Archive for December, 2011
by Dan Hoy on Dec.29, 2011
I think we can all agree that 2011 was a convincing warm-up to the Apocalypse. For those of you wondering what’s on tap for 2012, rest assured that we are almost there. In the spirit of popular end-of-the-year lists, below is a compilation of apocalyptic preludes for the coming year (with the main event currently scheduled for 2013):
And much more!
Sound off below with your own prophecies and counter-prophecies —
by Feng Sun Chen on Dec.28, 2011
Introduction to a variation on the cave:
“Here it is possible to give only a rough summary of what is involved, and Pierre Janet’s theoretical and clinical writings are moreover available to everyone. I will, however, briefly describe some personal experiences, but which are wholly in accord with observations published in the medical literature, for example with the invariable response of schizophrenics to the question: where are you? I know where I am, but I do not feel as though I’m at the spot where I find myself. To these dispossessed souls, space seems to be a devouring force. Space pursues them, encircles them, digests them in a gigantic phagocytosis. It ends by replacing them. Then the body separates itself from thought, the individual breaks the boundary of his skin and occupies the other side of his senses. He tries to look at himself from any point whatever in space. He feels himself becoming space, dark space where things cannot be put. He is similar, not similar to something, but just similar. And he invents spaces of which he is “the convulsive possession.” All these expressions shed light on a single process: depersonalization by assimilation to space, i.e., what mimicry achieves morphologically in certain animal species.” ~ F.P. Caillois “Mimicry and Legendary Psychasthenia”
A suspicion lingers among writers and thinkers of an ancient wisdom, that the whole of the universe is contained within each of its particles. Unique patterns in classical art, intuited by the “individual genius” are also redundantly elaborated in mathematics, discovered in the tiniest and oldest of fossils. See the foraminifera garden, which features enlarged replicas of 330 million years old organisms:
by Lucas de Lima on Dec.20, 2011
For Lauren Berlant, “slow death” is the “attrition of life or pacing of death” through which neoliberal policies sustain inequality and suffering. Obesity, in a world of profit over people, is just one example of slow death that maligned populations in the US are made to bear: Kraft Foods and the medical industrial complex alike make money off the “cruel and usual nourishment” (Berlant’s great phrase) enabled by the stripping of social programs. In her song “Marry the Night,” Lady Gaga unwittingly cannibalizes her pro-marriage LGBT activism and its neoliberal underpinnings. What her song spits out is a Potatoesque spin on Berlant’s concept: the stuttering, slow death of a citizenry at once together and alone in the darkness of our dismemberment.
It’s no coincidence that the video for “Marry the Night” stages scenes of Gaga’s pre-fame hospitalization that usher in a pious organ melody. To marry within the Christian church, after all, is to devote oneself in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer, and take on the burden of one another’s social insurance. As a form of governance, marriage serves to obscure the neoliberal state’s failure in providing for its populace. By encouraging marriage as a natural (and heterosexual) expression of human intimacy, the government finds a pretext for displacing its responsibilities on individuals.
In lyrics that recall Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive” and the ‘disco disease’ of AIDS, “Marry the Night” faces the stakes of falling outside such heteronormative kinship: as a “warrior queen” who “won’t give up on [her] life,” Gaga is a “winner” and “loser.” What might seem like the song’s embrace of individual freedom sounds more, in fact, like a total avowal of precarity, in which “love” becomes the “new black” and there are “skeleton, guns or wedding bells in the alley.” In this sense, the song is a throwback to the necrotic and nocturnal visuals of “Alejandro” in which Gaga also loses her face/head:
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.19, 2011
In my best of list in the post below, I forgot to mention Yoko Tawada’s amazing reading in Notre Dame. To make up for it, here’s the beginning of her story/fable/surrealist prose poem, “Raisin Eyes”:
“On Tuesdays I like to eat my father. He tastes of venison. Bread dough is what he’s made of. I know he’s really a woman. But you can’t say this to his face or his ees will turn hollow. When the fire is hot and the sun goes down, his dead brother whispers in his ear: you’re a woman. He’s made of bread dough. His nipples are raisins. The eyes of a woman he went to see in prison yesterday were also raisins. My father has black nipples…”
