Archive for July, 2011

(My Influence This Week) Wanted: Schizoanalyst For Me & My Babies

by on Jul.31, 2011

• The etymology of ‘influence’:

late 14c., an astrological term, “streaming ethereal power from the stars acting upon character or destiny of men,” from O.Fr. influence “emanation from the stars that acts upon one’s character and destiny” (13c.), also “a flow of water,” from M.L. influentia “a flowing in” (also used in the astrological sense), from L. influentem (nom. influens), prp. of influere “to flow into”.

What Joyelle I think does in her essays is equate Art with Influence itself—a delicious, archaic idea of Influence (that later branched out into words we think of as unrelated: ‘influenza’ on the one hand and ‘influence’ as ‘exertion of power’ on the other) with its astral, otherworldly origins wherein humankind can be struck unseen—although it’s less a being struck by than being influxed/streamed-in/drowned/infected/bloated/leaking with/of ethereal fluids; also with its latent semantic burgeoning/doubling/proliferation/excess.

• Since Influence is an astrological term, it is no surprise that Art is a superstition. Either you believe in it, or you don’t. Can art & its actions infiltrate the Impossible? To the extent that you choose to believe (with a wounded eye) in the metaphysic of art and what it can visit upon you. Or you could be ambivalently mutating (but mutate you will, afflicted by the stars).

Mutant vehicle at Burning Man

• Influence the Inhuman, Influence the Terrible, Influence the Noisy, Influence the Messenger. Is there any point in identifying it solely with human ancestors? In a world whose realities/realizations are permeable & holey and which exists across multiple dimensions, the canons we embrace/espouse cannot but be host to the demons that possess humans: theories, media, language, texts, social & political ideas and movements, spatial practices, art, catalogues, stories, animal spirits, plant spirits, spirits of the dead & not-living, archetypes, guides, angels. Yes, it is an inundation. What sticks in your throat?

• In a dream-state &/or awake, dead-zone &/or alive, I wrote: “Art lives shattered like glass in your buttocks. Archetypes in you shift to a coma.” I’ve been thinking a lot about where art comes from and why. (Though really isn’t the search for origins located in patrilinear beliefs about genealogy + time? And if so, might it not lead to a policing of boundaries based on what’s ‘right’ and what’s ‘wrong’?) How do I frame art, how does art frame me, as I explore a spiritual self? I’m realizing that all of my writing is an ongoing how-to book, a manual on how to be of the world and not-of the world, a manual that dreams itself and destroys itself and destructs what it seeks to instruct and to dream, a manual that is perpetually outdated. It’s a loop.

I wrote this book

“Jacques Derrida is also this collection of texts.” Art, my other-body, a host-body for the undead-uncanny which it has the uncanny ability to simulate (fail), also has an authentic if illusional, delusional relationship with the psyche (and body and politics and history). Art, the supernatural emanation, bewitches (the human) me, it causes the human to be reeked/wrecked either ecstatic/ethereal or monstrous/grotesque. This “magical metamorphosis” which in art may happen with weird delays and interruptions or a waiting, cave-in.

• All of this is an attempt to conceive for myself a complexity – so as to reconcile spiritual concepts with aesthetic concepts: ‘higher self’ with ‘Dada’, ‘healing’ with ‘art’s poison’, ‘sustainability’ with ‘expenditure’, ‘natural’ with ‘unnatural’, ‘wholeness’ with ‘exhaustion’, ‘planetary evolution’ with ‘no future’. There are many points of connection: outsides & insides are crossed, membranes of real/reality/realism are fickle, reality is augmented, there’s death, syncope, the ludic, the ecstatic, rituals. (Maybe the antinomies are in my own head!) In any case, the point is not resolution nor accommodation nor ==> simplification. Binaries, of course, merely reduce, separate, oppose and therefore must be resisted, no, held in tension within a paradigm where complexity can irrupt—where the presence and pressure of every complementary/competing practice or theory can be registered—and so can instability and ambivalence and paradoxicality.

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Iowa Occult: A Mütter Pedagogy; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Vomit Art

by on Jul.28, 2011

To celebrate the Iowa MFA’s 75th anniversary, the program has started a do-it-yerself Festschrift, whereby alums are writing little essays about the program for the websites of various journals.   N +1-web- editor Carla Blumenkrantz invited me to participate on her site. The result, “Iowa Occult: A Mütter Pedagogy; Or, How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Vomit Art”, is now up here, at n + 1.

