The Right To Be A Monster : Boys, Girls, and the Stay Puft Marshamallow Man

by on Nov.20, 2011

[This article was written by Seth Oelbaum, a Notre Dame MFA candidate and very talented poet. I asked him to write something about this issue after he raised it in a discussion with Alice Notley:]

The Right To Be a Monster : Boys, Girls, and the Stay Puft Marshamallow Man

As a 25-year-old boy composer of poetry I am infatuated with war and am concerned that my interest in violence subjects me to discrimination from the 21st-century poetry populous. It appears to me that boys are expected to abandon violent representations in their poems. Boys have had their turn. We can’t continue the aesthetic of poets like Baudelaire, Verlaine, and Rimbaud. To do so would be sexist and misogynistic. Much of their malice was directed at members of the opposite gender. This is wrong. Girls are humans too! They’re people and you should treat them like everybody else. That’s the just, fair thing to do. “Respect and equality for all!” is a refrain that is constantly penetrating my ears in my present Theories of Justice class. This is claptrap. Poets are not the 99%: they’re the 1%. They’re seers: they’re special: they can do what they want. “Human law,” says the murderous sphinx John Milton, “is the vilest of all.” I don’t want to follow them. Why should I? The girl poets don’t. They commit all sorts of crimes in their poetry and are widely published, anthologized, and blogged about. Shouldn’t boy poets be able to do the same? Where is the boyesque anthology? Why the violence inequality? Does contemporary poetry reward girl violence and condemn boy violence because boys have penises (bad penis!) and girls have vaginas (good vagina!)? Let’s see.

One of my favorite poems of all-time is Ariana Reines’ “NICO SAID EXCREMENT FILTERS THROUGH THE BRAIN. I’S A KIT.” In this poem, Reines breaks into somebody’s house, goes through all their things, masturbates on their pillows, and bleeds in their sink. The poem ends with the declaration: “There’s no malediction. No thought can poison me.” None of Reines’s actions are corrupt. Her violations aren’t wrong. She’s following the edicts of the poet, who, according to the boy Keats, isn’t a single entity, but a capacity to be any and all things. The girl Reines agrees with Keats when, in a later poem, she says, “I have to become everything.” The poet is a monster: they cannot keep their molecules to themselves: they infect and subvert all that they come into contact with. Did the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man care about all the chaos he caused in Ghostbusters? No. Is Reines concerned that the pillows she’s masturbating on don’t belong to her? Uh-uh. Order and property laws are inapplicable to them. Humans, says their deprecating spokesman Alexander Pope, are “so weak, so little, and so blind.” In Mercury, Reines laments: “Oh person / what a bore.” Reines is too bold to be human. The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man is too unwieldy. I want to be bold and unwieldy too. But I don’t think boys are supposed to be.

A leading publisher of the monster girl poets is Fence. Besides Reines, they publish Chelsey Minnis, Cathy Wagner, and Joyelle (my advisor). None of these girls are law-abiding members of a peaceful community. Minnis assaults elderly men, Wagner compares her motherly skills to Saddam Hussein, and Joyelle is always about to coup. What are the boys of Fence writing about? Does their overall aesthetic reflect that of a pugnacious-tyrant-revolutionary? No. Prior to Nick Demske’s arrival, none of the Fence boys’ that I’ve read feature the same piercing, screeching, hyper aggressive rhetoric of the girls. If a war broke out between the Fence boys and the Fence girls, the Fence boys, like 1939 Poland, would be crushed. Fight back, boys! If girls want to engage in warfare, then they’re certainly entitled to do so. But shouldn’t boys have the right to strike back? If someone attacks you, isn’t a counter-attack justifiable? Reines and her girls aren’t victims. They’re the ones issuing declarations of war: they’re the aggressors! They’re tough, mean: they’re not helpless.

Often I come across articles, many of them published in the New York Times, that ask questions: why aren’t there more female businessmen, congressmen, adulterers, &c? I want to pose a question too: why aren’t their more violent, sassy, bossy boy poets? There are a few. Some that come to mind are Johannes (my teacher), Demske, Dan Hoy. But I feel like none of these receive the latitude that the girls do. In his review of A New Quarantine Will Take My Place, Matt Soucy calls Johannes “misogynistic.” This is a not a term that invites further conversation. A “misogynistic” boy is not a complex boy bursting with ideas. A “misogynistic” boy is dumb and narrow-minded. He’s not worth talking to: he doesn’t warrant exploring. In reviews of the girl poets, their violent sass is a portal to intricate ideas. They’re not “misogynistic”: they’re making insightful commentaries on feminism, bodily representations, and heteronormative ideologies. The girl poet’s violence leads to multiple strands of thought while the boy poet’s bellicosity meets the dead end of misogyny. The girl poet’s violence is intellectual, the boy’s is boorish. The girl is nurtured: Penn invites Joyelle to read for a feminist reading series. But the boy is exiled: he must make his own book tour.

Is the era of the boy over? Is their reign finished? According to B.K. Fischer, a girl poet, it is. “It’s about time,” she says. Boys have been brawling bitches for “several millennia” so it’s the girls’ turn now. But where would the girls be without the boys? In their introduction to the gurlesque anthology, Lara Glenum and Arielle Greenberg list forbearers to the girl monsters. They name Guest, Plath, Anne Waldman, O’Hara and Berryman. The last two have penises, but I don’t think that the girl poets would have trouble defeating them in battle. The aesthetic of these boys is relatively tame: they don’t pose a threat to the girls: they’re not planning a war anytime soon. But Rimbaud and Baudelaire are. If these Parisians were mentioned then the feminine hegemony of the aesthetic would be threatened. These boys championed force in the catty, angst-ridden discourse of the 21st-century girl monster. Before Minnis began beating up citizens, Baudelaire pummeled poor people; prior to Reines dominance of the cock, Rimbaud grabbed his daddy’s penis. Girls didn’t start the gurlesque: boys did. The gurlesque foundation isn’t pink: it’s blue. Boys are being written out of a club that they made.

Is bringing up this origin sexist? Is it misogynistic? As Cher Horowitz says, “As if!” My interest isn’t in sexism or misogyny: it’s in violence. I want to explore its theatricality, its drama, its intrigue and captivation. I think boys should be able to show their interest in this idea and be assessed by the same attentive criteria that the girls get. I have a penis, but I also have a MacBook and Microsoft Word. If I want to compose poems like my advisor then I should be able to do so without being marginalized. Boys can be monsters too. The 21st-century poetry ethos has made this achievement difficult. But so what? No retreat, no surrender! We must fight for our privilege to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man.

123 comments for this entry:
  1. Danielle Pafunda

    Hi, Seth,

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts. I’ve got a few questions:

    Why try to fit Rimbaud, Baudelaire, Johannes, Dan, Nick, and all into gurlesque? Gurlesque (which I’d argue Joyelle doesn’t really do), relies on its speaker assuming a particular voice/affect/subjectivity of the girl. Men, boys, etc. are certainly welcome to do this! Gender performance hardly needs to be tied to your genitalia. But the performance you’re lauding in these fellas is rather different than girl. It’s also interesting to me that you’d call Berryman tame in relationship to gurlesque, and then tie the aesthetic to those poets performing in a more discernibly masculine fashion. Can you say more about how Rimbaud and Baudelaire prefigure gurlesque? I don’t get it.

    If you’re looking to define a masculine performance and lineage that defiles the patriarchy or some such, why not go for it? Give it a name and be whatever monster you want. It’d be a fine thing for our contemporary poetic scene, and I don’t imagine your passage will really be more difficult than that of women who do the monstrous.

    Also, my thought on this girl-privilege: if we women really do get privileged (which I won’t buy without more evidence :)) in our access to the monstrous and the readiness of our culture to read us as monstrous, well, I hope we all realize what sorta privilege that really is!

    Fun fact: pink for girls, blue for boys? Doesn’t enter the common iconography until the US 1940s. Earlier, pink is considered the stronger color: http://www.straightdope.com/columns/read/2831/was-pink-originally-the-color-for-boys-and-blue-for-girls

    yours,
    Danielle

  2. Reb Livingston

    Hi Seth, are you familiar with the work of Rauan Klassnik? Maybe try Holy Land (Black Ocean). I’ve heard him read selections from his upcoming, The Moon’s Jaw, some of the most “violent” work I’ve ever heard. He often reads his work to (gender) mixed audiences. While he clearly makes some (many?) people uncomfortable, to the best of my knowledge, nobody has bum rushed the stage or blocked him from writing, publishing or otherwise sharing his work. I’m not familiar with Matt Soucy’s review calling Johannes misogynistic, but I wouldn’t consider that a widely held view.

    Perhaps those few publishers you mentioned are more interested in violence by the “feminine,” but that’s hardly the whole publishing landscape. My advice would be caste your net wider. And remember there are many many publishers who wouldn’t touch the girl monster writing with a ten foot poll and the monster girl poets you mentioned are called a lot of things too.

    Best,
    Reb

  3. Kent Johnson

    Seth, fun piece.

    Aren’t people like Jon Leon or Dan Hoy sort of “Monster Boy” poets, according to your frame?

    You should also check out UK younger poets like Keston Sutherland, Sean Bonney, Josh Stanley, or Justin Katko (the last a Yank, but in England presently). There are some others. These would be Monster Boy poets who are communists (openly). And the work is wild and tough. Bolshevism with machine-gun libidinal bullets. Nothing like it here.

  4. Feng Sun Chen

    The whole point of the “violence” in “girl poetry” is that our work comes out of a “boy lineage”. It’s not true that “the era of the boy is over”. It’s not a war and it’s not about facing a threat, it’s simply a necessary consequence of writing out of particular bodies, and it’s not about genitals but the creation of genital meaning. You are not being “written out” of a club you made (did you really say that?)–but why would you want to stay in that club?

    Poetic/linguistic violence is not the same as actual violence. You’re getting these mixed up. To start a poetry “war” seems meaningless and regressive. Also, I would be wary of saying that gurlesque or girl poets get much “latitude”. Fence, for example, is not a major press. Is this the era of the girl? Are you being turned into a girl? Do you wish you were queer? Do you wish that you could exploit a history of oppression?

    My answer to your question(s) is yes, not simply because you might be missing the point. There are many many great things to be said about writers like Dempske and Gorranson (and other “boys”), and I agree that more should be said, but not in this way. Honestly, I can’t believe this. I feel almost irrationally upset.

    Danielle was more eloquent and polite in responding to your post. I would echo her points.

  5. Kent Johnson

    Why are people upset by Seth’s piece? I took it as being sort of tongue-in-cheek. I mean, The Marshmallow Man?

  6. Kent Johnson

    I should also say, for a UK hard-radical alternative (if alternative’s the word) to the more self-absorbed (is that fair to say?) Yank Gurlesque, some might wish to check out poets like Frances Kruk, Emily Critchley, Francesca Lisette, and others. Communist/anarchist poets, these women, too. Like in the sense of throwing molotovs in riots.

  7. Carrie Lorig

    Uhhhh Sam Pink?

  8. oldfilmlover

    Admittedly, I am not a poet, but I am well-acquanted with the arguments about the critical divisions between male and female-perpetrated violence in art (indeed, this article could easily be carried over into media studies, which is my specialty).

    The author’s argument ultimately hinges on his claim that his interest “isn’t in sexism or misogyny: it’s in violence.” I suppose it’s fair to try to evaluate violence for its own sake, or to use it as a strategic tool in your work to achieve some affect–but I feel that such distinctions are primarily academic. Indeed, they must be: after all, it’s far more difficult to argue that violence and sexuality aren’t linked in the “real world” (they most certainly are). Regardless of its aesthetic connotations, the messier fact remains that violence is still a (real, physical) tool employed primarily by men, and often against women.

    Violence *is* gendered in its cultural execution, even if not in its basic definition. I think the responsibility of aestheticized violence is to acknowledge this, lest it remain an exercise in style for its own sake.

    This is a tricky issue, because I don’t believe that male poets should *necessarily* be more harshly interrogated for their use of violence than females. I think much of it is contextual and should be judged on a case-by-case basis. That said, I find this vaguely postfeminist argument on the need for boys to exercise their boorish chops to lack the necessary nuance about what violence really is.

  9. Danielle Pafunda

    Feng Sun Chen! I am one zillion times excited for your Black Ocean book!!!

    I love “genital meaning!”

    It’s also VERY TRUE that VIOLENCE ON THE PAGE is inflected and informed by its speaker (gender, race, class, political allegiance, human/post-human/animal, disability, all that cultural software!) and the aesthetic through which it’s pitched (grotesque, gothic, sublime, realist, etc.). It doesn’t all come from the same place or proceed with the same intentions. Those nuances = ultra worth exploring.

  10. Morgan

    Douglas Kearney (also a Fence poet)

  11. Feng Sun Chen

    Sorry I freaked. I understand that this is supposed to be puft, and puft it is. I was overwhelmed by the puft.

    Hi Danielle! xx

  12. adam strauss

    Monsters:

    Ronald Palmer (or too friendly/smiley?)
    Julian Brolasky (havn’t read alas)?

  13. Aaron Apps

    I think this article sets up a false dichotomy in the wrong place. I wanted to like it because of the title–it is possibly important, interesting stuff. I would have rather seen a post about how one splays and dissects masculinity from within by taking these new wonderful poetries in body. What are they doing? [see Mary’s (Feng’s) comment above] What are you attempting to do by de-sterilizing (destabilizing) a masculine poetics from within?

    Also, I don’t think the “Stay Puft Marshmallow Man” has any genitals and is, in turn, hermaphroditic.

    http://laughingsquid.com/wp-content/uploads/stay-puft-20101001-092805.jpg

    He might have an abstracted, invisible phallus? We _all_ have one of those. Big raging egos we post all over the internet and buy things our little capitalist things with our personalized credit ratings. I mostly tend to associate these abstracted phalluses with the Ghostbusters themselves, though. All electric and entrapping.

    The poor processed corn syrup sent off to fight the charismatic heros:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s2aQ8iob8DY&feature=related

    Oh no, homoeroticism will destroy everything, maybe:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3OOF0FpKiYk&feature=related

    Such sad evil sugar cream cumming with its whole body all over the polis after having been murdered:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0t7iBV5sRwc&feature=related

    Violence with no critical lens? That’s not interesting, that’s the status-quo that has been perfected by sterile, academic silence. What you’ve said above sounds like it’s reaching at being like Tony Hoagland’s dirty potato, mostly. Upholding the thing that it wants to critique. It fails to actually worm itself into the dirt to see how the potatoes grow.

  14. becca

    Seth, have you read Solanas’ *SCUM Manifesto* or Perloff’s *The Futurist Moment: Avant-Garde, Avant Guerre, and the Language of Rupture*?

