Today, pre-spring break, we talked about cut-ups and blackouts and Oulipo in my poetry class. Because I thought it would be fun, and we could actually make stuff, and it would be that kind of mind/less thing that, you know, you're sometimes supposed to do as an artist.
So I brought scissors and glue sticks and loads of black sharpies, and a couple of copies of the New York Times. After I made some introductory remarks, I divided the class--half were blacking out whole sections of pages of newsprint; the other half were cutting up other pages to rearrange and remix.
The class was pretty much silent, absorbed, while they were doing these things, except when I gave the signal to switch activities, and at the end, when I made some summary remarks about, I don't know, sometimes escaping the whole representational/communicative project--how sometimes writing is about language, just like sometimes paintings are just about paint. Was this good? I don't know.
But for today, amid the sharpie fumes, that's what we are calling "teaching."