Archive for November, 2011

Necropastoral Parades: Nathalie Djurberg

by on Nov.09, 2011

Here’s a trailer for the Parade by Nathalie Djurberg (with music by Hans Berg) at the Walker Art Center.

Regular Lucas, Sarah Fox and I had a Montevidayo meeting at this exhibition last Friday and it’s totally amazing. Anybody who lives in or near the Twin Cities should definitely get over to the Walker and see it ASAP. It’s certainly one of the best, most moving shows I’ve seen in a long, long time.

My immediate reference point for this overwhelming experience was when I went to see Kara Walker’s Walker show back in the 90s (can’t remember what year). This was one of Walker’s first big solo shows and I hadn’t even heard of her. I just walked in by happenstance and my first reaction was, “Ugh, how boring, 19th century silhouettes” but it was of course a trap: Before I knew it I had entered into the space of Walker’s sadistic fantasia and there was no way out.
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by on Nov.08, 2011

By Kate Durbin

I have already written about the teenage girl’s excessive body, her objecthood she wields as a weapon and a wrench and a period-stained rag.

I have written of her excessive hormones, emotions, fashion. Of her unfortunate yet unfortunately necessary place in the market.

The teenage girl is a consumer, valuable only as such. But she is inherently unstable; her identity ever in flux, the flickering roll of the tumblr scroll, the manic-heaving breasts of a cute bow-haired girl in a moving .gif. The market is always selling to this finicky, anorexic customer, who doesn’t even spend her own money. It’s mommy and daddy’s bling.

The teenage girls texts are excessive. She mumbles in girl code, she sends out an SOS to other girls she’s never met. She texts, she facebooks, she tumbles.

In class, she is mute. At home, she screams I HATE YOU at her parents. (continue reading…)

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Crash the Heavens

by on Nov.05, 2011

I walk down Wall Street all the time. Most of my doctors are downtown. You won’t find any protestors on Wall Street. What you will find is George Washington’s camel toe.

I was downtown again today. Wall Street was totally blocked off. Past the barricades I could see a hundred or so police charging a mob of rioters. There was smoke, blood, guns, pandemonium — and no protestors.
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On Art, Sacrifice, Ecstasy, and Love

by on Nov.05, 2011

[I presented this at the &Now Conference in UC San Diego on Oct 15 as part of the “No Future” panel.]


20,000 kg is approximately 44,092 pounds.

How many bags is that?

A few weeks ago, poet Tenzing Rigdol stole this much dirt from Tibet and flew it to Dharamsala in India, where over 80,000 Tibetans live in exile. Was this an act of desperation. Was this an act of art. Was this an act of love. 

At the Mandeville Special Collections Library yesterday, I opened one of Alice Notley’s journals at random, and this was the first thing I read: “Love … is a great spirit, Socrates.”

“Love,” Bataille wrote, “expresses a need for sacrifice.” You could lose yourself in love. In the 16th century, Meera drank poison out of her love for Krishna. Before her, Christ “eagerly endure[d] wounds, even death itself”: so as to serve the beloved, according to Erasmus. Erasmus also concluded that Christ’s torment itself makes him lovable, an object of desire. The erotic nature of sacrificial pain has been especially apparent to mystics, who are themselves made (like Frankenstein’s monster) out of an extravagance of love.

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The mystery of the human bean and bug-time

by on Nov.03, 2011

I figured out where the phrase “human bean” came from–Lorraine Neidecker! Thanks, LN. I hope to someday read your collected works.

In my research into the life of beans (or things with bean-ness) I have been trying to find connection between myself and plant-life. I have gotten as far as the worm. In previous entries on my blog, I have written about the practice of humility as a poetics. A teacher I once had brought compost to class and told us about her time spent with her face in the fresh black humus. We smelled the compost and let the earth particles into our lungs. I didn’t see any worms, but I thought about the wormhood that must have produced the mould.

Sidenote: In practices of some types of shamanism, exorcisms involve “poisoning” the possessed with herbs. This often killed intestinal worms, so in the scientific way of looking at it, the body was healed when the worms were destroyed. It’s interesting to consider how to empathize or understand certain shamanistic practices, because it is so difficult to think of toxic convulsions as anything other than sickness. I’m reminded of the scene in True Bloodwhen Terra gets exorcised but later tries to attack the witch because the exorcism was a hoax–she was fed poison and hallucinated her demon. When I was a kid in Singapore in primary school, we were given small pink tablets to eat and these would eliminate worms, if we had any. Two of my friends have had worms. One had benign worms, the other had worms that caused emaciation. One described seeing worms in the toilet as an intense experience of shame. Worms are a symbol of shame. If you call someone a worm, you are calling them a coward, unfit, disgusting, etc.

