In a FaceBook post today, Bay Area artist Scott MacLeod began a thread that concerns me directly and which I will paste here, along with an explanation and answer to his query:

Scott MacLeod: Complete the following: “Displaced agency in social space becomes nearly filmic in its sutured continuity—and the meaning of this temporal autonomy of signification is _____________.” [Barrett Watten]

Miekel And: screen burn

Jakub Calouseque: sequestering of dour libido

Barrett Watten: the Dream Cruise.

George Spies: Conflated.

René Canham: Facebook thrives.

Roddy Hunter: lost on me.

Scott MacLeod: . . . the scream bruise?

The sentence appears at the conclusion of “Social Space in ‘Direct Address,'” Poetics Journal 8 (1989): 85–86, and records my first response to Detroit, via an article by my future colleague at Wayne State, Jerry Herron. In Herron’s piece, a film by Georges Meliés provides a way of comprehending the rapid “cut” from one space to another that one experiences continually in Detroit. Only today, taking a visitor on tour of the city, I went through yet again the shock of spatial disruption that typifies and interrupts living here. Herron’s essay appealed to an acknowledgment of social negativity that subsequently drew me from Berkeley to Detroit, and which I continue to interpret in practice. In 1989, I formulated it thusly:

Displaced agency in social space becomes nearly filmic in its sutured continuity—and the meaning of this temporal autonomy of signification is not entertainment but fear.

A scan of the original article from Poetics Journal, now in process of being published as a hybrid print/digital archive by Wesleyan University Press, is available here:

http://www.english.wayne.edu/fac_pages/ewatten/pdfs/08wattensocialspace.pdf

Thanks to Scott MacLeod

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