[-empyre-] Starting the Fourth Week: Chris Funkhauser, Sally Silvers and Bruce Andrews
muratnn at gmail.com
Fri Nov 25 05:12:13 AEDT 2016
Bruce, you have hooked up with the Project ten years earlier than me. I had
just returned from living in London for almost two years (and I had said to
my wife Karen that if I don't see another beautiful green park in my life
I'll be happy). I wanted to go to a poetry event in New York. It was
Wednesday, and at the Project Paul Auster was presenting his anthology of
French poetry that he had edited with multiple readers (to me the most
memorable was Armand Schwerner reading his Michaux translations). That was
it. I became friends with Bob Rosenthal and Simon Pettet who had introduced
Paul, and we created The Committee for International Poetry. That was
I agree with you about the ups and down of the Project. We all heard our
share of boring stuff there. I did doze off occasionally but the place
always seemed to come through. A lot of poets, artists came from different
parts of the States and the world and learned from and collaborated with
What the Project has been doing is what the Web is doing now. I have had
long term collaborations with artists over the years whom I have never met.
That is the huge positive of the digital world.
"We did want to focus attention on language itself as the medium, but I'm
not ready to embrace some of your characterization: words & letters are
not non-referential, but we liked to organize them in other ways beside
what they were pointing to (which was too often, for us, the author's
personalizing experience or expressiveness or traditional lyric
expectations). We tended to want the readers' experience at the center —
which cuts against some of this binary of yours about the sensual,
movement-based vs. logical aspects of language"
Bruce, when you say "We tended to want the readers' experience at the
center," are you saying anything different than saying "I want the text at
the center," the reader reading the text? The question interests me because
in my essay The Peripheral Space of Photography, I assert that what is
important in a photograph is not the photographer's focus (framing), but
what escapes that framing. The real dialogue occurs between the watcher of
the photograph and what is in front of the lens (human or a landscape,
etc.). If, as I think you are to saying, it is the reader (and not purely
the text), then even the "reveries" the reader builds around the text
reading it become part of it. Is that not so?
"Logical" was an unfortunate choice of words, on my part. I am more
interested in the distinction between predicated idea (therefore fixed) and
thought as process (therefore movement). One can have thought and/in
movement (that's what Eda is). In that way, thought is sensual.
"So if there's an "exchange" it's a mutual bending (which might be way too
mutually disruptive to warrant being called a "synthesis"). Maybe that's
more like the relationship between a 'dialect' & an 'official' language —
[and by the way, doesn't "the dialectic" typically end up in a synthesis]?
Yes, mutually bending and disruptive, not a synthesis. That's what a true,
transforming translation does, bends, alters both languages, discovers
potentialities in them. Walter Benjamin does see a synthesis in the process
when he writes that in a translation "A" does not move to "B" but both move
to a third place "C ," which he calls "ideal language." Some people believe
Benjamin was being a "poet" (poet in the pejorative sense) here. "Ideal
language" is a mystical fantasy. I am not one of them. I believe it is
part of the core of his very original concept of translation.
"... doesn't "the dialectic" typically end up in a synthesis]?"
Not necessarily. I believe in an art or poetry of continuous dialectic. The
Talmud, where the interpretations of a holy passage are never resolved and
remain always multiple, is such a text.
To be continued (inviting others to join).
On Wed, Nov 23, 2016 at 6:29 PM, Bruce Andrews <andrews at fordham.edu> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Hi all — finally figured out a little more about the interface [one of my
> least favorite words] & receiving messages intriguingly dated many hours
> ahead — from Australia — so it's already Thanksgiving the day before.
> Thanks, on Thanksgiving [with recent political events, e.g. the
> trumpocalypse, having disrupted so many things I was hoping for & hoping to
> give thanks for], Murat, for your Intro.
> Nice to think of the Poetry Project as a site for adventurous exploring —
> certainly it's where I first had a chance to talk with you (often about
> matters political, Turkey, etc. — I started going there, & getting to read
> every couple years, right after arriving in NYC in 1975, to take a job as a
> Political Science professor [American Imperialism my specialty] wch lasted
> 38 of the 41 years since).
> The so-called 'Language Poets' actually tended to question whether the
> consensus 'New York School/Beat' styles honored at the PProject was really
> still devoted to adventurously "exploring the outer limits and
> possibilities" of the medium: our aesthetics had taken shape in the early
> to mid 1970s, mostly outside of NY & hashed out in the mail rather than
> face to face in any community 'scene'. We did want to focus attention on
> language itself as the medium, but I'm not ready to embrace some of your
> characterization: words & letters are not non-referential, but we liked to
> organize them in other ways beside what they were pointing to (which was
> too often, for us, the author's personalizing experience or expressiveness
> or traditional lyric expectations). We tended to want the readers'
> experience at the center — which cuts against some of this binary of yours
> about the sensual, movement-based vs. logical aspects of language. If I had
> to choose sides there, I'd always go with movement & the sensory, as a way
> to 'volatilize' & 'capacitate' its potential readers; my own writing
> certainly doesn't get much acclaim for being "logical". But I'd rather step
> outside any polemical wrangling about the poetry we do & keep things
> focused on the digital front: for instance, whether an online presentation
> tends to help or hinder the kinds of reading that put movement & the senses
> in the forefront.
