Okay. Drop by this post on the Poetry Foundation’s blog Harriet, if you feel like a good laugh. It calls a new “translation” by Derek Beaulieu “not simply conceptual writing, for sure, but it’s also not a return to old-skool [sic] concrete practices, as it shies away from the immediacy of the image and toward more self-reflexive procedures.” Now, here is a sample page from Beaulieu’s “translation”:
|From Local Colours by Derek Beaulieu|
This stunning bit of artistic innovation was created, according to (presumably) Beaulieu’s own project note, by removing all of the text in Paul Auster‘s novella Ghosts “except for the names of colours”; these names Beaulieu then rendered as swatches and positioned where their corresponding words appear on Auster’s original pages.
Whatever we think of Beaulieu’s effort (I think very little of it), we have to wonder why this received notice by Harriet. We have to wonder what sort of mind could view this project and pretend that it has anything to do with “old-skool” concrete practices or that it shies toward anything. (One can only shy from, of course.) And “self-reflexive” procedures? Well, self-indulgent, maybe.
What’s truly hilarious is that this commentator can fashionably misspell “school” and toss out a fashionable term like “conceptual writing,” but is unfashionably unfamiliar with British spelling habits: “[A]t least one correction is necessary—’color’ doesn’t have a ‘u’ in it.” Someone at Harriet should let him or her know that this spelling is common in Beaulieu’s Canada.
The real question, though, is whether the folks at Harriet know how to spell “pretentious.”