A mind and a memory
Did I already read this passage? He used that same sentence before didn’t he? What? Is there a code in this text?
I’ve been reading Bjørn Rasmussen’s ‘Huden er det elastiske hylster der omgiver hele kroppen’ (‘The skin is the elastic holster that enshrouds the entire body’ – although in effect, due to the massive connotation linked to every word, the translation is open-ended) and in its best postmodern fashion it resists me and my desire to immerse myself in its story. Not to say it is a closed off piece of literature, on the contrary, it lays it all out there in rich condensed prose. However, it does what it can to resist me by saying “hey! I’m a text! I’m a text and I’m a person! I am a narrator and a text and a person! Only, there is no I, I is just a figment in a circular motion towards memory!”
And so it goes on, until I let go of my desire to establish a communication with it and just let it tell me its story. ‘Cause we really like that, and especially when we lose it; we like to communicate with texts and talk back, in essence often just to test out our own identity, mirror our own desires and fears. But this work, and others like it, just wants to tell its story, constantly trying to counteract what you think you already know about it, how it’s going to play out, what it wants. How? By saying it, and by borrowing others’ I’s and texts, and by negating your knowledge because it is not a You and even you don’t know You. The text, the I, can only present itself to a you and that’s that. What you do is either constantly trying to figure the It out, or just leave. No harm, no foul.
Tro intet af, hvad jeg fortæller om følelser. Jeg har kun tilnærmelsesvis ansatser mod at føle noget ægte. Så snart dette ægte indtræder, vil det nødvendigvis opløses, fortæl mig om implosion, om atomer. Når man jagter en frø i timevis, når man endelig lukker hænderne omkring den, dør den af chok. Og hvis jeg virkelig får dig en dag. Så vil jeg ikke have dig længere. Så vil jeg have noget andet. Hvad. Fortæl mig om forskellen på want og need, jeg tror ikke på, at der er nogen. Hvad er der så, kapitalismen, fortæl mig om kapitalismen, nej, den menneskelige natur, åh, hør her: Oppe i mit røvhul er der sort som kul, oppe i mit røvhul, ca. 6 cm. oppe, findes et punkt, en erogen zone, der svarer til klitorissen eller pikhovedet. Det er fakta. Når dette punkt berøres, forplanter vibrationerne sig til rygraden, hammeren, stigbøjlen og hør her: Røvhullet er dialektisk, røvhullet er en død mands blomst, død kvindes blomst, røvhullet er en fuga, et tema med variationer; følelser derimod; frøer, mødre, ridelærere og følelser, de er den samme gamle historie, sut mit plot.
Don’t believe anything I say about feelings. Far from it, I only have beginnings of feeling something real. As soon as this real comes around it inevitably dissolves, talk to me about implosion, about atoms. When you chase a frog for hours, when you finally wrap your hands around it, it will die of shock. And if I really get you one day. Then I don’t want you anymore. Then I’ll want something else. What. Talk to me about the difference between want and need, I don’t think there is any. What’s next, capitalism, tell me about capitalism, no, human nature, ah listen: It is pitch-black up my asshole, up my asshole, about 6 cm. up, there is a point, an erogenous zone, comparable to the clitoris or the penis head. That’s a fact. When you touch this point the vibrations transmit to the spine, the malleus, the stirrups and listen: The asshole is dialectical, the asshole is a dead man’s flower, a dead woman’s flower, the asshole is a fugue, a theme with variations; feelings, on the other hand; frogs, mothers, riding instructors and feelings, they are the same old story, suck my plot.
‘Huden…’ presents this figure named Bjørn, this persona who experiences in reality an array of confusing ‘realities’, that of a sexual being, a victim (of himself), an offender, an identity(?), where the language and the narration join in in a mix of stream-of-consciousness, repetitions, fragmented sentences and scattered punctuation to convey a sense of loss and confusion, shifting the mood and POV’s every which way. There is ample reference to the corporeity of existence, the anatomy, bodily functions, and how emotions and sensations affect the body. The body has long held a strange position; it is both the most real and physical we can think of, and at the same time because/in spite of its obvious and common everyday functions it is constantly embellished, observed and scrutinized from a distance or functioning as a satirical/comical input to check our masked appearance. But in a lot of more recent works, the body is incorporated at a very hands-on level – the shit, pee and puke, reactions to external and internal factors that set off a chain effect that, although it is a very felt thing, we take for granted and with it the emotions, the mind that belongs to it. When you eat, you shit, and sometimes it hurts (depending on how much chili you had the day before). When you cry nonstop for 45 minutes, you get dehydrated and a headache to boot. And the works I am referring to – ‘Huden…’ being an example – don’t necessarily incorporate the body because of fascination of the grotesque or comical input, but because it IS, and when it is, what and how do you do with it? In stead of spending time distancing ourselves from our skin, our blood and teeth, these works spend time incorporate it in the gorges of fiction. A very complex process because both the body and mind seem to constantly resist the being, moving forward and regressing all at the same time.
