Joan Retallack

  • “Jackson Mac Low: Lines–Letters–Words”

    To play is to enjoy exploratory intimacy with our brilliantly material world. To play with the aesthetics of language is to explore the materiality of the logics and independent vectors exposed when it is released from official grammars. In works on paper that often double as performance scores, Jackson Mac Low foregrounded the metamorphic forms—lettristic, phonemic, graphic, semantic—that emerged when, invoking the spirit of play, he put elements of chance in conversation with intention. Though influenced by the performative poetics of John Cage and by the

  • Jackson Mac Low

    COMMON SENSE corroborates what psychologists have noticed in recent studies: The human brain prefers unpredictable pleasures, and the imagination is best activated by puzzles. The mind enjoys having to do its own work of making sense rather than being presented with prefab meaning. What wakes us up is a combination of noticing differences and having something to do. If desire and aggression are two major drives, curiosity is surely another. This insight has implications for the design of children’s toys (infinitely combinatorial blocks are better than objects with a limited number of obvious