Saturday October 15th, 2022 1PM—3:30PM Pacific over Zoom
“Form is about listening.”
– Teresa Carmody
“The ear is the first organ to develop in the fetus and the last one to stop functioning during the process of death. This prominence at the beginning and end of our life cycle indicates that the ear may hold valuable keys to the mysteries of life…While our eyes help light our path through this world, we also know that we came from darkness and will return to darkness…
Where we cannot see, sound can guide us.”
– Russill Paul, The Yoga of Sound
“The only way to know the world or think about the world is to think with it, is to participate with/in it, is to intervene, and make marks upon it – even as those marks are made on our own bodies in the selfsame moment. The idea that there is a place to occupy, a privileged site upon which to perch ourselves and with unbothered feathers look out on the world, a place outside the world that is pure and uncluttered (or perhaps deep within ourselves in its promising interiority) from which we can view everything… a view from nowhere and everywhere at once… is the epistemic affordance of geophysical and colonial stability. To know is to navigate speciated territories of corporeal exchanges. To know is to come unhinged, to be bruised, to be beaten, to be broken. To know is to be filleted and de-fleshed. It is to have stretch marks penned on the body, the fonts of an encounter, echoes of an obstruction. One does not think without becoming something else.”
– Bayo Akomolafe
“I think particularly of the English sentence, which forces one to begin with a subject, a kind of encapsulated self or other that speaks, sees, knows, or, in the case of objects, a subjectivity that presumes grasp-ability.”
– Renee Gladman
“How could we be one, or two, or three? We are more gerund than cold, hard noun. More animacy than strictly animal. We ensoul the world and are ensouled in return. Our myths about individuation and linearity no longer hold all the trouble. And all the love. We need to stop sticking out our two hands like it proves everything comes in oppositional dualisms. How many hands does the tree have? The peony? The pileated woodpecker? How many hands is the mycelium using to crochet intimacy from plant to tree to plant through the soil?”
– Sophie Strand, The Flowering Wand
What is the language with which you move through the world, through which you think, experience, and “are”? Where does that language come from and what does it say about who you are, how you have come to be, how you continue to become, your environment, your privileges, your contextual entanglement with the world around you? When you look closely at just one sentence you have written, how does the sentence enact the performance of your existence and relationship to the world? What method of reading does your writing invite?
Both the sentence and the structure of the story represent and enact particular ways of seeing the world, being in the world, relating to the world. Seemingly simple sentences can enact particular value systems and ideologies: privileging the individual or the subject; an emphasis on action and doing, rather than existing; the emphasis on things or nouns and on static boundaries of beingness; the belief in cause and effect or causality in general; the buying into linear (and capitalist notions of) time; the glorification of triumph or the hero’s journey; the assumption that conflict is the main mechanism for story or happening; the erasure of alternate ways of inter-being…
We often glean meaning from the overall structure of a story, the narrative shape revealing something about subjects like reality, transformation, life and death. And before the story, there is the sentence, which can reveal an entire worldview through the shape it assumes, through the relationships it maps, which ideological systems it upholds, what power structures it validates simply through its grammar.
This is an invitation to listen to form, to ourselves, to the stories that are already here inside and around us. We will delve into spiritual being, ecological storytelling, and grammatical sense-making via craft discussions, guided meditation, intuition/shamanic practices, generative writing prompts, and inquiry/investigation of our own writing.
Bring: A single sentence from your own writing.
Suggested Reading: “On the Limits and Possibilities of the Sentence” by Janice Lee (Catapult)