    They might help historicize some of your thinking about gender, art, and violence, which seems important here, because your post takes the short view through the keyhole of the Gurlesque moment. I mean, of course you live in that moment — you’re getting your MFA right now, and look at your undergrad/grad teachers — but as others have pointed out, what looks like the center to you (Gurlesque) is actually really the margin on a larger scale (the broader cultural view of this moment, as well as the longer historical view).

    I agree, too, that it matters whether violence is “real” or not: although aesthetic violence certainly has its consequences, those consequences exist on a different ethical plane.

  15. Lucas de Lima

    One thing I like about Nick and Johannes as poets is that they exceed and disorient masculinity. I’m thinking of Nick’s Eminem poem that contains the line “I want to buttfuck you in the mouth” and Johannes’ Miss World boy-girl in his latest book.

    Also, I recall a lot of self-inflicted violence and/or self-deprecation in their writing. The cock-crippling poem in itself can be “bold and unwieldy”- I’m sure we all agree that uncomplicated assertions of masculinity (or femininity, or humanity) are not interesting or productive.

    With that said, I am taking Aaron Apps’ cue and imagining the Marshmallow Man as some obese homo terrorist, fruity sailor suit and all.

    L

  16. Lara Glenum

    Hey, all, just catching up with this discussion but wanted to note that whoever posted the comment under the name *Lara* above wasn’t actually me. An imposter? Curious, no?

    I have lots of thoughts on this but find it kind of funny that Seth is decrying the Gurlesque as censoring male violence! All my favorite male poets (Johannes, Nick, Will Burke, Blaise Cendrars, Artaud, etc.) are super-raucus and violent body performers. I only wish there were more of them…

  17. Lara Glenum

    All: Yes, Douglas Kearney! And Dan and John Leon! And Rauan Klassnik! And Ronoldo Wilson! And Letters to Freaking Wendy’s! And Leon Baham! And Tao Lin! And the beautifully self-lacerating Aaron Kunin!

    But what’s great about all these super-delicious male poets is the way they complicate gender norms, not reinscribe them. Their violence engages and detonates some deep cultural structures. They’re aware that gender is a mess that can’t be cleaned up. They don’t try. They perform complex and messy sexualities, what Lucas so aptly calls “exceed[ing] and disorient[ing] masculinity. They engage in a lot of self-harm. They’re excessive and hysterical (in the Freudian sense) and blatantly femme at turns. Some of them are as costumey and pageanty as teenage girls. And many of them self-eroticize (make themselves into sexual objects), which is so, so rare in male poets. And they’ve got deep artillery and balls hanging like clusters of grapes down their legs (like the Gurlesque poets)! They rip shit up.

    As Feng (Mary) says, “it’s not about genitals but the creation of genital meaning.”

    @oldfillover: “Regardless of its aesthetic connotations, the messier fact remains that violence is still a (real, physical) tool employed primarily by men, and often against women. Violence *is* gendered in its cultural execution.”

    Bingo. Hello, Ciudad Juarez.

    What any of this means, though, for how hetero male poets are supposed to grapple with representations of poetry and sex and violence in their poems remains an open question. But yeah, I’m def not into the “the need for boys to exercise their boorish chops.” Yawn.

    And Seth, the argument that men invented violence and that women are now poaching on their territory is so essentializing. And territorialistic. And patronizing. Why go here?

    And Danielle’s right: “If you’re looking to define a masculine performance and lineage that defiles the patriarchy or some such, why not go for it? Give it a name and be whatever monster you want.” Do it! Fo’ realz.

    P.S. You seem to intentionally skip the part of my intro to the Gurlesque where I talk about Baudelaire and Rimbuad as being part of the Gurlesque’s lineage: “Gurlesque poets inherit Baudelaire’s quarrel with mimesis as the foundational principle of art and Rimbaud’s interest in mongrel identity.”

    And your reading of Rimbaud as some curmudgeonly straight boy spewing the usual tripe against women seems needlessly flat, given that he was clearly gay or bisexual. On the page, his sexuality feels unstable, volatile, and explorative. He’s definitely not planning a war against women. He’s more interested in self-evisceration.

  18. t.w.

    Who ya gonna call?

    lmfao

  19. Lara Glenum

    So, with a little searching, I’ve discovered that the person posting under “Lara” above (not “Lara Glenum,” that’s me), appears to be one “Impossible Mike,” a contributor to HTML Giant:

    http://htmlgiant.com/author/mikek/

    Mike (“Lara”) comments, “This is a total joke,” which I would not and have not said.

    So Mike, why are you posing as me in response to a post in which I’m being directly named/called out?

    You wanna come forward and say a bit about why you chose to do this? I’m actually curious.

    You need to borrow my labia or clit something? Just ask! I’m totally into drag and camp.

  20. Seth Oelbaum

    I don’t think you can separate linguistic violence and actual violence. Wars just don’t start: they begin with words. If an author is really against violence then they should probably withhold violent rhetoric from their artwork altogether since the language and the physical act are codependent.

    I’m not saying most boy poets are licking doves and holding up peace signs. But the boy poets lack the totality of the girls. There’s violence, but their violence doesn’t come with the same mixture of sass, cuteness, and charm. The boys do sometimes punch you in the face, but they’re not doing it with style. When Minnis hurts you, she’s also wearing semen-stained earmuffs and sucking on butterscotches. I want my violence to be supplemented with props and accessories. I want it be a production. I cite Baudelaire and Rimbaud because they’re specific examples of poets who are attune to the spectacle of violence. Rimbaud talks about his mother’s nightdress, his sister’s sabots, Jujubes. Baudelaire’s infatuated with perfume and his own toilet. The Nazi genocide is the paragon of atrocities because there were so many dimensions: trains, tattoos, wardrobe changes, “showers.” The other genocides, with their narrow focus on physical force, are one-dimensional. They’re mumblecore movies when I want the big, Hollywood blockbuster.

    The Stay Puft Marshmallow Man disrupts New York City in style. He’s cute, cuddly, and probably very soft. He’s also wearing a bib. Why can’t more boy poems wear bibs?

    I like genitals. But not genitals as human body parts: genitals as commodities. Penises are pleasing to look at because they look like Super Soakers. I’ve used these water guns before. They’re powerful. They can knock down a beehive and make them buzz all over the place. That’s what I want in my poetry: to cause chaos. I don’t think that there needs to be productive chaos, like it has to aim to close the income equality gap. But chaos in general is fine. I don’t want to be content and secure. I want to be sharp and on my tiptoes. I don’t want my poems to be dull. I’d prefer them to be messy, disordered, and threatened: it makes you stronger, tougher, and more alert. Vaginas can produce disruption as well. They make me think of suburban houses. You enter a home the same way you enter a vagina. But it’s the penetrated, not the penetrator, who has the power. When you go into a person’s house, you’re under their rules. You eat what they serve and act according to their values. The house sets the program, not the guest. I don’t think there should be gender wars to prove that one is better than the other. But I like the idea of Super Soakers and houses constantly clashing. A battle of commodities is much preferable to the status quo.

    If you say something in a poem you should mean it and be prepared to implement it in Earthly life. If a magic genie gave me the chance to make my poems come true I’d accept his offer without blinking.

    Fence may not be Penguin and their authors’ books may not be on the cover of the NYT book review. But to my fellow up-and-coming poets and me they’re superstars. They are influencing a generation of poets. Who and what they publish has and will continue to have an impact on poetry and how future poets write.

    I want to be exploited. If presented with the two options: privilege or oppression, give me oppression. I don’t want the right to vote, run my own company, leave the house, have consensual sex, &c. All these activities require some sort of human body. I don’t believe the human body is worth my time. I’d much prefer if it and other human bodies would stay out of my sight. There are superior bodies to interact with, which is why the heteronormative housewife is ideal. She’s constantly in contact with laundry machines, clothes, and mass-market food. There’s value in these products. You can learn more from a cherry Pop-Tart (Kellogg’s) than a human. The “naked human” (to use Arendt’s term) is worthless. It’s the things they buy, wear, and use that make their personhood supposedly inviolate. Without these supplements – mass market food, smartphones, name-brand deodorant – the person is nothing. I’d rather align myself with where the power is at: in the commodity. The human is secondary: all humans are subjugated: they’re all under the tyrannical rule of the mass-produced product.

    Instead of fighting the capitalistic system, join it, be it, subvert it. Screw the human: love the product. I’ll be as fake, plastic, cinematic, soap-operatic, made-up as possible. The human world isn’t about niceness, compassion, generosity: it’s centered on objects. When a boy says this, he’s being mean, insensitive, ungrateful for the privileges he has. But when a girl says this, she’s making commentary on feminism and patriarchal structures. Why can the girl’s violence social commentary? Why can’t the boy’s? Why does anyone’s violence need to be turned into social commentary? Why can’t it just be amoral? Do people still believe in right and wrong? A Pop-Tart doesn’t care about good or bad: it just wants to be devoured.

    Ariana Reines: “Eat me. / Eat me. / Silence of eternity.”

    Don’t respect me, don’t treat me with equality and rights, don’t tell me my corporeal body has importance when really it’s the H&M corduroys that adorns them. My skin is secondary. The garment is supreme. The pants actually cost money. Don’t try and fool me or trick me. I know I’m only as valuable as my Visa credit card.

    The “childish” language is intended to unsettle. When adults try to have sex, the children come crying into the room. While adults try to have a relaxed, composed meal, the children begin to squeal. The adults want to carry out their mature activities, but the children are invariably there. The child is a virus: a disruptive, agitating force that cannot be discarded.

  21. Johannes

    Great response Seth. I’m totally perplexed by a lot of the responses even as they seem to prove your point.

    Johannes

  22. Lara Glenum

    Really interesting post, Seth. I especially love what you’re saying about genitals as commodities.

    When people review my books, they usually praise my “female” violence as a moral gesture, which seems like an effort to contain it. When Johannes performs violence in his work (which is hardly heteronormative), he gets labeled a misogynist, which is a radically reductionist read of his work.

    I’ve never claimed the moral high ground for the Gurlesque or for female (performative) violence.

    I dunno about the house and super-soaker thing (though I love the total campiness of it). Clearly the super-soakers are having all the fun. I would go for Baba Yaga’s badass house that walks around on enormous chicken legs. But really, I want to soak you. I want to hose you down until you’re gushing out all your orifices.

    You say, “I don’t think you can separate linguistic violence and actual violence.” Yes and no. They’re interpenetrating for sure. Globally, women do seem to be expected to eat a lot of harm to their physical persons. That doesn’t make them more moral. Or men any less damaged.

    I’ve always thought “boy” and “girl” (“man” and “woman,” etc.) were equally deformed/deforming positions. Which is why the more we all go off script, the better.

    You ask, “Why can’t more boy poems wear bibs?” Great question. You want sass, charm, props, and accessories while you wreak your havoc. That’s a great thing. Do it!

  23. Carina

    being a 23 year-old girl composer of poems, I feel I ought to want to disagree with you and write a response injected with glittery pink venom but I don’t. I think it’s true that it’s difficult to be or feel marginalized in the sense that one is shoved into a corridor and expected to remain there. does not the gurlesque do that too, by essaying to define its boundaries and in so doing creating a space in which the enlightened girl must live? that being said, I think it’s silly to gender petulance. I can feel brattiness and it might manifest as a very large hairbow at an academic conference. seth’s brattiness might require a fleet of remote-controlled tanks and a beret. or vice-versa. I think it’s wasteful to tear down our pretend forts for the sake of tearing them down. I think we should build glass tunnels and rollerblade around in the world we make.

  24. Lara Glenum

    Carina, whatever the Gurlesque is, it ain’t about enlightenment!

    Gurlesque is an inherently unstable term, which is why it’s perhaps useful.

  25. t.w.

    “The Nazi genocide is the paragon of atrocities because there were so many dimensions: trains, tattoos, wardrobe changes, “showers.” The other genocides, with their narrow focus on physical force, are one-dimensional. They’re mumblecore movies when I want the big, Hollywood blockbuster.”

    Wow, this makes me feel like wearing a very large hairbow at an academic conference!

  26. Johannes

    Go for it.

  27. Sean

    I’m reluctant to weigh in because my weighing in may lead to a public discussion of my divided set of genitalia, controlled by valves, that ruin all chances for my any gender and exclude me from all political and societal concerns, also the greater concern of being a lover biased toward any century that would have me housed inside time, valves used as alternator to hide air-suctioned components within. Thereby, air offends me, so nothing can. Likewise, I am mostly viewed in an aspect ratio producing a constant sheen whiter than the human iris knows, because my basking in cheese means all races simultaneously concern me. How I learn is thereupon the sexual output, the orgones, that the articles themselves generate, and I am impressed that the writer here is probably very young, sexy, beautiful, a defined male, by any definition, yet clean, and willing, like me, to convexly bottle and whip, also in need of kisses only I can administer. Regrettably this public forum is public and I am reluctant to weigh in, or to reveal anything private concerning my genitalia, which concern only those unfortunately currently very few affected by their waxen grace. Thank you.

  28. Wilhelm Kepler

    every time a dick pillow squawks
    a yeti smokes lemonade pillars
    lit bald in parcheesi tunnels
    it is bad you smoking ebay
    washes against illuminated
    fingernails patrol the the
    piano playing pantyhose or
    we must stop growing bulbous

  29. Danielle Pafunda

    Johannes, I don’t see why you’re perplexed by these responses. They seem quite reasonable to me, including Feng’s–I don’t think she needed to apologize for thinking Seth’s comments about lineage are problematic. They are. He’s working at something, which is great, but it’s frictive, and I think we should all be psyched to engage in that friction, which needs to occur to get these poetics sussed out.

    Seth’s original post waivers between performative monstrosity (awesome) and what comes off as crabbing about girl privilege and the origins of gurlesque. Kent reads it as tongue-in-cheek. I find it more muddled. Seth, my apologies if this seems like a rude thing to say–I do think your rhetoric gets difficult to parse–I’m not saying that to be reactionary, but because I like what you’re digging into and want to better understand it.

    From Seth’s follow-up comments, I assume something more amazing is going on there, and it’s cool that Seth willing to hash it out in public. He’s doing some work I’ve personally long hoped someone would do (having suggested boylesque, mantasia, and other such microclimates of gender performative poetics)!

    Everyone here appears in favor of a BOYESQUE (as Joyelle’s post calls it), and aware of the ways in which gender norms police and limit masculine voices. A lot of folks have said some really smart things about how Seth might better trace that lineage and how boy monsters might/already do enter the field.

