A CONFLUENCE OF SILENCES:
We forget that we must always return to zero in order to pass from one word to the next.John Cage, For the Birds
Don't for heaven's sake, be afraid of talking nonsense! But you must pay attention to your nonsense.Ludwig Wittgenstein, Culture and Value
Probable probably is the most that they can say.Gertrude Stein, How To Write
Nicole Brossard's, Theresa Hak Kyung Cha's, Carla Harryman's words, the spaces between them, lead us to a prospect—an overview, not oversight—of the medium of language itself—the medium with which we must become so intimate and at home that we stop worrying about ownership and legitimacy (asserting rights of domain) and start using it for the sort of experiment and invention that brings us into transformative interaction with the worlds that languages betroth and create. What I want to suggest, after Judith Butler, is that to make really productive and useful gender/genre trouble is not to repeat old forms with a difference (parodic or not) but to open up radical explorations into silence—the currently unintelligible in which some sense of our future may be detected.
The question then is not how to exit our silence. Not how we move from immanent to eminent domain. Not how to raise our voices loud enough to be heard in the legitimate (intelligible) theater of patriarchal culture. We already know how to do this: by reflecting the values of established, male-dominated power structures. Instead, let's think of how we can amplify the knowledge of/in our silence, our not so much nonsense as additional or other sense, our improbabilities, our unintelligabilities … in order to create new forms of intelligibility that are resonant with our values. This is where our feminist project overlaps with Wittgenstein's, Beckett's, Stein's, Cage's. And with contemporary women writers working in largely unrecognized traditions in formal transgression of gender/genre markers.
They are at this very moment making palpable sense of unintelligibles in their art. And that sense is a breath of fresh air. It strives to avoid the eternal return to hermetic traps in old forms of life tainted by the systematic devaluation of feminine forms. New intelligibilities have been much ignored because what is validated as intelligible, what makes easily accessible sense—what is prized and rewarded—is indeed repetition/replication of the structures supporting the aesthetic establishment currently enjoying the privileges of legitimacy, which are (it's all tediously circular!) the rewards of legibility.
Codes of intelligibility rationalize values that derive their force from the extent to which they are constructed and defended in terror of the experimental and the feminine.