[F]rom the day that men began to speak toward death and against it, in order to grasp and imprison it, something was born, a mumuring which repeats, recounts, and redoubles itself endlessly, which has undergone an uncanny process of amplification and thickening in which our language is today lodged and hidden....

Borges tells the story of a condemned writer to whom God grants, at the precise instant of his execution, another year of life to complete the work he had begun.1 Suspended between life and death...during the year which passes while a drop of rain streaks the condemned man's cheek, as the smoke of his last cigarette disappears, Hladik writes--but with words that no one will be able to read, not even God--the great, invisible labyrinth of repetition, of language that divides itself and becomes its own mirror. When the last epithet is found...the volley of the rifle fire, released less than a second before, strikes his silence at the heart.

1   Jorge Luis Borges, "The Secret Miracle," Labyrinths 
   (New York: New Direction, 1964): 88-94.
--Michel Foucault, "Language to Infinity," Language, Counter-Memory, Practice, Selected Essays and Interviews, ed. Donald F. Bouchard, trans. Donald F. Bouchard and Sherry Simon (Ithaca: Cornell University Press, 1977): 109.
PHOTO: Hanne Darboven, One Century, Hanne Darboven, Dedicated to Johann Wolfgang von Goethe (Ghent: Imschoot, 1988) (detail).





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