The Fool Speaks, from the Margin: Sidelined, Sited, Cited, Csiting / Cristina Rovina

The margin, historical site of commentary, holds at once a tension for words to move away from the text they write around, and the impossibility for them to be entirely detached from it. The margin allows to cite. The margin is a site. My margin, my site has tears and frayed edges, no clear-cut borders. Situs in Latin is site as well as dust, mould, detritus, that deposit in a place across time. To site is to be with residue, impure. My margin is where boundaries between site and cite, between being and reference, may dissolve. I yearn for a csiting that sites and cites, that shifts writing away from pre-validated sources cited as fixed frameworks of legitimisation, and sites itself as entangled and impure,claiming its singular being, citing its references no matter how obscure, non-immediate and out of synch they may be. Csiting I cite and site, a porous way of being me not all me, of quoting and placing, of inhabiting text as self and other, of grounding and being groundless, but not without grounds. And sometimes the text I csite is not exclusively on a page, it is spoken. Then writing that is csiting is listening is transmitting. Csiting I write today, after listening to that speech by the reclusive Austrian writer. I write in part from memory, in part from what I wrote before with her not all her, in part from what I heard, I speak with her, with gaps and missing links, from an aural margin where writing flips into a telling, where I yearn for writing that speaks with its subjects. Where I yearn to hear the subtle noise of prose. Listening to that speech the first time mattered, it continues to matter, even more, it becomes my matter, my material, its growing beat inside my perception of writing in and out of the page, of radiance and discourse, presence and concealment. It resists bullet points, resists glossing, yet something crucial is handed over, this is not lyrical ornament, just because it cannot be held or summarised it does not mean it is devoid of substance. Where is the csite of my commentary to a spoken text, so loaded, so ephemeral? It is not fixed. It is in hearing, it is in residue. For some time I inhabit it, for these pages I transform it, for ever I am transformed into my fundamental cadence. Many heartbeats in one cadence, questions of rhythm. Something had better remain unsaid, unsaid and groundless, groundless but not without grounds. It is spoken, I do not read, but hear it, whisper it back to you. Remember, I am the fool. Readership and reach are out of question, and this speech, where is it lodged? What matters is the individual hearing. The impression left by the telling of a story. The sense of being enmeshed in what came before in the history of my reading, those black ties, those connections. States of voice, states of mind, states of mine and the mine is deep, some of it unmapped, some of it dark, some of it with precious stones, some of it with dull rock and moss and useless damp slippery surfaces. I have dwelled there for long times, sometimes I have slipped. I never had ‘I’ proper, had to construct it myself, my I my mine. I can only perceive and finally hear mine as a vault to extract from. A strong sense of artifice is at play: not having one voice means having to construct it, in heightened awareness toward the workings of rhetoric, toward writing as assembling, words found and connected by kinship, many voices, all mine. What came before and around I matters, broken material I have at hand, its cadence, never frame but heartbeat, core not score, heart not instruction. Even when there is apparently nothing to say. Listen. Some time ago, having found out about the other meaning of a song, I disappeared. I wanted to sing the song, not to say what it is. Is singing the gift of curling up, curling up with reality? What happens when there seems to be little real, realevant to sing? When a reality must be sung which is not current? My reality, my matter, my song is no Apollo Belvedere, no formal thing. Sing? The wave may go over it, if it likes. It can’t be held in one style, not in one formula. Look at it, the song that is another song cannot be tidied up and neatly arranged, drawn everywhere so tight and buttoned everywhere so thick. Unruly, it tangles up with the work and words of other writers, transforms them into something else. It has another type of material at hand, or is it in my throat? Aren’t the telling, the singing, the interferences and the interruptions that pertain to the nature of transmission…? I shall stop. A scar on the throat is the sign of necessity, I learned it long ago. How many slits, how many scars to make my song heard. How many times retold, to make myself heard in that low hum. The subtle noise of prose, I heard somewhere. Read, heard? Read, heard, anagram plus the h of a breath. There, there I’ll find the hum, heard in books, from those who were before, whom I can talk to without worrying about the right style: intent instead in finding kinship. The song may sound like an abolished bibelot of sonorous inanity, in fact it tells me my words. It’s me not all me, I have many voices, so they are, unrulily, untidily, more echoes, a disturbing song, flip of a book, half slip of the tongue, rhyming words as much as rhyming a disposition with that of a dead one, the fractured voice of understanding, the same and not quite so. How do I ensure these words tell? The unspeakable is spoken every day, but what I write is not allowed. Words are my warders but don’t keep an I on me. Listen. Here is what the wise reclusive one said to me: “What should remain, is always gone. It is at any rate not here. May you continue to spin. Still, you must carry something for long stretches of time, learn to be still, on site and not quite so, csiting, sometimes even a short paragraph holds a long arc of time between one sentence and another. This is the portion given to you and you must attend to it, in the most dedicated manner, small as it may be. Get there late, get to publishing late. Be hard and demanding to your work, better to make it impossible to publish, than to avoid going to its extremes, even if this means to break it. Formulate your thoughts in the most brutal way, there is nothing left, nothing but a stone, a sigh, a spin, a song.” No, I do not worry about reception. I do not want to bother anyone. I cannot change much, I can transmit, transform this faint hum. It is cold here, it is the depth of night. So what is left to one, nothing but a stone, a sigh, a spin, a song.’

Cristina Rovina is haunted by literature.

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