Monday, February 29, 2016

A punctured achilles, one foot short of heroic ...

So I've recently been experimenting with dactylic hexameter (otherwise known as 'heroic hexameter' or the 'meter of epic poetry'), which as far as my nascent understanding is concerned is structured something like this:

— U | — U | — U | — U | — u u | — X

With the key to the above representation being as follows: — reads as a long syllable, U as either a long or a short syllable, u is a short syllable, and X signifies the anceps, which can again be either long or short. In English, 'long' or 'short' is more commonly interpreted as 'long' = a stressed syllable, 'short' = an unstressed one; a crucial technicality if the main subject of this post is to be rendered into anything meaningful.

Anyway, after spending several weeks of trying to write in this meter, the Baader-Meinhof Phenomenon suddenly resulted in my noticing another layer to the description of Tuesday night's upcoming dinner that was written on the side of our fridge ...

Or, shown more graphically: 

Tues/day:/ I/ta/li/an/ Meat/balls,/ Spa/ghet/ti/ and/ Vege 

Also of note is that the main caesura (the comma that's found after the second syllable in third foot) and the Hermann's Bridge (in the fourth foot) are both present and, as far as I understand, correct. 

Of course, the ending is less than perfect due to the line being completed at the start of the fifth foot, although this is something that the title and its drawing of a long bow (in the sense that some imagination is required to have writer's intent = illustrated point, but yes, ⸮ too) has attempted to remedy by way of strangled allusion. 

Actually, the fact of it reading 'vege' instead of 'veges' was something of a plus really, for should the meal have actually had six otherwise perfectly correct feet it may very well've finished me off, for having just completed Mark Dunn's Ella Minnow Pea, the temptation to secrete an additional 's' onto the end of the word - perhaps even going so far as to have my wife continue it in her own handwriting; the way the last 'e' is sort of crushed up next to the 'g' is a little suggestive of it being incomplete - was never really a possibility, despite it appearing to've at least crossed my mind ...

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Upon one's mortal condition, the brutal strike of the silent minute's hand ...

And that, with the vast majority of the allotted fifteen minutes spent distilling the theme into the subject's title, is basically it; time's insidious creep devouring the entire post with a suitable show of greed. 

In short: do more.

And do it now.


Day 1: #Trust30 

We are afraid of truth, afraid of fortune, afraid of death, and afraid of each other. 
Our age yields no great and perfect persons. 
– Ralph Waldo Emerson

You just discovered you have fifteen minutes to live.
1. Set a timer for fifteen minutes. 2. Write the story that has to be written.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Courage vs cowardice

Indeed, two-faces of the same sword - mightier almost than the pen and just as self-serving ...

So then, to edits. 

Could it be considered courageous to share work that's purposely shown in-progress and unfinished? Perhaps. Though I'd argue it's braver still to release work that's complete and emended to satisfaction, for only then can the writer truly establish ownership and declare the piece done. Which is a difficult place to get to - that point where the sum of one's labour and output is compiled into a singular statement of artistic spirit. 

Releasing mere edits (contrary to the initial motivation behind the Nosebleed Cinema Installation) could therefore be seen as a far safer option, for it provides a fairly effective (if wholly undesirable) crutch; the allowance is always there to fall back and say, "aah yes, but this is not finished," a luxury that published works forsake in muscular favour of sealing the sword in the stone and walking away - done.

Only (for reasons previously bleated elsewhere in this blog) it's not quite that simple, suffice to say that the only means by which this intended installation works is by affording the viewer an insight into the working process; the fact that it's a piece under construction is made unavoidably obvious. For if it was simply a matter of publishing incorrect chapter after incorrect chapter, with no editing notes at all, then it would never be allowed into the public arena. In fact, and rightfully so, its very presence in the wild would be indecipherable from that of catastrophic failure and would surely offer nothing but awkwardness on both sides of the ledger. 

And contained within the photograph below is the heavily-veiled example that shan't be offered to bolster any such argument, lest one approach the might of the pen with, not a sword, but a papercut instead ... !

The completed rough drafts of books two and three

Phyrric. FTW

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Underwood and the lost graveyard transcripts

Despite having not actually used one for the last fourteen or so years, 'twas sad news indeed to hear today of the last typewriter factory's demise. Sadder still that I heard it via Twitter perhaps. 

