sum 5 – 2/5/14

Sum Five

Third sum of daily notes, in the run-up to Silence: 2014, a cross-border artistic witness. See the Soulographie site (soulographie dot org) for the day-to-day.


Silence: December 2014.


Artists worldwide to practice silence through the month as they will, in different ways, to deepen global contemplative capacity cross-culturally, and demonstrate mass solidarity.


Culture projects devices by which massive classes of information are organized and managed; it invents classes (tropes, races, archetypes, stereotypes). The tools are so powerfully effective – making life easier, providing predictability, increasing imaginative efficiency – that we consent to serve devices rather than reality, working for their preservation, bringing them into our bodies. Freeing ourselves from language can purge devices temporarily, permitting the godsend of inefficiency. (This comes from some big speeches in Hansberry’s Les Blancs…)




A person = That through which sound is made (Vincent Martínez Guzmán). Per – sonare…


Like Emerson’s Transparent Eyeball, an immersion in Nature (which is silence) yields – a glass trumpet? Music requires the shape of a self to push through and sound; there are ways to dis-inhibit the nature of music in itself, not as it is fashioned but as it is in spirit?




From Lyn Hejinian:


“Devastation, or, the wreck. One can’t write the words ‘war,’ ‘atrocity,’ ‘horror,’ etc. and by using them as names communicate the effect of what’s named. This is because of the relation of language (and, in particular, naming) to measurement. Horror, war and atrocity have to be kept in mind as wrecks.” – from The Language of Inquiry




“If to think is to dance, it is to fall while dancing.”




“Invent-if not words, then phrases that cut you off rather than bind you. Invent, not love, but hatred, and thereby make poetry, since that’s the only domain in which we’re allowed to operate.” – Genet, The Blacks


I’ve always been troubled by the primacy of artifice and style in Genet’s theater (swinging from archetype to trope to cliché, with no stop at efficacious personal will; we are the exile we choose in his world, and our job as artists is to preserve the integrity of our marred and alienated masks by keeping the flames high under our pariah status?). Ritual that spirals inward to impersonality, exempt from creation, rather than spiraling outward to impersonality, and consent to be created? But he’s one of those writers who makes me acutely aware of my dull-wittedness. I bet I’m mischaracterizing him… In any event, relative to Silence 2014 – the silence in poetry may be fired by more than hate? There is a positive negativity?




From Ten Thousand Things (a play I wrote; just read at Bushwick Starr – lovely hosts!). A song near the end… Parents anticipating news of their missing child.


I am waiting through the dialing

Even when there’s lots of zeros


I will wait all through the night

Even when there’s lots of zeros


I will spiral through a lifetime

Like a circle made of zeros


I have waited a very long time

I have studied good and evil


I will play you Marco Polo

I will play you hotter cooler


Ink without its paper. All middle. Bakelite

The dial’s a watch with no hands the way you like to ride a bike


I lost a whole set of keys once down a hole this dark

Your house’ll burn down if you build out of Joan of Arc


I am waiting like hydrogen, like a cure for the common cold

I am waiting to get better, for the wedding to turn gold

You can spell anything by turning,

Turn around, turn around


I’m not safe through the ear that’s where/that’s how I think

I’m not safe alone that’s where/that’s how I drink


Loneliness is patience with chapped lips, your mouth is breaking

Breaking is the same

Shape as

What saves you


Full of knowledge

Like a language unspoken, all alone

Rotary phone




A wonderfully rich cup of coffee with guests of the International Writers Project here at Brown (I’m a director of the program with Gale Nelson and Lori Baker; we provide fellowships/residencies to writers at risk).


With us: George Seremba and Gazi Kapllani. Both write in multiple genres, including plays. George drew attention to:


Beasts of Burcoro (JRC) – an under-reported atrocity in much-beleaguered Northern Uganda… A situation that again points to the edge of language……/Burcoro-Final_SM-2013-07-17.pdf‎

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