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Exquisite Corpse - A Journal of Letters and Life

Continuation Manifesto (the impossible)
by Patrick Pritchett ||
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  • The dream of continuation - of a self-sustained going on - is nothing if not utopian. Rooted in groundlessness itself, that most abject of American tropes, continuation presents us with the possibility of locating the impossible within a horizon constantly remade by the autotelic energy of the poem. Continuation envisions the triumph of eros over history - the radiant body of the poem rising over the corpse of teleology.
  • Continuation rooted in groundlessness starts with the recognition of a central impoverishment. On this absent foundation the poem builds the word that utters emptiness.
  • "God becomes God when creation says God," says Meister Eckhart, outlining a circulatory and specular poetics of lallation, of the originating and fulfilling utterance of song. Through autopoesis, the word nominates the world and the world incarnates the word. At the same time, though, the pronouncing of such an infinite name is the act that erases that name. Therefore, it is never said, can never be said. The poem is the stutter of the infinite, the infinite stutter.
  • The crisis of the poem, then, is how to continue - how to go on in language against the pressure the past exerts on the moment? The field of continuation must be thought of as the space where past and present, saying and silence, come together as the possibility of relation, even if that relation is discontinuous.
  • By presence to mean not totality, but something more elusive - a hovering on the margins and a seepage into the body - that will bring us a step closer to the startling curvature of our telemetry, that is, our continuation.
  • Continuation understands that "beauty" belongs to a very vexed category of description. The challenge is how to locate in this procedure anyway the thing we always return to language for - liberation.
  • The poem is the impossible utopian site where saying overcomes itself and the dead speak again. The anxiety of influence will give way to the emancipation of permission, and the poet will openly embrace the always already multivalent movement of the word as such. Not as ambassador of the dead, but their collaborator. The aporia of originality dissolves in the poetics of continuation.
  • Continuation: that ongoing self-morphing of the poem, where form both defines and resists boundaries, endlessly dissolving and reshaping in the recursive movement of its enfolding. The continual poem is the result of the poet's collaboration with the polyphonic forces of language.
  • To continue by means of a protean swarming: energized poetic quanta colliding and recombining inside the electric field of the poem itself. A plethora of poetic forms, styles and voices will run rampant, the multiplicity of their registers continually full of surprise, and running through them all, like a rhizome of tissued fire, the single polycantic hymn of desire.
  • Abundantia, a joyous spilling over - form freed from stasis, form as ek-stasis. In a poetics of shape-shifting jouissance, each poem's avatar is steeped in disobedience - that sovereign sense of transgression which is the statement of the most profound obedience possible: to the poem itself.
  • Unease with language, an acute sensitivity to its betrayals, will be coupled with the irrepressible longing of the poem to attain not some final arbiter of representation, but the ongoing availability of radical contingency.
  • Continuation is what will always exceed itself. A yearning for the other side of its boundary, where loss is reinscribed "as otherwise than loss." What continuation longs for most is its own continuation, the joyous articulation of itself.
  • To continue is to repeat, but each time in a different key. The task of the poem of continuation is the question of how to go on to infinity. Not the claustral infinity of the theologians, but the vertiginous infinity of loss and replenishment and loss and replenishment. The poem is nothing but this: a momentary localization of the infinity of and. It is the call of itself to itself in anticipation of the impossible gift of a reply.
  • Where language folds over on itself, turns itself inside out, producing a headlong momentum of self-resembling replication. Making, canceling, remaking. Repetition acts as a fractal integer, the secret number of the poem that is divisible by everything it is not. Split open, it yields a mise en abyme, an infinite regress of the same two figures - the multiplication of itself and the Other - across a landscape of mirrors.
  • The poem is that linguistic object that stages the impossibility of its own saying as the necessary condition for its articulation. Enacting the perpetual negotiation of the primal dialogy between sign and thing, song and sung, presence and absence, fullness and emptiness, being and death.
  • In the poem, origin and departure are continually affirmed, continually re-posited, in order to re-write the unwritable. Language folds back on itself recursively to inscribe the uninscribable, that is nothing other than the moment of the present, that elusive here-now-and-already-gone flicker-and-fade of instantiation.
  • The white space of the page performs a negative devotional inscription, confirmation that the longing of language continually leads, not to the ontological asphyxiation of closed form, but into the Field of the Open, where the lyric dissolves totalizing discourses through one discontinuous gesture after another.
  • The exhaustion of language comes as a response to the impossibility of staging an expression of the catastrophic. Which is only another word for "living." But the end of signifying does not represent a defeat for language. On the contrary, the impossibility of thinking the beyond of language only acts as an incitement to further language, to its radical indefatigableness. The unresolved tension of the poem is the registering of the disparate obliquity of the world and the longing to align this obliquity by saying alone. Then language may be understood as an extravagant staging of presence.
  • At the center of the poem, acting as its original impulsion, is the crisis of the kenotic fissure - the realization that words fail, that all utterance is trumped by silence and by death. Yet the idea of speech - and speech as a kind of destiny or fulfillment of the human - only makes sense when understood in terms of death.
  • Loss is also the enumeration of loss - the signal flare above the dying body. What it spells out is a new form of belonging to an order of being whose orthography is still illegible.
  • Continuation may be thought of as both a founding anterior site for writing and the interior place where the limits of self-invention are marked solely by the limits of tropological resourcefulness.
  • Only to affirm the freedom of the human voice. By a continual chain of relays without arrivals, signifying themselves alone. And though the dream of each relay is to transcend itself, to cross over (trans) and so rise (ascend) to the occasion of its speaking, that occasion is already marked as the event of its own erasure. Nevertheless, to have spoken at all will have been to have testified, even if only for the one moment and not for all time. And that will have been enough.
  • The continual poem will be an act of ebullitio: a boiling over from primordial fullness, that is also primal emptiness. Which is simply to mean that the saying of the world may only be accomplished under the shadow of its evacuation. The poem is this perpetual desire to name the unnamable.
  • Utopia as poetic practice is the site where flux equals radical inhabitation. For if to be "no where" is to also to be "now here," then the converse must also hold. The utopian caesura is the place/not-place where the grammar of instantiation is generated by the enunciation of continual dissolution: what splits and rejoins the unitive and the multiple, the centripetal and the centrifugal. The true site of belonging is the luminous body of the transmorphing poem itself.
  • To think utopia not as site, but as liberating practice.
  • In the impossible space of the white page. Language gives us to language. To the deeper strangenesses of ourselves.
  • Here, where we always are, at the horizon of speech.

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