PICK OF THE WEEK: Timothy Faust
This week was easy: Timothy Faust‘s performance at Quiet Lightning 9. Did you just watch it?
Let’s talk about it. Faust prefaced this submission with a few questions: “can performance transcend text? Are we too easily wooed by conviction & diction? Can gibberish take meaning?” The first question relies a little too heavily on that word transcend. Can performance outweigh text? Absolutely. It can make or break your writing. Can performance instill meaning into text? Yes. Your understanding of your words will come through in your reading (and this may enhance or reduce them). The question starts to get interesting when we consider the following: Can gibberish take meaning? Yes. In a way, this is ideal. As soon as your gibberish starts to make sense, I mean, you’re on to something.
Watching this performance was like watching a butterfly stagger about in circular motion while still moving forward through a spring prenoon stillness. Is it drunk? But did you see it? The thing seems to be going somewhere, or trying to, but it’s flight is really pretty circular, and the creature is mostly hanging out in one basic sector of space as though it knows its flight will not in any way affect the coming of another day.
What was Faust saying? The thing about reading in public is that performance absolutely has to be compelling enough to get people to pay attention. That’s the first thing. If your writing is good, then do it justice; we are not comfortably sitting at home on our favorite chair with your book in our hands. You have to make the sell, so to speak. But once you do this—if you do it successfully—you have potentially done far more than a book even can. For your face is attached to this writing and your tone and gesture become definition that otherwise might not be conveyed.
The first time i read “i Am Become as Sounding Brass” i immediately thought of Knee Play by Philip Glass. In the same way that Glass writes music with repetitive, cyclical structures, this piece forces its audience to make its own connections between what is being said and what is not being said and emphasizes the ineluctable connection between them. Resolution is avoided, as though a solid point on the graph would be incorrect or, at most, incomplete.
This method of talking around something invokes, at least for me, some of what Samuel Beckett wrote (Becket being quite the inspiration for much of Glass’ early work and the most important propagator of uncertainty in the face of seeming emptiness or meaninglessness): “Where I am, I don’t know, I’ll never know, in the silence you don’t know, you must go on, I can’t go on, I’ll go on.” In this teetering pendulum between unknowing and being (how can so much of being be unknowing?) we see the butterfly trying to fly as it flies.
Said differently, one thing i like about this reading is that it calls into question the very significance of readings while yet being a reading. Amen. Here’s the text:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always preserves.
It always trusts, always protects, always trusts, always trusts, always hopes, always protects, always preserves. Love does not proud. It always hopes, always preserves. Love does not boast, it does not easily angered, it is not boast, it is not envy, it is not easily angered, it is not rude, it is not envy, it is not boast, it is not delight in evil but rejoices, not proud. It always protects, always preserves. Love is patient, love is patient, love is kind.
Love does not easily angered, it keeps not boast, it does not envy, it delight is not record of wrongs. Love does no record of wrongs. Love is not does not proud. It delight is not preserves. Love is no rejoices not boast, love does with the truth. It always trusts, always trusts, always patient, love is not easily angered, it keeps not does not easily angered, it keeps not does not protects, always patient, it is not easily angered, it does not proud. It always proud. It always proud.
It it it is wit it is not evil but kings. Love is not is truth, is not does. Loves not is patienvy, it but precord of withe doeself-seek envy, it doeseeps hopes wroud. Love delight it it is prejoices. It red, it does, loves, always is not always not ind. It doeseekin evily angerecord of with. Love does. Love is not always pred. Love is not is not it res. Love the is wit ent, it does not is wrot boast, always hopes proud. It does, is not does not always not but Love delight it evily always not ent, it kind. It is with the is not is wit. Love does not angerve it is kingerve is hopes no, is hopeseekingered, always not king, is trut always not is not but always not, is pred, it is no red, is not does. It does proud. Loves, it always no rejoices not it evil boast, love it, love it kind. //
Love is kind. It kind.
And now three remain: faith, hope and now these is love. And love. But these these three remain: faith, hope and love. But these these the greatest of these these the greatest of these is love. And now three remain: faith, hope and love. And now these is love. And now three remain: faith, hope and now the greatest of these these these is love. And love. But these is love. And love.
But the greatest of these these the greatest of the greatest of the greatest of these is love.
This Coming Week » Excited to see Chicken John and Daniel Alarcon at The Monthly Rumpus. On Tuesday, WordParty is hosting a poetry and jazz open mic, and Pam Benjamin (who maybe you were also amazed by at this week’s Literary Death Match) is doing a dramatized reading of her new book. Or maybe you want to head North and check out First Draught: Pints and Prose (after the group is done there’s an open mic portion, too). On Wednesday, check out Bawdy Storytelling if you want to hear true stories about cheapskate sex and cut-rate coitus, to Radar Productions for Gina Gold, Larry Bob Roberts, V Vale + Eileen Myles (for free, this promises to be outstanding), or Ten FIngers Storytelling, a budding series that features mostly nonfictional tales under 10 minutes and rewards the winner with $150. Thursday is InsideStoryTime, and by Friday we’ll start thinking about sorting through all of this for another pick of the week! Ciao.
Without a doubt, Timothy’s performance at QL9 was one of the highlights of the past several months of literary readings in San Francisco.
i agree completely.
This was a tough week to pick a favorite indeed. I’m calling a tie with Jesus Castillo’s “limbs” piece. The whole QL9 lineup was inspired. Congratulations Timothy!