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This article is taken from PN Review 16, Volume 7 Number 2, November - December 1980.

Notes on a Viking Prow (Part II) Christopher Middleton


This is the second part of the essay `Notes on a Viking Prow'. The first part appeared in PNR 10 (1979). The original of this part is accompanied by texts and pictorial illustrations which we cannot include here. The illustrations comprise pre-historic figurines and tools, Arabic, Kufic and Greek calligraphic texts, pictures by Kandinsky, Klee, Malevitch, Hartung and Carlfriedrich Claus, typography by Iliazd, a collage by Kol~r, inscriptions on walls of Facteur Cheval's Palais Id,al, a Rilke manuscript, and several concrete poems.


These exhibits and texts are not aired in order to exemplify anything. I wanted simply to show two sets of signs with which an imagination might play, after it had been taken by the thought that between text and artifact a theoretical relation might exist, and that this relation might not interfere with tedious old distinctions between the fine, the verbal, and the useful arts. If you study Rimbaud's poem 'Marine' you notice that an invention in words can come close to realizing an artifact model. In this case the model would be the process of braiding. Braiding goes into hair, furniture, metalwork, bread, clothing, and so on. Rimbaud was braiding images of sea and land, prow and plough, forest and jetty.

But then a model is not devised for realization; it is a theoretical construct. In the froth of phenomena models keep disappearing. Another matter to be remembered is this: as we attend to texts, things, artifacts, making ...


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