Owen Bullock Reviews Rachel Blau DuPlessis

1 November 2018

What about the opening reference to catapultism? I can’t say I’m any clearer about what that is. The text itself seems somewhat hampered by the import of the quotation it offers from Jacob Manu Scott on the final page: ‘once you start putting meaning in one little bit of it – you’re kind of stuck with it’. In this case, the mention of catapultsim has become lost within it. It is replaced now with reference to ‘capitulate-ism’, and how we will resist this new phenomenon through the space of being, which is somewhat intriguing but also a leap into another abstract concept that has not been well established.

Importantly, Days and Works does raise the question of how we handle ephemera. We are surrounded by bits and jumpcuts of media – we almost live in a scrapbook – but a creative artefact should surely raise the material that ephemera offers us to some new level of artistic import, otherwise it merely repeats what the world already offers. I’m not confident this book does that; too often it seems a mere reproduction of ephemera with little distillation. My own practice includes a significant overlap with DuPlessis’s poetics in terms of trying to embrace ephemera and found materials, yet the writing still disturbs my own reader expectations. It’s a frustrating text, but I’d also say that, in some ways, it’s a successful book because disturbance points to reconsideration of one’s poetics.

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