The Poetics of Re-use

A discussion space and materials base for the reading/talk, "The Poetics of Re-use," with Brian Howe and Buck Downs, as part of the In Your Ear reading series, curated by Adam Good and Cathy Eisenhower.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

Welcome to the Human Network - A Session Page (for Buck Downs)

I've just made something I'm calling a "session page." I'm thinking of it as a discrete field for the re-use or re-play of variables in an immediate environment. It captures a specific moment (session) of experience and interaction with texts and weathers. This session lasted about 25 minutes:

session page for buck downs

So, in this session page I am re-using on multiple levels and in multiple ways.

On one computer, I was looking at Barret Watten's "Forty Poems" matrix. On another computer I was working in Visio, entering rapid recombinations of the one-line poems into boxes, which I then moved around the page. (One of my favorite aspects of Visio is the ease with which you can simply copy objects and arrange them in various ways; it is so much more responsive to re-use than a word processing program.)

My attention was also drifting across the other environmental variables that surround me, namely the post-it notes and fragments of writing scattered around my desk. These fragments re-combine with lines from "Forty Poems," creating a kind of instant perceptual mash-up.

At the same time, I was listening to a recording in which I ask the question "Are You Your Own Twin?" to various texts (e.g. "Silence, are you your own twin?") and treat the text as a medium (in all senses of the term) that can speak through me speaking through it. This speaking occurs through a rapid recombinant reading (or RRR), in which I allow my voicing to be guided by the elements on the pages as I flip rapidly through them.
The elements of this soundtrack leaked into and influenced the composition, recombining with other phrases, guiding selection and thought processes.
With the soundtrack, then, I was re-using my own re-use of other texts.

Which gets me to two final points on re-use.
  1. Re-use should be considered in the Output phase of the object as well as its Input. In other words, we should not just focus on the re-uses that the object enacts internally; we must also (and especially) think about how the object itself will be re-used.
  2. In doing so, we should not let considerations of genre or object category limit the possibilities of re-use. The forms that I am interested in pursuing do not think they are any one particular thing. They are temporary, provisional accretions of the possible. They are guides to the future, as well as to the present.
To that end, here are some possible uses, or extensions, of this session page:
  1. Ask a question of it and do a rapid recombinant reading (RRR) to get a "response"(Sample question: "Who is B. Watten?")
  2. Lay a transparency over it, draw connections between words, and lay the transparency over another text.
  3. Make 40 40-word poems from it.
  4. Print out 1000 copies, type "Errata, p. 23" on the back, and insert into books in stores or libraries.
  5. [insert whatever here]


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