Earth, Milky Way: punctum books, 2022. 150 pages. ISBN-13: 978-1-68571-060-6. DOI: 10.53288/0382.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $21.00 in print: paperbound/5 X 8 in.

Pages might lead one to the next but Cascella’s directionality is resolutely circular. She turns and returns. She takes teratological turns being initial (D.C.), electrical (direct current), compositional (da capo), plural (“something more and something else”), and dead (“not-nonfiction”). All in service of mounting a compelling argument against arguments (“the intention of having no intention”), eschewing conclusions and embracing contradictions instead. Swaying the reader into expanded notions of criticism and poetics, Cascella chimes in with a call to all: the act of writing does not call for words, it is a listening position. She dispenses with creative writing in favour of creative reading, creative listening. Forget the words on the page for a second, take time, let ears swell—a “hearing-in-reading.” Let the reading frighten you, entangle you, cause you to faint. The ensuing writing is always all ways, including impasse—syncopes welcome. From passages of arresting pellucidity to abstruse, but productive, microcontrapuntal puns (csite), Nothing As We Need It is a feint tour de faint force.

~ Christof Migone, author of Sonic Somatic: Performances of the Unsound Body

Daniela Cascella’s chimeric writing, via imaginary conversations, questionnaires, and glosses of beloved writers, takes language to the limit of yearning and the “mad impure” (as Calasso puts it). A full void, it reverberates between words and whatever lies beyond them.

~ Jessica Sequeira, author of A Luminous History of the Palm

Nothing As We Need It: A Chimera

Nothing As We Need It: A Chimera imagines and writes a composite and impure form of criticism that embodies the writing of research as recursive, entangled, and many-voiced.

Shaped by encounters with literature not translated in English, by the polyphonies, artifices, and concealments of a bilingual self, and by the sense of speechlessness and haunting when writing works that cannot be instantly quoted, this book’s subtitle derives from the mythological Chimera: a monstrous creature made of three different parts, impossible in theory but real in the imagination and in the reading of the myth. Similarly, the book is written in different styles, some of which may seem impossible, monstrous, and disturbing. It manifests critical writing as enmeshment and conversation with its subject matters; favours impurity rather than detachment; and embraces exaggeration, repetition, laughter, and self-parody as legitimate forms of knowledge. Yet a chimera also designates the object of a yearning deemed unattainable: this book exists in the space of such yearning, in the tension between words and what exceeds them and their overtones. The critic is exhausted by yearning, rather than the owner of exhaustive knowledge.

A Menippean satire for critical writing, Nothing As We Need It sustains its argument for composite and impure writing in its form. It demands ways of reading equally varied and wildly imaginative. Listening to literature beyond the limits of textual analysis, it dismisses the visual implications of reflection, which assumes detachment and polished surfaces, in favor of an aural method of resonance, allowing enmeshment and interference. This book unsettles language, welcomes uninhibited exaggeration and wordplay, and manifests possibilities for working with citation beyond the boundaries of inverted commas.

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