A few responses to the treated page exercise I gave my students as we met and read and viewed and wrestled with Tom Phillips’s A Humument. All struck me. Each differs from the others plenty. None imitates Phillips servilely. All take care with their erasural gestures, understand them to be, as they are, presences in their own right.
One that foreswears mimesis almost entirely and uses abstract form pattern and colour to expose the ickiness of its source text’s speaker. (A lot depends with this exercise on the right kind of friction with one’s source text.)
One that goes maximal, takes erasure as a baroque occasion. (I neglected to note the source text here, oops.) It actually has texture under your fingertips. Glitter that bites back.
And one that goes minimal, erases erasure, or proposes that we omit omission, or something like that, its ironies tangle my head. The source text is Strunk & White’s Elements of Style and it mucks with their most famous pro-imposition, “Omit needless words.”
A dismantlement of text that can’t help but call to mind Susan Howe’s, as this from “Fragment of the Wedding Dress of Sarah Pierpont Edwards” in Souls of the Labadie Tract:
(A poet I’ve never had the guts to try to teach.) There were others good, wonderful even, or that didn’t in themselves transcend but were important explorations for their fashioners. There’s in fact no knowing what will beget what. That’s why I don’t grade these, they should be done in great spirited freedom.
In a few I’ll hope to write a bit about my own muckings about with treated pages. Nothing so colourful as these. Also want to write about really good discussions we had today on qualities of line (actual and implied, that’s from Taylor) and the non-blankness of the blank page. First though dinner – steak!