Becoming-Massive: On John Trefry’s Unfinished Massive | Part 3 by Mike Corrao

For Parts 1 and 2 of this series, visit the following links: [Part 1] [Part 2]







I would like to briefly shift focus / and examine Massive’s fascination with the skull / within the .txt folders there are / indexes of the skull’s various landmarks / carotid sulcus / traversing sulcus / posterior petrous angle / the vitreous table / projecting a geographic quality onto the body / the skull is something which can be traversed / mapped out / moved across / perhaps through some kind of microscopic locomotion //

The body is an object of objects / an object compiled of smaller / synchronous objects / each point of the landscape / various fossa & processes / is another object to be archived by the kino eye / but unlike the environmental data of the dashcam / the skull’s transference from base-context to the reterritorialized output of the surveillant / takes on certain mystic qualities / Trefry is also interested in the role of the cephalophore / the head-bearer / the martyr carrying their severed cranium / recently beheaded by the powers that be //

Images of the cephalophore infect a handful of sections following Nadia’s narrative / branching from the arbor / unlike much of the tangents in these sections / the cephalophore does not seem to spawn from her environment [picked up by the kino eye’s gaze] / instead it arises from some abstract space / perhaps triggered esoterically by an architectural feature / or gathered from the gray matter in Nadia’s skull / the cephalophore’s presence here is fascinating / it partially forms a connection between the figure of the martyr and Nadia’s eventual asceticism / but at the same time / it presents the head as something distinct from the body / as a separate entity / an entity which has been severed from its meated prison //

Throughout the text / the body often takes up an oppressive quality / the individual is trapped within themself / this frame being a grotesque machine / prone to infections / illnesses / wear / degradation / “I am inside the body” [Panteha Abareshi] / it is the thing that we are trapped within / but the cephalophore is unbound to the body / it is only a means of transportation [this being another of Massive’s fascinations] / it is the symbolic structure of the cephalophore’s new poise / this also functioning as another connection between Trefry and Dante / evoking the latter’s encounter with Bertrand de Born / a cephalophore / “and by the hair it held the dissevered / hung from the hand in fashion of a lantern” [Dante, Inferno] / even beheaded the body and the skull seem to work symbiotically / but can they be viewed as a unified being? / or have they become something else / a multitudinous something / a collective //

Massive’s articulation of the beheading / alludes to a kind of textual autonomy / in which the authorial head has been severed from the text-body / no longer in control of writing / the transcriptions of the kino eye expand beyond the scope of the author / still carrying their head / mimicking the syntactical methods of the mouth / that with which has become familiarized / holding Trefry up by his hair / dangling the head like a lantern / neck wound dripping //






But still / after all of this / we have arrived early / Massive is not done yet / it is not yet a book / it is a folder of notepad files / unformatted / not yet striated into its complicated / potentially random / or mathematically determined / segments / deposits / the text wall is still primitive / it is still just black text sprawled across a white page / the page a blank screen / articulated as an eye-straining block of dense language / unbroken by traditional punctuation / where does that leave us? / what is it to analyze [engage with] a work that has yet to fully-form? / pre-articulation / when the head is still crowning //

“A black object is tumbling across the lane under a white hatchback” / we arrive in media res / before the scaffolding has been stripped away / when construction is still ongoing / before the veil has been laid / and what we find is an organized / compartmentalized language / the totality-of-the-image broken into its various segments / although the .txt form is / to a certain extent / overwhelming / it is still decipherable / it is still navigable using traditional methods / the page can be followed from top left to bottom right unambiguously / what this does for us is allow for an analysis of the language itself / unfettered by structural constraints / viewing the flow of a syntax that has yet to decay into esoteric strata //

The narrative of Osip and Nadia Mandelstam appears largely unhindered / not yet encased in fat / or subjected to alternative & non-sequitur routes / sections nicknamed / Osip / Judas / Anna / Marina / all seem to contain what could be called the primary narrative of the text / depicting the Mandelstams in constant movement / arriving at cities / briefly staying at hostels / hospitals / in small dwellings / until they are off again / moving on to the next location / their bodies seem to have certain value in the kino eye’s hierarchy / acting as nodal points for the surrounding environment / pulling from the potency of another body / the scene sprouts from the arbor of the subject / in which spaces and objects are described or examined due to their proximity to Nadia and Osip / the landscape could then be viewed as being procedurally generated / created in accordance with the Mandelstams’ movement / route / I’m sure that this will only ring more true when the text has fully-formed / that all of the surrounding material will begin / will sprout / from Nadia / Osip / but it is hard to say for sure //

Viewing the text in this state / we are able to act in an investigative manner / or more specifically in a pre-emptive etymological capacity / noting the point of origin / with the knowledge that a mutation will inevitably occur / plotting a point from which we can [un/re arrange] the text from / but this then raises the question of whether we should be breaking the text into more easily decipherable components / it might at first appear advantageous / but wouldn’t doing this subvert or undermine the project of the text? / would undoing these sutures not create a distinct & separate text / the former a completed Massive / the latter a becoming-Massive / each with their own function & meaning / more obviously / with their own means of navigation //

becoming-Massive is a strictly digital text / it is a folder / containing subfolders / containing images and text files / the images being temporary placeholders for the texts that will come to replace them / navigation between sections is a matter of clicking into folders / & backtracking to the table of contents / each .txt file is a modular piece of writing / which can be moved to any number of places / within the subfolders themselves / their order can be quickly rearranged / alphabetically / by date created / date modified / etc. / with administrative access / the reader can even move .txt files from one folder to another / arrange the text in whichever way they desire //

becoming-Massive / similar to Massive / is a deeply ludological text / although by different means / the interaction between reader and text is strictly more direct / the navigation of the text is completely autonomous / at least macroscopically / the lay of the folders does not provoke a set progression / they can be approached in any order / entered & exited / there is not so much a branching of routes / Massive’s arborescent sprouting / & diverging paths / but a multiplicity of unoriented corridors / none of which can be denoted by forward or backward movement / all intersecting with one another at every point / a kind of non-euclidean connectivity / this is to say / there are no right or wrong ways to navigate the text / and this is true for Massive as well / but in becoming-Massive it is wholly visible / each block exists with an autonomy that removes it from any direct / or simplified / relation to other blocks / every block is equally connective to one another //

Thus / this work-in-progress / becoming-Massive’s technical name being / “MASSIVE 1st draft” / exists as its own distinct work / separate from the one that it will eventually be used to create / its connection to the kino eye is more potent / almost functioning as a kind of technomancy / with the dashcam operating as a seer / the author as a kind of ethereal being / the text corporeal / the digital body is something to be scryed / the meaning that you / the reader / the user / extrapolate is your own / gathered through occult means / as if the gnosis was created by an engineer / made using technical constraints / for a machine that we have not yet become familiar with / Trefry’s work articulates itself across a series of mutative states / each iteration of the text becoming its own entity / a strain of the virus / a daemon of the pandemonium index / proliferating across the void //







Mike Corrao is the author of two novels, Man, Oh Man (Orson’s Publishing) and Gut Text (11:11 Press); one book of poetry, Two Novels (Orson’s Publishing); two plays, Smut-Maker (Inside the Castle) and Andromedusa (Forthcoming – Plays Inverse); and two chapbooks, Avian Funeral March (Self-Fuck) and Spelunker (Schism – Neuronics). Along with earning multiple Best of the Net nominations, Mike’s work has been featured in publications such as 3:AMCollagistAlways Crashing, and The Portland Review. He lives in Minneapolis. @ShmikeShmorrao

December 17th, 2020|
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