Writing may be
dreaming as a glove turned inside out.
Reading and dreaming may be the same experience registering on different sides of the glove.
Yesterday I invented a memory.
Today I invent in memories.
Tomorrow I will test an invention of forgetting.
The book is meant to stand in for the person.
The book is an elaborated name.
Can we not all be named by all names?
The king’s man is beheaded on The Kingsway.
This text is redacted on Royal Way.
Names and trails mark the passing.
In the naming of name, which is scored throughout the book; in the naming of the name, which is found in the reading and in the dreaming; in the read and the dreamt which sail together, so do a multitude of papers flutter to a standstill.
It is heard as the one to be heard.
In standing still, a name is heard.
The hearing of one name which is calling the full passing, the full trailing, the scratched pendant of person.
Stillness is therefore writing the whole book.
Of every fragment and every broken stature a secret task; to elaborate this statute which says: language.
Which says: that this dreaming and this reading may so continue into all that is done.
This dreaming and this reading may so continue, snagged on a nail, pulled off between teeth, dropped in the woods.
All done is turned inside out.
The journey is always unrecognisable.
Words do not
seem to play a role
words do not seem to play in this thought.
The thought playing wordlessly.
Hoarding will not act. The hoard has no sentence to say.
Ordering refuses a role. This making order is not sentient
And collecting and sharing are still not words.
If each term crosses where, or what, is the middle marker?
If in the present moment there is a field of memory, are we remembering or presently discovering?
Losing finding collecting losing finding. What is the loosing of information that it may become wordless play in thought?
Perhaps knowing only becomes knowledge after it has been rolled back and forth in the dust?
The rain makes mud. Mud makes seeds. Seeds meanwhile are in the hub.
Sprouting is the crossing over, mud made green. This dusty here and now spouting pollen. Pongnation, pollination, words dusting our shirts.
Pollen is snared in a spiral of wind, a sneeze, asneese. This force blasts around in a moment, the moment partakes of consciousness’ travelogue.
There is something in my imagination which insists on the play of conceiving, inwardly, what is, outwardly, too big to ever properly perceive.
I brim over with cosmological schematics: the grand systole diastole of it all, big bang and big crunch.
It is but nothing of course, squeezed between this system of many worlds and the next multi-verse along (of which we can say nothing other than we have met there).
Many verses sung become one song. Some verses are hummed in the dark. This tune behind tune is simultaneous radiation and coagulation, without a word, dark matter nurturing the space within each thought.
Dyslexia is meant to indicate a “trouble with words”, therefore in many respects we are all dyslexic because words are trouble.
But let us hover in this stillness of a collision.
A single aspect of the multitude, stopped in a snot expulsion.
This infinite porridge gradually coalesces into a thick, complex, and quite promising universe. There is a quiet promise even in this universe, it it making my nose twitch.
Out streamed words and gestures, gathering back gestures and words. The material pause between presence and decay.
The whole collection is a moment, a collection of gestures, the gathered role call of the pause.
Your material awareness paused, heard, and returned may suddenly become materially different. Of course, your consciousness does not venture forth without its own potency. “You” may very well change everything around you and do so, sometimes, before ever reaching that which you have changed.
Beginning at the end of a book, we have changed the beginning.
To tiptoe out without net and barely a wire to touch our toe upon.
To step into a moment without a reference to another moment, without a beginning. What kind of foolhardy act is this?
The gift of the geologist is to perceive that which cannot be seen.
An archaeologist becomes a geologist of the artefact.
The artefactist becomes lost. They need geography.
The needy geography of the present is a coagulum of geology and archeology and artefact.
Here there is an act; the action of manipulation, the manipulated object.
The present tense therefore becomes a series.
This series is object assertion, object deflection, object compression, object reassertion.
To be present here is therefore more about being tense and less about presence. Another description of the series is a sequence of deformations between different gauges of tension.
If the artefactist gets lost this is most likely because their vital vents have become clogged with object deformations, object repetitions, and object lamentation.
The sad ceremony of things.
The miserable certainty of dissolves and resolves.
In misery, as in cholesterol, so the excessive present bequeaths a vanishing of all that is certain.
