Wednesday, April 21, 2004

I am in Burlington, Vermont, finishing my presentation for tomorrow. Can only have one drink in front of you at a time in Vermont. No beer and whiskey, then, I was informed. So, I took my Heineken back to my room. Strange drinking rules.

I ate my soup
watching another conference
loner eat her salad
as she watched me eat my soup

this experience is not like subway sex
at all

Tuesday, April 20, 2004

Good discussion in the comments area over at Tympan . (4/19/04)

Monday, April 19, 2004

I am very bummed out. Hockey playoffs and preparing conference papers don't mix.

The Habs and Bruins, game seven tonight! I would love to see Montreal stick it to Boston in Boston; I will be in the basement writing about Alice James and invalidism. Andrea, on the other hand, will be upstairs biting her nails. The Avs handled Dallas in 5 games.


The Average Everyday
Being of My Being,
Mine with Many Things
Still Outstanding Since
I Became Ill February
Until I began Being Well
Howes--Susan and Fanny;
Kharms & Vvedensky;
The James Family;
Our Dog, slave owner;
creme caramel;
cultural anthropology;
john englestuch;
arguing with writers
naive about their own
solipsism; their own public
or dread;
their own mine own;
or excess;
or pleasure.

All located in a back pocket brushing a hole towards emptying out
on the counter six bananas bruising crystal sweetness; a morning
sunset; woke wrong side of the bed; a frost sucked pink
from the crab apples blossoms; pink's absence is green; wait twelve months
more for a smell I cannot remember; patiently; paleteria bells or horns;
his crooked leg; the broken street; out-turned collar; bleach; semen; blood;


crescent ridged waxing moon there three fingers; a bench,
lampost, four gnats, sour mouth; campari and ice; stopped
smoking three years ago tomorrow; your suggestion; antibiotics; mornings
I delivered the Hartford C; pissed in gastanks; stood in mold aged or WASP polished foyers;
parted sandy hair; or raked green stench from city beach; guarded nobody like pedaled
nowhere; who would swim in such filth other than the bluefish?
New London;
Ocean Beach;
Virgin head; a horizon not as important as a sky not defined.

Sunday, April 18, 2004

Corey to Houlihan

Visit Josh Corey's blog. Today's entry (4/18/04) is a wonderful letter to Joan Houlihan...glad you published it, Josh.


1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 23.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the sentence in your journal along with these instructions.


"Et voila!"

from Jean-Paul Sartre's Nausea

Friday, April 16, 2004

Friday night

...playing music and weirdness at KVDU tonight from 5-8 MST. Due to tech limitations, you can only stream from your pc, best with internet explorer...

Thursday, April 15, 2004

Problems for poetics (3)

On the first problem towards a third:

If the first problem for poetics is that the intellectual is conventional, I should qualify what I mean by intellectual. All intellectual projects or products are not conventional. The everyday being of the intellectual in culture is conventional. In other words, "the intellectual" is a fashion after a manner of being--a fashion that is always changing style regardless of it conservative faith in traditional tastes. Individuals, hence, assume the appearance of "the intellectual" in public if they can wear the fashion properly. The conventional intellectual is a personality in the market; it is the kind of intellect that speaks publicly in place of all intellectuals. This manner of public speaking is one of many different manners of doing intellectual work publicly.

A difference between saying and doing needs consideration. (Wittgenstein, Austin, Cavell, Putnam, Marion, Heidegger, Husserl, Hegel, Marx.) The intellectual is conventional in its spectacular presentation of knowing without understanding. The intellectual is conventional in its libraries. (Libraries once were, and still are in many societies, spectacles of power and privilege. Americans take it for granted that one can walk into a library and look at a book. I still remember the hoops I jumped through to get my British Library card.) The intellectual is conventional in its ability to produce knowledge upon demand. The intellectual is conventional in its complete disregard for the here and now for a complete reliance upon history as having an always already sensible order. The conventional intellect is an index.

Intellectual saying is conventional, then, because it merely differentiates the visible differences between any given subject and object for any given time within a given history of such comparisons.

In contrast, Intellectual doing is unconcerned with the spectacle of production in the marketplace of the public sphere and merely does its work recognized or not. Understanding, then, is located in each particular moment and in each particular statement rather than as information gatherable from a more or less than accessible archive.

Let a statement = a line or series of lines

A phenomenology for doing
poetry visibly that cares not
for production of the visible,
though its work is always public.

What of poetics? One problem for poetics is: the intellectual is conventional.

...I am moving towards the third problem as the third problem confronts me;
tomorrow it will be a different problem but still as the third problem...

