Tuesday, 30 May 2000

From "Critique of the Gotha Programme"

By Marx.

For example, the social working day consists of the sum of the individual hours of work; the individual labor time of the individual producer is the part of the social working day contributed by him, his share in it. He receives a certificate from society that he has furnished such-and-such an amount of labor (after deducting his labor for the common funds); and with this certificate, he draws from the social stock of means of consumption as much as the same amount of labor cost. The same amount of labor which he has given to society in one form, he receives back in another.
Here, obviously, the same principle prevails as that which regulates the exchange of commodities, as far as this is exchange of equal values. Content and form are changed, because under the altered circumstances no one can give anything except his labor, and because, on the other hand, nothing can pass to the ownership of individuals, except individual means of consumption. But as far as the distribution of the latter among the individual producers is concerned, the same principle prevails as in the exchange of commodity equivalents: a given amount of labor in one form is exchanged for an equal amount of labor in another form.

Hence, equal right here is still in principle -- bourgeois right, although principle and practice are no longer at loggerheads, while the exchange of equivalents in commodity exchange exists only on the average and not in the individual case.

In spite of this advance, this equal right is still constantly stigmatized by a bourgeois limitation. The right of the producers is proportional to the labor they supply; the equality consists in the fact that measurement is made with an equal standard, labor.

But one man is superior to another physically, or mentally, and supplies more labor in the same time, or can labor for a longer time [...]

From "Critique of the Gotha Programme"

By Marx.

Thirdly, the conclusion: "Useful labor is possible only in society and through society, the proceeds of labor belong undiminished with equal right to all members of society."

A fine conclusion! If useful labor is possible only in society and through society, the proceeds of labor belong to society -- and only so much therefrom accrues to the individual worker as is not required to maintain the "condition" of labor, society.

In fact, this proposition has at all times been made use of by the champions of the state of society prevailing at any given time. First comes the claims of the government and everything that sticks to it, since it is the social organ for the maintenance of the social order; then comes the claims of the various kinds of private property, for the various kinds of private property are the foundations of society, etc. One sees that such hollow phrases are the foundations of society, etc. One sees that such hollow phrases can be twisted and turned as desired.

From "Commons"

By Sean Bonney.

o knowledge,
mere sophistication & wicked abuse,
census & the police computer.

Monday, 29 May 2000

From "Theory of the Avant Garde"

By Peter Bürger.

To formulate more pointedly: the neo-avant-garde institutionalizes the avant-garde as art, and thus negates genuinely avant-gardiste intentions. This is true independently of the consciousness artists may have of their activity, a consciousness that may perfectly well be avant-gardiste. It is the status of their products, not the consciousness artists have of their activity, that defines the social effect of works. Neo-avant-gardiste art is autonomous art in the full sense of the term, which means that it negates the avant-gardiste intention of returning art to the praxis of life. And the efforts to sublate art become artistic manifestations that, despite their producers' intentions, take on the character of works of art.

Thursday, 25 May 2000

From "Mass Hysteria at the Royal Free"

By Andrea Brady.

You swore by the fringe of the tractor shed
to be careful. Taking your companion
by the neck by the shirt skimmed her like a sail.

From "The Elementary Forms of Religious Life"

By Emile Durkheim.

At the roots of all our judgments there are a certain number of essential ideas which dominate all our intellectual life; they are what philosophers since Aristotle have called the categories of the understanding: ideas of time, space, class, number, cause, substance, personality, etc. They correspond to the most universal properties of things. They are like the solid frame which encloses all thought: this does not seem to be able to liberate itself from them without destroying itself, for it seems that we cannot think of objects that are not in time and space, which have no number, etc. Other ideas are contingent and unsteady; we can conceive of them being unknown to a man, a society or an epoch; but these others appear to be nearly inseparable from the normal working of the intellect. They are like the framework of the intelligence. Now when primitive religious beliefs are systematically analyzed, the principle categories are naturally found. They are born in religion and of religion; they are a product of religious thought. This is a statement we are going to have occasion to make many times in the course of this work.

Tuesday, 23 May 2000

From a song on Resonance FM

By Diary.

