Thursday, October 07, 2004


Then the prince said: "People or rather each person by himself can very well be viewed as a novel serialized in a daily newspaper which is printed by nature in the editorial office however a horrible arbitrariness prevails and as we see the world daily looks forward to that arbitrariness with great eagerness and the writers make use of the truth which is useless to the philosophers" - Thomas Bernhard

Sunday, September 19, 2004

An [grampa, child abuse, nature] Excerpt from Anne Lauterbach's talk/essay, "Use This Word in a Sentence: Experimental"

I am interested in the relation between [grampa, child abuse, nature] and knowledge, the ways in which experience and experiment might link the two.

We need to be careful not to mistake [grampa, child abuse, nature] for knowledge.

To experiment means you must put [grampa, child abuse, nature] at risk to what you do not yet know.

I began to give up conventional syntax, the logic of cause and effect, an assumed relation between subject and object, after my sister died. [grampa, child abuse, nature] had been ruptured once and for all. I wanted the gaps to show. When the gaps began to show, a new sense of isolated wholes, of complete gestures, began to replace old Aristotelian ideas of [grampa, child abuse, nature]...In this new dispensation, the hinges or places of contact became the most important location of [grampa, child abuse, nature], as in music and in some abstract art. This seemed both more real and more natural to me...

As long as we regret and long for lost syntheses, master narratives, [grampa, child abuse, nature], we will be unable to imagine the institutions which will override greed, self-interst, and cruelty, all of which are always ready to assert their prerogatives at the expense of [grampa, child abuse, nature].

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Excerpt from Teddy Hultbeg's book

Opera, a 12-meter scroll that Fahlstrom worked on for several years, sometimes concurrently with his work on the manifesto, constituted his first visual composition of note. At the same time it marked a new direction in his imagery, as he described in a letter to Edouard Jaguer in 1954 for the silkscreen folder produced by Swedish Traveling Exhibitions in 1968:

"Opera began with my discovery of the felt-tipped pen in 1952. It allowed me to work with a fairly precise, even, black, inky tone and also with gradations of grey which were not as fuzy as pencil shading and... the felt tip generated more random textures. After a time, the agreeable "spontaneity" of this way of working got monotonous. I began placing a nubmer of illustrated sheets alongside one another and could see continuity and larger schemes beginning to appear. I also noticed that different sheets, when brought together to form a whole, produced shifts, unexpected, "unnatrual" events on the paper.

"At that time I was interested in pre-Columbian Mexican book-paintings which evolved from page to page in long panels. And in music - as a visual artist I missed the time dimension found in music. I particularly liked the "impure" mixture of concert and theater found in opera (The Ring of... for ex). I realized how, as in much of primitive, oriental and medieval art, one could work with pictures so rich in content and so vast that you couldn't just take a few steps backward, screw up your eyes and enjoy the whole... I wanted to make the spectator move not only their eyes but their whole being along and round about int he picture as if they were studying a map or playing Monopoly or football [soccer].

"The idea of a game came to me at the same time, while I was in the process of writing the Manifesto for Concrete Literature. There, too, I expressed impatience with the monotony and privacy of pure atutomatism. It shoudl be possible to draw up your own simple rules, create frames of reference within a work of art...

"... Gradually 'Opera' acquired a sort of protagonist, a caterpillar-like creature with a large "head" and a "bump" in the middle. It appears with increasing frequency in the latter part of the work. It is "threatened" by the shape resembling a halbred or a broad-axe. At the end of the work, the "caterpillar" is exploded...."

This goes on for some time. Now clearly we would [had we seen a scanned version of this work on Johannes' blog-bog] classify this work as a "visual" art work. However, they seem to totally bleed into one another in Fahlstrom ouvre. And more importantly, I think this shows what I find to be a very liberating, all-eoncompassing atttitude toward art. He brings in contemporary art, traditional Asian music, everything. Come to think of it, this isn't such a good example as pertainign to writing but since I've already typed it all out painstakingly I'll leave it in and put in some more poetry-oriented material later. He's also got a web site that is very thorough:

My favorite detail: Fahstrom refers to his collages as "parties."

