Outskirts online journal

Majena Mafe

Further information

About the author

Majena Mafe is a theorist, writer, sonic and performance artist, working with the notion of sounded-language. I’m interested in ventriloquism as performed language, and in the shaping of my work to act as ‘baroque interventions’ into ‘reasoned’ language frames. I am also interested in linking and building online communities setting up short and long terms creative links with other practitioners. I am at present completing a PhD on Gertrude Stein and sounded-language. Links to my work and projects follow.

Publication details

Volume 20, May 2009

Grappled steps in the method-making of writing ... (a mary-festo)

Gertrude Stein wrote writing about writing … ‘Sentences make one sigh,’ she said. ‘A sentence says you know what I mean’. ‘I would use a sentence if I could’. ‘A sentence says you know what I mean. A sentence that is simple is a cross with a meaning’. A sentence says you know what I mean, Stein pushes. ‘Sentences can be made wonderful, one at a time’. Still … they make her sigh. To Alice ... ‘I would use a sentence if I could’. (Because) … ‘a sentence says you know what I mean’.

This method making of written meaning is the sighing signing root making my own writing, my mary-festo.

This is a manifesto of sorts, a manifesto thats aim is to hold out against the blankness of language through a subverting meaning through the structuring and writing of language. The theorist, Allen S. Weiss advises us how to subvert the working of writing by questioning it under pressure, making it open it to its own parameters, its own voice, ‘multiply origins’ he suggested, ‘neutralize techniques, accept interferences, confuse genres, valorize polyphonies, exacerbate paradoxes, excavate voids, condense givens, love mannerisms, dissociate significations, make strident methods’, these are moves performing in my writing. And I move to sound. Stridently.

Don’t talk about language. Lyotard said … ‘Strident is said of a shrill sound.’ Can the sentence, say? What does it unsay? How do we say the yet to be said?

“… she had tried … really tried for quite a while now to do it, but it would not go into the blasted thing. This time she was able to pause though, if only momentarily and acknowledge the ridiculousness of the situation, and laugh out loud before she lifted her chin, her throat, and firmly stuffed … stuffed it quite hard really, with it squeaking and squealing all the while down the front of her blouse. And she did feel she didn’t care, didn’t care a hoot if anyone saw, or heard or if anyone was looking, which was something, something like waking up on a day that rang true of Saturday when life sounded new and different and was not then Monday or Tuesday.”

Making writing … Making writing is always something. Making writing say. Something particular. And often peculiar. It is an approach less than. It is an approach more-than more. Or ... Or for. There is the making writing of writing as an extension of ‘the said’, the sow’n down the sayed known, making it foam in/as writing, as sentences. There is also the making of writing that is spatial palatial making. And there is a making of writing that is stalking of ‘that’, past said. Some writing is something that is nothing spatial and then it is the un-spatial space of madewriting. There is the making for making sense. MEANING. Common sense. And this sense as repeat can be made ‘made’ repeatedly. Sounding out the common. And all this madewriting is made by and for the eye, and the page to make of it, a maid, it is just as saying of it as nothing, making. But there is also the making of writing of the unsaid, the unknown as the now known, writing, making it moan in writing, though sometimes known as underwriting … blip subtitled blip. And there too is the making of writing which to some writing makers, is making the sayed unknown unsaid in sayin’. It is an approach in making with its ‘because’ in its own throat as a lump. And this is the making of that writing.

1. thicken the field and the paths across

“… the processes that occurred outside, on the surface, on the thing itself, once the chlorine had been applied appeared straight forward and deceptively simple … but it was a thickening of meaning. It was in essence, she knew, an orderly process. There was something. Then there was nothing. But within its own parameters, how it worked riddled her towards…where? The bleaching, was a type of belching it sounded to her, well it made the skin in her ear crawl. To the grey blouse that she’d put on fresh that morning it was an instant bleed. A type of blind haemorrhage. A move forward into an other state of blousedom not possible to go back from. As she spilled it towards her it burnt a white hole on her and then she felt the damp begin in on her-her …”

Multiply origins. Do what cannot be done … it is the only thing worth trying to do – the impossible. The improbable is thickened – deep. What is meaning in literature now, the field of literature, how flat, is flattened, is it? How repetitious? The method making? The meaning? How un-thick? We are disappointed with literature.

