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From ‘As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh’, by Susan Sontag –

This book was recommended to me and yielded good results:


Artifice + Reality is an interesting description of death, as well as the cemetery.

Cemetery as ideal city is fascinating – curated; everybody obedient.

Time effacement — as in, making time inconspicuous? Making the memory ever present / timeless?


Last words – almost always trite, like tattoos. Moment of death; undermines meaning if it will be followed by annihilation and silence?

As Consciousness is a work of remembrance in itself; Sontag’s notes collected into a very truthful picture of her as a writer and academic. It lends itself to reading in any order – I opened somewhere in the middle of the book and flick through to find new pages every day. What’s surprising is how much anxiety she has. She is forever saying she needs to write – write more, write better – yet this is a woman who was lauded for her writing… Reading in any order feels more honest than reading from start to end. Although the book is chronological, there’s no hierarchy of narrative – one thing does not have to come before the other in order to make sense; possibly if you wanted to chart the growth of Sontag as a writer you might… but if you don’t have that ambition, why use the reading technique usually reserved for novels, etc?

As a teen, my girlfriend’s grandfather died, and every weekend there were updates on the clearing of his house. Old magazines. Jewellery. All things that belonged to him, but in no particular order.

Here’s a curious game I encountered that the above reminded me of. It’s called Pieces of Herself:

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You scroll through several scenarios and move animated objects into the body. Then you re-arrange them however you like, to create a ‘self’ there on the left-hand side. The animated objects are embedded in an environment and are not obviously connected to what’s around them. As you play, you think about where you found those objects and cannot help but remember the location, and that gives the object an added layer of meaning. But the most important thing is that there is no order. The objects spin and vibrate in the figure with no indication as to which came first. It is not the greatest in terms of ludic invention and the author describes it as a feminist work rather than an interrogation of memory, but the idea chimes –


– A whole work, in no particular order. A whole Person, in no particular order.

– Possible that in memory is the only way a person can exist in a different order?

Jay is the Poetry School’s 4th Digital Poet in Residence. You can follow ‘An Untitled Text Adventure’ here.

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Image: The Seven Heavenly Palaces by Anselm Kiefer

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