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Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Next Meeting Thursday 3/14 Raw Or/e

The Next meeting of the Next Objectivists is Thursday 3/14 at the Mess Hall in Rogers Park.We hope old and new members will join us for our penultimate meeting in the space where the Next Objectivists conceived themselves more than five (5) years ago. 

At our last meeting, on February 28, we began to compose a new chapbook. Periodically, the workshop produces collections of poetry based on source texts and authored - or better, transcribed and edited - by the group. Our goal is to carry the Objectivist poetic practices of the 1930s-60s into the future by generating truly multi-authored and anonymous texts: ones which can be ascribed only to a collective entity.

Following is a brief description of the procedures we followed to create the "Raw Or/e" as we call it--the material the comprises the first draft of some future collection. The Or/e is also below. 

Notes from meeting of 28 February 2013.

After reading aloud & discussing The Hardy Boys Poems by Eric Wayne Dickey, recently published by BeardofBees press, each of us took up a book from the pile of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries on the table. Thinking about the Freudian notion of desire which Dickey employs to TWIST the poems away from normativity by adding a libidinal supplement of his own (sometimes 'straying' so far from the source text as to produce Hardy Boys erotica), we determined that an objectivist method would require that we did not, at least initially, rewrite or supplement the source texts. We would preserve the sentences of the source texts and not add ones of our own, but only juxtapose what was already given. Noting how Dickey's book maintains a kind of perverted satire of 1950s-era American values, we wondered if we might generate similarly satirical effects through juxtaposition. As an initial gesture toward a collaborative writing project, we decided to begin by choosing passages from the source texts that emphasized the bizarre nature of the “mystery” plots; the initial idea was to generate a sense of “information overload.” Whereas Dickey focusing on character and personality—adding a libido missing from the stories—we would focus on plot. We would pay particular attention to passages that expressed huge realizations—what in Aristotelian terms we might think of as “recognitions” and “reversals.” We developed these basic rules:
  1. We would try to choose passages of revelatory moments.
  2. We would also choose plot elements related to these moments: scenes of discovery.
  3. We would focus upon empty revelations, and perhaps empty out revelation.

Our procedure involved group improvisation and transcription.

Sitting around the table, each person would read aloud one or several sentences. These would be typed onto a tabloid sized sheet, generating the raw or/e. But more importantly, everyone else in the group (there were 12 of us around the table, although as always the group's size fluctuated as people came and went) listened to the passage. Someone then 'responded' by reading aloud a passage that met the basic requirements of the game and also elaborated upon, extended, or juxtaposed its signification with that of the previous passage. As we continued this practice, we began to develop a tempo and slowly our thoughts began to harmonize. We found the game enjoyable and attempted several more rounds, each time discussing and slightly refining our basic practice, without significantly altering the rules (long since abandoned to the pleasures of improvisation).

Following are the results of this exercise: three “rounds” of improvised group juxtaposition of sentences from the source texts. The transcription, made by electric typewriter, was in prose. During the second round, we also inserted the rule that anyone could at any time signal a “paragraph break,” in order to divide the source text into smaller units. These breaks emerged spontaneously.

As an extension of the experiment, I broke the result of round one into basic poetic units when transcribing them: rough tetrameters, couplets and triplets.

Raw Or/e 2.28.13

Drawn from a variety of Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys mysteries, through an improvisatory method.

Round One

A single wrong twist of the wheel
could mean a fatal plunge
into the valley below. Frank drove
swiftly, but with a firm hand.

“All I ever got out of your cases
is bruises.” “You snooping busy-bodies!”
Raskin's voice snarled in Nancy's ear.
“This is the last time you're going

to get in our way.” “Young lady,
you've broken the law. You're in trouble
with the authorities!” “By the way,”
Frank went on, “where do you buy

your sapphires?” Now it is all
factory-made suits. There is no real work
for a tailor anymore. Only patching holes,
altering. The smell of new cloth

and leather goods pervaded
the huge store. Crowds moved about,
inspecting hundreds of items,
from camping gear to sports clothes.

We put them in a trashcan. Good place
for them. Just then, Frank heard
the sound of a car starting up
in the distance. “There they go!”

Apparently they thought George was a man
and they wanted no part of a judo encounter.

You mean there's something the matter with the man
she's going to marry? With a blast of exhaust,

they took off after the fleeing car. You saw giants
on the desert, giants better than a hundred feet tall.

“We'll tie 'em good this time so they'll stay put.”
Pick replied coldly, “that would be you're death warrant.

Now scram out of this territory.” “Should we tie up
and look around?” Chet asked. The Indians couldn't

see them, but we can! Crimes big or little are so
useless. What ever profits they may bring are always

temporary. Or Edgar could be using aliases.
The pilot grinned, “any time fellows.” “Who are you?

What's your name?” Frank asked. “Wait . . . not . . . now . . .
later.” Bubbles appeared in the beaker and the lime-water

turned cloudy, then clear again. “Limestone it is!”
Joe exclaimed. “I knew it! This is what comes of meddling

with mysteries!” “You see, where I was brought up
us sailors meant washing dishes when we said pearl diving.”

“Suppose you look
in the kitchen, just
in case,” Frank suggested.