During conversation with some poet friends, the worm came up as my “spirit animal”. The worm has 7 hearts and is hermaphroditic.

green porno

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The book of nature in Plath and Vallejo

by on Nov.02, 2011

Kenneth Anger's occultism

As though it were nothing other than a little globe of darkness from which there flashed out a strange light…

– Foucualt (about Bataille)

Frequently the occult elements in writers such Poe, Baudelaire, Rimbaud, Artaud, Vallejo, and Plath are seen as a sideshow, the least important part of their art, as something even embarrassing and best forgotten.

Baudelaire becomes the poet of modernity, as opposed to a poet who wrote also wrote about spirits, occult correspondences, vampirism, etc. And Artaud’s occultism is frequently linked to his madness.

But what if this occultism in their work is actually a way of denaturalizing nature, of finding the weak points in the wall between Art and Nature, of writing, as Huysmans’ says, “against nature” (or at least against the image of nature as a form of immediacy, transparency)? What if this occultism is actually one of the most radical and least digestible elements of their work?

Vallejo in his famous poem “The Book of Nature” attempts to “read” a tree as if he were an ancient priest or prophet attempting to read the meaning of a group of birds flying through the sky or the entrails of a slain animal. The poet, who is both a “good student” and a “bad student” (Vallejo’s paradoxical universe always straining to the breaking point with simultaneously existing contraries), sees the linden as displaying “dead foliage” that is also a “deck of cards” that can somehow be interpreted.

Yet the cards are also in the poet himself. The relation between poet and tree is not a “natural” one (he doesn’t make of the tree a metaphor for his soul, his thoughts). Rather this image of the cards is what links the pair: cards that are dead foliage. The occultism of reading cards distorts any simple correspondence between poet and tree, between self and nature. Both self and nature become cards to be examined  instead of mirrors to be looked into.
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Cut Bank review of Peter Richards' Helsinki

by on Nov.02, 2011

Brett Defries reviews Peter Richards’ Helsinki:

…I’d say that these poems have no ideas but in things, but with such a weakened distinction between the corporeal and the broadly phenomenal, Williams’ famous dictum turns too vague to grow a pulse. Part of this confusion is the synaesthesia, which may be a blessing or a blessed syndrome, but is chronic either way within HELSINKI. If you can paint the sound of a kiss, then you can also call into question the meaning of a kiss and the limits of sight. But there is more to it. This doubting of banners and cities is not just a drug induced poetic positivism. No. In HELSINKI, the poem is the thing independent of science, and everything else is a thing in the mind of the poem. In a poem, the rules of experience change. Anywhere else, HELSINKI is no such place, and the banner means nothing.

Read the whole thing.

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Bug Time: Chitinous Necropastoral Hypertime against the Future

by on Nov.01, 2011

[I see so many webby and glitchy potentials running between Kristen Stone’s Queeragripoetics and my ideas about Bug Time that I’m posting my paper on Bug Time here. Thanks, Kristen, for your awesome thinking and art!]

Invocation: “I am more powerful than a president. I am a charmed and desperate poet speaking to everyone.” Alice Notley, Culture of one, 18.

1. In his prescient book, prophetic like an ancient Greek oracle who, drugged on her tripod, could only look backwards, Toxic Archipelago: A History of Industrial Disease in Japan, Brett L. Walker introduces the notion that insects live on different time scales than humans—“high speed evolutionary time”, defined by mutation. selection, evolution. Given that the Japanese ‘rice hopper’ for example, enjoys a lifespan of fifty days and between two and six generations in a single human year, at least 150 generations of ‘hoppers’ can live in the span of a normal Japanese life. “Plus there are millions more insects than us, which means that mutations—say, a serendipitous (for the insect) genetic resistence to chemical insecticide or other anthropogenic force—are far more likely to occur.”

2. What model of literary time is provided by this mutating field time, this bug time, this spasming, chemically induced, methed up mutating, death time, this model of proliferant, buggered, buggy, moist, mutating, selecting, chitinous, gooey, bloated, dying time, a time defined by a spasming change of forms, by generational die-offs, by mutation, by poisoning, a dynamic challenge to continuity, and by sheer proliferation of alternatives, rather than linear succession? (continue reading…)

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