LinguaQuake, Heller Levinson
Cover Image, “Quarry, VIII” (Detail)
pigment on cotton paper
x 44 inches, 2015
Ephesus Glom Part
An Interview with Heller Levinson
By Jonathan Mulcahy-King
The uniqueness of Hinge, as a post-language innovation
can be found in its unwavering study of the term (a given word) through its
"application". In doing so, the hingist approaches a term as an
archeologist might a fossil or artefact: it is dug up, analyzed, chipped away
at, an inventory is made, it is carbon-dated and processed for vital
information, a representation is made to project its innate potential etc. In
this sense, Hinge does for the word what BpNichol did for the letter (See “H:
An Excursion” bpNichol Archive), it poeticizes and re-presents language as a
chain of information, moving reflexively as it navigates through the “beautiful
quixotic”. This is unique as Hinge is attempting a full-scale poetic study of
the term, and as a starting point, this is certainly intriguing, producing
poems/applications based around the terms "askew,"
"seepage," "pathos," "glide," "meander",
for example, means language is actually Hinging with itself, and the Hingist,
is merely an observer, a scientist.
Jonathan: Heller, how do
you choose a term/word to applicate? Could you describe your selection process?
Heller: First off, I wish
to congratulate you on a stunning depiction (above) of how Hinge functions. Your
insights are enlightening me as well.
Now, your question: “How do you
choose a term to applicate?” is a critical question because it serves to reveal
Hinge Spirit by declaring I do not choose the term, the term chooses me. Any humility that might be attributed to me
arises from the fact that I have very little (aside from being available) to do
with the process. I see myself as a
Hinge carrier pigeon. We have a sterling
example of how a term materializes from our former interview: “As you know, Hinge insists upon the ongoing
& extensive. “Ongoing” does Not
refer to a sequence, or from a start to a finish (A future exploration of the
term “glide” beckons), but more in the manner of leaping, associating, . . .
Fecundating Rotational Clusters.” There
you go then. Concurrent with this
interview I am, to borrow your term,‘archaeologizing’ “glide.” Viewing the above, what would be appositional
to a sequence, a step by step? A “glide”
would. Instead of the “walk,” the “skateboard.” Exploring “glide,” I turn to my former
applications for source material, i.e., “tenebraed to mermaid” arises as a
likely candidate, for I visualize mermaids as being rich in glide & the
line “two-world strider slippering through wave-lap” morphs (properties of
‘importation’ & ‘mutation’ discussed in tenebraed & Wrack Lariat) into
(still under construction, now just a working line) “stride slipper wave-lap
plasmic guttural swirl.” The imports exemplify
how the language is always in motion, always lusting to reproduce & to
selectively off-spring. Will “tenebraed
to trespass” reveal fresh information? “tenebraed to step?” “querying oscillative
from collapsible cordon?” This is how I pursue the quarry. Relentless seeking to embolden.
Jonathan: How much of “glide” relies
on “glide”, as it seems, mechanically speaking, glide might also rely on
“phonemic impulsivity”, albeit one of extemporaneity (which is itself a form of
“glide”), and glide of course is both the consequence and the action of momentum.
As an analogy, we might imagine a hang-glider maneuvering abruptly, being
propelled into a new slipstream, the maneuver is not glide, but is steering, no
matter how impulsive and ineffective.
Heller: It was not my
intention to suggest that “the Hinge relies on glide” nor do I wish to attach
any attribute to Hinge. I may wax
lyrical about Hinge singing it is ‘whirly not burly, loopy not droopy,’ but
that is different than encumbering a flux with a role or a reliance. I merely wanted to answer your question as to
how a term is chosen. ‘Glide’ emerges as
a term more in keeping with our trajectory than ‘series’ or ‘sequence.’ The terms you’ve introduced – impulsivity, extemporaneity,
phonemic impulse, the action of momentum – are all apt.
Jonathan: So to encumber a
flux with a role or reliance is against the principals of Hinge. I see how this
is in keeping with the liminality and motion of language. Relatedly then, there
is noticeably more of a narrative earlier in your Hinge work than in your most
recent work, which is weighted more heavily toward phonemic connection/
construction, would you say that's accurate, and was this a conscious decision?
Heller: As I pointed out
in Part 1, my attention has been drawn more & more toward the Linguistically
Undocumented, those ‘terms’ currently deprived of sufficient recognition. For a narrative-oriented work such as “from
Buffalo this Indian,” I had available over seven books to study (see Wrack
Lariat, p.163). To pursue a poetic
dissection/exploration of the term askew,
where would you turn? I searched Amazon
for books on askew & the first
that came up was The American Church
Experience: A Concise History. With little material to go on, I was
compelled to turn to applications arising from my own most recent publication,
tenebraed: “tenebraed to disarray;”
“tenebraed to disparity;” “tenebraed to tangle” (to cite a few). Wouldn’t you love to see a book devoted to
examining “askew” in all its shades & perambulations?
