Posts tagged ‘writing’

12 May 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

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:
http://selfselector.co.uk
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.

22 December 2013

the great beauty

I’ve written a new part of my book in response to this film, The Great Beauty, that I’ve been obsessed with since I saw it. Or better: I’ve written in response to my memory of the film, having only watched it once, at the cinema, not making any notes. I am partly restless to finally watch it again, partly reluctant, in any case curious to see how the writing will change on a second and third (and more) viewing.  So far I’d never warmed to any of Sorrentino’s films, I always found them too stylised, controlled and smart; this one though, there’s an undercurrent of unrest and a magma of discontent, it is a portrait of void and of Italy’s void and standstill, doubled up in the standstill of a writer who doesn’t write. And there’s Rome at its best and worst and warmest, at its most vivid and most decadent. Sharp points throughout, about art and about politically engaged art. An unforgettable scene of suspended beauty in Bramante’s Tempietto. Parties, how Romans like their feste. And there’s Neapolitan wit, which I miss. Then a while ago I found out that the film’s main actor, Toni Servillo, is going to be next year at the Barbican, in a play I’ve also written about, Inner Voices by Neapolitan playwright Eduardo de Filippo, and I don’t know if it’s because this year I’ve returned to many Surrealist books and texts, all these coincidences begin to stir me profoundly and now I know it’s really time I finished this book. Enough for a new year’s resolution.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAmHqTe8OqY&rel=0

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fJfvX6zPAuQ&rel=0

29 November 2013

norns

I’m reading an excerpt from my book in progress tomorrow at Arnolfini, Bristol, as part of their Salon: Fictions and Ethomusicology. 

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24 November 2013

always the shadow and not the prey / records of reading with writing

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:

Scan

 

 

 

3 October 2013

ephemeral

Never satisfy, always point away and aside: on those borders between the I and the double you’s, and their doubles. I have been working these months to make my writing fleeting, to make it so that it’s not possible to take notes out of it, make it unquotable, no resolving sentences or all-encompassing conclusions. I have been drawn more and more to writing texts that have a tendency to disappear, and that will convey in you a feeling of ‘having been there’ although not quite sure where. (from a notebook, 18 August 2013)

I’m interested in the shift from real to fiction and back from fiction to real that occurs every time I am confronted with a memory and the impulse to document it. In such context I am not prompted to classify, but to interpolate: in its Latin origin the verb ‘to interpolate’ does not only mean to insert in a text something of a different nature, but also to refurbish it, at times even forge it. Our memories are refurbished and forged too, when we write them: they can never coincide with their event, and words will never be time-capsules-on-demand. A text is not an untouchable document calling for classifications: it elicits what is not there, what can be perceived across its borders.
So I think of the borders of my experience, recorded and recalled. Where, and how do I articulate it, when I write? Rather than considering memory, I’d like to think of the history of a memory, as it moves from fixed document to yet another reinvention, slightly different every time I write, transformative and entangled. Language, when I write after my recollections, functions as a field of associations, a weaving of phrases echoing other phrases, so that I can begin to be infected with the sense of other meanings from the past, within those present. It is not about remembering an immutable past: it’s about the possibility of a present, which at times can also be a sonorous nothing, a stuttering reverb, a resonating chamber for thoughts and clusters of words that were not created anew but cast from words that were before, recalled from archival layers. In proximity rather than in understanding I am cut through by voices I don’t want to explain, but hand over to you before they expire.

