Wound-first Into the Future,1 part I
Notes on corners, thresholds, and John Carpenter’s The Thing
“…when giving offers not the superfluxion of the superfluous,
but the bread taken from one's own mouth. Signification signifies,
consequently, in nourishing, clothing, lodging…relations in
which matter shows itself for the first time in its materiality.” Emmanuel Levinas
“The meaning of writing is always the next text.” Alan Davies
About fifteen years ago I read a book called The Way of a Pilgrim.
The impetus for this was in rereading Salinger’s Franny and Zooey, a favorite book of
mine in my late teens.
In Franny and Zooey, Zooey, older brother to Franny, they of the Glass family, attempts
to console Franny, home from college and disillusioned.
My memory of this book is hazy; I mostly recall the feeling; a few images: a bathtub,
a bathrobe with big pockets full of weird things. A lot of smoking. A cathartic
…or maybe console isn’t the right word. It starts with that but ends some-
where else, in a feeling-place that, for me, is always around corners. There’s a kind of
laughing sky that exists only around corners.
My memory of The Way of a Pilgrim is also hazy now. It’s a hero’s journey of sorts, full
of meaningful encounters.
This is the book that Franny is reading in Franny and Zooey. It has something to do
with her inconsolability or the state that she’s in that’s bigger than inconsolable—
a state of unresolvability.
I think that if I went back and reread Salinger’s book now, I might not have the same
reaction I had at first and second readings. I think I might feel a little disgusted, if
disgusted can be a matter of degrees.
I think I might find its presumptions of wisdom facile. So much gendered charm and
privilege. In my late teens though I really bought into this stew of precociousness,
genius, quirk, charm, wisdom, and spirituality.
The big thing in The Way of a Pilgrim is that the protagonist, the pilgrim, who could be
you, goes about the world while trying live according to St. Paul’s dictum that one
should pray without ceasing.
…I mean I would also feel the laughing sky and the corners—if I reread
Franny and Zooey—it would fill me with something, but it’s something I’m no longer
sure I can trust.
Reading this at first at about 17 or 18, along with some other things, got me feeling
religious. This religious feeling lasted until around my mid-twenties.
Why is Franny in a state of unresolvability? Why can’t she stop crying?
I remember saying in my mid-twenties to a coworker something like: “It is perhaps
my greatest fault that I’m forever looking for God in a book.”
Yikes. What was I trying to advertise there?
Also, God is all about books, right? All kinds of Gods have a lot to do with books,
with words. Logos. Creation is a text.
I wanted to be the pilgrim. And Zooey, and Franny. I wanted to be the whole Glass
family, probably. I wanted to be in on the secret of the laughing sky.
I think what this means is that I wanted a family, and at the same time I wanted to be
a lone traveler, wandering under that sky, a little crazy. Shukke —“out of the house.”
Like Han Shan, Cold Mountain, whose poems appealed to me later in life: crazy, wild,
bewildered, writing poems on rocks and trees.
My friend Thom says he’s afraid that if he started crying he might not ever be able to
stop. For Nietzsche, Thom says, it was the same thing but with laughing.
What if I started praying and found that I couldn’t stop?
I recommended a book to Thom —KOKO, by Peter Straub. This book got under my
skin in a certain way. What did it was the visionary, psychosis-like state one of the
characters, Manuel Orosco Dengler, enters while enduring horrific fighting in the
He becomes childlike in a way, full of wonder while all this horror is happening
around him; all this murder, all this ruination of human bodies.
After this, Dengler never stops becoming a child for the rest of his life.
At one point, while taking shelter from a hail of gunfire, bodies exploding all around,
bodies jumping suddenly into shimmering red clouds then disappearing, death death
death, he turns to another character and says, kind of idly, “Don’t you think God
does everything simultaneously?”
There’s a thing that I love—this drawing by Baltimore artist and poet Lesser
Gonzales Alvarez. It’s a Venn diagram where the left circle says crying, and the right
circle says laughing, and the overlapping section says SOARING.
A few times this thing has happened to my partner Dee Dee where she enters a state
of laughing and crying simultaneously.