The lawyer looked at me sharply.
You demonstrate leadership, Rennie.
In different company, you would be a dangerous friend.

From "Zwitschermaschine"

By John Wilkinson.

The world it presides over buckles & your forename

becomes a surname for one who stakes your humanity
on a broken voice. The webs shrivel to grains of dirt,
but how their structures haunt! As gibberish they
worry your lover during the night but fully reassemble
when you clock in, & into them you burrow to be
delivered to a committee room as previously appointed.

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

Benveniste uncovers the falsity of commonplace theories of rhythm that derive its meaning from a Greek verb ρειν (‘to flow’) that gave rise to the abstract noun ρυθμος on the model of the repetitive breaking of waves onto the shore. On the contrary, Benveniste argued, careful textual analysis reveals that the origin of the term is really in a word meaning ‘form in the instant that it is assumed by what is moving, mobile and fluid, the form of that which does not have organic consistency; it fits the pattern of a fluid element, of a letter arbitrarily shaped, of a robe which one arranges at one’s will, of a particular state of character or mood. It is the form as improvised, momentary, changeable’ (Benveniste, Problems in General Linguistics, trans. Mary Elizabeth Meek (UMP: Coral Gables, 1971), pp.285-6). Meschonnic takes up this idea and extends its significance to a major critique of all theories of the sign as the basis for a science of language in favour of a theory of discourse. Meschonnic thus defines ‘rhythm’ as that which ‘governs meaning’ as ‘the continuous movement of [Meschonnic’s technical term] signifiance constructed by the historical activity of a subject’. And ‘rhythm in language [is] the organization of marks by which linguistic signifieds (especially in the case of oral communication) produce a special semantic meaning’; signifiance, which is to say ‘the values proper to a discourse and only one’ (Critique du rythme, p. 216).

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

[…] while Meschonnic’s position might be likened to some poststructuralist positions, he goes much further in arguing that the dialectic between the social and the individual operates fully in both directions, and in such a way that it can never be resolved. Equally, historicity doesn’t mean either the absolute break with the past, implied in many conceptions of the contemporary, nor the pale historicism that would make everything simply a product of its time. Historicity, is properly speaking, then, the form of interaction between a subject and its situation […]

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

Poetry is essential to this critique of the sign, because it has always been its weak point. It is the ‘weak link’ in traditional theory because it is the form of discourse where it is most difficult to disguise what Meschonnic calls the signifiant (what might otherwise be called the ‘signifier’) by reducing it to the formality of the dual pair sign-sense.

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

[...] relates to Meschonnic’s conviction that epic, with its close etymological connexion to voice, is present in all genuine poetry as its fundamental historicity […]

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

By Piers Hugill.

Meschonnic’s poetry itself aims to be an oral poetics in the sense that he gives this term (i.e. neither of the order of the textual or the spoken, but at the site where these two are inextricably linked in textual and performative embodiment, itself a form of critique of thought).

From "Introduction to Henri Meschonnic – For a Poetics of Rhythm"

By Piers Hugill.

For Meschonnic, critique is the historicity of theory (see CR), and as such it is both inherently a critique of the sign, which is in turn a critique of what he calls, after Horkheimer, traditional theory. Critique, then, is what refuses mastery, the status quo, and the maintenance of order; it is that which constitutes an adventure into the unknown, the unfinished, the unreachable, and therefore a movement towards knowledge, rather than the description of a knowledge. Also of significance here is the insistence with which Meschonnic distinguishes critique from polemic. For him polemic is the practice that stems from the Sophists (and Socrates, interestingly), an attempt to silence or subdue an opponent, rather than the opening up to thought that critique implies, and which his Talmudic seminar, in particular, embodies.

Monday, 22 May 2000

From "The Honolulu Advertiser"

DOES READING ABOUT RUMSFELD'S EVASIVE USE OF LANGUAGE CONNECT TO TINFISH'S EMPHASIS ON LANGUAGE POETRY, WHICH IS OFTEN RESISTANT TO INTERPRETATION?

