A: I went to X Marks the Bökship because I was interested in the convergence of writing and art practice, both its connections to experimental poetry and fiction, but also in what was different about the writing and publications found in such a context.
B: Along with similar spaces including Banner Repeater (London), Motto (Berlin), and Section 7 (Paris), X Marks the Bökship is a venue for the distribution of this work but also where it is performed, discussed, and, sometimes, also written.
C: Pick up a book, open it, look through it, maybe read a few paragraphs, close it, put book back on the shelf, pick up another.
D: Participation in the whole life cycle of a publication informs the aesthetic of the space: between a gallery and a bookshop, a space adaptable for performances and book launches, a Riso printer by the window, a counter for publications that becomes a bar.
E: Francis Ponge writes of “an effort against “poetry””; “We are something other than a poet and we have something else to say.” He asks himself: “Is it poetry? I don’t know, and care even less. For me it’s a need, an involvement, a rage, a matter of vanity, and that’s all.”
F: In a dialogue we conduct by email Nikolai Duffy writes:
For me, reading, often, is a balance between glimpses and fades, connections and gaps. Semantic fields slide and frames of reference come and go in much the same way as my moods come and go.
G:I propose a residency to Eleanor Vonne Brown, proprietor of X Marks the Bökship, to visit a day a week, to read through and respond to the material, alone, when the space is closed.
H:On his Blutkitt blog SJ Fowler writes of when:
genre definitions between avant garde poetry and art die away and the practice of text becomes the join between what has been previously perceived as two wholly different artforms.
I:Reading publications at X Marks the Bökship I find a sociable writing often taking the form of play scripts, with stage directions that make propositions about space, characters and relationships.
J: These texts might be staged on a spectrum between full theatrical production and poetry reading. Sometimes this sociability of writing is intended mostly for its shape on the page and its private reading.
K.People thought Robert Walser wrote in his own private language, on hotel notepaper, cardboard and till receipts. He wasn’t, it was Sütterlin, a particular script taught for handwritten German.
I group together publications I read on my first day at X Marks the Bökship. A copy of Modern Art in Everyday Life has been annotated by an anonymous author. In Sara MacKillop’s re-publication only those annotations are maintained.
In Nick Thurston’s Reading the Remove of Literature, the design of the University of Nebraska Press English translation of Maurice Blanchot’s The Space of Literature is retained, although each page consists solely of Thurston’s annotations.
In RO1& BRtZ d P1sUR ov d Txt, Nick Davies (Nik DAvEz) offers a translation into textese of Roland Barthes’ The Pleasure of the Text, partly, he observes, as a way of exploring the distinction Barthes proposes in his own book between pleasure and bliss.
Davies’ process draws on textese computer programs, which don’t correspond to any individual users vocabulary. Nor do they share Barthes’ vocabulary, so Davies must invent his own textese to complete the project. The opening paragraph of Barthes text (in its original Richard Miller translation) reads:
THE PLEASURE OF THE TEXT: like Bacon’s stimulator, it can say: never apologize, never explain. It never denies anything: “I shall look away , that will henceforth be my sole negation.”
In RO1& BRtZ d P1sUR ov d Txt this becomes:
D PLSUR OV D TXT: Ike Baconz simul8R, it cn sA: nevr apolojyz, never XplAn. It nevr denyz NEtin: “I shaL L%k awA, dat wiL hNs4th my s0l neg8shN.”
Legally, Davies suggests he may have produced a “new work,” no longer covered by the original copyright. Beyond legal criteria, his translation explores the adaptability of Barthes use of the paragraph as chapter and essay in its own right. If these micro units equate to gestures of thought, how is this also evident in the text message?
Davies tests the efficiacy and potential of all these formats. Joe Scanlan’s Red Flags arranges source texts by Joseph Schumpeter, Milton Friedman, Edward Said and Thorstein Veblen using a colour code system that indicates sections of the originals which have been added, left intact, moved, altered, and re-written.
In all these examples, the reader-artist gives material form to their acts of reading, confidently altering or deleting the source text. Other times, as in the score that comprises the cover of Neil Chapman’s Glossolaris, such procedures are combined with the imaginative reverie of the reader, a sense of each individuals collaboration with a text in creating its settings and characters.
Chapman invites the reader to look through their book collections for words or phrases that instinctively connect to the planet Solaris of Stanislav Lem’s science fiction novel. Then, Chapman instructs:
Use the words or phrases to create short scenarios. This is a meditative process. Start with one word or phrase. Stare at it until it gives up an image. Take the time you need.
All of these examples see reading as an engagement with space and time, with writing less to do with creating new original texts than a foregrounding of that scenography.
