Thanksgiving Is Ruined

The Personal is Political. The Political is Personal.

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March 23, 2007
off-line/in print: on sleep & absence

It must be from sleep that we get our sense of being here and not being here, of losing ourselves and finding ourselves, of absence and return;

and perhaps most interestingly of all, sleep must be our original and easily lost experience of an absence that is not a form of waiting. . . .

So if we think of sleep as an experience, it must radically change our sense of what an experience can be;

if we think of it as an object of knowledge, it confirms our dependence on others for such knowledge as is available;

and if we think of sleep as an object of desire—and as one of our original paradigms or blueprints for desiring—we may end up radically redescribing the obscurity of such objects.

Adam    Phillips (.pdf) in the current Threepenny Review

They print a six-part "Symposium on Sleep." Phillips' contribution is not only the most non-sleep inducing of the six parts, but it's thankfully on-line, for free.

[The other best moment in the symposium is Dean      Young's great line:
The Surrealists thought that sleeping was the only way to wake up.]

I like the above because Phillips suggests that our entire understanding of the ontology of everything, of being & non-being, of ones & zeroes, of off & on (not to mention of subject/object), comes about because we are creatures who have to sleep.

Imagine -- here is a mouse. Imagine -- the mouse is running across a stone. Now, erase the stone. Then, erase the mouse. What is left -- will be a flickering. And this will be POETRY.
Ilya Kutik, who summarizes the view of the OBERIU group, in the March-April '07 American Poetry Review.

Kutik seems to be giving a wonderfully pithy precis of Vvedensky:

Let a mouse run over a stone. Count only its every step. Only forget the word every, only forget the word step. . . .

that movement will begin to break apart, it will approach zero.

The shimmering will begin. The mouse will start to shimmer. Look around you: the world is shimmering (like a mouse).

This causes a very weak combination of memory cells somewhere in the back of my brain to itch. Something I read once, by Tzara? Breton? By a Situationist? Something like:

You are at the theater. The show has just ended. You stand up. You turn around. But your coat is gone. Your umbrella is gone. You look up. The audience is gone. The seats are gone. The theater is gone.

And that is DADA.

Where the heck did I read that? Or did I merely imagine it? Or combine multiple partial memories into something that never existed at all, until now?