Saturday, 30 December 2006

"So let’s say you’ve got a port scanner and know how to use it."

Friday, 29 December 2006

things that confused the hell out of me when I was a kid. 1. the king is dead, long live the king.

Tuesday, 26 December 2006

But on a serious – well; semi-serious! – note.

Monday, 25 December 2006


By Robert Southwell

As I in hoary winter's night stood shivering in the snow,
Surprised I was with sudden heat which made my heart to glow ;
And lifting up a fearful eye to view what fire was near,
A pretty babe all burning bright did in the air appear ;
Who, scorchëd with excessive heat, such floods of tears did shed
As though his floods should quench his flames which with his tears were fed.
Alas, quoth he, but newly born in fiery heats I fry,
Yet none approach to warm their hearts or feel my fire but I !
My faultless breast the furnace is, the fuel wounding thorns,
Love is the fire, and sighs the smoke, the ashes shame and scorns ;
The fuel justice layeth on, and mercy blows the coals,
The metal in this furnace wrought are men's defilëd souls,
For which, as now on fire I am to work them to their good,
So will I melt into a bath to wash them in my blood.
With this he vanished out of sight and swiftly shrunk away,
And straight I callëd unto mind that it was Christmas day.


Friday, 8 December 2006

Ignoring the Line

If Das Kapital was a blog post it'd begin "I've been thinking some more about labour."

Me & him & her are reading tonight at The Plough, 27 Museum Street at 7:30. Please come.

Monday, 4 December 2006

Peas (3/3)

Both video poems share a preoccupation w/ time. Things do not tend to happen at the normal rate, in normal orders or directions or the normal number of times.

Swarms sped up resemble thoughts. Maybe thoughts slowed down resemble swarms?

“The present” gets the once-over too, the suture between tick & tock. A flash of frozen credit. Time cannot be milked, it cannot be stored till distended. The present cannot be remembered. The past can be remembered powered by the present. Reading is a reductio of our intuitions about the seriality of subjective time: we never or seldom experience a fragment of word. What Dennett writes about the present is closely related to what he writes about meaning. Stuff does not cross some inner ‘finishing line’ after which it becomes consciousness (instead, the Multiple Drafts model, in which the phenomenological present is produced in the interplay of several perceptual, cognitive presents to which we have no direct phenomenological access. Similarly, ‘think ya’ve privileged access to yer own meaning eh? Inference not good enough for ya, is that right?’ (Dennett tends to overstate the similarity between how a speaker & listener evaluate a speaker’s meaning. To do that is pedagogically simpler than to acknowledge the speaker & listener’s sharply discriminated repertoires of evidence, missions & procedures, but epistemologically indiscernable reliance on inference)).

Both video poems are too themeatically noisy, though, to take clean readings. The most determinate themes – Swarm Intelligence’s collaboration, labour, purposiveness, language, mind, time; The Leap’s language, time, mereology, Christ, the uncanny – are so massive that any one of them could swallow everything noteworthy. Digestion is ruinous – it’s obvious.

Peas (2/3)

Selves in The Leap are dense hubs of crossroading processes, especially agricultural-industrial processes. Whatever else we may be (cyborgs), one of the things we are is a segment of the life of milk. Sophie you know about this stuff please explain it to me.

“even if you wanted to you couldn't have got out of this”

Watch how 2:00 is connected w/ 3:00, & consider whether that Frankenstein’s tapeworm could be taken not farther but further, whether the video poem does take it further. “In the end, maybe it is all about the [k•o‖udҖ•nthdinoisenoise]” could be read as amputation . . . yeah whatever . . . or as an attempt to put together an object which lies across or among different types of space. How will I exit my tower? Well maybe I’ll knot sheets. They lack 60 feet, I’ll add curtains, 40 feet, knot on the corridor, my golden hair, the tower . . .

