Saturday, February 2, 2008


1. Concrete and visual poetry in print
2. Concrete and visual poetry in digital media
3. Decoration and Message
4. Lightness, Lighting, and Irony
5. Bibliography

1.Concrete and visual poetry in print

One of the projects shown at Documenta 2002 in Kassel, Germany, was an over sized empty book. The book was ‘written’ by David Small who entitled it: The Illuminated Manuscript ( Of course, the 26 pages did not remain empty. If one moved one’s hand over it, sensors wired around the book caused a projector from high above to send down text according to the page the viewer had opened and according to the movement the viewer’s hand undertook at each page. The text was revealed in an unusual, astonishing manner. It ran from one side to the other, it overwrote itself like a palimpsest, or it circled around on a transparent 3 D tube[1] In any case the text’s appearance was quite impressive, more so because it was initiated by the integration of the viewer’s finger movements.

The title of David Small’s book installation is in itself suggestive because it aptly and succinctly describes what is happening: writing with light. This includes both the projection from above as well as the plastic pages illuminated from inside and initiated by viewer contact signaling to the projector the number of the current page. However, the title not only marks a technologically innovative method of text presentation, it also leads us back to the past. Illuminated Manuscript is the technical term for handwritten books from the Middle Ages, which are embellished with brilliant inks and dyes. The technique of illumination – elaborately conceived initial letters, ornamental borders and gilded illustrations – sought to let the light shine through the text, which did not mean so much to illustrate the text as to reveal its inner qualities. The light was intended to release the truth of a text from within. Illumination and ornament served the purpose of the message rather than just to illustrate the text.

William Blake revived the illuminated manuscript – as a vehicle for the revolution of the imagination – at the end of the 18th century. His Illuminated Books object to the capitalist mode of mass production and present a fusion of the visual and the literary into a form, which cleanses the relationship of the senses to the imagination. This fusion of the visual and the literary is always an existent although rarely recognized aspect of the history of books and writing. As early as antiquity there has been text, which developed an additional meaning by the way it was presented.

In the so called labyrinth poems the text line winds its way over the paper like the path through a maze, thereby adding the labyrinth metaphor to the message of the text itself. Our example from the Baroque represents a coherent labyrinth with a clear way forward to the destination, an optimistic labyrinth without the danger to get lost. In the figurative poems the text shapes a certain figure, in religious context often a cross, in Baroque secular figures as well as here a goblet as a wedding poem for a couple from Bremen in 1637. This poem is an early version of interactive writing, which calls the reader either to turn around the paper or their head in order to perceive the text. The deeper wit of this playing with form lies in the fact that after this performance one feels dizzy as if one had just drank a goblet full of wine.

The philosophy behind this playing with form, behind this shift towards typography, is to free the word from its pure representational, designational function. While in literature the physicality of language – such as its graphical aspects – normally is neglected and even considered to poison the authority of the text, the relation between signifier and signified, here the visual form of the word was used as an additional meaning. The word not only represents an object it presents it on the visual level. The goblet is to be seen before one even starts to read.

This attention towards the visual materiality of language increased between 1910 and the 1920’s when Futurists such as Marinetti or Dadaists such as Tristan Tzara or Kurt Schwitters undertook their typographic experimentation.[2] The legacy for such exploration was Malarmé who once condemned the tedious patterns of verbal presentation in newspapers and conventional books and experimented with typography. His A Throw of a Dice was first published in 1914. The occasion for such exploration was as well Saussure’s deconstruction of the sign into two independent, only incidentally linked elements: the signifier and the signified. Dada attempted to render problematic a linguistics in which an ‘absent’ signified might be construed to exist independent of its relation to a material signifier (see Drucker, 9-47). In the wake of this development poet practitioners such as Velimir Khlebnikov and Ilia Zdanevich gave theoretical treatment to the materiality of typographic character.

Such experiments on the physical level of language were dismissed by Surrealism, which experimented with language only on the level of mental representation. The area of experimental typography was reopened in the 1950’s and 60’s, now entitled Concrete Poetry. [3] This only “worldwide movement in the art of poetry” (Williams, VII) after World War II is marked by writers as Franz Mon, Eugen Gomringer, Reinhard Döhl, Ernst Jandl, Gerhard Rühm, Konrad Balder Schäuffelen, and Daniel Spoerri to name only a few from German speaking countries. Representatives from other nations include Augusto de Campos,[4] Emmett Williams, and Jiŕí Koláŕ. The unifying element of these author’s texts is that one cannot read them aloud. In oral form they would lose their design, they are to see or, as Franz Mon entitled one of his essays on concrete poetry, they are “Poesie der Fläche” (poetry of space).[5]

A famous example of this more recent period of concrete poetry, which is also to be found in Emmett William’s Anthology of concrete poetry from 1967, is a piece by Reinhard Döhl where an apple is shaped by the words »apple« plus the word »worm«. Another example is Eugen Gomringer’s piece Schweigen (Silence) from 1954, where in horizontal and vertical lines the word »schweigen« surrounds an empty, silent space. This gap is the point in Gomringer’s piece for which all other words are just a preparation because the gap conveys the message that, strictly speaking, silence can only be articulated by the absence of any words. The message does not lie in a semantic sense between the lines but in a graphic sense between the words. However, this piece does not dismiss the representational function of the word in favor of its visual value. Certainly, the message is to be seen but it will only be revealed on the basis that one did read the surrounding words before.

This cooperation portrays the concept of concrete poetry very well: it is concrete in its vividness in contrast to the abstraction of a term. Thus, concrete poetry deals with the relation between the visible form and the intellectual substance of words. It is visual not because it would apply images but because it adds the optical gesture of the word to its semantic meaning - as completion, expansion, or negation. The intermedial aspect does not lie in the change of the medium but in the change of perception, from the semiotic system of reading typical for literature to the semiotic system of viewing typical for art. [6]

Whereas concrete poetry stands for the iconization of language, visual poetry indeed applies images as can be seen in the image-text-collages by Klaus Peter Dencker and Johannes Jansen which are much more complex and difficult to understand than most pieces of concrete poetry. Another example of visual poetry is lettrism founded by Isidore Isou in 1945, like Isou’s Les Nombres from 1952 and Roland Sabati’s figurative poems from 1998 refering to webdings and windings alphabet in writing programs as Microsoft Word. [7]

A version of visual poetry where text and image are combined but also can exist independently from each other is the Luminous Poetry by Günter Brus,[8] where Brus uses his own and other writer’s prose and poems and combines them with drawings. Till the end of the 70’s, Brus called his Luminous Poetry "illuminierte Manuskripte" (illuminated manuscripts) in reference to William Blake’s Illuminated Books.

Thus, we are back to our starting point whose historic context should have taken shape in this short recapitulation. Now we may discuss the deeper sense of David Small’s installation. Is his Illuminated Manuscript intended to release the truth of a text from within as its Middle Age predecessors? I want to postpone this question to discuss it in a broader context once I have introduced the further development of concrete and visual poetry in the digital realm.

2. Concrete and visual poetry in digital media

As David Small’s piece already renders, in the digital realm concrete poetry gains two more levels of expression. While concrete poetry in print combines linguistic and graphic qualities of words, in digital media time and interaction are two additional ways of expression. Words can appear, move, disappear, and they can do this all in reaction to the perceiver’s input.

A good example for using time as an aspect of concrete poetry is Augusto de Campos’ poema-bomba (1983-1997). While the original version in the static realm of print captures the concretization of an exploding poem in a specific, silent moment, the digital version goes beyond the state of a still and realizes this explosion in time as motion and sound. If a still can progress into a movie, the worm of course can eat the apple as in Johannes Auer’s digital adaptation worm applepie for doehl.

As much as Augusto de Campos proceeded from concrete poetry in print to its kinetic version in digital media, the Argentinian Ana María Uribe proceeded from Typoems, as she calls her concrete poetry pieces in print, to Anipoems, her name for animated pieces of concrete poetry, which combines an elegant minimalism with a refreshing humor.

A recent German representation of kinetic poetry is ER/SIE (HE/SHE) by Ursula Menzer and Sabine Orth. This contribution to the German competition of digital literature in 2001 materializes and comments on the meaning of a word by the way it appears on the screen. Thus, for example, the first syllable of Erbauung (Building or Edification) is thrown in the ground like a concrete block, which cannot be removed, followed by the other letters built up floor by floor.

An example of kinetic poetry, much more difficult to program, is A Fine View by David Knobel, a short text about the fall of a roofer. The point here is that the text rises up like the smoke a cigarette (the roofer’s cigarette), grows and finally speeds up as if the text came towards the reader’s face in the same manner as the roofer’s experience as he fell rapidly towards the ground. An audiovisual example with a strong reference to the predecessors of kinetic concrete poetry is Grunewald’s animation of a verse by William Blake.

While this form of kinetic concrete poetry is reminiscent of the text movies and television poetry since the 60’s (like So is this by Michael Snow from 1982), the interaction between a piece and its perceiver leads beyond this cinematic situation. An example is Das Epos der Maschine (The Epic of the Machine) by Urs Schreiber, the award winner of the competition of netliterature by the French-German TV channel Arte in 2000 (for a review see 7/2000). This piece addresses technology as a doubtful god that controls us. At the same time it lets us feel the pressure exercised by technology because everything is programmed. We have to follow certain hidden patterns before we get access to other parts of the text and reading is not as free as it used to be with books or hypertext.

One remarkable effect is when the words, which call technology into question are themselves formed into a question mark. The visual realization separates all words from the word »Wahrheit« (truth), which remains immobile in contrast to the other. It is stiff and rigid as assumed in the text. If we click on this word the other words disappear behind it, ambiguously suggesting that doubt has escaped into unshakeable truth or truth has swallowed, what called it into question. However we read the removal of these words, we soon realize that it only lasts a short time. Once we move the mouse these words reappear. They adhere to the word truth, they follow truth wherever it goes, and they can be 'eaten' again, but never erased. Once a question has arisen, the message would seem to be, one can't get rid of it any more, one will encounter it again and again, provided there is movement in the discourse. That this movement lies in our hand is literally the message the interaction conveys.

Completely based on users’ action is the audio-visual rollover poem YATOO by Ursula Hentschläger and Zelko Wiener (for a review see 1/2002). These net-artists from Vienna, who call themselves Zeitgenossen (contemporary), present a star that utters text on mouse-over contact. The text does not appear on the screen but as an audio file; one side of a star corner activates the female speaker; the other side activates the male speaker. Nevertheless, the text’s materiality is realized in the graphics, which transform in shape according to the way one navigates. If one always touches the right or the left side of the corners of the star, one gets a whole sentence and a new harmonious shape of the visual parts of the star. The sentences are admittedly simple –»You are the only one«, for example, which also explains the title’s abbreviation– and certainly do not represent the state of art in English poetry. However, this is partly due to the poetics of constraint on which the poem is based because each line can only consist of five words - one for each corner within the star.

On the other hand, the piece gets interesting only via the user’s reaction, which adds to the poetics of constraint a perception in constraint. In order to understand the given text one has to navigate the star in a certain order. If one does not care and contacts randomly both sides of the corners one will only hear the chaos of words mirrored by the chaos of the visual parts.

