Co-realisation: Thomas Koener, production La Criée, centre d’art contemporain Rennes, Université Rennes 2, Le Crea, as part of Mettre en scène, Théatre National de Bretagne
As an installation, Tu, Sempre is dealing with different Aids representation. Work about the history of these representations as much as about the way today these representations are often avoided. As if Aids doesn’t exist, did not ever exist. A rotative screen of which one side is a mirror, received and diffracted within the gallery space images and texts about aids representation. Texts in French, English, Italian run from the screen to the walls, in a constant movement. The body presence is emphasize not only by our inclusion within the apparatus but also as the skin of different people. Two beam in the shape of an x are projected onto the rotative screen, inducing fragmentation, collisions onto the screen as much as on the walls.
A collection of photographs from lovers, friends, and anonymous, some dead, others still living, sick or not are placed on three walls. On the floor a map of world aids epidemic is projected.
The ambient sound convey screams from demonstration as a text is delivered. Four voices can be listen at on separate CD.
“This text which is not one: Tu, sempre by Yann Beauvais”
by Keith Sanborn
I Cinema as text: text as cinema
I will repeat once again: there exists prosaic and poetic cinema and this is the fundamental division of the genres: they are distinguished one from the other not by means of rhythm, or rather not by means of rhythm alone, but by the predominance of technical-formal elements (in poetic cinema) over semantic ones, in that formal elements replace semantic ones, in resolving a composition. “Plotless” cinema is “poetical” cinema.
Viktor Shklovsky “Poetry and Prose in Cinematography” trans. Keith Sanborn [“Poezija y Proza v kinematografii” in Poetika Kino Moscow and Leningrad 1927 Berkely Slavic Specialties reprint 1984, p. 142]
If the facts destroy the theory-so much the better for the theory. It is created by us, not entrusted to us for safekeeping.
“In Defence of the Sociological Method,” Russian Poetics in Translation 4 (1977): 94. Originally published in 1927.
How should we describe a work such as Tu, Sempre by Yann Beauvais? Visually, it consists of roughly 40 minutes of videotext in movement and arrest, largely white text varying in size on a black background, interspersed with a small number of images; its audio is a dirge of drone music by Thomas Köner punctuated by voice-overs by several individuals, sometimes one at a time, sometimes several at once. Text appears in French, English and Italian and voice-overs are in French and English. It is a work of immense complexity and depth and this is but the beginning of a possible description.
And where should we situate it historically? by genre?
The familiar formulations of genre in narrative will get us nowhere: it’s not a western, it’s not a musical, or a detective film. But those familiar with the history of avant-garde cinema will have already recognized even from the sketchy description given above that this work belongs to the genre referred to as the “text piece.” A short definition would be: a media work in which the use of text is visually foregrounded. The best known examples would be Richard Serra and Charlotta Schooman’s Television Delivers People (1973) in video, Michael Snow’s So is this (1982) in film and perhaps Young-Hae Chang Heavy Industries flash movies from the late 1990s on-line. In fact, since the 1970s, text, in the form of both written and spoken language, has enjoyed a resurgence and integration with images largely unknown in experimental cinema since the beginning of the sound era. The works of Yvonne Rainer, Hollis Frampton, Paul Sharits, Su Friedrich, Craig Baldwin, Peggy Ahwesh, Guy Debord and René Viénet come to mind. The work of Isou, Lemaître and Christopher MacLain should be remembered as well, though they precede and fall somewhat outside the more widespread revival of interest in text as cinematic form.
The recuperations of the genre by American television commercials of the 1990s testify to the wide recognition of the historical importance of this work. For as Manfreddo Tafuri has pointed out, the fate of formal innovation in the arts is to be coopted by advertising.
Within the varied body of Yann Beauvais’s work, Tu, Sempre is one of several contributions to the genre. His earlier efforts include Still Life (1997) (video) sid a ids (1992) (video) andVO/ID (1987) (double projection film). Beauvais is also accutely aware of the history of the genre, having been one of the principle curators of “mots: dites, images” (1987). This collaboration between Scratch and the Pompidou Center remains the major international survey of the use of text in cinema, making Beauvais one of the major contributors to the theoretical and historical formulation of the genre,.
But the issue of genre is far from solved by simply labeling Tu, Sempre “a text piece.” For while it has pragmatic descriptive currency, such nomenclature is often little better within the domain of experimental cinema than “western” or “musical” is among narrative films. And while it names a recognizable entity, it says nothing about the relationship between films of that genre and other films, broadly considered. A more interesting possibility for locating Tu, Sempre and others like it is offered by the work of Viktor Shklovsky and the distinction offered in the epigraph to this section of my essay.
