Saturday, 2 December 2006

Openned 6 (part 2)

Piers read from a Wrong Sonnet sequence. The form goes like this: fourteen-line poems of two words per line, then of three words per line etc. Piers performs on the pattern of a succession of controlled explosions of dodgy TFL packages. Usually you can discern a drift of dodgy ideas crammed into them.

Like a little cloud of pirates. “Suddenly, with a loud huzza, a little cloud of pirates leaped from the woods on the north side and ran straight on the stockade” (Treasure Island).

My head (including face!) is a bolus of prejudice, and Piers a well-spoken Englishman. These two facts toy with my experience such that I periodically forget or don’t really believe that he’s reading a poem and think, “Wow, Piers is being really weird tonight.”

What is the status of the counterfactual in Piers’s stuff (“arithmetic without numbers” etc.?). I think it’s mainly to do with virtuoso jaggedness of concept: ‘try to think this . . . oh yeh then try to think this’ etc. Compared with various strengths of possibility, conceivability seems a timorous theme. But in Piers’ stuff, it’s combined with serious interest in the wetware of conception – in how concept crystallises in different languages (he goes coco-bananas for translation & many of his poems are at least mildly macronic), and in even more fundamentally-discriminated architectures (how thought occupies different bodies, environments, technologies). This interest sits snugly beside what I suppose is the Language poet’s doubts about Romantic, author-contaminated text (I remember Piers telling me about writing successive lines on different days, for example), and a hushed techno-feminist drift which I noticed for the first time that night.

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