Unifying Haptics

Gestures and scripts, narrated physicality made into humour.

The humour is made of the physical; the character stops and looks.

The character stops and looks, accusing
or bewildered

as a piece of inert matter apparently mocks their existence.

The inert matter is willful
accidentally animate
suspiciously willful

and yet in every instance of scrutiny it
the thing
it appears as its appearance

an object
a thing
inert matter

which thwarts one’s gestures
and rewrites the desired narrative.

It is in narrative thwarted that we find humour arising.
It is in the humorous lubricate of frustration that narrative begins.

Unifying haptics, holding hands.

The gesture solidified
makes type.

The figure of type, reduced to mark,
is an alphabet.

An alphabet, trailed through
is a mouthed gesture 

tracking the dissolving

as it returns to gesture.

The memorial recipe

for these flavours which gloop from off the glittering string.

Ground up flies make spider’s silk and your masticated annoyance can be combined with the past in such a way as to create a dew draped net of wonder. Once this net is cast it can sink down and settle only in the present, everything it catches is the future.

When you empty yourself it is a rope tugged through bodily.

A glittering string pushed in via the nose, to be removed below.

Attached to this rigging there will be great reams of the shamed and the shimmering, memorials and simpering temptation anew. One might eat the rope, so alluring are these besotted and besmirched flags. Eat and pull through again, your body and memory become a corroborated pulley system. The great weight of who and what and when as “you” begins to move… Up and down, up and down. Barely anything.

Does the string still glitter?

The foggy analogy

talks of how far one can see.

How far can one see in the fog? To the end, surely, to the end of the light one brings with you.

The narrative can only reach as far as the end of one’s light source. 

The narrated extension of being, this story; it is neither fog or light, nor is it the movement along the road or the gestures by which one moves. 

Some rush foolishly and drunken into fog, hollering for the murk to make way. Some creep along cautious like. All the same, the story is told as such or the story is told like that, yet the whole telling still ain’t getting to the thing. When it it is told, and the light has come to its end, who holds the story then?

Who then is holding the story, so the journey begin.

A supple singular

curling awareness, such is the singularity

holding around the crude of consciousness.

A simple and told wound, spilt stuff, this astonishing tool we call

language. We call language

that which keeps the weather warm and that brilliance of the cruel wonder

named communication.

Who then is to hold a story? so spill, so allow the travel and shine a torch

that one can peer into the grey tipping night. Let us roll over once. All roll over

and the the little one said

roll over, roll over

so they all rolled over and one fell out and the the little one said roll over

roll over.

So, the key

as subject approaches subject. 

So, as subject approaches subject they seek an exchange.

So, as subject approaches subject we seek an exchange.
In this gifting it is required that we match the quality and tenure of our giving, one given to another given, the singular subject matched by singular subject. 

So, if there is to be an exchange, the gift is a manner of summarizing the quality of energy within that exchange.

So there is an exchange, a gifted exchange, and a key fits together these energetic exercises.

So an object.


An object is produced in subject to subject exchanges.

An object thus collates the subjective.

An object thus is the communicating function.

“A child will discover parental qualities in stars, trees, and stones… without realising the cost its parents incur in upholding the fabric of its world.”  
[Eric Rhode. Psychotic metaphysics. 1994]





So the parent is an object to provide objects.

So the functional energy here is to allow the energy to function.

So this figure we call parent can be translates as; they that collate subjective experiences.

So they that collate subjective experiences are the pre-archaeology of this singular subjectivity; this singularity of experience which always stands counter to the summary.

The singularity of experience is subjectivity, the deep reality of our consciousness which always stands counter to the object which represents it.

Even so, singular subjectivity must be communicated.

So the must be communicated seeks an object through which it may bypass its own singularity.

And so this figurative object is the funnel through which subjective experience is directed.

The subject to subject experience becomes a gathered weight.

Thus weight and point provide new pattern, a pendulum swing, a new key for this melodic array.

“A liturgical object is one that carries over meaning from pre-birth times.” [E.Rhode]

Thus the figurative is redrawn, or drawn back, in order to reveal a subject.

