being drawn in by Vizenor

I have been playing piano a bit less. I hope it’s not as a result of the continually gradual worsening of my dupuytren’s contracture. It’s not getting better but I wasn’t expecting it to. Today I did play some Haydn. Yesterday I played from the Fitzwillian Virginal Book. Before that I played Brahms.

I have been spending a lot of time with Gerald Vizenor. I am being drawn into the maelstrom of his ideas and stories. The ideas are complex and connect a set of his own word coinage and usage to the semiotic and philosophical ideas of people like Foucault and Derrida—-to mention only a couple…. he also references Nabakov, Nietzsche, Che Guevara, Thomas Jefferson, and Jerzy Kosinksi. It’s going to be a while until I wrap my head around his thoughts. But until I do here’s another of his stories.

Before I type it here you need to know that Clement in this story is Clement William Vizenor, Vizernor’s father.

As far as the use of lowercase and italicized indian, here’s one of Vizenor’s comments: “The simulation of the indian, lowercase and italics, is an ironic name in Fugitive Poses. The Indian with an initial capital is a commemoration of an absence—evermore that double absence of simulations by names and stories. My first use of the italicized indian as a simulation was in The Everlasting Sky. The natives in that book were the oshski anishinaabe, or the new people

[here Vizenor footnotes his own book: The Everlasting Sky: New Voices of the People Named the Chippewa (New York: Crowell-Collier, 1972) he goes on with this explanation in the footnote: “Before you begin listening to the oshki anishinaabe speaking in this book, please write down a short definition of the word indian,” he wrote in the introduction, “Your brief organization of thoughts about the word indian will help you understand the problems of identity among tribal people who are burdened with names invented by the dominant society.”]

Then he finishes off his remarks about the word indian: “Since then, natives are the presences, and indians are simulations, a derivative noun that manes an absence, in my narratives.”


Here’s the story.

“Clement, his brothers, and other natives in urban areas were indians by simulation, transethnic by separation, but native in the stories of their survivance. One contractor refusted to hire my father and uncles as house painters because they were indians; the contractor reasoned that indians never lived in houses, and therefore would not know how to paint one. Consequently, my father, uncles, and other natives had to present themselves to subsequent contractors as some other emigrant; at last my father and uncles were hired to paint houses as Italians.”

All quotes from Gerald Vizenor’s Fugitive Poses.

Vizenor quotes from such a wide range of authors that I thought should try to get copies of a couple of books to help me understand what Vizenor was getting at. The first was Homo poeticus : essays and interviews by Danilo Kiš.

Homo Poeticus: Essays and Interviews by Danilo Kiš

This was in the MelCat catalog which means I could interlibrary loan it which I did.

The second book was Jean Baudrillard : selected writings edited and introduced by Mark Poster

Jean Baudrillard : Selected Writings by Jean Baudrillard, Mark Poster,  Jacques Mourrain | 9780804714808 | Reviews, Description and More @

This was in the MelCat Catalog but was not available for interlibrary loans. It was only 20 bucks on Amazon so I just ordered the damn thing. I made a note where he quoted from these and the page numbers he indicated. I hope this helps me understand this stuff better.

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