Dear valued visitors:
the regular tuesday edition of vrzhu will not appear this week. A back injury prevents this correspondent from posting at length. the excruciation continues.
your humble and obedient servant,
Dear valued visitors:
the regular tuesday edition of vrzhu will not appear this week. A back injury prevents this correspondent from posting at length. the excruciation continues.
your humble and obedient servant,
dear faithful reader:
due to a back injury, today's regularly scheduled post has been delayed. My apologies.
I hope to catch up as soon as i can straighten up, and discuss the well-known Silliman effect.
pre-Ron page views: 18
post-Ron* page views: 80
and a discussion of transcendental Ronology...
Man, typing with one hand while lying on your side sucks.
A planh one could have made
about the troubadours
Flarf is people…
I'm not sure why a small tribute to George Carlin is appropriate, but it seems so. Perhaps his attention and examination of the thoughtlessness of much of our speech or its social (mis)function touches on the concerns of poetry. He certainly seemed to care about words in the world much the way a poet might.
“I grew up in New York wanting to be like those funny men in the movies and on the radio. My grandfather, mother and father were gifted verbally, and my mother passed that along to me. She always made sure I was conscious of language and words.”
Anyway, I'm sure that last thing GC would want to do is "rest in peace." Give 'em hell, George.
Warning: contains adult language and attitudes:
The Summer Solstice will be June 20, 2008 at 7:59 PM EDT. Don't climb into the Wicker Man!
Summer at North Farm
Finnish rural life, ca. 1910
Fires, always fires after midnight,
the sun depending in the purple birches
and gleaming like a copper kettle.
By the solstice they’d burned everything,
the bad-luck sleigh, a twisted rocker,
things “possessed” and not-quite-right.
The bonfire coils and lurches,
big as a house, and then it settles.
The dancers come, dressed like rainbows
(if rainbows could be spun),
and linking hands they turn
to the melancholy fiddles.
A red bird spreads its wings now
and in the darker days to come
The crowd at the ball game
William Carlos Williams
The crowd at the ball game
is moved uniformly
by a spirit of uselessness
which delights them—
all the exciting detail
of the chase
and the escape, the error
the flash of genius—
all to no end save beauty
So in detail they, the crowd,
to be warned against
saluted and defied—
It is alive, venomous
it smiles grimly
its words cut—
The flashy female with her
mother, gets it—
The Jew gets it straight— it
is deadly, terrifying—
It is the Inquisition, the
It is beauty itself
day by day in them
the power of their faces
It is summer, it is the solstice
the crowd is
cheering, the crowd is laughing
"Violence never solved anything. It's just pure fun."
a Coyle and Sharpe transcript
Sharpe: Could we have your name, please?
Dairy: Julia Dairy.
Sharpe: And you work down here in the financial district?
Dairy: Yes I do.
Coyle: A group of people in the musical world here in our city are exploiting animals for the purpose of making music. Would you say that you are essentially opposed to the idea of taking an animal and trying to evoke music from an animal?
Dairy: Yes, I'm very much against the idea, yes.
Coyle: Why do you say that, Julia?
Dairy: Well, because it's cruel. It's not right to do this sort of thing to animals.
Sharpe: Even if it allows an animal to create beautiful music?
Dairy: I don't think an animal can create beautiful music.
Coyle: Do you mean to say that if you could actually take a wolf, or let's say a jackal, in your arms and actually press over the body of this jackal, the bow of a violin or a cello, and beautiful music would come from this contact that the bow has with the animal, you don't think that you yourself would be entranced, and overcome any misgivings you have about it?
Dairy: I don't think so, because I'm sure it would hurt whatever animal it was, and I mean, if it didn't hurt it at all I think that would be fine, but --
Coyle: If the animals were doped?
Dairy: Well, if they were completely out, and it didn't injure them in any way, yes I suppose that would be okay, but it's a bit of a strange idea, anyway, I think.
Coyle: Would you yourself, if you knew that you could get a really enjoyable and uplifting musical experience by attending a concert in which animals were used as stringed musical instruments -- live animals -- would you hesitate to attend this concert?
Dairy: No, I'd love to go and see it, just to see what it was like, but I mean, I'm against it. But I'd like to see what sort of thing they could produce...
