Remember when we read together in November, and afterwards you asked me about a particular poem of mine, and seemed to wonder why my reading of it didn’t acknowledge or account for the spacing of/in the poem as it is on the page? I figured that question was a statement and that you were right. Philip’s theater is this spatial disuption or fragmentation of the sentence and/or the word, where every fragmentation is also an augmentation, bespeaking multiplicity.
The logic of reparation is grounded on notions of originary wholeness, on the one hand, and abstract / general equivalence, on the other. Ian Baucom thinks this in relation to credit/imagination but I wonder if it’s not really bound up with a strange kind of empiricism. But what’s the relation between the logic of reparation and the logic of representation? And what does that relation have to do with telling the truth, or the story, or the whole truth, or the whole story, with truth telling as a way of making whole? Narration. Telos. Triumph. The normative arc of becoming (a subject, a citizen) is part of this logic. What if there were a radical politics of innovation, whose condition of possibility is memory, which remains untranslated, whose resistance to translation makes innovation possible? Not to resuscitate! No resurrection. Make it new, like they used to say, so that indexicality is an effect, a technique, so that the document is part of an experimental impulse. The archive is, as Ian Benjamin sings, an assemblage. The assemblage is an image of Chicago.
But I don’t want you to think about anything right now. I just want you to enjoy yourself and I want you to believe that. This is an enthusiasm. This is the new thing. Hong-An Truong, on her amazing installation, Wheel in the Sky: “I didn’t know what it was going to be about but it definitely turned out to be totally different.” Perhaps having constantly had to translate turned out to have been the place to be, not in the sun, because there were all these beautiful trees, in some kind of shade or garden where certain tyrannies of translation are suspended.
Fred Moten lives in Los Angeles, where he teaches at the University of California, Riverside. He is author of Arkansas (Pressed Wafer); In the Break: The Aesthetics of the Black Radical Tradition (University of Minnesota Press); I ran from it but was still in it. (Cusp Books); Hughson’s Tavern (Leon Works); B Jenkins (Duke...