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LYRIK-KONFERENZ   4

„Vielleicht hilft es uns“, schrieb Dieter M. Gräf in seiner Eröffnungsmail an Alessandro De Francesco, „wenn wir uns über post-poésie Gedanken machen, klarer zu sehen, wo wir derzeit stehen?“ Beide Dichter beschäftigen sich mit Entgrenzungen, mit anderen Medien, und haben in einer Korrespondenz für den poetenladen ihr Verständnis von zeitgenössischer Dichtung vorgebracht und weiter entwickelt. Nun werden sich weitere Dichter und Lyrikexperten äußern.
Noura Wedell  
Noura Wedell is a writer and translator born in San Francisco, CA. Currently faculty associate at the Center for Poetry Studies (ENS LSH, Lyon), her research centers around experimental and conceptual writings. She has translated fiction as well as theory (Babylon Babies by Maurice Dantec; The Porcelain Workshop by Toni Negri), and is currently working on Coma by Pierre Guyotat. Her writing has appeared in Nioques, To, Ere online and her first book, Odd Directions, will be published, in English and Italian, by Cierre Grafica, (Verona, Italy) in 2009.

Noura Wedell, geboren in San Francisco, ist Schriftstellerin und Übersetzerin. Derzeit ist sie Mitarbeiterin am Zentrum für Poetik-Studien (ENS LSH, Lyon), ihre Forschung konzentriert sich auf experimentelle und konzeptionelle Textformen. Sie hat sowohl Belletristik als auch Theorie übersetzt und arbeitet zurzeit an Coma von Pierre Guyotat. Ihre Texte sind bei Nioques, So, Ere online erschienen. Ihr erstes Buch, Odd Directions, ist in Vorbereitung und wird 2009 auf Englisch und Italienisch herauskommen.

Viertes Statement | Noura Wedell

Prejudice Perception
I take "writing" to be a means of clarifying certain questions concerning the ways in which we experiment perception. What concerns me there is not really related to the issue of genre, but rather connects to a larger question of how writing grapples with its linguistic modes of encoding perception. This does, of course, intersect with generic questions, as these encode niches of "generic" modes of perception.1

Poetry, definition 1: No company has been making shotguns and rifles as long as Beretta has. In fact, no company has been making firearms as long as Beretta, period. For nearly 500 years, Beretta has been producing shotguns and rifles using the most modern technology available, all the while focusing on what has made the company successful: quality, craftsmanship, and value.

Also interlaced with generic definitions we find more localized "literary" movements, as well as the production of certain positions, that of the artist, intellectual, writer, performer, etc.

Beretta pistols come in four different sizes: Sub-Compact, Compact, Full Size or Target pistols. They have animal or rank names. The Sub-Compact Pistols go by the Tomcat or the Bobcat. The Compact is either the Cheetah or the 9000s. Full Size and Target Pistols have animal names such as Cougar, Target Cheetah as well as rank names such as Brigadier.

Bourdieu writes that what makes the unity of a period is not a common culture as much as a shared problematic put in place by the total positions occupied in the field in relation to the possible positions in that field. What creates an artist, an intellectual, a school is simply its capacity to be recognized as the tenant of a position, a position in relation to which others shall have to locate and define themselves. The issues (la problématique) of a period are simply the totality of these relations between possible positions, and inseparably, between positions taken.

Generic categories evolve, either by the addition of new elements (the long invention of the novel, post-poetry, theoretical fictions, conceptual writing, non-generic prose, poetics, etc.) or through internal reorganizations, just as are constantly evolving literary movements and typologies, and the role and position of the producers and receptors in the field. Certain writers consider that the generic line has come to an end, and find themselves in a post-generic and post-critical phase where the issue of genre does not encode anything of concern for them (the age of suspicion having adequately dealt with the formal constraints underlying genre until these have been spoken of enough)2. Certain positions such as that of the artist and of artistic production as such are considered to have come to an end as well, as in Situationist post-artistic dérive practices. Others have determined to pass from one position to another, moving from poetry to performance or art. Vito Acconci did this the early 70s, when he moved from an established generic literary position (being a poet, graduating from the Iowa Writer's workshop in 1964, producing poetry, etc.) into another, apparently quite distant zone of the field (the intersection of language and the arts, Performance, Video, etc.)

Instead of trying to establish some kind of fixed topology implicating genres, schools, producers and receptors in the field, and the chronological graph that would follow the evolution of these positions, what we might try to do is understand the productive relation between positions in the theater of operations. For, not only do possible positions organize the field at each specific moment, as well as distribute the concomitant positions that are taken in relation to them, they also encode new partitions of the field. That is, they define certain possibilities, and enable productive intersections (such as theoretical fiction for example). To cite a classic example, Rosalind Krauss' seminal essay on the expanded field of sculpture details the generation of possible practices in 60s American art that spread between the positions occupied by architecture and by landscape.

