Saturday, June 4, 2016

The Invisible Worm - Márk Horváth

//To fend you off until I get off these last editing tasks and get back to work, here is a chapter from a book Mark is writing titled Darkening Places (some future date on Void Front). He is one half, with Adam Lovasz (who translates this), of Absentology.//  

The Invisible Worm

Márk Horváth

The most troubling –and, let it be added, most mundane – perception  of metamorphosis is the process of worming. Traversal through the levels of the world is, for the most part, a silent affair. Metamorphosis is an inherent otherness, a strangeness without measure, an aspect of unknowing and heterogenity. Any knowledge pertaining to the worm must be a heterological one, a knowledge predicated upon unknowing its own Self. Unintelligibility is illegible remainder that remains excluded from the process of individuated. It is what cannot be subsumed within the confines of any self. The unintelligible cannot be restricted, placed between borders, cordoned-off, quarantined. No quarantine can keep the worm at bay. Heterology is an ideational process, wherein categorization, intelligibility, any form of rational understanding are bracketed, reduced to the raw materials of thought and movement. The thought that has rendered itself open to heterogenous matter is perpetualized movement without stasis.  To change is to channel one’s anonymous „selves” into seas of earth, diving ever deeper, until the core of the world is attained. The act of „writing” this change is an expressive act, an experiment, if you will, during which our own thought is thrown into the abyss.
To understand the worm, we ourselves must become wormlike. Freeing ourselves from the needlessly excessive sobriety of rational thought, we become liberated from attachments, the chains that prevent the sense of dread and alienation from prevailing. Fear is beyond the world of conceptions, and is radically Other in relation to communicatibility, a post-traumatic condensation of negative emotional energy. Static elements disappear from language once we realize „the unthinkable of metaphysics.” (Kristeva 1982: 209) Metaphysics itself is the science pertaining to the Unthinkable. Once metaphysics collides with the impossibility of the Unthinkable, erasing even the simulacrae of the divine, language surrenders and the sea of words evaporates. A horrific ecology nevertheless condensates, while, on occasion, the cavalcade of formless shadows nevertheless seems to beckon with the promise of a new order, a new cosmos, a de-structured refoundation that (re)deconstructs the multiple in the mode of emblematic unity. Within the chaotic multitude, we find the (im)possibility of formless centrality. This state is intangible and indescribable, simultaneously internal and infinitely exterior to the Self: it prises open the Ego from within, yet it never is really present, for it resides in a sphere that cannot be touched or even momentarily revealed by any metaphysics of presence. What is that which causes unbearable suffering within, and is excretion into infinite space the only solution to the issue of finite carrying capacity? What we are speaking of is the horror of infinite transformation and modification, its horror-reality, as David Peak would have it. (Peak 2014) Reality is not horrorlike, horror is not some superficially aesthetic or ethical element of reality; horror is reality. Horror feeds off the finitude of human cognitive capacity and the incommunicability of its infinite ontological strangeness. (Peak 2014: 57) If we were to nevertheless make an attempt at describing this alienness, we would reach, at least on the surface, a somewhat different conclusion. Everywhere we look, we find scarcity, lack of space, ephemerality, overpopulation, poverty. Hardly any place is left for „infinite horror!” The vectors we have just outlined are the essential coordinates of any commonsense anthropology. So familiar are they, that rarely do we actually take note of their full significance. Everyday existence is the monotenous, melancholic uniformity that only serves to obscure the fact of preordained annihilation; it is filled with a vague melancholy. This strange, melancholic schematism is that, which remains. Infinite and elusive, internal tension is an aspect of this general atmosphere. Distance and proximity are two aspects of the same ethereal, airy atmosphericity. Distance construes itself, as it were, through not merely language, but the simulacra of art. When we seem to have transcended distance, it becomes most seductive. When duality seems to have been dissolved, then the magnetic attraction to the Unthinkable still remains intact, un-deconstructed. Deconstruction has not even begun. Pessimism is the internal tension that directs itself towards the directionless dampness of corruptive consumption. Blackened philosophy represents internal strength, the power of negation which reveals "every thought" as "doomed to unthought." (Thacker 2015: 3)