> On your question: I don't think that verbal language is basically a
> self-referential system; instead, it seems more like a messy hybrid. And so
> is what happens via the computer & the web: this may be distinctive as a
> linguistic/communicative arrangement, but that's not exactly what I see in
> the idea of it creating its own system. So if there's an "exchange" it's a
> mutual bending (which might be way too mutually disruptive to warrant being
> called a "synthesis"). Maybe that's more like the relationship between a
> 'dialect' & an 'official' language — [and by the way, doesn't "the
> dialectic" typically end up in a synthesis]?
> On Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 8:58 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>
>> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
>> I have known these week's guest participants or been familiar with their
>> works for years. They have all been, directly or indirectly, part of the
>> Poetry Project poetry and art community. A spirit of adventure exploring
>> the outer limits and possibilities each of his or her own media that has
>> been the characteristic of the place since 1960's for fifty years permeates
>> all of them.
>> I met Chris Funkhauser first in 1994 during a Poetry Project symposium on
>> "Revolutionary Poetry." He and his friend Belle Gironde --both University
>> of Albany students at the time-- along with three other young people had
>> organized an "unofficial" workshop on "Poetry and Technology" that, if I
>> remember correctly, had set up its tent out in the garden of the church. I
>> was a member of the final panel that presented overviews of the symposium.
>> As part of my preparation, I visited the workshop. I was so struck by what
>> they were doing, by the spirit of Dada in their manifesto of the virtual
>> --yes, the possibilities of a virtual poetry was infused with Dada mojo at
>> the time-- that I spent a final, significant portion of my talk on that
>> workshop. I felt what the workshop was saying contained a significant
>> portion of the revolutionary spirit the symposium was searching for. Chris
>> and I remained friends ever since. Interestingly, Bruce Andrews, the second
>> guest participant this week, was another member of that panel also.
>> Here are two passages from "Takes or Mis-takes from the Revolutionary
>> Symposium, The Poetry Project, May 5-8, 1994," the second being its ending.
>> The talk consisted of quotations from the symposium (peppered with my
>> "What's the difference between God and virtual God?"
>> "Virtual God is real." It's the software programer.
>> "From The Poetry and Technology workshop: 'Give free shit to lure them….
>> Commodity lives," Eric Swensen, the 'Enema' of Necro Enema Amalgamated,
>> producers of the manifesto BLAM!"
>> Bruce Andrew was with Charles Bernstein the co-editor of the ground
>> breaking poetry magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E which, as the "=" signs in the
>> title implies, ushered a new attitude towards poetry and language. Letters,
>> words relate more to each other than to a referential point outside. The
>> result was the transforming (and influential on younger poets) poetry
>> movement Language School of which Bruce is a key member. As a poet, I have
>> had serious disagreements with strict (in my view, almost fundementalist)
>> take on language the movement embodies. I come from the East (Turkey).
>> Though equally exploring, my view of language is different, more sensual,
>> based on movement than logic. I tried to bring these qualities to English
>> language and American poetry though my concept of Eda. On the other, I must
>> admit the poetry of my friends in the States inevitably bent the direction
>> of my work. I believe Eda will do, and is already doing, the same even
>> though though the effect is not totally visible yet.
>> There is one question I would like very much Bruce to explore, if at all
>> possible, among many others. The computer seems to create its own
>> linguistic/communicative system. If verbal language also is basically a
>> self-referential system, how do you see the possibility of exchange between
>> these two entities? Is it at all, possible? If so, what has to bend to
>> accommodate the other? In other words, is the relationship towards
>> synthesis or always dialectical?
>> I saw Sally Silvers dance for the first time years ago during a Poetry
>> Project New Years' Day Marathon. I was immediate struck by the uniqueness
>> and originality of her dance. Over the years I tried to answer that
>> question because I felt it said something important, not only about but
>> beyond dance. Gradually, a picture emerged. Even watching avant-garde or
>> "experimental" dancers, I always feel that their movements are rehashed,
>> coming out of a repertoire of established avant grade movements. There was
>> nothing of that in Sally Silver's dancing. Every movement was itself,
>> nothing more, nothing less. The movements had a solidity, embodying the
>> reality of gravity that run through them and shaped them. That earth bound
>> clarity was a thrilling thing to see. I am looking forward to what she has
>> to say about dance or anything else.
>> All the Empyre members, welcome to the fourth week.
>> empyre forum
>> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
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