DiaLogos was conceived as a principle of dialogical engagement of issues important to all the participants and in a spirit of co-performative creation of new configurations of the basic concerns. In the part of the project that shows up here as the Robert Kelly “Ta’wil DiaLogos,” Charles Stein and I were engaging the DiaLogos principle as an alternative to both literary criticism in the formal sense and to interviews as commonly conducted. This is discussed in the opening paragraphs of that 1973 piece, where it is noted that we also conducted dialogical sessions with other poets in the 1970s (such as Theodore Enslin, Jonathan Williams, Thomas Meyer, and Charles Simic). Somewhere behind this approach, I think, was the spirit of Heidegger’s “Conversation on a Country Path” and the haunting way that the speaking was a weave among the participants, beyond individual identity as such, and far from the biases and polemics common to critical and philosophical discourse.
Beyond this interactive format of discussing/recording/transcribing/editing the conversations, there has been a more extended practice of interactive discourse between Charles Stein and me. One direction of this has been in relation to pieces written on Gary Hill in which we followed a similar process (in some cases involving Gary Hill in the conversation too), and then, for the most part, I would write the final piece, with contributions along the way from CS. Sometimes I would write the piece without the ongoing conversations with him, but even there I relied in some degree on a history of those dialogical interactions. These pieces are now collected in our book
An Art of Limina: Gary Hill’s Works and Writings,
Foreword by Lynne Cooke (Barcelona: Ediciones Polígrafa, 2009).
The piece called “DiaLogos: Between the Written and the Oral in Contemporary Poetry” was not literally one of the dialogical exercises, but looked at the underlying principle as suggesting a way that the interaction of written and oral principles in new poetry is implicitly dialogical, indicating that at stake is a possible way of seeing the conscious evolution of poetics. This approach is continued in “The Age of the Open Secret” which additionally posits an Other Tradition based on such principles.