Internal demons threaten to break open our chests, as if desolation and depression themselves were attempting to destroy us from within. Melancholy, once it loses corporeality, is too close for comfort. We desire after a distance, formless quintessence, yet through this melancholic desire, we destroy ourselves. Description is de-scription, the creeping motion of stifling attachment. Limitlessness and finitude, and between them: the „abyss of fear”, within which we stand to lose internal tension (perhaps even self-awareness), and formlessness can finally become sovereign. However, the final incarnation of formlessness excludes the Human from its shadowy, clammy realm. One could argue that death itself is the Impossible, at least for any „P”. We read in one exposition of Epicurus’ famous argument relating to the impossibility of experiencing death, that „P's being dead is not a state of affairs that P can experience at some time.” (Rosenbaum 1993: 122) When facing death, we are enjoined by Epicurus to regard it as if it were „nothing to us.” (Rosenbaum 1993: 121) Such a position would be one of apathy, not only pertaining death, but also the life leading up to death. As Rosenbaum argues, the fear of death is what the Epicureans were seeking to „extinguish.” (Rosenbaum 1993: 122) In other words, the fear of extinguishment must itself be snuffed out by awareness of annihilation, of the nothingness of death’s own Nothing. Experience of death is impossibility itself, the unattainable form that nevertheless is ever-present to sentient beings. When we lose our lives, we „cannot experience the loss.” (Rosenbaum 1993: 127) The loss of life abides outside of life. Those who would seek an extension of their temporal existence desire the ever-present closeness of this impossible possibility, which is incarnated within their aging flesh. Acceptance of foreclosure is, by contrast, apathetic embrace of dematerialization, a process of rotting one cannot ever come to terms with. One may meditate, it is true, upon the corpse of another, but who is to say that we ourselves shall ever become such a corpse, chewed upon by maggots, torn apart by carrion-eating beetles, disembowelled by dogs? The path leading from materiality to dematerialization is simultaneously one of decomposition (the inexperiencable loss of composition, the dissipation of internal tension) and construction, the self-assembly of an experience outside of the decomposing „experiencer.” The person, after their death, „no longer exists.” (ibid) There is no place for experience within death. And yet, this state is an experience of sorts: an experience-without-access. Naturally, one may object that we are using „access”, in this example, in a too restrictive manner. We cannot „access” our own death, but a multitude of Others can indeed open our bodies and enter within. Even the most hermatically sealed of coffins cannot entirely restrict contact with nonhuman entities. Small insects tend to find a place of habitation within human corpses. A variety of assemblages is therefore constructed from the impossible, „inaccessible” (that is, unopen to human self-cognition) experience of death. Dematerialization can and does become the rematerialization of strangeness. So different is death from life, for the one who has died, that the states of vitality and enthropy could not be further apart. A gulf separates these two terms, a rift that cannot be bridged. We can only lose if something remains of us to experience the loss. As Rosenbaum would have it, „if P ceases to exist when P dies, then being dead cannot be considered a loss”, at least not of the sort „in which losses are bad for persons.” (ibid) The loss which is death is not of a kind that is bad for any person who has died, because dead persons have ceased to exist as persons. Such an end, the ultimate end, is not a loss, merely the extinction of anthropocentrism. A particular, personal perception blends into its ecology. We rot into the ground, our dematerialization giving birth to a plethora of nonhuman rematerializations. Bernard Williams has highlighted that those who fear death seem to hold that it is some kind of evil that must be avoided, a negativity. (Williams 1973: 85) Arguing against the desirability of immortality, Williams states pessimistically that immortality in this world, the world we live in, would constitute nothing more than a state of „frozen boredom.” (Williams 1973: 94) Those who point to the fact that humans have always seeked after eternal life miss are far off the mark, for the vast majority of humans who have historically believed in immortality wished to reside in a realm far different from the one of everyday, mundane experience. (ibid) There is no thing, no object of desire, that could „make boredom unthinkable”, because the world and its objects are inherently incapable of causing full satisfaction. (Williams 1973: 95) Death is unthinkable and unexperiencable, whereas boredom, far from unthinkable, is almost certain. The consequences of such a line of thinking, were it to spread on a social level, would be unimaginable. Pierre Klossowski, for one, also dared think the unthinkable, and held that the pathos of incommunicability is an inherent feature of all societies. (Klossowski 2007: 111) Modernity and the rationalism of the European Enlightenment is only capable of coming to terms with change in a barbarian manner: modernists tend to equate social change with progress. This mistake – for what else could it be? – is a self-infecting causality. The transparancy of virulence and death surrounds contemporary (de)culture. Modern barbarism is slowly eradicating itself. A 2002 survey of the German population revealed that whereas religious individuals had, on average, 1.90 children (at, or near the replacement rate), atheists had on average 1.44 children. (Blume 2015: 3) Similarly, the survey found that „the average number of children for respondents who never pray was only 1.39 compared to 2.06 for those who pray daily.” (ibid) Change is catching up to secularist modernity. The depths are rising up, fecundity has already become a function of religiosity. Social space is filled with, on the one hand, rising religious fundamentalism, constituted by a wish to return to an imagined state of purity, and the wreckage of the modern world. From beneath the ground of the social, „necrophilic intensities” are ascending. (Stapleton 2014: 164) Change is the violence of dematerialization, rotting social assemblages within the perverse game of enthropic dissipation.
