Archive for June, 2011

Perloff and Critchley

by on Jun.15, 2011

I’m reposting a post I did on Exoskeleton about a year ago that relates (roughly) to the Perloff discussion from a few days back…

I would just add that I think Daniel Tiffany, especially in Toy Medium, strikes me as a critic in the Critchley mode as opposed to the Perloff mode…philosophy and poetry work together in his work, one being a contorted mirror of the other, a baroque interchange between the two…


Recently I found myself rereading parts of Marjorie Perloff’s The Poetics of Indeterminacy, and once again wishing that she would bring more of a philosophical element into her work. I should make it clear that I think Perloff is an excellent close reader and an exceptionally lucid writer. Like many people, my introduction to experimental poetry was largely through her books. But something that I find frustrating about her work (and also about the work of certain other critics who write about experimental poetry) is her unwillingness to take on the larger philosophical issues that provide the ground of so much contemporary literature — the issues of death, non-being, and “becoming,” that really started in full with Nietzsche and continued through Heidegger, Bataille, de Beauvoir, Sartre, Foucault, Cixous, Derrida, Kristeva, and Deleuze. (Not that there aren’t major differences between all of those people…) This unwillingness to bring a philosophical dimension to her writings sometimes leads to some curious readings. For example, Perloff’s Rimbaud is oddly one-dimensional–as if he had more in common with Saussure than Nietzsche. (I would argue it’s almost impossible to really get a sense of Rimbaud without thinking about Nietzsche. There are passages of Rimbaud–the “Car Je est un autre” phrase, and his letter on the disordering of the senses–that almost sound like they could have been written by Nietzsche.) (continue reading…)

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Contamination (#11): Bolano and the Void

by on Jun.14, 2011

“Behind this crowd, however, hides the one true patron. If you have patience enough to search, maybe you’ll catch a glimpse of what you’re looking for. And when you find it, you’ll probably be disappointed. It isn’t the devil. It isn’t the State. It isn’t a magical child. It’s the void.”

— Roberto Bolano, “An Attempt at an Exhaustive Catalog of Patrons”

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Contamination (#10): Duchess of Malfi (Punchdrunk)

by on Jun.13, 2011

I wish I would have gone to this production of one of my favorite works of art:

You belong to the throng of identically masked people who have chosen to assemble where you are, and the blank visages offer no signals as to how the audience is responding. You, the watcher, are part of a faceless mob, abstract and infinitely distractible. Physically this “Duchess of Malfi” may allow unusually up-close-and-personal access to its mise-en-scène. Yet I’ve never attended a show at which I felt so utterly disconnected from the performers.
(continue reading…)

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by on Jun.13, 2011

Speaking of contamination…

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Contamination (#9): the immigrant, the clone, the porn star etc

by on Jun.13, 2011

I’m reading WJT Mitchell’s book on the War on Terror, and specifically the Abu Ghraib photographs. In the book he views those photos as a kind of coming-together of the war on terror and the war on cloning, which was the Republicans favorite cause (do you remember?) before 9/11 gave them enough cause to start invading nations etc. Anyway, here’s a great paragraph about the kind of anxiety that I was trying to define when I was talking about my idea of the immigrant as kitsch and why the immigrant seems to pose a threat, as well as connecting it to a number of other figures of similar “counterfeit” character:

“… It would be reassuring if Dolly the Sheep was a wolf in shee’s clothing. The idea of a sheep in sheep’s clothing is more disturbing, but why? Is this the lamb of god? Or an imposter? Doesn’t the Antichrist come as the double or clone of the true Christ? The fear of difference, of the stranger, the monster, the alien is what might be called a “rational” fear, or at the very least, a fear that has a determinate object or image. The racial or gendered other is (with the notable exception of homosexuality, wo twhich we will return) visibly marked as different and distinguishable. But the true terror arises when the different arrives masquerading as the same, threatening all differentiation and identification. The logic of identity itself is put in question by the clone.” (34)

Later on he does return to homosexuality, specifically the first gay porn star, whose artist name was actually “The Clone.”

It’s true. There he is.

