Sunday, February 24, 2019

The Dialogics of Will Alexander & Heller Levinson, Part 1

Heller Levinson’s book, Un--, forthcoming from Black Widow Press this Spring, will feature further trackings of the Dialogics. For pre-orders and more information, please visit Black Widow Press.

Dialogics:  The Dialogics are ongoing conversations between Will Alexander & Heller Levinson.  They began in 2001 in Los Angeles over beer & burgers at “The Saloon” on Pico Boulevard.  Below is a sampling of recent exchanges.

H = Heller Levinson.  What is the Essential difference between the Athlete & the Artist? Is there a difference?

W = Will Alexander.  Many many similarities. Having done both I would say the artist rows further into eternity. 

H:  Is Infinity more than that which precedes & concludes us?

W: It would have to be in excess of matter itself, given that matter prevails as a subsequent realia. By absorbing it's originatory condition it betrays it's own resistance to this condition thereby invoking a curious maturation via osmosis. 

H:  Could we not simply say that Infinity is the Non-Containable.

H:  The problem I’m having with the phenomenologists, i.e., Husserl, Levinas, Sartre, & Co., is their identification of transcendence, exteriority, otherliness, specifically & exclusively with the alter-ego, with personhood.  This annihilation of the natural world – the tadpole, the lizard, the tree, leaf, rock, earth – is both troubling & incomprehensible.  Incomprehensible in that how can ‘thinking’ persons possibly overlook such vitalistic abundance.  Is this what separates the poets from the philosophers (another schism), from a Whitman, say, who could talk of “ . . . touch my flesh to the earth as to other flesh (Italics mine) to renew me.”  The time has come for poet & philosopher to merge, to anoint the earth newly.

W: As curious as the following may seem, Existentialism remains a modified remainder of 18th/19th century argumentation as a kind of insular quantity. The latter argument invoked a divide that the early racialists and classifiers nurtured and seeded. Names such as Cuvier, Blumenbach, Samuel Morten,  and Arthur de Gobineau most forcefully come to mind. The latter casting their collective lot via the fostering of division. In this context American Indians, subjugated Africans, Asians of all stripes remained at the level of tadpoles and lynxes. Never to be equated with the human ideal reserved for the vaunted Greek ideal. 

When Sartre, and Husserl, and Levinas, invoke human scale as their most significant point of concentration, it rumages, around within a delimited purview via a constricted socio-political humanism it's glossary naturally fails at rendering the other. This glossary attempts to define  singularity as a type of human experience as the central integer within the flux of cosmic number.  Add to this, it seems to assume its subject to be the condition of European consciousness as it emerged from 2 devastating Global conflicts, from the social devastation chronicled by Dickens during the rise of the Anthropcene. Of course we can never forget the shadow cast by the 80 million slaughtered Indians in the Americas, and the 100,000,000 maimed souls due to the trans-Atlantic circumstance that was the African holocaust.

Indeed, Existentialism rendered by the larger has failed to invest itself in the authenticity of the other. Indeed, it came to fruition during a span when Europeans seemed to wander without purpose across a pointless inscape littered with post-Hitlerian pyschic debacle.

*Editor's note: To read a second installment of Dialogics, please click here.

Will Alexander- Poet, novelist, playwright, essayist, philosopher, visual artist, pianist, who has authored over 30 books and chapbooks. He has read at venues stretching from Rotterdam to Los Angeles and is currently poet-in-residence at Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in Venice California. In addition to this he is a Whiting Fellow, a California Arts Council Fellow, a Pen Oakland winner, an American Book Award winner, as well being both a recipient of the Jackson Prize for poetry in 2016, and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Beyond Baroque Poetry Center in 2018. He resides in Los Angeles.

Heller Levinson, the originator of Hinge Theory, lives in New York where he studies animal behavior.  His book, Un--, is planned for Spring publication (Black Widow Press, 2019).

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