Spill Writing

Echo/plasm (Jessica Worden) / Of Leonardo (Elaine Mitchener)


I arrive late, and enter a room set up for a book reading. Jessica Worden is reciting paragraphs from a book at the front. I slip quietly, finding a place to listen. She is reading closely and the words, they start to shatter.


Barely audible whispers become strangled utterances. Reading, she navigates between the pull of sequences of rational, scientific words, to mutterings that become incantations, a chorus of grief, an orgasmic moan, I cannot tell.


You cannot tell and you cannot speak, and because you cannot speak you will be effaced in books, and heavy tomes, from knowledge and science.


The microphone is partner to her voice, she whispers and is made audible. I hear the cadences of her voice through the machine, multiple and vibrating, with the stutters and interruptions of others, filling the space with the thickness of language and all that lies in-between.


I am taken back to Friday evening when I saw Elaine Mitchener’s opera, Of Leonardo, her voice loaded with multiple voices that came before and will come again, making visible the failure of the silencing strategies of science, colonialism and rationality.