For me placenessness
is very much the locus for actual communitites (as opposed to ideal communities
which are always metaphorical). Placelessness is where the action is. What
McLuhan emphasized as the "resonant interval", that middle distance where
bodies collide, the bubble chamber and the diverse apparatuses of physics,
placeless chambers where we learn how particles interact, and the shared
space of two or more people talking which is never u-topian but always
a-topian, neither yours nor mine nor ours but belonging to everyone and
no-one, and the interval that persists as friction between two bodies that
"Place there is none;
we go forward and backward and there is no place."
by way of the epigraph
to MP's _Notes for Echo Lake_. From the Augustine quote you already have
a micro-poetics, peripetaia, back and forthness (which Aristotle considered
fundamental to tragedy) and the statement that the condition of placenessness
is that of going back and forth, returning, repeating.
The one blurb on the back
of _Notes_ sez: "The confident brilliance of this writing makes possible
a PLACE where words initially engage their meanings--as if the edge of
all 'creations' of all 'worlds'" (Robert Creeley). Strikes me that this
PLACE, the place where word initially engage their meanings, is very much
a placeless place, an atopian space, i.e. not really a place at all. Another
Placelessness should not
be construed as a lack of place, i.e. forlorness or displacement per se,
but as a productive and active thing that people feel and use, i.e. not
a nothingness of any sort or means. Nor is placelessness the _opposite_
of place. So it's not the negation of some positive category. It is its
own thing that lacks a name. It's very good the way it disassembles any
attempt to put it somewhere, like the sense it seems to conjure.
Strikes me too that placelessness
might productively linked with "outside(ness)" again thinking of Blaser,
Agamben, and others, or relatedly, _désouvrée_. I think these
notions form an assemblage: Nancy, Agamben and Blanchot all seem to want
to talk about, without conceptualizing it, a placeless space that a) is
active and does not issue from a lack, b) involves writing, and c) engages
"The taking place of things
does not take place in the world. Utopia is the very topia of things" Agamben,
The Coming Community
Blanchot's "the unworking"
placelessness is the sense
of place that is without category or necessary predicate and the incessant
emergence that occurs there. McLuhan called it the "resonant interval."
place strongly implies
occupation and propriety. A place you occupy that has proprietary limits:
table 7, left-field, apartment 4b, head of the table, goal-tender, proper
noun, room 212, the middle, by the door, in the band, master, slave, aisle
5, row 3, the hero, suite 700, husband, indirect object, inspector 7, out
to lunch, animal-lover, tree-hugger, rag-picker, copula verb, leader of
the free world, etc.
But placelessness also
has its insidious aspects Bill Gates is trying to legislate a place in
Windows for his Internet Explorer.
The so-called market _place_
Another essential feature
of place is iterability: you can always make substitutions, the place will
always be there, but the person or thing occupying it can change.
Place is easily represented
on the dual axis of position: where it is and what is there: Joe Blow,
district manager, Nanaimo. In this light, place is less an affirmation
than a denial, a denial of force.
Place appropriates phenomena
in their static moment.
the bare rocks
Let force appropriate
phenomena in their active moment.
In fact place and representation,
place and grammaticality, are inextricably linked. Place does not exist
outside its own representabilty or without a grammar; place is representability,
I've decided to create
a map, using very broad strokes, of some of the features of placelessness
in 20th C. thought. The apparent irony of mapping placelessnesses I will
leave hanging, in a provacative way.
Increasingly, in order
to do justice to the world in thinking/writing about it, there has to be
recourse to an outside, a space outside the habitual domains of familiar
discourses, phrase regimes, and logics. Heidegger made a wooly attempt
at this and a not so wooly attempt. His theory of authenticity, the wooly
attempt, posits a node deep within our being that calls us back from our
throwness. A vital placelessness, which he calls 'care', calling us back
from our lost placelessness in the prattle the world, or something like
that. The not so wooly attempt, because it has been so influential, is
the theory of ontological difference, the positioning of a gap between
(small o) ontic and (capital O) Ontological being which gives us the distinction
between small b and capital B Being. Heidegger may have been the first
to try this: conceiving of an exigent non-place that was in no way transcendent
in that it resided in language and spoke to us in a voice that was not
our own and not the voice of God or
Nature. But that we heard
a voice that was not our own is novel. Heidegger will be our archetypical
What Lyotard calls the
'Inhuman'--a jolt to anthropomorphicism
"an other than the reasonable
is said to enter into the real" (Blaser)
Kristeva takes about the
'outside' that is always already inside any closed set.
Perhaps place emerges
out of our resentment for objects, loading objects with the weight of higher
values like stability, permanence, and intelligibility. To love place is
to despise objects?
But atoms know no place.
Olson's designation of
Creeley as the "Figure of Outward," which is very interesting phrase
Placelessness is vital.
torque, force elude all sense of place as static /circumscribable / locatable.