25/10/2012 by funnomad
My comments two nights ago at the launch of RUSH:
bill bissett came to us from the planet Lunaria. I was not born a citizen of Lunaria. I was kidnapped and taken there by Ross Priddle, Lori Emerson, and Stephen Scobie. I proved an easy convert to that nation, however, but rest assured that bissett syndrome is much more powerful than the Stockholm variety. That was back in BC in the 1990s, and like a lot of young writers in their early 20s, I imitated bissett’s stylistics in what I thought were original ways. Consequently, my family thought I had become demented, that there was something wrong with British Columbia.
My family epitomized normal for me, so I quickly surmised that this experience or something similar was playing out across the country and beyond. It gave me my first glimmer of insight into what is going on in his playfully weirdo texts; that there is a radically disruptive politics at work throughout. On a technical level, bill bissett was a gateway drug for CanLit experiments in concrete poetry, sound poetry, collage, and small press publishing and community building. His blewointment press served as the centre of the Canadian counterculture for a generation. Behind all his formalist games or eruptions, however, there is a radical politics that has been hardened by his own confrontations with the ideological state apparatus. The Language Revolution was an exit from oppression; an opportunity to imagine otherwise.
bpNichol, in Toronto and far away from bill, wanted to know more about this animus of his writing and commissioned the book. Write a book of your literary theory, he asked. What fuckan theory? bill answered.
He wasn’t looking for closures — he was looking for a way out. This book is a manifesto against theories that think they have arrived. It is a manifesto exposing the fascist implications of conventionalized spelling. A manifest against constraints, whether social or Oulipian. It is a radical scream against self-satisfaction, against suburban normal but also against any writing that grows comfortable and smug when so much remains to be done. So much has been done, and by so many, including the excellent help and work of my co-editor derek beaulieu, the book’s designer Mark Goldstein, BookThug’s Jay MillAr, and Hazel Millar, and a special acknowledgment of the guidance of Michael Turner and Darren Werschler in shaping and realizing this project.
It is my pleasure, now, to present the Ambassador of Lunaria, who slid down double magic rainbows to join us, who brings us jaded postmodernists a vision if not a feeling of the peace on the other side of the exit if we’ll dare to join him there, who is bill bissett and RUSH: What Fuckan Theory: