A practice has developed. On the way home from the studio, for the ten minutes I walk along the harbourside, I reflect on the day in the studio and record these reflections onto my phone. A dozen two- and three- and five-minute voice memos have been accumulating, each title auto-capitalized, making them seem rather more complete than they are.
Tape To The Wall
Beginning To Draw Camera Lucida
Lead Bunched Up
Geological Pencil Lead
First Day Summary
Getting Lost 2
Getting Lost 3
Ears Listening Dark Air
Getting Lost and Anaolgies
Nevertheless they are helpful, and each morning I tend to listen to the recordings of the evening before as I walk the same route again, from end to start. In the way that I can recognize from old examples of my handwriting the environment, the mood, the stakes of what I was writing at the time, I can remember in the timbre of my voice where I was along my route, whether my bag was too heavy, whether there were people around to hear, how sure or tentative my remarks. These features are carried back onto the landscape of the harbourside as I listen, and there's a kind of twinning.
Last night I recorded something about this new practice of recording. Ears Listening Dark Air. Opposite I've transcribed it in full because the fullness, the excess of the speaking is descriptive of the process I'm speaking about. I've crossed out some of the false starts and blind turns to make the text a little more coherent to read, but to honour the process that generated the ideas I didn't want to delete them altogether.
What kinds of coherence are gained and what kinds of coherence are lost in this practice of speaking into the dark? This is Algia, Calvino's invisible city. It was earth after all, not stone:Le città e i morti. 4.
"It's [pause] Monday. What I did today was kind of a jumble. I showed my workings.
For one thing I've noticed that I don't seem to need to be making anything at all at the moment, although tomorrow I'm going to try to do some working with wire, just to see what happens, whether working with wire can help me imagine the end of the wire, and how it continues to move, although the end will continue [pause] won't be an end it will be lots of points throughout the surface, throughout the line [pause] throughout the line [pause] but [pause] what I've been doing today has been a bit of a mess.
"I began at a certain point, and had an idea that certain things would join up together, but I worked on the page. It was slow. It was thoughtful, there were points at which I might have clicked, made that 'click' sound Emma talked about [pause] and there were some connections made but nothing really came [pause] of anything. If anything came out it was a realization that [pause] the way I'm moving forward is through a process of [pause] a process analogous to the moving forward of the pencil and [pause] which is hardly a revelation, but perhaps also how relevant the speaking out loud analogy is, because speaking out loud is a kind of groping forward in the dark. You have a similar relationship to the present point of contact [pause] although what's the contact with? With the listener? The ear of the listener? Maybe that's why Kleist is so interested in the listener. Or is it with the air?
"Let's explore this idea that it's with the listener. If it's with the listener,
and I have to speak quickly to keep it going, if it's with the listener then it means [pause] that there's a constant going in. A constant going in, a constant point of understanding which is quite different from a point of understanding with the air which feels like what one is talking into. It feels like when one is talking one is talking into the air [pause] which [physically] is true but at the same time [pause] if there is a live listener then at the same time you're talking into their [pause] ears as they listen, as they hear and as they make sense and as they go along. No I've lost it. Emma also clicks where she's lost an idea—where she'd thought there was going to be something and then it goes. 'Click click'. Maybe you could do two clicks. "Ok I'll come at it running. You [pause] you start recording before you know what you're planning to say. In the hope that it's going to push you to articulate the thing you don't know how to articulate. The thing that the thing I want to articulate is far far away or so I think it is—maybe the thing I want to articulate is really very simple and it can come right now. The way that I want to speak into the air is the way that the pencil wants to move through the page, perhaps in my moving the pencil through the page I want there to be [pause] I want sense to be made on the hoof in the way that I want sense to be made on the hoof in speaking into the air or rather into the point of contact with the ear—well this is what I'm talking with Antonia about isn't it, the point of contact with the ear—the point of contact with the ear—
"Derrida writes about
talking into the blind talking into the darkness. Talking into the air. That's different from Kleist: talking is directed to his sister, to someone sort of listening, he needs an audience. I imagine Derrida's blindness, Derrida's darkness peopled [pause] peopled with the fleshy softness of the eardrum, rather like Calvino's invisible cities, that city that [pause] that has stone instead of air. What does it mean to be speaking not into air but into the fleshiness of the ear? It means that what you're saying meets with matter immediately. You're speaking to apparatuses already charged with knowledges, with formations, with prior experiences, with thoughts, with ways of hearing what you're going to say. What you're saying presses up directly against matter that already exists to receive it. It isn't like a lego brick clicking into an exactly receptive pre-prepared pre-existing block that your articulation has to match in positive as it is negative, no: instead the fleshy mass subtly changes and organically develops to accommodate the new sound—still a physical arrangement, but not static; organic and moving and receptive in a different way from a lego block.
"Is that it is possible to say new things, to create new matter, but it's not possible to say those things into a completely blank air. Into an airy, light, bright space. Perhaps this is what it is about groping—the fleshiness, the darkness—this is air that is thick, full, full of black, in the same way that speaking into the listening ear [pause] is also speaking into something that already exists. [pause] Then the page [pause]."