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Caroline Bergvall


Some thoughts around the work of
Aaron Williamson, Hannah Weiner, and Henri Michaux

This piece is 4,800 words or about ten printed pages long.

This article provides a sketch of thoughts regarding poetic practices rooted in corporeal experiments. I’ve chosen three writers for whom bodywork is a central motif and who share an interest in the altered states of consciousness promoted by various kinds of bodily discipline:

— In Hearing Things, the British performance poet Aaron Williamson confines his body in a room to create performances transformed into text by various technological media.

— In The Fast, the American poet Hannah Weiner provides a detailed summary of a prolonged period of fasting.

— In Miserable Miracle, the French poet Henri Michaux  revisits the texts and drawings laid down during his experiments with the drug mescaline.

The importance of transcription and notational technique is paramount in work of this kind. The question of compositional control and authorial unity is stretched or pre-occupied with this. It is to do with chance-generation of text out of physical action (Williamson), with the trance-like productions of drawings and writings in the case of Michaux, or with the compulsion to see, later to see as a compulsion to write (Weiner). The writing’s starting-point is not primarily in language nor in textuality. The transmission of physical experience carries modes of writing which are not solely reliant on structures dictated by poetic construction. Perhaps not surprisingly, motifs of circuitry and electricity abound in all three projects. Notions of current transmitted or energy captured function both as the leitmotifs of the experiences undergone, and as the way writing is taking place. From somatic response, or impulse, to textual trace, writing is transmitted, prior to being written. Transmission indicates a relay, carriage, waves, material carried from one form to another, one place to another. A chain of emission.


To observe one’s body is to lay siege to it. Even for a limited period of time, devising specific rules to regulate one’s behaviour, demands great effort of concentration as well as a capacity for physical exertion of a kind which can threaten, or indeed collapse, a sense of personal safety. Especially if one has laid no or few provisions. Kenneth Goldsmith’s Applet project Fidget is certainly one such example. The 12-hr project of detailing all of his body movements by dictaphone, and transcribing it without edit, is documented as having ended in a drunken panic. In bookform, every word of the last two pages has been printed backwards. Thankfully this is not mirror-writing, but a quick fix, an illustrative kind of textual spit. The writer’s body finds itself dismantled, brutalised, shook up, helpless, useless puppet, prey to disorganised ideas. Yet to place one’s body  at the centre of writing’s work indicates a methodical and pragmatic interest in forms of awareness which are not primarily, or solely, linguistic, nor it follows, poetic. In this begins the thrill, and the threat.

