1. At Berfrois, I wrote about Kate Zambreno’s reissued novel Green Girl, and discuss the effects of genre, affect and Lacan in the novel’s film of liminal femininity. Below is a short excerpt.

    So many, many feelings and products stream through Ruth as if all she is made of are her loves for Catherine Deneuve and Jean Seberg, themselves cogs in a machine of representations of unattainable feminine ideals. At the heart of Green Girl is the nature of projection, how we project ourselves into the screen of reality and how that reality — or realities — projects back into us. Affect and queer theorist Lauren Berlant writes in 2011′sCruel Optimism that “Fantasy is the means by which people hoard idealizing theories and tableaux about how they and the world ‘add up to something.’” Fashion is a fantasy, so is foundational make-up — Jean Seberg and normative femininity too. Green Girl takes this to the limit — the limit of Lacanian jouissance, of transference, and of love after the fantasy.”

    You can read it here

     
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  3. "

    Have I said it already? I am learning to see. Yes, I’m beginning. It is still going badly. But I want to make use of my time.

    For instance, I never realized how many faces there are. There are lots of people but still more faces, for everyone has several. There are people who wear a face for years, of course it wears out, gets dirty, cracks in the folds, stretches like a glove one has worn on a journey. Those are thrifty, simple people: they don’t change it, they don’t even have it cleaned. It’s good enough, they maintain, and who can convince them otherwise? The question does arise, since they have several faces, what do they do with the others? They keep them in reserve. Their children will get to wear them. But it also happens that their dogs wear them when they go out. And why not? Face is face.

    "
    — Rainer Maria Rilke. The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge. Trans. Burton Pike. Champaigne: Dalkey Archive Press. Print. 3
     

  4. Adam Phillips on Psychoanalytic Appetite

    INTERVIEWER

    Appetite is a word that often comes up when you talk about psychoanalysis

    PHILLIPS

    Analysis should do two things that are linked together. It should be about the recovery of appetite, and the need not to know yourself. And these two things—

    INTERVIEWER

    The need not to know yourself?

    PHILLIPS

    The need not to know yourself. Symptoms are forms of self-knowledge. When you think, I’m agoraphobic, I’m a shy person, whatever it may be, these are forms of self-knowledge. What psychoanalysis, at its best, does is cure you of your self-knowledge. And of your wish to know yourself in that coherent, narrative way. You can only recover your appetite, and appetites, if you can allow yourself to be unknown to yourself. Because the point of knowing oneself is to contain one’s anxieties about appetite. It’s only worth knowing about the things that make one’s life worth living, and whether there are in fact things that make it worth living.

    I was a child psychotherapist for most of my professional life. One of the things that is interesting about children is how much appetite they have. How much appetite they have—but also how conflicted they can be about their appetites. Anybody who’s got young children, or has had them, or was once a young child, will remember that children are incredibly picky about their food. They can go through periods where they will only have an orange peeled in a certain way. Or milk in a certain cup.

    "The Art of Nonfiction No. 7: Adam Phillips." The Paris Review, no. 208, Spring 2014.

     

  5. Ludwig Wittgenstein on “I.”

    The word “I” does not mean the same as “L.W.” even if I am L.W., nor does it mean the same as the expression “the person who is now speaking”. But that doesn’t mean: that “L.W.” and “I” mean different things. All it means is that these words are different instruments in our language.

    Think of words as instruments characterized by their use, and then think of the use of a hammer, the use of a chisel, the use of a square, of a glue pot, and of the glue. (Also, all that we say here can be understood only if one understands that a great variety of games is played with the sentences of our language: Giving and obeying orders; asking questions and answering them; describing an event; telling a fictitious story; telling a joke; describing an immediate experience; making conjectures about events in the physical world; making scientific hypotheses and theories; greeting someone, etc., etc.) The mouth which says “I” or the hand which is raised to indicate that it is I who wish to speak, or I who have toothache, does not thereby point to anything. If, on the other hand, I wish to indicate the place of my pain, I point. And here again remember the difference between pointing to the painful spot without being led by the eye and on the other hand pointing to a sac on my body after looking for it. (“That’s where I was vaccinated”.)—The man who cries out with pain, or says that he has pain, doesn’t choose the mouth which says it.

    Wittgenstein, Ludwig. The Blue and Brown Notebooks: Preliminary Studies for the Philosophical InvestigationsTrans. Basil Blackwell. New York: Harper Colophon, 1965. Print. 61-2.

     

  6. Thanks to Jaime Green for inviting me to read my story about dogs, shit, shame and academia, “Physiognomy of a Dog,” for her podcast reading series, The Catapult.