I have never entered this exact state of experiencing seemingly contradictory
emotions and affects at the same time, but yes I think it seems right to refer to this as
What would it be like to exist in that state all the time? I think this is what praying
without ceasing would be, perhaps the only sane response to the world in which we
… then, all this bleeding hellishness happening around him, Dengler continues:
“What I like about that idea is that in a funny way it means that the universe actually
created itself, which means that it goes on creating itself, get me? So destruction
is part of this creation that goes on all the time. And on top of this is the real kicker—
destruction is the part of creation that we think is beautiful.”
Another thing I love—that I think soars: a drawing by David Shrigley called Hymn. On
a sheet of staff paper a single note repeats over and over and beneath each note just:
God God God God God God God until the end of the page.
Mark E Smith said: “The three R’s are: repetition, repetition, repetition.”
Many things I love I learned about from other people. I love The Fall because my
wife loves The Fall. I love Peter Straub because my Dad loves Peter Straub.
The pilgrim learns prayer—learns to love prayer and access love through prayer—
from a stranger he encounters on his journey.
I can’t deny that there’s a powerful sense of love in Franny and Zooey.
That space in Lesser’s drawing, SOARING, that’s like love. A perfect love. A perfect
love is a palimpsest. A simultaneity.
My friend Anna has a small book about listening to Joy Division put out by Perfect
Lovers press, a press started by Dana Ward and Paul Coors that took its name from
the artwork “Untitled” (Perfect Lovers) by Felix Gonzalez-Torres: Two battery-powered
clocks placed next to each other and set to the same time.
Simultaneously the same time and two different same times—the clocks eventually go
out of sync as their batteries die at different speeds.
All our lives we die at different speeds.
Felix Gonzalez-Torres says: “Time is something that scares me. . . or used to. This
piece I made with the two clocks was the scariest thing I have ever done. I wanted to
face it. I wanted those two clocks right in front of me, ticking.”
If you were to stare at those clocks and let your eyes relax, they would start to overlap
like a Venn diagram.
Is this the space where one can overcome one’s fear of time?
The first piece by Felix Gonzalez-Torres I experienced in person was at the Baltimore
Museum of Art, an enormous blue beaded curtain.2 It was sort of everything at once:
painting, drawing, sculpture; musical, textual, tactile. A threshold.
Simultaneity is a state always on the threshold of itself.
This is what people are like.
Where those two clocks overlap: SOARING. The laughing sky around corners.
Prayer without ceasing. Everything simultaneously.
While passing through the beaded curtain, slowing to experience it, that narrow
threshold space opened up. It made a new spatial dimension, created a new emotion.
People are both thresholds and on the thresholds of themselves. Ourselves.
The first horror novel I read as a kid was Shadowland by Peter Straub—I snuck it off
of my Dad’s bookshelf, a place that fascinated me, held me enthralled. A vast place.
I try and remember when life felt enormous in front of that bookshelf.
In front of two overlapping clocks; passing through the blue beaded curtain.
Inside of us is an enormous threshold.
Shadowland is about magic, children and magic, and it is wondrous and terrifying. It
takes place in a seemingly endless house in a seemingly endless woods in a seemingly
endless night and there are wondrous and terrifying things around every corner. Near
the end, the protagonist, Tom Flanagan, is crucified. It takes some guts for a writer to
crucify a child, but in many ways Tom is more adult than any adult: because of his
initiation into and aptitude for magic, he becomes a threshold being.
Another thing I love is a small book that records a conversation between artists Amy
Sillman and Gregg Bordowitz. There’s a moment when they speak about new
Gregg Bordowitz says: “I believe that we produce new emotions. Emotions are
collectively produced, they’re not produced by ourselves alone.”
Amy Sillman says about her paintings that they are “versions of things at the same
time that they are those things.”
She continues: “So maybe new emotions are about dealing with time differently...
Maybe before the 20th century there was more linearity in time, in the appearance of
time, and now we've entered into this weird sci-fi time where time moves forwards
and backwards at the same time.”
I have always felt, when writing poetry, that the poetry is a version of poetry at the
same time that it is poetry, and that it moves with and against the time of itself.
This is kind of how I conceive of prosody: that overlapping, threshold space where a
thing is what it is and also is a version of itself. On its own threshold. Two clocks
looked at with relaxed eyes.
Amy Sillman also once said in an email that she thought of prosody in writing like
space in painting. This seems right—painterly space both being there and not there at
the same time.
