Monday, April 03, 2006

Thoughts after reading Samuel Delany

For Michael:

The efficacies and (negative) epiphanies of public space. Squeezed out by Capital even as they are created by and through it. It's funny or ironic to be intrigued by any discussion or writing on public space and to have more than a touch of agoraphobia. Many have accused me of being a shut-in, and my most comfortable moments are conversations in my own private space. But this isn't about my neuroses...
The negotiations of space that we as collective individuals take part in -- culminating in a variety of encounters at different cultural levels, whether they be aesthetic, sexual, everyday, or for the joy of pure movement and (potential) contact with other selves, other bodies -- is, well, life. So life happens outside, a la Elsbeth Probyn's Outside Belongings. Disruptions of identity, spatial gaps, insignia, street life. I think of Style Wars.
Exhilaration occurs at the same time as desire for escape. Fantasy space and fear of recognition. Comfort, familiarity. Sickening boredom and stagnation. Um, Detroit. Post-industrial ho-hum but even worse, urban renewal. Like Delany, I too abjure nostalgia and valorization. And like Benjamin I want to ask, where are the spaces inhabited by forgotten futures? Is the image here not like Benjamin's Angel of History? It is, in fact, Detroit's abandoned image of itself, a paradoxical outline of invisibility. Delany writes of contact in semi-permeable public/private space. Recognition without (re)production; his tales of sexual encounters jibe in my memory with Acker's: "I absolutely love to fuck." And Lacan: the space of the other is the site for misrecognition of the self. The confusion of self/other is a derealization of space. Where self becomes permeable, I am marked by the other(s desire). Rimbaud's "I is an other." The urban landscape is a dystopian picaresque rendering me.

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