Now permit me to reverse the role of the interviewee
& play the interviewer: Could you
visualize a methodical multi-pronged & extensive investigation of “askew”
constituting a narrative? If so, how would
Jonathan: By narrative I am
of course referencing your "flute carved from the wing bone of a
red-crowned crane" (Wrack Lariat) which is, admittedly, less about fishing
& exploring, “UnCovering”, as you put it, and more about a series of
thematic connections (which as discussed in Part One, can be found in a YouTube
video of you reading and contextualising this material from Wrack Lariat). But
to answer your question head-on, yes, as someone drawn to Hinge, I would say
that if askew were a word I had discovered uncreatively (from an archive based
on pattern and context), I could visualize a methodical multi-pronged &
extensive investigation whereby narrative-forming would be intrinsic. The
example I will give comes from a recent project I have embarked upon whereby I
am interviewing various subjects about key moments in their lives. The project
is predicated by a fascination I have of how we experience “new identity”,
especially linguistically. The idea is to intersperse the interviews to create
a portrait of a group life, whereby the experience of new identity becomes the
narrative, the story, and the agent. The idea is to explore personhood through
poetry practice and what it means in a posthuman innovative environment. It is
about new identity of poetry as well and will incorporate techniques from
innovate and realist schools, but Hinge, I believe, will be a vital component.
I want to explore how remarkably brave people are empowered through their
language. So far I have three subjects, one of whom is an 85 year old lady who
recently came out as queer, though has never acted on her desires, who was
awarded an MBE from the Queen of England for her career as a nurse, who
attended the final weeks of Ruth Ellis’ life, the last woman to be executed in
Britain (in 1955 she was hung for the unremorseful shooting of a war hero and
successful businessman with whom she had been in an abusive relationship,
scandalized for having had multiple abortions, working at a London club as a
hostess, being sexually involved with a string of married men). And, my subject is from an especially
impoverished area of the city I live in, an area recently labelled the “sex
work capital” of the UK. So you can see from the above how Hinge is already at
play, the linguistic possibilities waiting to be uncovered.
If, in light of the above, I came across the term or
idea of “askew” in one or more of the transcripts and were able to map its
significance and growth as a linguistic ingredient of New Identity, I would of
course be exploring it, ‘archaeologising’ it, tinkering with it, and let it
lead for a while, so it would become part of the narrative. I hope this answers your question, Heller?
Heller: This is most
interesting as, if I understand you correctly, you would be emplo(y)(r)ing askew to serve as an active agent among
other active agents striving to establish an identity construct. My approach, on the other hand, would be to
establish an identity for askew whereby
it will emerge as a subject comparable to your 85 year old lady. Once “askew” has been en-fleshened into subject matter, it will “lead” with confidence,
robustly integrating into your narrative.
Jonathan: I would say the
“subject/term” in the example I use is
the experience of new identity, therefore the woman I mention would be closer
to the “application”, and “askew” (if it presented), could be another
application, etc. Here, I am attempting to reframe what it means to conduct an
interview—by rendering ego (whether that of the interviewer or interviewee),
completely useless, hence why I term it an Exīrview (from the Latin exīre, the
present active infinitive of exeō (“I exit, I leave”)).
Heller: Which is a
prototypical example of Hinging, the Ego Dissolving to enable full Encounter
to/with the Subject. “Exīrview” as a Hinge Event.
Jonathan: Yes, absolutely,
Exīrview would be the Hinge Event. So, to clarify, the subject and the
narrative are intrinsic here.
Heller: This is Hinge at
work: A term becoming Em-boldened &,
through context-hopping, emboldening further terrain. At the same time, of course, “askew” prospers
from the newly-situated fertilizations, a bi-amplification. This is how we roll along.
To deepen the exploration, I would invite long
standing Hinge partner and visual artist, Linda Lynch, to weigh in. Linda, would you care to comment upon
“askew,” and how would you approach it from Hinging the visual?
Linda: Thank you both
for this fertile conversation, which in itself is a manifestation of
Hinge. I return to Heller’s point of
“being available.” To approach askew is to allow askew. This means
becoming present with the term non-directionally, allowing the term to “be” and
also to ask “what is the ‘idea’ of askew?” and to attempt an answer, or
multiple answers, with the least amount of imposition.
For me, it is about locating – not creating – but
locating a point of visual connection with the term. This is where not only being available comes
to bear but stepping aside is required to allow rumination of the term, or
application, to find its visual connection.
My role becomes that of receptor, or neuron, simply conveying natural
links. In this way the works find each
other, and then we see and learn after the fact what they reveal in their own
dynamic by coming together.
My particular approach to drawing is non-linear from
the standpoint of it not being something that occurs necessarily as one event
leading logically to another. It is not
narrative nor does it illustrate anything other than the history of its own
making, though like language under the auspices of Hinge, it can employ “visual
terms” to break open fecund ground. In
this way my visual process becomes a natural and fluid tributary of Hinge.
But then we find that Hinge applies indiscriminately
to any medium, allowing for everything to be elementally released from
unnatural limitations. Life is
non-linear, occurring facet upon facet simultaneously rather than unfolding in
neat story lines, so the desire to organize our experiences becomes a futile
exercise. Why should our language and art not reflect this?
Making something new in drawing requires returning
drawing to its own nature. Making something new in language requires returning
it to its own nature, that which it was before the constraints of rigid meaning
imposed upon it.
Little Karst Drawing, 2017