In our essay, we seek to unearth those violently transfigurative elements in William Blake’s poetry that pertain to ephermal infinity, the impossibility of disappearance. How can that which never was disappear? As dematerialization is not nothing, nor even the emptiness of a given thing, transgression cannot be anything other than incommunicability, the unconceptualizable monstrous remainder, that which rematerializes itself in the aftermath of annihilation. Transgression constitutes the transition from the realm of „atomic facts” to the realm of what Matei Calinescu has called „negative monism”, a „monism of absence” as represented by the most radical forms of deconstructionism. (in: Bertans 1993: 52) This may also be axiomatized as the transgressive leap from modernist realism to (self)deconstructive anti-realism, a philosophical step-not-beyond. It is not even „beyond”, not even a transgression, for such an unphilosophical, post-logical stance recognizes no Thing that may be transgressed. How can there be any object standing in the way of transcendence? In the absence of an object of our hatred, how can we may hope for any form of immanence? Form itself is one of the non-existent monads. After death, materiality returns to infestation, virulent, self-devastating, chaotically breeding into the night. Anthropocentrism, indeed, any form of ____centrism must end, never to be replaced by anything other than negative monads. We may take Calinescu’s accusation of negative monism, levelled at „the followers of Derrida”, and generalize it, make of it a more-than-philosophical program, a non-philosophy that forms the crowning jewel of an entire ontological system. Such a gesture would put philosophy out of its misery, so to speak. However metaphorical, the end cannot be anything, if it is not material, if it does not work itself out through the pseudo-parasitical utilization of some raw material. In the course of non-philosophical praxis, we must work through the raw materials we have at our disposal, similarly to any exploitative human practice. Yet, as distinct from „everyday” processes of work, the Work of non-philosophy, an absentological approach, must unwork itself. It is a self-defeating activity, a communication that ends in silence. Pessimism is, for Eugene Thacker, „poetry written in the cemetery of philosophy.” (Thacker 2015: 3) For humans, posthuman life is transfigurative ecstasy. The activity/passivity dualism must be revised, decomposed in the tropical heat of deconstructive praxis. Our relation to disappearance may be informed by Blake’s The Sick Rose, in which we find the passivity of life contrasted with the activity of decomposition. In regard to this contextualization, we may mention Maurice Blanchot’s view, according to which „passivity is never passive enough. It is in this respect that one can speak of an infinite passivity.” (Blanchot 1995 [1980]: 16) Passivity can never entirely satisfy the life of that which should have remained forever in the phenomenal background. From within unhinged passivity, a non-active activity emerges. In Blake’s poetry, dissolution does not end with death and decomposition. Even after corporeality rots away, rottenness and putridness still remain. One could even say that for Blake, putrid decay only begins long after the last body has disappeared from view. After death, we have the ecstasy of rematerialization. Death is nothing more than the "symbolic eruption" of "necrophilic intensities", an eruption that destroys human relationalities. (Stapleton 2014: 164) The „body’s” symbolic unity is fatally open, vulnerable to that which worms its way through the flesh. According to Blanchot, „the word ’body’, its danger, how easily it gives one the illusory impression of being outside of meaning already” is an indication of „the insidious return of the natural.” (Blanchot 1995 [1980]: 45) The body’s openness is the eternal return of death, of Nature’s disappearance, its chaotic rotting carcass. Corporeality is openness, negativity, brokenness and weakness. Our body is always reincarnating, dematerializing and rematerializing. Human bodies feed lifeforms that have developed immunity to manmade pesticides. Even while feeding fellow creatures, we strive to destroy them.. because of what? Our most closest companions, our dearest friends, are the bedbugs chewing upon our cells. Some have become to accustomed to poisonous modern humans that they are 1000 times more immune to pesticides than their less well-versed kin. (BBC News 2015) Every body is a process of progressive disincarnation and reincarnation.