The ability to conceive of such objects (or perhaps they are movements: the switch flung into white hands vibes of this) would obviously be useful in thinking about the status and distribution of the human in milk and other material networks. Does the human interrupt these networks? “In a field I am the absence of field” (Mark Strand). But when it comes to this dimension of Justin & Keith’s stuff – the depiction & exploitation (& maybe maybe the domestication & humanisation) – of the systemic, of inhuman scales, then I guess I am less interested in humans as clotted gates into ontological networks (though really, ontological in a kind of Heidegger-inflected sense) than into straightforward old networks of domination. If we are clowns why do we own slaves?

The reins tuck behind their ears as everyone knows. Who holds them, the trail goes cold at the segment built of Poirot’s own eyes. I’d like to do something about it but my hands are tied.

Emotion recalled in tranquillity.

Sunday, 3 December 2006


7-8 Oct 06 was the Women’s Experimental Poetry Festival in Cambridge. Andrea Brady, Lisa Samuels, Kathleen Fraser, Africa Wayne, Susan Schultz, Rod Mengham, Susana Gardner, Geraldine Monk, Peter Middleton, Redell Olsen, Carol Mirakove, Keith Tuma & Justin Katko, Marianne Morris, Tom Raworth, Catherine Wagner, Coupons Coupons (Camille PB & Justin Katko), Kai Fierle-Hedrick, Kristin Kreider, Tim Atkins, Ken Edwards, Wendy Mulford, Peter Manson, Maggie O'Sullivan, Lucy Sheerman, Caroline Bergvall, Kaia Sand, Leslie Scalapino. Organised mainly by Emily Critchley & Catherine Brown.

Speaking of remixes. Justin & Keith Tuma showed films. Why did Nicole Proctor get such a big laugh w/ her “complex intellect” line? 5 Oxford Poets attracted a lot of analysis. I can think of two possible pressures on its reception. (1) Fascination vectors in the mainstream-in-the-margin. Features quite ordinary in another domain appear impeccably weird in this one. E.g. when John Wilkinson sent his Condi Rice poem to the UKPoetry list? When Apple Juice performed at a London Openned night? Tom Leonard at the Cambridge Poetry Summit? Mairead Byrne at Soundeye in Cork? (2) Ken’s session might have functioned as a forum – he seemed to want that for it – but for whatever reason the chitchat didn’t kindle. I missed the workshops w/ Leslie Scalapino & Kathleen Fraser & wonder what they were like. These excepted, the event lacked any programmed discussion of whether importing most participants from America, & very nearly filling Lucy Sheerman’s slot w/ a mail order bride, were chosen or necessary, & why, & was therefore not a “festival, not a conference” (Catherine Brown) but a “celebration,” specifically of all the widdle women standing on they hind legs. Things began under that rubric which shrugged it off; & it would of course have been stupid to clear this discursive space for women, then use it for saying how nice it would be if we didn’t need to clear it. Me & my cock were never even made to feel uneasy & that for starters ain’t right. Yay to not valorising the chinwag but the idea that talk which shouldn’t be pinfolded into an academic event shouldn’t go there at all is fucked. The idea that the expectation of feminism from covens is anti-feminist by way of anti-pluralist confuses & appals me. These are ideas I made up myself! 5 Oxford Poets became, perhaps, an assembly point for the lost conversation.

I think two or four tuts had to do w/ the fact of the editing? Searching for a PIN in a strawman, but … if it’s true, the banal grievance shouldn’t be endorsed just because the good response are equally banal: Yet faire in that she neuer studyed to be fayrer then Nature made her? Nature is a tissue of contrivance. We cannot step outside rhetoric for a fag & the kind, clinical lens of Patricio Guzmán, the shot which does not cut or solarise or dub on the Wilhelm scream, is also a rhetorical gambit; it is the authenticity gambit. Even the hypothetical representation uncontaminated by rhetoric, the Youtube vlog noumenon, could only be witnessed by rhetoric like you & me.

But if Keith & Justin DO have all that footage, & a little web space … couldn’t hurt, could it? (Thus: "Speaking of remixes").

