& each time the moment falls
the emphasis of the moment falls
into time differently
if not the present
these caring accretions,
the life that has gone
repeating in place
each time the tongue moves
it moves into time differently
a bundle of precisely-wired blue
& this & this
Kate Fagan, return to a new physics.
The room was as we had left it the previous Saturday, despite the fact that Sam and Yasmin had been living with it – or rather, walking through it as part of their living – for five days. Actually when I arrived in the early afternoon Yaz and Sam were Push Pulling the other rooms on the ground floor. The launch of the Locksmith magazine was happening that night, and so they were at work taking the kitchen table into the lounge-room and the lounges into the kitchen to best arrange the space for book-selling and beer drinking. They bought an over-priced bag of wood to burn in one of those bulb-shaped iron fireplaces for out the back. In the timelapse you see them busying about the top left corner while the day began breathing through the room as wind and light. The breeze registers on the timelapse by a jerking movement of the string and paper dangling from the bike-wheel-mouse-trap chandelier, and the gill-like motion of the orange tape that links the brown to the yellow colour zone. The light registers in reflection, shades and shimmers. I helped Sam and Yaz measure and mark up the wall to hang Sam’s painting. Yaz was enthusiastic about what we had done to the room although she had not registered the colour theme, which goes to show you had to be there. The Locksmith crew were behind on rent. This wasn’t so much of a problem because the landlords were the mechanics a few doors down and they were reasonable and friendly people, but Sam had been avoiding speaking to them and so Yaz told him forcefully that he had to go and speak to them now. Sam trudged out of the room with the look of a naughty boy, muttering things under his breath.
The manner in which we are present at this time to and
fro appears before us
The matter is so
Can we share its kind of existence
The brink ‹ that’s the sympathy
Sound circling point of hearing
Think how different it is when we come to point of
Lyn Hejinian, from Happily
I ducked across the road to get myself a juice and some pocky before parking myself on the couch. Raised up there on the window sill and just out of the timelapse frame, it was an ideal vantage from which to observe the room and read John Ashbery. I was barely two paragraphs into Ashbery’s epic masterpiece The System when my friend Kate Fagan arrived with a toilet seat that she had found on the walk from Newtown and felt obliged to bring this ready-made reference to the space. She laid the toilet seat on the floor, placed a plastic turtle she had brought sitting on the rim and made a circle around it with the yellow chairs. The one thing you can be sure about with Kate Fagan is that where-ever she goes she will arrive armed-to-the-teeth with erudition, and having done some re-reading on happenings the night before she staged a homage to the first happening by juicing an orange. After this she took out a tube of blue acrylic paint and a brush and began a series of painting-things-blue in tribute to her friend Barbara T. Smith who did a re-enactment of Push & Pull (as part of the big Kaprow retrospective put on at the MOCA in Los Angeles in 2008) where all the objects for Push Pulling were painted blue. Kate painted the front panel that had fallen off one of the sideboard drawers and, as if the blue was multiplying itself, the nearest yellow chair starting becoming blue too. Sarah Goffman’s combs also got the blue treatment and were put on the wall in a circular arrangement. After the combs it was the wooden juicer’s turn, followed by the door-stop rock, a cup, the plastic turtle and some pieces of the puzzle. These now-blue things were arranged with the turtle sitting on the rock next to the juicer standing upright and the puzzle pieces spread across the chair. Kate then lifted the chair onto the Locksmith coffee table, painted its top blue, placed the cup under the chair and placed the whole thing against the wall on its own. It was incredibly striking, contrasting with the dominant yellow in the room. As Kate said, when you make things the same colour what a wacky set of relations is put into play. Perhaps it was these wacky relations – along with its carefully painted and presented qualities – that made one reluctant to move or even touch it. Perhaps, also, this is one of the reasons why the Push & Pull re-enactment of Barbara T. Smith’s (swallowed like it was inside the entire Kaprow retrospective) was, as the amusingly skeptical blogger Frenchy But Chic! reported, so not happening.. If a group of objects is painted the same colour then does it take on the sense of a composed whole? In which case, people might be less inclined to take the invitation to move it around. Or maybe I’ve got it totally wrong, and that by painting it all blue you make the objects more obviously like toys to be played with. Whatever the case, going by Frenchy But Chic!‘s account, it would be difficult to get the old dog happening in that institutional context no matter what you tried.
