Friday, January 14, 2011

A bit more from Lana Turner vol 3

It's as if I just woke up, trapped in a metaphor!

Cal Bedient writing on modern art:

There is, then, an equalizing power and effect in these modern styles, style being anyway “the quality common to two different objects.” I quote from Gilles Deleuze, who states in Proust & Signs: “style is essentially metaphor” and metaphor “is essentially metamorphosis and indicates how . . . two objects exchange their determinations . . . in a new medium that confers [a] common quality upon them.”

Vanessa Place:

An a-poetics rather insists that, to use another numerical referent, the trinity is the new binary, and there is no dialogue, no call and response because the poem is no longer treated as a text to be read, however many ways and loose, but is cut loose altogether. The poem is simply a site of potential engagement like other works of art are simply sites for potential engagement, and there may be no “reading” just as there may be no “writing,” but a tripartite encounter with a textual surface. An encounter effected by what I have called a “sobject,” an entity that is neither subject not object but anthropomorphic soup, spatio-temporally seasoned.

David Lau:

A quotation from Fredric Jameson’s recent book, Valences of the Dialectic, has been helpful for my thinking in this regard:

“Whatever still wishes to call itself art . . . must now appeal to a certain violence in reestablishing what must remain merely provisional or ephemeral frames: the mode of perception must also be historically altered, borrowing from that type of attention Benjamin discovered in our consumption of architectural space and which he called distraction . . . to fashion a new kind of attention which we may call directed distraction, and which is closest in spirit to Freud’s association of ideas—a most rigorous process indeed, in which the old self and the older habits of consciousness are to be held in check and systematically excluded.”

[ . . . . ]

It might be that some of Flarf makes the spotlighted and mediatized differences relate, renewing a demotic immediacy for experimental poetry. If many people today distract themselves online, the Flarf poets have been the collective Rodin of such action. In some Flarf (and now “post-Flarf”), there’s a glimpse of what’s beyond an overly self-conscious lyric . . .

It's OK. Go ahead. We all need a lens.  

Steve Willard:

What then of experimentalism’s most recent developments? Flarf’s ear most often selects by lyric rules, marking it as ironically Romantic, and conceptual poetry—in addition to being a pagebound, non-ephemeral version of conceptual art—has its semi-conscious reinscription of 18-century aesthetics to deal with. (Kant’s impurposivity is constantly being regurgitated, ad nauseum, by Kenneth Goldsmith and others, but without Cage’s comic twinkle.) Even Badiou, with his careful definitions, manages to wring old changes with his valorizations of surprise and new knowledge (respectively harking back to Baudelaire and Ion.) In light of which, the best question for contemporary poetry may be: “you are Romantic in what way, and is it good for you?”

Marjorie Perloff:

Quoting Merce Cunningham: “And when I happened to read that sentence of Albert Einstein’s, ‘There are no fixed points in space,’ I thought, indeed, if there are no fixed points then every point is equally interesting and equally changing.”

[ . . . ]

Given this situation, the viewer has to be unusually attentive, trying to take in as many “centers” as possible and perceiving their relational rhythm.

[ . . . ]

The more we probe such Cunningham-Cage concepts as “free form” or “anarchy,” the more apparent it becomes that theirs is an anarchy that is carefully simulated.


Keep watching this space. Who knows when or where the code will be undone next.

David Lau on Hugo Hopping:

There are still codes to undo, many ways left to change the existing order—this is a Hopping maxim.

Ian Hamilton Finlay:

 Realism is a style which purports to be, and is at first often taken to be, without camouflage.

Gopal Balakrishnan on Alain Badiou’s The Century:

History was never, then, the actual condition of the innovations associated with modernism and revolutionary politics, but merely the rhetoric of temporality deployed to protect a fragile, innovative present from a menacing past by enclosing it in an imaginary future.

