Friday, 30 November 2007

From "Dictes Moy: Ballad To Lost and Jaded Time"

By François Villon trans. Jean Calais.

Where is Arembour who took Maine?
And where is the bonnie Joan of Lorraine
whom the English fucking burned at Rouen?
Holy Jesus mother of God where did they go?
But then where is all of last year's snow?

Thursday, 29 November 2007

It's been five days since Ron Silliman posted his generous review of Damn the Caesars, Vol. III.

Tuesday, 27 November 2007

From "The Numbers Trouble with “Numbers Trouble”"

By Jennifer Ashton.

What they [Spahr and Young] offer are numbers suggesting that at the present moment women are getting something closer to 25% of the poetry pie than half of it.


But while it might be interesting and even salutary in some contexts to see a truly accurate picture, I want to make clear from the start that the accuracy or inaccuracy of that picture is completely irrelevant to the argument of "Our Bodies, Our Poems." If it were relevant, I might have done what Spahr and Young seem to think I should have done—I might have had a lot more to say about feminism. (In that case I also would have had a lot more to say about the degrees to which feminism has and hasn’t been able to further the causes of social justice. And about the value, for example, of a feminism that concerns itself as much with whether women poets get equal time on Ron Silliman’s blog as with the discrepancies between the wages men and women earn for the same work—and that concerns itself more with both of these than with the social and economic structures that prevent most people, men and women alike, from ever having such concerns to begin with.)

Sunday, 25 November 2007

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (5/5)

15. Of Complicities, it is necessary to ask, first, the proof that these are plural?, and thus in principle may admit of degree; & second, allowing them distinguishable, what law makes the complicity that poet’s who hath writ it?; & thirdly, whether or no Complicities, which are of men, but are said to be of words, lure us into the Pathetic Fallacy, whereof RUSKIN puts, “The crocus is not a spendthrift, but a hardy plant; its yellow is not gold, but saffron. How is it that we enjoy so much the having it put into our heads that it is anything else than a plain crocus?”. Had but these few things been well considered, without looking any deeper into the matter, it might perhaps have kept men from running into those gross mistakes they have made, concerning Complicities.

16. To which let me add, connected with Complicities, is Ethics, as it would be erected in LENIN'S bespoke range, Что делать NEIL PATTISON? & Что делать SOPHIE READ? &c., viz. Good & Evil established on their true foundations. And seen by this light, the proposition made, of Complicities being properly of words, not men, may be thought shallow, liked by the villains who'll protest, "'twas not I spoke thus, but my mouth: I make no cause with him." Moreover, RODEFER hath put, in THE CHICAGO REVIEW though not that lately of controversy, an account of how poets' structure is as martial as our words, which is more particular. Critics of this kind, how short soever they fall of satisfaction, are sympathic with me, & will own with me this principle. The risk of Complicities is just that: political labours, a consolation by nature, may falsify themselves as complaisance, & thereby straighten the labourer's views, so he who consults his intelligence, consults only its consolations. But should this danger be found small, or a method devised, to restrain it, then Complicities would have nothing left to threat.

18. Connected with Philosophic Song are Prosody and Syntax. What is contended about these is hid from us, but we partly bait it out, with what it hates. The plain of the case, that is hated by the philosophical songwriters, that hath its roots in the controversy of CAMPION and DANIEL, is this.

19. Thought (says the bait, to the tuneful philosopher in his burrow), when metrically made, benefits not a jot as thought, by or for its metricity. Allow that PRYNNE’S thought is judicious; and allow, because he joins so oft with the tabletalk WORDSWORTH, & POUND, & MARLOWE, & MILNE, &c., while it crisscrosses under that of ARISTOTLE, & HEIDEGGER, & RORTY, &c., & MARX, & TROTSKY, & WEBER, &c., in an hum, that it is rare. Allow next that his versification of it is sly, & far-sighted. Allow finally, with greater risk, that its meaning cannot be, practically, divided from its particular shapes, but must needs be within some particular force of words, that does well or ill or indifferently move the affections of men, in particular places; & that it were a stupid superstition, if it might even in principle, be so divided, for it would vanish, as trivially & verily as that, which if we removed its matter, would cease to be yak. For the baby in the bathwater, it is said, is gilled. But thereafter allow no more.

