restricted access Case on the Line
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Case on the Line Christine Hume Remember rotating a journal sideways for the first time to read the Mei-mei Berssenbrugge line? Askewed by its constant reorientations and communality, I lost my place. The dilating precision of Berssenbrugge’s line required my most bionic patience when I first came to it in the early 1990s. If she wants to make an abstraction, I thought, let her; if she wants to make a scene, let her: this blurs the two. Dangling in utopian auras of accommodation, then comes tenderness. Berssenbrugge’s line teases mediation into multiplicities. Her line walks circuits among rabbit holes. I am hurrying to catch up. Enjambment, from the French enjamb(er), to stride, to stride over, to encroach, derived of jambe, leg. The continuation beyond the end or edge. The extension beyond limits. That is, between her lines is made “of radio waves trying to locate you. She is only moving” (37). I follow her community of moods and sensitivities. 130 | Hume The Berssenbrugge line leads to the gutter and the margin. Double-edged or an arrow pointing every-which-way. Slipping me off. Slips me off the path and onto another and another, pushes me past known horizons, undermines my footing, and misleads. A giddy vertiginous line that runs across the footbridge, daring me to look thundering down, urging me to cruel inclines. I walk in another’s footsteps trying not to make sounds. In her line, hear a bipedal gait organizing the distance, pacing an inner life. Steps seed experiences. Steps isolated and replayed and delayed and skipped and expansive and reversed and mother-may-Ied and distorted and discontinuous and forward and. Leslie Scalapino: “I’ve changed my mind and I’d still be able to walk around after I’ve / died.” A vibrating line like a scent trail. A kinesthetic line perceived through entire bodies. Yoko Ono: “Stir inside of your brains with a penis until things are mixed well. Take a walk.” A walking line gathers me in it, strives outside me. A riposte to my taste for speed, the Berssenbrugge line curates sonic marvels through abstractions. With a persuasive prehensile awareness her line hits the subconscious direct. Reading it simulates car crash or orgasm: simultaneously experiencing its felt time—a protracted moment of everything coming into play—and real time— the quicksilver flash toward void—the scene is too fast to control and too slow to avoid the sharp pleasure of understanding. Hume | 131 With it comes the terror of compassion, comes continually. Her line leads me into the inscribed space of continual displacement. When I come to its end, I have given up definitive knowledge in favor of inspiration. “At night, inspiration fell on her like rain, penetrating the subject at the germline , like a navel” (87). Her line cuts me out—asks me to wander, animates my lust for clairvoyance. These lines invite me to think along with them. They imitate internal cadences and synaptic movements so closely, in them perceiving smartens the thinking-and-feeling complex. Madeline Gins: “A natural affinity exists between perceiving and anything that even resembles a line. That perceiving occurs consecutively or sequentially gives it an air of linearity” (194). Part of the giddiness her line imparts is a kind of imagistic and narrative oxygen deprivation. Her line is a “chain of oxidation” (125) that offers sensual apprehension unbeholden to visual coherence. “Cast oxygen across the line, a person walking toward a mountain across water routes north to south, z’s of run off, taking the interrupted line (of walker A) across voids” (139). Looking into a Berssenbrugge line stirs gliding sensations—I tumble slow-mo into its scales, its phantasmagorical topography of surfaces. It offers a panoramic view, by which destruction of linear perspective gets at the subliminal. Vistas of textual sublime open up a many-horizoned outlook. 132 | Hume A series of ground-surfaces, each with its own vanishing point. As in Chinese landscape painting, there are many paths I could follow out of the fantasy of Western objectivism. “There is the line of a wall in the mist. I go in and out of the fog on the rim trail, and the mountains rise in fog among yellow leaves” (39). A web of lines telescope infinite fields of inscription that I cannot look through (per specter), but inhabit, dehabitualized. Her calligraphic approach to perspective allows a social, less eye/I-dominant attitude. Its inclusivity unsettles normalized alienation and the oppositional version...


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