Oyvind Fahlstrom

was a Swedish poet (born in Brazil, however)of the 1950s and 60s, and founder of the Concretist movement. I've been reading Teddy Hultberg's book about him, Manipulate the World, at the same time as I've been reading the poems for the NY School class I'm in at the moment, and I have repeatedly been struck by how tame the NY School is in comparison (Make no mistake: I am a fan of their work, have been for a long time, while I've just discovered the Concretists). I read these articles where Kenneth Kock talks about experimenting with collaborations, treating it as if it was something very daring. Now I realize I'm totally decontextualizing etc, but in comparison Kock's and O'Hara's experiments seem very academic and self-conscious (Though it still seems to me that the Ashberry of the second book and on until the 70s really throws down). Fahlstrom doesn't just collaborate with others - for him there seems to be no distinction between painting, drawing, cartoons, poetry, happenings, even board games. It's like he's inside mythology, his life art. I feel there is something about his restlessness that reminds me of Godard's movies. And Godard is the greatest post war Western artist that I can think of so that's pretty high praise. It's a great antidote ot a literature obsessed with disciplining off everything in separate areas and languages, where most poets seem engaged in the craft of writing "poetry." As I don't know how to scan in pictures or put up links, I'll add a description of his work. And also, there's some stuff on Ubu web.

Saturday, September 11, 2004

Abt. Guy Madden etc.

What's really interesting is a poem that doesn't read like a poem or a novel that doesnt read like a novel. Or movies that dont seem like movies. Otherwise any created object is just there for the comparion - not that a non-novel-like novel gets closer to "real life" per se, since "real life" tends to be a generalized journalistic convention, but it's no longer tucked safely away into a specific genre, with its over-trained eyes. Therefore it seems more familar in the uncanny, disturbing sense, and not familar in the harsh, banal, Time-Life sense. As in William Gaddis' rants abt. the dissolution of weird human musical variables (in Agape Agape) with the introduction of the player piano at the turn of the century. Poems that seem like poems or novels which seem like novels equal out to the central idea behind the player piano. A standardized, correct aesthetic. In that way, a movie like Coward Bend the Knee - which seems so stylized; the blue tones, the Freudian hand - is really a kind of ultimate anti-player piano. The weird human variables creating the form from the inside-out, not vice versa.

On "Experimental" Poetry

Everybody likes to beat up on the strawman/woman of confessional "narrative" poetry. Everybody has read language poetry and now the narrative poetry of the 1970s is no longer "smart." We agree that such poetry is ludicrous. However, we have noted with interest that most of these people who have read language poetry, Jorie Graham and Ashbery, and who admire each others' poems for being "smart" have just exchanged cosmetics. They are writing the same little pious poems that the confessional poets wrote. Only instead of writing poems that are "real" (grampa, child abuse, nature) they write poems that are "smart" (signifier, ellipsis, problematize). The concept of psychology is the same. What does "experimental" mean these days? Oddly it has come to mean the same as "alternative music" meant in the 1990s. It means nostalgic. The same thing "real" meant in the 70s and 80s. (Somwhere in this rat beats Eliot's hyacinth girl). Experimental poetry buries its head and plays a funeral dirge on a violin because it reminds it of the movies it used to watch when it had a head. We laugh at this phenomenon. Poetry is hilarious. Montgomery Cliff is not the same person as Montgomery Clift. Are manifestoes nostalgic? Are you nostalgic? Are you my Acapulco? We are patently nostalgic. We prefer to read Anatol Stern. What happened?

Friday, September 10, 2004

Manifesto of the Anti-Real

1. Art is neither a form of consolation nor a butler to hegemonies. Even in its most discreet moments, art explodes.

2. The Anti-Real does not deny the Real.[1] The Anti-Real knows that everything is in annihilation in the Sublime. The Anti-Real is that which seeks to manifest itself through the secret side-door to the Sublime rather than through the mock world of realism.

3. Realism is the bordello of those who would have their perceptions affirmed rather than dilated. When the door of fascism is opened, Realism will be seen lounging like a whore in its inner sanctum.

4. The Apocalypse is a way of thinking. Only the Apocalyptic clock announces from atop the grotesque pile of refuse, 'The Kingdom of Heaven is now.'

5. Irony is not a device. It is a state of being.

6. To be Anti-Real is not to be Surreal. The achievement of Surrealism lies in displacing correspondences, in the poem not arriving. In the Anti-Real, all assumptions are disabled, too, with one difference: the Anti-Real displaces causal logic with a totalizing logic of violence.

7. ‘Defile! Defile!’ shriek the Obliterati as they vandalize the museum of language.

8. Sentimentality is a form of exploitation, a connivance with official lies. Hang sentimentality on the gallows of Emergency.

[1] Even though the Real does not exist.

Wednesday, September 08, 2004

from Against the Grain

So, in a spirit of hate and scorn for his unhappy childhood, he had suspended from the ceiling of the room we speak of a little cage of silver wire in which a cricket was kept prisoner to chirp as they used to do in the old days among the cinders in the great fireplaces at the Chateau de Lourps. Whenever he heard this sound, which he had so often listened to on many an evening of constraint and silence in his mother's chamber, all the miseries of a wretched and neglected childhood would come crowding before the eye of memory. At such times... a sudden commotion would shake his soul, a longing for revenge on dreary hours endured in former times... - JK Huysman -