Jake Gillespie Drawings & Franck Andre Jamme's New Exercises
So apparently I hadn't read Jake & Alisa's blog in a while. It's a lot of fun & they are awesome. But that means I missed the post from Dec when Jake put up a few of his recent drawings that I totally love. Check them out:
You can see more of Jake's work at Jake Gillespie. You can see more of Jake if you live in Oakland. I've seen very little Jake for about 7 months now, which is stinky.
At first i was thinking about Julie Speed's paintings with the extra eyes, but then I realized that these seem like film stills from the moment of transition between movements. The moments that the film flicker (or the digital equivalent) creates that are inhuman & unnatural. Or maybe the kind of shaking of a misfed projector. They are totally mesmerizing to me & reminded me of Franck Andre Jamme's book New Exercises from Wave Books. If you haven't seen this book, the texts are based on the formatting of small gold leaves left in the mouths or the folded hands of the dead in ancient Rome. The texts end up like blocks of text. I took a photo of the book to keep the formatting, so this looks a bit weird, but you can handle it, you're a very smart young girl or boy:
The texts are aphoristic statements in the infinitive like this one. Some of them have a purplish aura of new age cheesiness, but other ones are genuinely affecting. I'm pretty sure the ones you put in categories 1 & 2 would be different than the ones I do & that's a good thing.
But the process of reading these seems as important (if not more so) that the wisdom of the aphorisms. They play against the urge of the eye to progress, causing me to arrive at words in unexpected ways. The reading of this books works as part puzzle, part poem, part wish. It makes me wonder how I would have reacted to Stein's syntax if I'd read it first in the subway rather than in a textbook, or Williams' lines without having them poorly interpreted by a high school teacher (sorry Mr. Slaughter*). The feeling of reading through them is different from any other kind of poem I've read. I mean, I've seen people space out their words in such a way that one has to work to read them. There ain't nothing new in that, but to have that offset by the ontology of the infinitive aphorism makes for something interesting. The aphorism typically is a witty or wise statement told quickly. Having to struggle into & out of an aphorism makes is wisdom-act arrive at cross purposes. When they are on, like this one, the meaningfulness arrives because of the work of the process:
I'm not sure these can be taken out of context of reading the whole book. First off the use of an aphorism out of context makes someone sound like some crappy CSI-writer with their Bartletts iphone app open trying to make their character sound like a deep thinker. Secondly, these aphorisms don't ascribe to only wisdom, the main push of them is toward a humility not only of ego but of attempt. But beyond anything aphoristic, the mental space the book puts you into makes the process of understanding forefronted before the process of interpreting. The feeling is similar to the feeling of working on translation. It's like how in Jake's drawings above my eye keeps trying to correct the image, to choose one. That the image is one of blurred duality is constantly unsettling & beautiful
* My actual sophomore English teacher's name--his name was so metal he might be the only high school teacher whose name I remember. I remember him making Emerson & Macbeth boring as well. But then again I was a bad student, so I'm sure I would have considered any teacher to be boring.