“In Literature it is only necessary to outline the steps. Let the people dance!”
Anthony Kerrigan in his 1962 Introduction to J. L. Borges’ Fictions.

PROPOSITIONAL WORK (the finished work is in mind before I start making it)

  • I’ll start with the ocagraph, which you write off the end of. You hold it between your palms, and spell words by touching letters with very specific movements of your fingertips. The ocagraph is a training tool which you can dispense with once you’ve learned the finger movements, and then you can communicate without it, by positioning your palms the correct distance apart and moving your fingertips to very precise positions in the air. If anyone’s going to understand you, they have to have learned the ocagraph too, but even then, practically it would be impossible to follow the letters being indicated because all the points of signification are too close together. (here)
  • Making Ends Meet is a video of me and Anton whistling to one another a note at a time. We’re both looking out of the window at the traffic rather than facing one another. It’s impossible to sustain any tune either of us might have in mind because we cannot determine the notes one another sing. Each of us only has control of every alternate note, and that means no direct relationships between single notes can be set up. (here)
  • I’ve cut out all the pieces from a book for making model paper locks, and from a book for making a paper Statue of Liberty, and from a book for making a working paper clock. Now I have all the pages with very precise holes in them, with the pieces removed. The pages have been prepared for action by virtue of their active parts being removed. The scene is set, the book is ready for use, and now that it’s ready, its use it outside of it. (here)
  • I’m marking up some books with pencil, annotating them very closely with at least once pencil signal per word. There are too many markings, and the markings are trying to get the words straight by schematising the grammatical and semantic relations between them, as though once the words have been marked up they will be closer to being understood. With the marking up done, with the book bound up, held apart, held open, it’s ready for reading. (… at what point does the reading of the book take place? At the moment of first contact with the words, or once the words have been attended to, or once the attending to has been constructed into some understanding?) (here and then here)
  • Each prepared text is short description or narrative preceded by or including instructions for how to read it. The effect of the instructions is to instigate a second reading of the text, to be superimposed on the first, simultaneous to the primary act of reading. (texts here and here, and related ideas here, here andhere, and preparing pianos here and here)
  • I’m starting to write a story about a person who becomes aware of the physical enunciation of the words he speaks, and this preoccupation bleeds into an overwhelming awareness of the grammatical and semantic relationships in all the language he speaks, writes, hears or reads. The awareness cripples him.
  • What To Do is a performance/talk in which six topics are explained with the aid of diagrams, and each diagram turns out to be the same even though the topics are completely different. The content of the topics is backgrounded in favour of the relationship between the topics. (I’m not sure how relevant this one is to the others, I made it almost a year ago and things have moved on.)

Tomorrow I’ll try to write out the INTUITIVE WORKS, which I do not have in mind as finished pieces when I start work on them. I just made up this distinction today and I’m not sure whether it’s really helpful – the main thing is that it distinguishes works that are easy to write out in brief (the propositional ones) and the intuitive ones, which I have trouble describing succinctly because I don’t know what aspect of them causes them to be relevant to the long term project I think I’m working on.

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