Interior Trees / Inner Voice
Marchland Strand, 2012
David Abel — writing
Anna Daedalus — photography
For this collaborative broadside, Anna’s image comes from an ongoing Gesture series that intertwines paired threads of gesture and landscape, often punning on artistic traditions, highlighting the hubris of anthropocentrism, and pointing to the possibility of unperceived being. In writing the poem, David Abel followed a series of associations between the image and various texts: “Après une lecture de Dante” from Victor Hugo’s poetry collection Les Vois intérieures; Franz Liszt’s “Après une lecture de Dante: Fantasia quasi Sonata”; and Rainer Maria Rilke’s monograph on Rodin in which he writes about the sculpture known as Meditation or La Voix Intérieure.
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In 1977 an amphibolite boulder was found in Tanzania which has, thanks both to its size and composition, proven particularly difficult to translate. While this is hardly rare in the field of petrolinguistics, this rock, known as the Archaean Sibyl, has yielded tantalizing glimpses of an extraordinary disquisition. If the Sybilists are right, the boulder treats of the language of rocks itself. Translated fragments touch on rock syntax and grammar, on relationships of scale and proximity (whence, for example, volume-archipelago theory) and on principles of geoetymology.
I remember coming across the Archaean Sibyl as a boy, in an issue of Lithoglossia. The journal was all but impenetrable to me but what I gleaned about the Sibyl ignited a lifelong passion for the mysterious and beautiful language of rocks. Since that time, little conclusive progress has been made on the Sibyl, but the range of its promise has expanded. Scientists (and amateurs like myself) continue to hope that the notorious “Rosetta Stone Migmatite” discovered in the Scandinavian craton in 1907 will prove more than just a geological inside joke. Maybe it will point us to the key that unlocks the enigma of the Archaean Sibyl and, ultimately, the entire mineral Library of Babel that we inhabit.
In the meantime, the Sibyl is only the most salient outcropping in a vast quarry of controversy and contention. Last year the argument about the meaning of sand, normally not a matter of popular interest, crashed into the mainstream when Dr. Per Engström’s “semantic prions” set off an out-and-out brawl at the Ankara Convention. Now, I enjoy an academic donnybrook as much as the next guy, and I follow the research with interest, but for me the unresolved mysteries are the richer delight by far. Anna and I take endless pleasure in listening to the lively poetic murmur of a rocky beach, now that we know what to look for. Our literal understanding remains tenuous, but with attention we can follow the ebb and flow of the larger conversation. In Ten Rocks with their English Translations, we have sought to share the metamorphic wonder we savor in our humble mineral eavesdropping.
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It merits acknowledging that while Borges seems to have discovered his memorious Funes from atop the shoulders of John Locke, I got my first good glimpse of Locke in the rocky distance of a coastline that I have explored, at length and most unsystematically, in the eloquent footsteps of Borges.
— Leo Daedalus
October 23, 2011
David Abel curated the visual manifestations of the words in Object Poems, but his show is anything but literal. Included are 30 writers cum artists from three continents. Standouts include Portland’s own Anna and Leo Daedalus, whose “Ten Rocks” books paired with their mineral components and “Rock Speak” are utter beauties and James Yeary’s Untitled for Sachiko M, in which the artist has transformed a copy of Beckett’s The Unnameable by highlighting all but the white breaths between sentences.
(T.J. Norris, Willamette Week online, November 2011)