Introduction #2 Country Girl #3 Pictures and Early Words #4 Big Words 5

Avant-Garde Journalism: Hannah Weiner's Early and Clairvoyant Journals


That Weiner is other to herself - "amused" - indicates that her impersonation of herself enables a sort of transparency - clairvoyance - which is constituted visually according to iconography - "a face smoking a pipe" / "a drawing on the wall" - perhaps traceable to Magritte's.[2] Everywhere in The Fast, hints accumulate, pass-words of a sort, as to the person-al power of placing orders. But the fact of retrospection bears on visuality, "placing orders" as processural poetic form, when state functions bare their opacity aurally. Hence the fast ends;

My eyes were sticking out a little. Standing by the sink I could feel the energy moving up my head, up the blocked channel by the ear and I thought, oh great, I'm finally going to get that blood vessel or nerve or whatever opened up and I'm going to be able to hear, for as much as I could see, I could never hear, and I was just beginning to hear a voice and I thought, great, communication will be so much easier. I won't have to guess what all the signs mean. Then I heard a knock on the door open up police. (41)

As we've seen, the reflexive debates - largely pre-lingual - constitute the conformity Weiner calls "reality" (temporally), a conformity not matched in "words," especially the standard narrative form of The Fast. Clairvoyance is a material ability (as "spirits" are, for Weiner, "so-called" and linguistic functions), and the fast comes to a close just as much because, if not essentially, as Weiner says, "I was nearing the end of my resources" (40). In all, the first two journals are a far cry, on the page, from the tri-vocal verse form, effecting aural simultaneity through visuality, of the Clairvoyant Journal - but the necessities are elaborated in hindsight, that is, critically. Simultaneity will rather "appear" as the double-movement of limitative and expansive statement. In other words, clairvoyance is the textual condition or "information"; while Weiner has not yet undertaken clairvoyant writing, it is presupposed in the intersecting aural and visual realities of her experience.

1971's "Country Girl" - the second journal - shuttles between narrative tenses, but as such provides more meta-narrative passages on the complexity of lyric intention. "I am in the country," it begins,

... I am now trying to be guided by my experience in what I've learned from the spirit, instead of just following advise. It is now I who make the decisions and the spirit gives a yes or no on all things. He, she, it, is so active. I do not always listen. (1)


[2] Magritte's iconic pipe which "n'est pas une pipe" is the subject of his Trahison des images (1929), and reappears in La Bonne foi (1964), obscuring the subject's face (though it does not smoke nor touch the mouth) in a gesture which, upon viewing, repopulates the viewer's space as though looking through a mirror at one's own "other person."


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