Isidore Isou

Rimbaud [As translated by Paul Schmidt, and published in 1976 by Harper Colophon Books, Harper & Row, the poem reads, in part]: “I invented colors for the vowels! - A black, E white, I red, O blue, U green. - I made rules for the form and movement of every consonant, and I boasted of inventing, with rhythms from within me, a kind of poetry that all the senses, sooner or later, would recognize. And I alone would be its translator. I began it as an investigation. I turned silences and nights into words. What was unutterable, I wrote down. I made the whirling world stand still.”

I had been pondering women in surrealism in new ways recently, without conventional wisdom. Those like Leonora Carrington, Claude Cahun, Nancy Cunard, Nelly Kaplan, Joyce Mansour, Meret Oppenheim, Valentine Penrose, Gisèle Prassinos and Kay Sage. Their surrealitude is not a stone, as some would have suggested at one time.

I just cannot get into the television shows of this generation. After having been exposed at such a young age to the classics (thanks to my uncle), I simply find that the shows of Now-ness are rather weak for me, in many facets. Amazing how I tend to be “living in the past” when I was not even born at the times that these classics were being aired. I feel like the caucasian-version of Harry Belafonte.

Blunders within people’s speech, their actions, their unhappiness. Brings to mind the development of monumental art, of law, of commerce, of agriculture in late B.C. (southern Gaul, to be more precise, perhaps, of which had attained a high level of agriculture). There has always been a kind of Tension in every civilization, the rise and fall of Kingdoms, &c. and when the harmony with the Greeks gave way to violence (to the Gauls, of course), the Gauls, obviously aware of their power, felt too restricted by the barriers the Greeks placed between them and the Mediterranean (the great avenue to wealth in the ancient world). Greek warships commanded the mouths of the Rhone and Greek coastal fortresses denied the Gauls the good harbors. Fighting broke out (naturally) about 200 B.C. and continued for eighty years. In the end, neither the Gauls nor Greeks won, however. In 125 B.C., when Marseilles was under heavy attack, the Greeks requested aid from Rome. The Romans crushed the Gauls in a hard war that lasted four years, but when it was all said and done, they didn't leave. The rich hinterlands of Marseilles became the Provinicia Romania. Anyhow, a classic episode in conquest was taking place, but few could have suspected that the Greeks, as one historian put it, made “the most stupid blunder in history” by inviting the Romans into their territory. Even when the legions advanced northward under Caesar and conquered the rest of Gaul (between 58 and 51 B.C.) it must have seemed, as slaves and booty (ha) accumulated in the Provincia, that the Romans wished only the welfare of the Greeks. But, as civil war began in Italy in 49 B.C., Marseilles made a FATAL blunder: it sided with Pompey against Julius Caesar. A siege and two defeats at sea brought Marseilles to its knees. Caesar then went in and created plenty more wrecking and wreaking of havoc.

But, in any event, a sudden spark of thought leading to other historical measures, guides me backward again. The point?

Grumpy, selfish, avaricious people climb tier by tier up their mountain of misery.

There. Distilled adolescence—obsequious onslaught, slugged by light, or a slug in light. One that is cut off from a life of human sympathies. “The kelet have an especial fondness for the human liver.” I have been and I have Been. The internal experience is stripped down and raw. The external is a sort of practical personification.

My room has an odd assortment of mementos and objects. Hemingway used to keep track of his daily progress, so as to not kid himself, he said.

Non-healthy minds for the holidays. As plain as sere as barren rockpiles. I am case sensitive like a password, wild quadrupeds. Spectators spy out the eye, the way a mother was/is a voyager. I am my own festival. The art of noticing. Grateful breaths of air. I will suggest it in the next preface (wherever or whenever that may be). My heartache, like destroying a bee’s nest. Afterwards, a swarm. Or, the antbed, stepped on, “no problem” they say, and begin rebuilding, remodeling immediately.

“Poetry is neither tempest nor tornado. It is a majestic and fertile river.” —Isidore Ducasse . . . “The deepest river makes the least noise.” —Jean du Vergier de Hauranne.

My sister had been laughing at the television while eating Zaxby’s. In my reflection, I look for my voice. Undeterred transformation, predominance, wrinkled-bending. In every human being’s heart: a lure of wonder: the unfailing childlike appetite of what is next, flexibility of the knee. Suspected “shortage” of error: love, friendship, crosswords. The deepest songs of the heart. What they sing, ha, marked with flame, whirled on high, cinders to shrivel the strain!

