Tag Archives: Charles Olson

Interlude #2 Play

Stephen Calhoun, fine artitst, Cleveland Heights, Ohio

Bardo B, a (Stephen Calhoun, 2014)

This re-intensification of the body, which restores our bond to an original intensity that resists traditional static notions of the cosmos and the human, of man and the universe, can best be called “spirit” or “spirituality” (thugs). Though the German words Geist and Geistigheit are admittedly better than their English equivalents, even they are not entirely free of substantialist and idealist nuance. To render thugs as “mind” or “consciousness” would only make matters worse. Not only do these terms miss out on the range of meanings that attach to “spirit” and “spirituality,” they perpetuate the fallacy of reducing to a “thing” what is really a dynamic center that radiates in all directions, animates the whole of our life, and “touches” us in every activity and dimension.

The consequences of seeing corporeality and spirituality as degrees of intensity are far-reaching. At one stroke, this standpoint demolishes the naive dualism that has inflicted upon us an obsession with things–material and immaterial–and opens us to the liberating idea of pure process in which all opposites are ultimately dissolved. Note the following passage in the SGra-thal-‘gyur-ba,

Since anyone endowed with a body (lus-can) is pervaded by mind/mentation (sems)
There does not exist anyone endowed with mind/mentation (sems-can) who does not [exemplify the process of the] dissipation [of old and worn-out structures, sangs] and the unfolding [of new dynamic regimes, rgyas]

Translating the passage into modern language, the living body is “matter” occupying space according to its degree of intensity. Insofar as this intensity is not perverted by the conceptualizing-reifying intellect, it is what we have called “spirituality” (thugs). Put in more experiential terms, our very corporeality is our spirituality in the sense that both are an expression of a single superordinate potentiality that has become real in our Befindlichkeit (roughly “contextuality” “situatedness”) and attunement to a wholeness into whose fullness we must grow.

(Herbert Guenther, Ecstatic Spontaneity. Saraha’s Three Cycles of Doha

HARRIET GRATWICK: Well, explain epistemology, it’s …

CHARLES OLSON: Oh, how you know. Or the belief that we–that there is knowing. And it was invented by a man named Plato. Episteme is his invention, and it’s one of the most dangerous inventions in the world is the idea that there is such a thing as knowledge. But if you take it the process way, again, to talk like any of us here that comes to this point in the century, [Arthur M.] Young here is wonderful talking how I mean process. I think he loses the other thing, the Real, by saying it, and involving himself with words like “determinism.” But, that’s O.K., I mean one is apt to overfall today because the work is so crucial.

(Under the Mushroom, anthologized in Muthologos Charles Olson Lectures and Interviews)

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Brief, Not Very Olsonian Reflections: The Prize

On Saturday I was chosen to cap a conference, Soul In Buffalo; A three-day free conference aimed to celebrate and explore Charles Olson’s legacy and extension through A Curriculum of the Soul.

This honored closing position expressed a counter-intuitive programming choice, because I am not an Olsonian. Yet, obviously, since I wasn’t going to weigh in at the end with poetry, poetics, research, or scholarly fireworks, I was, nevertheless, given the opportunity to bring some other set of capabilities to bear on the proceedings.

What I could do and what I did sort of manage to do is bring the conference to a close on wings of experience and play and collaborative grappling with a very simple creative problem. Taking this creative problem first, I asked the group to participate in a squareONE tool, Hunting and Gathering, and use it to bring several explicit things into greater focus, and, as well, bring whatever the process might evoke into their collaborative field of experiential play and creativity.

The more conceptual group playing with the Gods

I will tender the explicit things momentarily. What might of happened references what is my usual way of facilitating Hunting and Gathering. This usually happens within a slice of time able to support my gentle guidance of an experiential process to its important goals. Those goals exist on a continuum stretched on one end between learning with enough gravity to support testing or further experimentation, and, on the other end, learning which is galvanizing to the point of an a-ha.

Yet, this time out the time slice ended up being compressed to about an hour. As Idries Shah once put it, “time takes time.” So, with this lessened time I quickly had to make a few strategic decisions. This has happened on a few occasions in the past, but I have never intentionally turned a finely tuned process into a grand experiment–as I ended up doing on Saturday.

I framed, (or ‘primed,’) the group’s experience by introducing several factors, in the form of musings. I told the group I wasn’t an Olsonian, but had come to this conference by virtue of remarkable serendipities having to do with encounters with friends-who-were Olsonians. Then I very briefly pointed out that soul might have something to do with creating together via relationships, and using as its raw stuff the discoveries found in exploration. I hoped the experience I was offering would drive some into the experience of soul in real-time. And, my personalization brought up what seem to me an essential feature of soulful working together: its human contingencies are fragile, and yet, are loving too.

(I recognize here my prejudice too: deep soul is very human, rather than very esoteric!)

The sharpest suggestion I made was this: whatever learning comes to happen may be referenced in his or her reflection on a personal intention I had them generate. However, in my strategic alteration of the process I understood going in to it, I would never learn anything about their learning.

The love network group working and playing.

What unfolded was pretty damn amazing, even by my experienced standards. I do not debrief my work for all the world to read and see, but it is enough to tell of a quickening vibration that rose like heat waves off a desert.

The Prize.

I had split the group into two sections and both worked on their collaborative graphic. The differentiation of approach, as I felt it and as I mused over the ‘consequence of approach,’ was very telling about challenges not much spoken of in the two days of stunning contributions I witnessed. The general challenge is about how various bodies of work come to persist, be sustained, grow, and, in the soulful turn, come to have positive effects on the growth of consciousness as this is individually rendered in the alchemical cooker of devoted, unsparing, deeply humanized, relationship.

oiled snake
psychedelic reverb
straight no chaser

spot your choices

still have to live
alive among
each other

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Soul In Buffalo November 18, 19, 20

Charles Olson

Charles Olson Teaching Spirals

A three-day free conference will celebrate and explore Charles Olson’s legacy and extension through A Curriculum of the Soul, a series of poetic essays published as fascicles by Albert Glover and John C. (Jack) Clarke.