20. JARVIS puts, “If there is to be a real relationship between philosophy and poetry, it must be one in which poetry can sometimes think better than philosophy, or at least think things that philosophy cannot. This is one problem with philosophical aesthetics as the means of managing that relationship: in it, philosophy is the knower and art is the known.” He that shall carefully peruse JARVIS in Critical Quarterly 40, & SUTHERLAND in The Gig 16, & MOI’S The Kristeva Reader, will be able to satisfy himself whether this is more than the bait will allow. Enmity between them, if it begins, is without exit. The reason is because, the things that are fought for are not the same, merely in the same places, & with the same names, which sounds an absurdity, when spoken of things in a man’s neighbourhood, but a likelihood, when spoken of things that are foreign or imaginary. But let this pass of metrical setts.

21. Connected with Utopia, there is Ideology, and the chance of room without, or I had better put rooms within, for False Consciousness is jump with the lip of the world, and wants secure wastes without, but hath only quick bubbles within, which break. Idealism is joined with it, whereon arises the indifferent controversy of the Language poet, who it is said hath a dot-matrix print-out of a child’s smithereens, and when he, with prudent Tip-Ex and stipple, hath swapped their places, says, I have a picture of a rainbow. SUTHERLAND puts, “Normal language, like capitalism and of course as a constituent part of it, is transcendentally hospitable. It is Whitman’s cosmogonic melos and Judith Butler’s infinitely promiscuous selfhood in perfected carbon burlesque: everybody’s autothanatography. It always eats Shklovsky’s Defamiliarization Salts for breakfast.”

22. Among all the tentacles’ insupperable mixing, Utopia, & Syncrenism, are braided up their full extent, or I should say, that of whichever is shorter. To have an Utopia is to live in unlimited grace, & Syncrenism, is when the same state obtains, but it is limited to those who seek Utopia.

23. SUTHERLAND dedicated his Roger Aisles, to “us,” after the fashion of PROUDHON, or “U.S.”, after that of MARX, but I have not the text to hand, nor will till READINGS’S mince pies are digested; & the prudent WILKINSON puts, “[...] I meet difficulty with the pronouns, both on top of things and obliterated, displaced, dispersed [...] I find it absurd to write ‘we’; by turns I dominate and succumb, or even in the same moment. And in this country, at this time, ‘we’ hath lost all possibility of adventure.” I think it is a strange imperfection, that the same men, who formulate works of so virtuoso a toleration, should overrun in cycles the estimation of good things with so violent a censure, as though it must please none else, because it likes not us.

24. The judicious taxonomer makes mention too, in connection with Syncrenism, of RETALLACK’S Poethical Wager, which is the thought, that to responsibly litter a fag, it were the reverse of common judgement, & also a thought to succeed it, that to temper all my tools, great conflagrations probably in my wake were a perfect forge.

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (4/5)

14. DIGRESSION. The strings are some of the propositions so evidently agreeable to it, and so heartlike to its chest that nobody can deny them to be drawn from thence; yet also Performance Writing; the Mouthy & Inky Existence of a Poem; its Defamiliarisations; the Life of its Author; the Thinness of its Membrane; HOWE’S Impasse; Google; Bathos; Posterity; Comedy; Situationism: Er Now What?; Dada: Gub Now What?; and other hairs, are inside it, whose reach, and knottiness, and place, I give my detractors to extract to research; to make spectacle of how little they thwart me; but let school-men pass.

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (3/5)

12. I own that the unnameable thing which is as unnamed by Cambridge Poetry as by New Textual Obscurantism, (& unnamed, more or less, by privative,) wants precise boundaries. It wants, I confess, even a heart; yet it is shot through with numerable heart strings, that I call Difficulty, Complicities, Philosophic Song, Utopia, and Syncrenism.

13. Connected with Difficulty, there is Researches, whereof JARVIS spilt his ink, & Stupor, whereon SUTHERLAND his quill, for a Quid. Read also PRYNNE’S For The Monogram, & MANSON’s Adjunct. There is also annexed Accessibility, which calls “Why, what a king is this!”, so ASTLEY & PATERSON go to it. Why man, they made love to this employee! But let this of love pass.

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (2/5)

6. So I am out of the ordinary course of my nature, in contending that the latest diseases of UKPoetry, that shocked BERGVALL, proceed from the poisons of sectarian doctrines, and not intersected material.

7. In the town of Cambridge, not to injure magical oaks, that are plentiful, buildings are devised like alphabetical letters, and labours are under way, to print an “S”, which may house seventy-five men, on West Road, & where oaks grow up such that, it is plain, Cambridge will say SOUP. But let this of soup pass.

8. The eyes of man, fitted to perceive, & his hands to take, the middle-sized equipment, that is most useful to survival, are ill-adapted to perceive, or be at home with, the frailties and inconveniencies of an atom, a star, or a great system wherein the honest contention for this fashion, or that, is converted to contend for the skirmish of fashions.

