Saturday, July 07, 2007

Die Back

~ after Rebecca Solnit,
composed on Cape Cod, July 2007

Die back to what you weren't
But always were "wetback"
An architect of green space
If cement was flexible the social

Density of forgetting was
All we were the bodies inter-
Action convulsively came
Back to life jumped that fence--

Leaving you leaving me
For this grace in horizons notes
World becomes the eyes
All dunes commence

Miss all targets like a tern
Falling to rock rests here--
Not no one is them not the
Dead the invisible water

Tables what lies deeper
Beneath or their instruments
History's us and not us--
Consequence cuts like "a line

of synchronicity" size and
Quality quality and size
Consequence cuts us but
The synchronous sing not

Of synchronicity only or
Fundament all of a sudden--
No one is them and this is
Feedback a percept tucks

Folds what other sound we
Were filled with holes with
Other arrows signs take-in
This air which made a difference

The discontinuous flight
Of all eyes unjoined--
Of bodies or a whirl of green
The sight cleaved what

Heart once my body under
Yours the flow of which
Throws me grows to a price
Too great or pitch to place

Each last sense none hero
To the other thus sunburns
Address responsibility--
Shorelines process the bodies.

Friday, July 06, 2007

Moby Dick as an Original Text of Total Process / Gam 5 (Note)*

Herman Melville’s *Moby Dick* means a variety of things to a variety of people. Such is its richness as a text forming a discourse. For myself, as perhaps also for F.O. Matthiessen, Charles Olson, C.L.R. James, Susan Howe and others before me, I would like the book to remain irreducible, and to merely make that text meaningful for my own life and culture in relation to Melville’s own as I best understand them.

*Moby Dick* is so many things, and yet it may broach all things insofar as it is a book of what I am calling *total process*—an intertextuality describing a complete process of whaling more or less as it occurred until the period of the 1840’s and 50’s when Melville composed the book.

Reading *Moby Dick* these past months I have not turned to favorite passages—“The Whiteness of the Whale,” the speeches of Ahab, Starbuck and Stubbs, the Shakespearian tragedy comprising much of the later book. Instead of attending *Moby Dick* as a work of “literature,” I have looked to that which may be considered most banal about the book’s contents: the details of a culture and of a labor process as they are fastidiously, if not completely, described by Melville’s text. It is perhaps only by citing whaling in its minute particulars that Melville may express profound things about the world, his society, and so encounter the general and “universal”. Through “the whale” and whaling one proceeds to dilemmas of ontological proportion as they presuppose ones of production, craft, labor, identity, history, etc.

*Have ready a bottle of brandy, because I always feel like drinking that heroic drink when we talk ontological heroics together.* ~ Herman Melville to Nathaniel Hawthorne, June 29th, 1951

Encountering Melville again, “ontological heroics” antedate the facts of whaling as they alone may fathom a speculative aether—compose imagination, proposition, allegory and critique. Preceding William James’ *Principles of Psychology* by numerous decades there is Melville, that proto-Radical Empiricist, encyclopedically documenting whaling through research, perception, insight, and experience. That Melville could get down as much as he does about whaling is extraordinary considering his brief stint as a mariner, and that much of his information was culled from research in books—a fact the chapter on cetology underscores, as well as the “Extracts” prefacing the book.

Melville should be placed beside the most radical and thorough documentarians of the 20th century, and especially cinematic radicals like Dziga Vertov and Chris Marker, inasmuch as his book is organized through a method of narrative parataxis anticipating cinematic montage and radical collage. In this regard Melville, and not Whitman—whom Sergei Eisenstein, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Vertov all admired tremendously—may be the true predecessor of early Soviet Realism and French Cine Verité. Beyond documentary practices, we should also consider Melville an original ethnographer in his dramatic recording of the speech and behavior of whalers in the mid-19th century. Since I’m not a scholar of the 19th century whaling industry, nor of Melville per se, the “reality” of this ethnographic practice is, for me, unverifiable. Yet I continue to be interested in Melville’s *Moby Dick* as an ethnographic-documentary method: choose a particular field of inquiry and gather the facts about it allowing much else (everything?) must follow. It is likely Charles Olson cites this epistemological movement in the following selection from his “A Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn”:

*And to hook on here is a lifetime of assiduity. Best thing to do is to dig one thing or place or man until you yourself know more abt that than is possible to any other man. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Barbed Wire or Pemmican or Paterson or Iowa. But exhaust it. Saturate it. Beat it.

And then U KNOW everything else very fast: one saturation job (it might take 14 years). And you’re in, forever.* (*Collected Prose*, 307)

Whaling was Melville’s “saturation job,” the thing he dug most intensely, and through this thing he got to more difficult truths about his world than he probably should have otherwise had he continued to write adventure stories like *Mardi* and *Typee*, or pursued strict existential-structuralist tales like “Bartleby the Scrivener” and “I and My Chimney”. The “second book” of the two comprising *Moby Dick*—that book Olson famously argues Melville writes after reading Shakespeare closely, marking-up the margins of the *Works*—arguably grows out of the first book being a “job” for total process. Through the deliberate mediation of a total process recording many facts the world should be converted—imaginatively, allegorically, propositionally, alchemically:

*There was only one thing in the spring of 1850 which he did not feel he could afford to do: “So far as I am individually concerned, & independent of my pocket, it is my earnest desire to write those sort of books which are said to ‘fail.’”