On the second problem in spite of the first:

If the second problem for poetics is learning to tranquilly tarry alongside, I need to qualify tarrying.

Tarrying relates to the chore of doing poetics and should not be confused with doing poetry, which regardless of how one beholds things in the world is not produced as a kind of tarrying alongside. Tarrying alongside is theoretical looking. It runs after, though not necessarily behind, poetry. The Heideggerian "alongside" is significant. I would be wrong to assign the position of the poet and poetics to a particular subject at a particular time. (A few who blur distinctions for us: from my current readings: Fanny Howe, Susan Howe, Augustine, Holderlin, Nick Piombino, Bin Ramke, Cole Swenson, Leslie Scalapino, Lyn Hejinian.) Assigning tags to specific individuals that accompany their names is market mistake and only useful for the professionals; represents a necessary and naive position for vocational reassurance that always only occurs in comparison. Young writers do this, are encouraged to do this: "I write in the high modern tradition and focuse particularly on Pound. I study psychoanalytic and postmodern theory. I like Rothko." Perform a litany; compare the litany to your peers' litanies; differentiate enough to be just so similar yet jsut so different; publish or perish. Folks need to reassert and assess their positions relative to one another in public every day. Such reassurance cultivates the safety of the public sphere and maintains the ideological illusion of homogeneity.

Nevertheless, such statements are spectacles and conventional and do not say anything meaningful about the doing of poetry and poetics. Such a disjunction explains the bilious responses to crony-ism found in blogs and sites like Foetry. Really, it serves nobody to justify nepotism. We rely on patronage and community as a rule in order to maintain community resources. To deny folks access to explicitly care for their colleagues is to deny the self in many ways. The real source of angst that Foetry excellently displays is typically left unexplored. I find it enough to say: It is hard to publish, I keep receiving rejections, I continue to write, someone will get in touch with me eventually, then I will publish. What is the point of wasting any further energy on the market? The work we do is not umbilically tied to a market. (Though, as I argued yesterday on the Buffalo Poetics listserv, our work is a form of social recompense. I will post my post here at Dagzine above this one.)

I am exploring here, playfully and seriously. I want to complicate my statements:

Problems with my problems:

1. The second problem must be articulated in spite of the first, as I state above, because the second problem implies that poetry is not conventional.

2. In spite of myself, I find that poetry is not intellectual because it is not conventional. Maybe this appears to be a snag. However, if doing poetry is not concerned with its public being as an intellectual pursuit and instead is concerned with the task at hand only and what is ready to hand for that task, then poetry cannot have as its goal the claim to being intellectual. This does not limit disussion about poetry to "poetry is poetry." Rather, to be concerned with anything other than the project that poetry pro-jects is a move towards a production of a spectacular image that always approaches the look of poetry but never necessarily grasps it.

3. Am I getting lost in doing poetry, or am I attempting to trace a particular archived form of poetry? Ron, this gives a whole 'nother meaning to Pound's famous insistence that Eliot remove the footnotes to "The Wasteland." Also provides a fresh way to consider Stein's and Olson's work, maybe even Williams'.

4. I may be working towards a substantial claim that poetry is not intellectual; I have yet to address how poetry is not poetics. Many can easily hear without disagreement that doing poetics is not doing poetry. Poets especially dig this idea: Move on theorists to your own territory, you don't really do THE work. However, this slights the theoretical looking that poetics does for poetry itself. If the poetry is not intellectual as it is a self-involved moment publicly displayed and often monumentalized, then poetics is a culturally involved moment outwardly directed about the poetic product. Such a symbiotic relationship between poetry and poetics allows the work to be done in spite of the deep and unexplored relationship/debt both vocations owe culture (the public sphere.) One produces the other without a cultivation of the other's production.

5. Certainly, I am starting from an ideal position. I accept such a critique. I cannot begin with the REAL. the ideal provides an empty space within which to begin building a structure that can be examined, destructured, restructured--filled. Like an etch-a-sketch for theory. Regardless, I have noticed that those authors who write both poetry and poetics, those who attempt to complete both projects at the same time (i.e., Hejinian's Happily & Howe's Tis of Thee,) their lines are burdened with the anxiety of completing such a task.

6. Problems, then, seems to be most visible in texts that claim to not only BE poetry but BE a looking a poetry at the same time.

7. If theoretical looking is a tranquil tarrying alongside and poetry is an all-involved doing poetry, then poetic projects that examine the poem and the process at the same time are necessarily self-opposed. I see in Eliot's poetry, in M Moore's too, this anxiety.