This may be the comment to the romantic statements in this poem: relationships need to understand and take into account the underlying setting. If one does not, conversation will not take place. Thus, the poetics of constraint -respectively the perception in constraint - is part of the message, a wordless part, which cannot be overheard in our interaction with the piece.

After these examples of digital forms of concrete poetry I want to discuss the poetics of concrete poetry in print and digital media.

3. Decoration and Message

Experimental poetry – which concrete poetry is part of – has been accused of being an autistic language and therefore of being incapable of having an impact on the reader’s consciousness. Thus, concrete poetry seems to be useless in terms of political interventions. The counter argument is that focusing on the text’s materiality implies a reflection on the use of language thereby impeling the audience to identify and perhaps even reject all attempts of language instrumentalization. (Einhorn). “By the isolation of words from the usual setting of language,” Gisela Dischner points out, “the natural way of speaking suddenly appears in a different light, questionable, incomprehensible. The intended patterns of language are being undermined.” (38)[9] The American scholar Johanna Drucker states the same intention for the typographic experiments of Dadaism, which “was concerned with opposing the established social order through subverting the dominant conventions of the rules of representation.” (65) In this perspective, the deconstructive play with the symbolic order of language is considered to question social patterns and to even have revolutionary potential.[10]

However revolutionary concrete poetry may be considered by manifestos and academics, it is “a kind of game,” as Emmett Williams states (VI); the revolution happens as a playful event. There is a sensual pleasure involved, a release from reading words in favor of enjoying their visual appearance. There is the likelihood that this sensual pleasure is not combined with the pleasure of reflection, that the linguistic play remains harmless as Gisela Dischner points out (39). Other theorists have addressed the focus on form for its own sake with regards to other periods of concrete poetry. For example, Wolfgang Ernst considers the “optical poetry” (“optische Dichtung”) of the Baroque period, especially labyrinth poems and artistic reading-parcours, to be rooted in the attitude of mannerism (211f.). Is concrete poetry manneristic rather than political?

Mannerism established a shift from the rhetoric of conviction and persuasion to a specific emphasis on entertainment which used effects, amazement, grotesquerie and the fascination of paralogism. (Hocke, 133ff.).[11] This applies to mannerist works in the 17th century as well as other epochs of mannerism such as in Hellenism, the late Middle Ages, Romanticism and Art Nouveau. Mannerism always favors form over content and is in love with decoration.[12] Considering the revolutionary gesture of concrete poetry suggested above, it seems to be absolutely inappropriate to compare it with mannerism. However, within the international movement of concrete poetry, the given examples may be a representation of militant social reform, which Emmett Williams sees side by side with “religious mystics, lyricists of love, psychedelic visionaries, engaged philosophers, disinterested philologists and poetypographers.” (VII) Besides engaged examples, which literally intend to set the reader out of line like Claus Bremer’s immer schön in der reihe bleiben (keep in line) from 1966,[13] one finds equally philosophical pieces such as Max Bense’s Cartesian concrete [14] or playful visual renditions of words and people such as Gomringer’s Wind, Koláŕ’s Tinguely, and Döhl’s Apfel.[15]

We see the same diversity in the beginning of the 20th century when Futurist, Dadaist, and Cubist artists in literature and visual art emphasized materiality. Their emphasis either embodied the intervention into the symbolic order as a kind of political and social critique (Drucker considers this “strain of modern art practice” typical for Dadaism). Other artists realized this materiality to facilitate revelation and the representation of truth similar to the illuminated manuscripts in the Middle Ages.[16] A third group finally denied both religious and political aspirations and was concerned with the autonomy of the sign existing on its own right, presenting rather than representing, relieved of designatory functions.[17] According to Drucker, even the last approach proves a “persistent investigation of the process of signification such that the relations between formal manipulation and content could not be dissolved”, which is why the relations between formal manipulation and content never have been dissolved (67). However, the question remains whether such formal manipulation really increases a reflection of the patterns of representation and a desire of subversion or whether it rather supports a playful approach to text freed from meaning in order to focus on the surface effect.

With respect to kinetic concrete poetry one should realize that concrete poetry in print and concrete poetry in the digital paradigm are not only separated by their media but by decades of history. The revolutionary pathos of concrete poetry in the 50’s and 60’s will hardly be found in our contemporary times. Since the arrival of postmodern philosophy, the reverence of grand narrations of enlightenment and revolution has dissolved. The postmodern condition caused disillusion and a resignation from ideologies and social utopia towards individual, sensual and playful settings.[18] This tendency results from general skepticism towards any kind of teleology or claims to know the truth – a skepticism, which itself is the result of what Foucault calls postmodern enlightenment.[19]

Despite the conservative turn of politicians and intellectuals in the wake of September 11th, this anti ideological attitude is still to be found in younger generations, though hardly with the reflexive background of postmodernism. Florian Illies, feature writer of FAZ, described this consciousness with anecdotes in his book Generation Golf, sociologist Heinz Bude discusses it in his study Generation Berlin, and media researcher Norbert Bolz celebrates in his recently published Consumistic Manifest the substitution of consumption for ideology as “pragmatic cosmopolitism” and the global society’s immune system against the virus of fanatic religions (14 and 16). Whatever one may conclude from the comments of these authors, one certainly has to agree with their description.

The aesthetic consequence of such a cultural disposition is obvious: if emphatic messages seem to be inappropriate, the focus of art will shift to form. This was the case in mannerism, which has been a result of crisis similar to postmodernism, which is why Umberto Eco considers postmodernism the modern name for mannerism (77). And indeed, as Andrew Darley notices in his book on Visual Digital Culture there is “a shift away from prior modes of spectator experience based on symbolic concerns (and ‘interpretative models’) towards recipients who are seeking intensities of direct sensual stimulation.” (3) The “prevalence of technique and image over content and meaning”, manifested in computer designed movies such as Star Wars (1977), Total Recall (1990) or Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991), leads to a “culture of the depthless image,” to an “aesthetics of the sensual,” which puts the audience “in pursuit of the ornamental and the decorative […], the amazing and the breathtaking.” (193 and 169) Darley speaks of movies, MTV, and computer games. However, the turn of the “‘reader’ or interpreter” into a “sensualist” (169) can be discovered with regards to print and screen design as well. Thus, David Carson’s design of “post-alphabetic text” “refashions information as an aesthetic event,” (Kirschenbaum) and text in multimedia environments on the screen embody a shift from protestant enlightenment to catholic revelation, as the German linguist Ulrich Schmitz puts it. Lev Manovich even sees a shift in the official presentation of net art from the self-reflexive conceptual art of the early 90’s (with a huge influence from Eastern Europe) to Flash-art at the beginning of the new century (with stars representing the world’s key IT regions San Francisco, New York and Northern Europe).[20] To quote Robert Coover, advocate of hyperfiction, who in 2000 declared the passing of its Golden Age: there is “the constant threat of hypermedia: to suck the substance out of a work of lettered art, reduce it to surface spectacle.”

This transfer of attention from semantics to the surface spectacle is the cultural context of digital concrete poetry. It is to no surprise that the legacy of meaningful reflection cannot always be discovered. Often enough the play with material is only focused on impressive effects, flexing ‘technical muscles.’ In these cases, language – as in mannerism – celebrates itself. In the digital realm language of course is more than the word seen on the screen. The language of digital media is composed of letters, links, colors, shapes and action, which is all based on the code beneath the screen. The language of digital media is the program; which is why Lev Manovich sees the “software artist” as the new type of artist.

According to Manovich, the software-artist outdates the media-artist, who, in the 60’s outdated the romantic artist. While the romantic or modern artist “creates from scratch, imposing the phantoms of his imagination on the world”, media-artists “not only use media technologies as tools, but they also use the content of commercial media,” re-photograph a newspaper photograph or isolate and manipulate a segment from a movie or TV show. This ‘art of the second hand’[21] is now overcome by the software-artist, “the new romantic”, who “marks his/her mark on the world by writing the original code”. This software-artist “re-uses the language of modernist abstraction and design – lines and geometric shapes, mathematically generated curves and outlined color fields – to get away from figuration in general, and cinematographic language of commercial media in particular. Instead of photographs and clips of films and TV, we get lines and abstract compositions.” The announced retreat away from the language of commercial media seems to contrast the transformation of artists into designers, which occurred in the 1920’s, helping to change “the formal radicality of early modernism into the seamless instrument of corporate capitalist enterprise,” as Johanna Drucker states (238). That the Generation Flash “does not waste its energy on media critique,” as Manovich states, may weaken such an assumption. Another argument is that the non-cinematographic Flashaesthetics[22] actually is well equipped to serve as the new language of an emerging, rapidly commercialized medium. Finally: most software artists work as designers as well, creating commercial products like online games, webtoys, and multiuser environments.

To visit the websites Manovich cites as examples, illustrates the departure from cinematographic language and seems to prove that Generation Flash indeed “does not waste its energy on media critique.” Manny Tan’s interactive spider on is an example for all the versions of ‘mouse magnetism,’ installing a closed circuit between the user and a digital entity for the experience of playful interaction.[23]

A good example for non-figurative software-art, which at the same time works with “post-alphabetic texts,” is Untitled by Squid Soup a group of designers, artists, and musicians, who create commercial products like online games, webtoys, and multiuser environments, as well as experiment with spacial materialization of sound. Untitled is such an audiovisual 3-D-environment, which presents written letters and mumbled words just to create "a feeling of being somewhere."[24] What we see and hear is the transformation of text into sound and design, a fascinating, somehow hypnotic experience, which has absolutely no intention to be investigated from a semantic point of view.

An example, which almost paradigmatically embodies the development of concrete poetry, is Enigma n by the Canadian programmer and net artist Jim Andrews. Enigma n was first developed in 1998 in DHTML as anagrammatic play with the word meaning. In print one could have concretized the change of meaning by a specific order of letters in horizontal and vertical lines reading one direction as »meaning«, the other direction as »enigma n«. This setting would have revealed the anagrammatic surplus of the letter »n«. In Andrews’s digital version from 1998, the letters, which at first form the word »meaning« in contrast to the title »enigma n«, change position and meaning constantly – until stopped by the user– thereby giving meaning even to the letter »n« as the sign for a variable number.

Andrews calls Enigma n “a philosophical poetry toy for poets and philosophers from the age of 4 up”. This description stresses the playful character, which goes far beyond the play of concrete poetry in print. In 2002 Andrews published an audio-visual version with increased sensual effects. In Enigma n^2 the letters of the word meaning are not shown in changing positions, but the word is spoken, manipulated by software. As Andrews explains in a private email November 2002: “The sound itself starts out with the word 'meaning' backwards and then there are two normal repetitions of the word 'meaning'. The program randomly selects a starting point in the sound and a random end point (after the start point). And it selects a random number of times between 1 and 6 to repeat the playing of that segment” – with the option for the user to set the start point by clicking on the wave form.

