LE PLAISIR DE LA CÔTE / THE PLEASURE OF THE COAST revels in the sketchy subjectivities lurking beneath the smooth surface of the science of imperial measurement, blurring colonial boundaries by calling attention to the messy moments and methods in which they were drawn. The title and much of the text borrows from Roland Barthes, Le plaisir du texte (1973). The word ‘text’ has been replaced with the word ‘coast’ throughout. This détourned philosophy infuses excerpts of scientific writing by the late-eighteenth century French hydrographer Charles François Beautemps-Beaupré with desire. These libidinally-charged phrases intermingle with passages from Suzanne et le Pacific (1921), a symbolist novel by Jean Giraudoux, in which a young French woman wins a trip around the world and becomes shipwrecked on a Pacific island in roughly the same region surveyed by Beautemps-Beaupré 1791-1793. This tripartite language system unfolds in fragments, offering an inchoate yet insistent opposition to the mechanistic view of science based on the assumption of an objective reality. THE PLEASURE OF THE COAST is imperfectly bilingual. Both the original French and the English translations have been appropriated, exaggerated, détourned, corrected, and corrupted. Who, then, is the author of this work? The author is not dead. The author is multiple: multimedia, multilingual, polyvocal. "Which body?" Barthes asks, "We have several.
“J.R. Carpenter understands the writer as the one who plays with words in blocks from many sources, the one who moves words and makes them vibrate in a particular way, without destination or anchor. She knows too that the author emerges when a public hears this vibration, meets and receives this writerly performance. There’s no other writer I’d rather coast with than J.R. Carpenter, and now, I receive her authored words in two languages. You too can join in, receive and marvel!”
“How might the coast be mapped in language? Is it possible to think of the coast as writerly? Can we peruse it as a text? In THE PLEASURE OF THE COAST, JR Carpenter makes the coastline legible in all the ‘irregular pattern / of its veins’, disrupting traditions of imperial measurement through a polyphonic reorganisation of textual and visual material. Fragments by Beautemps-Beaupré, Barthes, and Giraudoux jostle together like waves and are doubled by their translations; like a hydrographer charting the seas, the reader must navigate a shifting world of texts, voices, and words which build up in increments. An adaptation posing questions about what it means to repurpose, THE PLEASURE OF THE COAST takes its lead from the sea’s capacity to erode, reshape, and rewrite coastlines. Alert to the doubts and hesitations that accompany our assessment of the world around us, this work is also deeply pleasurable: ‘if I read this coast with pleasure / it’s because it was written with pleasure’.”
—Suzannah V. Evans
“THE PLEASURE OF THE COAST, through its imperfect bilingualism, questions language, dynamites its relationship with space, strangling it, fictionalizing it. Space and time are blurred by the writing process, undermining Beautemps-Beaupré’s cartographic project, and perhaps even the colonial project. The work questions chronology, history, through a kind of creolization of temporalities, and thus brings out a true poetics of diversity.”
J.R. Carpenter is a UK-based artist, writer, performer, and researcher working across performance, print, and digital media. Her work has been presented in museums, galleries, and festivals around the world. She is a winner of the CBC Quebec Writing Competition, the QWF Carte Blanche Quebec Award, the Expozine Alternative Press Award, the Dot Award for Digital Literature, and the New Media Writing Prize. Her debut poetry collection, An Ocean of Static (Penned in the Margins, 2018), was highly commended for the Forward Prizes 2018. Her second collection, This is a Picture of Wind, was published by Longbarrow Press in 2020. She was President of the Board of Directors of Oboro New Media Lab in Montreal from 2006-2010. She was a faculty mentor for the In (ter)ventions: Literary Practice at the Edge residency program at The Banff Centre from 2010-2014. In 2015 she completed a PhD in Performance Writing from the University of the Arts London. She is a Fellow of the Eccles Centre For North American Studies at the British Library (2015) and the Moore Institute at NUI Galway (2019). She was Writer in Residence at University of Alberta 2020-2021. She is currently a Research Fellow at Winchester School of Art, UK.