MOTS SLOW Fast(e)
Still printed in limited edition (360 ex) in silk screen printing and offset, bilingual (FR/UK), this last issue of Mots with the theme of Fast(e), is inspired by the format of a calendar after The Fasti of Ovid. Different contributors are being invited: an international panel of specialists in literature, linguistics, molecular biology, writers and artists:
Contributors from the Sciences:
1. Leila Anvar. Born in 1967 in Tehran, is a recognized specialist in Persian literature, journalist, translator and French producer. FR.
2. Dominique Brancher, professor of literature at the University of Basel, studies the connections between literature and knowledge at the Renaissance. CH.
3. Emmanuel Fort. Professor at ESPCI (Institut Langevin. « Gouttes, ondes et renversement du temps ». FR.
4. Marian Hobson. Emerita Professor of French, Queen Mary University of London. UK.
5. Jean-Yves Jouannais. Art critic and French author. “Lecturer at Beaubourg: L’Encyclopédie des guerres.” FR.
6. Jean Khalfa specialises in the history of philosophy, modern literature (in particular contemporary poetry and writing in French from North Africa and the Caribbean), aesthetics and anthropology. FR.
7. Lorenza Mondada’s research deals with the grammatical and multimodal practices and resources mobilized by participants in interaction. CH.
Contributors from the Arts:
1. Abdelkader Benchamma
2. Zabo Chabiland
3. Antoine D’Agata
4. Guillaume Delleuse
6. Saskia Edens
7. Esther Ferrer
8. Morena Fortino
9. Jérôme Karsenti
10. Levan Manjavidze
11. Anders Modig
12. Mu Pan
13. Anne-Sophie Tritschler
Translated by Wendy Giardina
Graphic Design by Anne-Sophie Tritschler
THE 2018 THEME: FAST(E)
As I sense you are reaching, preparing for one direction,
I propose the other, with all possible efforts
to enlighten your judgment, and not to constraint it;
it is God who holds your opinions in his hands and
gives you permission to choose.
(Montaigne, Les Essais, III, 11 “Des boiteux”)
Genuine material in fusion and in transformation, each new issue of Mots Slow differs from its predecessor in the original ways of addressing of a specific theme. In 2014, “Which of the two of us most resembles the other?” questioned the mimetic relationship between scientific and artistic discourse when one reflects the other. The 2015 issue was devoted to serendipity, showing how the process of an emerging idea, taken as a manifestation of chance and randomness, can operate in a similar manner for both the artist and the scientist. Issue number 3, titled “Up & Down”, explored space as it is subject to the natural forces of gravity while trying to defy it. As to issue number 4, “Missterious”, it covered the stakes of an emotional typography, where a letter, added or omitted, had the power to transform existence.
A larger question runs though all the issues: Does the language of scientists allow us to fix reality as an immutable reference? And does the language of artists, imaginary and dynamic representation, prevent us from settling on a fixed reality? Or, rather, shouldn’t we deconstruct these facile divisions?
Mots#5: A Chronotope
The 2018 edition, “Fast(e)”, have a reflective dimension in that the theme is in contradiction with the very name of the magazine, Mots Slow. At its origin, the ambigram sought to amusingly situate the project into the philosophy of slowing down, as only one issue was planned for each year, nevertheless seeking to be well thought out and refined down to the smallest details. Yet if the maturation of an issue is slow, other rhythms accelerate, superimpose themselves: graphic conception and printing unfolds rapidly within a few weeks. This period, charged with emotion, imposes rapid decision-making. It is with this sustained tempo that the coming edition of Mots is contending, weaving a connection to the Book of Fasti of Ovid, the poetic calendar composed to commemorate the Roman feast days. A genuine chronotope placing time in space, it indicates the favourable days for all public enterprises (legal proceedings, wars, religious sacrifices, launching of a magazine) and private ones (commercial negotiations, marriages, putting the full stop in a magazine article). The days do not all have the same judicial status; they are marked with obligations and interdictions (feast days – fasti dies – from the Latin fas, permission of the Gods ; and néfastes (French), inauspicious, days forbidden by the Gods, in other words, of bad omen). Before the creation of the Julian calendar, in 46 AD, it is the Pontifex Maximus (high priest) who was tasked with establishing the calendar (from calare, proclaim) assigning the inauspicious days, for example the Nones (5th or 7th day of the month) and the day following. Nones, impracticable days, in Latin Nonis, comes from non is, « do not go ».
