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The Meadow - Catalogue Essay

Nothing is anchored

Linda Marie Walker

 

Eachthing is leaving and returning, and leaving again, and changing in leaving and returning, and then is dust, dispersed, breathable. The vessel arrived and never arrived, yet has been and gone, and is still approaching. The vessel, The Meadow, rings like a bell in the ears of the ‘scene’, low and level.

An artwork has no-viewer, no sure reader of signs; it comes to be and is forever unknown. “No poem is intended for the reader, no picture for the beholder, no symphony for the listener.”¹ An artwork says, does, and acts in the world, for the world; yet its voice, movement, and disposition is delicate, modest and reserved, and the ‘world’ is the earth and its disparate inhabitants; an artwork is barely visible, like weather over the sea.

Do we translate the artwork’s appearance; and, do we translate information or do we speak of “... the unfathomable, the mysterious, the poetic ...”²; a god is served; the one who’s for the work-itself, as it exists – hermetic and/or baroque – or the one that isn’t, who insists it tell what happened (exactly).³

What is ‘made’ of the work, what is translated from work to language/thought, is not of any importance to the work; it’s as a bird is, or a shadow; and that’s the strangest circumstance.

The metal-dust is not an anchor, but is the dust of an anchor, and the endurance of an anchor. A being sinks beneath the water; she has an afterlife (she is read). The afterlife owes its life to what(who)ever gives it life; an artwork travels at various speeds from one language to another, or from one mix of language-types to another mix of language-types. Meadow, the word, is a network amidst other words (networks) – like ‘Virginia’; and can’t be taken back; meadow is not a paddock or a field: she walked across the meadow toward the river with stones in the pockets of her cardigan.

Hélène Cixous says her friend JD ‘took leave’: “I wrote: ‘there are leaves’ on a yellow post-it. I stuck it to the window over my desk. These post-its are tough, they look like nothing and go on for years. The post-it will keep me company I thought, when I stop believing it will continue to believe.”⁴ He was away for awhile; he was returning, she believed; believing the unbelievable; believing the white floating plume is the anchor holding the ship steady in the harbour; the plume spreading, breaking, forming, as currents stir below and above.

The plume is a raft, and there’s nowhere to go (as there wasn’t for Cixous on her leave/raft). “Leaves are only granted those who believe in them before the passage. Or those who didn’t believe but gave them some thought. Those who, not believing, would have liked to believe.”⁵

Eachthing, for its ‘return’, must be found again, put together, new; the metal dust has returned to the surface. The anchor is translated, and so transformed; anchor is meadow; then, meadow is anchor; writing is the hanging door edge because language is provisional; the translation of death never carries across, like gossamer, the life of the dead. The Meadow does not repeat stories; it shows, gently, obliquely, the capacity of stories to continue, to be still-living and still-affecting.

Benjamin’s simile for the relationship between the original and the translation is based on geometry – the circle and the tangent: “Just as a tangent touches a circle lightly a translation touches the original lightly and only at the infinitely small point of the sense, thereupon pursuing its own course according to the laws of fidelity in the freedom of linguistic flux.”⁶

The artwork is a ‘place’, with laws, rituals, and incidents, where the infinitely small touch-point generates a different shape or energy. As soon as Cixous had consoled herself (and been carried-away, euphoric) with ‘leave’, ‘leave’ disappeared: “I don’t find the Leave, I look for it, only a minute ago I was safe, I had my certificate of eternity, now the cavity is digging itself out in front of me, I search, the fires of terror roar at my window ledge, damnable chaos of books papers notebooks ...”⁷

The Leave, the saving-grace, clearly spoke (and chastised her); and the friend returned from leave, and arrived at death – the arrival though is oneself as oneself (back at one’s life), once more. And, there it is (one speculates), a remembrance of return/arrive, on the surface of the water; the message of particles, joining and unjoining; a translation of encounter (and encounter missed); however, it’s only what’s there, and what’s there was once elsewhere.

Images/scenes are for themselves, and to-be seen/read by other-than-themselves. Therefore, ‘for’ is the operative sense-bridge: she went for a walk. There are many ‘fors’ – for belonging, obtaining, adapting, allowing, and so on. These ‘fors’ stand alone, as independent words (tiny platforms) in a combination of words. Some ‘fors’ are prefixes, they can mean: away, off, extreme, wrong – like forbid, forasmuch, forbear, forborne. There is ‘fore’ too, like foreground, like forefinger, pointing; see that, over there; the finger that starts writing.

From the edge of a door comes a form that is not the edge of a door or the material of the edge of a door but the trace of a door’s edge. Objects haunt each other; hauntings invoke deviations that, like hauntings, are (or can be) invisible; they imperceptibly shift internal pressures: strength to weakness; young to old; ice to sea; they find infinities/affinities: “... let us perceive in them the ‘dis-quiet’ or non-rest ... which continues to disappropriate them from within and invert them, finding infinities within them. Concerning life, this is really its very essence where its ‘fluidity’ ... is found, which is, properly speaking, a non-essence ...”⁸

Writing is always contrary, on the move, escaping, and is ‘vital’, continuous; it slips away, silent, or goes over and over the same event, from this angle then that angle, trying to fathom what happened.

“... the voice begins again, it begins trying again, quick now before there is none left, no voice left, nothing left but the core of murmurs, distant cries, quick now and try again, with the words that remain, try what, I don’t know, I’ve forgotten, it doesn’t matter, I never knew, to have them carry me into my story, the words that remain, my old story, which I’ve forgotten, far from here, through the noise, through the door, into the silence ... perhaps it’s the door, perhaps I’m at the door, that would surprise me ... what door, what’s a door doing here ...”⁹

 

Notes

 

  1. 1. Walter Benjamin, “The Task of the Translator,” in Illuminations, trans. Harry Zohn (New York: Schocken Books, 1985), p. 69.
  2. 2. Ibid., p. 70.
  3. 3. See Maurice Blanchot, The Madness of the Day, trans. Lydia Davis (New York: Station Hill Press, 1981).
  4. 4. Hélène Cixous, “A Leave,” in Hyperdream, trans. Beverley Bie Brahic (Cambridge, UK: Polity Press, 2009), p. 151.
  5. 5. Ibid., p. 152.
  6. 6. Benjamin, Ibid., p. 80.
  7. 7. Cixous, Ibid., p. 154.
  8. 8. François Jullien, The Silent Transformations, trans. Krzysztof Fijalkowski & Michael Richardson (London: Seagull Books, 2011),p. 93.
  9. 9. Samuel Beckett, “The Unnameable”, in Molloy, Malone Dies, The Unnameable (London: Calder & Boyers, 1973), p. 417–418.