The Spirit is a Bone: A Diagrammatic Curatorial Brochure
LISTEN WHILE READING THE INTRODUCTION
Riveted by bones: Hegelian bones. Here, twenty-one poetic voices are seventeen such femurs, coccyges, incudes, ulnas which allow for the spirit’s intelligibility via “hot glittering data” (Banzhaf). Each piece glistens with at least one moment of nineteenth-century German idealist Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s three-moment dialectical method. The (fluttering) precarity of definition; the (sore) inward turn of self-sublation—divisive through to the stretchy satisfaction of self-supersession; and determined negation (vanishing acts) wherein negation presences as content intermingled forth from its oppositional progenitors—hermaphroditic leopard slugs to their halogen violet rose—they slough off, as divided phoenixes with their other’s gametes newly enclosed—the lingering suspense of union remembered in singular forms, socially bent forth into the vast perpetuity of continuation. Spirit is slugs’ coitus rose; David Herbert Lawrence’s plasmatic, running flame ‘the perfect rose’ minimally sustained. Such is the ‘reserved power’ of Verdugo Lash’s speaker: a master-subject self-enslaves, baring bone as bated breath to presence spirit’s “feast.”
The maraschino stem I tongue-tied to stimulate interpretive poetic making a year ago derives from Hegel’s 1807 Phenomenology of Spirit §343. Hegel, orbiting questions regarding the new science of phrenology’s capacity to make the spirit tangible by palpating the topography of a skull, comes to assert: “the being of Spirit is a bone” (Miller/Pinkard). Hegel’s idealist Spirit (‘Geist’) is not a diaphanous entity acting on the astral plane, not a gossamer chattel of the metaphysical domain, but rather, a “self-conscious force of life” and “a fundamental relation among persons” (Pinkard). Such is the interpretive heart motorizing this issue. These bones are chain links of flickering translucence suspended from time (Hammond). Ah, evanescence. To see the bare presence of ‘essence’ despite the tripping clock’s eraser. The founder of Forensic Architecture, Eyal Weizman, riffs on Hegel to describe how the “forever elusive” nature of spirit necessitates that it must “be captured in the inertia of a rigid, dead, debased kind of object” (Broomberg). Enter the poem. Poem-song, poem-essay, poem-bronze. Poetry’s necromantic affiliations are weathered. Glyphöric ‘wither’d-leaves’ (Shelley) are magical urns from which the dead return with a breath. The momentary reification of spirit from bone is an emergent occurrence in declension like the definition of a form’s ‘being’ which provisionally depends on entertaining its oppositions. So, we cast a series of orphic bridges that go “forth and back” in the void’s unendurable calm (Dime). Death and literal death. A faded red baseball cap outside the Greyhound station. A Henry Kissinger whose mouth lags historical on the offbeat of the raw matter of pure poetry (Brunning). If Geist is the inter-nös—the space between—if inert bone is its messenger-container, we float in the shipping crate-cum-housing units of Frank and Hammoud’s T’karonto on tracks with unceasing stations. Cicada-husked civilization’s metastasis spreads through bubble-wrapped Amazonian mastectomies (‘slithering down torsos’ sploshing ‘foamywhite cornea’ [Colquhoun]); milk-laden (Black; Mohammadi).
I > II
Thesis, antithesis, synthesis. Define day defines night defines day. Hydrogen + oxygen = wetness. Internal to external. Upon the first X-Ray, December 1895, Mrs. Roentgen, inventor wife, left hand, her wedding band, “partial epidermis” (Lee), said: “I have seen my death!” (Nitske). Pourtant, qui n’a serré dans ses bras un squellete? (Baudelaire). Deathlife visible. Water to wine to blood. Upside down/right-side up; identically doubled in sapphic cups (Clarahan). The initial is-ness of these poems is rarely stable. Speakers assume external eyes within hermetic systems; they are aerial pyro-bats who flap against the vaulted ceiling of a self-sealed mind until those alienating barriers melt towards metaphorical communion, and the fragrant condensation of spirit joins the plane of omniscience (Lafleur). Gypsum shards in the obliterative space of forgetting, yet “fucking daffodils” haunt the poetic anti-dwelling (Mohammadi); their seeds always invoking the “hinterland” (Frank and Hammoud), flowers that are “half-belonging to everywhere at once” (Lee). Split as a body-base “glued in concrete to the floor, the top of me replaced with rubber” (Fatima). Concretism met by mallet (Flemmer) cracks open the aperture of staged progression:
II > III
In the aperture, after the gates we dance at with Banzhaf, lies a flow-state of identifiers. Hologram rainbow. Between moments two and three, the multivalent aufheben gapes: to abolish, cancel, keep, lift, preserve, transcend, relever [Derrida], suspend, sublate. Unguent pistil oeuvre ouvrir. The third skyward “up” after descension and torn volcanic rock (Hinds). Liquidity of *gestures outward* the famous sea/C (Dime; Banzhaf); intermingling “wave and serf” (Frank and Hammoud) under the zenith of an emblematic kiss (Bradford; Woodhead), its synthesizing colour wheel beyond the glyph. Keats’ nightingale wine on the lips. Drenched red. Rose with two roots proprioceptively sensed as a balladeer submits to one determined river the threaded crow’s way (Forman) to the crow’s nest (Dime). Abyssal rest.