Sharpe: If you knew, for instance, that the violin -- what would normally be considered the violin section -- was going to be composed of weasels. You came to the concert hall, you sat down, the concert began, you looked over, and what would you see in the arms of the violinists?
Dairy: What would I -- well, I'd see weasels, of course. I mean, what do you mean?
Coyle: If you yourself found that taking a small, let's say coyote in your arms, and running over the back of the coyote -- actually over the backbone of the coyote as the means -- the bow of a violin, and you found that you could make a beautiful sound, and you could become a virtuoso of this sort of music, and actually benefit both professionally and materially, would you tour the world?
Dairy: I suppose if I got any money out of it, I would, yes.
Coyle: What is it you would do?
Dairy: I'd tour the world, playing on a coyote...
Transporting Captured People
a Coyle and Sharpe transcript
Coyle: Excuse me, do you do deliveries?
Mover: What is it? Liquor, food...
Coyle: No, it's not anything like that. We are transporting people, and we would like a vehicle such as this, a small van. We'd like to just put the people inside.
Mover: How many people?
Coyle: We'd have about fourteen.
Sharpe: In one load. We'd have about five loads.
Mover: And where would I get the seats?
Coyle: Well, we don't need seats. I'll explain the situation to you. We have people in our employ. You might say they're in our employ, we don't pay them. But we procured these people, we got these people on an expedition.
Mover: Where are they from?
Coyle: They're from a northern area.
Sharpe: But they aren't Eskimos.
Coyle: We have complete control of them.
Mover: What kind of arrangement is it? You have them working on your ranch or something?
Coyle: Let's face it, we're exploiting them. That's what it boils down to, and we just keep them -- we tyrannize them.
Sharpe: They're extremely thin, each one of them. They're grown men, but they weigh about 62 or 63 pounds.
Mover: [He whistles]
Coyle: Very thin.
Sharpe: We keep their weight down. It keeps them weak.
Mover: Are they midgets?
Coyle: They're midget-like, yes they are, as a matter of fact.
Mover: They're people, though?
Coyle: Yes, they're human beings.
Sharpe: Yeah, definitely.
Mover: This is unusual! I love it! It's intriguing, it really is, but now, what is the nature of your business?
Coyle: Well, we're in developmental work, and we use the labor of these people, frankly speaking.
Sharpe: We're making radio tubes.
Mover: Oh, yeah?
Coyle: And they're very handy, and as long as we keep punishing them they keep producing.
Sharpe: Their hands are very thin. Get inside the radio.
Coyle: Now we want to transfer them to another area.
Mover: And what would this area be?
Sharpe: It's a camp. A post.
Mover: A post.
Coyle: Well, it's something you're probably not familiar with.
Mover: Naw, just explain it to me, just vaguely, I mean, then I could tell you whether I could do it or not.
Coyle: Well, you see, they're in bondage. Do you care about that aspect of it?
Coyle: In other words, we have them in servitude.
Mover: That's alright.
Sharpe: We captured them.
Coyle: And that's the thing. We'd restrain them during the trip.
Sharpe: We have some large birds that are vicious, and they'll keep them in--
Mover: Ravens. Would they bother a person?
Sharpe: Yeah, well, that's there for the people. The ravens will keep the people under control.
Mover: Okay. We could take them in a Volkswagen, or this, if you want.
Coyle: Would you have any objection to strapping them down? You would have to do the strapping, that's the--
Mover: We would have to? Why couldn't you do the--?
Sharpe: They don't care for us, particularly. We have to make the arrangements. They hate us. If we get near them, they get violent.
Coyle: They're hostile to us, because we have to--
Mover: What about us?
Sharpe: No, they don't know you. Chances are, you'd get along with them.
Coyle: We have one person who would ride with them. His name is Hugo.
Sharpe: He's a hypnotist.
Mover: He is?
Mover: We could do it. When would it have to be?
Sharpe: At night.
Mover: And how much a head?
Coyle: Wouldn't you do it by the weight factor?
Mover: By the weight, right.
Mover: Human flesh, though. I don't know...
a Coyle and Sharpe transcript
Coyle: Say, what do you have here in your drugstore that we can use to sterilize with?
Pharmacist: Sterilize what?
Coyle: Well, it's a long story. Uh...
