Archive for December, 2011

Preludes to an Apocalypse: Prophecies for 2012

by 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):

  • There will be ongoing intermediate-level earthquakes in odd locales (a la the Colorado and Virginia quakes of 2011) and at least one large earthquake along a major fault line.
  • The price of basic necessities like food and oil will rise significantly due to currency volatility, geopolitical instability, unusual climate activity, and systemic phenomenon like peak oil and peak water.
  • Greece will pull out of the Eurozone.
  • The Fed will initiate another round of Quantitative Easing (QE) in an effort to postpone collapse of the global Keynesian system and as part of its escalating currency war with China.
  • The price of gold will pass $3,000/oz.
  • Ron Paul will not be the Republican nominee for U.S. president, despite popular support that outpaces all other candidates including Mitt Romney, who will be declared the official nominee.
  • Paul will choose to run as a 3rd party candidate, receiving clandestine support from globalist and Republican insiders who don’t want Romney to be president either (i.e. so that Paul will split “the conservative vote”).
  • The Euro will collapse and the Eurozone will dissolve, triggering multiple major corporate bankruptcies and bank runs across the world.
  • The U.S. will invade Iran prior to the U.S. presidential election, further destabilizing the region and escalating tensions with China/Russia.
  • Obama will be reelected U.S. president with a total vote count that is less than Romney and Paul combined.
  • OWS activities will expand and escalate into violence, though much if not all of this violence will be instigated by COINTELPRO-style infiltrators in an attempt to discredit the movement.
  • Protests and riots unaffiliated with OWS, including violent flash mobs, will become the new global “meme”.
  • FEMA camps will be used to detain political dissidents and societal malcontents in the U.S. following mass arrests after protests and riots.
  • There will be a false flag “terrorist” event in the continental U.S. of the chemical, biological, radiological, or nuclear variety.
  • Increased solar activity will lead to repeated interruptions of service provided by electronic infrastructures toward the end of the year.
  • Anonymous will raise the stakes and escalate its sporadic cyber attacks into a full-on cyber war against major financial and political institutions.
  • Assassinations and attempted assassinations of key players in the behind-the-scenes global control matrix will be a recurring theme.
  • Escalating tensions between China/Russia and U.S./UK/etc. will lead to isolated military incidents and the precipice of WWIII.
  • And much more!

    Sound off below with your own prophecies and counter-prophecies —

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    meandering thoughts on Elizabeth Grosz’s “Becoming Undone” and caves

    by 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:

    See the cell:

    Madness: (continue reading…)

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    The Slow Death of Decapitated Gaga Or, Marriage, Neoliberalism and the Potatoesque

    by on Dec.20, 2011

    A headless Gaga performs her new single

    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:

    (continue reading…)

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    Yoko Tawada

    by 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)

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    Top Things of 2011

    by on Dec.16, 2011

    I participated in another 2011 top list at Big Other:

    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…)

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    Art-trash: On Chelsey Minnis and CAConrad

    by on Dec.16, 2011

    My new review of Chelsey Minnis and CAConrad is up at Jacket2. Won’t you read it?


    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”

    The argument

    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.



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    Style Points from fin-de-siecle Lady Novelists: Marie Corelli and Ouida

    by on Dec.15, 2011

    Marie Corelli

    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”.

    The haters had a lot of hate for her, describing her as combining “the imagination of a Poe with the style of an Ouida and the mentality of a nursemaid”.


    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.[6] 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).[4] Many of her stories and characters were based upon people she invited to these salons at The Langham.[6]

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    The Image/Media (Or as I might call it: the "porn" of the visual)

    by 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.”)

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    A Frozen Tearscape: Kim Hyesoon's Tearfarming (trans. Don Mee Choi)

    by 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!

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    Necropastoral & Ruins Porn; Bug Apocalypse; Bee & Stare

    by on Dec.12, 2011

    Here's Gramps having his Spirit Photo taken again

    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…)

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    Poetry Fundamentals: Power, Risk, & Resistance

    by 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…)

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    Strange Factories and Star Fuckers: Andy Warhol, Gunnar Björling and Henry Parland

    by 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…)

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