What is theory now? The means? The making? The conclusions? The voice? The field? The meaning? The arguments of the argument? Leaving al but their own out? We are disappointed with theory. There is always two, two one’s in the two and a zero.

And if I sing? ‘Sing it.’ There is a one-ing, sung. There is a surface, the ground thickened. (the fertile-field). Singular thick.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Alice loves Gertrude … sing a song.
Refuse to make firm statements in sentences. There are always too. Always two too much more. There is the tongue with stuff, the slit, the noun, the frown, the word, the substance, the mark of it on it of it. Singing is a deep word, the uttered, a cry. A Vowal. As one with one other, with line a gesture. A meander, a script, a chisel. (If given two words – a sentence. Then within the inherent a sense a repeated rhyming of a rhythm … breath. There is ground with rhythm it on, on it. There is first one, then another. Then there are three. Three.

Meaning. Ground. Mark. Hark. A field made of ca-cophony. Field is sufficiently third. ‘Fill ‘er UP’. I filled her up. There is the element of means as meaning/unmeans. There is the bleeding between the two the three. There is the between the one two three. Bleeding tween-them.

Here there are substantial spaces for sentences. And sentences singing the means of sentences. In the thick fielded making of writing, the substantiated as space is full-ness. In that fulled-ness it is empty pulled empty. This is the deep-fold field. (Within all substantiates and the substructure that translates are alot alot of parts. In good part, a little, in measure, a piece, a say, a share, a scrap, a cause, a concern, an interest, a party, a member, an organ, a limb).

Alice … fold the paper … place it in
my mouth. Chew on it, make of it a
paste, a round ball,
say it to me. say it.

And thick fields do not lie flat. Thick fields are makers of meanings impossible spaces, improbable tense-ses. Thick Fields are potent most full. Thick Fields never literal or reasonable or is in any sense, anything any one thing are more than.

The field if sounded, ‘in’ making is openness, an expanse, a ground on which a battle is fought, a region in which a force is effective, and the force exacted in such an area mirrored repeated back mirrored rhy-me-d.

Gertrude … ‘it is landscape’ (cry-out
on Monday …)

Alice … ‘I am digging slowly the
field. Of making … write it is

The thick field is slow.
There is a patience to a thickening field. play.
The thickened field is both the flange and tange-able. The fetid field in the throated whore. Multiply the paths across the origins. The paths across the thickness paraphrase ‘its’ self. The ventriloquist says…ventriloquizing … ‘The dummy writes the scripted introduction to her own jokes.’

All paths through and across the fields go towards the gate. Gates. In the thickened fields they potently deviate, avert, bend, deflect, differ, digress, Perge, drift, err, part, stray, swerve, turn, turn aside, vary, veer, wander. Definitions course fields that are deviations from soundings grace … All these paths are in essence a multitude of points. And points of points. Dots. Full stops. Pronounciatments that quiver. Places of particularity, sure … stages, and situations; they are summits and tips. Aims. Goals to steer by. Indents rather than intentions. They are motives and objects temporarily in purpose, reason, cores. Essence. The heart. The crux of the meaning, the matter … every one. Leaking, linked in streams, some shift uncomfortably as units, but all are deviations of the field. All deviations are one deviate.
A zero + one. To straighten, itself, is to deviate.
To un-right the insistence on sight.

Invert, pervert the linear path. The means to mere meaning. Realign in truncation, transaction, a transition, in transference, decrying the code.

2. privilege non- sensing (unnamed, unseen, and unheld)

“… she had no idea where it had come from, of course. Or what it was never having seen it before. But she knew she loved it. And, it was hers. Basically it had no label named on it. So she called it … ness. It was her … ness.”

Resist definition. Non-sensing genres. Don’t let the truth slip. Out. Don’t face facts. Neutralise techniques, ply them. Excavate voids. The genre of the genre has the bounds. Un-naming acts as intervention. Unreason. Disrupt the disruption of sentences. Exacerbate paradoxes. In the genre filing station, filling up with one sentence at a time has made the attendant empty. The deepest clingingly chartreuse caress towards, deeper than across; it is all in parts in all its parts is nonsense. It is not across it from the inside, an inside full of the necessary. It is the other writing flailing-sailing. It is an outer crossing. Across from one point to another. With the ‘other’ as tutor. Of the method that is of some-other-thing unknown this is its approach explored as a way. There are well versed grips. Forgotten. Open mouths. Sounding. There is out. There is off. Forgetting is one. Remembering an ‘other’. There are these ways. Three ways with three tools – known. Here they are. Ready? Remove the eye as the purveyor of clarity. The overseer of the known. Remove the hand as tool – making the known, bring in the earrrr. Remove the seamless seam of grammar as remover of the known of the known – the assumed assuming intention of the known.

