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Peter Larkin

Scarce Additive, Nearest Unconditional


I am truly grateful for and instructively astonished by the wealth of incisions and outgrowths provided by the readings in this collection. They have so often gone beyond my initial premises or have recycled and recontextualised them in ways which declare reading as a necessary supplement: where it can be equally a form of over-writing remaining answerable, responding to what my own texts posit as an horizon of offer. In what follows (some doctored entries from my private notebooks) I am not setting up a framework for my poetry, but I provide some co-derivations, or what might be expressed alongside what my poems evade, convert, reserve or thereby come to a point where poetry, to be what it is, need not go further, or does not, before that very horizon of offer. That is the point where a creative text may become, as such, open to what stimulates the uncreated, along the lines of Heidegger’s “unthought”.


I like to work with a language which brushes the indeterminate but not so as to verge on an exercise in enigmatic inconsequence or explicit disconnection. My writing seeks to risk provoking the lure of an event scarce by nature (as what the natural does and how), however ebullient or counter-corrosive once taken up as a gift. For me postmodern textuality has been a contextual inroad come resource but I haven’t wanted to work directly with it, so much as from it (without being able to inherit it as an assimilated derivation). No such strict poetic negotiation would be possible in any case.


I remain marked more by way of Eliot/Stevens than Pound/Olson, though the Objectivists have for a long time been crucial for me, especially in terms of Zukofsky’s “rested totality”. Taking this phrase out of context, how does a totality “rest”? As less than its own inclusiveness, I would say, but if also open to something in addition, then accepting the need to bear the burdens and trammels (at times active distortions, delays or entanglements) of that more. An unrealised but enacted totality “rests” before the horizon of what it offers and what it recovers for its own unowned origin. So the turn towards something “less than” is also a move away from constructivism or improvisation per se. I do use oblique collage (non-strategically) in my work but in a rather compromised “organic” way that builds from a root metaphor or germ incentive, so inviting my text to self-congeal enough to re-emplot itself within just such figures of texture: it is these which seek out an horizon of what can be there to be offered (which won’t any longer be a discrete textual moment). A field like this is not statically bound but invokes an edge at every juncture, taken to be a (receptive) inflection rather than a pluralised fold arising exclusively out of its own multiplying process.




Notebook Entries


Essentially open: our openness is contingent and scarce: but what responds (ie does/furthers the opening) is not.



Theological objection to scarcity: scarcity stands as preferentially opposed to divine abundance and asymmetric surplus. Nihilistic objection to scarcity: scarcity insists on a tenuous relation with the essential, with a hyper-natural. A patience of scarcity: to intercede its recessive difference so as vertically to overdetermine it rather than laterally exceed it.



“Spirit” or origin: the lesser self-displacings, ie nothing definitive is broken up or breaks through but something within the immediate field enacts. The relational hunger (vertical) of any slight implicit thing.



Faith is a moment to invent/convoke being, but in the mode of gift rather than construction.



To set creativity in ample (open) opposition to the numinous not only reduces the numinous to a fixation, but co-embrittles any artistic practice, which is no longer able to create on behalf of, or up to, or until...



Scarcity indicates finitude can’t exhaustively relate to itself, such fullness of permutation or radical self-exception would not avail, because outside the poverty of the offer. So scarcity compresses the ontological but avoids contracting its span.



Differentials may be the effect of but can’t actively offer difference, except as an ipse on behalf of.



Unconditionality of the conditional = exposure, necessity, fate. Conditionality of the unconditional = grace, gift, offer.



Materiality need not mean experiences reduced to the condition of their own concretion, where authentic counter-obstacles and remissions have been flattened out.



For emergence to have taken place, what emerges must claim an initiative over the incomplete (ungroundable) basis of its emergence: it is this prevenience which emerges, a genuine ontological paradox and not merely a figure of metalepsis.



A modest frugality offers our death to nature and the unborn; a humble scarcity offers our death to gift and the divine.



How a “bubble of consciousness” (Christine Evans) reglobes our globe, partly immersed but sufficiently afloat as a minute fragility no longer a fragment.



The paradox of human emergence from and with finitude, so that finitude takes on a “besideness” to all it cannot be.



If anything lives, it dies but not in order to die. Could this also mean it doesn’t live to live? Once alive, though, it has the means to mean neither of those things, but to live/die beyond averages of what is in the midst of.



The sacral: a sticky gum which inhibits materiality from renewing itself on its own over-corrosive terms, or, more likely, simply how unconditional gift will settle for a sediment of slight reception.



The paradisal allows us to participate actively in what it exposes us to, though defensively foreshortened: the slender but motile swirl of the non-traumatic.



Life is unconditionally sacred, but a sacred which has to negotiate, be a reduced particle of: this is what spirituality means.



Scarcity allows for non-realisation but not at the price of a disconnection.



Frugality aims (justly) to account for and manage frail relations and live on; scarcity offers frailty to be a relation, as desire uncontained but living for.



“The bounded is loathed by its possessor” (Blake). A bounded as cherished at the embrasure which rear-gathers at the touch of its release.



We are never completely at home on earth but fully understand the invitation. Earth is that by which we approach a slender but undeferred belonging-towards.



The postmodern hasn’t so much opened finitudes as scattered the newly brittle figments mono-declaring their opaque unrest.



Super-abundance of gift but mediated through a scarcity of actualisation as a poverty-in-relation. But no gift insists on the degree of realisation.



To address trees in the dress of trees, on behalf of a greetable (para-abyssal) distance.



Poetry suspends the burden of language by re-appending (lightening) the burden of world: praise is thus from (of) burden to (at) burden.