Andrews is certainly right seeing Enigma n^2 “as a kind of continuation of Enigma n in that it's concerned with the enigma of meaning.” (private email) And indeed, hearing these endless, interrupted, randomly looped attempts to articulate the word »meaning« may support this aim. However, whereas Enigma n required contemplating the deconstruction one sees on the screen, Enigma n^2 allows just dipping into the hypnotic atmosphere of sound mix and visual effects. The original philosophical effort of the anagrammatic play in Enigma n has been released; concrete poetry has turned into music.[25]

Thus, we can say that concrete poetry at least partly carries out the same shift from symbolic concerns to sensual stimulation Darley sees for visual digital aesthetics. There are good reasons to assume an irresistible ‘mood for technology’ itself behind this transition, on both sides of production and of perception. This mood for technology can be marked as digital kitsch on the basis of Ludwig Giesz’ definition of kitsch as giving up the specific distance between I and the object in favor of a feeling of fusion and surrender to the object (407). Such a mark, of course, would display an absolute “meaning-centered approach” to aesthetics, which Darley questions in his book: “Is ornamentation, style, spectacle, giddiness really aesthetically inferior or, rather, just different (other) from established motions of literary, classical modern art? Is an aesthetic without depth necessarily an impoverished aesthetic, or is it rather, another kind of aesthetic – misunderstood and undervalued as such?“ (6)

Darley seems to have the support of Susan Sontag, who wrote in her famous essay Against Interpretation as early as 1964: “In a culture whose already classical dilemma is the hypertrophy of the intellect at the expense of energy and sensual capability, interpretation is the revenge of the intellect upon art.” Sontag recommends a deeper interest in “form” in art and Darley suggests we approach the “‘poetics’ of surface play and sensation” (193) open mindedly and without reservations resulting from concepts of cultural pessimism.

However, Darley even seems to have the support of particular moments in art history. In a certain way the “aesthetics of the sensual”, the “culture of the depthless image” is reminiscent of the debate of formal aesthetics in the beginning of the 20th century, when the visual sign was considered self-valuable, and ought to be freed from its meaning-bearing role to the “pure visual”. Shall we consider Enigma n^2 – and moreover those pieces of software-art which deliberately focus on “surface play and sensation” – a return to formal aesthetics? Is the autonomous self-centered technical effect – the code as a self-sufficient presentation on the screen – the contemporary equivalent of the “pure visual”? Is, again, this aesthetic of the “surface play and sensation” appropriate to the character of our time and of this technology?

In an age of theme parks and progressing semi-analphabets, in an age of “spectacular dictates of the culture industry”, as Hal Foster complains, one feels the need to stand up against the sell-out of meaning and to fight for artifacts which still demand to invest and practice hermeneutic energy. One even feels reminded of the Austrian architect Adolf Loos, stating in 1908 in his essay Ornament und Verbrechen with regards to the aesthetic hybridity of Art Nouveau: "The evolution of culture is synonymous with the removal of ornament from utilitarian objects." (20)[26] However, the question is not only whether one should fight or not, but to what extend this fight may succeed within the realm of digital media. The response of a reader of Epos der Maschine proves that the reading of kinetic concrete poetry easily can miss the author’s intention. In this case, the author hoped for readers using the mouse with curious passion and promised the serious reader a spectacle not only on the screen but in their head as well.[27] His fascinated reader, however, writes: “just the way it deals with script and typography! I don’t need to read anymore! How words shove into each other and circle and appear and disappear and and and and and!” (webring; entry to Epos der Maschine)

The medium itself seems to foster such an attitude towards surface reading, and an attraction to programmed effects. The medium’s click gesture seems to favor curiosity which cares for what is promised behind every link rather than for what is to be discovered between the lines and signs. Lev Manovich says about his first visit on the Flash-site “I was struck by the lightness of its graphics.” Of course, in this case lightness is different from lightness in Middle Age illuminated manuscripts where the light was intended to release the truth of a text from within. Lightness of graphics on stands for ease and lightheartedness. In the light of this difference we are finally back to our starting point, which now deserves a second look. What about lightness either way in David Small’s Illuminated Manuscript?

4. Lightness, Lighting, and Irony

Let’s recapitulate which situation of perception Small’s installation provides. The embellished book in a dark room attracted many visitors, gathering around this ‘virtual camp fire,’ curious how the display of text was working. In order to read the text one had to stop moving the finger and wait till the text settled down. One can imagine how hopeless it was to decipher the words with five or so pushing people eager to experience the power of their own fingers.

However, this does not change the fact that the book did provide certain texts. These texts draw the attention to a third meaning of the title, which does not stand for a technology of presenting but of thinking. Illumination refers to Enlightenment; the famous Illuminatenorden (illumination order) may bridge the association. And indeed, the assembled texts all are dedicated to a specific topic of Enlightenment. Smalls’ piece is, as he himself explains, “a collection of writing on the subject of freedom.” Among these writings we can find the American Declaration of Human Rights, Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Four Freedoms speech to the congress at January 6th in 1941, Martin Luther King’s letter from the Birmingham jail from April 16th in 1963, and Georg W. Bush’s Address to a Joint Session of Congress and the American People from September 20th, 2001. Is this thematic orientation pure chance? Is the viewer intended to consider together both aspects of illumination: freedom and truth?

The arrival of the text in September 11th adds the perspective of contradiction and inconsistency to the topic of enlightenment and religious or secular truth.[28] To those who did not release themselves into the simple logic of friend or enemy, right or wrong, September 11th made clear the extent to which freedom still remains an unsolved problem. Though, president Bush in his Address promised: “Whether we bring our enemies to justice, or bring justice to our enemies, justice will be done,” one knows the subject matter is much more complicated than this statement in the wake of the terrible events of September 11th implies.[29] As increasingly different positions of politicians and public writers have shown, there is no clear indication about how to be just – and as Derrida states in his book on justice, justice is an experience of the impossible: one cannot objectivize justice, one cannot say »this is just« and even less »I am just«, without having already betrayed justice (33). Freedom of the subject, one should conclude, includes the freedom not to side with one of the offered ‘truths,’ but to remain in the process of doubt and search – because the actual problem is the illusion that we are in the right. One can also say: “Absolute truth abolishes a habitable planet.” [30]

This statement brings us back to the illuminated manuscripts by Günter Brus, from where this is quoted: “Absolute Wahrheit schafft einen bewohnbaren Planeten ab”. With this piece, if not before, the illuminated manuscript has given up its genre specific gesture of revelation. Now it uses this gesture only to call it into question. The poetry of revelation has turned into Luminous Poetry (Leuchtstoffpoesie), as Brus calls his illuminated manuscripts; the light has lost its symbolic value to release the truth of a text from within. One could say: enlightenment has moved on to postmodernism.

We encounter this mutation of illumination as revelation into illumination as lighting in Small’s installation as well. Small’s illuminated manuscript obviously does not intend to reveal the inner qualities of its text. It rather suggests playing disrespectfully with the text. The way the text appears undermines all of its authority. The ironic precondition of this understanding is that one nevertheless finally reads these texts, for example on the Internet. Here, on our home computer, Small’s installation would find its completion. And here we would realize that kinetic concrete poetry might play with formal effects in a manneristic way and still provide a deeper message, which we ought to discover. Behind design and surface spectacle is still room for deeper meaning. If artists make the effort to hide such meaning beneath the technical effects they deserve an audience that is patient and curious enough to have a second look.

[1] The tube reminds of Schuldt’s Glastextkörper from 1965; a glass tube whose surface displayed several sentences.

[2] See Marinetti’s Zang Tumb Tuuum, first published in journals between 1912 and 1914, and Tzara's cubistic calligrames.

[3] Gomringer and the Noigandas poets of São Paulo agreed upon this term to describe the new poetry in 1956 unaware of Öyvind Fahlström who had already written his “manifest for konkret poesie” in 1953.

[4] See his homepage:

[5] ‘Prose of Space’ would be a text like Lewis Carrol’s The Tale of a Rat, which is presented in the shape of a rat tale.

[6] Whereas the system of reading consists of discrete elements which possess meaning as such, as words (lexems) one can look up in a dictionary, the system of visual perception consist of non discrete elements, which will be structured as an amount of discrete signs only on the base of the projection of hypothetically assumed signifiers onto the visual object. Only within this projection a specific shape or a specific color will have a specific meaning. - For a differentiation between concrete and visual poetry see Dencker, 174f. and Weiss. Note Emmett William’s focus on poetry rather than concrete and his objection against the de-emphasization of poetry by too strong analogies of concrete poetry to the visual arts (Williams, V).

[7] For the ‘lingualisation’ of painting at the beginning of the 20th century see collages such as Carlo Carrà’s Manifestazione interventista (1914) or Kurt Schwitters’ Merzbilder. A former version of such ‘lingualisation’ are Giuseppe Arcimboldo’s allegorical portraits in baroque, a later example are Niki de Saint Phalle’s readable sculptures like La marièe from 1963 with the weddings dress out of little objects such as a snake, baby, plane, car, birds or shoes.

[8] End of the 1990ties Günter Brus’ exhibition "Leuchtstoff - Poesie und Zeichen - Chirurgie" was shown at places like Kunsthalle Tübingen, Kunsthalle Kiel, and Neue Galerie der Stadt Linz.

[9] Translation by the author, see the German original: “Durch die Isolation von Wörtern aus dem gewohnten ‘Ablauf’ der Sprache erscheint das Sebstverständliche der Sprachgewohnheit plötzlich neu, fragwürdig, unverständlich; die intendierten Sprachgewohnheiten werden aufgebrochen. Das ästhetische Nicht-Selbstverständlichnehmen des Selbstverständlichen könnte modellhaft sein für das gesellschaftliche Nicht-Selbstverständlichnehmen des Gewohnten, ‘Normalen’.”

[10] Chris Bezzel speaks of an “aesthetical alienation from the social alienation” and states: “revolutionary writing means the revolution of writing.” (“ästhetische Entfremdung von der sozialen Entfremdung”, “dichtung der revolution bedeutet revolution der dichtung.”) (35f.)

[11] Hocke speaks of a “manieristische Para-Rhetorik” (146)

[12] Hugo Friedrich notices the hypertrophy of artistic means and the atrophy of content (597). Ernst Robert Curtius states the randomly and meaningless plethora of ornamentation in manneristic epochs (278). Hocke differentiates between Mannerism and Baroque and states for the latter to revitalize docere against delectare (146). This statement follows the thesis of Erwin Panofsky who considers Baroque in his essay Was ist Barock (1934) a return to the principles of Renaissance classicism, a “reaction against exaggeration and overcomplication […] a new tendency towards clarity, natural simplicity, and even equilibrium” (23). For a new exploration of this perspective see Peter Burgard The Poetics of Irony: Opitz and the (Un)Grounding of German Language, who reveals the various forms of Baroquen art to subvert the systematic principles underlying Renaissance art.

[13] Bremer writes the title line for line one under the other until the page is covered with the intention that the reader will have difficulties to really read line for line and rather be provoked “not to keep in line but, on the contrary, to get out of line [thereby setting] the reader free in the realm of his own possibilities, the realm in which we are brothers.” (Williams, see entry for Bremer). See as well Ivan Steiger, who builds the word NEIN (no) out of many YES (ja) words, suggesting that (or asking whether) obedience will finally turn into resistance.