Ella O’Keefe arrived in the middle of the bluing, and soon after two of Astrid’s students Courtney and Peter arrived. They were a little disappointed that Astrid wasn’t there but not half as disappointed as Astrid was when I told her they had come to visit her. She wasn’t having a very productive study day and this news tipped her over the edge, so she packed up her stuff and started trotting up to Locksmith. Courtney and Peter had brought cute little cupcakes and were placing them assiduously around the rooms spiked with plastic forks. They left to get a coffee and Courtney wanted Astrid to guess what their contribution was if she arrived before they got back. Astrid got it first guess.
Cloud fields change into furniture
furniture metamorphizes into fields
an emphasis falls on reality.
Barbara Guest, An emphasis fall on reality.
While this was going on Ella and I were both making cut-up poems. I had got a nice email from a guy called Neil Addison who had been following the Push & Pull project online from Sunny/Rainy Berlin (as he called it), and he had written a poem for it/us and wondered if I might publish it someplace inside the room. I’m not sure my craft skills or my photography skills really did his poem justice but nevertheless Neil’s words made it from Berlin onto the wall in Alexandria. Ella made her piece while she was describing to Kate her honours project focussing in part on the American poet Barbara Guest. I mentioned that I liked Barbara Guest’s interest in the weather, in closely observing weather – which she talked about in her discussion with Charles Bernstein on the radio show he used to host called LINEbreak – and Ella said that it was in that very discussion that Barbara speaks of a French-speaking barometer that sometimes claims conditions to be “Hot as Wagadu!” I gotta get me one of them barometers. Kate told us about the time she sat next to Barbara at some poets luncheon when she was over in the States. She wrote her PhD on Lyn Hejinian and spent a lot of time in the U.S. and I recall making some wildly exaggerated claim about Kate having lunched with every significant female poet in the U.S. Kate’s even been taken out to lunch by Marjorie Perloff! Ella had read my complexity post on the blog – and also having been taught about the etymology of complex and complicated by Ross Gibson – was reminded of Rachael Blau Du Plessis talking about her huge poetic project Drafts (which she was now reading and Kate had just recently bought) in terms of the fold, of folding.
given the heat no one is expected to
exist near an oven and not sweat. it is
a simple causal relationship and
generally people are gentle about its
being true, or at least, being evident. when
a scone is brushed with milk – two fingers
miming, more or less effectively, a pastry
brush – it glosses up nicely. spread apart
they rise into each other, the extent can be
micromanaged with simple, kitchen-focused
algorithms hell-bent on decoding the
unknowable curvatures of a cricket ball –
“nice cherry” – and the ecology of baking
scone-nuts, clustered or spaced: “the
difference is spreading.”
Astrid Lorange, cooking stein, flo & benaud.
So we were having this lovely folding conversation of connections and linkages to women poets and critics we all liked, and at some point Kate reached into her bag and produced another tube of blue paint, this one more oil-based and a number of shades darker. On the front piece of wood from the sideboard drawer she painted: PETER’S HAMEAU. Kate and her partner Peter Minter were in the process of moving from their long-held and much-loved house in Newtown to a new house in Petersham. This new place had an adjoining wooden shack that had been renovated into a clandestine recording studio and Pete was excited at the prospect of making this his new den. The sign that Kate had made for Pete’s new space contained a loving reference to their time together in Versailles, where they had visited the Hameau de la Reine. The Queen’s Hamlet was built for Marie Antoinette in 1783 and was designed as this pseduo-rustic cottage farm, complete with farmhouse, diary and mill. Marie Antoinette got her favourite architect to design it so that it was – by the standards of the rest of Le Palais de Versailles – modest. So when the stresses of being Queen got to her, Marie would take her attendants down to the Hameau and dress up as shepherdesses and milkmaids and play out this ridiculous pastorale fantasy. Particularly docile, hand-picked cows would be cleaned, and the Queen would then milk one into a porcelain churn bearing her own image before retiring into the intimate rooms of the cottage which were nevertheless furnished with all the accustomed luxuries. As Kate was telling us about this I could picture perfectly how amused Pete would be at the scene of this constructed and utterly fake experience of living like peasants for a few days before going back to the royal palace. And because of the $40 million dollars she wasted on costumes while projecting more indulgent narcissism onto – in this case – a vague outline of Marie Antoinette, Sophia Copolla and her film were mentioned. Ella had seen the film and said it really played up the Hameau aspect with slow close-ups of Kirsten Dunst getting about in stylized peasant-garb. I wondered – given their penchant for ostentatious pageantry in the service of illusion – if Sophia is not some contemporary re-incarnation of Marie, although I think I stopped short of suggesting that they should therefore come to the same ending.