      It can also be connected to the critical and transitory practices of perfomance art as they have addressed embodiment and language in recent Western arts practice. Artists interested in performance for its politically confrontational and intimately transformative value have picked up on the binarism as a model for a dynamic reinvestment of the-body in art. Carolee Schneeman’s ‘Interior Scroll’ is perhaps one of its early significative moments, where body and writing are made to function as non-metaphoric extension of one another. Aaron Williamson has claimed Artaud and the performance artist Marina Abramovic as influences on his performances and poetic work. Both have produced work at the breaking points of their own socialised, verbalised bodies. Artaud irremediably fractured by the ritual wiring up of clinical treatments, his textual work moves increasingly closer to Momo’s onomatopoeic vociferations. Abramovic exposes herself to long, arduous physical tasks, often involving various ascetic disciplines, sometimes with invited participants. Her work is documented through photographic monographs (of which Cleaning the House is the most recognised), performance rumours, and the ritualised objects she places in galleries for the audience to use / be taken up by.
      The book Hearing Things (2001) by the poet Aaron Williamson is an intricate and highly structured project which attempts, through an array of inscriptive technologies, to stage a co-extensiveness of non-verbal physical work and textual writing. The use of technology acts as a prod and as a mode of detection of both visual and textual signs of the writer-performer’s body. The writer’s body is attached to writing through a complex set of wiring and circuitry. It works along lines of relationality and the nodal interdependency of events. Each physical action initiates processes of inscription in the circuitous chain of temporal and spatial devices: it vibrates across the wired space, gets picked up by a video-camera, object manipulations generate sounds that are registered by computer-software, later transmitted into randomised verbal output.  Each carefully choreographed trace provides material for reflexive blocks of poetic prose and edited photographic material as well as chance-generated texts.
      The project is structured in ten sections, ten ‘methods of augury’, each of which functions as the structuring device for the physical actions, object manipulations and textual generations of the given section, such as: ‘augury using cards’ (cartomancy), ‘augury through studying dots on paper’ (geomancy), ‘augury through throwing arrows or darts’ (belomancy), ‘augury over distance, from afar’ (telemancy), ‘augury by walking in circles’ (gyromancy)...
      Williamson’s theatricalised postures, exaggerated facial distortions, the tacky props as well as his faintly ridiculous white robe (desexualising rather than androgynous, as claimed in the book’s preface), in the airless isolation of the transmission room, remind of the illustrations of the ‘mesmerised bodies’ of the 18th century which Daniel Tiffany, in his study Toy Medium, traces forward to the ecstatic release of Laban’s dance system and to the Dadaist dances. Also, the hysteric anatomies of psychoanalysis’ early interest in spiritism. The fuzzy detail of many of the video-stills is reminiscent of the photographic blur of such sessions, their fascinating trickery calling up ghosts hidden, repressed inside the mind of the rationalist world. ‘That knuckle and thumb chase a spray of chance into light. Now you are four scattered hands of bosses and minions flushed to the floor. Arcana for the breath at last, it seems little is the city, little is even the window in your den’ (Cartomancy, 18).

Two phones

One phone

No phones

‘Two phones’, ‘One phone’, and ‘No phones’, from the ‘Telemancy’ section of Hearing Things (2001) by Aaron Williamson, copyright © Aaron Williamson, courtesy the artist and BookWorks, London.

      And augury is a means of accessing the-future, the non-time of alterity. It does not belong to a worldview which considers the centrality of human nature. It conjures up the interdependence of animate things, as much as the dormant power of inanimate things. Importantly, it relies first and foremost on an unbroken contact between all kinds of signs. Neither the poet nor the text run the show on their own. They cannot be subsumed solely to the regulating frames of the poetic, nor obey calls about the autonomous function of its production. Williamson’s technological augury aims to signal a process in which there is perceived correspondence between things and language, the book of Nature (the-body) teeming with signs: gestures (Derrida’s ‘action-language’), object manipulation, verbal discourse. Poetic work that subsumes itself to this might lessen the gap. Between human and non-human. Between body and writing. Between matter and light. ‘The bigger picture is the one in which your back-lit fingers turn to birds and a slow, wet blink is watered with augurs’ (Chiromancy, 54).

Phones in Air

‘Phones in Air’, from the ‘Telemancy’ section of Hearing Things (2001) by Aaron Williamson, copyright © Aaron Williamson, courtesy the artist and BookWorks, London.

      A combination of portrait sized and close-up details function as visual excerpts. They create a visual indexing or photographic notation: telephone, feather, balloon, milk, arrow, cards, scroll, table, toes, mask, sheet, wax-ear, hand-claps... motivated objects which are a little like these ‘phasms’ identified by Georges Didi-Huberman: symptoms of objects as much as symptoms of sight, objects in state of appearing, or rather of shifting from photographic image to visual surface, one brings on the other, both unsettled. Deformed. Probing his writer’s body, it is in experiencing its immateriality, as much as its materiality, that Williamson seeks to square with. Interjections of the physical realm. Must one rethink the boundaries between the seen and the unseen, document the unbelieved, the unperceived, in order to extend the realm of what is perceivable? Vocabularies, techniques, need to account for the magnitude of perceptual (and it follows, intellectual) changes implied. ‘When you shiver, the signal finds it harder to pick you up. To pick you out among rivulets’ (Belomancy, 26).
      Certainly this is the purpose of the ‘lived bodies’ of phenomenology, and of the critical plasticities of feminised bodies (Williamson’s interest in Cixous’ work is relevant here). To rethink the methodologies that read and write the human body. To de-humanise it in order to release it from this particular history. Foucault reminds us in The order of things that ‘actual experience... does indeed provide a means of communication between the space of the body and the time of culture, between the determinations of nature and the weight of history, but only on condition that the body, and, through it, nature, should first be posited in the experience first of all in the immediacy of its sedimented significations.’(349-350).

