Tuesday, April 05, 2011

Dark Chaucer: An Assortment (Call for Contributions)

by EILEEN JOY

. . . for recent sociologists the dark secret at the heart of modern individualism is its failure as a mode of life. . . . The dark figure of Fortune is a common presence . . . . the poem's privileging of trouthe, even when the object of loyalty is unworthy, reflects a time of broken commitments and dark betrayals. . . . the Minotaur provides a dark commentary on contemporary habits of self-identification. . . . Or is Felony the dark imaginer of the scenes that then follow? . . . they enact as well a dark Eucahristic ritual. . . . historical precedents impose dark coercions upon the young lovers seeking to escape a similar fate . . . . In its circular recursions moreover, it stands as a dark echo of the idealistic recursus of Boethianism . . . . it is a function of the system in which he believes, and the dark shape of his own drive for order . . . . 'I have had a very dark beginning' . . . . antiquity bears a dark, almost atavistic power.
--snippet-views from Lee Patterson, Chaucer and the Subject of History

Consider this post an official "call for contributions" for an "assortment" of bite-sized "dark" and unassimilable Chaucer morsels, to be published by punctum books as "Dark Chaucer: An Assortment." The conceit is Nicola Masciandaro's [inspired by his tracing of dark-words in Lee Patterson's Chaucer and the Subject of History] and it was "thrown" [given, as it were] at a restaurant in Brooklyn this past weekend, and the idea goes something like this: there are certain moments in Chaucer that are so dark that you could fall into them head-first and never reach the bottom of their darkness. It's irrelevant how the particular story in which this dark moment might be located ultimately ends [rescue! happiness! sanctification! marriage! retribution! narrow escape! comic resolution! whathaveyou]--the larger idea is to follow this dark moment into the infinite folds of its blackness and horror and to chart its endless sorrows and infinitely recursive gloom, unavailable to sight/siting, and . . . as if there were no way [back] out. This is not to say that one falls into blackness and finds only pessimism and non-meaning and bitterness and death there; this may be, instead, an exercise in learning to live in the abyss, making it habitable, installing some comfortable furniture, lighting up the "darkness visible" . . . making it tasty. Or, conversely, these exercises of falling into Chaucer's dark moments might also serve as advertisements of foreclosure, notices of condemned housing projects, white flags of "giving up," morse code messages of warning and danger, whirlpools, telegraphed depth-soundings without adequate translation, ropes that lose their moorings and fall down, little single-bed residences in asylums with entrances but no exits. Or something else entirely.

We would be looking for short [and not-longish] meditations [in whatever form you might prefer: essai, prose-poem, non/vision statement, field report, dialogue, etc.]. If interested, contact Eileen Joy and Nicola Mascinadaro at: punctumbooks@gmail.com.

2 comments:

Dr. Olga said...

Sign me up!

Eileen Joy said...

Dr. Olga: we would be happy to; we have quite a crew on this ship of fools already, so please help us hoist the sails. Send an email to: punctumbooks@gmail.com and let us know which flavor/Chaucer-moment you might attend to [we're thinking ~3,000 words with drafts due end of summer/fall 2011].