Dement the implement. To wrench rent repent, unmeant the implement. Here two tongues in one embrace. Two are forthwith taken as the field that has no centre of its own. One will write its way three. One will write its own hand four. singing. Two elsewise as eight, will write samething between.
To meant indent the implement. There is a moving down from the topdown.
To fragment–frament the implement. There is a moving inandout and from the in the out is being outcast.
To insist the dement … to instil peril … misjunct the predicate. The verbs are the nouns. This is more then only an upside, there is a squirm to no side. frill. drill. grill. shrill. trill. mill. Still the two separates inverted ... the imp – I – ment. And the implement in ferment. There is a moving in and from … the unrecognised at the centre: with recurrences ‘eventing’ not obviously.

“… she would call it by its ‘proper’ name, if only she could find it. It was there somewhere … just for the moment though there seemed to be too many propers … the pool was not the thing of course, it was really the relationship she had with it that caused her to bring it up at first to bring it up at all really. It bothered her. And it always had. Right from the beginning. It had always felt like a tenant, to her, a tenant lullaby-ing ‘the grammars’ to her, in her own back yard … ”

Miss Stein, as Kapser Hauser, flies to Las Vegas. Unrecognised she is an open form. A forum. With no baggage, no edge. Not the container for the form or form of form itself. It is wider than. More trunculate-or. More.
Un-re-cog-nis-ed. In. We reside. We engulf.
The unrecognised. Blind dancing. Signing song. If one move's at a pace that's rhythming apart from the habit one has formed of oneself there are great gulps of open waiting. That (wood) First she said she wood and then she wouldn’t. That word occur. That words. occur.
The unrecognised. Blind wonder. If one lifts from one's brow all understanding there are suddenly the gaps between fulsome. Between the nothings.
The unrecognised. Blind self aria’d. If one suspends the pull back with its impatience, and hate and doubt and horror … there it is, waiting. It is there. One thing. The roulette wheel is maid.

3. be the event advancing

Advancing … make the first move. The spin. Teasing. Go on … cross from one ocean to another … Columbus wove. Furiously. Excavating voids. Excavate voids.
Chorus. Condense givens. Dissociate significations. Going forward is always away from. Firmly Shuttling. Closing Doors. Walking the ‘a’ way. It is a reach. (The sweet apple too high …) To quest is to question. If the sound of our human tongue is where words begin and end (Augustine) how can I say in writing more than … and more than that how can I say that sound. It is the prerequisite of the net that it is re-work-ed, the binary pairs are pieces of eight, the fusion is a potent system. ADA ADa Ada love, your lace ... your ‘Zero’ was unthinkable. Infinity is in the making of writings gutters, in the digit as machine. Somewhere is the pivot to travel into the wind instead of it at ones back. process-process 0 0. 0.Contrarieties loved a pace.

Heap’n itself up. In the margins. It lies panting between the white vertical scores.
In the making of sighing-writing, making writing, writing becomes agitated, there is a strong refusal for the strong refute of the mind to lie still. The pressing of making does lay the lisping lies to lay anxious, gulping at instances, sighing at time, undoing the signs. At some space some voice sang to some e-merges sing’n back as it. This made willwill is the centre. It does–(will)–emerge as the softest-solution and once known is the mak’n fluid and so so sure as its becoming something some – one – thing that it scalds all other tenders shut and goes forward and onward inside itself. (Inside itself). Itself made. Making, containing wider circumferences in throated aria - ing. And making writing bleats repeat.repeat. (s) Repeatedly. But there are no repetitions. (Stein). Making the one is making the made. And … (pause). This is the event says Serres. So launched. The barque (sailing ship) itself. Of itself. zero + one, zero + one +. Displace-ing the binaries as improvised time. “There, now.”

4. arrive at arriving …

“… Oh Oh O O O There, now! Yes. Oh. Yes. That is made song … Alice.”