skies and seals
can you give me the recipe?
Achilles will never overtake the tortoise
this is not Thoreau country
it’s the pseudonymous “me”
the world of grammar
Chief Mo McGee
Reno and his girl Peach
slice of grey sky
silence love time and language
in reverse order
next to autosales
Seville Le Mans Monte Carlo Granada
by these clues you are known
to have entered the room
I am a raving epistemologist
I am a raging metaphysician
I am a ravaged ontologist
I am a ravished aesthetician
lacunae epilogues appendices addenda
what / where is the cast of characters?
yes / no the plot?
language time love silence
skiing on bones
on arctic air
windshield wipers stuck
all so sudden
Nature is sodden
Joan Retallack, Obsolete Automotive.
By now Astrid had arrived and was soon helping Ella tie together coloured plastic gloves which got hung over the window-sill like prayer flags. Peter and Courtney showed up again and I ate one their cupcakes. It had been chilly all day but it seemed some imperceptible but nevertheless definite threshold in light and temperature had been crossed and everybody started to leave, first Ella, then Peter and Courtney, then Sam (who had been sleeping in his room) and finally Kate, whose presence had defined the arc-span of the afternoon’s activity. Yasmin was the only one bucking the trend, that is, if you count coming home as some kind of trend-bucking. In times like these when everyone is coming and going around you the only natural thing to do is to smooch.
Precision-timed explosions create
acres of visual illusion.
I was hoping to reproduce the mood
of a brawl on the Champs Elysée.
Weirder evidence surfaces,
formal and somewhat see-through.
I had no idea how complicated
lingerie could be.
The other woman’s pubic hair
is the sentimental favourite.
Instead of making yourself a nuisance
pass the finger food.
You don’t need an invitation to leave.
You don’t need a PhD.
Kate Lilley, Discovery.
Given that Sam and Yaz had done so much Push Pulling to prepare the space for the book launch, I felt it was only right that we should prepare the front room in some way. At first Astrid was reluctant to significantly alter the colour spectrum arrangement, having been so involved in the making she was very fond of it and agitated by the idea of its passing. One of the things Lucas and I had assumed would produce tension in the work was peoples preciousness over what they done, getting pissed off when the next person came in and started screwing with their idea of the room. But this had not really happened so far. If the room was being subject to a total re-arrangement then it seemed in the main to happen when there were fewer people in willing collaboration. And when activity was more fervent there wasn’t really anyone trying to subjugate everyone to their tyrannical master-plan for the space. So the look of sadness that washed over Astrid’s face when I said we should re-arrange the room was an instance of such a tension, albeit a small one, which I attempted to exasperate by needling her about such preciousness (condescension: just go with the flow babe). But a few seconds after we started the new iteration of the room the preciousness evaporated.
Susan Howe, from Thorow.
I suppose this is the way it goes with most preciousness, the precious being a mourning for that thing threatened with change and therefore potentially death (which all things are), but finds moving on actually quite easy once the dynamism of the next thing starts to emerge. I thought of this as I heard yet another add on the radio for Saving FBI. There is this distinct sense of desperation about the whole thing, holding on for dear life to this sentimental but not necessarily veracious image of FBI’s vital importance to the arts/culture of Sydney. This is not to say that FBI has not been important, it has, especially for the Alexandria and Redfern area where it has been centred and helped to kick start what is, no bones about, a beautiful but rough-as-guts part of town. But this doesn’t mean that the world will collapse if FBI does. What is under threat here is – in the main – a particular set of interest groups; people who work at the station, musicians whose popularity and live gigs are generated in-part through ties to FBI, and regular listeners who connect themselves culturally to the city through the station. But those people will find new jobs, new ways to generate publicity and new radio stations to listen to.
