Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Flarf Reading #8

Mesmer, Sharon. 2007. "The Nuclear Threat of Richard Chamberlain's Ass Stork". Annoying Diabetic Bitch. Page 94.

I don't remember exactly when it dawned on me how offensive the Cold War was and that the sort of "seriousness" that I had attributed to Shōgun as a twelve year-old was part of it. The War on Terror is of course just as offensive; it is a "Bloviating Ass Stork of Mythical Scope". My question when reading this poem is whether it offers a (satirical) critique of the current threat construct or a (lyrical) poem written under the terms of that threat. I always prefer the lyrical reading over the satirical one and, though I will grant it's a stretch, here's my thinking.

"I have never been able to forget," said an elderly Canadian who had been part of the nuclear disarmanent movement to George Woodcock, "the tragic love of those two young people!" They were talking about Orwell's 1984. Mesmer's poem, I submit, is not really about "the nuclear threat of Richard Chamberlain's ass stork" and a fortiori not about the wrongness of the Iraq War ("Fat ass Saddam is lucky if he has an outboard"). It is about "the object of the bewitched Tatiana's desire." It is about "touchy dong resin". To be sure, it IS "asshat week all over again" (Cold War = 1984 = Age of Terror). But that doesn't mean it's not still all about love.


Kirby Olson said...


What do you think of Samuel Huntington's Clash of Civilizations thesis?

The notion of Islam's "bloody borders"?

do you think this is hysteria?

And do you think that Flarf has a way to ratchet down the hysteria, and make it all about love, all over again?

I'm interested in this.

I would like to think that fundamentalist Islam has not got the upper hand in Islamic countries, and that women really do have rights, and that little girls under the Taliban really did want their heads blown off for learning to read, and that Islam intends to respect women's rights around the globe, and thus, we can talk to them, because we have so much in common.

But I fear that Huntington was a kind of Cassandra, and that our walls are about to be blown to ribbons, and all hell will be unleashed, and western civ will end.

And that Flarf will be responsible for it, and that you will think it's all a good idea, because all you need is love.

I think you also need a military, and a sound sense of values, based on what used to be called the western canon: I'd include J.S. Mill, Locke, and even to some extent SdB in that canon.

Not sure about any Flarfists yet.

I don't think they are contributing anything to a clear building up of norms and values that will help us survive, which is what I think a good poem will do.

A bad poem will avoid the major issues, and destroy us.

Kirby Olson said...

How do you think Flarf would play among the leadership of Al Qaeda?

Kirby Olson said...

On the other hand, I thnik if i were to make a case for Flarf, I would focus on its dialogical qualities (Bakhtin), even though I sense that back behind the many voices culled from the web, and from other texts, there is still a single author, which you could still study biographically, against all the dictates of Foucault and Barthes, and find once more that Eugene Simeon was more or less right in terms of the continuing relevance of l'auteur.