Certainty opens upon ventilation.
Certain geographies may only be ever fixed in the temporal annexation of dialogue (and therefore never truly fixed).
The artefact may be scattered and lost, scattered and found, and the found may be collected.
Here endeth and begins an inventory of my artifice as presented in Inventory.
The ending because that dialogue is not quite present. The beginning because endless.
Our streets will end; not so the pathways we take therein, not so the steps which seek beyond a path.
Therein is the beyond of present.
An account, as it were, of its end and passing away before it beginning and middle had been told.
An account, as it were, of the meditating artefact which lays between subject and object.
To lay thus is not a passive task; the relationship between subject artefact and object demands roots. These roots may be imagined as the base activities of labour (or craft), rules, and community.
To thus learn in this relationship is to be in the relationship. The awareness actively moves between subject, object, artefact, and in amongst the crafted (crafting) roots; either that or it ceases to be awareness.
A submission, adherence to laws, influences and suggestions. Acceptance taken to the level of a perversion; when obedience is this exact it overwhelms the law giver, leaving them lacking in speech and so in awe of the servile entity that their existence becomes untenable without that which complies.
The map of the estate is an eulogy for Utopia (which retreats with each brick laid down and yet might nonetheless exist, beyond the design, in some lived proportion not yet detailed and never quite imagined). The map of the estate is an epitaph (that architects and planners will habitually erect before some others’ tombstone while never once suspecting how they designed it for themselves). The map of the estate is an epiphany of symbols and silence in the long _ alarmed _ night.
Sorry, copyright restrictions prevent us from showing this artwork here
That hairstyles, the decoration of one’s head, impact on one’s thought was recognised even by religious orders of the Sixth Century. Celtic Christian communities very nearly split completely from their Roman brothers specifically over how their tonsures should be shaped. The former shaved crosswise over the front portion of their scalp, while the latter preferred the circular bald patch at the rear. Maybe this was a question of before whom one chose to be naked: to be exposed before the entire world, ‘God amongst us’ being the theological motif, which perhaps not coincidentally produces a rather wind swept look, or to be revealed beneath a specifically hierarchical and therefore more stable conception, ‘God above’. That we are now familiar (on Christmas cards at least) with monks wearing their hair as if a make-do halo indicates how the argument was resolved. Power goes to one’s head. This is very old knowledge also for, at about the same time, liturgical combs were introduced into church services, especially for ordination, wherein the combing of the hair was symbolic of the ordering and tidying of the mind.
Combing and ordering are weaving.
That weavers in particular, together with scholars and writers with whom they had much in common, tended to suffer from melancholy and all the evils associated with it, is understandable given the nature of their work, which forced them to sit bent over, day after day, straining to keep their eye on the complex patterns they created. It is difficult to imagine the depths of despair into which those can be driven who, even after the end of the working day, are engrossed in their intricate designs and who are pursued, into their dreams, by the feeling that they have got hold of the wrong thread.
Or it is a luxury, crafts as a visual indicator of wealth. Excessive. This contrary economic argument maintaining its siren call upon a populace.
Thus a moral tone enters. The economic arguments are never allowed to stand alone.
Contested as if it were a symbol and condemned for its paucity of meaning, pattern, ornamentation, adornment is not symbol nor is it without symbol; it is not meaningless but nor does it aspire to meaning.
It is sense, a process, bodily sensation; if it can bring order it can only do so as it is experienced and as it is recalled. Pass it by and the order passes away, dissipates. Yet reinvigorate it with one’s perception and like an electron beneath the scrutiny of measurement, resolving from an indeterminate to determinate state, so the pattern is animated. Is it this instinctual, tactile, bodily perception that keeps us reaching for our baubles and bangles, our swirls and stripes, these overburdened carpets that surely display souls like rich, ripe on the bent branch fruit?
Wealth displayed becomes richness appropriated.
The richness becomes sweetness, an almost pungent exuberance. A vertiginous moment of de-sublimation.
Pierre Bourdieu writes:
We mentioned war earlier.
