Thursday, June 01, 2006


Dear Ammiel Alcalay and Michael Kelleher,

Happily, I was able to attend the Olson Now event at MIT a couple weeks back. It certainly proposed what is possible. To briefly introduce myself: I studied in the English Dept. at the University of Maine for a few years. I now live and teach in the so-called Boston-area and will begin graduate work in Cultural Production at Brandeis in the fall.

As others have already noted, I found Ben Friedlander’s opening remarks very useful, quite insightful, and I’ve been mulling over my scant notes since 20 May. Thank you (and Ben) for posting them!

What I didn’t ask then, but wish to now, is: What is the relationship of the body—the physical, sensed presence of the self—to both language and knowledge in Olson? And, furthermore, how did Olson’s understanding of—his “stance toward”?—language and knowledge shape and influence his methodology?

In his opening remarks, Ben observed that for Olson “[k]knowledge . . . is located (in language, in history, on the earth) . . .” So, at the risk of repeating myself: What I am wondering is how to talk about/examine/understand the relationship between, on the one hand, the body, knowledge, and language in Olson, and on the other, his practice, a practice that, as Ben pointed out, “abandoned the book as ultimate horizon and worked instead to produce an archive.”

I’m not sure this makes sense, but that’s as clear as I can put my concerns right now. I suppose it might be possible to speak of this situation in terms of form and content; however, such a binary seems limiting and somehow, perhaps, in opposition to the notion of the archive and also collaboration.

I hope to be at more events like the one on 20 May!

Kindest of Regards,
John Hyland

Newburyport, MA

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