a phoetics: fragment 9
My relationship early on with ESB meta-intellect was tentative, and it resulted in about 30 "intelligent" compositions, which I call "prephoems," made from the magnetic-tape voicing recordings. They are titled by both their dates of spoken composition and first lines, which are when and then how they begin: for example, "saturday, june 5, 1999" ("i wonder if we could unravel these details would you lay down with me"); "monday, february 3, 1997" ("before it begins there is the space of its beginning"); and "tuesday, june 13, 2000" ("to see to really see the thought nothing i can do").
The lines of prephoems are prose sentences: early in my work in this terrain, I transcribed what I had said on tape without noting intervals and so relinquished their breath. They became a lump, a salvage of raw material. I wanted to maintain that sense, and this recording technique was also used in the composition of Falltime (a book in Vertical Elegies: Three Works) made from 1995 through 2000, when took four trips to France"”to Paris and Bourges"”as well as various points between. On the first three trips, I received various poetic impressions, which I worked into a marginally unsuccessful long poem. On my last trip to Paris, compassing some four nights in fall 2000, I variously recorded my direct impressions on tape and in book. At that point I decided that the best thing would be to take all these streams of voluble experience and impression and yoke them together, employing typography as a synthesizing structure. I composed this book in winter of 2000.
In that light, these audio (voice) recombinations are works montage similar to a book I later wrote, Vertical Elegies 5: The Section. To make that collection of 69 sonnets, I took some 100 full, margin-to-margin pages of discreet poems and fragments written through the 90s and early 00's and spliced lines together, according to: 1., chance sighting; 2., maintaining at once syntactic integrity and openness (or non-arrival); and 3., what urged. (I use the past tense, as what arose in the moment of composition, of splicing, does not imply that it still urges. Written, arranged, today it might have turned out quite differently.) Operating at the periphery of this method was the sense of leaving a vacuum, absence of resolve, or emptiness at the books "center," much like Lao Tze and Lawrence's wheels.
Following on the use of the term "montage," what may be revealed in that continuous remove of an end zone (and so the positing of an end at each juncture, while maintaining syntactic, grammatical integrity) is a beam of light, such as a projector casts and over which a running spool of film is run: Hart Crane's "cinema slights." I prefer the term "montage""”the film technique of rapid cuts, and particularly with the film director Sergei Eisenstein's sense of "collision" in that technique"”to Wyndham Lewis's "collage," with its connotation of "glue." Also, "collage" is usually applied in relation to painting to an assemblage of different forms. The forms of these works (both The Section and the poems realized out of transcribed recordings) were consistent within themselves, their time, contrary to what collage calls for. Additionally, language occurs in time: it therefore, like it or not, sounds in narrative"”one of montage's resistances"”like motion pictures. Also, "montage" comes from "mountain," derived from the PIE base *men-, meaning "to stand out, project." It is projective, recalling Olson. Finally, "to mount" means "to frame." I am interested in that aspect of art, remembering Clement Greenberg saying that all artists do is put a frame around what is and, pointing, say: "Look at this." I would also note I consider The Section a "collaboration with a former self," namely the self I was in the early '00s collaborating with where I was at more or less in the previous decade. Two constraints acted as counteracting forces in The Section: A sense of syntax, so that the passage from one line mounted to the next made approximate grammatical sense; and a continual non-arrival of ascribable (or conclusive) meaning. I sought through this to form a book in which departure, and so the beginning of absence, would form the text's heart.
Prephoems as temporal events are entitled in part by their dates of composition, with those combined recordings having two or more dates, depending on how many discreet recordings went into a prephoem. The signifying of time plays in the overall structure of "Street Mete," including the fact that they tend to be both irrelevant, practically"”aside from seasonal considerations, they could have been composed on any given day"”and communally, as anyone in this particular time span through which I was living was similarly included unbeknownst. At the same time, they tend to disappear: Who, aside from people who keep diaries or those few with magical abilities, would be able to recall what they did on Tuesday, June 13, 2000, for example. That disappearance, however, is important: Those date tied to our lives at the level of our common global fact relate to our actual effervescence: On the 13th of June we who were alive to its shape in varying degrees hungered and strove, felt slights and elations, were cross or kind, leaped over a puddle or lay down on the grass and saw the vivid new green of a oak bough overhead through sun beams and then went to the movies. And yet, if even remembered it is unmoored, faint, dreamy. Apogee, apogee, and then poof! But all we here passing through had hold of a mark"”a nick and niche"”composed of interchangeable, shared words and numbers. As Kenneth Goldsmith evoking the great white points out, "If every word spoken in New York daily were somehow to materialize as a snowflake, each day there would be a blizzard."
Is his statement true? I can say about two words a second. A Politician might speak for three hours a day, but we may halve that for the other person talking and you have the following: 2x60x60x3 equals, say, 20,000, which divided by 2 is 10,000. The US Census Bureau per March of 2008 states a figure of about 8.3-million New York City inhabitants, which would mean that on average 80.3 billion words are spoken per day in that city. In surface area, New York measures 490.5 square kilometers. If we assume ten snowflakes landing per second per square metre of ground"”a light snowfall"”and the storm lasts 10 hours, which would be 10x60x60, or 36,000 seconds per snowfall. Determining the number of square meters, 490.5x1000x1000, would give us 4.9 billion square meters. Ten snowflakes falling per second, multiplied by 4.9 billion square meters, multiplied by 36,000 seconds per 10-hour storm would give us 176 trillion snowflakes. In order for Kenny's metaphor to work, and to produce any accumulation, it would be necessary for each New York to speak 22,000 words per day: or incessantly. However, if we were to include in the calculation words in thought, New Yorkers would be continually digging out, if not chocked in this white sepsis.
one: "I began working with voice recordings..."
two: "The week Robert Creeley died..."
three: "'Thing,' from the Anglo-Saxon..."
four: "While I mark the beginning of my interest..."
five: "After transcribing 'the wells at the mouth of itza...'"
six: "The distinction”and so mental distance..."
seven: "The PIE *wel- also means "to turn, roll...'"
eight: "Contrary to the fix in which Eliot lost and found..."
nine: "My relationship early on with ESB meta-intellect..."
ten: "It is absolutely important to remember..."