THE BLOG / THE BOOK
En abîme first appeared as a book on listening, reading and writing. It mutated in a project where the themes, places, words and sounds of the book branch out into a number of other contexts and formats: readings, recordings, short fiction, pictures, interviews.
It is a way of deconstructing and reassembling the intermittent archival fiction of the book, and of giving space to its multiple voices.
It is a way of evoking the book and the memory of its drifting references.
Different temporalities enhance a sense of having been there and of discovery, every now and every today.
En abîme adds yet another layer to the mise-en-abîme of Writing Sound.
It is not concerned with concluding arguments, but with wandering, echoes and the penumbras of questioning.
The first book
En abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction is published by Zer0 Books (September 2012).
En abîme explores listening and reading as creative and critical activities driven by memory and return, reshaped into the present. It introduces an idea of aural landscape as a historically defined cultural experience.
The narrator revisits, at different points in time, a number of places in Rome – the Protestant Cemetery sung by Pier Paolo Pasolini in The Ashes of Gramsci, via Appia, the Catacombs – and attaches onto them a series of connections to her archive of poetry, music, literature. The words of Herman Melville in Rome, Pasolini’s verses and films, a number of songs and poems build up a mise en abîme; knots of visions and densities of prose are juxtaposed with sparse moments of stillness, as the book zooms in and out of the archival fiction of a city, morphs into criticism and abstraction, and back into a literary landscape.
En abîme appears as a trace of the experience that made it, in a contingent present singular.
The first manuscript of the book was burned in summer 2011 and its ashes were left in the Protestant Cemetery in Rome.
A version of the book was rewritten in some blank pages of an Italian 1942 edition of Herman Melville’s Pierre, or The Ambiguities.
The second book
F.M.R.L. Footnotes, Mirages, Refrains and Leftovers of Writing Sound (Zer0 Books, April 2015).
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.