I am attracted to bourgeois feminism, as I am to any bourgeois ideology, on the points on which it holds the radical ground against revolutionary or otherwise far-sighted ideologies. It is not a matter of commitments but of burden of proof. I think the burden of proof is on those ideologies which tend to produce cocoon-like, waterskiing-like, carousel-like, library-like, sex-like, hammock-like & Poker-like effects around the bodies which correctly espouse them.

My general defence of 5 Oxford Poets’ ethics is that very little is at stake. E.g. if it were established to exemplify q, & where q is expressed in the language of the recognition of & resistance to patriarchy, at worst q could be a contorted & microcosmic version of q*, a feature of patriarchy. Facts about q* (like the filmmaker’s relationship w/ it) overturn facts about q (even when the latter are stipulated as morally vacant, as normative only within an aesthetic hobby). This is an insane defence, which could come between any artwork & any attempt to work out the nuances of its politics. It would have Emily's book, for example, be at best shadow feminist. It should be controlled by some good ideas about estimating the worthwhileness of beginning or continuing some instance of ideology critique but it isn’t & I can think of two possible pressures for its activation here. (1) touching nepotism; (2) it being a pity that the documentary slash exhibition film eclipsed the other two films, Swarm Intelligence & The Leap.

The form (video poem, I guess) is inherently protective: many channels open all at once, & if there’s nothing interesting happening on one channel, maybe it was happening on one of the others. A glass ceiling lain gently on a glass floor. Swarm Intelligence made something of that w/ a split screen, footage on the left & text on the right. Difficult to watch both & you tended to get punished by peripheral mischief. The text flickered w/ edits, Swarm Intelligence then warm Intelligence etc. These operations vibed of the sped-up ants of the opening shots. Their triviality was formally necessitated: lose the handicap of signification-by-pun & you also lose the effect of disputed movement in the corner of the eye (pixies go too far this time! & he knows something’s up!). (Though there were also violent changes. Don’t know how they fit in).

Swarm Intelligence could be read to promote humane mind as already swarm. The inconstant text reminded me a lot of Daniel C. Dennett’s application of his pandemonium paradigm to language generation. He describes a swarm of modules constantly discharging & evolving gibberish, language haphazardly tossed about, mutilated or bred together or pitted against itself in the de-centralised shaping of, say, a delightfully droll comeback (like “I see. The Market”). Almost a secular version of the unconscious. I sometimes think I can distinguish between the silences in my thinking which are or are not filled by the noiseless babble of a homuncular horde. (Cf. Poets on Writing). Dennett’s emphasis is on the lack of a Central Meaner. “How do I know what I think until I see what I say?” (E M Forster)).

More later.

Openned 6 (part 7)

Stereotype was a beautiful idea, not fucked up (a montage of clips: writers approaching their writing place from dozens of films, then writers getting started, getting going, getting lost in thought, getting distracted, upset, interrupted; tearing, burning work; the end, the end, the end. Mostly typewriters; a smudgen of quills, wordprocessors). It’d be good though, to have a remix in a more mechanical manner – a structuralist and mythographic account of the Hollywood novelist, with a strong claim to objectivity via metonymy. So Carrie off Sex in the Sic, you’re out (columnist not novelist) and Jack Nicholson is an interesting limit case, because his ‘novel’ is the repeated sentence “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy” (cf. Rachel Smith, peas psycho).

Constrained writing. Fresh blog skin is good in hexes. The first hex, for contrived constraint conformed to at all costs. A peculiar contour of disavowed choice is sent rippling through a million unchosen, unshakeable constraints which are more directly and more deeply involved in the text’s valorisation (though as Jeff Hilson has argued, “fun is not the only form of fun”). Naturally Blogger and Google don’t condone wussing to compromise equilibria before outcomes are clear. But form should soak up the constraints of process, or it’s the hex. Hex number two, that’s for constraint qua poor cozen of research. Projects receive this hex which very nearly do unfundable research into something gnarly, but waive basic scientific common sense to do with controls, sample space, isolating variables, etc., on account of Primrose Ponce. Clearly these two hexes form a Scylla and Charybdis Venn diagram. I think remixes are the answer.

