What’s Lurking in Heller Levison’s LURK?  / by : Giorgia Pavlidou

When Bebop Scat Singing and Postmodern Poetry meet, Hinges are born:

What’s Lurking in Heller Levison’s LURK?  

Giorgia Pavlidou

When Bebop Scat Singing and Postmodern Poetry meet, Hinges are born:

What’s Lurking in Heller Levison’s LURK?  

Hinge (noun)

a movable joint or mechanism on which a door, gate, or lid swings as it opens and closes or which connects linked objects.

Hinge (verb)

attach or join with or as if with a hinge.

“the ironing board was set into the wall and hinged at the bottom”

Certain books can’t be read. Or even, they shouldn’t be (just) read. Instead, like Heller Levinson’s Lurk (Black Widow press, 2021), they need to be considered ritual objects one dances around, as if joining a scat singing session. Lurk needs to be circumambulated:

“lurk across dark

dudgeonpall           over

hauntfilled groundpit.  Range

gauntcoiled granulepier stagger from storm,

the upstart, the

foul-whetted

phosphorous-bonewinding wards

gnaw vociferous”

These are the “aspiring signifiers” – words seeping to us from the far future – humming on Lurk’s first page. They lure us into the book and spray us out again, to use Heller Levinson’s lingo. Not one or two, but four titulary spirits precede this opening stack of neologisms and phonemes: Wittgenstein, Giordano Bruno (executed for heresy) Paul Valéry and Edgar Morin. These four push the reader into Lurk’s orgiastic ocean (and believe me, it is a sea of neo-grammar and sound you’ll find yourself bathing in) of autonomous and semi-autonomous phonemes, be-bopping themselves allover these pages. These creatures of grammar have intercourse with each other, swinging around a unique phonological dance or ecstatic ceremony of syntax. Lurk is a sonic stretch of deep ocean oxygen that keeps on self-amplifying as one be-bops – circumambulates – across the book. But remember and beware, Giordano was executed. This is a challenging read. 

Like language itself, nothing in Heller Levinson’s book is conclusive. On page 79 we are lured into the idea that “conclusivity equals vapidity.” Conclusions are boring. Be perspectivist. Practice multiplicity. Practice plasticity. Be polyvalent. Be rhizomatic. Like Foucault suggested, stop looking for who you are. Instead, refuse who you are. Refuse fixation of sense. Refuse fixation of identity. Burn dictionaries or at least try kneading their contents into rapidly spreading viruses. Linguistic meaning is unstable! Identity is fluid. Let’s celebrate that. Therefore, stroll through the book and ponder, ponder, ponder.

Check out a “pivot” component of Heller Levison’s Hinge Theory:

“How much of ambiguity

Is ponderous?” (p.78)

The first three components conceived by Hinge were pivot, particle and postulate. Since then Hinge’s birthed more complexity: Fecundating Rotational Clusters, Importation, Migratories, Misting and many other components. 

Poetic ponderability – ponder the imponderable – ponder the ponderable  

Lurk is both ponderable and imponderable – like language itself: while revealing itself it conceals itself:

“beginning/middle/end             how

quaint how dull how disjointed to seize arrangement to serve-up coherence to atrophy by  nullification” (p. 154)

The above paints the “postulate” component of Hinge.

But coherence isn’t what you’ll find in this book, even though it’s composed through the carefully crafted theoretical framework of Hinge. But why would youO reader? Most probably you’re living in an already over-coherent and excessively organized “first world” society. Why would you seek even more coherence than you’ve been plentifully showered with? Practice “repair” instead:

“repair & the good life” (p. 154).

If not coherence, if there’s no arc in this publication, then what’s lurking in Heller’s Lurk? Hinges. Many-many Hinges like the ones mentioned above. But why? Why not muse over social injustice or environmental deterioration? Or over one’s queer identity, existential angst, gorgeous landscapes or pastoral emotion?

