Archive for August, 2011

Rat-Rose Mysticism: On Seyhan Erözçelik’s Rosestrikes and Herzog’s Nosferatu

by on Aug.09, 2011


I am currently swooned and infused by the contemporary Turkish poet Seyhan Erözçelik’s Rosestrikes and Coffee Grounds (Talisman, 2010), translated from Gül ve Telve(1997) by Murat Nemet-Nejat.  In this dazzling double volume, a reading of fate via coffeegrounds makes up the first portion of the book, and the resultant mystical vision or ‘Rosestrikes’ makes up the second. A mindbending series poem,  ‘Rosestrikes’ rides mysticism to the limit, a limit marked, classically and tautologically enough, by the Rose.  The Rose is both the emblem of the mystical motion and its destination, so the series itself has an infinite yet twisting motion that is constantly saturating, arresting, and sinking back into itself, riding the weirdness of Art’s broken Moebius strip:



My eyes caught a rose the whole night

round mindnight, a needle on a rose,

to my eyes stuck, a potent liquid

is flowing from my eyes, as if roseblood…

  (continue reading…)

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Gothic Plague Scenes: Herzog, PJ Harvey, Aase Berg and Joan Crawford Kabuki

by on Aug.08, 2011

Just watched Herzog’s brilliant remake of Nosferatu last night:

Interesting how this trailer claims “filmed unlike any other vampire movie ever made,” as if it expected the objection that this was just another silly genre movie. In fact it is very much an “other vampire movie” because it is a version of the German Expressionist classic, itself a version of Bram Stokers Dracula. So much in art (whether it’s poetry or film or music) is this defense against version, version that repeat, that are inherently anachronistic, that doesn’t move us “forward” in the narrative of culture. Instead they proliferate.

It is interesting that despite this defense in the trailer, the trailer focuses on the more fundamental genre aspects of the movie, instead of the beautiful spectacles of the plague-devestated city:

(continue reading…)

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On Proliferation Part B, Having to do with 3.141592653589793238462643383279…

by on Aug.06, 2011

Why to stop where we stop? Why break it off where it’s broken? To round up or down? By what standard? To what place? Pi to the millionth place and still going…this post a continuation that will only trail off after digression, implication, circulation…
(continue reading…)

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Isn't Poetry Dead?

by on Aug.05, 2011

In a comment to the Kent Johnson blog post, a question was raised: why do we even care about poetry? Isn’t it a “tired media”? Shouldn’t we make it “new”?

Isn’t poetry dead?

Isn’t the poetry “of our moment” “skittery” as Tony Hoagland keeps saying: manneristic, feminine, ephemeral. Shuddering. Spasmatic. Out of control.
(continue reading…)

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Fakery Factories 1: Ciudad Juárez; or, an Appalling

by on Aug.05, 2011


1. Dropping the kids off at school yesterday (haha), Johannes and I were treated to this NPR report on Montevidayo’s (twin) sister city, Ciudad Juárez. The report was entitled “Big Business Booms in Mexican Border Despite Violence.” After the usual sickening statistics about how much money American firms make by sticking their factories across the border in Juárez and operating their businesses in the middle of a charnelzone, the story concludes:

Manuel Ochoa with the El Paso Regional Economic Development Corporation says the violence doesn’t appear to be significantly affecting the rebound of the Juárez economy.

He says it’s as if there are “two separate realities” unfolding in Juárez: The city’s murder rate rivals that of a war zone, yet its factories are exporting products at a record level.

2. But can there be “two separate realities”—if so, what does the term “reality” even mean? One way of looking at this is that there is just one reality—that this state of miserable violence yoked to record exports (read: profits) are part of the same reality—the reality of capitalism. Another way of looking at this paradox is that both these “realities” are in fact fake—fake states of affairs generated by the factory called capitalism, which generates fakery as both its product and its by-product—its consumer product and its waste. And both are for human consumption. And both are a waste. This quote cheerfully attesting to the two ‘realities’ is in fact another piece of ‘fakism’ generated by the fakery factory-  a ‘fakism’ that naturalizes capitalism’s nastiest products and byproducts as natural, inevitable, and ‘real’.

3.Last spring I wrote here about the scandal by which Rodarte, fashion line of the weird sisters Mulleavy, was forced to withdraw its Juarez-inspired makeup line, featuring blush, eyeshadow and lipstick with such names as “Sleepwalker” , “Ghost Town”, “Factory,” “del Norte”, and generally reported to create a bloodied or corpsey effect.  The sisters were accused of trying to profit off the murder of these women. For example,

 Hispanic activist Carlos Quintanilla calls it appalling, pointing out many women have been killed on their way to and from their factory jobs.

