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A 21st-Cent. Book of Changes: Matias Viegener’s 2500 Random Things About Me Too

By Harriet Staff


YES. We want this book oddly desperately. Hestia Peppe has reviewed, for Full Stop, Matias Viegener’s 2500 Random Things About Me Too (Les Figues Trench Art 2012), “the first book composed entirely on Facebook,” which “is an extraordinary capture of a life and a consciousness in middle age, when mortality and the grid of associations laid by one’s personal history cannot be denied,” as Chris Kraus has written of it. From Peppe’s review:

2500 Random Things About Me Too is based on a Facebook meme, a “note” that’s been circulating since at least 2009 (when I shared it myself and since then forgot about it). You write twenty-five random facts about yourself and then post them, tagging in those friends who you would like to see do the same. Leading up to the book’s publication in 2012, the writer and artist Matias Viegener did this 100 times.


Viegener’s conceit here is so elegant. He takes the language structures and conceptual algorithms of meme and interface and uses them as the basis for a procedural artwork. He refigures Facebook tech into book tech and through the resulting chimera simultaneously generates an intimate memoir and what could almost be a twenty-first century Book of Changes. Every so often he directly addresses the temptation to pull away from randomness, overwhelming urges to direct the text. At other times he seems elated by the freedom the limitations of the experiment afford. Narrative and pattern crystallise around the supports provided. The ‘Me Too” of the title seems to acknowledge the role that synchronicity plays in the work. As with the I Ching, that ancient reference point for book as divination tech, I feel like I could consult this collection of accumulated everyday-ness and find a way through into anything.

Convention dictates I should be quoting Viegener here, but to lift any one individual entry as illustrative seems to deprive the potential reader forever of a moment of exquisite surprise. Every fragment retains some of the intimate suspense lent from disclosure between friends. On first reading, it is the randomness the reader experiences, a tumble and flow of brilliant disorder and then gradually a coalescence into coherence, a tangled thread untangling into a skein. Beginning to write about it, approaching it a second time, it’s different—I open the book where I’ve turned down corners of pages. It’s not that I look back and find the thread’s tangled again, it’s that the thread is gone and the view is now of constellations or galaxies, bright points of meaning that I can enter and be surrounded by. I write out in my notebook the entries that (I think) I chose to turn down corners for. I can’t remember exactly which ones they were and now, at second reading, every single one seems charged up bright with intensity. Each fragment opens up associations across my own interior landscape and back to its page-mates in all directions. Déjà vu. Things happen to Viegener as he writes. This is after all a record in time, chronological despite its fidelity to the spirit of randomness, peppered with the noise of haphazardly triggered memories.

We’ll quote:

1. I too knew a woman with a travelling cat named Treasure.
2. I too like the random thing.
3. When I was six years old I lived in The Solomon Islands in the South Pacific and I learnt the local pidgin dialect.
4. I once drew a picture of a girl who made pearls the way oysters do, in her stomach, vomiting one up like a star.
5. I do not maintain delusions well either.
6. I love dowsing.
7. I like it when younger people are shocked because they realise most people didn’t have wi-fi in 2005.
8. Sometimes I think my obsession with words is like my cat’s allergy to fleas that at its worst causes him to lick patches of his own hair away.
9. LOL (this one is a quote)
10. I fear the violence of theory and its power.

Read the full review here.

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Posted in Poetry News on Thursday, August 8th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.