As I write I recall some verses from a favourite song by Arthur Russell called Home Away From Home, they seem to prompt me further: The birth of the moment is never ending / The rest is in the centre. I think of writing as the never-ending birth of a moment against the rest in the centre, its cry outstretched beyond its edge. Where is the edge of the tapestry of my I, woven in writing and unwoven in listening, reading and recalling? In the 1950 foreword to his ethnographical and autobiographical and truly visionary journey L’Afrique Fantome, Michel Leiris writes: ‘Truly a human measure, my horizon’. Sixteen years before, he’d closed the book saying: ‘There’s nothing left for me to do … but dream’. The time of each recorded memory is spanned by and spinned around the horizon of now and the edge of dream. In the thread of every memory I hear what wasn’t there and I make what is gone, actual.
When I tried to make sense of – dare I say, theorise – the proceedings around this, I failed. It was always as if my attention dwelled in the peripheral – accidents of hearing, stories, personal trains of thoughts – rather than the assumed core, up until the time I realised the very core of my research and writing was in fact what was normally deemed peripheral. I have spent all these months working on my borders and on my silences. With time, writing has become more and more a way of reaching into what I cannot grasp or keep within the dimly lit borders of the self and of the memories that still prompt it: a way of adding on to experience, or to reshape it. As Lyn Hejinian stated in the title of her 1978 book, Writing is an Aid to Memory. Not the reverse. Never. Writing does not derive from memory: it makes memory. It is an act of fabulation, rather than a transposition of a lost, detached, original truth: its engaged and mutable polyphony adds to an evolving process. Michel Leiris writes extensively in his autobiography Scratches/Rules of the Game, of the making of memory, of the reverse effect of a memory appearing solid, like a strange object reflecting ‘our real self’ on to us who seem lost and unreal and transient. His words outline a self-challenging ‘I’, body and mind, showing at once vulnerability, process and presence: they’re not concerned with making sense univocally, but with exploring possibilities for meaning.
As a reader, which is so strictly connected with being a writer, I participate in an act of discovery made accessible to me through other writers. I apprehend texts, even if I’m not acquainted with what they write about. I see their form that states itself and speaks to itself and to me and once more, I see in each of them the individuality of an I opening up to many you’s. Writing appears in its singularity and in its histories of relations, it does not need explanations that cling to external references. It is an event, unique and historical that sets the conditions of its own functioning. Michel de Certeau showed in The Mystic Fable how the act of fabulation is triggered by the statement, ‘I will’. I read this enunciation, all steeped towards the I and containing nothing unless I resounds once more in the double u of will. This means that I in its ambiguity, can be a source of misunderstanding on one side, but on the other, it emanates the thrill of making something happen. The creative imperative is a pull toward the unspeakable so strong, that you want to make it present. Where am I, when I write? I ask this question because language is also the matter in which I take distance. As Robert Duncan wrote in The H.D. Book: ‘…in writing, deriving as I do, I burn the nets of my origins’. So in my book En abîme. Listening, Reading, Writing. An Archival Fiction I chose to make up and take distance from a number of scenarios. I did so to disrupt the mimetic function of the narrating I and any claims for an authentic origin, to play instead with layers of fabulation and focus on the actuality and impact of the text: I enacted my I, probing nudging teasing its doubles, turning into the double you’s of why where what whom. At some point I realised it was necessary to dismantle any nostalgic visions related to memory and recollections, so I decided to write a section of my book as a palimpsest of poems and texts written by other writers about a specific site in Rome, trying to exaggerate the effect on the edge between hyper-reality and artifice. The poems and texts I chose were all written in struggle and bloody occurrences by writers such as Pier Paolo Pasolini, Carlo Emilio Gadda, Antonio Gramsci, Herman Melville, in times of personal and political conflict. The effect of hyper-real trick was exaggerated by the fact that I actually never was in that place that I was writing about. Or was I? I think I was, I think somehow I was there because presence is in the words, or at least I think we should challenge the assumption that presence is only made by actuality. What is present, are the borders of the I that make the text, their elastic boundaries expanded and refusing to be one and carved in stone. When they ask me where my authentic I is, I reply it’s in my words, not outside. Ultimately, to the readers, it doesn’t really matter if I was ever there: what matters is the here of their readings.
Where does the arbitrariness halt, in such type of operations? It halts once more at the borders of I and its fluctuating archives, on each individual permeable body. As I stitch words together and let the resulting off-centred construction clash with any ideas of permanence, I realise that a distinctive pace holds my words, with recurring rhythms and turns of phrase. Harry Mathews called it the experience of discovery through syntax. Flannery O’ Connor called it the mystery and manners of writing. At first I don’t understand it, yet I am open to the shape my words take on with their own pace. It is the pace of my thinking-breathing, that inhabits me although I cannot tell how it functions; the space where my archive really comes back to life, where I stitch all those fragmented records and traces together, the references that have been layered in my understanding through the years, the singular experience in every edit, absorbed and shadowed by what happens around my words and in spite of them. Then, I am tempted even more to claim for the precariousness of any writing. Because if I believed that words could stand forever on their own, and keep any experiences still, safe and protected within, I would be beaten: they are eroded by what they do not say but prompt to say.