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with greetings from sweden (part iv: matti kallioinen)

by on Jun.11, 2011

Please enter Gaslandet
Also visit the the kallioinean myspace section

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with greetings from sweden (part iii: sara-vide ericson)

by on Jun.11, 2011

“Emigrationsverket/Emigration organization”, Oil on canvas, 2003

“Michelle Pfeiffer has believes in Egypt, and I believe in Michelle”, Oil on canvas, 2006

“Patafysiken”, Oil on canvas, 2007

“Varulvarna”, Oil on canvas, 2008

“Hilla IV”, Oil on canvas, 2009

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magdalena nordin: last girl standing

by on Jun.11, 2011

I almost never read books. When I do, I usually haven’t the energy to finish it. But Jenna Jameson’s book was different, I couldn’t stop reading it. I recognized myself in what she had written, we had so much in common. She was a teenager and quiet as a mouse. She had no clue how to connect with people and was passive in all social situations. Jenna dreamed about becoming a star, for people to notice her. Like me, she loved attention. The difference between us was that she got it and there we part company.

Jenna Jameson’s book How to Make Love Like a Porn Star is an autobiographical novel on how she became one of the biggest porn stars ever. We follow her throughout her teens, when she ran away from home and started to work as a stripper. She later became a nude model, subsequently a porn actress and finally created her own adult entertainment company, Club Jenna. At the age of eighteen she had attained a career and complete control over her own destiny. She wanted to be the best and always made sure to excel among rivalling girls. A fierce competition arose, the other girls talked behind her back and glared at her jealously. I was one of them.

I was the outshined girl who never distinguished herself. I was jealous of her perfect teenage years. She got the dangerous boys, joined crazy parties and dared to run away from home. She got attention, did drugs, had a broken childhood, and the perfect look. When she lost her virginity, all she had to do was to buy a dress without shoulder straps, go to a party with older boys, get hammered and pass out, and wake up the following morning covered with blood in a waterbed with a guy beside her. I myself tried the same thing. I went to a party and drank until I blacked out. But each time I woke up at home in my own bed – still a virgin.

But today neither I nor Jenna Jameson is a teenager. Today I have the tools I need to reach my goals. And I will. I will reach the top on my own, just like Jenna.

She was young, beautiful and drunk. Her name was Sara-Vide. And she was mine.

Sara-Vide was tall, slim, tanned, with perfect boobs. She had wire-straight red-blond hair cut in bangs that grazed her eyebrows. She looked like she was from a road movie from the late 80’s. When she crossed the threshold to a party at Bokbål Publishing House she attracted all eyes, including mine.

I told her about my project and invited her over to my apartment for a photo shoot. I needed her, she had more experience than I and she knew how to get guys where she wanted them. We could make them trip and crash their cars.
She accepted my offer.

And I thought: “Finally, I have a partner in crime.”

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Contamination (8): Camille Rose Garcia, Kim Hyesoon and the Super-Saturation of the Girl

by on Jun.10, 2011

I wrote a piece for the web journal Burnaway about Camille Rose Garcia


(continue reading…)

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Then I made you a mix tape

by on Jun.10, 2011

I really liked Johannes’s Contamination mix tape, so I thought I’d make one too. Mine is longer, ’cause I never know when to quit and then I give you this tape and you’re like, “whoa, obsessed?”

Here’re some things I’ve been reading, watching, and cooking for the past week or so:

Timothy Schaffert The Phantom Limbs of the Rollow Sisters
Beverly Cleary Beezus and Ramona (copyright 1955, predicting The Feminine Mystique in flaw & treasure!, passage below*)
The French Lieutenant’s Woman
Suzanne Collins Catching Fire and Mockingjay
Black Bean and Sweet Potato Stew
Thai Coconut Rice Fritters
Banana-Bourbon Cake with Dark Chocolate Glaze
Susan Sontag Regarding the Pain of Others
Deep Dark Chocolate Cookies
Watermelon-Mango-Lime Popsicles
Mystery Science Theater 3000: Zombie Nightmare
Bret Easton Ellis Imperial Bedrooms
Lidia Yuknavitch The Chronology of Water
Roasted Red Pepper Olive and Parmesan Bread

And this:

*With gray thread Beezus carefully outlined the steam coming from the teakettle’s spout and though about her pretty young aunt, who was always so gay and so understanding. No wonder she was Mother’s favorite sister. Beezus hoped to be exactly like Aunt Beatrice when she grew up. She wanted to be a fourth-grade teacher and drive a yellow convertible and live in an apartment house with an elevator and a buzzer that opened the front door.