Anyway, nostalgia time and a few odd scrobbles from around 1997 ...

This was part of a series of photographs that I took around various 
cemeteries (mainly Linwood Cemetery, from memory). The idea of 
typing text onto them was an afterthought stemming from boredom 
probably. No other use for the photos and no paper to hand.

No resources for billboard campaigns;
armed, however, with scissors, notebook, and a typewriter.

Not sure what this was about but I like the forehead decoration

Part of a larger piece concerning Michael Hutchence's death, 
not quite sure how this character was related to it - 
most likely her clothing just provided a tidy canvas.

No typewriter action here at all, but fun nevertheless:
"An earnest hem giving way"

Something to do with James K Baxter and my 
appalling knowledge of his religious activities; 
just enough hearsay to make useless comment.

This photograph was taken at the Addington Cemetery 
on Selwyn Street, the text reflecting upon the brutal 
honesty of some graffiti which proclaimed 'I AM DEAD' 
across the face of a gravestone in red spraypaint.

Another from the cemetery series:
"As the sun goes down my wings fall off 
and I am returned to the underground"

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Phoneme pomes

What is it about this sentence that hurts my eyes?

Well, actually, nothing, although my skin begs to differ if all is said to be well with it. I'm not sure what the precise mechanics behind my aversion to it is, but it's a mess. That's not to say it'll be a mess to all who read it, however (the fact that Mills & Boon sell 200 million novels - annually! - attests to that) but to me, yes, it offers nothing but offense.

I have no idea whether there's ever been any studies undertaken to determine whether or not devotees of Mills & Boon read their material any faster than consumers of other literature, but I suspect that perhaps they do; glossing over the nu(is)ance of words in pursuit of storyline above all else. And if this is indeed the case, then there's probably not much wrong with the opening sentence at all.

This pace>euphony is but a theory of course, and based upon nothing more than my own experience of constant toil beneath the structure of written words and the conveniently applied stereotyping of certain other genres.

Not everybody wants to spend an extra fifteen words getting to the same place either, this I understand; priorities are what they are. The distilling of language (although an unavoidable nag of the times in which we live) doesn't particularly interest me, however - despite its hefty presence within this post thus far.

Nope, what fascinates me is the scenery of language, and during the writing of this other decidedly scrappy entry, I stumbled in research upon an interesting piece by Karen M Miner, which is a nicely orchestrated example of how phonemes work in the fields of poetry and prose.

Having only learnt about phonaesthetics last weekend, a lot of it immediately began to make sense. For example, during the second editing phase of Catharsis, much use was made of my thesaurus in roam of suitable words with which to replace the jagged ones - in fact, by the time I'd finished, my second (and far more robust) thesaurus was also well-thumbed. The words I eventually chose to include as substitutes were not always known to me either, but employed regardless, due simply to their euphonic properties. In fact, it's not unusual for my wife to quiz me on the clarification of a word during the editing process and for me not to know its meaning, for the definition (despite its usage being meticulously researched once decided upon and hopefully therefore correct) is secondary to its voice.

Equally, one could employ this same technique and have cacophony the desired result (on occasion I purposely burdened ugly characters with this), and whilst listening to Hairspray Queen last week I found myself hoping that Cobain's often nonsensical lyrics might actually have been a conscious attempt to cause the listener further unease, deliberately abrasive words chosen regardless of context, their function simply that of a jab.

Whether or not this was actually the case, of course, I have no idea ... but I embrace the thought.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Lines on the Antiquity of Microbes

Watching Digital Nation on the sadly condemned TVNZ 7 last weekend, I couldn't help but feel a little frustrated in hearing about professors who no longer assign any book with more than 200 pages, and students who pass off classics as 'read' after simply flicking through a five-minute plot summary; acknowledged contemporary demands on time, of course, was the governing issue.

Despite the slightly disappointing nature of this more casual approach to literature however, let's be honest, the amount of understanding most teachers require (or even want from their students, I suspect) with regards any assigned readings, could no doubt be gathered in the reading of a five-minute plot summary ...

Who cares if the first glimpse of psychotic musing in American Psycho arrives after seventy-five decidedly slow-paced pages? Or that Irvine Welsh conveys character and chapter identity through accent/dialogue alone? Or that Phoebe Caulfield in The Catcher In The Rye spells the name of her fictional detective 'Hazle' instead of Hazel?

It's all relative to how and why you read of course, and a recreational reader is obviously at leisure to place emphasis upon that which they find most compelling, whereas texts merely ordered for ingestion by professors will have different priorities assigned their way.

Maybe this is where distinguished poetry actually becomes relevant again; a way of condensing without the dilution.

This devolving rant stems more from resentment at having been forced in school to read books in a contrived fashion (ordered in pursuit of a book's plot, underlying themes, its structure, and all manner of similarly associated and equally sterile motifs) than any actual disappointment at the state of the world's readers, however. And what could I do about it all anyway? Punish those who can legitimately research a classic book in five minutes by thrusting upon them seventy-four pages of how to select the right business shirt and shave properly?

Nah, t'would be as pointless as my studying a page in hope of determining verbs from nouns.

The above image is from here

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Thwarted banter and the glory of disorder

There's a theme developing with these latest posts, yes, for the voice of inspiration has echoes, and I was going to apologise for it but shan't. Not for any particular reason mind you, just that such a move would allow it all to tie in rather nicely with the yet-to-be-written epitomising last line, which if I'm not mistaken is the proper way to do things; the first paragraph melded with the final sentence so as to have the reader forget the shambolic middle's lack of reference to either.

Having since re-written this entry three times however, determined to see the concept through and stubbornly maintaining some of its original structure as the facade around it collapses, this pretty little encapsulation idea probably won't happen.

And feel free to ignore sentence structure too - it serves far less purpose than the words.

The same, fortuitiously enough, can also be said of dialogue.

And food too apparently (I remember Graham Kerr mentioning this on his cooking show, how taste was actually ninth down the list of factors which influence the enjoyment of food - behind such things as smell, texture, colour, appearance, temperature, et cetera); a veritable dog's breakfast of subliminal ingredients which neatly(?) parallel this terribly-structured post thus far.

Glossing over tenuous associations which seem difficult to pin down beneath any semblance of order however, onwards we move t'ward dialogue and how it's handled within Catharsis ...

Basically, besides finding personal exchanges within books largely uninteresting (and to be perfectly frank, usually downright annoying), there was no particular need for me to employ them other than to merely illustrate basic tensions where necessary, and so normal speech was used only sparingly (and even then, only where unavoidably required) with the vast majority of verbal transactions being constructed using the cut-up technique, as popularized by Brion Gysin and William Burroughs in the early 1960's.

The results reflect with a fair degree of personal accuracy the general confusion that's experienced by a socially inept communicator during conversations in an overtly social setting; a barrage of verbal noise/chaos, underlying themes exposed as all-devouring paranoias, pursuing madness, all that sort of malarkey ... though I also quite like the subtle nod these cut-up sequences lend towards verbal misunderstandings in general, as per those illustrated in Ellis' American Psycho - "Murders and executions" "Mergers and acquisitions"

The more justifications the better I suppose, though at the end of the day my long-held fascination with the 'Mr Bradley Mr Martin' sections of The Burroughs File are most culpable, having fundamentally altered the way in which I read literature. Or perhaps having merely highlighted the way I'd always read literature but of which I'd never consciously been aware; written words are seen as textures of varying strengths, or rather 'felt' as such when I read them, as explained by the bouba/kiki effect.

Delving a bit further, much weight is also given to the euphonic/cacaphonic merit of phrases (phonaesthetics), all of which explains why I can often find myself having read chapter upon chapter of a book without making any attempt whatsoever to follow the storyline, and why, once finished, I won't necessarily recall much of the plot's detail or structure - nor even key events or characters. And why some 'spiky' books don't make it past my reading their first paragraph. And why this blog entry has taken so terribly long to construct, for whilst I know it's appalling in some (if not most) respects, it remains delightfully ironic in others - and so, for purposes of mere example, I'm letting it slide and publishing the bastard regardless of the pins I'm feeling in my skin whilst re-reading it ...

Some of the key ideas mentioned above (if you managed to isolate any!) will be embellished upon (separately, I might add) over the next few days; I fear that too much interesting research has clusterfucked my initial draft to the point of sabotage.

It cannot be saved, and in pieces must now rest.