 
In recent months I have become more and more concerned with responding to sounds by working on pacing and form. I’ve been working recently on a series of texts that start with a seemingly rational proposition and then crumble down into interpretive delirium: for me it’s a way to reclaim the enjoyment and complexity and incoherence in listening, and to work with the residual aspects of listening, all those thoughts and detours that are often dismissed as irrelevant and that seldom find a place in texts on sound. I’m interested in trying to state the inability of naming ‘these sounds’ and yet the possibility of writing them nonetheless.

***

In this context I always like to mention a passage from the book Sound and Sentiment by Steven Feld. At one point, he appears riddled while he’s cataloguing and classifying birdsongs, and one of his Kaluli guides tells him, ‘Listen – to you they are birds, to me they are voices in the forest’. I like to think of the references within a text as voices in the forest. They are not markers of something else, they make my words and prompt me to wander and get lost in them, not to classify them. Hopefully they also invite the readers to wander in their own forests too, and the entire process is like a passing on of prompts to pass around and through. My Pasolini and my Melville and many others are the voices in my forest, through which I have learned to understand and be accustomed to or curious toward the world. They don’t denote the stillness of classification but the contingency of my history with them. And when I say that each text has a history, it’s a history not with a capital H but a small h, and maybe we could talk about the aspiration in the h of history echoed in the h in ephemeral: a whispering, a transience. From the double you of where, to the h of history and how.
I told you of reference as material, now I’d like to switch from material to medium: a space to connect. My medium is listening onto writing and back, writing onto listening: there I connect. Medium is also illusion, and trick, and risk. Is it listening to, or listening through? Illusion, or understanding? I can never describe a sound, I can write sound: I can build a frail yet precise cobweb of words and cut-off blanks. It almost feels as if I was never quite entirely there. Not if I found the appropriate words, the correct way of speaking, the correct tone of voice. I write and each word is accompanied by another underwhispering, fragments rustling out toward me, kernels of another despatch, receiving and transmitting into this day and into the coming night and at once sending them inward, to the assumed crucial point of each memory. New memories mix with older, more traditional versions of my past and rewrite it, until sometime in the stiff dance of these alphabet letters I drift away absent-minded along broken lines and it’s really no longer I writing, but they. I begin to wonder about this system of tricks and echoes and relays in writing/listening – like Dante in Inferno Canto 13, when he’s lost in yet another forest, and hears disembodied voices as their souls are caught in trees, and there is one verse that goes ‘I believed that he believed that I believed’, I think of echoes and mishearings that write.
Discussing The Nature and Aim of Fiction Flannery O’ Connor wrote: ‘People have the habit of saying, “What is the theme of your story?” and they expect you to give them a statement [such as]: “The theme of my story is the economic pressure of the machine on the middle class” – or some such absurdity. And when they’ve got a statement like that, they go off happy and feel it is no longer necessary to read the story. … Some people have the notion that you read the story and then climb out of it into the meaning, but for the writer the whole text is the meaning, because it is an experience, not an abstraction.’ Experience writes. It is generated by the time spent looking, staring, listening, recalling … reading. It will never reveal layers of clarity: it’s about deepening and articulating the sense of mystery and incoherence and complexity in life – what I can witness to, not what I can theorise about or clarify. That’s why I aim for what has not yet been written or understood.

