Make Up Blog: Deferral

The discussion of time gets irresolute and I’ve often come to the terms that the ongoing filter of the world is in the process of deferral. The consolidation of capitalism and American culture are products of it. These entities were both in play in the style of Don’t Let Me Be Lonely. The negative space, television, and footnotes hinted at the dynamo of American culture and its environment.

The negative space is ironically an active and co-creative space. The blocks of text echo with blocks of space, and comes to create the same feeling of left-behindness inherent in language discussed by Dr. Epstein earlier in the course. The television is static and the irony is unsettling in the fact that we as viewers are ok with both the permanence and indifference of television. Disney, fantasy, and internet subculture can all be deemed illusion and American society is ok with that. The sacred and validated has been removed because of the speed and universality of voice, opinion, and change. This, to me, is indicative that the let-behindness isn’t limited to only language but has managed to evolve and spread to culture. The footnotes are the detritus of the things we didn’t have to experience. The result and fact of life were predicted to become irrelevant by Rankine and in the end were prophetic.

The two words that I cannot get out of my head from this course are “deliberate lure.” It’s how Olsen describes Helga. The words are commodifying an individual for a third and independent party’s purpose. The words and culture have been consolidated in America to meet deferrel and its momentum. It manages to promote a peripheral lack of confidence. But I immediately lose care. The aesthetic and repetition of the words “deliberate lure” itself inundates culture and its forced diffidence. That has to be only my bias in preferring form over meaning.


Structure of Trauma


The structure of trauma in Sasha’s narration deteriorates the exchange value of experience. Within Good Morning, Midnight, we are able to witness consciousness attempt to exile and omit trauma, only to fail and amplify its impact to the point of diminishing the rest of experience by comparison. Sasha’s projected gaps, understanding of herself as spectacle, breaks into isolated spaces, reliance on transaction, and ambiguity of interaction all contribute to and furnish an alienated experience after trauma. The words, events, and understanding are all distant and malleable to the point of non-existence.

One characteristic of the ellipses and gaps in the narrative are the repeated words or phrases that serve as their precursor – on page 17 (“Here this happened, here that happened. …”) page 26 (“Say something, say something. …”), page 33 (“quiet, quiet…”), page 34 (“A beautiful room with a bath. A room with a bath. A nice room. A room. …”), a not insignificant five times on page 59 (“money, money, money for my son; money, money….”, “Money, money for my son, my beautiful son….”, “Money, money….”, “Money, money.…”, “A beautiful, beautiful baby….”), and sustains a structural pattern over the course of the novel. It treats the language as an object, launched continuously into a gapped and narratively gaunt memory. These images narratively managed to be the sources and sequiturs of the trauma.


The novel opens with Sasha describing the interior of a room –

“There are two beds, a big one for madame and a smaller one on the opposite side for             monsieur. The wash-basin is shut off by a curtain. It is a large room, the smell of                   cheap hotels faint, almost imperceptible. The street outside is narrow, cobble-                       stoned, going sharply uphill and ending in a flight of steps. What they call an impasse.”

On 35 –

“And there I am in this dim room with the bed for madame and the bed for monsieur              and the narrow street outside (what they call an impasse).”

Sasha reiterates the environment’s hierarchy and concludes with its general indisposition. The depiction is an indecisive and pictorial form of literature, holding a reserved similarity to Emily Dickinson – “Delight – becomes pictorial -/When viewed from Pain.” The first is an assumedly content moment from which she withdraws. Within the second is a sense of a snared indifference. The prose has lost its momentum and separation, the language its coherence while the depiction is relatively the same. The meaning alone is near identical as the feel is undone due to its structure.

Sasha’s ambiguous interpretation of interaction following hostility also distances the narrative from experience. It first appears in her confrontation with Mr. Blank. After the confused, labyrinthine route Sasha takes from a misunderstood word, Blank, condescending and inimical, asks Salvatini whether or not he agrees on the fact that Sasha is hopeless.

“Salvatini makes a rolling movement of his head, shoulders and eyes, which means:              ‘I quite agree with you. Deplorable, deplorable.’ Also: ‘She’s not so bad as you think.’             Also: ‘Oh, my God, what’s all this about? What a day, what a day! When will it be                    over?’ Anything you like, Salvatini’s shrug means.”

Another example occurs after the tall and thin English girl at Theodore’s publicly humiliates her. On her way out, Theodore reappears.

“Theodore comes out from behind the bar and opens the door for me. He smiles, his                pig-eyes twinkle. I can’t make out whether his smile is malicious (that goes for me,              too) or apologetic (he meant well), or only professional.”

She has come to approach interaction transactionally. The other is alienated to an economical and indeterminate meaning, independent from the world itself. Salvatini is telling “anything you like” while Theodore’s emotions are away from function. It allows for her structure to elevate above what the narrative itself has to say. It can mean whatever you want it to mean. She has admitted to supposing the world and outcome are unreliable outside of oneself.

