Nataniel Mackey - foundational noise
Valere Novarina - theatre - ludic nomadology of names that dissolves character into a fluidity...
Melvin Tolson - bifacial multi-phasic poet
Kateb Yacine - multiple life-long text
Don Byrd - leads us through the "mesocosm - the dense locale of the common, that is absorbed by the exaggeration of symbolism, on the one hand, and by mere biology, on the other.
Leslie Scalapino - reading ... so slow ... no content ... motion is a thing in itself
Edouard Glissant - poetics of the diverse
Allen Fisher - investigation into all our knowledges - the great serial constructive derive...
Lynn Hejinian - border worker
Michel Deguy - hospitality
Abdelwahab Meddeb - allography
Muriel Rukeyser - life as necessarily political, as needing to be engaged at all levels
Nicole Brossard - quest for and conquest of meaning
Charles Berstein- invention is not a choice
Nicole Peyrafitte - wild metonymic grammar of desire - no fictional single static point
John Cayley - Indra's Net - cyberpoetics
Anselm Hollo - writing nomadically in a language that is not his mother-tongue
"All language is found -- or given. Language does not belong to us. One does not own language or does not create language, one is invited into it."Tue, 03 Aug 2004
In the spring I reported on my reading of Umberto Eco's Serendipities, in particular the search or restoration of the "the language of Adam" - the mother tongue. Now I'm reading Pierre Joris' A Nomad Poetics, which I came across in the philosophy/critical theory section of the Santa Cruz Bookshop last Saturday while in California. PJ goes in the opposite direction: "There is no mother tongue ... nor any linguistic universals, only a throng of dialects ... Language is an essentially heterogeneous reality" - citing Deleuze and Guattari.
A Nomad Poetics is a collection of essays from 1990 to 2002. The essays relate to my B/E, Poet's Apprentice and Differentities work: In a dictionary "the end of every definition leads out of the dictionary into the old uncanny other lives of the word, showing even the most familiar word to be a changeling, a mutation, a creature from some black lagoon.
My Differentities centers on the "black lagoon," creating a web of identities and differences of words, ideas and concepts leading to a poiesis (i.e., process of creation) in which everything moves and is connected in a network of Differentities.
"The days of anything static, form, content, state are over. The past century has shown that anything not involved in continuous transformation hardens and dies. ... There is no at-home-ness here but only an ever more displaced drifting."
"1) that language has always to do with the other, in fact, for the writer IS the other."
"2) that there is no single other, there are only a multitude of them --- plurality; even multitudes of different multitudes --- hetero-pluralities."
"3) ... writing as nomadic practice --- on the move from one other to another other."
"[3a: the critic/theorist: the dog that barks as the caravan passes]"
"4) ... a between-ness as essential nomadic condition, thus always a moving forward, a reaching, a tending. (I hear the need for both tension and tenderness). and an absence of rest, always a becoming, a line-of-flight [as against Being, which is always a being-toward-death, stillness]."
My Differentities foregrounds the between-ness - the links or trails from one camp (a definition is a temporary resting place) to another.
In my first attempt at Differentities, via the Poet's Apprentice program in the early 80s, where I replaced words in tests with only words deriving from Old English or Germanic, a computer science professor commented it sounded fascist or like a Nazi program. He was accurately pointing out tendencies in the original Old English focused version (tending to the language of Adam) - although he missed the overall goal: poiesis - the curiosity to see/hear where it leads. Now, 20 years later, as the Poet's Apprentice has developed into Differentities, the focus is clear - to play in the muck of the black lagoon of the origins and emergence of sounds, syllables, syntax and semantics.
... or, as Pierre Joris puts it, "... total miscegenation is the only goal we believe in. Purity is the root of all evil."
Or, citing Nathaniel Mackey's Discrepant Engagement: "... in the interest of opening presumably closed orders of identify and signification, accent fissure, fracture, incongruity, the rickety, imperfect fit between word and world - the creaking of the word - the noise upon which the word is based, the discrepant foundation of all coherence and articulation."
