Plural Players

From the conclusion to Caroline Bayard’s The New Poetics in Canada and Quebec: From Concretism to Post-Modernism.

And this in itself is what distances all the avant-garde (old or new, from concretism to la modernité through futurism and constructivism) from post-modernism. History is on our threshold and it is made of many stories, hers and yours. Its threads will be woven together, by many hands, in a multi-layered process. No unitary voice speaks from its components, but the many voices and the many whispers which have long been silenced and now emerge to question the very possibility of totality and finality. Theirs is an open, in-process history: scribes at work, scribes who listen and share their voices.

Perhaps it is a fitting postmodern move to mix metaphors: weaving & speaking. It seems there is some room to consider silencing as a scribal move. Some silencing is not intentional — it amounts to questions of attention. Listening is in a sense devoting continuing attention (this is a scribal function) and it is not always one’s own voice that is shared by such attention giving. The postmodern condition is also an openness to the other (this is not a by and for the other — there is a pluralism and its appropriations at work). Still having trouble moving from the work of hands to the sharing of voice. I am helped by imagining two sets of actants: weavers and speakers (and some overlap between them). Venn diagrams provide a satisfying view of the multiple possibilities of playing with the plural.

And so for day 897

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