Cole Swensen on Monica Youn:

Though the book’s overall pose is highly ironic . . . , the ultimate irony of the book is that these poems are ultimately not ironic at all, and so risk a sincerity that our time has very little time for.

Brian Kim Stefans on Catherine Wagner:

If there is a problem that the anthology American Hybrid made clear, it’s that the dark matter of much poetry is to be found in the competing rhetorical registers of a poem, rather than what used to be called “content”—in the lyrical sense, whatever it is that is gumming up the poet’s objectivity. But poets today are not writing from a position of inbuilt personal drama—at least not of the caliber of poets from Byron to Ginsberg—since these are far from revolutionary times, and many (certainly not all) poets are comfortable, insured teachers. Thus, poets often conjure these animating tensions out of the quandary immediately facing them—how to write itself. Catherine Wagner’s approach to this situation is manifold. As for the poet’s “heightened” sensibility (a big no no in the egalitarian ethos of the AWP community) Wagner counters with a profane vocabulary . . .

You watch me and I'll watch the road, thank you very much.

Samuel Amadon on Ben Lerner:

What Lerner describes here is genuine experiment. Structure is valued over content, so that reading delivers possibilities rather than a predetermined message. . . . Ironically, Lerner’s most conceptual work to date is also his most personal.

Andrea Quaid on Vanessa Place:

Conceptual poetry is critique, emphatically so, issuing forth by way of “allegorical” appropriation that challenges the author-composer and the reader-thinker into productively uncomfortable positions complicit with our violent culture system.

Notes on Conceptualisms states that “one does not need to ‘read’ the work as much as think about the idea of the work”

And is now perhaps the time for argument to assert itself, again, into poetry?

Stephanie Young:

. . . as Joshua Clover recently framed it during a meeting of the 95 Cent Skool, one of poetry’s current tasks lies in searching out modes of response to the dematerialization of labor in some places and attendant hyper-materialization in others . . .

And a lot of other things:

http://www.lanaturnerjournal.com/

29 Comments:

At 1/15/2011 8:01 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't buy Vanessa Place's "Poetics of Evil" bit, but I do agree with an aspect of conceptual poetry in general that I've been hearing versions of for several years: “one does not need to ‘read’ the work as much as think about the idea of the work”

- Chris

 
At 1/15/2011 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

PS. In a non-conceptualism way, but similarly, this is also a way of not-reading (not having to read, once you know the idea) most "project" books. Remember how big that was, say 5-10 years ago? Everyone needed a "project."

What "project" are you working on . . . ?

- Chris

 
At 1/15/2011 9:08 AM, Blogger Elisa Gabbert said...

"the ultimate irony of the book is that these poems are ultimately not ironic at all" -- I find this sentence really hard to swallow.

 
At 1/15/2011 9:19 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

The first irony on the subject and the second on the reader, perhaps? Anyway, yeah, I like that Swensen is talking about the (I need a better word) "non ironic" tendencies in this book, and, by extension, a growing tendency in other poets as well . . . but, at the same time, as the book is so heavily steeped in overt irony, it's kind of a difficult sell.

It's an easier argument to make in, say, Zapruder or Donnelly, though it would then be a different argument, I guess.

 
At 1/16/2011 9:31 AM, Blogger Archambeau said...

Should I go back to that Vanessa Place essay? I read it, and thought it was garbled, attention-grabbing pseudo-Deleuzian pseudo-profundity, laced with a little bit of the old institutional definition of art ("it's art because the authorities call it art") argument. But I might just have been in a bad mood: I was in a loud and poorly-lit coffee joint, and the weather was nasty...

 
At 1/16/2011 9:38 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Hey RA:

I'd say yes, you should go back, but not because I think you've gotten it wrong, you haven't, really. That's a large part of the strong avant-garde, I think? The bulldozer rhetoric? The tenuousness?

 
At 1/16/2011 10:21 AM, Blogger Archambeau said...

Will do, John. And I'll try to take it in the spirit in which it was offered. L'esprit du bouteur?

B.

