j / j hastain and t thillerman: approximating diapason

approximating diapason by j/j hastain and t thillerman, Spuyten Duyvil 2012

Reviewed by AIMEE HERMAN 

What might happen if bodies could burrow into the space between paint and wall or paper and spackle? To digest the conversational explorations of others and eavesdrop on the  intimacy between humans deconstructing language. This is how I felt upon reading the engagement between j/j hastain and todd thilleman in their documented dialogue, Approximating DIAPASON: or How to Milk the Con and the In of tension of tense-ing of tensile.

Peel that fly off of paused wall—dissect its nutrients gathered from the vocabulary, translated movements and discourses filling up the room like transported ocean. Be prepared for salt-water swallow of shattered confidentiality. This text is a movement toward understanding process, decoding pattern, and redefining directions.

Might this be a manifesto? A declaration of relevance regarding the methodology of literature?

hastain begins ripping apart the “fetishized word space[s].” Through footnote annotations, the reader is privileged with more than just an explanation, rather a deeper version of hastain’s logic. In addition, when these marginal notes are not enough, feast eyes upon photographs, a collage of visual language.

We are visited by the possibility—the choice of one or the other.

or         or         or                     or                     or or or or         or                     or or or or or

or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or or

What is gathered becomes a definition of muscle. The innards of language: bone’s societies beyond publishing, beyond the life of a writer, or of sexualized human. hastain offers the reader options. Words without distraction, and a cut-up version of vocalized symbolicly adorned body.

hastain writes:

Body, a frame and what content exists within the frame, but by way of this gender-less and sex-less figure frame itself becomes flexible and fresh.

How con(text)ual is body? When one’s perceivably clothed skeleton becomes the brain’s text, what is broken through? A word began as just letters pressed together. Then, the evolution of meaning, labeled speech and signification. Watch out for misinterpretation. Let go of restrictions and expectations. Thankfully, the entirety of this text forces the reader out of these borders.

t thilleman speaks on the need to go beyond mission statements:

There is no manifesto. There’s a museum. It is a museum of images. Some are not animated,

some are. What causes the images to be received or ignored depends on a series of factors:

            1/ the weather

            2/ your mother

            3/ life force

            4/ interest


            6/ indentity

What causes a thought to be human? Be mindful of the guard created by categories. If thilleman’s list continued in its numerical dependents, would we be moving closer to a sense of understanding or further away? Some readers may be looking to glimpse, while others are in search of a thorough immersion in this literature and criticism. What truly surrounds us? Earth…skin…cellular structure…choreographed gestures of call/response…the logistical journey of memory…internalized sexual clarity.

thilleman continues:

[T]he lipid-like soft cells are also our history as well as our waking life, and poetry

takes this into its term and understands that contention in the world at large is also embodied

in the ‘small’ contemplations of opposition within lines and divinations of the formal and informal

poetic. So life after death is the center of poem.

What becomes typified upon lucidity? If the center of one’s poem or typographical gesticulation is the space beyond expired self, perhaps we are closer to the core of language and form once the distraction of life no longer exists. What is the goal in all of this expository disemboweling? hilleman proposes this question and one may wonder if there must be a desired connection to reader, to meaning, to fulfilling some sort of intentional declaration or conclusion.

Approximating DIAPASON dismembers the innards of poetry, gender, the markings of body’s fingerprints and echoes, the caves in which one may peer in and see shadow’d hieroglyphics of explanations, lineage of embodiment, how thoughts grow old, rooted and challenged.

This text is a conversational travelogue “in hopes of accumulating some form of cumulative fascia” (hastain).

approximating diapason by j/j hastain and t thillerman

ISBN: 978-1-881471-0101

Aimee Herman is a performance poet who can be read in Lavender Review, Clean Sheets, Sous Les Paves, and Caketrain Journal. Her book of poetry, to go without blinking, was published in 2012 by BlazeVOX . Aimee can be found writing poems on her body in Brooklyn. Find her work, Body, No Body, in the new great weather for MEDIA anthology, It's Animal But Merciful.

We accept book reviews for our website. Please query via the contact page before submitting. Reviews must be under 1000 words. Our aim is to support new and emerging writers, and other small presses. Poetry and experimental prose reviews preferred. Review submissions accepted all year round.