(From the book Where Europe Begins, trans. Susan Bernofsky and Yumi Selden)
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.16, 2011
Liknöjd Fauna, by Aase Berg (Albert Bonnier Förlag)
Melancholia, by Lars von Trier (movie)
Strange Circus, by Shion Sono (movie)
Parade, by Nathalie Djurberg and Hans Berg (exhibition at Walker Art Center, Mpls)
Jiyoon Lee’s Love Song for My Darling Translator (duet with Lara Palmer’s ghost at &Now Conference, San Diego)
The “No Future” panel at &Now San Diego (with Feng Sun Chen, Lucas de Lima, Joyelle McSweeney, and Monica Mody)
Leon Baham, Pony Boy (Birds of Lace Press)
Rihanna’s “We Fell In Love In A Hopeless Place” (music video)
Alexander McQueen’s exhibition/book “Savage Beauty” (The Met, NY City)
Lykke Li, Wounded Rhymes (music CD)
Continue reading “Top Things of 2011” »
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.16, 2011
Here’s how it starts:
“CAConrad is the son of white trash asphyxiation whose childhood included selling cut flowers along the highway for his mother and helping her shoplift.” — author’s bio, The Book of Frank
“This is a cut-down chandelier …
And it is like coughing at the piano before you start playing a terrible waltz …
The past should go away but it never does …
And it is like a swimming pool at the bottom of the stairs …” — opening page, Poemland
“What a trash
To annihilate each decade.” — Sylvia Plath, “Lady Lazarus”
As these epigraphs so clearly emblematize, Art is asphyxiation; annihilation; anachronism; inebriation; something “cut-down”; something shoplifted; like trash, it makes more of itself; like the past, it should go away but it never does. Like a cough, it doubles up or doubles down on terribleness. It preempts itself by making multiple knockoff versions of itself; it is never sufficient because it is always more than enough. Through perverse excess, Art trashes conventional value, reassigning it to odd and ill-made receptacles which inevitably can’t hold; the chandelier is cut-down; asphyxiation has a baby; Art leaks and spills Art.
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.16, 2011
Common terms and phrases (from Marie Corelli’s Wormwood: A Drama of Paris)
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.15, 2011
Marie Corelli (1855-1924) was a writer of extremely popular romances with such names as “Vendetta!” “Innocent, Her Fancy and his Fact”, “The Sorrows of Satan” and “Wormwood: A Drama of Paris”.
Ouida (1839-1908) was another lady romance novellist, and her author photo, is, perhaps, of an even greater level of awesomeness. Here’s a choice passage from Wikipedia about her appearance and workhabits:
Of short stature “sinister, clever face” and with a “voice like a carving knife” (William Allingham‘s diary 1872), she moved into the Langham Hotel, London in 1867, where she wrote in bed, by candlelight, with the curtains drawn and surrounded by purple flowers. She ran up huge hotel and florists bills, and commanded soirees that included soldiers, politicians, literary lights (including Oscar Wilde, Algernon Swinburne, Robert Browning and Wilkie Collins), and artists (including John Millais). Many of her stories and characters were based upon people she invited to these salons at The Langham.
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.13, 2011
“What does seem to remain constant across the cycles of media innovation and obsolescence is the problem of the image. The deeply ambivalent relationship between human beings and the images they create seems to flare up into crisis at moments of technical innovation, when a new medium makes possible new kinds of images, often more lifelike and persuasive than ever before, and seemingly more volatile and virulent, as if images were dangerous microbes that could infect the minds of their consumers. This may be why the default position of image theorists and media analysts is that of the idol-smashing prophet warning against Phillistines – the exemplary ancient idolaters, since reincarnated in modern kitsch and mass culture. The same critic will, however, typically be engaged in elevating certain kinds of images in selected types of media to the status of art. Aesthetic status is often credited with a redeeming effect on the degraded currency of images, as if the image had somehow been purified of commercial or ideological contamination by its remediation within certain approved media frameworks (typically art galleries, museums, and prestigious collections). Even a nakedly commercial image from mass culture can be redeemed in this way, as the silk screens of Andy Warhol demonstrate.”
(Just read this in WJT Mitchell’s Critical Terms for Media Studies and was struck by how similar his take on images is to my own – down to the use of words like “kitsch” and “redeemed.”)
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.12, 2011
Please read this excellent poem by Kim Hyesoon, trans. by Don Mee Choi, on H.L. Hix’s blog, In Quire.