For strategic purposes, it is useful to figure out what distinctions are operative in each particular context or area of the field. At the MLA in San Francisco the question was brought up by Carla Harryman in relation to the question of narrative and its differential treatment by language and New Narrative writers. The speaker, Rob Halpern, was arguing that the language writers radically excluded narrative on the basis that it constituted a closed commodity form. On the other hand, he argued, the New Narrative writers, finding their context in the San Francisco bar and bath scene, both commodity-oriented contexts (private owned and for profit businesses) did not reject the sentence. Harryman responded by asserting that the language writers did not reject narrative, but in fact experimented with it to a large extent. For her, the operative distinction between the two writer groups was not a differential treatment of narrative (for or against) but their interest in different contextualizing viewpoints on certain related points: subjectivity for the language poets and identity for the New Narrative writers, bringing about different political stances and pseudo-generic distinctions.

There is no way to step out of the theater of operations. It is our cultural brain. The field of operations is porous, has no definable boundaries to be spoken of. Its boundaries are internal and self-created. The very idea of "stepping out" of it constitutes one position of the field, a certain idea of the "creator" and some strategies of the avant-garde who believe they are at the front lines. The field is not bounded by an outside that is to be discovered and occupied3. It is true that the skirmishes in certain zones are more intense, imply a greater plasticity of the field, or receive more public attention. Some such positions are also retroactively intensified (certain Situationists claiming authorship for 1968) or can take advantage of the preexisting topology of the established positions in the field4.

Let me advance the hypothesis that the field is itself a perceptive mechanism. The positions in the field, and the positions taken in regard to them, enable points of view on the field (from the inside so to speak). They constitute projectile forms to fire at targets that they contribute to create by their means of focalization. Or, differently, in the words of Gerhard Richter, "Just like playing boules. Shoot, create new situations."

As the choice of the U.S. Army and elite forces around the world, Aimpoint sights offer high performance, military-proven technology and rugged durability. Aimpoint's both-eyes-open, heads-up, rapid target acquisition and superior accuracy deliver unmatched precision for a variety of applications.

But they also constitute what we might call spectral forms of perception of the field considered as our cultural brain (from the outside). Indeed, we can consider that this field is rife with what Wittgenstein calls the bewitchments arising out of linguistic use, bewitchments that encompass those arising out of the use of perceptive organs in general (sight, touch, hearing, proprioception, etc. but also artistic practices, language, painting, forms of reasoning, etc.). They compose our epistemological weapons, and are not problematic in themselves. In fact, having no bewitchments whatsoever is impossible. They are the inescapable scouting tools to move about in the theater of operations, for they allow us to decipher the ways in which we see, thus providing means to observe ourselves. We might even conceive of using our bewitchments as means of propulsion. As you see, I am now here operating a kind of rescue mission, helicoptering in and pulling the cultural producer(s) out of the desert, jungle or urban environment (this question is of course geography and weather dependent) of his, her, or their specific positions in order to survey together a larger area of the theater of operations.

Choice means of epistemological focalization: The CompM2, also known as the M68/CCO (when used by US forces), is the standard sight for the U.S. Army and U.S. Air Force as well as the armed forces of many NATO countries. Due to its compatibility with all generations of night vision device (NVD), the CompM2 is ready for use around the clock. The CompM2 holds up under the roughest physical handling and can withstand the most severe weather conditions and temperatures. In fact, the CompM2 is completely submersible and will withstand pressures up to 2,5 atmospheres allowing it to be taken up to 25 meters underwater. When the CompM2 was released, it became the benchmark against which all other combat optics are measured. While primarily utilized by armed forces, hunters and sport shooters who want a professional grade sight can also use the CompM2.

The bewitchments implied by the positions in the field of operations should allow us to observe how we see (second order observation) and the contexts that allow us to see (that was the reason for the helicopter episode that just occurred). Amid the whirling of the blades, me try to bring the following points into momentary, relative focus in this cultural firing range.

Prejudice Perception:
James Turrell calls prejudice perception types of learned perception that remain unacknowledged. He gives the example of a psychological experiment that presents a shape turning in a round space. The experiment shows that certain populations incorrectly guess which way the object is moving, as the mobile can appear to be either turning continuously or flipping back and forth. However, experiments done on certain non-Western populations find perfect rates of perception. The study concludes that, in Western populations, learning two-dimensional representation of the three dimensional in renaissance perspective has lead, in certain cases, to flawed perception when the movement to be perceived interferes with learned modes of representation.

We can consider that all of our perception is in some sense prejudice perception. Learning necessarily entails specific forms of misapprehension that go with. As we go on shapeshifting our cultural field, who knows what perceptive prejudices will arise. It is the dark side of perception, perhaps somehow constitutive of the phantom matter invoked by Godard in his history of cinema.5 I posit that certain cultural productions arise out of these prejudicial perceptive fields, as epistemological testing devices. Directing troop movements across our theater of operations also implies understanding the imperceptible blindspots arising out of our perceptive organs. Any strategic contributions to this section are welcome.