Benjamin describes war as the only means by which “to mobilize all of today’s resources while maintaining the property system.” And concludes it: […] is evidently the consummation of l’art pour l’art. Mankind, which in Homer’s time was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, now is one for itself. It’s self-alienation has reached such a degree that it can experience its own destruction as an aesthetic pleasure of the first order.”
The battle becomes either ridiculous or dangerous (or both). If one continually pushes fearing and dying elsewhere the battle becomes either ridiculous or dangerous and both. If art can only operate by its very own rarefied rules then, gradually, all life, or rather, all life other to it, becomes squeezed out. And so this feminized, long standing, popular, persistent, sometimes mute or barely articulate, perhaps hardly notices stuff; the decorative stuff is thus said not to be art stuff. And to the extent that decorative stuff is not art stuff then, it seems, the decorative remains in life.
The aspiration to organise and shape a purifying radiance.
Loos’ ethnographic point of reference is somewhat skewed nonetheless. He seems to be describing Maori ornament. The men of Papua New Guinea are, traditionally, more likely to adopt face paint and piercing than tattooing. The point was nonetheless strongly enough made for Le Corbusier, twelve years later, to use this same savage metaphor in his manifesto for Purism.
Having confused literal luminescence with the light of divinity and placed this hybrid concept (not at all pure) at the pinnacle of aspiration, so a hierarchy is imposed and qualities both Loos and Le Corbusier professed to admire, the frankness of childhood, the artistic expression of native peoples, are forced into a lowly position. So lowly, in fact, that by the rush of their own polemic these potentially positive expressions become “degenerate” along side the “daubs” and “scribbles” of ornament. For Loos, a cobbler is to be pitied because brogues are patterned. Furthermore, this small pleasure should be allowed because the cobbler is incapable of listening to Beethoven (we are not told why) and nor is the architect able to offer any pleasure to replace such tiny joys.
Architecture is for the enjoyment of those not degenerate, those evolved to some greater state, and yet the architect will actively engage in planning housing for those classes which, it would seem, are not expected to appreciate the work. Here in 1908, housing estate graffiti explained in full detail, even before those estates were properly drafted: unable to find small pleasures in an environment designed for an aesthetic Ubermensch, the degenerate, probably tattooed, must ornament their surrounds; they are compelled to shroud walls in sexual cipher and marks of decorative arousal. Indeed, the Modernist aesthetic of modulated radiance, far from curing the degenerate, far from robbing the criminal of an erotic need to scrawl, finds such urges freed from the confines of public conveniences as a vast array of cubicles are built that may, in turn, be decorated with the art of sublimated Papuans.
Le Corbusier’s wife, Yvonne, covered their bidet with a knitted cosy. Her husband had placed it in their bedroom but such utilitarian elegance can apparently have no place in here; a space to be filled with soft bodies rather than technocratic efficiency.
Ornament fills, connects spaces, pushes at borders and often, vulgar detail, clutters, crowds, overspills. (The optical overspilling of pattern, rhythm, whose curves and pauses seem to re-echo beyond itself.) Gombrich describes it as an “amor infiniti”; framing, filling, linking.
Small and simple codes proceed through “graded complication” and can thus easily move towards infinity. Loos clearly distrusts amor infiniti. Infinity is time and it is space. The new architecture hoped for a new time, desiring a break from the past as much or if not more than wanting clean space for its future occupants. Le Corbusier would follow up on this by suggesting that:
White walls reduced to a solid box. It is a statement of disgust. And in the architectural displacement of his own corpse, in his art, Loos, perhaps unwittingly, adopts a decorative form; the dado.
rule, class or arrangement.
Indeed, one has imposed order.
The orders were derived from Greek proportions, systematised, especially through Roman architecture andthe canonical Ten Books of Architecture by Vitruvius. Such dogged reinventions as Le Corbusier’s Modulor only seem to underscore their basic precept of having proportions related to those of the human. Each order consists of a column headed by a capital and entablature, the latter divided into architrave, frieze, and cornice. According to classical theory there are five orders but by Vitruvius’ reckoning only four: Doric, Tuscan, Ionic and Corinthian. The Doric is equated with a well built male, with the virile gods, and hence it is suitable for civil and military buildings. The Tuscan is a simplified Doric and might therefore be suitable for second or third division football grounds. The Ionic has a femine slenderness and calm refinement, its gods are Diana and Apollo, therefore often carved with laurel leaf and suitable for buildings dedicated to arts and learning. The Corinthian is taller than the Ionic and yet resembles the slight figure of a young girl.
