I threw the book into a dark garden and let it, all that winter, rot; retrieving it before the weather turned, to transcribe what was legible. Though I considered burning it, I threw the notebook, instead, into the bin. (Then, feeling guilty, plucked it out and put it in the recycling instead.) Some notes on retrieval, on the circulatory and evolutionary intensity of "scraps"; of the notebook next to the book: the book that fails:
"Writing is never wasted. I tell my students this, urging them to throw away a draft and start again…difficult to do, to trust. I have variously taken drafts and burned them, tore them into tiny shreds, let them go…the old drafts become the texture and resonances in the new." -- Lemon Hound/Harriet comment stream. (Sina Queyras.)
"Anyway. I got the books in the post yesterday. I felt nothing looking at the book. Nothing. The books look beautiful. But I felt empty. Like these books were a refuse of my past, and them being printed and packaged and made into commodity objects is totally separate from why I created the work. I am looking forward to having new readers, that dialogue. But I looked at the books and I thought of matchsticks, yes that's what I thought of, matchsticks. Maybe because the books are paper. And I thought of burning them, like Artaud writing about poems, meant to be read once and then burned." -- Frances Farmer Is My Sister. (Kate Zambreno.)
"Bhanu, the red, letting it soak back in (still thinking of Pamela Lu’s de-red-ing), I think of your earlier statement about killing the character in your project, but now with this idea of the rose, your impossibility of destruction, I am reminded of how, in physics, matter cannot be eliminated, just changed." -- Harriet comment stream. (Amy Catanzano.)
"The notebook is non-reproductive. You could say it is a mutation that is never seen and only becomes available, in a more formed condition, in the book. But the book depends upon the notebook. What's in the notebook. In fact, the larger the non-reproductive store of a population is, then the more rapidly its outer limit, that dotted line, evolves. So for species, if you have a large number of mutations that don’t become built structures, that never emerge, that's good." - - E-mail. (Andrea Spain.)
Then I met Jarvis Fosdick at the cafe. Jarvis is someone I can text with the words PANTHER MARTINI? and he'll text back YES. Jarvis makes quilts; we became friends when it turned out he had Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge's "Concordance" in his car. We both had it in our cars. In Colorado, you need a car. I hope this does not sound too boring if you are reading this in a city. I once had a lover who texted me: NATURE KILLS AND SEPARATES. A text I still have. Jarvis said: "How do the words get to the page?" We were talking about fire and water as purgative mediums. About the painting, pre-quilt, that nobody sees, embedded beneath the layers of silver oil; the notebook - -a diagonal line across the page: its casual and brutal NO. Jarvis said: "If you destroy the words, if they are never seen, what calls them back?" Luckily, Jarvis scrawled some rapid notes towards the end of our coffee (easily substituted for a drink) and so, apparently (according to his little yellow notebook), I replied:
"The page is an attractant. It's sticky. For those of us who love theory, we get it, that the dirt and glitter of the border appears in these books in another form. Displaced. Projected. So that we're writing back to the page from these flecks. This is not retrieval in a duration. It is entirely spatial. So that part of it is aperture, stance...and part of it is an occult practice. You have to prepare the page. You have to empty it out or darken it. And the book you write will not, perhaps, be verdant. This is not that book. It is not "a book for you," for example."
The thing about theory sounds insane out of context. Let's just ignore that, if at all possible, and go with these questions instead:
1.How do the words get to the page? 2. What attracts them? 3. What did you burn? 4. What did you give to the river? 5. What book do you have in your car, rucksack, kitchen, suitcase, etc, in case of emergencies? 6.Where's the aperture? 7. What regenerated? 8. What survived the fire?
Bhanu Kapil lives in Colorado where she teaches at Naropa University. She also teaches in Goddard College’s low-residency MFA. She is the author of a number of full-length works of poetry/prose, including The Vertical Interrogation of Strangers (Kelsey Street Press, 2001), Incubation: a space for monsters (Leon Works, 2006), humanimal...