Pharmacist: What do you want to sterilize? Before I became a Pharmacist I was a chemist for quite a few years, so maybe I can help you.
Sharpe: Operating equipment-
Coyle: Let me say this right away: I'm not a doctor, but I'm going to perform an operation or what you'd call an operation on this man [points to Mal]. I think I've read enough about it so I can do it-
Sharpe: -And I've agreed.
Coyle: The only problem now is getting the stuff sterilized.
Pharmacist: I'll tell you this much: LEGALLY, whether you agree or not, you could be in trouble.
Sharpe: If anything should happen, I'm not going to press charges.
Pharmacist: But if anything should happen to him, it'll happen to YOU, too...I won't ask any further. I wouldn't depend upon chemical sterilization. The only thing to use are autoclaves, otherwise you could get serious infections.
MS: I've had amazing resistance in my life to all sorts of germs. I'm not too worried about *complete sterility* of equipment.
Coyle: I'll explain it to you: I'm going into his chest; he's got a pain there. And frankly speaking, he isn't of such an economic posture that he can go to a doctor. I'm just going to go in and look. We have equipment to light it up...
Pharmacist: May I ask you a question?
Pharmacist: Wouldn't you qualify for a county hospital?
Sharpe: I don't want to have anything to do with the city or the state or anything. He's a good friend of mine. We've got quite a few books from a medical library; we've read up on the subject. And I really feel he's competent to handle it.
Pharmacist: How high is your education? May I ask you this question formally?
Coyle: Yes - third year high school. I *have* finished the third year on high school.
Pharmacist:...in this particular case, I would a thousand percent advise you against it. A thousand percent. A thousand percent. Really.
Coyle: Well, we're just going to do it now, we're going to do it in the station wagon and just get the thing over with. He has a pain in his chest that's been bothering him. He's just located the area; I'm going to open the area up and probably, just by looking at it, I'll be be able to see something wrong. I have enough equipment to light it up, and then I'll just press something one way or another. I have pretty good sewing equipment.
Pharmacist: You are looking for trouble. I don't know - you both *seem* intelligent, reasonable and rational, and I don't know where to get the guts to do this!
Sharpe: Well, that's why we feel we're capable of doing it. If we were two *ignorant* guys...
Pharmacist: You ARE NOT capable of doing it! Let me tell you something. Even with medical do-it-yourself: the first time you do it, it's rough, it's tough and there's problems. After the second or third time, you know what you're into. There is nothing like *experience*. Look! I'm going to show you something. Here. I made this today...
Sharpe: That's a clear plastic model of the human body.
Pharmacist: That's right, and it comes apart, too. I'll show you something. One thing that this doesn't show is the blue of the lungs-the heart's back there. You've got veins, you've got arteries-
Coyle: Can't you see them when you go in?
Pharmacist: Yes, but sometimes they're hidden by mesenteries which are - a mesentery is like a connective tissue.
Sharpe: [to Jim] You remember - I quizzed you on the mesenteries.
Pharmacist: I mean...believe me...
Sharpe: I quizzed him on the mesenteries and he had that right.
Pharmacist: [to Jim] If you're a friend of his, do the right thing. People today,
Coyle: I forgot about the mesenteries. That thing, uh, that layer-
Pharmacist: You can't tell, can you? - LOOK, it happens to the best of surgeons. Wait a second - let's not go any further! I lived in Southern California for quite a few years. I knew this Culver City hospital. What did Jeff Chandler go in for? You remember? It was very minor.
Sharpe: A bad back?
Pharmacist: And he died.
Sharpe: Well, this isn't minor, but then again it's something that-
Pharmacist: What have you got against college assistance?
Sharpe: I just don't want to have anything to do with the city or the state. That's all.
Coyle: It's a matter of principle with him; I've tried to convince him. He doesn't want to do it - he doesn't have the money for a doctor. So I'm going to take the thing into my own hands. I think I can do it! I've read enough in the last two days.
Pharmacist: Let me ask you a question. What makes you think that the pain in his chest is of a surgical nature?
Coyle: Let's just go in and see!
Sharpe: It's a stab in the dark, but I'm willing to take the chance. He's done two operations..
Pharmacist: Now let's play games. What do you feel? This pain in the chest - does it travel?