     
  7. flowerville photogram.

     

  8. Gerald Murnane, “The Breathing Author”

    From Delphic Intimations: Dialogues with Australian Writers and Critics, ed. Pradeep Trikha. 2007: Sarup & Sons, New Delhi. 

    I have preserved Australian spelling and style. 

    ***

    This essay is the edited version of a talk given at the final session of the Gerald Murnane Research Seminar, held at the University of Newcastle on 20-21 September 2001.

    I cannot conceive of myself reading a text and being unmindful that the object before my eyes is a product of human effort.

    Much of my engagement with a text consists of my speculating about the methods used by the writer in the putting together of the text, or about the feelings and beliefs that drove the writer to write the text, or even about the life story of the writer.

    What I am about to tell you today is the sort of detail that I would have been eager to know if it had been my fate to be a person who was drawn to read these books (points to the stack of his books near by) rather than the person who was drawn to write them.

    I have for long believed that a person reveals at least as much when he reports what he cannot do or has never done as when he reports what he has done or wants to do.

    I have never been in an aeroplane.

    I have been as far north from my birthplace as Murwillumbah in New South Wales and as far south as Kettering in Tasmania; as far east as Bemm River in Victoria and as far west as Streaky Bay in South Australia. The distance between Murwillumbah in the north and Kettering in the south is about 1500 km. It so happens that the distance between Streaky Bay in the west and Orbost in the east is about the same. Until I calculated these distances a few days ago, I was quite unaware that my travels had been confined to an area comprising almost a square, but my learning this was no surprise to me.

    I became confused, or even distressed, whenever I find myself among streets or roads that are not arranged in a rectangular grid or are so arranged but not so that the streets or roads run approximately north-south and east-west. Whenever I find myself in such a place, I feel compelled to withdraw from social intercourse and all activities other than what I call finding my bearings. These I try to find by reference to the sun or to roads or streets the alignments of which are known to me. I know I have found my bearings when I can visualise myself and my surroundings as details of a map that includes the northern suburbs of Melbourne and such prominent east-west or north-south thoroughfares of those suburbs as Bell Street or Sydney Road.

    My trying to find my bearings takes much mental effort, and I fail more often than I succeed. I often believe I have succeeded but later refer to maps and find that my visualised map was wrong. When I discover this, I feel compelled to attempt a complicated exercise that I have probably never succeeded at. I am compelled first to recall the scene where I tried to find my bearings, then to recall the visualised map that proved to be wrong, and last to try to correct my remembered self, as it were: to relive the earlier experience but with the difference that I get my correct bearings. I sometimes feel this compulsion many years after the original event. While writing these notes, for example, I was compelled to recall the evening in November 1956 when I visited for the first time the suburb or Brighton, on Port Phillip Bay. It was my last day of secondary school, and my class had to meet at the home of the school captain and later to take a train into Melbourne to see a film. I arrived in Brighton by bus, in the company of boys who knew their way around that quarter of Melbourne. Later, when our class arrived on foot at Brighton Beach railway station, I stood with them on the platform where they had gathered, but I was convinced that we were waiting for the train from Melbourne. After the train had arrive and we had boarded, I remained convinced for some time that we were travelling away from Melbourne, and my peace of mind was continually disturbed during the rest of the evening by my wondering how I had so utterly lost my bearings at the railway station. Just now, as I said, I was compelled to relive that experience of more than forty years ago, but I failed yet again to understand how the map of Melbourne in my mind had been stood on its head.

    I cannot understand the workings of the International Date Line.

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  9. Gerald Murnane.

    I flipped randomly to this passage in Gerald Murnane’s Barley Patch, which I just bought. 

    "I have reported in the previous seventy-eight paragraphs numerous events, few of them seeming to be connected with my conception. Admittedly, my father and mother and have been referred to, but serly I could conjecture, postulate, speculate more boldly as to how those two came together?

    No, I could not. …”

     

  10. "Now I saw his lifeless state. And that there was no longer any difference between what once had been my father and the table he was lying on, or the floor on which the table stood, or the wall socket beneath the window, or the cable running to the lamp beside him. For humans are merely one form among many, which the world produces over and over again, not only in everything that lives but also in everything that does not live, drawn in sand, stone, and water. And death, which I have always regarded as the greatest dimension of life, dark, compelling, was no more than a pipe that springs a leak, a branch that cracks in the wind, a jacket that slips off a clothes hanger and falls to the floor."
    — Knausgaard, Karl Ove. My Struggle: I. trans. Don Bartlett. FSG: New York, 2013. Print.