Monday, April 11, 2011

Information as Material, Theory as Practice

So, I've been thinking about some things. I am working on a series of pieces largely dealing with duration - with the experience of differing levels of (dis)interest and expenditure while forcing one's reader-self through longform, largely a-significant texts (think much of Beckett's work, Kenny Goldsmith's No. 111 2.7.92-10.20.96 Tan Lin's BLIPSOAK01, Jackson Mac Low, Bruce Andrews' longer works, etc). I was also talking to my therapist this morning about the (normative) dichotomy between 'emotion' and 'intellect' - how most people divide their experience or understanding into these two poles (cf. Nietzsche's romantic construct, opposing Dyonisus and Apollo) - this also seems to correlate to the Platonic oposition between information and material, and between theory and practice. This is one of the things I really like about the Toronto Research Group's work (the TRG being Steve McCaffery and bpNichol). In the introduction to the Collected Reports, wonderfully title Rational Geomancy, McCaffery outlines the project as fundamentally practical - that the work is about doing and exploring as a means to the end of explaining, or as explaining in action. Such processes are also intrinsic to the work of Susan Howe, Leslie Scalapino (who is sorely missed), Antonin Artaud, Gilles Deleuze, Felix Guattari, William Blake, Bruce Russell, and Cecil Taylor.
This conversation arose out of a discussion of "work". I seem to have a similar problem with my work as Paul Celan did with his - he thought of his poems as accessable, and could not understand those who didn't, inscribing a volume to his English translater Michael Hamberger "nicht hermetisch". Similarly I sent a copy of A Pelt to a relatively prominant NZ poet, who described it as "too intelectual" (aside -another writer explained this in the following terms:
"whenever someone in New Zealand describes your work as "too" something, what they mean is what they say, but without the "too"), just as a girl who had been in a creative writing class with me drunkenly lectured me at a party about how I should "stop thinking about things so much" and "not be afraid to just write what I feel". I consider that book to be pretty close to the traditional lyric, and primarily 'emotional' - very much a work in which 'feeling is first' - although not quite, as, at least to the reader, the word is first, as ink on paper. This is something that many people forget, and which I find myself unable to.
In this way I would find verse that reports the internal thoughts and feelings of the poet as "too intelectual": the poet would then be paying attention to, and thinking about, and carefully manipulating language as a code, as a means to an end, rather than as an object that is beautiful in and of itself.
All of this makes me think about information, and language, as existant prior to my engagement with them. Kenny G, riffing on Douglas Huebler: "The world is full of texts, more or less interesting; I do not wish to add any more". What we as writers do is intercept and alter the flows of desiring-production that are active in language, aggregating, manipulating, filtering, altering, deforming. This is probably why I'm more active on Facebook these days then I am here - it is the perfect medium for tapping this vein of hypersemiotic joissance: the divertion of links, sedementation of information, manipulation/appropriation/deformance of image and sound - something which my former flatmate, Matthew Ward, knows all about. He's got a show, "The Ghost / They can speak for themselves" coming up at None Gallery in Dunedin - if you're anywhere near there, you should check it out.