A sound piece

I’ve made one and you can hear it here.  The track still has its lumps and bumps – it’s a first attempt and I’m still learning this new language of EQ and frequencies, gain and handling noise, windjammers, foamies, fluffies, omnis …

Piecing this audio file together has felt a bit like writing a poem.  There’s the same listening to what is already there in order to work out what the next movement or appearance should be, the same sense of ‘feeling’ your way forward although you’re not walking or climbing, actually.  There’s the same sense of ‘hearing’ what comes next, before you have written or placed it, and the uncanny idea that you’ve made an entity that is starting to talk back to you.

And the collaging technique, guided by sound, that I’ve used in a lot of my more recent poems, is absolutely what I’ve been using in this sound work.  It’s been really exciting, discovering these links between the two art forms.

There’s a long poem for sounds and voices, ‘Transit’, in the collection (my first, full one – still very excited about this!) coming out with Penned in the Margins in February.  When I wrote it, I included a narrator, binding the fragments of speech together and commenting on some of the sounds that would swirl around the voices if the poem were ever performed.  This was because of the poem’s double life, as something on the page and potentially out in the air.   But I think what sound art is teaching me is just how much less necessary I am finding that commenting ‘voice’ and how much more I can trust a reader, a listener.

Much to think about.  My next step is to work with one of my old poems, chop it up, add it to the mix.  I have caught some lovely sounds around E11 where I live, am itching to do something with them.  Watch this space.

To learn how to do all this, I’ve been doing an excellent short course down at Goldsmiths on field recordings and soundscapes. Sherry is a brilliant teacher – and her own work is really interesting.


The ins and outs of it

So, I finally got round to watching Paranormal Activity today (I haven’t done the whole Murdoch media empire thing since the Wapping dispute all those years ago).  I had to watch it in full daylight, with the curtains open, and I still found it terrifying, even as I was laughing at its gleeful torture of its audience (not to mention its characters).  Actually, my over-riding impression of it afterwards (and I realise that this is probably a way off-centre reading of it*) is that it’s a very heartening film.  Do you too have a boyfriend who won’t respect your boundaries or take you at your word and wants to film you in the bedroom all the time?  A demon in the home could be just the ticket….

Anyway, I was really struck by all the invitations (camera, ouija board, microphone, threats, taunts…) that said boyfriend keeps extending to the entity.  That reminded me of the rule that no vampire film I’ve ever seen contradicts: A vampire cannot enter your home unless you invite her/him in.  Why is it that so much of the horror genre is obsessed with invasion of the home or body (and provides such rich pickings for psychology)?  Why is it that boundaries and thresholds and invitations to cross them are so potent?  Why do humans have so many threshold gods? (Sorry, Wikipedia, liminal deities).

‘We are physical beings, bounded and set off from the rest of the world by the surface of our skins, and we experience the rest of the world as outside us.  Each of us is a container, with a bounding surface and an in-out orientation.’

Lakoff and Johnson, 1980, Metaphors We Live By, Chicago, University of Chicago Press, p.29.

Does it all come back, plain and simple, to the fact that we humans are made of meat?

*I know, I know.  The film is still utilising that tired old trope of the permeable, corruptable (corrupted?) female (I refer you to Marina Warner’s writings about leaky sieves in Monuments and Maidens).

UnHooray for… Nominalization (A Poet’s Adventures in Theory, Part One)

Which is that process in language use by which a verb is turned into a noun (if I understand the linguists correctly).  So, to mystify becomes mystification, to irritate becomes irritation, to intimidate becomes intimidation and so on.  It’s a process that seems to be used a LOT in theory, and I can understand why, I think.  The need to give names to the processes you observe, or the effects you feel and so on must be powerfully strong.

But for crying out loud, does it have to be EVERY OTHER WORD?

Ok, maybe it does.  Theory is knotty, complex; it has its own conventions and we learn to navigate the big words as though they were markers in the road up the hill.  Fine.  It’s just that it seems to have bled into other types of writing, too.  

And speaking! Just the other day, someone on TV (USA-made, “reality” show – don’t judge me!) seemed to say something like:

My life is approaching normalcy.

What the hell is wrong with just plain normality? Maybe normalcy is a real word.  Maybe it’s a term from the field of Psychology or something.  But in this context, I suspect not.

I suppose it’s very seductive, this conferring-of-authority via nominalization (ye Gods!  It’s happening to me, too!).  But it seems to have been joined by a pointless use of additional or alternative suffixes ( -cy, not -ality, in this case).  I’m starting to see the future – or rather My observationalitynizationness is such that the futurality of language usagecy offers an obscurational process by which misunderstandingization of meaningality is achieved.


100th Post

For so it is, my century (holds bat in air, acknowledges speckle of applause from sparsely-occupied stands, avoids eye-rolling of umpires…). 

I started this blog because I wanted to try to bring all my different selves together, particularly the every day person and the poetry-writing person, and not to compartmentalise them as much as I had been doing.  I wanted to stop being furtive about so much that is important to me – and I suppose I also wanted to start thinking about and preparing for the times when you’re asked to put a public face on the hidden one (that one, for me, writes the poems).

It’s been a very interesting activity in which to think about the “self” of a writer – that whole “the author is not the narrator is not the person who bears the name and puts down the words – or is she?” conundrum.  Still, I’ve been very tempted to just abandon the blog at times; time, no time, too many other things to do – often more interesting – out there in the “meat” world. 

Why don’t I?  (Yeah, why don’t you?  Slow hand-clapping drifts over the pitch, the bowler confers with his wicket-keeper)  It’s still useful for me, I guess.  And I’ve become a little attached to the person I’ve created here.  She seems furtive, still, yes – but she often shares things I wouldn’t dream of sharing with you in person.

*Sigh* Another self to add to my collection, then.  Not a unity at all.

Before I disappear up my postModernesque arse, may I recommend a blog that I follow avidly…  I love love love Mark Doty’s poetry, and am keen to read his two highly-acclaimed memoirs, but if that isn’t enough, his blog is a thing of beauty.

I’m talking about the writing, here, before you design fiends get too excited.

Read it.  He’s just endured surgery for a detached retina and his account is gripping (best wishes for a speedy recovery, Mr Doty).