Psychomimetic Notes and Stops

Alignments in Avital Ronell Crack Wars: literature addiction mania (1992) especially those of page 131 produce a mania for literature addiction or for an addiction to the mania of literature … watch as the characters from Flaubert’s novel Madame Bovary are spirited about

In the crucial playoffs between representatives of pharmacy and of religion, the priest declares music to be less dangerous to morals than literature […] He [the druggist] has offered Emma the unlimited use of his library, inviting the addicted neighbor to mix pharmaceuticals and literature. […] Literature comes down on the side of pharmacy, if somewhat negatively cast. Religion, which also deals in transcendental experience, appears to opt for the non-mimetic trance, which is why music is viewed as safe text.

Notice the hedging: appears to opt; is viewed as.

On an index card inserted into the book is in pencil a rows and columns alignment of the key items:

religion – pharmacy
music – literature
nonmimetic – [ ]

The gap represented by the set of brackets indicates a bifurcation. What is to be paired with the nonmimetic (notice that the transcription to the index card elides the hyphen and thus sets up a signifying chain of gap/non-gap)? The nonmimetic may be paired with “mimetic” but so too it can be paired with the non-nonmimetic (to glide the hyphen to the other side).

Our little index card is silent about the options. However there is one sentence/reference below the columns and rows. It reads “I wonder if this is related to how Ronell deploys non-address p. 93”. But before quoting to from that section of the Ronell unsafe text, let me remind the dear reader who may not have Crack Wars at hand that after introducing the agonistic tension between music and literature, Ronell quotes Flaubert

In the crucial playoffs between representatives of pharmacy and of religion, the priest declares music to be less dangerous to morals than literature: “The pharmacist sprang to the defense of letters”

“Letters” aka literature and yet subject to the polysemous pull towards the building blocks that are learnt as one’s letters or to the tug of calligraphic character read in the productions by penmanship. Literature when invoked by the name “letters” evokes its material base. Would it be just to read such a material base as non-nonmimetic?

And so we turn to non-address

In many ways, Madamce Bovary is a novel about suicidal anguish, about exploring the limits of interiorizing violence. The motivation to suicide never simply involves the extinction of one person, but tends to arrive from another agency. It hits you with the violence of a non-address.

“You” are hit. What is absolutely fascinating to me at this point is how the “you” enacts a form of non-address. It hits you. It doesn’t hit me, or more accurately, it does not not hit me. The escape from being addressed, from being hailed as a “you”, itself involves violence or at the very least some resistence. “It” furthermore has an ambiguous reference. It can be the motivation to suicide or it can be the other agency. In the violence of non-address, the sender is as unaddressable as the receiver.

And the link with music-literature? Glossalia. G/l/o/s/s/a/l/i/a

What would suggest this? Ronell has a marginal annotation in the comments about violence and suicide. It is in two parts and can be read as two or as one:


The writing
of secretion

Safe text? Fluid text. Secretion has two meanings: it can be taken as the act of leaking or can be taken as the act of hiding. Here, given the telling line breaks and space, what is leaking, what is being written, is from the hiding (the not not-hidden) and not from the hidden. It is a game of vertigo — getting high without the pharmacist or priest, without and within representation.

And so for day 506

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