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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 my first publication in English, and those that followed, giving space to its multiple voices, as chapters of one book.
Different temporalities enhance a sense of having been there and of discovery, every now and every today.


Daniela Cascella  :::::  who am I?

an interview

 

The first chapter
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 chapter
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.

The third chapter
Singed. Muted Voice-Transmissions, After the Fire (Equus Press, 2017)
“It starts with no story but a circular / It starts with no story but a spinning / It starts with no story but a spinning into before that is to come…” Daniela Cascella’s Singed: Muted voice-transmissions, after the fire starts not with creation, but destruction – a library ravaged by fire. What of the singed debris can be salvaged? Which of the disfigured inkblots deciphered? How much will be remembered? Re-written, re-invented, re-imagined? Singed, only to sing again?

The condition of instability permeating Cascella’s project is already conveyed by the book’s title, Singed, at once a reference to burning/singeing and a mistaken past form of “to sing.” The title thus posits writing as located at the interference of a burning and a singing, unmaking and making meaning. Writing, not foreknown or guaranteed, can here only be enchanted through rhythmic events: “Of hearing a rhythm in reading, a song sometime, voices sound words, wh-h mh-m maybe that is why.”

Singed carries further what Cascella began in her previous two books, En Abîme: Listening, Reading, Writing (Zero, 2012) and F.M.R.L.: Footnotes, Mirages, Refrains and Leftovers of Writing Sound (Zero, 2015). In the former, she explored listening and reading as memory-based activities both creative and critical; the latter’s “deranged essays” operated across sonic patterns, assonance, repetitions, and complemented reading with voicing.

A synthesis of the two projects, Singed performs a transmission of knowledge in a condition of instability across languages, media and cultures. The text attempts a multilingual type of writing, not “in translation,” but in “trance-lation”: between languages, ceaselessly trancelating words, rhythms and silences in a state of otherness in motion. In Singed, Cascella presents memory as sonically associative (“Will the song’s murmur muster a mourning?”), meditating on how to undertake writing vis-à-vis silence.

“The smell of singed paper haunts me. Is this a burning, is it a song? Sing, singed.” Cascella’s radically experimental poiesis conceives of text as a space of doing but also stillness, of transmission but also interference. In Singed she writes criticism that includes silence, repetitions and dead ends; that retains mystery and the unspoken, in a language out of synch; that interrogates the very the necessity of using language: “Where does the necessity to speak and write arise from, and what are the hooks I can hold on to in the absence of records?”

 

 

 

 

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