The letterpress version of Inside This Earthen Vessel.

A Collaboration between Pete Kennedy & David Jury.

This is a meeting of two minds. Between us we’ve been ‘doing’ art for 90 odd years. Well, odd in my case, meticulous in DJ’s. For David is an artist whirler when it comes to working a press with his tweezers teasing new meanings from my words.

So to begin, David loved the words in my Inside This Earthen Vessel which I brought to him after I had laid them out in the shape of typographic pots. Mine was a series of six concrete poems in which I had put the typo into the shape of a pot in an edition of 50. Some ‘important’ words I had enlarged. My version is basically ‘unaltered text’ typo speak, and can be read as a ‘book’. So, David thought the words were ‘spine-tingling’, the typo form was of interest to his present investigations into words typed/laid out in the shape of things and he obviously had a hunch that he could do something substantial with them in letterpress. It became his summer obsession.

David saw possible developments out of the idea and wanted to go much larger, with an edition of about 30. The collaboration is ‘altered text’ and with a sub-text in a smaller font can be read in at least two ways, and more. The ‘sub-text’ came about because I had left gaps between words in order to create the pot shape. DJ saw that as a waste of valuable space which letters could fill.

David also edited some of my original words out in order to fit the pot shape, he asked me to produce a second text of a totally different nature to the main text for the sub-text and we would arrange and agree which words to include or exclude.

 

Poem One, featuring Hermann Hesse.

The first poem is about Nobel Prize winning writer Hermann Hesse in a magical (impossible in real time) meeting with a monk named in early Buddhist scripts called Dhona who is reported to have lived during the time of Buddha and to have made his acquaintance. Why not add a ‘sub-text’, one that works as a foil or counterpoint for the main mostly ‘serious’ original text. Add mainly more mundane words maybe with some humour? I threw some of my ‘everyday’ poems at David and he would select words  which added to the other text in a smaller and differing font. They can be read separately but also alongside and within the main text thus giving a third series of potential readings. To gain a fourth series (like Gurdzhiev?) DJ began to use wood types he had collected long time but never been able to use, these BIG letters add more readings especially as he began to cut words in two and eventually even saw letters in half! But I move too fast. In poem one he was fairly close to my original, just using larger letters at the foot of the poem.

In writing Siddhartha HH brought the story of the young prince Shakyamuni to the West in a masterwork. Remember when he wrote it there was no internet, ideas were slow to travel. When I wrote the poem I enlarged the size of some ‘important’ words. DJ was to take this on and develop it. His first attempt took many ‘takes’ before he managed to set the type in the shape of the pot and work out the rhythm of the words. He stuck closely to my original. He liked the idea that the pot was not drawn, so it was only there in the shape of the words which seemed to set on the bottom as sediment. This settling was assisted by some words being bigger which not only added more weight to the page but also to the meaning. In doing the poem I had realised that Buddha, the first Buddhist, was saying to a monk from an earlier faith (Vedan?) which believed it impossible to leave the wheel of rebirth, that he had discovered how to get off the wheel (of ‘Samsara). This, in its day, was revolutionary! I assume that Dhona became a follower as he is quoted in early Buddhist texts as an advocate of Buddha’s ideas.

 

Poem Two, featuring The Dalai Lama.

The Dalai Lama fled his homeland when it seemed Maoist Chinese wanted to ‘disappear’ him, like they did over a million Tibetans since his departure. I know there are millions of good folk in China, it’s just that the ones who rose to the ‘top’ were not that benevolent towards others who did not agree to their hegemony. Reports of the way China has stripped Tibet of so many things are horrendous although I have no (dare not, I am natural born a chicken) like Lennon sang been there to ‘See for Myself’. Incredibly, the Chinese rebuilt many of the temples their predecessors destroyed in the 1950’s and use Tibet’s old religion as a tourist attraction now despite it being a crime to carry pictures of the Dalai Lama, it is said.

I was lucky to be able to attend, along with Sting, Richard Gere And Jimmy Nail, the grand opening by the Dalai Lama of the Tibetan Peace Garden in the Imperial War Museum (sic) grounds in London.

dalama peace gdn small

Sadly, when I re-visited it for the first time recently it was devoid of visitors. Does that show how much interest there is in peace in the world? I mean, the museum was so packed to the rafters with visitors to the new memory of the First World  War I couldn’t buy a ticket to get in that day, yet nobody was with me in the Peace Garden! No actually, I prefer to think it’s because everyone is too busy and has no time left in their day for contemplation, that includes me. I only touched base then scurried off after a few minutes scooting round the beautiful garden.

Poem Three featuring C G Jung (hey, A Jung in a jug!)

Jung was a Gnostic and he wore a ring with a G on to prove it. In my poem I have him ‘Dancing with Sophia’.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ye6JssTdnvw

Sophia the Gnostics believe is the partner of the entity that created ‘gods’ like the one in the Jewish testaments. That entity did not want a material world created, it was satisfied with the existence of non-being (spirit?) or Void. The Void being the ‘real’ world with ‘materiality’ (our form of existence), becoming a digression, an interruption, a problem. My analogy of Jung dancing with Sophia indicates his interest in Gnostic ideas which were around at the time of the Nicene Creed when the new canon of the Christian church was decided in the rule of Constantine the Roman Emperor. My reference to Pachomius is about a monk whose community had collected books from all of the known world, including India, and had to bury them to avoid the persecutions of one Athanasius who wanted to kill all heretics. Heretics had not been heretics until the Nicene Creed decided that their ideas were now outside the canon!

Metanoia and Nekzia are terms which Jung used to describe the dark part of the world where humans are sent to experience a rebirth of ideas. It is an old idea that the darkest hour comes before the dawning. Orpheus went into the underworld to find his love etc. before Enlightenment comes the dark abyss must be reconciled.

 

That is an insight into my thinking in the first three poems. Next blogart ting will be the poems 4-6, here is a taster of the new DJ poems:

a sunniside o jo bo 2 sm kb

words & image (c) pete kennedy 2014/print (c)David Jury 2014

See yez…on the Light side?

 

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