restricted access Reading Lines Linear How to Mean
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Reading Lines Linear How to Mean Bruce Andrews Reading struggles to make meaning, meaning anew & embodied, or to make matter “matter.” But, ideally: without letting too much “in the way of” presuppositions getting in the way of a reading experience & judgment, without their being kept too much “in line.”1 1. First: the line can be an obstacle, a straightening barrier to experience’s full efflorescence. Lines linear outline, a faux transparency of truth in packaging : clear boundaries’ effect, its damper on our freedom of apprehension (prior to judgment), so we notice the package from its perimeter, or mistake the insides for the lining, as lines propose or valorize a consistency, an evenness, those seemingly internal contours which end up packaging the insides so that they can react or point or be subordinated, as a homogenized unit, to what’s outside. A vertical axis (of reference: either representational or personally expressive) pulls our attention outward, but all the more easily (& seemingly without the violence of any command) if the internal packaging does its conservative work. The lining as containment, as a framing — an innocent jumble of material gets framed for crimes it hasn’t yet committed, or expressions & references it’s not even invested in. Magnetic pull of a limiting, pre-set (& seemingly non-public, privatizable) outside which forces or reduces our reading experience — helped along by the lining (& its supplement) of the insides. Lines as signatures of meaning by inscription — as if we’re being asked to immobilize ourselves as we “second the motion” or, more likely, second a lack of motion; to become the hapless con who dutifully countersigns the author’s signatures or the referential set-up’s indexing, to end up reinforcing the coercive verticality of the text. We get inscribed. We get positioned , carefully, right above the line (as if we are in danger of falling off, going “wayward” — instead of being “wards” of “the way”) — “relationships by force,” by indexical overpowering, with circumstances turning us into clues (or clue Andrews | 41 hunters) before we even get a chance to act for ourselves. Before the fact, but prepped for apprehension, as if after the fact, marking off an internal hierarchy of value identified with parts or tags, disciplining the already constituted body. Plus — doing this “ahead of time”: if not disenfranchising our potential readings, then at least gridding or anticipating or preempting them, not doing justice to time [& its stand-ins, matter & materiality], but “just in time.” Too late. Don’t these function as colonizings? — operated by leash of closures of (prior or predictable) time or of outward ( — someone else’s, but not a collective public) space. Also: as if the two are mutually allegorizing. Readers [judges] set up (or locked in, locked up) to be in circumstances “behind the time” &/or in “outer space.” How far inside are we? However far it is, it feels as if it’s enforced, that we’re usually getting “delivered .” And marked (off & out) by outer lines. Boundary as dividing — marked by all the divvying up, the way danger zones are prepositioned — “you step over that line & you’re asking for trouble” — privatizing property, broadcasting a mirage of sovereignty, of ownership, but without granting actual (internal) authority. Because internal authority is never secure, never solid enough. It depends upon a relationship to the outside, to external contexts, which it usually has trouble admitting to. Territorial markers and confinements, ghost towns, congested metropolis on a grid. Readability underscores the openness. 2. What is the experience? The readability? The judgment? Words divide — micro-level: the vectors of possibles (meaning & weight & movement) ricochet outward. A centrifuge of words & syllables & letters. Yet typically, at least in their normative [catalog] version, lines unite. This tilts toward containment, a compact, to slim down & centripetalize & package up a single reading, helping offer that overall intonational curve so useful for language-learning & memory. Once you unify the perspectives [/the vectors], it enables [/empowers] a shutting down of time & materialized openness, a closure on the horizontal axis. A constructed continuity you find your way through, to track & trail a “power line,” piping to convey a fluid. [Yet we could recast the verb “convey” to underscore our subjection to constraint & fixing & imprinting, as it keeps time in line in moves, as if the reassuring horizontal rows are making regularity (or power lines) for us & of us.] As if to create a loop or equivalences — as in: our experience gets looped [the shadow of the eternal return]; our experience gets equivalented [the shadow of capital]. (Narrative, the clich...