    Important to my thinking: boys and girls (as much as they discreetly exist on the page or in lived experience) aren’t completely separable from men or women. If Seth speaks as a boy, he also speaks as that subject which is cultured to become a man, and that’s gonna carry a tone of privilege (as well as some fascinating subaltern tones that we don’t hear in girl voices). The exciting work is to figure out how to fuck with that tone. No?

    P-to-the-S, KENT! Perhaps the self-absorbtion you find in the gurlesque is part of its performative work? Hyperobolic presentations of the US American cultural construction girl? Commie/anarcho UK poets = rad, and I thank you for this fine list! But I don’t think these projects are exactly comparable, or that it’s useful to rank them on the scale of radical hierarchies. There’s a long bad literary history of favoring class critiques over gender critiques that I find very troubling. Both are necessary, each conducting its own form of resistance/violence/descriptive disruption. If I’ve missed your meaning, here, apologies–not sure quite whom/what you’re referring to.

    Well–that’s all super fast and wordy, so please forgive me if I’ve glossed over something! I think this is a great conversation.

  30. Johannes

    Danielle,
    I don’t see what I have to do with Feng’s feelings. I am totally perplexed by the responses, but I’m not upset by the responses. I guess I’m more perplexed because of the intensity of the commentary. Actually one thing that I”m perplexed by is how it seemed everyone read Seth as “straight” which is weird but I guess you explain it in your last comment. It also reminds me of how when people discuss Montevidayo at say HTML Giant there’s always someone who says we’re “privileged” – as if there is some kind of luxury in our rhetoric that gets understood as having to come from a life of privilege. Also I’m surprised that so many people seemed to have read this as an attack on teh Gurlesque, which I didn’t for a minute. I have more to say but no time. But thanks for good comments. /Johannes

  31. Carina

    lara — isn’t it though? you put on the outfit, read the books, establish cultural reference point, and live inside of a system which has been defined. even if that system is unstable it still exists. and you have to have a certain set of impressions &/or affects, it seems, to get inside of it. all of that, to me, signifies a kind of initiatory enlightenment. which is not necessarily a bad thing.

  32. Yo Mama So Fat

    I feel like I shouldn’t be biting on the hook of a piece that is so obviously intended to elicit reactions, but I feel some points that haven’t been made need to be aired.

    I support the defence of a poetics which is fearless, locates the gaps & cracks in the consensus & the conventional, such as gender demarcations, & breaks them open – the marshmallow monster that stomps the city & the city hall.

    I see this as the re-emergence of the Trickster spirit, the imp that turns the world into a lampshade, or burns the house down.

    But this stated itch to fetishise violence is worth examining, & like has been said, is a by-product of wider commodification. Let’s restate the obvious: violence is real. War may be born in language, like you say, but none of us live on the page. Has Seth ever experienced violence? (If I say that I would be prepared to meet Seth & kick the stale air out his fucking head, is that allowed in the new aesthetic? Or am I not permitted, is this criminal? If I meet Seth & puncture his throat with an army knife, would his supporters applaud a brave new development in poetry?)

    Forgive me, but Seth, you look & sound like a spoilt, privileged, middle-class college boy, who represents the inherent nihilism, irresponsibility & vanity of his social milieu. The reason why there are issues of sensitivity within the culture regarding representations of violence are historical, not merely theoretical. People (& violence) are real – hello there from me to you! We are not just fodder for discourse. This whole debate highlights for me the reason why so many people have abandoned poetry as an infertile field, with nothing to nourish them. Leaving poetry to academics from the cul-de-sacs of theoretics. Can I point folk to a place where boys still talk of violence. Rap music.

    Admit it, Seth, you wish to be an oppressed minority. Would it be cooler to be poor, or black, or a girl? Would that be easier than admitting you are the son of the dominant culture, & the world we have now was built in your name? Why not write a poem about the burden of this responsibility? How you carry it, or rather disown it, disavow it with your sterile rhetoric. You seem to be privileged enough to enjoy the luxury of rendering violence, & associated power dynamics, as a cipher for discourse, a theoretical pinball. For those of us who do not enjoy this privilege, I reserve the right to find you odious. Trust me, you wouldn’t last a fucking second in the ghetto, but I’d pay to see you try.

    MONTEVIDAYO: “YO MAMA SO FAT SHE MAKE MILK SHAKE!!!! WOO HOO!!!”

    I Love You All & Await The Moment You Leave The Classroom & Join Us Here In The World x

  33. drew

    maybe i missed the point, but it seems like seth is advocating more of an orgy than a war. an orgy wherein we are all violent, wherein i (almost used ‘one’ here but one should be honest) can punch a girl or a boy with equal force and can be punched in return. an equality which doesn’t gender violence but violence is dispersed without regard for penis and vagina.

  34. becca

    I think it’s pretty easy to read statements like these as being an attack on the Gurlesque:

    “Girls didn’t start the gurlesque: boys did. The gurlesque foundation isn’t pink: it’s blue. Boys are being written out of a club that they made.”

    “Fight back, boys! If girls want to engage in warfare, then they’re certainly entitled to do so. But shouldn’t boys have the right to strike back?”

    Or, rather than saying “attack,” I might call it a simultaneous deflation and colonizing of the Gurlesque. Squashing its marshmallow and stuffing it in the hollow of your cheek.

    From the start, the history of the Gurlesque in the blogosphere has included lots of people (men and women, boys and girls) saying things like, “The Gurlesque doesn’t exist,” “I don’t believe in the Gurlesque,” and “Why can’t boys be Gurlesque?” For those of us who have been paying attention to these ideas for going on 10 years now, this can get very tiring. I could probably cite Danielle’s comments from five or six different blog posts in as many years, but suffice it to say that this is territorializing and colonizing and yes, penetrative behavior.

    And to again take the long view, it was only 89 years ago when Joyce declared that The Waste Land had ended the idea of “poetry for ladies.” Poetry itself has long been seen as a a feminized or effeminate force, and man poets have grappled with that perception in various ways, some defensive, some ingenious.

    Perhaps Seth’s performance here is an instance of the poet reasserting his masculinity via cum-in-poetry’s-face. There’s a history of this, too — although “Projective Verse” was useful to a lot of women poets, it’s hard to ignore some of Olson’s language (convoluted as it often is!):

    “And when a poet rests in these as they are in himself (in his physiology, if you like, but the life in him, for all that) then he, if he chooses to speak from these roots, works in that area where nature has given him size, projective size.”

    But I think Seth’s mantasias (I said it!) or boypufts are aiming at something a lot more interesting than that. So, instead of the shock of Holocaust metaphors or why-aren’t-boy-poets-doing-this or the avant-garde call to arms of “No retreat, no surrender! We must fight for our privilege to be the Stay Puft Marshmallow Man,” why not forget about doing violence to the Gurlesque and concentrate instead on funneling that energy into acts of creation?

    My theory is that an aesthetic rooted in violence is preventing you from getting there, Seth, and while I understand “radical negativity” and all that jazz, it’s simply not as interesting to me as radical world-making.

    An aesthetic of violence is also totally bound up in historical avant-garde discourse, which also aimed to deal with that pesky threat of The New Woman — I mean, this was Marinetti in 1909: “We will destroy the museums, libraries, academies of every kind, will fight moralism, feminism, every opportunistic or utilitarian cowardice.”

    Sound familiar? See Loy’s “Feminist Manifesto” and her early poems for creative responses to this language of destruction.

    And last, I wanted to emphasize that aesthetic violence and physical violence both exist — and are related, of course — but they are not the same thing. They exist on different ethical planes, and to pretend any piece of writing, performative or not, exists in an ethical black hole, is to perform the role of the ignorant child, certainly. So maybe Seth has achieved his goal, but I still find it irresponsible.

  35. Johannes

    Becca,
    As somebody who’s been writing about the gurlesque (and publishing it) for a long time, I am very well aware of the constant need to police it. I’ve said it many times before that the gurlesque is clearly the most controversial idea/concept that’s come around in decades in American (and other nations) poetry.

    But still it never struck me that Seth was anti-gurlesque. To me he was taking it incredibly seriously in his humor. Seeing in it a shattering violence, an extremist art. It surprised me that that was one of the primary objection. I’m not saying it’s not called for, I”m saying it surprised me.

    Johannes

  36. becca

    Also, for curiosity and context’s sakes, would Johannes or Seth be willing to fill us in on how this came up in discussion with Alice Notley?

  37. Kent Johnson

    Danielle, that portion of your comment my way is a sharp answer. But just to say: I do wonder if poems that are turned along more acute political paths (awkwardly phrased, and the word ‘acute’ isn’t quite it, but I mean poems that call out, name the [perfectly current] violence of Capital and its State agents, say, in more literal, polemical ways) can’t also sometimes enter very similar, apposite energies to those you folks are engaged in exploring. There can be weird libidinal dynamics taking place in poems that are in ideological political overdrive, too, and the work I have in mind (a number of the avant Brit poets, in particular) can get very nasty, atavistic, and psychically unsettling, even as it’s working at high theoretical scales. You seem to make a fairly marked distinction between the two (as you term it) “projects”: one “class,” the other “gender.” But in some of the work of these Brit poets the heat of rage gets so turned on and up there can seem a species of immolation of such venerable categories, and we get put on a kind of shocked ground, challenged to figure a much deeper fucked-up-ness that we are in (not that these writers would ever dispense with class and gender as real issues!). In Sutherland, for example, gender shifting can happen in dizzying oscillations–he even insists on his hermaphroditic nature in a recent long work.

    Seth, Marshmallow Man, for what it’s worth: that last comment is a tour de force! I don’t know I grasp it completely, but I think you should write a book of those.

  38. Kent Johnson

    And that comment by Yo Mama So Fat is a tour de force, too. In the same way I encouraged Seth, I would urge YMSF to write a book of these also: poem-comments to “The Nihilistic Classroom.”

    And then he (or she) and Seth could give a reading together at the Poetry Foundation. Introduced by John Barr.

  39. impossible mike

    Hi Lara Glenum,
    I am only half-way through these comments so I’ll refrain from commenting on the post yet, but I find it somewhat annoying that all of a sudden I’ve been assigned the identify of an actual person (Lara), that you’ve assumed is posing as you? Lara (who I always refer to as “wornoutjoy” due to her tumblr title- her tumblr which is actually linked from her comment here) has also commented on my posts on Htmlgiant using the name Lara; instead of immediately assuming that she is ‘posing’ as you, I’ve instead make the deduction that she is also one among surely countless people who have the name “Lara.” There’s nothing about her comment at all to indicate she is posturing as anyone. As for the assumption that I am Lara who is posing as Lara Glenum, I’m actually entirely confused as to how that’s come up, other than the fact that we do interact both on HTMLGiant & Tumblr. Though, without diving into it too much yet, I guess I don’t mind the association with Lara, as “this is a joke” seems like a valid comment to make.

    Without posturing myself into the subjectivity of others, I’d also like to draw the comparison that my introduction to wornoutjoy came from a description of one of Jon Leon’s readings, and I think Jon Leon is writing male violence, although my major problem with virtually all of the arguments set forth here is the binary positioning of Girl vs Boy. Biological gender seems a moot point here, the performance of gender seems more important. I’d position that the better binary to draw, if we have to draw some sort of binary to create contrast and opposition, would be something along the lines of CISgendered vs. Queer, although the latter term could be a little iffy due to how much it’s been de-politicized over the years.

  40. Ryan Sanford Smith

    Everyone wants to be a monster, no one wants the burden of teeth. The costume is fun, maybe you put it on once a year, maybe nightly behind the closed door of your bedroom/cave, but actually going out and torching a village, it’s sort of menial, no? Devouring the willing was never any fun.

    Love YMSF’s comment, it is sweeping. What’s the fun of theoretical violence anyway? Wake me up when someone is actually taking their last scratchy, bubbling breaths. The theatrics and drama, sigh, snooze, after the curtain the cast are at the same party, the fake blood wiped away, except for that one dude, you know the one.

    Marginalized, sure sure, who isn’t, if they try hard enough? My impression echos YMSF’s. I’d feel more sympathetic if I didn’t feel like some writers wouldn’t know what to do with themselves if they weren’t feeling oppressed in one way or another; they crave the constraint of friction and rebellion. I know it is absolutely not the case for all writers of this flavor, but my constant cynic always just feels skeptical, can’t help but wonder if just writing the damn poems is enough for some, if they need to feel tortured into it, making a statement, shaking up someone’s conversation or worldview or hegemonic-whatever, the normalizing effect of take-your-pick, the reigning hierarchy and privilege of anyone-in-particular. Which always seems so funny, I mean, who do they think is listening/watching? They’ll write day and night, brilliantly (Seth’s writing is brilliant, every post I see on this blog is brilliant, no equivocating on my part here) to, I guess, make sure you know what they’re doing to you, which is fine for them to do, because it’s the only way you’re going to know, I guess? Exactly.

    Am I saying there’s no oppression or normalizing blah blah blah blah blah blah blah? Of course not. That’s the point. Who doesn’t know? The other cynic is the one making sure we all know no one knows, no one is aware, no one gets it, no one appreciates the myriad plights, so god dammit it’s important to keep writing about it. It might be important but it’s really dull, which in languor of theatrics and drama and excess seems a cardinal sin.

    Which, as it goes, is sort of why this entire conversation makes perfect sense to me as having come out of a discussion with Alice Notley.

  41. Johannes

    Ryan, as with Yo Mama, I don’t see Seth wanting to be oppressed. In fact I think the original discussion with Notley involved our general agreement that the Tyrant in Descent of Alette is associated with both violence and art.

    Johannes

  42. Lara

    I happily am not Lara Glenum, nor Mike Kitchell. I’m just Lara, worn out joy, and I stand by my earlier sentiment that this particular theory of gendered-esque poetics is behind, loose, fleshy, and worn out: a joke. i would not take seriously any essay that proposes the michelin man as its avatar.

  43. adam strauss

    I like this: “and while I understand “radical negativity” and all that jazz, it’s simply not as interesting to me as radical world-making.”

  44. Lara

    i want poetry to inhabit the cosmopolitics of “a thousand tiny sexes.”

  45. Danielle Pafunda

    Thanks, Kent, for the further explanation! I was reading you a bit wrongly, then–I read your comment as setting up a dichotomy between the class and gender projects, but I see that’s not the case. This: “the heat of rage gets so turned on and up there can seem a species of immolation of such venerable categories, and we get put on a kind of shocked ground, challenged to figure a much deeper fucked-up-ness that we are in”–this gave me such a buzz! I hope that gurlesque can open that gate as well. Maybe where gurlesque and political-grotesque meet? Something for me to ponder.

    Oh–Johannes, I was just clarifying that I hadn’t found any of the comments particularly perplexing or even all that intense, tho’ I do find the chat here pretty absorbing!

