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PLANE

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The language machine—
Light against the surface:
winged balsa,
smooth steel,
flat words.
Skimming across the horizon:
almost without contact
but with touching still—
just enough to level the uneven edges,
to grind down the grain
into intelligible lines
into patent forms.

Iterations are churned through the gears


generated into graphemes and phonemes—
those structural simplicities of authorship
by pen
or tongue.
The compression of air
makes the space of letters—
anxious black imprints on white
geometric residue of violent action:
of hand
of mouth.

These dark markings stretch out across the planar strata of the page,
expand ad infinitum against the air’s glossy veneer.
A field of
endless iterations, producing
continuous writings of the word.
Such flatness is perhaps only illusory
but only perhaps. Perhaps the surface indeed so smooth.
The letters come together in so many lines,
creating the graphical rendering of a
two-dimensional existence.

Against this scenography the machine whirrs with a


hum, an echoing murmur, of arrant shapes
pressed into horizontal fixity.
Its gleaming metallic frame a Futuristic testament
to manifest typography
spoken without affect, but with extreme force.
Lost voices are recovered in moments of the mechanism’s dimensional silence:
found in the space resonant, dense stillness that is
not still
after all.
But, it is precisely the work of the metaphor to assist the mind in
composing mental pictures by introducing materials not available on the
literal plane.
-Elaine Scarry

How many flocks of rose-tinted sheep, scattered over the slopes of the
green hills that offer themselves to the sunset!...O my soul how you
loved them! … but, no. No! Enough of that! You will never again take
pleasure in that kind of insipidity! The reeds from which at one time we
used to make our shepherds’ pipes provide the cannon for this
plane!...Nostalgia! Triumphal ecstasy!
-Filippo Tommaso Marinetti

The shadow of a man displaced from his plane of being and haunted by
flight, emplaced on a snowy white page where he is terrified by penlike
black scratches…
-Spencer Golub

Does this mean there is something there, at the limits of matter and
energy, a force responsible in some way for the very nature, the vibrancy
of our lives from the mind out, the mind in little pigeon blinks that extend
the plane of being, out beyond logic and intuition.
-Don DeLillo

Oh…geometry I suppose, plane and solid {pause.} First plane, then solid.
-Samuel Beckett

More lines, like threads woven together in a cloth, make a plane. The
plane that is that certain external part of a body that is not known by its
depth but only by its length and breadth and by its quality. Some qualities
remain permanently on the plane in such a manner that they cannot be
changed without altering the plane itself. Other qualities are such that,
due to visual effects, they seem to change to the observer even though the
plane remains the same.
-Leon Battista Alberti
Paper has a certain kind of smoothness, and a certain kind of flatness. Paper has a certain kind of
surface that seems so very even, so very plane. It seems this way without seams—no creases or
markings, interstices or cuts, just a crisp white expanse. One sheet appears explicitly two
dimensional, even as gravity pulls it into an arc as it falls from the ceiling.

Does anyone know where we are? We want to know where we are!

The falling pages are like snow. In the fall, I am lost. The paper-whiteness blinds me. Even in the
disorder of loose-leaf, the soft sound of this precipitation comforts me. It sounds like soft
murmurings of another time—devoid of text, but full of something. What I do not know.

As my eyes adjust to the bright-white (for laser printing) I see the empty rectangles piling around
my feet. What seemed so flat has accreted in depth. Yet, somehow blank of meaning.

Like a luminous blank cinema, these pages become screens for remembering. Images emerge as
recollected photographs, even on the falling sheets. Here—the white smoothness of the page
recalls a snowy field of sheep back-to-back-to-back. There—the level sheet remembers a map of
a glacial terrain suddenly stripped of elevation.

Without features how will we ever find where we are?

The pages in flight catch my question on the way down. The certain whiteness, certain
smoothness, certain flatness, becomes an uncertain surface riddled with the anxiety of black pen
scratches. These marked pages, so slightly indented, have a thrall of meaning, a thrall of
knowing, even if all they hold is a question. Is asking without answering knowing.

The writing appears as if impressed onto the paper by a ghost of a past, or maybe of a future.
Perhaps it is a spirit always and already present in the page—the text that will and has become.

How am I to know. Without answer.

More lines. More questions. More lines of questions. Row by row they rest atop one another in
the falling and in landing. Like threads woven into fabric, they lines align into tight grid patterns,
covering of the earth. A carpet. But even as they fall in geometric (im)precision, they do not
solve the question:

Does anyone know where we are?

The repeat the words back, as if to suggest the solution is within them. Am I too blind to see the
answer? Or is the problematic the conclusion? Up in the air, resolution rests only in the
unresolved: sinking planes and deepening horizons that amass rather than recede. Why is the grid
so persistently puzzling. Is it because I can only see its surface and cannot sense its depth?

The words that make up the plane are superficial. The angles of an “A” slice the most
imperceptible (but still traceable) indentions. I cannot feel them with my palm—even if I could
the pages are falling too fast for me to capture one for caress. I can only imagine how that first
letter would feel: sharp and slight. I close my eyes as if I might conjure the sense more clearly.
Instead of feeling letters, I experience the exterior of my own skin—its own papery plane. But
this is not what I intended to imagine, so I lift my shut lids.

And now, I gaze across the plane. Before my eyes, words and letters are shapes texturing the
ground upon which I stand. The texture reads flat, but I know those scratches index some depth,
some density—however slender. They mark the (potential, possible) dimensionality already
there. They make it visible, apparent.

Do the letters themselves have depth? Or are they mere significations of it? Is their meaning(ful
density) derived from the plane upon which they become? In other words, could they take flight
on their own?

So many questions. Some sense(ation). Still no place.

Does anyone know where we are? We want to know where we are!

Standing on the plane of pages, I am beyond sites and sights of logic or intuition. Even the planar
geometry becomes an iterative field of unknowable (im)possibility of length and breadth. I stand
here at the edge that is the center, the inside-out exterior of so much surface. Am I at the plane?
Upon it? Or am I of it—unfurling as a surface of sheets, becoming a multi-page volume of
papery becoming? If I am of it, my depth is unknown and my skin-plane is my only evidence.
Am I a superficial expanse of literal plane?

If I am (becoming) the plane then perhaps that expanse why a multiple voice calls out: Does
anyone know where we are? We want to know where we are! Unison and plural all at the very
same time. Perhaps also, if I am (becoming) the plane then this is why I must so persistently ask:

Does anyone know where we are? We want to know where we are!

Must I always ask because where I am is what I am (becoming)? I cannot know what I am
because being is always becoming—it must be. For in order for something to be no one thing is:
body, breath, surface perpetually regenerate. Being is re-emergence in the continuous present.
So, if I cannot know what I am becoming since I am always in the process of becoming (what?),
I cannot know where I am since the where of becoming is inseparable from the what. And, after
all, I am not just one (though not entirely multiple, either).

The certain kind of smoothness and certain kind of flatness—the certain kind of surface—of the
page is telling. It speaks something of what and where without divulging any (one) thing.
Instead, the plane gives wing to potential, loft to probabilities, air to promised ambivalence. The
plane of the page is almost the plane of my own becoming—but not quite such a separable
surface. Seemingly one, unseen seams.

The horizon of white leafs unfolds nearly infinite.


In the blinding light of the fall, it could go on forever. I could go on forever.

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