; he is a joke in philosophy departments. For another thing, he was not serious at all, in fact he had a wild, convoluted sense of humor that I think at times even he misunderstood.

So that is my childish, breathless rejoinder to your rejection of them.

I do admit that Derrida's prose is sometimes very dense. After these finaldeathpapers are over, maybe I'll look up some citations and quotations for you as examples of his more experimental side. (do not take his earlier stuff, like Of Grammatology, as indicative of his work as a whole!)

Then again, maybe artists and critics should never meet - and maybe your work is exactly the type of art that Derrida would love to countersign, humbly, for himself.

Boyda said...

P.S. I'm sure you're right about the French feminists. Thankfully, we've come beyond that, but I think it is still interesting to think about how language functions as gendered, or not. I am constantly offended by some of the language that is used in the institution, which continues to alienate women, however inadvertently.

But I don't think a free-flowing, alinear prose style is somehow more essentially "female."

s$s said...

Ha ha. I was feeling very reactive when I responded to you. Now I've been set straight.

I guess I really need to read Derrida. He looks very hip in his wikipedia image. Very hip.

He writes about the spaces between words? Really? Cool.

Dense is not my thing in literature, but I do push through that kinda writing occasionally. I'm reading a denser than usual book right now ('Political Ponerology' by Andrew M. Lobaczewski), so it's not like my laziness holds me back too much. But I do tend to be a lazy reader.

There's this Derrida video I watched, where he talks about getting this idea, and the idea is so big, so significant, that he knows it's not from him; it's coming from some deep, unconscious place, and he's in awe of the inspired moment. Pretty wonderful.

Derrida's ideas on the secret and on the gift: I'm intrigued.

You said,
"I think it is still interesting to think about how language functions as gendered, or not."

Absolutely. With that ecriture feminine article, even though the resentment of all things phallic got tiresome, the basic idea is fascinating. I'm not down on those french feminists at all. Not even close.

That's all.