Time is subject to human dictates and constant metamorphosis as Ovid, master of the topic, was aware, and its value and duration is fully relative to how it is segmented. Originally Romulus’ Calendar (- 400 BC) comprised 9 months, modelled after the term of human gestation to birth. And Montaigne wrote, ironically: “Pope Gregory XIII, noticing that a faulty calculation of eleven minutes had produced an extra ten days, subtracted these ten days from the year 1582; so that instead of the 5th of October that year, counting recommenced at day 15”. Governed by such a pontifical editor, the timing for the magazine is also fully malleable.
Timing of MOTS
- A total of 360 issues of Mots are planned to be published.
- The magazine will be published yearly on a specific date, minus one day from the prior year.
- Each edition will have 365 copies published, minus one from the prior year. There were 365 copies of the first edition published in 2013. In 2014 there were 364 copies, in 2015 - 363 copies, in 2018 there will be 360 copies.
At the end of the cycle only one single copy will be published, and the magazine will become a daily, after having been punctually issued on a specific date over the centuries, as half-yearly, quarterly, monthly and a weekly magazine.
365 years will be needed to be able to fully live one single day. To live a full 24 hours, one needs to divide 24 by 365 x (365x24) = 3197400 hours. In one hour, one only fully lives 0,0000075th of an hour. Therefore in order to fully live one hour, you have to accumulate 15 years. Let us mark these distortions of time with articles, paintings and photographs to punctuate the cycle.
This mathematical formula calculates the publication date of the magazine in x years, however a refinement is needed to allow for leap years.
The release of the magazine will thus be accomplished in 2376, with its single copy, devoted to the theme: “I’m not like you – Me too”. It will be in the format of a mirrored contact lens, posed on the eye and permitting introspection.
Why subtract “one thing” from “something”, one day from one year? The earth, before the impact of an asteroid tore off a chunk to become the moon, was heavier and slower. It used to take 366 days to orbit the sun. If it had been one less, we would not have had the moon. The moon is a day floating in the air, born of the acceleration of the earth. Let’s take on the experience, preview of Pontifex Maximus’ fancy. Let us transform number 5 of the magazine into a fastuous calendar of 360 days, at 360°, with some days faster than others. Will the readers be affected? Will the force of Mots win over the opinion of Montaigne, who made the following comment about the changing of the calendar: “Two or three years ago they shortened the year in France by ten days. How many changes had to follow this reform! It was virtually moving heaven and earth at once: yet despite this, nothing moved from its place; my neighbors find the hour for sowing and harvest, the opportune moment for their business, the inauspicious and auspicioius days, the same as always: neither the error nor the amendment were felt: There is so much uncertainty everywhere!”
Just as the Romans marked the auspicious days white (with chalk) and the inauspicious days black (with coal), whence comes the French expression “marquer ce jour d’une pierre blanche” (“mark the day with a white stone”) – let us create together a checkerboard where we scribble between the lines, where words would be slag heaps and the medium for expression a cliff of chalk. Let’s trigger the future contraction of the centuries in one year. In 2376, the people reading the magazine will live a moment of déjà vu (already read, already painted)! It takes time to be everyday, marrying the convolutions of time, interlocking one with the other.
Take your time for feasting and celebration, as according to the logic of the Pontifex editor of Mots, one will never live more than 10 hours fully (for an 80-year life expectancy). It is much longer than the mayfly, who can hope for 30 minutes to just a few hours, and who mates in full flight in order not to waste any time. It is perhaps for this reason that humans often make love on the horizontal, to be closer to the slab. One never knows. Take time to be festive, live sumptuously, because luxury is to have a calendar to oneself. In this way we come to understand the complex etymology of the French word “faste”, referring to the days of feasting, when the divine will permits rendering justice (from fas), extending to fastuousness, magnificence and luxury (from fastus, haughty, showy, arrogant).