Articles

Sounding/listening through the fog

On Kathryn Scanlan and Friederike Mayröcker

Reading the introductions to Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog and Friederike Mayröcker’s from Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness (trans. Jonathan Larson), I find myself charged with an imperative to listen. Mayröcker’s Embracing is a translated radio play, a Hörspiel — which literally means a “listening play.” Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog is a translated diary, taken from the voice of an eighty-six-year-old and recapitulated from the author’s subjectivity. 

Reading the introductions to Kathryn Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog and Friederike Mayröcker’s from Embracing the Sparrow-Wall or 1 Schumann-Madness (trans. Jonathan Larson), I find myself charged with an imperative to listen. Mayröcker’s Embracing is a translated radio play, a Hörspiel — which literally means a “listening play.” Scanlan’s Aug 9 — Fog is a translated diary, taken from the voice of an eighty-six-year-old and recapitulated from the author’s subjectivity.

Varieties of silence, and near silence

(Jabès, Eluard, Celan, Kundera)

Edmond Jabès. Photo by Bracha L. Ettinger via Wikimedia Commons.

The aesthetic stridency of modernism was frequently accompanied by strong political stances, often with disastrous results. Among the innovative writers who managed to navigate the twentieth century without becoming entangled in its worst excesses was Francophone Egyptian poet Edmond Jabès (1912­–1991). Did Jabès’s attitude toward language offer some degree of immunity from totalitarian attitudes? An inscription in a pamphlet Jabès published in Cairo in 1953 connects to a controversy that pitted Paul Celan and Milan Kundera against Paul Eluard; retracing this historic thread leads to an appreciation of writing that embraces the neutral and the ambient, a writing that courts silence.

The aesthetic stridency of modernism was frequently accompanied by strong political stances, often with disastrous results. Among the innovative writers who managed to navigate the twentieth century without becoming entangled in its worst excesses was Francophone Egyptian poet Edmond Jabès (1912­–1991). Did Jabès’s attitude toward language offer some degree of immunity from totalitarian attitudes?

Strolling around in language

translated by Daniel Owen

I like sweeping. Ironing clothes. Tasks that mainly utilize repetitive motions, like digging or sawing with hand tools. Tasks that make my body present in their repetitions. Then, little by little, like drops of water, waterless and soundless, recollections appear one by one, to join in the celebration of the event of sweeping that I’m currently performing. The tools I use don’t represent (are not a representation of) my body or vice versa. 

Translator’s note: Italicized words in “Strolling around in language” appear as italicized, English-language words in the original.

Jump to Indonesian text.

Strolling around in language

When I touch an object, narration begins to grow, to come to life in my body.

1 or One

Gelatin poetics

On Rachael Allen's 'Kingdomland' and the meatspace of contemporary feminist lyric

(Left) Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland; (right) Ventricle, oil-on-canvas by Maria Sledmere.

In Rachael Allen’s Kingdomland, shades of indigo and lilac leak through the pages like milk, in variant continuums of strangeness and shame. There is, however, a kind of “tint” to these poems that evokes not quite the Kristevan abjection of skin on milk, but something more like the translucent surface of a jelly left to slowly rot. 

Everything about you’s a bit like me —
in the same way that North Carolina’s a bit like Ribena
but rhymes with Vagina, which is nearly the same,
but much darker —
brutal and sweet like disease,
sweet as an asphalt dealer.
— Selima Hill, A Little Book of Meat[1]

G R G W R G R B R B R B W G W G R B B B B

Reflections on Bernadette Mayer’s ‘Studying Hunger Journals’

Bernadette Mayer visiting the Kelly Writers House on March 26, 2018.
Bernadette Mayer visiting the Kelly Writers House on March 26, 2018, for a Fellows reading. Photo by Kelly Writers House staff.

In the reflections that follow, I refer to media-archaeological reassessments of psychoanalytic theory as a way of opening American poet Bernadette Mayer’s Studying Hunger Journals (1972–1975) to new readings. If, as argued by the likes of Jacques Derrida and Friedrich Kittler, among others, psychoanalytic models of the human mind, from the “psychic apparatus” of Sigmund Freud to the schema of Jacques Lacan, are in fact underwritten by the media-technical conditions of their respective historical eras, then how might this insight shift perspectives on Mayer’s book, a project undertaken not only as an aid to psychoanalysis, but also at the dawn of the so-called Information Age? 

Jacques (Lacan) has wise words 4 me, it’s 2 good to B true, you’re 2 good to B’dette.  Bernadette Mayer, Studying Hunger Journals[1]

Saying it all is literally impossible. — Jacques Lacan, Television[2]