When we began The Offending Adam
earlier this year, one of our aims was to truly take advantage of the online medium. We didn’t want to produce yet another online journal that for all intents and purposes took its form from print: monthly or seasonal updates of what were static issues. We wanted to create an interactive experience between writer, reader, and editor and to draw a bridge between those often-disparate entities in this bizarre little process in which we take part. Thus far, however, for all our good intentions we have still been largely confined by text. With our continued progression in mind, I am proud to introduce Ashley David’s “An Elegy: Fine Things, Flip-side(s) & Transformation,” a compelling presentation on postmodern elegy that actively plays and pushes on the boundaries of creative and academic work, one which weaves elements of Roland Barthes, Marianne Moore, Robert Frost, David’s own personal history, nursery rhymes, and others. David describes the work as a “performance of theory” and she accomplishes that. It is a piece that embodies all of the qualities we had in mind when beginning our journal.
I initially saw this performance at a conference in Lafayette, Louisiana. When David presented, we were in a small conference room in a hallway of conference rooms. Next door, other panels were taking place and we could hear the laughter and applause of those rooms. This then punctuated David’s presentation and further informed the experience. During that presentation as she does again in this video, David invited the audience to “co-create the experience” and to “look at or ignore [slides] at will,” and I did. I let the environment wash over me, my focus constantly reconfiguring from David to my surroundings: the gray little room, the noises next door, the smell of the hotel, David’s voice, the recordings of Marianne Moore’s voice.... It was one of the most wonderful experiences I’ve had at one of those things. However, I was still confined by the context of that environment—it was a conference and you go to see these types of things, talk to people about their work, catch up with friends, and the like. Other than walking out of the room or throwing my shoe at someone, my ability to engage with presentation was limited by good decorum. I think I cleared my throat once or twice. I could not be naked, and I had to sit still and receive the information as it came. I’m happy that when I acquired the piece for TOA
from David an altogether new dimension was added to my ability to co-create.
Over the last two weeks or so, I have watched this video multiple times. It has been in the background as I checked my email, watched other clips on youtube, and g-chatted with colleagues and friends. I smoked in bed with the laptop on my chest. This morning, I brushed my teeth and got ready for class as the video streamed next to the running faucet. Maybe the phone rang and I took a call for twenty minutes to return to the video or just kept it quietly playing in the background. David mentions that one quality of postmodern elegy is that the mourned takes a backseat to the mourner and through the translation of this piece from presentation to online video, both the mourner and the mourned took backseat to my own life, quietly informing my day-to-day. I could repeat parts at will, stop and start again, begin in the middle or at the end, and this created something truly unique. Just now David came up on my Facebook feed, demonstrating the endlessly multivariate experience that one can have with this truly fascinating work.
Nik De Dominic