The “event” here refers to that which can not be discerned, the conceptual framework that exists outside of language, the point at which one’s mind is most open-minded, “a rupture in ontology, a being-in-itself—through which the subject finds her realization and reconciliation with ‘truth.’”4 Or, the “blind spot” of Derrida’s grammatology5, the shadow of narrative history, a textualized séance, and a “phantasmogenetic center”—that “point in space so modified by the presence of a spirit that it becomes perceptible to persons materially present near it.”6 The ghost lives in and is alive in writing, and the text is the site of its conjuration and activation.
In her introduction, Laynie Browne explains the anthology’s title as a reference to Bernadette Mayer referencing Shakespeare. Browne writes:
The process of opening Mayer to find Shakespeare reframed seems particularly fitting in the sense that conceptual writing often involves a recasting of the familiar and the found. In Mayer’s hands the phrase “I’ll Drown My Book” becomes an unthinkable yet necessary act. This combination of unthinkable, or illogical and necessary or obligatory also speaks to ways that the writers in this collection seek to unhinge and re-examine previous assumptions about writing. Thinking and performance are not separate from process and presentation of works. If a book breathes it can also drown, and in the act of drowning is a willful attempt to create a book which can awake the unexpected—not for the sake of surprise, but because the undertaking was necessary for the writer in order to uproot, dismantle, reforge, remap or find new vantages and entrances to well trodden or well guarded territory.3
I’ll Drown My Book throws itself the face of this intensity, to face the ghosts and “create a book which can awake the unexpected.” The book communicates telepathically, I feel the resonance of the stack of signifiers, see the portals that lead out of language. The horror writer Stephen King considers writing as a form of telepathy, where through the medium of a text, one’s mental state comes to transcend space and time. The text, like a Ghostbusters‘ trap that only temporarily destabilizes a ghost for containment, waits to be reactivated at a different point in the space-time continuum.7 These ghosts have no intention of escaping. The being-drowned is all part of the process of eventual activation.