“Tearfarming” presents a mini, frozen necropastoral, artificial as soft-serve and hard as diamonds, and you will not be sorry you clickclicked that linklink.
Scratch that. You will be sorry! You will be very very sorry, little girls.
Then support both genius poets by buying All the Garbage of the World, Unite!
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.12, 2011
OK so I woke up thinking about THIS poem again. Is it ruins porn? What happens in a time of civil war? The house collapses, the humans eat each other’s brutal hearts, and the honeybees move into the interstices to reboot post-apocalyptic time. Yeats oversaturates his imagery– he’s talking about his own ‘house’ and body and sense of history collapsing, yet there’s another house– the ‘house of the stare’ (i.e. starling)– which is going to be repossessed by the bees. I actually see this ‘nest’ as a stare’s carcass, a ribcage and cranium now to be Occupied by bees, who will fly the vessel around, a flying colony, right out of China Mieville. And of course I read that ‘stare’ as the gaze itself, to be occupied by bees, bees put out my eyes, what is this buzzing, a synesthesia which permits no insight and no outsight, a vision which is a medium for not sight but pain, a conversion of sight to pain, the nerve impulses a swarm (Yeats was no fan of mobs or swarms), WBY being flown over civil-war Ireland like bird-skeleton, a vessel, a war-machine steered by a pack of Killer Bees–
VI. The Stare’s Nest by My Window by Yeats
The bees build in the crevices
Of loosening masonry, and there
The mother birds bring grubs and flies.
My wall is loosening; honey-bees,
Come build in the empty house of the stare. Continue reading “Necropastoral & Ruins Porn; Bug Apocalypse; Bee & Stare” »
by Dan Hoy on Dec.11, 2011
Stop the Heavens
from crashing to the Earth.
This is the cry of the biggest
assholes in Heaven.
– from The Portable Atlas
Last month Robert Hass and Brenda Hillman were beaten by Berkeley police, and Geoffrey O’Brien ended up with a broken rib. They are obviously not the only poets (“academic” or otherwise) to suffer at the hands of the State since the Occupy movement started, but they are the first to be given an opinion piece after the fact in The New York Times. Generally speaking, I’m not all that interested in their credentials or even their poetic oeuvre. What interests me here is their act of resistance as a form of poetry. Continue reading “Poetry Fundamentals: Power, Risk, & Resistance” »
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.11, 2011
Recently I participated in a questionaire about “experimental poetry” on the web site HTML Giant, organized by Christopher Higgs. One of the questions was: “Is experimental writing political”? This was my reply:
“… Part of the politics of art is in its mimicry; it makes doubles, counterfeits, fakes. It makes a costume drama in which categories are tested (so much of the rhetoric I can’t stand – rigor, form, value – seems aimed at limiting that costume). Part of the politics of Art is that it makes a wound in our culture. The key is not to try to close that wound. The key is to remain homeless.
Artifice is associated with Evil. I’m just now as I type this watching “The Lion King” with my daughter and her cousin. My daughter wants to be batman and her cousin wants to be a princess. But this movie suggests that artifice is unnatural, associated with Death and Evil. The original Lion King appears at the beginning of the movie in a position of authority to present his son while the soundtrack sings “cycle of life.” The royal, authoritative order is appears as “natural,” based on what Lee Edelman has called “reproductive futurism.” The evil uncle on the other hand speaks with an accent, acts feminine, has weird green eyes and scars, and, in the midst of a spectacular pageant, organizing his unnatural union with the deathy hyenas (he has no children of his own) into a fascist rally. This counterfeit king deceives with language and fictions. Why do kids have to be taught the dangers of Art? Why was Michael Jackson’s face a bigger crime than his overdose (which was almost seen as a side-effect of a greater problem: his artifice)?
It seems that Art always interrupts the idea of “community.” The natural relations between people. The unmediated relations. In the “feministe” blog post about “ruin porn” that Adam linked to in the comment section to Joyelle’s picture of ruined South Bend, there was the same rhetoric: real, moral action consists of being a Human as part of a Community, being Useful. The foreigner, the tourist, the Artist makes “Porn” (something immoral, pathological, useless exploitative) out of “Reality.”
As another model of community I like to think of Andy Warhol’s Factory. Continue reading “Strange Factories and Star Fuckers: Andy Warhol, Gunnar Björling and Henry Parland” »