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Alice Notley

by on Jun.09, 2011

i am walking somewhere with petty criminals. our ear praises nothing but going on.
what do others praise. what is your poem today. i praise the bombing of children. i praise the assassination of the wicked other side one in his side and gut all over. this is a fine poem. i praise the inside of you spilled. i praise the blood spatter taste on the corner of my mouth or dednes. i praise how many pieces you can come to.
i praise the president who wishes to open the skin of Saddam Hussein.
what can i do with this word.
call praise shit.

[from “Praise,” which is part of ALMA, or THE DEAD WOMEN]

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Spanking (and Veiling) China Miéville

by on Jun.09, 2011

Almodovar's Dark Habits


In her book Crack Wars, Avital Ronell notes: “Literature is most exposed when it ceases veiling itself with the excess that we commonly call meaning. […] Literature has to be seen wearing something external to itself, it cannot simply circulate its non-being.” Ronell points at book reviews as seeking to “cover up the work”—to legitimate a potentially lawless work by constructing walls around it, by covering up its non-being, by making it confinde, habituated, conventional, by giving it a habit to wear (though, thanks to Almodóvar’s Dark Habits, we all know what nuns get up to in those narrow cells!)


Give this man a glass of water


We can see this veiling instinct—which is really a disciplinary instinct– at work in a review of China Miéville’s Embassytown in last Sunday’s NYT’s Book Review. In this case, the veil is genre. Carlo Rotella tries to fit the veil of genre over Embassytown, disciplining what he acknowledges as Miéville’s brilliance, using the supposedly streamlined shape of genre to try to cover up Miéville’s jouissance, to make his lawless, messy, deathy literary production look like capitalism—that is, streamlined, economical, moving forward in linear time towards a singular payoff, earning its effects.

At first, Rotella has very positive things to say about Miéville’s use of genre: “Miéville repurposes genre formulas like a salvage artist, mixing a connoisseur’s respect for recovered materials with heretical joy in putting them to surprising uses.” Heretical joy derived from the corpselike ‘trash’ of salvage = jouissance. (continue reading…)

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Contamination (p 6): Perloff, Decadence, Kitsch

by on Jun.08, 2011

This is sequel post to last week’s Big Other discussion about Poetry defining itself in opposition to mass culture and kitsch (the two are related but not identical), and to the discussion about Steve Burt’s post about there being “too much” in poetry.

The feeling of “too much” has of course everything to do with Taste; Taste is supposed to help us deal with the “too-much-ness” of Art in the age of mechanical reproduction. Great Art is is High, mass culture is low, as the paradigm goes. If we have Taste we don’t need to wade through the plague grounds of “too-much-ness.”

One thing that interests me about anti-kitsch rhetoric is that it is now deployed against Poetry and its Poetic Devices, devices that used to convey High Art, but which now are often derided in terms of kitsch in Experimental Poetry Discussions. So for example, in Kenny Goldsmith’s blog posts and articles, “creative writing” is dismissed as kitsch, pretty much because it is not “creative” to be “creative” (it’s become “too much” of it thanks in part to MFA program etc, there are too many copies of it). Ie the reason he’s advocating “uncreative writing” is because it’s more creative than the tasteless pile of “too much” creative writing out there that is causing Burt to faint.

Marjorie Perloff, the most unabashed taste-maker in American poetry this side of Tony Hoagland, is on the same page, making Goldsmith the centerpiece of her new book Unoriginal Genius. However, she never seems to fully deal with the paradox of that title. Perloff wants Goldsmith to play the part of the oldfashioned Genius *by* being “uncreative.” That is to say, by eschewing the hallmarks of traditional Poesy. But what she is still interested in is the genius; what she wants to dismiss is what we might call “the poetic” because *it is tasteless.* (Anybody can tell you that – just watch any movie where a poet is included. They tend to be fops and ridiculous). In Perloff’s book, there is always a great emphasis on the genuine as opposed to the counterfeit.
(continue reading…)

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