9. BRIDWELL says, and many think, that the jumble of atoms of criticism, that ill or well clarify, or blur, this poet or that, or this, that, verse, work, book, form their General Character, only on sociological ground, or others will say material. But, there being many material things, such as atoms, and stars, and systems, wherein we have very imperfect notions, or none at all, our reason shows us but Fortuna and the barbarian. Then each man looks barbarously to his interest, and is as swift to enmity, as to alliance for enmity; whereof THE PYTHONS put:

10. All this is the reason that, the sinuous rock of THE STEPHEN HAWKING BUILDING &c. I ban from these considerations of CAMBRIDGE, as though only the ploughman’s pains, the reaper’s and thresher’s toil, the brewer’s sweat, the townie’s broken bottle.

11. When 'tis done, the most blinded of contenders cannot miss several abstract Notions, which draw together, like droplets on a pane, to construct a General Character, purified of those influences, from which proceed UKPoetry's ballast of ballots. And yet, because poets are so undetermined in our nominal essences, which we make ourselves, if several were to be asked concerning some oddly-shaped foetus as soon as born, whether it were a poet or no, it is past doubt one should meet with different answers, which could not happen if the nominal essences whereby we limit and distinguish the species of substances were not made by poets with some liberty, but were exactly copies from precise boundaries set by nature.

Saturday, 24 November 2007

Look at meee!: notes on Cambridge Poetry (1/5)

For We, or wii; I have not the text in hand.

1. I have been five years among the poets, they hold publicly their bunches, in the city of London, oftener than the saints had days; I learnt to murmur today to thus-and-such’s back, how grossly he’s imposed, with a great hope, of his tomorrow murmuring it to mine.

2. This partage of attention, after the fashion of those loaves, and fishes, that our maker parted, poets have made practicable with a compact, either express or tacit, that includes one duty in special, either necessary over a poet, or closely joined with his preservation, of subscription to Listserv, e.g. UKPoetry that is administered by TUMA.

3. On UKPoetry, those disputes that are managed by a several and inconsistent law, are determined, in the initial offsets of law on law, to converge to tabletalk, or bend their nerves to bloodshed; “Doth this milf seem sour to you?”, &c.; but let us see what the duty of lament requires.

4. I concern myself so closely with the sociological, what the crass call the contingent ground of our labours, through my mask of BRIDWELL, that when I hang her up to go to my bed, she yet tics with those beliefs, in the darkness with hisses like grains down an hour-glass.

5. Bridwell’s network today is trod by the judicious CRITCHLEY, SCHULTZ & RILEY, & many others, & I am frighted, by the sudden enlargement of its traffic & the widening of habitual ways for unfamiliar freight, to consider what waste I might make use of, to regain solitude, and sovereignty.

Friday, 23 November 2007

From "Notes on the History Plays"

By Samuel Taylor Coleridge (on Richard II).

II. Constant overflow of feelings; incapable of controlling them; waste of that energy which should be reserved for action in the passion and effort of resolves and menaces, and the consequent exhaustion, as in the threats of III. ii. 36-62 and throughout.

Wednesday, 21 November 2007

A Note on Bile by Emily Critchley (1/2)

Her sequence contains four poems, “Repeat Reclaim Regurgitate!,” “The indicible (for Caroline Bergvall),” “Dear J H” & “[edit] Criticisms (a prynne tribute band).”

They are mostly in the open field, hypertextual, palimpsestual, macronic, multi-coloured, many-fonted format I by now associate with Emily’s “OK so like bluetits pit wire on wire, in must, but please let there be more to it than ‘since we are seeing the meadows newly blossoming, / you could have some things for me at the back of your vag’” attack-pluralism.

“Repeat Reclaim Regurgitate!” is a shadowy & provisional criticism of certain tendencies, which it may or may not identify with Keston Sutherland’s poem Hot White Andy (“& where does that leave us poetically in 2007 Keston’s poetry seemed to scream?”). It probably does make the identification; one of its quotations (nearly cited – I suspect the omission was accidental) is from Jennifer Cooke’s recent essay on Hot White Andy, which appears in Complicities ed. Ladkin & Purves: “[…] performing this unpleasant consequence of capitalist thinking entails replicating it […].”

Skimming that essay just now has sharpened my sense of what “Repeat Reclaim Regurgitate!” is about. Jennifer turns the hoary idea about satire’s structural affection for its objects into an idea about complicit critique (not her term). She applies it to Hot White Andy, identifying its critique with an analysis of love as narcissism crystallising in a matrix of substitutability, & identifying the mechanism of its complicity with the authorative self which in Hot White Andy is still staying on your sofa, and also, sort of, the man behind the iron curtain (see note 1). Emily’s poem deflects & scatters the force of the prose criticisms it draws on.

