poems and pickaxes
Monday, July 18, 2011
how could speech exhaust the meaning of speech? - nikos stangos
How Could Speech Exhaust The Meaning Of Speech?
by Nikos Stangos
The platitudes of truth --
That was the beginning.
Now we can only turn back to
Deceiving words, the first ones,
Their acts and objects
pacts of symbolic exchange,
The most commonplace facts
That lucid writers glorified.
Certainty was constantly
Renewing itself, feeding on
The only knowledge:
That that was the way.
A most transparent truth
Its domination over the real
Capable of annihilating it
Like him, born of pain.
Ah, the deceiving spirit
Suddenly like him, born of light,
The fact that merely dazzles
And takes its place out of necessity.
You sat smiling
Spoken to rather than speaking
Turned against the good,
A false renunciation.
And where is truth,
The meaning which goes unrecognized?
A closed circuit locked in
Ceremonial lies, obsessions at night.
Parent speech -- the monologue that activates the actor:
The birth of truth is speech
Neither true nor false
Imaginary nor real.
Tonight's disclosure is
A recitation in high voice
Produced before an audience --
It is made up history
And it is like an indirect quotation:
The chorus on the stage and the spectators'
Language emulate the truth of revelation,
Promises of a future, of reality,
Questions of recollection
Against promises of the future:
The proof, the turning point, the theorem
Through which we guide our steps
From month to month,
The hidden objects,
This act then is an act of history, or
Falsehood, a sacred lie,
What has been written down.
I do not know which history, or
What meaning is reestablished,
Common wisdom proclaimed that ever age
Had found its own philosopher.
Our recent past has revealed
This to be more speculation, without dignity.
Your words bear witness now,
This turning aside from reason
In the domain of pure language,
Submitting to ambiguities.
What is this place?
Here imagination is in the monarch
In his brilliant robes,
Rules of marble spaces
Where what appears is false
And what is false is truth,
The light changing direction
As usual revealing and concealing.
Your hero is a retarded child,
The master of relations,
Who studies his gloomy space
Future catastrophes, decaying words.
This place is empty.
What is going on?
We want the meaning that eludes
In such heroic impersonations.
Come close, come close.
Unwillingly we run away.
Night gathers, gathers,
Icy winds, whirl, whirl.
A large body is cut in fragments, freshly butchered
Is floating horizontally towards us,
Its wounds dripping deep red
Denials, fresh flesh food.
"There, there, thousands
Of infants, in their swaddling clothes
Float by, a knife plunged deeply
In each infant bosom."
This is, you say, how language functions.
Can we convince ourselves of the necessity
For such spiritual catastrophe?
We are the prisoners of a closed circuit.
Back to the function of words:
The void which speaks words
When finally the day of destruction
Will arrive, glorious in its conceit,
An instrument of healing or
Of search in words uttered as words
Within ourselves and giving speech to void
In suspect words when silence fails --
This is the ritual of murder,
An appeal to truth
Through which other appeals
Will find -- or think they find -- a faltering expression.
Hopeless mirages, fantasies, deceptions,
The silence spoken by the void which speaks
In tongues and borrowed words.
The artifice complete.
Such gifts which are condemned to fiction,
Narrations of sleepwalkers, moments
Which look like secretive encounters
Are the birth of what we think is truth expressed in words.
The testimony of reality is heard
Invoking past ambitions, making choices
Which charter the domain
Of false and glittering transactions.
Inscriptions are deciphered, traces read,
Their meanings growing out of longings
For love, closeness, forgiveness,
Only symbolic isolations will remain, as memories.
The structure of a sentence
In our sight, a dark, fleeting reality
And also an obsession
With meanings which resist all change.
Regression, repetition, rhetoric,
Seductive metaphors sought in a dream,
The object of desire with single phrase
Which will contain all meanings.
What we were taught were double meanings,
Unstructured texts of deep symbolic lineage,
Symptoms of language with split figures,
Ambiguous numbers which conceal the real.
Secrets then glean in their masked words
When deceit dazzles with its forgeries,
The lucid writers hiding their laws,
Authors of phantom books of random choices.
And we in our innocence, curiously to learn,
Murmuring syllables we think reveal bright actions,
Crave for a language that belongs alone to the language to language,
Speech that enunciates such longings but does not replace them.
We think we've forged symbolic pacts with language,
Creators of a world of words taken for things,
Legible structures of incestuous marriages
Of images in words, of the one truth.
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