It is solely when we interpret death as a transitory liminal state that we may arrive at acceptance, the calm of this special zone. Calm is transition, constant motion between awareness and ignorance, wakefulness and sleep. Death is either uncontrollable excess or cyclical sacrifice. Death surges forth with an inhuman perversity, but this surging forth cannot be anything other than a silent kneeling before necessity. That which cannot be said must be silently accepted. The ultimate sedition is silent renewal, blazing in the heart of the world. It is only on the surface that Dionysian excess is „active.” From a post-anthropocentric perspective, the bits of ejaculated sperm staining the sheets or the bathroom floor are mere raw materials for inhuman corporealities. Aristotle believed that lice were generative entities, whose origin resided within the flesh: „Lice are produced out of flesh. When lice are going to be produced, small eruptions form, but without any purulent matter in them; and if these are pricked, lice emerge. Some people get this disease when there is a great deal of moisture in the body. Some indeed have been killed by it, as Alcman the poet is said to have been, and Pherecydes the Syrian.” (Africa 1982: 3) It is the flesh that produces the various parasites that consume it. We are never entirely enjoy „ownership” of our own bodies. Herodotus writes of a female tyrant, Pheretima, who returned to a rebellious city to exact revenge upon the hapless citizens, only to die „a horrible death, her body seething with worms while still alive.” (Africa 1982: 5) Excessive cruelty in political affairs draws the ire of the gods, manifesting from within the flesh. Worms and lice do not breed, in the Antique view, but are generated by the body of the afflicted. Sulla, the Roman tyrant, was widely held by contemporaries as, in the end, less fortunate than his many victims, for „his body ate itself away and bred its own torments”, succumbing to infestation by worms. (Africa 1982: 6) Worming destroys tyrannical corporeality from the inside, until the revolution leaves nothing of the victim. The body of the infested tyrant becomes a point of intersection, a crossing between human and posthuman presences. Even metaphors of purity and corruption, cleanliness and infestation, are necessarily unclean, inhuman, uneasy and infectious. Metaphors are wholely unwholesome, formless forms.
Blake’s poetry is of interest for anybody seeking to uncover what lies at the heart of any and all metaphors, for he represents silence through a wide variety of playful modalities. These modalities of silence are violent remainders of the primordial silence. Through degrees of fading, sound is reduced to a step-not-beyond, a manifestation of unhinged, decomposed activism. Often, these manifestations are fearsome, oppressive, all-too-present, too presential to even represent in literal terms. Secrecy is the beheading of communicability. The Earth anwers Blake’s infernal call:

„Earth rais’d up her head
From the darkness dread & drear.
Her light fled,
Stony dead!
And her locks cover’d with grey despair.” (Blake 2006: 104)

Earth is the black goddess who rises up from beneath Her own Ground, and refuses to be silent. Her speach renders us silent, it is the illumination that blots out any other light. Her own light is the stony death of incommunicable Grace. Earth’s presently absent light is beheaded light. Of beheading, Nicola Masciandaro comments that it emits "occult illuminations of significance." (Masciandaro 2012: 71) Our speech must fall silent, when confronted by Earth’s blackness.  Anthropomorphic speech becomes a shadow, deep within „the chasm of fear.” Instead of a world whose beauty depends on the presence of human beholders, Blake’s vision of a menacingly autnonomous Earth strikes fear into our hearts. The Earth is a woman who speaks, a woman who does not stay silent. But this is not young woman, but one who is withered from age, rendered grey by temporality. During the course of dematerialization, the shadows of darkness creep forth. Rematerialization is an unusual re-presentation of that which always was. Or rather, did it ever exist in the first place? Rematerialization is a becoming-dust, a nonhuman pestilence. Blake’s poetry is transitional in nature, a re-presentation of Nature in-transition. He takes us to the place where Earth speaks, and here we must remain silent. Life, when confronted by the dead Earth, is nothing more than an embodiment of passivity. Human Being-in-the-World is limited to perfect passivity, vis-a-vis Earth, our home (and – it should be added – our tomb). The womb of this shadowy woman is a tomb. She is filthy, and yet purer than we. Escape from pure passivity is impossible. Blakean poetry is violently aggressive, but not in any masculine sense. This violence is the eternal re-turning of Earth’s advent. She is everywhere, in our veins, covering our dead eyes, filling our stomachs. In The Sick Rose, we are confronted again with materiality, this time the concrete, all-too-earthy corporeality of a rose. This rose is condemned to sexual passivity, for it is infested with „the invisible worm.” (Blake 2006: 128) Its petals fall down into the abyss. The „invisible worm”, the parasitic, consumptive agent is a non-material actant, an emblematic figure of infection and sickness. Its very presence renders the rose sick, untouchable. Its folds and wrinkles compose a „bed of crimson joy”, exploited by the worming