 
At 1/16/2011 10:22 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Or maybe just a Spirited Booter.

 
At 1/17/2011 7:46 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Robert A. said:

>I read it, and thought it was garbled, attention-grabbing pseudo-Deleuzian pseudo-profundity, laced with a little bit of the old institutional definition of art ("it's art because the authorities call it art") argument.

I took it like this, too, but as so obviously silly and loony (the stuff about Evil, etc.) it could only be taken as parody of earnest "a-g" rant. I mean, it WAS intended as parody, right?

Bang-bang silver hammer to the music stand in the MoMA...

 
At 1/17/2011 9:44 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Always back to genre . . .

 
At 1/17/2011 10:07 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 1/17/2011 10:15 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Vanessa Place (with intended humor?) writes,

>Conceptual poetry is critique, emphatically so, [...] that challenges the author-composer

No, Conceptual poetry doesn't challenge the figure of the Author-Composer. Not from what we've seen so far.

In fact, there is extravagant evidence Conceptual Poets have been emphatically performing that very figure and function!

Then again, the Language poets made the same claim at top volume, so the dramatic irony is not new. And we all know how that tragedy ended.

 
At 1/17/2011 10:28 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

And here's the proof to what I say above:

When my (read: KENT JOHNSON'S) DAY was published, a conceptual advance on KENNY GOLDSMITH'S version, CHRISTIAN BOK tweeted to all his followers:

"Kent Johnson has ripped-off Kenny Goldsmith's DAY."

Ur, Eep!

 
At 1/17/2011 11:05 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Meant to post link to the order page for my DAY. At the link you can find the blurbs for the book from Spahr, Bok, and Goldsmith. You can also view a video of the making of the book (all this in topical relation to the above claim by Place that she and ConPo comrades are rebelliously unsettling the Author Function!):

http://www.blazevox.org/index.php/Shop/superstars/day-by-kent-johnson-78/

 
At 1/17/2011 4:16 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

Robert Archambeau just sent me this masterful channeling of Pound. Satire, we honor your gods:

Kenny Goldsmith walked
by the dynastic temple
and into the cedar grove,
and then out by the lower river,
And with him Marjorie Perloff
and Vanessa Place the low speaking
And ``we are unknown," said Kenny,
``You will take up charioteering?
``Then you will become known,
``Or perhaps I should take up Nascar, or football?
``Or the practice of conceptual poetry?''
And the poet Dworkin said, ``I would put the writing programs in order,''
And Vanessa said, ``If I were chair of a writing program
``I would put it in better order than this is.''
And Kenny said, ``I would prefer a small mountain temple,
``With order in the observances,
with a suitable performance of the ritual. They should put me in charge at Naropa''
And Dworkin said, with his hand on the strings of his lute
The low sounds continuing
after his hand left the strings,
And the sound went up like smoke, under the leaves,
And he looked after the sound:
``The old swimming hole,
``And the grad students flopping off the planks,
``Or sitting in the underbrush playing mandolins.''
And Perloff smiled upon all of them equally.

 
At 1/17/2011 4:34 PM, Blogger Archambeau said...

For context about that Canto XIII riff -- Kent had proposed that some Conceptualists seem to want to be the next big thing. And I did notice, when I was reading Marjorie Perloff's Unoriginal Genius, that she seemed to be looking for a Next Thing, too, and finding it in Goldsmith &Co. I suppose it's plausible that Conceptualism will get a lot of play. But whenever I think about poets wanting recognition, I think of two things: Canto XIII, and Johnson's "Vanity of Human Wishes." I should point out that I really don't know whether or not Dworkin or Goldsmith or Place cares for recognition, and that whether they do or not is really no concern of mine.