Sharpe: Ahhh...sometimes I feel it beginning in my stomach, then it juts up into my chest. Then I feel it kinda swirling inside.
Coyle: You said it was localized on the left side, though.
Sharpe: Well - last week it was. This week it seems to have moved...
Pharmacist: Now does eating or anything else like that have any effect on it? Does it get better if you eat? Is there pain after meals sometimes, an hour after meals - something like that?
Sharpe: Sometimes, about fifteen or twenty minutes after a meal, I faint.
Pharmacist: You just pass out completely?
Coyle: I just throw water on him. That's no problem.
Pharmacist: You've been there when this has happened?
Coyle: Sure! I was going to operate on him once - I had all the equipment ready - and his mother came in. I forgot about this sterilization business.
Pharmacist: [to Jim] YOU like to play doctor - does his pulse rate change...have you ever taken his pulse when he faints like that?
Coyle: He seems to perspire a little bit. So I assume the pulse rate changes.
Pharmacist: Now suppose it's some mild heart condition.
Coyle: I don't think it's a heart condition.
Pharmacist: How do you know?!
Coyle: So what if it is! - maybe I'll be able to do something for that. There's no telling-
Sharpe: -I haven't had a heart attack since I was a child.
Coyle: I read about massaging the heart during some sort of operation; it was in the paper. I thought if I just went in and, you know, massaged it, it might help, even if the problem isn't the heart.
Pharmacist: I'm telling you - DON'T!..I'm telling you this on a statistical basis: I KNOW you're doing the wrong thing.
Coyle: You think I'm going to kill him?
Pharmacist: I think you're running FANTASTIC risks for no reason.
Coyle: He's willing to take the chance, and it would be very interesting for me.
Pharmacist: Suppose for the sake of the argument - here's a perfect example: you read about abortions all the time, don't you? And many times the guy who knocks the girl up is the one who does it. She dies on the table, right? And he's NOT operating on the chest or the heart, he's operating around down here...which may be a lot simpler, correct? No major arteries, right? And...he's up for MANSLAUGHTER. I mean, PLEASE! You are going into something so fantastically dangerous - you have no idea!
Coyle: Well, if he goes, (and there's very little possibility, as I see it, that you'd go)-
Pharmacist: How do YOU see it?
Sharpe: Not according to the books.
Pharmacist: Forget the books! You don't know what is wrong!
Coyle: I've read the books for two full days now.
Pharmacist: For two days! Doctors go to medical school for four full years!
Sharpe: Yeah, but they're going to operate on the whole human body.
Pharmacist: What's the difference?
Sharpe: This is just one little part of it.
Pharmacist: Your body is connected!
Sharpe: I have a pain in my chest…he'll look, he'll see, he'll touch.
Pharmacist: You're a very foolish man.
Coyle: Can I just get some cleaning powder?
Pharmacist: I wouldn't sell you a KLEENEX - I'm that much against it. Really.
Coyle: Do you have any scissors or anything like that?
Pharmacist: NO! I wouldn't encourage you in any which way. Matter of fact, I'll tell you this much, if there was an officer of the law nearby, like out there, I would call him...I feel THAT strongly you're doing something wrong.
Coyle: But how do you know I won't help him?
Sharpe: Look he's done two operations: one on a dog, one on a pussy cat last week. Both of them came through pretty well.
Coyle: For a day or two. How about some antiseptic powder?
Pharmacist: I won't advise you. I won't even mislead you or lead you one way or another.
Pharmacist: I won't do a thing for you!
Pharmacist: I'm against this!
Coyle: How about I park the station wagon across the street, and if anything comes up, I'll-
Pharmacist: I'M AGAINST THIS!
Coyle: -I'll just come in and tell you?
Pharmacist: If you're across the street, I'll call the police.
Sharpe: Can we get some colour film to take pictures?
Coyle: No, no. I don't want to do that.
Sharpe: No, I want to have pictures taken of us.
Coyle: But supposing something went wrong - no, nothings going to go wrong. I don't want to take any pictures. That's stupid.
Sharpe: I'd really like some film.
Pharmacist: You're making a big mistake.
Sharpe: Could we get some film?
Coyle: I'll sell you film, this is not medical. But believe me, I am SO much against what you are planning - look, ask yourself one question. Why am *I* against it? *I* have nothing to gain. Look at it in the materialistic sense, right? What have I got to gain by being against it?
