A Science of Garlands



I am currently working on the first fascicle of a book, called A Science of Garlands, that will consist in several sequences of intertwined glosses on disparate root texts. 


The branch of philosophy to which this book belongs came into being during the course of an experiment conducted late on the night of 7 March 1931. The test subject⁠ was Walter Benjamin, the greatest literary critic of the modern age; his cousin Egon Wissing, whose training was in medicine, took notes. Administered first a capsule of hashish and then an injection of eucodal, Benjamin discovered that his left arm, which he proceeded to hold up straight in the air for more than an hour, had been transformed into an ‘insight tower’—a device for the transmission of linguistic images. He contemplated flowing waves of vegetable form, heraldic emblems mirroring each other in infinite series of ‘displaced correspondence’, a mysterious apparatus for making seeds ripen in the field. Wissing, called away from the test site for a time to help a patient in another apartment, missed some crucial minutes of the experiment; and although the notes he did manage to take are exquisite, they are also in several places notably telegraphic. Still, they leave no doubt that the experimenters recognized that what Benjamin was receiving through the antenna of his upright arm was not a mere stream of remarkable images but the first, foundational discoveries of a hitherto unsuspected field of knowledge. Nor did they fail to record for us its name. ‘There was talk’, we read, ‘of a Science of Garlands⁠’.