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

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


Several sentences later Weiner mentions she had been "told, by a flash of color on certain words in a book I was reading" of good advice (1). This flash of color will appear in the following journal as a "burst," drawn in over the typescript according to bracketed instructions sometimes left in the body of the text, eventually leaving the brackets altogether as impersonated orders. "I know that some of the images I see are not meaningful signs," she continues, "just the memory repeating itself in visual images" (2). These will appear as neologisms in the following journal, as in: "Another struggle. See UGLE on phone," or "spiroughts (spirits / thoughts)" ("Pictures and Early Words," 2, 63). These "bursts" and traces converge on "meaningful signs" in retrospective passages; by the end of her first week in the country, Weiner writes in a meditation on the old adage "The truth shall set you free," "On these thoughts I experienced (saw) a light flash. So I know that is in the right direction" (3). Truth is not here an adequacy between thoughts and signs but between the passage of information into communication and communication into information - if language is an impersonation-effect, the best it can do is initiate such a passage, not represent or accomplish it. The condition of language, the textual condition of clairvoyance is a kind of grace characterized by lyric intention - the clairvoyance in these journals being what is happening for us (the author included).

If "information" and communication are the presuppositions of a specifically lyric intention, or as Weiner writes in "Country Girl," "information comes in a manner to stimulate the diseased part of my body," the notion of "communication" has a specific reality for Weiner that can't be overlooked. Rather than the extraneous signals perceived as "inspiration" (resolved by the poet into adequate signs), intention is what is happening for us at the moment. The distinction is elaborated in Weiner's typescript for a writing workshop entitled "AWARENESS AND COMMUNICATION."

Exploring the things that keep us from communication. A sharing of experience often leads to increased awareness. ... An assignment for any student absent from class: for the period he should be in class, to be aware of what he is doing and to think of class also - to discuss his feelings and experience at the next class. This always brings out valuable information. (unpaginated)

Intention, for Weiner, impersonates "valuable information." Language - "formation" - comes later. As the class notes explain;

A class text is a blank book in which students are asked to write whatever they wish, but to beware of the difference between their thoughts and what they actually write. We also explore non-verbal communication such as body signals and telepathy.


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