Wednesday, March 30, 2005

Robert Creeley

I am really too sad for words. He has meant a lot to me.

Monday, March 28, 2005

I can't find it.

Something wonderful happened today

Colorado Supreme Court successfully interprets the law, the constitution:

Lisl Auman was convicted for the 1997 murder of Officer Bruce VanderJagt, even though she was handcuffed and in a police car when the crime happened. The man who shot the officer, Matthaeus Jaehnig, committed suicide moments after he killed VanderJagt.

The CO Supreme Court overturned that conviction. Andrea is quite pleased; she is a public defender here (go public defenders) and her boss defended Auman. It's too bad Hunter Thompson isn't around to see this opinion. He was a visible presence during Auman's trial; he would have smiled.

Andrea's boss also argued and won another very important case: Robert Harlan was sentenced to death in 1995 after his jury consulted the bible during the penalty phase for his murder trial. His sentece was commuted to life by the District Court and the State appealed. The CO Supreme Court upheld the District Court's decision. Harlan will not be executed.

File Under:

Sunday, March 27, 2005


Received Maggie Nelson's Jane: A Murder. (thanks Shanna!)

Wonderfully designed. Am happily devouring it.

Thursday, March 24, 2005

Co Respondence

Here is Thomas Lifson's response to my letter:

Dear Professor Norris,

I looked at your blogspot site and the 1800 word letter. Frankly, I was not impressed.

You begin by alleging that

"you do, in fact, want those who disagree with you and your publication's views to remain silent"

Not at all. In fact, as I stated, hysterical expressions discredit their writers. If they were smart enough and balanced enough to understand this, they would not say and write words which are self-discrediting. When my opponents discredit themselves, it saves me a lot of trouble, so I do NOT wish to silence them.

Speaking of which, you criticize us with these words:

"your publication's scurilous [sic] habit for personal attack"

Yet your blog is topped with a picture of you prominently displaying a sign declaring "Bill Owens is an asshole."

Yet a previous article by you begins: "Granted, Alyssa Lappen is an idiot."

Such criticism is indeed laughable. Keep it up!

Thomas Lifson


I must confess, I am not a professor. No, I am living in an engaged present and working on my doctorate. One year left, almost there. Unlike Dr Joffe (who apparently had to refer to a 19th century source to help him define charlatanry in a way approaching his needs) I am not too concerned with titles. Moreover, Joffe's citation of Arnold actually applies to Campus Watch and The American Thinker. Arnold's disgust is with intellectuals (and poets) who too easily "obliterate" distinctions. The American Thinker is in the business of distilling all discourse into simplistic binaries. You (and your cadre) vs Everyone Else. Of course, your response doesn't even approach my return.

I apologize for the spelling errors. I don't know what the mistake, or pointing it out, serves to illustrate; but you got me. I make spelling mistakes. I wonder what the length of my response has to do with the questions I ask. And so, my letter remains open. I am sure you realize weblogs are spaces for many forms of conversation. Certainly, some of my posts are more formal than others.

Concerning Alyssa Lappen and idiocy. Her work in your publication is extreme folly. I argued in my letter why I question her involvement. The American Thinker time and again criticizes intellectual women. Either Lappen is a token female presence used for the appearance of "balance," quite comfortable with her easy position or she is an idiot, completely unaware of her surroundings and the import of her claims.

Your publication, though, makes prejudicial and unsupported claims about individuals. The American Thinker by virtue of its place in the market and claims to journalistic and scholarly merit should be held to a higher standard of formality in discourse than my humble 'zine. 'Zines, by the way, are all about unloading. And my 'zine, DAGzine, is all about the clumps of emotions and articles and lines and thoughts that happen to fall from my lips at any given time. This is expressed on my blog's masthead. This is what it's about. From time to time, I post whims, insults, scholarly essays, prose, verse, lists, calls for papers, images, and etc.

To the point:
You do, in fact, advise my colleagues to remain silent or look like fools. Hysteria is non sequitor, quite frankly. That evaluation is beside the point. Literally beside the point. Your claim implies--it's the logic in your language, not my inference--that, in this event (the letters of protest), fools speak up & smart folks remain silent. I ask you to explain, then: Why should they remain silent? According to your rhetoric: remain silent so that you aren't criticized, so that you appear intelligent in our eyes. I have to ask: What makes you an authority? From where does the claim surface, the privilege you feel accustomed maintain that you have anything to say about who should or should not speak and when that speaking should be permitted? In addition: How is it that your most avid complaints are directed against women and nonwhite men?

Will you, can you, answer these questions?

Individuals must feel welcome to speak freely in a public sphere in order to show anything about their intellects. They must cooperate socially, through work and communication, in order to achieve any sense of community. Hence, I find your claim counterproductive. Whether or not a person is hysterical, a person has something to say. Hysteria itself, which is not present in the letters, has a reason.

