The Ecstasy of Associative Thinking

(13 May 2012)

Posted in Nick Thran, Past Classes

Instructor: Nick Thran
Dates: 3 Sundays May 13, 20, and 27 from 12PM to 4PM
Location: Downtown Toronto location to be announced

How might we engage in both a rigorous and creative discussion about the poetics of pleasure? How do we do so in a way that doesn’t drain the process itself of pleasure? What do we even mean by ‘pleasure’ in poetry? Isn’t your pleasure different from my pleasure? What on earth could this possibly have to do with a creative practice?

Participants will to come to class with some lines or a stanza from a poem of someone’s that brings them pleasure. Then, over three weeks, they will take those lines on a micro-odyssey through different artistic mediums and other writings, as well as through some combination of personal experience, scientific experiment, philosophical speculation, psychoanalysis, etc. Every week you will creatively document and present your associations to the class.

[An example: Perhaps Seidel’s lines: “I love the way the dandelion/ goes about its business of briefly being” make you involuntarily salivate. And then you recently saw some work in a book about the graffiti artist Roadsworth, in which dandelion seeds were painted to appear to be blowing off of the white lines of parking spaces. You will bring in pictures and write a passage about your encounter with this work. Then the seeds get you thinking about the seeds floating through the field in the video for “Svefn-G-Englar” by Sigur Ros (wait, were there actual seeds, or did the dancers movements just seem that delicate?). So you write about the dancers. Or you write about seeing Sigur Ros for the first time in a church on a rainy night in Vancouver ten years ago with your boyfriend who had terrible allergies. And those allergies get you researching the most unfortunate sneezes ever captured in news conferences. So you find a few of those and bring them to class. And then that gets you thinking about the brief, bright burnout of Western political campaign culture. And then you start to write a poem…]

Your fellow participants will bring their own associative capabilities and experiences to bear and ask you questions. We will cheer as the lines you love journey out into the culture. Further! Stranger! More Beautiful! We will say.

One could think about this as a reading course in which participants decide individually upon a core phrase. Then they will both gather and create supra-textual material as they go along. One could think about this as a writing course, throwing meat onto the skeleton of a future epic poem or fiction. Participants will be expected to do work outside of class in addition to participating in the discussion and presentations.

For guidance, part of each class will be devoted to discussing some sample work from skilled associative thinkers like Eileen Myles, Dave Hickey, Lawrence Weschler, Roberto Bolaño and Anne Carson. This material will be provided in a small course pack.

Price: $150.00



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