Friday, August 20, 2010

Eight Short Films about Architecture

Today's excerpt is from G.C. Waldrep's essay, "Eight Short Films about Architecture." There are actually two Waldrep pieces in the current issue (vol. 7, no. 1). The other is a poem, "In Memory of Domestic Life." The Editorial Board decided to publish one as nonfiction and the other as a poem. Needless to say this caused some discussion around the office.

As Jodee Stanley, editor of Ninth Letter, says in her Editor's Note for the issue, "Here at Ninth Letter, we've never been known for our strict adherence to genre definitions; on the contrary, we've been pretty outspoken about our interest in examining, stretching, blurring, and even shattering the boundaries that define all types of creative genres." Discussing the edges of genre and where and why they blur became an unofficial theme of the issue (see also: the contributor notes where the writers were asked how they define their work in terms of genre and my interview with Cathy Day in the Where We're At section).

Back to Waldrep, why is one a poem and one is an essay? 9L staffer tackles that question in "On Genre: An Introductory Note." But before quoting from Matt's note, here is an excerpt from "Eight Short Films About Architecture."

In the middle of the night certain noises resolve themselves into raccoons, mice, ghosts, or else the proverbial settling of the house, the implication of architecture.

Architecture may be defined as the spatial arrangements of occupancy, that is, the myriad if particular ways of remaining where one already is.

A diurnal architecture resolves itself into windows, feints at the attractive illusion that the architecture itself is not real. That the architecture in the act of revealing itself reveals, in fact, something else, its own absence.

Certain vectors tangent to architecture may include both tenure and transportation. Each of these is responsible for directing its own sublimation into form.

A nocturnal architecture, on the other hand, may involve the improvisational performance of any number of beings and vectors whose admission to the premises cannot be vouched for. Bruce Naumann produced intricate films of such performances.

Film, of course, being itself an architecture, aesthetically pleasing merger of day and night.

* * *

Our interest in the essay and the poem was not only the classification question they prompted. Initial interest was fueled by the beauty of the words, the mood each piece invoked. Matt writes in his introductory note, "But I think these two pieces need each other, to talk back and forth between the pages of this issue. Each is different, perhaps even better, as a result of their 'complicated alchemy.'"

To read the rest of "Eight Short Films About Architecture" as well as "In Memory of Domestic Life," Cathy Day's comments on genre, and what are other authors had to say about such classifications, pick up a copy of Ninth Letter (vol. 7, no, 1) in our webstore.

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