after reading Laurent Binet’s The 7th Function of Language

By | 1 August 2018

Iteration eruption irritation
Roland Barthes slaughtered by a laundry van
OMO powder sprinkled liberally on the bodies of dead and alive authors
I follow the blue dots, like biscuit crumbs, through Binet’s imaginings:
Jacques Derrida attacked by dogs, his throat ripped out (it was pancreatic cancer,

Wikipedia tells me,
which got him in the end)
Louis Althusser strangles his wife (true)
John Searle throws himself into black unforgiving water (false)
Michel Foucault gives head gets head (probable)
Umberto Eco in a peaked Venetian mask (possible)
Soller and Kristeva plot a psychopathic couple (im-possible)
Judith Butler down on her performative knees (horrible)

these icons – these thinkers, these – yes, I will admit it – heroes of mine – not all,
only some – played with – in a sacrilegious way

made flesh and corruptible, made foolish and foul
(were they ever Gods? yes, perhaps … if the Gods are those who tell us how to live)

I remember my pre-semiotic days
a tree was just a tree: prescient foliage, yes, but real dew drops on the end of the wattle
We shook the branch to make fake rain, our daughter laughed her seven-year-old laugh

… she is 7 and there is a 7th function of language
and on the day I read of a plot twist, in Binet’s book, on the 2nd of August, 1980
it is the 2nd of August, 2017, which is also my daughter’s 7th birthday
the signs are everywhere …
impossible, now, to escape, to go back to innocence
truth representation intention

a huge piece of ice breaks off Antarctica
“the size of Luxemborg”
“seven times the size of New York City”
“one and a half times the size of Adelaide”
“more than half the size of Melbourne”
floating, free of referent, shape mutating in every different inflection of a news reader’s
It speaks in frozen water, and this is not a language we know

“I don’t want you to go” she weeps in the doorway; a body felt, a body feeling
I am leaving my daughter on her birth day
to be interviewed interstate, to be questioned as to my knowledge of the Gods: I grasp at

hopeful of the climb, scrambling at the edges
They won’t ask about that day of birth, there is no way to speak of it, that day
no words
the bloated body does not exist in these exalted towers, I whisper of my children

will we hear the ice bump up against us when it comes?
Stretching breaking yearning
“I don’t want you to go”
the ice will say something different when it comes
happy to say goodbye to its former tethering, to drown us

the 7th function of language, Binet proposes, creates powerful politicians: Mitterand and
Obama, the
smooth ascendance of linguistic manipulation

in the meantime, the Gods have melted

there is no phone call, I listen hard
only the trickle of water to be heard
slowly rising

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