At the Disembodied Poetics Conference: Writing/Thinking/Being at Naropa University, in October, 2014 David James Miller, Maryam Parhizkar, and myself discussed the influence of music on our critical and creative writing practices in a panel titled "Echo Locution: Aural / Environment / Body / Poetics." The conversation afterward was very rewarding and there were many questions about the various textual and musical sources referenced. To say thanks, and to keep that conversation going, we've posted a brief summary of our talks and a list of resources from our papers. This is the second of three parts. We hope you enjoy!
Reckoning in the Feedback Loop: Some Notes on the Poetics of Transcendence/Transfiguration
The feedback loop – in sonic terms, this is the event in which a produced sound, an output, is returned to the input, causing changes or modulations in the new output, but always being a continuous buildup of what came beforehand. I’m going to mangle with this idea a bit, figuring out ways in which the idea of this buildup – this coming back to oneself in a performative act that is of past, present and future at once – might be a way for us to think of how language, whether musical or textual, can be used, and what such a buildup might be working toward.... This project aims to transcend the restraints of the body, or, “the limits of body” to think in resonance Akilah Oliver’s question. In other words: how the loop can be an act of constant reckoning, especially for those who create and perform from the several variations of the margins. To transcend, or rise above, can require a change in the performing body – in other words, a transfiguration. How does a politics of transfiguration operate in this constant return? The politics of transfiguration is what scholar Paul Gilroy describes in The Black Atlantic as the utopic intersection of politics and aesthetics in a “emergence of qualitatively new desires, social relations, and modes of association,” working in a lower frequency, “under the nose of the overseers.” My emphasis, in thinking of transfiguration within this context, is on the literalness of the word: trans/figura, the changing of the figure, or, here, the body. Transfiguration as possibility. To work in counterpoint with Akilah’s question: what are the possibilities of the body when the body becomes language or sound?