In April 2005,
Geert Dekkers posted a drawing on the Internet that reminded
me of the work of Italian artist Valerio Adami.
his early Pop-related works, he offers us views of isolated
fragments of modern society in which objects are taken
out of perspective and context to allow us to see them
These are largely sleek designs—visions of a
world with no visible signs of life in it. They were
by a number of works focusing on historic moments and
presentations of such heroes of modern culture as Walter
and Joyce, often evoking rather ruefully the world
they desired but failed to create.”
passed since I’d come across H. Damisch’s
and H. Martin’s book, Adami, followed
by Jacques Derrida’s essay on Adami, “+R
(Into the Bargain).” As I re-read these texts,
first man in his turn" (P. Ricoeur)
of Adam" (Latin,
led me to the
environs of Paradise, and
to reassessing the archetypal prevalence of the Garden
of Eden and the Adamic Myth.
footprints eroded by floods, shreds of leaves & twigs, roots
uprooted from weathered mnemonic horizons, finally,
the basic vocabulary of tectonic
forms in which the modifications are resolved—flat cuts, cubical volumes, geometric
reliefs—is the vocabulary best known to a race of constructors,
and, at the same time, the
Gods, updated, turn to their receptors, the myths sink in.
of a large painting, a pastoral scene absent of animal
hanging in a well-lighted room. When
the lights dimmed, another
picture appeared, one with ultraviolet animals in three dimensions.
Rejecting a garment
of light, he clothed himself in the skin of a serpent. A fall from
grace, or a coming-of-age story? Adam is 'adamah, a man
of the earth, made from the best of the earth, risen from its navel,
he drains and pollutes it, before becoming it again. An inevitable
sacrifice, from beginning to fulfillment? "In
the legends of the Jews and in Talmudic commentaries (especially
in later periods) the tradition of a primal androgynous being is
preserved. For example, Rabbi Jeremiah ben Eleazar said, 'Adam
was doublefaced, since it is said, "'Thou hast made me behind and
before.'"" One face was
male, the other female. Adam
was a man with questions.
in Paradise Adam's naming of the creatures is
connected with his birthright of dominion over them.
As the work of Jefferson and Audubon in the American Eden attest, the taxonomic
and the taxidermic are kind-
red impulses. Jefferson, experimenting with cosmetic surgical techniques
movement, stay of death
[arrêt de mort, also 'death sentence'], final trance, arched
leap held on the bit. Caught in the links or the
angled scales of ichthys, like Adami's signature, or rather his
acronym, for evisceration, with
niter and pepper
as preservatives for stuffing animals; Audubon, with a long needle piercing
the heart of a caged eagle the better
to pose it for painting. Nature morte. The danger is this: to
name is to capture; to preserve is to kill.
In taxonomics everything
everything is complicated, everything is sign,
Everything exists in those obscure zones
we penetrate as into crypts,
in order to decipher hieroglyphs and secret language, classification
and categorization are strategies of control over the Other. Blurring
origination, too, is a method of domination:
"My god created the world."
paintings, borders are breached and language flows, as Adam
is born an
artist; he does not have to grow into the aptitudes
and skills that the artist requires. He does not have to pass through
states of incoherence to recognize the elements of pre-verbal wisdom
in seeking asylum is
only a heartbeat away from a signature left behind,
a serpentine sign of iconically twisted DNA.
could have been this
I could have his shadow.