[14] This piece from 1966 sets the words »ich«, »denke«, »etwas« »ist« in a circle so that it can be read in a different order. See the word painting The Fall of the Tower of Babel (1964) by John Furnival, where the letters of the phrase “peace for the world” and its Russian translation mingle more and more to build a house of meaningless noise. Both pieces are included in Emmett William’s Anthology of Concrete Poetry.

[15] In Wind the letters w-i-n-d all over and back and for build the word »wind«; in Tinguely the letters t-i-n-g-u-e-l-y shape an object, which looks like a Tinguely sculpture (see Emmett William’s Anthology of Concrete Poetry).

[16] Wassily Kandinsky considers material effects to “endlessly augment[s] the reserve of spiritual values” (123, quote from: Drucker, 62).

[17] The Cubist Maurice Raynal states: “But the truth picture will constitute an individual object, which will posses an existence of its own apart from the subject that has inspired it.” (Quote and further discussion in: Drucker, 65). For a discussion of the concept of the image for image's sake as an aspect of formal aesthetics see Wiesing. For the contemporary attention to the material components of signification in linguistic theory (Saussure, Russian Formalism, Prague School) and essays by poet practioners see Drucker, chapter one.

[18] For this tendency in art and design see Wick, 11. For examples in literature, which dismiss the grand narration of the 68’s movement see Christian Kracht’s novel Faserland (1995) and Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre’s novel Soloalbum (1998)

[19] Indiscussing postmodernism I refer to Michel Foucault’s understanding of postmodernism as an attitude of mind rather than a phenomenon of a specific time in history. In contrast to humanism as a theory about mankind tied to a certain point of view suchas Christian, atheistic, and Marxist humanism this attitude is skeptical against teleological ideas and the belief in progress and opts for building identity on the base of the hermeneutics of the other (see Foucault: What is Enlightenment?)

[20] Manovich compares the Tirana Biennale 01 Internet exhibition with exhibitions in the early 90s.

[21] Manovich speaks of the media-artist as “a parasite who leaves [sic!] at the expense of the commercial media“ and concludes as reaction to thirty years of media art: “We are tired of being always secondary, always reacting to what already exists”

[22] See Manovich’s note: “Many of the sites which inspired me to think of ‘Flash aesthetics’ are not necessarily made with Flash; they use Shockwave, DHTML, Quicktime and other Web multimedia formats. Thus the qualities I describe below as specefic to ‘Flash aesthetics’ are not unique to Flash sites.”

[23] A more philosophical version of mouse-magnetism is Antoine Schmitt’s gallery of entities “avec determination” – (see review in Paris Connection) .

[24] This is the answer from Squid Soup in a private email when asked for the intention of their piece. In the same email Squid Soup explains the production of meaningless text as follows: “1. take a random book off of a random shelf and open at a random page; 2. read a random passage; 3. repeat steps 1 and 2 a few times; 4. take recorded passages and cut them into small pieces (samples); 5. Change the speed and direction of some of the samples; 6. stick them back together in a different order.”

[25] Or should one say concrete poetry has turned into sound poetry? In his email Andrews states: “A kind of strange generative/interactive sound poetry/music. I have my stereo hooked up to my computer, so my computer speakers are my stereo's speakers. I play it sometimes (fairly loudly) for a few minutes to hear if I can figure out more about that sort of music.”

[26] Cited by Forster, who discusses Loos in the context of total design almost a century later (14). For the original text in German see Glück.

[27] See interview with Urs Schreiber in: 6/2000 (

[28] On the one hand, it is emphasized that the Islamic ‘truth’ of Dschiad against the western world and culture cannot be taken from the Koran and that Islam is a peaceful, tolerant religion. On the other, western intellectuals underline that western convictions and values are not universal and cannot simply be imposed on other civilizations. Both cases relay on hermeneutic procedures and exemplify their immense practical consequences.

[29] This is even more true in a country that, as Noam Chomsky reminds us, the World Court has condemned for international terrorism (84).

[30] An example for the political consequences of such linguistic and philosophical understanding of the relativity of all systems of thinking is Jean Paul who, in the time of Napoleons attack of Germany took an in-between position between German nationalists and Bonapartists stating: I am neither biased nor conceited enough to absolutely side with one party. In a different context he declares he wants to keep himself open to the partly truth from all sides since he does not want to make his I to a temple, altar or even representative of the absolute truth. (See original version: “[Ich bin] weder einseitig noch eingebildet genug, mich mit aller Meinung für eine Partei zu entscheiden”, and: “[Ich will mich der] theilweisen Wahrheit von allen Seiten offen halte[n], weil mein Ich kein Tempel, Altar oder gar Repräsentant der himmlischen Wahrheit sein kann.”] (Bertram, 93, and Berend, 81f.)

Bertram, Heinrich: Jean Paul als Politiker, Halle 1932

Berend, Eduard (Ed.) Jean Pauls Sämtliche Werke. Historisch-kritische Ausgabe, II/5.

Bezzel, Chris: dichtung und revolution, in: Text & Kritik 25 (March 1978) Konkrete Poesie I , 35-36.

Bolz, Norbert: Das konsumistische Manifest, München: Fink 2002.

Bude, Heinz: Generation Golf, Berlin: Merve Verlag 2001.

Burgard, Peter: The Poetics of Irony: Opitz and the (Un)Grounding of German Language, in preparation.

Chomsky, Noam: 9-11, New York: Seven Storie Press 2001.

Coover, Robert: Literary Hypertext. The Passing of the Golden Age, Feedmag 2000 - (February 2003)

Curtius, Ernst Robert: Europäische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter, Tübingen 1948.

Darley, Andrew: Visual Digital Culture. Surface Play and Spectacle in New Media Genres. London and New York: Routledge 2000

Dencker, Klaus Peter: Von der Konkreten zur Visuellen Poesie, in: Text & Kritik, special issue Visuelle Poesie IX/1997, pp. 169-184

Derrida, Jacques: Gesetzeskraft. Der »mystische Grund der Autorität«, Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp 1991.

Dischner, Gisela: Konkrete Kunst und Gesellschaft, in: Text & Kritik 25 (March 1978) Konkrete Poesie I , 37-41.

Drucker, Johanna: The Visible Word. Experimental Typography and Modern Art, 1909-1923, Chicago and London: University of Chicago Press 1994.

Eco, Umberto: Nachschrift zum „Namen der Rose“, München: DTV 1986.

Einhorn, Nicolaus: Zeigen was gezeigt wird, in: Text & Kritik 25 (March 1978) Konkrete Poesie I , 1-4.

Ernst, Wolfgang: Labyrinthe aus Lettern. Visuelle Poesie als Konstante europäischer Literatur, in: Text und Bild, Bild und Text: DFG-Symposium 1988, ed. by Wolfgang Harms, 197-215.

Forster, Hal: Design and Crime, London, New York: Verso 2002.

Foucault, Michel: What is Enlightment?, in: Paul RABINOW, William SULLIVAN (eds.), Interpretive social science: a second look, Berkeley: University of California Press 1987, pp. 157-174.

Giesz, Ludwig: Was ist Kitsch. In: Hermann Friedmann und Otto Mann (Edd.): Deutsche Literatur im Zwanzigsten Jahrhundert. Gestalten und Strukturen. Heidelberg: Rothe 1954, 405-418.

Glück, Franz (Ed.): Adolf Loos: Sämtliche Schriften in zwei Bänden, Wien 1962, volume 1, pp. 277 – 288.

Hugo, Friedrich: Epochen der italienischen Lyrik, Frankfurt am Main 1964.

Hocke, Gustav René: Manierismus in der Literatur. Sprach-Alchimie und esoterische Kombinationskunst, Reibek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt 1959.

Illies, Florian: Generation Golf. Eine Inspektion, Berlin: Argon 2000

Kandinsky, Wassily: A propops de la grande utopie (1919), in: Art et Poésis Russes, ed. by Troels Andersen and Ksenia Grigorieva, Paris: Pompidou Press 1979.

Kirschenbaum, Matthew G.: The Other End of Print: David Carson, Graphic Design, and the Aesthetics of Media -

Loos, Adolf: Ornament and Crime, in: Programs and Manifestoes on 20th-Century Architecture, ed. by Ulrich Conrads, Cambridge: MIT Press 1970

Manovich, Lev: Flash Generation -

Mon, Franz: Zur Poesie der Flache, in: Franz Mon: Gesammelte Texte 1, Essays, Janus Press 1994, 77-80.

Panowfsky, Erwin: What is Baroque?, in: Three Essays on Style, ed. by Irving Lavin, Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 1995

Schmitz, Ulrich: Schriftliche Texte in multimedialen Kontexten -

Sontag, Susan: Against Interpretation –

Weiss, Christina: seh-texte. Zur erweiterung des textbegriffes in konkreten und nach-konkreten visuellen texten, Zirndorf/Nürnberg: Verlag für Moderne Kunst 1984

Wick, Rainer K.: Im Rückspiegel. Vorbemerkungen zum historischen Verhältnis von Kunst und Design, in: Global Fun. Kunst und Design von Mondrian, Gehry, Versace and Friends; exhibition cataloge, ed. by Susanne Anne, Ostfildern: Cantz Verlag 1999, 11-47.

Wiesing, Lambert: Die Sichtbarkeit des Bildes.Geschichte und Perspektiven der formalen Ästhetik. Reinbek: Rowohlt 1987.

Williams, Emmet (Ed.): An Anthology of Concrete Poetry, New York City, Villefranche, Frankfurt am Main: Something Else Press, 1967

the above copied from:

The Death of Piety, Ian Hamilton Finlay in conversation with Nagy Rashwan

Landscape artist, poet, sculptor, and painter Ian Hamilton Finlay was born in 1925 in Nassau, Bahamas, and returned to Scotland as a child. After a childhood inflected by poverty in Glasgow he left school at thirteen with the outbreak of war when he was evacuated to the Orkneys. Later he served in the army and saw service in Germany. He started his artistic career in conventional poetry and short story formats in his books The Sea Bed and Other Stories (1958), The Dancers Inherit the Party (1960), and Glasgow Beasts (1962). Although his early work was admired in America by such poets as Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Lorine Niedecker, it was not well received in Scotland. His pioneer contribution to the international Concrete Poetry Movement in the 1960s, in such works as Rapel (1963) and Canal Strip 3 and 4 (1964), has earned him the title ‘Scotland’s greatest concrete poet’. From the late 1960s to the present, Finlay’s art, has re-invented itself in the whole three-dimensional verbal / visual world of architectural installations, paintings, poster poems, and stone hewn pieces. He has produced an enormous amount of work exhibited around the world from the Tate Gallery to the Köller Müller Museum in Holland, the Max Planck Institute in Germany, and The Eric Fabre Gallery in Paris.

But he is best known for his transformation of his farmhouse at Lanark, near Edinburgh, Scotland, which he started in 1966. The estate is a miniature ‘republic’ of symbolic sculptures, temples, and conceptual artistic pieces woven into the fabric of his garden’s flowers and water. Finlay named it ‘Little Sparta’.

