translated by Jonathan Larson

 

Excerpt from HERE

 

When the ground gives way underfoot… As if it were no longer there, underfoot, the certainty of still being alive on a planet of earth that carries, breathable air, alive, that’s to say moving, and exhausted, in a deteriorated wasteland, at every step that stops us, pulls us down, wins us over, spoils us with our own weight, – but perhaps rather in sliding free as a look at a mental star’s smooth image, as a breath of time through a powdery cloud of screen dots – an artifice, an artifact?

Perplexity, this evening, at the foot of the wall. 

As if the ground had given away, had pulled away from under me… I was tumbling, a whole life tumbling down from indistinct places to indifferent places, a rolling stone, bounding down the slope of scree, caught up in time, in losing balance, constantly, over the void of a disoriented space, every day more strangely disoriented.

Perplexity, – and anxious urgency, of finding and grasping, of
 grasping again the words that make the hollow in the scree where the stone
settles itself, against other stones; words that bring me to a stop, precipitate my volatile substances, that reconstitute me, for a moment at least, as if having run its course, – as such, this evening, at the foot of the wall.

And that I resurface, I surface, having abandoned all to the enjoyment of finding myself at the end of the day, seated at the foot of the wall at the west of the house, head leaned against the stone, hands rested on knees, feet flat on the ground; the pleasuring play of letting myself be taken over by the weightening and widening of all that’s growing dark, in growing quiet before all that’s deepening from second to second.

Before me I weigh, I create an expanse, a weighing that holds the fabric immensity from me to the horizon, – anxious, at the foot of the wall, to know if, by the precarious, ephemerous, plunging from the twilight of this moment, I’ll return to climbing back up the slope held in my memory, the tension according to which presence spreads itself and vanishes, step by step, that is to say word by word, – unto the horizon, mutism, disappearing. This moment plunging as my perplexity, my very anxiety.

The day declines from minute to minute, already it no longer fills the space, the day lowers as overtaken by this weightening of all. The moment it exhausts itself approaches quickly, where its light no longer carries, like a too-thin, a too-low, covering of water, a breaking wave, unravels, a used up stuff, it loses, this light, from minute to minute, the strength to set in forms, its dying, it releases, it faints, it withdraws from things. From second to second, as if it were the day that held them upright, distinct, in space, the cutting of grass, the foliage, the peak of a roof, all these long ridges that spread the distances, that blur and deteriorate in the mass of shadow.

Of the day, at hand, only several puddles remain, on the mud-path, on the yellowing, pale grass, –soon drunk by the black of the earth. And down there, in the deep of the west, the incandescence where the immensity of the day contracting will endure for a long time, a spark preserving the powers of germination, the magnificent blossoming of the day to come. 

From second to second, the evening draws its lines of retreat, as if the horizon were making itself felt all the way to here and pulling with the force of the ebb tide, a tide that’ll pick up and drag the day off with itself, shrinking in the distance, the habitable fringe of emergent earth, – as the black edge of the planet, collapsing against the sky, to push back the incandescent open sea. From second to second, the day makes itself more and more impalpable, leaf, skin, laminated between the faded heights of the sky and the raised earthen grindstone. From second to second, that’s, infinitely slowed down, the flooding of solids, the eruption of the black interior of the planet, as if a rage of piled rocks, packed without cracks from one pole to the other, as if their load of gathred shadows were now finding the moment to disgorge and submerge all by dint of blind combustion and to shade it universally, with a slow wash.

It’s this wash of the earthly night that already brandishes the trees, and which, from under their mass, deaf as drawn by the roots’ dint of thirst and spurting back against the day in sprays, in fountains of ink, and rings in black orbits the last rays of light that fuse throughout, incandescent and cold, more and more incandescent, more and more cold as over there, to the west, the blades of fire thin out and sink deeper between the black horizon and the flattening sky.

Slow dance of the black branches in the wind’s breathing : and on the west face of the wall the paling of the expanse blurs as a face carried away in sleep, the oranging reflections of the sunset move into the grey of this dance and confusing itself here or there with the yellow blots of lichen, of moss. Slow dream of the rock of this wall that could plunge back into the depth of the plane where it was founded, in this wasteland where one has uprooted the stone from its rubble and the clay from its joints. 

