Saturday, February 19, 2011

that "torn sound" - some echoes 

I was moved by Cecilia Vicuña’s film Kon Kon, which I watched at the Kelly Writers House a couple of weeks ago. In some ways the film echoed Nathaniel Mackey’s reading two days earlier, in the same room, and has had me thinking more about ritual—knowledge is ritual, Vicuña said in the q & a that followed the film—as resistance to that which conditions us to accept and perpetuate the destruction of our world, to forget history (that is, our rootedness to the land we live on). Their ideas are echoing for me Conrad’s (Soma)tic exercises and workshops, too.

Below is the trailer for Kon Kon and a kind of poetics braid I made from Mackey’s preface to Splay Anthem, Vicuña’s words about the origins of poetry, and words from Lewis Warsh from an interview by Daniel Kane in a book called What is Poetry. Mackey’s and Warsh’s voices have been circling in my mind for the last few years, echoing each other somehow, and now there’s Vicuña’s. I weaved it like this: Mackey, Warsh, Vicuña, Mackey, Warsh, Vicuña, etc, but really it begins with Vicuña’s poem we hear at the end of the trailer:

To poeticize or sing is to talk like a bird, a way with words and sound given rise to by a break in social relations, a denial of kinship and social sustenance, as if the break were a whistling fissure, an opening blown on like a flute.

No one knows how anyone actually thinks about anything.

Kon, or Con, is perhaps the most ancient creator god or goddess of the Andes. Associated with water as a life-giving force, the name predates the alphabet.

. . . the imperial, flailing republic of Nub the United States has become, planet Nub . . . a regime of echo the poem’s recourse to echo would cure homeopathically if it could. The long odds against that are enough to induce an exasperated scat or an incipient stutter or a lapse into baby talk (Nuh) . . . bird talk, talk by birds and for the birds . . .

It’s like I’m stumbling around in the dark, looking for someone who isn’t there.

In Mapudungun, a native language of Chile, the words “Co” and “Con” mean water and embody the concept of the sacredness of the cycle of water—from glacier to ocean, to river and cloud—in that language, repetitions such as Con Con are linguistic mirror structures used to intensify meaning.

Steven Feld relates a story the Kaluli (of Papua New Guinea) tell regarding the origin of poetry and music, the myth of the boy who became a muni bird, a kind of fruitdove with a bright purple red beak. The boy turns into a muni bird, and resorts to its cry when his older sister denies him food, a semi-sung, semi-wept complaint the Kaluli identify as the origin and essence of music and poetic language.

The blank page on which one writes one’s poem is a stand-in for the person who isn’t there.

Geoglyphs of looms and spiders are prayers for water. Threads are flowing water. Through threads people speak to the dead.


For more about Vicuña’s film, go here. Read more about the water god Kon here.

To read a great little story Brandon Holmquest tells about explaining Cecilia Vicuña’s book V to some cops who were pestering him, go here.

-- Ryan Eckes

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