Here in the garden, I notice change flickering and looping in the invisible lapse of time between my footsteps, bird feet, the silent beats of butterfly wings and the movements of flora. In my passing, I de-head the odd flower, I note a small bud in apprehension and the imminent rain. Mid summer vacillating between now and the ‘not yet.’ I hear the garden in its tumescent silence and sound. Time feels ‘out of joint’ here, as Derrida writes in Spectres of Marx (1993). Elsewhere too. Time wraps itself around its transparent body and through itself like an inconspicuous knot. It ties here and there together and still things fall apart. Here in the garden, the sounds of memory and the formidable future, all congeal, then dissolve, then appear again. Their presence, like all presences appear, not as former versions of themselves, but as uncertainties. Here in the garden, spectrality blooms to betray us.
Spectrality, according to Fredric Jameson:
“Does not involve the conviction that ghosts exist or that the past…is still very much alive and at work, within the living present: all it says, if it can be thought to speak, is that the living present is scarcely as self-sufficient as it claims to be; that we would do well not to count on its density and solidity, which might under exceptional circumstances betray us.” ‘Marx’s Purloined Letter’, in Ghostly Demarcations, pp. 26–67 (p. 39).
Here in the house, I hear history’s footsteps on the wooden floorboards and the house breathing mingled air: yesterday touches fifty years ago in the skin of a wall. Footsteps outside on the street come inside through an open window. Upstairs in my study, I am lost in the non-time of the internet, memory and writing and the future possibilities of what emerges out of these processes, places and connectivity. I ask myself, do I believe in ghosts or just the possibility of what spectrality discloses? Either way, my writing and your on this Master course will reveal the idea of such questions, will speak to uncertainty. The ghost in the words of Colin Davis, “pushes at the boundaries of language and thought.” (Davies: French Studies: 2005). The ghost in your words, will push the boundaries of your hauntings, your “dead futures,” and living pasts. In our exploration of the “the elusive identities of the living” (Davies: French Studies: 2005) and in our tracings of places and times, in the silences we encounter, in the absences we step into, in the futures we reflect on, we will map out our hauntological sensibilities in our poetry.
You do not have to be acquainted with Derrida to experience his deconstructive philosophy in your writing but you do have to be willing to allow your writing and reading to open to new possibilities.
The course runs from Sep 13th 2021 until 6th December 2021
Colin Davis, Hauntology, spectres and phantoms, French Studies, Volume 59, Issue 3, July 2005, Pages 373–379.