Writing Prompts ~ Holly Pester, Rowan Powell, Taylor Le Melle, Daniella Valz Gen

15 May 2018

Beer - What desires our writing?

A bowl of pistachio nuts; bottles of beer poured into glasses; plates of lentils and coconut milk with buttered naan bread. It was cold outside and the end of a hard week, at the end of a hard year. It’s difficult to think when you are tired.

What desires orientate our writing? Is this the same question as: What orientates our desires to write?

The first question takes as a given that writing is inescapable, or unstoppable. We write no matter what but that writing extends and bends towards our desires. I, as I write me, am composed of desires. I will find objects of desire shaped by composition. My writing reaches to you not as a demand for attention but as a pleasure-pain ritual of your absence.

The second question presumes that desiring to write is a given. It is our orientations that form that desire into – what? legibility? For whom? Our affiliations? Our orientations include affiliations - associations, institutions and communities - but also hard apparatus such as environment, and soft apparatus, such as uncategorizable identity, sexuality, and whatever shapes our bodies or curves our arcs of meaning.

Writing is inquisitive and libidinal – but that’s not the condition of subjectivity of any given text. We are drawn to the subject of writing to conjure forms out of our mouths and the shape of our mouths in our dreams. I am composed of a sexuality that is completed by the one I desire. It is the same with writing. It is composed of desires, which are completed by the object it is formed by. Every act of composition in writing situates a desire to write within a grain of time and gesture. Composition is phenomenological and affiliated.

The point is that writing starts from desire rather than knowledge (even if it is desire to know). Do I write before or after I know something? I write to escape the thing I assume I know, and get back into the space of a question - or write into a loss of knowledge? Before long, you know yourself.

I was running through the restaurant up its steep sloping floor, throwing food and screaming.

A hot drink of warm milk, cardamom, cacao and rose petals. The rose petal
is from the ground, it is self protected, it has thorns. Rose petals are also good for cleaning mature, dry skin.

Finish by writing a word on your elbow that will still be there tomorrow.


Bathroom - A note on orientation

the institutions’ mascot, with gusto:
you can speak to power, sure (turns sharply, now facing stage left, looking upward) or
(returns to centre)
you can speak to allegiances (gazes off stage right)
an intellectual.
squirming in my seat before committing to a third fake trip to the bathroom
i really went but i did not use it
thought about cutting off some in order to speak to others and also the reason why power is because it necessitates even demands acknowledgement and power would not be power if i could turn away from it so elegantly plus what of the well meaning leaders of your institutions and in fact the up and coming persons so dissident so deviant is this why frank ocean says barely anything at all also because he can not
(these arent even the intelligent points that were made much later)
back in the room the conversation had moved on past any graspable reference those are the moments were gesture cadence inflection expose an orator’s salt
you really believe what you are saying but you are bullshit
oh no, you too
sapiosexual crushes crash and burn this way, for the best

later in a taxi the mascot flippantly refers to her ghanaian colleague
as native
slipping it out of a sharp tongue
and dares anyone to correct her
after the candlelit dinner i scribbled on the inside of my left forearm
beetroot jazz

jazz is my answer to the question that no one has asked me explicitly how are you so intellectual yet you do not get classical music. i get jazz. beetroot is, apparently, another acquired taste. i said beetroot three times the next day and each time the person said the same thing back. ‘mmm, dinner’. jazz i could not think how to say.

as i try to massage open the nerve to write, for no reason at all not in response to a brief or a contract or a nervous email or an angry email from an angry artist whose anger cannot admit to understand. as i massage that open i wonder if being underneath the wings of a mascot is like de-initiating from a gang society fraternity and upon leaving blows are delivered. big blows pounds of flesh frozen accounts punishment and now artists who i’ve assuaged with my writing will respond angrily to no one no power in particular.


Herb - Writing as a grappling with the material of desires

It’s not early but it’s early to me and my body’s slow time. My body is mammal flesh and I both accept and contradict it. The rim of the mug shines around a thick layer of soupy plant matter: Dandelion to cleanse, rose to bloom, yarrow to protect, chamomile to soothe. I sip through a bombilla, a metal tube that clacks against my tooth. Sweet bitter herb and flower tea with a hint of stainless steel arouses the back of my tongue.

