Saturday, November 24, 2012

/ter/ in the /tir/

something like a review of I Have Blinded Myself Writing This
by Jess Stoner
published by Short Flight/Long Drive Books in 2012

Henri Bergson’s Matter and Memory examined the tenuous relationship between spirit and thingness that shapes the natural order. One of the adhering processes is that of the mind’s recorded impression, or memory.

Stoner’s I Have Blinded Myself Writing This is the story of a woman whose day-to-day existence is threatened by potential injury. Every time she is physically injured, a memory disappears. Her everyday behaviors – and her relationship to the things and people around her – are marked as precarious, potentially damaging relationships...

A stubbed toe while crossing a room, a cut finger while preparing a sandwich, a bumped knuckle against a desk: catalysts for loss.

The book: a journal-like document of a narrator’s strained relationship with her increasingly unsympathetic and ironically soft-named partner, Teddy.

w/a sideways 'forwardness', a cause-and-effect primacy, broken with lyrical, vispo touches: anatomic diagrams of the human brain, hole-punched photographs of American architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

The couple’s relationship begins to unravel around the narrator’s increasing fear of and inevitable potential for bearing a child. Will she pass along her painful condition to her child, and what will happen to the family unit as a result?

As a stand-in for her affliction, the narrator continuously addresses the reader with action cues to tear specific pages from the bound book.

Like a memory being sliced from a membrane, Stoner’s narrator begs, commands, pleads, with directives for reading engagement:

To understand, You should rip this page.

If you ripped this page, you would know.

You. Do it. Rip this Page.

While wanting to engage with the physicality of the text, I also couldn’t bring myself to deface the lovely bound matter of this book-object.

My solution for engagement: I photocopied each page in the book where these directives appeared, and tore the copied pages into fragmentary paper shards.

I then applied the shards to previous series of Lark Fox’s words stenciled on a Time-Life Book on the Atlantic Ocean photographic pages.

Then, applying similar methods to a previous “Like a map with no ocean” sequence, I tore the pages from the bound Atlantic Ocean book, soaked the pages in saltwater solution, then squeezed, unfurled, dried on clothesline. The paper's thickness allowed for the densely wrinkled texture, like a dried sea. A tear sinking in around the rim of the wound.  

 Note: I originally conceptualized the shards being ‘invisibly applied’ using clear Scotch tape. In the moment when I went to ask for adhesive, though, the words that came out of my mouth requested ‘masking tape’ instead. Masking tape was provided, and subsequently used. Thus, to enhance the blocky ‘thereness’ of its binding process and presence.

the /ter/ in the /tir/

a /tir/ around the /ter/

/wownd/ around the /woond/

sound of a /wownd/ /woond/

/wownd/ around the /woond/

the /woond/ around the /woond/

a /tir/ in the /tir/ of a /ter/

/ter/ in the air of the sound

a /woond/ within the /tir/

a /tir/ in the /ter/ of the /woond/

[why did I feel okay tearing this also beautiful book apart, but not Stoner’s? Is it because of my proximal relationship to the author? Though we have never met, in fact, Jess & I were to read together at a chapbook release party in Philadelphia in August 2011, however Jess was unable to attend. Instead, Fact-Simile editor Travis Macdonald ‘performed’ as Jess, reading selections from Jess’ forthcoming chapbook, You’re Going to Die, Jess Wigent, a beautifully designed choose-your-own- adventure poem-maze. I think it's mor than the proof that I've actually paid for this book, as opposed to just found the Atlantic... or?]

Simply, this process provides a more intimate experience with Stoner’s anti-narrative, engaging the post-traumatic experiences of memory, pain, and loss.

No comments: