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.


* * * * said...

I don't really understand the term, 'hypersemionic joissance,' but I see our interconnection and this compelling but clearly not-real virtual world as a kind of 'hyper-realism,' Ross. Data is a kind of raw material, stimulus is the raw material of perception.
Theory as practice? I don't know, but it gives us a way to move forward.
That's all the pioneer ever needs.

Ross Brighton said...

Sorry, that's a typo! I'll have to fix it. It should be "hypersemiotic". Which kind of ties into something I'm working on regarding over- and under-coding in non-representational work, but that's still in early stages.

ALAN LONEY said...

yes, I understand your response to the term 'lyric' - but what if you (me, us etc) redefined the term, instead of attempting (no doubt vainly) to expunge it from the discussion (i.e. from our practice - my question has for some time been, Given that the word isn't going to go away, how might we understand the term afresh, in what ways could we reclaim a proper & effective use for it, in terms other than those of the 'traditional', other than those of the Ruskinian "lyric poetry is the expression by the poet of his own feelings". Maybe there are more ways to skin a cat etc etc

Ross Brighton said...

Hi Alan, good to hear from you - sorry about my silence, I've been meaning to email you, but as per usual I've loaded myself up trying to do too many things all at once - perhaps this will work as a friendly reminder, or you could send another - I've been reading Crankhandle, and thinking about it.
That's a good point about the lyric - I do though have the same problem with the word as with the poetic in general - what I think and what others think don't align, so the discourse becomes frought with noise. I do still consider a large portion of my practice as coming under that banner, in the etymological sense, musical. However many others would preface the word with "traditional", then erase that and take it as implied... As always I often find that it is people with limited or non-existant literary backgrounds who are most open to and appreciative of my work(wonderful poeple like Tony, Elizabeth, Michele, Lisa, Murray, and Stephen Turner and Sean Sturm as exceptions - I haven's seen much of Wystan, and !only met Alex properly the other day!), because the assumptions it rejects and structures it interrogates aren't there - the oppositional work, which is always the most difficult and least rewarding (I'd rather be writing) doesn't need to be done.