On the Nomadic Circulation of Contemporary Poetics between Europe, North America, and the Maghreb

  • Pierre Joris


In the poem “Ode or Nearly Here” from h.j.r. a line wrote itself: “[To] caravan / atoms into lines of flight.”1 The oddness of that line was brought home—wherever that may be, if ever caravans do get there, which is, in turn, neither here nor there—when it was queried by my French translator. Though French certainly isn’t home either, as no languageis, despite our desire to make it so. Language is the stranger, the other, we want to engage and which always, and irremediably so, remains the outside. Our outside, where we are building a future home we will never inhabit. We can only inhabit that which will disappear with us, that which does not survive us, that is, ourselves. We are our home, the infinitesimal second— die Sekunde, diese Kunde—of presence to ourselves we imagine in retrospect to have been us present to ourselves when we/it is already too late, gone, a cadaver as we move into a here that, even before we can dot the I of our quasi-presence, has become a there. A there that does not “exist,” that is always already an ex- if it “ist” at all, but really, neither back there nor ahead or, to paraphrase the French poet René Daumal: “I am going towards a future that does not exist: leaving every minute a new corpse behind me.” His was a slower time, this giddy fin-de-siècle makes that every second. “Sirrt die Sekunde.” Atom of time. One by one, second to none. Uncuttable: from Latin secare, to cut, or split.


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© Carrie Noland and Barrett Watten 2009

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  • Pierre Joris

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