Experimenting in the realms of the composite artistic forms and materials, Finlay’s art enacts a process of multi-layered aesthetic symbolisation of history and mythology, of nature and culture; a process of collaboration and search for ever more artistic possibilities embodying his contemplative moral and aesthetic reflections. It is not a question of generic identity and textual or contextual ingenuity that stimulates one’s curiosity and draws one’s attention to Finlay’s work. Nor is it a question of ideals, reflecting upon the perfectionist, almost romantic, conclusions he draws about his culture’s increasing ‘secularization’ and lake of piety. For me, the strength of his work’s particularity lies in its extraordinary ability to interrogate fundamental concepts of artistic articulation while proving itself both politically and culturally — neither classical nor traditional as Finlay himself declares — but both Sublime, and decidedly contemporary.

Within the realm of transcendent values and thoughts, Finlay’s aesthetic articulates a critical distance of philosophical contemplation and reflections, and within the realm of history and mythology his artistic compositions diminish allusionist and metaphoric distances between references and symbolic connotations. In both, the presence and the absence of particular abstract distances, Finlay’s aesthetic invents its own reality and its own realism.

Indeed, his break with the discursive linear poetry in his first collection of concrete poetry Rapel (1963) was followed by another shift from concrete poetry’s paginated limits into the wider horizons of the land, the sea, and the literally structured word. Finlay’s work reflects those moments of hidden but established individuality which articulates postmodernity’s concern for undermining what one American poet terms ‘the fallacy of the poetic I’ [Note 1], and what Finlay himself calls poetic ‘self-extensions’.[Note 2] His aesthetic seems more akin to that Multi-media, inter-discoursial spirit we so often associate with post-modern sensibility than to the classical cultural idioms and axioms that he so readily feels inhabiting.

Such is the status of ‘a composer’ — as he himself comments — to whom materials of composition is ‘neither here nor there’, and to whom the purpose of composition is always to create the beautiful.

This interview took place in Finlay’s house; Little Sparta (Stonypath), Dunsyre, Lanark, Scotland, on April 12th, 1996.

Nagy Rashwan

Nagy Rashwan: Perhaps I can start by asking you: How would you define your present relationship with Concrete Poetry now?

Finlay: As a friendly one. I would still like to write concrete poems, but I can only do it sometimes. For me concrete poetry was a particular way of using language which came out of a particular feeling , and I don’t have control over whether this feeling is in me or not. But if it is in me, I am very happy to write concrete poetry. I don’t feel it is in any way over for me. But I can only write what the muse allows me to write. I cannot choose, I can only do what I am given, and I feel pleased when I feel close to concrete poetry — still.

At a specific stage of your career, say from the early sixties till the early seventies, you were almost completely identified as a concrete poet. Was concrete poetry just one artistic possibility that you felt to be available then?

It was never for me an academic question. I just had this curious experience that I couldn’t any longer continue with the way I had been writing. I felt great problems about how to put words together in the simplest way. At that time I made little toys out of cardboard and wood — very simple ones. I really wanted to write concrete poetry but I didn’t know what it was — I had never heard of it. Latter when I saw an anthology of Brazilian concrete poetry I was very surprised because it was just what I had been talking about — and there it was. This was a confirming experience. At that time I was completely engrossed in concrete poetry, and I suppose I didn’t approve of people writing poetry that was not concrete. But of course concrete poetry was much disapproved of — you were much criticised for doing it. Also many people thought they were writing concrete poetry when they weren’t really writing concrete poetry. Concrete poetry came out of a particular kind of experience, which in some way was being shared by different individuals all over the world — one of those inexplicable things. However, it was somehow spoilt a bit by becoming fashionable, though it was never accepted. In a way, becoming fashionable spoilt it for me, I think.

The point is that I felt that the way I had written, I couldn’t continue with any more. It was a big mystery for me — why I felt I couldn’t put the words together the way I was used to — but I felt there must be some other way of putting the words together, and this for me was concrete poetry — I didn’t want to do anything else and couldn’t imagine doing anything else. But it was never an intellectual academic question for me — it was like an intuition; a deep feeling which was quite strange. I didn’t know where it came from, or what it was — it was a longing of some sort.

How about latter development in the Brazilian concrete poetry, for instance, Augusto DeCampos’s ‘Popcrete’ poetry, and Decio Pignatari’s and Luiz Angelo Pinto’s Semiotic poetry ?

I didn’t approve of de Campos’s ‘Popcrete’ at all — I thought it was very wicked. As for Pignatari’s Semiotic work, I thought some of it wasn’t bad. Some of it was quite interesting and quite pure — but the Pop-thing, I didn’t approve of at all. I took moral exception to it; I thought it was very impure — in a Scottish sense, I thought it was wrong.

How would you describe your poetry’s subsequent developments, when you started incorporating other elements in your work — in the garden for example? would you consider this broadening of concrete poetry or would you consider it as something other than concrete poetry?

Some works I would do outside would be what you would consider a broadening of it, and other works derive more from the classical traditions. But at the beginning it was clear to me that concrete poetry was peculiarly suited for using in public settings. This was my idea, but of course I never really much got the chance to do it. Nobody was interested or there was no money or whatever. I would have liked to do it — I used to have dreams about doing big concrete poems. In Stuttgart I got to do some works like this.

Do you think your sense of broadening the possibilities of your art; your sense of incorporating architecture, for example, in your work, might have been present then when you were considered primarily to be a concrete poet who is interested in artistic experiments?

Yes, but there are three issues involved here; firstly, what you want to do, secondly, what the institutions allows you to do, and finally what the material situation allows you to do. I mean I had no money. If I wanted to do a poem on glass or something, it was a big problem for me. There was no easy way of my doing it — I hardly had any money, I was often hungry and so on.

So the material situation; the lack of financial resources, along with the lack of support, moral or material, from the institutions of art, often hindered and confined your investigation for new artistic possibilities at that stage.

Yes, that is right.

Considering your work more generally, would it be accurate to say that your vision of contemporary culture’s increasing secularisation and increasing loss of piety has motivated your return to classical references?

Yes, I think we have created a culture in which there is a complete absence of piety of any kind. And piety was always an ingredient of culture. But, when one uses the word ‘piety’ now, nobody knows what you mean by it. They think perhaps you mean some narrow Christian piety or something dogmatic. As a feeling, piety is almost completely absent from our culture — and I deplore this situation. And this is perhaps partly responsible for my classical inclination, which may have also arisen because, when I started working with letter cutters, most of them would actually do Roman-type letters. So, the act of writing texts that suit that type of letters led me to the classical. Also, I suppose, the idea of harmony is implicit in the classical and is implicit in me, but again it seems to be lost in our culture. Nobody speaks about it any more, and it seems to me to be very important. I suppose also I came to classicism through reading philosophy, but I suppose the interest was already in me or I wouldn’t have read philosophy.

So, the classical impulse in your art has also been motivated by the ‘lack of harmony’ in the culture, and even in art?

Not even in art, specially in art. But also things come into you from outside and you might not know why. I mean my grandfather was in charge of the sawmill at Hopetoun House — quite a famous big classical house near Edinburgh. My father’s sister lived in this little cottage, and my uncle was a night watchman in this big house and, who knows, maybe my work has been partially inspired by memories of the grounds, the lands and the deer and the classical house — who knows? But I know when I started the garden my inclination towards the classical was increased. But, of course everything for me has been home-made. I was never at university or anything. I was always in the outside — so, I worked things out for myself.

Quite a number of critics have compared your distinction between ‘the poetry of anguish and self’ and ‘the concrete as a model of order’ [Note 3] with Gomringer’s sense that concrete poetry offers a particularly orderly poetic ‘play-area’ [Note 4].How do you respond to this comparison ?

These concepts are of course classical formulations. I didn’t get them from the classical, I got them from my own self, but I can see that they are expressions of a kind of classical attitude. I mean pre-Socratic Greek philosophy is never about ‘self’ at all. As for Gomringer, I think he is a very nice poet, but a very modern man. I am not a modern man, I am just a wee old fashioned one. I like Gomringer’s poetry, it is very pure and the absence of humour in his work is very good too — because a lot of concrete poetry was spoilt by becoming merely witty; wit has made it very limited.

Would you agree with Charles Jencks that your work is a ‘post-modern mock-heroic genre [Note 5]‘.

No, my work is not satiric and is not mock-heroic. This is Charles Jencks describing himself may be, but not me. I would never say this, such genre is completely forbidden for me.

Perhaps the concept of ‘parody’ as defined by Linda Hutcheon might more accurately describe the classical impulse in your work? [Note 6]. Hutcheon defines parody as a dialogue which the artist opens with the works of classical antiquity in order to redefine the past through the present without losing either the present’s ‘newness’ or the past’s ‘classicity’.

Yes, but I don’t feel a distance between me and the classical. To me it represents quite a natural language. Other languages could be natural too, but I don’t feel outside the classical. It is clear that most people when they think about these things, their biggest experience is of a distance. I don’t have that experience. I have often said that just as the French revolution, for instance, understood itself through antiquity, I think our time can be understood through the French revolution. It is quite a natural process to use other times to understand your own time. It offers a kind of dramatic possibility or something like that. Of course our time does not try to understand itself at all, unfortunately, but times have always understood themselves through other times which provide a means of dramatising the issues of the present.

Do you think this might be the reason why some critics find your work so challenging? Not only because of its variety of artistic genres and materials, but also because of its complex relationship with the classical? Duncan Glen, for example, concludes that the only way to come to terms with your work is simply by accepting its ‘rich ambiguities’ [Note 7].

‘Ambiguous’, of course, implies disapproval, but to me it could also mean ‘complicated’. However, this is not what they mean, they mean that they disapprove of it; that it is not politically correct, that it is unfashionable; or out with the pressure of fashion in them, or something like that.

Does your work consciously challenge ‘fashionable’ artistic categories?

No, I don’t make my work in order to challenge or confuse other people’s expectations — I only do what I find natural. But my work seems different to these people’s expectations, and they never fail to remind me of this difference. I don’t know why they find it challenging. People have always found me challenging — I don’t know why, when I am only being myself. I don’t understand why they find me so annoying but they do. It is pity, but that is how it is.

Your collaborations with other artists and craftsmen in the production of your work, have led critics to raise the question of their authorship and originality. Stuart Mills, for example, argues: ‘further problems arise when he collaborates with other artists, so raising the question of authorship’ [Note 8]. How would you respond to these observations?

I came to these mediums through having the garden, and of course, people who have designed gardens have always worked in collaboration, and never made their own inscriptions. Shenstine, for example, didn’t make the inscriptions in his garden — he wrote the inscriptions, but somebody else carved them for him. Nor did Capability Brown also make the sculptures in his gardens. So, it is quite natural for me to collaborate. Of course when you go out from the garden into exhibitions such collaborations may not seem so natural. However , it has to be said that many famous artists today do collaborate, but they don’t say so — they don’t acknowledge their collaborators, but I do.

Not all your collaborators have been happy ones. Can you tell me about your dispute with Fulcrum Press?