As the light grows faint, the wall more intensely irradiates the cold and the blindness of the rock, and by this cold, the blindness takes to my skull leaned against it, and little by little, like one sole selfsame rock face, confounds this old wall with the bone of my skull, at the base of which, through the eyes, the last grazing ray of the sunset projects the black gesticulations of the trees.

Yes, this place, infamous crevice of earthen rock where I cling like lichen, has taken to my thought and forces there a tacit growing quiet and the syllables the same as a sigh of the word here… Not even a thought, here, the rustling, the crumpling made by the last ray in the west when it touches the depths of the already numbed skull. Not even a thought, not yet, but the initial emotion of thoughts, the shadow carried from the area over all thoughts, the ballast of silence and stillness. Two syllables of sleepily drifting breath to seal the conjuncture of a place with myself, at this very point-here of the expanse. From here I surface, as from a block of stone a face crops out, being born and coming to life. 

Driven back to this wall of stone, but even more so leaning myself there, clinging myself there with all the force of my being, as if the raw materials of my body weighed heavily in me, impatient to return to the bottommost of the night to fall in line, discreetly, after the mineral order, as if I was caught up by the unthinkable abyss of time at the bottom of which silica is itself coagulated in a slag before it crops out at the surface of the plateau, before it crops out at this moment-here and it bites the skin of my skull from its cold vaults, – the same depths of time during which it’s coagulated the word that names this rock chail and that’s climbed back in language all the way to me, me that still speaks this language, today, this evening. 

At the edge of the burial under night, I fasten myself to this word chail as a vestige of a light pushed back, to this word because it’s memory, just as I attach my gaze and my thoughts to the last ray of day that still crosses my orbits and which is also memory – of the finished and all those that preceded it – and that on the slope of the expanse before me, from a single unit to the incandescent beyond of the horizon, a whole thrust fault poured out at the base of my skull, in a single flow, a single proliferating image, dazzling, trembling with the breaths of air in the branches, inexhaustible even after night has fallen. 

Never-ending spurt, as from a source freed by the blow of the pick-axe, this image struck at the base of my skull, or as if, on the face of this cavern’s wall, a hand coated with ochre came to strike its imprint and left there not only the form of a singular hand but also the gesture that it had applied there and in that gesture a vigor, and in that vigor the onrush of all the vitality of a human being, of all its life up to that moment, the whole torrential upstream of that instant, and that impression will contain, will retain the energy potential of this upstream : retained, yes, memory. 

Driven to this foot of the wall, I soak myself greedily in this torrential image that has the savor of water drunk in the mountains, lip to lip against the rock, and that spills out from the light of the lake, down there, stirring up more from second to second and boring deeper under the sky a gape that’s as intimate as unlimited. And while the night gives way to the present of things, I push my thoughts upstream, anxious to draw the sentence of a single unit that passes on equal footing from here to still here, as if the slope of the expanse before me formed nothing but one only ground, heavy, arduous, but that carries, an only place.

Inalterable place and however multiple, always first by the surfacing of the presence that comes to inhabit it, but also always chilled by extinction, struck at times by the strangeness, unknowable, then known again and newly habited, newly first. First and last as this day-here will have been thus and the whole infinite slide of days that comes to an end with it.

 

Excerpt from “In the Open Air’

 

                                                          UPSLOPE

 

                                 (Varaita Valley)

 

The whole dark northern slope enters the eyes all the way up to the crest on a 

thread of light. The northern slope flooding from hour to hour the gaping eyes. 

Forests, uprooted rocks by the force of light, a crumbling until it fills the eyes. 

A landslide of the day’s hours that sweeps you downslope. Downslope all the 

way to the outpouring, to the sprawl, to the loss of thought. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

Smile of the day that gets away and leaves you fulfilled by its tiredness. 

Smile of the azure to your dimming, the rock that takes its place at the bottom

 of the belly and plunges you downslope.

Smile of the brilliant sunset that blinds you, and rolls you to the black. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

On the crest, between day and day, a stone in sleep. Eyes you caress, your 

spouse of an instance. A stone in awaiting the return of the seas. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

… standing still. Before, the look of the stone. Butted against it. At once, one 

reflects this look, speaks to its place, empties.

The source in the loose stone, one doesn’t go back up any further.

 

                                                          +++++

 

This slow dusk over the peaks, this loving look that moves away – and, as the head 

skidding, the head coming to itself to search the sun in the bed of a downfall. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

All along the hillside, the tiredness of the rocks climbs up the limbs, the sleep 

of scree. The waiting entrails listen to the deep collapse. But the lungs even out 

on the upslope wind – and already the glance, over the pass, as the bird flies.

