Archive for March, 2013

"A cursory tracing of infection patterns": Jeremy Behreandt on Aase Berg's Dark Matter and "American kitschy-grotesque aesthetic"

by on Mar.13, 2013

Jeremy Behreandt has an excellent review of Dark Matter by Aase Berg up on Heavy Feather Review.In it he makes some really interesting comments about the matter-mind conflict in the poem and how this might relate to the deformative language:

In Berg’s language, which deploys neologism and bizarre grammar, one is invited to practice new logics or analogies. If the ghost is born of the dark material machine, does it inherit the machine’s characteristics in its genes? If yes, and the dark matter is opaque and inscrutable, then the consciousness can learn nothing of itself by studying its parent empirically. If no, then the consciousness is an orphan, a “deformity, an aberration…a slit in the structure.” It is lost in the hostile world and to itself. Rather than accepting Descartes’ comfortable Cogito ergo sum, Berg explodes the disjunct between mind and body into grotesque, unforeseen conclusions. An architectural or geological formation may have a face or faces, a name or names, corruptible bodily organs or erupting limbs as much as a human may not. Flesh is machine, mineral is flesh, figure is indistinguishable from ground. This yields powerful imagery in Dark Matter, such as “Here runs a visible underground border, a fistulation toward Mare Imbrium. I thrust the muscle latch toward the machines that throb there in the wound” from “In Dovre Slate Mill.” Or “Here the tendons weave a cathedral of signs from Pangea’s hidden core. Here the cranium glows in the memory of the machine’s facial features” from “Cryptogram.”

It has always struck me about this book how “figure is indistinguishable from ground” and this review brings this issue into an interesting conversation about matter.

Behreandt also raises the question of how I/Black Ocean have framed this translation:

Of course, one must remain mindful that the American audience receives Dark Matter through the interpretive framing of Johannes Görannson. If Berg writes, “Come Leatherface, my love, glide into the face of the secret’s bestial longing” and never again makes mention of Leatherface, both Gorannson’s introduction and the copy on the back cover, while acknowledging numerous sources, emphasize Berg’s allusion to and alteration of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. It makes this reviewer wonder if the American kitschy-grotesque aesthetic, as it codifies its discourse and forms its canon, is promoting an edgy, hip Dark Matter that is in constellation with Bataille while keeping mum on the Dark Matter in constellation with Novalis (whose verse serves as an epigraph for the book), the Dark Matter which frequently addresses traditional philosophic questions on idealism vs. materialism, artificial vs. natural, reason vs. will, being vs. becoming, unity vs. strife.

I think that’s a fair question. Continue reading “"A cursory tracing of infection patterns": Jeremy Behreandt on Aase Berg's Dark Matter and "American kitschy-grotesque aesthetic"” »

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"Modernism will never be the same": Jed Rasula in New York

by on Mar.12, 2013

Scholar and poet Jed Rasula is going to discuss the groundbreaking anthology Burning City, which he edited with Tim Conley, with Josh Schneiderman, PhD student at CUNY, on Thursday March 14, at 6:30 pm. The info is here.

“‘The fascination of cities,’ wrote Langston Hughes, ‘seizes me, burning like a fever in the blood.’ BURNING CITY enacts that passion with astonishing skill and learning. Whatever else Modernism was or was not, its geography was that of the New Urbanism: from Paris and Berlin to São Paulo and Shanghai, from such icons as the Eiffel Tower and the Empire State Building to Moscow’s Nikitin Circus, it is the City in all its contradictions, its splendors and miseries, that was to become the laboratory of modernism, still dominating our dreams and nightmares a century after the fact. Truly global in its reach, yet local in its exacting particularities, BURNING CITY breaks down the old familiar isms and genre divisions, introducing us to writings we’ve never seen before, printed side by side with our favorite poems by Huidobro and Musil, Mayakovsky and Mina Loy. In a nutshell, the map of modernism will never be the same!”—Marjorie Perloff

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On lexical determinism & beyond

by on Mar.11, 2013

In the wake of AWP, I’ve been thinking about which critical frameworks become dominant within marginal/radical spaces and which claims to reality; about what constitutes the field of aesthetics & art criticism (in our Euro-Western academy) and how the field-defining models limit what can be investigated; about how the terms of the discourse limit the discourse; and about becoming “both/and”.