While awaiting these, let me venture to propose a limited number of examples (limited because I am having a hard time elaborating the tests that might reveal them). Perhaps Duchamps' urinal came up against forms of prejudicial perception created by the traditional artistic distinction between the art object and the mass-produced one (a prejudicial perception due to the history of art as a form of valorization of means of capitalist accumulation, and therefore distinct). Certain kinds of minimal art came up against related prejudicial perception, in this case created by sculpture. One possible distinction operative between prose and poetry might concern their differential usage of continuity, by which I mean strictly abiding to syntactical rules.6 This might lead to the impossibility of distinguishing certain forms of discontinuity near the prose-poetry positions in the theater of operations (database logics for example, or the way a wikipedia article links to different articles within the same continuous narration, thus forming alternate narrative threads in the text such that, if all of the links were to be flattened out in, the result would appear dis-continuous). The plea for objectivity is not devoid of similar constructions of prejudice perception. In that regard, Gerhard Richter notes: "I want to leave everything as it is. I therefore neither plan nor invent. I add nothing and omit nothing. At the same time, I know that I inevitably shall plan, invent, alter, make and manipulate. But I don't know that."7 It is the "I don't know that" which should interest us.

Some cultural producers maintain that certain skirmishes do not concern them. They consider the front to have been displaced or the theater of operations to have been transformed so that certain fights have lost their pertinence. To finish, let me propose some operative distinctions to be considered as means of orientation in the battle zones around here:
Issues of ecology: (decreased waste production or decreased production in general due to transformations in modes of productivity: internal productivity vs. the external productivity of capitalism, etc.)
Issues of community: (production of forms of community, collective processes of production, collective production of meaning, etc.)
Strategic means of deploying the codes of the field: (gatekeeper positions, deflection, redirection, increase or decrease of information flows, treatment and re-treatment of information, descriptive technologies, etc.)

1 Looking up "literary genres" in the French Encyclopaedia Universalis, I get 74 entries, from "allegorie" to "virelai".
2 Enough already, they say, let's just stop talking about something that really does not mean anything anymore and engage in problematics that are operative instead of endlessly repeating something that really holds no critical weight.
3 There is a colonial aspect to the idea that there would be any empty space bounding ours that implies that such space be open to conquest and devoid of its own preexisting topology and internal rules.
4 For those who wish to succeed in establishing the importance of their particular zone of conflict, let me suggest rereading Sun Tzu's Art of War.
5 "In 1932, the Dutchman Jan Ort was studying the stars moving away from the milky way. Soon, as predicted, gravity pulls them back. By measuring the positions and speeds of these repatriated stars, Ort was able to calculate the mass of our galaxy. Imagine his surprise on discovering that visible matter represented fifty percent of the mass needed to exert the necessary gravitational force. So where has the other half of the universe gone? Phantom matter was born, omnipresent but invisible." Quoted in Kaja Silverman, The Dream of the Nineteenth Century, Camera Obscura. 2002; volume 17, number 3: 1-29
6 This is a very partial way to conceptualize their distinction, and could also relate to issues of condensation, inasmuch as poetic language might be considered a condensate of prose (this was suggested by Alessandro de Francesco).
7 Gerhard Richter, The Daily Practice of Painting: Writings 1960-1993, Edited by Hans-Ulrich Obrist, Translated by David Britt, Boston: MIT Press, 1995, p. 34.
Die Lyrik-Konferenz wird an dieser Stelle mit weiteren Teilnehmern fortgesetzt.
Noura Wedell   08.02.2009     Druckansicht  Zur Druckansicht - Schwarzweiß-Ansicht      Seite empfehlen  Diese Seite weiterempfehlen
  1. post-poésie (I)
  2. post-poésie (II)
  3. ästhetisch links
  4. against dualisms
  5. Transfer
  6. (anti)political and transfer process
  7. jetzt
  8. no first class second hand!
  1. Lucas Hüsgen:
    In einer Hoffnung auf Wildnis
  2. Sylvia Geist:
    Finden, Fiebern, Übersehen
  3. Jean-Marie Gleize:
    L'excès – la prose
  4. Noura Wedell:
    Prejudice Perception
  5. Jan Volker Röhnert:
    Poesie und Gedicht
  6. Jayne-Ann Igel:
    Was auf der Hand liegt
  7. Anja Utler:
    Unter dem post-Deckchen
  8. Han van der Vegt:
    The Body Poetic
  9. Tom Pohlmann:
    Entgrenzungen. Oszillationen
  10. Flavio Ermini:
    La passione del dire
  11. Christian Schloyer:
    Tractatus ...
  12. Jérôme Game:
    Poetics of the borders
  13. Jürgen Brôcan:
    „... daß wir können sicher schreiben ...“
  14. Hans Thill:
    Weder Gott noch Metrum
  15. Tom Schulz:
    Anstelle einer Poetik
  16. Norbert Lange:
    Lichtungen