Mallarmé’s Un coup de dés is one continued source for a spatial arrangement of text in white space, which Marcel Broodthaers responded to by rendering each unit of text as a solid black block.
Michalis Pichler’s Un Coup de dés Jamais N’Abolira Le Hasard (sculpture) presents Mallarme’s text as a single prefatory block of text before replacing both the original and Broodthaers’ version with cut out “voids” that shift reading and writing towards both an idea and experience of sculptural form.
L: My initial plan is to write a bibliography – thinking of Arnaud Desjardin’s The Book on Books on Artists’ Books where he quotes Simon Ford’s idea (concerning Situationism) of the “bibliographic moment” that arises at a certain point in a “subject’s living death.”
M:Publications produced in tiny editions, without ISBN’s, sometimes without any contact information. If a copy is sold, then when I go back the next week to read it, the chance has gone.
N: This is not a bibliographic moment.
O:Cid Corman’s The Famous Blue Aerogrammes is a collection of poems scribbled on air mail envelopes, a form more suited to a poetics of breath and occasion than literary journals or paperbacks.
P:A “scene” formed by all publications at X Marks the Bökship, although that is also a gathering of singularities, whose authors may not read each other’s texts, or regard each other as colleagues.
Q:Which is again why the playscript form is a useful model, not as something staged in a particular sense of a theatrical production but a form for proposing locations, actions, and characters.
R:A space of enquiry akin to Karl Larsson’s stage directions in Consensus (The Room) indicating a room which “may be described as…”, “The building may be described as…” and “The neighborhood may be described as…”
S:Do you have a copy of Forty Faultless Felons?
T: When forms such as notebook or journal seem more appropriate for this essay, it is as something made at the end of a process of writing and re-writing, not improvised at the beginning or during.
U: The sense of quest and search, which Rachel Blau du Plessis in The Pink Guitar, equates to “the psyche bound for glory.” Such structures of apotheosis equate more to sermon than essay, she says, are not practice.
I resume my maniacal, my voluptuous snail-like wanderings… This snail, alas! leaves no silvery trace… While I am distressed by the bad taste of this last phrase, the clock strikes three a.m…
W: Send 1000 copies of your contribution. Richard Kostelanetz will assemble them together in 0.5″ by 11″ books. The title is Assembling.
X: The example of John Berger moving to France (although moving to France is not necessarily what this example is about).
Y: Suddenly aware of the position of my body at the table, the expression on my face, how hungry I am, how heavy is my head.
Z:These questions are those writers in any context negotiate explicitly or indirectly. For myself, I found the questions were much more open and fluid in a space such as X Marks the Bökship because-
I stop myself and begin reading writers whose work explicitly negotiates a position both towards, about, and amongst things, aware of the vast generality of that category, needing such expansiveness, space of/for the obvious:
Today I brought my own books to read.
Things by Francis Ponge is a translation of poems into English by the American poet Cid Corman. As well as its presentation of Ponge’s work, the book shows the different elements of Corman’s own practice: translating, editing his journal Origin (where some of these poems first appeared), corresponding with poets including Louis Zukofsky, Charles Olson, and also Lorine Niedecker, who writes to Corman:
Origin 9 here – well, F.Ponge is a serious person and he’s right – there’s a sense as well as and above precise dictionary meanings.
As Corman writes in his Preface to Things: “language in the brio of its re-lations, our delectation, gone with it.”
Beginning with short poems – The Insignificant, Young Girl, The Last Simplicity, Ponge/Corman’s Things moves into the familiar subjects of the later’s maturity: still-life of cigarette, blackberry, candle, and mollusc.
From this a shift into attempts – Flora & Fauna, The Pebble – to see both object, word and mind moving in and over time, The Notebook of the Pine Woods expanding that further into page forms of dated entries, letters, the published text a form of draft and work book.
Corman’s arrangement is not wholly chronological, but it concludes with Still Life & Chardin and Le Pré/ the meadow, sequences which read here like death-notes, attempts to sum up the writerly attention to Things as they approach both a metaphysics of self and world and what Ponge calls the “funereal,” final arrangements of typographers.
Corman’s own essays offer examples that include traditional critical prose, assemblages of quotations, and letters re-made into poems. In “The Idea of a Mandarin Orange: A Discourse” in his essay collection Where Were We Now, Corman writes:
This not a Ponge-type/ research piece – the poem in search of a science: the words of a thing. This is rather an effort to see what it is seen/once what is seen worms its way into words.
MAN AARG:ESSAY, POETRY, ART PRACTICE by David Berridge will be published by NØ Demand, the imprint of X Marks the Bokship, in June 2013.