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This article is taken from PN Review 57, Volume 14 Number 1, September - October 1987.

Three Mis-readings of a Diaphanometer Raymond Tallis

Alone at last, we fall on the text: your weekly essay typed single spaced on A4. You expect a close reading, so we move together until our hair is almost touching and our odours intersolve. I ignore the icons ballooning through your blouse, those freely playing signifiers wrapped in nylon mist. There shall be nothing outside of the text.

Or not at least until you quote Ms Sontag: 'In place of a hermeneutics, we need an erotics of art.' You elaborate with enthusiastic approval. Your eyes glow and, as your lips lift the sentences from the page, I am invaded by the warm song those Sirens sang to spread seduction through the dark seafog, drawing so many heroes to shipwreck and the voiceless dark.

The impossible seems suddenly possible: the windowless noesis of my lust is noematic music in your heart. You turn to me, with your sweet, self-conscious smile, to reiterate a point. Another waft of perfume hits my sense. My ears unwax (mad hope their Cerumol) and moist, deluded hands attack the mist.


Another misreading.

Flushed and indignant, staid hermeneutics stands its classic ground.

'I misconstrued the music of your spheres,' my smirking explanation begins.

'Phallogocentric, patriarchal twerp . . !' Etc.

The autodiegetic hero, a pedagogue with burning cheeks and shame-dismasted parts, exits fast. Contemporary sirens sing not of Love but of the Law.

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