Bliff shrugged.
“Who knows?
Maybe they thought

his jewels were real!”
Chet felt the cool grass
come up and hit

his face. “Everybody
is so kind to me except—
except my mother.”

He had a limp until
he was cornered and then
he could run like a deer.

Round Two

“No. But I just have a strong hunch that there might be a fake Nancy Smith Drew posing as the real one.” The stout boy beamed with pride, “that shot-putting stuff came in handy, eh?” They ascended the stairs to the rear entrance and knocked. A thin old man opened the door. Nancy tooted again. “By the way,” Sam asked as they pulled into the driveway, “have you heard from my wife?” “Don't ask me who did it. There I was rushing to find you two when Biff! I saw stars. Frank wondered if the pilot could mean component parts for atomic weapons. “Now who'd do a thing like that?” Joe asked.

“Whoever stole it,” Frank commented, “must have. realized he couldn't get very far with it.” “There's no question but that this is pirated from ours! Now we have something concrete. We'll go after these thieves!” “Our phone bill will be tremendous.” Frank gave a gasp. “You hit the nail on the head!”

“Hey fellows,” Chet said, “I hate to spoil a good ice-cream bar, but those not too friendly friends of ours are over there.” “They're my babies. You can't take them away!” After all, this is a public park, and people come and go. Well, I'll be a cross-eyed monkey. You certainly had us fooled. Jack turned around. “Hey did you say three for me? I only brought two.” “But Eddy at the soda shop says you ordered a record,” Nancy said. “When and why did you do that?” Then she began to quote from Shakespeare,
But love is blind, and lovers
Can not see
The pretty follies that themselves

“Remind me to have his adenoids removed,” Biff said with a chuckle. “I know how quiet it will be,” snapped their aunt. “Just one danger after another.” Frank strained his ears, wondering if he was mistaken. Then he heard it again. A faint scratching noise which he could not identify. “You all right?” Joe asked. “Yes, but my head feels like a balloon.” “I know what you mean.” Things aren't any easier, even though I have a job. I can't blame them for being curious,” Jack said. “I'll bet its not very often that he sees a helicopter hanging over the lake, then dredge up a whale and tow it to shore.” “You can't do this to us. It's illegal!” It was Mungo speaking. “Look whose talking about legality,” someone said with a laugh. While Frank distracted the detectives' attention, Joe gave the zipper a quick jerk. “The monkey man!” Frank exclaimed. “Joe, he's the man in the yellow coat!” Joe pulled the zipper shut before Stanley noticed anything. The young detective's mind was racing.

“Yup, the woods is no place for kid stuff. You've got to be on the lookout.” “Half the city of London!” “Too bad,” said Nancy. “Ah, Bueno!” “Let's see, what shall we get, coon hound? No. Too big. Blood hound? Too gloomy. Basset? Too fat and its legs are too short.” “I can't wait to get out west and try some of that Mexican food.

“You're in the money,” Joe quipped. “What are you going to do with half of London?” “We'll tune her up and she'll be ready to go.” Ned spoke up, “If Edgar Nixon is as slick as you think, Nancy, I bet I know what his next move was.” “Why you're a young lady now,” she laughed. “Say, take the light out of a fellow's face,” he protested feebly. “And what have you two done with my clothes?” “I'm glad I caught you boys. I've been on the road since dawn, and uncovered one of the neatest ways of defrauding the government I've ever run into. “Now see here, young lady. You're not going to get rid of me that fast. Give me ten dollars and I'll go.” “I guess you won't need it,” Hamilton replied with a cheery grin.

Round Three

“All these chambers and passages were hewn out of natural caverns by the abolitionists when they built the cabin against the front of the rock wall.” Ira took a slip of paper from the pocket of his bathrobe. “I've never believed in ghosts, but now I'm afraid I do!” Meanwhile, Chet stowed the baggage in the fuselage, finding a special place for his infrared camera. “This mystery is turning out in reverse!” said Joe. The manager put through a call and carried on a rapid, pleasant conversation in Spanish. When he hung up he turned to the boys with a smile. “I wouldn't want to start anything for the world.”

Up in the control tower the operator barked the orders into his mic. “That calls for extra big helpings of strawberry shortcake!” Thurston glared balefully at the Hardys but said nothing. “I don't approve of young girls having cars.” There was no one in sight and finally she stood up and waded ashore. A chill breeze struck her and she began to shiver. The young Hardy pilot, the one they're after for causing the near-crash near Chicago. The girls returned to the car. In vain they searched through the throngs of people watching the parade.

“I'll get you for this,” he threatened. “That Edgar Dixon is a biagmist – or even a trigamist?” “I hope it's not one of those self-locking doors.” “What say we have lunch before we start?” “Oh, Nancy, you're a genius!” “Are you sure?” “It's like a beautiful dream!” “Were you friends with the deceased?” Ira Nixon slumped forward in a faint! “Only six weeks more until my retirement and now this disgrace!” “Maybe we can nail the men when they come out the other end of the tunnel!” “Oh, who would want to do such a thing?” “It's your turn, Chet! Get a soft spot ready on your shoulder!” “It's my turn now.” “Do you suppose they'd be offended if I left five dollars?” “Si, si! But be careful – por favor! Nancy was happy over this and hoped the good relationship would last!

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