"Literature is without proofs. By which it must be understood that it cannot
prove, not only what it says, but even that it is worth the trouble of saying it."
-- Roland Barthes
"As an allegory rather than a utopia, an allusion rather than
an illusion, desire was for a whole generation a guiding
star. Today it is merely an observation satellite."
-- Jean Baudrillard
10:17 pm. I receive a text saying "document arriving in ten minutes #letterbeingsandtime"
She doesn't need to sign her name: our devices do that for us now. And our names are now our addresses. We exist as locations, not as histories. We appear as messages, as quieter and quieter messages, appearing and dísappearing like moments of weather inside the Times Square of our crowded and cool devices. Messages like snow, or the 21st century equivalent of snow, coded for anonymity and distance and endless love.
And then, ten minutes later, these arrive:
Gazing at the images in the darkness I find myself thinking about the notion of 'reception'. There's a passage in "Godel, Escher, Bach" where Hofstadter talks about how messages have to not only contain their message content but also a little bit of meta-message that announces the presence of a message. He talks about Bach records being sent out into space with the hope of some alien civilisation receiving them. Will they be able to recognise the 'envelopes' of satellite craft and metal box and LP record? Will they recognise the grooves as containing 'music'? Will they đeduce 'record player' and 'violin' and 'reverberation' and 'emotion'? And finally, will they get the message?
He also goes on to wonder whether a meteorite crashing into the craft, obliterating it in a moment, may be a way of playing Bach, of 'receiving the message' of Bach...
Sometimes I feel like that meteorite and sometimes I feel like Bach, or a museum of musical instruments, or some kid's first ever record player, or a museum on fire in the night of all nights, or a video of that conflagration found on Kafka's phone and destined for Felice but never sent. Sometimes I feel like the message and sometimes I feel like the envelope.
I picture her texting, standing by the window of her studio (where her phone lives, on the windowledge, safe from the surrounding chaos), and a line from a Richard Powers novel comes back to me: "her face was like someone texting a lover." Its not an infatuation, its just something I'm thinking, something to do with light. Faces and light. The human eye perceives less than one millionth of one percent of the electromagnetic spectrum - yet here we are: texting, visualising, painting, remembering, a communicative array somewhere between golden telepathy and meteorite crash. We're at home in the darkness. Its amazing.