Saturday, March 11, 2006

The Cuttlefish and Its Ink

From Barthes' RB:

I am writing this day after day; it takes, it sets: the cuttlefish produces its ink: I tie up my image-system (in order to protest myself and at the same time to offer myself).

How will I know that the book is finished? In other words, as always, it is a matter of elaborating a language. Now, in every language the signs return, and by dint of returning they end by saturating the lexicon--the work. Having uttered the substance of these fragments for some months, what happens to me subsequently is arranged quite spontaneously (without forcing) under the utterances that have already been made: the structure is gradually woven, and in creating itself, it increasingly magnetizes: thus it constructs for itself, without any plan on my part, a repertoire which is both finite and perpetual, like that of language. At a certain moment, no further transformation is possible but the one which occurred to the ship Argo: I could keep the book a very long time, by gradually changing each of its fragments. (163-4)

It didn't spring to mind while I was resting face-up in the MRI machine yesterday afternoon (tomorrow's entry?), but I eventually settled on a title for WRT302, as I noted in the comments following yesterday's entry expressing my dilemma, a title brought about by RB's bit above. So it'll be WRT302: The Digital and Its Links. I thought about The Network and Its Links, but opted for the former. Plus I had a thousand really good suggestions, all of which I'd have done well to take up. The course proper is still six months out; I wanted something splashy enough to attract enrollments and also something that makes theoretical sense to me--something that would motivate me toward working carefully through the many decisions between now and then. I really like the way RB gets at the ratio between stabilization and drift, the inter-portions of anchor and flotation, between a buried bow in the sand and a three-thousand year voyage. The "image-system" generalizes to digital composition quite effectively, I'd argue; arrangement and spontaneity, "structure is gradually woven." Could be true of.... And so it will do. Not to mention, when I decided, yes, this is it, I still had the metallic grind and industrial deep-buzz of the body-part scanner lasting with me into the evening; all the more appeal for the idea of composition as the increasing magnetization of ongoing attempts.

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