Sunday, February 19, 2006


JH: "Literature and the arts seem to be dreams of a more limited collective" is an excellent point. Literature draws from a store (itself), and actual writing - the words, the arrangement of these words, provide depths beyond that store. What history lends provides more depths (depths may be a shimmering of the surface, and nothing deep below). For instance, in "Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote", Borges excepts from Cervantes' "Don Quixote" the following words "... truth, whose mother is history, rival of time, depository of deeds, witness of the past, exemplar and advisor to the present, and the future's counselor" and comments that in the 17th century "this enumeration is a mere rhetorical praise of history." - however when Menard writes the same words "the idea is astounding. Menard, a contemporary of William James, does not define history as an inquiry into reality but as its origin. Historical truth, for him, is not what has happened; it is what we judge to have happened. The final phrases - 'exemplar and advisor to the present, and the future's counselor' - are brazenly pragmatic." Literature is a limited collective, yes, but limits mean doubling, whether the doubling comes from a new age (see also Borges' "Kafka and His Precursors"), a new reader / commentator, or the words themselves. The author, who soon becomes yet another work, stands almost immediately outside the work once it's created. So, is literature self-sufficient or does it rely completely on the reader? Is the reader Time? Literature minus time (and how could this ever happen? - this question is not to suggest impossibility, but to plead for hypotheses) is nothing? If literature does not have a reader, is it an artwork (something to look at, like a painting, with an idea that it is more than an object) or just an object? And a reader can be brought to read something that is not literature - sermons in stones, the Book of Nature. So the reader does not need literature, and literature is but a limit, as concentration, focus, for the reader? The Book of Nature is a book behind nature, and a book is nature behind a book? The reader then, being a part of nature, is a text, and the act of reading is comparative literature? If literature is a human invention (impossible, I think, to be proved until we can conclusively find out where inspiration, literary and technical, comes from) it may be a mirror to watch, via the limit of concentration, ourselves -- but something has definitely settled to the bottom (or more shimmers at the top) of literature, making it something distinct from the human. Speaking of artwork, could you write more about your visual pieces?

AHB: Fun reading your words, your ranging into such territories. Literature, or Art generally, just happens, in a sense. It is a human thing, and is understood as Art. And people will say what Art is, whether Jackson Pollock's work is or... I saw this book, I don't recall title or author (does it really exist?), the subject of which is paintings by cats. Literally. More than a few people have provided paint and paper or some manner of support for their cats who, in heir inquisitive nature, dip paws into the paint and transfer the paint to the support. Lots of striking pictures, art or not. And people decide if that is art, or whether cooking is, or such and such. I'd only say that art transfigures, however subtly. The point is that some consciousness occurs, in people, and it seems to be the consciousness of the artwork as well. As to my artwork, it is play. I use paints, ink, watercolour pencils, collage, most often several media at once. It is a quietness as compared to writing. What I note as I work, a near desperation to save the piece. I make some tentative marks then switch media to amend and rescue what I did. It is rescue because I am conscious of my lack of training in the arts. Which is a stupid thing to worry but I do. Along with that desperation is a simple urge to enjoy colour and form. And maybe because I've been writing so long, I've developed blocks or rigidities, which I don't have in the visual arts (not yet). So art is good that way. Have I made anything clear? I hate sounding like a prefab form of artist when these self-discoveries (common to all, of course) are so poignant.

Thursday, February 16, 2006


JH: That Keats' lost works have been written by our collective interest is a very interesting notion - when thinking of an author we don't instantly and simultaneously read his or her collected works which appear in our minds upon thinking of the author's name, but rather an idea we've formed, individually, but also from collective views, of the author and the works. There is a lot of invention in this, and perhaps something has been created via collective attention. So what is confirmation of completion - how do we know if a literary work exists if it is part of an unwritten flux? Or, more terrestrially, is there really an Emily Dickinson, a poet existing outside of literary history, or is she part of the game? Does working with words automatically put a poet in literary history, no matter how much of an outsider the body of work seems to be? Is there such a thing as an invisible writer? What would an especially (I won't say "completely", though that was my first choice) visible author look like? John Dryden? Racine? How would an especially visible author be defined? Perhaps as an author who keeps in the established (long-established) literary track, with just enough individual personality to add some shine? The same old same old, glorious or otherwise, with a bit of gleam to it? Is that gleam from an individual personality solely, or could it be from a piece of Literature laid bare?

AHB: Whoop! Great questions, possibly unanswerable. Ego involvement being what it is. The authors are in Eternity, which is on Mars, but damn if they aint got a beacon up there. “Beacon from Mars” is the title of a song and album by a 60s group Kaleidoscope, all but forgot no doubt, or unknown by those who of a certain age or attention or whatever, which fact then becomes tributary to the idea of any artist having a hold on anything. about all I know of Chinese literature comes from the T'ang dynasty, which is a criminally limited view, I know, and yet we're all stuck within our limits. But is that erasure? I have intentionally not learned any Chinese languages (not to say I wouldn't like to) nor have I applied myself assertively to Chinese literature (not that I wouldn't like to), yet I am aware of a literary mass there and every other where that I've not explored. And even where I have, the depths, the depths. Myths are like collective dreams. Literature and the arts seem to be dreams of a more limited collective. We assume myths (or they assume us). I don't mean we all believe myths, but accept them as existing in the world. Literature we work at, a conscious path. Or at least somewhat conscious, and somewhat a path. There is, at any rate, so much out of the art's hands, in how the art is made, disseminated and taken in. and so in closing I just want to say, I'm out of my depth. I've been doing conversations with some visual pieces I've done. The life of the work (each one, not just the 'good' ones) comes startlingly alive. That says a lot to me.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006


JH: Somehow, somewhere, no doubt. Your idea of a hole in our collective whatsis due to missing texts is very interesting. To me it matches with your regretting a use of charcoal. A single halt in step changes the entire artistic process, whether individually or collectively. Is the missing subordinate to the locatable? A question answered differently every time it's asked - for sometimes a lost paradise is in mind, sometimes contentment. Poetry can present the missing and the locatable together as equals. Metaphor, independent of verse, does this. When compared to real-life (non-literary) events, the locatable and missing in literature are often reversed. Will all that's missing from literature someday be said again in new works of literature? Literature as the literature of mourning for literature? In these new works, all that will be lost (and this losing is by no means certain) is the exact words in the originals. Has the entirety of these re-visited works already been written? How would we know?

AHB: I don't suppose we would know. When I started painting 4 years ago, I was given to chucking out works that really annoyed me, quite a lot of my production at that time. Someone told me not to discard but keep these losers to use in collage. These works disappear, and yet. People imagine what Keats would've done had he dodged TB. In a way, the writing he 'would have' written had he lived HAS been written, by our collective interest. A lot of looping, helixing and downright repetition occurs in literature and art. Omigawd am I suggesting reincarnation??? it seems like the lost work, Sappho's or never done, like elder Keats, is written somehow. I don't mind going all Blakean about this. It's not something I think a lot about (I'll bet Blake did so think), but there is that plane of literature that is life. We know it, the energy and satisfactions, as well as confusions, inadequacy and disappointment. And I don't even smoke dope! Anyway, a strong connection with those of yore, even if yore was just a few years ago.