30 March 2015

Esprit d’F.M.R.L.

The following words appear at some point in my new book F.M.R.L. They hold the book’s drive, they have prompted most of my new texts over the last few months and they are the closest I can get to saying how I’ve been trying to write.


Let these words: curl, wither. Let them be heard in their thinning. Let me syphon them boney, let me drain them until a skeletal presence is left, no tomes, no weight, only necessary filament-words to creep up and haunt the secret thickness of thoughts.
I no longer write much and sometimes I no longer write. Because I could not be clear I got here. For the well-determined minds I descended and drowned in the waters of wordy. For the well-determined thoughts I drowned in the narrow well of linear. Determined by their thoughts I drowned and descended. The well-determined mind, the consequential. The, well, determined wordy mind that overwhelms. Well determined wordy linear writing, when my words began to find their withering ways I would stare at the knots on the page and think of you. What great conviction, what clarity. I was repelled into silence. And what did I do when aphasic temptation came?
What I did: I received it, as it silently moved subterraneous and eroded these words.


22 March 2015

feathered armours

plumage, feathers . . . murmuration, convocation





20 March 2015



18 February 2015

Records Ruin the Landscape / review

I have reviewed David Grubbs’ book Records Ruin the Landscape for Music & Literature. Writing a review after devoting the last few years to my new book has been a rewarding process and one that has generated further writing already. It reminded me of how neither of my English books, En abîme and F.M.R.L.**, would have existed without my years in Italy working as a journalist: listening to records, reading books, reviewing them. There is a rigour that comes from writing reviews–an activity in close proximity with reading and listening–that thickens thought and demands attention.

(Then there’s a refusal of / removal from writing reviews, that occurs necessarily in waves — but this is the topic of another blog post)

** I need to write something about titles…


12 February 2015

A Capriccio for D A N C E H A L L

The new issue of D A N C E H A L L, the journal published by Psykick Dancehall Recordings, is out.

I wrote a Capriccio – remembering the sounds in Paolo Sorrentino’s The Great Beauty, as they evoke an idea of Rome filtered in my text through E.T.A. Hoffmann’s Princess Brambilla.

More notes on listening, writing, reference and presence, that eventually didn’t find their way into my book but that belong to the same constellation.

Here are the first and the last pages of the text:







30 January 2015

Earlid: Sing, Singe / una pallida mummia

I was invited by Joan Schuman to contribute to her new project Earlid by responding to two words:

sing, singe

One word ‘resonant with joy or melancholy, the other sinister, ashy’.

I added an R. 

It became a text to be partly spoken, peeled off the page, but never quite so, a text from memory and a text that is read and spoken inside your head – hence the rhythm which is never entirely flowing.

The Italian poet Amelia Rosselli, who wrote in between three languages and wasn’t afraid of letting their structures coexist when she wrote in Italian, and who studied music, observed that sometimes written words hold sound, but this sound is in fact absence, and it only echoes in the reading mind and it can never be only sound.

Hence her long paratactical sentences with no stresses or resolving turns, with strings of echoes, that claim to be read aloud but leave you breathless:

Colma di ansie tributarie rinascevo a miglior vita. Colma
di perdono e di riguardi, stancata dalle bestie liberatosi
dai buchi della mia coscienza stufa degli inganni e delle
reciproche battaglie-desolata del vuoto e piena di vita
esausta come una pietra su della quale troppo si cammina
rinascevo a peggior vita; testa tonda e guanti di feltro.

Contavo perle e stringevo fra le braccia una pallida mummia.


21 January 2015

F.M.R.L., 24 April 2015


My new book, F.M.R.L. Footnotes, Mirages, Refrains and Leftovers of Writing Sound, will be published on 24 April. 
More details and updates to follow on this blog. 

