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The Writhing Society meets to practice and discuss the techniques of constrained writing. We practice the methods invented by ourselves and by other writers, artists, musicians, and mathematicians. Today's topic: Quilting Utopia.

Some of you may have heard that anthropologist, author, and activist David Graeber passed away recently. Inspired by his book, Utopia of Rules, we're going to experiment with bureaucratic forms and language. First, we'll do some collaging, and then use our newly created strings of text to inspire some new work.

Recommended supplies:

  • pages of dry text (contracts, lawbooks, manuals, unemployment or tax forms, etc.)
  • other texts (magazines, newspapers, printouts from Wikipedia, etc.)
  • scissors
  • glue and/or tape

In Utopia of Rules, David Graeber wrote, "The ultimate, hidden truth of the world is that it is something that we make, and could just as easily make differently." Let's see if we can quilt these bureaucratic pages into something from our imagination.

Leaders: E. Schurink and C. Bardoff

This workshop will take place online via Zoom. Please RSVP to receive the Zoom link prior to the event.

The Writhing Society combines a class with a salon. In a two-hour session, you can expect a few minutes of introductions and explanations, an hour plus of silent writing, and a half-hour or so in which we will read our work aloud. Then, if there's a little time left for questions and discussion, we'll do that. If you know nothing about writing with constraints, if you do not think of yourself as knowing much about writing, come anyway. No prior knowledge required. This is nothing like your ordinary writing workshop. We work in a relaxed, supportive, playful atmosphere, and we welcome new members.

What are constraints? Constraints are rules, specific and arbitrary, that drive you to say what you hadn’t expected to say in ways you never would have chosen to say it. Constrained writing always involves a collaboration of languages: yours and someone else’s. It allows you to take directions from something outside yourself. In a world where forms of expression thought to be “free” in fact come ready-made from the discourses of powerful groups, composing with constraints becomes a disciplined practice for escape, from these or from oneself, and a source of fresh ideas.

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