Saturday, January 09, 2010

Found useful

Here's a video (hat tip Ron Silliman) of David Antin "talking on Kathy Acker".  Acker was a writer whose work I could never read easily (Blood and Guts in High School, for example, totally defeated me, and I'm a fairly robust reader).   Indeed, her raw materials were probably chosen as precisely the stuff to keep someone like me uneasy.  Nevertheless, Antin's talk is a small & useful general meditation on "found" materials, and the utility of formal rules for shaping them into new work.   I particularly like this passage — about 11 minutes in — which seems relevant to the question of how well a working artist should "know" other work, which points to a responsibility altogether different from that of a scholar:

"All the works (...) I'm sure Kathy looked at.  Some, she looked at the spine; some she read thoroughly; some she encountered rather, rather glancingly.  But she encountered them in the way a real poet would: as usefully as possible."

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