5.04.2004

Marguerete Porete was a writer and preacher executed as a heretic in France in the early 1300s. Her book, Le Mirouer Des Simples Ames Anienties Et Qui Seulement Demourent En Vouloir Et Desir D'Amour, often called A Mirror of Simple Souls, has been the source of three creative writing projects in the past few years. Anne Carson wrote a libretto for an opera entitled DECREATION, the second act of which is based on Porete's trial testimony and writing. MD Coverley edited an online project entitled THE MIRROR OF SIMPLE ANNIHILATED SOULS, where concerns Porete and net.artists share are debated (online at http://currents.cwrl.utexas.edu/archives/fall01/fall01/luesebrink/wone.htm). "In Medias Res," a long poem excerpted here in print from its complete print version in my book DaDaDa (Salt Publishing, 2003), but also existing in animated MS PowerPoint, slide, and transparency, combines the Carson and Coverley approaches to this morality play. "Low fi" and ubiquitous technology (that of common office software) is used to demonstrate writing's survival and erasure. Slide transitions (and, in the print versions, some transitions which are more readily available in print than electronically) which are named in the poem's section titles "fade to white" or slice and dice the words into transitional poems before the words disappear.

Porete was forced to witness a burning of her books before she was burned at the stake. Yet, part of the reason she was accused of heresy was that she was so very good at distributing her work: in a time when women were not parapatetic preachers with self-published books, she was. Many copies of her book survived the auto da fe. So, too, her work has become useful to a diverse group of contemporary writers.

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