My friend Ryan once defined ghosts in this way: not present, not absent, but: not not
Another thing I love is contrastive reduplication: where you say a thing twice to
indicate a new meaning. Like when we were kids: Do you like them or do you like like
The word doubled, overlapped, makes a new meaning.
I also love in Franny and Zooey when Franny is disparaging one of her college
professors because she knows that he musses up his hair before he comes out to give
a lecture. It’s not genuine, and she is obsessed with the problem of being genuine.
She hates it in the professor because she sees it in herself. Zooey sees the professor in
another way, with a kind of charitable attitude.
I have for a long time now always tried to make sure my hair is a little messed up. I
instantly related to this professor.
I like this professor because he is two things: the professor with wild hair that the
students see, and the secret, unseen professor that musses up his hair before entering
the lecture hall so that he has a kind of professorial glamour. The reality of the
professor is between those two things, or is a result of their combination.
You genuinely can’t escape artifice.
I saw Gregg Bordowitz give a talk once where he spoke about the third thing that
exists between two people.3 A sort of third person appears, and that’s really the thing,
this thirdness. The human prosody, a new space, a new person. Not person A and
Person B, but some new thing: Person C, a person that soars; a person like a prayer.
When I moved a couple years ago from Bushwick to the upper west side, a strange
thing would happen to me while I was walking around the unfamiliar streets—my
sense of space was different, also my sense of scale, and to some degree also my
sense of self. I felt different, and this feeling different had a kind of shape I could
I think looking back that I was having a new emotion. It had happened before, a sort
of novel alchemical blend, but I had never thought of it in these terms. It occurs to
me that if I had named it—invented a new word to name the emotion— then it
would have become real. A new emotion, one that was created within me by a
confluence of countless subtle variables.
I try to repeat this state and reactivate this emotion, but I can’t. Maybe if I had
applied a new word? Could it then be duplicated? Re-duplicated?
It gives me a lot of hope, a soaring feeling, to consider that we have more options
than just the emotions that are sold to us. The palette is far richer, the vocabulary far
Walking around with that new feeling, I was both myself and also a version of myself.
Like poetry. Or parody, or irony. Spaces of overlap and double-understanding.
This is also the space of horror.
Franny cries and cries, but the story ends with a moment of joyful hilarity. Love and
In KOKO, M.O. Dengler is kicked into a kind of ecstasy because extreme amounts of
love and terror give rise within him to new emotions. He becomes the third thing that
love and terror make.
I remember when Colonel Kurtz says: “You must make a friend of horror. Horror
and moral terror are your friends.”
Once, when I was very sick in bed with a high fever in Benares, India, in a moment
of intense anxiety verging on panic attack, I poured a bottle of water over my head
and slicked back my hair, and when my right hand settled on the back of my neck, a
new thing happened: between the feeling of my hand on my neck and the feeling of
my neck on my hand, a space opened up—a space I could see, a dim room that
overlapped the room where I was sick in bed. I felt then that if I left my hand there I
would be able to enter that room. But—I intimated that this might mean that I would
Touch is a room. Like space in painting. Prosody in writing.
I was frightened, even terrified, but attracted. It seemed that I contained more rooms
than I had previously thought.
At DIA in Beacon there’s a room with a piece by Lawrence Weiner that says: “Two
slabs placed against each other / to form a form with another slab lying on the
ground”. I tried to photograph the phrase “form a form” with my phone but couldn’t
frame it without also getting some of the other words in the shot. “Two slabs
place” (the d in “placed” cut off) above “to form a form.” Though I wanted to
isolate the single phrase, the intrusion of the slabs clarified what I like about the
“form a form.”
On one hand each form as verb or noun slabs a meaning and is a slab of meaning or
possibility of interpretation, malleable directive, or observation.
On the other hand the two slabs meet and “form a form.” A third thing.
William Burroughs and Brion Gysin were, like Greg Bordowitz, interested in the third
term. They called it “the third mind.” When Burroughs and Gysin collaborated they
generated a new mind, a synergistic entity, more than the sum of its parts.
In Fred Sandback’s installations at DIA, space is changed by so little: single threads
forming simple geometries suggest super-thin glass panes suspended in air or leaning
against the architecture, tilting either the space or my relation to it. A welcome
vertigo, at once unsettling and playful, an astonishing amount of power in simple
dyed thread. I thought of Rilke: “The glorious game that power plays with things / is
to move in such submission through the world.” Quiet upheaval. What is “religious
feeling?” Did I experience that then? I felt something like a crystalizing awareness
that serious play is sacred, holy, and DIA became a kind of church, a space for
celebrating aesthetic space, time, and energy.
