|a page from Susan Howe's Thorow [Modern American Poetry]|
from Susan Howe's Sorting Facts: or, Nineteen Ways of Looking at Marker:
Herman Melville, Emily Dickinson, and Walt Whitman were all using montage before it was a word for a working method. Their writing practice (varied though it was) involved comparing and linking fragments or shots, selecting fragments for scenes, reducing multitudes (chapters or stanzas) and shots (lines and single words) to correlate with one another, constantly interweaving traces of the past to overcome restrictions of temporal framing. The influence Whitman had on Vertov through Mayakovsky is well known. Is the Melville who wrote Typee, Omoo, Redburn, "The Encantadas," and "Benito Cereno," a travel writer, a beachcomber, a reporter, or a poet? Moby-Dick is a poetic documentary fiction on a grand scale. Often I think of Dickinson's handwritten manuscripts as "Drawings in motion. Blueprints in motion. Plans for the future. The theater of relativity of the screen." With an important difference: if kino-eye signifies, among other things, the conquest of space — "I am kino-eye, I am a mechanical eye. I, a machine, show you the world only as I can see it" — Dickinson's pen-eye aims at the conquest of mechanical reproduction. It seems after reaching the age of consent she refused to be photographed. . . .
letters as colliding image-objects and divine messages. "Association, so far as the word stands for an effect, is between THINGS THOUGHT OF — it is THINGS, not ideas, which are associated in the mind. We ought to talk of the association of objects, not the association of ideas" — William James. "If he [the author] make of his volume a mole whereon the waves of Silence may break it is well" — Henry David Thoreau. Needing to translate words into THINGS THOUGHT OF could be the mark of North American poet. . . .
A mark is the face of a fact. A letter is naked matter breaking from form from meaning. An anagram defies linear logic. Any letter of the alphabet may contain its particular in-dwelling spirit. A mark is a dynamic cut. Dynamic cutting is a highly stylized form of editing. Sequences get magpied together from optical surprises, invisible but omnipresent verbal flashes, flashes of facts. A documentary work is an attempt to recapture something somewhere looking back.
|Chris Marker [radical philosophy]|