It begins:

1. What is Knowledge? What shape does Knowledge take? It’s not a question we expect to find raised in an Iowa-style workshop, where we turn our attention to concrete things: form, craft, the page, the neat crosses and channels of a line break or an ellipsis or/and especially the poem’s earned/unearned ending. No ideas but in thingsWms. But the inverse of this craftiness, this roll-up-your-sleeves-and-work-with-your-hands shop-class affect of the Iowa-style workshop, is the unspeakable pressure of a counterpresence: an amorphic, powerful, hole-tearing, ravening, careless and gratuitous and excessive and unearned presence: that of Art itself. 

Read on, dear Montevidayans, read on. And while you’re at the web-cafe, check out the Mütter Museum, if you haven’t already.

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Crazy Bitch Aesthetics (Pt. 2): Nicki Minaj & The Death Drop of Voguing

by on Jul.28, 2011

To trace the mutation of bitchiness from a strategy of feminist disobedience to one of queer disorientation, I offer a line from Nicki Minaj’s “Did it On ‘Em”:

“All these bitches is my sons … if I had a dick, I would pull it out and piss on ’em.”

I like how, by channeling phallic swagger as well as detaching a rubber penis from herself in live performances, Minaj castrates, cums, and gives birth:  “You’re my seed–I’ll spray you with the germinator.”  If Minaj’s name-calling and dick-strutting verges on the misogyny of typical hip-hop, it also deforms the genre’s body language from within, going so far as to parade defecation:  “Shitted on ’em.”  A messy and exuberant derailing of the classical body, Minaj’s bitchiness disorients and thrills through a sensationalism that calls to mind the ‘death drop’ of contemporary voguing.

What kind of crazy bitchiness is this?  (continue reading…)

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Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle on Ariana Reines

by on Jul.28, 2011

[Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle wrote this piece.]

You Don’t Stick a Gun Up to Somebody’s Neck and Tell ‘em You Want a Job

Now that you mention it—didn’t the pump jockey Willem Dafoe played in Cronenberg’s Existenz resemble Tom Waits? Time is a circle. You gotta triangulate! So I’m thinking, which came first, Rumblefish by FF Coppola or his Apocalypse Now? See because in Apoc. we get all the way up the Mekong après undergoing tons o’ wicked shit and who else could possibly be there but Mr.King Shit himself Marlon Brando? In its wake of course we have heavies weighing in at the end of every cataclysm like your ick James Caan as God Almighty in uck Dogville.† But—never forget: Dennis Hopper was the photog at Brando’s Montagnard camp hung with headless corpses! And he was also Mickey Rourke’s washed up alkie dad in Rumblefish! So then like Mickey Rourke’s not the real heavy in Rumblefish, Hopper is! Heavier even than Marlon! Now, why do I say such crazy, unwarranted things? On account a Dennis Hopper was the unimpeachably freaked out sicko in Blue Velvet, D. Lynch’s grandmutha of em all!

Well, you may think I solved it. And you’d be almost right! But there’s one more link. Uh huh. Have you forgotten where it all began. Which came first the egg or the hen? Harper Lee! Yuh huh! Fucking To Kill A Mockingbird, oh my droogs. Boo Radley is our all time archimage & paradigm, the pataphysical patriarch of spooky fucks hiding in abandoned houses only to emerge then play a hand. And who I ask you personates Boo the fuck Radley in the b/w movie version? Robert Duvall! Duvall—Lt. Col. “Charlie Don’t Surf” Bill Kilgore, First of the 9th Air Cav—that hard on, was Marlon Brando’s dad! I shit you negative. I crap you nope. I poo yoo no. Thus Mickey Rourke steps out of the gloom today, after theyre all dead, or done for anyhoo, Mickey Rourke (who BTW looks exactly like Tom Waits, post facial reconstruction) strides forth as THE preeminent Hollywood heavy. Undisputed. World title. No question. Proof positive: Ariana Reines—the Bird of Benin—just wrote a poem called I Am the Mickey Rourke of Poetry!


