March 20, 2005

The Subtitles To Dreams

I stumble unwittingly into Ben Marcus's "The Age Of Wire And String", a true riot of deadpan surrealism and real subversion, baroque structures of anti-meaning, impenetrable invention gone berserk, a fantastic self-contained world of quotable phrases and reasonable-sounding instabilities of meaning. I can't put it down. It reminds me of the time in the late 1980's when I sat on a bench at Emeryville Marina looking out over the Bay and a large deranged old woman in a tattered dress sat down uninvited next to me and proceeded to give me a long, detailed, erudite, and enchanting description of the supposed geology and geography of the Bay, with long sweeps of her arm and barely a break in the commentary... except it was all (even with my limited knowledge) gibberish, a cargo cult of words and tossed meanings, all perfect structure and empty meaning. Structure run riot over meaning... meaning inherent in structure.

TAOWAS seems to be (amongst other things) a challenge to construct a whole world of meaning in your mind from a written world in which the little units of meaning don't refer to each other or the Real World in any sort of linear or constant way or mediated by conventional structure, where structure gives an illusory unity to otherwise entirely fractured meanings.... It reads like the subtitles to dreams. [2/2002].


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