Never satisfy, always point away and aside: on those borders between the I and the double you’s, and their doubles. I have been working these months to make my writing fleeting, to make it so that it’s not possible to take notes out of it, to make it unquotable, no resolving sentences or all-encompassing conclusions. I have been drawn more and more to writing texts that have a tendency to disappear, and that will convey in you a feeling of ‘having been there’ although not quite sure where.

Welcome to En abime, part 2: Ephemeral.

13 July 2013

another abîme

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12 July 2013

my summer writing project

My summer writing project.

To move from this:

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To this:

photo 1

photo 2

Via this:

photo 3

 

 

photo 4

10 May 2013

quite unreal and like a dream

I’m writing a part of my book about being other, in another place.
Writing, thinking, feeling the sensory overload encountered while reading Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea:

There were trailing pink flowers on the table and the name echoed pleasantly in my head. Coralita Coralita. The food, though, too highly seasoned, was lighter and more appetizing than anything I had tasted in Jamaica. We drank champagne. A great many moths and beetles found their way into the room, flew into the candles and fell dead on the tablecloth. Amélie swept them up with a crumb brush. Uselessly. More moths and beetles came.

‘Is it true,’ she said, ‘that England is like a dream? Because one of my friends who married an Englishman wrote and told me so. She said this place London is like a cold dark dream sometimes. I want to wake up.’
‘Well’, I answered annoyed, ‘that is precisely how your beautiful island seems to me, quite unreal and like a dream.’
‘But how can rivers and mountains and the sea be unreal?’
‘And how can millions of people, their houses and their streets be unreal?’
‘More easily,’ she said, ‘much more easily. Yes a big city must be like a dream.’
‘No, this is unreal and like a dream,’ I thought.

The long veranda was furnished with canvas chairs, two hammocks, and a wooden table on which stood a tripod telescope. Amélie brought out candles with glass shades but the night swallowed up the feeble light. There was a very strong scent of flowers – the flowers by the river that open at night she told me – and the noise, subdued in the inner room, was deafening. ‘Crac-cracs,’ she explained, ‘they make a sound like their name, and crickets and frogs.’

22 April 2013

Craig Dworkin on En Abîme

I first became aware of Craig Dworkin’s work through his book Reading the Illegible (2003) and his contribution to Information as Material. A poet, critic, editor, and professor in the Department of English at the University of Utah, Craig is also the author of No Medium (2013) and editor, with Kenneth Goldsmith, of Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (2011). He runs Eclipse, an online archive of radical small-press writing.
Here are Craig’s words around En abîme, at once a response and an echo to my book:

Daniela Cascella’s En Abîme both describes and enacts the dynamic between writing and sound that gets put into play whenever we write about the auditory or sound out the phonetic limits of writing. Her soi-disant “archival fiction” thematizes the writing of sound in scenes where phonographs serve as mnemonic triggers or are deployed as answers in an interview, but the archival sense of “records” also plays throughout. Moreover, in its investigation of the dynamic between writing and sound, Cascella’s work makes a compelling argument for rethinking the metaphors by which we understand both reading and listening: moving from surface and depth to horizon and edge to entanglements and knots. Picking up on Herman Melville’s description of his unsuccessful book Pierre as a “shallow nothing of a novel,” Cascella patiently demonstrates that the depth-model of value (“shallow”) and the ontology of “nothing” (as John Cage had proved for “silence”) are far from certain and stable. Indeed, with its five blind-printed pages, her own second-hand copy of Melville’s novel reanimates the metaphors of ghostly haunting and diminished echoing that echo and haunt her text in turn. A visual version of an echo, “en abîme” names the recursive relationships that animate the formal structure of the eponymous fiction, but the abyss is also a formation where echoes emanate — the space required for resonance, the cry of the voice de profundis. Like Robert Walser’s poetry, Thomas Mann’s Doktor Faustus, and Gert Jonke’s novels (such as Der Ferne Klang and Erwachen zum großen Schlafkrieg), En Abîme conducts philosophy by other — narrative and aural — means. Cascella is a phonographer of the mind, and her work repays the replay of repeated auditioning.

