Object by Object

16 March 2008
Spent time in New York working on writing a monologue/text called Sight Is The Sense That A Dying Person Tends To Lose First, for Jim Fletcher, an extraordinary perfomer people might well know from his work with Richard Maxwell’s New York City Players (he was in House, and in The End of Reality amongst other pieces and is currently in their brilliant Ode to the Man Who Kneels). The monologue will be shown as work-in-progress in Vienna this April. The text free-associates from topic to topic to create a flowing and failing iteration/explanation of the world, the things, forces, experiences, and people in it – what they are and how they work. I already included some working notes/a fragment from the text, a while ago. Here's another short passage:
A cage is a container for animals. A mirror is a defective window. A hall of mirrors is a room full of bad mirrors. Shift workers are people who work when other people are sleeping. The night shift is hard on your sleep patterns and on your relationships. Tired people get depressed. Stressed people say unexpected things. Rage is another word for anger. There is only one correct answer to a mathematical question. There is only one way out of a maze. A blood transfusion is way of moving blood from one body into another using pipes and a small pump. Clouds change shape in ways that are impossible to predict. Hate is hard to explain. Rats move in groups. Knives are things made of metal. Metal comes from out of the ground. Heavy Metal music has a strong beat and a lot of guitar. You cannot stop people from dancing if they want to dance. You cannot stop progress. An umbrella is no protection against a swarm of bees. Happy people are more productive than sad people. Change is not always a good thing. A cardiac arrest is nothing to do with the police.  
The full (but not yet entirely completed) text is running something like six thousand words. Discussing the whole project with Graham Parker (my friend, the artist, not the punk-era rocker) he flagged the Doris Lessing text below – which I really liked – as a cousin or relation to it. Something related to Perec's exhaustiveness too. Going to see if I can find my copy of the Lessing book, I know there's one somehwere here…
I used at night to sit up in bed and play what I called 'the game.' First I created the room I sat in, object by object, 'naming' everything, bed, chair, curtains, till it was whole in my mind, then move out of the room, creating the house, then out of the house, slowly creating the street, then rise into the air, looking down on London, at the enormous sprawling wastes of London, but holding at the same time the room and the house and the street in my mind, and then England, the shape of England in Britain, then the little group of islands lying against the continent, then slowly, slowly, I would create the world, continent by continent, ocean by ocean (but the point of 'the game' was to create this vastness while holding the bedroom, the house, the street in their littleness in my mind at the same time), until the point was reached where I moved out into space, and watched the world, a sunlit ball in the sky, turning and rolling beneath me. Then, having reached that point, with the stars around me, and the little earth turning underneath me, I'd try to imagine at the same time, a drop of water, swarming with life, or a grean leaf. Sometimes I could reach what I wanted, a simultaneous knowledge of vastness and of smallness. Or I would concentrate on a single creature, a small coloured fish in a pool, or a single flower, or a moth, and try to create, to 'name' the being of the flower, the moth, the fish, slowly creating around it the forest, or the sea-pool, or the space of blowing night air that tilted my wings. And then, out, suddenly, from the smallness into space.
It was easy when I was a child. . .

Doris Lessing, The Golden Notebook