Sunday, March 08, 2009

Flarf Reading #12

Tost, Tony. 2003. "I Am Not the Pilot". Cortland Review 22.

The argument for this poem being a work of Flarf depends on its likeness to, say, Gary Sullivan's "Poem" and Sharon Mesmer's "I Am Apparently Unable to Subscribe". All three poems are obviously Google-sculpted and all three offer shifts between frivilous and sentimental moments. There is nothing "profound" in any one line of these poems. And this lack of "surface depth", if you will, is to my mind the greatest achievement of Flarf.

I have decided to read this poem more closely than planned. So I'll leave it here for now.


Kirby Olson said...

Comedy (or its broader category: humor) can never be lyrical. True or False?

Thomas said...

False, I think. But I'm not quite sure what you mean.

Kirby Olson said...

In the Romantic period the lyricism of the tragic, the Gothic, the sad, was the penultimate.

I don't know yet if we've invented a comedy that can sing without at least dipping into sorrow. Comedy is cold. Tragedy is hot.

You can have a kind of Ice Cream Sundae -- hot and cold, and the hot part is lyrical. Maybe cold desserts can be lyrical, or perhaps in some way, they can even be "hot" in the sense of fashionable. Let me ask you another question:

Flarf derives from the same strand of Duchampian Dada that Warhol derived from: T or F?

Thomas said...

Flarf is lyrical, and vaguely romantic, in so far as it successfully wrests intensity from the materials of common speech.

Contrary to a widely held view, I don't think Flarf owes its poesie to same effects deployed by Dada.

Thomas said...

My reading of Sullivan's "Poem", for example, shows how it goes beyond mere 1980s surrealism. (That doesn't guarantee that it's beyond Dada, too, of course. But I don't know enough about that movement to be sure.)