Saturday, June 30, 2012

CLASSIFICATION: The Botanical Garden #3

More this morning from Jean Fremon's book, as translated by Brian Evenson:

Obviously all my interest resides in the act of classification. Classification is gaze and understanding. Without it, the thing is nothing, amorphous, without connection in the world. The gaze discerns it, creates it, gives it contrast, identity, it belongs to this family, is related to that other one, not to be confused with this one here from which it is distinguished from notably by small a, small b, small c...

In the end, I collect, but through writing, the painter is interested in his painting not in his model; as for me, I'm interested in the indexes I invent, in the categories I arrange, in the catalogs I draw up, in the measurements that I record. Each like a new stone erected across slack time.

Thus memories. Range poles, boundary stones, discoveries. . . .

However, it is not toward the real past that the search for detail is oriented, but toward a conception of the past, the past as subject-object of what is written, is invented. . . this past is the future.


And my own experience with indexes after having seen a fine film by the Berlin filmmaker Harun Farocki:

22 May 1988, Tübingen

Midmorning, sitting in the Brechtbau.  I look out a window and watch a woman approach the building through a courtyard.  Thick legs encased in blue stockings.  A green coat covering a black blouse.  Long, stringy, dull hair.  A stout body—skin stuffed with flesh and fat, like a sausage.  A joyless hunk of flesh carrying a bulging pigskin briefcase stiffed with notes for an infantile dissertation.
Zarko, who got up early this morning and came to work in the peace of the Brechtbau library, shows me a passage from Repetition:  "thus traveling became my home, waiting at bus stops and in train stations, being underway in general."  This describes the last few days, Zarko says.  From one place to another, always moving, rushing around in the car, never a moment of peace.
My experience has been almost the opposite.  After the hectic arrival and two days in Frankfurt a peace has been growing in me deeper than I have known, a dark-green and earthy-brown stillness, a deep creative well sunk into my center from which I can draw sweet cool water forever.
In a bookstore I find a German Filmalmanach for 1989.  I'm not sure how the book can foretell this year, but that's what it says on the cover.  I look up "Harun Farocki" in the index of the thick book.  There it is, with a single page number.  Excited to read about the man whose film I saw last night and with whom we then had a lively discussion, I flip through the book to find page 576.  I am surprised when it seems that it will be part of the index.  In fact it is the very page of the index where I found the name "Farocki."  I read through the page and discover that the index is correct.  On page 576 one can indeed find the name "Harun Farocki" -- immediately preceding the number 576.  
Stimulated by my little adventure, I plan a book, an index of an index.  Not an index of an index of a book, but a book that is wholly and only an index, with each entry the singular self-referential occurence of the word.  Perhaps I will create the words as well.  And then, at the end, like a normal index, a number index: the number 1 to be found on page one and on the page of the number index, the number 2 on page two and in the number index, and so on.  I will title my book Index "Harun Farocki" in honor of the occasion of my adventure.

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