Ide HINTZE (Austria)
Ide Hintze (b. 1953) – poet, multimedia-artist, performer, organizer. Since the midst 1970s he has been deeply involved in the frontier literary forms – visual, acoustic and action poetry, covering a wide range of contemporary means of communication (public actions and performances, mail art, artistic strikes, film and video shows, radio etc.). Author of numerous books of poetry, interviews and essays. He is the founder and organizer of the school of poetry “schule fur dichtung” (Vienna, since 1991), in which at different periods taught A. Ginsberg, N. Cave, A. Waldman, H.C. Artmann, W. Bauer, the Nobel prize holder W. Soyinka and others. Conducted a number of solo and participated in numerous group artistic projects. For more information see the bio-bibliography of the participant. Taken from the poet’s manuscript. © 2000 Ide Hintze, Vienna.
THE CODE-REVOLUTIONS OF THE AUTHORS
Today it is obvious that the consecutive, causal, linear base, which was the foundation for the development of the writing culture and historical thinking, has shattered, and that the linear code, produced by the succession of letters in a line, is rapidly losing it’s importance. Writing is no longer the cultural guiding code, that it once was. It is losing against the codes of audio-visual media, against photo, CD, video, sampling. It is losing against the codes of antenna and computer based media, against radio, television, PC, Internet. It is losing against the codes of the web.
The literal societies are losing their, so far, most essential control instrument. Today, the fundamental decision-making processes in administration, in traffic, in industry, economics and science are steered by, or at least dependant on, the equipment of electronic data processing. Pixel, CD-Roms and hyperlinks can be used simultaneously and multi-directionally. The consecutive and mono-directional character of writing, plays here – also in the day to day world, which is mostly identified verbally anyway – only a subordinate role. A role that –exaggerated – limits itself to transforming non-writing into writing, to draft not-understandable legal texts or to produce “beautiful literature”.
There was a form of history, that was oral-pictorally and most of all communally defined. We call this time the mythical time. There was a form of history that was defined by writing, and – according to Gutenberg – by advancing personal isolation. We call this time the historical time. And there will be a form of history, defined by audio, video and computerized networks. We do not yet have a name for this time. But it is obvious, that it will be more similar to the mythical time than to the historical time. Not just because oral-pictoral is similar to audio-visual, but also because of the similarity of the community in the network – at least in it’s interactive character.
The audio, visual and computerized network-codes will not only change our definition of history, it will also revolutionize art, politics, pedagogy, communication, spirituality, sexuality and especially literature, poetry, the art of the poets.
The first steps of this literary revolution were taken in Paris in the early 1950’s. The poetes sonores – Francois Dufrene, Henri Chopin and Bernard Heidsieck – discovered the microphone and tape-recording as a poetic work-instrument and began to develop tape-poetry, microphone-poetry and loudspeaker-poetry. Their slogan “au commencement est le son” – “in the beginning there was sound, there was the spoken sound, the spoken tone” – was an outrageous attack against the standards of the ruling culture-mogules, who had gradually, more and more falsely, interpreted the biblical “in the beginning there was the word” into “in the beginning there was the written word.”
Today when we see microphone-, CD-, pop-, mp3- artists, audio-artists in general and they are celebrated all over the world as heroes – artistic heroes, that is mainly owed to the ground work done by the poetes sonores, who I personally consider to be the most influential and effective literature revolutionaries of the 20th century. Henri Chopin – their most radical protagonist – was the first to radically attack, namely at it’s roots, written literature with a new medium. It was clear to him that writing was an instrument of amputation, because it severs the voice and the body. His investigations into the tonal-world of the human body are the most fascinating ventures I have ever heard. Chopin used the microphone as a kind of acoustic microscope, and to help him prove his assertation, that speaking wasn’t only done by the voice but by the entire body. He is a kind of Christopher Columbus, who discovered unknown audio-continents, a freedom-fighter against the imperialism of the literal dictatorship.
Naturally the poetes sonores also wrote. But the criterion for their art was: no writing, no graphic codes. Not for the preperation nor for the carrying out, not for repetition nor for reproduction. Nor for any scores or the like. Rather, the exclusive use of magnetic, electro-acoustic signals. That was the radical-opposition against writing, emancipation from their dictation and the enthusiastic proclamation of the poetic possibilities of audio, which was for them – the “primitives of the electronic age”, as they were once called – audio-tape.
Augusto de Campos.
The poetes sonores are members of a pioneer generation, who in the 1950’s – in the best sense of world-constructors – separated the wheat from the chaff out of the wreckage of the Nazi-war, they laboriously dug out buried information, and – as they dug – accidentally or intentionally came across the new and unheard of. At about the same time as the “Beats” in the US and the “Viennese” (Achleitner, Artmann, Bayer, Jandl, Mayrocker, Okopenko, Ruhm, Wiener) they did so much of the ground work for what, in the 1960’s, would have such enormous effects...
Chopin’s “rouge”, created in 1956, is an early – verbally and magnetically realised – anticipation of the litany-like hammering, hookline-repetitional, hardrock-fadeouts. Ginsberg’s “howl”, created in 1953: a visionary book of vocabulary of a thrashing, desperate attitude, like that of a Dylan, a Lennon or a Mitchel. Gerhard Ruehm and Friedrich Achleitner’s “klavierzerschmetterung”, created in 1959: a prototypical action for Jimi Hendrix’s public guitar-burning 8 years later...
