|Intro | Handout | Bio | Works Cited | Cast Party || one | two | three | four | five | six | seven | eight|
No conference presentation is complete without a handout. When "Not (Necessarily) a Cosmic Convergence" was performed at the CW-98 conference, the following (expository, monological) text was provided.
Here at the end of the 20th century, noir is--well, diverting, amusing, but . . . it doesn't move us forward. To explore the territory ahead--where we see what might be more visible convergence of rhetoric and poetics, of narrative and exposition, and even of visual aesthetics with all of these--we need to construct a more optimistic postmodernism.
What current experiments in academic writing do, seen through the lens of readership, is to invite the reader to play a role in the text with the writer, and also apart from the writer perhaps; that's one effect of *re-presenting* collage-like invention processes. An effort to please the reader, too: to provide an aesthetic experience. As Lanchester suggests, "Perhaps there are analogies between the psychic structures of precognition and those of art, which also depend on the accumulating effect of hints, glimpses, and the gradual accretion of that sense of foreboding which also goes by the name "meaning."
Could we call emerging experimental styles in exposition a cubist genre of (academic) prose? Flashbacks and jump cuts, schizophrenic sensibilities, and characters outliving themselves would seem to the late Victorian narrative a passable analog to what Picasso and Duchamp were to the visual art of the world grown accustomed to Monet. The current multivoiced, multiform textualities appropriate the fragmented rationality from the intellectual culture of our day to re-present it in the development of the essay. It owes something perhaps to electronic hypertext, something to experiments in print genres (Woolf is a predecessor in this regard).
Cubism is an interesting connection because it dramatizes (or performs) juxtaposition and disruption so readily, and this makes it a useful analog to a collagic essay approach. What it doesn't communicate so well is the sense of process--the movement from sketch to sketch to canvas and/or back again. And it doesn't convey the role of the reader in organizing the essay.
In a sense, this is the irreducible difference between the verbal and the visual: the verbal desires and the visual declines--to articulate. Just as scientific formulas may be elegant and beautiful, artistic creations may be informed by science or technology. The artist and the scientist both act at the crossroads of the natural and the constructed. Art doesn't wish to be read; it wants to be seen. It wants to be apprehended iconically, as a whole or as a performance.
New writing (digital essay, cubist textuality, "constructed" writing) asks us to broaden ourselves beyond rhet-centrism. If the postmodern description is accurate at all, it tells us that the world is not a text but a texture, the subtext of reality is not textuality but textur-ality.