agency for its own profit. (ibid) Almost vaginal is this blood-red softness, so open and receptive does it lie beneath the wretched, monstrous dark worm. But does not the rose betray itself in its union with the worm? Are not both entities creations of the Night, products of Earth’s womb? From whence does their seemingly dialectical opposition emerge? Bacterial infestation of the vaginalike plant is only an apparent contradiction. The pulsating, worn-out (wormed-out?) sexual organ, opened up by penetration, exploded by plastic and organic penises alike, reminds us of Earth’s near-limitless receptivity. She is waiting for all of us. Both actants, both the „sick rose” (sick of what exactly?) and the dark worm are children, born of the same Mother. Their activity never was separable from Her dead flesh. Instead of life, we find the impossibility of existence, a world „filled with graves.” (Blake 2006: 142) The vaginal rose meets not with some stable form, or sentient being, but the worming agent whose existence depends upon the loosening of content and the emptying of Earth. „His dark secret love”, the love engendered by the black phallic worm, destroys the possibility of life, of reproudction. (Blake 2006: 128) It is not without reason that the inhumanity of viruses and bacteria breed fear within humans. Crawling, disease-producing agents occupy the „crimson joy” of the infested, sick rose. Consumption, the degradation and destruction of life appear in „To Tirzah” as well:

„Whate’er is Born of Mortal Birth
Must be consumed with the Earth” (Blake 2006: 166)

Progressive dissipation is, for Blake, a primordial characteristic of all life. All lifeforms live to die. It is of significance, that life is „consumed with the Earth.” Their death is mutual. Indeed, although the Earth could very well have existed without life for quite some time, their consumption would almost certainly be mutual. Without an Earth, or at least fragments of a destroyed Earth, there could be no life. Without the life, the eternal restlessness of the desiring Cosmos, there could be no Earth. The becoming which is infection is, for the vagina, simply another form of renewal, or re-turning to the primordial Mother. Lesbianization, becoming-lesbian, has proven no defense against STD-infection, for up to one-fifth of lesbian women have suffered from sexually-transmitted-diseases at some point in , a rate similar to that of heterosexual women. (Logie 2015) In other words, even in itself, the rose remains sick. Even the absence of penetration cannot protect the rose from illness. Virulence breeds from within, rendering the flesh corrupted and inoperative. The soft, inviting embrace of the rose is a trap, designed to maximize the spread of viral agents, undoing sociability. Such fears are exemplified by films such as Contracted, a 2013 body-horror movie touted as „the one that will make them [viewers] think twice before having sex.” ( 2013) During the course of the film, a No-Strings-Attached sexual adventure results in the decomposition of the main character’s body. Rendering herself open to phallic penetration, the lead female character is literally eaten alive by her „grave mistake”, a mistake that literally sends her to her grave. Soft flesh is rendered accessible to worming agents by its openness and tolerance with regard to penetration. The Outside is the fearsome „invisble worm”, as distinct from the excessively visible „snake” of the Stranger, the One that penetrate the unfortunate girl’s rose. The hunger of her flower becomes her undoing. Not satisfied with what her girlfriend has to offer, Samantha goes in search of an adventure, only to find far more than what she bargained for. What Samantha, the infected lesbian, finds is the immutable, „invisible worm” that destroys her. Virulence draws ever closer, until we attain knowledge of presence. We are encouraged to „think twice” prior to enaging in sexual relations, especially if the sexual adventure in question relates to a phallic entity. From within the penis, flesh-eating viruses emerge, consuming the flesh, rendering it unpallateable, untouchable. Knowledge pertaining to the viral state is unknowledge, unknowable and undigestable, similarly to the living cadaver, Samantha half-consumed, rotting away into oblivion. The rose is betrayed by its continuity with itself. Fear distorts the realm of knowledge and rationality. Things start to fall apart, for only through deconstruction can the infected body be reconstructed. From the raw materials provided by Samantha’s libertine body, the virus manufactures a new body, a corpse, so to speak, still in motion but growing ever more distant from health. Affection collapses into aversion. At the height of the orgy, infection arrives. Without an inkling of the danger, Samantha plunges into her adventure. Zero awareness, coupled with alcholic consumption, results in shuddering, sweating, vomiting, fever and radical laceration. The „invisble worm” makes itself known through Samantha’s devastation. She changes, and her changes are engendered by the little phallic movements of the flesh-eating virus, traversing the enjoying body until even the faintest hope of enjoyment is destroyed. Re-presentation, the presentation to Samantha of a penis infested by viruses, is annihilation. The fact that the Stranger’s penis is open to use hints at the possibility that we ourselves are always open to the possibility of infection and chaotically deconstructive death.
