I’m happy that this piece from a new project, Points of Return, appears today in The Offing, thanks to Morgan Parker and Christine Larusso. It’s called, rather unimaginatively, “The World Killer,” as it borrows largely from Lucy Ives’ fantastic and devastating novel The Worldkillers (from her book of the same title, which you can and should purchase here.
A brief statement on this project, should you care to read:
Two years ago Dolan Morgan asked me to write something interacting with a story from his book That’s When the Knives Come Down, “Cells.” What resulted was a weird cento-esque excerpting and reworking of his story involving handwriting, images, and some very basic xerography, which I called “The Small Room.”
After a relatively unproductive year spent feeling down on my work, reading obsessively through climate studies, and making little notes in a mess of a Word doc, I started thinking about this idea of points in time in which people might make the collective decision to move away from fossil fuels, back to safe levels of carbon in the atmosphere, and what those returns, variously, might look like and mean for our lives. I saw that a lot of my thoughts were running alongside ideas I found in texts I was reading - texts by Paolo Virno, Mark Augé, Celan, Neruda, and contemporary writers Dolan Morgan and Lucy Ives.
One night I went to bed, and between wakefulness and sleep I had what I guess some people call a vision. A white page with printed text falling down over a surface, followed by a translucent page falling over the printed text, slightly obscuring it, followed by bits and scraps of differently colored paper with handwriting falling over the vellum. Mysticism disturbs and embarrasses me but the vividness of this scene, whatever you want to call it, was inescapable.
A few weeks later, I went to Detroit, holed up in a friend’s studio, and worked out a plan, and over the next (last) summer made more than 100 images composed with paper, printed text, vellum, colored paper, ink, sharpie, and xerography, scanning the images into a computer and formatting them into plates.
Every part of this process was recycling, salvage, and waste; the ideas in this project aren’t mine, though they terrify and inhabit me. The language is by and large from or based off language in other texts. Obscene amounts of paper were used, ruined, smudged, re-used, torn, glued, and trashed (but recycled). The result is a probably unprintable, imperfect and loose collection that is an homage to writing I love; ideas that are central to my sense of ethics (and still, not mine); an expression of personal limits, ineptitude, and anxiety; and a lament for a dying world.
“The World Killer” is the first part of Points of Return to appear online, thanks to the generosity of Ives, The Offing, and a number of photographers who believe in the possibilities of Creative Commons (or who simply let me use their photographs). All of those sources are below, and can be found in the Works section at the end of the piece.
I look forward to sharing more from Points of Return with you in our shared, rapidly narrowing, yet salvageable, future.
by order of appearance
Lucy Ives, The WorldKillers, SplitLevel Texts, 2014. 9780985811143
Mark Augé (trans. John Howe), The Future, Verso, 2014. 9781781685662
Paolo Virno (trans. David Broder), Déjà Vu and the End of History, Verso, 2015. 9781781686126
Kansas Sebastian, “04a 8 Chester Pl – Doheny Mansion – HCM-30 – Foyer (E),” Flickr, 2010. Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Derivatives 2.0.
Paolo Margari, “il giardino di sopra. Palazzo cezzi-tamborrino, lecce, salento, Italy,” Flickr, 2009. Creative Commons Attribution-Non Commercial-No Dervatives 2.0.