KATHY GROAN: 3 Propositions

Proposition: The ethics of liveability amount to the same as the ethics of form


1. I intend to engage with the world using a form of enquiry I can live with

1.1 The ethics of liveability amount to the same as the ethics of form

1.2 I will make a series of propositions regarding the world

1.3 I use this strategy as a means of interrogating the usefulness of propositions

1.4 These propositions must be tested against the world

1.5 The world will (necessarily) be found wanting

1.6 That the world will (necessarily) be found wanting is only natural

1.7 Whether this constitutes an appropriate vehicle for the articulation of the world falls to the discretion of the reader

1.8 The usability and utility of forms is very important to me

1.9 The liveability of forms is very important to me

1.10 I propose the purpose of the artist is to interrogate at all costs, even if this puts the artist in peril

1.11 I propose that the purpose of the artist is to interrogate at all costs, even if this puts the world in peril

1.12 I propose this format is perilous and therefore compatible with my aims

1.13 Language is perilous insofar as it places us in peril when we use it

1.14 We are perilous insofar as we place language in peril when it uses us

1.15 This form of enquiry is entirely consistent with the world insofar as the world is both perilous and a proposition

1.16 I propose peril is necessary for the life of the artist and the life of the world



Proposition: Language is a blunt instrument


1. I propose that language is a blunt instrument

1.1 Etymology unknown in the case of blunt

1.2 Some connection with Old Norse blunda to doze, blunda augum to shut the eyes, blundr dozing, sleep (Vigfusson)

1.3 Other suggestions are that blunt might be some kind of side-form of blind, or a nasalized derivative of a Germanic root *blut-, whence Old Norse blaut soft, weak, modern German blosz naked, Frisian blat, bleat naked, Old English bléat wretched

1.4 But in the present state of the question these are mere conjectures, having no contact with the history of the word. [In which case I propose that etymology is also a blunt instrument]

1.5 BLUNT: to sleep, to be blind, to be soft or weak, to be naked, to be wretched

1.6 Motion: if we accept the proposition that language is a blunt instrument it follows that language is asleep, is blind, is weak, is soft, is naked, is wretched

1.7It follows that if language is asleep we are the ones who wake it

1.8 It follows that if language is blind then language-use is a chronic case of the blind leading the blind. The question of who leads and who follows is open to debate

1.9 It follows that if language is weak it is easily broken

1.10 It follows that if language is soft it is pliable, yielding, unresisting, tender, vulnerable

1.11It follows that if language is naked it is exposed, destitute, devoid of something, knows no shame

1.12 BLUNT: Dull, insensitive, stupid, obtuse: said, it appears, originally of the sight

1.13 Of a tool or weapon: Without edge or point. spec. blunt instrument, a loose term covering any large, heavy object that might be used as a murder weapon

1.14 Rude, unpolished, rough, without refinement. Obs. or arch.

1.15 Rough, harsh; unfeeling, unsparing. Obs.

1.16 It follows that LANGUAGE is stupid, obtuse, a tool, a large heavy object, unpolished, rough, unfeeling, unsparing



Proposition: “Without a revolutionary form there is no revolutionary art.”  Mayakovsky, V., (1923)


1.   A ‘revolutionary form’ has no idea the word ‘revolutionary’ exists

1.1 A ‘revolutionary form’ is a disgusted ‘form’ that stands (appalled) among the monuments of ‘culture’

1.2 A ‘revolutionary form’ pleases no one because the moment it exists it is unreproducible

1.3 Thus, one definition of ‘revolutionary form’ might be this: a ‘revolutionary form’ is a form that cannot be copied without continually referring back to the ur-form

1.4 Perhaps art is ‘revolutionary’ only insofar as it understands that the idea of ‘revolution’ is contingent on our understanding of its antithesis

1.5 Perhaps this is a way of saying that revolutionary art always takes the form of a retort: i.e. strong art is the ungrateful bastard progeny; the archetypal anti-prodigal

1.6 ‘Anti-form’ is a self-negating term and is the opposite of ‘revolutionary’

1.7 Truly ‘revolutionary forms’ refuse to deconstruct that which they find monumental and appalling

1.8 There is nothing more disheartening than resistance for its own sake

1.9 Is ‘form’ a spatial, temporal or kinaesthetic phenomenon: or is it, perhaps, all three?

1.10 Perhaps ‘form’ is nothing more than the spatial, temporal and/or kinaesthetic qualities exhibited by ‘content’

1.11 Perhaps ‘content’ is nothing more than a symptom of ‘form’ where ‘form’ = materials and ‘content’ = the waste product generated by those materials

1.12 It follows that without ‘form’ there can be no ‘content’: in other words, materials are doing it for themselves

1.13 What is metaphor but an example of form? (What is form but an example of metaphor?)

1.14 (Is form the supreme allegory?)

1.15 ‘Form’ is endlessly pliable: it follows that forms may appear to be ‘revolutionary’ without in fact being so

1.16 Where do ‘revolutions’ begin but with the desire for new ‘forms’?



Kathy Groan was born in Scarborough, North Yorkshire, and has lived in Rugby, Paris, Huddersfield, Manchester and mid-Wales. She has worked variously as a bartender, busker, cleaner, life model, usherette and waitress, and is currently working on a book of creative and critical essays on language, violence and desire.



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