- an untangling, a weaving, or often a knotting.
- Writing as a form of construction and also as a means of dismantling.
- Writing as form of utterance that bypasses structures in which we cannot be heard.
- Desire as the pulse of writing.
- Writing as a reclaiming of language: to bend, to adapt, to break and make one’s own.

An orientation:
I wrote yarrow on my elbow, a word I hold onto as I don’t yet know how to translate, or even if translation is relevant. Yarrow does have a translation to Spanish: aquilea. But I never knew this herb before meeting it as yarrow, I don’t have a reference point for yarrow as aquilea, so I make it:
Yarrow contains Arrow and Aquilea contains Aquiles (Achilles)
As legend goes, yarrow originated from the rust of the spear that harmed Achilles. And Achilles used yarrow to heal his wounded soldiers.

Yarrow was given to me as a tool for protection “for those who appear strong but are sensitive and bruised”. According to the mythological origin yarrow stems from the cause of the wound and yarrow also heals the wound. A circle. Yarrow is used to stop bleeding wounds and yarrow is also used to cast circles.

The desire to find a translation, or rather, another word for yarrow that resonates with a more primal form of familiarity, sits in me as a discomfort. Why do I need that with this word? Can I not treat it as a name? Is it because I haven’t uttered it enough to make it my own? Do I want to feel its resonance in my body as a welcomed familiarity? While I commune with the matter of yarrow almost on a daily basis, by not only ingesting it but also bathing in it, I rarely speak yarrow, and yarrow is rarely spoken to me.

Aquilea sounds perhaps even further away from familiarity. I doubt that if I call my aunt and told her I’m drinking a herbal infusion made with aquilea she will know what I’m referring to.

In my relationship with the substance of yarrow I feel a pull towards the word, towards making the word a comfortable vibration. My initial quest for a suitable translation has left me even further away from familiarity. My relationship with the word is a process and in this process I am alone. I utter yarrow yarrow yarrow, and I listen to my voice, and a part of me wonders if my y is too harsh for yarrow, or if it’s too soft.

I asked two people if they liked yarrow. They both asked me what it was.


Heaters - Establishing

A clambering becomes a gathering, which in turn becomes a disclosure. From form, a set order of words. The more meaning the more known. As in, formed, framed or a block, a thick inky mass. A table, pushing back towards, shaping the user. Informed. Or that which is holding the mass, waiting for it to dry. Blowing on it with as many floor heaters as can be gathered. Wanting it to congeal. Perhaps if we really heat it up; a junta, militia, a coup. It always starts with a dinner. Or just to establish. As in to establish (a relationship) ‘the women would form supportive friendships’. And maybe that would be enough. Better even. Bubbling. Slowly filling in. Spilling out, imperceptibly. But still spreading, until the whole thing, and more, is covered over. Another layer on top, one more that we now recognise as beginning. As the first, the groundwork. But why the field? Should we take it as that expanse circumscribed for tillage. That measured plot, a parcel of land, marked off. To fill in. In this case, they’ve marked it out for me, three tiny fields, for a sport of sorts.

(A) beholden to
(B) relegated to
(C) grouped with

(D) subsumed under
(E) unrelated to
(F) superior to

(G) a subtle effect
(H) little bearing
(I) a direct relevance

Results to follow.

Focusing on a cluster of little medicinal objects, thinking about when, with copy paste between MSN chat windows, I made a calculated betrayal. Sticking my fingers down into the pots and tearing the roots apart. I don’t remember those two words, but I do know that one was a vegetable. I said neither aloud. Perhaps a clearer understanding of this limb as one of my own would have helped. It’s not an alienation as much as it is a forgetting. Maybe more mnemonics for embodiment. Still it will be awhile until I forget As a college student, Charlie espoused Marxism, growing his beard out and railing against the evils of the free-market.