Slash
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Slash Sarah Gridley Delivered April 18, 1968. One, if by land, and two, if by sea; and I on the opposite shore will be. A corruption of “self-edge”: selvage, word for the edge of a woven cloth, the outside warp-ends around which the filling wraps to keep the fabric from unraveling . In Dutch, zelfkant, or “self-border.” Brocade floats on top of ground-weave—like embroidery, is a line of no utility.1 In short, the form of an object is a “diagram of forces,” in this sense, at least, that from it we can judge of or deduce the forces that are acting or have acted upon it . . . To interrogate poetic form, Valéry cast his mind over seashells: . . . we can never, in our object, arrive at the happy union of substance and shape that is achieved by the inarticulate creature which makes nothing, but whose work, little by little is differentiated from its flesh, progressively moving away from the living state as though passing from one state of balance to another. The ocean, consummate line-breaker, comes in verse. That we might step into the same ocean twice. As Robert Duncan knew: There is a woman who resembles the sentence. [who] has a place in memory that moves language. 108 | Gridley [whose] voice comes across the waters from a shore I don’t know to a shore I know . . . Broken could be the matter with a decomposed poet. What would you break, from all the borders of yourself? If I knew when or where to begin, I would break into the Grand Canyon. In terms of lines, I have a tactile memory. For instance, the weight on my knees of an Etch A Sketch, my girlhood attention’s penitentiary. Two white knobs: one for the vertical, and one for the horizontal. Erratic swoops of working both knobs at once. For erasure—shake the red frame. The erotic swoop is something else. I think it lives in interruption, out on the zelfkant, on the wind-strutted isthmus. Red of Sappho’s highest apple, the one the picker left to hang—no, the one the picker couldn’t reach. L’Ecran Magique—The Magic Screen. Invention of a Frenchman, discovered at a European toy fair in 1959. A slit in a garment, an open tract in a forest, the cutting stroke of a weapon . . . In the toy reviving lineography: in the line that brooks no interruption. In the line whose pressure never lifts. Wittgenstein, on the Etch A Sketch: One thinks one is tracing the outline of the thing’s nature over and over again, and one is merely tracing round the frame through which we look at it. [the red frame, the plaything] Moby Dick, Chapter 60, “The Line”: The whale-line is only two thirds of an inch in thickness. At first sight, you would not think it so strong as it really is. By experiment its Gridley | 109 one and fifty yarns will each suspend a weight of one hundred and twenty pounds; so that the whole rope will bear a strain nearly equal to three tons. Foucault, like a brain between selvage and selvage: The limit and transgression depend on each other for whatever density of being they possess: a limit could not exist if it were absolutely uncrossable and, reciprocally, transgression would be pointless if it merely crossed a limit composed of illusions and shadows. For its density of being, a line-break I love: Bavarian gentians, big and dark, only dark / darkening the daytime, torch-like, with the smoking blueness of Pluto’s gloom . . . dark slash darkening—what happens to broad daylight ombré: in weaving, stripes that are mindfully graduated from one tone to another and by a sleep to say we end / The heart-ache and the thousand natural shocks / That flesh is heir to Eiffel studied the oak. Not so lofty as the pine, but able to bear more weight. A girdle of the great whale’s back / was in the shapely Crane-Bag: / I tell thee without harm, / it used to be carried in it. / / When the sea was full, / its treasures were visible in its middle; / when the fierce sea was in ebb, the Crane-Bag / in turn was empty. Oh to be one with what one is doing. Where knowledge, as W. C. Williams knew, is not at the end of deduction, is in each phase of it and everywhere— because more pressing than deductions we are...


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