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a series of fragments & notes about Chance, Fate, and Context by Dara Wier



For I had placed myself behind my own back, refusing to see myself.  (St. Augustine)



based on a true story

based on the true life story of

what is it about wanting to know if it really really happened

what does saying it really happened do to our sense of what we are experiencing

that makes it different from believing that what we are experiencing is made up

why do we want to know if something is made up rather than known about and transmitted or transferred or transformed via artistic means

why do we want to know where something comes from

why do we want to know something’s origins

why do we want to know where someone comes from

why is origin significant

what does origin tell us about how we feel about something

how does, when it does, the fact that origin is significant alter our experience of any given piece of art

(or anything for that matter, we want to know the source of our food, we feel it matters from where what we eat comes)  (at one time the more exotic something was the more desirable it was, not so much any more, (see mirable…..see wonder cabinets…..see marvels…..see esoteric collections…..the more rare it is the more desirable it is) (think of someone you know who is allergic to anything that he registers as popular)

how does knowing something’s origins affect how we think about what happens to something during transportation

If art comes from human’s desires to know something, almost anything, then when and how does art’s origins play into what we take away from any artistic experience

why are there and surely have always been artists whose stated intentions are to rough us up, make us raw, (presumably because being raw implies being vulnerable or being “open” or being……..what…………..raw as an artistic metaphor was used a lot a long time ago, e.g. the raw and the cooked, Dionysian and Apollonian, or unadulterated, unmediated, (found?)  (found and re-located?), untouched, virgin wilderness, experiencing something under the impression that one is the first one there, why then we say we discovered……..


maybe origin is the beginning of tone and how something is meant and what is meant is taken


I just read:  (a) The brain dislikes unique vantage points and (b) prefers generic ones.

I don’t know if I believe that.  I don’t know that my experience would lead me to that conclusion.

Unless I take this to mean because the brain tends to prefer generic vantage points, being aware that this inclination leads to a dulled, robotic, mindless, circumscribed awareness of existence should caution me to seek unique vantage points in order to stimulate my otherwise lulled brain.

I don’t know.


Is this true?


from V.S. Ramachandran’s THE TELL-TALE BRAIN (Norton,  2011):

………….one of the most important laws in aesthetic perception: the abhorrence of coincidences……….

….to use a phrase introduced by Horace Barlow—-”a suspicious coincidence” …….And your brain always tries to find a plausible alternate, generic interpretation to avoid the coincidence. 

 (click image for the Kanizsa Triangle)

Kanizsa Triangle –

…………..the illusory triangle described by Italian psychologist Gaetano Kanizsa.  There really isn’t a triangle.  It’s just three Pac-Man-like figures facing one another.  But you perceive an opaque white triangle whose three corners partially occlude three black circular discs.  Your brain says (in effect), “What’s the likelihood that these three Pac-Men are lined up exactly like this simply by chance?  It’s too much of a suspicious coincidence.  A more plausible explanation is that it depicts an opaque white triangle occluding three black discs.”  …… can almost hallucinate the edges of the triangle…… this case your visual system has found a way of explaining the coincidence (eliminating it, you might say) by coming up with an interpretation that feels good.


What do you think about Andy Kaufman?  Or more truly, how does thinking about Andy Kaufman make you feel?

What do you think about Donald Judd or more truly how does thinking while seeing Donald Judd’s work make you feel?

What do you think about Frances Stark?  Or more truly how does reading what Frances Stark thinks about make you feel?


