Articles

The Xenotext Experiment and the gift of death

'Eunoia' patanoia patadox patadise

Christian Bök at North of Invention; click here to view his performance. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

When I write, I face my own death. This is the message the writer sends from the edge of the grave. Only days before stepping over the threshold, in Learning to Live Finally, Jacques Derrida, the specter of différence writes back to us as though from the other side:

The trace I leave signifies to me at once my death, either to come or already come upon me, and the hope that this trace survives me. This is not striving for immortality; it’s something structural. I leave a piece of paper behind, I go away, I die: it is impossible to escape this structure, it is the unchanging form of my life. Each time I let something go, each time some trace leaves me, ‘proceeds’ from me, unable to be reappropriated, I live my death in writing. It’s the ultimate test: one expropriates oneself without knowing exactly who is being entrusted with what is left behind. Who is going to inherit, and how? Will there even be any heirs?

Proc[edur]ession, a cross

Stephen Collis at North of Invention (click here to view his performance).

Steve Collis emphasizes the point that elements of practice that conceptualist writers identify as their own are not “new.” Ron Silliman makes the same observations in his reception of Notes on Conceptualisms, remarking that “constraint-based practices are as old as time itself”; that Vanessa Place’s 50,000-word feat of syntactical suspension in Dies has, if one thinks of its concept in procedural terms (say as a kind of biggering and bettering of the Joycean long sentence) been done before; and suggesting that the kinds of conceptual disruptions achievable through strateg

M. NourbeSe Philip's unrecoverable subjects

M. NourbeSe Philip at North of Invention.

I watch M. NourbeSe Philip’s performance of “Zong! #1” a mere two weeks after attending my sister’s labor, and the experiences pull at each other. In both cases there are human sounds exceeding vocabulary and in both cases I am honored to witness a brave and generous and necessary act. But in Philip’s case, this is not a delivery that ends in joy and relief.

Constant renewal

Nicole Brossard at Kelly Writers House

Nicole Brossard at North of Invention. Photo by Aldon Nielsen.

Fearlessly and enigmatically experimental, Nicole Brossard’s work in French (and in English translation) embodies the writing life.

Why is Jordan Scott?

Jordan Scott at North of Invention (click here to view his performance).

Why is Jordan Scott? [Because the spaces = most interesting!] Are you comfortable? [He has shown and will show that languages {aieee!} are always attached to the body and the body is almost always under duress.] Would you like a cigarette? [They (ink, voice, hand signal etc.), being just another ingredient of chance, are never neither ready nor hesitant …] Have they treated you well?