Sunday, May 30, 2010

Clay III.136

Scriptive Abbey. The monks and nuns are of a stunning physical beauty. They live as a co-operative, each however with his or her own room. Their bodies are covered with texts from [. . .], tattooed upon them in cuneiform script. They are dedicated to amours, study and prayer.

There are three tattoo-scribes who work in the entrance hall--the Roman alphabetic transliteration fully legible on each of their six wrists. The various pictographs or ideographs that come to be used in the increasingly scriptive text will be translated over the rest of their bodies which over time will become reference works.

Those who come to read our text pay by the hour, and must decipher it as they will, the reference works being called up to the individual rooms by patrons for an added fee. The religious pay their way being read.

Of course there will be bodies of text preferred by each patron, either for the text itself or for the ensemble of the book as it gathers the text. Patrons will have to make appointments with each book to be read, and books cannot be taken out.

With each generation the task of this reading becomes more difficult, as the script becomes more scriptive. Patrons must then arrange to meet with an older book so as to corroborate their reading of the text under scrutiny. The text as a spoken word is held in the keeping of scribes and the religious, who may, it is true, eventually lose it themselves.

Such employment would hardly succeed in America at present, though the abbey or bibliothèque or brothel may work in Paris, Berlin, or Tokyo. The book needs relatively few hours of availability in order to pay its keep, and can spend the time thus gained in study, amours and prayer.

Many a book will not allow him- or herself to be handled before he or she has been well read.

NB: Prospective books have no choice of what text or texts they are made. The tattoo-scribe chooses to copy what and where he or she will. The full text of [. . .] must be preserved--i.e. legible--in the library at all times.

Je m'adresse à Béatrice André-Leickmann, à Jean-Louis de Cénival, à Jean Bottero, à Christine Ziegler, à Ake Sjoberg, à vos étudiants, aux parisiens choisis: j'ai besoin d'artistes de tatouage, de jeunes hommes et femmes dévots, d'une grande maison pas loin du centre-ville, d'un traducteur, et de votre collaboration dans la scriptivité continuelle et progressive du [. . .], i.e. je vous prie de m'emmener à Paris pour étudier là-bas. --Eric Mader-Lin

Sunday, May 23, 2010

Clay IV.1


Knowledge: what does the word properly mean? There are ways of understanding the word that abuse it terribly, that force the word's and the world's fall further than one could previously have imagined. And these ways are now in the mainstream--they have long been so.

Many will immediately resist this writing because of what they take to be "knowledge." They will insist that any writing about our relations with God must be a kind of hocus pocus about which we should all know better. "God is dead," they echo. "We live in the twentieth century, not the Middle Ages."

I do not agree that our century knows better. I would insist we know worse. As 20th century men and women, we do know "more," in a way, but to know more, for us, is to know worse. The manner in which we know is not better. It is, for many, no longer knowledge.

Clay IV.2

Being, grace, knowledge--the three supreme gifts. Can any of them be given without the others also being given in some degree?

Clay IV.3

Revelation is never complete.

Clay IV.4

History was broken with the coming of Christ. Not just historiography, but history itself: history in its sense as referring to the possibilities and exigencies of our existence.

The coming of Christ, the realization of the meaning of this coming, have broken history. But the realization of the meaning of Christ is not complete: it goes on continuously, it goes on yet. Our lives, to the extent that we follow Christ, continue to fulfill some part of this realization.

If we are thinking aright, we recognize that "history broken" is not a closed book, but rather a deed performed by God and then given over into our hands to realize. To realize here is first to know, then to make actual our part of knowledge in the fallen world. Our knowledge and faith is made actual both through our own creative works and through what we let wither away as being of the outside, as being inessential to the work we recognize.

Clay IV.5

The question of the Fall. It is for me a question of a territory in which God's power is not in full effect, in which this power is present rather as potential, and in which, further, there is another power present. Humanity's turn away from God, figured in the story of the Garden, is always a turn toward another.

I do not believe that Creation is the work of a demiurge, but neither do I believe the Creation is entirely predestined by a God whose being is all of being. No, there is something else, an Other besides God's work, an Other that, at least as regards this territory the earth, may end up undermining this work through the weight of its resistance, the tenacity of its darkness. It is a question for me--and I do think of it in rather Manichaean terms--of a battle for the world and the souls of men. I would not, however, say with the Gnostics that the souls of men are to escape this territory, leaving it to fall into nothing. No, the material realm, this earth or universe which is the territory of God's work, is not to be abandoned in a movement of quietistic pessimism; it is not to be abandoned as garbage. That is not the goal of the battle we are in. But neither is the universe entirely good. There is a worm at the core of creation, a worm that was present at the very beginning.

The traditional doctrines are powerfully formulated as regards these questions. Nonetheless, they are not as compelling as a truth approached, among others, by the Gnostics. The Gnostics, however, have obscured the truth as well.

The truth is neither with certain of the Kabbalists who insist that God needs our constructive attention to maintain his being, nor is it with the Calvinists who insist that our being and our salvation are eternally predetermined by God.