The Power of Language

February 26, 2013

I just spent a weekend immersed in poetry and poetic experiments, through the Conference on Ecopoetics at UC Berkeley. It was an inspiring event, particularly to encounter practitioners from around the country who are investigating the interrelations of words and nature through the lens of aesthetics, poetics, social intervention, direct action, conversation, academic inquiry, and the nature of things. Eleni Stecopoulos and I presented a collaborative performance presentation as part of the Conference, which was entitled Triple Burner. Through it, we wove questioning, reading, speaking, dancing, and shared practice. The presentation was an investigation into realms such as Chinese energetics, healing and nourishing life, Greek concepts, the power of movement, words, and the Feldenkrais Method all through the lens of this great meridian Triple Burner that has no association with a specific organ, rather process, exchange, and interactivity. We felt that the subjects of our presentation would instantiate inquiry and ecopoetics as an operation and term. Our sources were three books that we have in common in our research: Robert Kocik’s Rhurrbarb, Mei-Mei Bersenbrugge’s Concordance, and Shigehisa Kuriyama’s The Expressiveness of the Body and the Divergence of Greek and Chinese Medicine. Here is an image from the cards I made as part of the presentation:

Some of the highlights from the inspired and extensive resources I picked up through the conference:

Panel organized by Office of Recuperative Studies

Beautiful readings by many, including CA Conrad and Tyrone Williams

Learning about incredible presses, such as Brenda Iijima’s http://yoyolabs.com/ and Sueyeun Juliette Lee’s http://www.corollarypress.org/Corollary_Press/Home.html

The collaboration PARK (dance/poetry/photography)

David Buuck’s BARGE and Matta-Clarke Parks

Experiential Lab! Groundworks: http://ecopoeticsgroundwork.blogspot.com/

and Eleni Stecopoulos’ first reading on ritual landscapes – looking forward to more.

Around the time of this conference, I have been reading Jeremy Narby’s Intelligence in Nature. Here is one of the many passages from it which seems quite relevant to the conference mentioned above: “recent research based on brain imaging shows that language is handled by many different brain regions working in parallel. As Susan Greenfield writes in her book Brain Story: ‘One of the most startling discoveries from such research is that saying just a single word causes a unique pattern  of activity to ripple the cortex. The experience of the word ‘screwdriver,’ for example, causes a part of the brain called the motor cortex to light up. The motor cortex is involved in controlling movement, so perhaps this word triggers memories of handling a screwdriver to become active…Language…involves an eruption of associations and memories that are different for every word.'”

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