Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Note on Mortared Penne: Ha Ha Ha (2/4)

The “snore” is fakeable evidence of sleep and unfakeable evidence of life, the phantastic “wet” version, unfakeable across either asserted matter (see note 1). The “child” is Madeleine McCann. “Ethical thinking in poetry tends to demand extravagant repudiation even of the most diminutive injustice, it makes so much depend upon even the smallest hurt, the smallest expense of spirit, partly because poets are committed to an indigenously stupid assessment of the relationship of law to power” (Keston in this Quid). The obvious extravagance which “Penne” withholds, about two-thirds of the way through in all directions, is a “critique” (see note 2) inflicted through the little pang or sting whose stifling is usually taken to be a condition of possibility of such a critique. There is a whiff of naff about Maddy, as though her history beckoned the cultural critic with disproportionate solicitude. “C’mon, be unflinching! C’mon! *pants*.” I get a weird sense, probably from without the poem, that Toal is not portraying Madeleine’s disappearance as exemplary or paradigmatic, nor concerning himself with the “smallest expense of spirit” of her abuse and death, so much as sulking that his daughter also vanished on 3 May 2007 in the resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve, Portugal, and nobody really cares.

Note 1: I can't exactly remember why I thought this, when I wrote it. It had to do with "wet fart" and "wet dream." I suppose there are no comparatively reliable procedures to verify the claims "I farted" and "I had a dream about sex" (against those to verify the claims "I shat myself" and "I came in my sleep") from an observer perspective. (In Habermasian terminology, to query the first pair leads at best to discourse, whereas it is possible to query the second pair without suspending communicative action?)

In following this lead, I probably homogenised night emissions. Aren't the cocked sub-we often forced to hazily recollect dreamt orgasms to definitively taxonomise a given residue or smell? Also, this allusion of Toal's, to the gas or smegma libidinal anti-aubade, makes me wonder a bit about the "wet blanket" and "wet the bed" angles, and really about the contribution of the whole bed and sleep scenario generally. The contrarian cat-napper who dogmatically insists he or she did not nod off (which vignette's abundance is ensured by waker's grumpiness) certainly fits in with his theme of sedulously operationalized self-doubt. David Foster Wallace has a dense and meticulous -- fuck it he's dead, a Wallacian -- account of contested snoring, which I think also involves child sexual abuse. Wallace's story (I'm pretty sure it's "Oblivion") culminates with the pathological transcendence of the Sleeping Couple into a public, and into a scientistically administered and chronicled setting. But in the ordinary course of things (it draws its own ordinary course of things, that's the point) the claim "I wasn't snoring!" comes packaged with its own pragmatics: we can plausibly dramatise, with unusual momentum and ease, the entire contemptible, heteronormative or heteronormative-imitative, bourgeois marital conundrum, its petty ethical phenomenology and its social and economic root systems. Language with that quality, I get the impression, is somehow particularly privileged or exploited in the Prynne-Keston-Toal Rubick's line of influence. How or why I dunno, although the obvious suspicion is idealism-smuggling, via artificially upping the proportion of language that happens to have manageably elegant relations with its various concrete instances.

Note 2: Racism, bread and circuses, prurient prudishness, Spectacular multiplication of innocence, degradation of vanguardist thought (Maddy as Lenin), cud activism, cud class consciousness, cud morality, etc.

1 comment:

Akinsola-Hierat von Bombast-Akinfemiwa-Jugswap said...

All this Toalite inward chafing over the disappearance of Proust's biscuit is very beautiful and sombre. Personally I looked for mine here:

But in the end I was often devastated. It makes you think.