Archive for July 2008
Stephen Mitchelmore, in a recent post at This Plaice Space, writes of his “uncomprehending recognition of the regular flounder between Blanchot and Bernhard, Proust and Kafka, Stevens and Celan from which this blog is suspended.“I thought that a nice phrase – we all have our tutelary deities, beneath whom we variously, to quote Webster’s definition of “flounder”, fling the limbs and body, as in making efforts to move; … struggle, as a horse in the mire, or as a fish on land; …roll, toss, and tumble; … flounce. I seem to myself to make steady dabs between Perec and Celan, Ashbery and Pessoa, Rauschenberg and Frank Stella, and many others…
In the meanwhile, here’s a rather angry-looking flounder, by Günter Grass:
Gunter Grass, ‘Butt uber Land’ (‘Flounder above country’) 1978, etching
from the exhibition “The Writer’s Brush”
At first glance, writers of languages like English seem to be those who favor an arrow of time which goes left to right and down the page. Page breaks are some sort of discontinuity which doesn’t seem to bother them, but seems to bother a related clan, the copy editor. But a closer inspection of the writer clan shows that their arrow of time is at best a confusing mishmash of directions. For example, an often employed trick is the so-called “flashback” in which the reader is magically transported back in time to an event which the writer couldn’t figure out how to include otherwise or was too lazy to figure out how to include without using this trick of the trade. Another common technique is the mental head fake on the arrow of time known as “foreshadowing.” So while the rhythm of reading may go left to right and down the page, this direction in time is often a farce, disguising a deep disregard for any pure direction of time, but allowing all sorts of internal analepsis, external analepsis, and prolepsis.
Conclusion: the arrow appears to be left to right and down, but in postmodern interpretation is to be regarded none of anyone’s business.