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This month in association with 3am magazine and Maintenant the Icelandic Embassy in London is hosting an evening of readings by four Icelandic poets – Bryndís Björgvinsdóttir, Ragnhildur Jóhanns, Jón Örn Loðmfjörð and Eiríkur Örn Norðdahl – with responses presented on the evening by eight British poets. As one of the British contributors I’ve been looking at the work of Ragnhildur Jóhanns, whose interview was posted yesterday at maintenant.co.uk > poetry. Here’s an image of one of her poems:

Ragnhildur Jóhanns

The disruption and reassembly of her cut-up books brings to mind the line drawings I first wrote about here and here and later compiled for AS LINE. These line drawings – lines drawn between things and pages – are attempts to write things down, or keep them, in a way that words cannot. Read the rest of this entry »

Stay perfectly still.

Let the animals keep watch, and let them watch one another. In movements of tail and ear and flinches of pelt let them steadily project between them the quality of risk in the air. Let them instruct by example, twitch provoking twitch, flight provoking flight.

Move slowly and maintain a loose hold of its limbs, and you can pose the body of a sleeping animal so it appears to be awake. With minutely thin supports you can prop its eyelids open and stare it into the forest blind. Stay down, let it dream. Let the dream direct the movement of its eyes.

Let the animals around believe the life of its sleeping eyes and incorporate its gaze into their watch. Let them project the twitches of sleep out onto the forest floor and flee the dislocated threats they seem to show. Let this go on.

Once, and by chance, let their pattern of flight perfectly correspond with the spectacle behind the sleeping eyes which, in a jolt of recognition, conceal even from the sleeper the instant of its waking. Let the animals continue to dart
as it follows them follow its stare.

Now.

Yesterday I found this on Anton’s desk:

He has crossed out a DVD.

He didn’t write something on it first and then cross that out: he actually crossed out the thing. There’s a line right through it and a wavy scribble all the way around it. He’s crossed out both the thing and the shape.

When I found it on his desk I told him you can’t cross out actual things, only words.

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Below is a response to Anton’s comment on my earlier post On Thyme.

Yes, I would rather no human shaping at all.

And yes, where language tries to describe things as themselves, it fails. The description interrupts its object, causes it to recede from description, and in its place describes something altogether different. The thing described is not the same as the coexistent thing that evaded description. The particular quality of a thing – a thing as it is, on its own, “resting in its thing-being” – is precisely that it is undescribed*. Described, the thing is no longer the thing it was, and the thing it was recedes, evading description. Read the rest of this entry »

For the duration of the current exhibition, ON-LOOKING, I’ll be writing regular contributions for the or-bits blog.

or-bits.com is an ongoing curatorial project, a platform displaying contemporary arts and a trigger for the production of new works. or-bits.com is devoted to exploring ways we perceive things, promoting practices and dialogues across and beyond media, and to thinking over and working with the empty web page.”

The current programme features works by Alexandra Ferreira & Bettina Wind, Emma Hart, Irini Karayannopoulou, Radiomentale, David Rule, Annalisa Sonzogni, Davide Tidoni and Andrew Venell.

My contribution will take a broad linguistic approach to ON-LOOKING, with a series of speculations about relations of subject and object in terms of their parallels in language. My posts will appear online here.

Peter Schwenger in Words and the Murder of the Thing [1]:

“In the satirical hodgepodge that is book three of Gulliver’s Travels, the prize exhibit is undoubtedly the Academy of Lagado. Among its improbable schemes is one designed to avoid the “Diminution of Our Lungs by Corrosion”; as well, this scheme would achieve communicative precision and provide an infallible esperanto. It consists simply in abolishing all words and replacing them with their referents:

‘Since Words are only Names for Things, it would be more convenient for all Men to carry about them, such Things as were necessary to express the particular Business they are to discourse on […] which hath only this Inconvenience attending to it; that if a Man’s Business be very great, and of various Kinds, he must be obliged in Proportion to carry a greater Bundle of Things upon his Back, unless he can afford one or two strong Servants to attend him.'[2] Read the rest of this entry »

I propose we each carry a purse containing threads with small clips fastened at each end. One end of each thread would be attached to the inside of the purse, and the other would be clipped in passing to objects and people we expect might be relevant later on. Over time we would each amass tens of thousands of these clipped threads, both issuing from our purses and clipped to our person and personal effects by others.

Provided the threads are sufficiently long and robust and numerous, instead of speaking we could physically tug at the things we wish to denote and finally abandon language once and for all.

Admittedly communication would proceed painstakingly. Read the rest of this entry »

Homologue is changing. Five print publications are coming together in a series called TEXT AS.

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On Thursday afternoon I went to the South Bank to direct an outdoor performance by a solo orchestra conductor, a role expertly undertaken by conductor Anthony Weeden. My initial ‘direction’ (if that’s the right word) was that the conductor observe the people and things moving around him, and conduct them as though they were an orchestra.

It’s a proposition that’s impossible to literally put into practice, and so his real work was to watch, pre-empt, and very speedily react to whatever goes on around him, so that he appears to be conducting it all.
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