ABC of Reading TRG examines the writings of Steve McCaffery and bpNichol, with a special focus on their collaborative work as the Toronto Research Group (TRG). The book expands what little criticism there is on the Group’s collaborations by exploring their engagements with literary theory, by differentiating between each writer’s personal concerns, and by reading their reports in conjunction with their individually authored writings.
On the one hand, it reads TRG’s reports ?against the grain”: it attempts to uncover the unconscious links among repressed affective and political elements that circulate throughout their writing. This approach predominantly entails situating TRG in the shadow of perspectives developed by Lacan, Fredric Jameson and Slavoj Zizek. On the other hand, it also reads the TRG reports sympathetically, by underlining their construction of a positive, productive desire which does not centre on lack, but which actively celebrates multiplicity and affirmation, an approach that chiefly reads the group in the light of theories proposed by Barthes, Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari, and Julia Kristeva. Readers can operate this book either by reading it conventionally from beginning to end, or by following chains of thought, indicated by superscript letters which link non-sequential chapters together-a device borrowed from Book 5 of bpNichol’s The Martyrology. The rhetorical artifice of the alphabetical framework affords a means to preserve one of the TRG’s most significant contributions to research writing on contemporary poetics, i.e., their simultaneous stress on both form and critical investigation.
In the end, ABC of Reading TRG discusses not so much what the Toronto Research Group’s reports are about, but what they invite us to think about.
Peter Jaeger, author of ABC of Reading TRG has taught writing and theory at Dartington College of Arts, University of Toronto and Royal Holloway, University of London. He currently teaches Creative Writing at Roehampton University.
His publications include Eckhart Cars (Salt Publishing, 2004), Power Lawn (Coach House Books, 1999), ABC of Reading TRG (Talonbooks, 1999), and Eckhart Cars (Salt Publishing, 2004), as well as the chapbook Bibliodoppler (Writer’s Forum, 1998) and the artist’s workbook stretch conflates (Tailspin, 1997).
Peter Jaeger was born in Montreal, Canada.