Going to take a break from the hand-mechanical, at least writing about it, at least for a day, and try to put something up here that’s a little more human(e) perhaps. But what’s more human than being connected to a machine? What’s more humane than a simple, quiet task to accomplish? But no, not today, and at any rate, there are books, always & infinitely.
I have been reading Alan Loney’s The books to come, hot off the Cuneiform Press. Alan Loney is a writer-printer-bookmaker from New Zealand, who now lives in Australia. His new book is a collection of essays on the Book, the book, books. Right now all I will say about it as a whole is that it is an interesting read (I am preparing to write an actual review of it, hence this post, this blog acting as a thinking and reading space). It is not a hard, linear, straight-through kind of a book, but is divided into small sections, and the pace wavers, doubles back, accumulates slowly (festina lente) and deeply, somewhere out there, somewhere in here, in a quiet domestic space, in an infinite literary space. What shabby portals we are. From the book, the Book, the books to come:
my library does not belong to me, or, I can own a volume but not a composition, own a book, but not a text, not even a text of my own composing. Could we say: no border crossing between books and texts is possible, for if this were not so, one would have to deny that the principle of indeterminacy operates here. And yet there is a plethora of claims thruout the world of the book about blurring boundaries, extending borders, hybridization, category transgressions and so on every day. Do not these claims rely upon a fixity of category formation that was actually never true. The supposed edges of the categories always were straw edges, and the language of their apparent violent demolition was always a straw victory
reading a book and reading a text is an example of indeterminacy. We cannot do both at once. There is instead a sort of shuttling back & forth (loom-shuttle, weaving, textura) however rapid, between the two. Even in the case of the books of William Blake. It is simply that human attention is monocular, and our stereoscopic vision merely gives us a depth of field. And wouldn’t being able to see both sides at once imply that our experience is atemporal, permitting us to transcend the detail, the particular, the contingent that would pin us down. But in any articulation of any experience we speak or write as anyone does, one word after the other, one word or element or object at a time. Unless one’s understanding of time & succession is all wrong, and that ‘one word at a time’ is an inaccurate way of talking about how we talk and how we write. For at this point I remember that the writing of the ancient Greeks prior to the 5th century BC knew no word spaces. But looking at one word renders all other words in its vicinity almost invisible. Looking at an image renders the environmental context of that image invisible. Foreground/background, reading/viewing, focus/panorama, detail/overall impression, indeterminacy everywhere
what single written composition does one’s own library, one’s own collection of volumes, make. What sort of a book is one’s library. What book does the accumulated libraries of all of us amount to. Louis Zukofsky famously avowed that all one’s life one only wrote one poem. It allows the nice possibility that all poems from a certain context, all L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poems for example (let’s allow for the moment that such things do exist), are a single poem, parts of which are distributed about various, diverse, even conflictual writers. It reminds me of a Terry Riley composition in “Cadenza on the Night Plain” where a Dream Collector has a specific and finite number of dreams to distribute and redistribute thruout the populace after collecting them from the dreamers in the morning. So the library at large, that collection of books scattered yet gathered over the planet, is itself a single book, containing a unitary text, the variety and complexity of which is unencompassable by any individual, any tribe, any nation, any book, even the entire populace, those millions who every day die and are born, dropping as a species, as it were, into & out of the text
Those three passages actually do fall in that order, in tandem, in the fourth chapter of the book, “What book does my library make.” Full Citation! Alan Loney, The books to come (Victoria: Cuneiform Press, 2010), 88 – 90!