In The Dictation of Poetry (1996) Giorgio Agamben gives a historical summary of the relationship between speech and life in the context of poetry, fiction and autobiography.

He works forward from the Gospel of John (“life is what is made in speech and what remains indistinguishable from it and close to it“), through Provençal poetry (with the razo text as “an experience of the event of language as love“) and Petrarch’s Canzoniere (in which “life now stands on one side, and poetry, on the other side, is only literature, mourning the irremediable death of Laura”),  to twentieth century Italian poet Antonio Delfini, who “evokes and, at the same time, wards off with terrible scorn […] a vision of life forever departing from speech […] and presuming to state officially that it lives“.

I want to look at the relationship between speech and life in terms of art and writing, and how one may frame, dictate, or critique the other. To add to Agamben’s account:

  • Michael Fried’s treatment of Denis Diderot whose concept of painting, he argues, “rested ultimately upon the supreme fiction that the beholder did not exist, that he was not really there, standing before the canvas” (Absorption and Theatricality, 1980);
  • My theme tune plan;
  • Jorge Luis Borges’ Fictions (1962), in which he plays out his assertion that “The composition of vast books is a laborious and impoverishing extravagance. To go on for five hundred pages developing an idea whose perfect oral exposition is possible in a few minutes! A better course of procedure is to pretend that these books already exist, and then to offer a résumé, a commentary”;
  • Morgan Fisher’s film (         );
  • René Magritte’s paintings around Ceci n’est pas une pipe, and Michel Foucault’s book on the work;
  • My Tights on Old Street exhibition review;
  • What didn’t work about my What To Do notes (re The Third Policeman);
  • Writing without Seeing (re Taey’s artwork);
  • Simon Starling’s small gold Medal text;
  • Peter Dreher’s Tag um  Tag ist guter Tag (re ‘event’ in Badiou, Lomax, Foucault);
  • Maurice Blanchot’s Two Versions of the Imaginary (re cadavers and utensils);
  • Foucault/Borges operating table;
  • Maurice Blanchot’s The Most Profound Question.
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