The cover to variously, not then shows the slice of a map near Baqubah, Iraq. Criss crossing borders, dots with names of places, and then there is a fold in the map, which counters the red, oil pipeline. The map is only two inches squared and is pasted as a layer, as if what we would see through a peephole, reminding us all maps are an excerpt. The rest of the cover is a dark blue, what I at first mistook for black, with the faint edges of graph paper. Brush strokes for mountain ranges in a deep brown occupy the bottom edge of the front and back.
What news is being translated in to Travis Ortiz’s suspended abstraction? The book that ensues is like narrating a video game too closely based on the confounding actions and motivations behind the recent wars the US military has been fighting. “That was the view. A second hand experience, accompanied by the voice-over. One has viewed but through voice. And yet, this, too, is more complicated than simple reporting.” But what IS simple reporting? Ortiz’s variously, not then reads as the opposite to condensing a story. It’s the atmosphere of what the story misses. It forms a revolt against the notion of a report. This text stands in contrast to Félix Fénéon’s recently translated in to English Novels in Three Lines, the column of terse crimes, tragic deaths and other stark violences that were published in Le Matin, the French newspaper in 1906.
“Life acquires reality and so limits the narrative.” What is the landscape of persistent code or restraint? The word narrative is the tow in the cold water; so the test is a detachment that doesn’t proceed. “But manipulating a very slim theme produces many variations.” The attempt to abstract the thing being seen or heard, the news of how the war is being fought, the facts that the reasons for the war were false, only the return, the losses, the injured are real. What is a cliffhanger–Where are we? What is this about? Who wrote this press release?
“Again it’s the acceleration.” Opens a dense justified paragraph. The layout speaks. Opposite each dense paragraph are large words, cut off even from completing themselves, selections of the text to the right, as if the abstractions were future English and need distillations, reverberations. “The world is sound.”
“Disclosure is the test for narrative/see the source/ words forced and defining” The conflict is not presuming information when living in a deprivation of facts. Agency is amiss in understatement. There is no pretending the narrator knows, which performs a replication of inaccessibility. The droid effect of the single image. The bodies, rarely mentioned, lurk, doused in PTSD.
“Yes, things begin to echo” but the text is built so it can stretch, be a template, something to redistribute to another projection. Searchable pat downs to what flattens when visual. Travis’ entrances are important but always encrypted in the layout’s interpretative dance. “Losses were hard to substantiate openly.” “The reenactment experience” is “Taking a stab at loss.”