1. A WRITING STATION
RACHEL LOIS CLAPHAM writes: A Writing Station is used to produce short texts live and in public. The WRITING STATION includes: Two typewriters, pebbles, white A4 80gsm and black carbon copy paper (it generally keeps things close to the ground).
The invitation is to type, punch-in and publish. There and then. The texts act variously as gift, context, conversation slip or document/ation at the discretion of the typist.
VSK: Can you say more about “close-to-the-ground”…
RLC: Close to the ground- for me, this is non networked, literally buried in its moment, in the soil. Also, with regards to the materials present- metal, ink, paper, carbon paper. There is something quite rooted about these materials coming from the ground. Save for the plastic covers on the machines that is!
2. WRITING SOUND
TEXT: By Rachel Lois Clapham. “For Charles Olson” and “For Alan Turing” from an email exchange with Alex Eisenberg.
Type (typos) was recognized as individual. (Some of us sixties poets were trying to find our own voices as opposed, that is, to what seemed an expected and traditional meditational and cryptic “English” inner voice.) That sense of the individual imprint, outside of tradition, outside of an inherited world of form, became immediate.
We used the Gestetner, the letterpress, the typewriter. Type became letter as literal and letter as object.
Elisabeth Mann Borgese… had trained a dog in the 1940s to type answers to questions on a special machine that fitted its paws. The success of this undertaking is still dubious in scientific circles, but the spectacle it made at the keyboard of its machine stuck in Joseph Cornell’s mind as one of the events of the century, and he supposed that all well-informed people were familiar with it. La Borgese’s accomplished beast’s habit of typing BAD DOG when it had flubbed a right answer had brought tears to his eyes. He… had no qualms about dismissing people tediously ignorant of such wonderful things.
NOTA: NOT, NOTES, NOTER (NOTA), NOT/A, pressing on the time, place and quality of notes in relation to performance…. towards a sometime set of performance writing tools.
As part of our collaboration in Leeds, a gathering of materials on typewriter as art-writing practice by VerySmallKitchen can be seen here …
… whilst a conversation on the typewriter with artist Marianne Holm Hansen in a coffee shop on Brick Lane became TYPE TYING TYPINGS TYPIST TYBE.
TEXTS: Collected from Writing Station at the conclusion of InXclusion, East Street Arts, Leeds, 6pm 24th March to 6pm 25 March 2012.
VerySmallKitchen writes: …DocU, morphing into SOB BASIC after a deliberately erratum transcription of a skype conversation… different aspects of the typewriter and how it might bbbbbe… gathering sources from various histories and art and poetry, colleagues and contemporaries, towards new acts of individual imprint..
… actually, this dominates over any desire to actually type myself!… Where do I put the paper? people (under, say, 25) asked in Leeds. Can I do capital letters?…
(1)Simon Cutts’ poem “An ode for the recovery of an olympia splendid 66 typewriter originally designed by max bill in 1939….” This is in Jerome Rothenberg’s A Book of the Book anthology and Cutts’ own A Smell of Printing: Poems 1988-1998. Just the title for now.
(2)The projects on Colin Sackett’s website under the heading Typewriting. As well as the specifics of each project, the suggestion of “Typewriting” as a distinct writing category, transferring and multiplying agency, breaking away from the machine itself, whilst confirming its materiality and history, ghosting into laptop and InDesign…
KNEAD the linguistic material; this is what justifies the label concrete.
Don’t just manipulate the whole structure; begin rather with the smallest elements—letters, words. Recast the letters as anagrams. Repeat letters within words; throw in alien words, peavroog-se do; interpose letters that don’t belong, aacatioaanniya for action; explore children’s secret code languages and other private languages; vocal glides gliaouedly. And, of course, newly coined lettristic words.
To bring down a military plane over Afghanistan. To welcome the sun. To water the plants. To roll back the hose. To unroll it again. To go on watering. To place the hose next to the wall. To displace shadows while displacing oneself. To go back to the typewriter. To worry about the ribbon, to wonder if it needs to be replaced by a new one. To control the desire for sherbets. To breathe painfully. To keep one’s anger low key, sweep away one’s worries. To take off the shoes and wear other ones, and enjoy the result. To see what time it is. To uncork the inkpots. To read “Mont Blanc” on the label. To glance at the watch and realize that it’s time for the (bad) news. To put up with it.
A scaphocephalic X-ray: top-heavy. The bloodshot reels are tin eyes. Pince-nez of ribbon, legion of dishonour. Rictal mouth in mash of metallic teeth, German dentistry. Or: stand the thing on its head and the keys become strokes of electrified hair. Shock therapy. One scarlet lip, bitten and bloody. And the other? Black as human ignorance. Bridled, the scold who has swallowed her own children. The typewriter, long out of service, dictates the screenplay: Bring Me the Head of Emanuel Swedenborg. Stripped of flesh, this instrument is our first skull. It vibrates like a skin drum. An empty cranium filled with wormcasts. It writes the long house into being, as a form of apology; architect of its own ruin. Fingered to erotic frenzy, it talks code. The truths of the sense of the letter of the Word… are found in dump receptacles.
Provenance unknown. Thought to be in use for matters of business until the coming of the word-processor. In essence a memory-device waiting to be activated; to reveal, without human intervention, all the secrets of its infinite interior.
The other night out at the bars, I learned that Nietzsche wrote on a typewriter. It is unbelievable to me, and I no longer feel that his philosophy has the same validity or aura of truth that it formerly did. No other detail of his life situating him so squarely in the modern age could have affected me as much as learning this. He typed Zarathustra? Goddamnit, the man had no more connection to the truth than a stenographer!
6. A LONELY PERFORMANCE ARTIST
NOTES: A & B (above) are from (A) Fred Wah, Faking It: Poetics & Hybridity Critical Writing 1984-1999 (NeWest Press, 2000) 246 and (B) Guy Davenport, Every Force Evolves A Form (North Point Press, 1987), 146.
(3) Oyvind Fahlstrom Hipy Papy Bthuthdth Thuthda Bthuthdy: Manifesto for Concrete Poetry (1953) in Antonio Sergio Bessa ed. Mary Ellen Solt: Toward a Theory of Concrete Poetry, OEI No.51/ 2010, 257-260; (4) Etel Adnan, In the Heart of the Heart of Another Country (City Lights Books, 2005), 104; (5) Iain Sinclair, from “Commentaries: The Typewriter” in Sinclair and Brian Catling, Several Clouds Colliding (Bookworks, 2012), 15; (6) Sheila Heti, How Should A Person Be? (Henry Holt & Co., 2012).