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Sunday, March 06, 2016

Robert Sheppard new book UNFINISH (a de-selected poetics piece)

Eight Notes

‘How everything one is thinking (at a specific moment in time) must (at all costs) be incorporated into the project,’ noted Benjamin. Everything? At all costs?

I’d expected something more knowing, something like Art and Language: a room of ‘abstract expressionist’ canvasses, a room of ‘Mondrian’, a room of ‘Richter’… but it wasn’t like that. It was unironically multiform. The canvas is a blank for Von Heyl. Or conversely it is full, and she empties it.

Novelisations of films that have never been made. Guide texts and unthreadings. Unreadings and unwritings.

Reconfiguration was part of the project (but). One text might be linked and combined with, absorbed into, another in subsequent ‘drawings in’ of the scheme. Overlaps, tangentials and autonomies. Abandoned. We intervene all the time

‘While the conceptualists plagiarise other people’s content, I plagiarise their forms,’ he said again, quoting his allegedly fictional poet. The interruption of abstractions and their real violence. ‘Something has to be formed and transformed or a concept stays the same,’ he said, for himself.

To set up an archive or ark that will collect all writings (and assimilations) and be adapted at various points for various purposes. Discontinued.

Could ‘Unfinish’ have been a possible title for the ‘project’, concentric open circles, drifting constellations of titles, endlessly reconfiguring? How are the conceptual and formal related? The procedural, the structural?

Every writing creates its own precursors. No end to tradition. No end to innovation. There is only an archive of attention out of which works are made, systematic or. Elsewise.

6 January 2014

Originally meant to mirror the 'Eight Theses' with which Unfinish opens, I cut these because of the implication that Unfinish might be the beginning of a 'project', as hinted at above, another 'Twentieth Century Blues' if I hadn't have drawn back from the abyss, or rather: from the concentric and overlapping diagrams I still have in my poetics journal. Instead, it is a record of a particular moment's gathering from that journal of ideas that seemed pertinent. Certainly I have set up a system of daily writing I call 'Ark and Archive', although that phrase also sank into The Drop to suggest something rather different and elegaic. I like these notes but don't regret dropping them from the book, which they might have confused rather than focussed. But, of course, they also recoil from the notion of a project, particularly in the mild revulsion about Benjamin. The reflection on Van Heyl is interesting, another suggestion that the paradigms of card-carrying postmodernism have (long?) shifted. The phrase 'archive of attention' is suggestive and useful for describing the writerly equipment suitable for the (on-going) job. This is poetics as I conceive it (and as I describe it elsewhere, here, for example.)

Unfinish is published by Veer: only £5. Buy it here and see more of the text. Read about it here.