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Mnemoship/Destroyership #7: Joshua Ware / Disappeared Into Immersive/Intensive

Perhaps in the spirit of it, I have waited a long time to immerse myself in Joshua Ware’s documentation of Immersive/Intensive. This was after hearing Tyrone Williams’ talk about writing, the avant grade, a conversation that usually makes me want to puke. But it did not make me want to puke.

Some notes, filtered:

-TW skeptical of the formulation of AG as aesthetics + x. In which x can be, among other things, race/ethnicity.

-TW proposing something along the lines of the black body as the first readymade. That race/ethnicity can’t be an additive to AG art but is its ground. (Jon, Ryan — correct me on this ok?)

-His interest in art that fails, an aesthetics of failure he sees in pieces engaging with the idea of waste/trash. Poetics outside of the production of specular objects, ephemeral, undocumented pieces. Though he noted that while these pieces may to some degree avoid recuperation by capitalism, they  also work with the capitalist logic of obsolescence.

The first two points I will be ruminating on for awhile. The third: I wonder how Joshua Ware’s immersive readings fit into this given both the process of the production, their circulation, and how he has mediated the project online. Obviously, I feel a kinship with the project. But unexpected things have fallen out of it: like a potlatch dynamic. That is, I expressed a desire to work my way out of “exchange”/barter and into just giving and receiving outside of reciprocity and to destroy as a reading process. However, given the scale and intensity of Joshua’s re-visions of book–to receive one in the mail was to receive a challenge to do better on my part. After all, what I was getting back a copy of my book was a reminder that my work was circulating in the market. It was part of the universal exchange. Anyway, I felt caught up in a circuit of increasing divestment. Not a bad thing.

But back to Williams–how might obsolescence work with Joshua’s pieces? OR how does the logic of obsolescence work? w/o ploughing through any books or googling “Adorno,” taking this as literally as possible–it seems as if capitalist obsolescence is the production of a new product to replace a purportedly (and perhaps designed-ly so) similar but now inferior old one. There should be no gap in the availability of x but an overlap in the availability of x.1 to x.2. For an artist of the ephemeral does this have to do with the tempo of the production of ephemerality? Does the digital mediation of that project make it “available” at least until the digital mediation of the next ephemeral act put it w/in this paradigm of obsolescence?

(Updated 8.1.15 – I told you I’m a slow thinker.) Finally, following Williams, how does race and responsibility play into any project of erasure or repurposing of text such that it is not merely an added thing to the aesthetic gesture but responsibly grounds it?

This is something that needs to be reckoned with in thinking through what I mean by acts of interventionary, material reading (destroyership) and repurposing and how those acts are recirculated. Solmaz Sharif’s article on erasure in The Volta is a forceful reminder that the positionally of reader/re-author and text/author is crucial. This is to say: projects of reading, repurposing and circulation the writing of others may easily reify the historic erasure of black, latino, female, queer, trans, non-white, non-male, non-straight, non-cisgender voices. It seems Sharif’s invitation is to consider moving from performing the role of a state in disciplining the various textual bodies of individual authors, projects of textual repurposing/appropriation meant for wide publication in the public sphere might look to make visible those texts which work far outside the public sphere. Sharif is performing “a poetic rewrite of the Department of Defense dictionary.” I’m sure placing pressure on the lexicon of this institution which is involved in a decades long campaign of terror in the middle-east, which is funding what Ilan Pappe considers apartheid in Israel will make us return to our own language with a necessary wariness.

Either way, thanks, Josh, Tyrone, and Solmaz for moving this slow brain.

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About the Author

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Joe Hall is a writer, educator, and deprofessionalized academic. Black Ocean Press published his most recent book, Someone's Utopia, in 2018. His second book, The Container Store Vols. I & II (SpringGun Press 2012) was written with Chad Hardy. He has published journal articles working the intersections of poetics, empire, and the commons.

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