“Dear J H” & “The indicible (for Caroline Bergvall)” are probably pretty minor – grace notes filliped down others’ oeuvres. As a pair, they seem to suppose a zero sum game: as if praise in one sector were impossible without compensatory aggression in another. “Dear J H” is a short prosaic lyric – vaguely redolent of a Ben Péret ad hominem, but more passive-aggressive – that contains two echoes of William Carlos Williams’ much-parodied “This Is Just To Say.” The allusion (it makes sense to think of it as an allusion to the parodies, actually) is evidence of thoughtlessness & remoteness, which may have been planted, as part of an anti-art or otherwise deflationary scheme. “The indicible” also has a conspicuous deflated component – it’s a mash-up of found texts. “Constructed from fragments collected from an internet search on the word indicible.” It’s a faintly funny poem, hinting that the Untellable (see note 2) is really just in [sic] Google? My copy contains a typo (“[...] in reponse to her [Caroline Bergvall’s] attention to suffering [...]”).

Note 1: The first identification seems much more plausible to me that the second: I’m not sure complicity happens through mechanisms, exactly (not her term). But I may be eliding Jennifer’s point with some of the famous bits of the Language programme, all that anti-Romantic hypernormative ego stuff. Cf. for the Hell of it this from Nicholas Manning's blog:

"[...] The last question concerned the idea of a lack of “unity” to Dale’s transcription of sense-data, which led to me being called ‘totalitarian’ (see on this Godwin’s Law) I think this is the most important point to clarify, as I wasn't at all meaning to imply that poetry needs to seek a sort of Schillerian, and thus fundamentally Ienaen, High Romantic unity, which has so fundamentally and comprehensively been undermined and showed to be dangerous and destructive, and of course I’m in with the Althusser/Adorno anti-Heideggerian lineage [...] But of course I wasn’t talking about this sort of all-subsuming epiphenomenal neo-Platonic Plotinian One! I was just meaning to question the value of such an annotative poetics, if we don’t dig down into such annotations, perhaps via a more englobing formality or praxis. I know Adorno especially wouldn’t want us to reject a complex formality or governing poetic teleology just because of the risk of it being, or becoming at some stage, hegemonic . . . Perhaps it’s a risk we sometimes have to take [...] All of which doesn’t quite yet make me a Fascist . . . I think [...]"

Note 2: L'indicible, the untellable, unspeakable, unsayable, etc. Here's Caroline: ‘The question is not so much to represent as it is to conceptualise identities that are not socially or culturally “presentable" [...] to allow for the whole of language-use to be coloured by homosexuality and its residues of unnameability. Such an agenda is as conceptual as it is political. It’s set up as a posture of writing and works against the social paralysis of representation. It isn’t so much about the figuration or representation of a body type, but rather about language behaviour in relation to censored realities and the way this in turn creates body types’ from ‘ex/cre/men/tal eating’ (from an interview with Marjorie Perloff. Thanks Sophie rriaow).

Sunday, 18 November 2007

Saturday, 17 November 2007

Saturday, 17th November
Marianne Morris + others
Hosted by Jody Porter & 14 Hour
Upstairs at The Griffin
93 Leonard Street

Thursday 22nd November
Readings by
19 Gladstone Terrace
9.30 pm

Friday, 23rd November
Marianne Morris, Timothy Thornton & Keston Sutherland
The Erasmus Room
Queens' College

Wednesday, 28th November
Carol Watts & Sarah Riggs
The Calder Bookshop
51 The Cut
London SE1 8LF
(nearest tubes Waterloo and Southwark)
(Andrea Brady's Wieners talktalk is filliped from this day)

Friday, 16 November 2007

From "Ed Dorn Live: Lectures, Interviews, and Outtakes"

Ed. Joseph Richey.

[…] be that as it may, Tom Raworth was hatched in Donald Davie’s and my brain […]

Thursday, 15 November 2007

From next month, you'll be able to use your Oyster Card in Black Cabs.