In another poem, Blake emphasizes that the movement of death is at once a transformation and a becoming-hidden: „then come home my children, the sun’s gone down.” (Blake 2006: 124) The invisble worm which is rotten death is a shadow upon the wall, similar to „the dews of night that arise.” (ibid) Form becomes formlessness, shadows of broken objects, abject in their state of disrepair. A strange morphology emerges, as well as a hidden affinity become apparent, between the dead children (for what else could they be?!) and the disappearance of the Sun. It is no question of mere nostalgia for a bygone childhood, although that too is opat work in the Nurse’s Song. The invisible worm is capable of accessing any point within Blake’s memory, for its flexible morphology allows for a great variety of modalities. Even the smallest opening, the narrowest orifice may be penetrated by the bringer of death. Dissolution and dissipation are unimaginably close. This darkness, too close for comfort, hides within itself a primordial lack of orientation: „the night was dark, no father was there.” (Blake 2006: 50) There is no father in the darkness. Darkness is an emanation of paleness, pallid death. For every corpse, there is a swamp, a foreign depth that receives and breeds rottenness. Endlessly strange and impossibly close, the „invisible worm” is „the night” that „veil’d the pole.” (Blake 2006: 158) The rose-vagina’s life is one of eternalized transition, a being-in-foreclosure. She can never again become closed, shielded, pure. She is disappearance itself, the noisy silence, sick of dematerialization. As opposed to dreams of virtualization and axiologization, the body of the sick rose is a reminder of corporeality’s hold. Decomposition, loss of composure, is the gesture that undoes corporeality, only to remind the viewer that he/she/it is never distant from the ever-present danger of internal revolt. Revoltingly, posthuman revolutionary agents can break forth from beneath the skin of the vaginal rose. The invisible worm, once it approaches the open rose, transfigures into a symbol of putrid excess, sickening the plant, which is itself a product of Earth’s dirty womb. In the words of Gary J. Shiply and Kenji Siratori, "vermin in the dead trees dreaming the colour of nihilism." (Shipley and Siratori 2013: 61) Darkness, transience, ephemerality – all these are moments of eroticism, hot proximities that render us uncomfortably (and, let it be added, joyously) close to dematerialization. It is the blackness of the worm that allows for the rose’s pink meatiness to stand out. Anti-eroticism and erotic proximity blend into one monstrous hybridity. Dirt and hybridity are two aspects of chaotic de-and rematerialization.
We could even say that the condition of dust-being is the emergence of posthuman hyperoperativity, the revolt of the revolting. Anthropomorphic forms disappear underneath the sea of parasitical existents, viral agents and seditious microbes. The invisible worm is the Ground underlying Earth, the basis of every living thing. Its blackness resides within every dark segment of the world. Our rose gives itself to the invisible worm, during the course of a destructive mysterious activism.
Blake’s poetry responds to this dilemma with the archaeological uncovering of inhuman activism. The invisible worm bores into all existents, ourselves included, and does not stop once it has undone all forms of the Romantic sublime. Its abjection, the fact that all it seems to do is crawl in the dirt (or dirty vagina-rose), renders the worming agent unintegratable into standard modes of aesthetics. This creature drives itself ever nearer the heart of the Earth, but it also seeks to transcend gravity by acts of vertical ascent. It enjoys and hates its proximity with the soil. A dark, misty worm spreads in the air and in the earth, dematerializing all living substances until nothing remains aside from the groundless Ground, the basis that cannot serve as foundation. Dematerialization opens the way for rematerialization, through the entropy it engenders. If anything, we may call this way the impossible possibility.
