Thursday, August 21, 2008

How often do we have ideas?

My little nephew, noting that I always carry a notebook asked me, “Uncle Gary, how often do you have an idea?”

Inflatable house.

A razor can shave a table but not itself.

We can imagine our lives as a turnip but it wouldn’t help.

I was surprisingly unsure of the answer.

Kindness / kindness // trees

What exactly constitutes ‘an idea’?

Sandwich topping, written on a menu: “alphalpha”

What is the process of “having” an idea? A scribble? A fully formed notion?


What’s a ‘new’ idea? How different does it need to be?

Colour is the deeds & suffering of light – Goethe. What’s language?

Noting some new aspect or relationship—is that an ‘idea’?

Letters exist in 4D space, the spacetime of thought, ideas, language. What are the basic forces of this language spacetime? Meaning? the visual? verbal? oral? grammatical? aesthetic? physiological?

Is imagining an umbilical cord coming out of a semi-colon a new idea? If I’ve done antlers, are tree roots different? What if it was the letter ‘A’?

The window framed / the thumb print

Not a period for a bindi, a semi-colon.

If you have an idea that you've had before, but think it is new, is it 'new' then?

Kindness / kindness / kingness

Can you have part of an idea? Something like the bun without the meat of an idea?

One day, after months of trying, K. found himself transformed into a giant insect.


troylloyd said...

K. sure is acting
bugged-out lately.

; )

i recently bought a small German edition of that story " Die Verwandlung" printed by Reclam & in the back they have a repro of his original handschrift squiggly written longhand, he has nice m's & beautiful g's.

i love little notebooks. an idea can strike at any moment & it needs to be written down, sometimes not all ideas are activated, but then again sometimes a germinal idea upon re-reading will fructify an even better idea.

ideas in action are what the hokey pokey is all about. (shake 'em all around)

i love yr A= langroot,
as yr idea has been presented to an audience, the idea has been activated, it has activated others who're looking, but this germinal seed may grow into a series or refined into more polish'd form -- are our ideas ever fully finally finished?

waitress: whatya have?

i'll have an alphalpha sammich witha side of betabet chips.

waitress: we're fresh outta betabet chips,sorry.

customer: oh, gimme some XYZ instead.

new can only happen once.

can new be modified?

mostly, it's contextual.
Roy Lichenstein didn't do anything new, but he did something new.

"What’s language? "
language is the most abstract invention humans have invented, even more abstract than numbers.

this is a table, thump.


i have taken note of Kenneth Goldsmith's nuance of appropriation -- is rewriting the newspaper especially fresh? relevant? rewarding to reader? is it a new idea? is it even an idea?

i like yr umbilical cord idea, i was reading about the practices of a Native American tribe (i forget which) & it was one of their traditions to coil their umbilical cord inna pouch & wear it around their neck, absolutely beautiful -- i wish i still had my umbilical cord , it is both me & my mother, physically feeding the connection.

here's an idea from one of my "idea notebooks" if i ever have an exhibition or something unlikely like that...

curtain piece.

beige curtains all painted up.

viewer must pull the cord to open curtains to see another piece.

once pulled open, viewer sees mini-blinds (with some kind of textual vispo)

viewer must twist rod to open blind slats.

once blind slats are open, viewer sees a painting/collage w/ the text:
"what did you expect to see?"

request to "please close after viewing"

possibilities are possible

gary barwin said...


Thanks for all your comments and ideas.

I don't know about an umbilical cord around the neck, but as a student, I used to have an umbilical card -- my parent's Visa. It is, supposedly, an old Jewish tradition to bury the foreskin beneath a tree. My wife's aunt buried the foreskin of her son in a small cactus. When he got married, she presented the cactus to his wife. Decode the symbolism on that one!

Kafka's manuscripts are available online at

They do have a striking visual presence -- like his famous little image series of a man at a desk, fenced in, etc.

I do wonder how the occasion of a notebook, a computer, even a particular kind of pen can be the event for writing, for a new idea. A certain kind of pen seems to contain within it a certain pace or texture of thought, word, image.

troylloyd said...

thanx for the K. link!

great, now i wish i had my foreskin, thanx alot Gary!
; )

LOL @ Visa umbilical card !!!
: )
: )
: )

" I do wonder how the occasion of a notebook, a computer, even a particular kind of pen can be the event for writing, for a new idea. A certain kind of pen seems to contain within it a certain pace or texture of thought, word, image.

indeed indeed, i was hooked on these cheap notebooks from Target that were great for my operational process, but apparently they don't make/distribute them anymore -- now i'm stone-cold addicted to the Japanese APICA brand notebooks, in particular the 105 x 148.

i have many many many writing utensils (including a soldering iron!), but for my daily writing/scribblings & carrywith, i can't live w/o a uni-ball vision 0.7mm -- i love those pens!

& yr right about the differing qualities of pens & what they give the writer when the pens unique properties become accustomed to the writer -- line thicknesses, ink bleed, smoothness, pressure etc. -- sometimes a pen that may give difficulty may also provide an alternate mode of operation.

i also like Sanford MeanStreak marking sticks.

my techniques are very different in the paper vs. puter arena, both avenues yield their own beauties/astonishment -- but i definitely prefer the paper/pen combo.

it was my encounter/education with discovering Geof Huth's poetic operations that gave leafy seed in treetops of texture -- writing can occur at anytime, on any thing, anywhere & with any kind of scriptive tool -- it was a major revelation for me & widened my eyes to the possible possibilities in the everywhere everyday everything as poetry.

i am indebted to him for that gift.
: )