Close-reading of non-existing texts is a political act
Close-reading of non-existing texts is a political act. Close-reading is in itself a political act. Non-existing texts are in themselves a political act. A political act is not in itself a political act. Existing texts are not in themselves political. When I use an existing text it ceases to exist. I am close-reading it. I am close-reading it until it ceases to exist. I am close-reading it until it is no longer a close-reading. Then it is a non-existing text. I transfer it to me. Then it is my text. But there is no close-reading. It is not a political act. I must keep it outside myself and simultaneously make it unfamiliar. I must remove the tone of the other text. I must remove the I of the other text. I must mount the tone in the other text. I must mount the I in the other text. I panic. What I assert is rhetoric and lacks substance. What I assert is rhetoric and lacks substance. Everything is rhetoric. Everything lacks substance. I assert. If the text lacks pronouns it must be filled with pronouns. If the text lacks referentiality it must be filled with referentiality. If the text lacks historicity it must be filled with historicity. If the text lacks intertextuality it must be filled with intertextuality. If the text lacks time and locality it must be filled with time and locality. If the text lacks narrativity it must be filled with narrativity. The text is now pronominal/referential/historicizing/intertextual/temporal/spatial/narrative. It takes place. It is an act. But not a political act. It has a language. I think of the distance as the crow flies between Smygehuk (the point farthest south in Sweden) and Treriksröset (the point farthest north in Sweden), or between Treriksröset and Smygehuk. I think of August Strindberg. I think of Ingmar Bergman. I think of Gunnar Ekelöf. I think of Thomas Tranströmer. [End Page 61] I think of Edith Södergran. I think of Karin Boye. I think of Ann Jäderlund. I think of Katarina Frostenson. I think. And in that I think these texts receive a materiality. To me. So much naturalism. So much bourgeois drama. So much expressionist drama. So much modernism. So much postmodernism. Nothing of this means anything. And through the fact that it does not mean anything the texts receive their political character. 1930s. In the magazine Spectrum there is a fusion between psychoanalysis, architectural functionalism (the Swedish Welfare State), and cultural radicalism. Modernism, proletarian novel authors. In the political association of cultural radicals Clarté the social realists prevail before the war. Form is bourgeois. 1960s. (During the 1950s, the concrete poetry of ÷yvind Fahlström circulated in copies and transcripts.) 1963 and 1964 the concrete poets Bengt Emil Johnsson and Jarl Hammarberg make their debut. And side by side new-simple poetry with a lot of wettex-cloths and kitchen tables. Everyday life and words. By the end of the 1960s student revolt, Vietnam War and a closing of the ranks. Political realism. Form is bourgeois. 1980s. Deconstruction and romanticism. Stig Larsson brings us to a place where perversion, euphoria, and I-lessness meet. Where perversion, rhetoric, and euphoria meet. Where I-lessness, perversion, and rhetoric meet. Ann Jäderlund brings us to a place where romanticism, language games, and surfeit meet. Where meter, language-games, and romanticism meet. Where surfeit, meter, and language games meet. Form is a-political. 1990s (the Welfare State is liquidated). Helena Eriksson brings us to a place where caesura, geometry, and idiosyncrasy meet. Where blackness, geometry, and idiosyncrasy meet. Where idiosyncrasy, blackness, and caesura meet. Lars Mikael Raattamaa brings us to a place where periphery, materiality, and literality meet. Where materiality, literality, and expressivity meet. Where expressivity, materiality, and periphery meet. Form is political. (The blackmailing strategy — not seldom initiated by the generation of critics born in the 1940s, who started their careers in the light of the concrete and new-simple poetry of the early 1960s — that has aimed at imposing upon a poetry, whose social and political implications so to speak come from within the language in the form of caesuras, literalities, idiomatic slidings, confrontations, etc. [and that lacks the politically correct syntax and the natural "speech" the reader of Swedish poetry is used to associate with any domestic poem with a social or political ambition], a sort of blockade where a renunciation of all political relevancy has resulted in a cancellation and a procuration of literary status, has shown itself less and less successful.) Non-existing texts are texts that have been read to pieces. They are non-existing in the act of reading itself. Strategies [End Page 62] for removing the voice. Close-reading of non-existing texts is impossible. I am thinking of Emmanuel Hocquard. That is why it is a political act. Close-reading leads to non-existing texts. That is why it is a political act. Non-existing texts makes close-reading impossible. That is why it is a political act. A political act neither leads to non-existing texts nor makes close-reading impossible. I am thinking of Olivier Cadiot. I transfer the text to me. Literally. Now it takes an extensive reading. As extensive as possible. I think of Charles Bernstein. Preferably it will miss literature. Preferably it will miss literature altogether. An altogether extensive reading is no reading at all. An altogether extensive writing is no writing at all. Reading is paralleled by writing until there is no way of telling them apart. They become one and the same. I am thinking of Kenneth Goldsmith. The tone disappears and returns. The I disappears and returns. The rhetoric disappears and returns. The velocity is fluctuating. Reading and writing are one and the same. I transfer the text to me. Nevertheless it is not mine. All pronouns. All referentiality. All historicity. All intertextuality. All time. All locations. All narrativity. Like this:
With pumice dry just polish'd fine
Translated by translated by translated. Catullus. Ebbe Linde. John Nott. To whom present this book of mine? Who? You, Cornelius. And you, O muse. Lesbia. Clodia. Ebbe Linde. Jörgen Gassilewski. Anders Lundberg and Jesper Olsson. John Nott. Paul Bové. And you, reader. The book? Carmina Catulli. Catullus. Poems. Images of the gates. boundary 2. Reading and reading and reading. With pumice dry just polish'd fine. Pumice, pumex, a polished piece of lava, with which the surface of the paper or the parchment is prepared. I am (and everyone before me) close-reading Catullus until the text does not exist anymore. Polish'd fine. I read very slowly. It ceases to exist in reading and writing, and imperceptibly I transfer it to me. I think of Charles Reznikoff. I remove the I. I remove the tone. I mount the I. I mount the tone. What I assert is rhetoric and it lacks substance. I assert. Pronouns. Referentiality. Historicity. Intertextuality. Time. Locality. Narrativity. I fill it (the text) with everything between as the crow flies between Smygehuk and Treriksröset. I fill it with Strindberg, Bergman, Ekelöf, Tranströmer. I fill it with Södergran, Boye, Jäderlund, Frostenson. I think. I fill it with bourgeoisie drama, expressionist drama, modernism, postmodernism. I fill it with the 1930s, Spektrum, Clarté; the 1960s, Fahlström, Johnson, Hammarberg, wettex-cloths, kitchen tables, student revolt, Vietnam War; the 1980s, deconstruction, and romanticism, Larsson, Jäderlund; the [End Page 63] 1990s, liquidated Welfare-State, Eriksson, Raattamaa, less and less successful blackmailing strategy. Now it is time for extensive reading and writing. As extensive as possible. Best if it misses literature altogether. The text is not mine. Close-reading of non-existing texts is a political act.
(Translated from Swedish by Anders Lundberg and Jesper Olsson)