Missed a Bit, Jonty Tiplady, If a Leaf Falls Press 2017
“The problem is not how to finish a fold, but how to continue it, to have it
go through the ceiling, how to bring it to infinity. It is not only because the
fold affects all materials that it thus becomes expressive matter, with different
scales, speeds, and different vectors (mountains and waters, papers,
fabrics, living tissues, the brain), but especially because it determines and
materializes Form. It produces a form of expression, a Gestaltung, the genetic
element or infinite line of inflection, the curve with a unique variable.”
Gilles Deleuze, The Fold , quoted in Lisa Robertson, Nilling
This description of the literary fold, which comes to me via Lisa Robertson, but is neatly folded Deleuze and scrunched up Leibniz, comes to mind when reading Jonty Tiplady’s near-Tabloid-sized pamphlet ‘Missed a Bit’, and not only because it’s so tempting to fold the book, to trim it down to book sized! It’s more because the text itself is so fascinatingly folded, and so embodies (I suddenly want to say mobilises) a kind of interior-exterior exploration that feels baroque in its intricacy, + thoroughly contemporary in its diction. Among the considerations that are folded together are masculinity, embodied experience, branding, digital culture, Trumpism, fear, negation, death and extinction, drugs, writing and dreams.
This is one of the strangest, most compelling books I’ve read this year, which is partly why I’m grappling around not knowing what to say. It starts by relating multiple surgical operations as a child, which get stitched up in Google primary colour stitches. The book seems to highlight how things get stitched up in Google primary colours all the time. It involves a man’s memories of his boyhood relation to these operations, which were on an undescended testicle. These are told directly and matter-of-factly, and interspersed with considerations of Paul de Man’s Resistance to Theory, and readings in that book on fear and terror.
The text then seems to imperceptibly fold into this consideration Derrida photographed naked, Clarice Lispector, Arianna Reines, Harmony Korine and the kettle from Haribo. The sentences – the text is one single paragraph – suck you into “different scales, speeds and vectors”, in “a line of inflection”, as the subject of night terrors and deep rooted fear begin to come into a kind of focus, or as Tiplady puts it somewhere “a sundering of the options of the webbing of the deeper web”.
Of course the title makes me wonder what is missing in the text, what is being hidden and elided in the folding, but the fold is also a way of revealing, and this is much more what this text feels like: exposed and revealing. There’s a searing and amazing alertness to the implications of the current political moment, one that ought to make us terrified, one that ought to keep us awake at night, one that is so rapidly normalised, so rapidly folded into consciousness.
I’m still reading through this book, and following its vectors, I’m still trying to read across its webbing. There’s a long sentence near the end of it of which this is a part: “I could see that you envied me because I understood the end of the end you could not and that I envied me because I could not understand the endlessness of the end you could not see that you understand better than me, and so on”. I’m caught in a loop or a fold like that, but this book still feels like one of the most eloquent immersions in the terror of the social and political violence and vandalism of right now.