Thursday, June 30, 2005

Mis-seamed design: "a world falling to pieces being stacked back up...clumsily"

Pat (thank you!) turned me on to a new word today: dysraphism

In this interview with "para-digital" poet K. Silem Mohammad:

KSM: The best theoretical concept I can situate the Flarf collage process in relation to is Charles Bernsteinís 'dysraphism,' which he glosses in a note to his poem of the same name in The Sophist: 'Dysraphism is a word used by specialists in congenital disease to mean a dysfunctional fusion of embryonic partsóa birth defect.... Raph literally means 'seam,' so dysraphism is mis-seamingóa prosodic device!' I donít think I was actually thinking of Bernsteinís concept when I wrote these poems, but the idea of things wrongly sutured together, like the pathos of a badly taxidermied funny animal or a world falling to pieces being stacked back up in clumsily re-ordered columns, was there.

TB: Dysraphism as a prosodic device reminds me a little of a Steve Martin bit where he talks about teaching children the wrong words for everything. Itís a humorous but somewhat frightening idea which leaves plenty of room for paranoid projections...

Amazing. A "disfunctional fusion", "wrongly sutured" and also any failure of closure. In this last sense: a person, a project, a product, never finished, never proper. The "wrong words" and "paranoid projections" indeed! And "a world falling to pieces being stacked back up...clumsily" is such wonderful imagery - just think of your first clumsy gropes in the dark, or those voluptuous shapes that prove so unwieldy!

Relinquish control. Forget seamless or seamful design. It's all about mis-seams.


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