O All The Way Down: On N.H. Pritchard’s Matrix

[a review by Rachel Zavecz]

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1/ something within or from which something else originates, develops, or takes form

2/ a mold from which a relief surface [example: a piece of type] is made

3/ the natural material [example: soil or rock] in which something [example: a fossil or crystal] is embedded

4/ the extracellular substance in which tissue cells [example: connective tissue] are embedded

5/ a rectangular array of mathematical elements [example: the coefficients of simultaneous linear equations] that can be combined to form sums and products with similar arrays having an appropriate number of rows and columns

6/ a main clause that contains a subordinate clause

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page 1


Containment and generation. The image of the empty circle, both the letter “O” and the basic shape moving throughout the book. First poem: the O sits on the page, a physical representation of wreath. It is a lone letter in a sea of white page. Inside this stark circle is more white, like a tunnel into infinite. Pritchard generates the letter, but page and medium generate another sense of meaning. What book might exist far down into the boundless wormhole? What further mouth widening inside the fully opened O? This book is the paranormal medium which channels all ghostly versions, all matrices. A multiverse of poems [O], exist concretely here but also stretch inky fingers into all parallel dimensions, the abstract shade of possibility. We read. Each of us differently. We read these poems unfoldingly and secretly exponentially, adding and subtracting letters and words to form new combinations. Pritchard makes sure of our difficulty – many of the poems here challenge what it means to read and comprehend the English language. It is often difficult to quickly recognize a word in its totality; we must evaluate the significance of each letter, the nature of space, and adjust our mode of thought. The signifier is disrupted into obliteration.

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page 40

In one sense, we might view Pritchard’s poems as correspondents to mathematical matrices – in particular those visual poems that are laid out similarly to the rectangular form exemplified above. These poems are unavoidably reminiscent of basic algebra wherein each unit [a letter, or letters] surrounded by space exists as a suggestion of some unfathomable numeric or linguistic value. Where numbers within mathematical matrices may be referred to as “elements”: does Pritchard’s array of elemental symbols [zoom in: letters] [zoom out: poems] suggest a mode of reading beyond the ability of a human brain to string a series of letters together into signification? Perhaps each letter holds within itself a kind of primordial, tactile meaning. In this sense, we read letters as numbers. Consider placing two poems similar to “METAGNOMY” side by side. Consider your attempt to add or subtract these poems to/from one another. What could this look like? Poems in this form throughout the book utilize the theoretically precise lens of mathematics to present the potential inscrutability and obscurity of reading and language. A potential to solve pulled into a golden spiraling mystery.

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page 18

The nature of the matrix is scientific and mathematical. It is also darkly biologic. The circle circumference shape moves through the text, and here [“MATRIX”] the ghostly figure bleeds through one page and onto the next. It exposes the molten core: the architecture is evident, demonstrative. The matrix of the book itself. Phrases/words/letters gather here around the central hole through which we see the word “conjure.” A generative spell. Literary cells within cells. The entirety of organism larger than the book, larger than the reader, and thus nearly invisible in its immeasurability. Like the author himself, these poems vanish into the unknown; disappear into incalculable realms which compel the reader toward attempted measurement. We try to categorize, try to know, and we are ecstatic to be confounded and hurtling through system after system.



Note: All images in this article were used with permission from the free on-line archive “Eclipse” [http://eclipsearchive.org/]. The entirety of N.H. Pritchard’s book The Matrix is available, as well as his book EECCHHOOEESS, and selected periodical publications.

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