SEAN WINNICK '14, staff writer
Stethoscope Press is a student-run literary collective. Five authors are selected in the fall to create a yearlong project that culminates in the printing of a short book. This year, Stethoscope released two chapbooks in the fall. What is interesting about Stethoscope, however, is not the technicalities of the projects, but the people involved. After this paragraph, every word in this piece is taken directly from a quotation from interviews with Stethoscope Press writers. The focus of and impetus for these interviews were A Field Guide to the Birds of Wesleyan by Oliver James, Cisco by Amy Mattox, Cartwheel Infinite by Ananya Menon, Our Happy Throngs by Hailey Sowden, and On Interconnectivity… by Sean Winnik. This article is both a functionalist and impressionistic attempt to describe the authors and their relation to their books.
I start with a concept.
An uncomfortable interrogation.
There is often no plot and no action.
Questions lacking answers.
Answers without questions.
Art is a pair of shoes on bench. A static representation of motion. Motion that inevitably leads us to ideas, people, birds that we come across. I think there’s an attempt to sublimate the idea of how location is something that occupies you in a bigger way than how we occupy a location. There’s an idea of how you come to incorporate a place, but really it gets inside of you in a really personal way. Those reciprocations of all the things in you are the important stuff, the stuff you didn’t expect. What didn’t I expect? I couldn’t think of title for my book until the night before [the book was due]. If only I had had more time. It’s just, I like the concept, but I feel like it wasn’t the best execution of the idea that could happen. You see I like to focus on the small things. Fire, Water, Earth, Fruit, Air, Meat, the difference between meat and flesh, the image of a horse hung up and running a knife down its belly and everything falling out into the wheelbarrow. See what’s inside. What are we to do about things that are ugly? [We] put [our] hand on top of it, to at least know what it looks like.
Art that I’ve been drawn to create recently is art that seems to have functional value so it can be used to do work. I don’t know if I could say that I have intention behind the words. I have an interpretation of what the words become, but that does not necessarily mean that’s where they originated. I don’t really know how someone could misinterpret mine. If someone were able to take those words that I intended, that I had a position behind and put them into their own frame, that would be a pride point. The important part is the difference between the reader and the author; the author intends it and how the reader gets it and that space between those two things is the point of writing. To inspire revolution! I do not place emphasis on the completely novel.
You hear exotic narratives; impulse just catches them, and you whip out a pen or a napkin. I don’t know. I’ve never felt that way. I’ll be struck by an image or object or concept and then I don’t even write it down for a few days. I’d interview my family at Thanksgiving. When typing it up, it helped me decide what I wanted to do. I feel like words are confining, even though words are subjective and everyone has a different concept for words. And because I was so familiar with my subject I didn’t really need to do research. It’s like describing your best friends.
Why not go burn something? Wanting disruption, violence, monotony thus vanishes. The edge moves until the edge is no longer dangerous. I like things. “We’re good people.” There are things that other people think are not good. I fixate on the small good stuff. In art I fixate on simple lines, simple things that are nice to look at and what that means to be nice to look at. In poetry that translates to a little idea you can hold in your hands. Like a small thing you can touch and get your whole body around. In art that translates to line, but in poetry that translates to a little image that is clean and nice and round. When you play two musical notes in close frequencies, they create a beating pattern due to constructive/destructive interference of waves. This was historically considered dissonant and ugly, but is now a common technique in contemporary music, especially in sounding installations. A third note emerges, one not directly produced by either source. It’s the ‘ugly’ interaction, but more importantly, simply the interaction.
It doesn’t belong to me.
A collection of moments.
Literal alludes to abstract.
Abstract alludes to literal.
Ghosts are not the kind of things we thought they were when we were younger.
I think that any other observer would arrive at those sorts of descriptions if they were going to spend a lot of time with each of these different characters so I think in that way it’s fairly literal. No, no such thing as observers, it’s impossible; I’m very much a part of them. But eventually I realized that through the process and through the stories, the same ideas were emerging, over and over again. They kind of splice themselves. Certain things are emphasized; certain things are downplayed.
Move your edge.
Thank you Amy, Hailey, Ananya, Oliver for allowing me to use your words.