Wildly heterogeneous series of terms

Greene Street (Dialectical Or Ontological Differentiations) ©MAIERMOUL
Greene Street (Dialectical Or Ontological Differentiations) ©MAIERMOUL

The conjunction “and,” maybe the most basic ligature in our languages, is in Picasso — just as it is in children’s telling and, at times, in epic narrative — a pure accelerator of action, a way of getting from one thing to the next;

its multiplicity immediately overcomes the (mis) use (as brake) of this accelerator when present singly and made to function as a divider, separator, creator of dialectical or ontological differentiations between two terms, and thus the originator of all dualisms (the good and the bad, the beautiful and the ugly). Thus never just one “and,” but always “and…and…and…” In that sense the multiple “ands” do not set up one-to-one relations between the terms they align, but function vectorially, pointing to nomadic spaces outside and beyond those terms.

Or to draw on Picasso’s other art: his “ands” are gestures: they resemble the arm movements of the painter—

And indeed, Picasso’s “de” or “of,” taken singly, can be read in that fashion. But, again, the concatenation of “of’s,” the rhizomatic agencement of this particle linking wildly heterogeneous series of terms subverts any of its single or double genitive functions, forcing the reader to eventually relinquish causal/ grammatical readings — something the translator, to his or her initial chagrin and frustration, experiences at first hand when approaching the poems. But this relinquishing of the desire to locate the specific semantic unit(s) from which a given term is supposed to be derived, leads the reader/ translator to experience this endless chain of derivations as an ongoing forward drive or as

what the Situationists called a dérive — lines of flight through language that empty any desire for origin, for an original, singular term a single “of” may point back to.

Picasso is the most radical of his era’s practitioners of such a complete obliteration of punctuation marks. This gives his poems the feel of a wide open field, a smooth, non-striated space, or blocks of space, through or along which one can travel unchecked, free to choose one’s own moment of rest, free to create one’s own rhythms of reading — an exhilarating and liberating, dizzying and breathtaking dérive.

– Pierre Joris, introduction essay to Picasso’s The Burial of the Count of Orgaz