Saturday, April 25, 2009

Death to all Projects?

Dorothea Lasky has posted her treatise on why poets should avoid the term "project" as a convenient term to describe their ongoing work. Personally, I don't use the word since it connotes knowing what one is going to do before having done it, a predetermination, or prehension. I also associate it with many of the worst elements of Modernity (the Knowledge project, the Colonialist project, genocidal projects, etc.). Isn't the very notion of project what we've been working against after Modernity (as a project itself)? I prefer the term problem to project. Since poetry is an expert discourse, why shouldn't poets conceive more accurate terms to describe the status of their work?

Friday, April 24, 2009

A Strike for Rod Smith

What buttons to push
And what peaches how
Much would they be

Worth when every one
Demands a pound of
Flesh both gods and

Men in the eyes of la-
bor true value cries from
The wings dissembles

Power is power which-
ever forms it assumes
In this night of virtual

Demonstrations what
It would mean to find
Those buttons you speak

To those peaches to
Which Jack Spicer refers
What would we with-

draw from ourselves
To make a strike that
We have not with-

drawn already to make
The poem a kind of re-
distribution of wealth?

Health Care as a Human Right

Here is an interview at Democracy Now about a movement abreast in Montana arguing for Universal Health Care as a Human Right. It is such a sea change of thinking, which renders completely inadequate the current "private"/"public" oriented debates about health care reform in the United States, that is badly needed now...

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Younger Than Jesus at New Museum

This is one of the better art shows I've seen in a long time, especially large group shows/retros. What is especially impressive is how the show actually captures a generational range and spirit among people age 25-33 (rough estimate of artists' ages in show). While the work is not overladen with computer-based art, there is also a pervasive sense of how Web 2.0 in particular is changing the way we think about art as a social activity/product. And, as Jerry Saltz suggests, how an emergent generation of artists are the vanguard of a new affective culture.

Brandon Brown on Disaster Suites

I have been enjoying Brandon Brown's conversational blog, HI, which is ever breezy and yet concise (a rare quality in criticism). Here goes the longish entry, which you can also find here if you scroll down for awhile:

"1. Yes, I’ve been living with Rob Halpern’s Disaster Suites. There is so much to think about and so many various ways the conversation could go, but maybe I could just make some mentions.

For one thing, there is the fascinatingly fraught relationship with the lyric that’s both performed and discussed. In the prose piece which comes after the suites themselves, “Post Disaster,” Rob writes, “I hope these poems don’t persist. Or rather, I hope the conditions that make them readable do not.” This is shocking for the perhaps obvious reason that the lyric has always been obsessed with its own preservation. Catullus and Horace, to some degree typical of classical lyric practice, inscribed into their verses prayers that their works would endure. I read these sentences in Disaster Suites as the negative of those prayers. The “rather” is hopelessly, beautifully emblematic of the paradoxical desires and intentions that constitute so much of the text. How would you read an illegible work? Except, there is a way in which the world that makes such work illegible could then be read as bearing meaning. Or something like that.

There’s a terrific paradox in which what is to be desired is refusal itself, performed in the world No! One wants to say no to the disaster, no to the conditions that permeate and structure disaster. It’s a gorgeous affirmation of the desire to negate—but, viz. the last lines of the suites:

In words with no future we seek portals
Holes and faults hew new relations quicken
Chasing that persistent and ongoing no!

The meaning of the word “hew” and its use here really evokes Oppen for me, someone who I know is terribly important to Rob. To “hew” of course means to cut and to fashion. Like “render.” This chase after negation is critical for so many reasons: the “troika” of police, state, and capital demands obedience (framed as “yes”), the media representation around disaster is inevitably productive of, not resistant to, the disaster. The proliferation of imagery and analysis (Rob mentions the racialized distinction between “looting” and “finding” in post-Katrina coverage) is a sort of persistent and ongoing yes! to the disaster, etc.

There’s so much more to say—maybe there are things I’ll be able to say in the future (besides omfg stop reading fucking talking points and read this book), but I also think that this book demonstrates that uncanny relationship with the lyric in its form. I mean, this is so hard to talk about, so do you mind if quote:

So then I woke up wondering about the multitude
And whether I could ever vocally be a part of that i-
Dea or thing or whether I’d get stuck just trying to

---This is one stanza in one poem in one suite of the book and utterly excised out of its context. Sorry. But I find this so prosodically rich. The question “could I ever be a part of that I” emerges from “that idea”, following on an “I” which wonders about the multitude. It’s as if the statement is thus both “I woke up wondering whether I could be a vocal part of the multitude.” and “I woke up wondering whether I could be a vocal part of the multitude which after all is just an “I”.”
But then notice the repetition of length. The first and third lines are 14 syllables. The middle line is 15 syllables, or “one off”—that extra syllable at the end? “I” “I” then figures in this moment also as a surplus or excess; or appendix; or, to reference another anxiety of the book, it’s what you find when you start to count.

There are like dozens of moments in this text where such formal stratifications are at play."
--Brandon Brown

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Nationalization of Banks and Auto-Industry?

Why is there not a strong and vocal movement abreast to nationallize (dare I say socialize) the banks and auto corporations that have been bailed out by the Obama admin/Geithner?

Is there one, and I'm just not aware of it?

If there is to finally be socialism in this country, shouldn't this be a ripe moment for it to come about?

Any info wld be appreciated in comment boxes or at tadonovan [at] hotmail [dot] com.