“It’s regretful that they would take the pain and suffering of a community and make a profit off of it,” he said.

4. “Appalling” , the OED would have us know, bears the etymology of the verb “to appall”: Old French apalir, apallir, later ap(p)alir, to wax pale, be in consternation; languish, waste away; also make pale, etc.


5. Or, as the Mulleaveys would have it,

(continue reading…)

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Women Under the Influence: An Interface (Part 1–Julian Assange)

by on Aug.03, 2011

It’s no small matter that the word influence derives from Astrology, since Astrology’s objective, in large part, is to elucidate the interplay of mythic characters engaged in mythic narratives, and subsequently apply those insights to the revelation of psychic material (á la, for example, Archetypal Psychology; or Freud also works (less well), et al, pick your poison, but some practice of Astrology has been influencing & informing human consciousness–at the very least–since the advent of human consciousness). As a practice, Astrology is both Socratic and Mystic in its aim to expand consciousness and its exaltation of same. I think the ancient folk knew what they were doing (“considered future generations”) when they fastened the old stories to the cosmic field–an inclusively visible, celestial overmind. Astrology, perhaps, proposed and provided the original framework for managing a collective unconscious, one timelessly reflected in the vast mythic map imprinted up there in the sky.

The word “zodiac” comes from the Greek zodiacus: “little creatures.” Horoscope (“watching hour”):  a map of the planets on the sun’s orbital plane (eclipse) at the exact time and place of one’s birth. What are the little creatures up to up there. One is born beneath a vibrating mirror of sky on which the little creatures play, one takes one’s first breath, one has a face now, is influenced and influential. Enfaced enfant. A karmic event that happens well in advance of Lacan’s discombobulated mirror, linguistic utterance, alterity, standard assessments, and so forth. I’m a doula, I’ve seen this. Like seeing in the Tiresian sense such a mirror–cosmic horizons replacing, as boundary, placental ones; a primal transcendence.

If Astrology, like Art, belongs to superstition (Latin, superstitio: “standing over in amazement; surviving; religious exaltation”), then in order to accommodate, in my own conscious assessment of reality, the existence of: the stock market, corporate personhood, wildly unbalanced distribution of global resources, the weather, “products,” “democracy,” the CIA, state of the union addresses, the fucking media (bar Amy Goodman and Democracy Now!, which I wish everyone had the wherewithal to watch or hear every day), bail-outs, wars on “drugs” & “terror,” or simply the brutal fact that our government’s chief occupation is mass fucking [moral] murder, etc etc, I have to either get extremely high, or constantly and radically re-evaluate the signifiers that determine cultural convention. Or both, which has proved a winning & recommended tactic thus far. (continue reading…)

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On Proliferation

by on Aug.02, 2011

Having just seen our fifth child into the world, my wife and I have some experience of proliferation:

1. The growth or production of cells by multiplication of parts

2. A rapid and often excessive spread or increase

Maybe not an exact description of having children, but when you’ve hit the number of five kids and look back at the relatively short time (that nevertheless feels like a long time, a profusion of times both alike and particulate), that short time it took to get from 2 adults to 7 human beings is (to me) proliferation.

It only takes some of the looks we get in public to know that, at least from some perspectives, five kids is excessive. It only takes a few moments of the natural noisiness that is our household for us to agree. Truth is, we like that noisiness, the sense of a haven of various personalities thrown together. Glorious messiness par excellence… (give or take the French accent…), delectable differences, acutely denied similarities in multi-duplicate, the exquisite noise of a fuzzy receptor, lots of yelling and only some ears covered.

Captured 2007-04-05 00049B by Karen Randall

There are many kinds of proliferation, of messiness. The many spellings/pronunciations of Quadaffi, Ghaddafi, Qadafi (how does that go?) comes to mind. Perhaps nuclear proliferation comes first to mind (probably) for most of us: a debatable and ongoing proliferation despite outward gestures toward pruning, the reality and its many shadows. Clearly the quickest way to a nuclear- and Gadhaffi(however spelled)-free world is to convince our leaders to push the buttons, fire the rockets, get it over with. Proliferate into extinction. Proliferation, the inverse of categorization, opening up to close down instead of closing down to open up.

In fact, there are numerous ongoing, halting, and/or recent attempts to control proliferation in interesting ways: China’s One Child policy, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker’s (at least perceived) attack on public sector labor unions (whatever “public sector” means), Maine Governor Le Page’s tearing down of children’s sandcastles and workers’ murals, the War on Terror and killing of Osama bin Laden, weeding my garden out back.

