Peter Rose: Witness

Excerpts from an interview in "Opsis"

..I'm saying that the project of semiotics is one which is both fascinating and also a little bit demoralizing because when you reduce the world to a set of codes, we have no more worlds, no more mysteries to fathom. There's something very depressing, and very logocentric about all that. I like Eddington's remark-Arthur Eddington, the astronomer- "The universe is not only stranger than we imagine, it's stranger than we can imagine." To the extent that semiotics or Marxism or any other systematic approach has as its goal the reduction of things and events to known categories, I see myself as adopting a subversive stance, trying to reveal either the edges of that discourse, you know, or to reveal what's underneath it, to try to open up some spaces. Now I do that within the terms of that discourse, but in a very antithetical way.

..nothing except the affirmation of something outside reductive materialism. It's not a philosophical system which I would undertake to outline in any way at all. It's an affirmation of spirit on some undefined level. It has to do with where language comes from in addition to all the ideological determinants that we all know about. It has to do with will, I suppose. It has to do with self. It has to do with the reality, on some undefined level, of the self, over and above, again, its overdetermining prefigurations. I'm essentially committed to an investigation of consciousness- an affirmation of it as real. In that sense, again, I kind of identify with some of the things you said about Frampton. My work has, in terms of intent, no overt political apsirations at all, although it may have political readings, certainly. The idealism, at its basic level, consists in trying to keep that space open- trying to keep the poetic dimension alive. I see that as a need that operates on a social level, that has a quasi-political dimension. I'm not an idealist in the Kantian sense, but in some totally half-assed, unsystematized way. It has to be unsystematized, otherwise I'd be contradicting myself.

I think it's always a bit foolish to talk about what I'm doing. You have to realize that I don't really have an agenda, and that the pseudo-agendas I create for myself usually evaporate before the project is over. That is, the internal dialogues which I conduct with myself while making the work have no credibility for me two years later. They are simply scaffolds that I use to construct the work and which fold away after the project's been launched.

That being said, I can affirm an interest in simultaneity, in paradox, in complexity; an interest in teaching an audience the rules of certain games and in exploring, with that audience, the implications of those rules. I'm - interested in setting up these systems -visual, conceptual, linguistic- whose laws are known but which somehow get out of hand, that have unexpected implications- a life of their own-and that affirm, however metaphorically, the existence of something outside of a reductive materialism, that affirm the spirit.

I'm an escape artist. I aspire to travel in the fifth dimension, to speak unknown languages, to discover the next stage in the evolution of thought.
I construct structural parables that allude to the possibility of there being more to the universe than our smug explanations permit. I try to subvert our tendency to deconstruct everything while, at the same time, self-deconstructing my own efforts. I throw a lot of words and ideas and images around and hope that some of them will stick together, and then I try to take credit for the consequences.

I think of myself as a poet- in the Maya Derenian sense of the word- trying to find that vertical dimension to experience that serves as a reprieve from the mercilessly forward narrative movement of time and history.

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