Wednesday, 14 November 2007

A Note on "Mortared Penne: Ha Ha Ha" (3/4)

“Penne” jollies into the Maddy history in a fully crass, fannish and hyperconsumptive mode. Madeleine’s first explicit appearance is an exploitation of that "creepy little girl trope" (cf. Regan, Lavinia) to suggest, in the most idiotic of twists – the kind of twist indigenous to rock-paper-scissors – that the real threat comes from Madeleine herself:

A blowtorched Madeleine McCann starts punching
you in the face; you are terrified; she, looking all
cut-together and emo, takes a scalpel and “Oh […]

“[C]ut-together,” see note 1. The Maddy history became its own prequel as a whodunit, so also as a supernatural slasher why not. As gorenography why not.

As SF why not – actually, because The Independent front page today can’t decide whether it’s a tabloid pisstake (see note 2). Obviously The Independent should have Tabloid Fridays, and obviously the Maddy history, in its connections with those who care about it, has stipulated utopian journalistic relations (which would be science fictionalised if they were applied to, you know, the Olympics). But it’s newsy, Toal’s poem, not a poem concerned with newsiness (see note 3). Its tendency is to “turn all problems into epistemological problems” but not – as Keston mad in hind when he fused that raze at the recent [nay antickUser:SmackBot] Woetry and Pizardry conference in Warwick – to turn all epistemological problems into problems. Not, that is, narcissicm illimitable qua iterable epistemological pseudo-problems, spuriously about the spuriously ethical spurious possession of actual inferable pain (see note 4). As Toal’s poem works its optative anti-Nativity down into elegy and decathexis, it reveals two emphases which are utterly main within 20th Century philosophy downstream from its “practice” turn. Emphasis on (1) somatic knowledge and other non-propositional knowledges; emphasis on (2) confabulation and the construction of memory. What the poem notices is that the former emphasis can be corrective on the latter, and what that means for grief.

Note 1: In all the paper, suggests shreddy “cut-up” like Burroughs Gyson et. al. & also “I feel cut-up” (& then put back together again: pysche cut-ups). But obviously basically it’s the cinematic thing: cf. cutaways, jump cuts, match cuts, cross cuts, uncuts, cute, final cuts. Cf. “Nancy asks, ‘What became of representation itself at Auschwitz?’ (34). Knowing that the camps at Auschwitz destroyed the possibility of representation by destroying subjectivity (and all that that entails), the essay wants to argue that art can still be made — even art about the camps. Nancy suggests that representation can be taken in two ways — one in which all absence/difference is scrubbed out by representation’s claim to exhibit the truth, and the other, in which it is absence itself that activates and sustains the representation” (Google, pp. 1-2).

Note 2: 16 Nov. “Astounding new figures show record numbers of migrants are crossing the world in search of better lifestyles. Should they be welcomed? Are they parasites? Or should they all go back to where they came from?*” Then a big picture of the Union Jack and then a huge footnote: “* That’s Britain, by the way.”

Note 3: Though in the last bit, a child can exist not “only on paper,” but be brought forth from paper, following a weird reflexive ceremony. We have now received the R3 DVDs for ADR and Litigation for Insolvency Practitioners. If you would like to borrow one of these, please speak to your local office training contact or Victoria Mandleson in the CF learning team. Can whoever still has my Garden State etc. Some early jUStin!katKO stuff about Martha Stewart could perhaps be differentiated from Toal’s poem, as being both newsy & concerned primarily with its newsiness. Who is it that poemified a copy of the NY Times or something (when he should have been spuzzing praxis Tip-ex o’er Europe’s Bic borders (“wet dream” contra “wet fart”))?

Note 4: The sentimental moment of the “one can nothing but one does what one can” crew does reveal itself. The “fail again. Fail the same” crew. The peripheral flake of the Splintered Left crew.
It’s the extravagant rumour that Madeleine has escaped the poem's determination of her, and it’s syntactically melded with the hearsay that a “wet snore” escaped her – i.e. that she succeeded in absolutely relinquishing certain aspects of rhetoric so as to gather cosmic res gestae to her and utter indubitable speech.

The emanations of “a shit-in” can be teased into streams of these fragrances at least:

(1) Inversion / negativity (“I fucked up; it went in instead of out” (jUStin!katKO)).

(2) Long-term, messy political struggle (a “shit-in”: a sit-in that turns into a squat).

Excretion toggled is secretion: Kate “secreted” Maddy when she was born and arguably when she died. Brian Kennedy, an uncle of Kate McCann, called that allegation “repulsive,” telling the BBC, “The notion that even accidentally they killed their daughter, hid her body, then put her body in a car hired 25 days later while the glare of the international publicity is on them, and when they are always with friends and family, is fatuous beyond words.” Like “secreted,” “mortared” and “escaped” are kinda set up in the poem as autantonyms (like “enjoin” and “dust” and “quite” and “cleave”), meaning respectively “cemented together / blown apart” and “emerged from my living child / was beyond the talents of my child’s corpse”.

