by Feng Sun Chen on Nov.16, 2012
[ I am reading “A Carnal Shitstorm of Affections.” The cover looks like a tomato based stew and I want to eat it, but it is actually a petri dish with agar, festering with bacteria and fungus growing on and from Aaron App’s nail clippings, which nourish them, and I begin to eat it. Am I the agar, the nails, or the bacteria, or the microscope that is looking at it? Is the poetry the agar, the nails, or the bacteria, or the microscope or the person who put the nails in the agar or the person who clipped the nails, or the person who touches fingers beneath the nails and lies encrusted on the clippings? Reading this carnal shitstorm, I think about the way a poem is an ecosystem of dirt and cells and oil that smells kind of like cheese or butt crack. It is the exposure of a dark space between folds of a sensitive organ like the skin to air and light, the nasal and intellectual membranes of the perceiver. These lines grow as dense and complex as microbes on agar, via the fertile crescent of a moment as small, sad, and dirty as a nail clipping, the ungerminated seed that germinates the environment around it instead. I look closer and the microbes are actually a field of tiny cocks. I see that these cocks are infused by aesthetic philosophy and hip hop. I see that Nicki Minaj is bouncing and peeing with these cocks. I look closer and I see industry. I see tiny factories. I see that these factories are words. I see the failure that reflects the flaccid, diseased and swelling cocks of the industrialized world, of which I am a part of, through which I see and feel the tiny oars of App’s technically amazing poetic lines flick tiny crumbs from his navel, stinging my cornea. I feel and see that these flicked morsels are microscopic sympathetic somatic pains. There is vigor in how Apps’s agar medium bubbles forth helpless, nerve-filled tumors of language, a kind of tangle that I cannot describe but by being vulgarly infected by it. The math here is tender. Almost mushroom-like the toxic line decays the corpse of the body-politic and sprouts from it. Underneath the noise of decay there is silence. The sound of a void somewhere through this fluid-filled cancer, subjectivity fucking an O, another hole, which turns into itself, the Ape/App(s) which is a body of quotes grown from other bodies and chunks and proliferates. I am sad and ecstatic. Why am I thinking of the garden of Eden? It grows in you. Sometimes I am almost revolted but I feel infatuated, which becomes the same thing, guts and bubbles and waste. Now I know it is the same pain, I feel beauty. I am eating and drinking this shit in the storm and it eats me in everything. Light, feel-sight, “the liver a moth” and “at the base of the navel the whole irrational system blows
out into tubular microbes, not up.” ]
The above is an excessive blurb I wrote that was mostly not included in the marketing of Aaron App’s book, whose title was changed to Compos(t) Mentis to offer a more appropriately avant-garde texture. But it is still a lovely carnal shitstorm of affections. I have been trying to do a review of it for months now. It’s been festering in my body, and I have been feeling it in relationship to many other books/bodies and readings I’ve done. Now I will attempt to note some of the traces they leave in my water.
by Feng Sun Chen on May.28, 2012
by Feng Sun Chen on May.13, 2012
A Double Encountering with Forslar Fett (trans.fer fat Johannes Gorranson from the Aase Berg)
by the Yeasty Beasts ( Feng Carrie Sun Lorig Chen)
In this rear-view, a conversation without facing, a pain cattle lorig and I, an immigratingrendel, will grind our “human cylindars” (a la Danielle Pafunda) up to the transfer fat and descriptfat will transfer through our fear, Hal living inside all of us, afraid shapes, fear being the first.
Hal: hal has a face that has been grim maced. he is a robot with a bruise drink. dashes grip to wire and dare god. dare god with fat.
7. Fordon: ForsakenHal the beginning of ignorant psychoanalysis. Psychoanalysis be gan primordial stew died soon after flow fat.
7. Fordon: white machines have tender beast feet. they further chest me. out through my back drops an idle paw, an idle jaw.
9. Unborn Fat: Not personification equal feeling the calm/caul what shapes us. Hal has no mother. My bellybutton has Hal.
