A unified eye

On Jake Pam Dick's 'Lens (a translit)'

St. Light Bulb, drawing by Pam Dick (http://www.drawingcenter.org/viewingprogram/share_portfolio.cfm?pf=1550)

Transcribed From A Conversation in Bryant Park Near the Noisy and Annoying Appearing of A Skating Rink

It’s hermetic!

JK2: 48 postulates: “I am my world: the homocosm.”

It’s this really strong assertion that there are no politics.

But Jake Pam Dick is a philosopher.

Spliced biographies and fantasies of people hilariously standing in, posturing, as philosophy (as critique, celebration, correction, of those people, and philosophy).

Those particular people: 

Then the issue of the whole, how to become it. The beautiful doesn’t have to be beautiful. Sublimity gave moral freedom or freedom of the aspect.  Cf. Kant (heard by Jakob), Spinoza (read by Georg), or the German Romantics (read by Jake/James). 

I am my bed, I made me up, now I must lie in me.

It’s sharp inversion…

The next day the world was slow to appear, when it did, it was nasty.

The person precedes the world, the social. I read here a strong rejection of the social. And yet.

I see this as an apologia. Maybe that’s not the right word for it.

What is that?

A struggle, like the fancy literary word for justification. A literary philosophical argument for a life of reading as justification of the project itself. It’s not an easy one. It’s not a justification to the reader and it’s a justification to itself.

Here is the argument, again in Jk2.

Jk2:32 Their conversation a mere monologue, although by many voiced.

Jk2:32 I prefer a dialogue by one alone voiced. The solitary diverging.

Jk2:32 Make the two into one, 2=1, that single one the tract, the royal—no, Hermes—inkdom.

Histories compelled to be patched together, sucked into this vortex(t).

That’s the delight of the work. But that’s not what I am talking about yet. I want to talk about the work as a whole. To do this type of work in the contemporary milieu, there is this need to justify this type of occupation.

I'm assuming James is James Joyce.

No. It’s something else. It’s in Pam’s email giving context on the work:

Lens (a translit) engages with the writings and lives of Jakob Lenz and Georg Büchner (author of the prose poem novella Lenz.) It rewrites Georg's Lenz, analyzes Lenz, transmutes an epistolary novella by Lenz himself, transposes Georg's own letters, riffs extensively on the non-canonical Gospel of Thomas, and ends with a list of unpublished books by Dick. The 6-part structure is lifted from Archipelago's book Lenz, which includes not only Büchner's novella but also sections by Goethe, Oberlin, a series of notes, a translator's afterword, and background readings. The Gospel of Thomas part is motivated by Lenz's preparation of a sermon in Lenz, and by the overall spiritual/social/political pursuits of Lenz and Büchner. Lens explores ideas of multilingualism, fragmentation, transient subjectivity, melancholia, despair, euphoria, indifference, empathy, etc. It's an iteration of what I've been calling incestuous poetics (i.e. making out and off with sibling texts.)

The pleasure of text stands in for social action. An assertion, or proposition: as I collect these parts that have created me into one, I am doing the making of the one and all that exists as the one. The first person singular is all that exists in terms of first person, because of the work.

She turned to go, he threw himself out of the bed, landed prostrate at her heels with a weird eye in his look. Listen, he said, this idea just had me, if only I could figure out whether this is bad news or a good novella. I mean a gospel/poem. You could try it out, here in bed, he hurled himself back into it, looked frankly at Inger. But she had already left, so all he saw was her negative space. Later Roald decided he was disgusted and made evacuation plans.  Inger a distant postulate. James burst in on Roald. His head a slippery doorknob which life or God couldn’t grasp because it was greasy. He had his left arm in his right hand, the nervous circuitry hung out from the shoulder like electric spaghetti.

I saw that as a need to sustain the energy of reading. In the reading of the texts every single image becomes an object. The scene is happening as its being read. The world outside would be too overwhelming.

I think James is James Joyce. Unless Jake Pam Dick told you something different.

