Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Poetry Reading: Ascending to Reality like Condoleeza Rice

WEDNESDAY, February 7, 5 pm
Atheneum International Bookshop
Nørregade 6
Copenhagen K

This reading will draw attention to the work of six American poets. Themes will cover the full range of poetic images: swans, clouds, hats, eggs, knives, snow, and deer. Their poems have been called "angry, even when they are asleep", "grotesque ... domestic ... war-torn", "rigorously articulate", "aphoristic and electrified", "remarkably fresh and exciting" and, yes, "spooky". These poets have located the human condition somewhere between an advanced alien technology and an intense political audacity. Having discovered how we feel, they write that emotion down. Here's an opportunity to find out how we're all doing.

Thomas Basbøll will read selections from the work of Ben Lerner, Lara Glenum, Tony Tost, K. Silem Mohammad, Drew Gardner and Gary Sullivan.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Borgesque Blurb

My 1981 King Penguin paperback edition of Borges' Labyrinths has the following remark on the back cover.

The twenty-three stories in Labyrinths include Borges's classic 'Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius', a new world where external objects are whatever each person wants; and 'Pierre Menard', the man who re-wrote Don Quixote word for word without ever reading the original.

I find such inaccuracies enormously depressing for some reason. It is no consolation that Borges himself, in 'Partial Magic in the Quixote', tells us that Shakespeare 'include[d] on the stage of Hamlet another stage where a tragedy more or less like that of Hamlet is presented.'

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

This Application Supports the Other

for Sara

If you experience problems,
please select one of the
Details of Interface.

There are three different
Token Rings. Step 2:
connect the Other. But this
feature does not work
reliably. Stop time
or hours worked can be
solved based on the
other three parameters
through a twisted pair
and the emerging subject's

continuous communication
between the process manager
and the optimal process,
rather than the other
way around. An environment
for the rapid construction
of visual elements to
be added to the graphs
constructed in sophisticated
editing of the 400 different
other disappointments.

Originally designed to
discriminate people, the data
are stored in the formats.

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Case Notes 1

The portion of the story that remains after the other components have been dissolved by churning. The woman attends the night game to watch the snow fall near the lights. Only the body of the protagonist is undergoing change. A whistle sweeps the town of meaning.

Ben Lerner
Angle of Yaw, p. 25.

"Dusting for Prints" was probably the first Kate Greenstreet poem I read. I read it in Diagram (4.6) on or around December 10, 2005. About a year later, I read it again but this time in her new book case sensitive. As it turns out, Kate wasn't making her author note in Diagram up:

A woman is driving coast to coast. She is listening to a book on tape, a murder mystery. The poems she's writing in the motels each night combine mystery matter with observation and memory. Later some of those poems will become a chapbook called Where's the Body? A collection of this character's chapbooks form the manuscript case sensitive, my attempt to make the kind of mystery I'd like to read, with all the stuff that I don't need (the murder, etc.) removed.

So there is the natural question: what is the relationship between the "woman" in the first sentence and the "I" in the last. "She" is writing the poems, but so, presumably, is Kate Greenstreet. Where, indeed, is the body?

We know that Where's the Body is collected in case sensitive. So we are to imagine that a fictional chapbook was fictionally published. However, case sensitive also includes the poems "Learning the Language" (in the chapbook/section Book of Love) and "Bridge" (in Diplomacy). These also appear in Kate Greenstreet's very real chapbook Learning the Language. which does not appear in the present "collection of this character's chapbooks." Did Kate Greenstreet steal these poems from her character and publish them as her own, or did her character steal them from her?

Question: did Kate Greenstreet ever drive coast to coast listening to murder mysteries on tape and writing poems in motel rooms? What was she doing? Research for a poem?

Here's another detail. Perhaps it is insignificant, perhaps it is crucial. Like the other "chapbooks" in case sensitive, Where's the Body has endnotes. The first line of the first poem, "Begin with who was killed and why," is attributed to Gillian Roberts' You Can Write a Mystery (1999), which seems to be a real book. This may be perfectly innocent. But there is something else: the endnote informs us that the line has been "used with the kind permission of Writer's Digest Books." Did she really need permission? Since she has even provided her source, wouldn't it be "fair use"? Even if she hadn't provided the source, would a line like that really constitute plagiarism if it had been simply appropriated? She puts the line in quotation marks and endnotes it. But the rest of the book is full of unreferenced quotatations. Why offer a reference here?