So a revealed subject, pivoting around a liturgical object, draws subject subject and object through an exchange of gift.

An exchange of gift gives not gift for gift but reveals a further pattern of possibility. 

So subjective communication, acting on the pivotal possibility of the object, is an adaptation of the diminished object. 

A further pattern of possibility has caused the key to vanish.

A phase transition.

The diminished object and the subject singular become


Abject / Collect

… let none of the nuances or small happenings escape even though they might seem to mean nothing. And above all, classify them

There is nothing much to say: I could not pick up the paper, that’s all.
I very much like to pick up chestnuts, old rags and especially papers. It is pleasant to me to pick them up, to close my hand on them; with a little encouragement I would carry them to my mouth the way children do. Anny went into a white rage when I picked up the corners of heavy, sumptuous papers, probably soiled by excrement. In summer or the beginning of autumn, you can find remnants of sun-baked newspapers in gardens, dry and fragile as dead leaves, so yellow you might think they had been washed with picric acid. In winter, some pages are pounded to pulp; crushed, stained, they return to the earth. Others quite new when covered with ice, all white, all throbbing, are like swans about to fly, but the earth has already caught them from below. They twist and tear themselves from the mud, only to be finally flattened out a little further on. It is good to pick up all that. Sometimes I simply feel them, looking at them closely; other times I tear them to hear their drawn-out crackling, or, 
if they are damp, I light them, not without difficulty; then I wipe my muddy hands on a wall or tree trunk.
So, today, I was watching the riding boots of a cavalry officer who was leaving his barracks. As I followed them with my eyes, I saw a piece of paper lying beside a puddle. I thought the officer was going to crush the paper into the mud with his heel, but no: he straddled paper and puddle in a single step. I went up to it: it was a lined page, undoubtedly torn from a school notebook. The rain had drenched and twisted it, it was covered with blisters and swellings like a burned hand. The red line of the margin was smeared into a pink splotch; ink had run in places. The bottom of the page disappeared beneath a crust of mud. I bent down, already rejoicing at the touch of this pulp, fresh and tender, which I should roll in my fingers into greyish balls… I was unable.
I stayed bent down for a second, I read “Dictation: The White Owl,” then I straightened up, 
empty-handed. I am no longer free, I can no longer do what I will.
Objects should not touch because they are not alive. You use them, put them back in place, you live among them: they are useful, nothing more. But they touch me, it is unbearable. I am afraid of being in contact with them as though they were living beasts.

Jean-Paul Sartre

Low collection, lowly collection.
“Objects should not touch…”
“I am afraid of being in contact with them…”

If classification is an order, is that order an expulsion? We collect things in order to throw them away – visibly. To see these things rejected, ordered; collected, exiled.

We live in an anaphobic society, in the idolisation of novelty it fears repetition. A phobia of phobia, there is a continual call to face your fear. Stick a pin through the spider.

“Been there, seen that, done it.” We have all heard this refrain; it may be advertising, it may be real life, this may be someone you know: Thrill junkies, world travellers, the beautiful people (and we can collect group definitions as we horde resentments). “They”; we allow ourselves to believe, are forming into a special class of collector. Emotion turned to ephemera, sensation packaged as series of statements.
The trip.
The buzz.
The vibe.
The high.
And that special mania of the field which is tourism; the collector as eye and bowel movement, opened up onto a previously unimaginable scale. This is partially achieved by simply denying that this is tourism. People will pay for the luxury of no luxury. A series of life style statements.
A traveller.
An explorer.
Sports enthusiast.
Snow boarder.
Mountain biker.
Not the tourist thing at all, this collection of places and sensations, seem barely to class as a purchase at all.
Something money cannot buy.
I was there.
No fear.

And that is just what I am trying to find, a fear so palpable it becomes an object. An object that does not touch. Because it is not alive it should not touch. The dead object touching the living object makes an abject subject. A collation of subject and non-subject make for a suspect deviation.

