Thursday, June 26, 2008

Writing as Event: Try This At Home Edition

The Grand Piano reading at NPF gave me this idea, which I offer in the hope some of us will actually do it. This is very closely based on the "ant wort/brat guts" exercise (see Grand Piano Vol. 1, among other places). Two versions below, dependent on the size of your collective.

An Exercise in Collective Collapsible Autobiography, or What Participation as Writing Readers and Reading Writers

Version 1. Assemble a group of 10 people, along with copies of Grand Piano (for 10 people, you need 9 copies; it'd be cool if everyone had their own complete set, to date, so that people could technically end up reading the same passage). Each person is also asked to bring 4-6 texts which speak to them autobiographically but which they have not themselves authored. (For instance, if Daniel Paul Schreber's Memoirs of my Nervous Illness is formative, for whatever reason and in whatever way, include that). 9 people read simultaneously, while the last scribes; the readers alternate between GP and the supplementary texts. The choice of how to alternate and how often must be left to the individual: follow a whim, roll dice, draw lots, etc, as suits your own habitual methods of negotiating the texts of the world as they compete for your attention.

In theory, and if organized in advance, the reading/writing should result in all of the existing sections of Grand Piano being read, and everyone writing in response to them. That completeness isn't vital however.

The resultant writing should be scribed by one member of the group and sent round to the rest, to re-shape and re-use whenever and however wanted. (I'll also post here anything anyone produces; keep me posted.)

Version 2. Pretty much the same, but with only 3 people, like the original ant wort/brat guts sessions. Might be more viable.

(Note: this is close to what was done at the NPF reading, though with more people, so I'm not claiming this is a new exercise; what I'm interested in is the effect on polymorphous identity, on the I-am within the group we-are and we-are-not, when other people's autobiography and autobiographical tendencies impact on our own selves as formed within, through, and despite language. I'm suggesting that for someone outside of the so-called Language school, outside, that is, a certain generation in San Francisco in 1975-1980 and also outside a group most verbally but incompletely represented at present in the ten writers of the Grand Piano undertaking, for those people to perform a writing and reading exercise by means of Grand Piano constitutes a very different engagement with collective autobiography. The method is duplicated but the experience not retained, partly because of the changing involvement with revising and, to quote MKH's comment, re-visiting.)

No comments:

Post a Comment