About Time, Wounds, and Legibility
A weekend break to Oxford earlier this month cultivated in a conversational reunion with a wise man who elevates the typical boredom of a midlife crisis by a very peculiar touch of dead serious pragmatic optimism. He hates binary fluffing, though. The post below is retrieved from 2014.
Time passes and wounds won’t heal — never forgotten. Scratches made into the skin of a tree, in remembrance of a thing and in the form of a word, tend to deform as time passes by. The trunk grows and its dried skin stretches out, marks deepen and strokes broaden. Years go by. Opened up into the flesh of the tree and in remembrance of a thing, letters and words, the hollowed out displays of a name, a date or a lucid phrase or sentence, are now disguised into a contorted mound, one with no clear message, no words to spell or any names or dates to embody. What remains is the wound itself — testifying, as an index of a years-old injury, to a deed in the past. The fresh wound is clear and intelligible. It speaks, carries a message. When grown older and if not healed — and it will never fully heal — it transforms to an obscure mass, extremely hard to communicate with and receive replies from. A mute mass that never leaves and, at any moment, can pull out its contract of identification with pain and stab it into a soul. Therefore there’s a correspondence between incomprehensible characters and the years-old injury. Pointing at their contrast would crystallize their affinity: Incomprehensible characters should not be considered as straightforward signs of an old pain since this is to reinterpret their obscurity in terms of significance, this is to entangle them once again in a trap of content. The power of an incomprehensible character lies exactly in its relationship to time. Without having to maintain ancestral dependence on a source of pain, the incomprehensible character, untied from a chain of past significance, develops to engender a sense of senescence, a painful depth of time, and projects it along the timeline of reading, one that is always facing the contingency of an ever haunting future. Such articulation is different from that of the relationship of a text to its eventual subjection to future, to being read; it is instead that of the creation procedure of the instantaneous phantom of history and its transmission into the phantasm of future. This folded articulation of the past, the present, and the future should be considered as the sudden thrill of a future desire libidinally pronounced in past tense: The incomprehensible character, the obscure language, is a child’s instantaneous desire for aging.