Wednesday, July 7, 2010

text || Alan Sondheim

The Plain

My Gothic grammar states that there is almost no literature available in
the language; most of what one knows stems from the New Testament
translation done by Ulfilas in the fourth century, through sixth century
Italian copies.

In Mandeville, the images of the Khan remain with me, mobile capitals on
mobile plains, nomadic. In the Utgarda-Loki section of the Prose Edda,
Thor turns around, and the castle has disappeared; there's nothing but
the plain.

The plain is the locus of power, the site of a part-object tentatively
connected to Goths, Visigoths, Saxons, the Golden Horde. It's criss-
crossed, temporary. Distance is measured by civilization, the rings of
stationary dwellings, agriculture, surrounding, encroaching on the desert
which proceeds to devour them. As today.

Territories extend indefinitely, carrying nothing with them. Simmel's
stranger glances, walks on. It's always a situation of strangers; reading
Rutilius Claudius Namatianus, there are Goths who are enemies, and a Goth
who buys the house.

Investments are made in the form of the project/production. Imagine the
brightness of the stars in the evening, the fair regularity of the cycles
of weather. One can gallop up and down almost indefinitely. You can hear
the sounds of the horses at a distance. There are always the skitterings
of small mammals in the underbrush. Firelight is the source. There's a
smell of meat. There's the sound of stringed instruments and sometimes
dancing in the distance.

These are the spaces of cyberspace, holes, temporary encrustations, in-
tensities. These are the spaces where fantasms appear, burn into the eyes,
turn inward or outward, disappear once again. Try as I might, these spaces
defy description. They're not nomadicisms in the Deleuze/Guattari sense;
there are no lines of flight. The spaces are self-similar, but _locally_
intense, everywhere, with the currents of micro-ecological niches. You
can't forget the ecology, ever; you can't forget the claims of nations,
colonialisms, geographic economies. Boundaries are always already in flux,
just as they are, say, in the WorldsChat emptied spaces which look some-
thing like enormous boxing rings.

WorldsChat in fact provides an example: _What anchors the avatars to the
simulated ground?_ Nothing, of course, except for programming which
occasionally is faulty, sending figures flying. The screen, not the de-
lineation of planet, is the final arbiter. And the screen is nowhere; it
is the eye, the stain or residue of the gaze.

The screen is naught; the screen carries a sense of boundary, outline.
Outline disappears in the literal maze of links, multiply-connected topo-
logy that always returns to itself, frays at the edges. It's as if culture
is the _objet petit a_ somewhere else; who/what pulls the tongue from the

The body is never found. The voices are always at a distance. You can't
see the animals for the underbrush. The animals are stases; they know
where they are. They aren't agents, of anything, anyone. It's not as if
they're "there" either. The "it" is a neutral inscription. It doesn't
mean anything in the sense. It doesn't have any location. Nor does it
move on; there aren't vectors.

But it's not all negative. It's the plain. It's where you can draw figures
or cut them into the grass. It's where they appear as if they're _some-
thing_ in the midst of, that is, between, seasons. They're ignored because
you can only see them from the air. Airplanes haven't been invented yet
but the kids are having a good laugh and you can hear them clear across
the plain.

(There's so _little_ of Gothic left to read/hear. Almost all of it is
translation from the Gospels, as if others are speaking through their
tombs. Colonialization circulates among itself. Logos takes over, hard
inscription. The Bible is the Book. The Book is the Bible. The world goes
flat with forgetting. Each and every world is a plain. Cyberspace is all
the world there is.)

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