Stories and poems

"The metaphoric image of 'orphan lines' is a contrivance of the detached onlooker to whom the verbal art of continuous correspondences remains aesthetically alien. Orphan lines in poetry of pervasive parallels are a contradiction in terms, since whatever the status of a line, all its structure and functions are indissolubly interlaced with the near and distant verbal environment, and the task of linguistic analysis is to disclose the levels of this coaction. When seen from the inside of the parallelistic system, the supposed orphanhood, like any other componential status, turns into a network of multifarious compelling affinities.'
Roman JAKOBSON, "Grammatical Parallelism and its Russian Facet", Language, 42/2, 1966, pp. 399-429, p. 428-429

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Calico Cat

So, I handed in pages, and the reply was encouraging, but I have to reorganize my entire première partie. This totally makes sense. I don't feel bad about it. I had written it according to the flow of my discoveries, not according to the argument which is my thesis. My advisor asked me: Qu'est-ce votre thèse? This question, what is my dissertation, struck me as eminently philosophical and I took a moment to consider it, then realized it was a rhetorical question, to get me back on track. What is my thesis? Well, I have a better idea now. I need to rewrite my outline, defining the argument for each point, in order to be clear about where I am headed, in order to let my reader in on the meaning that is unfolding. But I don't feel discouraged. I think all my bits of text are usable, and she was helpful; I have to finish, "it's promising!" she told me.

So I'm writing here instead of rewriting my outline. My promise has not yet been fixed upon the page. The possibility of my dissertation, what the book could be, lulls me and I seem to prefer this liminal state to that of actually finishing. Somehow I'm scared of finishing. I know I will, I know it will get done, though I don't know how, but I'd rather not imagine it too concretely and sometimes I'd just rather not move in that direction at all. Finishing? What will I do afterwards since I've been doing this for so long?

I do also look forward to moving on and doing something else with my time. I want to be done. I want to teach, to write of other things, I want to be more of an adult and less of a student at 33. I want less time alone and more exchange. I want to move out of this office which is no longer really mine. I want to move out of my little apartment and live with my lover. I want, I want to know what I want. I even put it on my to do list for the month of November: Figure out what I want! Right under "finish first part of my dissertation". One step forward at a time.


We need to remember what ink is made of.
How they sold us time, all wrapped up,
to make us miserable.
How we wrote and wrote,
how I write to stop.
How the word on paper killed the voice,
how the voice sang anyways.
How they wanted us to forget,
how we didn't yet.
How my body fits with yours,
how my ego gets in the way.
How ink is wet at first, then dry,
spots to tell the color of the cat.

I think that is what my dissertation is, is about. Though I don't understand that last line. Why does the cat appear out of the ink? What is it doing there? But I can't bring myself to change it. Spots to tell the color of what is, what is evident and present, as if we couldn't see it on its own. The cat got let out of the bag. That is what that line makes me think of. I'll leave the cat there, telling me the color of the ink, asking me a riddle, silently smiling. I'd like my dissertation to be like a calico cat.

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