    Okay, now back to read Becca’s juicy looking comment!

  46. Danielle Pafunda

    Hey, Mike–

    I think you make a good point about the complicated vectors of gender performance. I also think CISgendered is a larger umbrella that these boy/girl poetics consider–what it means to identify as the gender one’s assigned upon birth based on visible indicators of chromosomal sex, etc. What it means to perform it right or wrong. What the lived experience of that still rigid cultural binary does to us.

    As long as people keep having the lived experience of these prescribed/assumed/embraced/rejected/etc. categories of gender, I think they’re all worth sussing out, describing, performing hyperbolically, exploding/exploiting, etc. In a Halberstam female-masculinity kind of way, I’m all for defining the nuances, specificity. A thousand tiny sexes, genders, sexualities…

    Okay–dinner time here, when the boys, girls, and what my kid calls ze-children (!), totally overwhelm the hegemony (me)!

  47. Kent Johnson

    I REALLY want to know who Yo Mama So Fat is.

    I think it might be the most amazing blog comment I’ve ever read, and I’ve read a lot of them, you could say.

    Croatoans?

  48. Johannes

    Can I add that I totally didn’t write that Yo Mama post, even though it seems written to prove my previous comment. Honestly.

    Johannes

  49. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    Johannes — I don’t think it should be that surprising that Seth was read as hetero — not only because he did nothing to identify himself otherwise (even at Montevidayo, hetero is likely to be the unconscious default, I don’t think any of us can fully escape that anywhere), but also because upon first reading (perhaps a shallow reading), he appears to be deploying a discourse of the put-upon man that some of us associate with a really widespread heteromasculine, reactionary anti-feminist, antiqueer discourse. Actually, knowing Seth, my very very first knee-jerk reactionary reaction was something like: “Why is this queer boy playing this boring boys vs. girls game… that shit’s for straight people.” (<– hopefully my comments on Joyelle's post show that I know there's something more interesting than this going on in Seth's 'boyesque,' w/o my having to reiterate that here, and also that I know the straight-queer binary my kneejerk reaction operates within is effed in its own way). I really dig all of Joyelle's six theses, and think she's super on point to call folks out on their hetero assumption, and at the same time… I think these assumptions reinforce why representation of queer subjectivities is important, and queerness mustn't be reduced to aesthetic practices or reading strategies alone (altho these things are awesome).

  50. Lara Glenum

    Hi, Mike, sorry for the confusion!

    People assumed “Lara” was me, and I got buried beneath an avalanche of back-channel complaints before I even read Seth’s original post. So I clicked on “Lara” to figure out who it was, and it linked directly to your tumblr and HTML Giant page(?), thus the crossed wires. My apologies.

    I very much feel your fatigue over the boy vs. girl binary and am hoping we collectively burrow through to other ways of imagining bodies, sex, and gender. And soon.

    Lara, I’m sorry, too, for my mistake and am happy to meet you here. I very much like your request for “poetry to inhabit the cosmopolitics of ‘a thousand tiny sexes.’” Delicious.

  51. Seth Oelbaum

    I think destruction and creation are entwined. The Nazis destroyed massive amounts of land and human bodies. But they also created ghettos, barracks, gas chambers, pits, and fake train stations. I don’t mention the Nazis to shock. But I bring them up because I believe they revealed how the world works. The word “Nazi” inspires so much discomfort because of the suspicion that their society isn’t that different from American world. The latter just does a better job of covering up its goals of mass objectification and homogeneity. Let’s look at gay marriage. When New York legalized it, Frank Bruni (NYT’s 1st openly gay columnist) published a column entitled “To Know Us Is To Let Us Love.” Bruni implies that the only way you can love is through marriage. But I don’t show my love for my teddy bears by marrying them. Sometimes I show my love for them by throwing them off the bed or hurling them at the wall. But this is violent (Nazi, tyrannical) and frowned upon. But wouldn’t my version of love be closer to democracy since it’s different? Isn’t everyone showing their love in the same way nearer to Nazism since it signifies uniformity?

    The male heterosexual show is composed of corny jokes, below average costumes, and semi-gay hair products. The man hetero is like the un-Nazi genocides. Their single preoccupation with the female body – conquering the vagina as if it was actually a vagina – is quite shallow and not cute in the least. There’s no piles of shoes in the male hetero movie.

    I’m not certain if the boy’s super soaker and girl’s suburban house ever actually touch each other. I think there’s a lost posturing and gesturing. Their tongues wag and their fingers point. There’s certainly lots of naughty talk: “Caca-head!” “Weewee-chugger!” But I don’t think it ever gets to the point where there’s actual contact. Even if they are commodities, physical interaction might be too much corporeality for the boys and girls to handle. Boyesque and gurlesque are vicious, but they’re also very dainty.

    Baudelaire and Rimbaud didn’t invent violence. Joanie was kicking the Brit’s tushy long before the Stork dropped them into the world. But, if we follow the Christian calendar, the Parisians began the particular aesthetic. This doesn’t mean the girls can’t be violent. What I find interesting is that a poetics started by boys has been taken over by girls. I wonder why more boys aren’t continuing the Super Soaker tradition. Has something changed about Super Soakers?

  52. Lara Glenum

    Seth, I love your remarks on “the male heterosexual show!” Why *are* the costumes so poor?

    But about Baudelaire as some kind of progenitor: while Baudelaire may represent what is (yawningly) called “the modern turn,” he was, among other things, seriously copping from Poe (he says as much himself), who was copping from Gothic lit, which is, we all know, lady-land. Or at least as much she-land as he-land (in terms of authorship). In the gothic, lit goes askew, wrong, pervy, monstrous in the hands of dainty ladies (and gentlemen who’ve broken into Duran Duran’s wardrobe trailer). No lack of mass hysteria, cruelty, and gender-bendy violence there!

  53. adam strauss

    I do like this from Seth’s bboxcomment: “The boys do sometimes punch you in the face, but they’re not doing it with style.” I’m a style fascist: the vilest dynamics, if executed with spot-on oomph, always please me.

    @ DP: Totally with you on frowning at history’s tendency to privilege class critique over gender. Money is important–and the attendent cultural capital it can (or can fail to) provide; but it is for-sure not the only source of capital V value in this world/the only determinent of a life. I once got in a big sad argument with a dear friend who clearly–at the time–was supporeting the notion that there’s no oppression like class-oppression, to which I then stated how he’s overlooking that things like holding hands in public need to be viewed–in some scenarios–as a form of currency/privilege/metaphysics of materials. Ok sorry for the straying; tho I guess there’s the locution class warfare which then does loop into violence or its rhetorics.

  54. Russ W

    boo fucking hoo

  55. Kent Johnson

    On Yo Mama So Fat, the enigma of him, her, or them, who wrote the most amazing comment of poetry blog history, one that is certainly not *just* driected at Seth…

    I just found out who YMSF be. This is getting really interesting.

  56. Johannes

    Seriously Kent? / Johannes

  57. stephen

    this seems self-evident, but you don’t have to hang out with or listen to people with whom you disagree. i feel like there are various factions of the poet community and most of them would tell you not to write certain ways, but you don’t have to answer to them if you don’t want to.

    i agree with Carrie above that Sam Pink is an example of a contemporary male poet who has violence in his poems. to me it seems Sam Pink doesn’t give half a fuck about “the poetic establishment” or what allegedly is or is not OK for anyone to write.

  58. Danielle Pafunda

    YMSF and others! The comment about rap music made me think: what about a book like John Murillo’s Up Jump the Boogie, which borrows from hip hop & duende in equal measure? Perhaps the poems witness more than commit violence? Witnessing still a valid way to explore violence, especially if the speaker doesn’t sit in neat superiority to the violence. The poems of his I’ve read/heard do interesting masculinity–playing with the ways in which we’ve culturally constructed balck and Latino & Chicano men as permanently infantilized. They also play with the particular relationship duende has to the masculine… Haven’t got the book yet, so I can’t say more with any accuracy. http://yourownsmallcraft.wordpress.com/2011/10/21/the-craft-of-john-murillo/ and http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/9780981913148/up-jump-the-boogie.aspx

    Also: Bret Easton Ellis is totally famous. American Psycho? Glamorama? And what about Fight Club? There’s some hetero-queer-hetero boyish adult beauty violence for ya! Poems could do that. Someone write the poetry adaptation of Fight Club? Thx!

    And, for the record (my record): I love A LOT OF EVERYTHING about YMSF’s comment, but I want to say I’ve been in plenty of classrooms in plenty of places with folks from every background. The classroom is in the world. It’s not the only place in the world, and if a person spends all his/her/hir time in there, we got a problem. I can’t speak for Seth’s relationship to the classroom. BUT, as a teacher, I don’t like the artificial line that gets drawn between classroom and real. There’re real people in there, doing real things, and they’re from real lives with all the violence, marginalization, power, privilege, pooping, job-getting, and otherwise surviving that might entail. Does the university classroom tilt toward middleclass white (hetero, masculine, ableist, etc.) privilege? YES. Does it have to? NO. We’ve just got to keep working it. I can’t think of any other way I might get to talk to future petroleum engineers about white privilege–any other way they’d get evaluated on their understanding of that dynamic–and we’d all have entered this contract together, (semi)willingly. Classroom conversations don’t occur in a vacuum unless someone’s in there sucking them dry. [Tumbles off high horse.]

  59. Seth Oelbaum

    Dear Yo Mama So Fat,

    Thank you for your comments.

    If you were to subject me to the violence you purpose I would not like it. You’d be heeding the un-Nazi type of violence. I am, as I’ve stated, not interested in one-dimensional use of force. But if you can gain control of a country, make me move houses, give me a badge, then put me on train to a camp where I’d be given new clothes and a barcode, then I think we should meet each other immediately. Your type of violence has all the excitement of an amateur indie-folk video where the musician simply sings at the camera. Mine is Gaga.

    What do you mean by experience? Are you positing some kind of authentic human interaction unencumbered by products? Do you think experience is “real”? Let’s look at Occupy Wall Street. They have tents: these tents were manufactured at a warehouse: they’re products. They hold signs: these signs too were bought at a store along with the markers that they use to write on them. The books that Bloomberg and the NYPD burned are products as well. There’s barcodes on them. Occupy Wall Street, which seems to have won the hearts and minds of so many adults, would cease to exist without these artificial materials. I am displeased by the Occupy Wall Streeters, not because I am “spoilt, privileged, middle-class college boy,” but due to my desire for intensity (see my comments to Joyelle’s post). The goal of the Occupy Wall Streeters is to lessen the concentration that is currently in place. They want to spread out the 1%, make the gap less extreme. I say make the 1% more 1%, make it .6%, .01%. Keep pushing!

    Maybe we can say that the Holocaust victims “experienced” their violence. But did Primo Levi really feel the brutality of the Nazi system? According to Levi, the inmates we’re no longer human. They were cold machines, marching uncontrollably to the Nazi orchestra music. Can a machine feel? Do they have emotions?

    All creatures who identify as humans are minorities. The actual power lies in products.

  60. Seth Oelbaum

    Lara,

    I don’t think hetero males can be stylish. The YSL designer says Stefano Pilati: “Fashion is female.” One of the fundamental plot lines of the het-male show is that there are boundaries between males and females that cannot be crossed. The hetero male
    doesn’t care how he looks. He’s not an object. He must go out into the world and get his hands dirty. He can’t be worried about smudging his bowtie. He’s got to cum and sweat.

    I disagree with how critics have presented the Judd Apatow aesthetic. These aren’t boys: they’re men. They’re not stylish. They’re not supposed to appear nice because they’re not for sale. Their satisfaction comes from fucking women. The end of the 40-Year-Old Virgin is a happy one because the male gets laid. He’s wish is fulfilled: he’s an adult.

    Mad Men, though, should really be Mad Boys. They fuck lady after lady and are still unsatisfied. What pleases them is their job, which is to speak for products. They devote nearly all of their time getting to know artifice. This has much in common with the mindset of children who’d much rather be in their room with their toys than in the society of strange grown ups (see my comment to Joyelle’s post). The ending of the Pooh books is sad because Christopher Robin is going to be forced to enter the world, he’s gonna have to go to school and do something beside play in Hundred Acre Wood. Instead of surrounded by objects, he’ll be beset by humans. In Mad Men, the sex represents the human, physical performance and the agency is the child show (the Wood). Based on their unsuccessful relationships with females, it’s apparent that these boys would much prefer the Wood. They’re products. That’s why they wear such sharp suits. You’re supposed to purchase them.

  61. Kent Johnson

    Um, Seth: I’d been reading you as sort of walking a tongue and cheek high-wire act. And I liked the syntagmatic weirdness of the first or second response you put up. But reading your response to YMSF, the gutter nihilism seems now quite in earnest and near-maxed-out. What’s this casual aside bit about “unfeeling” Holocaust victims? Is that supposed to be some kind of really rad poetic shock-effect? Honestly, this sort of stuff makes you start to sound like a pledge to some sort of lumpen frat of depraved-camp Fascism. Bending over and drinking a glass of water backwards might help.

  62. adam strauss

    Love this: “this boring boys vs. girls game… that shit’s for straight people.”

    I find this interesting; I don’t agree but I do agree, or get realloy close, if the word chic is substituted for style:

    “I don’t think hetero males can be stylish”

    And as for this–“Fashion is female”–I would argue that style and fashion–and it wld seem that the quotation implicitly means “high fashion”–are not necessarily synonyms.

    David Beckham strikes me as quite stylish; and Robert Culp of Eyespy, and surely there are many more examples.

  63. Seth Oelbaum

    Kent,

    I did not learn about the Holocaust from a fellow Frat brother at the annual Wednesday-before-Thanksgiving keg-stand party. Nor did I gain knowledge of it through the stifling, America-the-great lens brought to you by liberalnormative education. If you are interested in understanding the complexity of what happened, I suggest you read:

    Richard J. Evans, The Coming of the Third Reich
    Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich in Power
    Richard J. Evans, The Third Reich at War
    Hannah Ardent, The Origins of Totalitarianism
    Hannah Ardent, Eichmann in Jerusalem
    Primo Levi, Is This Man?

    Let me know if you’d like more titles. I’d be happy to supply you with further recommendations. I am not interested in shock or shtick. What I want is to try and learn as much as possible about an intricate atrocity. I want to figure out what the Holocaust reveals about the human condition and what it has in common with certain artistic theories.

  64. Seth Oelbaum

    Adam,

    I’d invite David Beckham to my truth-or-dare party. Though it’s Victoria who has the two fashion lines.

    I’m not sure a het-male can be a full het-male and still be chic/stylish/fashionable.

