Archive for June 28th, 2009


Against Completion

Pick up a book that you love but don’t read it cover to cover. Pick up a book you might love. Start into a book with your hands. The water damage makes tumors, topography.

Read a passage of Gertrude Stein. Read a page or less or more.

Completion, the impulse towards completion, and the desire to make a reader complete are all tied together and all fundamentally non-responsive to the condition of the book. Plot is not meaning is not the essence or ontological core of the book. The book is pages and language, so experience it as pages and language.

Take a language bath. Pull down five books that will go sentence by sentence and break you up a little bit. Completion holds you and things together. Completion is the logic of progress. Do not believe that heterodox reading challenges the state but realize that orthodox reading is within the logic of the state.

The book that asks for completion is making a demand on you. Make demands on your books. Take them up as tools and aides. Take them seriously as what they are. Does the book truly make that demand of completion? The author may, but what do you owe the author? What right has he to demand?

Books are objects that archive orders of language and language meaning shifts. The logic of completion is the logic of exhaustion and the logic maximization. Do not exhaust your books, do not enter into a relationship of need or demand, but rather of free entry, movement, exchange.

To complete, to exhaust, to close the book on a book is to foreclose the realm of the unread, the fantastic aporetic space of potential. Read the all words of a book in the order they are printed but do not complete the book. The act is less important that the framing. Read a passage of Kathy Acker, put down the book, trace the crack on the cover.

Which is to say, take your books seriously. Take seriously their status instead of the edifice of cultural expectations surrounding them. Do not lament the impossible spans of time it must take to complete a book, but instead rejoice that you can enter at will, stop, skip. Rejoice that there is and will be the unread into which you can project the fullness of your fantasy and desire.

June 2009
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