February 4, 2013

Four quotes from Empire of Neomemory by Heriberto Yepez


A good portion of that enormous distance that Olson always maintained with respect to his body, he learned from his mother, for whom all corporeality was risk. We cannot understand Olson if we do not understand the abyss his mother sowed between him and his body, early on, to the point of his conceiving of it as his lugubrious satellite or golden cloud. When he got to Mexico, many years later, Olson was mostly surprised at the manner in which the descendants of the Mayans—as he said in “The Human Universe” (1951)—took pleasure in one another, in the natural closeness of their bodies.

It was as if the distance between Olson and his body could only be restored by a complicated postal system. Something similar was the case with women. Olson always maintained distance—like his father, who his mother had chosen precisely for his being a firm man, who became, at a certain moment, an alcoholic. (The firmness of a man is directly proportional to his averted vertigo.) Through his whole life Olson had a fear of the feminine body. Olson knew that to come close to a woman was not only to come close to the open body he had learned to fear through his mother, but also, above all, to come close to a woman, as he knew very well, was to come close to his own body. (Why does woman signify body, psycho-historically? Because the parallel fantasy indicates that male signifies mind. Genders were put in place in order to survive dualisms.) “Woman” is that which the “male” unknows of himself. And vice versa.

In order to not come close, Olson, very early on, became a devoted student. From a very early age he sought to become cultured. And it is to have another body, to make it possible to flee from the real body, that our civilization teaches us to construct a fantasy body, the body of requested information, the imaginary body that one constructs, we might say, by reading, by selection of others’ memories, cybermnemic editing. And for those of us who continue on the path of the imaginary co-body, the body of the poem, the story, the essay, the body, the text—the body is transformed into the replacement-body. I do not want to live here. I want to live in language. The word is the island where I am moving to. The text will become the history of the loss of our body. The text is both the balm and the poison.

All story has closure as its theme. Reduction. Sudden limits. Born in Poe as an oppressive genre, the story is a capsule of claustrophobia in which time pretends to be trapped in a quick space. The story—temporal narration turned spatial limit—attempts to store away the All thanks to the perfect synthesis and linear time. What genre is more linear than that of the story?—if Europe invented the novel, the neo-Oxident invented the short story, and in this mutation we can see the shift that occurred between these Co-Oxidents. In comparison with the long novelistic reign of Europe, that of the United States will be succinct. The North American empire will be brief, as brief, technical, and fantastic as the best science fiction stories.

Burnout is the perfect crime. Be it Bartleby, Funes, or the dandy, let’s not ignore the fact that the fed up man, within the vociferous yawn of his dissipation, hides the fact that he has appropriated All. Burnout is theft. Weariness is a strategy for appropriating the world. “I am weary of Everything” means I possess everything. Which will always be false. Not only because the All does not exist properly but because to appropriate it is the pantopic and the pantopic is the illusory.

This is the first great trick of weariness: the trick of its appropriation, the trick of its looting. This theft will be hidden beneath the giant complaint, beneath the shouted apathy or the ironic gesture. Boredom is a theft that denies its own agency, its own action, depreciating what it has stolen. The burnt out man appears to get away with what’s his, because it can be argued that he possesses it ALL! —and he is satiated with this, Same as Always—he continues arguing that “in truth...I don’t want it.” Because the All which the burnt out man has appropriated is an All-Undesired, the burnout pretends to reject it, however, as we see, the rejection of the possessed All is the same trick by which he retains it. The burnout is not responsible for his illusion of having it all. The burnout is no more than an involuntary comedian. It is not an accident that excess forms the basis of imperial life.

Linear history, Oedipal history, is our fantasy, and to perpetuate it we invented the myth of an authoritarianism arising from the preterit, even though authority can only be exercised from the present. Borges, whose work was concerned with the manipulation of time, claimed that each author invents his precursors. Or, to put it in Phillip K. Dick’s terms, the Oedipal structure is a Counter-Clock World, a world where, as in this Dick novel, the libraries destroy books and the dead emerge from their graves. The best-kept secret of linear oxidental time is that it is written from the future to the past.

Empire of Neomemory by Heriberto Yepez is translated by Jen Hofer, Christian Nagler, and Brian Whitener and published by chain links.


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