Since these are all questions Montevidayo has been interested in, I had to bring my dissatisfaction/inquiry here. Also because I want to be able to enter the discussions on this blog through a different paradigm if I want to, and because we need nothing less than what Chela Sandoval called coalitional consciousness today as we seek to confront the challenges of reactionary and colonizing political, economic, social, relational, academic and art systems. But before I can do that, I want to introduce some terms to this blog’s lexicon. The term that often comes up when people unfamiliar with this paradigm encounter it is “new age”. In my comments to Lucas De Lima’s bravura post “In Defense of Extreme Difference: Some Thoughts on Peripheries, Cannibalism, La Pocha Nostra, and the Hemispheric Institute of Performance and Politics’ 8th Encuentro,” I wrote a defense of the so-called new age:

When I think of practices such as sensing how the body extends beyond the borders of skin, how the psyche extends into body; becoming a body that lives in place, in the world; being fully present to every experience in the body and to learning from it; visionary and shamanic practices such as art and ecstatic dancing, and preparing the body to go into shamanic states such as menstruation and giving birth and menopause; practices of embodied change (personal and collective), that may involve healing deeply from trauma and oppression – none of them are comfortable or pleasant, although each seeks an insurrection in the old age/order and co-creation of a fully embodied new one.


Cecilia Vicuña, El Quipu Menstrual

That said, I am not too fond of the word “new age” which often confuses the discourse. I prefer the terms “participatory” & “conscious” & “sacred” & “indigenous” & “contextual” & “non-dualistic” & “relational” & “connected” & “earth-based” & “allied with spirit” & “enchanted” & “magical” (& “psycho-magical”) & “complex” & “co-evolving” & “visionary” & “mythic-metaphoric” & “imaginal & intuitive” & “embodied” & “sensual” & “empathetic” & “engaged” & “reflexive” & “critical” & “political” & “reimagined” & “revolutionary” & “transformative” & “non-normal” & “excessive”.

Now that I’ve spoken, I’m ready for the coalition.

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Roving, virtual interviews

by on Mar.08, 2013

fassbinderAs many readers out there probably know, there is a roving, virtual set of interview questions making its way through blogs and various sites called the Next Big Thing Interviews. One writer tags other writers, who tag others in turn, and the answers go up every Wednesday. (I like the idea of this: a seemingly source-less, ghost-in-the-machine interview process.)

I was recently tagged by Catherine Theis, who posted her answers at the Convulsive Editions blog, and here are the answers I should have posted this past Wednesday.

Question one: What is the working title of the book? The Fassbinder Diaries, coming out this June from Civil Coping Mechanisms. I’m also working on a crime novel called Black Mirror.

Question two: Where did the idea come from for the book? Fassbinder! His films, his camera angles, his use of color, his use of black-and-white, his literary adaptations, his original screenplays, but other films and filmmakers too, Godard, Zhang Ke Jia, Elem Klimov, Pasolini, Jack Smith, Leos Carax, Ivan the Terrible (both parts), Goodbye, Dragon Inn.

Question three: What genre does your book fall under? Film posters of the late Soviet era.

berlinalexanderplatzQuestion four: What actors would you choose to play the part of your characters in a movie rendition? For The Fassbinder Diaries they’ve already been chosen by Fassbinder himself. Barbara Sukowa plays Mieze, Hanna Schygulla is Eva, and Gunter Lamprecht appears as Franz Biberkopf. But there’s another version too, rumored to have been filmed by Kenneth Anger, where Oliver Hardy plays Franz, John Garfield is Mieze, and Marosa Di Giorgio is Eva.

Question five: What is the one sentence synopsis of your book? “About the Eternities Between the Many and the Few” (title of the 9th episode of Fassbinder and Doblin’s Berlin Alexanderplatz).

Question six: How long did it take you to write the first draft of this manuscript? Answer the same as in question five.

