Works In Egress

Miranda Mellis

I propose to read from speculative, formally experimental, and brief non-fictions in progress, which adopt, for now, the grid as a model for essaying. The numerical bases of the essays – their visual and mathematical forms – are imbricated with their content, which is focused on experimental literary and artistic works that shed new light on a range of proximal disciplinary projects and questions. For example, one grid micro-essay, “Dog, Cloud, Cosmos” (just out from PictureBox press), explores how the cult painter Xylor Jane uses painting to explore (and revel in) pure math. “Magic IS A Culture: Defixiones to Interior Scroll,” constellates works by a poets, theorists, artists and musicians to explore the “curse” as a justice-seeking lyric form. My preoccupations have included, over the years, thinking about how prefiguration, the imaginary, and the proleptic seem to function psychologically, politically, and narratively. I have written many stories exploring how people, particularly young people, use magical thinking and placebo effects – arguably forms of prefiguration and prolepsis – to cope with and outwit trauma. The imaginary and the fantastical become aspirational heuristics in otherwise opaque, unknowable, uncertain situations. The characters in many of my stories lack access to “common knowledge”, and it is by means of the imaginary, and fantasy, that they gain a semblance of agency, however dream-like. The grid essays explore similar terrain less fictively.