8. Try looking at yourself in a dream; try making the invisible visible.

9. And don't get the idea, folks, that I am arguing for a return to a romantic idealism for crafting poems--coleridge and wordsworth and keats and so on--some kind of ideal absorption--the elgin...While I wouldn't mind such a self-indulgent excess right now, o possible patrons, I do think the important work in poetry is being accomplished within work that challenges textual-spatial borders.


the third problem for poetics seems clear:
poetry is not intellectual.

Problems for poetics
1. the intellectual is conventional
2. theoretical looking is a tranquil tarrying alongside
3. poetry is not intellectual

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

Reading and A problem for poetics (2):

reading list (reading and trying to get to):

Charles Olson. Maximus Poems
Stanley Cavell. Claim of Reason
JL Austin. Philosophical Papers
Holderlin. Hyperion
Schiller. On the Sublime; On the Pathetic; Aesthetic Education of Man (I love coming back to these essays)


Comment Ca Va?

How is IT going?

Heidegger thinks it is best left going. Not a theory for everything, after all. Big mistake, Descartes. Not I think therefore I am, but I am therefore I think. More significant a complication than people give Heidegger credit for. Well, it influences their thinking about being with or without their knowledge of the influence.

Cannot see it, but can see it-going.

Thoreau wakes up one day and decides to see the bottom of Walden pond. That is the only way to know its true depth.


On Tranquility

"Yet even the purest theory has not left all moods behind it; even when we look theoretically at what is just present at hand, it does not show itself purely as it looks unless this theory lets it comes towards us in a tranquil tarrying alongside in comfort and recreation." Being and Time, [138].

I translated the Greek that Heidegger purposefully left in. The word to focus on is theory. Heidegger, and his translators, leave in the Greek "theoria." I take it he is using the word and many of its meaning at once. Word choice, hence play, in Being and Time is part of the pleasure of the text. Let's explore.

  • Theoria can mean a group representing a state, as in the theoroi were sent to Maine.
  • Theoria is the beholding or viewing that one does when one goes abroad to see the world or undertakes a pilgrimage. Hence, this kind of beholding or viewing is not necessarily sights gleaned from gazing upon a spectacle.
  • However, theoria can refer to viewing a spectacle, as in viewing theater or games.
  • Theoria applies to the beholding or viewing of the mind in its consideration and contemplation. It takes into account a specific kind of reckoning.
  • Rhetorically, theoria might refer that reckoning being held in consistent speculation.

Heidegger's playful reckoning with theoria while he contemplates "theoretical looking" is important because it differentiates between kinds of looking. Tranquil tarrying alongside is not possible with the beholding of a spectacle but in the kind of beholding the mind does in doing being only. This tranquil reckoning--a tarrying alongside the mind that theory can do--is a witnessing and cultivating of being that cannot be theorized. In other words, "theory lets IT comes towards us" rather than than we address IT. This concept of tarrying the theoretical looking should do problematizes the attack oriented behavior theoreticians usually participate in when looking at some thing or concept.

Makes me want to reconsider Wordsworth's claims (more like demands, really) in his "Preface to the Lyrical Ballads." And so I will.

Also, a significant aspect of Godard and Mieville's Comment Ca Va? is the asking us to consider the different aspects of "the active" and "the passive" in production: of the film, of the news, of party politics, of technology, etc. In light of Heidegger's phenomenological study and his attempt to locate an authentic discourse (attentiveness, a hearing or listening,) "theory lets IT comes towards us" to reckon How It Goes.

Poetry is It-Going, then. Poetics is looking at poetry.


The first problem for poetics is that the intellectual is conventional. (the spectacle of an intellect)

The second problem for poetics is learning to tranquilly tarry alongside. (poetics is not poetry)

Monday, April 12, 2004

pretty sick right now...hard to get anything done
never mind blogging.

I have some reading and ideas to share. Maybe, tomorrow.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

A postcard from the River Center Marriott in San Antonio

below my window
33 floors down
there, ethnic trio
plays guitar
flutes drums
all day near the
Alamo play
the simon and garfunkle songbook

grapefruit hair
texas ladies
applaud with flat hands
after each hit
they bow.

actually, I am thinking of recording them with my dictaphone
and mixing their set into/onto a copy of Werner Herzog's Aguirre, Wrath of God.

Puts it all into perspective
Kinski choking a wild monkey
on a raft down a river to
a bridge over troubled water.

now they are playing morricone from leone films.
i have to flee,

a room with a hella view.

Monday, April 05, 2004

Saturday, April 03, 2004

boy-o! I was in a mood this morning. Sorry if I offended you, Josh, with my comments about the book image. I think I made my point clearly, but I didn't have to be so gruff.

