D. E. Oprava
“A mistake. That’s what makes the poetry.” -Miroslav Tichy
This is an imperfection. This book (if that is what it really is) came from an exploration much more than it did from a conceit, a notion, or even a hint of premeditation. It happened. So I will begin at the end. It became an artefact – something wholly tactile where the experience of simply holding it has just as much impact as the prose, poetry, or artwork. Some might ask, is there a narrative? Yes, and no, and maybe, and I won’t tell you. Just as much as I spent years exploring its content through creation, the weight now rests with the reader, whomever and however they may be. Professor Kevin Mills at the University of South Wales described it as ‘stream of unconscious’, an assessment with which I entirely agree. As if it were created while I was not there – an absentee writer and artist who left ink to its own devices. The ingredients were simple. A sixty-year-old manual typewriter. Pens. Lots of pens in various shapes and sizes. Paper. Thick, meaty paper. Paper that got inked, folded, burned, and glued. Not a single word was ever erased. Not a single line was ever drawn over or thrown away. This, and a kitchen table. Every night after work, cooking, children, there was a window. Every night for over three years those ingredients came out in the evening to be. To become. Something.
An experiment: what happens when the mind, hands, and eyes are left to their own devices? I tried not to imagine. And going backwards, I can see how somewhere in its origins, it wanted to be a map. A circle. A creation that dipped in and out of lucidity.
Characters came and went, patterns repeated themselves in drawings and melted into one another in ways more primal than mere nakedness, more essential than what they seem. They were moments of elation, but more base, what Thoreau called ‘quiet desperation’, a place I see everywhere, yet hard to capture. Perhaps these became freeze-frames of what happens outside of the narrative. As if you could pick apart static to hear and see individual notes, nowhere near harmony.
So what to do with this…thing, that may not be a book, a story, or a well-rounded construct designed to make you feel, to entertain?
Experience it. Keep it close. Tattoo its symbols on your skin. Define its meaning. Listen. Hurt it. See how it changes shape and tone through bending. Believe.
If it is not a book, then maybe it is a window, on a train, moving at incredible speed, at night, and the landscape you are passing belongs entirely to you…and the imagination.