July 7, 2010

Continual Surface

Naropa's SWP is coming to an end. Three days left. Then manuscripts will be turned in and commented on and people will graduate and leave Boulder or get a job or vacation in Florida. We will disperse, then some of us will resume again in August.

Week 1 began with an opening panel called "Personal Ethos: Coteries, Infrastructure, and Gossip." And then the SWP began to unfold, like a glove-box map, in exactly this way.

I taught the MFA class, which created a kind of horizontal through line (at least for me), connecting distinct moments. Every Monday, I sat in the back row of PAC, in a chair that had a yellow sign, which told me not to sit there unless I was willing to work.

Brian Kitely spoke of parataxis; Akilah Oliver discussed Kristin Prevallet's BP demonstrations; and Elizabeth Robinson read Dr. Seuss. Every Monday, in the afternoon around 4 pm, in an un-airconditioned Sycamore Room, 15 students and I discussed Joan Retallack's Poethics:

  • Transgressions and border incidents
  • Finding a form that accommodates the mess (Beckett)
  • The clinamen: the unpredictable swerve, producing, of course, the unexpected trajectory
  • Wagering: risking invisibility and unintelligibility
  • Wagering: accommodating interruptions and digressions
  • Alterity: the state or quality of being other
  • Fractal geometries: complexity: not always being able to see the pattern emerging
  • Remaining in motion, when in doubt
  • Redefining relationships between
    1. order and disorder
    2. pattern and unpredictability
    3. finite and infinite
    4. chance and intention
    5. zero and one: fuzzy logic
  • In other words, inhabiting the space between binaries.
If I told you that each one of these ideas played out this summer, you might not believe me. But I saw these poethical statements creating a lens. Anne Waldman started the month off with this: "Nothing is true. Everything is permitted." It seems strange to me now, how each moment in text lived a moment this summer.

The other day, I gave a presentation: Liminal Architecture: Gordon Matta-Clark's "Building Cuttings."

Liminal: the transitional stage of a process that occupies both sides of a threshold.

Matta-Clark's work momentarily salvages detritus and waste and questions the function of space in order to alter our perceptions. Walter Benjamin writes: "It is shock that brings someone engrossed in reverie up from the depths." And Matta-Clark does this. His invention confronts our understanding of the architectural narrative, blurring the lines between inside and outside, between development and decay, between audience and participant.

It's difficult to connect the dots for you (for myself) in this narrative because the pattern(s) that emerged over the last 23 days was unexpected and complex. It interrupted the habituation, the "normal" function of space. It shocked many of us from passivity into the present moment.

It is difficult to connect the dots because I am still in the interstices, the lattice, the liminal movements.

So, I will leave you with this: when Matta-Clark cut off the roof in Rooftop Atrium, he created a structural paradox: a hollowed center that united fragmentation, an aperture that connected the segregated spaces. He said of this project: "Nothing but light worked."

Never is there a time for a rehearsal of blue. It is a continual surface.

Matta-Clark's Splitting