23 May 2011


Here are the prefatory notes to CA Conrad and Thom Donovan's collaboration, Arthur Echo, a twelve hour somatic exercise recently released as a chapbook by Scary Topiary Press:

While house sitting for friends in Philadelphia we collaborated on the following (Soma)tic exercise, playing Arthur Russell's CD World of Echo on repeat on all five floors from 9am to 9pm, taking scheduled breaks for food, conversation, and checking in for further fine tuning of the (Soma)tic maneuvers.

BASEMENT: Windows covered, pitch black. On a little table covered with clothespins and pottery a small boom-box plays CD on repeat with bass controls set to maximum. A white candle to light when sitting down, blow out when leaving. The sink beside the table to slowly drip water on one hand while taking notes with the other.

FIRST FLOOR: CD on stereo with balanced equalizer settings. All shades open. A chair sits by the front door. Open mail slot to peer at passing feet on the sidewalk. Every other page of notes should be nouns only, a page of nouns.

SECOND FLOOR: CD on small stereo, volume low. Computer set to show videos of Arthur Russell and his cello. In bathroom the tub is filled with a mixture of water and jasmine flower infusion. Jasmine invokes the Muses. Take notes sitting in a chair by the tub while feet soak in the jasmine infusion.

THIRD FLOOR: CD on large stereo, volume high, treble adjusted to maximum. Books on alchemy sit at the desk by the window. Take notes.

UPPER LOFT: CD on third floor stereo carries up to the loft. At the end of the bed, facing the window which looks over the Philadelphia treetops and skyline. There are tarot cards and binoculars on the bed to better see the world. Take many notes.


The results?

Here's Conrad:

we are selective with love
but I think it's because
there's only so much
does anger have the same amount per
square mile for water-drinking people?
I'm glad we're friends
space can be divided by
popsickle sticks or
pyramids in Mexico where
enemies didn't want to bleed but
bled anyway
sometimes I cannot believe
how delicate tendons
muscles and bones are thrown
crackling into oil
are chickens enemies?

And Donovan:

To a fugue soft 'to-be' languageless though he
was Helen Keller's water another's cats pass
Through experiential filters happy endings for
If the voice of human beings is received by hear
ing the voice of God is received by sight con-

comitant to this act of existing the temple
Will not be destroyed rock salt vs. sea pseudo-
Selves grieve I let my attention wander with
The bow when my eyes cease to focus and
When the ears cease to focus and when the

Mind ceases so that we must see each collation
Of bodies a blind-spot or blank embodying ide-
ology my thoughts will have been here before mis-
takinng static for running water sister-flicker in
Place of substance what instance liberty coracle

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