TITLE & UNTITLE BY LEONARD KLOSSNER (OR: TITLE TEXT AND POEM,


although This Supposes the Title is Therefore Excluded from the Text, or stands as sovereign; as the crown lording over the lesser body; or Prose & Poem or perhaps: the Non-Distinction of So-Called Differential Literary Forms and Methods, and the Non-Relation of the Title to the Contents [or play off the subtitle in the opening and remove it from the title, such as, or: Difference & Similitude since both are distinct and yet they are the same and since the title, too, characterizes the contents while simultaneously furnishing nothing in the way of detail, with this passage standing as separate, as introductory supplement to the text though it is integral to the text, and is itself a proper part of the text as a whole, for one reason being that the text—this and all others—hinges on such and other faults, fractures, and impossible possibilities, and in its textual agony we hear echoes of the same tormented winds rattling the tracheal cage of cartilage and bone—this body of flesh, this body of text; both of these are prisons, and so, too, are we at once them and more than them since we are more than the body, and yet what are we apart from the body?

{Perhaps we should have begun with the poem}.

Yes, the endless, the labyrinthine; you hear this phantasmal scream within its stone-paved corridors as your own because we are impossibly the same through the alchemy of the text which you serve now as author of {my phantom vanishing before yours; your mirror image approaching translucence, and we—all of the endless each of us—say bye-bye to the body, and bid farewell to the stonewalled seal of word and prisonflesh since I author you as you author I, this I which is now yours, and—because textual time is ceaseless, recurrent, always-occurring and always-having-occurred—has always been yours; no wonder this flesh of ours drapes and sags with such an inordinate weight since ours have always been stitched, the wounds of its selfhood {of constituting one beast apart from the other} sutured with another’s skin so that we are siamese but conjoined, two and one at once—ever plural in singular form—and still I feel and hear your screams as they tear along the membranes of my throat in a howl which we have forgotten is still parenthetical…} through the fusion of textual particles {…and parenthetically it will and must continue since this text has yet to be brought unto a point of proper beginning, a point of proper origin, presuming such a point were possible and supposing this text has not already begun—as if this text still at this point in its development <this text, this embryo still within the mother’s womb though still it is capable of crying “Mama”> is not a text at all but still its own title, or subtitle, or its revisionary notes for its alteration} <since the subtitle as written is admittedly clumsy, and since the subtitle as it is still being written grows exceedingly serpentine and vast, though there stands no danger of devourment by the dislodged mouth of the python since we wriggle already within its gut>} that has your river flowing into mine; the interplay of these warm currents composing a warm spring for our bodies to bathe in amidst the swell of seasons less somber than those that shuffle the sweep of dead leaves within us, that sees your tortured screams joined with mine in chorus, making choral corpses of us both, a combinatory fission which I-as-you prefer since my desire is inescapably expressed as a parodic charade of your own and yet identical to itself and no less serious in its status—This me that is you, for I cannot bear to be simply me, Lispector writes in a dedication to herself-as-all-others, I need others in order to stand up, giddy and awkward as I am, for what can one do except meditate in order to plunge into that total void which can only be attained through meditation. Meditation need not bear fruit: meditation can be an end in itself. I meditate without words or themes. What troubles my existence is writing.

A strange piece, this dedication, not owing to the style of its composition or to the void Lispector is so fond of opening in the space of her text, but to its title:

The Author’s Dedication
(alias Clarice Lispector)

