The unfinished text about a performative book launch

I wrote this as a “review”/response to the performative interpretations of Daniela Cascella’s book F.M.R.L. (launched at Café Oto on 20 July 2015) prospectively for Exeunt, but they didn’t publish it or get back to me. It never went deeper than this, but it is one of my favourite pieces of (un)finished writing. 

by John Boursnell


A giraffe takes a line for a walk,[1] and thinks of nothing else.[2] Hand in hand in hoof, Marcel hands us all squares of paper of traces of writing of listening, and we sit in not-silence not-reading not-listening to Marcel plucking fragaria vesca[3] from the spaces they made together. Your unfamiliar accent circles and oscillates from the memory of the past and through the anticipation of the future,[4] unpacking boxes together, unpacking heritages of sound and vanities,[5] always already sliding away from the page. You have a gift for us, tiny sparks in the dark, and I have never seen a more deadpan hippo, never seen a more inexpertly popped balloon, audience gasping like delighted toddlers at a birthday party.[6] The blood is pumping in my ears louder than the not-silence of a balled piece of tissue paper held shell-like, like a Kosugi Takehasi piece[7] handed out to each audience member, I sit on my hands to avoid rustling. When your w-whispers become s-stutters become s-sounds become s-sighing become s-singing s-suddenly become t-talking become s-sounds again.[8] I am inside looking out at you, making the window swarm with little tendrils, making the pane rattle with the feeling of sounds beyond around under the frame, gentle rhizomes.

You are spinning between my ears, moving away as you appear to be standing still. You are falling, you are beyond, you are impossible, you are thundering, you are whispering, you are wearing a pink jumper. I am writing your name, I am reading your name, I am chalking your name, I am looking for you, I am kneading, I am rolling, I am trimming , I am looping, I am feeding back, I am resonating. We are delving into mouldings, fleshings, pourings, meltings, texturings, scrollings, abandonings, we are witnessing.

And now I am worrying about my train and now you are giving me motion sickness with woozy Shepard tones[9] that sink sink sink spin spin spin and there are drowned voices in there. Everything slides off the page and I escape into the night air.[10]

[Artists, writers, performers, musicians to remix, rewrite, re-reading F.M.R.L. by Daniela Cascella: Patrick Farmer/Trevor Simmons, Salomé Voegelin, Steven J Fowler, David Toop, Elaine Mitchener, Rie Nakajima, Christian Patracchini, Richard Skinner, Georgia Rodger, James Wilkes, Colin Potter.]


[1] Paul Klee: “drawing is taking a line for a walk”

[2] Patrick Farmer (2013) Wild horses think of nothing else, the sea.

[3] Wild strawberries. The common or garden variety is fragaria x ananassa.

[4] Salome Voegelin (2014) Sonic Possible Worlds.

[5] See F.M.R.L. pp.37-39

[6] Ohhhhhhhh…

[7] Micro 1 (1961)

[8] See again F.M.R.L./Flanders & Swann A Gnu.

[9] “A Shepard tone, named after Roger Shepard, is a sound consisting of a superposition of sine waves separated by octaves. When played with the base pitch of the tone moving upward or downward, it is referred to as the Shepard scale. This creates the auditory illusion of a tone that continually ascends or descends in pitch, yet which ultimately seems to get no higher or lower. It has been described as a “sonic barber’s pole.” [internet]

[10] 23.21pm Tuesday

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