Christophe Casamassima



Open & Closed Systems of Language


A . Anything that can be translated from experience using only the body is an open system : speech , dance , singing , &c . These systems are considered open because they are endlessly translated through all the senses into one all-inclusive experience that we call consciousness
B . Anything that extends the translation of experience by mechanical means , or external from the human organism is a closed system : tools , books , writing instruments , the printing press , &c . These systems are considered closed because they are incapable of interplay between themselves & of forming the collective consciousness

Experience --> Oral Language ( Speech ) --> Writing
Experience --> [ Translation ] --> [ Translation of Translation ]
Experience --> [ Biological ] --> [ Mechanical ]

How can we combine these two experiences ( Mechanical & Biological ) so that the mechanical extensions ( in our case , writing ) become more process oriented ( qualitative ) , or , in other words , holistic , or , in other words , means centered rather than ends centered ? How can the collective consciousnesses of texts perform what we as humans do by interaction through speech ? How can the biological act of reading be coupled with the mechanical act of writing ?

Our primary concern is to establish a process of writing that locates the collective consciousness within the text . I think this can be done if we look at writing , not as a process of distribution & internalization , but of the relationship between its development & the end result of this development , which is a text . By using the text as a performance space rather than a disseminative venture , we can provoke the reader to continue "filling in the spaces"-in other words , to continue the tradition of writing ( or re-writing ) . I use "re-writing" because I think texts cannot provide for a truthful commentary but rather a proposition that must be questioned by the reader , & for that reader to answer by complementing his/her reading with a re-reading/re-writing . Re-reading is re-writing

What we have to "say" , then , is not what writing is made up of ( words or phrases that have been more or less predetermined & pre-established , & arbitrarily so if we consider prehistoric etymology ) but what we are doing with these elements . To bring the text's consciousness back into the extension of the biological , which is mechanical , we must continually re- re- re-establish meaning through this individualized , but not individualizing practice .

Private vision benefits the individual ; a public vision does not benefit a public , but each individual. Why the play of words ? A public is a mass made up of individuals ; but individuals follow a multiplicity of paths . To say that something benefits a public is to say that the group is faceless , nameless . This kind of thinking is an extension of a biased history that basically rules out all but one path & uses it as the basis for all knowledge . Without the use of a collective consciousness ( made up of individuals ) , without knowing the multi-linear paths that history takes , it is impossible to truly regard history as change . By shutting oneself up ( individuation ) one cannot make contact with history or time : one can only regard the world as a linear progression , from a single , so-called "advantaged" point of view , where there is no challenge , no dialogue between systems . This tends to be the reasoning behind bigotry, racism, sexism, capitalism .

One should seek an operative dynamic - not modified by multiple consciousnesses - but forming a part of the collective consciousness that operates on a multi-faceted , multi-linear , multi-rational approach to being . Like writing as a metaphor of oral language , writing must in turn be developed & utilized as the metaphor for flux/transition/ revision/improvement/redemption/reclamation/ reform/evolution/unfolding/ expansion/development/mutation/process/progression/motion/gesture/action & above all , re-writing .

Private vision benefits the individual ; a public vision does not benefit a public , but each individual , or , that writing stems from the problems facing a collective & its reaction by each individual ( system ) , thus strengthening the collective , or , a collective concern that is acted upon by each individual ( system ) , a holism of writing , that sees writing not as a disease of the collective consciousness but of the alleviation of a disease called prefabrication , the establishment , &c . , in that each individual ( system ) works individually for the benefit of the whole , that each individual (system ) work in harmony with other individual (systems ) , like each individual organ in the body work together but individually & contribute to the organism's continuing survival . the common cause of a unified body or question can be corrupted when the individual case is in competition with other individual cases , so we must consider writing as the practice of negotiating meaning with pre-established forms of knowledge & with each other without losing our identity , but still contributing to the benefit of the collective consciousness .



Christophe Casamassima was educated at Eugene Lang College at the New School for Social Research and picked up a BA in creative writing. He released a chapbook entitled mov/ement[s] last October through Furniture_Press. He is currently working on Psstcards and also completing the first issue of Ambit, a journal of the poetries of Baltimore City. His basic wisdom of poetry: the word is active and ever evolving; my work creates the question and begins a dialogue with the reader, who is encouraged to continue the practice of questioning by writing his/her own texts -- no meaning but in how --

<back to contents>