TWH? - Publication
March 2, 2010 - Call for Contributions
We had cookies and sweets and potatoes with words and a really good eve - so if you missed it then tough! I probably got to eat your jellybabies!
We left it with a little proposal for a writing experiment (in respect of practice) at the next meeting. Its a hybid of Oulipo and Burroughs - a text that is written with rules but is cut up and reconfigured.
All attending should bring:
The rules will be given out (in the manner of a secret santa) and we will write our 'content' in accordance with the rule we have received...
The idea is that our 'content' and 'rule' should reflect our practice but this does not need to be explicit.... "as the genius will rise up naturally, of course"...
It should be fun but do be clear about your two ingredients before arriving to keep the 'lab conditions' pure!
Notes from our March 9th Session
We missed Barbara and Caroline
General Reflections: Did we do something useful?
After-the-Fact Reflections on the March 9, 2010 Session
Aaron's email: Evening of March 9, 2010:
I thought what came out of the little experiment was really quite ... inspiring, dynamic and startlingly unexpected. I got the sense that the table felt that (with some refinement) this could go on to produce something very readable. We all have our RULES and CONTENT so lets try to repeat the experiment but take it that little bit further. I am thinking in terms of practice relationship but am not putting that out loudly...We can have an update next week; ideally if it was emailed all the written-content would be available to all. We could then try to take this further in a more refined way at a later date.
Isobel's response to Aaron's email: Morning of March 10, 2010 - edited (I've skipped MA's response to Aaron): I was wondering if this exercise was solely about the imposition of rules or constraints to produce interesting outcomes in the way that OuLipo describes as "the seeking of new structures and patterns which may be used by writers in any way they enjoy." It may be that their project was about more than that and some of you will know more about that than me.
However, it did occur to me that it was interesting to see how we responded to the task. For some of us , I suspect, it has the potential to bring out the tendency towards text-based OCD (herewith TBOCD). For others it pushes them towards anarchic rebellion (you know who you are!). So there is a subjective response to the task which shows in the outcome perhaps.
There seems to be an interesting tension between the ‘author’ and the imposed constraints , which are not only the rules but also our individual capabilities.(been reading Ricouer!)
This brought me to thinking about the areas we have discussed previously – subject/object, autonomy, authorship, creative “freedom” and , perhaps, next week the idea of “expressive writing”. I wondered if our rationale for using the ROOLS could also tell us something about these areas as well as producing interesting and evocative outcomes.
So in short the use of rools could be for several purposes including exploring aesthetic possibilities and revealing something about the subject in hand (the content)?
Would like to know what thoughts, if any people had on this or whether I should just lighten up and enjoy it for what it is, regardless. If there is a discussion to be had I’d like to set up something on wiki for this and for our files but for the moment and computerly challenged.
For instance, I’m using an unfamiliar laptop and this is the third time I’ve written this e-mail as the previous times it disappeared mid-flow! Can't put myself through too much of this frustration.
MA's response to both Isobel's and Aaron's emails, morning of March 10, 2010:
Yes, just to pick up on Isobel's email, what we seem to be agreeing is that there's lot going on in this exercise. Tensions between 'rule' and 'self' depend on whether the self is ruled by rules. At the same time, the rules have been 'subjectively' generated - i.e. by ours truly and to that extent they're 'human' or 'expressive'. I thought what was interesting last night was the discussion about where expressivity might occur - not necessarily as an affect of syntax in its more obvious role.
My response to the email stream on the afternoon of March 10, 2010:
Last night was very intriguing - though I agree with Kristen's point about it being exciting in part because it was unknown - I, for one, didn't know what to expect. I wonder how we can sustain this freshness? How we can avoid/confound the rules we'll tacitly produce (are already producing) through these kinds of exercises? (My assumption: exercises inculcate rules.) Thinking about these questions reminded me of the ways in which shared knowledge can be policed through habits, conventions, routines and other forms of socialization...etc.
I suppose I'm stating the obvious when I observe there's a certain amount of irony in the development of TWH? We've gone from things being emergent to a propensity for rules! :) I'm not complaining about this - it's just an observation...
With this said: I'm hoping we're able to cultivate something a little more--unruly, unkempt and uncomfortable through our rule-based approach.
Anyway, I'm up for a wiki discussion closer to the end of the week. I've dumped some stuff there already--it's all mirrored from my page on the Critical Practice wiki. I've included bits of emails here that feel relevant - I've tried to exercise judgement about stuff that sensitive and stuff that's not. It's not my intention to offend anyone by sharing sensitive materials but I do believe it's beneficial to try and record how TWH? is unfolding...If you find this practice disturbing, please tell me and I'll make other arrangements (likely in the form of more aggressive paraphrasing, which does a different kind of violence, I think).