Posted by: glue | June 29, 2008

The Superfund Site in Me

The poet speaks the poem as it is, not as it was: part of the reverberation of a windy night as it is, when the marble statues are like newspapers blown by the wind. He speaks by sight ahd insight as they are. There is no tomorrow for him. The wind will have passed by, The statues will have gone back to be things about (Wallace Stevens).


What narrative is for orality and argument for literacy, figure is for electracy. Spinoza speaks of “parallelism” between the two kinds of substance (thought and extension or materiality), both in one plane (of immanence). The essence of all lyric art, it is said, is the way some feature of the external natural or social world is made to intimate some inner immaterial reality. Figure is a device for locating and mapping a border zone of identity, tracing what does/not belong to me (my es/state).

The aspect of figure of most interest for Expression is its retention of the old cosmology, even if shifted from the vertical –as above so below — to the horizontal ( as outside, so inside). Hence the ability to express conatus, to support this experiment testing my capacity to be affected.

Each mode has its own relations with Problem. Argument involves understanding and gives a reason to act. Narrative involves values and models the proper action to take. Figure involves affect, and exposes the enigma of motivation, which is the passage between pure and practical reason — the site of decision. The axis of figure runs between Joy and Sadness (Spinoza). Its mood is the feeling “I can” (possum in Latin): the sense of a power to act (or not).

The three steps of figure are: 1) An initial appropriation of some extant attribute made to function as sign; 2) The emergence of a second dimension of implication, connoting a quality of my experiencde; 3) A reflexive folding of the second back onto the first, intimating a formal secret of art as such.

In EmerAgency consulting the egent engages with that dimension of Problem that resists all solution (the aporia, that which is impossible within the situation). I do not explain the disaster; it explains me. Something in the Cabot-Koppers Superfund site has to do with my conatus, such that I attend to the particular details of this scene as if my life depended on it (that is, my real life, my striving to persevere in my own being, so as to become what I am).

The mobile and the immobile flickering in the area between is and was are leaves, leaves burnished in autumnal burnished trees and leaves in whirlings in the gutters, whirlings around and away, resembling the presence of thought, resembling the presences of thoughts, as if, in the end, in the whole psychology, the self, the town, the weather, in a casual litter, together, said words of the world are the life of the world (“An Ordinary Evening in New Haven”).


  1. The Theory and Analogy from the CATTt combine in this instruction, focused in the term plan.

    Within the documentation of the disaster I select the policy plan, the proposal by the Army Corps of Engineers for preventing the pine tar and creosote residues from poisoning the acquifer that supplies the drinking water for my region.

    This “plan” carries overtones as figure: it is a vehicle for a tenor that shows me something about my life situation, specifically, my existential project, the choice (decision) by means of which I become what I am (my striving).

    This conatus or disposition manifests itself as a feeling, that is my first-person awareness as subject. I examine the policy plan affectively, to discover in it a figure for my own intuition of capacity, of possibility for how to act.

    The figure expresses a way to overcome the aporia, the impasse of the practico-inert world resisting my well-being. To compose the experiment I scan the details of the policy plan for attributes suggesting movement, a path, understood as an imagining of my future (space for time).

    All valences of the plan in its literal context are suspended: it is beyond good and evil. Fear and hope are the strings used to manipulate the axis of figure in our mediated city. Thought in this register is a sensation, aesthetic, a small charge of recognition (or not), to be tested (it is an experiment to map my rhizome).

    What feature of the plan is my objective correlative?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: