Preamble.—Writing, by its nature, is public. The written word is meant to be communicated. If a message is secret, one risks revealing it by writing it down. Style, on the other hand, is a private affair often intelligible only to an exclusive community. Style is the secret component that hides within every text. It can be shared amongst kindred spirits. Sometimes these affiliations will be explicit, such as when Arthur Rimbaud designated Charles Baudelaire as the first seer and true poet. Other times they will be only implicit, as in the case of the subterranean paths we navigated when relating Sia to the thought of Rimbaud, Gilles Deleuze, and Félix Guattari. Hyphology is the study of these two aspects of style. In other words, we practice the alchemy of the word by turning silences into words and secrets into styles.
The Fundamental Task.—Originally, this project was focused on the hyphological analysis of culture, politics, philosophy, and so on. The goal was to situate dormant or emerging styles within comprehensible contexts. Historical traditions (e.g. the Canon in general, modernism, etc.) and authorial declaration were inadequate models for mapping invisible trends. While hyphological analysis is still essential to this project, attention to one particular invisible trend has been privileged. A new way of thinking was discovered since the inception of Hyphology. It challenges the crude binaries of traditional metaphysics and suggests a revolutionary model based on the derangement of the senses; it is known as radical disavowal. The disavowalist style demands the flexibility and nuance of hyphology. More than a style, disavowal is a politico-metaphysical project, historical analysis, cultural critique, blueprint for everyday life, and even a diet at times. Rimbaud championed Baudelaire as the first seer and poet because of Flowers of Evil. We take Baudelaire to be the first, veritable disavowalist because of his prose poem, “Be Drunk!” Unraveling the networks and veils spun out of that brief poem is the fundamental task of the Hyphology project today.
Method.—The manifold manifestations of the Hyphology project will follow a tentative methodology that can only be called para-academic. While many academic facets and figures are incorporated here, they are often appropriated abnormally and contrary to standard academic practices. Thus, the para-academic style of this project is meant to be near to, but also contrary to academia, which is precisely what we mean when we use the para- prefix. Our proximity to academia is defined by our position alongside of it, rather than against it. Para- can also mean altered or abnormal. The Hyphology project displays both of these aspects proudly. In our “altered” analysis, we follow Emmanuel Levinas’ redefinition of alterity as something that consistently penetrates us. Although he began Totality and Infinity with a line from Rimbaud, we cannot say that we will be forever faithful to Levinas. After all, his claim that “alterity is possible only starting from me” betrays the fundamental insight of the seer: “I is someone else” (Je est un autre). Similarly, our “abnormal” analysis shares a valence with the profound insights of Edmund Husserl, who articulates the transcendental features of becoming-other. That he relates this process to becoming-animal and drug experiences in Cartesian Meditations and Ideas II, respectively, overjoys us immensely. However, those ground-breaking studies in abnormality do not forgive a phenomenologist with as much intuition as a peanut. Like our precarious relations to Levinas and Husserl, the Hyphology project will contain a volatile mixture of miniature phenomenologies, structural analyses, existential wanderings, and imaginary manifestos in order to articulate the disavowalist style.
Origin.—The title of our project derives from a passage in Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text: “Text means Tissue; but whereas hitherto we have always taken this tissue as a product, a ready-made veil, behind which lies, more or less hidden, meaning (truth), we are now emphasizing, in the tissue, the generative idea that the text is made, is worked out in a perpetual interweaving; lost in this tissue―this texture―the subject unmakes himself, like a spider dissolving in the constructive secretions of its web. Were we fond of neologisms, we might define the theory of the text as an hyphology (hyphos is the tissue and the spider’s web).”