My guess is that Heller isn’t interested in the specifics of discourse or public debates. Heller is interested in exploring the essence (ouch, dangerous word, but please bear with me) of what’s not usually acknowledged to be an organism: Language (intentionally capitalized). By surrendering himself to what Jacques Lacan called “the signifying chain,” Heller, as if he were a jazzy trance-medium, embodies the very process of occultation in which humans be-come “languaged,” (my neologism). 

For the sake of the argument, let’s assume that Language is an external (to humans) physical creature. Think of Will Alexander’s approach to Language as a living intelligence. William S Burroughs believed Language was a virus. Jacques Lacan was convinced that Language becomes parasitic on its host in the case of psychosis: hence the auditory hallucinations. Heck, even academic Dutch linguists at the famous University of Leiden consider “Language to be a mutualist symbiont that enters into a mutually beneficial relationship with its hominid host.”

And here’s my five cents: Heller has mastered, or rather is in the process of mastering, a method (Hinge Theory) that allows him (and we as readers are the witnesses to that) to observe Language birthing itself. Heller’s books aren’t the results of approaching Language as inanimate material, but the products of a deep intercourse with Language as a life-form; a living being with intentionality and agency, capable of independent action and even more fascinating: a living being in a flux of constant alchemical hermaphroditic reproduction.

Heller’s goal, perhaps, is similar to what the original Surrealists desired so intensely: to liberate Language. The question here, of course, is to liberate it from what exactly? I’d say: from “quotidian script.” Most of us possess three to four CD’s circulating on automatic pilot somewhere in our nervous system. These start playing whenever we open our mouths. But do we really speak? Or are we spoken by our, often impoverished, little narratives? What’s the alternative? Circumambulation: 

lurk arises

oblongs, … confabulate    confeet

confetti bounce         de

clivitous incline        dare

            braise

bulldoze

(p.205)

In Lurk, words: verbs, prefixes, adverbs, adjectives etc. copulate artfully. We, the readers, watch, not to understand, but to witness and feel what LANGUAGE poet Cole Swenson’s calls “the palpability of words.”

Lurk lures us into a dark, smoky place, let’s say, someplace similar to Minton’s Playhouse in NYC of the 1940’s. And as if we were observing Thelonious Monk or Dizzy Gillespie in a whole-night trance to out-jam their d(a)emons, we experience in Lurk the poet as trance speaker and original bard. The bard knows that poetry isn’t linguistic acrobatics but spellbinding. He’s the oracle of Delphi speaking in tongues. The difference here, perhaps, is that in lieu of telling us the origin myth of humanity, the shaman-poet in Lurk feeds us a taste of the hermaphroditic birth process of the only “thing” that differentiates us from other animals: Language (not to be confused with speech). 

Since this isn’t what one expects to be poetry, some even called it Hinge Applications instead of poetry, Lurk is daunting and perhaps not for the faint of heart. This writing is no small feat, and reading it even less. As usual, however, like in psychoanalysis or commerce, the riskier the analytic journey or business deal, the more exuberant the profits will be.

Liberate yourself from “quotidian script.” Start your circumambulations and experience Hinge:

“283 FUSION RECONNOITER: this Hinge behaviorism

first emerged from stone this running (Black Widow

Press, Boston, 2011), 155”    (p.298 – last page of Lurk)

Giorgia Pavlidou

Bio: 

Originally trained in clinical psychotherapy and psychoanalysis, Giorgia Pavlidou is an American writer and painter intermittently living in Greece and the US. She received her MA in Urdu literature from Lucknow University, India and her MFA in Fiction from MMU Manchester, UK, (though her meetings with visionary LA poet-philosopher Will Alexander are exceedingly more impactful). Her work has recently appeared in such places as Caesura, Lotus-Eater, Zoetic Press, Maintenant Dada Journal, Puerto del Sol and Entropy. She’s the main English language editor of SULΦUR literary magazine. Additionally, Ireland-based Strukturiss Magazine selected her as the main visual artist of their January 2022 issue 3.1, and Trainwreck Press (trainwreckpress.com) launched her chapbook inside the black hornet’s mind-tunnel in 2021. Before devoting herself full-time to painting and writing, she worked as a clinical psychotherapist for about ten years. She can be contacted at giorgia.dewitte@gmail.com

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