Coyle: Do you think I don' have sharp enough equipment?
Pharmacist: I don't think you have the training.
Sharpe: He's done it twice.
Pharmacist: I don't care how many times he's done it; you don't have the training. This requires the highest degree of training.
Sharpe: He took a correspondence course one time through a magazine.
Pharmacist: I don't care what you did.
Coyle: It wasn't a medical course.
Sharpe: Well, it's still training.
Pharmacist: This is dangerous. This is dangerous. LOOK - this is not, what should I say, the Dark Ages. You say you are against the city and state and you don't want anything to do with them. But in a case like this, why should you have such a preconceived notion? Really, in other words, you can be against them, you can be an anarchist-
Sharpe: I AM an anarchist.
Sharpe: And that's why I don't want to have anything to do with the city or the state.
Pharmacist: All right, fine. Then let's use the word - you're an anarchist. But still, you're a HUMAN being and there are people who are trained to do work on you. You'll have the best of medical care. Why should you throw that away?
Coyle: You don't think that my medical care would be good?
Pharmacist: NO! I do not! I do not!
Coyle: Can I show you the equipment I have?
Pharmacist: I wouldn't look. No.
Coyle: Sewing equipment and everything to sew it back?
Sharpe: What if we just wrote up the procedures we going to go through in the operation, and you read it?
Pharmacist: NO! Because first of all, I'm not a physician myself, and second-
Coyle: Let me ask you this: would you just have something I could use to knock him out?
Pharmacist: NO! I won't even touch that. I just want to give you one last piece of opinion. Before I owned this drugstore, for years I was a biochemist. I was on the outside of hospitals and doctors; I was associated with them for fifteen
whole years. But I wouldn't do surgery...
Sharpe: Do you know somebody, then, who could come out to the car and do it? In that field?
Coyle: Well, I'll do it, don't worry.
PHARMACIST: You will NOT do it! I'm going to try and talk you out of it if I possibly can. Anyway, I would go into the coffee shop in a hospital and I'd see a surgeon and maybe I'd say, "Hello", and he'd look like the last rose of summer - he just lost a patient. Top surgeon, and he lost a patient. See? A top man can lose a patient!
Coyle: [pointing at Mal] I'm not going to lose you.
Pharmacist: What do you mean: you're not going to lose him? You can't guarantee that!
Sharpe: He guaranteed it. He put it in writing. He said there wouldn't be any chances.
Coyle: I did write something out for his mother.
Pharmacist: You go to a doctor, a surgeon, and ask, "Will you guarantee this?". See what the doctor says. Se if HE'LL guarantee it.
Sharpe: Ah, doctors...
Pharmacist: You're making a fantastic mistake. Fantastic. Are you an anarchist? Well - have surgery anyhow! I believe in free speech and free enterprise and free everything else; I'm not against your political viewpoints. But for a man to actively try to encourage himself and his friend...you're doing two things. You're endangering yourself, and look what you're going to do to this guy if something goes wrong. And I'll tell you something else. Let's say you don't die, but you need help and you have to call a doctor. You'll be in jail, little fellow. You'll be a prisoner for several, several years...
Coyle: That's why we wanted to park the car right across the street from your store. If we needed any help, you could prescribe-
Pharmacist: No, I can't! NO!
Coyle: -to at least stop the flow of blood.
Pharmacist: No! This is illegal for me. I would just call the doctor.
Coyle: How about I bring him around the back?
Pharmacist: No! No! Leave this alone.
Sharpe: Could we do it at your house?
Pharmacist: Are you joking? Go get yourself to - you know in Shakespeare they said, 'Get thee to a nunnery'? Get thee to a surgery. Really! You may not even NEED surgery! I'll give you a 'for instance': you might have an ulcer. You know how they treat
ulcers? Well, they don't treat ulcers surgically...I admire your confidence, but I don't admire what you're going to do. And don't do it!
Coyle: You don't think I have the guts to do it?
Pharmacist: GUTS to do it? It doesn't require guts. Hold-up men have guts, but it doesn't mean they have brains. Sometimes the biggest war heroes have a lot of guts, but they have no intelligence. And the only reason I'm talking to you is that you're literate people - you SEEM to be intelligent, and yet you're willing to run a mutual risk to the both of you that's needless! That's foolish!
