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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Blogger Jonathan Wonham said...

Hello Joe

This post and the last are really interesting. Thought provoking. They both seem to refer to Part III of Book 3 of Paterson, which I have been reading while thinking about what your interviewees have to say.

I think the lithological column in this section of Paterson relates quite closely to the poetry that surrounds it. Although Williams doesn't say it, the rocks that are being described are fluvial in origin. We know this by their red colour and lithologies and by the reference to "rock salt of England" which is Triassic in age: a period when alternating deserts and flash flood rivers were the norm.

The sections surrounding the lithological list contains plenty of references to rivers and I think Williams is thinking about how the 'leaping stream' in which fish are 'full speed stationary' and railroad embankments are undermined becomes something leaving a layer of mud ("if only it were fertile"). This allows him to contemplate how the rushing present relates to what will one day remain of us: "the past above, the future below and the present pouring down - the roar, the roar of the present..."

One part of the poem tumbles down the page like sediment settling out of suspension. This makes the link between sediment and language a physical one and I think that is present too in the last verses: "I must find my meaning and lay it, white, beside the sliding water: myself - comb out the language.

Also he talks of how shells in the river are 'baked by endless dessications into a shelly rime' making a pun on sedimentation and poetry but also using the process of dessication and condensation as a metaphor for the making of verse.

There are other themes as well to do with fertility and death (the river carrying a dead dog) which make me think of the Ganges and Hindu mythology.

6:31 PM, March 13, 2007  
Blogger Joe Milutis said...

I especially like your insight on the "shelly rime." I'll have to look at these passages even more closely soon. Btw, I just launched this new blog a second ago. New Jersey as an Impossible Object continues, surely, but this one may also engage your attention:

8:07 PM, March 16, 2007  

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