Something strange grew up with my radishes, something with little green pods and masquerading as radishes.

Mixed seed in the packet? Previous resident of the previously (in)fertile neighborhood? (What, really, grew there before we moved in, over the years gone by?) Are the green pods edible? Do I even want to know? (Yes, I do want to know what they are, but I enjoy the mystery of it, the waiting for someone else to see and recognize what I have there. The mingling of voices over a divisive plant grown up unwanted makes for other fertile landscapes.)

To pull, or not to pull, that is the question (with apologies to my radishless garden salads). The rooted and the rootless. 90% of my lettuce plants next to the radishes wilted and died despite adequate watering and drainage. Did I say 90%? That just slipped out. I haven’t actually quantified, calculated, tabulated. It’s probably closer to 98%.

While weeding, my daughter accidentally pulled out tomato plants I had transplanted without anyone’s knowledge. They were dead for a day before I realized. There are more where those came from. More plants and more deaths. More stories, more endings, more, more, more. Deaths and lives multiply until…what?





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"The Author Function": Kent Johnson criticizes Montevidayo on HTML Giant

by on Aug.02, 2011

I wrote this in response to Kent’s interview with the relentless Chris Higgs on HTML Giant:

It’s always nice to hear from you Kent, but I think you’re mischaracterizing Montevidayo, since we have proposed any number of different alternative models of not just authorship but personhood (wounds, kitsch, animals, leaky eyes, and maybe most explicitly Joyelle’s post about influence that was excerpted here a few days ago that deliberately questions ideas of influence and property; Lucas deLima’s queer takes on pop, dance and poetics are miles away from the kind of personhood and property you refer to). There is something about the status of the author that few or none of the writers for Montevidayo seem interested in preserving. There are a lot of ways of thinking about alternatives to monolithic or humanist authorship without using heteronyms. The status of the name as icon of authorship is itself always in flux– my name was actually changed the other day due to the immigration services’s archaic computer system, so my name is now in fact a fake, and the corporatist-technological nexus of the spellchecker is always generating heteronyms…


He does say we’re “humorless” but it’s a pretty fun interview, so check it out.

And feel free to weigh in here.

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I got your emotional cocktail right here: Bortzutzky's Interfering Bodies, Ponyo, and feelings

by on Aug.01, 2011

[Caution, y’all, it’s a spill!]

I read Daniel Borzutzky’s The Book of Interfering Bodies (of which you can find some great reviews online; this is not a review) over the past couple of nights. Lying in bed on my side with the book tucked under the lamp, shooing midges, sometimes the baby, not really a baby anymore, he’s a toddler, doing his sweet/irksome starfish routine against my back, partner shuddering the bed with restless sleep because he’s overworked and underslept, dog snoring, it’s warm nights in Wyoming so that it feels like some other country. Daniel’s book worked like a ghost on me. Like an otherworldly visitation of something I thought perhaps was dead and gone, or someone I expected never to meet, or something I didn’t know could be. It was psychic. It knew what I wanted and gave it to me, or else it was mindmelding, or else I was able to tell via a series of complex gestural articulations what was next and to arrange myself into the ideal receptive position. (continue reading…)

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The Conviviality of Art (and the Death Drop)

by on Aug.01, 2011

Joyelle wrote an interesting response to my post on voguing, in which she considers the death drop (otherwise known as the ‘shablam’) an act that does not subvert violence, but rather “counterfeits it […] uses the ‘real’ violence as a template to make more violence which goes in new as yet unmappable, spasming directions.”

I like this description.  I think the sensation of violence is not so much represented by the death drop as it is embodied, (un)lived, somehow sustained when each dancer’s body hits the ground.  I would add that one condition of this violence, as well as one of its spasmatic effects, is its convivial nature.  In its context before a crowd, or even a YouTube user, the death drop enacts violence as well its antidote:  a queer ritual and sublime exaltation of queerness, a commingling of bodies that absorb and channel trauma for, through, and with each other.

Jasbir Puar, whom I quoted in my original post, defines conviviality as when bodies “come together and dissipate through intensifications and vulnerabilities.”  For Puar, “[t]hese encounters are rarely comfortable mergers but rather entail forms of eventness that could potentially unravel oneself but just as quickly be recuperated through a restabilized self.”

I wonder if we might extend the death drop’s conviviality to all art as, in Puar’s words, “the open materiality of bodies as a Place to Meet.”  (continue reading…)

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