Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Palinurus in Sicily

Poets arguing about wartime poetry: jackals snarling over a dried-up well.

Cyril Connolly (Palinurus)

There seems to be some weariness out there about the discussion of Flarf. I want to quietly devote the next several posts to two poems and their relationship to Google in order to think some issues through in my own way. These two poems are Tony Tost's "I Am Not the Pilot" and Drew Gardner's "Chicks Dig War".

I was going to provide links to them, but it is interesting to note that, while both of these word strings (i.e., the titles of these poems) clearly existed before the poems went online, the poems are presently enjoying the grace of the Page Rank algorithm. So you will have no trouble finding them. It is also relatively easy to locate much of their "source material", or what I sometimes call their "ideoplastic". Before I do that, later this week, I thought I would leave the fun of discovery to those who haven't already done so.

I want to use the poems as an immanent critique of the Palinurian experience on the assumption that there is something essentially anti-Palinurian about making a good poem. So, to begin, imagine Palinurus, Æneas' pilot, on the beach in Sicily among "elaborate games ... brooding over the storm and his leader's conduct while the noisy sport proceeds around him. Finally, to prevent the men leaving, the women set fire to the ships ..." (Cyril Connolly, The Unquiet Grave, p. 130)

Q: You are a pilot? That is SO cool!
A: I am NOT a pilot.

I just cannot, you know, believe in a war
against chicks when they've got the anti-chick war
thing goin' on.
The women will be like "Ooh, what a cute war!"

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