William Shakesphone

‘Shaking the Phones’, from the ‘Telemancy’ section of Hearing Things (2001) by Aaron Williamson, copyright © Aaron Williamson, courtesy the artist and BookWorks, London.

      Williamson’s body doubles up as a tool for generating verbal writing. The computer reads/writes the sonic emissions of his choreographed body and spatial object manipulations. He scratches, jumps on, pulls at, screams into, gets picked up by the speech-recognition device. The written transcripts of text generated through the computer software (its pool of 250,000 stored  words) appear without punctuation and as one continuous line running throughout the book, in a repetitive, largely alliterative sentence of non-syntactical juxtapositions which reinforces the spatial and temporal traffic of discontinuities and irregularities involved  in performing these gesturals. ‘about the abandoned into the condemned to a bit of the up at a the tea and didn’t clue in the condemned a bit abandoned or a puppet of abandon in a type of the wool lean line will and he unearthed in the bone panel to only...’. A note in the margin of each such ‘found text’ specifies the augury explored. Here, ‘text generated by striking marks on paper’.
      From the perspective of poetic practice, the juxtapositions of Williamson’s project force up a co-extensiveness of literacies which pushes towards a kind of integrated (kinesic, performic as well as graphic and textual) poetics. A poetics which includes physical work as part of a chain of relayed events, an articulatory state of play, a nodality between electric, physiological and scripted events.
      Avital Ronell points out in her The telephone book,  that ‘[bypassing] the voice continue[s] to produce a metaphysical crisis’ (61).  The pervasive reliance not only on orality, but also on its  doubling (inner/outer), hearing things, is necessarily deceptive. These ‘things’ are not ‘voices’, they are signs, interceptions, lines between spatial volumes. This point is all the more pertinent in that the favouring of an integrated literacy also recovers for poetic work, the symptomatic threat posed by Williamson’s deafness. ‘The place of the deaf — with which Mendelssohn, Kant, and Hegel struggled — is inscribed in the margins of metaphysics, for this radically atopical place depends solely upon the graphics of a sign system, gesture and hand’ (Ronell, 61). Being deaf questions the ideologies attached to orality and shows up its socially oppressive exclusivity: bodies organised according to models of communication, bodies created within or imprisoned outside of these.
      Conditions of literacy are here extended. Not all of which moves towards discursive literacy, nor is it meant to be captured solely by semiotics of language and linguistic systems. This of course runs contrary to the still important heritage from structural linguistics and psychoanalytic theory with their more or less exclusive emphasis on speech and linguistic signs, subsuming physical reality to verbal cognition and making language the prime focus of all semiotic systems.


