Nick Sturm Responds to Frances Richard’s “Tiny Microphone”

644273_10151308846202856_1379240345_nFrances Richard’s “Tiny Microphone” begins with an echo (she speaks into the mic) of Eliot’s Four Quartets, “then I said to my soul,” followed by significant white space and, amid the silence, a chain of 45 commas, followed by more space, then, “and my soul said I canopy language[.]” Here, the saying to the soul seems to be its making, or unmaking, in and through textuality. Using not only words, but the entire semiotic system, as comma chains recur throughout the poem, doing exactly what commas do, separating, but also creating “pure” chains of separation, separation that separates only the signification of separation, separating nothing. Representing nothing (portions of the human DNA sequence are empty, do nothing). But not nothing. Never empty. Comma comes from the Greek komma, “something cut off.” So in these comma chains there is an excess of elsewhere. Elsewhere in language, Richard’s “langurage,” an amplification of excess from inside, now isolated, multiplied, and broken out, a consonant added, anarching.

Like if you watch this video of sea foam attacking and attaching itself to this Austrailian town while you listen to this Henri Chopin recording, you get “langurage.”

Sea Foam Attack:

Henri Chopin video:

[Open these videos in different windows, mute the audio on the video of the attacking sea foam, start the Henri Chopin at 1:20, watch the sea foam infection video with Chopin as its audio.]

Much of the magic in Anarch is in how it recodes multiple systems, liquidates their terminologies, tones, and textures into itself: biogenetics, economics, sex, tectonics, politics, aesthetics,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,,.

In “my soul said I canopy language” we get exactly this concept of overarching absorption, but the line also rattles with an echo, “my soul said I can occupy language[.]” To be both in, infecting, and crowning over, contradicting, both as a means of transmuting and building on. This is the oxymoron of Richard’s “rhizomatic gist,” that decentralized network of growth that retains an essence. But how? How: through “susurrus, crack”: that murmuring, tear. As Richard writes, “a problem arose / with exquisite beauty[.]” There is a jammed path, tensions in the static. The problem is how everything won’t stop expanding, splitting. Under translation. In bodies. Richard’s tectonics ruin the purity of all acropolises, “not a free force / on the high place[.]” In “Tiny Microphone” we’re all in noise, bugged. Becoming, who knows, and what? In a hole of consciousness “I could hear the freeway / gathered[.]” Anarch takes in silences, using them to build. But how to give silence a surface?

Like if you watch this video of lava flowing while you listen to this mash-up Christian Hawkey made from portions of silences in recordings of John Ashbery readings, you get those surfaces made of melting betweenness. As Richard writes, “and tenderly the / plethora / occurred more[.]” Put this on record (record it): I can’t look away from what’s growing in Anarch.


Ashbery Silence:

[Open in different windows and watch lava video (there’s no audio in it) while listening to the Ashbery silences.]

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