And the Avalanche won last night, too. I have no excuse, really.
I missed it, I think, but meant to put this up yesterday...

Ernesto Priego,

Happy Birthday!


Nick Piombino hits his mark.

"The individual
human being was
founded on a basis of
order in public life;
This is why he is helpless
when he cannot recognize
it anywhere."

Robert Musil

Blue Guitars are only good for smashing

[A whiny it's too early in the morning for me to think straight complaint about not being referenced is here excised--the editor]

I will say this much:

Sean Serrell (admittedly) doesn't understand Marx on Capital. He opines, "There are a number of reasons why Marxism in its utopianism does not fit the way we work as an evolved species." HUH? Marx a utopian. Give me a break. First, Captial is arguably the only book ever written the purpose of which is to explore Capital as it is, not as it should be. Neoclassical economics is in la-la land compared to Marx as it is a study of ideals and relativity. Jeremy Bentham was nuts (his stuffed body that is willed to be wheeled into any lecture on utility is a sign of this fact) and not only was he nuts but Utility just doesn't hold water. Most Capitalists are utopianists--they push the ideal. Marx tried to unveil the veil/vale. Sean, I know you asked for some "nice Marxist" to explain, but you really do misrepresent the author in question.

The blue guitar crap doesn't hold water either. In fact, I think the way that poem is being used at the moment is just wrong. Nevertheless, YOU, the poet, may play your blue guitar, but so what? What does that say about the music as it is heard , the tune as it is used , and the meaning of the acts from learning to play to selling the lyric as they are hidden ?

Mike Snider seems disgusted or ashamed at my use of Marx. He writes, "But Marx!" Love the exclamation mark. Mike, if you haven't read Capital, you should. Folks seem to think that their reading of the anthologized bits of The Communist Manifesto and maybe bits on German Ideology are good enough to go on. But no. The important book, the most important that is, is Capital, which is not a political book, it is a scientific study. Much more scientific than S Pinker's overly-apologetic support of flawed-though-useful and humane Chomskian linguistic theory. (Btw, Sean, if you like teaching Pinker, a good book to use as a comparison to show students the problems with the idea that we don't have the capacity for language is a book called Educating Eve. Such an offensive book, from title to last period. It is a purposeful attack on Pinker and Chomsky. Fails completely, but superiorly written.)

Anyway, Capital is not about communism at all. I certainly don't buy some of Marx's arguments but I do believe in the spirit of his inquiry.

It isn't up to me to decide whether what I do is a commodity or not. Quite frankly, we should be studying this problem: What are we doing about the exchange of poetry? Not picking on Josh, because I appreciate him and his ideas, but (apparently) he is as concerned with the poetry right now as he is about the picture on the cover of his book being visible on Amazon's online marketplace. And I know that this comment might sound insensitive. I am sensitive to his needs. If it were my book, I would want the picture up. But, to mention this desire (based on utility, a system of economics that has nothing to do with poetry, can have nothing to do with the vocation--Holderlin) in media res with the debate about the market is highly suspect.

So why not drop the bullshit about the blue guitar--more like a rhinestone cowboy is how I see it. Why the guitar...all the talk about the thing...which in our market tends to become a commodity in order to be useful in public discourse? Why not talk about the guitar player? It's flash, not folk that we're dealing with here. And this is why I suggested a few weeks ago a poetry tour during which the participants all split the costs to conduct a readings series that is truly public. In other words, not tied to an institution. One thing I learned this quarter is that there are a few academics out there who are using their affiliations with writers to bolster their own worth on the market. I have had it with that agenda.

Sean, you are right on in finding suspect the desire to "maintain" worthless distinctions between the mainstream and the avant-garde. I am with you, brother. Makes me steam. Especially when the folks who maintain such distinctions don't really seem to care what others think about their ideas as long as they are heard.

If we are really interested in the work and the song, then this sort of free-ing up of discourse (events like a poetry tour) won't be a sacrifice, they become necessity. That is: as long as we consider the work. Otherwise, it's all flash and kissing ass.

I just see Pete from the Who smashing it up
that blue guitar
stolen, then smashed
over and over

that's all it's good for anyway.

I have asked many questions, made some points recently. The debate has now been referred to as the "Mike versus Josh" debate. It is condensed into two oppositional views. Sean, if you are going to complain about Steve Evans doing it, you should refrain as well.

NAMES. MARKETS. SYSTEMS of EXCHANGE. The one and the other.

Peirson! What of Levinas and desire///how do I know what I am doing out here?

Thursday, April 01, 2004

My blog roller was slowing things down. So I removed it. I am currently revising my links list. If you were linked and now aren't, you will be back soon.