Jackson Mac Low was more than a poet. He was composer, a writer of performance pieces, essays, plays, and radio works, a painter and a multimedia performance artist. As one of the key influences of the Language writing movement and a founding member of the avant-garde group Fluxus, Mac Low’s practice plays an important role for experimental artists and poets alike.
Born in 1922 in Chicago, Mac Low briefly attended the University of Chicago before moving to New York to study Greek at Brooklyn College. As the Poetry Foundation suggests: “His early work as an etymologist and reference book contributor laid the foundation for his fascination with the possibilities found in units of sound and sense.” Influenced not only by the work of Gertrude Stein and Gerard Manley Hopkins, but also by John Cage’s musical compositions, Zen Buddhism, the I Ching and the Jewish mystic Abraham Abulafia, Mac Low built his work on a variety of non-intentional methods which created texts from pre-existing works. The aim was to avoid “the intrusion of the author as ego and to foreground language as such.” (Hoover).
Author of about 30 books and published in over 90 collections, Mac Low taught at many schools, including the Mannes School of Music (1966) and New York University (1966-73). His honours include fellowships and grants from the Creative Artists Public Service Program, the National Endowment for the Arts, the Guggenheim Foundation, PEN, and the New York Foundation for the Arts. He received the the Wallace Stevens Award from the Academy of American Poets in 1999.
Jackson Mac Low lived in New York City with his wife, Anne Tardos, until his death in 2004.
Inspired by Mac Low’s use of a secondary text as material, I chose to work with the text of J.L. Austin’s ground-breaking collection of lectures “How To Do Things With Words”. In an attempt to explore the relationship between the book’s language philosophical content, it’s ephemeral i.e. spoken original form and the editorial process which manifested the final book, I decided to combine the book’s index with a list of editorial additions and reconstructions of the original lecture texts.
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How To Do Things With Words
in a way, at least draws attention specifically to what we want in certain cases.
“uttering words” not so simple a notion anyway
even procedures for bringing oneself under procedures such as “I am playing” may still poss to reject all.
composite version from various incomplete
restrictions on “thoughts” here?
maybe could classify here “moral” obligation X “strict” obligation:
but what about threatening not called either!
to say, presupposes
what you say entails
fragmentary at this point
now we use “how it is to be understood” and “making clear”
(and even, conceivably, “state that”):
but not true or false, not description or report.
need criteria for evolution of language
it is the device cp. precision
and inexplicits do both.
said = asserted stated.
(1) all this isn’t clear ! distinctions etc.
(2) and in all senses relevant (A) and (B) x (C)) won’t all utterances be performative?
or “imply”, is it the same?
Moore, G. E.
illustrations to (1) and (2)
contracts often void because objects they’re about don’t exist –
breakdown of reference.
(N.B. said of course never / not state)
(also “said” has its ambiguities.
cf. declare war, declare closed, declare state of war exists.
promise that I shall probably.
or suiting action to words.
separate short manuscript
confirmed by hearer’s notes