But look, if you can collect then you can order, nothing need ever touch. Death. No touching, not without my say so. Only knowledge can circumnavigate a collection. At best it is perfectly solipsistic: Choose any object within the collection and from the information embedded therein, the inevitable references, reverberations, echoes and clues, we will be cast out on an adventure. Albeit and adventure within a frame. The routes are prescribed, predicted, and perfectly calibrated so that eventually, if not repeatedly, the seeker is turned around all the far corners of the collection to find, at end, beginning; the original object.

As an ego will presume it is complete, so a collection presupposes completion. It might not be complete, but that does not exclude it from the hope. Indeed, to be excluded from the hope of completion would be to destroy the collection before it has properly begun. To complete the collection would be to kill both the hope and the desire. This of course is exactly what we cannot say.

Yet how pointless; to embark upon a collection that will be killed if complete and will kill us if never completed.

Imagine; nothing from outside needed. Yet given the end, it persists. When it was meant to finish, instead it lingers. It corrupts, it seeps. The waiters hum the tune (from your collection). A melody returns while one is at one’s ablutions… Abstract.

Abstraction collection: copulation, excretion, consumption, and contamination. These are the biological regions to be vitally usurped if capitalism is to have any success at all. (One does not have to be a capitalist in order to collect.)

Is the C word a success word? Is your record collection complete? Records, vinyl records, will happily proclaim themselves as food, sex, shit; the sort of shit one finds gold in.

Sometimes there need only be one classification. Or rather, the binary trick; there need only be a series of coupled terms linked but forever held separate by their mutual antagonism. (It is to be fervently hoped that these terms will never actually touch.) The fixity of exclusion demands an order to which everything proceeds:

No taxonomy will ever be pleased to deal with “and”.

“And” implies an existence in two (or more) frames. The subject (and object) that can so elude fixity immediately effects a collection’s status. By the rules of collection a subject becomes an object in the collection and therefore must be placed somewhere, it must be classified as something. Frame A or frame B? There is a decision to be made and, because of “and”, this decision begins to appear arbitrary. The decision may be accompanied by a series of rationalisations and yet, because of “and”, the rationale might also be arbitrary. Rational argument becomes an additional content in the collection, it was not anticipated and, taking on the air of an improvisation, another “and” is added as this rational adage must now be rolled forward to future objects and cast back across the pre-existing collection. An osculate object so kissing slips toward being a subject. 

White owl.

It may be that this “and” is denied a classification. “And” refused is abject, and this abjection is also a classification. That replete sense of self, complete even in the striving toward completion, can no longer be anything other than lack. A refusal might therefore be a revenge for undermining the collection’s solipsistic knowledge.

To proceed by denial is hardly satisfactory however. To be conscious of the denial even less so. All the elaborate games of taste and the connoisseur may come into play but still there will be a nagging unease; something missing. Or rather, not missing at all; below mattress A and mattress B there is a pea. Uncomfortable, this tiny thing that does not belong to bed nor to bedroom and most certainly it is not appropriate for the sovereign comfort of this situation and yet it still cannot be wholly excluded. Indeed, the story demands its inclusion. This present abjection is “and” could be. Identity comes to be defined via the defect. If eventually this osculate object must become present to the collection then its intimacy insinuates a gestation period. A rearrangement is born wherein A and B is subsumed to AB which is coupled to DC while held – forever – separate.

White owl in black night.

Someone placed a clay toad in amongst the collection of frogs. It could have become a collection of amphibians but instead the toad was taken aside and smashed.

She has thousands of frogs: 
Clay frogs. 
Plaster frogs.
Metal frogs.
Stuffed cloth frogs.
Knitted frogs.
Frogs fill every available nook and cranny of her flat. Special frogs are associated with special events; a visit here, a niece there, the day such and such happened. If something particularly upsetting happens she will select certain frogs and destroy them. More than merely breaking the item, the condemned ones will be pulverised, meticulously unstitched, or melted down to a formless slag. Following this destruction her anger is purged, some bad memory or association has been cleared away, and she has created space for new frogs.

The metaphor is now Colonel Kurtz. He collects the dead. He has responded to abjection in a brutal but thorough fashion. Any confusion surrounding classification is, he believes, resolved. The enemy are dead. Traitors are dead. The dead are dead. Yet objects should not touch and he is subsumed within this collection. Living still, he touches the dead; moving still, he shifts amongst the no-longer mobile dead.

