free pdf of MY COMMON HEART , published by Spooky Girlfriend Press, Fall 2011
1. A Transparent Account
It is maybe only necessary to use transparent methods of accounting if it is necessary to have accounting, and it is only necessary to have accounting in the service of a profitable outcome. To account in the service of profit is to assume, generally, the desirability of profit.
The individual doing the accounting is, like who or what she serves, also assumed to be in the service of profit, as profit is assumed to be desirable, and if she is in the service of profit, it is to be assumed that what she wants to do, and what she would do if there were no transparency, is profit. That is, she must keep a transparent account because without this she would steal.
To steal would be both her natural desire (to profit) and the only method of profit outside of the institutional will.
That she keeps a transparent account is always first in some service, then, of a larger body or an institution. If she keeps a transparent account, she may or should profit in another way: to benefit, as a reward for service, from the profitability of the institution, and benefit, likewise, from behaving as a small institution herself.
She is accounting transparently because there is a larger force which claims to know her heart: it assumes her heart is naturally a heart desiring profit, a heart which reflects (in miniature) the fundamental desire of the institution, too.
Perhaps this is her heart or perhaps she has been convinced to keep a clear and open record will be to be her benefit. Or, if she is not convinced this is to her benefit, she has been convinced she has no choice but to act in accord. She has been convinced that this is what one does when one has “nothing to hide.”
What this is, in fact, is not “nothing to hide”: it is “something to show” — a performance, for an audience of power, that her desires are in accord with the desires of those who have power, that she would as naturally desire profit as to steal it, and thus reinforce the “naturalness” of their desires.
The accounting here has only a little to do with financial record books. It could also be a kind of transparency required, by convention, among humans in human relationships like children to their parents, of a husband to his wife. It could be the transparent account of oneself and one’s life required by those service jobs — so many — which require of their workers “the best intentions” and an “open heart.” It could also be an “transparent account” that is sometimes literature.
That she who has been asked to keep the books might refuse to offer a transparent account often means, to the institution, that she has stolen something. If the books are muddled, confused, lost, damaged, inconsistent or otherwise opaque, she has provided a suspect record –she is caught.
She has probably stolen. Or maybe not. But it is to be assumed that she has, for the proof of her bad deed is in the opaqueness, and the heart’s alignment with the one desire is, by everyone, understood. And maybe she has. To steal, in this situation, is not to behave aberrantly: it is to behave as a natural extension and reinforcement of a desire that everyone knows is the real one. To steal is a problem insofar as it does not work to further the profit of the institution, or it keeps the thief from the expected reward of her (more moderate) share of profit, but it’s okay as it works to further naturalize the idea of profit itself, and also to reinforce the necessity of a transparent account.
It’s probably a requirement of the idea of the “transparent account” that someone should steal, once in a while, as a kind of ritualized reaffirmation of the desirability of profit. It is like how marriage as an institution requires adultery, or non-fiction requires liars, or how families require that children will sometimes run away.
But there is a greater refusal beyond theft, for mere embezzlement is less like refusal and more like playing the game but miscalculating the odds. This greater refusal is the refusal of accounting or of transparency altogether.
Maybe the person has thought about accounting, and thought about how it gives the wrong forms to desire insofar as the very act of it is to give sanction or reinforcement to only certain desires. And what, this person asks, about how a transparent accounting is not actually anything like veracity, how veracity includes conspiracy, corners, shadows, under-the-beds?
She might just prefer not to — to be neither bookkeeper or embezzler finally.
Desire with an audience becomes, like pornography, a thing which is primarily about the audience’s desires. There is, in fact, another desire: to keep one’s desire for one’s self and off the books.
3. The anybody reader of literature
This is a problem of literature: to know that to refuse a book-keeperly like transparency is to protect the heterodoxy of desire, but to know, also, that literature is “the new regime of writing in which the writer is anybody and the reader is anybody.”
Like the non-profit’s books, like the public’s records, a novel or poem or blogpost is just left there, open, as if its openness, its transparency — the “anybodiness” of its reader — is anything like the truth. I am maybe a cabalist (Fourier: “as divine as it is infernal”) here, thinking that there may be no more truthfulness than a whisper of conspiracy –
but what lengths a writer must go to bring the verity of conspiring talk or un-public intimacies to an open book.