April 30, 2014

      Taking Voice Lessons

      Gregg Bordowitz
    2. The abiding questions for my research remain:
      How is the term poetics relevant to contemporary art?
      What are the ties or attachments between poetry and visual art? 
      How do you we face current issues of propriety concerning voice and poetry readings in light of contemporary identity politics shaped by transgender politics? 

      However, the recent death of my mother on March 16th has altered the current of my thinking now organized around a related but different set of questions. I find myself preoccupied with poetics and voice as they are experienced within the interior of the mind/body— or psyche, to use the psychoanalytic term. I mean, how do we hear ourselves during discussions that happen silently among our own thoughts? How do we hear the voices of the dead? What does communion with God sound like? 

      I've been reading weird. Throughout my mother's protracted illness with cancer, I was reading "The Dark Night of the Soul" by St. John of the Cross. Now, I am slowly making my way through "St. Theresa of Avila by Herself." Christian mysticism is foreign to me. My educational background covered Jewish texts. Still, both examples of Christian theology bring me great comfort. And they both concern the voice of God.

      St. Theresa describes four stages of prayer. She compares herself to a gardener. During the first stage of prayer, the beginner is like a gardener who must carry water in a pail to each plant. The second stage in the advancement of prayer is likened to irrigation, water is channeled from a source to the plants. The third stage feels like a soaking rain. The fourth most rapturous stage of communion with God is indescribable, according to Theresa. Gardener, garden and God are all one fluid medium. 

      St. Theresa did not hear god. The state of rapture she struggled to describe did not involve the senses; the senses must be mortified before the beginner can even enter the garden. It's the soul that "hears" God— communion is utterly silent. Or conversely, God's presence is felt as instantaneous overwhelming sensation, all, all at once— often unbidden. 

      I report the "findings" of my research without fully understanding the experiences or kinds of knowledge described by St. Theresa and others. I am a secular person. The prose interests me most. I guess, I am researching how to describe the indescribable—the voice heard in silence. 

      One last thing. After my mother's death, I did meet with a Rabbi. She taught me a very compelling practice unique to Judaism. Angry Prayer. In Judaism it is permissible to be angry with God. One can yell, scream, curse at God. One can do this out loud, but often I find myself contemplating angry prayer in my head, the various forms it can take. 

      Perhaps, I am not so secular. I am not an observant Jew, but my work always possesses a religious character.  I am a student of mysticism, all kinds. These studies inform and advance my inquiries concerning voice embodied in speech and writing, in private and public.
      If I Can't Dance,
      I Don't Want to Be Part of
      Your Revolution