9. Unborn Fat: dead lava. dead red tunnels filled with hares startling each other by slowly erupting quiver.
11. In the Hare Cosmos: Being born the ear of the Rabbit am always velve-teen and pray.
11. In the Hare Cosmos: a fish covered in lucky hare feet knocks into the water.
13. Let Time Rock: calm time is nutting but agriculture of skull shard.
13. Let Time Rock: the fat gets into the rocks. it swells into yeastie beasts.
i’m your mommal
by Feng Sun Chen on May.07, 2012
Hi everyone, I haven’t posted in a long while because I have been feeling dead inside, but the conversation about Skin Horse and the Velveteen Rabbit, which I just read for the first time today, has made something come alive in me… or I should say, is helping me become Real.
This is more about the Velveteen Rabbit’s Skin Horse because my Skin Horse is still in the mail, on its way to me.
I’ve got a very soft spot for robots and puppets and all manner of the uncanny, almost-human, probably because I personally feel only almost-human most of the time, in terms of “legitimacy” or whatever it is that makes people inflated and not deflated. On the other hand, the monstrous and the rejected, while not quite human, are just as often, if not simultaneously, too human. They feel too much pain. Not enough thickness to the skin.
Re-quoting the Velveteen Rabbit from the comments:
“What is REAL?” asked the Rabbit one day, when they were lying side by side near the nursery fender, before Nana came to tidy the room. “Does it mean having things that buzz inside you and a stick-out handle?”
“Real isn’t how you are made,” said the Skin Horse. “It’s a thing that happens to you. When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.”
“Does it hurt?” asked the Rabbit.
“Sometimes,” said the Skin Horse, for he was always truthful. “When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.”
“Does it happen all at once, like being wound up,” he asked, “or bit by bit?”
“It doesn’t happen all at once,” said the Skin Horse. “You become. It takes a long time. That’s why it doesn’t happen often to people who break easily, or have sharp edges, or who have to be carefully kept. Generally, by the time you are Real, most of your hair has been loved off, and your eyes drop out and you get loose in the joints and very shabby. But these things don’t matter at all, because once you are Real you can’t be ugly, except to people who don’t understand.”
In order to be Real, one can’t be too fragile (break easily) or too offensive (sharp edges). Is the Young Girl a velveteen animal too fragile and offensive to be Real? I’m thinking about Kate Durbin’s performance as Girl, Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl, and the innumerable tumblr girls who bleed their wrists and glitter gifs.
The ever expanding period of pubescence (when will it end?) seems like a waiting-to-become… the offensive gaudiness of girl plus kitsch plus desire for love, “excessive beauty” that sheds, regenerates, and sheds is a continual skinning under the Gaze, some kind of Gaze which will not make her real, (because it is an objectifying or restrictive one), adult or patriarchal or tumblr-al, I don’t know.
“love might be real”
When you are Real you don’t mind being hurt.
Continue reading “Love makes Real, Velve-teen Rabbits” »
by Feng Sun Chen on Apr.11, 2012
I feel that one does not need to have read Ghosts to understand a question such as “who or what are ghosts?”
1. Who or what are the ghosts?
Here are a few thoughts:
One easy answer is “time.” This connects Aira’s Ghosts to many of my favorite time machines. The Ghosts here, however, are not come back from the dead (time cannot come back from the dead). They function for most of the novel or construction as almost decorative elements, and I feel that they are specific to the unfinished, gaping state of the building, which does not reach “completion” by the end of the book with Patri’s death. What does it mean for time to be decorative? Or what does it mean for unfinished-ness to be decorative? For time to be decorative, perhaps one must be constantly looking backwards, relaxing, stepping away.
The humor of the book is gentle, like the ghosts, who loiter, drift, and float, covered in cement dust, all white and without skintone. They are harmless, and no one pays attention to them. Aira’s satire manages to be avoid an air of judgment, someone pulls on a ghost’s penis and lets it snap back. Ghosts serve as the hands of a clock, which stretch, they serve as the detachment or dissociation of Patri and the narrator’s in relation or anti-relation to the building of the book. Neither interior nor exterior, they are the detachment, the popping of the bubble.