How to destroy the dead? How to clear space so as to replace the dead (“and” their associated emotion, story, memory) with more dead. The dead must make way for death and in this rain they will not stay buried. A mountain of white ash; mounds of blackened, charred remains. The dead know the dead. There is an “and” and an abjection to their intimacy. AH! Nonetheless, the Kurtz character is, we say, alive.  Nonetheless, his collection is so large that it begins to frame him, as if these burning bodies take up more space not less; as if they were getting inside of us.

You see the dead might become ornamental if the collection is not properly ordered. This is what is meant by the phrase: “He is operating beyond any reasonable control.”

The Kurtz collection positioned within the larger field reveals itself as a mere hobby. An amateur collection. The proper military classification of the dead is impressive. If the hierarchical demands are rigorous it is only because of the need to make sense of so huge a collection. Precision is required for classification: This is alive. This is dead. Body bag, tags, autopsy report perhaps but proper medical certification certainly, paperwork aplenty for without these stabilising influences the object simply cannot be admitted into the collection. Terror is not lessened specifically by bureaucracy, not tamed essentially, but it is channelled. A controlled use of alienation, taxonomy is terror sublimated.

Value slips when touched.
The warmth of a living beast.
“You put them back in place […] they are useful, nothing more.”
The horror, the horror.
A white owl in a black night and I am no longer free.

Collecting is about meaning, is it not? What else might there be?

A pen, a packet of batteries, Humbrol enamel paint tins, sausage rolls, party poppers, a clockwork toy soldier, a pencil, a tube of PrittStick, a troll, two yellow felt tips, a chocolate did, a packet of iced gems, a balloon, a plum, a pear, a banana, Rose sweets, a Mars bad, a hamburger-lookalike candy, a lipstick tube, an eyeliner, a yoghurt, a milkshake, two cartons of Ambrosia rice, some wallpaper borders and a large tin of paint from Fads.

The above named is a collection made in February 1993. Jon Venables and Robert Thompson, aged ten, allegedly stole these items prior to their abduction and murder of James Bulger, aged two.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.2 No.2 1997.

Haptic radio
There is a place I walk by every day: the common reasons one walks by a place every day. In this repetition, like so many forms of repetition, I found my attention growing and I marvelled – then this level of attention faltered. After which it might have stopped, who knows? I was looking elsewhere.
Every day I passed this place, it was a hole in the pavement covered with a sheet of plywood, the plywood weighted down by two sandbags. The whole structure of sandbags, wood, and hole had been thoroughly soaked by heavy rain. An ever vigilant pedestrian, I avoided it as a hole. The void noted, the walking re-routed. However, two hours ago I passed this construct and all my wonder re-awoke. One of the sandbags is missing.
“The enemy’s hiding places are set in the wall of the lobby like serviette holders. They are numbered. When I take a stroll in the lobby I am sometimes prompted by a little imp to open one of these pigeonholes. [….] From number 99 […] I heard nothing but the sound of limitless expectation; an indescribable sound, which, if one had to try comparing with something one knew, has a slight similarity perhaps with the sound of the blood coursing round the veins as heard by a solitary person when alone in the silence….” [Unica Zurn. The House of Illnesses.]
9KHz. Thunderstorm detection. [Tim Baker, Noisegate #2.]
There was a hired function room in a hotel that I walked into only to leave, at day end. There are reasons for hired rooms and reasons for hired function rooms. There are reasons for leaving. In this particular scenario I found myself to be one of the few people not carrying or using a mobile telephone. I became abject. The grip telecommunications have on a user’s life. To be gripped by, to be carrying, users… But I was unconnected and therefore obviously an amateur, and microwaved conversations lacerated my body. My body without secret, nothing but.
A product was evangelized, I was commissioned in its promotion. The reason for staying, the reason for leaving. Teams would ride into town buoyed up on messages beamed around the nation from the radio: Have you ever tried the taste...
890 MHz – 905 MHz & 935 MHz – 960 MHz. Cell phones.
Once there were two lovers, exiles. He had been imprisoned as an undesirable alien, she would spend time in mental institutions. Once there was a couple and he tied her up. Both endured poverty. And there was solitude. Hans made an elaborate female companion, this we know. (Oskar Kokoschka once needed one too.)