Valorize polyphonies. ‘I would use a sentence if I could’ (Stein 33). (Because) … ‘a sentence says you know what I mean’ (34). Loves mannerisms. Love mannerisms. Multiply to sound. Sing your way out of writing mean meaning. Accept interference. Turning the body of writing upside down. ‘Every sentence has a beginning’ (26). Learn how to die. Too. Chorus. The sound in it. Of making meaning. On over and out … upsinging the raft. I am in love with words and writing they love me back. I desire … to eat them … to I put them in my mouth. The small dark empty knots of, ‘a’, is bountiful. ‘s’ is more so. The white spaces between sing sung or refuse and lie flat are Heliodoros’ absolute contrarieties fitted together as one sound. And it is a well known fact that the sickness of lovers, makes of their mind fill with pleasure-ing-pain and pain-pleasure-ing … The eternal dilemma. I go out of my mind with love for the sounds writing makes in me. The making dilemma is to dissolve … with the loss of the beloving one.

Yes. Yes. The only thing to make, is sung, is that. There is more, more mostest, mon-u-mention moments stacked between the lip-lips, over when it swells and swells biggestly and goes nowhere fast and holds open all the fences and the gates swing so wide that the sky is all shine and smiles and soothed softness and sweetness and smooth silver smirks. In the colour of spittle in the puddles all is all aglow, on the lips, all slippery swallowed, smitten with wonder. Moving in itself. It is all filled up with itself. Words as mouths … all full of … the forming felicitation. Itself. And when the I is filled up, in quiet sense when all other’s have left you/me, then all filled to fulling up there is then the full self, in the love. And the two do make quite something, stepped. Quite something is arrived at suddenly and repeatedly.

Writing that says no-thing and something are in being, two sides of the same coin … nothing is nothing, something is what it is. The ways to making love making-writing, making love is writing-writing, making writing in small spaces at a time. In the pause, the name of the place you are living close to, the slink the sentence you whisper to your lovers ear. Your hiss at the cat. An aperture of writings own making. That is sound. Full of the own to own and lie un-still. A move to the deep slow read (to). And a move to singing the yellow cordite (an explosive) too bright for sight … in each mouth made lovingly.

Chorus: (There follow pools of full flatness, spilling over the overflow. Here is the dissolution of the decreation even. Repetitions via for the still, ha! … here are rhythms, there are parameters unforming, here are stiffness’s real and imagined. Falling away. Here and there are glowings that spin, fluids that bleach, gaps that relate. There/here are segments of attenuated attention that gather moments together … sticking as they do to the one still in coming. Here are great emptiness’s and silence and whispers and warm chills. In looking you are lost. Open your ears. And. Now … it is then it is that you have arrived).

Make writing as an unproper radiant sound.
'A sentence has been heard … now listen’ says Stein.

“… and then she remembered the orderly told her a very strange story on the way to the theatre. A woman was taken to a pit that contained a lion … ‘now the lion was very old, ferocious and large, his yellow hair hung over his neck, he growled he roared … in all ways the lion appeared quite unconquerable,’ the orderly had said. ‘So that the woman was almost afraid of her own fear and would gladly have turned back if her promise to herself, and also the circumstances, allowed her to give up. No … instead … she approached the lion in his den and began to caress him. But the lion looked at her so fiercely with his piercing eyes that the woman in the story could hardly restrain her tears. Just then though she remembered that she had learned all during her life, that very many people had undertaken to overcome the beast and very few could accomplish it. She was unwilling to be disgraced, though, or to turn away, and she recalled several grips that she had learned. So she gave up the caresses and seized the lion so dexterously, artfully and subtly that before he was well aware of it the woman had forced the sound out of the lion’s body, even out of his heart. It was a beautiful red, she thought an aria in meaning. She dissected the lion further and found a fact which caused her much wonder …’ and this is the point, the orderly said, ‘that his bones were white as snow and they were singing to her, her very self and there was much more bone than there was blood …’ At first she couldn't make out why the orderly had told her this story … and what the woman in the story had found … but then she realised … and then, well … then she knew … she was hearing it sound as she heard it.”


Lyotard, Jean-Francois. Soundproof Room. trans. R. Harvey, California: Stanford University Press, 2001: 76.

O’Connell, Robert. St Augustine’s Confessions. New York: Fordham Univ Press, 1989: 117.

Stein, Gertrude. How to Write. ed P. Meyerowitz, New York: Dover Publications 1975: 29-34.

Weiss, Allen S. "Ten Theses to Subvert a Work (A Manifesto)". Theatre Journal Volume 58, Number 3, October 2006: 393-394.

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