21 February 2013

Patrick Farmer interview, part 1

In December last year I interviewed Patrick Farmer about his book try I bark, for a short article commissioned by The Wire. Below you can read the full-length interview. It will be followed in a few weeks’ time by a second instalment, that Patrick and I have decided to add on to our first email exchange, and that will consider other aspects of writing and listening (and responses to more recent texts).

D. One point I’d like to introduce has to do with words as recordings, and specifically your connection of writing with field recording – which forms did it take during your residency in Estonia and how did it result in try I bark?
(Incidentally: one of the first written texts known to mark the passage from Latin to Italian, from the 8th century, addresses ‘writing’ as ‘field’)

P. Arriving in Mooste I had no intention of writing, other than notes to self, aides to memory and my usual habit of scrawling ideas that would later find homes in other mediums, my suitcase was full of my usual, recording devices, booms, various microphones, hydrophones, leaving little room for anything else, I had one empty notepad and one pen.
I grew up in Wales, specifically Powys, which is the largest of the counties yet, and I don’t know if this is still true, has the smallest population, so through a tacit introduction to isolation, I learnt quickly that a lack of human life certainly does not mean you are alone, hiding up trees and watching badgers coming out of their sets at sundown, fish biting at my toes in remote lakes, herons flying out of the ferns that grew well beyond my height, but I wasn’t prepared for the intensity that I found, or found me. Mooste is an environment in which all layers are exposed, possessing minute differences, yet paradoxically this seclusion, it is so incredibly loud, and I would imagine each person would experience this differently, some choosing to gravitate toward the communities there, myself, being as I was not in a good place when I arrived, I went further into that melancholy, I became fixated by it, experiencing it as I did, through the topography of place, which became universal. I was unable to separate the silver birch from aspects of Greek myth, from my own bones, and so I think, from the earth, not the land, I came to rest upon field recording then as a thing in need of its own method, where field, as a concept, does not exist as something that can be tied down. That a recording, a document, a conversation, no matter what form it may eventually take, only pertains a relevance to that moment, and so cannot be considered integral, rather ephemeral, like the scattering of willowherb. And like willowherb, these ideas, they require a lot of day light, and room, to disperse, to change and move their infinitesimal patterns, their veins.
This does not necessarily mean I agree with myself. I think of John Berger’s concept of field, of Charles Olson, William Carlos Williams, Toshiya Tsunoda, Michael Pisaro, William Blake, Benjamin Lee Whorf, and now Meillsasoux, each inspires me as much as in turn they confuse me as I move on to the next in light of the previous. Each is a field, and so bares some resemblance to the other, but upon closer inspection, when one spends time, remains still, or walks round and round the perimeter, in mind of a thousand different things (I find succumbing to multiplicity and losing sight of totality unfortunately quite easy to do). So this book could have easily been a field recording, I don’t know where else it could have come from, there are of course differences, to large to go into here, as the scale of interpretation – I have often thought that as a listening experience, field recording is much more solitary, as a method of interpretation, than say reading prose, or shall I stick to the term poetry, who knows. But if I read only one small section of try I bark, I can see myriad interpretations opening up, an oxbow grafted to an oxbow – the image of walking in circles I think is one of the most regular occurrences in the book – adhering to the circumference – and all this leads me to consider that the ties between writing and recording sound can create more chimera’s, to borrow Baudelaire’s image, than any of us can comfortably carry, where their existence becomes so loud, thus we become so nauseous, their smell overpowering, and as we are bent double, their weight forcing us down, we are of course able to discover a whole new reality, no longer vertical, but this is no good, as we then exist in far too many places, and so this impossibility of a dual existence, for me, leads to over saturation, and the all too easy speculative and comparative misinformation of the ties that bind. This awareness is far from consilient, as I have found that creating these inferences where there need be none, lends itself to what Roland Barthes has called an ‘extreme disparity of structure’, but it goes further than that, as Barthes was referring to the watered down experience of the reader, or the listener, but here I think it refers to the diluted interpretation and perception of the, shall we say creator, or perhaps I should say troublemaker, which no doubt leads to an even less vital, or poignant, experience for those on the other end, and on and on it goes.

