Just back (or basically so) from Jackie Wang and Lily Hoang’s readings’ zigzaggings through so many networks — some bouncing analogue along Wang’s moody “chaoscillator”or figures not just figuring out but, everywhere and from the beginning biochemically beyond themselves, clearing away proximities to/from victimage in Hoang’s — this occurred to me:

One explanation, given by Wang, for the turn from New Narrative use of real names for characters might be the social network. It yields, ideally, to your every documentary impulse, or doesn’t even ask for that impulse anymore, just preemptively contains i.e. solicits it.

Another, not brought out by questioning, but at least as relevant (though actually I wouldn’t say this “explains” anything) would be that both found little reason to be discrete about their pharmaceutical emplotment by history (turbulent, hedonistic, oceanic, mood-stabilizing or not, were the concepts that bubbled up; I would add “dissociative” – like ketamine, tho that wasn’t mentioned). Neither in their poetry nor in conversation.

If the pharmaceutical is a form of “affective knowledge,” what residue does it leave on style, if any?

Or form: something inseparable, in Wang’s reading, from this anaphoric (and ultimately “tautological,” or self-containing) act of “finding” at the bottom of the pool, each diving line perhaps by necessity synchronizing with echoes of the line in her voice swimming out from the “chaoscillator” (which is therefore not that chaotic – a mood stabilizer?).

One of the students in the audience implied that the oceanic was opposite appetite. Wang picked up on it but an elaboration didn’t find time to happen.

Does a pool really hold the oceanic? Equivalent, in conversation, to asking: can a pool be sublime in a way that not just everything can be? Which is to say: pleasure in the oceanic scenario is the elapsed distance between drowning and watching oneself drown. It’s that in slow motion. So not to say a pool can’t be sublime (what would be the point, even?); rather to wonder how the pool gives form to the oceanic.

Were Edouard Glissant in the room, he’d interpose that “the abyss is a tautology: the entire ocean, the entire sea gently collapsing in the end into the pleasures of sand, makes one vast beginning, but a beginning whose time is marked by these balls and chains gone green.” An experience of the victim’s “exception” from history cannot hold together a viable existence, (to paraphrase both Glissant and Ian Baucom’s reading of this passage in Specters of the Atlantic), so “the best element of exchange” is an “experience of the abyss” that allows sharing or “‘transversality'” rather than “‘the universal transcendence of the sublime'” (again quoting Baucom quoting Glissant, 309-10). Victimage by this logic would not mean transcending history by falling out of it, but rather setting up the condition of possibility (a “vast beginning”) for traversing history. To traverse history would, perhaps, mean to move through the abyss’s continuous bounding by the “pleasures of sand,” both coastal and in the depths. Lives discarded from history remain at the bottom but the circuits of exchange value they never realized (interfaced along coastlines) now put their value beyond recovery, irremediably sunk — though it’s as if for that very reason, because of their abyssal recession from value, that they open history up as an element of exchange — via infinities of debt? via Baucom’s melancholy property in the dead? My intuition here is that Baucom’s arguments about sublimity either must be rewired here or they contort Glissant…




Lily Bart overdosing on chloral – pharmakon dose-effect curving from gift to poison, or whatever – feels the “tender pressure” of going too far after waning efficacy and then thereby finally sliding down the brink into an abyss, which is to say, the oceanic.

Down there it’s too heavy for effervescence. On the surface, playing her cards (several kinds), she stays afloat on expenditure, or as an accessory to the “new scenes” she plunges into.


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