2004-05-07

Attempt 2: Are the secret desires for fame and/or notoriety of innovative writers, actually driving them to propose crazy theories about hybrid art work, especially poetry? Reflection: Surely not! All the innovative writers I know are upright honest people (and love to be called innovative) {make note of sarcasm}. Could this possibly be the implication of this elusive question? Response: There is no b/w answer to this question. I suspect something of the sort with Karen McCormack, whose intermittent findings in the field of architectural poetics are, or seem to be, absent from her actual writing – which I would unfairly classify, if pushed, in the post-language school. Although I’ve heard that she made a (successful?) recommendation to MG about adding a ‘missing’ section to The Mechanism of Meaning, I’m yet to see where she sees architecture working in her poetry. Perhaps because it is my view that “poetry” – the stuff made of lines and verses and a (closed/open) meaning - cannot be architectural in any meaningful sense, I can’t see the direction of her architectural poetics. Madeline Gins, however, has already produced architectural writing in Hellen Keller/or Arakawaand has inserted what I would call architectural writing/poetry (no scare quotes) in Architectural Body. In fact, she’s the most explicitly architectural writer I know of. Lamont Young is also a very architectural poet (sic). 2) As partly evidenced by the November, 2000 Language/Poetry/Performance Conference in New Dehli, contemporary innovative poets have become influenced by recent architectural theory's critique of Total Design, a concept that has two meanings: a) the implosive, in which design takes over all interior space (Sullivan, Wright, Taut, the Vienna Secession, etc.) and b) the explosive, where architecture is destined and authorized to move outward beyond discrete structure to encompass all scales (the Harvard School of Design via Gropius, the English Designs and Industries Association, etc.). The former resists (in petit-bourgeois/aristocratic fashion) industrialization and mass culture; the latter (in futuristic/avant fashion) seeks to become its very spirit. The former is most famously embodied by the Weimar School of the Arts and Crafts, under the leadership of van der Velde; the latter by the Bauhaus, under the inspiration of Gropius. Now, one could see the implosive school as analogous with the circumscribed ontology of mainstream, workshop verse, including recent conservative expressions of formalism: the Architect-Poet is the Hero of Interior Design. But one can also see, as Mark Wigley, head of Princeton's School of Architecture points out, that the explosive school is founded on an ...explosion of the designer. Not only are objects designed, mass-produced, and disseminated; the designer himself or herself is designed as a product, to be manufactured and distributed. The Bauhaus produced designers and exported them around the world. The vast glass walls of the Dessau building which, in Gropius's words 'dematerialize' the line between inside and outside, suggest this immanent launching outward of both students and their designs. Even the teaching within the studio was a product. Gropius said that he only felt free to resign in 1928 because the success of the Bauhaus was finally established through the appointments of its graduates to teaching posts in foreign countries and through the adoption of its curriculum internationally. Write an answer of at least 300 words drawing parallels between the Bauhaus as described by Wigley and Language poetry, with particular attention to the latter's accelerating absorption by the academic institution. Be rigorous in your answer and avoid servile timidity. My answer won’t be 300 words, and is undeniably glib. (North) Americans fuss over language poetry. Lang Po and Bauhaus are fundamentally different in that the former is primarily a national and parochial movement, whereas the latter is international, though I’m not convinced it was necessarily explosive. Certainly, Lang Po is much more interesting than most workshop poetry. Nevertheless, these two forms of writing have more in common than they would perhaps like to admit. Both still subscribe to a fairly ‘representational’ view of poetry. Both are convinced of the absolute power of language. The absorption of Lang Po has more to do with the changing face of academia than it does with any sort of Lang Po supplication.

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