Update: astonishing screenplay. In there somewhere.

Openned 6 (part 6)

Punk Faun. “Coarse marble on canapés.” I preferred the pacier parts of the performance, though perhaps they wouldn’t have been the same without preparatory ceremony? Redell in another context: “A writing that is already half someone else’s or that quite obviously belongs elsewhere seems to me to offer quite an interesting position from which to begin an investigation, to acknowledge those previous contexts and see where it leads.” I have written a fuller response to the visible parts of Funk Porn (we're not dumb you know Dell) in the more appropriate medium of not going to bed.

Some parts you can hear on Archive of the Now. Go to "Dell."

The multimedia piece. I think it was the vocalisations which Dell achieved here which made me include her reading in “Too much blorg desired by him seeking the la” catogory q.v. Mechanised hypnotism. AND ALL THAT THAT ENTAILS.

Also, amusing ourselves in the chasm between two different discourses of “survival” – I guess the darlingly hilarious language course material was not coincidentally Arabic. “How to say: ‘I don’t speak Arabic, I’ll open fire, get some.’”

There is a quality, which is like speed but is not syllables-per-minute, which Dell’s reading built up to, and which is also apparent in some readings by e.g. Tom Raworth. You might call this quality "pressure."

Hypothesis 1. Sound is fast but well-formed (according to normative moulds borrowed from accent, tone, character, expressiveness, etc.). Phonemes hardly ever come out chipped. So maybe all I have in mind is an accelerator not permanently floored, but here and there lifting a little – before tricky turns, before stripy boys chasing bouncing red balls – though the car still always moves a little faster than it should.

Hypothesis 2. But it’s a bit different from what goes on in e.g. most of this performance, by Chris Goode, of ‘An Introduction to Speed Reading.’ That antic buggeraught, hectic, frantic, is only barely out of control – and attains a pitch only rivalled by Chris pretending to be his mother online when things is slow. So maybe what I have in mind is some“contradicted tone,” one which implies no familiar circumstance. “Rushed calm,” for example, or “rushed boredom.” Chris’s performance, by contrast, mainly deals in self-consistent tones like panic, frenzy, exasperation, anger, mania, etc. (which are often interestingly in tension with the subject matter; but I’m talking about contradiction largely contained within tone).

Hypothesis 3. A discernable compression technology: some particular consistent discarding of redundant sound. The algorithm may be bundled into an accent.

A quick and partial list of factors probably active in contributing to an impression of speed and/or pressure. Syllables per time unit. Words per time unit. Conceptuality per time unit. Events per time unit. Sonic pattern per time unit, especially rhyme per time unit. Pattern per time unit. Audience attention per time unit. Emphases per time unit. Discrete things per time unit. Transformations per time unit. Dictions per time unit. Allusions per time unit. Names per time unit. Fast or slow things described. Unmarked senses related to speed. Words related to speed, or shrapnel thereof, embedded in other language. Speaker reputation apropos speed. Syllables per word. Proportion of percussives. If music plays, the overlay of those beats and the metric emphases. Flow. Pitch. Breath: when and how it goes in, and how the voice deforms according to its levels in the lungs. Proportion of onomatopoeia or somewhat less markedly motivated signs. Introduction of superfluous sonic rubble: the twist of a syllable into an ornamental syllable-and-a-quarter, grace notes. Phenomenal sound “filled in” by the listener when deleted from a context (usually a word).

{To do: distort some recordings. Maybe Marianne makes pop music}.

See also: Keston Sutherland’s “Four Theses on Speed.” “We do not emerge from the circle of hermeneutic inquiry; we reverse around it like a pair of tweezers on a malfunctioning merry-go-round. Speed reading is the lived-experience of this problem’s actual nullity.” I don’t know if “from an ongoing series” meant there were going to be other theses; but Keston’s notes on a scandal in Quid 14 develop the theme a little, via deferment and overconceptualisation. What’s not to like?