Aesthetic = engagement. Part of the power of these pieces is that they reveal space
as both idea and physical reality. Fold, repetition, refrain.
The first horror movie I saw, rented for me by my father from Video Mania on Main
Street in Boonton, New Jersey when I was about ten years old, was John Carpenter’s
The Thing. It was one of his favorite movies, a movie he loved, and certainly his
favorite horror movie.
Part of what frightens us in horror is inescapability. The refrain of the antagonist,
permutations of encounter. The always-coming-back. Horror loves its sequels.
Part of what attracts us is the tension made by the meeting of attraction and
repulsion. Dread and anticipation. This is the unique prosodic space of horror, a
space always on the threshold of itself.
The Thing is a film about men. Male identity, male personhood. It’s like a western that
way. An Antarctic western. The hero, R.J. MacReady, is essentially a cowboy, isolated
himself even within a group that is already completely isolated.
The film makes me wonder: can a group of men sustain itself as a community. At the beginning of the
film it’s clear that there is a kind of harmony, but it’s a harmony
based on impenetrable masculine boundaries and well-defined and well-understood
male personas. It is undergirded, tenuously it turns out, by these mens’ shared sense
of “personhood”—which manifests as a rigidly controlled set of behaviors and
It doesn’t take very long, once the men start sharing something else, something other,
something akin in its mutations and operations to poetic language, for this idea of
personhood to start to disintegrate.
The Thing is about overidentification, overinclusiveness, and excessive utterance. What
third space erupts when this circle of men overlaps with the circle of an alien pilgrim,
a circle that encompasses geologic time, infinite recombination, and an endless drive
to write the next text?
To be continued…
To be continued… what happens in the space between part one and sequel, that
caesura and event horizon into which a narrative disappears?
Rilke’s glorious game. To move in such submission. That’s from the Stephen Mitchell
translation. Robert Bly has it: Strength plays such a marvelous game — it moves through the
things of the world like a servant — groping out in roots, tapering in trunks…
Auden, writing about Rilke in The New Republic in 1939, said “…[he] thinks of the
human in terms of the non-human, of what he calls Things (Dinge).”
In terms of. Terminated or interminable?
Building, dwelling, thinging…
In my early days of sobriety, 2001, not long after 9/11,4 my sponsor handed me a
pamphlet published by Hazelden. A single word was printed across the cover:
INTIMACY. “You have a fear of intimacy,” he said. Who are you kidding, I thought;
intimacy—that was my purview. What could any person or institution have to tell me
about intimacy? I was a poet. As a drunken poet, I was intimacy itself; it moved
through me like a servant. I was everything and everything’s simultaneity.
Paul Virilio, devout catholic and theorist of thresholds, quotes Rilke in The Aesthetics
of Disappearance: “What happens is so far ahead of what we think, of our intentions,
that we can never catch up with it and never really know its true appearance.”
For Virilio, as we progress—but we don’t progress, we accelerate—as we accelerate,
things—and here we must think of things as events, since only events are
real—are suffused with an increasing flickering.
In The Wild Boys, William Burroughs’ uncontainable anarchist guerrilla boy-heroes
flicker deliberately out of sync with reality’s filmic frame rate in order to time travel.
As with Philip K Dick, who knew that the Roman Empire never ended: if the light
hits you slant, or actually, if you hit the light slant, the asynchronous real opens.
Synchronicity is a just crack in the surface. Don’t you think that God does everything
simultaneously? There’s a certain slant of self…
Is it possible for an appearance to be true?
The space between part one and sequel doesn’t exist until the sequel exists. Then its
interval blooms into being, the third thing that the two films create between them.
This gap retroactively recreates the first film. I think this is why people can get so
upset about sequels they don’t like—they make the original film work in terms of its
John Carpenter’s The Thing opens with such beautiful footage, such a haunting, lightly
percussive soundtrack. The first character we focus on is the aforementioned R.J.
MacReady—in solitude, shaggy, bearded, drinking scotch on the rocks and playing a
game of computer chess. He’s got this glassy-eyed and bemused confidence—a
picture of masculine whimsy—but when the program quickly and dispassionately
announces checkmate (notably in the voice of Carpenter’s wife, Adrienne Barbeau),
MacReady’s face darkens. He pours his whisky into the computer; it sparks and
smokes. “Cheatin’ bitch,” he grumbles.
