Steven Fowler provides a little explication on his new project with Chora for Mercy, exploring the soft outer edges of language, Jewishness, kabalah, mantra, learning, sound and thought...
This work will premiere at the Liverpool Music Week closing event on 11/11/11, as part of an event featuring Dustin Wong's Infinite Love.
Steven Fowler on a spy vanerung inem vilerness
chosen zeyer a sakh tandem chosen vegn der shifl people; pitsink fishes fun
zilber gat bisl shits der redonda filosofye fun parnose arayn tsvey
languages vu zign iz der tsuersht shpan fun khayes bagern holding eyns
shlus aroyf shmidern & mit honour mernisht neyn farshemen zikh arayn yesh
der tsuersht zign vu der nebish iz nisht nu forgotten nisht nu tarnished
removed keyn unter der drerd vu der vaser shines nu likhtik oyf der fishes fun"
A question I am seeking to answer is what is the relationship of an individual to a group he knows he cannot be a part of? Any discussions of Jewishness are profoundly loaded with the history of the 20th century and present a paradox of inference. And it is precisely because any statements of criticism or advocation lie within a vastly extangled nexus of meaning and history, precisely because it is almost an impossibility to speak clearly without being trenchant, that I seek this subject matter. It lends itself thus to the abstraction necessary and fundamental at the heart of sound poetry and sonic art - those mediums of returning to the root, to the base of language and expression, and that which possesses the core of kabbalistic speculation, the language itself is the medium of the concrete in concepts of the divine. So the clearing away of articulation returns us to an ethical beginning, a space where things can be said about the unsayable we have created for ourselves in the last century of European history.
So, superficially, the work is about the relationship of a gentile to Jewish culture, to elements of that intellectual and religious tradition, to the mantra of scholarship and language and learning. It is about how feelings that border on the metaphysical in definition cannot be expressed in the language we come to use for them, analogous to the way our historicity has made elements of criticism against the same tradition unpalatable and useless as a direct given. Rather both contrasting feelings must be understood, unspoken, in the abstraction of sound.
Yet, in a strong sense our methodology shares more with Tristan Tzara's African Kru poems than with Paul Celan's "polychrome of apparent actuality". The posit here is self-parody, here is Yiddish tracing German language and nostalgic in its invocation by an outsider, playing with the notion that Yiddish is a half-lost, forbidden language, and we are embracing its purported cryptic nature in a blind reclaiming of its sounds, mispronounced, to make audible its German roots and to deconstruct, in a parody, the deconstructor as a failure, failing with good intentions and humour.
The kabbalistic significance of words are central here too, the vital precision of language in the Jewish tradition. We are recalling one of the many stories of the Golem, where the word Emet (life) is inscribed on the forehead of the homunculus lump of clay to bring it to life, and by wiping away the E, we are left with Met (death), which will bring the creature back to earth and rubble. Language is the medium in which thought takes place, it is the building blocks of meaning and consciousness, when it is taken to the realm of non-sense, it is beyond that normative restriction. It can say less and so say more.
The ‘a spy vanderung inem vilnderness' is then a sound poem, a sonic experiment, a piece of music - projected in shades of colour rather than language, in inference of meaning rather than narrative."