Shklovsky was one of the most thoughtful and widely educated theorists ever to seriously consider the relationship between film and literature. His basic division between prosaic and poetic, semantically dominated and formally dominated cinema has an elegant and intuitive simplicity about it. It offers the possibility of locating the fundamental dynamics of a work with respect to others. It says more than: It’s one of these and not one of the myriad of others. Its difference from other works is a matter of insight across disciplines. It produces relational information, rather than simply adding data.
To understand the basis of Shklovsky’s generalization, we should recall that he worked not only as a literary theorist and experimental novelist, but as a script writer, so he is deeply aware of the difference between literature and cinema even as he looks to apply to the domain of cinema the analytical tools he has brought over from anthropology into literary theory.
The title of Shklovsky’s short essay referred to above, “Proza i poezija v kinematografii” plays not only on the dual meaning of “kinematografija” as “cinematography” and the “film industry” more generally speaking, but alludes to the metaphor contained in the Greek etymology of the word “kinematografija”: the writing or drawing of motion. In Russian, as in Ancient Greek, one writes an image, or draws a text: “pisat’” does the same double duty as “graphein.” As we might now understand it, the gambit is to suggest, by way of this etymological play, that the cinema may be understood as a form of inscription. If it is, then implicitly, the rules which govern the folk tale and literature should also apply.
Further, Shklovsky alludes to the distinction he developped elsewhere between “fabula” and “sjuzhet”-roughly “story” and “plot”-a distinction which remains a fundamental theoretical reference point in the history of the attempt to analyze narrative in cinema. And while making this allusion to narrative, Shklovsky is attempting to point beyond the world of narrative cinema, to account not only for more familiar kinds of cinematic experience, but to see cinematic practice along a continuum comparable in breadth to the fundamental literary distinction between prose and poetry.
The examples he adduces to illustrate this insight range from Chaplin’s A Woman of Paris(prose) to Pudovkin’s Mother (which begins as prose and ends as poetry) to Vertov’s A Sixth Part of the World (poetry).
Shklovsky was committed to serious analytical attention to both radical literary form and radical cinematic form. He had previously participated in and had written about the circles of Russian Futurist poets and painters; he was aware of their interest in joining linguistic and visual experimentation, such as in the work of Alexander Kruchenych. He also commented on the work of Vertov and the Kinoks. Perhaps because he takes radical experimentation both as an author and a subject, as one of his starting points, he is not one to flog a theory to death in order to make it align with practice, or vice versa. Throughout his work, he grapples with texts and experiences to reach insights into literary, political and psychological processes. If he’s forced along the way to modify his positions and assumptions he does so, and humor with resilience. When he reaches a dead end, he reflects on how he arrived there, leaving engaging narratives of endless and pleasurable delays, of unexpected excursions.
Tu, sempre puts Shklovsky’s insight to the test and produces immediate paradox. For while Tu, sempre clearly belongs to the poetic cinema-the “bessjuzhetnoe kino” [the plotless film]-which Shklovsky indexes to the work of Vertov, it is incorrect to characterize it as replacing semantic elements with formal ones in order to resolve the composition. The semantic aspect of this work, which we will consider later, is of fundamental urgency.
Tu, sempre offers a direct challenge to Shklovsky’s basic rules of cinematic form, because in spite of the supple and intuitive justice of Shklovksy’s insight, it somehow fails to account for a cinematic text-and let us remind ourselves that “cinematic text” is, after all, a metaphor-which foregrounds text itself equally as a strategy of cinematic form and as a vehicle for semantic content. Tu, Sempre further problematizes, while clearly posing the question, of the meaning of the resolution of a composition, in other words, closure.
Considering the matter in terms of one modernist conundrum of set theory, Tu, Sempreand the genre of “text pieces” intersect with the textual metaphors of film theory in the way that both chimeras and golden mountains famously belong to the set of non-existent objects: they are members of the set of all sets which are non-members of themselves. This genre, as practiced over the past 30 years, occupies one of several spaces between “art” and “theory,.” Ironically, or by design, it tends to subvert the claims of the kind of theory, based on the metaphors of linguistics, that may even have suggested it. And that is a most instructive work of destruction.
We might dismiss this paradox as contrived or even “inevitable” since Shklovsky set out those rules in 1927 and Beauvais made his work at the turn of the next century, but even by 1927 cinema practice had developed to the point where Tu, sempre might be considered a special case of the art of the intertitle. For animated titles were well known in the Soviet cinema of the 1920s and Dekeukeleire’s forty-nine-minute Histoire de détective, which consists of intertitles interspersed with a few deliberately banal images, would appear only 2 years later. Tu, sempre would not have been a technically inconceivable work in film for Shklovsky. Even sound recording was already known and The Jazz Singer, which had just appeared, was far from the first instance of experiments in synchronized sound.
II. Détournement as negation and prelude
Le plagiat est nécessaire. Le progrès l’implique. Il serre de près la phrase d’un auteur, se sert de ses expressions, efface une idée fausse, la remplace par l’idée juste.
Lautréamont, Poésies II,1870
Le plagiat est nécessaire. Le progrès l’implique. Il serre de près la phrase d’un auteur, se sert de ses expressions, efface une idée fausse, la remplace par l’idée juste.
Guy Debord , La Société du Spéctacle, Section 207 1967
In positioning Tu, Sempre as a social form of intelligence, Beauvais makes use of the legacy of the cultural and political strategy known as “détournement.” It was first theorized by Gil Wolman and Guy Debord in the 1956 as one of the perennial weapons of the avant-garde and later became one of the principle strategies of the Situationist International in their critique of the dominant ideology of their era. The Situationist International, in the first issue of their magazine, Internationale Situationiste (1958), provided the following definition:
S’emploie par abréviation de la formule : détournement d’éléments esthétiques préfabriqués. Intégration de productions actuelles ou passées des arts dans une construction supérieure du milieu. Dans ce sens il ne peut y avoir de peinture ou de musique situationniste, mais un usage situationniste de ces moyens. Dans un sens plus primitif, le détournement à l’intérieur des sphères culturelles anciennes est une méthode de propagande, qui témoigne de l’usure et de la perte d’importance de ces sphères.
This is the necessary form of plagiarism of which Debord speaks when he detourns Lautréamont in the passage from Society of the Spectacle cited above as an epigraph. Lautréamont is acknowledged as the patron saint of creative plagiarism, a practice to which he had extensive recourse in creating his own literary works. These were widely admired by the Situationists and, for that matter, the vast majority of important 20th century intellectuals in France. In the Society of the Spectacle, just after his own détournement of Lautréamont, Debord offers this refinement:
Le détournement est le contraire de la citation, de l’autorité théorique toujours falsifiée du seul fait qu’elle est devenue citation; fragment arraché à son contexte, à son mouvement, et finalement à son époque comme référence globale et à l’option précise qu’elle était à l’intérieur de cette référence, exactement reconnue ou erronée. Le détournement est le langage fluide de l’anti-idéologie. Il apparaît dans la communication qui sait qu’elle ne peut prétendre détenir aucune garantie en elle-même et définitivement. Il est, au point le plus haut, le langage qu’aucune référence ancienne et supra-critique ne peut confirmer. C’est au contraire sa propre cohérence, en lui-même et avec les faits praticables, qui peut confirmer l’ancien noyau de vérité qu’il ramène. Le détournement n’a fondé sa cause sur rien d’extérieur à sa propre vérité comme critique présente. (paragraph 208)
While that paragraph could easily eat a hole in the page large enough to devour this entire essay, it will not, prevent us from recognizing that, in Tu, sempre Beauvais creates his own variation on this practice. The Situationists for the most part refused to footnote their collective works or to claim them as intellectual property, though they did copyright, footnote and claim their droits d’auteurs for individually authored works. Beauvais, in a sense, has it both ways: first, immersing us in a sea of text, largely originating elsewhere, then, at the end, acknowledging that he has done so. He further reveals that some of the texts and all of the images were his. Music is credited and the identities of the speakers of the voice-overs are revealed. He credits those who provided technical and moral assistance to the project. And yet, the acknowledgement which frames the work as a counterpoise to the title card, carries this nuance: there is no simple way to identify which texts originate with what authors, or which voice-over belongs to whom. Beauvais’s own voice and texts are undifferentiated from the others, except by what qualities we may extract from them at the moment. He positions himself as one subject among others, so that we may do so as well. He takes the further step of subverting his authority by giving his own name entirely in lower case in the three places in which it appears in the credits.