To decorate is to furnish with adornments and especially so a church with flowers, a street with flags, a house with new paint or paper: decus – oris, beauty: and church, street, house, become beautiful vessels.
To adorn; add beauty or lustre or furnish with ornament.
Ornament in its earliest form maintains a cultic connection, demonstrates an auric lustre, for ornaments are accessories of worship such as the chalice and other sacred vessels, such as altar and sacred books, vessel forms again, and then an ornament is used to adorn someone whose presence confers grace or honour. A wreath of laurel might suffice. And in this archaeology it is only after music, grace notes, that ornament means adorning, being adorned, embellishment for decorative purposes.
But what is the purpose of decoration other than to foreground ornament, and ornament is to mark out the sacredness of the vessel, and how is it to do this but by beauty, and what is beauty for but sweetness and richness? A divinity which is the great blatant and likewise latent beauty of all things. Hence all things are ornamented, hence the proportions of your wallpaper with borders marking out dado and cornice, and hence explicitly name your own domestic space as a temple; no surprise then that we kick off our shoes for if walls become our aspiration then certainly the carpet is the soul, an inhalation.
Sugared death heads, baroque skeletons, flowers on skulls, and candle lit picnics around the grave all to say; reduction is absurd, the dead are alive.
The decorative serves as a hybrid whose job it is to wrap and otherwise prettify the apparent absolute. The patterns around the edges say; yes, the dead are alive, but there is no need for them here. Outside the mutual service of memory the dead are generally supposed to remain dead and, more so, buried. The ornament and pattern are a serving net in which sunshine may be captured and stored. These very same combinations of the pretty and clever treasures may also serve as protection as you move through these decorated streets and ornamented moments; so the festival allows its patterns to be possible, briefly, and the ghosts of the living and the of the dead may share a mutual presence.
If the ornamental was founded on the need for superluminal life, so at each imposition of a conscious and architectural need other sublimatory needs breed from within. Consciousness inevitably becomes architectural. Our never fully illuminated conscious architecture therefore is the actual progenitor of an ornamenting unconsciousness.
Foliage and suffering.
The Roman Empire, as a continuous act of military invasion, might well be associated with rape and plunder, and laurel tree becomes merchandise of a colonised land, yet here we also see empire draping itself with this ambiguous sign of that which has escaped from it. So the stone laurel wreathes on gateposts; do they mean that one may escape through them or that, like an offering to a lingam, this post denotes a secure, phallic victory? Again, the laurel leaf is most often depicted in the form of a wreath, apt for mourning as well as victory; it is removed from the tree and shaped into a sign for absence, ‘0’, yet crowns the presence of those who have won as if they themselves were a tree.
Does not the protest and refusal of Daphne reverberate throughout this series of reversals? Has the mute ornament begun to speak of its sexual presence and a terrifying rush of passion that even a god-figure could not contain? Nonetheless, apparently such emotion can be stored within an innocuous formal pattern. A holding pattern. So a wreath of laurel would seem to be prime apotropaic material. The coiling and the diversion of sexual energy, the wreath as ‘0’, blank return, the statement of power (for the victor’s brow), and its placement at thresholds (foreheads and lintels), all find resonance with those amulets whose function it is to fend off curses and protect against the evil eye.
Such, let us say, instinctual urges to defend one’s property, family, livelihood, may be typified in the white, bright glossy white, ornamental lamppost standing at the end of the driveway, at the edge of the garden, a few steps away from the front door. Although the lamp itself operates, triggered by a movement sensor, so why do we call it ornamental? Because palmette line up around its base and from its cross bar (cruciform?), cast as a piece with the post itself, a laurel wreath. And it is all lined up so as to reflect and reject any envious, destructive, invasive eyes. A holding pattern. And, yes, ghastly object but ghastly upon more than one register. It echoes Moses’ use of the apotropaic to counter the venomous scourging of his people, a bronze snake lifted up in the desert, which is in turn amplified in John’s gospel as Jesus anticipates the low (snake, sin, bitten body) lifted high (crucifixion) and higher still (resurrection) as his own supreme gesture against fear and death.
