Approximating Diapason (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) by j/j hastain & t thilleman


In Approximating Diapason, hastain and Thilleman engage in an epic correspondence, creatively paralleling, intersecting, and intertwining their very distinct poetic vocabularies and intelligences. What results is a collaborative treatise on the metaphysics of creativity, the physics of the compositional page, the philosophy and ethics of form, the ontology of ghosts and gods, and the future of the mythographic imagination. But this is just scratching the surface. Much is exchanged and archived in this wide-ranging and interdisciplinary compendium—dreams and their interpretations, drawings and their ekphrastic elaborations, photo-collages as exegetical annotations, allegorical visions and their exfoliating significations, snippets of verse and poetic prose, expressive typography, neologistic harmonizations, memorable autobiographical illustrations, aphoristic declarations (such as “because words are arbitrary capacities, they are really equivocal chambers of the before and after of meaning”), revelatory images (such as “infinite, flopping-but-severed mermaid tails washing up on the shores”), and evidence from both Western and Eastern thought, from sources both scientific and occult—and what holds such sheer disparateness together is the conviction, from both writers, that writing is born from a deep engagement with multiplicity and cosmic diversity. At times, this highly syncretic book reads as if it were out of some science fiction novel narrated in dialogue, as if we were reading characters from another planet conversing about such subjects as aesthetics, psychosocial politics, or new gendered embodiments—but then we realize (with shock, wonder, and gratitude) that they are, indeed, of this world. Alternately, it reads as if it were a monumental transcript prepared for a time capsule, an edifying text for when the aliens come—but then we realize that we are, in fact, the aliens, and that this book has been saying to us all along: welcome to our world.

Publication Date: May 02 2012
ISBN/EAN13: 1881471012 / 9781881471011
Page Count: 346
Binding Type: US Trade Paper
Trim Size: 8.5″ x 8.5″
Language: English
Color: Full Color with Bleed
Related Categories: Literary Collections / Letters

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3 thoughts on “Approximating Diapason (Spuyten Duyvil, 2012) by j/j hastain & t thilleman

  1. Hey, Michael.

    Your review has made me very curious to see more of the book. I really like the line “because words are arbitrary capacities, they are really equivocal chambers of the before and after of meaning.” There’s been a lot of hot air and whatnot expelled, like so much smoke and mirrors, over the so-called Jonah Lehrer scandal, and this line strikes me as a fine place from which to assess what actually happened.

  2. Alternately, we can think about the end of Emily Dickinson’s “There’s a certain Slant of light”: “We can find no scar, / But internal difference — / Where the Meanings, are —”

    Charles Bernstein has argued that if we look at Dickinson’s handwriting, the phrase is actually “WHEN the Meanings, are —”

  3. Pingback: Help Argos Books produce Forensics of the Chamber by j/j hastain! | michael leong's poetry blog

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