    Chuck Bass dresses outstandingly on Gossip Girl. But he’s only straight in the television version. In the books, he’s gay.

  65. Seth Oelbaum

    Dear Nihilism,

    We can never be friends. I believe in so much. Our relationship would never work out. I love books. I want fuckscapes and The Other Poems to come out already so I can read them. I love fashion. Will Marc Jacobs go to Dior? Will Alexander Wang ever surpass his Spring 2010 show? I’m also excited about watching the recent movie adaptation of Winnie and the Pooh and the 100th episode of Gossip Girl and, though I’ve been neglecting it, Glee.

    So you see, Nihilism, I care and am concerned and find meaning in too many things to ever be in cahoots with you.

    Have a happy Thanksgiving,
    Seth

  66. John Beer

    With you on this, Kent. Lynching had plenty of theatricality associated with it as well; Seth, do you find that equally hott? Did its victims just have “experiences”?

  67. YO MAMA SO FAT

    YO MAMA SO FAT STILL HERE!!!!

    Yo Mama working hard five days a week to feed her family she ain’t got time for commenting 24/7 on some godamn poetry blog!!!

    Johannes, YO MAMA has emailed you a kindly request that YO MAMA be permitted to address some issues arising from this thread in a YO MAMA SO FAT Montevidayo guest post, but YO MAMA had no reply to this GRACIOUS KINDLY request. Maybe I have your wrong email address (it was your college email, lil ol mr professor of words you), so I’ll ask you here instead. I have written a long ass piece but feel that as YO MAMA is out here representing the marginal view then Montevidayo should see fit to put that view up centre stage!!!

    Or does YO MAMA not have the correct privileges?!?!?!?

    ONLY MFA DISCIPLES GET THE PLATFORM? YOU NOT WANT THE STREET UP IN YOUR SHIT?!?!?

    WHAT THE FUCK?!?!?!?

    YOU JUST POSTURING AS MARGINAL OR WHAT?!?!?!? YOU GO ALL ABSENT WHEN THE REAL THING KNOCK ON YO DOOR???!!!

    YO MAMA SICK OF HER EXILE IN YO COMMENTS BOX!!! YO MAMA WANNA GRANDSTAND RIGHT NOW!!! WHAT YOU AFRAID OF JOHANNES?!?!?!?!?

    Seth, baby boy, when you open your mouth all YO MAMA hears is the DOLLAR fucking you up the ass & BIRTHING products on your tongue!!! Woo Hoo!!!

    You say you wanna embody Nazi violence, but you seem more to me like YO MAMA’S favourite show. That’s right: your violence nothing but Jerry Springer style!

    Yep, check it, this JUST an episode of Springer, starring Seth!!!

    You the freaky ass little rich college boy disclosing YO nasty ass shit & we the baiting audience!!! Well bully for you!?!?!? NAZI MY ASS!!!

    (Johannes, YO MAMA guessing that must make you Springer, right?)

    Now Seth, what underlies the motivation for folk who go on the Springer show is the same motivation that has you hanging your mixed-up ass out to dry in public:

    THE SEARCH FOR LOVE & BELONGING.

    THAT’S ALL THIS IS!!!

    & WHAT DOES EVERY LOST WAIF & STRAY WHO HIDES IN POETIC CONCEPTS/CONSTRUCTS LONG FOR?!?!?

    THAT’S RIGHT: THEY CRYING FOR THEY MAMA!!!

    Seth, you think you the antidote but you a SYMPTOM of the patriarchy!!!

    The patriarchy got you all infantilised – Boy this, Girl that!!! Right where it wants you!!!

    When you children finished making your messy noise who you think gonna have to come clean up your mess?

    That’s right, YO MAMA!!!

    The world doesn’t need any more boys and girls right now!!!

    The world need a mother!!!

    & YO MAMA GOT ENOUGH FLESH TO GO AROUND!!!

    YO MAMA GOT THE WHOLE WORLD BREAST FED!!!

    NOW COME ON JOHANNES, GIVE YO MAMA HER DUE & PUT ME UP TOP!!!

    YO MAMA SICK & TIRED OF THIS LITTLE OLD COMMENTS BOX!!!

    YO MAMA GOT FLESH TO BURN & YO MAMA NEED ROOM TO UNWIND THE ROLLS OF HER LOVE!!!

    DON’T YOU WANNA SUCK ON YO MAMA’S GOOD MILK?!?!?!

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  68. Kent Johnson

    Free Yo MAMA SO FAT from the comments box!

    She’s too Fat for the comments box…

    Montevidayo, Gurlesque, and all thee Bataillean/Artaudean-loving rest, you are brilliant, yes, but perhaps you don’t yet see:

    Excessive Excess for the sake of Excessive Excess is on the path to proto-Fascist Nihilism– especially when EE for the sake of EE announces its Intense Love for Commodities and Wall Street!

  69. Aaron Apps

    This comment stream just gets worse and worse.

    I think it is clear that “The Boyesque” died in less than a day.

    Here is a violent lyric that is actually speaks to being from the belly of the capitalist beast (that also just came out yesterday):

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=AIkjIFAhqas#!

    Let all of the oppressed bodies swimming under the American flag have glittery flat-rimmed hats, food, shelter, etc.

    That video has so much style, and as offensive as it is in terms of being sexist, it is less banal/offensive than the “boyesque’s” uncritical neo-futurism (uncritical fascism). It doesn’t have to crash itself into a ditch of capitalism in order to mindlessly revel in it, it already is swimming in it. No fetishized “Nazi” violence, real violence perpetrated against real bodies. Flowing lyrically within violence. Critiquing it by trying to eat within it. That is, within the unavoidable, sad prism of “post-industrial” capitalism. The shape of masculinity as an aegis against sadness and pain. The sad, unavoidable reality of that.

    “streets didn’t kill me, only made me stronger”

    The violence of capitalism can actually shoot you in the throat. “And I’m not bluffing.”

    ***
    Hermaphroditic marshmallows, stay squishy as worm infected potatoes in the dark earth. Stay aware of and in the silent excess of pain in the dying flesh below the earth that is infected with violence. Vibrating monads, jiggle your pink tongues as you perceive. Leak down the intersex! Don’t “play at” or “fetishize” violence, perceive it as it destroys bodies.

    “Thinking ‘bout all the dirt we did when we was youngsters.”

    -A

    “I came up from nothing” / O

    as in hole orgasm, as in hummus love, as in the <3 potato with a cock cuming out of its throat

    “in the dumpster”

    <3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3<3

  70. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    Seth, I definitely see Arendt’s influence in your comment about victims and survivors of the holocaust being turned into machines, her writing abt violence turning people into things. But then, you love things more than anything. What do you make of the role of humans in designing and manufacturing the things you love? Or I suppose it’s that for you, the makers are the superiors.

    Chuck Bass is not 100% straight on the series, either. His past dalliances with boys have been made clear to viewers.

  71. Kent Johnson

    Why is the discussion getting “worse,” Aaron? Your very comment shows that there are issues raised here that you yourself seem to be meditating on…

    This matter of poetic “excess” and its possible ideological flows and implications is an important issue, one that I would think Montevidayo writers would want to engage.

  72. Johannes

    Im with kent here for once.
    Johannnes

  73. Lara Glenum

    You know, it’s kind of fascinating because this summer, we had a knock-down drag-out fight on MV when I said I felt uncomfortable with the non-stop aestheticization/fetishization of violence against women in art and culture (i.e. “Rape is not performance art”). I wasn’t calling for censorship but questioning the “radicalness” of certain aesthetic moves.

    Clearly, what some people see as acts of performative intervention in the social code seem to others like acts that strongly reinforce the vice-like code, a code that produces real-world effects of damaged/destroyed female bodies. And non-white bodies. And queer bodies. And non-normative or impoverished bodies.

    I do see that an aesthetics of excess can veer toward to proto-Fascist Nihilism, *if* someone wants to take it that direction. But not all performances of excess are the same (or even come form the same place).

    YMSF, who’s giving us–yes!–an excessive, bombastic performance (which I happen to love, as I also love Seth’s), is hardly the first person to voice qualms/discomfort/fury over the aestheticization of violence on this blog. So keep it real, Kent.

    We’ve been having fast and furious debates about aesthetics and ethics on MV for some time.

  74. Kent Johnson

    >So keep it real, Kent.

    Lara, here is a message I sent to Johannes this morning, in response to something he sent me. Maybe we agree a bit here, actually?

    >Johannes, regarding your last lines below:

    THAT’S NOT WHAT I’M SAYING!

    Nor am I saying that poetic excess NEED be reactionary in nature. But there are risks latent in the animus to “go all the way” in the libidinal, grotesque, psychic sense, or whatever you’d want to call it (that risk being also a potential STRENGTH). This is a complex topic, I think, and I don’t claim to have a worked out position on it. But it CAN, when practiced in the abstract, as a mere function of extremis/shock-value for the sake of those effects, lead in nihilist, depoliticized, even right-wing directions (there are examples, of course).

    I AM NOT saying this is what all the work on Montevidayo is doing, and I’m certainly not saying this is what you and Joyelle are doing, or mean to do. But you have opened, with the push of the aesthetics, a kind of dark portal that is off to the side, and which can easily swallow up certain people into a different dimension. I’m just saying that being aware of that danger is a good thing. I think Danielle Profunda actually gestured in that direction in response to me yesterday or day before, can’t recall.

    Just wanted to quickly respond. The point I’m raising comes out of a fascination and admiration I’m developing with what you folks are up to. It’s a fascination and admiration, admittedly, that I feel some discomfort about. But that is not a bad thing, right?

    Kent

  75. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    I like what Lara is saying, and I think part of the danger of immediate critique and rejection of Seth’s work as well, as this conversation more broadly, is not just censorship, but also moralism — the kind of moralism that is a projection or deflection of our own shame and discomfort rather than a real grappling with ethics. One of the reasons I like Seth’s minifestos is b/c I find extremist art really compelling, but extremist politics terrifying (and of course there is an element of pleasure in terror), and his rejection of the distinction between the two forces me to deal with my own discomfort and think about the implications of my own desires and attractions. He may not authorize this experience of his work, like it might be too oriented toward ethics and human beings for him, but whatevs. So yes yes yes, let’s talk about the implications of excess and the aestheticization of violence, but if we cannot inhabit our own discomfort (those of us who are uncomfortable) before and within that conversation, then I think we’re really missing out on something.

  76. Johannes

    Good points Tim./Johannes

  77. Lucas de Lima

    YES, Lara. Thanks for pointing out the diversity of views and approaches on this blog.

    Excess means different things for different people.

    For example, since we’re on the subject of precedence, YMSF is also not the first person on this blog to exalt motherhood’s excessive force as an antidote to the nihilism of our times.

    I recommend typing in “potato uterus,” “hysterical pregnancy,” “Gay Earth Mother,” and “Occult Motherhood” into the search field above.

    To be honest, I might echo Aaron in saying I am a bit frustrated and bewildered by all the attention this thread has received. I would love to see Seth (and others) respond to the queer poetics that many of us Montevidayans have been discussing since this blog first began.

    -G.E.M. LUCAS

  78. Kent Johnson

    Lara, Tim, Lucas,

    Relax. Did you READ the letter I’d sent b-c to Johannes, posted above? I sent that a few hours before Lara posted her indignant “Keep it real” comment to me. I’m not really disagreeing with much of anything you’re saying, dudes.

  79. Lara Glenum

    I really like what you’re saying here, Tim:

    “So yes yes yes, let’s talk about the implications of excess and the aestheticization of violence, but if we cannot inhabit our own discomfort (those of us who are uncomfortable) before and within that conversation, then I think we’re really missing out on something.”

  80. Danielle Pafunda

    I’ll post your blog post, Yo Mama. You can email me at dpafunda [at] yahoo [dot] com Johannes is probably already on this? If not, write me.

    Thanks, Lucas, for pointing out the motherhood posts, here, which are varied and thoughtful. Critiquing our own aesthetic choices is nothing new on this blog, as everyone points out. And a lot of us have jobs/lives that demand that kind of daily engagement, so while I always appreciate getting schooled (seriously, I like it), I also hope that schooling takes into account the little bit I might already have learned.

    This thing: I write as girl sometimes, mama other times, sometimes woman with disability, sometimes feminine post-human, almost always (always?) feminine speakers. All these constructions can be useful sites of resistance, and at the same time are defined and constructed by the patriarchy. I’m still a product of this culture.

    Plus, I think we all know girl and mother overlap in some problematic, heartbreaking, and amazing ways in our lived experience and in our art. In poems, I make noise and clean mess (sometimes in the same poem, a la my Mommy Vampire project or my Dead Girls poems). Lara does that, too. A lot of poets do. They don’t have the same audience as rap music (marketing & market value being a huge part of that equation), but they reach a lot more people than say, not writing anything would. This is the way I do it. I’m not ashamed of my efforts.

    I’m as wary of fetishizing motherhood as I am of fetishizing violence. And hope we can please also avoid ableist talk? Glorifying bodies that perform according to norms of health and competence? Disabilities, yo.

    Yes, Kent, I agree with maintaining awareness. Excessive art doesn’t demand, rely on, or even proceed best from careless craft. (& my name is P-a-f-u-n-d-a, just so ya know 🙂 .) I also really appreciate what Tim says about inhabiting our discomfort, and in general Tim’s generous, exciting approach to critique!

    yours,
    D

  81. Lucas de Lima

    Danielle, not sure if your glorification comment was in regard to my rhetoric? The queer motherhood I’ve talked about here is actually the opposite of ableist; it comes precisely from a sacred nonreproductiveness.

    L

  82. Danielle Pafunda

    Hey, Lucas,

    Thanks for checking. I didn’t mean your posts. Apologies for not making that clearer. I was thinking about YMSF’s post–the motherbody providing sustenance for the world, etc. Which is not to say that I think YMSF, you’ve necessarily done ableist speech, here, but just that I want us to be aware about the way we talk about bodies, female bodies, notions of motherhood, and ability.

  83. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    Kent, I posted my comment about discomfort before your comment where you talked abt your own discomfort (which I thought was kinda a cool coincidence) was approved, I did not understand myself to be disagreeing w/ you at all by saying I agreed w/ Lara, and “Keep it real” aside, Lara’s comment doesn’t really seem that combative to me, either. You said you thought Montevidayans should want to engage the implications of excess, then Lara clarified they already do and have.

