Wednesday, May 26, 2004

A note on Tom Beckett's book, Vanishing Points of Resemblance

"All words are  misspelled." If this is true then what are the meant-to-be words? & what does it mean, coming at the end? Or is this the true beginning? Do we assume it to be a conclusion or is it an Epimenidean paradox – the line below is false / the line above is true? Strange loops.

So I suspend judgment.

But earlier on I have read "Tell me who to be". Which I know to be a lie because we are being told who the writer's "me" is in the autobiographical snippets & the sensual/sensory statements throughout the work. "I have two brothers & a sister." "For years I thought I knew that the accident occurred when I was five." "I used to want to be a woman." "I caress myself, pretend to be touching someone else." So the statement now becomes a request. "Tell me what you think of me."


The Subject is stepping through an environment which is full of holes. These are holes of the Subject's and of others' making. The holes increase the circulation of air. To negotiate one's way around them takes care.

But no self-pity. "The secret of survival is adaptability."

I see Vanishing Points of Resemblance as a journal, one written after, not during, the journey. But the steps are being retraced in memory now that an assembly point, an entrepot for experiences, has been reached. It is set in the present looking towards the past & thinking about the future. Identity is not what we are but what we think we are, what we mistake ourselves to be. We are a mistaken identity about which we are certain. It is also how far we let others let it be, how far out we are (about) ourselves. Dare we risk "unprotected texts"?

It is written with a deliberate choice of words. Perhaps well-chosen is a better description since deliberate can often mean heavy, & VpoR is not that. Precise is probably an even better word. Tom Beckett is precise in what he tells us. & what he doesn’t tell us. & again "Tell me who to be" is shown up as a lie.

The parts of the book build, the statements overlay one another, nothing contradicts itself. Again a clarity. Sometimes the writer stands outside himself & becomes the Subject. Insightful. Inside-full. Objective? Subjective? Words are placed where you least expect them. Shadows are magnifying glances, not contrary utterances. Not one word out of place.

Tom described VPoR in a blogpost as "the condensed record of well over a couple of hundred pages to get it right". Distilled Beckettessence. But it is not compressed writing in the way that, say. Borges' Ficciones  are. Rather it is expansive, full of spaces that give what's beneath room to breathe, to grow. It is polished silver filigree that the darkness of the sun & the brightness of the moon shine through. & in the parts that are solid silver we see

What one wants to be.

What one appears to be.

What one is.

I enjoyed VPoR. Tom's use of words delights me. I like the construction & the way that it seems to drive in towards a point, does not vanish but demands to be read again as it heads outwards like a comet's orbit round a sun. I do not know Tom Beckett any better from reading VPoR; I do know, now that I've read it, that I'd like to know him better.

But, & there is always a but, what it means is that we now expect much more from him. Now that resemblance to any other body living or dead has been done away with, the personal re-assembly replacing it is almost complete & the table has been cleared, I see it as an exquisite appetiser for the main meal whose ingredients have just been exposed & are stirring as they blink in the limelight.

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