Rumsfeld wants to get people off his scent so he can do things. The poetry in Tinfish is the scent, you could say — it's really trying to get you deep into a cultural moment or political moment, or just into how language works. That's why I find Rumsfeld so spooky, and why I think Tinfish is so necessary.

From "Dio-Calm"

By Robin Purves.

Shit with many a ròd nan cliar (anchorage of poets)
Shit (cheery) with birds
Shit thin and sharp and small
Shit (of wrinkled snout) like a badger
Shit like the two halves of a muffin
Shit every river in Scotland
Shit, cromadh, at all Scotland below us
Shit a glimpse of England down below
Shit nowhere more than in Scotland here
Shit Scotland! The Golden Eagle
Shit the elements of its complex history
Shit the New Scotland; fion gà leigeadh
Shit the rest of the universe dh'aon ghath
Shit the lines on the palm of my hand
Shit my own nature that for a while gave way

From the 1844 Manuscripts

By Karl Marx.

It is true that labour produces marvels for the rich, but it produces privation for the worker. It produces palaces, but hovels for the worker. It produces beauty, but deformity for the worker.

From a list post

By Peter Riley.

[...] the metrical scheme (pentameters and the like) if it is valid at all is essentially prior to the text and cannot serve as a reader's description of the music of the line [...]

Sunday, 21 May 2000

From "The NWRA"

By The Fall.

The Business Friend came round today,
with teeth clenched, he grabbed my neck,
I threw them to the ground,
his blue shirt stained red,
the North will rise again.

From "The Rhyme of Alcool"

By Marianne Morris.

OK, they are innocent. You need to have compassion. At last, / It is the only thing you can think of doing / With your mouth, and then I’ll take the punk’s ho. Switchy-flip. Nate! / Wholefoods, then the salami bake. My body rigid with tears, I just / Couldn’t fucking take it any more, Apollinaire. Latin fetish. Terribly / The night in a bar, crow bar, reflexive crow bar. Diminishing need, that’s / What you want to avoid. Crip. Vent. Noxious olive perfume, $24.99. / Oh that dollar sign just cheapens everything. Make it £24.99 and they’ll believe it. / Muff. Pedalo. Hopefully you think you used to know about things but / You were wrong, totally wrong. Religion is the only new religion. Barf. /Chipotle and Glaxo Wellcome BOTH have a museum. Fact. / Everyone else is just completely wrong, but you have to love them because / It’s the way you know. Hmm, let’s see now, Where to shove the Imperials? / BLESS. Tiff. .gif PEDALO. His heart is a beautiful thing, but not / Because it is his PER SE but not because it is something out of love or nothing or jujubes but because / Gilette. Up wipes the blade. $24.99. He fucked / The entire share price. To £10.89 a fucking share, yeah! Hub! / This is stupid. / The entire thing is stupid. So meated into stupidity that flames / Come out. Lick lick lick. Just forget about skin. Forget about everything. / Take a wife and leave. Retire. Inject prisms into bystanders via the internet, that’s fine. / It’s how all the big players are doing it, / feeling funky. Lemon6. Kiwi8. Nebulae. Farce falls faster than bullets / Not that we are going to make a paste of talking hash about those, Nestor. / Don’t forget to invite Nate to the pin-up dragon-ball. This is fine / For fish but they don’t need to drink water, don’t need to appeal to anybody, / Don’t need to mind their speech, don’t need to fuck, don’t—THINK OF THAT. / THAT LAST ONE. FUCK. It is retarded to imagine that by splicing two obstreperously / Opposed nouns together you will make a lengua cambiada (e.g. “tongueditch”). Okay. That’s ok, / That’s groaning and enveloping. A HUGE PORTION OF MEAT AND VEGETABLES / HAS BEEN STACKED UP IN THE REQUISITE AREAS AND WILL / BE SOLD. HOW DO YOU / REPAIR A FRACTURE. DO YOU NEED TO BE / HELD. ARE YOUR FINGERNAILS / OKAY. Lemon, melon, whatever. It’s all the same to me. I don’t want to talk to you about it because it’s too painful, punky. Make love to me or die. Don’t / Forget to remove yourself from the alabaster thing of choice. A line / Break. Drastically vituperative states. Alongside lemons. HELP. / Gooooood, sweetie, now all you have to do [...]