In the unlikely event that anyone cares what I think about what passes for fame in the little world of poetry, I tried to articulate it here a while back:

http://samizdatblog.blogspot.com/2008/02/baby-remember-my-name-poets-and.html

Best,

Bob

 
At 1/17/2011 6:30 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

A Next Thing, or The Next Big Thing. I'm always interested in people looking for that. Burt was looking for that last year (year before?) with a sort of Armantrout / Foust line. And, of course, Hoagland (quite a little late) wsa thinking fo the next thing as whatever people are calling Post-Avant these days.

It makes me ask "in what way is something the next (big) thing?" In a "what everybody's doing" it's of course, never new. But in the "what all the cool kids are doing" then that's one thing, but I think the Conceptualism thing IS The Next Big Thing in the way of all the people who like to talk about things like to talk about it. It also helps that there's not much reason to read it. One can just kind of fly over the top of it and imagine the little cars driving far below.

On the other hand, I dont' think it'll ever be big in a "what all the cool kids are doing" way, as there's not a lot to do with it. More though, there ARE things (documentary things?) that one can sneak from it, the way Cal Bedient is able to (he's the only example I can think of) but even in that, the direct surface of the thing presented without tonal markers, is also a Modernist move, and causes me to wonder when WAS the last time I read Paterson all the way through?

Or something like that?

 
At 1/18/2011 10:44 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

I received today a serious email from a newspaper editor, wishing to discuss with me a proposal for his writing of a screenplay based on the Araki Yasusada controversy.

Who would the actors be?

Kent

 
At 1/18/2011 10:46 AM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Well, ahem, I believe they'd all be you, of course.

!

 
At 1/18/2011 10:52 AM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

If so, John, it wouldn't be a true-to-life film...

 
At 1/18/2011 1:06 PM, Blogger Kent Johnson said...

I guess the idea is that it will be a documentary, so no actors required, actually, except for people being interviewed. I suppose that's acting, in a way.

 
At 1/18/2011 2:33 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Robert Archambeau said:

“And I did notice, when I was reading Marjorie Perloff's Unoriginal Genius, that she seemed to be looking for a Next Thing, too, and finding it in Goldsmith &Co. I suppose it's plausible that Conceptualism will get a lot of play. But whenever I think about poets wanting recognition, I think of two things: Canto XIII, and Johnson's "Vanity of Human Wishes." I should point out that I really don't know whether or not Dworkin or Goldsmith or Place cares for recognition, and that whether they do or not is really no concern of mine.”



John Gallaher said:

“It makes me ask "in what way is something the next (big) thing?" In a "what everybody's doing" it's of course, never new. But in the "what all the cool kids are doing" then that's one thing, but I think the Conceptualism thing IS The Next Big Thing in the way of all the people who like to talk about things like to talk about it.”




At what point did we cease to differentiate between the need for ‘personal’ recognition and the recognition resulting from the poetry itself?

 
At 1/18/2011 3:03 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Somewhere between Abel and Cain?

 
At 1/18/2011 3:05 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Kent:

DOCUMENTARY! I adore this idea. It's very, well, Conceptual.

 
At 1/18/2011 5:46 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Please allow me to rephrase that:

At what point did we cease to differentiate between 'personal’ recognition and the recognition that once resulted from the poetry itself?

To paraphrase Rudyard Kipling:

A name is only a name, but a good poem is a smoke.

 
At 1/18/2011 5:50 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

OK then, my guess would be Byron. What do I win?

 
At 1/19/2011 3:18 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

Is that snark, John? I apologize if I have offended you or any of your patrons.

I did want to say, though, that the greatest irony in Letters today seems to be that poets can't teach and teachers can't write.

Ain't life a kick?

Where do we go from here? Conceptualism, I suppose.

 
At 1/19/2011 3:25 PM, Blogger John Gallaher said...

Snark against Byron? I didn't intend it that way. I thought it was a pretty good answer.

At least it's what came to me.

 
At 1/19/2011 4:05 PM, Blogger Gary B. Fitzgerald said...

LOL!

You're too much, Mr. Gallaher! Too smart for your own good. :-)

I guess that's why we all love you.

 

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