In a parallel effort to problematize the politics of cultural and linguistic hierarchies, Beauvais uses not only texts in French but a great number in English and two in Italian in constructing the piece. Sometimes the English texts are translations of the French and vice versa. Sometimes a text may appear earlier then repeat itself later in its original language. Sometimes a text may be superimposed upon itself, with the text scrolling slowly up the screen from bottom to top while the same text crawls rapidly across it from left to right. This strategic device offers two conflicting senses of engagement. As the text scrolls vertically, we have a sense of reading at our own pace; as it moves horizontally, the speed at which we assimilate it seems controlled from without. Texts appear vertically as well, sometimes with letters oriented to the horizontal, one above the other, as in Apollinaire’s Calligrammes, sometimes at right angles to the “horizon,” thus challenging what might be called a crawl or a scroll in these cases.
Several other tactics are employed as well to control and to question the way text appears on the screen: sometimes a text will crawl from right to left while its mirror image-each letter flipped left to right-will crawl from left to right. Sometimes the process of mirroring occurs at the level of syntax, where a text will crawl from left to right in its normal order, while the same text crawls left to right with each word transformed so that the first letter appears last and the last letter first. At one point three, pairs of texts and their syntactic mirrors appear on screen. But there is more at stake than narcissistic entrapment in a labyrinthine mirror phase. What is at stake is an attempt to subvert the invisible, organizing hierarchical power latent in the givens of ordinary syntax, by holding a mirror up to language.
We are being challenged to disinscribe and reinscribe these texts. And the effect we might compare with Shklovskian ostranenie [“enstrangement”]. It is here taken to an extreme even Khlebnikov or Hugo Ball might appreciate, but with this difference: there is no utopian project of creating a transrational language [zaumnij jazyk], or even a nihilistic one of destroying language for the sake of shock. Rather as we decode these texts linguistically, we are forced to acknowledge the fact of their cultural and ideological coding.
As texts are superimposed across a slow-motion pan of a wall with homophobic graffiti (“AIDS CURES FAGS”), upon rushing landscapes of trees which dissolve to hand-held excursions across male limbs and torsos, across blank and tatooed skin, we are given composite images of the inscription of this network of social text upon the body politic as upon individual bodies.
While the broad outlines of a strategy of détournement may recall work such as Michael Wallin’s Decodings of 1988, it is here not pre-existing images which are recaptured for a delirious personal erotic narrative, but the texts-out of which AIDS has been created as cultural construct-which are placed under scrutiny, a word, then a letter, at a time. Tu, sempre analytically bodies forth the process by which this composite ideological construct of collective experience has been inscribed in “our” consciousness.
It is crucial to note, however, that this project has as its focus no master narrative-even by way of a montage of these inevitably familiar and unfamiliar texts-but rather the possibility and necessity for the construction of individual subjectivities, insights and intelligences around these texts and around the experiences they convey.
III. closure, disclosure
“I assert to begin with, that ‘disease’ does not exist. It is therefore illusory to think that one can ‘develop beliefs’ about it to ‘respond’ to it. What does exist is not disease but practices.” Thus begins François Delaporte’s investigation of the 1832 cholera epidemic in Paris. It is a statement we may find difficult to swallow, as we witness the ravages of AIDS in the bodies of our friends, our lovers, and ourselves. But it is nevertheless crucial to our understanding of AIDS because it shatters the myth so central to liberal views of the epidemic: that there are, on the one hand, the scientific facts about AIDS and, on the other hand, ignorance. I will therefore follow Delaporte’s assertion: AIDS does not exist apart from the practices that conceptualize it, represent it, and respond to it. We know AIDS only in and through those practices. This assertion does not contest the existence of viruses, antibodies, infections, or transmission routes. Least of all does it contest the reality of illness, suffering, and death. What it does contest is the notion that there is an underlying reality of AIDS, upon which are constructed the representations, or the culture, or the politics of AIDS. If we recognize that AIDS exists only in and through these constructions, then hopefully we can also recognize the imperative to know them, analyze them, and wrest control of them.
“AIDS: Cultural Analysis/Cultural Activism” Douglas Crimp. October 43
There has been a great number of works of art, and it seems above all in video, which have responded to the collective agon of AIDS: quiet and unflinching personal documents of love and devastation, such as Silver Lake Life, works which have responded to public images of AIDS and attempted to undo the damage such as John Greyson’s, records of incandescent rage and insight such as the work of David Wojnarowicz. I cannot even begin to suggest the range, nor would I pretend to be capable of it. What I think I can say is that, in this and in his previous works that have made an address to the pandemic, Yann Beauvais has taken a different route from others I know. He has given us its aspect as an inscription: in the way that text enters social discourse and personal consciousness, in the way graffiti may be written on a wall, in the way a needle and ink may create designs under the skin, and in the way Kaposi Sarcoma may inscribe its lurid presence. And he has provided us with models for its disincription and reinscription in a higher form of critical awareness.
