about tuumba

variously, not then
Travis Ortiz
89 pages
ISBN 9781931157100


"Written, designed and typeset by Travis Ortiz, variously, not then is a confoundingly complex cross-genre work touching upon meaning, loss, memory and return. Part-prose, part-poetry, part-essay, part-aphorism, part-philosophy, part-graphic design, the writing folds in upon itself instantly twisting from one morphology to the next. Vexing and brilliantly beautiful."

—John Zorn

This dazzlingly designed book opens up into a linguistic density that holds its weight in thought's recalcitrant measures, as if poetry once again had substance sufficient to hold its own against all comers and the no-shows too.

—Charles Bernstein

Through variously, not then's mode of elegant abstraction, Travis Ortiz recesses the particulars of what is known to foreground a deontological episteme: here percept is processed as becoming-ethical, becoming-political; watching as witnessing; place as public. As Ortiz obsessively truncates narrative trajectory at the level of the sentence through a near-verbless, uncompleting syntax that nonetheless bears the heft of aphorism, he defines and valorizes experience as the recursive, analytic motion of a mind inventorying and weighing circumstances never fully fleshed for the reader and likewise withholding assessment and practical action from the conscientious consciousness displayed. variously, not then thus trades clean aporia for a suspension that layers the transveral trackings of the mind as it cannily, subtly accounts stakes behind stakes; it portrays a longing for detachment that would make interpretive moral cognition less painful if not for its shadowing of language's privative disconnect as it fails to touch emergency. Perhaps as Ortiz works to re-invent disinterested humane engagement, he creates a new category of political time, intruding a third term into the duo of chronos and kairos: this temporality of the re-circulation of repeated words is not circular but seems instead to gather folds such that chronos puckers and warps and kairos recedes behind or ahead of the horizon. variously, not then admirably captures a current feeling of unrest and unease at its most vigilant and self-aware, awaiting the disclosures of decisions whose absconded agency, in Ortiz's treatment, both speaks the complexities that enmire it almost beyond retrieval and eloquently begs its recovery.

—Judith Goldman