Transience, the darkening which is disappearance, constitutes an important theme of The Ecchoing Green as well. (Blake 2006: 29-33) Darkness appears after the Sun has gone down: this should be the time of sleep, calm reflection and meditation. The poem itself, however, is conspicious for the fact that it obviates any kind of cyclicality. We can harbor no illusions as to whether the light shall return; it is condemned to disappear underneath the horizon. The onset of the night darkens the Green. This darkness is a result of the irrevocable disappearance of light. It is an absent that is desperate to be visible, but can never cross the threshold separating it from its own manifestation. Such vacancy simply cannot arrive at presence. The children of whom Blake speaks in the poem seek protection from the exterior night in the womb of their Mother. One blackness cannot overcome another. They cuddle up to their Mother, but this desire for internality, like all other desires, is an empty one. Never again shall they be able to regain access to maternal Night. Theirs is an innocence born of sin, a path without return. Countrysides are rendered invisible by the advent of a dark celestial body that unites both internal and external darkness within its inaccessible, infernal core. Within the zone of union, there is no difference between the various, variegated modalities, for all are variations upon the theme of emptiness.
Beyond life, the virulence of undead life awaits. In Contracted, we are made aware that sex=death. ( 2013) Samantha’s sexual uncertainty is the source of her undoing. Not without a sense of grim irony, the director states that „we live in a progressive world today, and I think films don’t reflect that enough. I wanted this story to portray our culture as accurately as possible so that the horror felt like it was happening in a real world.” (ibid) The rotting flesh, the progress of decomposition: these are facets not of some fanciful horror film, but realist representations of social decay. Contracted is realist to the core, to realist for comfort. We realize that we ourselves are nothing more than wormlike things, crawling in the flesh of the world, disfigured beyond recognition. Samantha is, even prior to her transfiguration, „a little black thing among the snow.” (Blake 2006: 122) She is dark, for she is a product of darkness, a child of Earth, a clump of dirt. Human beings are emergent passivities that believe themselves to be active beings, endowed with free will and the ability to choose. It is choice itself that destroys, decomposes the agent. The infected, horrifically lacerated body is nothing more than a clone, an uncomfortably authentic clone at that. It is horroristic, for it reminds us of our own destiny. Samantha becomes alienated, estranged from her environment – because of her very familiarity. The invisible worm is rendered visible by its everyday, mundane presence, the faimiliarity of its constant availability. And this is what makes it fearsome to uncover.
We get the unpleasant feeling that the young, deprived and, presumably, starving child portrayed in The Chimney Sweeper, as socially realist a poem as any, is nothing more than yet another manifestation of the „invisible worm.” Its presence pollutes the realm of sociability. Rather than pure, white snow, what Blake sees is „a little black thing”, writhing and suffering in the cold of winter. For him, the boy cries, ’weep! ’weep in notes of woe.” (ibid) Blake is far from unattentive to suffering. These notes of suffering hint at the horror of existence, all too real, yet never real enough, too false to be true, but never false enough to make a difference. For Blake, the scene afforded by this destitute young creature is endlessly disquieting. He has the boy exclaim, when speaking of his parents, „they clothed me in the clothes of death.” (ibid) Although seemingly contented, this „black” little boy is disquieted by the prospect of a far from uncertain disappearance. He is one with the invisible worm. As a matter of fact, one could say that he is merely an embodiment of life’s transience, and could be replaced with any other existent. For Blake could easily have been moved by the plight of a stone, as much as the plight of another human being. Dematerialization destroys all forms. Such a stance entails the transendence of the Ego, the eradication of subjectivity and the de-centering of the human.
Such a decentering, post-anthropocentric tendency may be observed in A Dream, in which depressive foreboding is not restricted to human actants. Blake writes here of an ant that had „lost its way”, „troubled, ’wilder’d, and forlorn.” (Blake 2006: 88) This interspecies meeting allows Blake to recognize common features between the ant and his fellow suffering humans. Similarly to the Cornish peasants (who were also called „Emmetts”, a pejorative term that was also used to denote ants), insects too can be „dark, benighted, travel-worn.” (ibid) Social awareness and a sense of responsibility with regard to nonhuman actants blend together wonderfully in these lines, albeit the commonality is, for the most part, a negative one. In Blake’s poetics, it is mostly negative possessions such as darkness, opacity, transience, suffering and death that unite the suffering beings of Earth. Dark sadness is what multivarious organisms have in common. Not even pain and trauma are appropriable. Ben Woodard has written of a „third space” residing between „vital material” and „speculative thought.” (Woodard 2013: 222) This special zone congeals from the „cloud of observation” and the freedom of speculation, uniting within itself the object of perception, perception and their various relations in one space of interrelationality. (ibid) We are not capable of neatly separating the place of Blake’s observations from the his own body, his mind from the suffering of the ant, for landscape, perception and emotion congeal into one single modality.
