Friday, June 1, 2012

Laurie Anderson | Words in Reverse

Laurie Anderson
Words in Reverse
Buffalo, USA: Hallwells, 1979
16 pp., staplebound

The second in the series of Top Stories (which also included Jenny Holzer, Kathy Acker and others) and, I believe, the only to be reprinted. The booklet is entirely text-based, featuring extracts from Anderson's performances 'Like A stream' and 'Americans on The Move' from 1978 & 1979. Some of the texts were later reworked into songs or incorporated into other performances.

Some examples below.

I saw a photograph of Tesla, who invented the Tesla coil. He also invented a pair of shoes with soles four inches thick to ground him while he worked in the laboratory. In this picture, Tesla is sitting in his lab, wearing the shoes, and reading a book by the light of the long, streamer-like sparks shooting out of his transformers.

There are Eskimos who live above the timberline. There’s no wood for the runners on their sleds. So instead, they use long frozen fish which they attach to the bottoms of their sleds to slip across the snow.

I can draw you so that you have no ears. I can draw you so that you have no ears at all. So that where your ears would be, there is only blank paper.

The detective novel is the only novel truly invented in the twentieth century. In the detective novel, the hero is dead at the very beginning. So you don’t have to deal with human nature at all. Only the slow accumulation of facts ... of data ...In science fiction, the hero just flies in at the very beginning. He can bend steel with his bare hands. He can walk in zero gravity. He can see right through lead doors. But no one asks how he is able to do these things. They just say, “Look! He’s walking in zero gravity.” So you don’t have to deal with human nature at all.