Those who are not ghosts are also ghosts, because the ghosts are treated, just as the human are, as facts or facets of the environment.
I once loved a person with “depersonalization disorder” which I think is a fancy phrase for ghost. Someone with actual DD has recurring out of body experiences, and literally watch themselves go through the world without real “sentiment” or investment.
Patri is not an easy case of existentialism. Nor is she someone with DD. She is, like the others, very much embedded in her being, which is embedded in her family’s desires, her environment, her own questions. Her internal life is material, external. The only thing outside of her irritating fate is the ghost’s party. If the ghosts are an expression of time, Patri does not want to experience time by passing through it, but she would rather be interior with it, inside, one with the ghosts themselves. What does this mean? I don’t know.
by Feng Sun Chen on Feb.25, 2012
“Similar to Collaborators there is no option for beauty or redemption in this novel. There is also a similar notion of Hell in this novel—which seems to be a depth within the self when one casts off traditional ethics and aesthetics (the way a female body has to go when it realizes that the structures in place are hopelessly inequitable and patriarchal; ethics and aesthetics being controlled and defined by patriarchal structures). But, beyond Hell, Lispector’s novel also has an idea of God, which functions to dissolve the self such that it can go forward in the world. This move seems different. [ . . . ]…it seems like the character in The Passion According to G.H. seems to push past the voices in both of the novels we read and into a point of reconfiguration (a point where she can’t use many words since most words are infected with what she can no longer say). Even with the mother in Collaborators with her goddess like presence, it is implicit that she learned most of her feminist (goddess) ways from correspondence. The character in Lispector’s novel has an encounter with a cockroach (which might be a kind of sounding board, but it isn’t one that can talk back) and delves into the ooze that is inside of her and then proceeds out into the world with a sense of being oozy.”
by Feng Sun Chen on Feb.22, 2012
The trombone becomes a trumpet becomes a shofar, the horn of a dead animal, in the interstice of translation.
Here is the poem in english:
THE SHOFAR PLACE
Deep in the glowing
at torch height,
in the timehole:
hear deep in
with your mouth.
by Feng Sun Chen on Feb.19, 2012
I must think too much. Silence worth more than a pretty tinkling urine charm
made of petroleum
and more than what I can say about any one of my brilliant mothers
under whom I writhe and cry out my written memories given to me by boys.
In some way, I think it describes how I have felt as a writer since the beginning, in college, when I wrote the poems in Butcher’s Tree. Heritage was and is still something I have a strange, or estranged, relationship with. Should it matter that the figures that kept appearing were figures of classical “western” mythology, and why did it grate on me to see names like Sun Wukong in my poetry? Continue reading “Thoughts leading to Grendel and the Little Mermaid” »
by Feng Sun Chen on Jan.08, 2012
On January 7th, 1972, John Berryman jumped off the Washington avenue bridge at the University of Minnesota campus to his death.
Lucas de Lima and I visited the bridge, which we often cross mindlessly, and watched a potato make ripples in the water in homage to Berryman:
He wrote once, “It seems to be dark all the time. / I have difficulty walking.”
It reminded me of Justine of Melancholia, who was frightened of her inability to “walk right.”
They sank into dark earth.
Recently, a friend sent me a quote from a Dylan Thomas letter. The following is excerpted from her email:
“This is from a 1934 letter in which he takes up the voices of several people including a bumpkin poetess, and a tramway union (?) but this, as far as I can tell, is back in his own voice:
Some sweet little child will develop a sore throat one of these days, or suddenly his lung will break up like a plate (not a Bell plate.) So much for the carnivorous. One day I shall undoubtedly turn into a potato. You won’t like me then. And, on that day of Transformation, I certainly shan’t like you, salt rasher of bacon!” Continue reading “Berryman, the despair of” »
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 Feng Sun Chen on Dec.01, 2011
I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I want to eat,
I don’t care whom (Hiromi Ito)
In both its vulnerability and annihilation, the potato resists nothing.