Of course, I could choose to focus on the massive amount of sexuality, sex (actions and thoughts) and what that means to societal evolution. I could also focus on the character and his relation/resemblance to the Author, is the author dead or very much alive? I could even focus on the symbolic effect of putting pictures, and at that in the dead center of the book, possibly as a form of legitimizing the linkage to reality or precisely to fuck with the whole notion that a photo would legitimize anything as real. All those aspects are fascinating for its own chain of thought. But when it comes down to it I keep coming back to the circular motion of mind and body towards memory and reality.
Autumn has kicked in and what better way to celebrate it literati style than to go to a couple of literary festivals. A couple of weeks ago I was cordially invited by one of the organisers of Vild Med Ord to the literature festival in Aarhus for the mere fact that I am a literature blogger in Denmark. Major props their way, it’s about time someone gives me something for blogging about literature 🙂
Joking aside, its nice to know that someone is thinking outside the box, widening the field etc., when it comes to these kinds of events – Denmark is such a small community that it easily can end up being the same three established people having an opinion about literature. Not to say anything negative about that, because those three also have experience and expertise within literary critique. Anyways, I skip-jumpingly accepted to come on Sunday, not even thinking about the fact that it is on the other side of the country. So now I must find a way of getting to the festival without tearing myself a new one. It should be manageable. So far, buses are my first option, DSB is in the very bottom position… And then ahead of me will lie eight hours of book readings, debates, book browsing etc. with appearances by the likes of Cia Rinne, Anne Lise Marstrand-Jørgensen, Carsten Jensen and Rune T. Kidde to mention a few who will attend VMO on Sunday. I have not yet fully decided if I will go but the program sounds really good. Warm-ups have been going on since the 26th of August, but the actual festival starts tomorrow.
Another literature festival starting tomorrow and also ending on September 4th is Louisiana Literature, hosted by Louisiana Museum of Modern Art. And mamma mia, boy oh boy, have they got a spread of names for us! For a mere 150 DKK (and of course, plus the train ticket costs x4) you get to see and hear readings and interviews with Junot Diaz (Oscar Wao mentioned here), Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie (The thing around your neck review here), Gyrðir Elíasson (winner of the Nordic Council’s Literature Award 2011), Merete Pryds Helle (mentioned here) and so on and so on. I am planning on live-tweeting and blogging my way through the weekend, you are welcome to follow me on Twitter if you cannot be there yourself or if you for some other reason want to know what my tweets are about – I pass no judgement as to what reason you could have to stalk my tweets :).
Recommendation: The museum has also arranged sound excursions for its visitors; that is, you listen to a work on an mp3-player while either walking around or going to a specific location on the museum grounds. For example, there is one reading in the toilet facilities at the museum read by Gary Shteyngart, or what about a stroll through a specific collection at the museum while listening to a reading by Pejk Malinovski (who incidentally is the producer of the sound excursions). I would very much recommend this. On the Louisiana web page they have one work by Inger Christensen read by Maja Lee Langvad og Kristina Nya Glaffey called the “Food Alphabet” in an update version. It is amazing, do listen to it (either press the link here below, or go to Louisiana Literature web page and download it here – just look in the right hand corner mid-page).
Just to set your anticipation up a bit if you trust my judgement: I am in love with it! The reading is so good, sounds are well-rounded, recording excellent, and I think it will be an even greater experience listening to it while sitting in the museum café 🙂
Here’s hoping for yet another great week(end).
UPDATE: And the weekend just got much better. Litteratursiden.dk was kind enough to give me tickets for the festival in return for a post on their site – big thanks and do check them out here – so now I don’t have to worry about the cost. I wonder if Turidbloggar will want to come with me to play photographer?!