maanantaina, joulukuuta 27, 2004


Osmo Jokisen 1964 ilmestynyt käsitetaiteellinen runokirja Nollapiste on ilmestynyt hollanniksi. Tapahtuman kunniaksi Tuli&Savu julkaisee nettisivuillaan aiheesta pätevän ja kätevän tietopaketin. »


Blogger Geof Huth said...


Help me with this one. It looks like it is meant to be a severely minimalist punctuation poem (from 1964?), but what are the two characters on the bottom? I can't quite make them out.


10:41 ip.  
Blogger KK said...


You're right, the picture shows two pages from a minimalistic slash conceptual work by a Finnish journalist, Osmo Jokinen. The book was called Zero Point and it came out in 1964 with a subtitle that referred to the piece as "Poems."

I've never actually seen the book, but they say it consists of 64 empty pages -- or so it seems. A closer look will reveal a few things. First, there are the page numbers at the bottom center of each page (the ones that you noted, but couldn't quite make out from the picture). Second, there's a table of contents at the end, which tells us that the book is made up of thirty poems, divided into nine sections. And finally, there are the ominous points, or tiny rectangular dots, that appear here and there throughout the book. There are 31 of them, in all, the first one appearing on page 15. Sometimes there's only one dot, sometimes two or three, but never more than four on any single page (you can see three of them on the left page, here). Naturally, there are a lot pages where the dots are missing altogether. The appearance of the dots (and lack of them) is also indicated in the TOC. So, the book has a structure like any other book of poems.

The book was greeted with the usual outrage. From this on, anybody could claim himself a writer, they said. Some thought, erroneously, that Jokinen was making fun of the concrete poetry/minimalistic art of the day. He said he was not; in fact, although he was not a poet/artist himself (Nollapiste was a one-time shot), he knew a lot of them personally and even discussed artistic issues with them, citing Roland Barthes' Le Degre Zero de L'Écriture as one source of inspiration.

Art philosophy aside, you could say Jokinen's act was also an act of vanity. Although Nollapiste didn't earn the author the status of a real writer, it got his name in the Writers Register anyway, a public record that dutifully lists everybody with a printed work with the minimum of -- you guessed right -- 64 pages.

The reason to bring the book up now, forty years after it was first published, is that it has been just "translated" into Dutch. Now, how many writers can boast with that -- Finnish, American, or otherwise? If you're interested, just follow the link at the end of my story for more information about the Dutch edition.

12:46 ip.  
Blogger Geof Huth said...


Thanks for the explanation! I'll have to learn more about this for my planned anthology of punctuation poems. And the story of this would be great for the introduction to the book.

Maybe my Finnish is improving: I translate "suomalaisen avantgarderunon klassikko" as "classic Finnish avant-garde." (I used to collect stamps, so I recognize the "Suomi" in "suomalaisen"--but maybe the "laisen" means something else.)


3:41 ap.  

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