From "On the third day, Joe rose again"

By Marianne Morris.

The light ever-changing proof changeling. Walk
into ownership willing fist open locks
(begging) shut them fast oh
depth proffered, never more alive
than on the edge of collapse
from the remembered state into the union-
idealised state, we are addicted to something
all right, just look at the oppression of beef.

From "in the empire of solid Escape"

By Bill Drennan.

there was a restrictive formula crisis around
that time:
baseness among the liberators;
the same dull round of
self-investment
negotiated in the changing winds
which some accorded divine

i remember the germs as they
fell to my face with
elaborate appetite -
an ornery gloating which
called for some emotion [...]

From "the scrivener's scrotologist"

By Bill Drennan.

for as an ancient race conceded:
it will simply shoot out of the spine

From "sunlust"

By Bill Drennan.

i find a bro
ken star in her navel
indicating [...]

From "sunlust"

By Bill Drennan.

i lift open a nipple in
sert amphetamines

From "sunlust"

By Bill Drennan.

celestia i
go down on you let me
tell you about celestia

From "sunlust"

By Bill Drennan.

[...]he whispers anti
matter itself stops listens & [...]

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

And one need not get very close to these ideas to detect a whiff of the cassock.

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

Since the upheavels of 1968 the forces of life have gradually become more distinguishable from what had once corrupted them. All that was needed was for a few individuals to begin wondering why they were in such a hurry to reach a place they could never get to.

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

Before long, large numbers of people began to question their tendency to sacrifice the pleasure of being themselves for the paltry rewards of wealth and power.

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

The more we seemed locked into the mechanical gestures imposed on us since childhood, the more we became convinced of some indescribable, barely fathomable, luxuriance that can only be called life -- to distinguish it from survival, its economic, and economized form [...] It is clear, too, that life usually ends precisely because it has never begun (which most people only recognise in their last moments) [...]

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

[...] the kind of fulfillment that comes when the heart learns to extract from the uncertain or the unknown a quintessence of love that allows these circumstances to somehow seem favorable [...]

From "The Movement of the Free Spirit"

By Raoul Vaneigem.

No one looks back any farther than his or her present. No previous era, however clouded by its own unavoidable confusions, has more successfully propagated the idea that everything rides on the present moment.

What can be learned from the past which is not already implicit in the very act of contemplating it?

Friday, 19 May 2000

From "Turkish Delights"

by Steph Elestro.

realizing some things cannot be eaten
is still not the path back to Eden.

Thursday, 18 May 2000

a note on uk poetry (1/66)

Were it possible to list all the illustrious poets who have occupied the station of English Poet Laureate, the list, & its laurels in their glitter, would be endless: from the fabulous Gulielmus Peregrinus, to Geoffrey Chaucer, to proto-rapper John Skelton, to Edmund Spenser, who invented poetry, to no less than William Wordsworth, Lord Tennyson, John Betjeman, and, yet in the memory of those living, the riddling, and cancer-riddled, Ted Hughes. One thing is missing in this list: women. The Irish are also missing (although Spenser among others is Irish): principled paddy Seamus Heaney famously turned down the job, after Hughes learning of his death offered it to him, which fell into the unprepared but plucky lap of Andrew Motion. How the mighty have fallen. Now, as Motion winds down his career of hits and misses, predominantly, I believe later, of the latter, the politicking, the poetomachia – “a knife-fight in a post-box” – begins. Who will triumph? In Scotland the equivalent post is the makar, currently held by poet and professor, Edwin Morgan.

The battle lines are clear. On one hillside are the hard traditionalists, led by Simon Armitage. Facing them in bright array are the avant garde, choking out bloodthirsty foams to the tuneful rhetoric and “chance procedures” of J. H. Prynne and his followers. Can Prynne or one of his pantheon secure the grandeur against the favourite Armitage? These are titans, their jaws crowns. Some days they eat the bear, some days they fancy a bit of mountain lion.

But in the third valley between, or no-man’s land, there are a few who belong to neither camp. At first glance, they seem short for their height. This is the New Labour of poetry, the unlikely ragtag alliance of the syncretic polemicists, the mercurial controversialists, the pacificists and the pluralists, and all those who care about poems and poets, more than about some thing called “poetry” – they are the nomads, the refugees. From the gently populist postmodernism of Don Paterson and Craig Raine, to the spellbinding and versatile spells of very old and bell-sounding comi-tragedian Geoffrey Hill, to the immensely talented very young who don’t give a **** about poetry and do it anyway, seeing it as a continuation of music or of fun, and tend to operate in groups in a similar but far safer way to what they do on streets and in transport, or even to the ever-pluralist and tolerant wit of Carol-Anne Duffy and her family that support her. Is it audacious to suggest that this, this eclectic band of underdogs and eccentrics, this rough-and-tumble mish-mash, losers to some, to others, heroes, is where our true poetry lies?

The poetry establishment – either one – won’t agree with me. They’re more interested in sharpening their halberds and phantasizing about their epic clash that never happens than in those poets who don’t fit neatly into it. But I’m not interested in characterising the essence of traditionalism or the avant garde for all times sake in this blog post. Armitage and Prynne are both fine poets, as is Motion. Loosely speaking, traditionalists tend to care about craft and communication, to keep them honest in their search for equillibria of rhetoric and expression, whilst the avant-garde tend to use obscurity to force people to think, and only access the mainstream’s sublimities and social criticism in an ironised pisstake fashion. “To the homophobic louse who pulled up beside me and my girlfriend by Tredegar Square and yelled you’d fuck me straight and to your lame pig-faced buddy: I’ve changed my mind!!!!” But these definite battle lines are exactly what I’m criticising: I’m saying they don’t exist any more, because we don’t need them.

For things simply aren’t so simple. There are times when it is better that too-easy categorisations should, depending on the context, either be problematised or not, and there are times when it is less better. “To pigeonhole” is itself pigeonholed these days, so where do you draw the line? Where indeed: commoting the battle line we have decreed, there are defectors, double-agents, envoys, even overseas poets. Whistle and your blood it comes. A certain amount of a blind eye is turned between camps, a kind of crepuscular toing and froing over to lay blinkers by the fire side, and joint together just for a song, before exchanging the regretful glances, and stealing away into the perfidious gloaming. Dayfly configurations of interests construct elaborate coral monuments to themselves and forget to fuck. Knowledge of such twilight nuance is the province of the dead elements of the scrum, apparently. But servile & vein-drawn, no scrum is entirely dead, and so loyalties change, and alliances shift. Yet always the hate and fear. The luck and evil. How come I get the feeling, every time these traditionalists vs. avant garde arguments get trotted out, that I’m in the back of a pub listening to a bunch of earnest Trotskyists argue over the proper interpretation of Lord Marx? Or a member of the Popular Front of Judea, or is that the Judean Popular Front? There are too few reviewers out there willing to admit to their own shortcomings, the gaps in their literary knowledge. I want to buck that particular trend by admitting to an almost total ignorance. I am not saying anything bad about Marx, just that his texts have a strong moreish quality. Context is king. I’m also not criticising Judeans, btw, it was a reference to an old Monty Python sketch!

What gets lost in the politics of poetry is the poetry of politics. And like that sketch, poetry should, in short, and can, be fun for everyone. What am I saying? That poetry’s “just” fun and nothing else? Of course not. That we therefore shouldn’t care about it or argue about it? Of course not. That we shouldn’t try to win with thesaurus and Wikipedia? I of all poets am invested in saying lots of different things and hoping for the best. Of course not? Little point in declaring “off limits” if you don’t have some ribbon to put up so people know! Yea, nature, neutrality and syncrenism are easily made the war toys of particular interests, but so is the injunction against them on behalf of some decreed-benign generative conflict. Am I saying that pailfuls of offensive black bile coming out of someone’s mouth is a sufficient but not necessary indicator of his (or her) offensive black pale life, or that it makes any difference whether or not it’s “poetry”? Of course not. Am I saying that we shouldn’t care passionately about poetry, to the point of actually behaving in a lethal way toward one another?

