Photo: Robert Cross

“I’ve had a room of my own this year, but more profoundly I believe in shared spaces. Maybe that’s why I kept my door open. I like to be interrupted. I frequently interrupt myself.” ​


A Simultaneous Question

​Trace? Yes? What is it? It’s a hot night isn’t it? Maybe eighty percent? And what’s normal? Are times ever really normal? How do we remember something that has not been seen? How hard is this to do? Sorry? What? Are you trying to ask questions or answer them? Why don’t you have a website? Perhaps you need the love of fear? Does it help to know something about Millett? Are you sure? Am I? Questions about the nature of the memory on display. Questions about who was remembered, and who was forgotten. Can you explain these statements a little more here? Does the absence of the visible aggressor in these images help to prompt and support the enduring set of questions and myths that surround the event? What kind of story is it? Why would that be interesting? Maybe you could tell us …? I mean, have you got a family yourself, J? What is your occupation? And your … business partner? You were Jon’s personal banker? Oh … then, do I get my money back? What’s your bank account number? Are you a communist? Are you an anarchist? Same question. Where were we? What happened? Where have we fetched up? How many times have you been here previously? How did you get this number? Does it help to know, say, that the wall drawing within Sjoerd Westbroek’s Lines Intersecting on a Circular Plane (2010) traces twice the projected grids of flyscreens? What would this mean? What are we, after all, being taught? Is it jeans, deodorant, gasoline? Have you been watching some TV programme about the tragedy of prostitution? Was this a new weapon, a gas that could penetrate the filters? If you try a sample, is it necessary to buy the product?

The children asked their grandmother for more. More serious questions. But J, what are all your questions for? Are these good questions? What am I to do with the information contained in them? Is this a conversation? An interview? An interrogation? How do you feel about it? Condescending ironic distance or a possibly mis-firing shot at solidarity? Which one are you? Are you a writer? An artist? An academic? A doctor? Do you think this job is easy? Can you tell us something of the projessssct you’ve been working on? So, is it critical or colonial? Aren’t you worried? Where do people go, who disappear? Well why not disappear? I’ve seen you–are you there? Could I see you again? You mean, see each other repeatedly? Did you fall in love with me? Did I by any chance leave my jacket in your office today? I wasn’t sure whether it arrived? Did you hear a noise? But none of us can concentrate for very long and we get lost in the visual forms or the voice’s pure sound—is that why we wonder where we are? I guess the next question is, what are we doing here? Or, to put it slightly differently, what are we doing here? You were on the mountain when the tragedy occurred? How was it up there? Questions about their tents, their sleeping bags and their commitment to remain in place. The air in which those questions were asked. Why, she asked, can’t we have the revolution now, right now? Whatever happened to the middle way, between the two? Why would anyone have broken the law? A lot of people? Why? Do you think so? But you’re only happy five percent of the time? What else can I do? What is there to talk about? The questions have more or less disappeared. Need we go on?

Yes …? Why? Will I die? Will you? Have you? How old were you? How did you get this number? Yes, of course—and before then? How do you think? It’s all right? What? All right? Normal? What is it? And that’s it? … cold-blooded? What are you …? Who are you? Why don’t you? Do you-? Excuse me? You? A deal? Doing what? You don’t know …? Excuse me? OK? Why not? Do you sing? Son? Can I speak like that? What are we doing? Am I? Any other connections?
Sorry? What?
Trace? Questions? Where?
Weapon? Website?
What happened? Aren’t you worried? Have you seen Cynthia? Where was he? If I were to call from below, would she throw down hairs made of smoke for me to climb, instead of the tree? Well, tell me what do you think, Mr R? ( You must understand that this isn’t the best time? I know it’s upsetting to talk about this, but have you ever thought about, you know, what would happen if … Goes well with the, well, Impenetrable Glass Walls, don’t you think? What do you mean? What was it you wanted to say? What’s your name? How do you interview someone? Singing voice? Your dog is called Rover? I’m guessing there was no sign of my coat in your office?

