Exercises in Kinesthetic Drawing and Other Drawing

Review by Andrew Berardini

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Nine Pencil Breaks

A sentence written on a hangover. A sentence that always comes too late, but is welcome anyway. A sentence that can’t make up its mind. A sentence written while staring into oblivion. A sentence where every keystroke is carefully observed. A sentence with a break, it stepped outside, took a few deep breaths of hot spring air, and then returned to finish. A sentence that wishes it was blue, that it could break out of the linear lines stacked around it and be free and scattered on a naked page. A sentence that refuses gender binaries. A sentence that fails to mean what it wants to mean, but plows ahead anyway.

New Shape For a Paragraph

What is a doodle exactly? The sound is silly, the soft ‘d’ followed by long ‘o’s and that glottal ‘l’ all forcing it firmly into the minor league of words. It’s frivolity and whimsicality sucks away its gravitas. Doodle will never be cut into stone, not like ‘god’ or ‘country’, ‘mother’ or ‘son’. It’s sheer lack of seriousness is its power. It’s thoughtless poetry. An automatic drawing even Breton could be proud of. In a mechanistic society where everyone has a role to play, a place to stand, a job to do, doodles do nothing. They are useless, beautiful, purposeless, free.

Oscar Wilde: “All art is quite useless.”

Drawing of the Name of the Pencil While Reading the Name of the Pencil

I need doodles. At the office supply store I always stop at the little stand where you can test the pens. I admire the scribbles and scratches, the swirls and zigzags, the boldly flourished signatures and teenage scumbaggery: “Fuck Yer Mom” and “Suck My Dick Beeyotch.”

Doodle is a mylar balloon of a word, a balloon shaped like itself (already too silly). Take it to a field and let the balloon go, watch it drift higher and higher. Wait for that last moment where you can still read it’s bulging, inflated letters against the vast expansive of unbroken blue before it becomes only a flash of silver and a memory.

None of this means anything, it’s just a poem. But imagine that last, precarious moment where an absurd and gentle notion has been brought to its last conclusion and then it disappears.

The balloon is a drawing, the sky is the page.

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Self-portrait drawn at Knife Point

There is always something off the page. If a knife was held to my throat, what would I write? Somewhat melodramatically, I feel like this everyday.

Are these drawings here Zen koans? Maybe, or something different, even better.

Two Lines Fading Into Oblivion at Roughly the Same Time

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Sentiment/Shape

Is it the baffling dangers and our fear of them that give us our shape or the baffling desires? Can I choose my shape by directing my fears, cultivating my desires? If those dangers are a backdrop than are we in the foreground? I am the main character in a tragicomedy of my own life. Tragicomedy would not be my first genre choice, animated romantic space opera or soft-core porno even. But this is my fate, the shape I’m in. It’s best not to fight it.

One Minute’s Worth of Stars

star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star star

53 in total. Aaron did about 48. This isn’t any contest, but I won.

Three Lines Drawn at Breakneck Speeds

All of these sentences are performances. Two even. My performing, lonesomely and somewhat dilligently, in my room. You performing, probably alone, as your eyes scan the words, animating them with sound and meaning with every pass.

A Pale Yellow Shape as Beautiful As You Are

This breaks my heart every time I see it. So do does the rest of the book.

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Aaron Carpenter, Exercises in Kinesthetic Drawing and Other Drawing, (Or Gallery, 2013)

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