Planned his escape
carefully. Stashed his manuscripts behind a knob of the Tree. Packed
a rucksack full of wormy apples. Donned his one warm suit and shoes
multiplicity of substances which were poured or placed into
the vessel at the beginning of the opus were lead, vinegar, salt,
quicksilver, iron, blood, poison, hair, sulpher, milk, wine, urine,
dung, or a chaotic concoction of material for the
streets of Paris. Trekked over high mountain passes, fascist boots
crushing the path not far behind.
the border he signed
he would not be
was told, a Jew,
allowed to cross.
as it goes, loses
puts in place
a way only to
He wrote, the
painter's products stand before us as though they were
alive, but if you question them, they maintain a most majestic
silence. It is the same with written words: they seem to talk with
tears falling behind farsighted eyes, "We
meet only to part."
is no record of
name of God, the form of living
in jumbles of letters that do not make sense,
these texts show that it is really ordinary writing
that is scrambled and confused, a mere imitation
of what happened
the stone steps, rib cage stretching beyond its pale, Adam's
satisfaction with the creation of Eve would have been expressed
in his heart and that, in naming the animals, rather than speaking
(in the usual sense of the word), Adam was laying down the rules
of language and thus I
feel the pleasure the Tree of Knowledge had as it walked out
the myth (in which the woman appears as the seductress
of the man by giving him the apple to eat) is probably
a miserable, tendentious distortion by
an invisible presence, beautiful to behold, concealed
in the foul-smelling sludge which fills the apparatus each
night, and Freud realized that the task of the Dreamworker
is to free this being from the useless prima materia of
dreams, the decaying corpse of a priest’s
apprentice who, as we know now condensed
in a quite witless fashion (as in a dream) two independent
sources into one account.
We've tracked the emergence of homo
sapiens at least 200,000 years back, to Africa and the so-called "mitochrondrial
Eve." While in Genesis, before
Adam could find his tongue, Adami
likes to recall a certain comment by Valery quoted by Walter
Benjamin which speaks of poetry becoming so cloudy that it becomes
confused with a cloud (in the same way that one kind of psychoanalysis
makes such a confused idea of the unconscious that it becomes
confused, so, Eve
addressed the Serpent: Yes, it is I, "laying
down the first rules of language, and thus performing a metalinguistic
act." Not sin, but grammar; the Apple is in the I.
gathered dust of four colors,
from the four corners of the world:
He created blood,
He created entrails,
He created bones,
of green He created the body.
Apple was of
a greenish hue, with thousands of impure spirits fluttering
round who all wanted to get into him. But God shooed
them away till only one remained, Lilith, the 'mistress
who succeeded in so attaching herself to Adam's body that she became green.
we still need the Garden? Or would a peaceful park in the heart
of the city do? Arbors, grottoes, caves, groves, hedges, the
topography of Eden is an iconography that still haunts us, for
the soul cannot grasp anything that is not converted into
a sequence of phantasms; in short, it can understand nothing
without a lively place where the Other is not
penned, or pinned down.
does not indicate that
Adam dreamt during his deep sleep; and this
is significant since it is important to imagine Adam's sleep as being a sleep without mind, a stupor
that exists where mind one day might be.
what we see is no more a part of
us than the baby who beckons from the
forest: we splinter in the void to catch
the light, then hail the sparks as paradise.'
too tall to remember
Separation of the Primordial
is a mythologem that usually appears
after the epiphany of the Creator God
or Goddess, but sometimes before.
The primal separation must take place before anything further can occur.
It is the first step in organizing
Last night I dreamed that a surgeon removed a fish from one of my lungs.
Shifting planes of perception
there is one word that interests me,
is the word
on depths impossible to plumb through linear time.
After negotiating the "depths
and distances," with “stumblings and
slips of the tongue," he finally left Vienna. An anxious
trip on the Orient Express brought him to the border, crossing
into France without incident, although Adami drew him with
an ice pick in hand. He arrived in England by boat the next
In his first letter from London, Freud wrote, "one had
still very much loved that
God had originally ‘inscribed’ his law upon Adam’s
heart; that the Fall had ‘erased’ or otherwise
compromised this interior law; and that God had compensated
descendents for this loss by offering them the
prison from which one
has been released."
A year later, the man known for "the
talking cure" died from cancer of the mouth.