We begin with 10 seconds of silence and darkness. The title fades up: “Tu, Sempre”-You, always-like a phrase from one of the ubiquitous Italian pop songs that form part of the everyday soundscape of Paris. It lingers a while then fades to black. In black, a series of low slow notes on an organ begin. Then the first installment of what seems like an unending stream of text starts to make it way across our field of vision:
My body feels like a third person in the room, my mind is a second person, my friend a second person, the doctor absolutely necessary.
This text disappears into black and the drone, like the distant hum of propellers-which will form the sonic ground of the piece-begins. Though this text disappears, it leaves an indelible impression on us. We have already begun to feel a very particular kind of fragmentation, a peculiar distance from our bodies. We become witness to the motions of these texts and at the same time to the motions of our own minds as we encounter them, parse them, lose them. We are overwhelmed. We are swimming against the tide. We can snatch only partial and fleeting impressions of some larger whole, the outline of which remains always beyond our grasp. Each is a part of some familiar yet arcane construction of the world. We return always to that “Tu, sempre” that second person, the mind which witnesses the spectacle of our interiority as it has been socially determined.
We have entered the world of HIV, of AIDS as it has been constructed, as a social textuality, which is nonetheless an inscription upon our bodies and our minds-as if there could ever be a discernible difference. The challenge, as Douglas Crimp underscores is that “If we recognize that AIDS exists only in and through these constructions, then hopefully we can also recognize the imperative to know them, analyze them, and wrest control of them.” “Imperative” is the key word here.
Tu, Sempre reminds us that the challenge is daunting as it is urgent. At every moment, we run the risk of being overwhelmed by the unrelenting assault on our very subjecthood. We grasp for hope, gasp for hope, but hope is in short supply. We must each struggle to form a radical subjectivity in the midst of such profound interior assault. The experience of a single viewing can be dizzying, and each successive viewing remains vertiginous, but the possibility exists that even if we cannot entirely master our vertigo, we can come to realize it as an aspect of our condition. The drone and confusion of voices can become a sign of the presence of other minds as much as the index of solitary consciousness alone.
In Tu, Sempre, we travel the distance from the recognition that Silence = Death to the insight that Voice does not necessarily equal life. And while death represents a form of closure we must all confront, in discourse, epistemological closure, formal closure, semantic closure are all dead ends for the subject in the midst of AIDS. No work can be perpetual in its longevity, its structure, or in the attention we devote to it. A digital video work participates in these limitations, whether it loops or not. Whether the titles and credits of a work merely bracket its chronological expanse, or measure the space from one electronic pattern to another, whether they delimit the telling of a story, or a phenomenological experience of time, they are subject to this limitation. This work takes on the task of signaling to us something beyond itself, beyond the so-called “real world,”or rather alluding, without mystification, to the complexity of the patterns of the ungraspable fabrics out of which we fashion the textures of the “real.”
IV The age of digital reproducibility
“Fiat ars-pereat mundus,” says fascism, expecting from war, as Marinetti admits, the artistic gratification of a sense perception altered by technology. This is evidently the consummation of l’art pour l’art. Humankind, which once, in Homer, was an object of contemplation for the Olympian gods, has now become one for itself. Its self-alienation has reached the point where it can experience its own annihilation as a supreme aesthetic pleasure. Such is the aestheticizing of politics, as practiced by fascism. Communism replies by politicizing art.
“The Work of Art in the Age of Its Technological Reproducibility” (3rd version)
HIV/AIDS has been a significant factor for many of these racist formations and has informed both national-popular politics and policy involving African migrants, refugees, asylum seekers, settlers and EC nationals.