The dispute with Fulcrum Press was quite bizarre. The Dancers Inherit The Party had been published twice, and Fulcrum Press asked if they could publish it again and, after I had signed the contract, they informed me that they intended to describe it as a first edition. But it patently was not a first edition, it was a third edition. At this point I wrote to the Arts Council of Great Britain because they gave a grant to the publisher and I said public money shouldn’t be used to subsidise fraudulent editions. This is very clear and quite simple, but they wrote back to me very rudely telling me to mind your own business, and things like that.
So, I wrote to the Scottish Arts Council, which had short-listed the second edition of the book for a prize two years before. They told me that if London says that it is a first edition then it must be a first edition. Then I wrote to the Association of Little Presses and they said something like; ‘You’re selfishly spoiling a good racket’, because you get more money for the first edition! I found all this extraordinary!
Then I got the parliamentary ombudsman to make an investigation and he consulted the British Museum who confirmed that the book couldn’t be a first edition. But when they were asked to say that publicly, they refused to do so. The National Library of Scotland, a copyright library which received editions of all my books, also refused to say anything. It is extraordinary that something so clear could be deliberately ignored like this. My position was really quite simple, I didn’t wish to take part in a fraud on the public. But at that time most poets either were published by Fulcrum, or wished to be published by Fulcrum, so they seemed to consider me a danger, and after six years I was completely isolated. Nobody spoke to me anymore, and people were saying ‘it is not nice to fight’ and all this kind of thing.
So, then, I went to the Consumer Protection Department which sent the book to Sotheby’s whose expert on literary fraud, a man called Carter, said that it could not be a first edition, took the publisher to court, and got the ruling that I was right. It then took the Arts Council Of Great Britain a further two years to accept the court ruling and to apologise to me. But I was never forgiven, I was always reminded that I did something terrible. The fact that I was proven right counted for nothing at all. What people remembered was that I had cause a lot of trouble to these institutions by asking them to stand up and speak a simple truth. But it was very instructive to me! This was when I first realised what culture is.

You also had a subsequent dispute with Strathclyde Regional Council over the commercial or the non-commercial status of your garden temple — another dispute which probably confirmed your sense of the secularity and materiality of contemporary culture?

They won on a technicality and now I am supposed to pay a lot of money which I won’t pay. They cannot put me in prison — they can only come and take my possessions away from me, which I suppose they will do. Now I have closed the garden to the public. My position is that since the non-secular status of my garden is not recognised by the law; by the world of the public, then the garden can only be private. So, I closed the garden to the public.
The Arts Council had the opportunity to solve this dispute. Many years ago the Sheriff’s Officer, tired of having to raid my temple, had a secret meeting with me and asked me how this dispute could be resolved. I suggested that since the Scottish Art Council advises the government on all the matters concerning the arts, he should ask them to give an opinion on the status or the nature of the building. In a meeting of the twenty two members of the Council, the evidence I had prepared was considered, but they voted unanimously to express no opinion at all. My view was that they could disagree with my opinion if they wished, but that they should fulfil their obligation to advice the government one way or the other, or they should all be removed from their positions. They were not removed, of course.
Recently, I spoke to the Visual Director of the Scottish Arts Council and he told me that he wouldn’t contradict the Region because the Region might reduce its support for the arts. But what he really meant was that he wouldn’t contradict the Region for the general good of his job.
The same sort of thing happened in my dispute with the National Trust book: Follies: A National Trust Guide, which implied that the only pleasure you can get from Folly architecture is by calling the architect mad, and by laughing at the architecture. When I wrote to the National Trust to remind them that their task is to preserve buildings and traditions remarking that this book was absolutely destructive, they wrote back to me very casually. So I started a whole campaign and got other people to join in. In the end they removed their name from the book, and told everybody that I was a Nazi supporter, and so on and so on, and they too never forgave me.
At one stage of this dispute they told me that they would publish anything which made money! What can you say? This book treated some of the greatest English gardens as ‘follies’. This is an age that treats its whole past as something outside itself which it wishes to reject or mock or whatever. What can you say? It is madness — none of these battles should have existed. But, in each case people had a public position which made it reasonable to think that they should have defended certain values and they all found excuses not to do so. I would have supposed that their whole natural inclination would have been to defend these things, but it became clear that their natural inclination was the very opposite of this.

So, in your terms, the tragedy of our culture is that it has lost all sense of responsibility towards its past?

The condition of our culture is that it feels separated from the past and, of course, the past now becomes nothing more than two years ago or three years ago. It used to be thousands of years, then it became hundreds, and now anything that is not part of an instant of fashion is considered the past. Within the enclaves of university walls, you’re allowed to take about the past, but only of course in an academic manner. It is not allowed to be treated as ‘real’ or anything like that. Outside the university walls, you’re not allowed even to talk about it. To read Greek philosophy is suspect, and ‘elitist’. There used to be no such word, they had the word ‘educated’ instead. But now you’re not educated, you’re an elitist, and wicked.

If art can open a channel of communication with the past, do you think that culture as a whole would then follow its example?

No, because you would be asking the culture to do something it cannot do — it would have to change its being to be able to do that. For me, the crucial point is the destruction or the end of piety. The nineteenth century announced the death of God or the end of God. Our century, though it hasn’t been made clear yet, has announced the death of piety or the end of piety — there is no place for piety any longer. This is the problem today because piety seems to represent the condition of ‘objectivity’ in a culture — without piety nothing can be understood. It is hard to think of any previous age in which there has been this kind of absence of piety — piety took different forms, but it has never before been completely abandoned. Our age has abandoned it and that is why so many things become incomprehensible, and therefore cannot be spoken about. But you have to understand that I consider myself a very modest artist, or whatever, and not of importance really at all — it is quite embarrassing to me to be asked my opinion about things. I am only a wee Scottish poet on the outside of everything.

This reminds me of your response to John J. Sharkey when he asked you to contribute to his anthology of concrete poetry ‘Mindplay’ of 1971when you replied that you didn’t feel involved in what was happening then [Note 9].

Well, probably I was fed up with concrete poetry. There was a lot of bad concrete poetry and besides, it was confused with visual poetry which was completely different.

You also remarked in a more recent interview with Nicholas Zurbrugg that you don’t consider yourself to be an avant-garde artist? [Note 10]

Yes, the idea of the avant-garde doesn’t seem to me to be relevant. Whether I am or not — who cares, it is not important. I mean what avant-garde is there in Britain? Nothing. Nothing that is not fashionable, completely acceptable to everybody, completely supported by the Arts Council — there is only state aided art.

In this respect it seems that your work resists both the superficial novelty of fashion and the more radical sense of innovation associated with the avant-garde, and offers a general cultural critique based upon the aesthetic principles embedded in the classical which oppose the very idea of fashion and radical innovation. Your work seems concerned primarily with giving instances of what you think of as the beautiful; harmony, purity, devotion and heroism. Rather than celebrating the past on its own right, it seems to celebrate examples from the past that correspond to your vision of beauty. So the past seems to be a part of your present, rather than a substitute for your present.

Yes, all these things are parts in a language that I can use.

Some of your critics discuss your work in terms of binary oppositions between wit, humour, and the seriousness of a cultural critique, between surprising images of warfare and the peaceful content of harmony, purity and simplicity [Note 11]. Do you sense such frameworks in your vision?

Not particularly, I don’t think of it that way at all. Maybe it comes out like this, but I don’t think of it in these terms at all. I do different work, some pastoral, some tragic; some this, and some that. I work with a range of things, but that is life, isn’t it.

Presumably such critics are trying to detect generic patterns in your work?

Yes, but I don’t think I have such patterns.

You make this kind of point in your famous letter to the French poet Pierre Garnier of 1963, in which you note that none of your poems reveal a method that can be applied to the next poem: ‘I cannot derive from the poems I have written any ‘method’ which can be applied to the writing of the next poem.’ [Note 12]

I am always a beginner. I only try to include different parts of life; the pastoral, the tragic, et cetera.

How important for you is it that your references to such parts of life are successfully communicated by your work? How important for you is the process of communicating a specific content?

This question is quite simple really. You assume some sort of common humanity which is accessible to everybody, and you try to remain true to that. Therefore, you don’t think, for example; ‘Is the National Trust going to understand this?’ or ‘Is so and so going to understand that?’. You just think ‘Is this pure or not?’. If the work is pure then you have to think it could be understood. If it is not understood it doesn’t mean that your work is not accessible. It doesn’t worry me, but, of course, I would be pleased if people liked my work. However, I don’t feel the world is looking over my shoulder when I am working — I never think about this at all. What I think about is trying to make my work pure, and if it is pure then it can be accessible. It is quite straight forward really.

Do you think your concerns for classical values and for artistic purity differentiate your aesthetic from the concerns of Gomringer and the South American poets?

Yes, it is different. They are more modern people than I am. I mean I was just a little outsider, hungry, without money, without a place in the world and so on. Somethings, however, I did share with them, but I think my concerns are often misunderstood. For example, a lot of people interpreted my dispute with Strathclyde Regional Council as one of the individual against bureaucracy, but this is not what it was at all. I used to get quite upset by getting supported by people who thought I was acting in an anarchic manner. I didn’t want support from such people; they misunderstood what the problem was. So, I made a rubber stamp to put on my letters to say: ‘the people has a right to rigorous bureaucracy’ which shocked everybody.
Gomringer and the Noigandres Group really belong to a different world from mine — I mean Augusto, whom I used to write to, was a lawyer and lived in a flat in Sao Paulo, in Brazil. Look where I live. Gomringer was secretary to Max Bill and so on. You have to remember we had quite different lives. My life has always been on the outside.

How would you describe your life; would you call it a life of a concrete poet; of an artist; of a cultural classicist?

I think all of these things are to do with composing. What you compose with is neither here nor there, you compose with words, or you compose with stone plants and trees, or you compose with events; the Sheriff’s officer, or whatever. It is all a matter of composing and ‘order’.


[Note 1] See Bob Perelman, The Marginalization of Poetry, (Princeton: Princeton University press, 1996), also see, Charles Bernstein, Content’s Dream, (Los Angeles, Sun & Moon, 1986).
[Note 2] Ian Hamilton Finlay, ‘Letters to Ernst Jandl’, Chapman, no. 78-79, 1994, p.12.
[Note 3] Ian Hamilton Finlay, Letter to Pierre Garnier, 17 September, 1963, Concrete Poetry: A world View, Mary Ellen Solt (ed.), Indiana University Press, (London, 1970), p.84.
[Note 4] Eugen Gomringer, ‘From Line To Constellation’ (1954), World view, Mary A. Solt (ed.), p.67.
[Note 5] Charles Jencks, ‘The Moral In Art: Reflections On The Finlays’ Wars’, CHAPMAN, double issue No. 78-79 (Edinburgh, 1994), p.165.
[Note 6] Linda Hutcheon, ‘Theorizing The Post-Modern: Towards A Poetics’, The Post-Modern Reader, Charles Jencks (ed.), Academy Editions ( London 1992), p.76.
[Note 7] Duncan Glen, ‘Some Thoughts and Reminiscences’, CHAPMAN, double issue No. 78-79 (Edinburgh, 1994), p.23.
[Note 8] Stuart Mills, ‘The Implications Of Poetry’, AKROS, Vol. 6, March (1972), p.29.
[Note 9] John J. Sharkey, Mindplay: An Anthology of British Concrete Poetry, Lorrimer Publishing (London, 1971) p.16.
[Note 10] Ian Hamilton Finlay, interviewed by Nicholas Zurbrugg, Art & Design, profile No. 45 (London, 1995), p.47.
[Note 11] For example, see Yves Abrioux’s ‘Eye, Judgement and Imagination: Words and Images from the French Revolution in the Work of Ian Hamilton Finlay’ (1994), p.156, and Thomas A. Clark’s ‘The Idiom of the Universe’ (1985), p. 131, in Wood Notes Wild, Alec Finlay (ed.), Polygon, (Edinburgh, 1995).
[Note 12] Ian Hamilton Finlay, Letter to Pierre Garnier (1963).