Listening into writing, reading into writing take shape in F.M.R.L. through a collection of short texts, fragments and deranged essays, with attention to pacing and linguistic derives. An archive of books, notebooks, events and records prompts the texts in these pages, responding to encounters with Michel Leiris’s autobiographical fictions; concerts and events at Café Oto and the Swedenborg House in London; visits to museums such as the Pitt Rivers in Oxford and exhibitions such as Ice Age Art at the British Museum, among the others. 
The attention dwells on the peripheral—accidents of hearing, recalled stories, detours of thought—rather than any assumed core, up to the point when the very core of the book becomes what is normally deemed peripheral. Taking its title from Louis Aragon, F.M.R.L. (Ephemeral: Frenzy, Madness, Reverie, Love) is ‘a recording of a three-year long improvisation in writing’: it reclaims the complexity and intermittent incoherence in listening and reading, and it works with their residual aspects addressing reference, canons, issues of authenticity and fabulation, degrees of opacity and transparency, across languages and cultures. F.M.R.L. makes claims for confusion and unexpected minutiae rather than supporting any grand, encompassing narrative of listening. It is not concerned with making sense univocally, but with exploring possibilities for meaning and for writing sound.
 F.M.R.L. is a book constructed across sonic patterns, assonance, repetitions, comprising texts that intermittently drift from sense to sound and to nonsense and back. A flip from the immateriality of sound to the sounds of letters and words as material, a call from reading to voicing.

‘Daniela Cascella is the most literary listener I know. In the frenzy of ephemera collected here, she catches echoes between films and philosophy, sculpture and drama, music and novels. Grounded in French surrealism, Italian narrative, and American poetry, F.M.R.L. auscultates books by some of the most magical writers from the past century: Clarice Lispector, Gert Jonke, and — above all — Michel Leiris. In the process, Cascella investigates the very logic of sound: its recursiveness; its decay; its interference patterns and resonant sympathies. Attending to the blur of voices into noise at the borders of understanding, Cascella gives back the songs of sound’s extended techniques, transmuting noise back into poetry at the borders of these pages. F.M.R.L. is a Passagen-werk of the inner ear’.
Craig Dworkin, author of No Medium (MIT Press, 2013)

In F.M.R.L., each reader enters a different labyrinth. Frictions, murmurings, resonances, laconisms. Retune your listening. Fractures, metamorphoses, residues, lingerings. Reconcile yourself with the ephemeral nature of sound. Fabulations, marginalia, recollections, labyrinths. Revel in invention based on error. Daniela Cascella’s F.M.R.L. is, to turn one of her citations into an emblem of her project: “a site of confusion and heightened perception, a site of deep time.” Against the cognitive traps of syllogistic discourse she offers a celebration of the sundry accidents and errors of listening, each one an inspiration to write. She asks: “And what shall I do with my heritage of listening?” I answer: “Continue to share it with us!”
Allen S. Weiss, author of Varieties of Audio Mimesis (Errant Bodies, 2008) and Zen Landscapes (Reaktion Books, 2013).

This is writing in its most present sense. Writing that, true to its tense, enacts a continual process of thinking and perceiving. Writing that, spinning its words from sound, gathers up referents in a loose weave. Expansive in scope, and intimate in scale, this is writing where reading dwells in the reverie of detail—and deserves our full attention. 
Kristen Kreider, author of Poetics and Place (IB Tauris, 2013)



10 December 2014


A few weeks ago I found myself sitting on the floor in a darkened music venue, on a Thursday evening in Bergen Norway, stubbornly repeating a few lines in Neapolitan dialect, speaking them broken chant-like into a contact mic, speaking and repeating while looking at my friend Signe Lidén’s calm and intent gaze as she went on smothering my voice, let it buzz, make it unlike itself and very much like an it without a self, an it alien, it alian with no self.
It was a performance of interrupted transmission and interference; of listening into speaking into a new understanding. Signe had suggested to use my voice to generate a series of curves, resonances, pendulum motions, echoes and whirls in the space. What voice? Whose voice? Reading and saying what? On the cusp between listening and speaking, understanding and confusion, identity and loss I chose to let my voice drift away, from reading a short text that morphed into a text generated by my lack of words, that in turn coiled up on itself and finally into speaking in Neapolitan dialect, as Signe made the voice sound more and more opaque. The Neapolitan dialect was a bundle of language-sounds at the same time familiar to me, to the point of no distinction between them and myself (I recall hearing my grandparents speak in dialect from my very early childhood; in this sense, the sound of dialect is ingrained in my perceiving body) and yet alien to the point of otherness (I cannot actually speak that dialect nor do I understand most of it, although I respond to its sounds). That dialect, familiar to me in listening (I know very well what I hear as I recall its sound) and alien in speaking (I don’t know what I’m saying as I say it)—is a crucial step into a way of understanding beyond text. I eavesdrop on my memory as I encounter sounds at the periphery of understanding.