Hans owned a camera. There is a family portrait; Unica, the doll, and he. He scowls at us, the viewer, smokes a cigarette. She imagines he her double, her other sexed self. Perhaps there is some semblance; do lovers’ faces over time not only reflect each other but come to resemble one another?

Unica’s image has none of Hans’s self possession. Her stare skims the doll’s convulsed anatomy and, with pursed lips, she intently studies something we cannot see.

They were perhaps too much alone, together, for much of the time. Surrealists of greater fame, whose product shifted more easily, are seen on the beach. Heterosexual couples coupling up with heterosexual couples, sun, wine, good company: why not? Easy to take a photograph in a situation like this; one of the party can slip out of frame without any anxiety that they might vanish forever. They will reappear later that day as one or other of their companions takes their turn behind the lens.

No ease, no grace, no bonhomie for the documentation of this coupling, which is anyway a ménage a trois. If this is play it is a game not to be played in public although that is different from having the game made public: Hans and Unica and doll. Space, body, voyeur. If the elements are basic, what follows is maddeningly fluid, not quite graspable. Secrets become hidden in the obvious. Unica obsessively turns sentences inside out. (“The old, dangerous fever of the anagrams has her in its grip.[…] once again she shuts herself off completely from her surroundings.” [The Man of Jasmine])

The obvious is hidden in secrets. He creates new orifices, new breasts, turns flesh into ambiguity, landscape, and food. Her double becomes object, his toy. (“The body resembles a sentence which seems to invite us to dismember it into component letters, so that it will reveal in an endless row of anagrams the reality it contains.” [Hans Bellmer. The Anatomy of the Image.])

There is a portrait of Unica, a drawing by Hans. Her face is imposed on/flows from her arse and legs, and in this doubling one eye is taken over by her furled, moist vagina. A vaguely phallic column of ectoplasm rises behind the legs and in this there is Hans’s eye. It is the exact same eye that we see in the above mentioned photograph.

Unica and Hans feel the body to be constantly shifting into something else. She creates anagrams. He creates the doll, a poly-perverse toy that begs one to imagine infinite permutation. Unica ended her life by leaping through an open window.
There is a thing missing – that missing thing is permanent – there is a thing not said – gap – absence – there is no thing – it’s always. Imagine such things that I cannot see, touch, hear or smell.
If you would, put your hands on the radio now…
49.82 MHz – 49.9 MHz. Children’s walkie talkies – Baby Alarms – Toys.
Woke up on the bus. I had fallen asleep on the bus. I did not know where I was.
470 MHz – 854 MHz. Television and studio talkback.
Sarah and Angus are on television. This couple are both young artists but the programme is about Sarah. They sit before each other on a low window sill. Brilliant light spills across them – but no defenestration here – the window is shut. He says little, they drink wine. She is in shorts and tee shirt and she slaps her legs. “This,” she says, “this is what I believe in.” Later, he dances around in an ape outfit, fake fur and the mask of a gorilla. Gradually the sleeves slide off, then the pants slip down to reveal his naked human butt.
I got drunk and later awoke on a bus, I know not where. By dawn I was curled up on a park bench, shivering, alternating between gawping at the sky and then watching fox life amongst the shrubbery. An hour or so passed. I walked and acquired blisters on both feet, after which I got on the first tube train at the first station I found (to this day I cannot work out where). A sweaty, ecstatic mess; I clung to my seat, teeth chattering, eyeballs rolling back in my skull. The people travelling beside me were on their way to work.

This is nothing new.

A dumbness, a plain dogged stupidity is sometimes needed if one is to move through a city. There is no ease otherwise. You are in a pit, at the bottom of a chasm. We submit to a protocol of confusion and disorientation quite as if we really were entering a labyrinth. This submission to a ritual terror is undertaken only in the expectation of being turned around, around and around, to step out into sunlight a creature reborn, death conquered, new life before us.
Such is the unspoken presumption. Naturally enough one discovers this presuming is often wrong. We allow ourselves the folly and scoff that there is no Minotaur in this labyrinth, only plenty of cattle.

