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'NO ONE REMAINS, NOR IS, ONE: Olson, Black Mountain and Theater Piece #1'

Virtanen, Juha (2012) 'NO ONE REMAINS, NOR IS, ONE: Olson, Black Mountain and Theater Piece #1'. . The Black Mountain College Museum and Arts Center, 13 pp. text. (The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided) (KAR id:54948)

The full text of this publication is not currently available from this repository. You may be able to access a copy if URLs are provided. (Contact us about this Publication)
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Abstract

In her introduction to Charles Olson’s The Special View of History, Anne Charters writes: “when asked about his theories of education before becoming rector of [Black Mountain College], Olson answered: I came with no ideas; Black Mountain did it all”(1970:2). During his time in the College itself, Olson identified that if Princeton’s Institute for Advanced Studies was “a kind of assembly point of ideas”, then Black Mountain would ideally be conceived of as “an assembly point of acts”(Olson, 1977a:28). As these statements imply, the milieu at Black Mountain, for Olson, was one of action and communal convergences. Such statements are also the point of departure for this article, which will investigate one particular event that emerged from this milieu. More precisely, my intention is to approach a tentative account of John Cage’s ‘Theatre Piece #1’ from an Olsonian perspective. The event was performed as a part Black Mountain’s summer programme in 1952, and involved many of the college’s faculty members, including Olson, in its proceedings. Although reports regarding Olson’s stance towards the event and his attitudes towards Cage vary, often becoming contradictory in the process, my intention in this article is to suggest that some form of dialogue can be opened up between the performance and Olson’s poetics at that time. These suggestions do not seek to attribute any ownership of ‘Theatre Piece # 1’ to Olson, but rather to arrive at an understanding of the event as emblematic of the social situations that formed a significant part of Olson’s attachment to the college. I will conduct my proposals in three parts. I will firstly provide a brief account of what we know happened during ‘Theatre Piece # 1’. From there, I will move to negotiating Olson’s role in the performance and his responses to it. Based on these proposals, I will venture to offer an analysis suggesting some parallels between the dynamics of the performance of ‘Theatre Piece # 1’ and those present in Olson’s conception of ‘composition by field’ and the ‘stance towards reality’ he implies within it.

Item Type: Internet publication
Uncontrolled keywords: John Cage, Charles Olson, ‘Theatre Piece # 1’, ‘Projective Verse’
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PE English philology and language
P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN2000 Dramatic representation. The theatre
P Language and Literature > PS American literature
Divisions: Faculties > Humanities > School of English > Centre for Modern Poetry
Depositing User: Juha Virtanen
Date Deposited: 13 Apr 2016 12:59 UTC
Last Modified: 29 May 2019 17:13 UTC
Resource URI: https://kar.kent.ac.uk/id/eprint/54948 (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)
Virtanen, Juha: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-0286-860X
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