Does the early bird always get the worm?

This feeling of nervous jacketflaps within the stomach, a compulsion of margins, these dictatorships in the workplace, these unappreciative forces colliding, feeling like I could be rooted out of time, no calender to expel the equinox. I need to be in a place filled with lovers and sunshine, without rancid partiality and drops of melancholic sighs, all expounded in blue Picassos, no love, no compassion, always psychologically-knee’d like a soccer player, rebels running around like James Mason in Odd Man Out—and this is what I am: the odd man out, this hyper-anonymousness when walking around in public, altered by the jittery waves of condensed cramps of the Big Wig’s voice. I could bow like a Knight, but receive sword-piercings into the shoulders, no gentle taps, no generous technique. I feel like Dallapiccola who, after hearing Debussy, stopped composing, to give this influence ample time to sink in, except that I feel de-composed, wrapped up and threaded into the angry spider’s web, beaming eyes, targeted with interlocking eyes, two volcanoes flaming outward at my composition! Must I flee? Blow the roof off of this data-burning tidal wave. I would leave behind another carving of my space, to rollercoaster upward, craving no return, to soar like the lack of a plot, bursting through the ball-and-chain with strategies and new lessons.

Thankfully I now have the upper-hand.

Littré: “Man is an unstable compound.” Sports players that put their hands to their ears after they have made some amazingly-awesome play, always reminds me of Hulk Hogan. What is within the emergence from the prehistory of daily life? (attitude matches his wardrobe / uglier than sin.—Mos Def).


Then, this overwhelming greatness:

Manifesto of Lettrist Poetry by Isidore Isou, 1942: MANIFESTO OF LETTERIST POETRY: A Commonplaces about Words

Pathetic I: The flourishing of bursts of energy dies beyond us. All delirium is expansive. All impulses escape stereotyping.

Still I: An intimate experience maintains curious specifics.

Pathetic II: Discharges are transmitted by notions. What a difference between our fluctuations and the brutality of words. Transitions always arise between feeling and speech.

Still II
: The word is the first stereotype.

Pathetic III: What a difference between the organism and the sources. Notions - what an inherited dictionary. Tarzan learns in his father's book to call tigers cats. Naming the Unknown by the Forever.

Still III: The translated word does not express.

Pathetic IV: The rigidity of forms impedes their transmission. These words are so heavy that the flow fails to carry them. Temperaments die before arriving at the goal (firing blanks). No word is capable of carrying the impulses one wants to send with it.

Still IV: WORDS allow psychic alterations to disappear. Speech resists effervescence. Notions require expansion to equivalent formulas. WORDS Fracture our rhythm by their Assassinate sensitivity, mechanism, Thoughtlessly uniform fossilization, tortured inspiration, stability Twist tensions and aging Reveal poetic exaltations as useless. Create politeness. Invent diplomats. Promote the use of analogies. Substitute for true emissions.

Pathetic V: If one economizes on the riches of the soul, one dries up the left-over along with the words.

Still V: Prevent the flow from molding itself on the cosmos. Form species in sentiments. WORDS Destroy sinuosities. Result from the need to determine things. Help the elderly remember by forcing the young to forget.

Pathetic VI: Every victory of the young has been a victory over words. Every victory over words has been a fresh, young victory.

Still VI: Summarize without knowing how to receive. It is the tyranny of the simple over the long-winded. WORDS Discern too concretely to leave room for the mind. Forget the true measures of expression: suggestions. Let infrarealities disappear. Sift without restoring.

Pathetic VII: One learns words as one learns good manners. Without words and manners it is impossible to appear in society. It is by making progress in words that one makes progress socially.

Still VII: Kill fleeting evocations. Slow down short-cuts and approximations. SPEECH Is always vice-versa for not being identical. Eliminates solitary individuals who would like to rejoin society. Forces men who would like to say “Otherwise” to say “Thus.” Introduces stuttering.

Pathetic VIII: The carpentry of the word built to last forever obliges men to construct according to patterns, like children. There is no appreciation of value in a word. Still VIII: Words are the great levellers.

