Monday, September 25, 2017

Manifesto, 1966

FROM SOME TIME in 1966, this rather breathless and no doubt far too dense summary of what I had then come to believe:

The important things to me as an onlooker having been the sound (in music) the quick immediate appearance (in visuals) or (intermedia) the combination of these always coupled with not the way these final impacts, these appearances, were made (I don't care how it sounds Feldman says Boulez wrote, What I want to know is how was it made) but the way they happen once they have been made inevitably to happen. What it comes down to is an interest, no a concern with process: not techniques of writing/composing/painting/causing inevitably to happen but the objective fact or process or progression from (a point which can never be determined) to (a final position I at least will never fix). Cases in point being the whole Bride, the whole Joyce, the whole dada-surrealism-mid-twentieth century avant garde. The whole Mahler. Any individual Webern. Virtually any one opera. In short, any (apparently) closed microcosm, any closed system. Robbe-Grillet, Marienbsd, Blow-Up, Ionesco, Beckett. Getting lost in one luxuriant paragraph on the island in To The Lighthouse or Patriarchal Poetry or one stanza in The Faerie Queene or a metaphysical poet or wandering in the garden of a composition by Loren Rush or Bob Moran or a painting by Chirico or Magritte or Klee or Vermeer or the wake early in L'Etranger or the word chair in L'Age de raison. Tzara. Conversations with Jon Cott, David Abel, Karlheinz Stockhausen. Performances by Nelson Green, Bob Moran, David Tudor, Toshi Ichiyanagi. Ives: 4th Symphony, piano music, Central Park, Set For Theater Orchestra. Ashley's Frogs. David Goines at work, or Julia Child. This kind of process turns out to be a kind of texture always involving contemplation, but an exploratory kind of contemplation. The activity of absorption. No sort of time process at all. A physical visual impingement surpassing those objectivities set in motion by egos or personalities or intellects, and so we must restrict ourselves to gestures, to activity, to performance, and our reflections must be on the gestures activities & performances. Leave quickly when someone begins a presentation. Everything hard quick & committed, and full full full full. But serene in its vitality & its integrity. And the responses must be quick: no delay. But also no analyzed response, no conditioning: come when you're called, don't bring anything with you. Entities are discrete: constituents disappear within integrated contexts. No viewpoints, no perspective, no beyond, behind, this side or that. An unassailable logic of inevitability is the only teleology to be permitted. Make everything that concerns you an object of your concern, and mind your own business in a businesslike way. And once having committed yourself to that concern, no betrayal of commitment. The subject (of commitment, of concern), being secondary, disappears: cf. The Art (or Process) of Fugue. The agent, having acted, is unnecessary, and withdraws. This is what Dedalus meant by dramatic art. What's left is the process. No room any more for the heroic epic between the objective lyricism which is mood & the lyrical object of process. And having restricted ourselves to the business of being concerned with our gestures our activities our performances, seeing ourselves within the contemplative exploratory luxuriant texture we make of our microcosm. Abandoning a world only when it is fully known; until then returning as often as necessary; but abandoning any world unalterably when it is devoid of surprise. And never offering the insult of familiarity to any living thing (and all things live) but always granting to life the dignity of concern. And maintaining the joy of discovery, and the obligation of continuance, & the vitality: being.

ALL OF WHICH I though I summed up, later, more efficiently if perhaps more opaquely, in this short poem:

David Goines Contemplating the back of an axe.

Monday, September 11, 2017

Doggerel written while driving north

Highway 101, September 11, 2017—

SOMETIMES WHILE DRIVING or riding on these car trips silly verse jumps into my mind:


An ant is on my seat
A moose steps on my feet
A cat nibbles my apple pie
A worm lives in the beet

A crow flies in the sky
A cat nibbles my pie
A dog drinks all the Chinese tea
Six chickens learn to fly

There is no pie for me
A dog drinks all the tea
A fish swims in the goldfish bowl
An owl sits on my knee

Three robbers steal the coal
A fish swims in the bowl
Lions lie on the dusty beach
Under the bridge, a troll

Thank god, they're out of reach
Those lions on the beach
You know it isn't very far
Please, may I have a peach

Cows fly up to the star
It isn't very far
There must be something dreadful wrong
My shoes are full of tar

We have to end this song
I think there's something wrong
Whatever you may think you think
It has gone on too long


The cat's at the whisky, the mice at the rum!
The carpenter's clawhammer's beat up his thumb!
Little Jack Horner can't get at his plum!
Calamity! Catastrophe!

The children have mostly been fed to the bears!
Aunt Martha chokes while putting on airs!
Grandfather, drunk again, falls down the stairs!
Catastrophe! Calamity!

Those mischievous boys have derailed the train!
The surgeon's knife slips while inspecting a brain!
The turkeys all drown looking up at the rain!
Calamity! Catastrophe!

An elephant's eaten our favorite plants!
Apes have intruded and spoiled the dance!
The firemen have rushed off, forgetting their pants!
It's a Calamity!

Thieves stole all the instruments, left just one gong!
All the band's music sounds terribly wrong!
Everything's off, nothing seems to belong!
Calamity! It's a Catastrophe!

Trump's in the White House, and Ryan and Mitch
Make our eyelids break into a nervous twitch!
And the Press has worked up to a fever pitch —
Calamity! It's a real Catastrophe!