The poetes sonores knew that the invention of the microphone and tape-recorder were not only the first steps into a completely new world, but also that an instrument was at their disposal that would help them express their opposition against the reactionary spirit of the 1950’s. A few thousand years after the invention of writing, a few hundred years after the invention of printing, a few decades after the invention of the typewriter it was suddenly possible, with the help of one single piece of equipment – or ensemble of equipment – to not only create poetry and to codify, to manipulate, to multiply, and to publicize, but also to rebel.
The reason they could reach these ideas, is because they were European, members of a culture that was, above all, ruled by writing. The Americans didn’t really see it as a problem and therefore didn’t develop a sensor for it. For them it was completely normal, that the oral or other acoustic traditions had their place next to the literal: Native-Indian, African, Asian, – found their expression in blues, jazz and song without the initial struggles against writing, – for the beats there was no question or problem with their code or medium for the longest time. Actually it was the other way around: poets, usually of European descent, who debated over these questions and their own derivation, were – and still are today – labeled, rather disparagingly, as “language poets”, people who occupied themselves, too much, with the material of their work and by doing so forgot about the contents along the way. Not to mention political contents...
The Beats could act more traditionally and freely than the Poetes Sonores or the Viennes, who, after the Nazi-war, found themselves standing in front of a huge gap and were practically forced to start from zero again and create something new. Even more so, since the Nazi’s had misused and hallmarked oral-pictoral and audio-visual traditions for their own purposes. Sanders, Ginsberg, Burroughs, Waldman could, for instance, join the popular song relatively easily. Which wasn’t really possible for Dufrene, Chopin, Artmann, Ruehm and so on... with the “Volkslied” or folk-song.
A few of the 1950’s pioneers, who were still living, – Artmann, Chopin, Ruhm, Ginsberg – were involved in the founding and building of “school for poetry” (“schule fuer dichtung”) in the 1990’s. They worked as teachers, conducted classes, held readings and stood on stage, together with their students, when presenting the results of their class-work to an audience. The “school for poetry” – founded in Vienna in 1991 – sees it’s calling fundamentally in the demands of the so called literary avandgardists (including the dadaists, the Italian and Russian futurists, the Russian zaum and the Latin-American jintanjafora-poets).
Today, when we look at the international world of poets, we come to realize, along with the steadily growing number of festivals, that they are dedicating themselves to the new codes of poetics, and the phenomenon of independent poetry schools is noticeably gaining importance: the Escuela de Poesia in Medellin (Colombia), the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder (USA), the School for Poetry in Vienna (Austria) and – to a certain extend – the Gorki Institute in Moscow and the Institute for Literature Nguyen Du in Hanoi (Vietnam). If we look back at history, it’s an easy association, that momentous poetry schools were founded especially in times of revolutionary code-transitions. During the last code-revolution – around the 4th to 7th Century B.C. during the transition between the verbal and the written – there were, for instance, Pythagora’s School of Life, Gorgo’s School of Muses, Sappho’s poetry school, and Platon’s peripatetic school (the academy)...
Just as the schools of today compete with the pure writing schools, so did the schools of that time compete with the so called “orator-schools”, schools where the ancient art of oratory was still taught as a main subject. For example, Pythagoras called his theorem “akusmata”, listening-theorem. The students were called correspondingly “akustikoi”. He differentiated between esoterics and exoterics, those who were initiated into the deepest secrets face to face “behind the curtain”, and those “in front of the curtain” who also used writing, because they were still being prepared. Sappho taught her students how to use the voice, the plectrum and the lyre. Rituals, ceremonies, invocations played a role. Bridal-chants and so on... Her theorem followed the structure of the oral-traditions, although writing was already achieving public status.
The same goes for Gorgo, Andromeda and the other leaders of muse-circles on the island of Lesbos. It is too bad that written history took no interest in delivering documents of this era. Also Ainesimbrota’s choir-master schools in Sparta or Terpandros’ School from Antissa on Lesbos would have been interesting. In Sappho’s case – who was obviously the greatest of this group – we must unfortunately add that about 1000 years after her death, the church destroyed her entire works due to their sexual defamation and along with them any clues of her oratory-rituals and theorem work. Today, we still don’t know where exactly she was born, where she worked and where she died. I would very much like to read her poems – she apparently published 8 books of poetry – or at least read about how she spoke, what she spoke and to what extent was she aware of the code-problematics. When looking at the few lines that are available of her work, that came to us from secondary literary clues, and the relationship between rhythm, meter, tone, color, gesture and gender – also word gender – I imagine that she certainly must have known more than all Socrates, Platon and Aristoteles together. Maybe, because she was a really great poet...
The great poets of our time – of this I am certain – will, next to the literal techniques, master the techniques of audio, video, performance and the computerized network. They will become poetic fundamentalists. Their material will be letters, spoken-tones, gestures and the infrastructures of the analog and digital world. They will work in monologues, dialogs, communally and interactively. They will create poems that will revolutionize the code-revolutioned world once again: viva la poesia!Previous (Fabio DOCTOROVICH), Next (Jacques DONGUY)