Riffs, Research and Resistance

With Albert Glover, Daniel Zimmerman, Michael Bylebyl, David Tirrell, Michael Boughn, B. Cass Clarke, Victor Coleman, Steve McCaffery, Stephen Baraban, John Roche, Andre Spears, Joen Napora, Stephen Ellis, Alan Casline and Kenneth Warren.

Nov. 18 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Poetry Room at UB, 420 Capen Hall

Nov. 19 & 20 11 a.m. – 4 p.m. Karpeles Manuscript Museum, 453 Porter Ave.

squareONE toolmakers, as in yours truly, will be providing the tool Hunting and Gathering and using it to go playing with gods–in an experiential playing, and digging, and reaching, for soul; as the last event on Saturday. (See below)

Schedule – Soul In Buffalo

Thursday November 18 – Poetry Room at UB – 420 Capen Hall

11 – 11:40 A CURRICULUM OF THE SOUL: AN INTRODUCTION – Albert Glover

11:40 – 12:00 A CURRICULUM OF THE SOUL: AN ACCOUNT – B. Cass Clarke

12:00 – 12:45 THE COST BENEFIT RATIO: AN INQUIRY – Albert Glover,
Pat Glover, and B. Cass Clarke. Moderated by Alan Casline

12:45 – 1 Break

1 – 1:20 WHAT IS A SOUL AND WHY MIGHT IT NEED A CURRICULUM – Michael Boughn

1:20 – 2:00 IN THE OFFING – Daniel Zimmerman

2:00 – 2:40 PERSON AND TEXT: A CONVERSATION – Michael Boughn, Daniel
Zimmerman, Michael Bylebyl and Victor Colman. Moderated by John Roche.

3:00 – 3:10 POETRY IN FATHAR – David Tirrell

3:10 – 4:00 READING FROM A CURRICULUM OF THE SOUL – Albert Glover,
Daniel Zimmerman, Michael Bylebyl, David Tirrell, Michael Boughn

Friday November 19 – Karpeles Manuscript Museum – 453 Porter Avenue

11 – 11:30 THE MUSHROOM – Albert Glover

11:30 -12 ROOTDRINKER RESONANCE – Alan Casline

12 – 12:30 – JACK CLARKE”S HOMEWORK – Charles Palau

12:30 – 1:00 WRITING THE CUR(S)E: THE MISSING PROJECT IN PROJECTIVE
VERSE – Joe Napora

1:00 – 1:30 Break

1:30 – 2:00 BRITISH SOUL AND ITS CURRICULUM(S): NOTES ON OLSON AT
KENT – André Spears

2:00 – 2:30 A CURRICULUM OF THE SOUL: JOHN THORPE – Stephen Ellis

2:30 – 3:00 NATURE AS SCRIPT – John Martone

3 – 3:30 OLSON, MAYAN, ETHNOPOETICS, LANGUAGE SYSTEMS AND SAINT
AUGUSTINE – Steve McCaffery

3:30 – 4:00 OPEN SPACE DISCUSSION – Steve Tills

Saturday November 20 – Karpeles Manuscript Museum – 453 Porter Avenue

11 – 11:30 WHAT’S UP IN A NUMBER, 23 SKIDOO, AND GERRIT LANSING’S
ANALYTIC PSYCHOLOGY – Robert Podgurski

11:30 -12:00 BETWEEN LANGUAGE AND TA’WIL: ROBERT CREELEY, JACK CLARKE
AND POETICS IN BUFFALO AFTER OLSON – Kenneth Warren

12:00 – 12:30 JACK BE NIMBLE: ON JACK CLARKE’S GLOUCESTER TRANSLATIONS
– Stephen Baraban

12:30 – 1:00 DUNCAN AND JOEL, THE ECOLOGY OF THE SOUL – David Landrey

1:00 -1:30 Break

1:30 – 2:00 ONE HERO: APOLLONIUS OF TYANA – IMPLICATIONS FOR THE
SOUL: A CONVERSATION – Kitty Jospé

2:00 – 3:30 PLAYING WITH THE GODS: A MOMENT FOR EXPERIENTIAL LEARNING
IN A CURRICULUM OF THE SOUL – Stephen Calhoun

3:30 – 4:00 OPEN SPACE MUSIC WRAP-UP – Kevin Doyle

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WOODSHED WITH CHARLES OLSON

“History” (excerpt from A Bibliography On America For Ed Dorn)

click to see large version
“Theory” Theory of Society

click to see large version
(source: Additional Prose of Charles Olson Four Seasons Foundation 1974)


I offer three pages for closer inspection, the only way to start —

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CHARLES OLSON

I, Maximus of Gloucester, to You

HUMAN UNIVERSE

Introduction

There are laws, that is to say, the human universe is as discoverable as that other. And as definable.

The trouble has been, that a man stays so astonished he can triumph over his own incoherence, he settles for that, crows over it, and goes at a day again happy he at least makes a little sense. Or, if he says anything to another, he thinks it is enough–the struggle does involve such labor and some terror–to wrap it in a little mystery: ah, the way is hard but this is what you find if you go it.

The need now is a cooler one, a discrimination, and then, a shout. Der Weg stirbt, sd one. And was right, was he not? Then the question is: was ist der Weg?

SeE

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