A weekend doing nothing

This past weekend I attended Shambhala Training Level II. I’ll be writing some notes about the weekend for class and will share them here.

I talked with Donald Preziosi today about not being my advisor. I had asked him to be my critical thesis advisor a couple of weeks ago and he agreed. But last week I met with Junior Burke to ask for his advice on my manuscript. I told him I want to write a novel while I’m here. He said that was smart. ( ?Even if you get some short stories published and someone is interested in you they’re going to want a novel. So you might as well right the damn thing now. ?) He also said I would have to make some sacrifices.

I talked with Keith Abbott about writing a novel also. He said I could bring him some first chapters and he’d give some feedback. Just like Junior he said I would have to make some sacrifices.

Their comments echoed something I had just read in Preziosi’s book Brain of the Earth’s Body (p. 56, 57):

Jacques Derrida began to look at some of this problem in his book Archive Fever, where, juxtaposed to his all too brief discussion of what he terms the enigma of circumcision as an archival act, ? is the following: I must put aside here (this question of the enigma of circumcision), not without some regret, along with that of the phylacteries, those archives of skin or parchment covered with writing that Jewish men, here, too, and not Jewish women, carry close to their body, on their arm and on their forehead: right on the body (a meme le corps) like the sign of circumcision, but with a being-right-on (etre-a-meme) that this time does not exclude the detachement and untying of the ligament, of the substrate, and of the text simultaneously.

Derrida astutely re-members ? circumcision by suggesting its obverse or twin -the application of the phylactery, the skin inscribed with text, onto the skin of the circumcised male. Here we have a transferral, a translation, one might say (displacement and condensation), of severed skin into text; and not without some echo, one might also say, of that superimposition of Word and Godhead at the opening of Genesis ( ?In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God ?), which begs the question as to what exactly comes first.

And further thinking of writing as memorial to loss:

consider the archive as the marker of loss -a mark of mourning. And a mark of sexualization, of gendering, as itself, as Judith Butler has put it, the mourning a loss that was effected in order to think its loss and to act, to engender, perpetually to repair the rift. A rift it (gender) perpetually and futilely re-creates. ?

After Preziosi’s class last semester I felt empowered as a writer, as an artist. I felt excited about writing because I was beginning to articulate what I knew my writing was capable of doing/being. In the meeting today he said we can continue our work together as if nothing has changed. He borrowed a book I had brought, Massive Change and gave me a copy of a paper The City as Imaginary, the Imaginary as Potentiality: Walter Benjamin and Asja Lacis’ Naples ? and Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities, by one of his former students, Vanessa Walker-Oakes.

He and I talked about how the cities we grew up in still exist in our mind. I told him that I moved around alot growing up. I went to twenty different schools. So in my memory I can (must?) walk from a corner store in Los Angeles over to my grandparents farm in Indiana and then to a trailer park in Phoenix, where I might get on a subway and ride under NYC. It’s all one place to me.

Last week in class, Bhanu Kapil’s said that technology is information that enables you to write ?. With the technology that I have, how do I write anything that isn’t fragmented? Why would I want to?

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