Surrealist Doodle

Surrealist Doodle
This was used as the cover of Karawane in 2006 and I have included it in on a number of bags and postcards over the years. Someone on the subway asked me if it was a Miro. I was very flattered!

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Mallarme I?

In the end, much of the avant-garde comes back to Mallarme. Every book I read, whether by Breton in the 1920s or from a contemporary writer like Barrett Watten, James Harding, or Anna Lovatt, they all mention Mallarme. “Crisis in Poetry,” starts off by saying that as a reader, Mallarme had “the feeling of having read it all twenty years ago”1 I think of Eugene Ionesco who said in an interview that he started writing plays because he found the theatre to be so stale. He started writing plays that he himself would want to see.

"I still could not see quite how to get rid of that positive feeling of malaise produce by my awareness of the “impurity” of acted drama. I was by no means an agreeable theatregoer, but on the contrary, sulky, grumbling, always discontented. Was this due to some deficiency in myself alone? Or was it something lacking in the theatre?"

In a similar way, Mallarme speaks of poetry that is “extinct, or rather worn threadbare by repetition”3 because it is not of its time, tries too hard to imitate 17th century French poetry. I, too, started writing avant-garde poetry because it all had that “been there, done that, feeling.” Dada and Surrealism were like a breath of fresh air to my 21 year-old mind and have captivated me every since. Since I can't really get out of meaning though, try as I may, I keep collections of words and images that I occasionally go through. I pull out phrases that feel like they go together. In this way, I avoid writing about one specific thing, because when I try to write about something in particular, the poems suck. They are terrible, as are most poems that try to be about something4. Rather than trying to write about things, I try to write avant-gardely. Because the avant-garde in poetry, theatre, and art makes me happy. I like art that I don't understand, that I don't get on a conscious level, that I either have to work for or just let my mind go and appreciate the disparate images.

This often gets me in trouble with academic writing, because I have a high threshold for writing that I don't understand. I don't get hung up on meaning.

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