Poetry News

'Tru-speaking': John Paetsch & Gauss PDF at The Volta

By Harriet Staff


The Volta Blog has a great review of John Paetsch's brnt ghst vlnt (Gauss PDF), which was also selected by them as one of the best books of 2013. Logan Fry writes:

Written in three largely-undefined but evident sections, brnt ghst vlnt is inhabited by myriad potential arrangements and readings. The aforementioned layering of the text provides a local example of this, but on the global scale the book’s mutations come unannounced and unexplained: a form will appear for a few pages, then never again; a section will slowly dissolve and grind along in sparse inscrutable symbols, then revive itself, wholly changed; a “SET OF SETS OF OBJECTI ONS” will suggest synthesis but continually evade it as it recurs over a dozen pages. The book’s most distinct section is the one at its center, the rigid philosophical inquiry into the Mansions of Virtuality, Existence, and Unrealty (70). Coming in after sixty-some pages of fragmentary txtspeaking, “Tru-speaking” (119), and theorizing on unspecified subjects, the middle section is the most engaging portion of the book, designed to serve as brnt ghst vlnt’s anchor. Extended axiomatic proofs have a way of reading weighty however metaphysical their topic, and Paetsch casts some of his cleverest and most stimulating alloys via this philosophical structure. The below excerpt of two consecutive pages demonstrates the range Paetsch can traverse without sacrificing either pole to a secondary function:

A3: If a Master can produce an effect, it will produce that effect.

Lemma 1: If a Master can make a play, it will make

that play continually. It will “make it rain.”

Corollary 1: Since by IsC1 every Body has at last one

Master, and since by A2 a Master may produce effects in a

Body at all times, by A3 it follows that Masters make plays

continually on a Body so long as it is unreal, which is always. (81)

//{part} : Thus the Body is eNcHaiNtEd, for every second is the small

gateway in time through which the Master may enter to empty

dishes and overturn tables for strays. But there are many ways to do

this, to get ahead.

D2: That in Unrealty played at all times, lacking necessity, I

call an Automaton.

P2: By C1, it is evident that all Bodies are Automatons.

//{producer} : Seeing a Body as an Automaton is analogous to seeing one

figure as a limiting case or variant of another. “I believe he is not an

Automaton,” just like that, so far makes no sense. (82)

Most of my favorite single moments in the book arise from the stark juxtaposition of rigid axiom with post-ironic idiosyncrasy. Paetsch maximizes the effectiveness of his playful and witty turns not by carving out a space for it but by embedding it whole within the philosophy’s granite. Thus, to “make it rain” is a sly reference to rap culture and showy rituals of excess as well as a fitting and evocative expression of his axiom. The two are fused, and it is the energy gained by this fusion that gives what could be another alienating portion of the book an energy that ripples out into the sections that flank it.

Gauss PDF was actually just featured at The Volta Blog; and their books are free to download here (also available to purchase in print). Much, much good stuff shines from the digital solicit of editor J. Gordon Faylor, if you're into radical conceptualism and general care-taking. "While linked to tumblr, you don’t meander through Gauss PDF; you cannonball into it."

Originally Published: January 17th, 2014