Sharpe: There's no risk!
Pharmacist: No risk? Of course there's a risk!
Coyle: We've started, we're read, we'll do the operation.
Pharmacist: The human body is very complicated. I'll give you a 'for instance' that'll give you chills up and down your back. I had a '49 DeSoto. I brought it to the DeSoto distributor in Los Angeles; it had transmission trouble. They tore the damn thing down five separate times, couldn't fix it properly, and they finally said 'We give up!'. That's on a car. They couldn't guarantee it; they're the distributor and they had mechanics and it's only simple replacement parts, right? MECHANICAL. Now, if you damage his heart, do you realize what's going to happen?
Pharmacist: There's no replacement part for a heart. You can't go to a hardware store and get one. So forget about it, and go away!
Here at Vrzhu, I’ve been enjoying the lively traffic regarding conceptual writing and flarf. Mostly, I’m dazzled by both advocates’ entrepreneurship and marketing abilities. A conference. A scandal. And more.
This is not meant to disparage it, but, for me, flarf arouses my admiration for its ability to engineer serious-sounding postulates from unlikely matter, like a spider spinning a web across your toilet bowl. This is not commentary on flarf qua flarf, but only what paths it sent my thinking down. And I liked "Chicks Dig War."
Conceptual poetry, though, flashed a whole series of connections and thoughts. Most prominently, it reminded me of some of the arguments and philosophizing regarding Hegel and what shape the post-historical takes.
Here’s a quote, taken beautifully out of context, about what matters to conceptual writers:
Conceptual writing obstinately makes no claims on originality. On the contrary, it employs intentionally self and ego effacing tactics using uncreativity, unoriginality, illegibility, appropriation, plagiarism, fraud, theft, and falsification as its precepts; information management, word processing, databasing, and extreme process as its methodologies; and boredom, valuelessness, and nutritionlessness as its ethos. Language as junk, language as detritus. Nutritionless language, meaningless language, unloved language, entartete sprache, everyday speech, illegibility, unreadability, machinistic repetition. Obsessive archiving & cataloging, the debased language of media & advertising; language more concerned with quantity than quality. -Kenneth Goldsmith
For me , this bumps against these quotes from Alexandre Kojeve, a Hegel scholar influenced by Marx and Heidegger, and carnardiste (emphases mine).
If Man becomes an animal again, his arts, his loves, and his play must also become purely natural again. Hence it would have to be admitted that after the end of History, men would construct their edifices and works of art as birds build their nests and spiders their webs, would perform musical concerts after the fashion of frogs and cicadas, would play as young animals play, and would indulge in love like adults beasts. But one cannot then say that all this “makes Man happy.” One would have to say that post-historical animals of the species Homo sapiens (which will live in abundance and complete security) will be content as a result of their artistic, erotic, and playful behavior, inasmuch as, by definition, they will be contented with it. -Alexandre Kojeve
* * *
The definitive annihilation of man in the proper sense, however, must also entail the disappearance of human language, and its substitution by mimetic or sonic signals comparable to the language of bees. -Alexandre Kojeve
* * *
The definitive annihilation of Man properly so-called also means the definitive disappearance of human Discourse (Logos) in the strict sense. Animals of the species Homo sapiens would react by conditioned reflexes to vocal signals of sign language, and thus their so-called discourses would be like what is supposed to be the “language of bees”. What would disappear, then, is not only Philosophy or the search for discursive Wisdom, but also that Wisdom itself. For in these post-historical animals, there would no longer be any discursive understanding of the World and of self. -Alexandre Kojeve
* * *
As I said in the above Note, an “animal that is in harmony with Nature or given Being” is a living being that is in no way human. To remain human, Man must remain a “Subject opposed to the Object,” even if “Action negating the given and Error” disappears, this means that, while henceforth speaking in an adequate fashion of everything that is given to him, post-historical Man must continue to detach “form” from “content,” doing so no longer in order to actively transform the latter, but so that he may oppose himself as a pure “form” to himself and to others taken as “content” of any sort. -Alexandre Kojeve
From what little I know about Kojeve, the art at the end of history would be abstract art: neither representational nor pictorial, but an embodiment of consciousness—internal and universal and equally meaningful to everyone.
