In Response to a Performance by Sophie Leddick, featuring Kyra Lehman and Ken Urbina; 07/13/2018, Lithium, Chicago
The memory of an old performance lingers in my head:
A performance space whose floor is covered in sand, a shell
Of a body
Trained in semaphore exercising its mute language—
To my left sits an antique table bearing an assortment of sea shells.
Time is slippage: the echo of the past eclipsing the utterance
Of the past in the present, its resonance made manifest:
In a body, time echoes the shell
Dimpled with decay the echo both marks and is marked
Hastening and delineating the trajectory of its own death—
Cliff walls battered by the waves creating and then succumbing to the sound of the same
(Before the demise of the body, its voice diminished ad infinitum).
Speaking leaves a record on a body, how much more so then the word withheld
Rattling a ghost in the shell?
Untitled, or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb
Maybe, the more the ghost of poetry’s orality—which is to say, how the forms of the past are predicated upon the constraints (or rather the absence) of certain technologies in pre-moder societies, in tandem with those still at work within the limits of that original microprocessor, the brain, how the poetry of antiquity, its various forms, are themselves technological advancements made to accommodate human memory—maybe what I see as the death even of this specter, as it were, summoned back whence it came, daybreak diffusing the conditions through which it was born and allowed to persist, is not due solely to capitalist pressures (“publish or perish”) exerted upon a wily inventor toiling in the darkness of memory, but rather that, simply (and perhaps, much to our relief), since Gutenberg, the sun is rising.
Objects do as much to distort memory as time does;
And yet I wonder if there is not some value in keeping
Physical photographs—whether that be prints on paper,
Or negatives, slides—, in not letting them disappear into
The digital ether
And thereby facilitating our reconstitution of those moments
As they dissipate (dust to dust); what is the truth of
A photograph if not this: it will fade?
Nathanael Jones is an Afro-Caribbean Canadian currently based in Chicago. He holds degrees from the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design (Fine Arts), and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (Writing).