If I leaf through a book, and ignore each word’s meaning, the pages resemble a body at rest.
They are dark masses.
Lying still except for sectional adjustments.
Each space between language shares in the rhythm of dream-quickened eyelids.
If I read through a book, and ignore each word’s meaning, my rest and the book’s interlace.
I am not thinking.
The words fog through me undefined.
“I am asleep awake.”
As the book has no thoughts when I am not hosting them.
Unless the text reveins my consciousness, like sickness crowds a cell, we both remain inert.
Peripatet is not a body given over to rest. It is Anxious/asthmatic/recursive. Font sizes alternate. Some are so small they appear to be static. Glitches gouged through the medium’s underflesh. Or large enough that a single word must self-collapse down multiple lines. Screenshots of Kenneth Anger films and lectures, Atrax Morgue album covers, and Japanese wrestlers are either cropped to emphasize a paragraph or take up entire pages. Words are spelled into the gutter – like an obsessive mind whose troubled thoughts breach any attempt at compartmentalizing. Similar to Raymond Federman’s Double or Nothing, the layout appropriates mental convulsions. Dismissing and recouping itself. Holding Peripatet, one is aware that, like haunted walls, it is always in motion.
The body is a conduit of space. A porous object ambling environments into itself.
The brain is not our sieving nerves. It is the dissoluted world stuffed inside of humans. A hollow sludged with language.
Dissolved into one being.
Grant Maierhofer describes Peripatet as a work of “ambient nonfiction.” The world is built from the ephemera of our displacement. As practiced by Tan Lin, whose work informs much of Peripatet, ambient literature recirculates this ephemera as poetry. The Google searches, advertisements, articles and recipes that constitute a day.
Our poems are no longer written to be sung. They clot the throat before dissolving. Before becoming things of air and achieving weather. A poem dreads dissipation and attempts to be an object in our tenuous environment.
I enter my phone’s atmosphere during interstitial moments – when no one’s at my job and no one needs my presence.
I hardly pay attention, scrolling past the pieces that I read.
I am idle, disembodied, sublimed into a background of intangible surveillance.
My present is a confluence of past and future metadata.
Reading poems that are only remembered by indecipherable code.
Tan Lin’s words are spoken from the faceless mouths of passerby. The poems are pre-dissolved. The poems are left alone. Dismantled from their author they become a landscape. Observers decide if this landscape is an empty space or an object.
Peripatet, like the work of Tan Lin, like the internet, muzak, and rooms that blend in with the dark, is an effort of absence. Autophagous. A body that lives by consuming its skin. Through the incorporation of texts from Herman Melville, Georges Bataille, James Purdy, and numerous other authors, Grant Maierhofer becomes motion-ghosted in language. At once partially present and partially disappeared. “There is a necessary erasure in memoiring… All my failures. All the pox I’ve shoved into the ether in misery. None of it matters and none of it expresses.” The memoir is an effigy with which to practice death.
“This was the horror of being a human animal bound up in its refutation…”
“Attempting to figure something out and rearrange its corpse.”
“[T]he only way out is to make something nauseated with sound, or prose, or an image.”
Our lives make no sense. Seen from above they would have no discernible rhythm. Plotless. All of our bodies are unoriented. Peripatet’s quotations form a möbius strip with Maierhofer’s memoirs. A single surface folding into itself. Life is intractable from its circuit of information – as a word derives meaning from the text it’s encoded in.
Peripatet is a work of hypermediacy. The reader is always reminded the book is a book in part written by books. This layering of texts is mirrored by the alternating font sizes. The effect is one of language – the physicality of written words and their abstract meanings – layered like body and mind, drawing attention to how we interact with time. Our lives move faster when the body is not subordinate to thought. The text grows to shed itself, and seems to speed towards dying. The text shrinks, suspended in thought, and for a moment traps time within itself, moving of its own will. Synthesized, the book becomes a body without rest. Surveying its death and its living.
Bryce Jones‘ work has appeared in 3:AM Magazine, Surfaces.cx, The Diagram, and numerous other publications.