A bit more from Lana Turner vol 3
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.”
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.
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.”
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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 . . .
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?”
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.”
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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.
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 . . .
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?
. . . 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: