Paper provides innumerable colors in a large range of shades
Happy New Year.
During the holidays, I spent some time reading Josef Albers' Interaction of Color, which I am enjoying immensely. The experience can be compared to reading Pound's ABC or Wittgenstein's On Certainty. These books all seem guided by Pound's question, "What is the simplest possible statement?"
Albers insisted on the value of investigating colour as colour (and not, as Eliot might say, some other thing.) And this led him to some very simple and very effective presentations of this phenomenon ("the most relative medium in art," he said.) The book is really a textbook -- a set of studies that can be reproduced in the classroom, affording the student very precise experiences of colour. In a similar way, On Certainty and the ABC lead the student toward very precise experiences of conceptual and literary order.
This insistence on making the relevant experience available in the writing is what I want to start the new year with.
Because of the laboratory character of these studies
there is no opportunity to decorate, to illustrate, to represent anything,
or to express something -- or one's self. (Albers, p. 9)
The careful study of simple cases, where the desired effects are immediately available, can be applied in philosophy and poetry. One proceeds by the comparison of (easily accessible) examples. The writing is nothing other than the arrangement of these cases. Wittgenstein called it perspicuous presentation; Pound called it the ideogrammic method; Albers called it interaction studies.
The paper is important as a medium; it is at once the source and the destination of composition. A method suggests itself, one by which writing may be both studied and perfected. In looking for colour samples to work with, Albers discouraged the use of "prepared paper sets representing specific color systems."
Sources easily accessible for many kinds of color paper are waste strips found at printers and bookbinders; collections of samples of packing papers, of wrapping and bag papers, of cover and decoration papers. Also, instead of full sheets of paper, just cutouts from magazines, from advertisements and illustrations, from posters, wallpapers, paint samples, and from catalogues with color reproductions of various materials will do. (p. 9)
That is, he proposed to use colours that were already in use. The study of colour must connect to actual usage. His colour studies depended on the arrangement of colour samples that were not prepared (indeed, unprepared) for the study of colour interactions. Ordinary colour.
I want to say that what colour was to Albers' work, emotions were to Pound's, and concepts were to Wittgenstein's. All were intent on bringing these phenomena back from their metaphysical to their ordinary uses. They wanted to reveal their usage, their grammar.
Poems are made of paper, not words. That is, they are made of words already set down, cut out of their original texts and rearranged in new contexts for novel effects.