Just as the visitor to Bentham-Foucault's panopticon internalises and makes permanent the guard's intermittent gaze, so the visitor to Toal's Maddie-Land internalises the indubitible, engrammatical “promise syrup” (a.k.a. Toal's “wet snore,” Justin's “rebel yell,” the glue which he or she exudes in order to make irrevocable and unmistakeable commitments). He or she “shits in” or “secretes” this promise syrup, “ending up” back at the starting point, facing the same ensemble of agent-principal and commitment problems. In a moment of piss-weak Glenda, Good Witch of the North bathos (“you had the affiliative sociotechnologies you needed all along”) the pertinent obstacles to emancipation are fatuously restylised as perfected emancipatory techniques. I don't know what the point is of this procedurally distended instantaneous round-trip, this going back for the keys you actually had, this media orgy Groundhog Shadowrout of the concept. In the interim Maddy has seriously become something tapping against the window. With a great deal of luck, maybe well-meaning agents will coordinate their crucial acts on the basis of the private - even the completely opposite - meanings they attach to “public signifiers.”

Note 5: Optative meaning here basically in wistful patterns, decathexis meaning reeling in your feelings about someone or something in the face of its imminent loss, The Independent thing and the Victoria Mandleson things being basically irrelevant, bathos meaning anticlimax, engrammatical being a smug neologism after engram, which is basically a hypothetical bit of memory gristle, Groundhog Day also alluding to the film with Bill Murray by the same name, somatic meaning bodily, confabulation meaning bullshit, res gestae being a sweet legal category of difficult-to-misinterpret speech acts, treated as more-or-less impervious to Chinese Whispers effects, & a lot of this sounding like a rehash of my undergrad dissertation on John Wilkinson (PDF) & hopefully a pre-hash of the final episode of Architecture for Cartography, purposes crossed.

Tuesday, 13 November 2007

I'll do all that other stuff, look at this.

MILOU: Stand down.

[violins sound.]

MILOU: This is a technology which could produce missiles as well. Stand down.

Sunday, 11 November 2007

From "Childhood"

By Luke Kennard.

[...] The boy with glue on his jumper made bats
By paperclipping moths to the backs of mice.


I did my best to detach him,
But we remained friends until he joined the army –
Or what he thought was the army;

It was actually just one of many armies [...]

Saturday, 10 November 2007

Talks. Talks.

Two events on Wednesday, 14 November. Which will be better.

1) Free Sophie Robinson on ‘Techno/gender/mess: Digital poetics & politics.’ Room B20, Birkbeck College, Malet Street, London. Closest tube Russel Square. 7.00 pm. Or maybe 7.30?

2) Free Ken Edwards, free Jeff Hilson, and free David Miller. Calder Bookshop 51 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1. 7.00 pm.

Thursday, 8 November 2007


Crossing the Line, 7th December:
Chris Paul & Philip Kuhn
The Horseshoe Inn
26 Melior St
Nearest tube London Bridge.

Wednesday, 7 November 2007

A Note on Mortared Penne: Ha Ha Ha (2/4)

The “snore” is fakeable evidence of sleep and unfakeable evidence of life, the phantastic “wet” version, unfakeable across either asserted matter (see note 1). The “child” is Madeleine McCann. “Ethical thinking in poetry tends to demand extravagant repudiation even of the most diminutive injustice, it makes so much depend upon even the smallest hurt, the smallest expense of spirit, partly because poets are committed to an indigenously stupid assessment of the relationship of law to power” (Keston in this Quid). The obvious extravagance which “Penne” withholds, about two-thirds of the way through in all directions, is a “critique” (see note 2) inflicted through the little pang or sting whose stifling is usually taken to be a condition of possibility of such a critique. There is a whiff of naff about Maddy, as though her history beckoned the cultural critic with disproportionate solicitude. “C’mon, be unflinching! C’mon! *pants*.” I get a weird sense, probably from without the poem, that Toal is not portraying Madeleine’s disappearance as exemplary or paradigmatic, nor concerning himself with the “smallest expense of spirit” of her abuse and death, so much as sulking that his daughter also vanished on 3 May 2007 in the resort of Praia da Luz in the Algarve, Portugal, and nobody really cares.

Note 1: I can't exactly remember why I thought this, when I wrote it. It had to do with "wet fart" and "wet dream." I suppose there are no comparatively reliable procedures to verify the claims "I farted" and "I had a dream about sex" (against those to verify the claims "I shat myself" and "I came in my sleep") from an observer perspective. (In Habermasian terminology, to query the first pair leads at best to discourse, whereas it is possible to query the second pair without suspending communicative action?)

