Friday, August 31, 2007

Eunoia by Christian Bök

Can't resist posting this: via David Raphael Israel, who posted this on Caferati's Ryze page, Eunoia by Christian Bök.

In David's words, "Anyone interested in marvels of language who has not encountered Christian Bök's called Euonia, is hereby encouraged to give it a look. It's a work in 5 chapters -- each one relating to one of the five vowels of English."


Falstaff said...

Hah! I see your Christian Bok and raise you one Georges Perec

Cheshire Cat said...

"relating" is understating it by far - "Eunoia" is Oulipian work of the highest order.

I've heard Bok read, and he's absolutely amazing. I believe he's working on sound poetry now - check this out.

Space Bar said...

Ok, you guys clearly know Bok's work. I heard of him for the first time today. Give me a little time before I gamble and stake my life, reputation and collcted works of whoever it is you most covet!

Cat: Thanks for the link.

equivocal said...

Hooray! I was going to mention this one before, but was worried about it being shouted down as "too clever". It is indeed very clever.

Eunoia *is* sound poetry-- except that it also means. It's worth it to read the plain text version from CHB while simultaneously playing the sound files of Bok's performance off Ubuweb: a great way to spend an afternoon. I thought Chapter I is by far the best, with stretches of real and truly moving poetry, followed by O for Yoko Ono. Other parts are just great, sonorous fun. And I was relieved to find in a recent interview that Bok also thought so (despite his claims of the work having written itself, it needed him, and his personality is all over it):

His current project (see no.56 onwards in this interview) is a bit more disturbing and expensive poem-- the Xenotext Experiment. Am not convinced about that one yet. Will wait till the thing wiggles out of the lab.

As for sound poetry, please check out another very, very dear work if you don't know it-- Kurt Schwitters' Ursonate. It's a thing of real beauty, when heard in its entirety to the end where the letters of the German alphabet slowly emerge. On ubuweb you can still find a score for it, I believe; and you can also find on the same site a recording of it that Schwitter's himself made in the 40s. Again, works to read the score as one listens. Also on ubuweb, two other versions from it, by a nuts contemporary sound artist, Jaap Blonk, and one on the page cited by Cat, by Christian Bok himself. Schwitters is the other source for Eunoia, and towards the end of Bok book, he makes explicit references to Ursonate, which comes out very clearly in the performance.

Never quite liked Perec, though; it was an admission I had to finally make to myself after reading and touting 3 1/2 of his books. On the other hand, as you know, Raymond Queneau is god to me-- and it his zany humanism I see coming out in the best of Bok. Automatic writing my ass!

km said...

Great reco. Gotta check this out.

David Raphael Israel said...

dear SB --

just catching up with this, happy you found Bok's work of interest.

Regarding sound poetry (an interest noted by some of your commentors), this roster may prove of interest:
sound poetry (Buffalo EPC)

I can quite recommend Jaap Blonk (follow from list-link), whom I saw / heard perform a whole history of sound poetry, in span of an hour or so at Georgetown University (a year ago). It seemed he was on tour.