today’s ensemble: my prosody

I’m a little late on the uptake, having got off the track of my ululations thanks to the beginning of the semester and all its concomitant exigencies, but it’s not too late, I hope, to acknowledge and respond to Laura’s superb post on prosody and dressing.

She refers to Robert Kocik’s work on his Prosodic Body site. He has what he calls an extended definition of prosody here, but it’s actually extremely abbreviated compared to his essay, “Prosodic Body”, that appeared in the most recent Crayon magazine. I do wish I could link to it. In my perfect world everything would be available BOTH online and in paper. It is certainly one of the most exciting essays on poetics I’ve read recently, partly because, as Laura mentions, its sweeping scope (‘prosody is everything”), but also because of what Gary called (after I had enthusiastically recommended he read it), its rigor. Well, rigor is not a word I like very much; I find it prosodically disturbing, maybe too mechanical. The essay is rigorous, but more than that it is vigorous and inventive.

He begins by tracing two possible etymologies of the word prosody (did I mention how much I love the word? It enacts itself. I want to roll around in it as much as I want to roll around in what it represents… whatever that might be). He then explores how words might be medicinal: pharmakons? He poses a number of questions to make one consider the relationship of a work’s prosody-form to its psycho/somato/semanto-affects. But you see, he does this beautifully; summarizing (especially in the awkward way I do it, because I hate summarizing, I’m much too impatient) butchers it, so you really should just go and read it. At first reading I remember thinking that it was a little kooky the way Gins and Arakawa (whose work I love, by the way, and with whom Kocik is associated)’s work is kooky: Fourieran, utopian, nice for dreamers but hello what is the real world application. Then I read it again , and then again, and realized that, no, in fact his argument is logical, not just visionary, and I’ve thought these things a million times, although I haven’t articulated them in his vigorous and inventive way. I don’t mean by that to neutralize the originality of his ideas, but rather to praise them for the way they round out with argument what most of us, I guess, already know by poetic intuition.

But, yes, well, prosody is everything: what he calls “the ploy of tension/relaxation”: day and night, zeroes and ones, black intervals between film frames, breathing, and the rhythms of digestion, movement, and sex. I apologize for being too obvious here, but prosody seems to me to be very obvious since it’s what we live in. These are all binaries, not the sort one complains about, but the practically primordial given facts. Prosody is not just binaristic, but, as shape, and as shape as sound, is given to all sorts of parallelisms, tangents, and, as Laura points out, repetitions.

She rightly points out that my outfits are “always the same but always different.” Today’s outfit is especially always the same, in that I could probably do several variations of it each time using entirely different items in my possession. That is because I am attached to certain sets of signifiers that today’s outfit, and the countless others like it, sends forth. I did take to heart, though, her comment that my poses tend to be the same, so I will try to be more inventive in my poses henceforth, more modern dance and less hi I’m posing. The only problem is that then one sees the pose more than the clothes, and I thought the clothes should be the point of this. Well anyway.


The embroidered skirt quotes the skirts of the women I imagine to be my ancestresses back in the shtetls: diasporan nostalgia. A full skirt is absolutely the most feminine signifier of any fashion item, although maybe not the sexiest. The length of this one, above the knee, says playful and juvenile despite the chronological and hormonal reality, so: fantasy, but not a kinky one. This is me fiercely asserting my youth in age. What are you going to do about it? I suppose the little heart barrettes (can you see them?) do the same thing. Heart barrettes. Black tights. It’s the first day cool enough to wear black tights. God I LOVE black tights, especially at the beginning of the season (by February I’ve had enough); my mother tells me she went to college with 26 cashmere sweaters and came home a beatnik, wearing… black tights. So I suppose I’m quoting my converted mother-as-beatnik here. New Docs to break in, even chunkier than normal pairs: fuck yeah. Again, the first day that it’s been cool enough to go there. I’ve said this before, but the way the Docs speak to the little skirt just makes me incredibly happy. Yet another variation of the ¾ sleeve cardigan, in a jewel tone to complement the jewel tone of the skirt. In my Fourier world, everything would be a complementary jewel tone: garnet, sapphire, emerald, topaz, peridot, ruby, etc. No pastels. And then the glasses, the goddamn glasses, well, I don’t know, do I look smart? Anyway, this is my semiosis and my prosody today.


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