    I’m down with maintaining an open-ended conversation about excess’s potential limits, but I’m not sure about this “dark portal” business… (Why it gotta be ‘dark?’). If there’s a portal (to ‘evil’?), did the art create it, or was it already there? And how do we pose a question like that w/o getting all binaried up and Edenic (introducing the ‘knowledge’ of the portal) about it? How do we know the “different dimension” is a “bad” one? How do we know we can’t come back? If we come back, in what form will we come back? (Remember when Buffy thought she came back “wrong,” and it was the richest season of the show?) Does the portal masticate us when it “swallows” us? How does that feel? Maybe it feels awesome. Maybe the portal is a wormhole to a ship of misfits like Farscape’s Moya, into fresh formations of collectivities. And who are the “certain kinds of people?” who will get sucked into this portal? I mean, really, this language of “certain kinds” …The weak? The mindless? The easily snowed? The incapacitated (to echo Danielle’s concern abt ableism)? What kinds of “weak-willed” or “weak-minded” “others” are most easily sucked into the portal? I feel twitchy about how this portal business erases the consumer’s critical and interpretive agency, I would hope that even extremist or excessive art will be multiply read.

  84. Lara Glenum

    Yes, the glorification of (able-bodied) motherhood is really painful. It’s a reliable big, fat cudgel of patriarchal systems. Many women experience motherhood as an exhausting, abject state (whether they adore their children or not).

    Surely, motherhood is one of the most culturally policed subject positions of them all.

  85. Johannes

    HI all,

    I’m in the midst of three million things so I can’t write very long but I promise to write a post asap that deals with violence and art, an issue Seth has raised in a very interesting and provocative way. But for now a few comments:

    I love what Tim Y is saying here. Art is not always comfortable. Art makes me very uncomfortable, but I think that’s in part what art should do. My own writing freaks me out sometimes (at its best). I think there’s something inherently violent about art: it shatters me, corrupts me, softens me up, covers me in snake-goo. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or pain.

    I agree with Joyelle’s take on Seth that it’s not about a “critique” – he’s working towards something very different. This goes back to our discussion of art as a “safe haven” from this past summer (?). The critique to me is an inherently conservative, striational way of viewing art.

    Lara, don’t your poems “fetishize violence”? Fetishes are interesting to me. They are magical and powerful and they have nails driven into their heads. Or covered in shards.

    I don’t know if Yo Mama was referring to me as a victim/marginalized because Seth’s post noted that I’ve been called “misogynist.” I don’t think I’m a victim or marginalized and I greatly enjoyed that Coldfront review; as I noted in my response to it back when, I found it very spot on in a lot of ways, even as it worked from a critical framework that I totally reject.

    It may seem absurd for Seth to wonder if biological sex determines whether men/women can write about violence, but it seems that a lot of people seem to believe in that position, a position that not only essentializes gender but also smooths over the violence of art.

    I remember a while back I kind of stopped writing about the gurlesque because there was all this talk about how writers had to be biologically women to write it: I totally think that is wrong. I started writing about the gurlesque way back because it provided a word, a hint of a framework for discussing a lot of contemporary art and poetry that I was interested in (some by men, some by women, some by boys and girls etc). And that was useful for me. And I know it’s proven useful to other people in the US and abroad.

    Oh, Yo Mama, got your email and replied. But I hope in the future you’ll stay in persona even in the emails. If you need help with that, contact Kent Johnson.

    Johannes

  86. Kent Johnson

    Danielle, really sorry about that– I do know your name, trust me. But I’m a Spanish teacher, so I think that’s why that typed there: Profunda, which happens to mean deep. Sorry.

    Tim, those are some good questions. Did I really say “certain people”? Well, I guess I did. That sounds sort of creepy, doesn’t it? Apologies.

    The portal I’m talking about, which I know sounds sort of Hollywood as metaphor, is a really bad, nasty portal, yes: I’m talking about dark realms, like in demonic evil, really. Like in sexual enjoyment in the suffering of others, for example, or getting all hot over systems of destruction, or the destruction of human beings and animals, stuff like that, because everything is so weird and sexualized at bottom, why, it doesn’t matter, you know? Loving the commodity, loving the ruling class, loving SS uniforms, “not liking” people who throw their bodies on the line in face of social evil because they use “commodities” to do it, they’re so *hypocritical* those people, they should just love the cock coming out the throat of the potato, because that’s the really Real, etc. That’s the kind of dark portal I’m talking about. I don’t want Seth to go down that portal, but I fear for him and for a few others here, in that regard. The portal Bataille went down, into fascism. Or Celine. Nihilism. Self-hatred and hatred of life, even. Not that people shouldn’t read folks like that!

    Now this doesn’t mean people can’t come back from the bad portal! Not at all. People can do so and the funny thing is, sometimes they can be even better for it (this is where things get complicated, in certain ways), but generally people don’t come back from the bad portal. Their souls are spaghettified by the portal.

    So, that’s sort of what I was saying, but your questions are fair ones and they are elegantly put…

    Where’s YO MAMA SO FAT? Come back YO MAMA SO FAT. I know where you are.

  87. Kent Johnson

    >Art is not always comfortable. Art makes me very uncomfortable, but I think that’s in part what art should do. My own writing freaks me out sometimes (at its best). I think there’s something inherently violent about art: it shatters me, corrupts me, softens me up, covers me in snake-goo. Sometimes I can’t tell if it’s pleasure or pain.<

    Johannes, I agree, in the abstract. But this is the kind of stuff that needs more "definition." Let's say I wrote a poem about Jeffrey Dahmer, because I thought Dahmer was hotter than de Sade. And I felt that Montevidayo gave me permission to do it, no somatic holds barred here, after all. Because the man took it all the way. He didn't let "social conventions" get in the way of his desire! He understood the cock coming out of the potato's throat to the max, went deep down, boiled his victim's heads and ate the brains. And the way he did it all, the way he had it all ritualized, why it was almost an aesthetic. And who are we, after all, to criticize someone like Dahmer? Whose "experience" is it? "Personal experience" doesn't really exist, after all. He had the courage to show us what is really deepest down there, in all of us, right? The violence, the libido, the body parts, their "uncomfortable" mixings, that desire to consume sexy fifteen year old gay boys from Laos and so on. And so I write an Ode to Jeffrey Dahmer, I express my hots for him, and it's a contribution to Art, because it makes people "uncomfortable." And no one can judge me.

    Do you see what I mean? Theorize for me what would be wrong with my Dahmer poem by the rules of "making uncomfortable."

  88. Johannes

    I don’t think there’s anything wrong with that poem. It might even be interesting because crimes often interrelate with art and Dahmer seems like as a figure might invoke a bunch of societal narratives. But it does sound a bit like cliche shocky poem. I don’t think the poems have to be violent/shocky to enact a kind of shattering violence, though that’s sometimes the case. A lot of poems I like are “stuplime” and “cute” for example (I just thought about Sinai Ngai)./Johannes

  89. YO MAMA SO FAT

    YO MAMA SO FAT STILL HERE KENT!!! SHE OMNISCIENT, OMNIPRESENT, OMNIPOTENT, Y’ALL NOT KNOW THAT BY NOW!?!?!?!?

    Thanks to Danielle for the offer, & also to Johannes (Springer!!!) himself for the reply.

    All being well YO MAMA should be appearing uptop & resplendent real soon on this Montevidayo carnivalesque!!!!

    Y’all gonna be supping YO MAMA milk by the gallon real soon!!!

    Don’t blink coz you miss a stink!!!

    xxxxxxx
    xxxxxxx
    xxxxxxx

  90. Johannes

    Yo mama it warms my heart so to be called jerry springer. Every immigrants dream. Johannes

  91. adam strauss

    LOL I was thinking Anna Joy Springer of the Birdwisher (which is awesome and which I learned about at Montevidayo)

  92. Lara Glenum

    Looking forward to Yo Mama’s fire party! My 3-year-old just called his milk “cow whiskey.”

    Johannka, Tim Y and I actually seem to be in accord in the above! Please quit trying to stick me in the “safe haven” camp! Or the “critique” camp! Or any camp!

    I don’t want to be the straw man for this position, which I don’t come anywhere near to upholding in my comments or my poems.

    Thanks.

  93. Johannes

    I just asked you if u thought your poems fetshized violence. Johannes

  94. Lara Glenum

    Sorry, but why am I being singled out to answer this question?

  95. Lara Glenum

    As in, there are like a thousand people in this comment box, many of whom have been actually oppositional toward you and Seth, and I alone am supposed to give an account of my own poetics? Seriously? Because I (like a bunch of other people, apparently) remain unsettled about the relationship of art and violence, performative rhetoric and identity? I’ve been pretty clear that this is not a condemnatory stance, that I continue to crave art that unsettles me. But I’m not interested in the proto-fascist turn mentioned above or in art that reinscribes social code rather than thoroughly mucking it up. That’s all I’ve got to say.

    I do think all art is highly fetishistic.

  96. Johannes

    Seth and i are not proposing the same ideas. Were not the same peron. I asked you because i thought your response might lead this discussion some place more interesting. But probably were the only two people still reading this anyway. Johannes

  97. YO MAMA SO FAT

    YO MAMA STILL HERE!!!

    SIPPING COW WHISKEY!!!

    READING THE PRESENT IN THE FUTURE

    & THE PAST IN THE BOMBAST!!!

    (YO MAMA GIRTH NOW EXCEDE THIS COMMENT BOX)

    YO MAMA SO FAT SHE A PLANET GODAMMIT!!!

  98. Johannes

    Hi Yo Mama,

    I read your proposed post but it seems to me that it doesn’t really start a new conversation. Why don’t you post it as a comment here?

    Johannes

  99. Kent Johnson

    Happy Thanksgiving Poem of Poetic Peace

    –for YO MAMA SO FAT and all Montevidayo Peoples

    Happy Thanksgiving to those who are alive:
    to those who love Freedom, and Family, and GOD;
    and in their hearts do thrive.

    Happy Thanksgiving, let us remember our nation’s past:
    how we were formed as a refuge of Protestant Christianity,
    and in that tradition created a political framework built to last.

    Happy Thanksgiving, for all the blessings we got:
    thank you for LORD GOD Almighty, GOD of Israel,
    for Your Presence in our lives;
    thank you for our health, family, faithful and dear friends, and loving pets around us;
    assuredly, to have any or all these treasures in our lives, it sure helps alot.

    Happy Thanksgiving, let us kindly say this to one another
    as often as we may, whilst we still yet live in the Land still mostly Free:
    in spite of the evil and corrupt rulers allowed to temporarily be over thy Holy People, LORD Jesus,
    whose goal is to detroy our liberty.

    Happy Thanksgiving, this and each and every day:
    that we may look to the good while being on guard against the bad,
    and do right in thy sight, O GOD,
    regardless of what scoffers and critics might say.

    Happy Thanksgiving,
    as we sit and partake our meals with prayer.
    Thank You to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Ghost,
    as in the days of the Pilgrims who came seeking a land of refuge to worship thee O GOD,
    may it be that as we transcend time and place in our thoughts to be with Pilgrims past and with Thee;
    that one day in Heaven, we shall for another Thanksgiving meal to thee,
    all the same table share.

    Thank you to the Father and to the LORD Jesus and to the Holy Ghost,
    One GOD in Heaven.
    Thank you LORD Jesus for paying the price of sin for us upon the Cross,
    and rising from the dead like the second Pesach Matzoh without leaven.
    Thank you for the salvation of eternal life in a world and state yet to come,
    and that where Your Spirit is LORD, when we turn to You alone, there is Liberty.

    Thank you for our daily bread and drink,
    for our shelter, running water, heat in cold and warmness in winter,
    and when needed when traveling, even for a 7-11.

    Thank you for the air we breathe, the voices to sing, the eyes to see, the mind to think and comprehend;
    and may Your kingdom come, Your will be done as in Heaven so in Earth, Age without end. Amen.

  100. Seth Oelbaum

    Dear John,

    I never said that I find the Holocaust “hot.” Please reread my previous comments.

    Also your comment made me think about the numerous meanings that words have. Clarence Thomas claims that he was lynched. But I don’t think Clarence Thomas was ever hanged from a tree. He must possess a different definition. A big component of racism, homophobia, &c is people’s inability to see how malleable words are. They think black signifies one thing and one thing only. Black can mean Thomas. But it can also signify Beyoncé. Are Beyoncé and Thomas the same thing? Each words latches onto another and makes a network that can get more tangled than Rapunzel’s hair.

    In Portrait, Stephen links the word “suck” to a student who plays pranks on a priest and the sound of a drain. Stephen (a boy!) thinks about words. Later, one of the school’s Fathers comes into his class and starts condemning the boys for being idle. He repeats idle again and again as if it were restricted to one signification. The Father is a brute and ends up beating Stephen without any justification. I find it amusing that many of the comments are using words as if they had a sole meaning. They’re siding with religious conservative patriarch in Joyce’s novel. What an unexpected alliance! I’ve never once mentioned the word “fascism” or any of its derivatives. Roger Eatwell, who wrote a history about the topic, says that fascism is an equivocal term. One possible definition of a fascist is someone who cares about economic success but also about the community as a whole. Is this what you guys mean when you employ this word?

    Dear Yo Mama,

    The connection you make between Nazism and Jerry Springer is intriguing. Can you elaborate?

    I am not trying to “bait” anyone. There’s lots of different ways to express a thought. This is mine. The ideas that I’ve presented are authentic and meaningful to me. Are yours? If you actually cared about what you were saying, then why don’t you tell us the name that’s on your birth certificate?

    I am not searching for love and belonging. I receive these things every time I enter the Disney Store.

    The world needs a lot more boys and girls. Children don’t need bank accounts or mortgages. Simply give them a space, some snacks, and a couple of toys and they’ll make a world that would be intolerable to Jim Kramer or Paul Krugman.

    Dear Tim,

    You’re right! Chuck to Blair: “I’ve kissed a boy before.”

    I also like what you and Lara are saying about the intersection between art and politics. Would the Nazis have seized power without books, pageants or Leni’s movies? Would Obama have become President minus his “poetic” speeches? I don’t think you can separate the two spheres. Why does the division exist? Do people want to shield themselves from charges of immorality? Why do they want to limit the size and influence of their art?

    Frank O’Hara wants his poems to be open.

    An Andy Warhol Superstar said: “We aren’t camping: this is who we are.”

  101. YO MAMA SO FAT

    YO MAMA piece couldn’t start less conversation than the last couple posts!

    (Montevidayo more fun since YO MAMA c’Mon you prefer hype in yo comments box or more tumbleweed blowing!!!)

    Johannes!!! Publish YO MAMA let The Montevidayens decide if they wanna converse!!! Fuck yo patriarchy bring YO MAMA & the Matrianarchy!!!

  102. Johannes

    Yo,
    I don’t value a post based on the number of comments it gets.

    And you know everything you write, we’ve already dealt with a million times (see Johnson, Kent). I don’t want Montevidayo to be a blog/blob about itself. I’d much rather read Lucas/Mary’s potato than dealing with yet another dull criticism of our oh so privileged lives.