I present you with an excess borne of commingling nonentity. In the words of Hegel: “[J]ust as well as one can imagine the flying cow, that first was caressed by the crab, that was riding on the donkey, etc. etc.” (§335).
Please enjoy my suggested order of these artworks. To allow readerly palpations to be what liberates the abstract (spirit) via bone (art object), these works merely speak, wraithlike, where possible. There are § indications below to Hegelian mirrors from PoS.
Frances Verdugo Lash’s “Is This What My Body Sings?” (1:11)
§325: “Now for spiritual individuality to have an effect on the body it must, qua cause, be itself corporeal. The corporeal element, however, in which it acts as cause is that organ, but the organ not of action against external reality, but of the internal action of the self-conscious being operating outwards only against its own body.”
Sofia Banzhaf’s “Final Gaze” (2:17)
An usher, violet (crown chakra), in bellhop’s weeds guides the viewer through a deterministic roller coaster track at an alienated theme park. Banzhaf’s shimmery voice, a chiffon, grazes over reflective cuts in self-consciousness vis-a-vis significant union. The speaker’s closing wish casts our issue’s rosebud spell.
Flora Hammond’s “reflections on translucent shimmer // unripe door”
The issue’s sunrise map. Ancestral open, centrifugally ringed, floating in violet non-space, miraculously visible links.
D.M. Bradford’s “what comes first?” (2:39)
“The trysting tenses of selfhood. What goes unsaid and received by the ideal counterpart. The secret, percussive garden, folding in on themself”—Bradford.
Asher Woodhead’s “Colour of a Kiss” ft. Caitlin Woelfle-O’Brien (3:38)
“Strong emotions can produce an aura in patients who experience some other somatic synesthesia […] a kiss produces a visual kaleidoscope intermingled with textures that she feels ‘everywhere’” (Cytowic, 25, 27).
Susan Clarahan’s “69 Chalices”
“In Catholicism they say something like ‘drink of my blood and eat of my body and you will have eternal life.’ The snakes [underside of patens] represent the feminine sexual element that was banished from the church, and it's actually the way to achieve Heaven”— Clarahan.
Émilie Lafleur’s “The Unchurched” and “Ash Wednesday”
Dashed enjambments hasten disruptions inherent to the structures that house self-consciousness. The voice is pure orientation in a spirited relational universe. Broadcaster, lover, God. “I said software again for only the second/ Time.”
Julian Dime’s “shipwreckt”
§327: “This being-within-itself, however, is by its very nature a fluid system, in which the circles cast into it immediately dissolve, and in which no lasting distinction is expressed.”
Sara Frank and Melana H’s “On Containment: A Dialectic”
Jane-Jacobs-core co-flâneuses open the aperture onto co-poetic co-contemplation of the role of the cellular shipping container in present-day T’karonto.
Madeleine Black’s “Synthetic Self-Portrait Series” + “Stones & Bones” (0:57)
An orchestral prehistory of civilization envisioned in bones—the liminal interplay of ruin and construction—destruct-o-match—the self-body transmuting space 1-2, 2-3. Sparking.
Jun-long Lee’s “A Summons” (1:11)
Conduit. Passage of interiors known by their fluid traces. The “bridal train” of succession: “Each place can be read as a/ donation from one to another, carrying femurs to be hidden in their/ common features.”
Harrison Forman’s “Two Roots of a Rose” ft. Pat Lefler with illumination by Britt Elise Grayson (4:36)
Forman’s speaker casts a love spell (a summons) in stringed harmonies with Lefler’s voice. A dialectical anchor for the figure of synthesis in which the raw red flower is the idealized fruit.
Grayson’s luminary brush suspends in paint the “nervous quiver” of generative becoming, instinctual expression and naturalistic flow.