Pathetic IX: Notions limit opening onto depths by merely standing ajar.
Still IX: Words are family garments. Poets enlarge words every year. Words already have been mended so much they are in stitches.

Pathetic X: People think it is impossible to break words.
Still X: Unique feelings are so unique that they can not be popularized. Feelings without words in the dictionary disappear.

Pathetic XI: Every year thousands of feelings disappear for lack of a concrete form.
Still XI: Feelings demand living space. How remarkable the poet’s disheartened absorption in words. Things and nothings to communicate become daily more imperious.

Pathetic XI: Efforts at destruction witness to the need to rebuild.

Still XII: How long will people hold out in the shrunken domain of words?

Pathetic XIII: The poet suffers indirectly: Words remain the work of the poet, his existence, his job.

Destruction of WORDS for LETTERS

ISIDORE ISOU . . . Believes in the potential elevation beyond WORDS; wants the development of transmissions where nothing is lost in the process; offers a verb equal to a shock. By the overload of expansion the forms leap up by themselves.
ISIDORE ISOU . . . Begins the destruction of words for letters.
ISIDORE ISOU . . . Wants letters to pull in among themselves all desires.
ISIDORE ISOU . . . Makes people stop using foregone conclusions, words.
ISIDORE ISOU . . . Shows another way out between WORDS and RENUNCIATION: LETTERS. He will create emotions against language, for the pleasure of the tongue. It consists of teaching that letters have a destination other than words.
ISOU . . . Will unmake words into their letters. Each poet will integrate everything into Everything . . . Everything must be revealed by letters. POETRY CAN NO LONGER BE REMADE.
ISIDORE ISOU IS STARTING A NEW VEIN OF LYRICISM. Anyone who can not leave words behind can stay back with them!

The Order of Letters

This does not mean destroying words for other words. Nor forging notions to specify their nuances. Nor mixing terms to make them hold more meaning. But it does mean TAKING ALL LETTERS AS A WHOLE; UNFOLDING BEFORE DAZZLED SPECTATORS MARVELS CREATED FROM LETTERS (DEBRIS FROM THE DESTRUCTION); CREATING AN ARCHITECTURE OF LETTRIC RHYTHMS; ACCUMULATING FLUCTUATING LETTERS IN A PRECISE FRAME; ELABORATING SPLENDIDLY THE CUSTOMARY COOING; COAGULATING THE CRUMBS OF LETTERS FOR A REAL MEAL; RESUSCITATING THE JUMBLE IN A DENSER ORDER; MAKING UNDERSTANDABLE AND TANGIBLE THE INCOMPREHENSIBLE AND VAGUE; CONCRETIZING SILENCE; WRITING THE NOTHINGNESS. It is the role of the poet to advance toward subversive sources. the obligation of the poet to advance in the black and burdened depths of the unknown; the craft of the poet to open one more treasure-room door for the common man. There will be a poet's message in new signs. The ordering of letters is called: LETTERISM. It is not a poetic school, but a solitary attitude. AT THIS MOMENT: LETTERISM = ISIDORE ISOU. Isou is awaiting his successors in poetry! (Do they already exist somewhere, ready to burst forth into history through books?) EXCUSES FOR WORDS INTRODUCED INTO LITERATURE . . . There are things which are existent only in the strength of their name . . . there are others which exist, but lacking a name are unacknowledged. Every idea needs a calling card to make itself known. Ideas are known by the name of their creator. It is more objective to name them after themselves. LETTERISM IS AN IDEA THAT WILL BE LAMENTED BY ITS REPUTATION Letterics is a material that can always be demonstrated. Letterics seeds already existing: NONSENSE WORDS; WORDS WITH HIDDEN MEANINGS IN THEIR LETTERS; ONOMATOPOEIAS. If this material existed before, it didn't have a name to recognize it by. Letterics works will be those made entirely out of this element, but with suitable rules and genres! The word exists and has the right to perpetuate itself. ISOU IS CALLING ATTENTION TO ITS EXISTENCE. It is up to the Letterist to develop Letterism. Letterism is offering a DIFFERENT poetry. LETTERISM imposes a NEW POETRY. THE LETTERIC AVALANCHE IS ANNOUNCED.

|. . . , . . . , . . .|

In that kind of ocean.

Fleeing like E.T.

Frantisek Kupka, The Yellow Scale (1907)

No comments: