Date: Fri, 4 Jun 1999 12:32:49 -0400 (EDT)
The Writers House "hub" group was discussing the concept of "below the word." At one point, Shawn Walker wrote:
"A complementary activity is something like the overwritings of the Pledge of Allegience (by Magee or Lee Ann Brown), in which the words on the surface are meant to "suggest" the Pledge, which forms their aural base. This is a bridge to questions of rhetoric and architecture."
Al Filreis then summarized some elaborations of this notion:
Shawn and all: This particular form of overwriting under-the-word meaning can also be discerned in (to take almost random examples from among many possible): * Cage's chance recastings (deranging the letters of words) * Bernadatte Mayer's similar plays with "derangement"--e.g. fooling with indexes--esp. in work about 10 years ago * Jackson Mac Low's early musical celebrations "around" words and phrases * early(ier) Language Poets' comic torturings of idioms, especially in Bernstein and Perelman * (needless to say) jazz quotes (e.g. listen to Coltrane long enough and you begin to hear ditties like "A tisket, a tasket....") * computer "bots" such as the wonderful "Chomskybot" which takes a passage from Noam Chomsky and randomizes it into "plausible" new arrangements You can "hear" the "Pledge" in Mike's many re-citations of the memorized-to-the-point-of-meaninglessness wording. Same with Bernstein's "Dysraphism," for example, though it's not as melodic as Mike's poem. More aggressive derangements, for instance at the level of the word and the letter, make it hard to "hear" or "see" but because (as in Mac Low) you know it's there, you experience the art "as if" it's under the word. --Al Notes: 1. Lee Ann Brown: "Take a favorite song & transcribe it / Then perform an operation on it" she tells her students (http://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/pomo-exercise.html). 2. The Chomskybot makes me think that Mike Magee was being a bot of sorts when he wrote his "Pledge" poem after about the 10th overwriting.
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