I used to think Kojeve must be wrong about this, since non-representational art as a movement was superseded by pop art (Warhol) and other movements using the pictorial.
But I now think that the (philosophical) point of these subsequent art movements was to show that the representational and pictorial is itself abstract. By removing and shifting context, Warhol’s tomato can (for instance) showed not only that the representation of the tomato can was as inherently “abstract” as Pollock’s sweeping loops of color, but that the cultural meaning attached to that object was also abstract: both contingent and replaceable. In the same way, Warhol’s concern with celebrity and fame abstracts not just those concepts, but the human itself.
I don’t want to argue whether this accomplishment was “right” or “true,” or even a good thing, but only that it was an interesting experiment, and at least produced interesting results that matched some part of the world.
Something similar is what I think conceptual poetry might be after. I’m just spitballing here, but, as a start, let’s take l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e poetry to be abstract in the same way that abstract expressionism was abstract—removing cultural and semantic specifics and references from its works. This may have been to make a broadly political point about the control the cultural has over what meaning we find in writing. But, just as in abstract art, these effaced specifics make the writing universal and homogeneous, a reflection of inner consciousness, with everyone in the same boat.
So, continuing along the same line, conceptual poetry, consciously or not, performs that same abstracting operation on works of representational writing. By appropriating them whole, they are made abstract, secondary, and are emptied of their traditional role.
I believe Kojeve found the “debased language of media and advertising” in the U.S. to be “comparable to the language of bees.”
Perhaps this is what is meant by “self- and ego-effacing tactics,” the result having as its limit a production by “a living being that is in no way human.”
"I work with honey. It's my work."
This is admirable in several ways:
1. Procedures whether traditional (sonnet, ghazal, sestina) or Oulipian are only alive if we keep them alive. It’s the difference between knowing that Paleolithic men and women knew how to make varied and effective cutting tools out of flint, and actually using those same techniques yourself. The former is an interesting historical fact. The latter is a living embodiment of archaic technology, and hence, knowledge, skill and body.
2. By engaging these procedures, you learn about the inherent energy in them, about writing itself and about your own poetic footprint. You might think that the more automatic the procedure, the less there is to learn, but not so. Take one of the more well known oulipian processes, N+7. A description of this might be the simple mechanical substitution of each noun in an existing poem with the noun found 7 places away from the original in the dictionary. No wriggle room? But what dictionary do you use? Also, there are decisions such as: if the poem is metrical do you use the seventh metrically equivalent noun (Sonnet 73: "That tin of yeast thou mayest in me behold')? Do you count multiple entries of nouns in the dictionary? This might not amount to very much personal discretion, yet there it is.
3. Further, even the most unchancy procedure will tell you something about the language you are writing in, and about your source text (if any). What might interesting here is what and how much of what the original poem is made of remains. This depends on what you do to it.
4. It imparts the lessons of patience and perseverance.
5. The results may goad or spark you into a procedureless poem of your own.
6. And, of course the results can be fabulous.
I had a conversation more than few years ago with a friend about how certain segments of the neo-formalists and l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e-influenced proceduralists had, at least, overlapping concerns with the formal aspects of poetry.
Also, I'd like to see more examples of combinatory procedures using both traditional and oulipian. Example: Nestina, a sestina where the 6 end words are advanced N+7 for each stanza, with the last 3 line stanza returning to the original 6.
And yesterday of course was the day that celebrates one the great trobar clus works of the last century--Ulysses.
Total clarity is probably not a laudable quality in poetry – Frank M. Chambers
To explore further, see:
Giraut de Bornelh
The lukewarm taboo insults me when
hostage joints, or prayers, or sights, deprive
bellies that gorge against their quilts. The palm
of the hand is vicious where cheating baskets
distress the heat of certain animals in copulation.
You bray the return of pawnshops after your thrust
lengthens its cry of pain, which milky soap digs up,
and smoke's snail delays by a span of nine inches.
You bray the wheezing of truth this wound’s parcel
laps up, as steaming eclipses it, just as laws
related to the keeping of dogs are customary.
You contemptible person, staining ledges huge
with overbearing behavior, that ledge of a cliff
that you set in mortar like the setting of a jewel.
