Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Note on "Mortared Penne: Ha Ha Ha" (3/4)

“Penne” jollies into the Maddy history in a fully crass, fannish and hyperconsumptive mode. Madeleine’s first explicit appearance is an exploitation of that "creepy little girl trope" (cf. Regan, Lavinia) to suggest, in the most idiotic of twists – the kind of twist indigenous to rock-paper-scissors – that the real threat comes from Madeleine herself:

A blowtorched Madeleine McCann starts punching
you in the face; you are terrified; she, looking all
cut-together and emo, takes a scalpel and “Oh […]

“[C]ut-together,” see note 1. The Maddy history became its own prequel as a whodunit, so also as a supernatural slasher why not. As gorenography why not.

As SF why not – actually, because The Independent front page today can’t decide whether it’s a tabloid pisstake (see note 2). Obviously The Independent should have Tabloid Fridays, and obviously the Maddy history, in its connections with those who care about it, has stipulated utopian journalistic relations (which would be science fictionalised if they were applied to, you know, the Olympics). But it’s newsy, Toal’s poem, not a poem concerned with newsiness (see note 3). Its tendency is to “turn all problems into epistemological problems” but not – as Keston mad in hind when he fused that raze at the recent [nay antickUser:SmackBot] Woetry and Pizardry conference in Warwick – to turn all epistemological problems into problems. Not, that is, narcissicm illimitable qua iterable epistemological pseudo-problems, spuriously about the spuriously ethical spurious possession of actual inferable pain (see note 4). As Toal’s poem works its optative anti-Nativity down into elegy and decathexis, it reveals two emphases which are utterly main within 20th Century philosophy downstream from its “practice” turn. Emphasis on (1) somatic knowledge and other non-propositional knowledges; emphasis on (2) confabulation and the construction of memory. What the poem notices is that the former emphasis can be corrective on the latter, and what that means for grief.

Note 1: In all the paper, suggests shreddy “cut-up” like Burroughs Gyson et. al. & also “I feel cut-up” (& then put back together again: pysche cut-ups). But obviously basically it’s the cinematic thing: cf. cutaways, jump cuts, match cuts, cross cuts, uncuts, cute, final cuts. Cf. “Nancy asks, ‘What became of representation itself at Auschwitz?’ (34). Knowing that the camps at Auschwitz destroyed the possibility of representation by destroying subjectivity (and all that that entails), the essay wants to argue that art can still be made — even art about the camps. Nancy suggests that representation can be taken in two ways — one in which all absence/difference is scrubbed out by representation’s claim to exhibit the truth, and the other, in which it is absence itself that activates and sustains the representation” (Google, pp. 1-2).

Note 2: 16 Nov. “Astounding new figures show record numbers of migrants are crossing the world in search of better lifestyles. Should they be welcomed? Are they parasites? Or should they all go back to where they came from?*” Then a big picture of the Union Jack and then a huge footnote: “* That’s Britain, by the way.”

Note 3: Though in the last bit, a child can exist not “only on paper,” but be brought forth from paper, following a weird reflexive ceremony. We have now received the R3 DVDs for ADR and Litigation for Insolvency Practitioners. If you would like to borrow one of these, please speak to your local office training contact or Victoria Mandleson in the CF learning team. Can whoever still has my Garden State etc. Some early jUStin!katKO stuff about Martha Stewart could perhaps be differentiated from Toal’s poem, as being both newsy & concerned primarily with its newsiness. Who is it that poemified a copy of the NY Times or something (when he should have been spuzzing praxis Tip-ex o’er Europe’s Bic borders (“wet dream” contra “wet fart”))?

Note 4: The sentimental moment of the “one can nothing but one does what one can” crew does reveal itself. The “fail again. Fail the same” crew. The peripheral flake of the Splintered Left crew.
It’s the extravagant rumour that Madeleine has escaped the poem's determination of her, and it’s syntactically melded with the hearsay that a “wet snore” escaped her – i.e. that she succeeded in absolutely relinquishing certain aspects of rhetoric so as to gather cosmic res gestae to her and utter indubitable speech.

The emanations of “a shit-in” can be teased into streams of these fragrances at least:

(1) Inversion / negativity (“I fucked up; it went in instead of out” (jUStin!katKO)).

(2) Long-term, messy political struggle (a “shit-in”: a sit-in that turns into a squat).

Excretion toggled is secretion: Kate “secreted” Maddy when she was born and arguably when she died. Brian Kennedy, an uncle of Kate McCann, called that allegation “repulsive,” telling the BBC, “The notion that even accidentally they killed their daughter, hid her body, then put her body in a car hired 25 days later while the glare of the international publicity is on them, and when they are always with friends and family, is fatuous beyond words.” Like “secreted,” “mortared” and “escaped” are kinda set up in the poem as autantonyms (like “enjoin” and “dust” and “quite” and “cleave”), meaning respectively “cemented together / blown apart” and “emerged from my living child / was beyond the talents of my child’s corpse”.

Just as the visitor to Bentham-Foucault's panopticon internalises and makes permanent the guard's intermittent gaze, so the visitor to Toal's Maddie-Land internalises the indubitible, engrammatical “promise syrup” (a.k.a. Toal's “wet snore,” Justin's “rebel yell,” the glue which he or she exudes in order to make irrevocable and unmistakeable commitments). He or she “shits in” or “secretes” this promise syrup, “ending up” back at the starting point, facing the same ensemble of agent-principal and commitment problems. In a moment of piss-weak Glenda, Good Witch of the North bathos (“you had the affiliative sociotechnologies you needed all along”) the pertinent obstacles to emancipation are fatuously restylised as perfected emancipatory techniques. I don't know what the point is of this procedurally distended instantaneous round-trip, this going back for the keys you actually had, this media orgy Groundhog Shadowrout of the concept. In the interim Maddy has seriously become something tapping against the window. With a great deal of luck, maybe well-meaning agents will coordinate their crucial acts on the basis of the private - even the completely opposite - meanings they attach to “public signifiers.”

Note 5: Optative meaning here basically in wistful patterns, decathexis meaning reeling in your feelings about someone or something in the face of its imminent loss, The Independent thing and the Victoria Mandleson things being basically irrelevant, bathos meaning anticlimax, engrammatical being a smug neologism after engram, which is basically a hypothetical bit of memory gristle, Groundhog Day also alluding to the film with Bill Murray by the same name, somatic meaning bodily, confabulation meaning bullshit, res gestae being a sweet legal category of difficult-to-misinterpret speech acts, treated as more-or-less impervious to Chinese Whispers effects, & a lot of this sounding like a rehash of my undergrad dissertation on John Wilkinson (PDF) & hopefully a pre-hash of the final episode of Architecture for Cartography, purposes crossed.

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