Tuesday, October 25, 2005

I have realized that my initial post didn't pose a question beyond "What do we do?" and thought I could add to that. This blog was set up basically at the spur of the moment without a specific goal in mind. But since it has been up I realized that what I was looking for is something like a statement of one's own poetics that feels accurate without necessarily concerning itself with my definition of a tonalist poetics. Such a statement could obviously take any form.

Defining my own poetics in relation to the notion of being a tonalist has been the project of the fifty-odd pages I have written so far in the project. Taylor once pointed out that I often work by equivalences -- I think of them as appositives. I think I am looking for a reaction in apposition to my a tonalist assertions, partly to figure out if it is possible to identify a poetics that any or some of us have in common. I would apply these poetics to a prose text or to visual work as well as to a poem, whatever that is.

So, some actual questions:

How would you explain to a Martian what you are doing in your practice?

How does 'the local' function in your work if it does? What/where/who would this local be?

What else is motivating?

Where else do you identify your practice as occurring? Robert Duncan once claimed, in a class of mine at Cal he was visiting, that he could see his thinking on poetics being used in the battlefield strategies in Vietnam.

Is your writing elegiac?

Here is another gesture, from the poem, toward a definition of a tonalist poetics.

A Tonalist, international but local, like yourself. Related, relating to color or light in all its manifestations including tone. Relating to tone as sound. Sounding out. An acknowledgment that song exists. Song exists as color. That songs exist in history not to compete with other songs but to make audible the [a]symmetricality of thought, meaning sensation. Each category splays and empties like a river into the heart. Absorbed or sinking into. Blood. Color.

Friday, October 21, 2005

A Tonalist is a long poem or a manifesto, a poetics, a utopia, a movement, a daybook or maybe it is simply me addressing you. Or us addressing each other. What is it that we do?

From the poem:

“Magnificent pink roses, chrysanthemums in a Greek vase, the color spectrum’s rhetoric in an untranslated book, apocalyptic wallpaper for the classroom. Patience. There is a comet tail, a yellowish drip of unconscious brush stroke to the right. Have a drink. Blackness is before you and black is your favorite color. Honk. A customer will haul the installation away. Even now this gravedigger cruises on an ocean liner. He teeters on the edge of your work. Objects unrecognize you. The East is empty, there is nothing left to the West except the past, which is groundless night, a mass solution (like panic) to solitude, an imperishable escape. Let’s go to Paris. Let’s live, therefore we’ll think. We’ll be admitted to the best seats at the Opera, indicted for treason, encouraged to seduce our new enemies, become diplomats, say grace with trackless courtesans. There are dull beatitudes and reanimated brains. Houdini. The art of dissemination is the sign of the prodigy.”

[Jerry Estrin, “Citizen’s Dash,” Rome, A Mobile Home]

The inward present. The indefinite maintained as a kind of discipline. Abstract simplification. Not arcane and yet there is a suggestive darkness. A realism of forms which melt into each other. Spiritual realism in which spiritual is defined as a formal practice relating to a belief in love but not of a person. Or of a person. And realism is verisimilitude in drag.