Question seven: Who or what inspired you to write this book? Intense sunlight, heat, the beaches in Chicago, apartments without air-conditioning in July, various deserts in the southwest, the gravel yards of Tucson, the dusty piazzas of Naples, the palm trees growing on balconies in Los Angeles. Also, the great Music Box Theater in Chicago, where I wasted the last of my youth. And: Robbe-Grillet, Aase Berg, Rhys, Teresa of Avila, Para, Soyinka’s The Road, Warhol’s a:A Novel, Patricia Highsmith, the lives of famous film critics.

pierrotQuestion eight: What else about your book might pique the reader’s interest? I couldn’t think of an answer for this one, so I’ll quote Sam Fuller instead. “A film is like a battleground. It’s love, hate, action, violence, death. In one word: emotion.” From Pierrot le Fou.

Question nine: Will your book be self-published or represented by an agency? Neither, but being published by the very good people of Civil Coping Mechanisms.

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Montevidayo books at the AWP

by on Mar.06, 2013

If you go to the AWP bookfair, look for the Action Books/Tarpaulin Sky table (J24). We’ll have the following new books:

From Action Books:
The Parapornographic Manifesto by Carl-Michael Edenborg
In the moremarrow by Oliverio Girondo (trans. Molly Weigl)
Pop Corpse! by Lara Glenum
The Warmth of Taxidermied Animals by Tytti Heikkinen (trans. by Niina Pollari)
Mouth of Hell by Maria Negroni (trans. Michelle Gil-Montero)

From Tarpaulin Sky:
Joyelle McSweeney’s new book, Salamandrine: 8 Gothics
Johannes Göransson’s book Haute Surveillance

We will also have a few copies of Radioactive Moat chapbooks by Feng Sun Chen, Lucas de Lima and Jiyoon Lee at our table.

Elsewhere in the fair:
Check out Sarah Fox’s new book First Flag from Coffeehouse Press.
Aase Berg’s Dark Matter (in my translation) from Black Ocean.

(And probably some stuff I’m missing, so please add if necessary in comment section.)

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Bad at Sports: More thoughts about Asco, Kitsch and the Foreigner

by on Mar.06, 2013

I’ve written another post about Asco over at Bad at Sports.


“One more thing about kitsch: any art can become kitsch. It moves around. That’s why people are scared of it (of having their art turn into the next kitsch, making it worthless). But that’s why it makes such a promising zone of experimentation: it’s mobile. Once you enter into kitsch zone high becomes low, foreigner becomes “us”, not by becoming a naturalized but by assuming a place while wearing a mask. That’s why I’m interested in kitsch as a zone of exploration in my own work, and why Asco has been a great inspiration for me.”


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Believe the Hype: Sarah Dowling's Birds & Bees

by on Mar.05, 2013

birds and bees

I want to throw down some hype for Sarah Dowling’s terrific Birds & Bees, recently published by Troll Thread. Birds & Bees is kind of its own hype machine, organized as it is around/after/by two affectively opposed but similarly contagious pop songs: the Temptations’ “My Girl” and Aaliyah’s “Are You That Somebody.” These two (and possibly other?) songs form the affective technology of the poems in this chapbook, their lyrics and beats pumping through insistently even as the record/CD/MP3 skips/glitches around. Activated by the slithery stop-and-go beat of Aaliyah’s hit, for example, the following poem stutters through a ventriloquism of the song’s hush-hush lyrics, desire reverberating and refracted:

I’ve got to tell you

Can you Can you Can you Can you Boy
grey Boy, I promise you If we and you know
We talk But see dry I don’t know if from
you shouldn’t tell you but if I If maroon I
let you You can’t I’m talking Are you noiseless Boy
I’m not lonely just Is it, Is it Say yes

or say no Cause I really Tell me are
you wet Boy Won’t you If you tell you know
that we’ll Oh real Boy See shouldn’t let you but,
If I If I You can’t tell proud I hope
you crowded Boy I’m not Is it, Is it Cause
I really Tell me are you empty Won’t you And

listen Cause I really need Tell me are you
If I You can’t tell I’m talking difficult I hope
alone Boy I gotta I’m not Is it, is it
Say Is it numerous is it Cause I really Tell
me are you cordial Cause I really You can’t tell
I’m talking further

Continue reading “Believe the Hype: Sarah Dowling's Birds & Bees” »

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New Action Books Books: Oliverio Girondo's In the Moremarrow

by on Mar.05, 2013

Believe it or not, Action Books is attending the AWP. Our table is J24.