A holding pattern; such as those passenger jets are put into once over their destinations, disaster and safe landings both anticipated in a combination of tense geometry and languid loops, fear subsumed to control. At this point any excess aviation fuel is jettisoned so as to minimise the risks of its ignition. I am reminded of ‘Meditations in Green‘, in which during the Vietnamese War an American character, Griffin, plots where and how Agent Orange should be distributed:
In a meeting with Le Corbusier, Piet Mondrian chose to sit at a table looking away from the window so as to avoid contemplating nature for which, apparently, he had an intense dislike. Is Mondrian’s art therefore an extended effort of not painting rotting fruit? And as such is it a descendant of the Dutch still life tradition?
An intensely aerial imagination.
The grid marked ground of intensive agriculture; flat repetitions. The corn dolly laid to rest as Daphne’s sublimation is chased still further, from the sublime to Rothko’s suicide chapel of which Egar Allen Poe might write approvingly:
It is a process, an experience.
It holds… And it releases.
It moves along… and holds.
To be blatant and latent, hidden, concealed, existing but not developed or manifest. Which means that to view a pattern there must be an inversion of one’s usual habits of perception; to see the frame, not the framed; to mark a rhythm, not the motif; to study a motif, not the image.
Although the motif is an image, does an image repeated in sufficient quantity and rhythm eventually bring about its destruction as image? Not the withering of aura, as Walter Benjamin postulated, but aura’s tainting, mutation and, perhaps, sublimation. Unlike the work of art, ornament was never expected to occupy an “unique existence at the place where it happens to be“ for, although it does occupy unique space and time, the expectation given to its role allows an escape. Escape, that is, from the scrutiny afforded art. As its authority as object is already undermined, its auric presence does not come into direct conflict with reproduction. This not so much because of taboo borders but because it moves toward a state without borders. It, in effect, becomes unapproachable:
Yet always, we must touch. We must try to touch. A metaphor may stand for the world but will it stand as the world stands? It has been said that true symbolism contains the reality it symbolises, yet how to grasp that? Yve-Alain Bois meanwhile denotes a symbol “in semiotic terms” as
Reading Charles Barr’s account of this film, checking up on Scottie’s improbably benign name, I rediscover the vertiginous sinking into the eye, the swirling petals, the posy, the spiral stairwell, but also as if for the first time see the blood red restaurant decor, voluptuous flowering repeat pattern, and a bronze ornamental plate hung on Scottie’s wall. The technical name for the pattern on this plate is a paterae, derived from Greek temple ornamentation. It originally represented the plate used to capture sacrificial blood. As Madeleine steps before it, dressed in a blood red robe, she is the sacrificial, the tormented; yet the wheel turns and it is next Scottie’s blood (sweat of dementia) it has to catch. Another reel and, by film end, it is Judy, transformed once more into Madeleine, who pays the ultimate price. The paterae when repeated along a cornice is called a money pattern. Blood money. And in the sleek utilitarian form of the modern car the hub cap becomes one of the few places on which decorative expression is allowed. Again, a motorised demand for blood sacrifice seems apt, given the hub cap’s resemblance to paterae.
Artex and the sun.
Perhaps our cultivation is faltering? Perhaps the decorative never was merely so, even in its least designed realms, even outside the scrutiny (however intermittent) of artists, architects, and writers. Perhaps the white slurry icing of Artex has the resonance of bodily intelligence, the reach, the sweep, the touch; kitchen as cave? A cradle of consciousness. Yet while here it is imagined that the decorative surface has about it an Ur-form, the interior reach of Lascaux’s hand prints, Le Corbusier (while not specifically engaging with Artex) links the vernacular Mediterranean whitewash to industrial white enamel in order to locate a
Owen Jones some two hundred years later, in 1856, is a slightly more moderate:
As proposition two of Jones’ thirty seven ‘General Principles’ this sounds modest enough, so long as the age itself is modest because, as proposition one makes clear, architecture breeds ornament: