Although the essays in this book represent an ongoing inquiry into a cluster of issues that have occupied my mind for several decades, many began as somewhat different pieces for specific occasions. I am grateful to editors and conference organizers without whose invitations some of these essays would surely not exist.
The second epigraph to the introduction, "Essay as Wager," first appeared in The New York Times and is reprinted here by permission.
"The Poethical Wager" first appeared, in a shorter version, in Onward: Contemporary Poetry and Poetics, edited by Peter Baker. It is printed here by kind permission of Peter Lang Publishing, Inc., New York. ©1996. All Rights Reserved.
"Wager as Essay" first appeared in Chicago Review 40, no. 1 (spring 2003). The first epigraph to this essay appeared in Theodor W. Adorno, "The Essay as Form," in Notes to Literature, vol. 1, translated by Shierry Weber Nicholsen. It is reprinted here by permission of Columbia University Press, New York. © 1991.
"Blue Notes on the Know Ledge" began as an essay invited by Lyn Hejinian and Barrett Watten, editors of Poetics Journal, for their issue on Knowledge (no. 10, published in 1998) and also exists in another form as a lecture-performance with syncopated slides, presented at Modern Language Association in 1996; MOCA, Washington, D.C., in 1997; and Bard College in 1997.
"Poethics of the Improbable: Rosmarie Waldrop and the Uses of Form" was first printed in Contemporary Literature 40, no. 3, © 1999, as the introduction to "A Conversation with Rosmarie Waldrop." It is reprinted by kind permission of the University of Wisconsin Press. The first epigraph to this essay first appeared in the Contemporary Authors Autobiographical Series, by Rosmarie Waldrop, Gale Group, © 1998, Gale Group. Reprinted by permission of The Gale Group. The second epigraph to this essay first appeared in Two Novels by Rosmarie Waldrop:
"The Hanky of Pippin's Daughter" and "A For/of Taking/It All." It is reprinted here by permission of Northwestern University Press. © 2001.
"The Experimental Feminine" began as a talk for a symposium, "Special Knowledges: Giving Voice to the Silenced," October 1999, conceived and coordinated by Tol Foster, sponsored by the English Department at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
"The Scarlet Aitch" was, in different versions and parts, delivered as a lecture at "Poetry and Ethics: The Question of Language," a symposium cosponsored by the Lannan Foundation and Georgetown University, February 2000; and at "Poetry and Ethics," a symposium organized by Joanne Molina and sponsored by the Department of Philosophy and Religion at the American University, March 28, 1998. The first epigraph to this essay first appeared in D.W. Winnicott, Playing and Reality (New York: Tavistock-Methuen, 1984). It is reprinted here by permission of Thomson Publishing Services Company.
":RE:THINKING:LITERARY:FEMINISM: (three essays onto shaky grounds)" first appeared in Feminist Measures: Soundings in Poetry and Poetics, ed. Lynn Keller and Cristanne Miller. It is reprinted by kind permission of the University of Michigan Press, Ann Arbor, © 1994. All Rights Reserved. The epigraph to this essay first appeared in Theresa Hak Kyung Cha, Dictee (New York: Tanam Press, 1982). It is reprinted here by permission of the University of California Press.
"The Difficulties of Gertrude Stein, I & II" is an expanded version of a lecture written for "Gertrude Stein @ The Millennium," a conference organized by Stephen Meyer at Washington University, St. Louis, February 1999. Part 1 was first published in American Letters and Commentary, no. 13 (2001).
"Geometries of Attention" first appeared in a somewhat different version, accompanied by a visual text, in On Silence, a special issue of Performance Research (volume 4, no. 3 [winter 1999]), edited by Claire MacDonald and published by Routledge (London).
"Fig. 1, Ground Zero, Fig. 2: John Cage—May 18, 2005" was written at the invitation of Marilyn Boyd DeReggi for a John Cage symposium at the Strathmore Hall Arts Center in Rockville, Maryland, in 1989. It was first published by Rod Smith in Aerial 5, Washington, D.C., 1989.
"Poethics of a Complex Realism" first appeared in John Cage: Composed in America, ed. Marjorie Perloff and Charles Junkerman. It is reprinted by kind permission of the University of Chicago Press. © 1994 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved.
"UNCAGED WORDS: John Cage in Dialogue with Chance" was commissioned by Julie Lazar, curator at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, for the catalog accompanying the exhibition, Rolywholyover A Circus (Rizzoli: New York, 1993).
A manuscript page from John Cage's "Overpopulation and Art"—"my now does this"—is reproduced in the essay "Uncaged Words" by kind permission of the John Cage Trust.
A page from John Cage's Empty Words: Writings '73–'78 (Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1979) (All Rights Reserved) is reproduced for the essay "Fig. 1, Ground Zero, Fig. 2" by kind permission of Wesleyan University Press.