Sunday, January 4, 2004

Sunday January 4, 2004

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:00 PM


"These fragments I have shored against my ruins" — T. S. Eliot, The Waste Land

Friday, August 2, 2002

Friday August 2, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 5:53 PM

Death of a Cut-up

The dark philosopher William S. Burroughs died five years ago today.  Part of his legacy is the "cut-up" technique.  See William S. Burroughs and Cut-up, where it is noted that

"the Cut-up technique was inspired by the collage technique used by artists and photographers,"

and Cut-ups and the Internet, where it is noted that 

"The cut-up (or 'cutup') is a method of juxtaposition where a work (usually text) is cut into pieces and the pieces rearranged in a random order, similar to the montage or collage technique in painting."

The idea of hypertext (the "ht" in "http://," for "HyperText Transfer Protocol://") is not unrelated to the concept of the "cut-up"…

See Time Line and Contents at The Electronic Labyrinth.

Also from "The Electronic Labyrinth":

At Swim-Two-Birds

The question of beginnings and endings–how many of them to have and where to put them–has troubled many authors. Indeed, some have seen the singular linear path of traditional literature as cause for consternation. This is expressed by the narrator in Flann O'Brien's At Swim-Two-Birds (1968):

One beginning and one ending for a book was a thing I did not agree with.

See also the writings of Eric Olson on the collage method of  psychotherapy, the subject of "Aesthetics of Madness," my July 30, 2002, web journal entry below. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2002

Tuesday July 30, 2002

Filed under: General — Tags: — m759 @ 12:12 AM

Aesthetics of Madness

Admirers of the film "A Beautiful Mind" may be interested in the thoughts of psychotherapist Eric Olson on what he calls the "collage method" of therapy.  The fictional protagonist of "A Beautiful Mind," very loosely based on the real-life mathematician John Nash, displays his madness in a visually striking manner (as required by cinematic art).  He makes enormous collages of published matter in which he believes he has found hidden patterns. 

This fictional character is in some ways more like the real-life therapist Olson than like the real-life schizophrenic Nash.  For an excellent introduction to Olson's world, see the New York Times Magazine article of April 1, 2001, on Olson and on the mysterious death of Olson's father Frank, who worked for the CIA.  Here the plot thickens… the title of the article is "What Did the C.I.A. Do to Eric Olson's Father?

For Olson's own website, see The Frank Olson Legacy Project, which has links to Olson's work on collage therapy.   Viewed in the context of this website, the resemblance of Olson's collages to the collages of "A Beautiful Mind" is, to borrow Freud's expression, uncanny.  Olson's own introduction to his collage method is found on the web page "Theory and therapy."

All of the above resulted from a Google search to see if Arlene Croce's 1993 New Yorker article on Balanchine and Stravinsky, "The Spelling of Agon," could be found online.   I did not find Arlene, but I did find the following, from a collage of quotations assembled by Eric Olson —

"There might be a game in which paper figures were put together to form a story, or at any rate were somehow assembled. The materials might be collected and stored in a scrap-book, full of pictures and anecdotes. The child might then take various bits from the scrap-book to put into the construction; and he might take a considerable picture because it had something in it which he wanted and he might just include the rest because it was there.”

— Ludwig Wittgenstein,
Lectures and Conversations on Aesthetics, Psychology and Religious Belief, 1943/1978

“Not games. Puzzles. Big difference. That’s a whole other matter. All art — symphonies, architecture, novels — it’s all puzzles. The fitting together of notes, the fitting together of words have by their very nature a puzzle aspect. It’s the creation of form out of chaos. And I believe in form.”

Stephen Sondheim
in Stephen Schiff, “Deconstructing Sondheim,”
The New Yorker, March 8, 1993, p. 76.

“God creates, I assemble.”

— George Balenchine [sic]
in Arlene Croce, “The Spelling of Agon,”
The New Yorker, July 12, 1993, p. 91

The aesthetics of collage is, of course, not without its relevance to the creation (or assembly) of weblogs.

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