Writing which has emerged from the writer’s prolonged dips into extremes of physical experience or experiences of voluntary confinement, might also attempt to relay textually, visually, the knowledge stored and revealed by these prolonged contacts with non-verbal phenomena. Corporeal events that make it into a verbal text have a way of measuring the immensity that has cut into the subjective, and most likely stylistic, space of the author. Writing which involves describing such a training, or breaking down, of the physical, mental body is partly dependent on elements outside of the writing. These in turn dictate aspects of the textual structure. To endeavour to transmit such events is an attempt at manifesting the intimate proximity of what remains most unknown, most changeable and precarious, the workings of one’s own body.
      In the opening lines of The Fast (1992), Hannah Weiner writes: ‘I want to write but I am lazy. I would like to put my thoughts about the fast directly on tape without the medium of speech.’ What does it mean ‘directly... without’ but the old dream of Forms, which would turn every sign into its thing, which would pass through the body without being stopped in it, and through language without being mediated by it. Far from being lazy, she opens her book with an impossible task, the cratylian dream of the language in things, language as very precisely the matter of the world. (At the end of his dialogue Cratylus, Plato concludes that the study of words cannot reveal the meaning of things, insisting that things themselves must be studied.) But long after waking up from poetry’s compensatory, supplementary call, and while the writer’s body has clearly shown itself unable to materialise as language without rejecting it (or being rejected by it), ‘I repeated the name twice, automatically, my body bending, almost convulsing to it’ (29), is it still down to poets to be the keeper of this maddening view?
      The Fast is a short diary-like text written in a matter-of-fact, descriptive tone, not adverse to self-irony: ‘I had an “at home” experience and spent 3 weeks in the kitchen sink’ (1), yet mostly dedicated to telling in a sober manner the escalating extremes of her 21 day fast. The text is written as a series of repetitive actions: washing, soaking, trying to sleep, moving objects around, avoiding metal objects, making note of small events involving the neighbours, registering the changing impacts of energy colours, counting days, and recalling pleasurable or painful physical reactions to object manipulation.
      The fast itself is as much a test, an experiment, as it is a process of cleansing. ‘So the police officer said are you OK and I said yes I was fasting I was OK it was an experiment’ (42). The Fast consists in a descriptive, day-by-day account of the experiment. It places the author-narrator’s traumatised bodyspace very much at centre of an unraveling narrative in which the writer’s body is experienced as a receptor for sometimes violent, electric and vibratory forms of current, colour wave and magnetic fields, ‘my aim was to become a pastel pink or green; at these colors I would never tire and have unlimited energy’ (22). Colour schemes familiar to Indian chakra philosophy, work around aura, and the colours which charaterise the wavelengths and frequencies of electro-magnetic fields form the main tropes of the book. Themes of body purification, healing from pain and new perceptual knowledge are recurrent. The writing itself does not resort to much critical reflexion or afterthought, but it emphasises dispossession (disposition). A stripping away. A neutralisation.
      The material assembled in the ‘100 notebooks’ which Weiner mentions as the basis for The Fast has been synthesised into a text of barely 40 typed pages.  Transcription provides a way of favouring the situation on hand, along with a willingness to observe and record what can happen (what has happened). I cannot help but try and imagine what kind of notation or transcription she would have been doing during such a long and exhausting period of fasting and confinement. What did the notebooks look like. What is it I need to imagine. The shape of somatised writing? Writing embattled in its state of drawing ? the all-devouring space of marking? Writings that go where no reader goes? What is the space I’m looking for.
      Receptivity, as a conditioning of the writer’s state of mind advocated by the Surrealists for their automatic writing experiments, was a way of recording dream-states, phantomatic presence, the pulse of eros, writing following its ‘murmur’ (Breton) of language (verbal, graphic, collaged). More often than not, a case of extended daydreaming, rather than deep-diving. This is reflected in the calculated nature of much of such ‘unconscious’, psychophysiological production and can account for the pervasively misogynistic nature of a number of these so-called accidental narratives. In The Optical Unconscious, Rosalind Krauss focuses sharply on the polymorphous fantasies of Bataille and muses on his disagreements with Breton, whose dictum ‘beauty will be convulsive’ is seen to go mainly from the female ‘con in convulsive’ to the female ‘con in unconscious’. She summarises the dispute: ‘Breton’s unconscious, riddled with signs, is busy producing form’ (155). Replication of the Modern order of creativity, rather than break away.
