Friday, June 27, 2008

Julie Patton's Hear In (Ad)

Julie Patton's "Hear in: A walk and talk about the East Village (above/beyond the usual rhythms, lines of sight)" will kick off at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery, Parish Hall/West Yard, Monday, June 30 at 1:00 pm. The event is free and open to the public. Children and animals welcome.

Julie patton is a 2007 Artists' Fellowship recipient of the New York Foundation for the Arts (NYFA). This presentation is co-sponosred by Artists & Audiences Exchange, a public program of NYFA.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Discourse as Muse (Note)

Last night I presented to Andrew Levy's class at NYU, "Writing that Matters," along with Julie Patton and Brenda Iijima. Among the materials I read aloud included a forthcoming editorial for ON, a publication I am coediting with Kyle Schlesinger & Michael Cross for emergent critical discourse about poetics, and a statement regarding "discourse as muse" which I include here.

A lengthier consideration of the notion of discourse as muse would make case studies from poets and artists who have made of their work allegories of social exchange and movement such as Robert Creeley, Jack Spicer and Hannah Weiner (tho, arguably, every writer or artist's work, if only in negative, presents such an allegory)...


Discourse As Muse

I have been thinking about the old idea of poetry and “the muse”. If the muse is no longer a figure of divine inspiration, nor one figured by Romantic love—the love of a man for an indealized woman, in particular—than what could it be? What is a contemporary muse, if not such things? In this presentation, I would like to think about the figure of muse through a different set of terms and assumptions concerning where poetry comes from, and how it operates and subsists in the world. I will do this by claiming “discourse” as the contemporary poet’s muse, and my muse in particular.

Discourse, literally, refers to a site of articulation or locution that is more or less continuous and shared. It is perhaps what is held in common without being completely shareable. In this way it does not represent a fantasy of pure communion, or transubstantiation (father, son, holy spirit stuff, etc.)

To discourse, in common speak, is to exchange words, or hold conversation. In the work of late 20th century French literary philosophers like Roland Barthes and Michel Foucault the term discourse usually accompanies what Barthes has referred to as “the death of the author” and Foucault the "author function". Where an old idea of the author has the author as a figure of isolated genius and radical individuality, Foucault, Barthes and a host of other writers in the 20th century show any author to in fact comprise a network of other individuals, technologies, institutions, and economic exchanges. Likewise, an author does not make but one text, but a text that is many in being singular, and in being attributed to one author in name.

Whereas detractors of this notion of discourse have lamented the loss of the author as the central character in the drama of literary exchange (making and reception), and others celebrated it, I and many of my contemporaries see it as a place for productive exchange, and for making work that matters for community building and towards the nourishment of a larger social sphere. To claim discourse as muse, I believe, is to cast the old figure of the muse with a renewed character. Whereas before an ethereal spirit and equally ethereal object of desire embodied muse, where discourse become muse the poem reveals itself as a site of social exchange within a network of other sites.

Monday, June 23, 2008

The Children

check out this amazing project by Aram Saroyan and Philip Whalen at Big Bridge:

"That summer my father took my sister Lucy and me to Europe and Dick gave me a box of film as a going away gift. My father encouraged me to photograph street kids, and I came home from the trip with many rolls of exposures. The art director Marvin Israel accepted eight photographs for a spread in Seventeen, for which we each won an Art Directors award. Years later, now a writer, I published a book that included many of those photographs, Words & Photographs (Big Table, 1970). During the late sixties, I also did a mock-up of a second book of (mostly) different photographs from the same visit to Europe and sent it to Philip Whalen in Kyoto to write something on the page opposite each photograph. As I sensed he might, Phil turned the request around quickly. I received the marvelous text here virtually by return mail.

When I approached the European and American children in these photographs, I was still a child myself, and I think the transparent parity in some of the images is due to my being more an accessory of the camera than the other way around. Un-intimidated by the photographer, kids seemed to engage the medium with a straightforward sense of its potential, and I was on hand to make the picture.

Then, as I see it, a miracle accrued. Well-nigh half a century went by, and I discovered again these images and fell in love with some of these subjects whom I knew only for an anonymous moment and who have long since ceased to be children. It's not unlikely that some of them have ceased to be, period."
~ from *The Children*, intro and photos by Aram Saroyan, poems by Philip Whalen