When I first set upon writing This Is Room 101, I had a few presumptions already percolating: Would any sense come out of the project? Would there be a coherence, or if not, would there be a cohesion between Orwell’s work and today’s news stories? In uncreative writing, my main goal is to basically reproduce: I become a photocopier, a data entry clerk, an archivist, and a passive robot, if you will. I put the data before me and input a reasonably accurate facsimile into my computer. Before setting upon a task though, I have thoughts on what might happen, but I try not to let it befuddle my intent: to copy solely for the express purpose of copying. There are meditative properties in a retype/rewrite that can not be captured if my brain were racing with other thoughts. I utilize a bit of zen meditation techniques while doing so to keep my mind on course. Yet with most of my uncreative projects so far, I’ve found eccentricities afterwards that have compelled me to wonder about the weird analogous circumstances that might have invaded the work.
I think back to one of my first explorative reading obsessions: Arthur Koestler. His writing on synchronicity had me enthralled as a teenager. I had a Roman Catholic upbringing, experimented with all sorts of religions, and have remained atheist/absurdist since my university years. I’ve found more heady comfort in the proof and analysis of science than anything else. A crazy person like me likes her grounding. However, I’ve always been curious of the world of pataphysics and parapsychology. Koestler brought me to Freud, then Freud to Jung, then Jung to Nietzsche….and so on.
The Invisible Writing (1954), he underwent an experience in which he felt as if he were floating on “a river of peace, under bridges of silence”. Eventually, “there was no river and no I”; there was a sense of dissolution and of limitless expansion. Coming back to his grim reality was “like waking up from anæsthesia”.
I seem to have either misplaced or lost my copy of Roots Of Coincidence, but the quote from Invisible Writing above is how I generally feel when I retype or reassemble works. It’s as if I’ve inhabited the keystrokes of the writer I’m copying and floating through his/her works. There’s no difference between the original writer or myself which makes for a very trippy like trance. I feel that way strongly with A Portrait Of The Artist As A Young Man. At the beginning of that work, my writing suffered greatly from Joyce’s disjointed infantile writing. As the prose became more infused with poetics and took on a coherent voice, my writing became infected with it in turn and flourished along with it.
With the retype and reassemblage George Orwell’s 1984 and The Wall Street Journal, something kind of strange is happening. Take for example today’s retype. Winston is writing secretly into his diary about his trip to the flicks. They’re war flicks where the audience is supposed to (or has been de-sensitized to) react amused towards the atrocities of war. Today’s headline story in The Wall Street Journal was on the Asiana Airlines plane crash. After each mention of Asiana and Boeing, the journal quotes their stock market numbers. I know this is something that is logical to the journal, but it’s an interesting coincidence nonetheless.
Since I started the project, each page has been littered with parallelisms and it’s fascinating to read it back. Sometimes it’s within the texts or the headlines, and other times it’s been with the hand drawn reproduction of the headline photo. My writing has taken a slightly more clinical approach and preciseness of fact which goes with who I am writing with: 1984 and today’s news. It’s too early to tell though if it’s because I’m looking for that within my writing or if it has genuinely fed into my writing thought processes. Time and more of my own individual creative output will tell (of which I’ve a stack of poetry and short stories I must sort and read through. Then I might be able to give a more accurate analysis of uncreative writing and what it does to creating art).
1984 is a book that will be relevant for as long as we have government and people on the planet. It’ll either be a dystopian cautionary tale or a warning of what once was/ what is; either way it’s become very entrenched in the now. Presently with the NSA’s actions coming to light, the fights for privacy online, wikileaks, Western appointed dictators being overthrown, citizen’s revolutions occurring all over the place…(I could go on, really), it really shouldn’t be that surprising to find synchronicity between 1984 and modern day news stories. However, it has been quite entertaining for the pataphysics and parapsychologist in me to witness.
In the transmutation of books and the re-typer, I think the biggest thing that I’ve learned so far is that inspiration is part observation and part the work I choose to put an effort into. I may be far reaching with picking out coincidences, but it is my experiment. As a conceptual poet, I’m just here to observe and choose what I want (uncreative-ly/creatively) to do with the data/metadata. I have my own conclusions and interpretations of what is happening after the work is done, but I’m hoping that my own analysis becomes an infinite process because it is rewarding experience so far.
On a sort of related note, I’ve been reading some online debates within the poetry community between “mainstream” poetry and avant-garde work. The debate seems to stem from what is aesthetically noteworthy. I’ve been digesting a lot of what has been said and am hashing out an analysis/opinion piece on these events. Look for it in this space this week.