Text Loses Time, Nico Vassilakis

Many Penny Press, 2007
Review by Eddie Hopely

What furthermore presumes settled matter. Nico Vassilakis’ Text Loses Time is too generous, embedding visual, material, dimensional, memorial, and aural reading potentials into each corner and gesture of a page. This variety of reading lens functions as an invitation to participate in the generation of visio-textual networks whose meanings have become spatially destabilized.

“Porto Middled” opens with shapes being whirled and distorted into relationships provoking, simultaneously, the alphabetic and imaginal. An alphabet as character emerges throughout this book: letters as titles, reacting to grid based syntaxes, arranged into (what would be called concrete poetry if only they would decide) shapes and forming causal relationships among themselves across sign or sentence boundaries. “Negative Alphabet Alphabet” approaches tense cinema in a series of single sculptural maneuvers.

Vassilakis writes with a spectrum of textual layouts, attempting to accommodate a breadth sufficient for the exploration of a porous and multiplicitous poetry within units of meaning hinged by the situation of words and (& as) shapes upon “Generally the page and / its two dimensions.” Excellently paced, the structure of the whole work seems to mirror individual sentences rife with sound and image play, alternately punctuated and open, blending. A block of considered two letter signification (from “Vowelist / for voices” (the typography is much more even on the page))

of of fo if fi of
fi if foe f of fi
af fe of fi of fo
fo fi fa of ef fa
fo of f oaf if if
if fu ef fo fi uf
fa fo fi fa fo fe
uf if of fo if fu

disseminates its influence into subsequent and previous sections. Disruptive canals of reading present themselves, circumnavigating aggregations of meaning imposed by the organization of sequential planar data within the book-form.

A density of syntax achieved through multiplication of word function. Constellations suggesting couplings and reading orbits across, around, outside of, and through bounded pages that intensify and enmesh, eventually (re)articulating themselves as fragmented memories informing future activity: cyclical resolution that changes the nature of the original cycle.

In “Species Pieces / after Perec,” short descriptive and suggestive sentences fold into one another, each portion of poem titled by every other letter of this alphabet, in dialogue across the series. The C. section features the page’s third thin dimension (“A / memory attached to the / narrowness of it.”), flashing before the eye when turning back to formulate connections between the former (A.) and present (C.) pages, evoking the ‘between’ of meaning and memory-(re)making that concerns Vassilakis throughout. […]

narrowness of it. They
were called boats because
of their shape. A
description of the unfinished
project. The film, a film, as shown

[…] Shape to boat to “C.” to ‘bōw.’ Placing a reader momentarily outside of text and normative (linear) authorial inscription while solidifying each surface of the object as readable seems to further implicate the corpus in transit/production (through space, data,) as a text of ‘how’ inextricable from a situated text of ‘what’ or ‘where.’ “The texture of it is nothing to speak of, but you’ve thought of it already, the kind of paper, its dimensions, its similarity to other textures you’ve known.”

By presenting an impossibility of total or closed strategies within polysemous signs featuring multi-syntactical signifying properties, Vassilakis interrupts the construction of naturally hierarchical subject-positions while calling into question a dissection and recontextualization of meaning that attempts to negate a relationship with its historical or circumstantial origins. Mediated tele-access to place, event, and persona, implied currents of fear; performances judged as definitive of a subject, archived: “The song never erased. You speak and it hums. THE POLICE CAN KICK MY ASS.” A project highlighting the communicability of portion (“Alphabetic bits” as “visual vocabularies”) speaks to the spatio-temporal distances at which a reader/writer finds him or herself from a site of examination.

“Again sadly a colander by the sea.” Vassilakis provides enough loopholes, particularities, and minutely constructed inhabitable spaces to make this book almost endlessly productive. The object is a pleasure to read from and interact with, slightly wider than its height and providing large surfaces for the eyes to work upon.

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