Céline Minard: Flickers (Plasmas)

Ithe problem is around the words; I imagine precise biotechnological devices, a kind of implants or grafts guiding them, forcing them to branch out clearly into an unusual field, multiply there, organize themselves there, unfold there – in the manner of a “myxomycete plasmodium” .

All within a language that moves, descriptive and technical, sensorial and erudite, sometimes neological, but with contours that are often blurred; flexible, brilliant, sometimes allusive sentences, with an implied and sketchy background; we see it behind the moving forms, made obvious while it is its mystery that is clear; the crooked sentences diverting the reader’s head at the exact moment when the decoration is missing – we are in a mental overproduction, that is, with no other means than editing piece by piece, word by word, of a universe where all changed ; the narrator always knows much more than the reader, he is part of the world he reads, he writes serenely from this world that has changed and that does not escape him – time too, to explain what happened; ten autonomous sections of about fifteen pages each, composing the exploded portrait of a radically different way of life and thought; no grand narratives, no detailed descriptions of future environments and societies; often a close-up opening an object or pronoun—semi-masked sequences; then a paragraph reveals the first name, the character, the entity, and the story recedes, gains momentum, gradually clarifies from these first tracks. Where then, often, an almost intimate adventure takes shape in a post-human, technological, animal and plant multi-species and multi-gender universe, with widespread hybridization; a great game of metamorphoses, long after the extinction of the known world; no catastrophism; operating in the gray areas of a sophisticated neo-environment of social control. In sentences that contract, lengthen, branch, curl, change very slightly before reaching the end. Point after point. Reminiscences of readings reinvented in this way, successive, moving in the same continuous glow, a set of scintillations – which would essentially come from bioluminescence, even phosphenes or entoptic phenomena – strangely surrounding each sequence, of which the following reduction in ten sentences does not give color, blur, haze, graphic stripes in each area, let’s say.

1. Multiple sensory captures of specific human skills during a trapeze performance in front of a non-human audience. 2. Dreamy manipulation of animated files in 3D snow globes of Earth, Mars, Moon, final cognitive material after its disappearance. 3. Manual excavation, under a garage, of an aluminum monolith of space and the future. 4. Last days of a rich collector of butterflies, of which an extremely rare species, a personal memory concentrate, dies definitively, even disappears from his collection. 5. Post-atomic breeding of mutant miniature horses on a farm in Siberia, until the genetic accident. 6. First linguistic contact of an independent researcher with the great apes she observes, until their definitive assimilation by the group, their transformation. 7. A magical day for a child learning in a virtual marine park, a hybrid botanical greenhouse, an unreal forest. 8. Zoological, cognitive and mythological study of a post-animal entity, in symbiosis with the tree in which it lives, its forest, its world. 9. A dizzying decision of an individual from a post-human marine civilization, extremely embarrassed, to go up from the bottom of the sea to the surface, at the invitation of octopuses. 10. Becoming a hybrid creature’s prophet in a society on the brink of implosion, accompanied by the aim of a long-range rifle—the mental outline of your first speech takes on a versified form, which closes the book.

Everywhere fictional density is calm, luminous, fluid; changes in the narrative are constant. But the final break with the prose says enough where we are and what zone we are heading towards. After going through this mille-feuille of figures and names, motifs, bodies; words taken in turn in the hand like technical objects or microorganisms, with their brilliance; then again as words. Do we still talk about science fiction when they are outdated? No ; even less science fiction, disaster stories. Very oceanic stories – great forests, deep seas, great apes, great dogs. Something like a narrative bath of signs, recovered from a later. Is fiction soluble in this? Yea ; and there is no border. That’s why things don’t end badly here all the time. Everything doesn’t end.

Celine Minard, PlasmaRivages editions, August 2021, 160 p., €18
Read Christine Marcandier’s review here.

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