Experimental poetics at Dusie: the work of Chris Sylverster, Alli Warren, Alexander Lara, Todd Lerew and Samantha Gorman.

Dusie Literary Shenanigans

Dusie Literary Shenanigans

Dusie is an online experimental poetics journal online that also produces limited editions of chapbooks signed by their authors. The outlet also allows physical and digital collaboration. The work is varied, but often close to conceptual art, where the novelty in concept takes precedence over traditional writing skills, the aim being to widen our aesthetic responses to the world, reduce the artist’s role and sometimes question the very nature of art. Wikipedia’s introductory article gives some background: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Conceptual_art

I can’t always provide snippets of their work in this post, therefore, but have to comment on productions that readers will want to view for themselves. It goes without saying that the comments are only as I appreciate the work, and this may not always be too deeply. Some pieces are self-explanatory but others seem more intractible, naturally resisting any simple conversion to everyday sense. They are simply as they are, therefore, not ‘poems’ in the traditional sense, but something closer to contemporary artworks, employing words and typographic marks make us question the seemingly obvious.

The first piece is simplicity itself. Chris Sylverster’s ASMR Poem shows a scroll on which the sentence I am folding laundry for you is progressively added to. A static image thus teasingly shows a dynamic event. The piece is here: http://dusie.org/ASMR_by_ChrisSylverster.pdf

The second piece, untitled, is by Alli Warren, and can be viewed here: http://andrewkenower.typepad.com/misc/alli-warren-throng.gif  Sentences and phrases appear on the screen, one by one, and in sequence disappear, following a loose association of ideas. The opening people had lined the banks of the river to enjoy a sporting competition. is followed by I was actually making the vessel. and this by in the abyss of things parts that are asleep. And so on, becoming wackier until we have such things as horoscopes for horses, is it information you want, etc. ending with there was something else, but I forget. So apparently haphazard a progression would be indigestible if run together on the same page, but the interval between sentences being shown ensures that we have time to pleasantly think about them.

The inconsequential becomes a high art form in the third piece: the Audiographic as Data by Alexander Lara at: http://www.dusie.org/fromTHE_AUDIOGRAPHIC_AS_DATA_Alexander_Lara.pdf

We are off to a cracking start with:

As for the 9 armed treatise on classical misadventure, let me recall my own stakes, the drama mislaid in the backdrop of Borneo.

Which continues with:

In one reclusive hamlet I saw an alligator bird, then I heard rich convulsive statements moan as if a partial earthquake had arrived; as if a lone barracuda had descended multiple paths and arrived in the ocean after multiple advance on its life. This was the telepathy which accrued in these borders, of me, a red Australian head hunter multiply displaced. First, the different scent of the jungle, then the purple colour of my harvest pontoon, then feeling the threatening flow of a noiseless solar ocean leaving me unprepared.

Even the Surrealists didn’t venture quite as far as:

I can talk about eccentric blizzard reflection in model fear, hurdling evolved marine  vegetation, but that would only summarize the Strait of Hormuz as a jaundiced money table.

And:

No odd head of an octopus, no de-sistered psalm of eight-legged geniuses, no simulation of chlorine or perspiration could conjure the suit of connective worlds from the sickening sex acts of miniature conquistadors.

And so on: amusing, disorientating but worth a second read.  The fourth piece, Alernate Rules of Play by Todd Lerew can be read here. http://www.dusie.org/Alternate_Rules_of_Play_Todd_Lerew.pdf

It’s a po-faced presentation of rules that apply to a curious table tennis played as the definition states:

This is a game piece for piano four hands in which the two performers play in opposition to each other with the general objective of speedily removing table tennis  Balls from a ‘playable’ position within the piano.

i.e. a cheerful send up of official language in which the Materials, Designations, General Procedural Characteristics, and the Chronological Rules of Play are all duly  set out. The piece  announces itself as:

Alternate Rules of Play Intended for Respectful Submission as Amendment or Appendix to Forthcoming Editions of the Official Handbook of the International Table Tennis Federation (ITTF)

And includes such delicious nonsense as:

2.2.1 The server and receiver alternate in dropping five each of their opponent’s  balls (one at a time) into Register 2 of the piano, still from a height of approximately  18-24″ above the strings. Once all ten of these balls have been dropped, the server  begins play by striking the first note and attempting to remove one or more of her balls from playability.

