[-empyre-] Welcome to Week 2: Rebecca Rouse, Jon Epstein, and Alan Sondheim - below, from Alan Sondheim

Alan Sondheim sondheim at panix.com
Tue May 18 05:43:17 AEST 2021

Hi Everyone, and thank you so much for the invitation! I want to quote the 
topic, since my work over at least the past 27 years resonates with it:

"What does it mean to be in the moment when the body encounters the 
impulse. This can be likened to ?flow?, or the quality of being ?in the 
zone? of 2021?s media culture. If the rapidity of images, in the flowing, 
impulsive space is in the contemporary now of media culture, can it then 
allow for reverberation, reflection, recitation?"

The "flow" for me is described below in conversation with Annie
Abrahams, originally on netbehaviour -

Fragments from a conversation, my practice -

Thanks to Annie Abrahams and Johannes Birringer -

Annie Abrahams via NetBehaviour asked -

     May l ask Alan What was the reason for starting to produce
     work at a daily rate?

Hi Annie,

It's a practice that keeps me focused; I have what I call 'waves' 
of content that flow through the sections - for example 
analog/digital phenomenology / gamespace/edgespace/blankspace / 
splatter semiotics / etc. It's like meditation; I learn from the 
practice and honestly have done this most of my life. Early on I 
was also influenced by Delta Blues music (and was at times close 
to people like Al Wilson through whom I met Son House etc.) - and 
I soon was listening to 60s-70s free jazz (people like Albert 
Ayler, Archie Schepp, John Coltrane, and so many others) - and 
almost all the musicians I know practice/play/think/produce/ etc. 
every day - it's I think a different way of working, I have to 
keep re-inventing myself in a sense, but also paying close 
attention to what I think might be valuable or somehow true at 
times, and then question those underpinnings. There are diarists 
like Viktor Klemperer and Kierkegaard who have also influenced me 
- daily writing... And from people like Kristeva and Irigaray I 
was also inspired to think more about embodied art, which is 
daily practice; most of the artists I knew early on like Vito 
Acconci, Rosemary Mayer, Bernadette Mayer, and so forth were also 
constantly producing. It's somewhat of a work ethic I think as 
well.  -- Hope this answers somewhat and thanks for asking! Best, 

-- Above, Renate asks, "can it then allow for reverberation, reflection, 

- For me, the practice embeds and embodies reflections and recitation; 
reverberation depends on the reader or listener or viewer (depending on 
the mediuam). Even when I attempt meditating, I'm thinking constantly; 
I'll wake in the middle of the night and dictate into voice -> text so I 
don't forget something; I might also use the rough dictation (since it's 
never completely proper) as-is, if it leads elsewhere.

Annie Abrahams also asked:

Dear Alan, thanks for describing the roots of your practice.
It is good to know!
(Thanks Johannes for reacting and the greetings - Hi Johannes)

Now there comes a second question to my mind:

Why continuously publishing your practice? This is not meant as 
a critique; it is an honest curiosity. For me it feels as if 
there is never a "period", never a release from. I sometimes 
envy your continuity, your stream of words, but when you write 
the process can also give you anxiety, I want to say: "Alan, you 
don't have to; "periods" exist." It seems to be the question of 
the audience, the adress Something I read today seems to 
resonate: "... moins que la langue "communique" plus elle se 
fait intensive, c'est dire adresse. Nous appelons "adresse 
htrolingue" l'intensit qui parcourt "la langue" de part en part 
pour la tendre vers un destinataire. Contrairement la 
communication, l'adresse n'implique pas la russite de la 
transmission du message : c'est un pur geste tendu." Myriam 
Suchet L'imaginaire htrolingue page 129. (... the less that 
language "communicates" the more it becomes intensive, that is 
to say addressed. We call "heterolingual address" the intensity 
that runs through "the language" from one side to the other in 
order to reach a recipient. Contrary to the communication, the 
address does not imply the success of the transmission of the 
message: it is a pure tense gesture.

