Michael Sean Strickland
Books I’m Writing

Words to Make a Story Out of

Towards a Schizomythology of Ritual, § 0

Dominique Innisfree Swopes’s Schizomythic Narrative of Exile

Barcelona, Bordeaux, Chennai, Monteverde, New York, Nice, Paris, Philadelphia, Tokyo, Vancouver | 1996 –

Less a book, and more a laboratory for the divastigation of promiscuous textuality (LaDiProText), Words to Make a Story Out of evolves (entwickelt) out of D. I. Swopes’s senimalistic experience of ludict: “L’attente de métamorphoses successives dont la ductilité, la docilité au travail du langage, à l’aventure verbale, reste sans limites” (J. Gracq, En lisant, en écrivant, p. 139). As initially conceived in early 1996 in the city Christopher Morley may or may not have dubbed “Parnassus on Wheels,” Words — “a Serious Novelistic Encounter (SNE)” — would consist of eleven chapters, later dubbed SNE-Dynagon Pods, of eleven themes each, les dits thèmes permuting in the canonical fashion of a quenine of order n=11, the whole, that is, forming an onzine, or, in the lingo of Words, a true yazdehanity, each chapter headed by an epigram culled from the first sentence of each of the eleven chapters of Nabokov’s Despair, the eleven themes, or yazdehan, being something along the lines of: 1) How to read this book; 2) The perils of profligate reading; 3) The author meets a professor; 4) Proof of the author’s ability to write good prose; 5) The edifying thoughts of a tea drinker; 6) How the author wrote certain of his or her words; 7) A summary of the book so far; 8) A crossword puzzle; 9) A Gulf War fantasy; 10) In which the characters speak for themselves; and 11) Thoughts and feelings behind the characters’ actions. And so the book unspooled itself via the golden nib of écriture, the second chapter following the first, and the third the second, and so on, from Parnassus through our author’s (OA’s) initiatory sojourn on the riparian shores of Lutetia from autumn 1996 until early summer 1997 and our re-exile to Parnassus until OA’s second littoral excursion to the Senonian capital lasting from early spring 1999 till autumn 2000 during which “time” (“terrasses des cafés,” “bancs de jardins,” “lit d’estaminet,” und so weiter, would be more appropriate lieux-dits for les “plages d’espaces et de durée” où et quand nous avons écrit nos mots) things — structures, themes, words themselves — began to unravel, culminating in a grim moment less than a fortnight avant the following southward equinox when it was discovered that reality, ever the fractious factitious perfidious parsimonious prude (FF PPP), had begun to plagiarize and appropriate for her own sordid ends, the very textuality of Words itself, thereby forcing the author to abandon what had hitherto been, despite its permutational quiddity, a rather straightforward narrative endeavor (SNE), and — so as to brouiller la piste, as it were, to shake her tenacious and insidious chien de Saint-Hubert off our tracks and keep raw-boned reality ever on the ropes, on the sidelines, out of the playground of taboo entirely même — accelerate into the rarefied realm of purely lexical anastomotic senimality, viz. Words to Make a Story Out of.
Nabokov’s Infernos

Schizomythology, promiscuous textuality, plagiary by anticipation

« La mémoire de la littérature marche ainsi tout naturellement à reculons, chaque texte venant s’éclairer de la lecture d’autres qui lui sont pourtant postérieurs » (H. Le Tellier 2006: 174).

