What are you waiting for!
What are you waiting for?
|! = a call to action, a command, commonly used in rallies, weight loss programs, self-help manuals, advertising campaigns, and outdoor executive empowerment programs||? = an invitation to respond, albeit impatiently, to the hesitation of the other perched on the brink of fascism, anorexia, pseudo-enlightenment, a rash purchase, or a 400 foot platform above a swollen river|
I am reading the last pages of Barthes' S/Z. I laugh at the price - $5.95, and then stop laughing, because I am laughing at what the price is, its hypothetical presence, not at what it was. I am mistaking a trace for a relic. Imagining that the price of things is fixed like the femur of a saint in a glass casket.
The yellowed spaces that frame the type on the page are filled with the fretful scribbles of my former self, age 22, standing in the margins, peering in through a glass darkly.
In pencil on page three - 'Paradigm: the inflection of a word tabulated as an example'. (I wonder where I got that one).
I remember an essay I wrote as a footsoldier, attempting a dutiful reproduction of Barthes' majesterial dismemberment. My cadaver - 'The Prussian Officer,' a short story by D.H. Lawrence. The essay was returned to me bloodied, exhausted, reproachful. I was informed in black ink that I had mistaken Barthes' Kamikaze raid for a regimental onslaught, and followed where I ought not.
This I remember while typing on a keyboard, reading a screen, flicking through a book, thinking about my past.
Were I to render my life in hypertext I would begin not at the beginning, wherever that might be, but with the words START NOW. I mean these two words not to command the narrative with my baton in hand, but to state the obvious: even in the infininte potentialities of hypertext, the reader must start, if they want to begin. The writer must begin, if they want to start.
All reading and writing begins in the present tense, from where it zooms off on its highways and biways.
A woman without a past
A face that never blushes
A smooth unscarred body free from those material scribbley loops in the margins which, though fixed (unless I reach for the eraser!), are ambiguous and opaque traces of my 'was'.
(Just what was I thinking??)
Hypertext doffs its hat, curtsies perhaps, to the kingdom of the present, and like all good subjects sits up all night rewriting the past.
'Constructive hypertexts are version of what they are becoming, a structure for what does not exist'. (Joyce 1988)
'More photographic than typographic, electronic text emerges as the image does from the chemical bath of the darkroom, in present tense, fully focussed before its birth, ablink...'(Joyce)
(oh that little wide-eyed monster!)
Well, I can always doodle on the labels of my disks, scribble on the cream plastic phone. It's okay. I can still be the vandal of my self.
I am reading the last pages of Barthes' S/Z.
The last sentence of Sarrazine reads:
"And the Marquise remained pensive".
I read Barthes, and get to thinking about the image of pensiveness - say - Rodin's Thinker.
This inevitably takes me to Dobbie Gillis, but I nip this trajectory in the bud. (My collaborator may have more to say on this issue...) There is structurally nothing that stops the sculpture in question being called 'Waiting', is there? ('The waiter' being just too ambiguous.)
The Thinker is, like the classic text 'replete with meaning.' And yet, it holds something in reserve, its 'ultimate meaning..this supplementary, unexpected meaning which is the theatrical sign of the implicit - pensiveness: the pensive (in faces, in texts) is the signifier of the inexpressible, not of the unexpressed.'
The classic text, writes Barthes, fears that it will be read as having exhausted itself, as having nothing more to say. Under the guise of 'pensiveness' it attempts to 'let it be understood... that it does not say everything'.
It is distinctly professorial, this pensive text!
Our thinker bequeaths the sign of 'inexpressible depths' upon himself, and leaves us mere students humbled before the sublime unsaid.
If the Thinker is plenitude, what then is the Waiter?
A mere servant at the table of time? Passive, deferential, feminine, reviled, does the waiter have nothing to say?
To wait, unlike to think, is to risk being read by others as surface, as pure exteriority, as a vagrant signifier.
Prostitute, sex offender.
Not, 'Sir, would you mind telling me what you are thinking?', but 'Sir, would you mind telling me what you are doing?'
Waiting, you are all body. Thinking, all mind.
'Nothing Officer, and it's Madam to you!'
The worst reply of all.