Nagy Rashwan is the author of Cultural Consciousness and the Myths of Conception (Cairo: GACP, 2000) and “Ian Hamilton Finlay and the Postmodern Impulse” under consideration for publication in 2002. He is currently working on a study entitled “Language Poetry and the Aesthetics of Postmodernism”, from De Montfort University, Leicester, UK.

Photographs of Ian Hamilton Finlay's garden by Philip Hunter, 1995. You can see more of his photographs from Little Sparta at this site:

above copied from:

Friday, February 1, 2008

Dances, Events, Puzzles, George Brecht

The original English version of a collection of poems
edited and translated into Hungarian by M�rton Kopp�ny.
Hungarian text in: Valami kevesebb (Something Less), Kalligram Publishing House, Bratislava, Budapest 1999

The poems were taken from the following editions:
George Brecht and Robert Filliou: Games At the Cedilla
(Something Else Press, 1967)
George Brecht: Dances, Events and Other Poems
(in: David Antin: The Stranger at the Door; Genre, 1987)
Fluxus etc.
(The Gilbert and Lila Silverman Collection, edited by Jon Hendricks, 1981)


The Game of Definitions

The first player writes, on a slip of paper, "What is _____" and he completes the sentence. The second player, without seeing what the other has written, writes "It is _____" and completes his sentence. The two players then read their sentences in order, making any necessary grammatical adjustments.

For example (played by Donna Jo Jones and George Brecht)
What is a factory? It is the manner in which George Washington's men rowed him across the Delaware.
What is well dressed? It is the space between the top of the water and the bottom of the bridge.
What is an answer? It is five ice-cubes melting.
What is a question? It is a method for drying wet matches between the toes.
What is whortleberry? It is smoking under water while sexually excited.


19 quantities of Time

(for G.B.H.*)

a heater of time
a cigarette of time
a window of time
some soups of time
now I go to the bathroom
why am I leaving?
the sweet orange
the pencil
covers turned back
la lune dans le ciel (the clouds seen twice)
fireworks underground
the hair
the fingernail's containing
everyone's wish
it was not the moon, it was a street light
the re-wired marquee
moldly noodles
a tack in my shoe

* I don't remember who or what G.B.H. was. But it propably relates to James Waring, who once made a lot of soups.


Answer to Ben Who Asked Me What Was Important
Exercices 3 and 4.

Consider something "important". Call what is not "important" "unimportant".
3. Take something which is "unimportant" and find a way to consider it "important", adding it to what is already "important". Continue in this way until there is no more "unimportant".
4. Take something which is "important" and find a way to consider it "unimportant", adding it to what is already "unimportant". Continue in this way until there is no more "unimportant".


Excerpts from
Gloss For An Unknown Language

Tablet 3

Line Character

17 9 Image formed by a moving object for the duration of one breath.

31 7 An object formed by the intersection of an imaginary sphere with
objects of the reference language. (Here used to desribe
a plano-convex section of flesh/earth).

31 8 Used by an observer standing at the edge of a body of water
to denote an area of water surface in front of the observer
and the area of earth of equal size and shape behind the observer,
considered as one surface.

Tablet 10

6 4 Everything within the bounds of an imaginary cube having its center
congruent with that of the observer, and an edge of lenght equal to
the observer's height.

23 9 A werb apparently denoting the motion of a static object. (The
meaning is not clear.)

Tablet 13

19 3 A unit of time derived from the duration of dream events.

45 2 The independent action of two or more persons, considered as a single


Three Yellow Events

I yellow yellow yellow
II yellow loud
III red


Three Window Events

opening a closed window
closing an open window


Three Lamp Events

on. off.
off. on.


Two Elimination Events

empty vessel
empty vessel


Word Event



Six Doors

* exit
* entrance

* exit



Two Durations




Determine the centre of an object or event.
Determine the centre more accurately.
Repeat, until further inaccuracy is impossible.


Symphony No. 5

I. before hearing
II. hearing
III. after hearing


Three Dances




Three of them were the same size, and two were not.


Swim Puzzle

Red plastic box with label on the lid containing clam shell and the score printed on card stock:
"Arrange the beads in such a way
the word CUAL never occurs."

above copied from:

READING (CAGE) SILENCE, Stephen Ratcliffe

Mills College, California.

I. "Lecture on Nothing"

If silence is simply the space divided by sound, the one called himself in the act of being nothing in spite of himself, in return for hearing the form of what happens (position) whether in Kansas or New York.

Or the half-way point of view beyond which limitations can also be said to divide, passing from Virginia (part) over Kansas as the tone one is making quite by accident.

Which isn't material, the exercise of something autobiographical as a discipline or means of structure, the answer between the third and sixth interval making what he chooses to call attention to itself.

As if to hear the sound of something anonymous, music like a question working on the ear of the one whose structure expresses itself, tonality the mind could be heard by every now and then.

That hearing could possibly let one see how permanent one is, standing as the talk of sleep continues getting nowhere (more) or the feeling one has suddenly lost a friend.

Here the feeling (slowly) of pleasure, somewhere in the middle or after the fourth part (pleasure) getting to continue the original feeling, beginning as talk now of being somewhere else.

The structure of a bridge, finished as the length of a Chinese mirror "read" between the quarter-tone as a piece of the Full Moon one thinks (music), the bronze that leads to nothing but corn or wheat.

This idea composed therefore of repetition, not that it matters which one said: I live in Kansas, I have no idea where, the present I am calling myself is refreshing.

Measures likewise so divided, as if to have a discussion of silence requires that I go on saying I am thinking (who) at any present moment, whenever one wishes in spite of himself to return.

That which I am calling music is proof, that traveling is like a thought whose climax may be present (home) and therefore might not reappear involved when the telephone rings.

Nothing in return experienced if Kansas is like music, how different one's willingness to hear the glass of milk measured by what happens when it's poured.

All of this quite clear, the third part (length) expressing itself if possible by passing through the structure of minutes divided into act (way) and scene.

Hearing what he knows as something seen, New York for instance what we make of it on the telephone simpler than the memory of Kansas which enables us to think.

Blackbirds heard as the structure of this talk, the cardinal quite by accident in a tree at the halfway point between nothing and what she said is the way they flew.

To say more as you see about structure, and why shouldn't she rise, understand what you say about the limits of material space (here) "limited" by something she herself felt.

That I am talking and will go on at intervals, passionately, like the sound of the character I realize in a second question (child), being clear about the materials of music itself.

Or the pleasure perhaps in her mind, the exercise of sound on the third or fourth or fifth lesson (talk) which made her want to call it love, attention to where it went with other things.

However low the sound of abstraction, the tone on the side of the ear being I had thought the letter that brings us back to where we were, fascinated and contemporary, as the cadence of this.

Not that they didn't have to be actually present, meaning a "ghost" is difficult to think of directly, separation like the sound of something happening in the same letter (later) amplified to be pleased by.

Avoiding what is difficult more than the feeling of talk or a pleasure she said I want, the man beginning slowly to sleep who happened to be young, whereas from that distance there are no answers.

What then it seems we are getting at, the feeling of elevation that continues after the fourth part somewhere else (more slowly) being suddenly the pleasure of sleep, only more so.

Originally somewhere else, more and more the talk which will continue to be a pleasure one would like, when suddenly I am at the beginning of the feeling of pleasure (slowly) getting nowhere.

That thought is a single method, anyone with whom I could sit for any length of time (think) or listen to the sound of Moon "read" in the two- or twelve-tone structure of music whose time you imagine you will miss.

Someone recording what I know about nothing, because I live in Kansas and when I leave it is gone, a repetition at any moment (since) bound to be breathtakingly simpler than what is.

Simpler that is than what enables us to act, how uncertain it is especially from a window, traveling as a present form (one) that music is measured by as a memory of this.

Or the form of what happens figured out, that one may return to Kansas (home) which is like the second or third part in a rhythmic structure whose units we are resigned to, divided, approximate.

II. "Composition as Process"


In the section beginning with sound (idea) parts determined to be used again precisely, this method affected by the present action of the body opposed by what appears to be possible.

What happens either to sound (intention) divided in the original series or events established in the listener's ear as a means of separating this phenomenon, as punctuation for instance measures differences between sounds, also more or less approximate.

One who increases the interval simply by walking toward what he felt, sound in other cases multiplied by the addition first of Piano and Orchestra, then of players analogous to shells on a beach.

Something described horizontally (apparent) as a means of arranging original events, this play of materials determined as an Imaginary Landscape whose absence will be read as an attempt at speech.

This situation characteristic of sound which means to depart from what is practical, the smallest parts (elements) necessary as Variations, exactitude of measurement occurring at discrete points on a line parallel to one's position with respect to another.

It being said that action is less a matter of beginnings and endings than the object, evident as notes in space suggest, conceived as the effect of sound on the radio or the experience of weather in precisely that place.

The experience of the man whose reply is immediate: "I remember talking in a line about a plane passing overhead, something in the distance like a question standing up, meaning that because you are the subject you have lost a friend."

Which one is thinking in Music, Numbers in pencil eliminating "the end" written as the first step (improvised) in listening to what the other one is actually thinking, changes in the original answer composed in ink.

By which I mean the sound of logic chosen as a form of walking on a beach, this "method" (spontaneous) exactly measured in one, two, three or four parts, one of which could as well be based on "material" namely of the heart.

In terms of this action the body known, Interlude opposed to a duration of potentially continuous moments written as a series of numbers which became in the final example indeterminate, as the line between one hand and the other disappeared.

This view for instance of extraordinary architecture characterized by its silence, Construction therefore subsequent to the material of sound itself, the listener who has entered into this act in relationship to the player walking into the opposite room.

One who knows that one is repeating actual sounds in Metal, Sixteen for instance the number of sounds used to compose the background, a situation one counted on discovered in analysis to be comparable to differences in frequency, timbre and taste.

Whether one is satisfied by a given line (character) consciously or not, this play of Changes balanced by the subject described in comparable notation, the absence of the vertical line affirmed by examining its structure inside of that event.

Placing these five lines in order of their sounds, Concert meaning that what is left at intervals perpendicular to that movement holds for the following example, the remainder of the physical square (half) equal to the person left in the room.

Some duration of sound suggesting space, circumstance or the action of players in a history play, one voice (indicated) as it approaches the object on a page therefore read from the left, attention turned from the ear alone to what the person no longer present interrupts.