In following this lead, I probably homogenised night emissions. Aren't the cocked sub-we often forced to hazily recollect dreamt orgasms to definitively taxonomise a given residue or smell? Also, this allusion of Toal's, to the gas or smegma libidinal anti-aubade, makes me wonder a bit about the "wet blanket" and "wet the bed" angles, and really about the contribution of the whole bed and sleep scenario generally. The contrarian cat-napper who dogmatically insists he or she did not nod off (which vignette's abundance is ensured by waker's grumpiness) certainly fits in with his theme of sedulously operationalized self-doubt. David Foster Wallace has a dense and meticulous -- fuck it he's dead, a Wallacian -- account of contested snoring, which I think also involves child sexual abuse. Wallace's story (I'm pretty sure it's "Oblivion") culminates with the pathological transcendence of the Sleeping Couple into a public, and into a scientistically administered and chronicled setting. But in the ordinary course of things (it draws its own ordinary course of things, that's the point) the claim "I wasn't snoring!" comes packaged with its own pragmatics: we can plausibly dramatise, with unusual momentum and ease, the entire contemptible, heteronormative or heteronormative-imitative, bourgeois marital conundrum, its petty ethical phenomenology and its social and economic root systems. Language with that quality, I get the impression, is somehow particularly privileged or exploited in the Prynne-Keston-Toal Rubick's line of influence. How or why I dunno, although the obvious suspicion is idealism-smuggling, via artificially upping the proportion of language that happens to have manageably elegant relations with its various concrete instances.

Note 2: Racism, bread and circuses, prurient prudishness, Spectacular multiplication of innocence, degradation of vanguardist thought (Maddy as Lenin), cud activism, cud class consciousness, cud morality, etc.

In "Unsuitable for Ladies" (ed. Jane Robinson)

By Selim.

When you comed to me
I’m forgit every things
I’m forgit smile the moon
I’m forgit my silf
Because I rimimber
You sweetly smile.

If I forgit you
I’m forgit my life
I don’t forgit you for ever
Because I love you

When you came to me
The stars cames whith you to me
When I see you
I see the moon
When I see you I see the moon

I see every things so sweetly
I see the moon but
I don’t feeling by it

Tuesday, 6 November 2007

Historical Materialism 2007 is happening this weekend -- 9-11 November, Friday to Sunday, at the School of Oriental and African Studies (nearest tube Russell Square).

Monday, 5 November 2007

Note on Mortar Penne: Ha Ha Ha (1/4)

I’m not sure if Jefferson Toal’s poem, “Mortar Penne: Ha Ha Ha” will repay the kind of sustained attention I’m going to give (a bit of) it. “[...] no criticism, only anecdote and enthusiasm [...]” (Andrew Duncan about Tom Raworth). “[...] heartscuff [...]” (Sophie Robinson, about “[...] skinnybeast [...]” perhaps).

It is like the poems by Keston Sutherland. I don’t know what to say about that except to log it – all the poems in the Brighton Quid are like them a bit (but see note 1). The features this poem shares with loads of Keston’s are its mesmerising unpredictability, its weird funniness, its weird beauty, and its weird pathos. I mean each “weird” as predicatively and as non-redundantly as I can – if you like, picking out the subset of weird funninesses from the total set of possible funninesses; whereas weirdness is usually implicated in an explanation of how a thing comes to be funny or beautiful (perhaps less so with pathetic – though you hear “weirdly moving” a lot), I have in mind a weirdness which is not constitutive in that way – so, a weirdness which doesn’t get overdetermined by the fact that “. . . but it works!”. My suspicion (which I’m not getting into here, see note 2) is that such weirdness happens through anarchist not marxist instincts – emerges on poems through their “wanting” to be the culture of anarchist counterpower.

The syntax of “Mortar Penne: Ha Ha Ha” inherits from Jeremy Prynne’s stuff via Keston’s. The first part of that transmission is not quite “influence.” Keston’s syntax sometimes solicits a tactic which Jeremy’s often leaves you no option but to adopt (note 3). There’s a kind of flip-filter which makes influence-talk disingenuous.

This last ditch tactic is to consider all the poem’s language – words, word clusters, letters maybe (see note 4) – as particles with definite histories and potentials within Total Discourse (justly weighting their comparatively insignificant appearance in this text). This exhaustive “consideration” is clearly not possible, so syntax generates prior priority, the authority of which is resisted to a different degree and in different manners by each atom. Some words can’t quite be put. See note 4.

