Cardinal Numbers: Stories by Hob Broun

By Hob Broun

From the writer of internal Tube and Odditorium, a booklet of strikingly unique, convention-defying brief stories

Cardinal Numbers is a posthumous choice of brilliantly enigmatic brief fiction by means of Hob Broun, written by means of a respirator whilst the writer was once paralyzed from the neck down. Witty and entire of minimalist shock, those tales flirt with fragment, fabulism, and college. In “Rosella, in Stages,” an outdated woman’s event is movingly charted in the course of the voice of her writing in six diverse lifestyles stages—and in six pages, no much less. “Highspeed Linear major Street,” a standout story and an inventive credo of varieties, facilities on a photographer’s fixation on road lifestyles, whereas the surreal “Finding Florida” encompasses a Che Guevara who turns into struck with eager for a librarian and gets a few unwelcome information from a fortune teller.

Powerfully felt in addition to mordantly humorous, Cardinal Numbers is a freshly singular contribution to the yank brief tale.

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It neglects the non-intentional dimension to consciousness as ‘durée revenue de toute intention – elle n’est pas acte mais passivité pure’ (AT, p. 41). This is consciousness as ‘lapse’ (laps) as instanced in the ageing process; temporality as a process of elapsing which cannot 38 N A R R AT I V E A N D A LT E R I T Y be frozen into a frame and escapes (evades) all possibility of representation. Levinas gives an account of this non-intentional consciousness which is also precisely a description of the movement of excendance itself: Duration as pure duration, as non-intervention, as being-as-insistence, as being-on-the-tip-of-one’s-toes [comme être-sur-la-pointe-des-pieds], as being without daring to be; instance of the instant without insistence of the I and already a lapse, which ‘leaves as it enters’ [instance de l’instant sans l’insistance du moi et déjà laps, qui ‘sort en entrant’]!

58) There seem to me to be at least two important differences between the emphases in this passage and those that are most common elsewhere in Levinas’s work. First, here Levinas suggests that the primary experience of exteriority is affective. This, of course, is of a piece with his emphasis on the priority of pre-reflective consciousness. Here, however, it is affective experience and not the breakdown of the movement of cognition that appears to be the key to the ethical encounter itself. It is in the affections that I experience the world in its strange, unforeseeable singularity.

What is ethical, here, is precisely the extent to which narrative is put into question as a kind of ‘frame of knowledge’ whose conditions are separation, distanciation, structures of opposition. It seems possible to re-imagine narrative in terms of constitutive ambivalences, exchanges and substitutions. An entity deemed to be identical with itself no longer holds the other at bay, at a ‘knowing’ or scrutinizing distance. It rather enters into composition with, is invaded by or questioned in relation to this other.

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