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Trash Culture

Objects and Obsolescence in Cultural Perspective


Edited By Gillian Pye

In the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries, concerns about the environment and the future of global capitalism have dominated political and social agendas worldwide. The culture of excess underlying these concerns is particularly evident in the issue of trash, which for environmentalists has been a negative category, heavily implicated in the destruction of the natural world. However, in the context of the arts, trash has long been seen as a rich aesthetic resource and, more recently, particularly under the influence of anthropology and archaeology, it has been explored as a form of material culture that articulates modes of identity construction.
In the context of such shifting, often ambiguous attitudes to the obsolete and the discarded, this book offers a timely insight into their significance for representations of social and personal identity. The essays in the book build on scholarship in cultural theory, sociology and anthropology that suggests that social and personal experience is embedded in material culture, but they also focus on the significance of trash as an aesthetic resource. The volume illuminates some of the ways in which our relationship to trash has influenced and is influenced by cultural products including art, architecture, literature, film and museum culture.


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Catherine Bates and Nasser Hussain - Talking Trash/ Trashing Talk: Cliché in the Poetry of bpNichol and Christopher Dewdney 165


Catherine Bates and Nasser Hussain Talking Trash/Trashing Talk: Cliché in the Poetry of bpNichol and Christopher Dewdney The minute you start paying attention to waste a dif ferent relation with it is enacted. — Hawkins 2006: 13 To this very day civilization’s ambivalence toward shit continues to be marked, on the one hand, by a will to wash those places where garbage collects (i.e., in city and speech) and, on the other, by a belief in the puri- fying nature of waste – so long as it is human. — Laporte 2000: 38 I always said that I was part of the oral tradition. I always said poetry was an oral art. When I went into therapy my therapist always said I had an oral personality […] And here I’ve been for years running after me, trying to catch up, shouting ‘it’s the oral’, ‘it all depends on the oral,’ everybody looking at my bibliography, the too many books & pamphlets, saying with painful accuracy: ‘that bp – he really runs of f at the mouth’. — bpNichol 1988: 15 Running Of f at the Mouth We propose in the space of this essay to consider a singular entity in the oral tradition: the cliché. The cliché is the thing that appears to have ‘always’ been said (note above how bpNichol insists on the ubiquitous and omni- present nature of his convictions regarding orality). That which is ‘always said’ ultimately finds its way into print, and from there, is reflected back into the sonic sphere through...

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