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242 The Collected Writings of Michael Snow shockingly funny stories. They often had an art-world connection and had the fantastic aspects that emerged in some of his critical writing and some of his films. He told these amazing stories with a gustatory relish: an interesting criss-cross of oral activities - with Hollis words were savoured as food - but the contrary direction involved, the words' sonorous departure from his mouth, was often being balanced by and perhaps replenished by or fuelled by an equally pleasurable intake of food, drink and tobacco smoke. This was when he was at his unforgettable best, a phenomenon of oral, intellectual and emotional energy. I know or have known other people who had or have the storytelling skill which Hollis had. Some also in the art world. Not many, a few. It's always struck me as an extremely old-fashioned form of entertainment, a survival. Hearing Hollis one felt the presence of an ancient tradition, which of course was there, that of the bard. The style of Hollis's contribution to the several thousand years of bard talk always struck me as basically niineteenth century rather than mid-twentieth, and as I knew him more intimately I felt I could clearly see his lineage. Perhaps being a Canadian I have an outsider 's view of this, but I felt more and more strongly that I had the privilege of being in the company of a man whose cultural roots were in one of the most admirable areas of American culture. He was part of a flowering of nineteenth-century American thought which I'll call poetic scientism. Some of those who embodied this sensibility and are Hollis's peers are Eakins, Thoreau, Agassiz, perhaps Emerson, but certainly C.S. Pierce and especially Muybridge. Hollis's beautiful text titled "Eadweard Muybridge: Fragments of a Tesseract" radiates a familial pleasure which I'll cite as one example amongst many of this kinship. American English found its voice in the nineteenth century and Hollis spoke with this voice. A vocal-exchange anecdote: several years ago, I was invited to a conference at the Museum of Modern Art. Hollis had been there the day before 1 arrived and had delivered an - of course - extremely interesting paper. When I arrived at the auditorium someone gave me a copy of Hollis's paper to read. It was very interesting, and when I was asked to come to the podium and read my paper I brought his and read it as mine. I was able to get several paragraphs, a typewritten page of, I think, four, before someone in the back of the hall yelled: "Hey! We've heard this before!" I admitted it was Hollis's, begged his pardon in absentia, and attempted my own talk. It may seem that this appropriation was merely mischievous or lazy. Those characterizations are right, at least a bit, but I thought of it then as a contributionto the themes of the conference just as recounting it here is intended to be a contribution to the themes of thistalk. In one sense, it wasn't an unfair trade. Hollis, in fact, had used my voice for the sound track of one of his finest films, Nostalgia. The photographs which were used in the film and the commentary that related to them are included in the exhibition here. He was asked why he used someone else's voice to speak texts which are somewhat autobiographical and specifically why he chose my voice. He replied: "Well, for a couple of reasons. One is very practical: when I'm in something that feels like an official situation, my voice is essentially a kind of radio announcer's voice (I think I learned to talk as much from radio as I did from people), which means that it tends to overenunciate histrionically. At one point, I did record my own voice reading that script, and it was just awful. Then I cast around for who else could do it. The reason I finally settled on Mike - except for the possibility of generating a couple of internal On Hollis Frampton 243 jokes - was that Mike has that flat Ontario Scottish delivery. Every now and then, when the Scottish element in that speech suddenly pops forward, I almost expect him to break into a recitation of an Edinburgh Minnesota American English that the radio announcer speaks. My tendency is to imitate Richard Burton in the bathtub." In the same excellent...


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