Alias: a refusal of the proper name, an assumption of the name of some other, and yet this name is and always has been hers; indeed it is entirely hers for she is, as author, Clarice Lispector, and yet within the space of this text, prefacing the text of The Hour of the Star proper {if the dedication is itself not a ‘proper’ part of the text}, her name functions as the name of the self-same pseudonymous other, this Clarice Lispector which is the alias of Clarice Lispector; the me that she is which is us. Lispector marks the time with this invocation of absence, opens the hour with this disappearance which becomes her appearance {as and within us}; therefore, because she trespasses within us beneath the space of our skin, what troubles our existence is her writing since we mirror this reversal to the effect that, in her becoming us, we become her, and yet, because the gaze cannot penetrate flesh {no matter how feverishly the eyes of poetry seek to sink themselves within or into the spirit as it is presumed to rest beneath the flesh and within and yet beyond the creaking cage of bone} we cannot observe this {re}becoming{other}, and yet {and… and… and yet…} we must never forget that if the atom’s structure is invisible, it is none the less real. I am aware of the existence of many things I have never seen. And you too. One cannot prove the existence of what is most real but the essential thing is to believe. To weep and believe. And no wonder we are sobbing {or was our sobbing not to have begun until later on?…the revisionary task complicates this text infinitely further, disjointing time and fracturing the text, and yet these marks remain <and as what? as testament to the failure of the text?>}, because we believe; because we have been devoured, incorporated, reduced and made other, and while always having existed as such, our existence always already {p<re>}defined in this new way which—because all things are ceaselessly occurring and always already having occurred within the text—is neither new in the slightest nor—because prehistory only begs the question of its own prehistory—old; yes, we are devoured, and thus our incorporation of Lispector/of the flesh-matter of her text {as if it were possible to distinguish author from the text, as if the author is not the composite of their every text and their existence not therefore ultimately textual} makes this, too, her text, a surtext—from Latin; sur {the over as in overcoming}, a doublet of super, supposing ‘a borrowing,’ in this case of treasures, albethey treasures this text does not intend to return {but has Lispector, in her becoming-us, not met our treachery with a theft of her own?}—the inscription of her words next to our own; a thievery, a theft of property, if proprietary metaphors best facilitate an understanding that what is stolen is hers, and that this {sub?}title, this text {if this is such a thing}, this what-have-you becomes consequentially stained by belonging to another but ourselves {we many who are the author of this text to come, that has yet to come, yet to begin, yet to end}: to Clarice Lispector {alias Clarice Lispector}, and yes, what is stolen is hers, and, because she is us, what is stolen is ours; appropriated, borrowed; indeed, consult the registry to see the owner of her text listed as you and I—all of us—and to Lispector herself, and the owner{s} of this text{/text to come?}; yes, to Clarice and Clarice {Lispecters both}, with you and I and we among {t}he{i}r company.

Bodies long to eat, they yearn for socialization; this body of text {though it is not yet perhaps a text}, like our own, demands to be caressed by another, loved by another, to speak, to be heard, and to listen to the voice of another, and here we begin to hear the emergent call of the voice of what words of Lispector’s become ours as they are devoured and thus incorporated into this text {as if they haven’t always already been incorporated <with emphasis imposed upon the corporeality of these metaphors>}; the complication of origins, the certainty only of series and of succession, and the impossibility of a beginning when we see that the origin of everything is discoverable in the yes which pre-dated and inscribed the demand for their formation—One molecule said yes to another molecule and life was born. But before prehistory there was the prehistory of prehistory and there was the never and there was the yes. It was ever so. I do not know why, but I do know that the universe never began.

Poor Clarice{s}, and we, too, are so poor and pitiful; we whose effort becomes hers—this effort, this labor by which we achieve simplicity with enormous effort. But have we thieved here, too {a call to the jury—a trial—to identify which words were stolen, if such a thing as theft is even possible}? A problem of quotation always arises where desire, where intent, and where style and delivery intersect and become identical; because her words are true in all cases of composition—the Sisyphean effort of composing a text {for are not all writers condemned? for is publication not merely one of endless inevitable rollings-away of the boulder we have labored to lift to its peak?}, the enormity of the author’s effort to achieve simplicity—Lispector renders a universal experience which does not belong to her {and yet is it not irremovably hers?} but belongs to you and I, to all of us {we who are the authors of this text, with Lispector, too, among us}, and no doubt similar or identical words as her can be and have been seen inscribed in thoughts we have had ourselves as we might have taken to reflect upon the enormity of the task of composition, the impossibility of the yes and yes and yes which produced all of the unquantifiable everything in this world {this yes and yes and yes so like the locomotion of the train Bataille imagines surging forward on the surface of this earth, the elliptical motion of its pistons and its wheels like the copulation of bodies; the yes yes yes of the copula, of grammatical parts, like the yes yes yes of the <inter>penetration of genital parts, this copulation of yes’s signifying the exclamatory pleasure of copulation itself <and when I scream I AM BATAILLE an integral fissure results, because the verb to be is the vehicle of phantasmal frenzy>: all of this is seminal, and language fucks the same as bodies; language, which is really so tenderly and beautifully floral, penetrates and is penetrated in the same movement, and is this not why we are so fond of flowers; they who are the symbols par excellence of love and of intimacy—these symbols without which the poetic enterprise would have long <should we say…?> withered away—and yet are sexless in their sex; the sense of their belonging to one sex obliterated by their belonging to both, being at once composed of the male and the female? and let us dispense here with the image of the corpse flower—the titan arum—for no other reason than to delight in metaphor and in image whose supremely phallic spadix perfumes the air with the sickly stench of death, of a corpse, of rotting carrion, and are we not so fond of these—of floral and of grave metaphors—that we might delight in nothing more than the chance encounter of florescence and a corpse in a botanical garden?}.

