Bartleby’s Wall / Portal

There is a paradox when it comes to our beliefs or our notions of movement. Let’s just consider, as an example, Bartleby and the wall — Bartleby spends his whole day staring at a wall — at a brick wall, out the window, but he is also surrounded by white walls. What does he see in this wall? I once proposed that the blankness of the wall is like the blankness of the letter, the unwritten letter — so that, in other words, the wall is a kind of figure of potentiality, or the myriad potentialities, the wall becomes a kind of nexus. But I want to propose something far more interesting: that the wall is like a gateway, or a portal that will bring us somewhere. But this proposal has the interesting quality of being “not entirely impossible”.

That is, we want to make the distinction, a difficult one, between movement within and between virtual spaces. This is an important question but also one that we should be very wary of answering, since we can never be sure that we know the difference. In other words, we are never sure whether we are changing or not, we are never sure whether, for example, the mode of change remains constant. A virtuality is itself a space of movement, it defines what seems to happen as events — but playful events, metaphoroical events, events that are events only by some sort of loophole. On the other hand, there is the notion of being before, or on the verge of moving otwards a new virtuality, and that is the latter. And yet we can never tell the difference.

Consider, then, the letter, I mean, in the sense of “missive”. Bartleby worked at a dead letters office. Letters can be understood in two ways, either as a kind of communication, as the established channels of some system, or as the movement to a new system. In fact, the very tenderness with which we treat letters probably has to do with the way in which the latter seems to weigh so heavily towards the latter. The letter, in other words, could be an introduction, it could establish a new way of life. But, in this purpose, the system is not exactly set, we speak the words without really knowing their exact meaning, independent, then, of any context. For example, if we write a letter to someone we’re in love with, then that has the effect of establishing a new way of interacting with this person in many ways: either in terms of, interpersonal relations, or in terms of, to establish a new, intimate mode of communication, a new world of tradeoffs and bargains, and so on.

The distinction between within and between always seems so impossible, simply because it seems as though we always approach a task with a set of preconceptions as to what would happen, which would seem to mean that we are always within some abstract space or region of looking at the world. But isn’t it possible, at least speculatively, also to see the very portal or transport that is the source of our movement?

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