No. There is that whole list of people who this is about and James Joyce is not one of them.

It doesn’t matter.

Is it James Joyce or is it not James Joyce. 

I don’t think it matters.

Here's why I thought it was interesting. All the Pam Dicks are always writing about multiple people. I don’t think we need to worry about that.

About knowing?

The reason why I started to think it was James Joyce was certain lines reminded me of Ulysses.

Readings are stupid because aural, I miss the words as tiny drawings. James prefers to look at things.

That could be Robert Walser. The need (for things) to be handled.

There is very little containment except the act of wrestling with it (the gangly and overwhelming).

There are paragraphs. But they are very sprawling. The narratives are floating stratospheres like bean dip aquariums. 


The bus refused to listen. No amount of cutting will relieve you. Chopstick sonata. Chapstick sanity. I do not want your kisses, whispered James. The pen was deep cerulean blue and somebody had something.

Everything is floating in layers but it’s also moving. Those were my images of the structure. Bean dips and aquariums. Crazy chaos inside the head or the house then it’s planted, plopped down. 

There is also a sort of raunchiness.

Spasm is its formal code.

A myth being embalmed.

Lens, in all these 6 parts, is dredging up something that’s dead and redisplaying it. I feel like the motivation for that other than a personal excitement in the original texts and constellation of texts is putting all these people together. A very stylized exhibition display.

You just went through a lot. Start again with the embalming.

If there is this cast of characters that get placed and replaced with each other, intercut, transposed, transmuted with each other, her words, their words, it’s like how is it all supposed to come together as a thing that is then talking to the reader. It feels like a collection. The way it is being collected is the thing.

That’s what I was saying before, that formally it is contained. That there is all this shit flying all over the place but formally it is very structured.

Is this supposed to be pointing us towards the source text? Do I need to go read Lenz now? Even a little bit?

I never know the answer to that question. Personally I think no. There are a lot of books and writers that do that. Beverly Dahlen's A Reading, Rosemarie Waldrop's Lawn of Excluded Middle, Caroline Bergvall's Chaucer work, Alyson Singes and the rest.

Then if we are writing about it, is there some baseline research we need to do.

The city of the text.

The mind wants to live as a text.

Object oriented. Words are objects.

She fell with all her pronouns, whereas Lenz tried to jump from his name. Georg hallucinated. What you hear when the languages don’t mesh. Solipsism does not deny the existence of others, it only shows your access to them as mediated by your own existence. So they exist in you.

 They are cascading. The self is always breaking open by the weight of all these words or images. There is no self. This is a manifesto that struggles with the problem that there is no self and yet the only thing that gets represented is the self. That the only source of representation is first person singular. Yet the self, the thing that is always transmorphing transmuting, is based on the words it encounters that are these objects that become images that become things. **

The argument is that it’s hard enough to have a self. To just have a self would be to be in the world. It’s hard enough to be in the world but the world is also asking you to have a self.

This is helping me understand it. Because my understanding was that it restarts every few lines.

My sense of it is the bawdy. It's lascivious delight. In the game are these vectors of encounter between the different texts. There is this gesture of them as characters. As invisible friends.

They are friends, absolutely. Mischievous. Like Kafka’s assistants in The Castle. They are the Amelia Bedelias. The messy of being a person, a trans person, ambiguously means both being a multiple and rejecting the multitude to have a self. Is that the trans of the lit in Jake Pam Dick's 'translit.'

Jk8: 41 How I put on the Batman t-shirt to conquer fear…

JJ8:57 The hustle a double negation. The ambidextrous dash goes both ways.

JJ9:06 Amplified, amped. Am per signed; am personed.

(And here are some links to more Pam Dicks, see vimeo from 21 Grand below):

Except from Postmodern Culture

Crumbs (from Deliquent, Futurepoem 2010) at Brooklyn Rail

from I am the Robert Walser at Brooklyn Rail

Trans Verse (or, Travers Tranifesto) at EOAGH