Friday, February 23, 2007

Buried Heterogeneity: Lytle Shaw on Paterson

Writer Lytle Shaw talks about Williams, Smithson, site specific art, poetry of place, geological samples, crystals and the "stupid ass things" Williams is capable of. I had planned to save this material for mixing into another Paterson radiophonic study, but it's worthwhile posting it fully here. I conducted this interview 10-20-06 in New York City. Stay tuned to hear it make its way into a more multifarious material stratum.
Lytle Shaw talks about the relation of Paterson to his work: (7 min.)
On the songlike passages in Paterson: (1 min. 30 sec.)
Is Paterson like a fractal?:(1 min. 50 sec.)
Paterson the city, poetics of place and site-specificity: (6 min. 40 sec.)

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Thursday, February 22, 2007

From a Roseate Past

"And there rises
a counterpart, of reading, slowly, overwhelming
the mind; anchors him in his chair. So be
it. . . .
Texts mount and complicate them-
selves, lead to further texts and those
to synopses, digests and emendations. So be it.
Until the words break loose or--sadly
hold, unshaken. Unshaken! So be it. For
the made-arch holds, the water piles up debris
against it but it is unshaken." (Book 3, Part 3)

I picked up a pile of random secondary sources on the poem Paterson yesterday at the library. I'm not sure how many I will get into. I opened one today to a grim but apt description of Paterson as "a city known to itself only as a place of processing raw material and dumping the by-products, material and human" (Duffey 69). We can think, though, that while industry performs this operation in an unwholesome way, that the counter project of the poem Paterson, as well as our own activities--exalted and mundane--are precisely this processing, with hopefully an element of recycling, so the trash heap does not grow beyond human reckoning. In the spirit of recycling, here is a clip not used from an older journey to Paterson.
Recently, I talked to an art group about their like-minded experiments in Paterson, and so while posts will continue to operate an their accustomed distant, recycling remove, I plan to join them in full immersion come June.

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Saturday, February 10, 2007

A More Dense Intelligibility

Poet-geologist Jonathan Wonham's copy of Paterson finally arrived in the mail, and he has formulated some initial ideas on his blog about the relation of geology to literature, based on Randall Jarrell's description of Paterson as "a geological event" (entries so far for February 10 AM and PM). Tune in to Connaissances for more of Paterson, NJ as seen from Paris, France. Do I smell a book club coming on?
Here is a long quote from Claude Levi-Strauss from one of Jonathan's earlier blog entries. Our reflection for today!: "I count among my most precious memories . . . a hike along the flank of a limestone plateau in Languedoc to determine the line of contact between two geological strata. It was something quite different from a walk or a simple exploration of space. It was a quest, which would have seemed incoherent to some uninitiated observer, but which I look upon as the very image of knowledge, with the difficulties it involves and the delights it affords. Every landscape appears first of all as a vast chaos which leaves one free to choose the meaning one wants to give it. But over and above agricultural considerations, geographical irregularities and the various accidents of history and prehistory, the most majestic meaning of all is surely that which precedes, commands and, to a large extent explains the others. A pale blurred line, or an almost imperceptible difference in the shape and consistency of rock fragments, are evidence of the fact that two oceans once succeeded each other where, today, I can see nothing but barren soil . . . When the miracle occurs, as it sometimes does; when, on one side and the other of the hidden crack, there are suddenly to be found cheek-by-jowl two green plants of hidden species, each of which has chosen the most favourable soil; and when at the same time two ammonites with unevenly intricate involutions can be glimpsed in the rocks, thus testifying in their own way to a gap of several tens of thousands of years suddenly space and time become one: the living diversity of the moment juxtaposes and perpetuates the ages. Thought and emotion move into a new dimension where every drop of sweat, every muscular movement, every gasp of breath becomes symbolic of a past history, the development of which is reproduced in my body, at the same time as my thought embraces its significance. I feel myself to be steeped in a more dense intelligibility, within which centuries and distances answer each other and speak with one and the same voice."

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

Pixelvision Redux: A Note on the Technology

Most of the video on this vlog was recorded with the Fisher Price Vidster camcorder, the latter-day digital cousin on the legendary PXL-2000 children's camcorder. This newer version, released in 2005, never acquired the cachet that the original did. Its image is not as immediately stunning, although one eventually discovers the kodachrome-esque things it does with blues and greens. When it came out, the price ratio between it and bargain-basement mini-DV was negligible (greedy retailers upped the suggested retail 40%, perhaps hoping to benefit from the cult following of the original), so it no longer had the charge of a cheap alternative. (However, you can now get Vidster on eBay for $10-20, while the PXL-2000 still goes for $100-500.) The weirdness factor of recording video on audio tape has been replaced by more standard flash recording: cheaper, but no longer outre.
However, I've enjoyed this camera and its charms, from the way it picks up a corner of sunlight (similar to PXL-2000 sunbursts) to its ruggedness. The Vidster gets closer to the idea of "video pencil" than most cameras that I would treat more like "video nice pen that I got for graduation." Since it records at 15 fps it's perfect for a blog--what you see is what you will get, no compression heartbreaks. It retains the black frame of old pixelvision, so that the image reels in its little charm box, an effect enhanced by the way takes are recorded as discrete files opening onto QuickTime moments (recalling Vivian Sobchack's essay on QuickTime, nostalgia, and Joseph Cornell.) It CAN be used with Macs and Final Cut Pro (regardless of what it says on the box) and has good on-board sound, even though I opted for working dual-system on most of the vlog. In the end, though, I don't think I'll use this camera much longer. I documented a good amount of fragments of 2006 with it*, but--as toys go--it is beginning to lose my attention. I am drawn, however, to this new helmet-cam for kids.
I wonder if the same people who created the first kids' camcorder for Fisher-Price--James Wickstead and Associates--had any input with this second camera. Probably they didn't, since Wickstead sketchily hinted to me that a new color version might be released in 1998, and then it never manifested itself. Click here for my unpublished interview with him in 1997 discussing his invention, and his possible future plans, now past.
*I'm having a little tech trouble with creating fields of Vidster video for this link. They all seem to show up better on Safari, but play easier on Firefox. Try reloading a couple times on a fast connection. (Wait, this may indeed turn out to be a compression heartbreak.)

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