122.5: Randall Horton:: A Multilayered, Sequestered Event 122

A Multilayered, Sequestered Event

Christopher Stackhouse's PLURAL from Counterpath Press

Adequately titled Plural, Christopher Stackhouse’s first full collection of poetry is a mellifluous explosion of language and connotation, intersecting at the point of meaning. Plural is a long awaited full length collection since Stackhouse’s joint collaboration with poet and literary scholar John Keene which produced Seismosis (1913 Press, 2006), a book that “penetrates the common ground between writing/literature and drawing/visual art, creating a revisioned landscape where much of the work is abstract or abstracted or both.” Plural then becomes an extension of Stackhouse’s aesthetical progression, which is steeped in art, philosophy, poetics, and critical discourse, even turning satirical at times.

The poetic work of Stackhouse is a multilayered, sequestered event insomuch as “events” are how we give valuation to language and perhaps aesthetics as well. Plural, which appears this November from Counterpath Press, “is an experiential immersion in the daily life of an artist, arts critic and poet who weaves and juxtaposes aesthetic ideas, personal circumstances, philosophical questions, and societal situations while aggressively experimenting with poetic form and content.” The collection is impressive as a whole, often exploring the ordinary through a set of aesthetical ideas, perhaps a math equation, or the discrepancy in language itself.

In “Notes from Lecture/The Subject of Art: A Lacanian Ink Event April 1, 2005” Stackhouse uses an Alain Badiou lecture to intersect narrator and “subject (Badiou)” into an aesthetical investigation. For instance, the idea of an artistic event becoming “form” from something that it was not:

     [I like his illustrations]

[achieving the dignity of a work of art.]

name as body, to new something new in the
work which events itself in the world of art
this could be new experimentation, [a] new tendency
of artistic creation – comes in this subjectivity
is the immanent infinity – infinity of form itself
[perception] – new form is new access –

In many ways the poems in Plural exhibit philosophical tendencies drawn from theorists such as Badiou, hinting at Kant, Adorno and perhaps Derrida to name a few others, offering “new accesses” through poetic investigation. However, the ideologies are many, and one can’t just peg a distinct poetic lineage of work from say a Whitman, a H.D. or a Duncan, but they are there, as well as many others.

The untitled poem for “John Cage” uses quotation, the idea of temporal space, and the connection time and space have on “being” to create a new subject of discourse. Consider:

“Chance operations.”
                                 —John Cage
“Based on the question . . . ”
                                 —John Cage
“Coming from the nature of . . . ”
                                 —John Cage

Obviously, sound is important and acts metaphorically to create aftersound, which creates afterimage, which becomes image. The subject is given valuation through temporal placement. This is just a small sample of what can be found between the pages of Plural, a book that will keep giving long after the last page has been turned.

Christopher Stackhouse:: Plural:: Counterpath