On page 97 of Picture Theory by Nicole Brossard in the 1982 edition (Montréal, Éditions Nouvelle Optique, coll. « Fiction », 1982) there is an image at the corner of the page. It renders a 3D illusion as if behind the page there was a city, a grid of vertical structures. All at the invitation of the turn of a page…
Toutes étaient touchées ; mais les filles uniques qui s’étaient confondues à la verticalité
Pages later (p. 151) there is a reference to the fold (upturned corner) in the paper
La cité calquée dans les plis du papier continu reconduisait l’émotion.
Translated by Barbara Godard
The city traced in the folds of continuous paper was bringing back emotion.
Jumping out of the book into other places/spaces in the oeuvre … French Kiss: étreinte-exploration [English translation available in The Blue Books (Coach House Press, 2003)]
Red, I open my eyes: a state of mind. By day and by night a cirque ringed in red where centripetal and centrifugal forces make round Camomille and Lucy not just a motion of emotion but a vortex of desires: an ocean, ‘a womb where death and life transmute one into the other.’ And all this hidden in the cubicled spaces of a tall insalubrious box wedged between two similar blocks, lethal cubes. Tall building / kakémono, translation for verticality with drifting shadows and junks mooring by the shore, early-morning fantasy, a membrane, hovering fog woven in silk. Ideogramme to be deciphered, blacks and whites on over-toasted toast.
Kakemono – a Japanese unframed painting made on paper or silk and displayed as a wall hanging.
Brossard also uses a Japanese term in “Ma Continent” in Amantes which poses a challenge to the translator hoping to capture the play between French ma and Japanese ma *** Barbara Goddard translates in Lovhers this line as “detonation. (mâ)* it’s a space/an hypothesis” with the note that “mâ” is Japanese for space and “ma” is a possessive pronoun of feminine gender in French.
Back to “kakemono”
Google translate draws on Oxford Dictionary to provide examples:
‘On awakening he found the figure on the kakemono seemed to be alive.’
‘A kakemono is intended to be displayed vertically as part of the interior decoration of a room.’
‘Rainbows and reptiles at the same time, the compositions rub against each other like kakemonos in a stormy wind.’
‘The same is true with his collection of kakemono, which are hung, along with other pictures, in some sort of rotation.’
‘Two kakemono hung in the library of the Ho-o-den, and one hung in Silsbee’s dining room.’
Very suggestive — was Brossard interested in a Japanese ghost story [The Kakemonon Ghost of Aki Province]? “On awakening he found the figure on the kakemono seemed to be alive.”
Let us turn to some French vectors. The entry on Wikipédia for Kakemono references Tanizaki, Éloge de l’ombre
« Les reflets blanchâtres du papier, comme s’ils étaient impuissants à entamer les ténèbres épaisses du toko no ma, rebondissent en quelque sorte sur ces ténèbres, révélant un univers ambigu où l’ombre et la lumière se confondent. »
But the dates don’t align the earliest version of Tanizaki’s Praise of Shadows in French that I can find dates to 1978; French Kiss appeared in 1974.
Dead end? The passage in Brossard continues…
Une architecture urbaine reflétée sur la pupil-
le. Les cristaux s’échangent l’arc-en-ciel sur les gla-
ces longues luisantes des édifices. Points de jaillis-
sement. Des formes circulant autour de soi ainsi
que des arguments en faveur des ombres chinoises
plus décousues qu’un roman sans fil. Parasites trr,
ça ruse et et se poursuit comme une vaine liido
pigmentation sur la lu pupille.
One thinks of a typo for “libido” but one may be open to a play on the signifier.
French Kiss, p. 33 which in the English translation by Patricia Claxton p. 28 renders “Interference trrr, plays trick on trick like a ji-jiggling waterbed, a liido, crowded beach pigmentation through the pupils as re(a)d.”
Claxton picks up the possible allusion to the Lido in Venice and goes further inserting a “waterbed” — a “lit d’eau” — into the text.
And she has done her homework…
Occasional typographical errors, have needed correcting in the translation process. Some of these have prompted recourse to the manuscript, which resides in Québec’s Bibliothèque nationale along with the pages and pages of orderly notes from which the French text was constructed. One such correction arises from a contradiction between the book’s first and second editions; both the manuscript and typescript vindicated the first, by Les Editions de l’homme [? 1974 Édition du jour], which give liido, as opposed libido in the Quinze edition .
And so we build and so we turn.
And so we build a relay, a convergence… Brossard teaches us that texts reach down not like icebergs but like the glass and steel cubes of skyscrapers connected through their foundations into the grid of the city’s infrastructure — to the mass of social and cultural associations — trusting that there is some sort of connection though indirect between Brossard and the tradition that Tanizaki conveys.
*** hypothesis – via late Latin from Greek hupothesis ‘foundation’, from hupo ‘under’ + thesis ‘placing’.
To which notes, I, paying attention to space, add “spacean” pertaining to voyager through foundations. Also “space/an”.
And so for day 2349