Adami's finish was lethal. It excluded every sign of
life as improper or unclean. He was presenting a world that
had just died. The work of that period showed that behind
the figure of the serpent shimmers another form still
reflecting its former life. A tension exists because this
independent life of the original figure still struggles against
the framework of a simple snake into which everything
human—mental activity, free will, encounters with the
unknown, everything that takes place on the borders, at the
horizon, everything that demands distance—was now absent.
His 'design' severity called forth the memory of a forgotten
Tonight, my legs I noticed an old scar on
a shin bone, then,
we shall not say, “the story of the ‘fall’ is
only a myth---that is to say, something less than history---but, ‘The
story of the fall has the greatness of myth’---that is
to say, has more meaning than a true history left
by a gray cable I jackknifed over in twilight.
cords of all link back…cable of all flesh…Will
you be as gods?
Gaze in your omphalos. Hello…Put me on to Edenville. Aleph,
nought, nought one. Spouse and helpmate of Adam Kadmon: Heva,
naked Eve. She had no navel.
Adam sprang like a fish jerked
into an alien world—no entrance, no memory of the long
mythological cast. Nor could he remember his thoughts upon the
images and bestial forms, including, perhaps, the man-eating
nature of God himself (no mirror). Nor did he
recognize the voice that said, "Welcome to the world I created."
The owl appeared as if sprung
from a world beneath to
the limb of a nearby tree.
swiveled his head and looked at me:
a word was exchanged. Now I understood
Nietzsche meant by “All
our so-called consciousness
a more or less fantastic commentary upon an unknown text,
that is perhaps unknowable, but still felt.”
In the woods behind my family’s
summer bungalow, a large rock jutted from the earth with
an opening in its side just large enough for a skinny boy to
crawl through. One sharp turn and I entered a chamber high enough
for me to sit up. There bone
symbolizes the final
root of animal life, the mold from which the flesh continually
arises. It is from bone that men and animals are reborn. After
their life is reduced to the essence concentrated in the skeleton
or some bone ‘they are revivified’; that is, the
a crevice was a stiff sheet of parchment with words written in
a language I
didn't understand. When I touched it, it burned my fingers. Frightened,
I backed out and wiped its
memory from mind, except in dreams, as if in seeing that strange
text I had committed a mortal sin.
Recently, after reading of the Book
of Secrets, given to Adam upon his exile from Eden, the
only known book prepared in Heaven that existed "and
still does, in fragments, on the earth," I dreamed
of the cave in the Catskill Mountains, and woke to the
humor of a mystical Hebrew text secreted in the heart
of the Jewish comedic circuit.
|In Adami's paintings, "what’s
inside is inside and what’s outside is outside and
there is no question of confusing inside and outside, art
and life, a mental event with
a clear conscience since we have discovered some basic
and significant analogies between the myth of Adam and the
puberty rites (of primal peoples). Some features of an early
tradition from which the Biblical account originated came
to the surface in our own analytic reconstruction in spite
of all secrecy and distortion. Adam’s deep sleep, the
rib operation, the union with a woman and the new name (Is.Heb.:Man) must
now be understood as survivals of the old and suppressed
phenomenal events on the basis of the almost negligible perception
that part of the equipment of the former consists of images
or proxies of the latter."
In Ice Age caves it's not the
corpus of animals we see but how they moved, and therianthropic
figures in ecstatic flight. "The
use of hallucinogens goes back to the Paleolithic Period and
that their use always takes place within contexts and rituals of
a mystico-religious nature." To track Reik's
theory that the Adamic Myth is a survival from primal initiation
rites would mean that psychedelic plants grew in Eden, so that
then Adam would have seen God walking crawling, leaping,
past Eve and Adam’s. from swerve of shore
to bend of bay.
A morning of scudding clouds.