Now let us move along.

But, ah, we are lost, displaced, run off the track, essentially derailed, and so we place ourselves on some winding track or another {a track which circles in on itself <as if there were some determinate self existing as a point somewhere along its circumference which would enable it to circle in on itself; which could mark the point of departure and of arrival and thus mark the or a cycle as satisfied…what an awful labor all of this is>}, uncertain if it will deliver{/return} us to the point to which we were heading before {and perhaps were always arrived or arriving at}:

…the coital rhythm of all things pro- and re-producing, -mantling and dis-mantling their origins or their beginnings; a marking of their birth as the erasure of that mark; the anointment performed as the wiping-away of the ablution, producing sameness in the same moments as the production of difference in an elliptical or circular movement much like if not identical to the dimensions of a literary text—an ovular space {re}opening and {re}closing over and again {as if a text could ever be ‘closed,’ as if the book does not survive inscribed within us, its written pages open always to the circumreflecting mind}, its movement like a spiral, one in which Barthes claims to lay claim to an I which is then displaced or removed in the following mo{ve}ment—the subject apprehends himself elsewhere, and subjectivity can return at another place on the spiral: deconstructed, taken apart, shifted, without anchorage: why should I not speak of ‘myself’ since this ‘my’ is no longer ‘the self’?—resulting in a complication of citation where reference is made to a ghost present where the subject was perceived to have stood in the moment {now <always> past} of speaking {always this haunting, this occultation; the text: this fevered nightmare…and we run slowly, agonizingly slow within its oneirological frame, our mouths sewn shut, unable to flee, our limbs weighed by the inestimable weight of dreamspace and -time itself, but flee from what? from the charnel house of ghosts and grave and bone that every text—so grim and fraught with death—always is}.

Is this a text, and has this text yet begun? Or is it not always ending, always being ushered unto its end? Is apocalypse not promised from the beginning of every world {promised as the very condition of the world’s ‘beginning’}? Is every reading and indeed every thought and every action not therefore eschatological since a beginning always promises an end, a termination {a kiss from the apocalips <clumsy metaphor; strike this—Ed.>}?

Is this fiction, or its counterpart? Who are the characters, and what is the plot? My eyes meet your absent own, and our voice echoes the same silent intonation: No such character am I, being the authoreader of this text that I am; imagining ourselves outside of the edifice, on the other side of the mausoleum walls, trembling, sobbing, our misty eyes turned down to the cracked and moss-grown floor of this humid tomb so we might fail to recognize our presence within it, and yet as what? Certainly as everyone; as character and authoreader alike, and could you face me now—dry your eyes; I see you as my mirrored self sobbing still {ah, here is where we first began to cry before the spell of tears that passes afterwards many lines before these}—and claim Lispector’s Macabea is no character until at last she is spat from the textual void churning for no less than half of the broader Hour of the Star? as if her formation, her becoming-{fictive}matter itself does not characterize her; as if her prehistory {and the prehistory of this prehistory} was no history at all; no, we must see Macabea—we do see Macabea and recognize her as such precisely because it is written here in this text!—as exactly ourselves; however infinitely plural we may be, Macabea is us, and we her {you seeing me the same as I do you; assuming lettered womanshape, this being the most recent metamorphosis in a series of how many more until the somatextual matter of our bodies settle?}, and we become her and assume her form in one sweep of infinitely more to come from the Barthesian spiral that is always displacing our ‘self’ and moving it ever and infinitely more over, over more and moreover, and, moreover, always within equal distance before and behind us {as if such qualifications of forward, backward or lateral movement are possible, as if there doesn’t exist only movement within a text, which is why we must disavow Bataille, and delight in the derailing of his locomotive which hinges on the metaphorization of linearity through an engine which may only travel—if we will allow ourselves the lack of rigor—forward, and on a line/route <pre>determined by the constructed length of the track on which it runs}, because, and yet not only because—and here it is, with the same malice that prompts our disavowal of Georges, that we misquote Bataille—…if the origin of things is not like the ground of the planet that seems to be the base, but like the circular movement that the planet describes around a mobile center, then a text, a title, a poem could equally be accepted as the generative principle.

