Tracing Sequences

I know I had not read Steve McCaffrey and/or bp Nichol before I worked on “Sorting and Storing”. The whole chapter is devoted to the premise that “Narrative occurs where there is the reproduction of a sequence.”

[T]he human self will project its self-making onto the world in order to generate stories from sequences and to break stories into recombinant sequences. Its operations on signs are material practices with consequences for world-making.

Before that exploration/discovery there was “Emulations” which like McCaffrey and Nichol took on the ramifications of considering semiotic objects as machines.

What if the dimensions were not irremediably set in opposition? What if one considered sequence and figure to collaborate? One would face a machine. Every description as a state of being (configuration) possesses indexes translatable into questions for configuration’s transformation (sequence). The nucleus of a narrative would be a description plus a question.

As a signature of desire, a question might modify a description, might modify itself or change nothing.

And so after these long years far from these moments of inquiry my mind smiles in recognition when I read in a selection from “The Book as Machine” (reproduced in A Book of the Book: Some Works & Projections about the Book & Writing edited by Jerome Rothenberg and Steven Clay) this key definition: “In the strictest sense the most comprehensive definition of narrative would be simply our sequential life experience.” And in the next paragraph this restatement: “Gertrude Stein put is most simply when she pointed out that narrative was anyone telling anything to anyone at anytime.”

Rothenberg and Clay source their 2000 excerpt from Steve McCaffrey & bp Nichol Rational Geomancy: The Kids of the Book-Machine. The Collected Research Reports of the Toronto Research Group 1973-1982 (Talonbooks, 1992). And the bibliography informs us of a first appearance as “TRG Research Report 2: Narrative Part 1 — The Book as Machine” in Open Letter, second series, no. 6 (fall 1973), pp. 113-120. I was 13 years old at the time of its appearance. But at the time I might not have twigged. Or not with the requisite degree of abstraction.

And so for day 834

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