Catherine Fatima’s “Commentary on the Apocalypse”
“The imposition of contrasting colours articulates form better than direct transcription.” Erudite sentences are gymnasts coursing the mental landscape of a three-piece material progression. “A forensics of fruition and design. Visual conclusions satisfy, settle, quiet.” Tapestries are weft in string.
Kyle Flemmer’s “The Death of Concrete Poetry” (0:25)
To destroy solidity is to know the pixelated atomic. Aufheben.
Khashayar “Kess” Mohammadi’s “The Poem I Forgot” (4:27)
§346. “The depth which spirit brings forth from within—but only as far as its picture-thinking consciousness about what it really is saying, are the same conjunction of the high and the low which, in the living being, Nature naïvely expresses when it combines the organ of its highest fulfilment, the organ of generation, with the organ of urination.”
Sarah Brunning’s “Lee McClure Obituary” (0:24)
In loving memory of Lee McClure July 29, 1983 – December 29, 2022
Joseph Hinds’s "I fly up, up, up” (1:00)
§341. “The unitary being, qua a being-for-itself or negative being, stands in antithesis to the universal, draws away from it, and remains free for itself, so that the Notion, being realized only in the element of absolute singleness and isolation, does not find in organic existence its true expression, viz. to be present as a universal, but remains an outer or, what is the same thing, an inner of organic Nature. […] [A]n existence, however, which gets lost, so that the moment demonstrates itself to be a pure movement […]” The outward gaze of subject consciousness aims Icarus, descends to the cocoa biscuit substrate of winter’s fondant, season of death, quiet contrasts. Transcendence pony.
Gabo, Em Shaw, Bisou (S. Cowan) and Cowboy (Z. Jones & K. Rothberger).
Bone muzak by Harrison Forman.
—Ali Pinkney, Curator
Baudelaire, Charles. “Danse Macabre.” The Flowers of Evil. Translated by Nathan Brown, Anteism Books, 2021.
Broomberg, Adam, and Oliver Chanarin. “Spirit is a Bone: Adam Broomberg and Oliver Chanarin in Conversation with Eyal Weizman.” Spirit is a Bone. Mack Books UK, 2015.
Cytowic, Richard E. Synesthesia. Massachusetts Institution of Technology, 2002.
Colquhoun, Ithell. Goose of Hermogenes. Peter Owen Publishers, 1961.
Derrida, Jacques. “Différance.” Margins of Philosophy. Translated by Alan Bass, University of Chicago Books, 1982.
Keats, John. “Ode to a Nightingale.” Lamia, Isabella, The Eve of St. Agnes and other Poems. Taylor and Hessey, 1820.
Lawrence, DH. “The Poetry of the Present.” New Poems, BW Huebsch, 1920.
Hegel, GWF. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by AV Miller, Oxford University Press, 1979.
Hegel, GWF. Phenomenology of Spirit. Translated by Terry Pinkard, Cambridge University Press, 2018.
Nitske, W. Robert. The Life of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen, discoverer of the X ray. University of Arizona Press, 1971.
Prynne, JH. “Aristeas in Seven Years.” The White Stones. New York Review Books, 2016.
Shelley, Percy Bysshe. “Ode to the West Wind.” Prometheus Unbound, A Lyrical Drama in Four Acts, With Other Poems. C. and J. Ollier, 1820.
Ali Pinkney is a poet and double master. She is focused on completing her novel Osedax about a bone-eating marine worm discovered in the Monterey Canyon in the year 2002. Her obscure publication Tampion was published during the dawn of Metatron Press in 2014 and she has since been a judge for the Metatron Prize. Pinkney earned her BA English Literature & Creative Writing (2017) and her MA English Literature (2021) at Concordia University in Tiotiá:ke/Mooniyang/Montréal, QC. She then earned her MA Creative Writing (2023) at the University of Toronto in T’karonto/Toronto, ON. These studies were variously supported by a Steinberg Scholarship, a Fellowship with the Faculty of Arts & Sciences, a David McKeen Award, a SSHRC Canada Graduate Scholarship, and an Avie Bennett Award. Pinkney has nearly exclusively released work under the pressure of solicitation, though her publication history is available on her website. She has edited for academic literary journals such as Soliloquies Anthology and Echolocation Magazine and she was the only guest editor that Bad Nudes Magazine ever had. She is a member of Filip Marinovich’s Shakespearean Motley College based in New York and has held poetic residencies at The Banff Centre and The Homeschool Hudson. She started the travelling poetry and performance art carnival Calliope with Marie Ségolène two years ago. She teaches literature and creative writing at various campuses and colleges at the University of Toronto, and lives in their vicinity in a turret, like Friedrich Hölderlin.