Suzanne Doppelt: Ring Rang Wrong


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Borrowed voices, invented voices, and a very personal but unplaceable voice all wind their way through these mock-philosophical meditations on nature and cosmos. Juxtaposed with her precise and abstract photographs, Doppelt’s text considers astronomy, weather, the five senses, plant life, the insect world, and the nature of time, all in an implicit dialogue with the pre-Socratics. Often funny, often wry, this book betrays an affectionate love for the world.

Some pre-Socratic fragments appear translated into a phonetic language by the composer Georges Aperghis.

“thus, whereas Doppelt’s photographs appear as frozen singularities in a kind of glacial or suspended time, her textual fragments proliferate on an abstract plane of endless lines of flight. Here language trembles at its own fascination with always beginning again (or arriving too late)….

In Ring Rang Wrong, such acts of naming, declarative statements, and utterances of simple fact are never given the chance to congeal into original or self-contained “truths”: the book’s finely tuned fascination interrupts this process, attempting to return us incessantly to the beginning, to the linguistic act of demarcating a discrete universe. It is a scene where language is filled with such enthusiasm that, as we say, it can barely contain itself.”
—William Rauscher, “Shades of a Minor Science,” artUS 17

What is at stake here is a discursive perversion, a gesture of transvaluation that tells us that there is something like a children’s story in every naturalist discourse, that there is something like a fairy tale in every scientific fragment…. Ring Rang Wrong tells us that the poetic task is one of connecting distant fragments of the world and making them produce new sounds. Or of putting them together, as if it were a matter of one of the many photographic diptychs that traverse the book, interrupting it, making a new diptych, a new Doppelt, in each instance, in every moment, and with language itself.
— Eduardo Cadava, Verse 24

“In pursuit of an epistemology as witty and unltimately suspect as it is classical, Doppelt spins a web of sensory sleights-of-hand, whereby the optical is coded aurally, the oral restructured in olfactory terms, each of the body’s perceptive instruments working “sometimes one way, often another,” but always in cahoots… the world of Ring Rang Wrong obeys scrambled, Heraclitean instabilities not unlike those of the real world.
As these epigrammatic statements exhibit, the predominant modes in Doppelt’s repertoire are the copula and the simile, is and as, gestures of equivalence and of analogy….

what Doppelt wants to activate is our intuition that micro and macro converge at evey level…In short, each individual thing, Doppelt claims – aptly converting a noun into a verb to emphasize transition and transitivity — “rhyzomes” with another. This trope of an underground nexus of vital associations is crucial to the ‘philosophy’ of Ring Rang Wrong.”—Andrew Zawacki, Talisman 35
While teaching philosophy and literature in Paris, Suzanne Doppelt developed an interest in photography and has ever since pursued a double career. Several of her books combine images and text. Among them Totem (2002), a book of mock-ethnology, La 4e des plaies vole (2004), which looks at flies, the 4th Biblical Plague, and our present book, Quelque chose cloche. Burning Deck has also, under the title OXO, published her photographic collaboration with Pierre Alferi’s poems, Kub Or.

At present Suzanne Doppelt is working on ghosts and what the fantastic logic of their appearances and disappearances might imply for an economy of the living.

Cole Swensen’s books of poetry include Noon (Sun & Moon) and, from University of Iowa Press, Try, Such Rich Hour, and The Book of a Hundred Hands. She has translated Pierre Alferi, Olivier Cadiot, Pascalle Monnier and Jean Frémon. Both her poetry and her translations have won many prizes.