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In The Phonemes by Frances Richard the alphabet expands to include punctuation as though now on equal footing, readily forming a lexicon also constituted of accent marks and mathematical symbols. So integrated are signs in our lexicon that Richard sees no reason why poetry cannot write across these—and so she does, for instance in “Blush Alarm.” Graphical matrices of car alarm notation alternate with lyric, as in   “Hills blushed / They were embarrassed / because of the trope of the sun”.  Futurist page space privileged typographical possibilities for clamor in an avant-garde of irruption a century ago; now we speak and read its language on a daily basis.

If we were unembarrassed writers of textuality, we would take the entire swathe of form, genre and mode as our birthright, to become Roberto Tejada. His Exhibition Park could be considered museological were it not for the fact that its writerly poetry and prose are not for display but for intellectual thought here and now. For that enactment of full frontal cultural criticism wrought in words we use, check out the difficult instrumentality of Tejada’s writing, in which nothing is taken for granted.

Both Frances Richard and Roberto Tejada are art -world familiars.  A former Editor-in-Chief of Artforum, Joseph Masheck is an art and architectural historian and art critic, and reading his intelligent essays on literary visuality selected here in Texts on (Texts) on Art is as stimulating and provocative as living in the salon of your dreams.  Essays on matters that might seem idiosyncratic soon persuade that gifted art historians are truly capable of poetic speculation but then are tenacious enough to follow the scent to verifiably concrete pay dirt. Anyway, I’ve been enjoying following the thought of Masheck in ”Crypto-Corbusianism in Breton’s Nadja” and ”Ad Reinhardt’s Emblematic Drawing as ‘1950s Hieroglyphic’”—this latter essay a recent take on a subject of the author’s long-standing interest. Indeed, years ago Masheck was the first to publish Reinhardt’s correspondence with the monk Thomas Merton.

Others come to mind. Of the more substantive essays in Post-structuralism and the Question of History is the piece on Saussure by Derek Attridge. And for one reason or another I’ve met up again with Christine Brooke-Rose, who (not unlike Roland Barthes) positively delighted in reading literature through differing conceptual frameworks, she, whose specialty was linguistics.

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Published Jun 21, 2012 - Comments Off

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