Archive for November, 2010

The Body of the Outlaw: Part One

by on Nov.05, 2010

What interests me about this video from the “It Gets Better” campaign—in which people try to turn bullied queer kids away from suicide—is the vulnerability of Fort Worth City Councilman Joel Burns.  The crying he can’t resist, the fact that he says,

“…the fear that I had kept pushed down, that what I was beginning to feel on the inside was somehow being shown on the outside.” (continue reading…)

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Driving Miss Daisy

by on Nov.04, 2010

Kate Valk in the Wooster Group's 'Emperor Jones'

Can you f***ing believe they are reviving Driving Miss Daisy on Broadway? Can you believe that shit? That, more than the election results, makes me fear that this country is going in a frighteningly reactionary direction. We would rather have Driving Miss Daisy than a Black president who can be perceived as just that, rather than secret Kenyan, secret Muslim, secret anti-Christian, secret anti-capitalist, etc. We would rather fucking watch Driving Miss Daisy.

I mean, look at this publicity photo:

Actually this looks so bizarre, with ‘Daisy’ herself like some species of drag, that I might actually have to change my opinion. This might be a surreal, violent, self-disintegrating masterpiece a la Genet or even Jack Smith, with both roles disintegrating, gestures and dialogue switching bodies and ripping them apart, a total breakdown into limp and bloodied language flapping like prolapsed tissue from the mouths of the prostrate actors.

Or maybe something like the Wooster Group’s Emperor Jones (see publicity photo at top of this post)?

Thoughts on staging Driving Miss Daisy?

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by on Nov.03, 2010

The eye/wound

To slit the eye so that vision may be exploded is to involve the eye in a huger project, one that disorients epistemological hierarchies. To wound the eye is to pluck it from its niche at the top of the humanist hierarchy (seat of vision, insight, understanding, rationality) and reinsert it in a horizontal position of occult and limitless contact. As Homi Bhabha holds in “Interrogating Identity” in The Location of Culture,

“The evil eye, which is nothing in itself, exists in its lethal traces or effects as a form of iteration that arrests time—death/chaos—and initiates a space of intercutting that articulates politics/psyche, sexuality/race. It does this in a relation that is differential and strategic rather than originary, ambivalent rather than accumulative, doubling rather than dialectical.” [55/6]

This “evil eye” is evil because it has rejected its perch as the king of the senses and “initiates a space of intercutting”—as good a gloss on the function of the eye wound at the opening of Chien Andalou as any. For indeed, to view that film for the first time is to be initiated into just such an “space of intercutting”, of bold and gratuitous montage that exists in the slash mark, the mark of violence that, in the Surrealist project, links “politics” to “psyche”, “sexuality” to “race”. The slash mark of montage also fulfills all the first terms in Bhaba’s sequence; it establishes a voltaic differential, marks a literal ambivalence (the join that sunders), and it doubles—envisions an ‘or’ that is really a kind of impossible ‘and’.

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Coercion in Art

by on Nov.03, 2010

I’ve been thinking about “coercion” in art recently (or maybe my whole life).

A while back, Matt Soucy wrote about my book A New Quarantine Will Take Your Place:

“Two criticisms are that the use and reuse of images can lead to sometimes tiresome redundancies and repetitions, and that the whole book as a continuous poem can lead to a page-turner effect a la The DaVinci Code where the reader is coerced, rather than compelled, to keep reading.”

I find this argument interesting for several reasons. For one, it equates “page-turner” with low-browness. But if a book keeps you reading (through its repetitiveness) it is not just like mass culture, but is also “coercive.” This seems true on a fundamental level, since page-turning is a kind of physical act, turning the reader’s body into something repetitive and mechanical. Ie, does the coercive aesthetic take away the human-ness of the reader?
(continue reading…)

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Contemporary Icelandic Poetry

by on Nov.03, 2010

I was just told about this site, which features a lot of contemporary Icelandic poetry. I’m just starting to explore it.

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Wounded Translations: Christian Hawkey, Aase Berg, Pilot etc

by on Nov.02, 2010

On HTMLGiant, James McGirk writes the following about translation:

“I am quite suspicious of translations. The ones that wash ashore in the U.S. are tend too often to be finger wagging nuggets of exoticism. The last I remember actually enjoying was Michel Houellebecq. And I should have hated this excerpt of Bombardier — it begins with a trickle of semen dribbling down some poor girl’s thigh, then the camera yanks around to see two planes cross in the sky…”

There is a fundamental suspicion about foreign texts. Always this sense that we have to be on guard against these exotic trinkets because they don’t follow the necessary rigor of American writing. How do we know it’s quality, when it doesn’t come with the stamped approval of our hierarchical structure? Translation generates excess – too many authors, too many texts, too many interpretations, too many readers etc. (continue reading…)

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Butler, Tomasula, Grotesque Design

by on Nov.01, 2010

Thinking this morning about the book design. How conventional wisdom holds that we cannot let the pages be designed, they should be transparent, just text. Design as a kind of lowbrow interference to the true meaning of the language, to put things bluntly.

Then I thought of two quick exceptions: Steve Tomasula’s Vas and Blake Butler’s Scorch Atlas. Interestingly, the design in both of these are implicitly violent. Despite a very un-physical writing style, Steve’s pages are skin that one peels (or like Plath’s nazi lampshades); Blake’s book has been soaked and dripped upon (a violence Blake later accentuated with a series of Chris-Burden-like stunts, and I mean “stunts” in the (continue reading…)

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