I find myself to be a different person depending on where I am, what company I find myself in, what I am being asked to respond to. That’s hardly an original observation, but it complicates things. An interview? Sorry? What? Do words build selves or do selves build words? Do websites build selves? Self as wordsite; wordsiteself. // Archiveperson of a wordsiteself stretched over golly how many years now? Archivequestions asked by words themselves. // These few general remarks to begin with. // I hardly remember writing those first stories. No, I remember. I didn’t know what I was doing, but I knew I wanted to WRITE. That’s enough to explain them: WRITING without subject. I’m not so sure that’s what I want now. I seem to keep writing, keep going on, but I don’t know about the foundational event, the beginning, the desire to WRITE—that was ephemeral after all, like the urge to pee. Sort of thing my children would say. Oh, did I mention I have a family? No occupation as such, though I keep myself occupied. Writing as a kind of keeping going, why not, arising from the situation in which I find myself. Beckett, for example, fought for the resistance. He did. Nowadays, where is the resistance, where the occupying force? Still around, but harder to locate. In there somewhere is a theory of writing—a wordtrace response to what oppresses; to the stubbornness of things around us. The situation is as important as the wordtrace. In there somewhere also is a definition of communism. If only that, the response to a situation, could be collective. But it is, it is. We’re all doing it. Wordsiteselves. // The being different, different selves in different sites, also breaks someone open and wrenches someone apart.
Is not this rather the place where one finishes vanishing? // Dim intermittent lights suggest a kind of distance. // I hope this is of some interest to you. Dim interest though is maybe not enough. In the collision and joining of different parts, different objects or sections—that’s where something happens. You already knew that, J. A thing, a site, a self, a word a paragraph, and then, next to it, another! In there somewhere is perhaps a definition of solidarity. The marchers are from different sectors of the economy, have different grievances, but they link arms and walk side by side. Links also divide. Words spill from the pain of division. Division, as already mentioned, within a single person. Relations and operations between elements and sets of elements are internalised, not elements in isolation. // I’m currently writing a novel about time travel, as well as an ongoing dossier of fiction / essay / interview / theory fragments. // I’ve had a room of my own this year, but more profoundly I believe in shared spaces. Maybe that’s why I kept my door open. I like to be interrupted. I frequently interrupt myself. I have terrible trouble concentrating—but why concentrate when there’s all that, all that going on? Do we really want to shut the world out? In there somewhere is perhaps a definition of love. // I used to put events in my life into my fiction—fictionalise them. The mountain. Now I think the world impacts in different ways. I try, though not always, to aim at something more like photography than painting, something that doesn’t build up a world within the work but that instead lets the world leave its own mark. // Is that a revolution? No. Maybe instead, a way of placing the writerreader a little closer to whatever revolution might be beginning. Now, right now. Is it?

Without a gasmask? Yes, you will die. They will enter, it will enter, the world will get in, and why were we wearing that roommask after all? No simple answers. Or a simpleanswer left lying next to its opposite, a photopainting, factfiction, openmask, and fall fall into words and nothing more, a wordsiteself far from everything but its words. Wordstones, hard objects. Wordsurfaces, screen and pageshape. You already knew that too. // Was I supposed to talk about myself? Unquestioning. I, say I. Unbelieving. Questions, hypotheses, call them that. // Sometimes I wonder about a pseudonym. The idea of having more than one name available to me is very appealing, J. I used to work part time and write part time, and when I worked I was LIBRARY ASSISTANT and when I wrote I was WRITER. It was a comfort. I’d rather not build a self. Or, one self now, one then, another here or there. ARTIST ACADEMIC DOCTOR. Self at selfsite. WRITER, in fact, maybe starts to dissolve into others. Noself, or rather just some human who jots things down. // I know, I’m wearing this education, this privilege, the freedom to do it, on my face. I know, there might well be no face under it. I know. A face made of smoke. // I used to walk each week to a friend’s house to sing with her and two others. I’m not a trained singer. I enjoyed singing madrigals—they’re quite challenging for amateurs. In instrumental music the instruments act as voices without words. I never listened much to the words we were singing anyway. The entry of a voice against another—counterpoint, duet, wordless. Adorno writes about dissonance always present in harmony, and vice versa.
The remnant of words in the wordless.
It’s still, despite it all, an expression of pain.
Wordlesscry. // Capitalempire. //
How impervious was your coat?
Jackson Nieuwland likes unicorns. He co-edited Turbine 2015.