When words repeat, the narrative leaves in the gaps and when confrontation occurs, the narrative eschews interpretation for indifference. It is as if Sasha refrains from the irony of picking what physical language and narrative language mean. You might say that the exchange of interaction and experience are devalued after trauma and its continuous echo. The novel, in my opinion, is brilliant because it demonstrates how structure can exile its own words.

Capture The Tag: James

Henry James and his enigmatic prose left a wake of eeriness and uncertainty in The Beast of the Jungle that captured attention in class discussions. Stephaniecaputo23 addressed its “alienating effect on the reader” and I myself have come to terms by regarding the novel as a disturbance in flow oriented to an absent end. There is a veritable distance in creation that James acknowledges in both his characters and prose.

Hayleykboyd structured a blog post about the ignorance of the past around The Beast of the Jungle. When Marcher and Bartram initially reconnect, “what is going on here is a creation, an invention of the past in the present.” The ongoing invention of past and its creation creations a disconnect that Marcher and Bartram found their relation upon. Without the creation, “They would separate, and now for no second or no third chance. They would have tried and not succeeded.” (2) There is an active echo in both experience and creation. In experience, the solecisms and objective share common ground and are dependent only on sensory. Creation also is held by an active continuation, whether distant, reflexive, or erred to fault. James took his time here to tell the reader of his motive. The only chance he had of holding attention is by simulating a divide, this being one between both the reader and story and Marcher, Bartram. There is a pulse you develop when reading this novel that hinges on not knowing its meaning or conclusion. Rnmacg123 pinned it to the goals of our course in a cogent way that I, at times, find myself incapable of doing. “The idea of failure is generally regarded in society as making a mistake or missing the mark in some way.” Missing the mark in The Beast of the Jungle sustains and defines what is to come.

The prose itself acclimated to the idea of missing the mark line by line. I looked out of my window at a passing two-tone Corolla, disengaged from another memory, and randomly pinched the book to page 41. “The deposition of this personage arrived but with her death, which, followed by many changes, made in particular a difference for the young woman in whom Marcher’s expert attention had recognized from the first a dependent with a pride that might ache though it didn’t bristle.” The prose in general has a hidden cant in it. He is so precise in language, so scientific in prudence, and yet so dodgy with its narration and ending. In a direct mirror, Mmacg123 wrote that Marcher “ignores and resists any action or realization,” but he is, without much doubt, obsessed around the fact that there may one day be an action or realization. The narration then drifts to that of Marcher’s internal monologue and uses a metaphor quite unusual in the style of James. “A pride that might ache though it didn’t bristle” is a different, emotional narrator’s expression and the original narrator has left without quote or clarification. James does this throughout the novel as we have discussed. He will switch from 1st to 3rd to omniscient, to a communal observer (his use of “our” during the story), and so on. The language away from point of view includes his patented flow (“which, followed by many changes, made in particular a…”) from, to, and around a summary as his protagonist does the same. He is shaping the course of his sentences to miss the mark and highlight the distance involved in creation and experience, its concatenation expiring only when entirely absent.

Seeing a gap in creation is nothing new. Hume, Emerson, and Sebald all noticed and meant it. Beckett and his volley of alienation on crank, Larsen’s discomfort in assessment (Helga remembers, after crossing the Atlantic, that Axel Olsen thought of her as a “deliberate lure”), and Time Out’s pilgrimage to the Alps hint at its disconnect in various ways. The only link between gaps we’ve managed to articulate is also an invention as haleykboyd pointed out. Beckett wrote a piece on Proust in 1930 and quoted “But were I granted time to finish my work, I would not fail to stamp it with the seal of that Time, now so forcibly present to my mind, and in it I would describe men, even at the risk of giving them the appearance of monstrous beings, as occupying in Time a much greater place than that so sparingly conceded to them in Space, a place extended beyond measure, because, like giants plunged into the years, they touch at once those periods of their lives – separated by so many days – so far apart in Time.” I will sell it short and admit we are held (forced) to the space of the past and that James knew this. He then managed, absent of conclusion, to filter emotion and its distance through prose scaffolded and bent.


How I felt when looking back at Berlant’s excerpt may end up saying more about me than the work itself but I honestly came to feel that the work was inhospitable and in the end lacked effort. That isn’t the right way to say it and maybe a version better told would include the discussion we had in class about the Reebok scene in Time Out. Julien didn’t care if the shoe was authentic or inauthentic and Berlant’s writing style had the same effect on me. The words were more false and academic than they were resounding, the flow was dictated by its ends, and, in truth, I was indifferent.

