Saturday, 7 February 2015

Vanishings and Reappearances
in the Twittersphere:
Writing on and through Twitter 1

This sequence of posts is a record of the presentation given on 5 February 2015  at FACT, Liverpool, as part of the Send and Receive conference about Poetry, Film and Technology in the 21st Century. Explaining that I intended to intersperse my talk with actual Tweets, I began with Notes on the Inner City

Notes on The Inner City
  • He possessed a mind of intellectual-spiritual terrains and inner cities with little but the roads between them.
  • The windings of the inner city are gatherings of cloud in a test tube, he noted.
  • The nebulous unspoken terrain is a whisper that does not quite form a sentence. Syntax is subway there.
  • Walking from A to B in the inner city entails several detours but one can feel the magnetic force running between the two.
  • In the uncharted parts of the broad domain there are reputed to be fierce arguments about the necessity of maps.
  • The inner city has more inns and book shops than tailors. Its social life is ethereal gossip spiced with quotations.
  • The roads of the nebulous terrain connect to the inner city by a miracle prayed for by lexicographers of a mystical bent.
  • The inner city listens in to itself in surprise and horror. Its central square is not marked on the street map.
  • A visitor wandering around in the dark will discover the inner city between his ears. The nebulous domain vanishes.
  • It's all nebulous, you'll hear it said in the inner city. There are no inner cities only roads, say the inhabitants of the nebulous domain.

It was in Shanghai in December 2011where the poet Pascale Petit encouraged me to sign up to Twitter. I had had a blog since 2005 and had slightly reluctantly moved on to Facebook in 2007 but saw no particular reason to enter yet another field of the so-called social media.

Twitter I resisted partly because of the dreadful name. It suggested not so much the conversation of birds but a constant inane chattering and nothing of substance.

The ghost metropolis
Once I entered I found it rather different. There were the expected useful links to articles I wanted to read and collections of visual images that I found intriguing, entertaining and sometimes valuable. But there were chiefly voices: brief telegraphic constructions like cries or shouts or whispers that had the compression if not the concentration of poetry: it was like a ghost metropolis full of figures passing and vanishing, the white noise of the world forming itself into articulate phrases. The shaping and nature of the phrases was a product of the140-character limit. It was a potential literary form.  Here is a very small part of a very long sequence of tweets, titled Ghost Story

Ghost Story
  • This is a ghost story, said the ghost. You'll have to write it.
  • When I was alive I did not believe in ghosts, said the ghost. That is why I am a ghost now.
  • Emerging from a wall in the likeness of someone you faintly recognise is something I have mastered, said the ghost.
  • Can you feel me touching you, asked the ghost. My voice should feel like fur. My eyes should enter yours.
  • Inside your eyes, my eyes. Inside your hands, my hands. We share one space, said the ghost.

  • The point of a ghost story is to trouble your dreams, said the ghost. I don't get to listen.
  • Listen, said the ghost. Listen to your listening. That's me. I can hear you ticking like the clock. Now let's wind it.
  • So they wound the clock of the heart. So they listened. Now we have time, said the ghost.
  • We are entering the territory. We are following the promptings of the clock, said the ghost. My hands are cold but my breath is hot.
  • Once upon a very specific time in a highly specific place there lived a magical being, said the ghost. This is its magical story.

  • Now we sit down, said the ghost. Now we wait for language to invent us. Now our regrets begin to bud and blossom.
  • This is the language of death still waiting to come into existence, said the ghost. At this stage it's pure nonsense.
  • Out of nonsense into language. Out of mirror into skin. Out of me into you, said the ghost....

[To be continued in the next post...]

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