Well maybe yes.

It’s not fashionable in either camp to downplay the importance of feelings or the dignity of poetry. The traditionalists are given to Wordsworth’s old formula of the poem as “emotion recalled in tranquillity,” i.e. any text with a sharply legitimate relationship to affect. And as for the avant garde, slavish apostles to the diatribes of Iris Watson, many believe the poem is a form of violently enjoyable instinctual emission or flux, pointing to a misty dawn in which society is based on ecstatic equilibrium of expulsions recycled by one’s fellow man as emetics – though who will build the dialysis fairgrounds? Of course, that’s too big a question for me to answer here. But when passion leads to bloodshed? Where’s the fun in that? And without fun, can you have critique? Am I saying that fun and passion are inimical, or that critique is inimical to itself? Of course not. In the end, it is the shifting possibilities of text that allows each of us to make and remake her or her own meaning. And since the poststructuralism evacuated the essential self, we are completely free to reshape our personal meaning whenever it comes into conflict with another which we truly judge using the first shape to be worth recognising. Is this nihilism, relativism? No. But in a funny sort of way, maybe it is the “war” over poetry itself that is where the true poetry lies. And this brings me back to my initial theme. As the queen and her counsels survey this divided landscape, what must they be thinking? To give to any one party would be to doom all to a famous bellum omnium contra omnes. The laureateship cannot be abolished. Unless the huddled “elite” – the Third Way of poetry I spoke of – can find among themselves a strong leader, someone capable of uniting those who wish to rise above faction, of overviewing the entire situation and seeing off assaults from the enemies of fraternity on all sides, there is but one option left. The people themselves must be made poet laureate.

Monday, 15 May 2000

From a remembered poem

by J.H. Prynne.

[...] silent as a frying egg [...]

From "The Rationale of Reward"

by Jeremy Bentham.

The utility of all these arts and sciences, — I speak both of those of amusement and curiosity, — the value which they possess, is exactly in proportion to the pleasure they yield. Every other species of preeminence which may be attempted to be established among them is altogether fanciful. Prejudice apart, the game of push-pin is of equal value with the arts and sciences of music and poetry. If the game of push-pin furnish more pleasure, it is more valuable than either. Everybody can play at push-pin: poetry and music are relished only by a few. The game of push-pin is always innocent: it were well could the same be always asserted of poetry. Indeed, between poetry and truth there is natural opposition: false morals and fictitious nature. The poet always stands in need of something false. When he pretends to lay has foundations in truth, the ornaments of his superstructure are fictions; his business consist in stimulating our passions, and exciting our prejudices. Truth, exactitude of every kind is fatal to poetry. The poet must see everything through coloured media, and strive to make every one else do the same. It is true, there have been noble spirits, to whom poetry and philosophy have been equally indebted; but these exceptions do not counteract the mischiefs which have resulted from this magic art. If poetry and music deserve to he preferred before a game of push-pin, it must be because they are calculated to gratify those individuals who are most difficult to be pleased.

From "Coffee-Houses Vindicated. IN ANSWER To the late Published Character of a Coffee-House."

by Anon (1675).

However we shall preserve that equal regard to Solomons double-fac'd advice, To Answer and not Answer such as our characterizing Authour, That we shall decline Retorting any thing particularly to his scurrilities; Let the Town-witt (whom we leave to take his own satisfaction) Fence with him if he please at those Weapons; a formall Answer would be too great an Indulgence to his Vanity, and make him think too considerably of himself; Besides to reply in the pittyful stile of his pedling Drollery is to ingage in a Game at Push-pin, And to say any thing s[...]ri[...] will be no more (to borrow his Phrase) than reading a Lecture to a Monkey; Instead therefore of wasting our own or the Readers time so Impertinently, We shall briefly endeavour to give you an Account of the Vse and Vertues of Coffee, and next consider some of those many conveniences Coffee-houses afford us both for business and conversation [...]