The „third space” of interspecies communion is born of the night. The point of commonality is the moment of mutual disappearance, the proximity of death. For what else is suffering, if not a premonition of the most complete of annihilations? Nonhuman actants recount their sufferings to a minority of creatures with ears willing enough to listen. And what changes? For the ant, most assuredly nothing. It continued to live a life of suffering and toil. Ideally, we would assume that Blake snuffed out the flame of its pain as quickly as he could. Reversibility between human and animal roles may be observed in many other poems of Blake’s, such as The Fly. A kind of transversalism is at play here, where the poet himself becomes a fly („a happy fly, If I live Or if I die”) (Blake 2006: 130) The poet’s happiness becomes an aspect of insecthood. Metamorphosis is inherently disfigurating, perverse, a reversal of roles wherein the fly becomes „a man like me.” (ibid) The fly and Blake are the same, and yet, infintely distant. It is their proximity that makes them into one, chiasmatic personality, a dividuality. In a third, liminal space, they are united, flying above the world, into the third space, the space of indifference.
The unvocalizable incommunicability of suffering is a right bestowed upon all agents and existents. In yet another place, we read of pebbles speaking, denouncing the impossibility and futility of love, for sexual desire „seekth only Self to please.” (Blake 2006: 106) Love’s inhumanity, the irrevocable failure of all magnetism is communicated in crystalline verse not by any poet or bard, but the living Ground. Dematerialization, the desire unto transformation, becomes the transgressively silent song of nonhuman existents. The „garden mild” we may transform, at will, into „a desert wild.” (Blake 2006: 112) Human operativity, once it has chewed up Earth’s cadaver, in the manner of an invisible worm, becomes ever more transfigurative, ever more unaware of its true form. And this absence of form renders humans open to infectious vengeance. The human thereby, once it succumbs to internality, is consumed by nonhuman nature. Dustlike, dematerialization covers the Earth and weeds grow rampant.


-Africa, Thomas (1982) "Worms and the death of kings: a cautionary note on disease and
history." Classical antiquity 1.1, 1-17
-Bertans, Hans (1993) „The Postmodern Weltanschauung and its Relation to Modernism:
An Introductory Survey”, in: Joseph Natoli (ed. 1993) A Postmodern Reader (New York: SUNY Press)
-Blake, William (bilingual edition, 2006) Songs of Innocence and of Experience/Az
Ártatlanság és a Tapasztalás dalai (General Press)
-Blanchot, Maurice (1995 [1980]) The Writing of the Disaster (Lincoln: University of
Nebraska Press)
-Blume, Michael, Carsten Ramsel, and Sven Graupner (2015) "Religiosity as a demographic
factor-an underestimated connection?." Marburg Journal of Religion 11.1
-Klossowski, Pierre (2007) Such a Deathly Desire (New York: State University of New York
-Kristeva, Julia (1982) Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection (New York: Columbia
University Press)
-Logie, Carmen H., et al. (2015) "A Pilot Study of a Group-Based HIV and STI Prevention
Intervention for Lesbian, Bisexual, Queer, and Other Women Who Have Sex with Women in Canada." AIDS patient care and STDs 29.6: 321-328
-Masciandaro, Nicola (2012) „Half Dead. Parsing Cecilia”, in: Myra Seaman, Eileen Joy
and Nicola Masciandro (eds.): Dark Chaucer. An Assortment (New York: Punctum Books)
-Peak, David (2014) The Spectacle of the Void (Schism Press)
-Rosenbaum, Stephen E. (1993) "How to be dead and not care: a defense of Epicurus." in:
Fischer, The Metaphysics of Death (ed. 1993), 119-134
-Shipley, Gary J. –Siratori, Kenji: Necrology, Schism Press, 2013
-Stapleton, Erin K.: The Corpse Is The Territory: The Body of Dora Kelly Lange in True
Detective’ In: Gery J. Shipley: True Detection, Schism Press, 2014
-Thacker, Eugene (2015) Cosmic Pessimism (Minneapolis: Univocal Publishing)
-Williams, Bernard (1973) Problems of the Self, (Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University
-Woodard, Ben (2013) „Casting Speculation”, in: The Petropunk Collective (eds. 2013)
Speculative Medievalisms. Discography (New York: Punctum Books)

Translated by Adam Lovasz

No comments:

Post a Comment