Through a gaze that is, simultaneously, self and other, the potato shatters us: before our ensconced pupils, uncanny eyes blink open and sprout. To become-potato is to become what we see, smell, hear, and taste–or to act on the hunger of yellow, ferocious videogame stars. As that which triggers and sustains the poet’s all-consuming cannibalism, the potato gorges on dotted lines. Just as Mr. and Ms. Pac-Man must eventually devour one another, our pockmarked crop makes opposites feed off each other. As earthlings, we find ourselves lovingly eating the sky.
The star will consume the star whose every twinkle is a blink of memory (Edmond Jabès)
When we begin becoming-potato, we anticipate the silence of the earth until it cries. We feel the necropastoral decay that supersaturates the ground. Suddenly, the mute shadows of untimely, unruly bodies scream, and we hear this angelic shrieking despite our godlessness. The potatoesque erupts as an exercise in extreme empathy, in baring our cheek, in rolling over to flash our private parts at you, chthonic and celestial parasites.
Can you smell her burning fur? (Bhanu Kapil)
A blind, asexual stem tuber, the potato expands as a rhizome. Its surface is a field of eyes or nodes. While blind, these eyes are sensate, part of a field of compost teeming with writhing, blood-stained worms. Each node opens a threshold for further feeding on decay, a portal through which tiny revolts breach out.
This occult, (non)uterine (non)motherhood is the chorus of a thousand tiny sexes (as in Grosz’s feminism of rhizomatics).
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! (Aaron Apps)
Unlike poetics aimed at (hybrid) synthesis or (straight) futurity or (mere) resignification, the potatoesque embraces queer and constant mutation, reproduction, and synesthetic consumption. By occupying the black of censored lines–the shameful, hysterical symptoms of our infected bodies–our famine-ending orb speaks through and against capitalist realism’s ideological and material garbage.
What the potatoesque thwarts, as the heart of Anything and Everything, is legibility.
As the text sucks into itself sky, seagull, and surface as well as depth, landfill, and ground, we kiss and become its unnamable mush. We give ourselves to all potato cries.
by Feng Sun Chen on Nov.15, 2011
Continue reading “synesthetic rather than Surreal, humility rather than Mastery” »
by Feng Sun Chen on Nov.03, 2011
I figured out where the phrase “human bean” came from–Lorraine Neidecker! Thanks, LN. I hope to someday read your collected works.
In my research into the life of beans (or things with bean-ness) I have been trying to find connection between myself and plant-life. I have gotten as far as the worm. In previous entries on my blog, I have written about the practice of humility as a poetics. A teacher I once had brought compost to class and told us about her time spent with her face in the fresh black humus. We smelled the compost and let the earth particles into our lungs. I didn’t see any worms, but I thought about the wormhood that must have produced the mould.
Sidenote: In practices of some types of shamanism, exorcisms involve “poisoning” the possessed with herbs. This often killed intestinal worms, so in the scientific way of looking at it, the body was healed when the worms were destroyed. It’s interesting to consider how to empathize or understand certain shamanistic practices, because it is so difficult to think of toxic convulsions as anything other than sickness. I’m reminded of the scene in True Bloodwhen Terra gets exorcised but later tries to attack the witch because the exorcism was a hoax–she was fed poison and hallucinated her demon. When I was a kid in Singapore in primary school, we were given small pink tablets to eat and these would eliminate worms, if we had any. Two of my friends have had worms. One had benign worms, the other had worms that caused emaciation. One described seeing worms in the toilet as an intense experience of shame. Worms are a symbol of shame. If you call someone a worm, you are calling them a coward, unfit, disgusting, etc.
During conversation with some poet friends, the worm came up as my “spirit animal”. The worm has 7 hearts and is hermaphroditic.