The answer must be that it accomplishes a specific literary effect. But we must now ask: did she really ask for the publisher's permission? Like I say, she probably didn't need it. But perhaps she would get in trouble for claiming to have done so if she really hadn't. So she asked for permission in order to accomplish the literary effect of appearing to have asked for permission?

It's all very strange. Suspicious.

Elsewhere in case sensitive, she (who?) says, "A story has to leave out nearly everything or no one can follow it" (p. 29). This is a bit like Ben Lerner's "churning" (see epigraph, where it is used without permission.) The process is not so much that of plot development: "Only the body of the protagonist is undergoing change."

One last detail before the chapter ends in suspense: the endnote does not provide a page reference. Google turns up only this.*

Note: no endnote.

I think this story knows it's being followed.

*Update: the original link went dead, but I found another online version of the poem, which was originally printed in Conduit 15 (Fall 2004). Also, while Google did not return Roberts's book back when I wrote the post, it does now tell us that the quote appears on page 36.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Postmodern Baroque

But Josh, what if Las Meninas does not situate us "impossibly in the mirror"?

All the people in the painting are standing in front of a mirror. The painting is the image as seen by Velazquez. (The Infanta's face is the dead give-away for me, as is her maid on the right, who is enviously comparing herself to the royal child.) The mirror is at a slight off angle to the floor and wall, which accounts for the vanishing point not being in the middle of Velazquez's head (for people who need to know that). The King and Queen are hidden behind (i.e., standing in front of) the canvas (with their backs turned to it) right beside Velazquez. The fact that the canvas depicted in the painting is the same height as the canvas we are looking at is also an obvious clue that this is how the painting should be read.

See also "Borges, the Prado, and I".

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Factory, Laboratory, Museum

Tony, you give us a nice set of images to work with. But I'm not sure I understand the confrontation you are arranging between Pound's "machine art" and Stein's "motor automatism". Your insertion of Kracauer's typists, however, as what Wittgenstein might call an "intermediate case" (PI§122), is pretty much brilliant.

One important distinction, at least at first pass, seems to be that Pound is thinking about how to improve factory production, while Stein (if I understand this correctly) is basically engaging in laboratory experimentation. We could of course imagine experiments to test Pound's ideas (a kind of acoustic Taylorism) and we could certainly imagine taking Stein's reading and writing practices into use. The idea that Pound's factory could be re-interpreted as a museum, however, strikes me as odd; especially if you want to say that Stein's proposal is somehow immune to this. Surely her approaches could be cultivated in some highly idealized settings, while having no impact on reading and writing in general.

What Pound was saying, I think, is simply that we could think about sound in very practical terms. The musician here serves in the same role as a painter might for Albers. He is an expert at producing sound, and his contribution to the world is making it sound better. So there is a kind of pragmatist aesthetics here (in Dewey's sense). Some arrangements of sounds or colours improve the way the environment sounds or looks. More generally, how the environment feels. Other's improve the ear or eye that perceives them. Pound was saying that what the musician hears could be applied to improving what the factory worker hears. But the factory will never be something we would want to listen to in order to improve our sense of sound, i.e., for its own sake.

In a similar way, though I'm not exactly sure how to make the comparison, Stein is trying to improve our sense of language.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Tostian Media

This looks promising. I think poetry has an important role to play in the appropriation of the potential of the new media. I'm not sure Pound was as "blind to his historical moment" as Tony thinks, but I'm basically just looking forward to hearing more about these ideas. Also, it looks like I'm going to have to read some Stein.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Fear as a Mode of State

'Das Wovor der Furcht, das Furchtbare...'

Several points must be considered.

1. It shows itself.

2. The target is a definite range of what can be affected.

3. The region itself is well known. It has something 'queer' about it.

4. Something that threatens us.

5. It can reach us, and yet it may not.

6. This enhances it.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

5 Little Things

I appreciate Jack's gesture, but picking up a meme is not my thing. (Do love those captions, by the way.)

Thursday, January 04, 2007

She Took Time Off

She took time off from touching
due to tendonitis, twice removed.

But she never stopped singing. She raised
two sons. One of them she titled "Night",

and with an eventful year under her belt,
she started touching again in January.