The Lores: Robert Sheppard Reality Street Editions £7.50 ISBN 1-874400-23-7
The Lores, like Empty Diaries, constitutes a major section of Sheppard’s remarkable Twentieth Century Blues project. Like Empty Diaries, it is partly based on mathematical modes of construction, in this case, as Sheppard explains, the number of words in the book – 5040 – derives from Plato’s ideal number of citizens for his second Republic. As Sheppard explains, the fact that this number is divisible by most numbers makes it useful for ‘raising the taxes and militia, and – doubtless – for surveillance’. The tension between Plato’s laws and Sheppard’s lores, suggests the argument underlying the text – that absolute models of power must be resisted and replaced by plurality, even locality in the form of ‘bye-lores’. The poetics of this plurality are documented in Sheppard’s text ‘Linking the Unlinkable’, collected in his Far Language (Stride, 1999). A response to the work of Jean-Francois Lyotard in ‘Discussions, or phrasing “after Auschwitz”’ and Jacques Derrida’s reply to this lecture, Sheppard sketches a poetics of the ‘creative linkage’ of phrases (as opposed to the ‘authority of the sentence’), as a model of ethical writing which argues with Adorno’s notion that poetry after Auschwitz is barbaric. As Derrida writes: ‘If there is somewhere a One must it must link up with a one must make links with Auschwitz’. Creative linkage is a means by which disparate materials may be yoked together in a politicised poetical discourse. This is not the same as juxtaposition – the links must appear both more and less disruptive, so that they persuade by their connection.
To read the full review, click here: