Friday, August 31, 2012

The Power of the Gaze

CIaude Levi-Strauss, The Savage Mind (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1966), "The 'bricoleur' is adept at performing a large number of diverse tasks; but unlike the engineer, he does not subordinate each of them to the availability of raw materials and tools conceived and procured for the purpose of the project. His universe of instruments is closed and the rules of his game are always to make do with 'whatever is at hand,' that is to say with a set of tools and materials which is always finite and is also heterogeneous because what it contains bears no relation to the current project, or indeed to any particular project, but is the contingent result of all the occasions there have been to renew or enrich the stock or to maintain it with the remains of previous constructions or destructions."
Thanks to Doug Weichbrodt for posting that quote on FaceBook

This passage perfectly describes how I make an assemblage... and almost describes how I make a poem. Have been thinking about this--how the 'things' before me are like passing thoughts, which, in being brought together, become an "idea,' but one that exists entirely outside my head, an idea which has no need of me to think it. I experience this as being guided by the objects. The power of the gaze turned to the objects of the world is fertile and creative, brooks no stasis, assembles, dissembles and moves on.
There is a way of seeing that does not impose itself on what passes through the field of vision, but is guided by the objects themselves. If you trust in this 'envisioning,' what comes of it will never be a "waste of time--but the discipline is not ours... perhaps, not a waste, precisely because the discipline is not 'ours " ... is not 'owned.' And though the objects have been found at random--the moment they are picked up, it becomes are an act in a stream of highly determined acts--but which are unguided by any imagined future form they might take. That would ruin it... the confirmation is wonder and surprise, and leaves no room for pride... or perhaps, a pride shared with the assembled idea... it having participated in creating the creator, as much as the other way around.

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