"For me poetry is the highest probability of desire and thought synchronized in a meaningful voice." - Nicole BrossardMon, 02 Aug 2004
Recently, Flavia spent 10 weeks in Chile - mid-March through May - helping her step-father recover from hip-replacement surgery. I worked from Sun's Santiago office for 3 weeks in the middle of that period so we didn't have to spend so much time apart.
Flavia returned to the states the first week of June. The rest of the month was very pleasant with mild temperatures, afternoon thunderstorms, the farmer's market, the Utah Arts Festival, the SL Jazz Festival and working on our yard and enjoying reading and having dinners on our porch.
Then, on Sunday, July 18, after a drive in the mountains, she got a call from her brother, their father had died. Her cry was long and deep. The next afternoon Flavia was on a flight to Chile, arriving the following day and going straight to the funeral.
She is still in Santiago now, helping her mom adjust to a life without her partner of 40+ years. Here is Flavia with her mom and dad last April and May:
Death, a confrontation with the unknown - with the past, present and future - with your small place in the universe. I feel myself rushing back and forth within a seemingly irreconcilable set of imperative: poetry, music, science and technology, nature - each demanding a total commitment I can only cycle through.
Reading scientific articles one is reassured of the exact deliberations enacted to obtain and exercise knowledge. But the messy details of life are hidden in the background. That's where poetry comes in - revealing false starts, confusions, desperation - a beating heart.
Paraphrasing Fanny Howe's The Wedding Dress: written science foregrounds narrative movements around courage, discipline, conquest and fame. Whereas poetry can be open to the whole of life, with multiple "I"'s, where error, errancy and bewilderment are the main force that signal a story. In place of conquest we have weakness, fluidity, concealment and solitude in a kind of dream world. In dreaming, there is a dimension of plot, but with a greater consciousness of randomness and uncertainty - in other words, like life, at least the way I have lived my life.
So, what has this got to do with death? Once again, Fanny Howe: "God's mercy can often seem too close to neutrality for comfort." Or, the materialist-skeptical me (the scientist) trying to coexist with the invisible-faithful me (the poet). Or, letting go, making music - sound without words - or hiking the hills in a perpetual now. The spiral of my life.
The trouble with writing about bewilderment is that it puts order into chaos - "language fails to deal with confusion."
"The whirling that is central to bewilderment is the natural way for the lyric poet. A dissolving of particularities into one solid braid of sound. Particularities crushed and compacted and redesigned to produce a perplexing music."
I'm quarreling with myself - searching for something that cannot be found. Long live the multiple!
Death is coming, so why bother? Be a curious moving being or die sooner rather than later.
So I guess I'm a "thinkerer" (Pierre Joris' word), tinkering with words, sounds, structures. Perhaps easily led astray, but persistent, always thinkering.
Despite the raving of some postmodern thought, there is a reality independent of me or you. However, for us, "reality is not simply there, it must be searched for and won" (Paul Celan). (Note the male conquest viz-a-viz Howe's bewilderment.)
"Poetry as a meeting place for all kinds of imagination" (Muriel Rukeyser). (Note the female emphasis on community.)
When you're down or confused "is it depression or justifiable despair? Is it personal anxiety or social outrage?" (Fanny Howe). "I lived in the first century of world wars. Most mornings I would be more or less insane." (Muriel Rukeyser).
"Poets create language. Writers of prose use language." (Aime Cesaire).
"... that moment when it is our body/mind that speaks and not that of our progenitors." (Pierre Joris).
So, here it is, all laid out in front of us, surrounding us, immersing us. "We stand in relationship with all the components of the universe, as well as with the hereafter and with antiquity. Which relationships we will cultivate, which for us is preeminently important, and which should be realized, depend only upon the course and duration of our watchfulness." (Novalis). (Note the male determinism. How about stumbling?)