The syntax in “Penne” is not actually that fucked. But this might be an example:

[...]oats in the air;

could you...? / or perhaps you’re barely there
anymore, just a mortared wet snore fuck’d
with tape escapes my child a shit-in; [...]

The last bit is an archaistic (cf. "fuck’d") version of the sentence “a shit-in escapes my child with tape.” Or (and/or and/or) it’s saying, Oh yeah? Now think this motherfucker: "just a mortared wet snore fuck’d with tape" (subject) "escapes" (ditransitive verb, see note 5) "my child" (primary object) "a shit-in" (secondary object). But it’s more a limb unclaimed, hermeneutically perfuming the room, so that for example “wet snore” more securely recalls “wet fart.” To the unprejudiced eye.


Note 1: I mean you could say oh such-and-such a poem is an exception (Luska’s, Michael’s, Maura’s . . . the list is endless) or so-and-so’s bequest, while conspicuous, has little to do with how that poem really works (Toal’s maybe (this figure is called occupatio apparently)), or protect the proposal from its risked cattiness by reasserting the death of the fine Author, or in some other way commend the separation of powers in matters of value and of possibility, or remark that folk theory about literary influence tends to resist input from its paid theorists, excepting perhaps a wee don in the direction of Harold Bloom, which paid theorists are in turn insufficiently alert to post-Kuhnian philosophy of science, possibly also speculating as to the half-life of such a dynamic, with and partly via pondering re the capacity of the afterlife of such a system of resemblances to retrospectively undo the self-sameness of its originary, like, columna ceruli, perhaps you could hold up a superstructure to nature, and glory that the IP law of science shits on that of art, and perhaps you could wallow in them, in that turd of compartmentalism confounded, that golden professor, but my reluctance to do it is because it would not be ending up gathering together the fragments of the good life that are still possible in the conditions which obtain. Duck it (food), let’s “bo!”, goaling.

Note 2: And I’m sort of working on fleshing out that suspicion with respect to Keston’s stuff, maybe. But I should be doing work for my course or writing Dog Puke or Xena or Hax not this tapas. Eek. Weirdness also kinda jockeyed for irreducibility in Sean Bonney’s talk on his Baudelaire poems on Wednesday. Sean was talking about Baudelaire monging out in his room feeling a bit weird and going around like a semi-respectable hack and feeling a bit weird then too. More on this in part two I think.

Note 3: Cf. Ben Watson's chapters on Prynne in Art, Class & Cleavage.

Note 4: Of course, syntax is already decisive respecting what atoms there are. A kind of hermeneutic sphere, is what I’m describing. Yo, did I mention this tactic is a mother-fucking-father approach? If you volunteer it to, syntax will put the “care” back in “careful” . . . but all that appears where Language poets or their strawmen put “readerly freedom” is “best practice.”

Note 5: Ditransitive, meaning takes two objects, e.g. "Charity gave Prudence AIDS."

Saturday, 3 November 2007

Thatuth Thimble

Ken Edwards, Jeff Hilson and David Miller will be reading at the Calder Bookshop (also known as The Bookshop Theatre), 51 The Cut, Waterloo, London SE1, on Wednesday the 14th of November, 7.00. Nearest tubes: Waterloo, Southwark. (The bookshop is across the road from the Young Vic Theatre.) Free admission. Ken Edwards will be launching his new book of anti-narratives, Nostalgia for Unknown Cities, published by Reality Street.

Friday, 2 November 2007

What do people think? Can a beard hold you back in a City firm?

Thursday, 1 November 2007

Friday 2 November, 8 pm: Crossing the Line / double book launch:

Tim Atkins's "Damn!" && walks into the bathroom –
had a lot of friends calling him in – so his face
is savede as, but yeah basically shouldn't have been
"spat"-vacuuming the eggcup I
now want to fight an electrical fire with.
So makes "A word, once sent abroad,
flies irrevocably" & "my wine
doesn't mellow / in a Laestrygonian vat" look
back like it did before.

As for his friend. Do these ones. Bed rooms. Hall way.
Never meet tns&$^)(*%huaesnt!)&$ha[l[foeuce asnothuen
an English Oulipoem I liked. Do boo the cud
bis going by with aped ids.
Girls who eat their feelings, girls who
don't some macrophage aisles
predator ramp he slit taught meat home . . . closes
her robe and
glides to jagged moves of quaker. All in
Philip Terry's needs, right?

Upstairs at The Horseshoe Inn
26 Melior Street
London Bridge

3 min walk from London Bridge tube: use the St Thomas Street exit.