D. As I read try I bark I found the text at times drawing me in, at times prompting me to lift my head off the page and consider the environment (sonic, but not only) around – the recording of your field, encountering, inhabiting and affecting my field and my recordings and every time anew. I thought a lot of this and how the words call me in and push me out of the pages. Then I thought of this writing as a mark of impermanence, not total or concluded but prompting other dynamics. The discovery of my being here (in every different here), reading, not in your place but in mine and connected to yours through these words.

P. Yes, try I bark, is certainly not a sonic book, I would like to dismiss such a nonsensical term, if it is to do with field, then it is to do with everything my capacity can contain, consider, relate to, comprehend, whiff, everything I can perceive as I stick my head down the well, occasionally coming up, not for air, but for a reminder, for difference, that neither one pertains a relevance over the other, because they are so different, and should be treated as such.
I have never felt much of a kinship for a writing, in this instance, that tells you what to think, that covers ones eyes, nose, ears, mouth, that binds hands behind backs and ties legs together. With this in mind, I find my book completely ordinary, in every way, and that is what I seem to be striving for, not only in my writing, but when I write prose scores, and more and more, when I perform.
A few years ago I became obsessed with the French naturalists, with Zola, Balzac, and now I find myself drawn to the so-called nouveau roman, to Marguerite Duras and Alain Robbe-Grillet, to Duras stepping out of her door to listen, to exist, and Grillet, sitting in his bath and memorising texts, not to the soup of adjectives of Flaubert – though I will always marvel at the skill and depth of character. I know most would disagree, but I find a lot of similarities in my text to every day life, indeed they are portrayed in a manner specific to me, whatever that is, taking influence as I do from as much the poet Susan Howe as two male squirrels chasing each other round and round the bark of a veteran oak. And like everyday life, they are plurivalent and open to an ever expanding and contracting interpretation and forgetfulness.
This can be nothing but a field, I do not know how to leave, it is not a recording of one, and I would ask, is this a good thing? Adding to the already abundant layers, but everything one adds, does it replace what they remove? And I seem to have been through this before, with microphones, trying to remember to learn from my misgivings, or immaturities, the befuddled conception of a one who struggles to find the merit in what he or she is doing in the world. I realise this is incredibly wooly, and as such, quite suffocating and warm, as I wrote try I bark in July it was so very hot, another atmosphere I wasn’t prepared for, too hot to sleep with the flies buzzing around me, so the last thing I needed was wool. But this restlessness of material, of wool, is inherent in the book, I never stopped moving away from environment, from the Lucretian cobwebs, or in this case the farmyard animals coats, but I always returned to the same place, to the silver birch trees that lined the lake, the jetty that stuck out over its tension and existed amongst the reeds that seemed to want no part of it. I don’t know what that means, all I know is that it continued to happen.

D. try I bark as reading experience, non amplified, no possible synopses or critical points, it’s an encounter, not only of you and the environment but also you with the words you write, sometimes it’s as if you’re meeting them on the page, or marvel at them, you discover an-other in the words (maybe heautoscopy ties in here?) A constant discovery to the point of no longer being safe in knowing: is this, as you say at one point, ‘being part’?

