absolute whiteness

The most beautiful and perfect book in the world is a book with only blank pages, in the same way that the most complete language is that which lies beyond all that the words of a man can say. Every book of the new art is searching after that book of absolute whiteness, in the same way that every poem searches for silence.

Carrión, Ulises. “The New Art of Making Books,” Kontexts no. 6-7, 1975.

reading to become writing

… To be able to do something quick and then be incredibly slow; that we shouldn’t be all on the same timeline churning out products. I would argue for scenarios that allow for reading to become writing or listening to become talking or looking to become making and for scenarios where there are multi-temporal approaches to engage with the social and what rhythm you want to give to those exchanges. These are the things I find most enjoyable about dealing with art.

Korman, Sam. “BOMBLOG: BOMB GLOBAL: Jan Verwoert by Sam Korman.” BOMB Magazine: Home Page. N.p., 14 May 2012. Web. 23 May 2012. .

as a property of the real

Form is defined by opposition to content which is foreign to it, but structure has no distinct content. It is the content itself apprehended in a logical organization conceived as a property of the real.

Lévi-Strauss, Claude. “La structure et la forme. Réflexions au un ouvrage de Vladimir Propp,” Cahiers de l’I.S.E.A. 99 série M, No.7 (March 1960).

to liberate poetic language from the mediating function of ordinary speech

Recent studies of Un Coup de dés by David W. Seaman and Gerald L. Bruns have brought to our attention Mallarmé’s concern with typography as a rite. Both give us insights into the relationship between typography, structure, and meaning which do much to clarify the problem of typography in the concrete poem. Bruns states that Mallarmé’s ultimate purpose was to “liberate poetic language” from the “mediating function” of “ordinary speech,” which must bridge the gap between “the world of things and the universe of meaning.” This liberation was to be accomplished through substitution of “the syntax of music for the syntax of speech.” The syntax of music was “to be realized typographically…within the spatial field.” Bruns goes on to say that the organization of the poem presents a “concurrence of themes that are distinguished chiefly by different points of type.” Typography—“the technology of the written and finally printed word”—becomes “a principle of composition.” Seaman’s sample page based on the NRF edition of Un Coup de dés contains seven type styles and point sizes. He concludes that Mallarmé used different type sizes and faces expressionistically as well as structurally to “underscore different moods in the text.”

Solt, Mary Ellen. “Typography and the Visual Concrete Poem. OEI (Mary Ellen Solt: Toward a Theory of Concrete Poetry). Bessa, Antonio Sergio, ed. No. 51. 2010. 397.

are similarly at your own disposal

I also remember once during a conversation with Vito Acconci, I asked him about interdisciplinarity in the early ‘70s. And he said that it wasn’t that big of an ideological agenda, it just was a result of poets like him hanging out with visual artists and dancers and choreographers. When you suddenly realize that the tools that the others are using are similarly at your own disposal. So, I would also agree that some of these grass roots are examples of good models, at the same time, when you look at some of these crucial moments in recent art history, you could make a case that very often it was because different people not just started talking to each other, but started listening to each other. I would suggest that as an exemplary scenario for reading becoming writing or listening becoming speaking. I also believe that somehow the conditions of time are crucial.

Korman, Sam. “BOMBLOG: BOMB GLOBAL: Jan Verwoert by Sam Korman.” BOMB Magazine: Home Page. N.p., 14 May 2012. Web. 23 May 2012. .

in my own (little) way I am always aware

As to the poet/artist dichotomy question, I think of myself as being both, and I imagine that my “artist’s books” are really more like books than most publications which fall within that genre. In my own (little) way I am always aware of literature, and it seems to me that artists like Jenny Holzer (for example) would be much better if they were more aware of the literary tradition of the short sentence, text, or whatever; they are clearly ignorant of the aphorism and its related forms. I have to say that I am very modest about my own capacities, but with that reservation, I do think that I have a certain awareness of both art and literature as traditions, whereas people do tend to be aware of one or the other.

Finlay, Ian Hamilton. The Present Order: Writings on the work of Ian Hamilton Finlay. Murray, Caitlin and Tim Johnson, eds. Marfa, Texas: Marfa Book Company, 2010. 65.

books are for use

Books are for use.
Every reader his [or her] book.
Every book its reader.
Save the time of the reader.
The library is a growing organism.

Ranganathan, S.R. The Five Laws of Library Science. Madras: The Madras Library Association, 1931.

language arrives

The internal sense speaks at last and for the fist time. The tent is printed with burning tongues and crowned with writing. Language arrives.

Solitary belonging, devoted to itself, no longer devotes itself to what is given, except to what languge gives us—to what is said or dictated.

I am nostalgic for a lost world, a lost paradise, an island between two seas, where the senses sparkle like a lake of gemstones. I speak now and shelter in the tent of language or writing. The tabernacle closes, its flaps are lowered. I live now in the prison of my language and the jewel-box closes. …the beauty of the five senses lies in the black box while we sleep under the blue hangings engraved with fire.


This is the first sentence, the originary, primary proposition, as original as the fault committed in the past by a girl on a paradise-island, as original and permanent. These are the first words uttered by the body when it becomes an interiority endowed with a voice, and is enveloped in flames and imprinted with signs, when the skin-tapestry or the skin-pavilion no longer bears on itself lilacs or cheetahs but geometry and letters. This is the sentence that causes the world to flee and the necklets to be abandoned, that excludes rabbits and goats and that chased us from paradise, these are the words which cause the senses to withdraw into a black box. Our only desire is that it be reopened.

The woman-summation bids farewell to the world, takes the veil beneath the tent of language.

This is the first cogito, more deeply buried althought more visible than the thinking cogito. I feel, I have felt; I have seen, heard, tasted, smelt; I have touched; I touch, I enclose myself in my pavilion of skin; it burns with languages, I speak; I speak about myself, about my loneliness and the nostalgia of lost senses, I mourn the lost paradise, I regret the loss of that to which I was giving myself or of what was given to me. Since that phrase was written, I desire, and the world absents itself.

This is the first, self-contained proposition, literally circular, the first stable unitary philosophy of identity. My desire identifies with writing. I exist only in language.

Serres, Michel. The Five Senses: A philosophy of mingled bodies. London: Continuum International Publishing Group, 2008. 57-8.

the fragment is like the nucleus of an ephemeral destiny of language

46. For Barthes, fragments are “texts without structure” that return language to a continuous fluidity (1980, 4). To Blanchot, “[t]he fragmentary promises not instability (the opposite of fixity) so much as disarray, confusion” (1986, 7). In turn, Baudrillard believes that a fragmentary style of writing “is non-dialectic, disruptive, indifferent to its origin and to its end, a literal transcription of objective irony that I believe I can read directly in the state of things itself. The fragment is like the nucleus of an ephemeral destiny of language, a fatal particle that shines an instant and then disappears. At the same time, it allows an instantaneous conversion of points of view, of humours and passions” (1993, 159). Johnson’s myriad examples possess such disruptive powers, an omnipresent potential to insubordination, such that the coexistence between the Dictionary‘s power and its encyclopedic force are precarious to say the least.

McCaffery, Steve. Prior to Meaning: The Protosemantic and Poetics. Evanston, Illinois: Northwestern University Press, 2001. 259.

the primary problem of language is its magic

Mediation, which is the immediacy of all mental communication, is the fundamental problem of linguistic theory, and if one chooses to call this immediacy magic, the the primary problem of language is its magic.

Walter Benjamin. Selected Writings: Walter Benjamin. Marcus Bullock and Michael W. Jennings, eds. Cambridge: Harvard University Press, 1996. 64.