BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OULIPO (reread)
BRIEF HISTORY OF THE OULIPO
Author: Jean Lescure
New Media Reader
New Media Reader, URL: http://monoskop.org/images/4/4c/Wardrip-Fruin_Noah_Montfort_Nick_eds_The_New_Media_Reader.pdf
The following text is my annotation about the main ideas of each page and outline of the essay.
In this essay, Jean Lescure talks about the origin and development of Oulipo and its goal and mission.
The difficulty Raymond Queneau encountered when he went along with sonnets writing, and the suggestion from Le Lionnais of starting a research group in experimental literature, encouraged Raymond and brought about Oulipian first meeting. Members of Oulipo raised a question that "the next day in written form" but not yet answered.
Oulipo (Ouvroir de littérature potentielle, workshop of potential literature) changed its name from the original S.L.E used in the first meeting (seminar, literature, experimental), and it introduces important difference. But the essential object of their quest was still literature and Oulipo intended to demonstrate the constraints of literature are literature itself, which indicated their proposal was to discover new constraints/structures. There was a serious revolution and the concept of which is about the "objectivity of literature" and its openness to "all possible modes of manipulation".
Oulipo then started a natural movement to explore language, let it play by itself. What draw their attention when trying to express of the concrete by the abstract is a new concreteness which is not the thing referred by the words but the words themselves. In author's words, "language is a concrete object". Therefore, one can manipulate literary language itself rather than the notions.
Experimentation reintroduced into the Oulipo, to give direction to their exploration. For the most of the experiments, it can be revealed that every literary text is literary because of an indefinite quantity of potential meanings. But Oulipo intended to seek a specific potentiality for their own purposes and it's that of literature which remains to be written.
Oulipians figured out that it is the quality of potential that essential for them. "The goal of potential literature is to furnish future writers with new techniques which can dismiss inspiration from their affectivity." Finally they draw the goal of Oulipo is "to discover new structure and to furnish for each structure a small number of examples."
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