Saturday, July 09, 2011

note of an iterative glyphicist

As I mentioned to you elsewhere (yes, I’ll write you here, too),
the postings of my various blogs (axially, this one) and Web pages are improvisational pieces (the Web pages relatively unimprovised) in
a developing Project which will lead to all being thematically disassembled into pieces figuring into a large-scale work.
(I didn’t put the matter quite so succinctly elsewhere). Current little ventures are provisional pieces, trOpical genes in a genealogy.

So, all kinds of approaches could be taken to the beginning of
such a hybrid. Indeed, as most large-scale works probably do their “Introduction” after the large share of the main work is finished, the issue of how the beginning should go is very different from an issue of how to begin the generation of the main work (which is a matter of conceptual organization, influences, presentational structure, writing schedule, etc.).

Beginning as such has been an important topic in literary philosophy (Edward Said, Jacques Derrida, and others). Derrida’s main translator, Peggy Kamuf, honors this matter in a lecture (included in To Follow) about the beginnings of Derrida’s various works, a different matter from the theme of beginning in Derrida’s works (though Derrida often has both matters in mind: beginning a work with the issue of beginning in mind, even when the opening theme isn't about beginning as such—which is Kamuf’s interest). She begins her lecture, “Coming to the beginning,” by imagining Derrida beginning to write something:

Let us imagine him: he sits down before a keyboard, stretches his hands over the keys, and, after a slight hesitation, begins to strike them very quickly. Other than the noise of keys being struck, there is silence and no one else is nearby. There is nothing happening in the room with the exception of this movement of fingers above the little plastic cubes each bearing some kind of mark….So let us start again at the beginning, the beginnings….
She cites a few opening lines, then notes:
These are all incipits [beginnings] that begin only by echoing “someone” who is unnamed and unnameable, without name or face,….Offstage or with what is called in French a voix-off (voiceover), he or she calls forth the first words that appear on the page or screen, which would thus come along in second place to awaken the impression of what the other has let be heard but without sound or sign. Before any sign, there is a speaking or saying that comes forward, advances, and takes place, thereby giving place and giving rise to the beginning of writing.