Whether we understand the world better through these experiments seems doubtful, and they’re certainly not going to ‘speak truth to power’, but the pieces are entertaining, we might say, and leave at that. But an excerpt from Lingua Ignota by Samantha Gorman and Danny Cannixxaro suggests that these may be far from playful exercises: http://www.dusie.org/Excerpts_from_Lingua_Ignota_by_Samantha_Gorman%20&%20Danny%20Cannizaro.pdf. The full video version (a slightly different project involving cell phone messages and a gallery audience) is at: http://samanthagorman.net/Lingua-Ignota

Lingua Ignota, the excerpt begins:

translated as unknown language, poetically explores how language becomes known. In our first encounter, language is unfamiliar, but soon we learn how to parse it: we learn how to interpret. As interpretations become more complex, basic concepts combine to create advanced expressions. We learn from our community and compare expressions to settle on a shared vocabulary.

The author(s) created a poem/text in English and converted this to blissymbolics, which is a non-verbal, graphic language made from base concepts that can be combined to create more complex ideas. The poem was made somewhat ambiguous (‘ to maximize the potential for poetically resonant slippages of meaning between the project’s three translation rounds’), and the text was converted back and forth between English and blissymbolics over three rounds of translation by diverse participants. In this way – I’m greatly simplifying matters – an author’s text / poem:

Language as proverb is cumulative metonymy.
Out of many mouths exchange opens and axioms accrue.
To parse a message, sift the language for its subtext.
Reading is a levy holding against its own purposes.
The fissure originates at the source.
I approach you in the metonymy of another language.
My message unravels in the netlace of your transcription.
There is causality in this.
Your reply is language unknown.
In translation we are completely alone.
To write I must imagine your reading.
By deciphering the text’s body, you become its marrow.
For this translation I give an imprecise gloss.
A word’s gesture is too small to contain the mnemonic that holds us.

Went through these operations: authors text-> author’s text in blissymbolics-> round  one participants’ translations-> round  one participants’ revisions-> round one consensus-> round  two participants’ translations-> round  two participants’ revisions-> round two symbols consensus-> round three participants’ translations-> round three consensus.

Round one  participants’ consensus became:

• Reading is a barrier containing against its creator.
• Vision exists as a dam for the sea, containing nothingness against its will.
• The story of the flood is dammed by the edges of the writer’s opinion.
• The need to see places a levee containing against its imagination.
• reading is the dam that contains ——
• Reading is a boat protecting against its design.
• Reading is a dam holding against its decision.
• Reading can be a hurricane barrier – don’t let your artwork be constrained.
• Readers create a baricade barring against their decisions.
• Read to know a family home against floods held against its creation.
• Read to invent shelter from the storm, a gutter against its fear.
• read living a house foundation against floods contained despite it’s resolution.
• literally be a rock ridged cabin battling the rushing rivers dam it make up your mind
• i in the central self of protective self water body set against what sun

Round 3 participants’ translations was :

• Reading resembles a sea resisting its creator.
• Reading leads to a reservoir of knowledge about people’s origins.
• reading is like a stream punching its baby.
• reading is a shore pressing its birth.
• Reading is a river dismantling its own banks.
• Reading is a pool against their person-creation.
• Reading equals a river pushing its birth.
• Reading equals a conduit forcing its invention.
• ‘To scan’ equals a dike resisting its automaton.

And finally, round 3 consensus:

• Reading is a river resisting its birth.

In short, the varied interpretations readers will make of a poem were by this project consecutively employed to rewrite the poem: a community project with a vengeance, but not far from some strands of literary theory.

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