All I want to do is get bombed
And be the Mickey Rourke of poetry for you
Again. You with nine inches of my chunk
Up your ass. I have the rugged patchwork
Look I know you like when I’m boning
You against this motel mirror, no the other one, with the flowers
Engraved on it. Like my face my junk
Works against me so well and I know
You like the nasty (continue reading…)

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Christian Peet on the Shutting Down of Creative Frontiers School

by on Jul.28, 2011

Christian Peet has been doing some very interesting reporting about the shutting down of Creative Frontiers school in California. Go check it out:

It was a week ago today, 18 July 2011, California’s Department of Social Services, “until further notice by Order of the Director,” Will Lightbourne, served a “Temporary Suspension Order” at Creative Frontiers school in Citrus Heights, Sacramento County, CA, after determining there was an “immediate health and safety risk to children” at the school, and citing what the department deemed a “preponderance of evidence” of child sexual abuse.

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Influence Week Continues: "My prom dress died its death at Bill Knott's Academic office address"

by on Jul.25, 2011

[This is a guest post by Lindsay Herko, grad student in the Notre Dame creative writing program.]

Dear venerable hot-blog who name-plays on Uruguay,
Admittedly, six autumns after junior prom, my orphaned prom dress made its way anonymously, to poet Bill Knott, via the U.S. postal service.
The dress was a raspberry “event” made out of iridescent sheaths that numbed the idea of any legs existing beneath. The dress was the date of a bisexual bluesman who attended another high school and liked Rush, but this like was okay because again, he attended another high school. Historically important too – said date’s mother was in the business of painting pastel pictures of NYPD Blue excommunicant David Caruso, for online fan communities who created new lives for themselves post-divorce, rabidly congregating on GeoCities.
The dress did its job – appearing accidentally in bathrooms besides girls dressed in amphibian colored columns fisting toilet paper under their dresses, the dress had its picture taken besides the prom commerative pillar to appease two sets of Floridian grandparents and the dress was most successful lighting up the dark, dinky limo, at a time when late night was qualifid by the a one am ride home from the after-event at the Princess restaurant, that smelled like avocados. (continue reading…)

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Peter Richards's Helsinki

by on Jul.25, 2011

From Kevin Carollo’s Raintaxi review of Peter Richards’s Helsinki.

A decade has passed since Tomaž Šalamun declared “it is better to be a new young god in American poetry than to be President of the United States” in his introduction to Peter Richards’s first full-length collection, Oubliette—and indeed the past ten years of the presidency have rendered this statement understandable at a visceral level. That the internationally renowned Slovenian poet connected so intensely with the “religious magma” of a young American poet was also rather prescient, for Richards’s poetry resonates so strikingly with his European contemporaries, many of them unavailable in English at the time.
(continue reading…)

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Bitchy Aesthetics (Part 1): Notley's Disobedience

by on Jul.24, 2011

What are bitchy aesthetics?  How can we think about artistic expression tonally and formally through the etymology of the word “bitch”?  As a reclamation and queering of identity since the late 60’s, does self-avowed bitchiness break through received ideas about art as well as gender?  This bitch says yes.  I see two quotes from pop culture, in particular, as endorsements of bitchiness that bridge, expand, and intensify the political struggles of feminism and queerness in interesting ways.  This first post approaches Alice Notley’s Disobedience via Judy Parfitt’s famous line, as delivered to Kathy Bates, in the film adaptation of Dolores Claiborne:

“Sometimes, Dolores, sometimes you have to be a high-riding bitch to survive.  Sometimes, being a bitch is all a woman has to hang onto.”

(continue reading…)

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Malena (a parable, a fan fiction)

by on Jul.22, 2011

[In keeping with all the youtube montage-homages to Malena that I talked about yesterday, I decided to write an homage/fan fiction/parable to/of/with the film. It also owes something to Mac Wellman’s brilliant version of Antigone (in which “The shriek operator” is a key figure), Ana Mendieta and Hoffman’s/Freud’s uncanny:]


There was a scrawny young man who, being still too young and skinny to perform any other war task than possibly fill in a mass grave, was still living at home in his village, where he helped to operate the local wax museum, which was run by its creator, a blind old man.

One by one the young men of the village were sent off to war, but the young man was still a bit too young and still too scrawny. And the villagers perceived there was maybe something morally wrong about the young man, possibly a birth defect, or, according to an increasingly popular rumor, working for so long in a temple of “sensationalism” and having been so exposed to illegitimate copies of reality had taken its toll on not just his physique but his brain as well. Even the boy’s father treated him as a kind of hopeless case, but because Old Man still paid him a fair amount to help maintain the Wax Museum, the father wouldn’t take him away from this possibly detrimental job.