Woman is traditionally seen as “other”, she is defined as “not-man”, and this is particularly clear in the context of AIDS. The body becomes the contested territory of AIDS, and for women, the ever-corporal sex, the body overwhelms the individual. Male HIV risk is based on behavior, what he does with his body; by contrast for woman it is who she is, not what she does. She is a dangerous body, defined by her gynecology: the womb and the vagina.
et d’ailleurs ce sont eux les pédés qui ont combattu et combattent encore pour que les autres cessent d’ignorer ma présence en Afrique, comme ce sont eux les pédés qui ont combattu et combattent encore pour que les autres cessent d’ignorer le sida de ceux qui ne sont pas eux: le sida des prissoniers, le sida des toxicomanes, le sida des “étrangers en situation irrégulière” expression faisant partie du vocabulaire que les autres en parfaite complicité avec “la vie” inventent chaque jour afin d’humilier davantage ceux qui ne leur ressemblent pas et de leur ôter toute existence
Plus d’un million de Chinois avec un sida déclaré merci le commerce du sang
marquer au fer rouge
AIDS IS NOT ABOUT DEATH. IT IS ABOUT PEOPLE LIVING WITH AIDS. This is bullshit. I understand the concerns about media and how it has manipulated images which can affect public perceptions and funding for research and health care. But AIDS is not just asymptomatic muscle boys and kick boxing dykes leading the public against this virus. Those of us dealing with manifestations of this virus need room to embrace and look at the very real possibility of Death. Having seen many friends go through horrifying illness and dies, having fevers and night sweats for the last two months, feeling horrible and fragmented, I demanded that we don’t slip into denial about Death as an aspect of AIDS
Germany saw a 33 percent rise in HIV cases last year, the first increase in five years. Seven hundred and fifty new infections were recorded, 51 percent of them among gay and gays and bisexuals. Many developed nations are reporting stepped up HIV transmission. Health officials have blamed safe-sex fatigue ? and deliberate ‘barebacking’ among gay men for some of the increase.
Barebaking has become so popular in the gay community that personal ads in gay papers and user profiles in AOL state barebacking only and no condoms. Barebaking is becoming the norm and condom use is the exception and uncoool. Protected oral sex is unheard of.
We know that Silence Equals Death, but we have just recently realized that Voice does not equal Life.
On ne peut combattre cette maladie sans soutenir directement ceux qui la vivent. (…) Un dicton africain me semble d’une grande pertinence: “On regarde dans la direction de celui qui nous prête ses yeux.” Doit-on pour autant aller dans le sens des bailleurs de fonds dès lors qu’ils apparaissent en contradiction avec les valeurs des personnes qui vivent avec la maladie.
Brazil’s decision will make it the first country to violate the patent of an anti-Aids drug and represent[s] an aggressive move in the developing world’s battle cheaper prices. Brazil has been one of the strongest voices in the developing world in the fight for cheaper prices and has threatened pharmaceutical multinationals that it would break their patents. The pressure work with Merck Sharp & Dohme, which agreed in March to reduce the price of Efavirenz, another drug in the anti-Aids cocktail, by 64%.
Given the multiple levels and domains of power relations implicated in AIDS discourse, no system or situation can ever be compared by simple analogy to the next, or totalize by structural analysis. It is hazardous indeed to seek a single logic underlying AIDS discourse or policy decisions.
There is no single universal educational answer to the challenges of HIV/AIDS prevention, and demands for simple transcultural solutions are themselves symptoms of a naïve globalism which has its political roots elsewhere in contemporary Leftist theory. Hence the continuing importance of repeating that there is no single, unified, global epidemic. Rather, as has long been apparent to those working in this field, there are distinctly different epidemics within any given country, moving at different speeds within different sections of the population, in relation to different modes of transmission, and different degrees and types of prevention work.
I want to write about KS. I haven’t really written about what I like now. I have a new skin. I have a new identity. They are not the same, but they do on occasion converge, even eclipse one another. …/… I’m looking at my arm and I don’t trust what I just said. There is a geometry to this, a poetry too. If I didn’tknow it was cancer and AIDS I’d say my arm-my right arm-is interesting, attractive. The spots are grayish, purplish, a light eggplant, mauve-a combination… I’m that sick. I could die that soon.
V writing: painting
SOCRATES: You know, Phaedrus, that’s the strange thing about writing, which makes it truly analogous to painting. The painter’s products stand before us as though they were alive, but it you question them, they maintain a most majestic silence. It is the same with written words: they seem to talk to you as though they were intelligent, but if you ask them anything about what they say, from a desire to be instructed, they go on telling you just the same thing forever. And once a thing is put in writing, the composition, whatever it may be, drifts all over the place, getting into the hands not only of those who understand it, but equally of those who have no business with it: it doesn’t know how to address the right people, and not address the wrong. And when it is ill treated and unfairly abused it always needs its parent to come to its help, being unable to defend or help itself.
PHAEDRUS: Once again you are perfectly right.
(Phaedrus, 275 d-e. trans. R. Hackforth, 1952, Cambridge University Press)
Collection : Espace Multimédia Gantner
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