litany

for mezzo-soprano and violin
Premiere: Jessie Downs (voice) and Eliot Cless (violin), June 2012 (3 minutes)
Further performances: Rachel Calloway Streisfeld (voice), Ari Streisfeld (violin), May/July 2014

 

“…screaming head, clenched teeth, white knuckles, sweated brow, bloodshot eyes, exhausted and empty, effeminate, endlessly eradicated, Elysium, emasculate, emphallic, embolism, encephalitis, eviscerate, extirpate, entropy, ephedrine, enuresis, excrescence, encyst, eternal return…”

Text compiled by the composer, from works of the following authors: William S. Burroughs, Jean Genet, George Bataille, Antonin Artaud

My interest in the literature of Burroughs, Genet, and Artaud (leading me to the philosophy of “base materialism” propagated by Georges Bataille) stems from a fascination and love for transgressive thought, critiques of accepted norms, and expressive forms of immediacy and contact. I place considerable import on first reactions and initial experiences, through which further exploration can take place. This song’s text, as the title implies, is merely a list, collated from different pieces of literature. What begin as symptoms of either drug use or dope sickness become a list of stream-of-consciousness words beginning with the letter “e,” perhaps in the mind of the addict who is swiftly moving towards transcendence/oblivion.