Echo and History Day
“History Day”: I’ve been thinking about the concept of the remix as a problem, rather than a solution, for women. Women have long been the objects of the remix, as images of women proliferate, “source-material” available for appropriation. The category of “woman” is a “medium” in the sense that it becomes a sieve through which desire is poured, desire that is often violent in its manifestations. The narrative in “History Day” is, however, itself a “remix” or conflation of three textual/mediated/experiential moments. The first is my own encounter with Mark’s sentences (and through them, LeWitt’s). The second is my experience of nearly falling asleep at the wheel after staying up all night reading and writing. In that moment was a meeting of my “cross purposes”: first to encounter and remake the language, second to serve the needs of my children. The third, and finally dominant narrative in the poem is the attack of Lara Logan in Cairo. The violent assault on this woman (on any woman), but even more, the way in which that assault becomes mediated (source material)—“a trance ritual transformed by film / a collage of sensory data”—felt important to consider when thinking about the relationship between “remix culture” and women.
“Echo”: Having recently read Craig Dworkin’s introduction to the new anthology Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing (Northwestern University Press, 2011), in which he “rescues” the figure of Echo from her victimhood—“Here then is the legacy of Echo, recontextualized as the birthright of the author”—I had to remind myself that Echo does not simply lose her capacity to generate new speech, she also loses her body. With this in mind, I took on the writing of this “poemic” in order to respond both to Mark’s sentences and Craig’s essay from a feminist perspective. Again, the voraciousness of taking the mediated world as one’s own “source material,” a voraciousness that I share (stealing, for this poem, a fairy tale, a Biblical quote, Mark’s language, Criag’s language, a line from Apollinaire) is tied to violence (“the source material dried like blood on her lip”) and to patriarchal and class dominance (the fairy tale of the king and the “daughter”). The poemic concludes with a moment from Corinthians, which serves as a warning, as echoes will.
Julie Carr is the author of four books of poetry, most recently 100 Notes on Violence (winner of the Sawtooth Poetry Prize) and Sarah-Of Fragments and Lines (a National Poetry Series selection), both out in 2010. Her monograph on Victorian poetry, Surface Tension, will be out from Dalkey Archive in 2012. She teaches in the English department at CU Boulder, and is the copublisher, with Tim Roberts, of Counterpath Press.