(and possibly worth considering might be this:  some of us want other’s ways of thinking and ideas to mix, mingle and possibly alter ways of thinking our private personal brain knows, practices, does and possibly will do while there are others of us who wish to keep contained and unaltered what we perceive to be our personal private brain space in its state of equilibrium one wishes to maintain, on another hand either of these two alternatives can be active in a single human mind’s variously perennial necessities or inclinations)

(is one thing about emotions that an emotion can not sustain itself, an emotion always turns into another emotion, an emotion’s duration is limited to that emotion’s peak’s sustainability until exhaustion or extinction, if only we each had a privately-set, customized, emotion detector, ready to relay to us calibrations, sequences, predictions, warnings, etc., based on your previous history, extreme joy of this magnitude inevitably changes into sustained sorrow bordering on despair; but despair wears thin eventually giving way to sliver and hints of hope, which will prevail mildly followed by extreme registers of the deepest doubts over-lapped somewhat by intermittent regrets only to be interrupted by sudden awe, and so on.


“I am not a comic, I have never told a joke…The comedian’s promise is that he will go out there and make you laugh with him…My only promise is that I will try to entertain you as best I can. I can manipulate people’s reactions. There are different kinds of laughter. Gut laughter is where you don’t have a choice, you’ve got to laugh. Gut laughter doesn’t come from the intellect. And it’s much harder for me to evoke now, because I’m known. They say, ‘Oh wow, Andy Kaufman, he’s a really funny guy.’ But I’m not trying to be funny. I just want to play with their heads.”   Andy Kaufman (1949-1984)


“This could become a gimmick or an honest articulation of the workings of the mind, which derives from a comment written in the margin of a used copy of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s 1955 novel The Voyeur. Stark transcribed the annotated page of this find into a drawing in 1995.”  ART IN AMERICA, Nancy Princenthal, 2011)


how ordinary inspires extraordinary

how what’s there can inspire what’s not there




The Gates of the LYCEUM


You can only be a foreigner in a language other than your own, Jean-Pierre says in “Poto and Cabengo” 1980 non-fiction film about twin girls in California who had made news for speaking a language they have invented, always an option—-

for twins, lovers, friends, gangs, schools, cliques, bands, clubs, anything that can be named as something unified within something else, it is either within something that it is against and apart from, or it is within something it is singular with, or it is without notice yet still severely limited by its defining collective adherence (and sometimes enforcement) to a set of ways of seeing, saying and having the world.


See THE SILENT TWINS about twins who communicate with only one another until adolescence and then they become arsonists….a book by Marjorie Wallace, followed by a documentary, early 1980s


as in a distillation of didacticism

(as in utopian writing, etc.)


part of a modernist tradition of innovation by distillation

a few notes from a set of lectures by Kirk Varnedoe (PICTURES OF NOTHING)

initiating the long tradition within modern art of the subversive joke, of anti-art—art that deconstructs and disengages the category of art itself

We often characterize what is new by its abandonment of the things that we know. That is why we have the horseless carriage and the wireless phone.

a residue of the Dada tradition, turning art into a joke, negating the work of art by turning it into a performance, so that the work itself hardly mattered.

because it is not an optical style of painting, it is an actual optical experience. It points toward uncertainty, as opposed to anything essential or concrete. One does not know what is concave or convex, present or absent, tangible or intangible. [in in this case a discussion of west coast minimalist aesthetic or anti-aesthetic] [where-in] purification and reduction lead to a loss of certainty, a kind of ambiguity and disorientation that is exactly the opposite of [someone's] assertive engagement with weight and physicality, with a standard foot-on-the-ground experience.

….. Duchamp‘s anti-art utilized the arbitrary as a demoralizing device, whereas Cage uses chance and the arbitrary as a device of revelation and the marvelous. Cage’s 4’33″transforms negation into acceptance


whether that’s so or not is not yet something to be determined, at least not by me


the same contemplative power of the void


Dara Wier is the author of eleven books of poetry, including Selected Poems, Remnants of HannahReverse Rapture, and Hat on a Pond. She teaches in the University of Massachusetts MFA Program for Poets and Writers. Her awards include the Poetry Center and Archives Book of the Year Award, a Pushcart Prize, the American Poetry Review’s Jerome Shestack Prize, and fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the Guggenheim Foundation. She edits Factory Hollow Press. Visit her author page at Wave Books or read an interview.