This moment is the only appearance of a woman in the entire film—the tinny, atonal,
disembodied voice that attends the artificial intelligence that beats MacReady at chess
and pays the price by getting doused in J and B. Computers in this film, thus
feminized, will continue to be the bearers of bad news for this isolated community of
For men, is to be defeated to be betrayed? Is the inability to know the answer
the greatest threat?
The Thing is a film about betrayal. More to the point —it’s a film about men feeling
betrayed, that their fantasy of well-understood boundaries has been violated —that
their fantasy has been rendered a ruined body.
It’s terrible enough that their physical boundaries—walls, weapons, skin—can’t
protect them from a bodily intrusion of cosmic otherness. What’s worse, and never
really expressed, is the horror at a chaos that doesn’t conform to spatial, temporal, or
conceptual rules—an inscrutable, unpredictable, interminable event made legible.
What is more unsettling: the illegible legible or the legible illegible?
Offer not the bread from your mouth, but your mouth itself.
When I first started trying to think seriously about poetry—and I can tell you that I
did not exactly feel equal to the task—I began to experience a profound anxiety
about its purpose. More precisely I felt that in order to justify writing poetry I needed
to know why one would resort to it in favor of prose or, you know, just saying something
—common casual utterance.
In KOKO, the murderer, a caesura dressed as a man who perceives himself as existing
at the center of temporal and spatial simultaneity, speaks only very rarely, and quite
precisely. KOKO’s utterances are not common or causal. Aphoristic and full of
inscrutable intent, they inspire immediate dread—dread not because of impending
violence, but because of the words’ proximity to and intimacy with vertigo, with void.
Though precise, an aphorism is excessive, paradoxical. It contains more of itself than
it has room for and is always moving upon its own threshold.
KOKO. I want to overlap this strange, singsongy nonsense word with the clocks of
Untitled (Perfect Lovers) and with Lesser Alvarez’s Venn diagram. A space made by a
slippage of combined times, a soaring interim (prayer without ceasing). When I relax
my eyes while reading KOKO, it reduplicates as a syllabic trinity, an infinite present.
OK overlaps into ⏀.
James Sherry: “I never really understood why you wanted that appeal to an outside
entity rather than a conjunctive appeal.”
The Thing is a writhing conjunction; nothing lies outside of its grammar.
As for Dave Shrigley’s hymn, I’d replace GOD with AND and have it go forever. A
feeling of in, a feeling of of, a feeling of and and and.
The aura restored to every reproduction. Does repetition exist or doesn’t it?
When MacReady and Doctor Copper (they go by Mac and Doc—sharp, definitive,
authoritative, masculine appellations)—when Mac and Doc first discover evidence of
“the thing”, it’s as its leftover impression in an enormous block of ice. Though as the
film progresses—or maybe I should say accelerates—we encounter increasingly
grotesque iterations of this entity, the most intimate encounter with it may be when
Mac and Doc discover this empty, cold, still volume.
Form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form. But you have to say it.
My early poetic impulses were aphoristic—maybe they still are. Somewhat
LANGUAGE poetry, somewhat Paul Celan. A tension, almost a conflict, between
expansion and compression. Celan's word inventions are language overlapping,
blurred into a third clarity.
slugshadow, lungstitch, tonguejoke, dreamrelics
Years after the fact I realize that my sponsor was right: intimacy is terrifying, a caesura
within selfhood. It isn’t easy to overlap, to become a third thing.
When we see the thing in The Thing, it’s always as an irruption, a riot, almost a panic.
But a panic of what?
Years after the fact, I feel somewhat comfortable with an understanding that at least
one reason to write poetry is to let language lead—it veers, it irrupts. Whatever
language “is” moves in such submission through me. Whatever I “am” moves
through language like a servant.
The thing is improvisational. It sprawls and tightens its rhythms across the open field.
Is panic inherently improvisational?
When I was 13, I began having episodes where I felt like I couldn’t breathe, that I was
going to have a heart attack. My fingers, lips, and ears would go numb. I wasn’t
capable of predicting when this would happen, but the fundament from which these
events arose was a deep discomfort with my body, with being embodied.