The boy did a lot of things around the wax museum, adding wax putty to pieces that were falling apart (and there were quite a few of them falling apart at any time), taking tickets, giving guided tours to groups (such as a group of blind veterans who much enjoyed the tour, especially the scene of women at a discoteque that is about to burn down). But most of all he enjoyed his role as “shriek operator,” that is speaking the voice-overs to several scenes. He especially especially liked to do the voice over to Antigone. Describing the battlefields and the mutilated bodies made him feel like he was doing something for his country, even if that something was a form of anti-war protest.
(continue reading…)

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Malena: Allegories about Art, Rape and Nazism

by on Jul.21, 2011

Joyelle’s thinking about Fascism as a kind of emblem of extremist art, as well as Megan’s thinking about The Path and the trope of the Dead Girl strangely ties into thoughts I’ve been having about the somewhat cheesy movie Malena, directed by the guy who made Cinema Paradiso in the 80s and starring the exceedingly attractive Monica Belucci. I didn’t particularly like this movie when I watched it a couple of weeks ago, but it’s a movie that brings together rape, Nazism, dead girls and boys, and Art (the movies, of course) in a way that has occupied my brain quite a bit since watching it. It seems specifically to speak to the recent concerns on this blog about the relationship of art and Crime.

In “Cinema Paradiso” this connection between art and crime was very much a concern: the priest forces the projectionist at the local movie theater to cut out the erotic climax of all the films (usually kisses), leaving a kind of absence that causes everyone to boo and hiss. The projectionist later goes blind in a fire I think – as if he had watched to omuch art, that it had made him blind. However, in the end, when he dies, the projectionist leaves behind a movie for the protagonist of all the cut-out kisses, creating a kind of movie-within-the-movie to end the movie.

[In this regard it’s like (or the opposite of) the criminal artistry of “Tyler” in Fight Club who splices in porno images into nice movies, or the hero of Steve Erickson’s Zeroville, who finds pornos embedded in normal movies (a discovery that then leads to his death).]

This kind of erotic criminality is made more interesting in Malena.
(continue reading…)

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Convento!? Anachronism! Technology! Dead Animals! Shut-ins!

by on Jul.20, 2011

Montevidayans who live in NYC: please go see Convento and report back. It’s a documentary about a dude who reanimates dead animals. Description from L magazine:

a portrait of a Dutch family living in a 400-year-old Portuguese monastery. Elderly mother Geraldine Zwanikken, a former ballerina, tends to her herb garden and sculpts; middle-aged son Louis feeds the geese and pampers his horse; and brother Christiaan makes strange, whirring sculptures out of salvaged mechanical components and the skeletons of dead animals

C O N V E N T O / trailer from Jarred Alterman on Vimeo.

This Is NOT a Hare from Jarred Alterman on Vimeo.

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The Sublime: Art & Crime

by on Jul.20, 2011


In response to my post about Herzog and the Sublime, Adam Strauss raised a lot of provocative questions about the Sublime, about Art & Crime.  Regarding Shelley’s “Triumph of Life”, Adam writes:

“Shelley’s The Triumph Of Life I love and it–tho likely not at-all impersonal–is not at-all the voice of an intestinal tract, but rather more like a lightbeam–and am I making this up or is there a ton of sky and light etc in that poem?”

In my thinking, we need to remember that the Sublime is a paradox, and it operates both as a summit and a declivity. Both the intestinal tract and the light beam (great pair of images– thanks!).

Of course bacteria live in intestinal tracts and also may give off their own light– bacterial Sublime.

This impossible yoking of summit and declivity is inhuman and irrational, unchartable but it might yoke (spasmatically and unstably) the human to something that can (always) destroy it even if it maybe does literally elevate it. There’s no transendence, in my view, because, unlike ephiphany, it can’t be tolerated. The Sublime is completely dismantling. (continue reading…)

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Eshleman on Medusa

by on Jul.20, 2011

[This is a piece Clayton Eshleman wrote in 1998. It will be part of the collection of essays, The Price of Experience, that Black Widow Press will put out in early 2012.]


The Greek iconography of the Medusa’s face includes “bulging or glaring eyes, gnashing tusks, a protruding tongue, and snake-like hair.” In some versions, she also has “grossly foliated skin, the absence of corners in her mouth, and single or multiple dots on her forehead” (1). This syncretic image is, I suspect, only the surface of a palimpsest with earliest scratches in the Upper Paleolithic (thus from this viewpoint, the Perseus story is a late addition). Here are some hunches and sightings about the construction of the Medusa’s lethal face. (continue reading…)

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