"That is not the story," standing either to ignore its desire or walk the other way, the second question "explainable" in one of three ways as a function of distance, the man "elevated" on a hill meaning he could come as close to never having raised his voice.

The other man writing notes in pencil: the other end of Music made in exactly the same way by listening to what it is, the instrument one almost becomes in thinking difference changes in the course of playing it, what he is doing (means) composed of notes.


The continuity of being given parts for example, bringing the character who is also determined to express in performance the possibility of material form, which is to say a method of notes with respect to X.

Or someone feeling at the point of "sleep" given the color of an outward reference (pertinent) at that point to a table of numbers following that event, the subject in either case comparable to his perception of interest in that.

X that is to say provided other elements in the work bring about its function, which by doing something arbitrarily may be controlled by structure (analysis) as the perception of numbers organized in the following way.

The object possessed by the character (material) who wishes to act conventional, where the presence of a beginning, middle and end affect the performer who dictates his feelings (method) which is to say where the beat will be led to its climax.

The form of the body single in this case, enabling it to be attached to the situation of music on paper, x as it might have been printed at several points in the work performed in an unforeseen sense, stretched or unusually flat.

The situation of a building no matter when or what, being of course part of the sound of its content, the architect identified with respect to a procedure that repeats the object Music (thought) Changes specifically at the center of its act.

Intersection characteristic of the composer's range of control equally indeterminate, given that the performer in the play may be viewed as driving "boxes" of sound in a green light designated by the piano whose amplitude limits its use.

How the photographer may be his own subject, arbitrarily constructing the picture to follow his perception of an object the camera feels (analysis) going to "sleep," conscious of the probability that he may not be doing that.

One who is sound asleep identifying the father, his answer interpreted in a statement comparable to action no matter what, his knowledge of each performer composed as a mental event whose fluency is sometimes conscious, sometimes thought.

The relation of the instrument to its player for example on the table, the work itself moving from the architect's blueprint to the building (material) whose structure will be identified from that point of view.

This performance limited by being written, the performer himself expressive of certain practices in the tradition whose elements prohibit continuity, something he himself may bring to its material content.

The man described by the example of his feelings, sound that is to say (bias) like elements on the table equal to the person who suggests these sounds according to the presence of certain random theories of order.

The vertical position of the players involved in relation to the continuity of the silence between them, rectangles in a two-dimensional performance (system) removed for that reason in order to add its length to its width.

What is being seen from the side (consciously) no matter what the obstruction, the composer on the other hand knowing that each event penetrates the inversion of a different event seen from an opposite point of view.

Systems extending the performer's original function into parts whose continuity is indeterminate, a drawing of the head supplied to indicate the frequency of something (degree) characteristic of that morphology, division, or number of lines.

The subject himself acknowledged, his feeling opposite to an adjacent system arbitrarily viewed from the side (architecture) following the length of its inversion organized in terms related to its absence.

What that event becomes fixed in relation to its parts, a cubist painting of an object perhaps or picture analogous to the flicker it makes (purposeless) moving as an absence no matter what the score.

Likewise the object itself following its source, the amplitude of the shift in a relationship (inversion) more than what is present in each element for example, as the outcome of action in contrast to itself.

One action irrelevant with respect to the other, interior in that his response (frequency) includes material silence, a gamut of limitations (vision) of particular length, the performance of an available ending.

"Thought" itself calling the performer subject, a comparable change in direction announced as an interruption (meanwhile) of things approximate to events he prepares to notice by attaching himself to what he leaves.

Being like a performance of an object, where the outcome of action is not repeated as something other than seen, the knowledge that it happened recorded in a second postcard, grasped like land or air.

This sound spoken in the situation of a room in which the other person is essential to physical space itself, its architecture therefore an object which includes the separation of an audience into its parts.

All of this possible as music, the players (two) who recognize the sound of the second hand rising as if to depart, a suggestion on the radio that the performance of action will be different, variable, astonishing.


What if the question happens in time, two sounds in four-part harmony meaning one counts on something that is passing, the body going forward in order to ask what it is you want to say.

Intersection for instance at this moment, monotonous in the sense that each sound plays itself sometime (thinking) in a separate room, one of us changing direction sooner than the other.

Simply to say one is going back, purposeless as the telephone ringing or the effect of light in a glass of water (opposed) penetrated by seeing it as an actual thing, thinking one is causing that.

Analysis as I say when it "should" be letting go of components (variable) related by their failure to agree, like fingers one says fumbling in the dark at the frequency of the signal near the end.

What is actually meant by thinking one is at the center, what you say "again" letting go of the difference between each thought (independent) and a physical act, why the idea of the first performance wasn't right.

How memory could be itself something to hear when he wasn't looking, another body situated on the side of the theater unable to listen to measurable phenomena, the sound of a plane in the middle of the mouth.

Then asking "music" who has nothing to say, someone nearer to the sound of an interval (word) in the nervous system of the first one related to a second sound on the radio, appropriate enough to be performed.

O whether it's active or not, applied as a method (music) opposite to an acoustic action which opens the ear "taking a nap," silence experienced as the difference between this circle and a continuum of points.

Parts of this drama analogous to the physical presence of the audience, intermediate nevertheless, diminished in notation as a representative of itself (author) imagined as points on the graph performed in light.

Which "voices" may begin to touch, the nostalgia of a character continuous with his motion at a particular distance X, the margin for example indicating that he has come from somewhere (pitch) circular.

Monotony more subjective than this, finished forms of motion said to be static, "global" in the sense that a sequence of parts may be expressed by doing nothing simultaneously, emphasis on itself.

Neglect in doing that of hearing and sight, the influence of a method continued to its position at the root of "things," harmony transformed to imitate a collision of elements passing like birds in the night.

"What" then of leaving, the subject turning in an opposite direction (range) beginning to walk away, that impulse at night for example neutralized by the position of the body on the ground, doing nothing.

People in a truck passing outside, the sound of the one you know but can't hear in quotation (audience) looking at something else, what has happened somewhere if the sound is not in words but people going.

How if we are going forward we know how to stop, count backwards, ask about the rhythm of water with respect to how it drops about my head, hearing instead of physics the question I would ask.

Something about the "tongue" (thinking) temporarily changing in another room, people one doesn't know slowing down to talk about getting sleepy, her experience "real" in that nothing happens, period.

Thought frequently produced in the same way, talking on the telephone (contemporary) instead of asking something else in writing that is to say, this "last" story separate from what is actually happening.

The temperature in the room adding to this difference, disorder in effect emphasized by "something" in another direction (variable) second to that, thinking that one walks away without having something to say.

Twelve tones in a series, the sound of writing itself situated in the body (going) say when you go to sleep, what happens after he opens his mouth measurable as the sound passing in a softer ear.

Why in the middle of physical activity the performance starts, which one of us says is going to sleep automatically, the other potential namely an impulse (less) to say something more than two pianos.

What "music" is appropriate whether it's performed in agreement with the second one, serious enough to ask if someone is nearer to the first one, vibrations related by an interval in the middle of that.

Sound then thinking in his own mind, a question of light waves seen before he asked to have it performed in his imagination (broadcast) I repeat, music representative of a circle known as zero.

The graph at another point distance notes equivalent to itself, admittedly present in performance as an acoustic experience one is told, intermediate as syntax or "taking a nap" speaking of that experience.

The same part touched (possible) in a continuous succession of lines, simultaneous in that nothing is performed in the collision between sound in the margin and the mind "voices" speak in an opposite direction.

III. "Lecture on Something"

Something about everything changing, the man on the bus who has nothing to say opposed to someone on paper, the atmosphere on one side of the Intersection changed by what seemed to be going on it "it."

It being separate, "contemplative" when he says what will happen when he comes to the object of that passage, the sound of the body precisely at rest, etc. rather than the shape of its desire.

Someone whose "form will appear," like the sound of an echo after it has happened or light on the mountain suddenly gone, the consequence of its shadows different than the object that makes it.

Otherwise continuity, as Hamlet means to accept the consequence of what happens no matter what, the one being killed (spirit) suggesting the musical terms for harmony, counterpoint, rhythm.

What the character in this situation chooses to say, meaning he isn't acting diminished, something about the duration of what happens at night answered by its relation to a permissible note.

The moment he is coming to rest, separate as an object turned on itself or elevated at the beginning of an opposite idea, this interruption (music) artificial in the sense that he is speaking it.

"That" said (talking) to be the difference between the first sound and its performance by someone else, who isn't actually pregnant but rather listening to the condition of the impulse to hear it.

Going rather to happen, this action in reference to something the foot continues to turn when the telephone rings, "silence" a consequence of the idea of memory familiar as the way a table works.

How something doesn't stop, the window one forgot at the beginning of a structure whose middle is occupied by other shoulders, speaking of a number it isn't possible to accept.

Out of that thinking the man is separate (clearly) from what happens, the effect of other action he doesn't observe regardless of his feeling, the nervousness of continuity in another movie.

Before that the picture of movement in space, the one pointing to the obstacle (disappearing) read as a condition of something equal to "it," the fact of its difference not to be only confused.

"See" for instance the way an event happens to the performer, the telephone he is going to answer (nothing) shifting to the sound of talk in the section on counterpoint, meaning continual.

This situation following in place of the right foot (something) "going down," the way she puts it as far as possible not to think "too much," emphatic as the painter who invades the place he paints.

On the other side of the first section, its limits changing the one who signs "it" above the work, nothing (equal) to the consequence he speaks as music seems to become the composer who is making it.

"Tranquil" suggesting the mountain at that point, the form it takes in contemplation of itself written as a footnote, disordered, which diminishes the area of silence associated with that event.

Haiku like that, less than the effect of light or sound on someone who makes it, saying it is also an illusion perhaps, how its form may be pleasing the moment he wakes regardless of the book.

No sound paradoxically at the opposite window, the other man who means (exception) what he says a possible idea, the one murdered at the door who vanishes at the end of the penultimate sentence.

These actions essentially out of character, as someone noted, beginning with what is acceptable to the one who chooses to explain it, being able to separate what simply happens from what it seems to resemble.

Falling light in an irrelevant view, thought itself interrupted in the middle of walking to the object (again) conclusively, the idea called section without continuity meaning it exists.

Someone possible at home "extraneous," the sound of that condition direct as something stopping silence, listening to the noise a word makes or "music" played on a piano extinguished by that.

"What" about action, as someone said, the piece before it difficult to conceive of, being as it turns out impossible to continue, imagine, say that it doesn't happen when it almost does.

How many windows and doors, speaking of the rhythm of music itself, which is to say a number one doesn't read, how it comes for example in writing to mean the beginning or possibility of talk.

No action observed as an effect of what happens then, two people at the piano eating an orange or feeling each other's activity as a separate thing, confident except that the man is thinking that.

"That is" (against) something, the idea of a work attached to saying it in a book read by others, philosophy or history or something about the nature of music equal to its movement (upwards) into air.

Mostly that something is abstract thought, how sculpture for instance can be referred to by the performer (incident) shifting in the last section to musical "time," generating nothing after that.

Out of this "escape" (that is) conclusion, how the tonic follows the dominant whether she keeps it going or not, something he said about the principle of a letter coming back to the same (made) place

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