A hazy field
rain cast plummeting
plunge of stone hallways
to our bed’s name
like daisies in place
if not sweet
there is daring.
Rolling into excess
thighs out of tight labels
rolling out alive
crossing light with surface
The effulgence: screen, expanse
the slightest intent
violet flower promises
That death as good as earth
a little, like sun oblivion
then lie still.
Jill Jones, To Sleep Inside Rain.
So as FBI continued its mission to save itself Astrid and I began our mission to give the room a new iteration. As if intuitively tuned to this coming iteration, Keg arrived, and the three of us decided on something domestic for the evening guests. We put the carpet back down in the middle of the room with the coffee table and arranged the cupcakes and tea that somebody had brought. I moved the foosball table away from the corner so people could play if they wanted and most of the rest was just packing things away and tidying up. Lucas arrived and Keg and he swept the rubbish under the carpet. Keg and I were telling Astrid how the massage table had bucked at us the day we re-arranged the stack left by Zanny’s class. Of course no sooner was the story told than we were flipping over the massage table and making it into a bucking-creature. Using a piece of wood to hold it propped against the wall, we bent a disc-shaped piece of wire mesh into the shape of a head and took grey-tubing from the ikea couch and cable-tied them to make horns. Lizzie’s red shows were put on the hind legs, a pink piece of material was tied into a carafe and the cover of SX with scantily-clad men in leather masks wrestling was placed in the body of the beast. The gay bucking bronco was born and we appreciated him over a cup of tea with one last thing remaining to do to finish our composition: the chairs. Hard things to work with those chairs; too many to use functionally and ugly in a stack. So we used the chairs in a way that totally contradicted our ordering principle – an inviting domestic – by making a passageway that would force the punters through the room and spit them out in the lounge-room. If they wanted tea and cupcake, or to play foosball, then they would have to move something to get it.
A motion of the mind, as to enable. I have it to do. The progeny of a single parental cell, as a tumor is thought to be, by genetically symmetrical cell divisions. Good morning. The same river is missing.
In God’s right hand all forms. Destined some day to rise from potency to preamble. All this by way of. Being impersonal, as a tumor is thought to be. It has it to do.
Clone may also refer to language that reproduces asexually. Engraved in God’s right hand, potential. Try to get yourself out of the picture–or bed. Parents do not count, sexually. There are mornings when.
Along with penetrated. Nothing is too clear by nature, least of all language. Connotation: foolhardy replication. This form is called not yet unfolded Grace. The phosphorus of life each time he steps.
Would you make replication a style, a pocket coffin? She is awake to bake a cake. Thus identical twins were formed by the division of one fertilized egg. White folded into the same river. Two forms: written and oral.
But I know where I am. White phosphorus, asexual. A few names out of the shadows. Unhinge identity. Apart from cake what can she make?
More than beveled edges. Indeed, the eggs of mammals lend themselves. The noise of velcro. Written: white fire. I have been known to return identical, but not often.
There are mornings when we do not properly belong to ourselves. The blue blue sky. She cooks part of it seperately. Shoals of birds flying, symmetrical. Consonants and vowel points conferred by the power of black fire.
Such foolhardy ambition. Under tissue culture conditions. Therefore the written cannot be understood. Never once have I stepped twice. In God’s right hand. unpenetrated.