This year we’re bringing a slew of new books that I am excited about. We’re not actually releasing them for a few months (we’re trying to follow procedure for once) so make sure you stop by and pick up your copies. I’ll post some info about the different books throughout the day today.

Psychic roads

Open, house
of gray cephalic lava
and confluences of cumulus memories and cosmic lightbeat
house of wings of night of reef of breaking of moon-spangled spasms
and hypertensive tomtoms of unpresence
cabala abode
calla cove
livid medium in trance under the plaster of her rooms for lodgers the dead cross-dressed in breath
metaphysic house multipregnant with neovoices and aridechoes of smothered circuits
demongoddess key that knows death and its compasses its beats
its aphasic drums of gauze
its final flood-gates
and its asphalt.

“In the moremarrow” by Oliverio Girondo (trans. Molly Weigl). I first heard of this book when Molly Weigl read an excerpt at a panel on 20th century Latin American poetry organized by Cecilia Vicuna at an AWP a few years ago (there are things worth going to at the AWP!). I was immediately blown away by the linguistic deformations and lyrical intensity of these poems, and I immediately afterwards walked up to Molly and said I wanted to do her entire book.


“…a milestone in the history of poetry in Spanish. It took half a century for this masterpiece to be translated into English! And this is his moment.” (Cecilia Vicuna)

“In the fabled history of experimental South American modernism, Girondo’s En la masmedula stands alongide Cesar Vallejo’s Trilce as a marker of the fruitful extremes to which that modernism – anywhere & everywhere – can take us. As Girondo’s final great work, Moremarrow blazes new trails in the search for transformative forms of poetry, work as vibrant today as when it was first written.” (Jerome Rothenberg)


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Believe the Hype: Sarah Vap's Arco Iris

by on Mar.04, 2013

Travelogue, love story, fairy tale, and reportage. Sarah Vap’s Arco Iris travels down the rabbit hole to South America. Her speaker visits the graves we’ve helped dig, and the bright landscapes we’ve long mined for wonder. She tries to buy absolution in the market. She tries to buy a cup of coffee. Vap-Arco-Iris

She reminds us that we can’t tour history, which already owns us, and we can’t haggle our way out of bloodshed. Even the gentlest touch leaves a bruise, which bruise is all that keeps us from radically lonesome isolation.

Every last longing for human contact becomes an act of violence and each abject thing becomes a ghost that floats beside. This is the pact made by two people who have never wanted to be wrong or to think anything wrong. This is love, the chance to drown each other before we drown in the river.

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Believe the Hype: Rauan Klassnik's The Moon's Jaw

by on Mar.04, 2013

In the wound of a stabbed cosmos, Rauan Klassnik’s moon–kin to Plath’s moon bald and wild–bucks against despair. A melted copy of La jetée, the ashes of the cult of Diana, the live-dead fingernail, fragments from the holocausts that feed us. Scabbed————Lobsided——Cunning & Swift——, Klassnik is not afraid of the cinema. Anytime we devour the queen, we will be forced to vomit her back up, a clean saint out of our foaming mouths. A pretty swell in the music.

Moon's Jaw hi res Cover

We’re not afraid of the cinema. Which houses all our night-mares. We’re not afraid. Marble, Tequila, Rotted, Flapping. The myth of biological sex, the myth of biological stability [l]ike cathedral meat. Wrapped in a thin red towel.

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by on Mar.04, 2013



So a few nights ago I went to this bar in Bed Stuy where every time I go I have only the most ridiculous experience, even the time I went there for literally 15 minutes a few days before Halloween and ended up waking up the next morning having sent out a series of very well-composed 4 AM Facebook messages to my friends signed “Best, Carina Finn.”

Anyway I went the other night to hear Amy Lawless read at shitluck, which is the best and most fashionable reading series possibly in America right now, because I had never heard her read before but I have been drunk with her a few times. Her dress was really good and the skirt had this very in sort of flouncey thing happening. The poems she read were largely not from her forthcoming book, MY DEAD (which will be available for purchase from Octopus Books at AWP), and I liked that.