*homophonic translation into Irish and then dictionary translation back into English (thanks to Nigel Hinshelwood).
Skúlason was at Bobby Fischer’s bedside when he muttered his final words and passed away: “Nothing eases suffering like human touch.”
A poem by that wild man of Irish poetry, Paul Durcan. This one is almost as good as the one about being in Brazil and having a talk with an Irish transvestite about Mary Robinson, former president of the Irish Republic:
10:30 Mass, June 16, 1985
When the priest made his entrance on the altar at the stroke of 10:30
He looked like a film star at an international airport
After having flown in from the other side of the world
As if the other side of the world was the other side of the street;
Only, instead of an overnight bag slung over his shoulder,
He was carrying the chalice in its triangular green veil --
The way a dapper comedian cloaks a dove in a silk handkerchief.
Having kissed the altar, he strode over to the microphone:
I'd like to say how glad I am to be here with you this morning.
Oddly, you could see quite well that he was genuinely glad --
As if, in fact, he had been actually looking forward to this Sunday service,
Much the way I had been looking forward to it myself;
As if, in fact, this was the big moment of his day -- of his week,
Not merely another ritual to be sanctimoniously performed.
He was a small, stocky, handsome man in his forties
With a big mop of curly grey hair
And black, horn-rimmed, tinted spectacles.
I am sure that more than half the women in the church
Fell in love with him on the spot --
Not to mention the men.
Myself, I felt like a cuddle.
The reading from the prophet Ezekiel (17:22-24)
Was a piece of codswallop about cedar trees in Israel
(it's a long way from a tin of steak-and-kidney pie
for Sunday lunch in a Dublin bedsit
to cedar trees in Israel),
but the epistle was worse –
St. Paul on his high horse and, as nearly always,
Putting his hoof in it - prating about "the law court of Christ."
With the Gospel, however, things began to look up --
The parable of the mustard seed as being the kingdom of heaven;
Now then the Homily, at best probably inoffensively boring.
It's Father's Day -- this small, solid, serious, sexy priest began--
And I want to tell you about my own father
Because none of you knew him.
If there was one thing he liked, it was a pint of Guinness;
If there was one thing he liked more than a pint of Guinness
It was two pints of Guinness.
But then when he was fifty-five he gave up the drink.
I never knew why, but I had my suspicions.
Long after he had died, my mother told me why:
He was so proud of me when I entered the seminary
That he gave up drinking as his way of thanking God.
But he himself never said a word about it to me --
He kept his secret to the end. He died from cancer
A few weeks before I was ordained a priest.
I'd like to go to Confession -- he said to me:
OK -- I'll go and get a priest -- I said to him:
No -- don't do that -- I'd prefer to talk to you:
Dying, he confessed to me the story of his life.
How many of you here at Mass today are fathers?
I want all of you who are fathers to stand up.
Not one male in transept or aisle or nave stood up --
It was as if all the fathers in the church had been caught out
In the profanity of their sanctity,
In the bodily nakedness of their fatherhood,
In the carnal deed of their fathering;
Then, in ones and twos and threes, fifty or sixty of us clambered to our feet
And blushed to the roots of our being.
Now -- declared the priest -- let the rest of us
Praise these men our fathers.
He began to clap hands.
Gradually the congregation began to clap hands,
Until the church was ablaze with clapping hands --
Wives vying with daughters, sons with sons,
Clapping clapping clapping clapping clapping,
While I stood there in a trance, tears streaming down my cheeks: Jesus!
I want to tell you about my own father
Because none of you knew him!
Days and Nights in the Forest (India, 1970, Satyajit Ray) is Ray’s Smiles of a Summer Night, his Marriage of Figaro, As You Like it and The Cherry Orchard.
Ray’s films, Days and Nights especially, are tonally related to the Renior of Rules of the Game and the Big Illusion and
D&NF was the second Ray film I saw (after Distant Thunder). Two scenes I remember particularly: on from the very beginning—a shot of the forest going by faster and faster as the music speeds up and a scene where one of the sisters (the supposedly less attractive, or at least less sophisticated one) puts on her jewelry and best dress, and is an absolute goddess.
The original negative of Days and Nights in the Forest film was lost in a fire.
And it seems to be unavailable on DVD, or VHS.