“I’m so bored. I hate my life.” - Britney Spears

Das Langweilige ist interessant geworden, weil das Interessante angefangen hat langweilig zu werden. – Thomas Mann

"Never for money/always for love" - The Talking Heads

Monday, December 15, 2014

conceptual zippers

Guilty reading
Lets face it: the innocent reader who spots the blue pants on the boy holding the balloon in the picture and associates the “C” with cookie monster was filed away long ago. It exists, thinly, in the brain's filing system, although to dive in an find it is a task that would make Proust blanch. We guilty readers come, now, with a certain hodgepodge sophistication to the fragment or the treatise, or even to the letter “C” – which may remind us more of Wallace Stevens than Sesame Street. We take our theories to our books, and are eager to apply readings, now “political”, now “hermeneutic”, now “neo-darwinian”, and so on.
Myself, I’ve always like the promise of dialectical materialism, although not often its results. The idea of looking at texts not in the idea-system, head talking to head, but in terms of both historical conditions and of the text’s own long interiority – that’s the ticket. Oh that interiority! To be a writer, I think, means that one exists like a bat in a dark cave that is slowly filling up with the echos of the signals one has emitted, revealing surfaces that must eventually and imperfectly be translated into data subserviant to the detailing eye – although the writer, in his heart, always remains a creature of radar, of the sonogram.
What’s dialectical about all of this? What, except the continual stomping back and forth and the interminable difference. One can trick oneself, here, easily, into thinking that the difference can be reduced to two sides, two tracks, like the two tracks of a zipper – and that with a little conceptual zipper and a little force the two tracks will fit tightly together as one. Conceptual zippers are the most tempting things in the world, and the trick with them is not to believe them too much. The dialectical, here, for me, is ideally stripped of the absolute and has learned the humility of stripped things, naked things. The world is not all zippers, or even mostly zippers. The zipper is not all the case is.

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