Graphic Formalism / the recent dead and papercraft / Eugenie Brinkema


I. Indications

°            The problem is not how to finish a fold, but how to continue it, to have it go through the ceiling, how to bring
.              it to infinity. It is not only because the fold affects all materials that it thus becomes expressive matter, with
.              different scales, speeds, and different vectors (mountains and waters, papers, fabrics, living tissues, the
.              brain), but especially because it determines and materializes Form. It produces a form of expression, a
.              Gestaltung, the genetic element or infinite line of inflection, the curve with a unique variable.*

°            desire for a closeness that would keep its distance (project of postponing discovery)

°            nevertheless, to go through the ceiling

°            Bleary-eyed, lit. wet with exhaustion, have confused two passages in Barthes that resemble each
.             other. In one, he writes that Japanese flower arrangements create space, an interstice. The other
.             is about Proust’s Japanese paper flowers that bloom in water. He reads those unfurlsome flowers
.             as a figure of idleness. But I don’t remember why.

°            consider: the anus as a lexicon of form: ring

°            consider: the landscape as a lexicon of form: light; light in thirds

°            consider: every flower a lexicon of form: convexity/concavity

°            consider: the film as a lexicon of form: grids, loops; the linear and the curved

°            consider: papers, skins plunged in water; steeped in order to postpone discovery


.                                 Rot
is the first problem. 

At first, the flowers are a solution. 

There is a graveyard and a long description of
the wind. A brief mention of the heat. 

And there are fruit jars that often held flowers—Johnny-jump-ups in spring, Indian paintbrush later, but only the recent dead could be certain of flowers. Flowers wilted suddenly in that sun and their message was ephemeral, and quickly the stems festered in the fruit jars.
           He was a clever one who thought to decorate one recent grave with paper flowers, and over them to turn a fruit jar upside down, against the rain.*

III. Indications

•            A lexicon of processes: tracing, scoring, cutting, folding, pinching, fanning, ruffling, crimping, cupping,
.              shaping, dipping, dyeing, painting, gluing, waxing, wiring, placing;

•            later, possibly, there may be bunching, stroking, rubbing, pressing, an indolent resistance-testing
.              fingering, or ripping, crushing, burning—

•            but before that, also after, there will be tracing, scoring, cutting, folding, pinching, fanning, ruffling,
.              crimping, cupping, shaping, dipping, dyeing, painting, gluing, waxing, wiring, placing. Then tracing,
.              scoring, cutting, folding, pinching, fanning, ruffling, crimping, cupping, shaping, dipping, dyeing,
.              painting, gluing, waxing, wiring, placing. Then tracing, scoring, cutting, folding, pinching, fanning,
.              ruffling, crimping, cupping, shaping, dipping, dyeing, painting, gluing, waxing, wiring, placing.

•            As one usually makes more than one.

•            To, for example, comprise an album.

•            Or a collage.

•            A centrepiece.

•            As with all things, it can be as simple or as complicated as you like.

•            Late descendant of a Euclidian bloodline, Livia Cetti’s The Exquisite Book of Paper Flower
.              Transformations
enumerates a set of elemental shapes, including the globe, the saucer,
.              the cone, the rectangle, the bell, the arc, the spike. These basic forms can be changed
.              and arranged in infinite ways.

•            A hydrangea is not a peony.

•            Anatomy, however, conveys. There will be petals, there will be leaves, a stem, a bud; sepals, stamens,
.              carpels; filaments, corollas; there will be a center. There may be different types of centers, but there
.              will still be a center. Dissective surgery would still reveal similarities.

•            So reminiscent of Molloy—Mimétique malgré lui writes Beckett: mimetic in spite of himself.
.              Unavoidably resembling something else. Consider: twisted crepe a lexicon of stolen form.
.              Delicate and lovely, despite themselves, against themselves, sworn and bound to the world
.              of those right side up jars of rot.

IV. Indications

°            consider: world-wrecking desire as mimétique malgré lui-même

°            consider: role of the preposition of relation (between a general and a particular, between a measure
.             and a value) in the phrase ‘You remind me of’

°            consider: the difference between remind and remember

°            consider: how remember, as a simple transitive verb, takes only one object, while remind, being
.             ditransitive, takes two, namely the person caused to remember and the thing or person which is
.             accordingly remembered

°            consider: the third to whom those two objects are directed 


Jane Campion’s The Power of the Dog (2021) is a drama of light, which is to say: it takes an interest in elemental forms. 

Elemental forms: the primary colors of motherlove, filial devotion, rage, hate, grief, lust.

Elemental forms: darkness, light, the framed excision of light that renders its stark absence. Landscapes of thirds which hierarchize the light. The portioning out of light; scarcity of light, light treated as resource: as stock or supply, what can be drawn from, what can thus run down. 

Elemental forms: the linear and the circular, the entire film a meditation on their distinction, the work an aesthetic confrontation that requires their resolute difference. 

Elemental forms: linear regime: includes the starchy sheet music Peter scissors into fringe; hide ordinary and infected, cut into strips; the railroad; the evenly distributed upright forms of the ranchers walking up to the boarding house; a shot glass assembly line; breaking bars of light that comprise the aperture to the barn; grids of windows and the railings in the brothers’ house; an entire mise-en-scene of planks, corrals, banisters, beams, and boards.

Elemental forms: circular regime: includes the paper fringe screwed into a small cupped coil; fanned and folded table bouquets; the blossom center Phil caresses and enters; the hula hoop; twirling lassos; the gestural shape of bucking; George’s resolutely acetabuliform hat; the undulating road to the ranch; Phil’s black nostrils, shot from below to emphasize their oblong resemblance to petals; every implied hole; the noose from Peter’s father’s suicide; anus as idea. 

Elemental forms: constantly invited distinctions: consider Phil’s tense pursed lips in their menacing whistle (the circular) against the tines, run in a brittle glissando, of Peter’s comb (the linear). Consider braiding and pleating as the distillation of this relation: cut strands are crossed over each other, pulled tight against each other, to form a thick smooth spiral, which itself can later be looped; consider the circular as parasitic on the linear as raw material (alt., the circular as something that can be extracted).

Elemental forms: their maximally violent juxtaposition: consider, when Peter invites Phil to take and use the rawhide he possesses, the death-bringing rawhide, the moment the boy touches the man and the man touches in turn, one hand on an arm, the grip on the nape, appetent fingers rearriving in the grasp, how the architecture of vertical lines, the bars of light and wood, illumination and its negative equally partitioning the background of the image, is revealed then blocked then revealed again by the spinning, encircling camera movement that snares space, constraining the theater of desire and revenge, cruelty and sensuality, exchanging the situs of vulnerability.


The rancher laughed. ‘You better go back then to your little school, wherever it was. The word in Greek for that sort of flower is πόθος. They put them on graves.’*

Póthos: the god of longing, craving, yearning, desire.
Elemental form: hunger. 

VII. Indications

°            consider: shadows as confounding the circular-linear opposition, alt., consider shadows only over
.             ridge and swell as what confound difference

°            consider: dead rabbit cavity as confounding the circular-linear opposition 

°            consider: water as a different formal regime altogether; consider mud and roots, consider the
.             eroticism of grime, consider a loyalty to being drenched, to coverage over a surface

°            consider: Has anyone else seen what you’ve seen?

~ ~ ~ ~ ~

* Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque, trans. Tom Conley (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1993) 34; Thomas Savage, The Power of the Dog (New York: Little, Brown and Company, 1967) 18, 40.

given, by a friend

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This is part of the cluster Graphic Formalism. Read the other posts here.

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