Leslie Scalapino’s Masterpiece. . .
On The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom
by Leslie Scalapino
The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom, in short chapters usually not more than a page or half page, was composed by process of alexia, word-blindness: unknown words were chosen by randomly leafing through Webster’s Dictionary; these generate characters and events that cohere as a sci-fi novel in which the characters are apparently divided from their senses (said to be dysaphic, they are seemingly without tactile senses, without memory or seeing—though they are also said to see and touch); by virtue of this dysaphic quality they act to heal mind-body split visibly demonstrated by the dihedrons and the gazelle-dihedrals, humanlike creatures with structures opened to show their organs and muscles—who inhabit the emerald dark apparently either cyber or real space. These umbra creatures have been affected by ‘idea’ being the goal and description of everything, divided from ‘being’ itself.
The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom is an endless landscape in which new characters arising from the words, with their own lives and actions that briefly refer to outside events and history (such as Sara Palin, one of the characters for an instant), access spatial-sound openings, tactile and aural sensations, the conception being that we’ve been split distorted, cut off from our present-future-past, time acknowledged as really non-existent as we conventionally define it. The characters are particularly the abandoned orphan girls (left by parents or placed in orphanages as is occurring at present in China and India but here location is not specified, is as if a futuristic everywhere), millions of whom stream through the sci-fi realms in which horses roam as in Mongolia. Leafing through the dictionary I ran across the two words “base runner”—from this, a main character arose, the base runner who is trapped in an emerald dark freezing space where he runs to reach widely separated bases, no one else present in the game from which he can’t depart (if he does he will be killed); he’s bound apparently in a cyber program possibly gulag from which terrorist actions arise or are reflected. One such event, the attack on Mumbai, is the origin and connection of all the events of the book. The avatars of the base runner are an eagle and an octopus; the latter frees the base runner by making love to a woman (another main character named the distaffer) as she is swimming in the sea after her plane with a load of orphans has crashed into the sea. The octopus and the woman “come” allowing the base runner to come to them breaking through from the emerald dark. The dihedrons (seen only sideways, they arrive without appearing to move) and the gazelle-dihedrals (different manifestation of the same creature but this version zooms only forward) are completely opened in the sense that their organs-musculature-skeletons are simultaneously displayed to be literally outside and inside at once. These creatures are either protective or threatening, akin to Tantric Buddhist figures; they are present while the human characters catch on fire in the emerald zone, the living people protected by their avatars (an octopus, a Silvertip grizzly, a white wolf-dog, an eagle).
The characters alter by their experience. Some who are the abandoned girl-orphans growing up become manifestations of characters (loosely conceived) from Greek myths. One main character is “the deb” (the debutant) who is the daughter of a slut named Chrysanthemum (a manifestation of a fiery red Mongolian wrathful deity, a figure of enlightenment); given the hardship of having such a mother, the daughter grows up to be Artemis whose avatars are a Silvertip grizzly and the Silver Wattle Tree. Another main character is a child, one of the abandoned girl-orphans, who grows up to be Venus/Aphrodite (also Venus Williams, the tennis champ). One minor character is Hera, a harridan who is abusive to one of the abandoned orphans.
The intent of this work is free rein of the imagination, as if ‘on a run’ pushing it as far as can be to break through—to have it ‘unite’ with a sense of being real. The intent is also that one as reader have the sense of seeing one’s separation from one’s own senses in living in our society—as our separation from paradise—and as reading, to have even a tactile as well as mental sense of union with that paradise. Though since it is real, paradise as the book’s reality includes also terrifying events of the actual world (as well as daily events, sometimes humorous).
The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom contains images by Jess, Masami Teraoka, and Kiki Smith. Images by Jess and Masami Teraoka (an octopus sucking a woman) are part of the meaning of the text, as if the images are memories of events in the lives of the characters (who have only single memories arising occasionally, or are devoid of memories until these begin to break through). Kiki Smith has given permission to use images from her Spinster Series, included as part of my text. Her figure of a girl (from her already existing series) is used as a reference to a figure of a girl in the emerald dark. The images by these artists are thus real events already existing outside, already experienced in the text independently, neither illustrating the other—verifying each other as part of a huge background of sensory events.
The inside of action and of being in these actions at the same time—have the tactile sense that there is no present even seeing there in its midst experiencing sensations. The characters, the deb (debutant), the distaffer, and the base runner, with their avatars—so they have more than one manifestation at once—exist alongside and somehow programmed in relation to real-time events: a recent terrorist attacks on a cricket team and the recent attack on Mumbai (the two events conflated as if one). Akin to Henry Darger’s endless landscapes, narrative is from the outside always—at the same time the intent is for the writing to be the sensation of having/being other people’s sensations as well as non-human, that of flowers—not only to have the pleasure of this vivid life but the sense of not struggling for future.
This work, possibly referencing a cyber Alice in Wonderland is based in the sound of words intended to make a sensory realm, as if the characters while not having senses, have these given to them as the writing being all of the senses.