I THINK THINGS ARE PRECIOUS
A work of expanded short fiction that tells a story about a kid set the task of writing one hundred lines as a punishment. It responds to Emmett Williams’s ‘Cellar Song for Five Voices’ (c. 1960) from An Anthology of Chance Operations (1963), an artists’ book designed and edited by artists who went on to form Fluxus. ‘Cellar Song’ uses permutation, the mathematical theory and practice of changing the linear order of a set of items. Once you understand how the work is made, its meaning is conveyed visually and musically, as you notice the patterns of words and spaces between them rhythmically changing. This provided a model for my long-overdue hundred lines. By giving them a visual weight different from that of the frame narrative, readers can engage with line variations as images, so the story hovers between narrative and visual modes of expression and interpretation. It also relates to my scholarly and practice-led research with ‘scores’, a generously ambiguous term that may refer to a self- contained linguistic thing, as well as a thing conveying instructions for physical, verbal or musical actions to be reinterpreted. ‘I think things are precious’ was performed as part of Outcome Unknown’s Exploratory Music Concerts series (#52, 2020).
Image: Caren Florance, from ‘404: The page you have entered does not exist’.