At the Rose Garden tourists are launching a thousand
conversations, children clutching the
possibility that our brains are connected, or entangled, with
everything. In which case we can think of psychic phenomena not
as a mysterious process of information being sent from one place
to another and somehow getting into your head, but more as a
change of attention with parents' fingers as if
long-stemmed roses. Before children were, Adam blossomed,
or so it
is on his way to London to die; Benjamin crosses still
another frontier only to commit suicide. Adami's reductive
system of lines has dared
to take the step that leads
to the detachment of consciousness from the object; he
has freed himself from attachment, entanglement, and delusion,
and can therefore turn homeward. He gives us more than
a subjective expression of personal opinion, for the creative
genius is never one but, his sectionalizations,
which eclipse content, narrative, and depth, entrap in,
and reduce these thinkers' lifelong meditations to a single,
philosophically negligible, incident.
reach Adam and Eve,
nothing is seen anymore, it’s dark.
Now my nonexistence dies already
with the trite death of mathematical fiction.
As trite as the death of my existence would have been
had I been really born.
leaf falls, already yellow and brittle in early September. Sun illuminates
the perfection of a spider’s web strung between trees.
Was it ever really this way: the silence; the sound
of a waterfall;
birds pecking at gravel for seeds?
How long did it take before Adam
suspected that while Eden was "perfect" everything
in it, including himself, was only "in
process of the realization of perfection," and that remaining
there would lead to "a condition of self-nurturing despair."? Did
he decide to eat the apple even before Eve offered it, engaging in "the
symbolic parricide without which none of us can become
totally adult.”? We now know that some
Church leaders at the Council of Trent called for the
suppression of the Bible itself, which was to be encountered
approved commentaries. What would a civilization be like
in which a cabal makes spiritual decisions
for us before we are aware of them (?)
to a path.
For most of the way I hear
bellow of trains
the docks below.
Having relaunched Ulysses, following "the
curve of what we might call the symbolic narrative of kabbalistic
travel," Joyce fled France with the Fascist Wrath at his
heels, arriving at the train station in Geneva "in
the shadow of a wintry twilight, his face very pale, aged,
marked by fatigue. He advanced through the crowd, which his
tall figure dominated, holding onto his wife’s arm is
not instruction in the modern sense, but presentation of
the tribal myths, the story of supernatural beings and of mythical
ancestors---of how the world was created like
a blind man;" like Adam—
go from Here?
note on the making of this text, with reference to Adami, who "wishes
to emulate the prose poem, the kind of text that defies homogeneity,
elements, and that features verbal experimentation with space
and time. He keys into narrativity, no longer definable as a story
arising from elements, but as a profile unexpectedly traced in
the pursuit of form."
In his early Pop-related
(Into the Bargain): J. Derrida. The Truth in Painting.
finally, the basic vocabulary: C.
Paternosto, The Stone and the Thread: Andean
Roots of Abstract Art. Austin., 1996.
in the legends of the Jews: T.
Reik, The Creation of Woman. New York, 1960.
Even in paradise: D.Weiss, "Refusing
to Name the Animals." Gettysburg Review, Winter
survival movement: Ibid, J. Derrida.
everything is implicated: G.
Deleuze, Proust and Signs. Minneapolis, 2000.
Adam is born an artist: E.
Rhode, The Generation of Adam. London, 1990.
I could have been this man: E. Jabès,The
Book of Questions. Middletown, CT., 1984.
multiplicity of substances: R.
Severson, "The Alchemy of Dreamwork: Reflections
on Freud and the Alchemical Tradition." Dragonflies, Spring,
The mind / fast
as it goes:R.
Creeley. From, "I Keep To Myself Such Measures."
the painter's products: Socrates.
In, Plato's Phaedrus..
the name of God: P.C.
Miller, The Poetry of Thought in Late Antiquity.
Adam's satisfaction: U.
Eco, "Languages in Paradise." Serendipities:
Language and Lunacy. New York, 1998.
Now the myth:
A. Freud, May 25,
1938. Quoted in, P. Gay, Freud: A Life for Our Time. New
by an invisible presence: Ibid, R. Severson.