Audiences in Norway are quiet. That evening, even more quiet. I could sense a lot of silent people sitting in the room, although the closest I sat to Signe the less I could actually see anyone around us; as if performing in front of a quietened cohort of attentive ghosts whose response cannot come from human channels of language but by a heightened sense of presence. Once you realise you can be in the ghostlike silence, the ghost audience enwraps you. What kind of atmospheres, conversations, non-conversations, silences can be set up, inhabited, imagined in the enclosed space of a ‘sound art gallery’? How to prompt activities and stillness and let them out of my control? The Writing Sound 2 project in Bergen was my attempt at losing control over curating projects. It was the test for a drift. To use the gallery space to represent and hold nothing, and instead to host the possibility of dynamic or still moments of reading, listening, exchanges, frictions. Hence the project’s open structure, arranged in a sequence that doesn’t necessarily have to evolve in a linear manner (Writing Sound 2 has become with time Writing Sound 2squared, and I’m now starting to draw an outline for Writing Sound -1 in 2015, where I’ll be looking at and listening to the inner lining of some of the procedures that have appeared so far in my investigations on sound and writing).


At Lydgalleriet until 14 December you can find a collection of newly commissioned texts and sounds responding to these two words, Writing Sound, and then a collection of pre-existing books, texts and audio recordings, and then every weekend somebody else takes over the collection and invites more people or places or entities to be in and with it, and then performances, odd combinations of numbers and inconsequential sequences: Writing Sound 2 / Lydhort 3 / Weekend 2 / Sculpture 5Some of these texts and sounds are online. We stream activities and non-activities from the gallery. We had a publication when I did not plan to. We had a performance upstairs from the actual gallery space. We had private readings and hearings, people gathered in the room reading aloud and texts being borrowed, copied, taken in fragments and partially kept. Rather than pre-setting things and consequences, rather than piling up hours of documented material, my drive was to let ‘material’ and immaterial be present—in their fractured and forever unfinished state. And then, after 14 December, gone—or kept, although in other shapes, in whichever memory or fragments the incidental and passing listeners and readers might hold. To make something happen while undermining its function and envisaging lack of direct function or testing other ways of making words and sounds function. Which brings me to this:


I showed this plate at the beginning of a talk during Writing Sound 2, to introduce how I work and to draw parallels between my forthcoming book F.M.R.L. and the Bergen project. The plate is made in the tradition of ‘boudy-ware’ from the North-East of England. It is made of mismatched pieces of broken china held together by a muddy rough material. It’s uneven and a bit creepy (the head). And it probably couldn’t be used as a plate. Likewise my book and Writing Sound 2: uneven. They might not strictly work as closed, finished projects either. Yet their mismatched, fragmented parts are held together, by the muddy rough material of an ever changing thinking-listening-writing-reading-sounding. Some people might want to break them apart. Others might want to add on to their uneven shape. Use them, even?

2 December 2014

December reading

At last, a month with no deadlines. Time at last to be purposeless and re-read old books. Here’s where I start:




Scan 2


Scan 6

Scan 1


Scan 5


15 November 2014

Writing Sound 2. 20 November-14 December 2014

Writing Sound 2 . A collection of newly commissioned texts and sounds alongside a collection of pre-existing ones will be available to browse at Lydgalleriet Bergen and online for the four-week length of the project (20 Nov-14 Dec). Occasionally the collection will prompt performances, readings, listening sessions, workshops and discussions.

Writing Sound 2 opens on 20 November at Lydgalleriet Bergen with Sculpture 5 by David Toop and Rie Nakajima.
On 21 November it will host a talk by Dušan Barok, founding editor of Monoskop.

Follow http://writingsoundbergen.wordpress.com for updates and a full schedule.




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