Monday, January 14, 2008

Let's begin to focus…

What we really need, ultimately, is the Complete Jackson Mac Low, a multi-volume multimedia project on the scale of the works, say, of Walter Benjamin or Charles Olson or Gertrude Stein. Thing of Beauty is a good first step in the direction of creating that broader picture, but it’s only the tip of a far more vast canon on the part of the most broadly brilliant innovator of – at the very least – the last half century.

--Ron Silliman, Silliman's Blog, Jan. 14.

STILL THINKING of Geert Mak's In Europe and Alex Ross's The Rest is Noise, I'm struck by Ron's comment this morning. Those histories are impressive and useful, but one of their most important functions is their encouragement that we return to primary sources. Ron's begun a list of significant bodies of sources documenting the building of our time in literature; here's a beginning toward extending it into other fields:
  • Jackson Mac Low
  • Walter Benjamin
  • Charles Olson
  • Gertrude Stein
  • (for I accept Ron's list as inspiration)
  • Geert Mak
  • John Cage
  • Luigi Nono
  • Giacinto Scelsi
  • These are the writers and composers whose work I'll be attending to in the near future. There will be others, of course, speaking from earlier ages, figures like Vermeer and Franz Kline, Proust and W.G. Sebald.

    I've addressed only literature, music, and painting here, which raises questions:
    Of the last fifty years, Who are the philosophers whose work is of the scope and scale suggested by Silliman?
    Who are the painters and sculptors?
    Who the composers? the dancers?
    The lists must be defensible and persuasive; there's less and less time left to attend to them…

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