      Nevertheless, the American visual artist Susan Hiller, among a great number of others, has since the 1970s made much use in her own work of forms of notation which rely on automatic mark-making, projected writing and drawn writing. She lets these function as calligraphic pulse, as signing. Hand-writing on its way to becoming writing. Or the other way round. The inseparability of the two determines the release of the mark in the act of writing. And makes the boundaries of the writing-self more permeable, less individualised. (Given Hiller’s critical interest in the framing of art and in the acquiredness of what one experiences through it, her writing marks also provide a reminder of the bodily learning and bodily constraints at the root of writing).
      So what of the role of clairvoyance (dedoubling, schizophrenia) in Weiner’s understanding of her own body, the way it conditions her own writing. The poetic acts of transmission which make up her later books are explicitly related to second-sight, electric speech. The notion of teaching (receiving it, as much as giving it), intimate to transmission, as much as to the commands of clairvoyance are insistent. Clairvoyance, beyond a surrealist token, primarily a field of bodily experience rooted in perception, breath, concentrated physical energy. Culturally ridiculed as part of the irrational, a feminine, or simply female, dominion.
      Taken at face-value, clairvoyance is less a matter of poetic technique than an accessing of signs (verbal, visual) through sensory and suprasensory means. It makes it immediately suspicious, yet also immediately available, as the intuitive link, as the channel which keeps the forms of Weiner’s body and of her writing connected. In this sense, the function of The Fast, the first of her journals to ‘depict the development of the clairvoyance’, is not to reproduce performatively or prove a point of correspondence between experience and its transmission (as notes, say), but rather to outline, sketch out, and perhaps keep under control, the physical and neurological processes brought on by the fasting.
      This is quite different from the subsequent poetic acts of transmission, in ‘clair style’, which make up her later books. It provides means of linkage, sees and seizes on connections. An interpretation of forms and of perceptual modes which perhaps also keep the forms of Weiner’s body and of her writings interrelated. A text like ‘silent teachers remembered sequel’ (1993) does not describe. It reads as a detailed series of parallel and interposing lines, fluctuating address, syllabic blurtings, interruptions, small interjectory compounds, juxtaposed sequences of non-syntactical sentences, blocks of white space, which reproduce the release of verbal rhythms and repetitions, the polyvocal phrasings, song-like at times, that come from the ‘sub-structure’, ‘unconscious over unconscious’. The organising principle of her ‘sentence’ teaches ‘come clear with structure with sentence complete’ (48) a form of knowledge rooted in ‘interference agitation funny spell’. Possessed by the naming, in the calling of the world, it becomes clear that her writing has simultaneously become a resting-point. Writing available to the buried voices, teachers, ‘indians’, ‘grandfather isaac’, that dictate her language. Open to the structuring possibilities of its ‘sir ubliminal understanding’, in order to redirect the persistent tropes of submission to law and order, ‘obey’, ‘contract’, ‘control’, ‘sir controls’, ‘under orders’, that insistently function as one of the poles of her texts. To claim this writing (readers who know her process comment on the great detail and precision with which Weiner would proof-read her work). Clarified in it. To pass in it, with it. To pass (it) on.
      This also has to do with pain. ‘Some people hurt’. What is being observed is the way pain registers. How it travels and what it does. The effects of pain on awareness and on perception is what drives many of the writings of Henri Michaux, ‘physical pain creates disconcerting perceptions’, and certainly also that of Weiner’s The Fast: ‘I wasn’t sure when it was but the pain began’ (5). To acknowledge pain, physical as well as mental, is to acknowledge what is at the boundaries between speakable and unspeakable. Pain sets the boundaries of the body. Lost in pain as one is lost in one’s body, physical pain escapes language, or is at one of its outer (inner) frontiers. With Weiner, pain is very directly connected to a body caught in a circuitry. ‘Partly I spent 3 weeks in the kitchen sink because I had no bathtub and partly because I became sensitive, magnetic to metal, and couldn’t take a shower in my metal enclosed shower’ (1). Refusing to be caught in the psycho allegories of the somatic, the point is the manifestations of the physical body as it hits on itself, or on writing.
      The emphasis for both Hannah Weiner and Henri Michaux is on ways in which to develop writing methodologies ‘adequate’ not to figure, represent, but to figure out knowledges released by physical action and lived experience. What is being observed is the knowledge which emerges from the inscriptions of writing, and what one is to make of the ways in which writing is released during events that take place within or throughout the writer’s body.