“…there’s something heroic about the body…the body exists.” [konrad bayer. the philosopher’s stone.]

“Space is basically incomprehensible, an absence of things, a nothingness that obliterates order.” [Robert Morris. Collected writings.]
1450 MHz – 2000 MHz. Space and Microwave, Global Positioning System.
There is a radio station. It portions a daily broadcast into slots. Each slot is marketed differently. This radio station gives its early evening slot to a disc jockey. In his allotted space he is able to air his views, some records, and to select for broadcast individuals who phone in to the station. Those chosen are often people just home from school or work, people on their way home, people cooking tea or waiting for tea – getting ready for the night ahead. Those who do call the station will be submitted to various tests.
Name five … beginning with the letter … in … seconds.
Guess the number of CDs piled up inside the car. (You win the car if you are correct. You have opportunity to see the car, and the CDs, at the following events…)
Tee shirts, mugs, and tickets fly out to pacify have-a-go-heroes. Losers are allowed to shout eager hellos over the airwaves.

How many people ever hear their dedications? Of those that do, imagine how many are actually in the room with the caller or in the room next door, egging on their friend, work mate or relative in this their brush with shame.

There is one caller who is beyond the normal taunts and teases of the dj’s wit. No embarrassment for this man. He is systematically destroying his house, one item per night, live on radio. This is not the usual barter wherein a member of the audience, exposing themselves to the barbs of the dj, receives in return mnemonic tokens of a moment spent outside normal space. Instead we witness a transaction in which destruction has found an uncertain equilibrium. The individual is destroying his own property in a dare to outstrip everyday existence – whatever that may be. The dj can be heard,as if stepping back from the microphone, an astonishing ceding of power, so as to allow this piece of exploitation theatre to crash, thud and clunk across the night. The full act goes something like this:
1. Mutual bawling of greetings.
2. Statements concerning mental status. “You’re mad you are!” “You’re a nutter!” Madness twisted around and around. Is this a compliment or insult? And is feigned lunacy contemptible and the genuine article to be admired or vice versa? Or is it both ways but different in the mouths of different speakers?
3. The dj will wrest back some control of the situation by recapping on what has been destroyed so far.
A chair. A cabinet. A window. An electronic keyboard. Crockery. The television. A microwave oven. A radio…
Nobody even flinches. Neither participant are willing or able to admit to irony, doubt, symbolism.
Escalation and the mute comedy of disbelief are the sole effect welcomed here.
4. The object is destroyed. This usually consists of miscellaneous thumping, a few random bursts of electric drill, sawing sounds, thump, crash. The rattling of the telephone handset on whatever surface it is lain makes the most noise. Sound effects so appalling they could never have come out of a studio. Over a period of time the caller has begun to try and improvise a commentary. He fails by all common standards at conveying excitement, clarity, or simple description and this of course makes the spectacle more terrible, which is why the dj or the dj’s producer is counting on the listener being drawn, as we are drawn to car crashes.
3 MHz & 173 MHz. Hearing aids.
To be beyond ape. To cure, to scale, to breach. The whole point of intelligence is to be something that is not. The octopuses will communicate in patterned skins, the wings of insects will sing, and starlings will imitate car alarms while at the bottom of the oceans whole colonies of shrimp will live, thrive and die without ever having known oxygen.
The water logged sandbag was found after walking for a further fifteen minutes along the street. It had been hurled at the paving slab as if someone intended to smash through to the earth below. Only this sack, this torso, this dead weight had not cracked the floor on which we walk. It had split; its grimy plastic weave torn apart by the force of hitting ground. Pedestrians and cyclists trailed through the red sand making a florid paste of these terracotta coloured guts, a damp carnage smeared along the pavement and scrawled onto a black tarmac road.

Original first published in Inventory: losing, finding, collecting. Vol.3 No.1 1998