Locating Crypt Words in Sites of Being: a geography/geology of the mosaic-torus

'I hum in three various occasions.'
Gilles Deleuze, Abécédaire, directed by Pierre-André Boutang

'The fragment often seems a means for complacently abandoning oneself to the self ...to write fragmentarily is simply to welcome one’s own disorder...' (1993: 359)
Maurice Blanchot

'...an unreadable and wrenching script takes shape, takes shape and destroys itself at the same slow pace - shadows, spines, shafts of broken light refocused in the angles, the triangles of a fleeting geometry that yields to the shadow of the ocean waves. And then, unceasingly, lives again.'
Marguerite Duras
(from The North China Lover,
from the epigraph to
Felix Guattari’s Chaosmosis, 1988)



A crypt word is a shadow word; allusive and paratextual. Part of a post-formalist reading strategy, Rachel Blau Du Plessis’ developed the concept of the crypt word to speak to words that exist within a text but remain unsaid, or unwritten. If the text is strata, the crypt word exists underneath the surface. It operates below, subterraineously, but always shifting — like a tectonic (text-tonic?) plate.

Du Plessis applies the crypt word to the work of Susan Howe; a mediumistic poet with an ear to the telepathy of the archive.

Of Howe, Du Plessis writes:
‘The page is not neutral. Not blank, and not neutral. It is a territory … Cryptograms, language always having "another" message . Why and how vibrations of shadow words as if visual afterimages, come in her intricate split spell-ings… Why does she make pages of cut-ups, of upside-downs, of palimpsests?’
Howe unravels the threads of history, through her commitment an to illumination of physical traces of being, as enacted upon the page. As she performs an excavation of texts, Howe reveals bone fragments and archaeological data as she sifts through the strata of an archive.

Derivations Material Intelligence Kindlings: deliberate roughness

An act of pieces and piecing, mosaic speaks to memory. Etymologically, ‘mosaic’ is tied to ‘muse’:


Linked, then, to mull over, to ornament. To mosaic is to build up a whole out of many small parts, a whole out of fragments. What does it mean to perceive the fragment? Or, to take this further, what does it mean to fragment a thing (not objects or bodies)?

The persistent materiality of things, is an eternal reminder that, “existence is not an individual affair”.

Mosaicity belongs to the study of atoms within crystals, or how we see into a thing, and subsequently, how we come to record what we know of a structure from looking through. Mosaicity belongs to the science of crystallography:

crystallography = crystallon (cold, frozen drop) + graphein (to write)

How do we write that which is crystallized, within the rapidity of the contemporary, when crystal growth occurs at the pace of one atomic layer per year. Mosaicity is a process that measures diffraction, the way that light travels through a thing, the way that light travels through the crystallized atomic layers.

Jesmonite is a composite substance, a gypsum-based chameleon embedded in decorative and structural sites.

Gypsum is a fertiliser. A growth-maker but also a crystal, a ‘soft sulfate mineral’.

Poet Lorine Niedecker apprehends the way we reify geological naming and thinking. She asks us:

Why this fascination with rock terms, names, probably because we like to think the first geologists took their finds and created them ? name to thing ? out of the nature of things ?

Howe: ‘In the age of the bomb the sun often seems to have gone down’. What wisdom does this impart for those of us burrowing into memory as ruined, poisoned earth? What happens, when we are performing an analysis of ecologies of the minute, the minutia, the pieces, the fragments inside that which envelops us? Is there space within the Chthulucene for blue sky imagining, when then the sun has gone down but the earth has gone down also?

Taking the palimpsestic position, in which what is written is written over. The waves are overlapping; this consciousness that is multitudinal rejects oneness and instead embraces lapping over the edges of bodily boundary.

Geerts and van der Tuin remind us: “diffraction is a physical phenomenon that comes into being when a multitude of waves encounter an obstacle upon their path, and/or when these waves themselves overlap.” It is reading one thing in amongst others. We are enmeshed in a radical, material hybridity.

The difference between the fragment and the ruin. Ruin as a lost, eroded, destroyed signifier of the whole, connected, by its very nature to memory, to time, to place. The fragment, a thing of the same kind, is instead a part of the whole that that has been taken away. Often, therefore, rendered ahistorical.

Does the fragment mean anything now, does the ruin mean anything now, in the midst of the sixth great extinction event?

Being in the world is the overwhelm of geologic time meeting shrinking time, and the hope that ‘I’ as way of being becomes radical in multiplicity. It is also the fragmentary self, knitting together pieces in a fugue state, and piecemeal geography in the contemporary era.

What does it mean when we align the ruins of ecology for the contemporary fragmented condition? Is it a human death, a real death? What have we lost in fragmenting ourselves and our collective memory from the atomic foundation of being? This is the anthro, in the anthropocene.

Unfavourable Geometry Vessel
I read the memory of my mother as fractured klein bottle, emptied out into a universe of feeling. A space that is at once both inside and outside of itself. I read the mosaic, the torus shape as scientific signifier. As a quantum event. As we read the data, typed out years ago and then digitized in the Googleplex. Quantum leaps happen in texts too.

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