with love and respect

And I answered on  NetBehaviour -

Dear Annie,

There are releases at my end, sometimes I have several at one 
time, and then can take a break. But there's never a release 
from; on the other hand, after working like this pretty much 
through all my 'artistic' life, it seems natural. Taking a break 
seems something like a loss. I can think of the long-duration 
pieces of Marina Abramovic for example, or long meditative 
practices. But of course the former do come to an end. I'm not 
sure how the quote resonates with me? Or that I understand it - 
for example the fact that "the address does not imply the 
success of the transmission of the message" does not mean it's a 
"pure tense gesture" - there's no purity whatsoever in it. It's 
not an abstract gesture; on Facebook for example I hope for and 
do find readers/listeners/viewers at times and that's greatly 
rewarding; I know many of these people. "Purity" for me relates 
to Kristeva's "clean and proper body" or Mary Douglas' Purity 
and Danger" as well; I think, rightly or wrongly, of community, 
and try to respond to as many people as I can. In music for 
example there's a jazz community, certainly for "free jazz" 
(which has gone in so many directions) and people are supportive 
of each other and listen to each other. And why is this 
"contrary to the communication"? since it's never known if 
communication reaches recipients, even friends, within the 
digital. The communication is there, the transmission at 
my/their/your/our end - whatever else occurs is out of my 
control. Even in intimate talking with someone in the same room, 
there's no guarantee the message is received; and for that 
matter, the use of the word "message" already formalizes 
something that's inherently fuzzy, untoward, perhaps even 
contrary. With the digital now, for example, I didn't remember 
whether "Douglas" was spelled that way or "Douglass" and in a 
second, I found the answer online; this is also messaging, and 
related to what I wrote (I think) about splatter semiotics - 
everything is "graspable" to some extent, but the economy of 
attention is always somewhat at odds with itself. Back to the 
question of never a release, again it feels natural; it's part 
of my world, maybe even a kind of hunger I feel during my/our 
short time on the planet; I'm always in awe of the world, and in 
sorrow as a result of what are clear depredations against 
others, organisms of all sorts, and that seems an aporia to me; 
at this point while I could talk for hours on it, ultimately I 
have little idea of why wars are still being fought, why 
religions are at odds with each other to the point of violence 
and genocide, why it's not obvious to everyone that animals are 
conscious and knowledgable in their own right and autonomy, and 
so forth. So i find myself (uselessly perhaps) always trying to 
think through these things, with no more success probably than 
someone not thinking about them at all...

So does this count as a daily production? Probably, since we're 
leaving shortly for Amherst and music and books today, a two 
hour drive, not returning until Saturday night - it's our first 
real break since the end of March 2020...

Best, Alan, hope this answers somewhat, I'm not sure -


So I've been thinking about these things (the texts are at 
http://www.alansondheim.org/*.txt , where * indicates a wildcard -
most of them are in the form [a-z].txt or [a-z][a-y].txt so far.
I add to the texts and often media files on a daily basis; there
are also numerous videos on youtube at
https://www.youtube.com/user/asondheim/videos - the descriptions
are taken from the texts. Below is a description of the process,
which is also a piece, finished I think yesterday -

I'm this.


I've completed my piece for the day.
This piece will be published tomorrow.
When you see this piece it will be today.
When you see this piece I will be working on another piece.
When you saw the piece I will have completed another piece.
I need a piece to publish tomorrow.
All my pieces are one piece.
My one piece is broken up into pieces.
Each piece is not a piece.
Each piece is a subpiece.
If I do not publish a subpiece I will have failed.
If I fail I will never be able to continue.
I will disappear and not leave a trace to hear or listen.
This subpiece let us call it a piece.
This piece will not fail to be a subpiece tomorrow.
This piece will have been a piece I will have completed.
There is no completing the piece.
When I die there will be no piece.
When I die there will be no subpiece.
When I die there will be no piece for the day.
There will be no piece for tomorrow.
There will never be another piece.
There will never be another subpiece.
I will have failed.
I will have failed utterly.
I will have utterly failed.
I'm completing my subpiece for the day.
I'm completing my piece for another day.
Every day is another day and another subpiece.
Every day was another day and another piece.
Yet I have not failed.
I have not failed yet.
Yet I will have failed.
Yet I will not have failed yet.
Yet there is tomorrow.
Yesterday there is tomorrow.
I'm completing my piece for yesterday's tomorrow.
I'm completing my subpiece for tomorrow.


There are 78 +'s since I am 78, and I wanted to indicate the relationship 
between the entire process and my age.

Finally, just to say that for me, the work resonates with a discipline 
that frees me; the gates of reflection (which are largely theoretical/ 
philosophical) are opened, not closed, by a continuous attention to 
detail that is often meditative in nature; at times my deeper thinking 
occurs during (often broken) sleep.

And thank you so much for giving me the space to describe this; I hope it
answers the topic, which for me is both imminent and immanent.

Best, Alan, thank you again!

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