See also: rappers. Twista (nee Tung Twista) is ideal – seek a joint known as “Frum Da Tip of My Tongue.” NoClue is the fastest rapper in the world, official, though he wears thin pretty quickly. I think there were some interesting fast rappers in the whole Grouch / Pigeon John / Sunspot Jones group but can’t at the moment remember who. Bone Thugs-N-Harmony is fairly fast and ubiquitous. Sway is fast, British, and non-gangsta. This person seems to have tried too hard, and I found this compilation.

“Say this is writing London marks” etc. in performance makes for entirely unverifiable “Marx” noises throughout.

Some useful background information taken from a book published in 1982 (like me): when Marx came to London in the Summer of 1849 he started out in Camberwell before moving to 4 Anderson Street, just off King's Road, the wee Sloane Ranger. Soon it was eviction and the bailiffs seizing even the bairn's stuff to repay debts so they took two small rooms in the German hotel, 1 Leicester Street, just off Leicester Square. When forced out of there they moved to 4 Dean Street in Soho, then down the road to 28 for six years. Four kids (two died), a sprog (was born, later died), one maid (faithful, impregnated) and nurse: "[t]he Marx family was very cramped because Karl needed one of the two rooms for his study." 9 Grafton Terrace, Fitzroy Road, Kentish Town (renumbered 38 Grafton Terrace, then 46 Grafton Terrace). 1 Modena Villa (renamed 1 Maitland Park Rd). 41 Maitland Park Rd. Picnics on Hampstead Heath. Drinking at Jack Straw's Castle and The Spaniard's Inn. Pub crawls along Tottenham Court Road. Plays at Sadler's Wells. Creditor-fleeing holidays to Manchester and use of the same Reading Room where Swinburne fainted etc. Holidays in Algiers, Monte Carlo, Geneva, the Isle of White, Eastbourne, Margate, Harrogate. Meeting of the International Working Men's Association in St Martin's Hall, Covent Garden. In 1870 Engels moved to 122 Regent's Park Road. Marx buried in Highgate Cemetary, Swain's Lane.

Experiment: replace all the “says” in this piece with “think” or “break” or a pause. Or "is." Or "at." Or "wills."

“Put some thrash on” became a pun through repetition.

After Kanye’s first album dropped everyone started doing that sped-up sample thing. Maybe Minimaus’s decision to dissolve her set into some delightful cutesy old recording she’d found involves “her work as part of a nexus of artists and thus a range of approaches directly addressed to a contemporary milieu and its malaise” and even lifting “out from that malaise in a combination of humour and critique” (Allen Fisher)?

Saturday, 2 December 2006

Openned 6 (part 5)

Marianne Morris is actually if you look the the poet laureate of impatience (Keston Sutherland), and in act one of When I Say I Believe In Women ... Emily is gunning for poet laureate of petulance. It’s “centred on the kind of feminism that, surrounded by male competitors / friends, still refuses to be compromised or outdone in ethical, social or artistic terms. It rejects gratuitous self-promotion as a major cause of skin-loss & instead challenges the word at the expense of the line, to the suspicion of the phrase, at the beck & call of the sign” (Emily Critchley). Though writing is here as revenge or redress (“When […] When […] When […] When people hear you talk they think […]”), aggression is endlessly undercut by carefree unaccountable obliquity – hardly jewels of self-deprecation and concession – “When people hear you talk they think: / you’ve got a way with yourself – or: if it were / me I’d run – or: words.” – “That’s what comes from being / informal I guess. Or not cool. Or erotic.”

"Plurality, boundlessness, asserting the right to speak differently, have resulted in the absence of a united front from which to 'prove' the 'rightness' of their feminist practices over the arguments of their traditional counterparts" (Emily).

Emily mentioned Ken Edwards's (?) characterisation of her stuff as "out of focus." The blurring is divided ambiguously between a blur shadowing a moving target like a speed-smudge, and a blur belonging in the steel of the patriarchal .50ish BMG (delivering 12.7ish x 99mmish rounds) pointing at her. I guess maybe therein the feminist pulse. Aminal wit radiating through self-preoccupation periodically threatened as, framed as, and even begun as political and interpersonal confrontation.

