68 steps

Posted on September 14, 2016 in Uncategorized

I have been visiting this house off and on for sixty plus years. It seems like a UFO appearing and vanishing, this internallly illuminated community of Cheathams–and an all-consuming one at that–now abducted to the nether world, just bits of engraved granite down the street scattered, nothing but sepia post cards gathered in gray matter three second vignettes flipping up and disintegrating where life size cards flip up in shooting ranges People say why mix all these modes together the theory with the banal chintz: because these are the zones that cohabit me and maybe because I don’t have a lot of cute southern stories to tell no Song of the South anymore it’s like I never lived here or born here but somehow being continually pushed here, uncertainty and destabilization yes but comfort no the infinite seeming divide here this disintegrating Now leaving a few pearls in the ashes of being closer to the othered, the back end, the end that falls off also into the blankness of infinity or no not even that maybe less or maybe more maybe nothing but the golden shivers of childhood, the Summer Land, the Fort/da of leave-taking and returns, building forts in the middle of the uncanny chaos we are thrown into. dogs whirling in fields of waist high grasses making their own homecoming “look what we got here, a hermaphrodite kid and his confederate yankee daddy!” uncle W. upon entering the white House on the Hill one summer after moving to the City, the summer of love actually):

from perforations 30

The Fort!
“…. Infancy names the insistence, even the exigency of the
fictive or the figural in conscious life (the exigency that gives
the insistence of the primal scene).
[….] “Infancy has an irreducibly ‘fabulous’ dimension.”
Christopher Fynsk
“[The infant or child] enters or is entered into, the places where
speech falters and language chokes in the throat of a political
body, where the questions of fair representation is peremptorily
dismissed or simply not addressed.”
Avital Ronell
In the case of the hut, the child is indeed father to the man….but what of the
mother? Whenever architects write about the hut, it always begins — and
ends — with the primitive, that other to the place that we are always subsided
to in western culture.
Everything is always seen to take the path from lowest to highest, a time
scheme which allows for the piling of debris behind (or in front of,
depending on whose viewpoint you take) the angel of history.
But as a child growing up in the wilds of Mississippi, there was no past, and
the future was planned within the confines of numerous ‘forts’, built and then
abandoned. We were like dogs, twisting in the high grass to flatten it, a
holding place, just enough space to rest and peer over the top of the seeing but unseen. Haven’t little boys (and girls? Shouldn’t there be a maternal /
 but unseen. Haven’t little boys (and girls? Shouldn’t there be a maternal /fort
function there [
] also?)
always built Forts? But then aren’t
Fathers always just returning from the War and just so, aren’t little boys
always building forts? Isn’t the fairy kingdom of the ancient ones in the
hillock always over the next rise? A fortification of the Eternal against the
depredations of the present, hedge against the closing of the porthole,
childhood is itself the gradually eroding fort-against-time, sempiternal now
hollowed out, rotted from the outside in (or is it the other way round? Those
huddled in the fort of the Red Death are sempiternally the last to know).
A childhood fort is not even yet a hut, that most minimal of adult habitat, but
is vaporous, porous to time, even as it attempts to grasp it and balance
evenly between above and below. The fabulousness of the fort or the child’s
dwelling is no more than a sketch, sometimes literally chalk on pavement, a
demarcation of inside and outside. Or no more than a confabulation of
cardboard and quilt. (Indeed, it is often a point de capiton
as Jacques Lacan had it, a quilting point, or sedimentation of meanings gathered together and re-eniforced, a place for the sprouting of the fabulous and the mythic. Later, as
the fort morphs into the hut, the Freudian
function is perhaps more
descriptive with the dispersion of meaning that the ‘da’ of the other, over
there, brings into play: it is no longer a matter of circling the wagons but of
making a mark to allow entry through other thresholds, not a gathering in a
clearing but an
ecstasis, sinking in, uncannily, and not out, sublimely: the
difference between the juvenile fort and the adult hut.)
The fort formed a juridical outline of space and action, perhaps the first
‘legal’ outline that the child can establish outside the home (no wonder it’s
