"Openings in the fabric of the visible are thus not so much produced then as encountered, fleetingly glimpsed. Here, the glimpse operates as an aperture in the real, a portal to other places and times, both future and past. The horizontal landscape of what is present is ruptured by another frequency of experience, the vertical or vertiginous force of something felt or sensed. A glimpse is experienced as a poetic fall from or faltering within what is known or certain. It exists at the cusp of recognition, where the witness is left unable to fully find the words for communicating what they have seen. The glimpse is always a little otherworldly, for it marks the opening of one world or reality onto the possibility of others. Those receptive to the glimpse thus inhabit a zone between two worlds, between now and elsewhere, between the actual and imagined". Emma Cocker, Glimpsed, Only in Certain Light, 2012
On 1 August, I will be leading a study session introducing art-writing practices (specifically in relation to ideas of glimpsing, the fragmentary, and the art-writing of the author and philosopher Hélène Cixous) as part a Summer study group Hélène Cixous Sight Unseen Study Sessions at Nottingham Contemporary, led by academic Sarah Jackson (Programme Leader, MA Creative Writing, NTU). Subsequent sessions (led by Sarah) focus on areas including Writing Like Painting; Reading and Writing Differently; The Invisible; Writing and Blindness. The programme includes a ‘conversation’ between Hélène Cixous and Alexandra Grant on 10 September 2013. More about the Hélène Cixous Sight Unseen Study Sessions can be found here.
The session has been a space for me to consider the relation of glimpsing and the fragmentary within the process of writing; specifically for differentiating between two different modes of glimpsing operative within my own writing practice: firstly, where 'glimpsing' refers to a "very brief, slight, or passing look, sight, or view"; where insights are gleaned through the process of skimming, glancing, 'looking away' or of things "caught fleetingly in the corner of the eye". Drawing on reflections from my text 'Reading Towards Becoming Causal', in Reading/Feeling, I am interested in how "A glimpse can collapse the totality of a text into a single word. Illumination can be kindled from the smallest flame. The significance of a text can take years to unravel; the impact of another can be felt in a lightening flash.” Secondly, 'glimpsing' is less to do with the brevity of the glance, but rather refers to "a momentary or slight appearance", moments of revelation (of rupture) which might only be produced through sustained, slowed forms of attention. Certainly, within my own practice this relation between the speeds and slowness of attention creates the conditions for the production of critical glimpses - "inklings, vague ideas" that are the germinal terrain of writing; and here, the fragmentary is perhaps the true means through which the glimpse can faithfully be attested.