Knar Gavin, Anna Vitale, and Sophia DuRose joined Al Filreis in the Arts Café of the Kelly Writers House to discuss a three-page section of Leslie Scalapino’s “‘Can’t’ is ‘Night’” — the passage having been chosen by the poet for It’s Go in Horizontal: Selected Poems, 1974–2006. Our recording of the poem comes from a May 17, 2007, episode of Charles Bernstein’s series Close Listening. It requires close listening indeed, and a somewhat distinct encounter of seeing the poem as text. Scalapino does have a remarkable talent for sounding out words she has put in quotation marks (can you hear them here?). Crucially, she sounds out linebreaks too: listen for the break between “character” and “night” in “separation of character and / night.” After all, “night exists at day — but is not the same night so / night is not-existing.”
In The Radicality of Love, Srećko Horvat calls the practice of revolution an expression of love — at least, he claims, “if it wants to be worthy of its name” — and this denomination grounds a crucial amendment: “The worst thing that can happen to love is habit,” what with that worn patina of resignation — becoming-pedestrian, -routine. Rather than make love de novo, we endure it, suffer it, so that, to recognize oneself as numerous, to sublimate one’s solitude through the richness of shared experience means folding the Other into an abstraction (“the-Other-for-me”) — a “vision-in-one,” to borrow François Laruelle’s nomenclature, that cedes love-making for love-draining.
[L]ove must be reinvented, that’s obvious. — Arthur Rimbaud
The reinvention of the world without the reinvention of love is not a reinvention at all. — Srećko Horvat
A dialogue about love is utterly crucial to the remaking of the modern world in writing. — Leslie Scalapino
In order to negotiate the philosophically fraught relationship between body and soul, Cicero drew attention to a lost fragment from Aristotle in which the philosopher uses a singularly vile form of torture practiced by Estruscan pirates as an allegory for embodied life.
This time we shall say: ‘Be the dandy of ambiguities. On pain of losing yourself, love only that which overturns your order.’ As for the pig, he wants to put everything definitively in its place, to reduce it to possible profit; he wants everything to be labelled and consumable. — Alain Badiou, “What is it to Live?”
For Leslie Scalapino, the poem’s an apparatus, no mere mimetic catch to reproduce world(s) as a backdrop for the poem’s disclosures. That it can be used to observe the manifestations and codeterminations of entangling and unfurling world(s) is also mere axiom; more crucially, the poem tears back the veil of the “real” (in this case, where flesh meets florescence: body/world) to point to the rachitic frame-structure bolstering becoming.
in the hug of a wave horizon rolled youngly from nothing. —Susan Howe, “Chanting at the Crystal Sea” 
In the essay “Bodies-Cities,” Elizabeth Grosz argues that “[t]he city is one of the crucial factors in the social production of (sexed) corporeality: the built environment provides the context and coordinates for contemporary forms of body.” There are a number of claims within this one: that corporeality is a social production, that the way corporeality is socially produced is inconsistent across bodies, and that what a body is must be bound up in what buildings are and how they use each other.
Advocating for the downplayed, epistemologically outcast sense of touch in her essay “Textiles, Text and Techne,” collected in Hemmings’ The Textile Reader, Victoria Mitchell writes: “It is clear that textiles are not words and the differences between them benefit the conceptual apparatus of thought at the expense of its sensory equivalent. Thus when an activity is labelled as textiles it ceases to be a substance and becomes instead a ‘material of thought,’ and as such enters into the internal logic of a system which tends to privilege the autonomy of the mind.”
I would like to complexify Mitchell’s claim by extending two of her subjects: words and the senses.
Victoria Mitchell’s essay begins by recounting Charlotte’s Web and that clever spider weaving words into her web in order to warn her friend the pig. Mitchell articulates that of course the story is a fiction, and a spider’s ability to make webs “is understood in terms of the mechanics of the nervous system; it therefore falls short of the kind of language experience typically associated with the written word.”
It is difficult to conceive of a literary work spun out of “spatial motion.” To read and consider a poem that defies iconographic metaphor and symbolic interpretation, a poem intrstead composed out of language’s own phenomenal play, is to butt up against traditional values about poetry that still slide toward the pictorially descriptive.
Laynie Browne: Recently a show at the Morgan Library in New York City celebrated the 1913 publication of the first of the seven volumes of Swan’s Way. Here one could see some of Proust’s original handwritten manuscripts and notebooks, some of which have never left Paris. In one notebook, considering his book in progress he writes: “Should it be a novel, a philosophical essay, am I a novelist?”
In your novel The Mandarin, the question is potently raised in various ways, who is a novelist? What is a novel? I wonder if you could comment on this.