(ASLEEP AND AWAKE) Notes on Book

(ASLEEP AND AWAKE) Notes on Book

[Image on the left: Jim Morrison kept notebooks during his time in Paris and prior to his death. They contained drawings, poems and thoughts . The green one titled “Paris Journal”, was part of the legendary “127 Fascination” box, the archive of his manuscripts saved by his common-law wife, Pamela Courson and auctioned some years later.]
[Image on the right: Notebook drawing by Allen Ginsberg, presented during Michael Taussig’s  talk on his book “I Swear I Saw That. Drawings in Anthropological Fieldwork Notebboks” (University of Chicago Press) at the School of Visual Arts in 2009.]

“The notebook lies at the outer reaches of language and order. It lies at the outer reaches of language in its ungrammatical jottings and staccato burps and hiccups. And it lies at the outer limits of order because it represents the chance pole of a collection, rather than the design pole.” Michael Taussig has described the notebook as an unconscious without a conscious, a place full of interstices without the things they are supposed to separate.

“The notes in a notebook are what has been picked at and plundered from an underworld. They are from another order of reality altogether” – M.T.

Jim Morrison, a voracious reader and a self-published poet, titled his (full of lyrics, photos and drawings) notebooks “Plan for Book,” and admitted in a 1969 interview that his dream has always been to go more toward print; he described his act of semi-automatic writing as a kind of self-questioning that flows like singing the blues, getting into a groove, joining others and then “keep up making things.”

William S. Burroughs had a notebook with three columns: facts, what these facts made him remember, and quotations from books he carried. He marveled at the extraordinary connections that appeared between columns. The three books of writings he shared with Brion Gysin (visionary inventor of the Dreamachine) use the “cut-up technique” where diaristic writing merges with photographs, drawings, clippings, things integrated into a wild narrative in need of adventurous readers. The third of the books was created as a “Les Goelands” notebook. Their 200-page cut-up collage novel The Third Mind was a creatively subversive form of meaning-divination that evolved out of the notebook process. They thus predicted the internet, page surfing, bite-size information feeds, image de-contextualization.

Pioneer filmmaker Antoinetta Angelidi has always perceived her art practice as “writing” and used her notebooks as a sort of conduit in cinematic narrations that reclaim the political dimension of dreaming in order to re-imagine representation itself.

Writer Zyranna Zateli has been “training her nocturnal memory” by keeping notebooks of her “most secret dreams” while in the deep of the night. Often creating undecipherable palimpsests, she regards this kind of holy mess on paper a “divine gift,” the flowing source of the prima materia of her literature; most importantly, a love letter from her dreams to herself.

Liliane Lijn, Mihalis Lekakis and Nikos Velmos, whose work at the ACG art collection is examined elsewhere here, have been keeping notebooks as creative tools for thinking, researching through crossings and encounters.

Joan Didion wondered whether her notes should be called lies, as they tempted the question, “how much of it actually happened?” Yet, she also admitted that they managed to strike the very chord of their author’s life. “I suppose that keeping in touch is what notebooks are all about,” she writes in her essay “On Keeping a Notebook.”

The project “is everybody in? the ceremony is about to begin” has an afterlife and this is this not-a-book but a notebook (realized online and in print) that proposes a performative sort of writing/reading and “keeps in touch”: in touch with past events and radical futures, with forgotten images and “adventitious growths,” with lurking meanings and wild intuitions, with handwriting, with the phantom of the screen, with the fetish of immaterial networks; in touch with old ceremonies and others that have yet to happen or are in the process of formation.

When one visits the online body of the project and touches upon the shimmering words of a poem found in the notebooks of Mihalis Lekakis at the ACG art collection, notes emerge, and veer off in different directions.

ASLEEP AND AWAKE – notes on book
THEM – past curatorials
PASS OVERHEAD – apophenia
ALERT – ghosts
STARS – strange attractors in the collection
TO CARRY ON – on study, ACG students and teachers

Links are activated un-hierarchically, by chance and choice, so the readers make their own way across notes made by different people, across various materials found in the ACG collection and beyond.

Those curious enough to get into the groove, into the improvisational feel of it, will share the pleasure of a collective symbolic agency. The one we exercise as storytelling entities on the way to (un)make the world.

After all, “What we should do is practice our own form of shamanism, if that’s the word, and come up with a set of tricks, simulations and deceptions in a continuous movement of counterfeint and feint strangely contiguous with, yet set against those weighing on us.” (Michael Taussig)