Friday, 12 May 2000

From "Hot Capital"

[...] can output up to 750kg per hour of hard boiled mass and 1,100kg per hour of soft caramel

mailed to its own subscriber base of heat treaters and those with an interest in heat treating

I asked, "Your dream shows you as being hot-tempered, intolerant and unfair to your younger

body (through shed skin, hair, nails, sweat, urine and digestive secretions)

if it's true that heat rises, then heaven's probably hotter than hell

said that it would curtail bank lending to certain sectors where it perceived a risk of overheating

an acceptable smoke source begins to produce smoke (at time = 0) and the smoke detection system must alarm

as a white powder when pure. It can be smoked, snorted or dissolved in water.

Thursday, 11 May 2000

The Openned boys have been thinking about having a poetry festival in London. If you were to have a poetry festival in London, things you might want to put in it include film, theatre, an open mic (STARTING the festival that way might bring lots of good, suspect people out of the woodwork), an e-pottery / new media session, a session which is a benefit for something good && designed to oblige people who came because of the goodness of this something, a session in which poets are teamed up with musicians (such as The Slits), a session in which readers perform work not their own, walks, undergraduates, installations, Kai, jam sessions, workshops, the mainstream, improv sessions, Miami University, slam poetry, pixie missions, demos, site-specific work, duels, sessions with very many poets reading very briefly, sessions in which readers gather to discuss the readings & others come if they will, bands, visual art, vispo, lectures, cabaret, fiction, reviews, announcements, spoken word, women, performance art, hypertexts, photographs, songs, tentacles, white papers, correspondence, palimpsests, prosopopoeia, scoops, caveats, conspiracies, disjecta membra, erotica, polemics, manifestos, maps, The Foundry, booksellers, epiphanies, lies, commissions, special things, occasional pieces, miracle plays, proceedings, after-dinner speeches, sunshine, coconut shies, memoirs, mimes, prizes, instruction manuals, blueprints, radio broadcasts, affidavits, apple juice, stalls, art materials for people to muck about with, King's Chapel transplanted, witness statements, placards, anti-folk, the man in the street, meditation, free wine, Ryanair, business plans, cyphers, submission guidelines, marginalia, sofas, rites, translations, forgeries, web sites, micro-papers, manifestos, position statements, responses to poems, Soma, dance, panels, Q&A, small human pyramids, guerrilla art, workshops, esemplasm, discussions, Apple Juice, video poems, ludicrous long and insulting introductions, programmes, Brick Lane, documentation, flyers, fry-ups, posters, beat-boxing, email lists, blog posts, Facebook & Myspace posts, SMS harassment, word of mouth, The Plough, The Foundry, The Lamb, The Camden People’s Theatre, The Poetry Café, The Betsey Trotwood, The Tate Modern, Whitechapel Gallery, Nog Gallery (182 Brick Lane, 0207 739 4134), the squatted town hall in Stepney (Commercial Road I think), churches, squats, The Royal Albert Hall, a yt communication, battle rhyming, The Torianno, The Spitz.

Wednesday, 10 May 2000

From "The State of the Exception"

By Giorgio Agamben.

[In Thomas's Summa theologica] Necessity is not a source of law, nor does it properly suspend the law; it merely releases a particular case from the literal application of the norm: "He who acts beyond the letter of the law in a case of necessity does not judge by the law itself but judges by the particular case, in which he sees that the letter of the law is not to be observed (non iudicat de ipsa lege, sed iudicat de casu singulari, in quo videt verba legis observanda non esse)." The ultimate ground of the exception here is not necessity but the principle according to which "every law is ordained for the common well-being of men, and only for this does it have the force and reason of law (vim et rationem legis); if it fails in this regard, it has no capacity to bind (virtutem obligandi non habet)."

The principle according to which necessity defines a singular situation in which the law loses its vis obligandi [binding force] (this is the sense of the phrase: necessitas legem non habet [necessity knows no law]), is inverted into that according to which necessity constitutes, so to speak, the ultimate foundation and the very source of the law.

Tuesday, 9 May 2000

From "Folklore"

By Tim Atkins.

Cheese of the long river, hill
Covered with pistols.
At this point among many. There is -- nothing random. In
The colour of a dog.
Black ants round the hole. Night on my windows & legs.