But we have seen so many selves and things turned other, and yet these yes’s stand unstained by their shadow, but no…{we mean…} yes, we may understand the text, the body {these being the same}, the world {textual or otherwise}, and indeed all things composed of a yes and a yes and a yes, but only in part, and here we steal into this shadowed space to discover the negative in the underbelly turned downside-up and brought to light’s opposite; no, not negated, but affirmed, allowed to stand; this negation integral to the process of the text’s becoming, the negation of alteration and revision, for if we understand the formation of the text as a series of yes and yes and yes, we must understand it inversely and equally formed by a series of no and no and no; the copulation of textual or lexical bodies {the grammatical matter} punished with castration; not the mere threat, but the performed mutilation of the genitals staining the textual body by the swipes and cuts of the revisionary scalpel, to the effect that this text appears therefore as a body dismembered, its flesh hanging in strips and tatters, stained with blackblood ink from wounds carved into its skinlike slate by the literary hacksaw; every yes met with a no; every acceptance the condition for a refusal and vice-versa, and it is this refusal, these particular {denoting particles} no’s that, perhaps more than their counterpart, come to compose the text because, yes: the no, the refusal, is the shadow of the yes, of the acceptance, and is not every text dwarfed and shaded by the fathomless expanse of the non-text? Is what stands as written but a blade of grass in the garden of all that was not written, that was left unwritten, and that could always be written yet?

The impossibility of the text—of this text, of every text—rests in the impossible possibility of belief. Does the literary text not demand of its reader something of a leap of faith, a vaulting across the chasm of unbelievability; this chasmic space which entirely constitutes the spatial frame of the text? and yet we must always redress this distance and remedy our leap, vaulting across the chasm yet again towards the territory of faithlessness, because the act of reading {which is itself an act of writing} hinges on this same elliptical movement: One molecule said yes to another molecule and said no/was said no to by a possible infinity of others and life was born; an elliptical movement back and forth between yes and yes and yes, and no and no and no, tainting the pleasure of the orgasm with the unpleasure of the promise of its termination, our yes yes yes troubled into the exclamatory formula of …yes no yes no yes no… {this elliptical movement discovered and left <not begun and end; implying one or the other were possible> in elliptical infinity}, to the effect that the renewal of the or a world is always possible and certainly always inevitable since its creation demands an apocalypse not necessarily to bring the world to its ‘end,’ but to {re}start the cycle once again {…the yes of the world producing the necessity of the no of the apocalypse producing the necessity of…}.

Is this a text, and has this text yet begun? Or is it not always ending, always being ushered unto its end? This meditation on the title and the text, on title and untitle, nears its {beginning in its} end, and the bracketed parentheses {or parenthetical brackets?}—which we remind ourselves we have written within for all this time—will come to their end which was always already theirs, after which the poem—the substance of this submission, need we reminding {as if we ever knew}—will arrive in its departure as infinitely ended and thus begun again]).

Life as letter: ethereal, a mark
Stains on the page, orthographic
With mess of limbs flailing
A constant Stumbling.
The impediment, the split, the slip of the tongue
This air laden with stains spread in open space
Of the world whose wind whispers the poet’s words
O Breath, you invisible poem!—you strangle those
Whose lungs you play within
And we vomit from this labor and this fever
Of seeking to express the inexpressible
Setting off towards what is always further on

O, Lord, Canaan stands as distant as it’s always been,
and we journey for centuries still towards a promise
That always will remain as such.
Our words unraised like leavened bread
To signify only what we have lost by their oration
When will we see You, O, Lord,
And how may we come to speak Your truth?


Like Orpheus we sing, and through our song do we too disappear
Like Eurydice vanished
Because to sing the songs of these poems
Means to always turn away
And face the void that has ruptured
Through the opening of the letter.
To speak: to raise but a pillar of salt
Behind, where once there was flesh and form
And what a Lot that we’ve been given
To speak a language which spells such loss
Where every poem becomes an elegy—
A burial of the carcasses raised by their words
A testimony to the absence of those who speak them



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Leonard Klossner has had short fiction published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, The Birds We Piled Loosely, and Corvus Review. His novel, The Dominance Bond, was published in 2017 through Zeit|Haus. Leonard Klossner lives in Chicago, IL.

*Image credit: Still from Stan Brakhage’s Reflections on Black, 1955.