Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Rodak's Writings: A New Way of Walkin'

I have never had much patience for minimalist or ultra-abstract art. Such things as so-called “concrete poetry” have left me cold. But my new-found interest in the work of Robert Lax, and the understanding that I’ve gleaned from reading a couple of interviews with him—as well as his poetry—have brought me around to a new understanding:

I certainly don’t think that you can tell people how they should take your poems, but I think you should feel responsible for any reverberation that a word you’ve chosen may have. I think that if you say ‘red’, you have to realize that some people will see red! But you also have to hope that the context of the poem itself will establish and clarify what you’re saying. ~ R. Lax; interview with Nicholas Zurbrugg, Patmos – 13th January, 1985

This morning I tried to clear my mind of all “busy,” pragmatic thought, and to simply record the “is-ness” of the moment(s). I found this technique—if it can be called that—to be reminiscent of the spirit of haiku, in that it seeks to distill immediate experience down to its essence. In so doing, I wrote the following poem:


dead timexxxxxxxxxx blue wall xxxxxxxxxxwritten word
dead time xxxxxxxxxxcold room xxxxxxxxxwritten word
dead time xxxxxxxxxxdead time xxxxxxxxxwritten word
dead time xxxxxxxxxxblank page xxxxxxxxwritten word

blank pagexxxxxxxxxblue wall xxxxxxxxx cold room
blank page xxxxxxxx blue wall xxxxxxxxx blue wall
dead time xxxxxxxxxcold room xxxxxxxx written word
blue wall xxxxxxxxxxblank page xxxxxxx written word

dead timexxxxxxxxx written wordxxxxxxxwritten word
dead timexxxxxxxxx cold roomxxxxxxxxx blue wall
blank pagexxxxxxxxxblue wallxxxxxxxxxxcold room
blue wallxxxxxxxxxx written wordxxxxxxxdead time

I think that timelessness is a real value to art, and that timelessness is also always accessible to a serious artist, just as it’s fairly accessible to a serious mathematician or a serious scientist. Timelessness is something that you can hope to work with. Though how you can talk about timelessness and progress at the same time, I’m not sure. ~ R. Lax; [ibid.]

Having completed the first experiment—again following Lax—I translated the same poem from the language of ‘noun’ to the language of color. I plan next to get out the colored pencils and translate the piece from word to image:

xxxxxxxxxxxxOr, Again

light grayxxxxxxxdark bluexxxxxxxxxbright red
light grayxxxxxxxlight bluexxxxxxxxxbright red
light grayxxxxxxxlight grayxxxxxxxxxbright red
light grayxxxxxxxbright whitexxxxxxxbright red

bright whitexxxxxdark bluexxxxxxxxxlight blue
bright whitexxxxxdark bluexxxxxxxxxdark blue
light grayxxxxxxxlight bluexxxxxxxxx bright red
dark bluexxxxxxxbright whitexxxxxxxbright red

light grayxxxxxx bright redxxxxxxxxxbright red
light gray xxxxxxlight blue xxxxxxxxx dark blue
bright white xxxxdark blue xxxxxxxxx light blue
dark blue xxxxxxbright red xxxxxxxxxlight gray

Everybody’s talkin’ ‘bout a new way of walkin’. Do you want to lose your mind?


Lynne H. said...

Eg- I have no idea what I just read. Not being critical, trying to understand. Please help a novice out senor...

Rodak said...

I just write 'em. I don't explain 'em. The explanation is that I was trying out a technique used by Robert Lax. Short syllables in linear columns, which develop a rhythmic pattern. It becomes like very simple music--Gregorian chant, say.

Rodak said...

The nouns in section I. correspond to the color words in section II. which correspond to the actual colors in the graphic.
I invite any musicians out there to compose the music that would complete the piece.

Anonymous said...

Pure genius. imho (but then what would I know?) wishing I was a musician


Rodak said...

Thanks, Fiocle. That's overly generous, but well appreciated.