Adami likes to recall: H. Martin. In,
H. Damisch and H. Martin, Adami.
New York, 1974.
laying down the first rules: Ibid, U. Eco.
When God Created Adam: Adapted
from, L. Ginzberg, Legends of The Jews. Philadelphia,
of a greenish hue: C.G.
Coniunctionis. Collected Works, Vol. 14. Princeton, 1976.
for the soul: I.P.
and Magic in the Renaissance. Chicago,
Genesis does not indicate: Ibid, E. Rhode.
Or what we see:
C. Bernstein. From, "Lost
in Drowned Bliss." In, World on Fire. Vancouver,
Separation of the Primordial
Singer, Androgyny. Garden City, NY., 1977.
If there is one word: V.
Adami. Ibid, H. Damisch et al.
We are no longer quite here: A.
Freud, May 25, 1938. Quoted in, P. Gay, Freud: A Life
For Our Time. New York, 1988.
depths and distances: R.
Duncan. From, “Narrative Bridges for Adam’s
Way.” In, Bending the Bow. New York, 1968.
stumbling and slips: Ibid, H. Damisch and H. Martihn.
that God had
Jager, The Tempter’s Voice: Language and the Fall
in Medieval Literature. Ithaca, NY., 1993.
Well, Adam's finish was lethal: J-F Lyotard
and M. Lydon, "It's As If a Line..." Contemporary
Literature. Autumn 1988.
behind the figure: B.S. Childs, "Myth
and Reality in the Old Testament." Studies in Biblical
then, we shall not say: P. Ricoeur, The Symbolism
of Evil. Boston., 1967.
The cords all link back: J. Joyce. Finnegans
Wake. New York, 1939.
monstrous images: Ibid, P.C. Miller.
All our so-called consciousness: F. Nietzsche, The
Dawn of Day. New York, 1974.
bone symbolizes: M. Eliade, Birth and Rebirth. New
and still does: G. Yarchison, World of Angels. New
what's inside is outside: Ibid,
H. Damisch and H. Martihn.
with a clear conscience: Ibid, T. Reik.
The use of hallucinogens: G.
Samorini, "The Oldest Representations of Hallucinogenic Mushrooms
in the World." Integration, Vol. 2/3, 1992.
Riverrun: J. Joyce. Finnegans Wake. New York, 1939.
the possibility that our brains: D.
Radin. Quoted in C. Hamilton, "Is God in Your Head?" What
Is Enlightenment? June-August 2005.
Freud is on his way to London: R.R. Hubert, "Derrida, Dupin,
Adami: 'Il faut être plusieurs pour écrire.'" Yale French Studies 84, 1994.
has dared to take: C.G. Jung, “Ulysses: A Monologue." The
Spirit in Man, Art, and Literature. Collected Works Vol. 15. Princeton.,
I reach Adam and Eve: A.
Swir. From, “Woman Unborn.” C. Milosz and L. Nathan, translators.
in process of the realization: W.S.
di Piero, Out of Eden: Essays on Modern Art. Berkeley,
the symbolic parracide: F.
Du Plessix Gray, "Charles Olson and an American Place.” In,
K. Erikson, Editor, Encounters. New Haven,, 1989.
some Church leaders: R.B.
Avant-Garde Finds Andy Hardy. Cambridge, MA., 1995.
the curve of what we might
Cope, Joyce's Cities: Archaeologies of the Soul. Baltimore,,1981.
in the shadow of a wintry
Marcanton, "The Hours of James Joyce.” In, W. Potts,
Editor, Portraits of the Artist in Exile: Recollections of
James Joyce by Europeans. Seattle, 1979.
is not instruction: Ibid,
A note with reference: R.R.
Hubert, "Derrida, Dupin, Adami: 'Il faut être plusieurs pour écrire.'" Yale
French Studies 84 (1994).
IX:2005 Rev. 2013.