October 10, 2010

"No Story and No Sin"

Pierre Guyotat

Roland Barthes on Pierre Guyotat’s Eden Eden Eden:

Eden Eden Eden is a free text: free of all subjects, of all objects, of all symbols, written in the space (the abyss or blind-spot) where the traditional constituents of discourse (the one who speaks, the events recounted, the way they are expressed) would be superfluous. The primary consequence is that criticism, unable to discuss the author, his subject, or his style, can find no way of taking hold of this text: Guyotat’s language must be “entered,” not by believing it, becoming party to an illusion, participating in a fantasy, but by writing the language with him in his place, singing it along with him.

Getting in on the language, in the sense of “getting in on the act,” is possible because Guyotat produces not a manner, a genre, a literary object, but a new element (which might even be added to the four Elements of cosmogony); this element is the phrase: substance of speech with the qualities of a fine cloth or a foodstuff, a single sentence which never ends, whose beauty comes not from what it refers to (the reality towards which it is supposed to point) but from its breath, cut short, repeated, as if the author were trying to show us not a series of imaginary scenes, but the scene of language, so that the model of this new mimesis is no longer the adventure of some hero, but the adventure of the signifier itself: what becomes of it.

Eden Eden Eden constitutes (or ought to constitute) a sort of eruption, a historical shock: the whole of an earlier evolution of writing, seemingly double but coinciding in ways we can now see more and more clearly, from Sade to Genet, from Mallarmé to Artaud, is gathered up, displaced, purified of its historical circumstances: no Story and no Sin (surely the same thing), we are left simply with language and lust, not the former expressing the latter, but the two bound together in a reciprocal metonymy, indissoluble.

The strength of this metonymy, sovereign in Guyotat’s text, might presage a strong censure, which will find here its two favorite pastures, language and sex, united; but any such censure, which may take many forms, will be unmasked by its own vehemence: condemned to being excessive if it claims to censure simply the subject and not the form, or vice versa: in either case condemned to reveal its own essence as censorship.

Yet whatever the institutional peripeteia, the publication of this text is important: a whole body of critical and theoretical work will be carried forward, without the text ever losing its power of seduction: outside all categories and yet of an importance beyond any doubt, a new landmark and a starting-point for new writing.



Stephen Barber on Guyotat's Coma.

John Taylor's "Reading Pierre Guyotat" at Context.

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