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Genevieve Robichaud

This Thing Called the Wrapping Text

I want composition multiplied in reflections. I write what I think of as a wrapping text. Sentences the length of something wound. A ribbon. A reel. Sometimes compressed. Paralogical. The wrapping text is one that has a magnetic arc. Its place is the subtlety of combinations. Its centres that of coprecision. In the plural, the adjuncts move, trade places. Their cadence is toward a willingness. Their autonomy, in sculptural terms, is a question of what they make: armature, pedestal, sometimes devastating, like the face of a wall and its embrasure, whose link to the mouth, in embrasser, elucidates all the pressures of the kiss, all the pressures of the body. In military architecture, an embrasure is the opening or slit where guns or canons or arrows are fired. Like a loophole, it cuts a small mouth in the wall. A widening like indents. The expansiveness of line breaks. The hole only slightly wider than the muzzle it embraces it with its mouth. In dentistry the link to the mouth is literalized. Embrasures are V-shaped valleys between teeth. Duplicitous, the embrasure kisses nothing but swallows the composition of the landscape, its composure defined by what it disgorges. That link again, to the visceral, this time falling on the throat. La gorge. In architecture, the neck of a bastion. And of course returning to the mouth and to the stomach: to gorge. And then to composition again. To the valley between the hills.

About the negativity of objects maintaining some prior form and being both abolished and preserved...The example used is that of strawberry jam; as a “preserve” it gives way to something that “will keep” – notwithstanding how it also remains in keeping with its strawberryness.

In October I begin thinking about the link between composition and composure. While on one hand a text may be said to be composed (by) – underlining the gesture of writing – ‘composition’s’ most common usage seems to be in reference to works of art where it refers to the assemblage of imaginary lines that sketch up its spatial arrangement. In the latter example, composition simultaneously builds things up and breaks them down whereas composure suggests a sense of togetherness, of collectedness usually related to a sensation of being. The term is one of misrepresentation, or perhaps rather of post-representation – scripting the body, amending and pretending not to be touched and changed by so many texts, so many relations, echolocations.

It is late one morning when a friend, over coffee, tells me about love, about water, about work. I owe much of my thinking about the kiss to Hito Steyerl who writes: A kiss is a moving surface, a ripple in time-space...A kiss is a wager, a territory of risk, a mess. The sound of the rain in Nicole Brossard’s Le désert mauve is present throughout, how it amplifies the invisible night. That darkness or silence that is not nothing. How it suspends and distends, and rapidly how it evaporates. Or again, the snow falling over Montreal, and everywhere perhaps in between, and the lines, these and not these –

I find myself always arriving there – to that moment where your absence is felt like a dash, like a moment of suspension in time. I lose my place in the narrative every time I look up, falsely expecting to see you.

Sometimes I added a dash after you and finished the sentence with a second ‘there’. Other times I deleted the silence and separation imposed by the dash. Reading it over I erased the adverb too. Keeping it would not only have meant building an echo but it would have imposed a kind of consolation, there there, which seemed heavy-handed. Now whenever I get to that part, even though I’ve deleted it, I feel a sudden halt at the you. I don’t know if that’s because I can still hear it, or because I’m half expecting to see it there. Is it a coincidence that I’ve built that sentence around the same pretext that I sought to represent? Later I read: la prose, une manière de s’entouré. Is that the wrapping text? A few ideas or words apart like arms outstretched. The simile seems weak, but now so does the theoretical apparatus of the ribbon. Or else to think of the ribbon as an ornament to be added (to one’s hair or dress or gift) or an instrument – the ribbon of a typewriter doing away with the simile. Something concrete, an engraving perhaps – une fente dans le ruban marking what I have here deleted. Inscribed in the remnant is the immobility of the things I wanted to say. Here the ribbon oscillates between something trivial and something real. It frames my disappearance, but there’s a lot more that vanishes there. Does the kiss insinuate what floats between open arms. That one ends with a period, the question being trivial. Perhaps the question is whether or not the embrace renders the kiss plausible.

The knots to which all the rest clings.

A ribbon is a time-based medium. Non-absorptive, it ghosts the space it records. It possesses nothing. Meanwhile, you measure the days with how much you’ve written. Every now and again a bird lands on the clothesline.

...How quickly the landscape fades into two allied lines, how quickly they disperse into sentences – and how quickly the composition changes, bends and curves in the falling apart of the light as depth abandons the mind: gray the colour of theory.

Elsewhere I’ve written, or rather assembled, three sentences by three authors to show how they echo one another. It was a sentence about time and I was tempted to suggest that what they were in fact after was not the measure of time but some incalculable experience. I’m thinking now that perhaps it has much more to do with solitude or even exile. Each produces a narrative that is not chosen – a narrative that elides the one that is written. Not wrapping but disassembling.

Walking up the mountain, I tell you about a new piece I’m writing which I don’t fully understand. I tell you it has something to do with a mechanism I call wrapping, which you momentarily confuse with its homonym. I address the misunderstanding (this isn’t the first time I’ve forgotten to specify. I’ve gotten so used to seeing it written down that I forget it can be seen differently when heard). I tell you the real difficulty is that its movement has something to do with love. I would mistrust anyone who made this statement, yet there is something about the movement of the writing; how it circles the enigma of certain ideas; how it leaves the enigma alone; comes back to it from some other place. It moves like water.

And then there are the questions that remain and perhaps will always remain...And it is probably better that way: Where does the wrapping text come from? What are its limits? Where does it stop? What does it ignore?


This piece first appeared in The Puritan.
Compression Augmentation