Monday, November 16, 2009

when mathews mentions the written word and the unwritten world...

if, as IC (calvino) said the other night, description is an activity in which the writer can begin to resolve the irreconcilability of the written word and the unwritten world, is there a hierarchy of preferences of things to be described? should one pursue the description of objects that are more and more devoid of salient characteristics, for instance the cigar box given me by the j and r tobacco company, a parallelepiped of the barest sort? or should one aim at portraying objects that are perpetually in flux or, better, that are transformed by our very description of them, like this page? what else could be so transformed? a beautiful woman tattooed with an account of her diminishing beauty - but she wouldn't then be truly something else: simply a woman being treated like a page. experience itself, past or present: as we represent it in words, it is assuredly modified, it's reduced, it's stripped of what is virtually an infinite ambiguity of interpretation and given only one version of itself - it becomes that other object which is the set of words of our description. ponge's genius - or part of it - is that he so immediately quits the oyster or cigarette he's describing for other objects to which he metaphorically compares it that the original object and our access to it are left unencumbered by what he has made of it. all his descriptions should carry april fool's day as the date of their inspiration.

harry mathews, 20 lines a day, 1988

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2 Comments:

Blogger ArtSparker said...

Words as connectors or tendons, but not tendentious...

12:14 PM  
Blogger nals goring said...

thanks for posting this, didn't realize harry mathews wrote about ponge

1:33 PM  

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