In the middle of her reading some guy was making a lot of noise taking money out of the ATM, which was right by the stage, and she called to him “How much are you taking out? $40 or $60?” to which the guy replied “$20” and the entire audience proceeded to sort of heckle the guy. Later, Amy justified the heckling by saying that someone who only takes $20 out of the ATM at such a bar is only looking out for themselves, and that’s messed up. I vowed that from that moment on I would read every book that Amy Lawless ever writes.


photo (10)

You should read this really good conversation between Amy and James Gen, in which there are a lot of really great sentiments like “Poetry is a way to live, a way to talk about the world, a way for shit to matter” and “Formal restraints are super fun.” Then you should go to the Octopus Books table at AWP and buy MY DEAD.

Oh, and should you be at a bar where La Lawless also is, buy her a drink with your ATM $$$.


photo (9)

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Believe the New Sensations: Salamun, Aase Berg, Peter Richards and the "Overjoy" of Poetry

by on Mar.04, 2013

“Imagine the sinhome not as figure but as ground: a potent, non-neutral ground, a giant stain. This would square well with the vaginal connotations of the sinthome, in patriarchy a wound that is also a space.” (Timothy Morton, Ecology Without Nature)

I’m reading Tomaz Salamun’s book On the Tracks of Wild Game (first published in the 70s in Slovenia, recently published in translation by Ugly Duckling). I fucking love this book. So weird and unsettling but beautiful:

I was pulled under water. I swam back to the surface
as a dark blue
gleaming blossom. It’s terrifying to be
a lower. The world came to a halt. I bloomed quietly
like velvet, as if forever.

(from Plato, Islam, Barnett Newman)

The poems are these volatile zones shot through with violence and tenderness, zones of transformation, ambient zones that takes over the reader, takes us in like “dark blue gleaming blossom.”



In his reading of Peter Richards’ Helsinki (Action Books, 2011) in Jacket2, “Devisable Matter and Sheer Overjoy” (great title), Christopher Condrich keeps emphasizing two elements: the sense of a placeless, volatile place and a near-narrative that is more the “vestiges of narrative” than a traditional narrative. Within the space set up in the poem, his reading “shapeshifts and morphs.” Continue reading “Believe the New Sensations: Salamun, Aase Berg, Peter Richards and the "Overjoy" of Poetry” »

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Believe the Hype: Gordon Massman's The Essential Number (1991-2008)

by on Mar.01, 2013

I have been thinking a lot about love and hate. I love love poetry, but I also love hate poetry. I suppose it has to do with the intensity of these feelings, the way the self is ruined by them, how they seem to generate proliferations, versions, repetitions.
A while back James wrote a post praising hate:

So much American poetry post-1950s has virtually outlawed hate. Or rather, anger and hate is allowed in slam poetry, but not in “literary” poetry, where such forces are often considered bad form. Tragedy is good. So is melancholy. So is a Marxist-Hegelian analysis of X and Y and Z, if you happen to be an experimental poet. But hate?

If I remember correctly, Lucas wrote a comment to that post suggesting how close love and hate are in Genet’s work, a correct observation for sure.

One of the great poets of hate, for whom hate might also be love is Gordon Massman, whose hatred seems to burn with a gem-like flame mostly reserved for love.

Here’s 1699 (and I feel like me even typing this is out is a piece of performance art in the emotional extremity of love and hatred):

“I have never loved anyone, not you Elizabeth, nor you Cynthia, nor you Betty Sue, I fucked you all but never loved you, I bought property with you but never loved, I fathered children with you but never loved, not you, not the babies, not the babies as teenagers or adults, I did not love Scottie that regal Afghan, Kimberly, I never loved you in your devotion, I invaded your body hundreds of times, ate you, watched you suck me, we came steady as pulses, but I did not love you, I usually stared abstractedly over your shoulder or relived some parental indiscretion or felt nothing but mechanical pleasure, friction, buildup, climax, to the dozens of women I sampled but rejected, hope was never yours, I presented you the illusion of loving you but I did not, I wanted to but did not, aware of others awaiting my seduction I dumped you with small remorse, like a fly bite it hurt, I recorded in poems like this indictment, it should not have surprised when the guillotine dropped, I am fifty-seven, bald, gray, appreciably fit, gelled, and suspect I shall die without bestowing love, women I am incapable of loving, men I despise, a concentrated emotion: I hate men, I hated their shoes, I hate their cellphones, Continue reading “Believe the Hype: Gordon Massman's The Essential Number (1991-2008)” »

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