    Why don’t you just post it as a comment? What’s so bad about that?

    Johannes

  103. alex c

    I’m a little late to this [fascinating] discussion, but Seth, given all you’ve outlined above, maybe you’d be real interested in Grand Belial’s Key. Gaga has nothing on far-right black metal. If you want to be made real uncomfortable by art, that’s as good a place as any to get stuck in.

  104. Johannes

    I don’t know if Seth said he liked to be made uncomfortable, but I said that often good art makes me uncomfortable. That doesn’t mean that I’m about to seek out the grossest most un-pc things I can imagine (though those things generally do not make me uncomfortable). But I’ll check this out, thanks. Johannes

  105. alex c

    Thanks, Johannes. I thought I read up in one of Seth’s entries that he wanted chaos and instability and I took that as one desiring to be put out of a “comfort zone”. I posted that link because the music is really good (I don’t understand Gaga stuff, mostly because the music and the fashion is really boring and obvious to me) yet the folks making it harbor some highly questionable socio-political beliefs that’ll make most thoughtful people cringe.

    Also, I find a lot of essentialisms in Seth’s entry and comments. I also find it funny that he’s more than willing to speak for straight men as if we’re some kind of monolith. As with some commenters above, I read his initial post as the ramblings of a confused hyper-masculine straight guy and it was only when I got down to his first response comment that I realized, “oh, this guy is not hetero and is super into camp and whatnot.” And fashion does not equal style.

    That critique of OWS is incredibly stupid on Seth’s part, though.

  106. No Mama

    Is Jerry Springer still alive? Are people who name drop Springer alive? Violence is not in your TV. It’s in your lungs. I dare you to stop breathing.

  107. Kent Johnson

    Really, Johannes, that reference to me in reply to YMSF is plain silly.

    This has been, at least towards the last third of the thread, a conversation involving some substantial and important issues concerning the “kitsch” poetics of excess, regression, abjection, Waste-Death-Sex, porno-pastoral, etc. avidly promoted here at Montevidayo. A few questions have been raised (clearly they’ve touched a kind of nerve) about the *potential* implications of such poetics –of their possible social effects and even authorial impulses– to get (as evidenced by history) sucked down a stink-hole of reactionary register and use. Some of the things said here by the obviously gifted young author of the post above point in that “uncomfortable” direction, not least his (apparently non-ironic) gaga-eyes for the 1% super rich, his unembarrassed thang for the commodity fetish, or his bizarrely poeticized/sexualized Nazis and their automaton Death Camp victims with no provable “experience,” or “feeling.” None of the concerns raised by me, John Beer, YMSF (in the latter case, the concerns figured as somewhat spectacular critical sallies), and a few other commenters, have been addressed with any substance.

    Fine if some of you don’t wish to. You can sarcastically flick the issues away. But that makes the questions even more pregnant, I’d say.

  108. Johannes

    Kent,
    Montevidayo is not an orthodoxy as you might guess and Seth is not even a member of Montevidayo. While John Beer actually is (and Danielle is). I thought John’s comment was a simplistic take on what Seth was exploring about who is allowed to have “feelings” and their relationship to commodities. I think Seth has done a good job addressing many of the concerns. Again, I don’t agree with Seth on a number of issues, but I do think he raises many interesting issues. The reply to YMSF is not silly because I read his comment and it’s basically the standard line you’ve taken against Montevidayo and whoever else for a long time now. And I don’t feel like hashing out this over and over. And I’m certainly under no obligation to do it, and certainly I don’t have to answer every question you ask any time of the day. You’ll just have to stay tuned and I’m sure your questions will be answered. /Johannes

  109. YO MAMA SO FAT

    ‘YO MAMA SO FAT & THE NEW MATRIANARCHY SAYS “LET’S RECONVENE THE SCHOOL UPON THE STOOPS”!!!’

    (The refusal to publish this piece has demonstrated the hierarchy existent within Montevidayo, Montevidayo’s willingness to uphold & enforce this hierarchy, their discomfort with this piece’s themes & mode of communication, such as its absence of authorial norms, the absence of a principled politic within Montevidayo, Montevidayo’s apprehension for engaging issues of class or race, their fear of presenting criticisms of the education complex, their implied protection of the education complex, the defensiveness of Johannes to charges of privilege & implied collusion & cooperation in maintaining the status quo. Montevidayo, whether consciously or otherwise, is a wing of the school, a perpetuator of the egocentric education system (which, let’s face it, is another arm of the capital attainment machinery), which Montevidayo is ideologically, financially, artistically, & politically invested in protecting.)

    For those who do not understand yet, YO MAMA is not a person, nor persona, nor single entity or organism. YO MAMA is not subject to the birth & death cycle, YO MAMA is the plane upon which birth & death, & yo stale theoretics exist. YO MAMA IS THE CONTEXT UPON WHICH YO DRAW BREATH. YO DUMB ASS GET THAT YET?!?!?!?!? SHIT. YO MAMA IS NOT AN AUTHOR, HAS NO AUTHOR PHOTO, NO AGENT, NO BOOK DEAL, SEEKS NO FAME, NO RECOGNITION, NO INFAMY, NOR REFLECTED LITERARY GLORY. YO MAMA SHALL NOT REVEAL THE SENTIENT BEING THRU WHICH SHE IS CHANELLED.

    Now stop subjecting YO MAMA to yo transient forever ephemeral nonsense.

    Also, Johannes, the reason your conservative, intellectual pumpkin cognition apparatus states that Montevidayo conversations repeat themselves is further proof of the cyclical nature of the discourse of ideas, the eternal carousel which you & your stunted professors are stuck on for infinity. Yo dumb theories & concepts going round & round & round forever, dizzying up yo dumb asses. Y’all not tired yet?!?!?! YO MAMA is the ground on which the carousel spins. Now step off this illusory ride & embrace YO MAMA forever.

    Kent Johnson: YO MAMA SO FAT SHE WEARS MONSTER TRUCKS FOR MOON BOOTS!!!

    Danielle, you are the most intelligent cookie in the jar, your little hazelnut & choc-chip jewels conceal an infinite cosmos of inquiring consciousness & bright conscientiousness, & YO MAMA LUV YOU!!! YOU MY FAVOURITE BISCUIT CONFECTIONARY YO MAMA GROW FATTER UPON ABSORBING THEE!!!

    However, Danielle, YO MAMA have an issue with the defence of the classroom which you posited recently in the Montevidayo comment box, the narrow reach of your definition. The classroom in your inference is still four walls behind an academic fence, access permitted only to those who can afford to enter.

    MONTEVIDAYO: YO MAMA SAYS THE WHOLE WORLD’S A CLASSROOM!!!

    YO MAMA DECLARES HER STOOP SCHOOL OPEN FOR PRACTICE!!! THERE’S A CRACK HOUSE AROUND OUR WAY WHERE SETH COULD LEARN ALL ABOUT GENDER TRANSGRESSIONS & RACE DEMARCATIONS!!! I KNOW A POOR BLACK BOY THERE WHO’D TURN SETH INTO A WHITE BUTTER-DISH IN AN INSTANT!!!
    MONTEVIDAYO: BRING YO WHITENESS TO ITS LITMUS TEST!!! ALL YO STUDENTS SHOULD BE ASSIGNED A SEMESTER IN THE CRACK PALACE OF LIFE-WISDOM!!! LEARN ABOUT POWER DYNAMICS WITHIN RELATIONSHIPS AT CLOSE UP!!! SEE THE BLOATED POMP PROCESSION OF THE DIALECTICS OF VIOLENCE IN ACTION!!! WITNESS THE WRATH OF POVERTY OF EXPECTATION & THE WILD WILL OF COMMODIFICATION!!! SETH PLEASE COME STUDY AT YO MAMA’S SCHOOL!!!

    MONTEVIDAYO: THE CLASSROOM EXISTS IN THE STREET, NOT WITHIN THE THEORETIC!!!

    YO MAMA BREAKS INTO YOUR CAMPUS & DEFECATES UPON YOUR TEXTBOOKS!!! YO MAMA SHITS GOOD & SHE SHIT BLACK STUFF THAT NULLIFY YO STINKING INK!!!

    YO MAMA SPEECH IS INCOMPLETE WITHOUT TOUCH, YO MAMA POETIC REDUNDANT WITHOUT CONTACT, BUT YOU STUDENTS ALL OUT OF REACH OF MY STREETS/MY LIPS/MY TOUCH/MY WRATH/MY LOVE/MY EMBRACE/MY TEAT/MY MILK/MY VIRUS OF LOVE THAT WOULD CORRUPT YOUR DEPENDENCY ON COGNITION IF ONLY YO COULD TRUST YO MAMA’S INTENTION!!!

    WHAT’S A MAMA TO DO WITH HER STUNTED OFFSPRING WHO’VE RUN FOR COVER BENEATH THE AWNINGS OF THEIR CONCEPTS?!?!?!?!

    All this recent talk of VIOLENCE got YO MAMA thinking. In the city YO MAMA’S channel is writing in, young marginalised boys/girls roam the streets at night (or day, like sun ever scared a poor boy/girl from her/his earnest intention!) & when these boys/girls find themselves a student, they walk up & punch that student right in the head. Just, pop! right in that poor unsuspecting pupil’s dome. Seth, you ever get punched in your head? YO MAMA sees this activity as a subconscious release of the poor boys/girls’ frustrations & inherent animosity towards the students, whom the poor boys/girls intuit as being symbols of a certain middle-class rootlessness, transience, & associated exploitation, which is being inflicted upon the poor boys/girls’ community & neighbourhood.

    But this recent debate here on Montevidayo has swayed YO MAMA!!!

    YO MAMA NOW SEE THE POOR BOY/GIRL AS HUANG PO, WHUPPING HIS STUDENTS & WAKING THEY SLEEPING ASSES UP FROM THEY COMATOSE STATE!!!

    YO MAMA NOW PRESCRIBES TO ALL STUDENTS & DOCTORATE RECIPIENTS & TEACHER-PRACTITONERS OF POETRY/CREATIVE-WRITING/LITERATURE A STREET WHUPPING!!!

    YO MAMA GUARANTEES THAT NO STUDENT WILL EVER SLEEPWALK OBLIVIOUS & NIHILISTIC THRU A POOR NEIGHBOURHOOD AGAIN AFTER BEING SMACKED ACROSS THE CAKE-SACK!!!

    ONCE SLAPPED UP ALL STUDENTS WILL WAKE UP BECOME ALIVE TO THE DESPERATE IN THEIR PRESENCE TO THE FLESH BEYOND THE TEXTBOOK TO THE HEAVEN BEYOND THE CONCEPT THE STUDENT’S EXPLOITATION OF LOW RENT IN POOR NEIGHBOURHOODS TO THE TRANSIENT ROOTLESS EXPLOITATIVE NATURE OF THE MIDDLE CLASSES FROM WHOM THEY THEMSELVES HAVE SPAWNED & WHOSE CULTURE THEY PERPETUATE & PROPOGATE EITHER CONSCIOUSLY IN THEIR METHODS & PRACTISES, OR SUBLIMINALLY, AS IN THRU THE PURSUIT OF THEIR DISCONNECTED UNGROUNDED IDLE LITERARY PAST-TIMES!!!

    (YO MAMA SAYS THAT YOUR PERPETUAL DISCOURSE IS OF A CIRCUITOUS MOTION WHICH MIMICS THE PRACTISE OF CAPITAL ATTAINMENT: DISCOURSE PROMISES A DESTINATION BUT IN FACT LEADS ONLY TO ITS OWN PERPETUATION, A DOOR LEADING FOREVER INTO AN INFINITE EMPTINESS, JUST LIKE THE CAPITALIST PROMISE!!! DISCOURSE IS OF THE INDUSTRIAL COMPLEX!!! YO MAMA DECRIES THE CAPITAL OF IDEAS TO BE BANKRUPT AS OF THIS INSTANT!!! NOW COME HERE & KISS YO MAMA!!! WHERE YOU BEEN ALL THIS TIME CHILD HIDING IN YO TEXTBOOKS!?!?!?!?!?)

    MONTEVIDAYO: YO MAMA SAYS, LET A POOR BOY/GIRL SMACK YOU UPSIDE THE HEAD & ALL WILL BE REVEALED TO YOU!!! (OH HOLY POOR BOY/GIRL ANOINT ME WITH YOUR FIST!!!) STUDENTS ONCE LICKED YOU WILL NEVER AGAIN WRITE FROM A NARCISSISTIC VACUUM!!! YOU WILL BE SHOCKED BACK INTO YOUR BODY, BACK INTO YOUR FLESH, BACK INTO YOUR BLOOD, OH THE SIGHT OF THE RED THAT WE ARE, HOIST IT UPON THE MAST OF MY BROKEN STUDENT BONES!!! YOU WILL HAVE BEEN ANOINTED BY ANOTHER SENTIENT PRINCE/PRINCESS & RECOGNISE YOUR SELF IN A STRANGER/PAUPER THAT INSTANT!!! YOU WILL HAVE FOUND YOURSELF BEAT, BLOODIED & BOWED, & INHERIT A NEW HUMILITY!!! OH LET THE POOR BOY/GIRL RELIEVE THE STUDENT OF HIS/HER MIDDLE CLASS ARROGANCE & PRESUMPTIONS OF DOMINANCE!!! YOU ARE FLESH & BLOOD & STAR NOT PAPER & INK NOT DISCOURSE & THEORY!!! YOU SHALL RENOUNCE THE ACADEMY FORTHWITH & WALK NAKED THRU THE STREETS REUNITED WITH YOUR FELLOWS!!!

    YO MAMA WIPE HER ASS ON YO FLACCID DOCTORATE PARCHMENT!!!

    OH ALLOW YO MAMA HER RIGHT TO DREAM THE DAY . . . OH YO MAMA HAS A BEAUTIFUL DREAM FOR HER CHILDREN, FOR YO MAMA IS THE MATRIANARCHY, SHE DREAMS FOR A FREEDOM OUTSIDE THE REALM OF DISCOURSE, PERPETUAL DISCOURSE WHICH IS THE QUEST FOR INTELLECTUAL DOMINANCE AMONGST THE DETRITUS OF THE PATRIARCHS . . .

    MONTEVIDAYO, IS THIS NOT EVIDENT? YOU WILL NEVER INHERIT YOUR CELESTIAL BIRTHRIGHT IN INTELLECTUAL CONCEPTS. ARE YOU REALLY THE BRIGHTEST OF THE BEST OF US? OH SHIT . . .