In the end, in *Moby Dick*, he did. Within three months he took his head again. Why?

Through May he tried to do a quick book for the market: “all my books are botches.” Into June he fought his materials: “blubber is blubber.” Then something happened. What, Melville tells:*

I somehow clung to the strange fancy, that, in all men hiddenly reside certain wondrous, occult, properties—as in plants and minerals—which by some happy but rare accident (as bronze was discovered by the melting of the iron and brass at the building of Corinth) may chance to be called forth here on earth. (*Call Me Ishmael*, 37-38)

What “wondrous, occult properties” are called forth “in all men” by an effort of total process?

Works Cited:
Melville, Herman. *Moby Dick*. Oxford World’s Classics, 1988.
Olson, Charles. *Call Me Ishmael*. Johns Hopkins University Press, 1997.
______. *Collected Prose*. ed. Donald Allen & Benjamin Friedlander. intro Robert Creeley. University of California Press, 1997.

*"Moby Dick as an Original Text of Total Process" appears in Gam 5, edited by Stacy Szymaszek with contributions by Etel Adnan, E. Tracy Grinnell, Deborah Meadows, Jane Sprague, Rob Halpern and numerous others.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

Peace On A presents: Urayoán Noel & special guests (Ad)

Peace On A


Urayoán Noel & special guests

Sunday, July 8th 2007 4PM
recommended donation: $5

curated by Paolo Javier & Thom Donovan at:

6th & B Garden
@ 6th St. and Avenue B

about the presenters:

Urayoán Noel is the author of *Kool Logic* / *La Lógica Kool* (Bilingual Press)—a “books of 2006” selection by the Puerto Rican newspaper El Nuevo Día—as well as two volumes of poetry in Spanish: the post-industrial object-book *Las Flores del Mall* (2000) and *Boringkén*, which is forthcoming with spoken-word cd from Ediciones Callejón. He has performed throughout the U.S. and Puerto Rico, as well as in the Dominican Republic and Perú, and his rock/ spoken-word collaborations with composer Monxo López are featured on the dvd *Kool Logic* sessions. His essays, articles, interviews, reviews, and translations of Latin American and Latino poets have appeared or are forthcoming in Rattapallax; Rain Taxi; Mandorla; Teachers and Writers; and Centro: Journal of the Center for Puerto Rican Studies, and he is currently completing, with Guillermo Rebollo-Gil, a bilingual anthology of Puerto Rican poetry since the 1960’s for Terranova Editores. Originally from San Juan, Puerto Rico, he is a doctoral candidate in Spanish and Portuguese at NYU and lives in the South Bronx, where he co-directs the arts organization ‘spanic Attack and fronts the sometimes rock band El Objeto (Opa, Objet Petit A).

Double (Consciousness) Dactyl

Higgledy Piggledy
Booker T. Washington
Screamed “Up from Slavery!”
Making some noise
Wrote a polemical
Dog-eared by W.
E.B. DuBois.

Peace On A is an events series devoted to emergent work by writers, artists, performers and scholars. Past presenters at Peace on A include Alan Gilbert, E. Tracy Grinnell, Cathy Park Hong, Paolo Javier, Robert Kocik, Wayne Koestenbaum, Douglas Martin, Eléna Rivera, David Levi Strauss, Andrew Levy, Kyle Schlesinger, Jonathan Skinner, Sasha Steensen & Charles Valle. Scroll down Wild Horses of Fire weblog ( for back advertisements, introductions and reading selections.

“*Here*, you said and say, is
where we are. Give back

what we are, these people you made,
*us*, and nowhere but you to be.”
~ Robert Creeley


*photos courtesy Bill Coffel

Wednesday, July 04, 2007


America, you ode for reality!
Give back the people you took.

Let the sun shine again
on the four corners of the world

you thought of first but do not
own, or keep like a convenience.

*People* are your own word, you
invented that locus and term.

*Here*, you said and say, is
where we are. Give back

what we are, these people you made,
*us*, and nowhere but you to be.

--Robert Creeley

Unliving Democracy

"I" wants such little
--Distance to lay waste
To "me" again and touch--
The bodies I am not

The bodies I have been
--And those a mind
Has sacrificied like--
Soldiers we will never see

The guns of those
--Who'll never understand
My "self" but the desert--
Goes on in *strength*

And thus a politicking
--A policing and this "a"...
Not breaking its trances--
Not for *me* or for *I*

A greener world waits
--For no one but for here
So polluted by the voices--
Unraised by cash money

A simple tomb goes thru
--All the words of prosody
Green and yet fulfilled--
When they are spoken

A mile's nothing except
--Immeasurable 'stead of us
Negative experience suffices--
For worlds never been

Black ice or white lists
--Who go enlisted and site
Destiny like a voice--
Authority gains in aether

The little ones go and give
--Their lives away like big ones
The big ones go among them--
Susceptible to Democracy.


"that which presents itself in the appearing of a situation"
~ Alain Badiou

Demonstrations are the ey
es of the mind the law of
these cannons subtracted
from our organization Spin-

oza watching a spider fight
the Left upward 70,000
dead completes the excepted
subject of the Commune

what's integral weak under
standing strong imaginati
on my lover aims names
found which formed fog of

war weapons of principle
contemplative verbs the vio
lence of all things that mo
ve somewhere in history.