After his experiences with mescaline, which became the texts and drawings compiled in Miserable Miracle (2002/ Fr.1972), Henri Michaux specifies in his foreword: ‘From the thirty-two autograph pages reproduced out of the hundred and fifty written while the inner perturbation was at its height, those who can read handwriting will learn more than from any description. As for the drawings, begun immediately after the third experiment, they were done with a vibratory motion that continues in you for days and days and, though automatic and blind, reproduces exactly the visions to which you have been subjected, passes through them again’. The book is made of a selection of these drawings, hand-written pages, textual pages. The whole experiment carefully framed, ‘this book is an exploration’. The writing has taken place after the event (‘everything had to be rewritten’) and is meticulously descriptive, critical, self-conscious. Paragraphs are full of questions as to what is ‘seen’, hesitations as to what to make of it. Its rhythm is repetitive, at times breathless, crowded, this reinforced by the short sequences which run in the margins, juxtapositions that ‘suggest very inadequately the overlappings which are an ever-present phenomenon of Mescaline’ (6). Footnotes remind us that this text, the drawings, the whole experience is under observation, is collecting up the findings of a project of research.
      Here is a comment on creativity. ‘I know now... that the teeming drawings, ‘bourrés’ — as Dr Ferdiere calls them — of some of the insane, are not exaggerated but give a moderate view of their extraordinary universe’ (15). The Dr. Ferdiere was doctor to Artaud, to Zürn, to Bellmer. Other notes discuss the effect of language on these hallucinations, their tumult of colour (fasting, as much as drugs, high fever, accidents can bring these on), the writings of other drug experimenters or the impact of trance-like states on spiritual seekers. Michaux’s text does not only recreate, but rather establishes, step by step, detail by detail, a physiological as much as cultural frame for what is happening, and what its significance, on a personal as much as transpersonal, level might be. The aim is both to retrace, and blissfully it seems, the extraordinary (and on his accidental overdose, the horrific, psychotic) nature of this perceptual roller-coaster, as to get to grips with what it signifies. And ultimately, what it transports. Where to.
      Sections at the back of the book expand on the significance of the experience, discuss its properties in relation to rhythmic structures, ecstatic conditions, spatial consciousness, spiritual practices. Experimenting with drugs, as he does it in Miserable Miracle, or observing the prolonged pain following an accident, as he does in ‘Broken arm’ (sections of ‘Broken arm’ have been translated in the collection Darkness Moves), very explictly provides for conditions propitious to crossing mental and physical threshholds, ‘this just beyond your frontiers’ (165). And the detached, studied, as well as learned tone of his work acts as a pendant to his quest for self-knowledge. A structured, methodical quest which seeks to be absorbed in drugs, in language, in the world, mainly in order to become lucid, awake, only to better know how to detach from it: ‘If drugs are an opening, if they allow for certain glimpses, then they are only a step. Even though exalting, superhuman. Drugs are a reorientation of the consciousness. The first step of a manipulation. Asceticism is the next step’. (178). Writing becomes a relay, a way of archiving and processing this physical as well as mental learning process.
      Ultimately, a text such as Miserable Miracle responds to a transformative model. The emphasis is on experience beyond the writing, as much as it is on it following an experiment, on setting up the right conditions for an account of the experience. It informs poetic dimensions of the work and supersedes its function. Transmission is what is left of what comes through, as much as knowledge developed through careful recollection. The work rests on acquiescent observations of the physical body itself, while simultaneously reaching an understanding of the limitations, as much as critical safe-guards, provided for by handling verbal material. ‘To coincide what does it mean? In life I try to approach as near to myself as possible (since I want to observe), without letting myself go, without giving myself. I want to keep a certain margin, which is also like a margin of security’ (124).

