"Dead Text" Jena Osman

I. "Dead Text"

Once again, the starting point is Kleist as he tries himself to determine the starting point called grace. As it is found to be lost, as it once was held and discarded, the starting point. Can I hold you says the man. Are you able, once lost, to be found, to be held. The man takes you into his arms like a heart burning out of the body, out of the heart runs gravity. As it was found, then lost, where now might it be found? This is the question as posed and answered by Kleist: the center of gravity, the pole of the heart is to be found surrounded by dead text'-"pure pendulums."

The sphere of a pendulum is limited to the utter purity of its scope. This is from my memory. A movement that continues, only in that once it has ceased, it is no longer itself (to be found in his arms). A pendulum is no longer itself. Once it has stilled, the clock ends and there is no relation between action and life. Thus, the dead text begins in the realm of the man with no consciousness who has something in his arms. This is the part that steps out from the outside.

The partner turns the man a falterer. Constantly losing his body as in Beckett, an addition indicates the opposite of grace. Dickinson says:

To fill a Gap
Insert the thing that
caused it-
Block it up
With Other-and 'twill
yawn the more-
You cannot + solder an
With Air

+ Plug a Sepulchre

Letters in the printed word are the man with "the stump." The pure pendulum of the arm is denied and the center of gravity changes irrevocably. Letters in print lack physical gesture, the arms enfolding. And then what do we produce? What is the nature of the gesture that we might endow? How do we construct the whole that will allow for the dead text, the weight and swing of it?

If your arm cannot attain that center of empty moves, you can attach a weight to a string which is in turn attached to your arm. The weight will solder the air and you can then say to the man, this weight is in fact my arm. If you do not do this you might falter.

Don't allow him the memory of completion. The lost limb must be on its own so that when he holds you in his arms he realizes your impossibility. And after, he is found on the front line, only to be lost in the letter that he cannot gesture.

Producing the arm that isn't there is creating the gesture that doesn't move (and in turn cannot produce?). As soon as the pendulum moves the moment is connected to another. Detachment (disconnectedness)-the picture-allows the man to see what's in his arms. The man is severely beaten on camera. Slow motion turns the act into moments, each swing has the possibility for justification for it is tied to the motivation of the last. He sees it is no coincidence that "scales of justice" are also based in a system of weights: however the centers are endowed (the half of the arm that is sense but not seen), placed artificially, a gap stopped with other: consciousness.

II. Theft Text [Defoe]

I stood in the pillory three times. Endowed with tools and materials from the wrecked ship. Indifferent city. Live on takings. To people a world. A real, physical world. I was diverted, I was instructed. My original. Original rogue fell a-crying. "I was a dirty glass-bottle-house boy." The dogs lick fingers. Nobody gets anything. Thou art a horrid doll, a kidnapped child. Now fill in the blanks and come to be hanged. Fires above, money in hand. The light is what lets you seem to live. Dexterous friends to lay there so still. What kind of trade has no interest in higher things? I was carried directly into the city and sold in a market of letters. Far from the world, my original. And never for a moment did they think but what are pockets for? To keep the bread from the dog. Vexatious ship, it was a heap of brickbats. I knew not what I did, I know not what I do, in the hollow of a tree, in an empty pillory. Horrid doll (boy), a hat was a coach with six horses, now watch your steps. Around and over them, I jumped toward him and he fell. This was the grasp these people had of me. They are books and the boy is a pretty boy; a letter (what lets it seem to live).

III. Conscious Text

As the man was beaten on film, his center of gravity was lost and found in the mouths of the police. It is in that that the city loses its indifference. If the film is slowed to a pace of open interpretation, anything can be accounted for: the man was dangerous as Hercules. When a picture of fire is slowed down, stilled, disconnected, the man is dangerous. This is the paradox of detachment: in order to see, an image must be alienated from its usual context. When an image is alienated from its usual context, we know not what we see. The fire becomes beautiful in its photograph. The man is beaten and seen as fitting into some order. He has become dead in his attempts to stand, incapable of affectation. The mouths of the police claim the man was subject to affectation. According to Kleist the moment when all have attained the perfect grace of the dead text, the un-self-consciousness of the puppet, is the end of the world. He does not account for a time where a man is forced to be dead text and the others remain not so. He does not imagine a time where grace is the stance of the beaten. The relation between action and life depends on this.

Jena Osman

originally printed in the anthology Subliminal Time, edited by Leslie Scalapino, 1993