“If the fragment is truly broken (frangere), it cannot, it seems, be thought of in terms of a part (portio), for the part, as part of a whole, would deny that which is broken its broken nature, its different status, by relating it always to the former (whole). The fragment…must be thought of apart from a part, and therefore as wholly distinct from the whole (of which the part is a part) as well.” (Dan Mellamphy, ‘Fragmentality,’ 1998)
“Contemporary poets use all three modes of fragment, sometimes all at once. First, the fragment can illicit a response or echo what is lost or missing. Secondly, fragments can respond to fractures of experience between an individual’s lived daily life and the way media creates experience at a distance. Finally, the individual lyric sometimes fractures because of the way perception itself has been impacted in the information era. So rarely does one “recollect in tranquility;” rather one is always already in the perceptual and linguistic moment in the eternal present perfect tense.” (Kazim Ali, ‘The ‘Tradition’ of the Fragment,’ 2019)
“Appreciation of fragments and fragmentation can be traced back to early German Romanticism, when the fragment was determined as the central philosophical notion, both as concept and idea of form, through the expression of a philosophical limit and its overcoming. To the extent that the Romantic idea of the fragment has developed from a general fascination with ruins, it is also deeply linked to its origin via the cultural appreciation of archaeology, architecture, and ancient cultures. … The Romantic fragment can be seen as an artistic solution to a philosophical problem, and the problem of the presentation of the unpresentable.
The contemporary concept of fragments and fragmentation diverges from romantic ideas of fractions, cracks, separated and broken pieces, ruins, regret for the past, and it conceptualizes the idea of incompleteness as the essential potentiality of form, imagination, and contingency, where the fragment is determinate, projected, and conscious intention to leave things, concepts and forms open to new interpretations and readings.
This view sees and interprets the fragment, although essentially unfinished and incomplete, as a well-rounded form and not its part or residue – If a broken piece (part) did not qualify as a fragment, it nevertheless offered great potential if its accidental or involuntary character could be transfigured into a determinate and deliberate statement of fragmentation. The fragment in its full sense is the idea of something complete in itself and yet essentially incomplete. It is a self-sufficient form that requires infinite work on eliminating its incompleteness – which is precisely why the fragment is the idea of presenting the unpresentable, it is essentially ambivalent and paradoxical. Complete in its incompleteness, the fragment indicates the plurality of potentials – Each fragment stands for itself, as well as for the whole from which it is detached.” (Mojsilović & Milenković, ‘The Concept of Fragmentation,’ 2018)
These were meant to be in a series I posted yesterday as a tangential illustration of “fragmentality,” a concept I’m casually reading about on a bunny trail from a paper on “urban fragments.” Instagram took this idea a little too seriously and somehow decided to replace these uploads with four extra copies of the same photo. No idea how that was technically possible; also not at all surprised. When you’re around A/V as much as I am, Mercury is in retrograde all the the time. That’s the paradox of modern life: the more you use technology, the more re-enchanted this universe becomes. Good work insta-gremlins, you’ve understood the assignment.