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Currently Reading: Ron Silliman’s The Chinese Notebook

Currently reading Ron Silliman‘s The Chinese Notebook where he ponders what effects what we think fits the page, or suits it. He gets into zen stream,

21. Poem in a notebook, manuscript, magazine, book, reprinted in an anthol-
ogy. Scripts and contexts differ. How could it be the same poem?

It bothers me to be corralled into reading a piece in a particular order. I don’t know why. I don’t read a novel from start to back but shift thru random spots and takes proving my own course before I settle in linearly. Same with CDs. Even sandwiches I can’t be content to peanut butter in bread, sometimes buttering one slice on both sides. In notebooks I flip open, even knowing it maddens me to not know where to find a blank page or last written. I drop notes into random points in file. I resist my thoughts being structured by ready structures. I want to be active not a passive reservoir. Even before I have anything to say I want to practice saying.

Something like Ygdrasil, I know Klaus Gerken intends each issue to read as a complete linear piece, setting up a sort of collective effect, like an anthology or art exhibit, each playing off and building each other making a supra-work. What does that mean to one piece within when it came into being without that context? Is it both stripped and enriched simultaneously? What of the viewer effect? Do I take it back towards how it was created by skipping around and seeing it singly again?

If I take words and treat them not so large as word but as morphemes to slip around then what? Do I further understanding of them, a secondary or tertiary reflection of reality, or further understanding of myself or understanding absolutely so can see the primary reality, or the platonic reality?

24. If the pen won’t work, the words won’t form. The meanings are not mani-

It can be a case of Oh bother forget it! when the tool, internal or external blocks. How many poems and thoughts and revisions and refinements are lost because of some simple instrumental thing, a distracting mode to get to the idea. When you take a few runs at being understood or heard in conversation, how long do you persist? When typing is so much slower than thought speed, how much infomation and connection is dropped? What of audience and the sense of how much they will bear? What flattening happens there?

26. Anacoluthia, parataxis—there is no grammar or logic by which the room
in which I sit can be precisely recreated in words. If, in fact, I were to try to convey
it to a stranger, I’d be inclined to show photos and draw a floor map.

It baffles me how the brains take to words or spatial or aesthetics differently. If one can understand a chart, why not a paragraph or how eyestrain is made by colors? They seem conjoined skills of awareness but they are not lock stepped.

I’ve been thinking about where I am stymied, when my mind delivers gestures where I want a word, small motor movement is a sort of subvocalization that can’t go onto a page. But this page against inclusion of a flick of a wrist is a constraint; natural speech has it. It happens throughout face-to-face communication. People read this paralanguage but it can’t transfer to the page. It can transfer to dance in exaggerated form.

It is bouncing off the concepts explained by A.M. Baggs in her video named In My Language, that spoken word, verbal word is a second language and there is communication which is sensory-receiving, interaction with objects and air and temperature that is language.

It bounces off of Four Horseman sound project (coming Mar 13-April 1 at GCTC). Based on the work of bpNichol and Steve McCaffery, sound and movement and verbal and boundaries all mix.

53. Is the possibility of publishing this work automatically a part of the writing?
Does it alter decisions in the work? Could I have written that if it did not?

Back to the audience. I find myself only able to think some thoughts when with or visualizing people who permit such thoughts, in the face of them unflappable, or engaged. The audience then creates possible direction and by seeking certain people, direction is created. Can it be created by manufacturing a non-existing audience, extending self where it wasn’t extended without a model, as spontaneously as a eureka, and sustainably? Or does without community it wither under the force of counter samples of norms of usual audience? Can one push the limits of the castles in the sky and build extensions to the metropolis?

60. Is it language that creates categories? As if each apple were a proposed def-
inition of a certain term.

Does drawing create categories just as language does? Does movement create categories? Movement can define and describe. It must, mustn’t it? Other animals also have behaviors they teach their young of what to eat and what works for tools so these are categories by mind as the source. Other animals have language as well (crows, dolphins, other apes most obviously as vocal and postural, and at least body language and chemical communication we can sense in ants) but I don’t think language is the base for intelligent decisions or discernment as the direction categories arise from.

62…Margins do not seem inherent in speech, but possibly that is not the case.

Time or separating out linear stretches of thought? What would the counterpart in spoken word be? What effects do margins have, other than being the toupee of the high school essay world (no one will notice)? We flow from bottom of page to top over next easily. Dense compressed with thin margins are a big no-no online based on tracking people’s eye movements criss-crossing a page. Narrow bands of text one can track a line without veering out of plumbness. Newspapers keep narrow columns for ease of reading. It’s a visual parsing. Would the equivalent be syntactic parsing in speech? Would the wide columns be the pacing and dramatic pauses to let things sink in, a lowered voice, a modulated tone that doesn’t rush the consumer of words?

81. I have seen poems thought or felt to be dense, difficult to get through,
respaced on the page, two dimensional picture plane, made airy, “light.” How is
content altered by this operation?

On a cognitive processing level, what’s the difference. Text made based on eye-tracking studies work to guide focus, composes the image of what is to be taken in perhaps in the same way that plain language, lists and all the scaffolding a good public speaker uses allows the brain to take it what it can.

According to Richardson and Spivey Saccades (glance of focus) typically land between the beginning and middle of a word, extends 3-4 letters to the left of fixation and 14-15 letters to the right, 2-3 letter words being
skipped 75% or the time, but 8 letter words fixated on almost always . (page 13 of the article)

More spaced out text allows one to parse slower, get more of what you see.

A fast dense speech or dense text signals the haste one is to use. It is like designing a garden, and the pace expected for the view is set by how far apart one places stepping stones and whether they are winding or straight. It tells you how to use it by its structure. If one is to rush through a path expediently, let it be paved and straight. If the intent is to let one absorb plantings along the way, it is a misguidance to pave rather than have stepping stones.

In poems spaces and gaps aren’t decoration or vanity or stylistic but functional. In text if one is to skim the parcels of sound lures, and ponder, there is more white space on the page. Sure one could stop if a book of haiku say were written out as prose but that’s like a store with no particular aisle for anything, some “almost antique shop” of clutter.

There is choice and time as in google or haiku. As in a web page or ad with spaces to the side, it isn’t wasted space. It does something.

If one has already narrowed in on one area for concentration and study, there is no skim or scan, only head bent slow picking through as in a specialty journal or the commitment to a book that is one long poem.

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2 Responses

  1. The Chinese Notebook is part of The Age of Huts

    Thanks for thoughts!


    AnonymousMarch 14, 2007 @ 1:39 am
  2. Comments from the Blog pond

    Hey! I came across your blog and your kind comments about derek and my *frogments* book and the interview with rob mclennan. Thanks for those. I’m pleased to discover your very interesting blog & look forward to reading more of it.


    Gary Barwin

    AnonymousJanuary 13, 2008 @ 10:57 pm

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