Saturday, January 27, 2007

Page = Object

The collision of my (re)reading of Charles Bernstein and Marjorie Welish and the arrival of a book on Eva Hesse's drawings plus deciding to have another go at Johanna Drucker's 'Theorizing Modernism' has led to a fruitful week of thinking, jotting, rethinking, more jotting.

Somehow - for me at least - to engage with visual art (most especially modern sculpture) allows ideas about poetry to come into sharper focus. Thus, the way Hesse expands the flat surface of the canvas by means of extruded lines (string, wire, cables) and in so doing puts in question all sorts of issues of two-dimensional and three-dimensional art and the 'meaning' of line, surface, depth, etc. is immensely suggestive of the poetic 'space' of word, line, page, volume.

More on this.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

"Space may be torn"

Reading a review in the NYRB of the current Brice Marden exhibition in New York.

I don't know much about Marden - a little more, anyway, having watched an interview at this link:

I like this jotting in his 1972-73 notebook - 'Suicide Notes' - :

"more drawing"/"less painting"/"more painting into line"/"space may be torn".


For one reason or another I am back with Charles Bernstein's poems & essays. Last night in bed I happened on 'Appropriation' from the volume 'Poetic Justice'. Here's the first sentence:

"As saying as continuousness, really a single notion, just picked up, what was said, inside, motionless, really somebody, coming in, a very fine pivot, specimens, only to (that, you'll, already, &, of, dicker)."

One of those pivotal moments when a writer who you know is important and have read and have bought several books by and have read interviews with and listened to other writers say why he is so infuential etc. etc. etc. and yet has never got you 'there', suddenly does.

You could take the sentence (if it is one) quoted above so many ways & it opens up so many lines of writing and thinking. If - that is - and here I am reminded of Brice Marden in the online interview inviting visitors to simply pick a line and follow it and get lost and then orient themselves again - you are prepared to give yourself to the language and lose the thread and then catch yourself in that moment - a "very fine pivot" indeed. A dance step, even.

And why not read 'irreligiously' (to twist the expected phrase applied to reading a writer with devotion)? Take what you want & need & go.

"Happens all of a sudden, shades of color for example, but nobody understands that the best guess is not to work at it at all."

This one paragraph text buzzes where so much of 'Republics of Reality' has (up until now) remained resolutely dull on the page. Cleverly dull - but dull all the same. Now, maybe, I see the potential.

"Look around the corner & forget about what you were thinking"

Marden's 'plane image' (that's how I hear the phrase) of space created by line. As he says "the whole evolution of modernism is about getting up, up, up to the surface, tightening the surface of the plane." Bernstein's sentence and syntax - similarly -insists on the 'surface', a created space of meaning which lies and relies on the page, the clutches of commas, qualifying veerings of sense, lines extending 'out' as much as being intercepted 'in' the act of citation & appropriation.

As Bernstein says: "poetry should be at least as interesting as, and a whole lot more unexpected than, television." I'll say!

Sunday, January 14, 2007

And here we are again

Hello. Belgianwaffle here. We've just noticed it is 2007 and we haven't yet broken the ice on the New Year's Blog. In addition, we have learned that this Blog has at least two regular readers - two more than we deserve I hear you say - and so maybe (just maybe) it worth posting more often than now and again.


Jarvis (again).

Sitting at the traffic lights I saw the ubiquitous billboard for Jarvis Cocker's current tour over here in Belgium. It's not exactly the image captioned above - but pretty much the same.

Anyway, I found myself thinking how Jarvis has made spectacles once again 'acceptable' (bit of a mouthful, that) in much the same way as John Lennon some forty years earlier. However, where Lennon's specs carried with them connotations of 60s crypto-Marxist Existential chic, Jarvis' look the standard-issue pair I was forced to wear throughout the 70s. One feels that the bespectacled Belgianwaffle teenager of today could walk down the school corridors or onto the football pitch happy in his heart to know that despite taunts of "speccie" and "gig lamps" and "four eyes" Jarvis - Jarvis of the fine & delicate fingers, Jarvis of the flattened vowels and Sheffield understatement, Jarvis of the journalist's favourite adjective "epicene", Jarvis of the Jane Birkin daring to go to France and make it work, Jarvis of the Mark E. Smith but friendlier, Jarvis of the I-could-do-wicked documentaries for Radio 4 - is there with his sensible frames and making them somehow sexy and uncommon for all the common people (like you and I) out there. Where? Here.

. Driving into work the other morning with 'Village of the Sun' playing & humming & drumming along  & think...