Dialectics of Desire

Ithell Colquhoun
Ithell Colquhoun

If only the big combo
Could come together
Become fused, merging
Into something other:
A magic orderly, precise,
Science raggedy, unruly,
An art exquisite yet raw
To fashion a language
With the suppleness of silence:
What vantage this vista
Would provide with a view
To die for, to kill for,
Into the realm of the marvellous:
Causing old habits of thoughts
To be sloughed like so many snakes-skins,
We would construct clouds into castles
And turn castles into cumulus clouds:
We would be welcome in a world
Where the everyday so-and–such
Glows with the sheen of the miraculous
Where a glance, the merest touch,
Opens up opportunities,
With all the divine hazards,
And dream chances,
Of a new dialectics of desire.

Be True

Man Ray-Observatory Time 1936
Man Ray-Observatory Time 1936

Coming down
Calm it, calming
Coming down
Calming, calm it.

-Talk to me

-I wish I could talk—
But easier said;
A few issues remain unresolved,
In fact permanently outstanding.

I have always been afflicted,
If Memory serves,
(Not me though,
Bitch is thoroughly self-serving
With her insidious insinuations,
Rosey sepia’d projections,
Doctored newreels,
Whispering re-writes,
Flat-out brazen taunting,
Wince inducing comparisons;
The future ain’t what it used to be
But was the past so very hot?)
By a stuttering reluctance
To showtell, that would be an act,
Stripping myself bare to tease,
Besides what if there is nothing
Beneath to reveal, could I stand
The disappointment turning
To anger and then inevitably,
As night turns to day, to hatred?
So I crouched my sentences
In an invented, inverted argot
Of my own twisted devising,
A cunning linguistic cant
Impenetrable and dense
Filled with allusions, elisions,
Strewn with the slang and jargon
Of restless haunted journeys;
The most I could hope for
Was an odd sensation of frisson,
The occasional moment of fusion,
Before the dissolution of an imagined unity;
Fracturing, splintering, fragmenting,
Sending me back into my private
Realm where I can babble away,
In my nonesuch nonsense language,
Or just remain silent if I wished,
(and therefore, be true?)

Zaum de dum dada
Voynich Seraphinianus

U & I

Heinz Hajek-Halke
Heinz Hajek-Halke

The words that I say don’t mean a thing,
Except for their inherent suggestiveness.
They are an attempt at hypnotizing you,
My intention is to bewitch and enthral
Before slowly, ever so slowly, then finally,
Seducing you in just such a fashion.
Understanding will elude you for now,
Only long afterwards can you begin
To understand that rapture, this bliss,
The rupture and the event changing
Everything and consuming the parts
That formerly constituted the whole;
The heavenly body bruised and bitten,
Your lunar skin a palimpsest upon
Which I have scrawled in marker
Every wayward impulsive craving
And deepest innermost desiring:
Across your most intimate territories,
Swell of breast, slope of thigh I write
The text of my tyrannical longings
To feel your heart beat fast, faster
Suffusing every inch of you with heat
Because I want to not only feel
The flame within you burn brightly,
I want to see, hear, taste and smell
Your essence, then I may possess all;
Your soul
Mutual absorption
Indivisible diversity
2 become 1
U & I.

The words that I say don’t mean a thing,
Except for their ritualistic significance.
They are an attempt at an invocation,
My intention is to enthral and bewitch,
Make desire a reality through the will.

Glory

peter-blake-and-to-show-you-im-not-proud-you-may-shake-hands-with-me[1]
Peter Blake-Alice through The Looking Glass 1972
“I don’t know what you mean by ‘glory,'” Alice said.
Humpty Dumpty smiled contemptuously. “Of course you don’t – till I tell you. I meant ‘there’s a nice knock-down argument for you!'”
“But ‘glory’ doesn’t mean ‘a nice knock-down argument,'” Alice objected.
“When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”

Through the Looking Glass and What Alice Found There-Lewis Carroll 1871

Alice’s encounter with the proud and doomed egghead philologist Humpty Dumpty, who is naturally sitting on a wall, is one of the most memorable scenes from her visit to the Looking Glass world. Humpty’s practise of assigning private meanings to words raises a whole series of puzzling and unsettling philosophical questions which have only gained in urgency over the last century with its ever greater linguistic and moral relativism.

Carroll, as a philosophical Nominalist (the belief that universal terms do not refer to objective existences, they are mere verbal utterances) and a writer of childrens nonsense books and comic poetry, affirms Humpty’s dictum that a word means just what you choose it to mean in his Symbolic Logic:

…I maintain that any writer of a book is fully authorised in attaching any meaning he likes to any word or phrase he intends to use. If I find an author saying, at the beginning of his book. “let it be understood that by the word ‘black’ I shall always mean ‘white’, and that by the word ‘white’ I shall always mean ‘black’, I meekly accept his ruling, however injudicious I may think it.

While private meaning is an acceptable, even a necessary principle in fiction and poetry, it is far more problematic in other areas. Surely politicians, journalists and judges, for example, are under a moral obligation to avoid weighting words with hidden meaning. Unfortunately many unscrupulous leaders has perverted language in this fashion and imposed the new meaning upon the people.  One of the hallmarks of totalitarian regimes is the power of propaganda to re-define reality; black will indeed become white, a fall from the heights is actually glory. Another technique is of bland technocratic euphemism, making even genocide seem merely a matter of bureaucratic and administrative procedure.

As we drift rudderless in this post-factual, post-truth age with its unprecedented information overload and polarities, we would do well to do the exact opposite of Humpty (after all, he lives on the other side of the mirror), and remember that words are our master, otherwise communication will eventually become impossible.

Annihilation

Andre Masson-Untitled 1954
Andre Masson-Untitled 1954

Let me show you
The particular exhilaration
Associated with the ultimate
Annihilation of the self.
Yeah you know what I mean
I think you catch my drift
Just come down to me.

Perhaps at one point
We could have made love
Like the angels do:
Infusing essences,
Commingling intellects,
A profound and absolute
Identification never to be
Sundered or torn apart.
But that moment, alas,
Has long lost past.

Instead I will hold you
And look you in the eyes,
Hoping you glimpse
Something worthwhile.
But it’s not only words
That lie and mislead, looks
Can be very deceptive.
Maybe behind my
Oh-so doting gaze
You won’t see the hellfire
On a dimmer switch
Ready to ignite and rage,
That will consume us
In an orgy of lust.

Yes yes yes yes
Just let yourself get carried away
And scream out a yes and yes again,
In an agony of haste rip off my clothes
As I tear off yours so that I can sink
My teeth into your flawless skin,
Such perfection needs to be marked.
I so desperately long for your succour
But I am the kind that will always
Bite the hand that feeds,
So you better hold me down
Before I tie you up and tease
You with a merciless insolence,
Until we pass the event horizon
Of articulation, going beyond language;
(I am so tired of words,
Of their relentless, never ceasing,
Mediating presence.
Aren’t you?)
Till we just
Squeal and grunt,
Groan and sigh,
Ourselves finally annihilated.
For if we cannot be angels
We can regain, at least temporarily,
The immediacy of our long lost,
Pristine, animal being.