27 March 2013

Jocelyn Saidenberg's Bartleby

Jocelyn Saidenberg gave an incredible reading of her "Bartleby" project on Saturday night, which got me thinking about her shipwreck, a chapbook printed nearly a year ago on the occasion of the exhibition "9 Balls: Alexis Knowlton New Work" thanks to Margaret Tedesco and her 2nd floor projects. I've been meaning to scan some pages from it since then, which should give you a sense of how far behind I am. I'm not sure if any of these are still available (I think it was printed in an edition of, like, 100), but you might check at the 2nd floor website just in case.

Jocelyn's Bartleby also got me thinking about Heriberto Yepez's new Chain Links text, The Empire of Neomemory (which I've been reading in anticipation of an interview with translators Jen Hofer, Chris Nagler, and Brian Whitener). Yepez makes the following argument about Bartleby:

"The scrivener arrived on the scene of capitalism melancholic, frustrated, disappointed with himself, skeptical of real communication, crushed, sunk in his interior world, separated from everything and everyone. The scrivener arrived into capitalism tormented by the loneliness caused by his failure. He could not communicate with us. His letters failed."

And later...

"As a failed technician of the sacred before taking on the form of renegade copyist of Wall Street, the Oxidental scribe (note: here I take it Yepez is referring to Bartleby and Charles Olson and American poets writ large!) is condemned to nihilism, to pure passive resistance, a being protected by the paternal State, an Oedipal being. The scribe is condemned to death, to dying among the ruins of his wavering between a metaphysical unemployment and a subservience to capitalism.
     Co-bodies of each other: scribe and New York attorney, writer and State, thought and capitalism, secret symbiosis, silent union of the apparently distinct, truncated relation and therefore not unreal. Since the union of the two is the most uncanny, the saddest and most disappointing, it is the very loop of the complete failure of the human project. All of us are Bartleby. Copyists, clandestine propagandists of capitalism with no exit" (44).

I'd LOVE to read Yepez's text next to Jocelyn's to see what would fluoresce...is it simply that Jocelyn's Bartleby is a body with desire?

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