 

                                                          +++++

 

Narrowed, the day’s light, as if I moved away, or as if the path ahead of me held 

itself back – a grey light of schist, a hand over the eyes.

This schistose hand raised to the torrential base of memory, that guides me 

blindly through the alpine pasture, through the rock piles, along this contorted 

path, and pushes open the house door. Hole of night. 

This grey hand of nightfall, that drives me back.

 

                                                          +++++

 

Day after day pushed to the blankness. 

Sea of clouds over the valley. Swarm of snow over our eyes.

We walk without shadow, grasped by the ungraspable, where the slope 

loses itself, and the near and the far, – in the straying, 

as to climb again the thread of a fidelity, toward the desire of the cold.

We walk without noise as the cloud, over our eyes, precipitates.

The desire of not knowing more, and to fall facedown in the snow, like yesterday 

has fallen.

We had walked through time and weather, pushed to the sunny steep, up to the 

glare, that extinguishes us, that conceals us. At least, to still take root, of blood. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

The cloud of the evening, eyelids over the incandescent crest of the dark northern 

slope. 

The swallows and the notes of the distant song plunge into the lump of empty 

gaze, between the walls.

Tiredness – the water that rises along the limbs. And the gaze that pulls away, 

gaze of foreignness, gaze of loss. 

“I walked, walked again in my steps.”

Trampling in the rubble, exposed to the wall.

In moving toward the crest, toward the verge, toward the end of the road, 

toward the window.

“Yesterday : this mask pinned onto my face.”

… All at once, as if time had given way underfoot. One has arrived at the edge, 

one wavers on the sheer drop. 

“So I’ll be leaning myself against the trunk of a pine.”

 

                                                          +++++

 

When the swarm strokes, strokes the eyes… You take foot again in the stride of 

the lightning. 

Then, on the crest, up to the furthermost, this smile of the young girl.

 

                                                          +++++

 

The crest in moving across the eyes. To not see beyond.

The words “to live” in moving across the gorge.

And to follow the moving blindly, perhaps, to the intimate alpine pasture 

suspended between the steeps.

 

                                                          +++++

 

Upslope – to uproot oneself from the heap of the day, to lighten oneself in the 

thinned out air, to spit out the never-thought words, the shame of having been. 

Upslope – torn from secret drunkenness, to tie back into the hidden footpath,  

pass the border, deliver the message and weapons…

To finally hear again the voice of the old smuggler, the one that laughs in saying 

‘tomorrow!’ And drives back up to the shadow’s peak. 

 

                                                          +++++

 

The thoughts, sweet, slow, trickle over my whole body. Rain in the lap of the 

valley. The height of night.

Height of sleep, the valley, height of oblivion, and over the whole body this 

weight of mute rocks.

The thoughts precipitate under the upslope wind, let themselves go, breaking 

with the groans of the torrent, the acrid groan dead ends.  

 

                                                          +++++

 

 

 

                                                                                                       (Mount Amiata)

 

In the limbs of the olive tree, the breath of the sleeping volcano.

These leaves that even out and smoothen, tremblings of awaking in the lungs. 

One word passes : urgency.

 

 

–––––––––––––––

* Jonathan Larson writes: “Blanchard was born in Paris in 1934 and became an active member of the revolutionary group “Socialism or Barbarism” in 1957 under the nom de guerre “P. Canjuers,” eventually entering into conversations with the “Situationist International” along with Guy Debord, with whom he drafted “Preliminiaries Toward Defining a Unitary Revolutionary Program,” a call to draw boundary lines between the cultural and labor movements of the avant-garde in clear opposition to the Western Imperialist reactionaries. As the program formed in solidarity with the Hungarian uprising of 1956, it set itself also against the French Communist Party, from the inside so to speak, for its Stalinist orientation. . . . While Debord went on to establish a political philosophy of the spectacle, declaring the subsumption of all social life under late capitalism, . . . Blanchard has committed [himself] to the practice of . . . exploring and exploding memory’s boundaries, as a “sort of experimentation in the ordeal of one’s liberty in and by language, that nourishes in its infinite wealth and the sharpening of its most exquisite constraints.” He has published and translated over twenty works of poetry, fiction and nonfiction

 

 

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