The book Contact: A collage of lost gestures by Edgardo Scott, is born from the impulse of the writer in full confinement, from the anguish due to confinement, the virus or what could happen, and from his desire to write a work in relation to all the gestures of contact “threatened” by the pandemic, among which the last and most important “is the gesture of the word”, explains the author.
Contact: A collage of lost gestures (Godot Editions) is a delicate text, pleasing to the senses: a harmonious chain of references from literature, film or music that Scott finds in his personal archive, the library and Google. Before undertaking the writing of it, he had finished the translation of Dublineses, a “very hard job”. The author born in Lanús in 1978 and based in France points out that the essay is “the most open genre, because it is always vulnerable to that radar, those ‘notes’ that those of us who write take all the time. In rehearsal, those notes are all music when you’re writing,” he notes.
Scott is the author of It is not enough that you look, it is not enough that you believe (2008), the storybook the shelters (2010), and the novels The excess (2012) and Grief (2017).
—¿Contact is planned as a book of impressionistic essays to create a rapprochement with the readers?
—Yes, there is something impressionistic, of course, because the essays always appeal to a form that is defined by a particular emotion, there is no other basis, that is why the associations are so diverse in every sense: in genres, in times, in proximity or recognition. I had written so much in Hikers as in the book about Stevie Wonderwith variations and peculiarities, of course, but what they have in common with Contact it is perhaps this approach to the reader. Something that I admire –and steal– in guys like Luis Gusman O Ricardo Piglia or even in Mary Moreno O Juan Forn, that unpredictable hodgepodge where there are no hierarchies. What we call culture today, that scam, that deception, is a bit of that.
—Is there a new form of contact in social networks and Internet searches?
“Yes and no, I think.” That’s been in play since the inception of the internet, right? On the one hand, who doubts it, it has allowed us to intensify and extend contact, but on the other it has also served as a form of isolation and alienation even greater than television (which was its great preparation or training).
“Contact: A Collage of Lost Gestures” (Godot), by Edgardo Scott
—The word, the image, supplant that physical contact that the rest of the animals have?
—Well, an ethologist could surely explain that better, but I always remember that essay by John Berger, “Why do we look at animals”. In animals there is no contact because precisely there is no word. That is why we speak of mating and not of sexuality, and much less of eroticism. The contact has nothing to do with the body or with the physical, or better said, the body and the physical, the sensitive – they blow me away Saer O Blanchot– are defined by the word. That is why in the list or inventory of “lost gestures” in the book, the last and most important is the gesture of the word.
We talked before about the Internet and social networks and we would have to think about what place the word has there, right? There are devices –I am thinking of Twitter, for example– that are closer to the code, to the coagulated word, to the slogan or advertising, to the holophrase. And perhaps that is why the image becomes supreme, because there is a simultaneity in the image, a suggestion that the word, always unfinished, does not possess. That is why I think that one of the things that is happening is that the way of reading is changing –once again, of course– but noticeably. There was a reading linked to the signifier, the sense and the object (and nonsense, of course), to put it quickly, in which many of my generation were trained (perhaps we are the last with that operating system, haha) that I see that is on its way to extinction due to a reading that is either more impersonal, very democratic and progressive, or completely taken by taste, by sensation and, therefore, fuel for all this tremendous re-ideologization of the market in which we are now.
-The new normality tends to “without contact” as you think the closing of your book?
“Without a doubt, and the old normal too. That was one of the engines of the book, being able to insist that what the pandemic fully unleashed or catalyzed in relation to contact had already been taking place. We still don’t know what this “new normal” is going to be like, this post-pandemic time, because we haven’t completely come out of it yet, what’s more, it just seems like we’re coming out, but we also had this illusion a couple of times before. In any case, there will be a moment, sooner or later, when we will get out of this, and obviously we will be able to see the effects. And right there we will also see “what was it for” all this. Where does it leave us? But teleworking, for example, or the health and biological priority in relation to social control are clearly irreversible variables in the medium term.
—In the descriptions of the photos does the Barthesian spirit fly over?
-They told me, and it’s crazy, because in other books -I remember the little essays that are embedded in my novel The excess– I was very aware of Barthes, but not in this book. In fact, now, for the extension of Hikers in the spanish edition, i was working with the scene where he died Barthes, who ultimately died “walking”, crossing the street; bah, after that accident everything got complicated.
But I told you, Contact I didn’t have it so present Barthes, although obviously I already have it incorporated; also for my generation it was a canonical, obligatory and celebratory reading, because those who formed us already came to full with Barthesfrom Sarlo a Alberto Giordanoor in my case, that I met him in college, working in the department of Hugo Vezzetti.
Edgardo Scott (Thomas Khazki)
—Do the slow ones have to come back, that way of dancing in contact that your book talks about?
“They would have, of course.” But I don’t think they will come back. Unless there is some rhythm or some clandestine tribe that segments them and makes them fashionable. Let him reinvent them. But well, if that happens, it will be in the catacombs, at clandestine parties, I think Contact it also shows a bit of that, that there is a place that is always possible, especially in dark moments, in those moments of history that are so dark, persecutory, and it is the place of resistance. Today that power is camouflaged behind or instrumentalizing certain minorities, it would be necessary to claim the place, always minority and even marginal, of resistance.
“Is there a contact after death?”
—Of course, I think that’s also in the book, starting with that great infamy that has been that you can’t accompany the dying and say goodbye to the dead. Again, that was already in The odyssey, there is also a “paradigm change” that was also prevailing; a relationship with sickness and anesthetized, denying, infantile death. i like how i thought of it SebaldInstead, the dead and the living inhabiting the same house and going from one room to another, visiting each other. But the dead are much more real and definitive than we are. The dead that you kill… etc.
—Argentine literature, national rock and, especially, Julio Cortázar occupy a central place in the book…
—Well, that’s the part where I can quote from memory, the most personal archive part of the book, because both Argentine literature and Argentine rock are my strongest marks. Yes, it was not premeditated, but I liked that secret causality of starting and ending with Cortazar. I guess that’s where the experience of living in Paris comes in, where the ghost of Cortázar for any Argentine and Latin American writer is very strong, inevitable, it forces you to reread it in some way.
Regarding Argentine rock, now that it is out of fashion, now that we are beginning to have the syndrome of the tangueros, of old music, I think that is where its lyrics, its poetry, can be most clearly grasped, precisely as a rupture and continuity to the instead of popular genres such as tango and folklore.
I’m not saying anything new. But I think that now it is quite a challenge for those of us who are over forty to see that this genre, which was the symbol of youth, of the new, loses validity or, once again, returns to the underground. I think that the best thing that can happen to Argentine rock, Argentine literature and my generation is that: return to the underground. Recover, precisely, that contact.
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