Avant-Garde Journalism: Hannah Weiner's Early and Clairvoyant Journals
It's significant that, thematically, the piece should end in a romantic (small "r") tenor, for with the ethical and worldly resolution of "PERSONAL EXPERIENCE" into the tri-vocal verse form, Weiner discloses the order word beneath the moral and commercial will subsumed by "thought." Thought's order word is "ought," the password of morality. It is here that the ramifications of the visuality of large-sheet poetry dovetails with more recent acheivements in feminist genre critique, particularly the use of the page-space in Cha's Dictee, where the supernatural, catholic and mythological episodes resolve themselves into the ethnographic analogies of French visionaries Jeanne D'Arc and Saint Therese in the "Erato: Love Poetry" chapter, whose many formal peculiarties completely reorient the reader's relationship to the text as page: visuality as morality play, film, film-strip.
What we might (however reductively) call auditory hallucinations accompany Weiner's debates with "words," particularly in her walks through the city. These walks are studded with "[c]ontinuous, frustrating information" (33). Eventually (in the recurring retail situations) she comes to a pivotal question; "-an apposition? or a truth?" (34). Whereas in impersonation "The real question is why can't I get positive suggestions instead of eliminations & no's," her lyric embodiment recognizes "conflicting information" as a non-judicial (i.e., un-motivated) "POWER" (21, 49, 50). Competence and performance coalesce in the body's staging of capitalist spectacle, like Cha's trans-historical martyrs or Nathaniel Mackey's "N," whose psycho-somatic fits stem from the cracked cowrie shell lodged in his skull in his interlacing series of poems (Song of the Andomboulou) and epistolary novels (From a Broken Bottle Traces of Perfume Still Emminate). This power is further recognized as a deterritorialization of "emotional states," which otherwise "prevent efficiency of action. POWER beside efficiency, prevents POWER. KNOWLEDGE through POWER" (51). "Emotion - upset - prevents clear (hear) knowledge"; she resolves to take the initiative to "wait & listen" (50, 54). Revision or "EDITING," for Weiner, is to enter into the constraint of moral self-consciousness at the expense (mirrored in commerce) of ethical "response" (57) / lyric intention.
Weiner defies the seen mandate, "NOT A PERSON" (46); whereas before "With no decision to make the words mostly went away" (49), she learns to regard clairvoyance as less a vista onto singularly "meaningful signs" ("Country Girl" 2) than an implement;
... I have decided to give up words entirely because the profusion is useless ... I am asking for sense ... & only in meaningful
[????]response when the words quiet down ... Earlier I heard "no imagery," then I forgot & asked what it said. NO IMAGERY appears on sweater. ("Pictures..." 56-7)
The memorial traces are listened to rather than obeyed. Emotional "states" give way to an aesthesis (apparently a synaesthesis) including but irreducible to emotion in which the person embodies these traces in the world, for us, becoming tempered and temporal: embodied;
I wonder if it's possible to make a resolution not to lose my temper at the spiroughts (spirits / thought) any more?
Is this a writing class? (63)
Yes and yes: from "BIG WORDS," the fourth of the early journals, anon, large-sheet poetry has taken shape, as I hope to have shown above, according to the exigencies of clairvoyant, intentional phenomenon as well as the formal constitution of language itself. As in early drafts of The Fast (referred to as the "Hell Books" in manuscript), Weiner uses the third person omniscient point of view as a precursor to the tri-vocal form of the Clairvoyant Journal, and then "large-sheet poetry" is born simultaneous to the return to the first person: the emergence of clairvoyance as process and context to the invention of this new poetic form.