At last, a month with no deadlines. Time at last to be purposeless and re-read old books. Here’s where I start:
WRITING SOUND :::: BY DANIELA CASCELLA
Lakes, Sounds, Sculptures, Really is a text that I wrote for issue 7 of Wolf Notes, in response to the theme of Representation.
Of listening to, imagining, reading sound art, Concert for a Frozen Lake by Rolf Julius, Sculpture 2 by David Toop and Rie Nakajima… You can download the text here:
Here are two responses to my Borders evening at Points of Listening last month, where I tested a new presentation format reading texts by myself and other writers, playing sounds and film clips – this is a format I intend to pursue more and more in the coming months, both in relation to my new book and beyond:
Here is a blog post Michael Regnier, science writer at the Wellcome Trust:
And a review by Cheryl Tipp for Caught by the River:
Thank you Richard Skinner for inviting me to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Here are my answers:
What am I working on?
I’m editing the manuscript of my next book, tentatively called F.M.R.L. It is a collection of fragments and longer texts (which I like to call deranged essays), each of them working as a possible beginning for another book, and tied together by an attention to listening, reading and writing.
I’m also writing a couple of other texts for anthologies, and for over a year I’ve been absorbed in a written conversation with Patrick Farmer – although I’ve now reached that point where the gravitational pull of the book is at its strongest, hence everything I write ends up in the manuscript, in some way or the other.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I’m not sure what I do can be inscribed in a genre and at the same time I have issues with labels such as ‘cross-disciplinary’: in too many cases they’re just smoke screens.
My writing is quite undisciplined, in the sense that I do not start with a plan or outline or topic, rather I respond to encounters with sounds and words; I let my contingent thinking/listening/reading lead the writing. This doesn’t mean it lacks rigour, but the rigour comes from an editorial glance and ear ingrained in the writing process and from a strict attention to form, pacing, rhythm. In Lecture on Something John Cage says it is not a talk about Feldman’s music but a talk within a rhythmic structure which effects the possibility of nothing – I relate very much to that.
My choice, at a very early stage, was to leave writing unrelated to any funding applications / grants guidelines and so on, hence to write with no such constraints. This allows me to be more daring (but far from me to raise any claims for ‘freedom’ in such framework. There’s no freedom from history, obsessions and attractions: there are, in writing, tensions to move away from them, to leave) and although such a decision poses other types of conflicts and constrains, it’s one that I’m keen to continue embracing.
One thing I’m sure about: the more I write, the less I write. The tendency to write less and less has been one of my main preoccupations since my last book. Maybe because there is an abundance of wordy books on listening and sound, some of them overwhelming to my ears and eyes, my aim at the moment is to write in a way that is less wordy and less linear, with loose and frayed threads, embedding spaces of quietude.
I see my recent writing as an eerily murmuring marginalia around the edges of the current ponderous discourse on sound.
Why do I write what I do?
Is there an alternative?
(My most convincing writing happens without a ‘why’ and a ‘what’, without an object. I’m not so interested in discussing why and what I write if I’m not asked to discuss how I write and where the writing exists.
Therefore, onward to the next question…)
How does my writing process work?
My writing process cannot be separated from my reading and listening processes, and in this sense I am very attentive of what I read and listen to because I believe they shape my words.
Since my writing exists in response to two ephemeral activities such as listening and reading, it takes shape as a series of annotations around a missing core, to the point when the very borders and margins become the core of what I do. Lately I’ve been researching very specifically the emergence, disappearance, degrees of opacity and clarity of my marginated writing, in relation to reading and listening.
In terms of process, I cannot sit purposefully in front of a blank document or plan long writing hours in advance. I write intermittently and I let myself being summoned to write by a persistent or sudden thought or prompt, by sentences scribbled on a notebook while travelling or walking, during a concert or while reading – then the long hours begin, most of them spent re-arranging words. Yesterday I was reading an interview with Roberto Calasso where he says he constructs his books like mosaics and he never knows where a book is going to end. It is, mostly, a process of arranging materials.
I never felt I made an agreement with anybody for my writing, except for my writing. In this sense, I am reluctant to call it work: rather, I write off dictations, encounters with and rearrangements of words. I play in them and then I withdraw from them. I am not expressed in the words I write: I impress them for some time and then go elsewhere. Reading and listening are resonating spaces in which nothing happens other than the fleeting, thwarted, contingent conversations, frictions, thoughts, kinships that they generate or host or complicate. You cannot see or hear reading and listening until they meet life. Outside of their edges, reading and listening meet life and there they speak and sound and gain presence again. Away from themselves and in transformation. How can writing sustain all this?
Here is a link to Lorena Munoz-Alonso, who will post her answers on May 19th:
Lorena is a Spanish writer based in London. I was impressed with a text that she wrote last year on listening to the music by Eliane Radigue, which I found engaging because of the way she mixes the experience of listening with fragments of memory, historical commentary and fiction, in a tidal prose that reflects very much Radigue’s work.
Here is the column of books with objects in them, which I’ve been building while reading, thinking and writing toward Saturday. Objects: absurd, imagined, unreal, absent, unnameable, personified, rhymed and destroyed – however, written.
On top of the column is the usual, now decaying book, the incomplete Italian edition of Melville’s Pierre, the object which I’ve been using for a year to host my words, the absent object in my previous book. In parallel with the column of books, I’ve been writing a column of words toward beyond the object. All of this will be there on Saturday, many words that won’t find any space or time but will drive the reading, such as the object-soul in Arthur Machen’s The Inmost Light or those poems that are beyond the object but are too long to be read.
‘What are the boundaries of an object?’
I’m reading an excerpt from my book in progress tomorrow at Arnolfini, Bristol, as part of their Salon: Fictions and Ethomusicology.
Each section in my book in progress is prompted by a page from another book. In somehow reverse fashion than the five blank pages in my copy of Melville’s Pierre, onto which En abime collapsed, these pre-existing pages are an attempt to bring reading into writing, even closer. Records of reading into writing.
Here is one of the prompts – most likely I will try and re-print these pages into the book as they are, as facsimiles, with my marks and underlinings (made at different points in time), each chapter merging into and out of each page:
Next week I will read from the first draft of a new chapter in my book, at the Sounding Space Symposium in London.
I wrote this chapter as I was immersed in Robert Duncan’s The H.D. Book, that immense work of criticism and autobiography, that feast of literary pleasure, layered work of abandon and dedication which voices a writer’s proximity to, and need for, a silent conversation with other writers.
At one point Duncan reports how in 1891, a month before her death, Madame Blavatsky closed her last essay with a quotation from Montaigne:
‘I have here made only a nosegay of culled flowers, and have brought nothing of my own but the string that ties them.’
Duncan writes of this string as ‘the thread of her argument, a wish that she, and mankind with her, might be released from the contradictions of dream and fact, creative idea and actuality, that tortured her spirit.’
I like to think of my next book as a nosegay. The culled flowers: you’ve seen and read many of them in this blog. The string is in my reading. The title of my chapter is but the string that ties them. Here, I write about three verses of a certain poem, and about a half-remembered lullaby which I may or may not have heard.