Paris, 29 February 2000 –

Vergil was leading me through an exhibition of a Portuguese painter’s work. We came across a painting, four lines of a poem in Italian — perhaps Leopardi’s L’Infinito? — and I simultaneously read/heard/knew/said the four lines in Italian, French, and English, and said to Vergil, “You know, those lines were really written originally in French” (this statement thus casting doubt on the authenticity of the painting) “by Dante, in Canto __, the bordello scene” — and I closed the book’s covers to read the name of the author of the exhibition and the translator and illustrator (one, I remember, had a Dutch sort of name, like Voort) and in a footnote how the Italian of that painting was translated into Italian by a Polish ambassador friend of the author’s who was living in Paris and writing in English — and here came a footnote sequence on Richard Wright, an interview: “When Native Son won the Nobel Prize in 1943, I found myself in sudden need of money, but without any. I had but three suits. And I couldn’t borrow any, because my —, my —, my barrister (he meant his lawyer) had no money, and his had no money, and his had no money...” back to the main text: On the page was the back of a painter before a canvas: “Frans Hals painting the Bordello scene from Dante’s Inferno” — which he took time out to paint quickly while he was engaged in painting “Portrait of a Danish Biscuit” — [I] turned the page of his back to peel him off from in front of the painting of Dante’s Bordello — a dark scene swarming with faces and large furry (?) dice and a voiceover recounting how I’ve always had two girlfriends at once, Laure and Beatrice (a list of names and faces followed, and following along this list, I was Dante wandering in a dark wood — actually, a plain with scattered individual laurel bushes. I ducked into a bush and there’s a bird’s nest — and those large birds, part hummingbird, part gray cuckoo, come whizzing in to perch on the branches surrounding the nest and guard it, watch it. A voiceover was narrating the nesting habits of these birds. I left the tree, my book cradled in my arms, and went into another. A nest, with brown eggs in it, with no birds arrived yet, but you could hear them fluttering about and singing outside, in the air, on the plains. I continued on with my book, Nabokov’s Infernos: how Nabokov’s Lolita, Pale Fire, and Despair were stories of each man’s Inferno [Humbert Humbert’s, Kinbote’s, Hermann’s], and you could trace their point of death at when they found themselves wandering in a dark wood, on a path: H. H. with Lo, startled by berry picking family; Kinbote in mountains of Zembla, fleeing; Hermann on path to Lydia’s cousin’s lakeside plot of land — and I was Nabokov warning the reader, the amateur angler, against carnival sideshow fishing attractions in which you will only catch dead, already rotting fishes — best to use a net in the open water [catfish, urchins] — and I was a fish looking up at myself [Nabokov] in a boat reaching down to catch me with a net...)
Goldbarg’s Variants

Towards a Schizomythology of Ritual, § 3

Mona Coltrane and Skid Slekton’s Stichomythic Logomachy

Barcelona, Boulder, Chennai, Monteverde, New York, Paris, Philadelphia, Vancouver | 2005 –

Book Map

In the summer of 1987 there was founded in the barrio Melos e Artes of the Flouzianian capital of Owlstain un journal hebdomadaire s’apparaissant le mercredi intitulé The Owlstain SCAT par les soins de Skid Slekton, editor and publisher (EP), Mona Coltrane, managing editor (ME), and Adam Trembart, art director (AD). Five summers later, the first dyad (S, M) of this typographical trio (S, M, AT) found themselves coopted into the recently instaurated Institute of Sociophysiology on the strength of their proclivities for, in S’s case, “the fiction of reality and the reality of fiction,” and, in M’s, “the emotional foundations of causality.” Goldbarg’s Variants touches only tangentially, if at all, on any of the foregoing, and ignores AT (almost) entirely. Instead, the book dislimns the extraneous (for instance: the couple’s reportage de guerre — direct, indirect, or skewed — anent, viz., soit the Intrussyan siege, subjugation, and ravishment of Tulpuyauor, soit the Berdi War in the Far Gimmals, soit some conflict somewhere else; S’s bibliographic sci-fi thriller — Borges meets Rice Burroughs meets Bolaño meets Bulwer-Lytton — about a secret military program to breed an anthrosimian superarmy on the sociophysiological principles of, according to the feuilleton’s eponymous subject, Hybrid Vigor; M’s weekly breathless coverage of the Tetrastic art scene — “The sculptor was adamant that while he worked the models mustn’t move; he would instead move around them” [In the Studio with Erartsos: To Knead and Knuckle «La Rime Argile»]; “Shirtless and smiling at nothing but me and rambling stories and images and paintings and drawings and writings such as these that float in my head through the day” [Velasto Prastier’s Aerolexist Portraits] — her exploration of “the emotional foundations of causality,” her memoirs: “He laughed and said something about dogs barking at trees but he is so off the wall I don’t try to figure out anything he says I just like his accent and foolishly cute broken Appalachian,” etc.; his literary criticism in which the reader is incessantly
reminded of the textual dialectics involving “the fiction of reality and the reality of fiction,” his memoirs: “Which is why that day when you came into my room and yelled at me, when you screamed, ‘Why don’t you bounce around on the floor and hit me!’ was the day I began to fear and loathe your each entrance into my room, my sanctuary from the hateful spite people hurl at each other, because I thought that at any moment you would ridicule my festering, embarrassing, shameful secret,” and what not — all of which may be perused ad libitum, ad arbitrium, ad usum proprium, ad astra per aspera, ad abundantiam, ad pedem litterae, ad nauseam in the relevant numbers of the Owlstain SCAT) in order to more fully probe with utmost textual candor the altarian dynamics of the situation of biune dialexicalia (i.e., the quondam relationship) inhering between and within S and M.
All original material (design, textwork, artwork, numerical array, tintone, usw.) copyright © 1992–2021 Michael Sean Strickland and Editions MSS.