68×36″, 2015. charcoal on paper
“Perhaps we recognize as never before in man’s history that not only our own personal consciousness but also the inner structure of the universe itself has only this immediate event in which to be realized.”
If reading is writing, then writing is reading and realizing the immediate. What is our immediate?
Is the “immediate” that which we pay attention to- where it all begins? What we allow or limit into our senses, the books we surround ourselves with, the people that fill our lives? The immediate is everything, everything to that point in our lives- where conscious and subconscious memories and thoughts collide.
For Duncan the immediate can be something imagined and unattainable like the cosmos or it can be sensory, like his household, as well as internal like his inner “self”. It is through imagination the immediate is realized and written. Imagination and the immediate mixed with Bourgeois’ Do, Undo and Redo can guide us.
Do- whether in writing or drawing, it is the will of action. The active state where things are being created, energies expelled and movement controlled- goals and desires are fulfilled with fearless and positive affirmation (Bourgeois).
In my opinion, the act of doing is selfish, gluttonous and isolated. Things taken in are put out, everything is served- a buffet of thoughts generated out of our histories; from infancy to the current moment of extraction and emotion. While working I become these actions of making and then it teeter-totters between what Bourgeois calls “undoing” where self-doubt begins. Seclusion, evaluation, reflection, and pause are part of the process and join me on the stage of reckoning. It is truly a moment of torment, anxiety, and destruction; one that hopefully, as Bourgeois explains, leads to a period of strategizing, recovery and regrouping. This period of “undo” is where I look for meaning that will go beyond selfish expression, moving into what I hope is the “universal”. In the way that Duncan can write about his own birth, and yet also be writing about the birth of life. The personal becomes the universal and vice versa.
Davey reminds us that writing demands detachment and seclusion. I also consider these words to mean stepping outside the lines, marking the immediately real and stepping outside the sensory impulses. It is part of the process- the moment before what Duncan might call formal organization. Duncan reminds us that though what we absorb and decode through our senses appears easy, it is not, because formal organization is present and importantly so (Duncan 82). Balance, editing, sorting and order are needed, without them communication and expression fail.
Duncan tells us that the subject matter is most real when form and content become one (81). I interpret “real” not as realism, or the actuality of something existing in front of us- but something having the beauty and pulse of the living. Here he claims, form (arranging, shape) is content (subject, topic) and content (subject, topic) is form (arranging, shape)- they are one in the same, united and working together.
Duncan quotes Keats’ “Beauty is truth, truth is beauty”; in that what is “true”, in poetry, is in the configuration of language (form and content) and how it leads back into the beauty of the universe itself (78-79). I interpret this as the creation becoming universal, where the connecting form and content go beyond the singular self-experience and into something that is accessible and connected to everyone. I question if the “universal” is something we can will into our work, or if it is something that transpires outside our efforts regardless of intent. Life is never guaranteed.
Louise Bourgeois “I Do, I Undo, I Redo” (condensed)
Goal wish or desire