Marianna Maruyama: The Crack As A Flaw Or Evidence Of A Move Towards Perfection: The Crack Of The Earth, Of A Wall, And Of A Bell

Advisor/tutor: Jorinde Seijdel
Independent reviewer: Fred Moten
Arnhem, June 2014


Are cracks flaws or evidence of a move towards perfection? In this thesis, I analyze the crack of the earth, of a wall, and of a bell to show that cracks are the results of invisible forces. If artists can understand the forces that cause cracks to appear, the idea of the crack itself can be a valuable creative model. Deleuze and Guattari's writing on stratification, territorialization and reterritorialization forms the backbone of my theoretical argument, refuting distracting moralistic interpretations of the phenomenological qualities of cracks. Making generous references to literature and artworks, I have found ways that some artists have found methods to benefit from the idea of the crack, while others still try to control it, unsuccessfully. I make a point of trying to understand the world as force not form, with the intention of one day being able to  gracefully accept the inevitable cracks that appear in work and in life.    


  • The crack, which both evinces and instantiates imperfection here seen as evidence of a movement towards perfection. OK. What is perfection? The gesture towards Ruskin early on is not quite enough. If perfection is given in the unrepeatable handiwork of a unique individual then it would be all but ubiquitous, certainly unworthy of notice. Is this what Ruskin is saying? What if perfection is beside the point, a residue of formalism unsuccessfully drafted in the interest of an articulation (i.e., movement coordinated over/across the break or gap) of force?
  • What if you wrote like Kleist in the thing on the puppet theater—in the crack between exposition and fictional description? But this would mean a deeper investment and inhabitation in a single, perhaps representative crack. I think this is approached in the section in which Baudelaire and Nancy lead you to the problematic of sonority and to the crack as both opening and the sound of the opening. But here is where, perhaps, the rigidity of a certain distinction between crack as opening and crack as opening is, and ought to be, subject, itself, to rupture. I mean in a certain intellectual/methodological imperative to inhabit the crack, to enter the sound, to sound its vestibular depth, to investigate what Johnny Cash refers to, in and about his late work, as the tremolo when he talks. Of course, I mean to take into account the limits of the thesis as a form: its brevity and the imperatives of smoothness to which it must answer. These are suggestions for further investigation.
  • On the one hand, "The crack is perhaps just a reminder that the world is force, not form." On the other hand, the movement of the earth might be precisely that unseen force which disrupts the illusion of world-as-form. Poet Ed Roberson asks us (whether or not we will be able) to see the earth before the end of the world, before the anthropocentric construction we have built for ourselves, and which now we cannot live without, collapses under its own weight. To see theearth before theend othe world might be precisely to see our way out of that construction and into force, to live in force, to live physically, as it were, in a way that would precisely enact that combination of imagination and discipline you say is required in order "to take a less anthropocentric view" and "shift from experiencing tectonic movements as major disturbances to understanding that they are simply the Earth's way of finding a more comfortable position."
  • Crack. Fold. Stratification. Solicitation. Shimmer. How is it possible to accept this violence? You'd have to ask the people who accept it and who, moreover, refuse to accept the violence that attends the refusal to accept it. Another way to put it would be this: who doesn't want to feel the earth move? I mean the question both literally and, as it were, literally? Who are the ones who want not to feel that instability, the ones who, literally, don't want to live on earth? In what are they invested? What trace do they leave in their walking? What lines do their living leave?
  • What remains all but uncracked is the Euro-American façade. This is interesting, in a way. It is only seemingly that this surface remains smooth and complete. The world erupts into that brutal combination of enclosure and regulatory hygiene (because if the crack is, as you say, a function of unseen forces, the maintenance of its absence or of the illusion and desire for its absence, is done by entirely visible powers — who is it that tries to keep everything all smoothed out?). Sometimes the effects of unseen forces are themselves unseen but the question, then, concerns the motivation to look more closely, to move more slowly and then, more emphatically, to leave the illusorily smooth surface altogether. In this regard, Salcedo's work is of special importance to the project; it is both a culmination of the trajectory you describe and a critical reflection upon that trajectory. Through the crack, which symbolizes exclusion and rupture, and into that which, on the other hand, brings it's own irruptive force. Salcedo, in making negative space, perhaps makes it possible to enter and inhabit the opening as well as to embrace the disruptive force of opening that is exerted on subjects' erstwhile smoothness and completeness. The path from Salcedo's to your own practice makes sense, in this regard. To think art as the instantiation of an ethical relation to force, as opposed to form. But this implies negative space, or the space of negation, as the condition of possibility of an affirmation. In this regard, I would want to ask you to reconsider whether or not Salcedo's work is a result of force. Wouldn't such a question imply, finally, a willingness to increase one's dedication to the unseen? The crack that masquerades as a crack is displaced, in this regard, by the force that drives the viewer into that crack, in an inhabitation that ruptures it in the way that lives lived on and in the border disrupt and inscribe that inscription. As Salcedo says, the crack "represents borders, the experience of immigrants, the experience of segregation, the experience of racial hatred. It is the experience of a Third World person coming into the heart of Europe." Can the smooth First World façade you have produced in your particular gathering of artists be sustained. Perhaps the crack that you perceive as masquerade, and, therefore, as flaw, is precisely the one that can be said to move — if not toward perfection then toward a richer and more forceful understanding of earth and earthly inhabitation as force. Fred Moten