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Reinterpreting the Law

January 22, 2010

I think I have got something…

One very disappointing public participation project, several tens of terrible poems, and a month of existential angst later. The message I was grasping for within Janek’s methodology, and the progression to my residency with relation to ‘reprocessing’ – a relatively simple, and unproven technique for composition.

I think the problem is that I considered the corollary of the task of remodeling content to create new soundscapes, to be that of rearranging other people’s words. The music of words, remixed. Now I think that the corollary is better found considering the music of narrative, or that of flow within narrative, and imposing new meaning and lyrical tonalities and context for it.

This has been done in random ways, such as by the rule of N+7 invented by the Oulipo writers, and recently utilised by Ross Sutherland. But I would like to explore the potential of exploring narrative structure and theme, by replacing a like-for-like metaphorical connection.

My first working example is the first line of The Trial by Franz Kafka. This story has come up during a collaboration with John O’Shea around poetic justice, which has featured here and there in this blog. What if we were to consider the role of Law in this book as a metaphor for the role of Love in our lives, that of the Case to be a metaphor for Fatherhood, and the Court who administer this Law, be the newly inherited Family?


Once I had admitted love, I was absorbed into the machinery of a system of families I had no hope of understanding or manipulating. Nothing was certain, and all behaviour the result of legendary happenings within unknown ancestries. My decision to contribute to this family tree with a branch of my own is the second mistake of my fruitless life.


This is the starting point for my poems that will explore this

“Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning” (from The Trial)


Someone must have been convinced by my fraudery. For without having done anything out of the ordinary, I woke up to find myself twined up within a woman’s legs and hair.


Fatherhood ended with my confusing, sad demise. My willingness to attend my own deathbed is disconcerting, since we do not know what has happened between the Baptism, when I appear to be willing to fight for my individuality, and this final night. Have I given up, or is this my final act of free will? Do I make the ultimate submission to nature, or a deliberate choice to completely escape the family?


In themselves, these are not revelatory discoveries.  I think rather that it is another way to consider the technique of reworking and remixing, which Janek presented in such a moving and eye-opening way during his exhibition.

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