P. Yes, this other is something that both fascinates and horrifies me, I can never get away from the others beating throat, though I can’t see it, or hear it, I know I create it, it is a throat that could not be more different from mine yet when it opens I can hear only myself, and I am lost. One could spend their entire life researching this, manifest as it is in objective reality, as much subjective and metaphysical. The saddening history of the exploitation of twins, of merging. Watching a Beech grow over the years, its branches, if they are not shed, as is so often the case with Beech, merging into each other, folklore is full of this metamorphosis.
Part of me would like to spend as long as it takes now peeling this writing, as if I have a choice, wondering as I strip away, whether I am creating the layers, breathing into them, or whether discovering, or receiving? So this book is wholly exploratory, as is my enjoyment of walking – something I cannot get away from as I write. I wish to move away from field recording, if only to forget for a time, to not be lumbered like Sancho panza by this Don Quixote.

D. There are no page numbers in try I bark, it defies quotation/reference and invites to be in there, in the space of reading (and of poetry as doing). There is also void in these pages: the unheard? There seemed to be nothing to decipher behind the white, no hidden codes other than what is unravelled in my reading and listening and again and again. The book seems to challenge the notion of ‘document’ as something fixed; rather, I’d say document as the changeable trace of the experience that made it – it points at a transience, it constantly re-makes its field – this suggest that there isn’t one prescribed way of being in an environment.

P. I’m not entirely sure what is unheard these days, in our imaginations we hear everything, and we have always felt it. and ecologically speaking, hiding behind the sense of magnificence and awe, there is a softly bleating sadness. Writing, I have said, is a way of exploring the auditory imagination, of hearing that which did not exist until that moment, but I feel no solace in this history, I used to, but it was short lived. I wish to peel away the layers, as I have no wish to go back there, try I bark concerns two weeks in July of 2011, and of course I am the only one who has the imagistic references, the life behind and around the shapes on the page, but when I read again, something I have done a little for this interview, environments merge, not only physical, but geographical, biological, historical, even economical, I try to live vehemently in the ‘real world’, the local, as Williams said, the present that is all we can hope to know. So I do not look at the book to look back, simply to look.
With this in mind, you are right when you say there is nothing to decipher, I have no message for others, it is an open work, I cannot dismiss the thoughts that come to the mind of another, environment is only a word, I would spell it differently every time I put pen to paper if I thought it would make a difference.

D. The introductory text of the book says it is to be read out loud and outside. There are Latin words, rhythmic and visual arrangements throughout these pages: words are not just signifiers but also shapes and sounds. It seems you’re forcing various degrees of transparency and opacity of the words, once more to open up to the actual experience of reading beyond prescriptive interpretation.

P. The Latin was included as, well, as a vague attempt to portray my confusion and joyful bewilderment with the ever expanding boundaries of a flora and fauna beyond my experience, but also because of their beauty of form, regardless of their history, it does not matter to me one bit whether the reader finds the will and inclination to research the meaning around the shapes. And the enjoyment of saying these words out loud, perhaps even in the presence of the very thing they are referring to, is a pastime all to itself, reacting with whatever topography one chooses to be surrounded by, embracing the shapes of a rebounding and disintegrating echo.

D. Thinking of the interplay between words as recordings and words in recalling, how much do you write on site and what happens in the editing process?

P. I would love to answer this, or try to, but I think I would cover pages and pages in the refutal, and yet begrudging acceptation, of the notion, validity and existence of what it is to document.

D. Any particular thoughts you might (or not) want to disclose about/around the title of the book?

P. Ironically, considering its function as a sheath, a coating, protection, my own particular interpretation of bark has differed from most others. Most have leapt to the resounding noun of animals, yet I saw it as the book itself, the cover, the images contained therein – it’s thought that the word bark is derived from birch, which is its own association in the book and sticks out beyond the pages, though perhaps this just expands the page, rather than leaves it. Though funnily, a bark can also be considered as a cry that resembles another, I like to think this interpretation rings true for either noun.

 

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