called a fort!), the first outside force or strength (the meaning of ‘fort) that
the child can muster.
Deep in the piney woods of Mississippi I built
forts, nestled in clumps of privet hedge in an
otherwise featureless plain of perpetual twilight
pine barrens, carpeted by pine needles; or bits of
lumber nailed together almost haphazardly in low
lying limbs above blackberry bogs; or scooped out
of muscadine vine rambles; cornstalks woven
together in the middle of a dry, feverishly hot corn
field and more. Some lasted a day, some weeks or
even months, a very few perches hanging
bedraggled from tree limbs after years, still.
As Giorgio Agamben notes, play transforms structures into events. (It is left
to adults to reverse that process into memorialization.) The childhood play
of de-marking space into forts, huts, and fairy circles enters into an
acceleration of time to the point of a momentary stoppage of history … or
rather, the formation of a palimpsest of times in the guise of spaces, with
immediate forgettings.
Curved round into the beginning, the ghostly carapace of the fort fades into
the structure of to-come, an extemporization of the boundaries and
thresholds yet to be marked.
(A primal scene?) You who live later, close to a heart that beats no
more, suppose, suppose this: the child – is he seven years old, or eight
perhaps? – standing by his window, drawing the curtain and, through
the pane, looking. What he sees: the garden, the wintry trees, the wall
of a house. Though he sees, no doubt in a child’s way, his play space,
he grows weary and slowly looks up toward the ordinary sky, with
clouds, grey light – pallid daylight without depth.
What happens then: the sky, the same sky, suddenly open, absolutely
black and absolutely empty, revealing (as though the pane had
broken) such an absence that all has since always and forevermore
been lost therein – so lost that therein is affirmed and dissolved the
vertiginous knowledge that nothing is what there is, and first of all
nothing beyond. The unexpected aspect of this scene (its interminable
feature) is the feeling of happiness that straightaway submerges the
child, the ravaging joy to which he can bear witness only by tears, an
endless flood of tears. He is thought to suffer a childish sorrow;
attempts are made to console him. He says nothing. He will live
henceforth in the secret. He will weep no more.
Maurice Blanchot/
Writing of the Disaster
O touseled head standing on the edge of the ‘hundred year ocean’ eyeing vast
expanses of twilight night stretching overhead and in front, receding to
infinity, steps on royal road fading to unseen inevitable failure…but now,
NOW! Life stretches out like a train speeding to the horizon in a Kansas
wheatfield, a limitless blinding expansion except every expansion needs an
expansion gap, an exception, a marking to set off remaindered
impossibilities: fortification, to enable impossible happiness, destined to
loop around beginning to end, from fort to coffin, both containers of
im/possibilities, delayed, defrayed, forgotten, alpha and omega of
, workless in any possible world.
Only Children can create a counting rhyme that opens up to
impossibility and only children can sign of it happily.
M. Blanchot / The Step Not Beyond
Oh Fort! The first/last halo we will have, going from skin, to marking on
world-skin, to the halo of the debris of your worklessness pretending to be
useful, to coffin, to earth, world layered round with the bones of the dead,
ivoried interlock waiting for the last round, pretending to see everywhere
and always.
‘Hence the ‘halo’ always indicated, in some way or
another, a change of the nature of time. It signified
the haloed individual person or place, participated
also in a category of ‘time’ which was different from
the one determining the natural life on earth as the
medieval mind understood it. The halo, it is true, did
not remove its bearer into the
aeternitus Dei which is
without continuity because in all times, past and
future, are present. Yet the halo removed its bearer
too: removed him, scholastically speaking, from
Tempus to aevum
, from Time to semipiternity”
, The King’s Two Bodies
Oh! Halo of material circling, circling, circling, endless immemorial summer
of childhood, thin hub of light layered over the frozen waste world of
childhood’s end in Spielberg’s AI
(all you crankheads out there moaning
about the epistemological errancy of this vision of total intelligence: go tell
your mama!) the child plays on, even as thought slows to a stop, protracted
in time’s abysmal fort/da):
is a
at play, playing draughts’
Heraclitus’ fragment B 52
: “The age (eternity /
) is
the kingship of a child, playing dice (knucklebones,