Monday, 8 May 2000

From "Some Correspondence"

The question of noise in the more recent poetry, in the sense in which you seem to mean it, is somewhat more vexed. I think quick cutting and noise have to be distinguished, at least at an intentional level. I don't on purpose make the surfaces of the poetry noisy in the way that I make the surfaces of my theater noisy. The rapid cuts in much of the poetry are simply doggedly faithful to the perceptual and cognitive narratives of the struggling "I," trying to speak candidly to one insistent apprehension or dispute, in the midst of this rush of information that is both extraneous and irrecuperably insinuated into the ideosphere. In that sense, yes, the world itself is noisy, but ths is only a function of the rapid turnover of apprehensive arrivals and departures: the infidelity coefficient of velocity. On a train journey, in five seconds, I see a cow lying down in a field, I think about sex (not because of the cow but because I am a man and we apparently think about sex every few seconds), I see a billboard urging me to book a holiday. Given a couple minutes with each of these concepts I could arrive at some sort of satisfactory relation with each of them. But on the train, I am presented with a mutant, this on-rushing cow-cock-holiday, and compelled instantly to establish my relation with this grotesque, while all around me people are leaking Placebo from their iPods and talking in unfamiliar languages wherein I recognize only the phrases "Margaret Beckett" or "Simon Cowell." The lutimate constraint in my work, then, is this: that I feel I have no business writing an out-and-out love poem until I have given a fully accurate account of my actual lived experience of the impediments to writing such a poem.

So I am striving to be precise, in the poems, and if this precision and this strain after fidelity generates a sort of sensational dissonance that seems to the reader noisy and therefore functionally endorses their own relation to the work, then that's fine, insofar as the movement in the poems is more important than the specific instances of their top-level content.

From "Some Correspondence"

A theater practice such as mine which is not primarily literary is especially subject to multiple readings across the attentions of a diverse audience; not just subject, but vulnerable, unless the acceptance and indeed encouragement of that uncontrolled multiciplicity of subjective responses and interpretations is built in, as it were, to the presentation. So that what leaves the stage has already absorbed the turbulence by which it will otherwise be altered before it impacts on the spectator.

Saturday, 6 May 2000

From "On Suicide"

By Emile Durkheim.

No living being can be happy or even exist unless his needs are sufficiently proportioned to his means [...] In the animal, at least in a normal condition, this equilibrium is established with automatic spontaneity because the animal depends on purely material conditions [... This is not the case with man, because most of his needs are not dependent on his body or not to the same degree [...] how determine the quantity of well-being, comfort or luxury legitimately to be craved by a human being? [...] They are [...] unlimited so far as they depend on the individual alone [...] Being unlimited, they constantly and indefinitely surpass the means at their command; they cannot be quenched. Inextinguishable thirst is constantly renewed torture [...] the passions [...] must be limited. Only then can they be harmonised with the faculties and satisfied. But since the individual has no way of limiting them, this must be done by some force exterior to him. A regulative force must play the same role for moral needs which the organism plays for physical needs. This means that the force can only be moral. The awakening of conscience interrupted the state of equilibrium in the animal's dormant existence; only conscience, therefore, can furnish the means to re-establish it [...] the appetites [...] can be halted only by a limit that they recognise as just. Men would never consent to restrict their desires if they felt justified in passing the assigned limit. But [...] they cannot assign themselves this law of justice. So they must receive it from an authority which they respect, to which they yield spontaneously. Either directly an as a whole, or through the agency of one of its organs, society alone can play this moderating role, for it is the only moral power superior to the individual, the authority of which he accepts.

Wednesday, 3 May 2000

Note on "Soaring"

A poem by James Harvey, I think unpublished. Here's a bit of it:

"[...] and the centre of gravity is on the keel away from the wings,

the lungs are open passageways through which air rushes
entering bellows, pushed into lungs
and out to another sac to be exhaled [...]"

Etymology of SOARING: "From French s’essorer (meaning to soar), essorer (meaning to dry (by exposing to the air)), from Latin ex (meaning out + aura (meaning the air, a breeze); akin to Greek aura (meaning breath). See aura, also compare exhale."