Of prime concern here has been to sketch out the way three contemporary poets have created work which exemplifies a number of connections between writerly and corporeal inscriptions. For Weiner and Michaux, as much as for Williamson, textual innovation is attached to the necessity of experiment as the necessity of experience, not to a sacrificial logic. Writing is made to answer to or extend the impulses of the writer’s body into fields of corporeal knowledge. As Shusterman in his collection of essays Performing Live, writes: ‘Recognition of the problematic mediacy of body representation has led body-centered thinkers to locate the body’s foundation and immediacy not in its external form but in its lived experience, its kinaesthetic sense of itself’ (Shusterman, 149).
      In that the body as conceptual and biological apparatus represents a storage for different politics and cultural approaches to anatomy, the writer’s body has also been claimed as working model for scarified narratives and the shoring up of Western libidinal accentuations and articulations. It means looking at and beyond the long tradition of Western philosophical corporeality started with Sade and pursued by Bataille, where textual innovation is paired up with representations of physical abjection to confront verbal taboos and social norms, yet can only do so through a phallocentric body fantasy, an ultimately sacrificial and expulsive corporeality.
      It becomes useful to rethink the ontology attached to bodies by rethinking the discursive and performative functions which have regulated recent artistic and textual forms using the human body. In the 20th Century, the nihilistic revolt of the Dadaists, of Artaud, the phantasmagoric and anagrammatic body of the Surrealists, and more recently the leaking or resistant substances of performance art bodies have each in different ways and at different levels called for an acknowledgement of corporeality and an awareness of its historical and social plasticities.
      The projects discussed here are no doubt influenced, informed by some of these modes of practice and of thinking. Using one’s writer’s body as an initiating point provides a mean of reformulating the place of physicality in the making and unmaking of poetic processes. A poetics which works with and from corporeal bases must find ways to locate as much as differentiate knowledge acquired through ‘the body’. It must pinpoint modes of doing writing, as much as being in writing.
      Pointedly, in the texts we have just seen, experiencing the writer’s body provides a way of stretching the writing mind. Physical actions and experiments rooted in forms of discipline and constraint favour considerations of intimate space as well as of personal transformation: concentrated times of living, inseams of space, constructed and released. Michaux and to an extent Weiner relate these to meditation practices or tantric philosophies, Williamson through a vocabulary (textual, visual and performic) which digitalises his writer’s body only to better turn it inside out, doubling it up with lyric trace, angelic presence. Paradoxically, from the point of view of moving towards a depersonalised yet profoundly corporeal and incorporated authoriality, the question of spiritual provocation could have its relevance.


Kenneth Goldsmith, Fidget (CoachHouseBooks, 2000).

Elizabeth Grosz, Volatile Bodies: Towards a Corporeal Feminism (Indiana University Press, 1994).

Michel Foucault, The Order of Things (Routledge, 1989 / Gallimard, 1966).

Susan Hiller (Tate Gallery Liverpool, 1996).

Henri Michaux, Miserable Miracle tr. by Louise Varèse/ Anna Moschovakis (New York Review Books, 2002 / NRF, 1972).

Henri Michaux, Face à ce qui se dérobe (NRF, 1975).

Avital Ronell, The Telephone Book: Technology, Schizophrenia, Electric Speech (Nebraska University Press, 1989).

Richard Shussterman: Performing Live: Aesthetic alternatives for the ends of art (Cornell University Press, 2000).

Daniel Tiffany, Toy Medium: Materialism and Modern Lyric (California University Press, 2000).

Hannah Weiner, The Fast (United Artists, 1992).

Hannah Weiner, silent teachers remembered sequel (Tender Buttons #6, 1993).

Aaron Williamson, Hearing Things (BookWorks, 2001).

Jacket 22 — May 2003  Contents page
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