There’s a remarkable moment in Time Out when Vincent, towards the end of the movie and its long stretched denouement, asks Julien, “Was I too absent?” I had forgotten about it until I searched through my notes to find something worth writing about and found it circled. It stood out like a problem and I realized that this is how I feel about Beast in the Jungle and about writing as a whole, that there is more truth and an amplified friction in entertainment when the cause or its meaning is separate. Someone sitting behind me in class brought up the idea that Vincent used lying as a commodity in both social and emotion capital. That thought then looped into the possibility that Vincent’s internal narrative made space a commodity as well. Working around the emptiness in his exchange value allowed him to amplify his own self-worth. Much of my point is to do with the way we manufacture suspense in conflict with a conclusion. My favorite quote of Berlant’s was on page 195 when she writes, “When a situation unfolds, people try to maintain themselves in it until they figure out how to adjust.”

Vincent in the line I quoted was finally hostile to himself. His sorrow with Muriel on the couch, as Bryan said, seemed artificial. His prognosis in his question to Julien is not the one I expected at the time. The typical I’m sorry didn’t matriculate into the cinematography with some background consisting of a framed family photo or a change in scenery, nothing vague was triumphantly fathomed. Instead it was only Vincent admitting what he felt all along. This is often the time we find ourselves in when witnessing the foreground and background to a “situation” unfolding that Berlant meanders about. The end of resolution is of little concern and lacks merit even in things as immediate as the results of sports and even of voting. What we are interested in is the imbalance and absence of result.

Calexrose in the take on intimacy in our blog postings wrote, “What the beasts actually are is less important than the process of John’s life” and that is an opinion I take to heart. I would extend it to prose, life, and experience in general. The process isn’t another place asking for words but instead is the flow and absence of experience it comes to determine. Some beast will probably in the end be rounded up at the end of our reasons or choices but it will never hold water in active experience. Words can even feel like that in general, as some in class have pointed out. The economy and exclusion of words might take more picking and effort and the destabilization of flow to meet an end. Berlant’s writing is style is elliptical like James, but doesn’t have the story to make up for it. The academia often has this flaw in general. I’ve read journals of people I greatly admire and find their words – when built to meet an exclusive, insular demographic – as mired in prolix and maintaining an incomprehensibility of, and possibly an accidentally artistic, tension in what they write. Larsen was betrothed with uplift, James with case study, and Vincent with expectation. I wonder what Berlant found herself dwelling over while she met her quota and her ends.

Industry of Culture

Industry of Culture


Reading The Queer Art of Failure amidst the temporary coffee and repetition led me back to a memory that took place in my hometown. It was a summer when I was taking class at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock, a place codified in unlimited heat and, possibly, canted mirage. Trying to re-evaluate that time in my life brings back fragments of despair. Part of my reflection consists of envying those fragments – of how alive and arrogant they were. But that is beside the point.


The center building at UALR is half-glass and half-plaster. On the Northeast end of its atrium is the school cafeteria and the Southeast end is a staircase that platforms before the bookstore. The west end in its entirety is high and long paneled glass, the windows must be 30 feet long and perhaps 7 feet high. There is, as you walk North, an empty auditorium, a hunter green restroom, a Starbucks, and then the cafeteria. In the early hours of the day, it is the cult of interaction. In the afternoons, it is dead silent and you will, if you ever make your way there, find any sound intoxicatingly amped in its emptiness.


In this memory, it was late afternoon. I was making my rounds to the car or gym or no place in particular. I was alone and walking past a marble bust when I heard two men talking in the opulent expanse of the atrium. It was clear at the beginning that they did not know each other beforehand as the words floundered for questions and the laughs were insincere. But that isn’t any different and isn’t why I remember them.


One of the men was a heterosexual and the other was not. The pattern of speech and personality altered completely when they became aware of my presence. The heterosexual’s voice bottomed to bass and cadence adopted a militant rigor evoking masculinity and superiority. The other stuttered in step and tone. He could not rely on a word or expression or even anything as simple as the mechanical. I can still recall his fragile state to an exact clarity this day. It was indoctrinated oppression in a mundane opportunity, both easy and theatrical, similar to waking up. Maybe another time I’ll give it more words.


Halberstam’s third thesis is to “suspect memorialization.” (15) This is a part of life I always felt prone to follow. The reinvention of memory is at times an accident but it can find an indeterminate purpose, a structure “unacting, unbeing, and unbecoming.” (145) In a culture built upon the industry of interaction and result, life can become static and fitted to disillusion. To address my memory in the atrium at UALR, it can be said that “the others” of collective identity intuitively become prompted, edited, and grounded by memorialization. “Memory is itself a disciplinary mechanism that Foucault calls ‘a ritual of power.’” (15)


The pain in that memory is twofold. From both, personality quelled to environment. It is a common way to engender trust and it still useful in the present time. In my memory it is entombed in that hollow atrium as transformation and shame.




“So what is the alternative? This simple question announces a political project, begs for a grammar of possibility…” (2)


“Not an optimism that relies on positive thinking as an explanatory engine for social order, nor one that insists upon the bright side at all costs; rather this is a little ray of sunshine that produces shade and light in equal measure and knows that the meaning of one always depends upon the meaning of the other.” (5)


“Certain ways of seeing the world are established as normal or natural, as obvious and necessary, even though they are often entirely counterintuitive or social engineered.” (9)