The men in The Thing are on the thresholds of their bodies, their identities—brought
there by an encounter with the embodiment(s) of a restless, improvisational, and
My anxiety, inarticulable at age 13, was in part due to a growing feeling of co-
extensiveness, that my body was a conjunction and my identity a preposition, a
The most interesting and least comfortable questions asked by Carpenter’s film are:
What is the thing in itself? What is its time?
When one is “taken over” by the thing, does one know? Can you be the thing and not
know it—only know it once the material that you’ve quietly been being reveals its
The thing is always on the threshold of itself, ever compelled into iterations.
To continue its prosodic versioning—folding and unfolding—ever the procreant urge.
What would happen if I became myself. Would I know I was me?
…the anxiety was equally due to feeling trapped inside my body—an
essentially uninhabitable thing in inhospitable time—its undergoingness, the certainty of
its eventual collapse, the constant possibility of its accidents.
To survive, the thing is continuously compelled toward multiplicity and possibility.
When the thing takes you over, does it know it’s the thing? Or does it think it’s you?
Does the thing think? How to understand a force or entity that has none of its own
boundaries, but only those of…everything else.
To survive I developed what became over time a complex system of ritualistic
behaviors—thought and movement variously improvised, synchronized, repeated,
reiterated, rigorous. In some sense these highly choreographed rituals were designed
to exert control over boundaries.
Is survival a compulsion?
When Peter Straub was asked what it was like collaboratively writing The Talisman with
Stephen King, he said that he felt that the book wasn’t written by either of them, but
by a third voice.
KOKO is a story about men and the shared brutality and trauma of their past
speaking itself through aphorism and violence into their collective present. The only
woman in that story, Maggie Lah, knows that in order to live in the present one must
move backwards and forwards through time at the same time.
The Thing is a story about men who have no past and a featureless future, and so can
move only within an infinite and continuously renegotiated present.
My childhood discomfort with boundaries and my exhaustive efforts to control these
boundaries through magical formulae were in part due to my father’s alcoholism,
which made clear to me that boundaries were not stable—something that lived inside
my dad would unpredictably extend itself. This thing was inherently shapeless and full
of inexhaustible urges.
The rituals were a kind of unceasing prayer.
Years after the fact I understand that poetry is what happens when language agrees to
miss the point in order to continuously renegotiate its present. Be and be again.
Like a Venn diagram, a film and its sequel overlap; the new space they create
manifests a narrative topography that perpetually writhes and that is always partially
Writing is writhing.
Mark Fisher quoting Mark E Smith: “Body a tentacle mess…”
Levinas in Otherwise Than Being: “The Gordian knot of the body, the extremities in which it
begins or ends, are forever dissimulated in the knot that cannot be undone…”
The body is a gordian knot, its time not singular; it begins before it starts and always
moves beyond itself.
The future is a map of the past.
What happens to the shape of the space between stories when the sequel is a
prequel? In other words: when what happens after is also what happened before?
Confusion is ethical. To be continued…
- A phrase borrowed from David Levi Strauss’ From Head to Hand: Art and the Manual. Writing about Leon Golub’s Gigantomachy paintings, Strauss says, “The Drawing Gigantomachy V is a head in profile, but it is the head of a man in action—a fighter, with a broken nose smashed against his cheek, a gaping toothless mouth, and a tuft of hair sticking straight out behind as a result of the forward thrust of the head, moving wound-first into the future.”
- “Untitled”(Water) 1995, dimensions variable.
As you pass through, it makes your dimensions variable, too.
- He also played the song Mildred Pierce by Sonic Youth in its entirety; he was interested in the breaking point or punctum (he might have used that word?) that occurs at 1:36 (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3-jp4hk7VIU) --it’s a threshold moment, very abrupt, and it occurs to me that there are fast thresholds and slow thresholds, a primary difference being that, when it’s as fast as it is in Mildred Pierce, you can’t observe the change you are undergoing while it’s happening. A disappearance that suddenly appears: little death, picnolepsy, nano-caesura, dimensions variable. The song, thus divided, is the third thing that irrupts from this prosodic tear.
- A disaster that was (is still) itself a caesura/punctum/threshold. I don’t think that we can conceive of our lives apart from that day; it redefines everything that came before it, and is superimposed on everything after (or maybe it gives the lie to the word “after” – maybe there’s no such thing.)