    YO MAMA IS THE ANTIDOTE!!! SURRENDER TO YO MAMA’S BREAST THIS INSTANT!!! . . .

    BUT, WAIT A MINUTE . . . back to Seth . . . oh you thin white (Jewish? Now that got YO MAMA interested!!!) genesis of this present prescient exegesis . . . What it seems to me that you are attempting to marshal or harness are the wieldy magical powers of HYPERBOLE & RHETORIC – these are the traditional magic tools of the marginalised, & you are engaged in an act of appropriation. I surmise from various comments that you are queer – this is your saving grace, boy!!! However, beware all thee who dine to flirt with YO MAMA’S wanton spirit children – HYPERBOLE & RHETORIC – for they must be used with a deft art. HYPERBOLE & RHETORIC are the tools with which the poor boy/girl remakes the world & resets the flux, switches the micro to macro, turns the jester to emperor (witness hip hop for evidence of this ancient art: YO MAMA SO FAT SHE A PLANET GODAMMIT!!!)

    The problem is that your marshmallow monster has been eating itself gnawing on its own bloated complacencies its wisdoms turned glucoses its shallow infamies honeyfied & now this monster so fat its obese!!! (Obesity in YO MAMA’S poetic corresponds with the capitalist patriarchy who gorge upon the moment’s nutrient voracious unquenched & speak flaccid bombast tongue of perpetual attainment – OBESITY/BOMBAST = GREED – HYPERBOLE/RHETORIC = THE EARNEST YEARNING OF THE MARGINALISED.) There’s a difference.

    Anyway, YO MAMA can summarise this whole affair as the ancient search for the shamanic covenant by another name the poetic endeavour to uncover an incantatory tongue capable of uttering the magic word(s) which shall render the illusion visible the chains defunct but I fear the shamanic covenant has not reconvened to ordain the boy Seth with the furnace speech requisite to reach the switch which turns OUTPUT to INPUT & all whom hear it to inherit the presentiment of the providence YO MAMA prophesies . . .

    SETH JUST NOT BLACKBLACKBLACK ENOUGH!!!

    YO MAMA SO FAT IS WHO YOU ALL SEEK!!!

    SAY AFTER ME: YO MAMA SO FAT, YO MAMA SO FAT, YO MAMA SO FAT SHE MAKE FLESH SPIRIT & THE RED HEART STAR EVIDENT!!!

    THE MAGIC KEY RESTS IN THE POOR BOY/GIRL’S SPEECH NOT IN THE APPARATUSES OF ACADEMICS!!!

    YO MAMA GET SHAMANIC ON YO BOMBARCLART!!!

    YO MAMA RESET THE COSMOS AS A WRISTWATCH & BOWL PLANETS THRU YOUR THEORETICS!!!

    YO MAMA SO FAT SHE MAKE YO OBESITY ANOREXIC!!!

    THE POOR BOY/GIRL REMAKES THE WORLD IN THE IMAGE OF HER/HIS YEARNING!!!

    YO MAMA SO FAT COZ SHE PREGANT WITH JOY THE SLY JOY OF A NEW DAWN THE FIRE RED SUN THAT BURN DOWN THE CITY & MAKE SOUL FOOD & APPLE PIE FOR THE SURVIVORS!!!

    I LUV YOU ALL!!! DON’T FORGET: YO MAMA SHIT BIG & BLACK ON YOUR TEPID TEXTBOOKS!!!

    (Kent, you haven’t a fucking clue who YO MAMA is. You must try harder than addressing the object from that particular perpendicular I am neither your subject nor object but an adjunct between spirits!!! I await you all with fervour in the wide electric blue yonder!!! COME SEEK YO MAMA & YOU SHALL FIND YO MAMA!!!)

    YO MAMA OVER & OUT, FOR NOW!!!

    (Note the excessive use of exclamation-marks – black & erect & liable to impregnate speech with an uncertain unspecified maverick dark hyperbolic DNA – the tower of exclamation frowned upon by the curators of literature)

    (Are YO MAMA’S exclamation-marks kitsch enough for you Johannes?)

    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
    XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX
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    LOVE TO Y’ALL, & JOHANNES, SEE YOU ALL IN THE NEW MATRIANARCHY!!!

    YO MAMA

    x

  110. Joyelle McSweeney

    Yo Mama:

    It seems to me like you just did a search and replace on a readymade institutional critique and pasted “Montevidayo” in as the subject of these sentences. Your rant (hardly silenced, as it appears here) might be well justified against certain quarters or even certain commenters but doesn’t seem to have much to say about Montevidayo itself (partially because there isn’t a Montevidayo itself– it’s just a collection of posts). Take a look through the archives and see if it speaks to any of these issues you feel are ignored here. Here’s some search terms to start with: James Pate, Jared Randall, Wisconsin, Occult Motherhood, etc. If I’m not mistaken, Danielle already cited that ‘the world is a classroom’ maxim in this or the other Boyesque comment thread, so it seems to me you’re not even right about her.

  111. Seth Oelbaum

    Dear Kent,

    I very well may be an essentialist! But only in the way that Joyelle talks about where all things are a performance. So maybe I’m a performance essentialist. If someone tells me they’re gonna show me a primetime soap opera and ends up showing me a situation comedy I am going to be disappointed. There are certain characteristics that comprise the soap opera which are absent in the situation comedy. I want the dialogue, clothes, and plot lines associated with Gossip Girl! I may also be a commodity essentialist. If you’re gonna serve me Juicy Juice, then please do so. But don’t say you are and then hand me Poland Spring Water. Juicy Juice tastes sweet, sugary, and fruity. It also has 100 (maybe 120%)Vitamin C. Poland Spring Water doesn’t have these things!

    “Nazi” is a polarizing word. People tend to get snared by it and miss the other points. Maybe that’s what happening here. You’re use of the word “provable” insinuates certain things that I AM NOT DOING AT ALL. I am NOT denying the Holocaust happened nor downplaying its enormity or impact. There’s no need to prove anything. Primo Levi was in a concentration camp and was subjected to the camp’s lethal conditions. What I am investigating is how to properly speak about what happened. “Feelings” and “experience” are words attached to the human condition. In Arendt’s analysis, the camp prisoners were NOT humans. Their corporeal entity ceased to signify humanity. The “human being” is not a fixed term. It cannot be ripped out like a price tag. If you take away someone’s business, family, and home and replace them with gas chambers, fire pits, and spontaneous executions, then the corporeal-entity-know-as-human will embody the latter traits. If you surround someone one with a mortgage and a job and relatives then he’ll act the role of a human. But take this same someone and surround him with death and he’ll act the role of death: he will not, as a majority of the prisoners did not, resist his impending execution. The-corporeal-entity-known-as-human is human only so much as he’s surrounded by things typically associated with the human performance. There is no stable human: there’s only thinking entities and their concomitant environment. The Nazis revealed that the sign and signifier aren’t in a permanent marriage. The-corporeal-entity-known-as-human can also be the-corporeal-entity-known-as-death or the corporeal-entity-known-as-Tinker-Bell. But you must place yourself in the proper scene. I don’t think that your human terms accurately describe the inhuman Holocaust setting.

    Dear Yo Mama,

    I don’t have lungs. I have a Facebook page.
    If I saw a “shamanic covenant” I’d tell my mommy to keep driving to Walmart.
    I’ve received multiple black eyes.
    I thought butter was yellow.

    Dear All Engaging Commentators,

    I want to be comfortable.

  112. YO MAMA SO FAT

    In YO MAMA most cynical moments she couldn’t have anticipated a more dismissive, defensive, reductivist response as this!!!

    Because the critique of institutions is consistent does this render it irrelevant?

    If YO MAMA duplicates previous commentators’ concerns then this only highlights her prescience not her irrelevance!!!

    I ACTUALLY PRAISED DANIELLE SO IF SHE USED THE SAME PHRASE – WHICH I DID NOT READ – THEN THIS ONLY REINFORCES MINE & DANIELLE’S INTUITIVE EMPATHIES!!!

    YO MAMA can’t help suspecting that if YO MAMA was known to you – as your SACRED pupil, or belonging to your closeted milieu, or was employing consensus authorial etiquette, ie valid in your stale paradigm!!! – then you would be more responsive.

    The middle classes invented gangs, not the hood – that’s how you rule the world!!!

    YO MAMA GONNA SIT BACK & WATCH Y’ALL CIRCLE THE WAGONS!!!

    THIS POPCORN TASTE GOOD!!!

  113. Danielle Pafunda

    Well I can’t help but be sweet on Yo Mama, now ;).

    1. I do agree that the world is a classroom. The world is infected with teachers! The world will school us! But I still contend that the discreet in-a-building or online-platform classroom is a valid, potential-filled part of the world. If we want to open up that discreet classroom to everyone, then I think we best make sure those students who are in the classroom right now learn to think well and careful before going on to make more money or more power than the people universities currently exclude. Middle-class and rich kids need as much classroom learning as they can get–right alongside street learning and wilderness learning and emotional intelligence and whatever other learning they can get. That said? I teach at the University of Wyoming. That’s not your cushiest demographic.

    2. Theoretics are also part of the world. You can’t have streets or head-punching or bodies without theoretics. Theoretics make us the bodies we are and also our bodies produce theoretics like some kinda rat plague. I want everyone in on the theoretics! Theoretics = strategy. Unlike money, theoretics (IDEAS!) do trickle down and they make culture and lives and bodies happen. And end. Theoretics kill, so I’m not content to leave them in the paws of the most very privileged. Plus, in my experience, theory goes really well with ACTIONS. Yo Mama’s fierce and jubilant matrifesto is case in point. & matrianarchy! It’s a theory! It’s a party!

    Yo Mama, I do think you underestimate the frictive organism Montevidayo.

    & wait, now–does the middle-class rule the world, or just get way more comfortably ruled and do the bidding of the very few truly powerful?

    Let me know where this tushy wiping will take place, and I’ll be there doctorate in hand!

  114. Seth Oelbaum

    Correction: The “human being” is not a fixed term. It CAN be ripped out like a price tag.

  115. Tim Jones-Yelvington

    Careful, Danielle. Theoretics trickle up, too. Theory is produced in the world classroom & street classroom as well as the discreet classroom*. And we theorize from action, we don’t just act on theory. I know you know this, and your comment taken altogether demonstrates it, but there’s a couple of sentences there that I think maybe inadvertently reassert a top-down, academy-world directionality.

    (*and these domains are not entirely dichotomous).

  116. Danielle Pafunda

    Point taken, Tim! I’m getting defensive about the academy! I really think it can be (someday? in some forms?) a zone of equitable exchange.

    & yes, a lot of the theory I teach trickled into the academy from the streets. From living rooms, basements, community centers. & some folks in the academy still don’t think we should let it in, so there’s that indefensible element that I won’t argue for.

    I do mean, tho’: if we let the most privileged have theory because we imagine it less significant than punching, it will trickle down & kill us. When I say theoretics trickle down, I mean, I suppose, from very rich & powerful entities. Corporations. Political blocks. They produce theoretical systems all the time, & shoddy or not, those systems inform all our actions. Academic theorists sometimes expose those systems, just as street (for lack of better differentiation) theorists do.

    Am I making sense, y’all? Battery low in the machine & the body & toddler flipping out sleepless!

    xoxo

  117. No Mama

    The middle class? Yo Mama you showing your age. The middle class exists only as straw men and women and in the gasps of dying provacateurs. You chase scarecrows protecting the fields of The Powers That Be. Torch the fields.

  118. Kent Johnson

    YMSF wrote,

    >Because the critique of institutions is consistent does this render it irrelevant?

    Speaking of which, I’ve just received an email from William Fuller, top poet from Chicago, and there is a photo attached, a rather stunning “visual confirmation of leverage,” taken by him yesterday as he strolled around the U.S.-Embassy-in-Kabul-like Poetry Foundation Headquarters. What it shows is what’s been erected in wake of the Croatoan Poetic Cell protest at the Zurita event: a massive truck-bomb blocking concrete slab, closing access from the sidewalk to its (once) “public garden.”

    Sort of like a Conceptual sculpture, one could say… I wish I knew how to attach the photo. It’s worth a thousand Institution Critique poems.

    Seth, you are full of brilliance. Be careful of the Dark Force. My points remain.

  119. Lucas de Lima

    Yo Mama, I think you should be careful about reproducing the kind of marginalization that you yourself are accusing Montevidayo of. We’re not all professors, we’re not all white, and we certainly don’t all face a future of upward mobility.

    L

  120. adam strauss

    “I’m not sure a het-male can be a full het-male and still be chic/stylish/fashionable.”

    The above strikes me as both delicious–I have many times mused that the world would have no style were it not for non heteros: they may look lip-smacking in the sets the non-het cretans have designed but surely their existence relies on a kind of appropriation–but also really misleading as the sentence totally aligns homosexuality to femininity (and equating femininity to style, once the logic of stereotype is expired, makes little sense) and I’m guessing that that’s at best half the gay demos; it’d be awesome if gayness really was the secret pass for being stylin’ but yah I doubt this. Finally, and at the moment this seems the most terrible gap (and yes this has everything to do with my insistence that the lesbian figure needs wayyyyyyyyyyy more coverage/exposure/thought dedicated to such matter): the starter sentence elides female homosexuality!

    I find the feminization of gay bodies both very duh and not even necessarily untrue to flatout goofy: hello the fun of the gay ken is how knockdown awesome the male figure can be! David B is tres more styling than Victoria–tho this cld be because his body totally rocks/he’s better looking and hers totally doesn’t unless one thinks thinness is the key requirement for being aesthetically slammin’!

  121. Lara Glenum

    I teach at a public university in Louisiana, one of the poorest states in the nation, a state that is environmentally and financially bankrupt (thanks to Katrina + BP oil spill + extreme political corruption). My students are nearly all first generation college kids, many of them quite poor, and they are definitely *not* all white. Far from it. Our university is teetering on the edge of a swamp in collapsing buildings.

    Is it a privilege to teach? Yes. Absolutely. But not all schools and not all pedagogies are the same. I doubt you can see my classroom from where you’re perched, Yo Mama. We’re off your imaginary grid. My students are the same kids who might pop you one in the street. Or serve you a po’ boy at the local diner. Or take you hunting for alligators in the swamp. They’re feisty and hungry and smart as hell. They scratch their way through school, often working multiple jobs or supporting parents who are serious addicts.

    I’m not claiming any moral high ground here or disowning my privilege. But your description of where any of us on MV are coming from is based on what? You actually know anything about my past? My family? You assume none of us know anything about the poverty you so valorize, and that’s a dangerous mistake.

    My sister, Tonya, who’s black (and one badass mother), says to lay off conflating race and class. Cuz you sound like a right-wing politician when you do.