Rosemary Waldrop, Cosmogony, Cloned
Our desire – in putting some obstacle in the way of the generally inviting arrangement – was of course to encourage some push pull. It’s a bit like saying to all your mates, we’re throwing a party at our house, free food and booze, please come along but if you want to get in you’ll have to find a way to break into the house because all the doors and windows will be locked. In that scenario the only people who will come to your party will be the desperate few licking their lips to get at the food and booze while everyone else gets their own food and booze and goes somewhere nicer that doesn’t have such conditional obstacles. That’s pretty much what happened with our party. There were the curious few, who clambered over the chairs to get at the foosball and at the tea setting, but most people were herded through the passageway, variously bemused or uncomfortable at walking into a space and immediately getting clogged in an chair tunnel under harsh fluro light. Besides, most of what was desirable was somewhere else, the books in lounge-room, the couches in the kitchen and, most importantly, the booze and the fire out the back. The punters did what all self-respecting folk do at art-related launches: hit the booze. Except in this case there was no discernible art to look at, even in a token way, it was just a room full of shitty things. But from our point of view – that is, Asti, Keg and I tucked in tightly on the couch with beers and Lucas chatting nearby – even without art, art was still the problem. Removing a clearly defined art object or aesthetic experience didn’t remove the power of the art discourse, of its being art. When expectation is framed by that all-too powerful concept of Art – not what it is or where it starts and ends, but rather the more fundamental notion that it is Art – we are suddenly stuck in a depressing state of paralysis, just like being clogged in a chair passageway. This paralysis is the providence of the ‘Art is Special’ discourse, as Steven Connor demonstrates in his devastating critique What if there were no such thing as the aesthetic? In this homeostatic metaphysic of specialness, Art is that thing with the capacity to hold life in suspension, to frame it, or hold it at a distance from itself, to create imaginary, or virtual spaces, to make worlds of the as-if. Art, or ‘the aesthetic’, in this account is a declarative discourse, a way of setting things apart, it is the power to say: ‘this is special, this is art’. But this claim – the aesthetic as making-special – is utterly specious because we frame things as special in all domains of our lives, and there is no single golden thread that magically links these different frames. All the features ascribed to feelings, qualities, objects and actions that are said to be aesthetic are to be found without effort and in abundance in feelings, qualities, objects and actions that are assumed not to be aesthetic. For instance, if I put a picture of Astrid as my moblie phone background image, I frame the picture, thereby signalling how special Astrid is to me. But I don’t need a discourse of the aesthetic to generate this framing, if I want a generative discourse then I’ll take Love over Art any day of the week thanks. Why would I need Art to tell me that Love is special when I already have Love doing the telling? Of course, someone willing to stick up for aesthetics could say, fine, that framing of Love is particular, and Art is another particular framing. But let me extend the example. If I set up a system where I source thousands of mobile phone background images of loved ones, and I find some fandangle way of collating and presenting them at, say, a gallery space, then still, it is an infinitely more superior way to engage this hypothetical exhibition as Love than as Art. You could also approach the exhibition through ideas of communication, mobility, information, pixels, satellites, etc, and each of these could yield an interesting interaction on its own terms without bothering with the opaque fetish of Art.
The point is that everything is already there in the object, in the action and in the engagement; there is nothing lacking which would ever require the aesthetic to produce its reality and no situation where Art would be a tool more effective than any of the ones already at hand. On the contrary, it’s a blunt instrument with which to bludgeon and beautify. So I would like to follow Steven Connor in his desire to characterise what is going on when writers and thinkers and artists begin to conceive and recommend different, which is almost always to say, more desirable, more productive, less mystifying or paralysing ways of thinking about aesthetic experiences, qualities, or objects. Or as he puts it succinctly: Aesthetics anyone? Just say no.
A half glass carafe,
a choice red ochre chalk,
a felt-blue paper,
particular words for things
incite lines whose shadows
break in cryptic outlines.
The paper blue as sky, the chalk as red as ground.
These “vigorous scribbles”
do suggest “deep space.”
Lighter feather touches
do recall long scrolls.
Hence depth and length become responsible
to themselves, learning their ethics
in poesis, in purposeful fabrication.
Streaks, points, gleams, and transposition
articulate their various desires
that language be,
and textures cry with pleasure
exacting the price of their plethora.
Such filiated evanescing “it” `s are there among
the apple gests we set to tempt the dead
with the happiness of making,
with the open bright of listening
as if to larky twits of finch
through light surround of air.
weirded trumps of Gert,
alas, they cannot hear
although we talk to them,
and walk toward them
with rainbow thread
unrolling and reknotting
Splay of cardinal-pointed questions make a rayed-out rose
flooding the heart with alternative directions,
the rose of desires inside the poem’s patchouli
and not ironically.
Rachel Blau DuPlessis, from Draft 59: Flash Back