Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Another Trigger Inference

The heat is about turn up here in Boulder and the dry, hot summer will persist as it always does until September.

The local coffeeshops will soon fill with visiting summer poets, the vegan Venetian Creams will be poured over ice, wi-fi connected laptops and iPhones will compete for downloads, and an overall sense of how the Beat past may be informing the post-Beat present will once again surface in random conversations (the Naropa summer writing program aka The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics will be in full swing by then).

But even if you are not spending any time in the Colorado Rockies this summer, there are still ways to imagine how the Beat past can inflect its presence on the writerly present.

LeRoi Jones aka Amiri Baraka, who I met briefly in 1994 when I was first posting my Amerika Online columns on the web 15 years ago, once wrote his "Letter to the Evergreen Review about Kerouac's Spontaneous Prose" (collected in The Portable Beat Reader) and riffed on what it means to be an alive postproduction medium caught in the heat of chemical decomposition.

To start things off, Baraka quotes from Kerouac's "Essentials of Spontaneous Prose":
"MENTAL STATE. IF possible write without consciousness in semi-trance (as Yeat's later 'trance writing').
Then Baraka goes on to write:
This is not be interpreted as 'clinical consciousness' (which hardly exists ... but that is a philosophical question) , but as other consciousness, that is, the 'writer's voice' or the 'painter's eye.' This is the level or stratum of the psyche that is the creative act. The 'writer's voice' dictates the writing just as the 'painter's eye' dictates the strokes the painter makes for his picture.This is the consciousness that supersedes or usurps the normal consciousness of the creator (though even the usual or uninspired consciousness of the creator can hardly be called normal). For it is during this so-called normal state that the artist's peculiar and/or latent impressions are gathered; but it is only during this 'unconscious' state that the writer's voice becomes his only voice ... and the creative act itself is accomplished.
Baraka then tells the story of Billy the Kid who whips out his gun and from the hip shoots a hole through a thin reed. When asked how he can do this without even aiming, Billy replies: "I aim before I pull out the gun." Baraka goes on to say that this relates to spontaneous writing as well. The spontaneous writer
aims before even drawing the gun. That is, the spontaneous writer has to possess a particularly facile and amazingly impressionable mind, one that is able to collect and store not just snatches or episodic bits of events, but whole and elaborate associations: the whole impression intact, so that at the trigger inference the entire impression and association comes flooding through the writer's mind almost in toto. The resultant impression, of course, has been thoroughly incorporated and translated into the supraconsciousness or writing voice of the writer. The external event is now the internal or psychical event which is a combination of interpretation and pure reaction.
Baraka ends the essay by writing about the "pure ecstatic power of the creative climax" of the writer writing, something that the reader can never fully achieve even though they may have successfully traced the writer's path toward unconsciously projected nirvana that he tags "that final 'race to the wire of time.'

"The actual experience of this 'race' is experienced only by the writer," says Baraka, "whose entire psyche is involved and from whence the work is extracted. And no matter how much we 'identify' or are extended by the work, it remains always a work and not ourselves. [...] only the writer is 'relaxed and said' [Kerouac]; the reader is finished, stopped, but his mind still lingers, sometimes frantically, between the essential and the projected, i.e. what we are and what the work has made us, which is the writer's triumph."

There are so many ways of writing just as there are innumerable ways of seeing. The trigger inference style projects a particularly male type of writing that I can relate to (Derrida's dissemination on vegan steroids).

Meanwhile, in the postproduction studio, I am hard at work investigating my own brand of "trigger inference" by interfacing remixology with deconstruction while choreographing a few new moves with écriture féminine...

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