Monday, December 29, 2008


Me & 2666. When I'm home and not sitting in a cafe procrastinating, I'll post some quotes that have caught my ear/mind. But I just had to say it: we're BFFs. This book rocks my world.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Orderly bankruptcy vs. Disorderly collapse

In this NYTimes article I was struck (as I often am) by the use of language. In this case, it's the antistasis that strikes a chord. Usually the propaganda machine is pretty good at producing distinct difference-- you know, Hope(TM) vs. McSame, or Maverick(TM) vs. Palling Around With Terrorists-- or more significantly, words like insurgent, terrorist, enemy combatant, instead of troops, soldiers, or even something simple like 'fighters' (maybe in fear of any echo of 'freedom'?). But here, the propaganda machine seems as lost as the rest of the country. But here it's just X Bankruptcy vs. Dis-X Collapse. And when you get right down to it, that's not the most inspirational choice of words, any more than it is the most inspirational choice.

O for the days when nothing was an option!

Saturday, November 29, 2008

Books variously...

making me happy / blowing my mind, the latest (per Tami's request!):

1) 2666. After Savage Detectives, the first novel I'd maybe ever read that was written like poets write, Bolano became my new favorite novelist. This one's a beast. 200 pages in (of what, 900+?), it makes me feel good about writing.

2) Bird & Forest, Brent Cunningham. I know, this one's a few years old now, but I found it in a used book store in Mountain View (!) then read it on the train while on a field trip with 42 8th graders. It's a sweet book, wandery.

3) Picture Palace, Stephanie Young.

and the other newbie from ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni:

4) Action Kylie, Kevin Killian.

These two are too new for me to have a complete sense of them yet, but I've been enjoying the process. & ingirumimusnocteetcomsumimurigni is the only press out there that only publishes poetry that I care about. That's not a surprise to anyone, but I'm glad they're out there.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Q: What happens when...

a contest with three winners has only four entries?

A: I get a free book.

I'll take Anne Boyer's The Romance of Happy Workers, thank you much.

Monday, November 3, 2008

On the sudden, and the unaccountable

Dave Kehr's on over at the Paper of Record about the Curious Case of Benjamin Button.

What catches my attention are the first two paragraphs:

GROWING old is a subject American movies have largely avoided since the 1980s, when the commercial triumphs of Steven Spielberg and George Lucas made it clear that there was money to be made in never-never land — that world of the adolescent imagination where no one ever matures and death exists only as a punch line. It surely means something that Leo McCarey’s 1937 “Make Way for Tomorrow,” the most deeply moving Hollywood film about old age, has never been released on DVD in the United States and has not been seen on television in many years.

But suddenly and unaccountably, here is “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button,” a big-budget studio film, set to open Christmas Day, whose central theme is human mortality, a theme the film explores using the same special effects technology, now extended into the digital realm, that American movies have used for so long to keep us trapped in perpetual childhood.

In the 1980s, there was no death. Just like there was no society, see-- neoliberalism arching its back in the morning of a new day. What Kehr is recording is ideology-- which states that the current state is the natural and final state of human existence. The only end (or death) possible was the end of history.

But if history is not over, crises are neither sudden nor unaccountable. The question is not, then, where does this sudden willingness to talk about death come from, but rather: what does the system gain by considering its mortality?

I'd label it a production of a kind of false consciousness, whereby the average world citizen is convinced that the death of the system is in fact equal to their own death.

Which is to say, Mr. Kehr is just parroting the ideology of today as blindly as he is that of the 1980s.

As my friend Jane Dark once so eloquently put it, file under critics not doing their job.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Symbol management

Presidential campaigns are big machines built to try and direct information flows. Managing symbols, from slogans to hair cuts to flag pins. The people that are interpellated by these campaigns find themselves part of the information flow-- dems using the phrase 'erratic' or repubs saying Obama is 'inexperienced' or 'a terrorist' are just the little pictures that all together make a big picture, part of the collage of symbols being managed. The campaigns work hard to make sure the symbol projects a kind of coherence.

So it's interesting to run into pictures like this one, from, which seems strangely incoherent in its deployment of 'plumbers' below the Obama mask, next to the Palin:

Perhaps it's just a reminder that there remains some distance between people and symbols, that information, like life, is always resistant even at its most administered.

Which is a little bit like saying yes, there's a reason to write poetry.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Worth noting

My bank got bought by your bank.

Still, mentioning Dick Cheney does not a political poem make.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Fin de cycle?

Jasper Bernes & Joshua Clover are both wondering about endings, of late. JB thinks maybe we can put an end date on Neoliberalism, which most days would be reason to do a little jig. JC sees us trying to buy apocalypse-insurance.

Alas, none of it's good news. But really, who had plans for the future anyway?

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Fired up

Staples+ducttape+spraypaint+awesome poetry = W+S #2. I'm proud, I'm excited.

Monday, September 15, 2008

'Mass culture is unadorned make-up'

"What TV is extremely good at - and realize that this is "all it does" - is discerning what large numbers of people think they want, and supplying it." - David Foster Wallace

I might prefer 'determining' over 'discerning,' having a different sense of the subject/object relationship in play.

Nevertheless, his obit runs in the entertainment section of the Culture Industry's daily.

And so it goes.

Friday, September 12, 2008

On the definition of art...

The tattoo on Steiner's back has been sold for almost $215,000 to a collector who has the right to remove it after he dies. Delvoye says bluntly that this is one yardstick that makes the tattoo an artwork, rather than just another tattoo.

"It's art because it got sold," Delvoye says.

To compare:

"To me," he said recently, in a rare interview, "once money changes hands for art, it becomes a fraudulent activity."

Monday, July 21, 2008

Welcome note

links to online works; thoughts on poetics; dissertation effluvia; etc.