“Implicit in all this was a fatal altering, in spite of rigour, succinct but weighed on. It was helpful to take a little series of pills in place of you.”

I haven’t vacuumed in hours. And there is a moth on the floor whose wings have never been properly vacuumed – never. I am too tired to work out if this is right, maybe sort it out in the morning.

Had a look now, it's spot on.

Openned 6 (part 4)

Dell Olsen is a furhistor and seems to have stopped wearing glasses.

Openned 6 (part 3)

Emily it was like The Titanic, I saw it nineteen times -- I CRIED EVERY TIME.

It possesses Mallarmean vagueness but it is arctic. “Too much borg desired by him seeking the la” connected all the slots I saw apart from Emily Critchley’s. She read When I Say I Believe Women. . .

Emily’s book is in two acts and this remark really applies to the first. World-fur yes, but not cuddle-fuzz, the fuzz of lacking contact lenses and being locked out of a room of facial nuance.

Openned 6 (part 2)

Piers read from a Wrong Sonnet sequence. The form goes like this: fourteen-line poems of two words per line, then of three words per line etc. Piers performs on the pattern of a succession of controlled explosions of dodgy TFL packages. Usually you can discern a drift of dodgy ideas crammed into them.

Like a little cloud of pirates. “Suddenly, with a loud huzza, a little cloud of pirates leaped from the woods on the north side and ran straight on the stockade” (Treasure Island).

My head (including face!) is a bolus of prejudice, and Piers a well-spoken Englishman. These two facts toy with my experience such that I periodically forget or don’t really believe that he’s reading a poem and think, “Wow, Piers is being really weird tonight.”

What is the status of the counterfactual in Piers’s stuff (“arithmetic without numbers” etc.?). I think it’s mainly to do with virtuoso jaggedness of concept: ‘try to think this . . . oh yeh then try to think this’ etc. Compared with various strengths of possibility, conceivability seems a timorous theme. But in Piers’ stuff, it’s combined with serious interest in the wetware of conception – in how concept crystallises in different languages (he goes coco-bananas for translation & many of his poems are at least mildly macronic), and in even more fundamentally-discriminated architectures (how thought occupies different bodies, environments, technologies). This interest sits snugly beside what I suppose is the Language poet’s doubts about Romantic, author-contaminated text (I remember Piers telling me about writing successive lines on different days, for example), and a hushed techno-feminist drift which I noticed for the first time that night.

Openned 6 (part 1)

"The sixth Openned reading will take place on Wednesday 29th November at 7.14pm at The Foundry."

I arrived late but saw a film (Stereotype) & three great readings (Piers Hugill, Emily Critchley & Redell Olsen).

The table where there are sometimes books and flyers was bare. I remember seeing: Steve and Alex (the organisers). Sean Bonney, Sophie Robinson, Lydia White, Rosheen Brennan, Adam, Jonathan Stevenson, Drew Milne, Ceri Buckmaster, Tim Atkins, Seaton Gordon. Please tell me who else was there.
I have fallen out with Francis Crot. Tony Blair is on his gap year.

Friday, 30 June 2006

From "The Voice Imitator"

By Thomas Bernhard (trans. Kenneth J. Northcott).

[...] Even though I have always hated zoological gardens and actually find that my suspicions are aroused by people who visit zoological gardens, I still could not avoid going out to Schönbrunn on one occasion and, at the request of my companion, a professor of theology, standing in front of the monkeys' cage to look at the monkeys, which my companion fed with some food he had brought with him for the purpose. The professor of theology, an old friend of mine from the university, who had asked me to go to Schönbrunn with him had, as time went on, fed all the food he had brought with him to the monkeys, when suddenly the monkeys, for their part, scratched together all the food that had fallen to the ground and offered it to us through the bars. The professor of theology and I were so startled by the monkeys' sudden behavior that in a flash we turned on our heels and left Schönbrunn through the nearest exit.