Evening Will Come: A Monthly Journal of Poetics (Issue 21, September 2012)


Now it might seem that Edward is able to create affective moments at will. After all, all the loved ones seem to want to tell their living friends and family that they are now happy, that they forgive them for any past grievances, etc. and this seems to create a well-spring of cathartic release. But the capacity for him to create those moments can only be realised according to the chance effects of his process. To understand this, we have to understand the radical way in which Edward uses language. Edward’s language is non-representational. It is necessarily so, since he has no idea what exists to be represented. He knows someone is dead. He knows that there are certain kinds of generic statements with which many people will identify, but he needs something more specific, and for that, he has to experiment. You often hear traditional writers talking about their inability to adequately represent reality. Often they will use the beat-out trope of translation to refer to the imperfect transformation of matter and experience into language. But translators know this is a false analogy. Translators need not question how to represent the world. They have been, as Benjamin puts it, “relieved of the effort and organisation of what is to be communicated.” Translation directs itself toward language, not toward representation in a traditional sense. It lays bare “the potential for linguistic self-reflexiveness,” through “impersonal procedure” (Dworkin: xliii). Rather than standing as a middle point between two worlds, Edward activates a field of medial relationality, in which meaning can only enter through the double bind of chance and process, and through the intensive relationality of language to itself. There is no ends to Edward’s means, except that which arrives after the fact.

The self-reflexivity of language in Edward is most striking when he attempts to produce a name through difference and repetition.

Who has the J-name like Jenny, Jennifer? um, actually to be, they’re telling me Jennifer-Marie, they’re telling me Jennifer w— Jennifer-Marie, so I’m getting the J-name and the M-name…. And there’s like a Jenny, Jennifer, Jenna, Janine, Jean…. and they’re putting an M directly connected to this, like Jennifer-Marie, Jenna-Mary….. and those who have watched me live know that I am like a psychic version of Rain Man I repeat myself over and over and over again…

Names here link themselves in a way that is eminently poetic. They refer to no person; they relate intensively only to each other, to other letters or configurations of letters. The person being ‘read’ will indeed usually affix a person to the name, but as always, this is a chance occurrence after the fact of the event of language. For this to happen though, Edward’s ‘cold writing practice must hold language open. He makes it pulsate like a jellyfish. It never closes its cavity. Like a J-thing and an F-thing placed back to back, a jackfish, or a jelly-flan. It cannot afford to erase difference and differentiability at any point. It must hold itself open to be filled with aleatoric content, around which the original stutter sits uncomfortably, like, as Benjamin says of translated language, a “king’s robe in wide folds” (TT).