It’s hard to know where to start, how to say something about Typing Wild Speech, a project that in its entirety continues to operate on my—subjectivity? Sensibility? No, body—in a manner not dissimilar to Dana’s description therein of a particular vocational experience of Poet, “A sort of Fordist assemblage of romantic cliches that when operating in consort give me access to a consciousness that floods the factory backwards, destroying it.”
If it seems wrongheaded to you, dear reader of this what was intended as a kind of blurb, to evoke “an assemblage of romantic clichés” as part of a metaphor for the effects you might expect to feel in your body after receiving and reading your copy of the 2nd or 3rd or 4th edition of Typing Wild Speech, well then, as the man says, “woe unto you.” Because along with the everything else-ness of it, this is a work that can’t stop itself from investigating, wallowing around at every turn in the beautiful compelling surface-skin of romantic clichés which inform or exist in uneasy relationship to our deepest political desires and fears. Did I just quote Dana?
Ok and sure it may also be wrong to use a quotation from the book as part of a metaphor for its effects, like employing a word in its own definition, but I hope you’ll forgive me, plus, fuck, everybody else writing about this work (and gratifyingly there’s a lot of that going around) also notes some special relationship to quotation, how could it be otherwise? Here’s Macgregor Card:
“It’s so easy to quote Dana, but how to keep it brief? It’s hard to know where to stop typing, even harder to want to stop. It feels too good being his pianist. Did it feel this good for Dana to be David’s pianist? “I type David’s poem again, slower this time, & pretend that the keyboard’s a piano….” The meditation really moves, and where it moves is “around”, and the casual urgency of its observations never land without some order of propulsive and intimate hesitancy that makes reading forward uncomfortably resistless.”
So but anyways, “a consciousness that floods the factory backwards, destroying it”—that’s one way, too, to evoke the famous Emily Dickinson line about poetry and what it Should Do To The Top of One’s Head, which if it isn’t clear by now Typing Wild Speech totally does. But I especially love evoking what’s become a cliché about poetry and the difficulty of qualifying its value or impact, in relation to a work written primarily in prose, albeit an upper-register-music prose with some poetry-as-such scattered throughout. Speaking of genre: this is where I am just going to do it, announce Typing Wild Speech as an iconic document of JUST WRITING, a movement which Dana and I made up but you can totally be in it, you’re a practitioner, all y’all, the new york times is over if you want it, cos
JUST WRITING is as old as the hills, it is in them too, it's exactly what happened in Lascaux! JUST WRITING is sort of like Personism too, but it wouldn't have to be poetry between two people, it could even be the conversation they had, unrecorded, evanescent. JUST WRITING would draw on the funny vernacular diffidence it implies "What's that you've got there?" "Oh, you know, JUST WRITING." It would play coy about genre relationships when courted, though the writing itself would reveal it to be neurotic, obsessed with its relation to other genres, & its constant desire to belong somewhere would be part of its politics, always wanting to be with others, though JUST WRITING, in its confounding promiscuity would always get it wrong, in hopes of knowing itself just a little bit too. JUST WRITING would have TONS of theory in it, & lineation, appropriation, whatevs, writing to landlords, WHATEVS! JUST WRITING would indeed pose a counter totality to all modes of atomization & specialization. JUST WRITING would be totes. contradictory because while it would collapse the boundary between writing & living (public & private) one would still have to make an artwork out of words to have been said to have done it, & doesn't that seem idiotic, considering the terms? It would be in the constant process of trying to realize its own utopia, & that impossibility would constitute its beating heart, full of bittersweet pain, unimaginable pleasure, & real mourning for real loss. JUST WRITING would also see its dreaminess & frivolity & unwillingness to name itself otherwise as the shore onto which it would constantly wash up, break, & become unspeakable, even to itself. JUST WRITING would finally be an enduring site of humor & possibility between two dear friends, Dana & Stephanie, who would prolly be loathe to speak of it in public because, OMG, what the fuck am I even talking about!
Yes, what the fuck am I even talking about? It would have been so much tidier had I been able to simply type up the entirety of Bruce Boone’s “Remarks on Narrative: the Example of Robert Glück’s Poetry,” recently encountered, like, this morning, as I re-encounter The L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E Book. I don’t know what relationship the full text of Boone’s writing might finally have with Dana’s work, since what I encountered is an excerpt from a longer introduction to Glück’s book Family Poems, but certainly there’s some kind of uncanny geometry in returning here to Boone, whose My Walk Wth Bob is, Dana writes, “the wellspring of the poem you’re reading now.” There’s no exact correspondence in what I’m about to quote, which is exactly right because Typing Wild Speech is a book built on misprision and half rhymes, of squinting one’s eyes to bring the fuzzy halo around the string of Christmas lights into view, then snapping the eyes wide open to disperse that hazy vision. Plus, in a kind of slantwise way Boone brings me very close to this other thing I really want to say, so, ok:
“…we find that through some sleight of hand it is we ourselves who have become the narrator of the story, and through a linguistic ruse the subject of these stories has become only a conveniently transferable function. And the narrator has become the object of a new narration being told—this time—by ourselves. What the narrator seems to be claiming then is that it is the act of narrating itself that causes the narrative function to slip across the invisible bar of separation—from him to us …[Such] devices constitute a transfer of the subject from a local determination in the speaking narrator to a more profound and generalized function …. In a larger sense what the stories of this collection narrate is society itself, and the exchange system of this society as it continues to narrate only death … as it tells us the story that continues to constitute it… The poems may in this respect appear as bringing out a strongly judgmental or juridical aspect of this narrative function in a tradition which up to now has not adequately or politically appreciated it.”
Not to get all hyperbolic about it (then again, what else is the extended internet blurb for?) but that invisible bar of separation is overhot with action in Typing Wild Speech. Dana slips figure after figure across its invisible force of separation. Ourselves here is so many narrators, our faces superimposed on so many others. Theirs on ours.
And if what he brings into sight is, as Boone writes of Glück’s writing, the story that continues to constitute “the exchange system of this society as it continues to narrate only death,” Dana also does something that reminds me a lot of Juliana Spahr’s The Transformation, in articulating every complication and impossibility that stands between ourselves and some new narrative which might after all narrate something other than death. Coming right along behind death, more than traced, at moments actually visible, is a story of desire for what could be otherwise. As fearful and terrible as that is. As saying that is.
This book is for everyone who has ever wished it were otherwise. It: the person who died or went away. Capital. Gender. This book is for everyone who has ever tried to imagine it otherwise and failed. I am grateful to this book for naming that desire in such particularity, and naming with equal particularity everything that comes between that desire and us, many us, altogether. Grateful to this book for outlining the space of what might be imagined. For locating a desire, its body outlined not as in a crime scene, but a body in a chair surrounded by the broken glass of a pretty lamp, where one fell asleep and had a dream and broke the glass and woke up with an answer. And lost it again. And woke up. Alive if a little hungover.