This paper was delivered on a panel, Honoring Gerald Vizenor, Post-Indian Poses, at the 2016 MLA conference in Austin, Texas. I presented with David Carlson and Margaret Noodin. The panel was chaired by Alan Velie.

            The paper is sur-scholarship (outside scholarship) because Vizenor is a sur-writer. It is an abstraction of Vizenor's work. A distillation. Somewhat of a spoofery. But stable nonetheless. It is an exploration of the peripheral fields in Vizenor's work.

I consider Vizenor instrumental to native imagination. His work is propagatory. I can't read Vizenor without wanting to start into something of my own. (Creating words, rearranging text, reversing sentences, making forays into that subconscious steam that moves beyond the conscious reading of Vizenor.)

            The paper is a totemization, an amalgamate experience of reading Vizenor over the years.




TOTEM: A Subjective and Creative Interpretation of Gerald Vizenor's Trickery




There are many worlds in Vizenor's writing— visual scenes of recounted memories from various perspectives [Vizenor's CHAIR OF TEARS]. Or recounted perspectives from various memories. Taking into account the communal variations of perception. A migration from one-point-of-view to another. To see from an adjusted way. The adjustments seeing the way.

            Vizenor's term, survivance, is a version of that stasis of circumstance until the flux of thought is transmoted by sound. [mote as in [e]mote, making large by sound] [not the mote of a small speck, but an enlargement of—or going the other way in size]. The [e] removed from emote making it mote—which is the charge that memory has with its many perspectives imbedded in the one memory—making memory motational. Or [e]motational if you will. The variants of moting—the levels and ranges of [e]moting. But the [e] afterwhich will be omitted. Therefore, survivance is reclarifying mis-stories mis-told about the indigenous, which Vizenor does.

Moting is transportational—taking to other places by the vehicle of sound in its solid, written form. Words in other words. The blocks of language that can be made to turn sideways and go through a space between fences. It's where horses lead. And we find them in another field. A transmotation from the field that is theirs into one that isn't. Or from other memory, from one field that isn't theirs, into one that is.

            Likewise, native migration is traced by the movement of a sideways kind. And the Indian is a new being somewhat squeezed by the passage. Revelation of the American Indian with the up-squeak of motal intent. Not wanting in other words, the happenings that happened nonetheless. But speaking up their stories of who what when they are. And how.

            Nonetheless is an interesting word. A fact given to refute the previous fact. Therefore, another fact has taken precedence. A [trans]precedence, in other words. Transfixed as horses when the oats are connected to them. Their nose in the feed bucket. Because of minimal grass in a winter field.

            Who can write about being overtaken by another—without inflicting a bite? There is reciprocity in the offsetting. The nature of nature in an understanding of the crumbled. An oppressor of oppression. A given binomial lifting oppressiveness in a series of oppressionals

that negate the slippage from the pasture. But where would they go? The interstates are not condusive to hooves.

            It was not a given that erasure would be given. But hidden in the folds of inter-relationships of layers between. Loss embedded in language. Get over it, Vizenor says.

            Of the past world we know much. Remembered by the rememberers. Something remains of what was. In the field of horses. In the clouds that pass. In grief that burrows in the holes on the edge of the pasture by the creek by whatever small animals burrow in them.

            The poseurs of winter trees. A rickety chance at meaning. Branching trees without leaves as they are in winter.  The grasses flat, fallen down, set up again between the folds of fields after snow in its polarities.

            I tell them, stay on the land. Show photos I took of the photos. Making syrup of what is otherwise tree sap. It always is performance of wind on the fields. The pluralities of weather.

It is weathery—would it be all right to say?

            The full moon a large flash-light. A flash-flight. A hyper-text of a hydro-plant over Hoover Dam.

            Bustling cattle across the plateau. Pulled back into an out-lier. An escarpment away from the wind.

            Vizenor's writing is a correctional facility for transgressions against native sovereignty.

            The artifice of what constructs the idea of memory—or the memory of idea. Recounted from different perspectives. The doubling of meaning in the use of trickery to get at truth.

            Tribal stresses and victimry as victimization of assimilation. The captured of the captors. Tactically re-dactive.

Un-tube the representation as an act of resistance.

The moving herds of language over the continent.

Clarified as they are signified in the undertext as well as overtext.

            The unintentional amalgamation of the disparate. Indian absence and presence neither coming or going. It will surprise no one. Vizenor uses his text to recount the counting of coup for the re-couping.

            There is interiority. Intentionality. A story within a story that transposes the story it is within—and without. A visual understanding of assimilation. An artifice. An artificer making recovering from it. 

            A totem pole I bought as a child on a trip to California. A force forceful in its own field.  A totem pole is the caricature of a tree, upsetting for Vizenor the perceived nativeness and reclaiming the origin of meaning.

            It is alone but not alone. What storytelling is and how it was taken from the land overtaken by others. The languish uplifted in binoculars to forest, grasslands, winding creek. Something remains of what was.

            The native world turns with hurt. Distortion. Poverty. Taxation. To which Vizenor over-places transcendence by rightly naming the heretofore unnamed. Or at least mis-named. Overmoting the moting out of natural range. Which often happens when angry. Being put all into one box, Vizenor now calling the boxes, which being opened, spill into one another, each talking with their interchangeable, transmotational parts.

            A section of travel that has to be surpassed when another car is oncoming on the narrow road or one-lane bridge of meaning. The swag of road during what have been my travels through Vizenor's work.

The skewed pieces holding changes of transmotational translingering on the land.

            A usurpation in appropriation in the act of mapping native identity.

            How does the land remain in a reconceptualized, linear rationale to the still non-linear post-academic Indian? When not fixed, but transfixed. Each evening I walk. The land speaks of disruption and survivance. The discovered rhetoric of transgenerative indiginuity.

            The conflation of tricksters in the act of carving. The remembering of land and what transpressed upon it. Lineage, history, legend. Of those who came to take it, to change it, to rename it, to carve it as their own. But Vizenor chops the poses not indigenous to the indigenous.

            Filling in history the parts of it that seem to be missing. Following the resonances in the fields of consciousness aligning voice to the imaged voices that haunt.

            In the long driving away from the wounding. No, the long travel on long roads brings up the wounding. But it is not the wound. According to Vizenor, it is the journey through.



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Copyright (c) 2016 Diane Glancy