Now you may not appreciate that I think Colorado's Governor, Bill Owens, is an asshole. I know, he is a republican. You feel personally attacked, you feel I might consider you an asshole, or maybe you simply are offended by the word. I doubt the latter. Thomas, this Owens can't keep his dick in his pants. He has a bad habit of using his positions to achieve sexual gratification. He is a devout pig. Yet, he has the nerve to moralize. He is at least a hypocrite and as most Coloradans have learned, probably an asshole: to his family, to his constituents, to his staff. People do not like him. At worst, my photo is an easy criticism. At best, it's spot on. Owens once had grand political aspirations. Well, the RNC has left him in its wake.

Many Colorado republicans have lost favor with the RNC: Tom Tancredo, for his viscious and racist remarks concerning Mexican immigrants post 9/11; Marilyn Musgrave for insisting on national television that homosexuality leads to bestiality and pedophelia; and most recently, Bob Beauprez for turning his back on the RNC after they spent millions pushing for redistricting in Colorado to make it easy for him to win election. They want to preen him for party leadership and he wants to become governor. I haven't forgotten Wayne Allard, who is simply a parrot and pretty much useless. It's republicans like these who made Colorado a potential swing state last election, and though that didn't turn out, both houses in our legislature are now run by Democrats. Colorado republicans are not good at the game.

Why?--they are assholes. People do not like them--not only as politicians, but as people.

So, yes, I use bad words. Yes, I spelled a word improperly in my letter to you. Maybe more than one. Yes, my response was around 1800 words. But--this is ad hominen stuff from you, Thomas. You do nothing to address the issues my colleagues raise. Never mind that you completely ignore the questions I ask.

In addition (claims about hysteria aside):

How do my colleague's discredit themselves? --That is impossible. People do not discredit themselves. You cast the disbelief. Youattempt to defame and discourage. People might misrepresent themselves. Discredit is a verb that describes action from one subject to another. What must I do to discredit myself? Nothing. I cannot actively cast my own disbelief at what I hold to be meaningful for me. Even if I attempted to discredit myself, I would merely identify myself more or less appropriately and accurately. YOU discredit me or not.

And I really find you hard to believe. Why can't you accept responsibility for anything printed in your publication? Even your own commentary?

They sent you letters on behalf of themselves. They told you who they are and what they do, and in some instances, why they behave the way they do. That is a public statement of intent. You discredited them via your response in your publication. And youcan't even come up with an answer to their protests. You call them hysterical, you refer to my letter as laughable, and you had to quote Dr Joffe who had to quote Matthew Arnold who is taken out of context.

Please. I am a student. I am a writer. I am open to discussion. I would appreciate it if you could address the questions at issue in my letter. If you won't permit yourself to reply to my colleagues' letters, I would at least like to know what makes you tick.

I hope you'd like to know more about us. I mean, we must have something in common.

Gary Norris
Michael Berube vs David Horowitz.

Wednesday, March 23, 2005

An Open Letter to Thomas Lifson

Thomas Lifson
Editor, The American Thinker

Re: Your editorial, "Dense Poets Society"

I begin by quoting your conclusion to your response to the many letters The American Thinker (and Campus Watch) received concerning Alyssa Lappen's article on Ammiel Alcalay:
The last thing anyone at The American Thinker wants to do is silence them [the authors of the letters]. They do more harm to their cause by getting angry and letting out their inner demons than any critic could. They would be best advised to let silence cover their petulance and incoherence, but that is counsel their vanity and need for attention will always cause them to reject.
Oh you Bully you. You don't want them to be silent, but you advise them to be silent? Do you or do you not have the courage to admit that you do, in fact, want those who disagree with you and your publication's views to remain silent? I need not infer here, it is directly implied in your letter. The one consistent, persistent fact about your publication is that each author is quite skilled at covering up base rhetorical attacks on liberalism, the left wing, women, feminists, and scholarship. You certainly aren't hip to criticizing the right wing, conservatives, moderates, or men.

So, you conclude your response to the recent letters by telling your critics simply to shut up.

What for? What would their silence promote?

Let's be honest, Thomas. Your response is a typical bait and switch tactic, isn't it? Rather than address the issue at hand, you construct a convenient straw-man to attack several authors at once using ad hominen claims. Aren't you aware that silence only promotes simplistic discourse about significant problems, political or poetic?

That Dr Alexander Joffe quotes from Matthew Arnold is a hoot, by the way. Never mind that the professor uses Arnold in the wrong context, the poets who sent you letters are anything but charlatans. Their letters speak to their individual and self-aware authenticity, address their work as meaningful in spite of your criticism, place their work in an appropriate social context in purposive contrast to an article you published, and infuse both their work and their letters within a focused and poignant political discourse. The letters are honest, present, meaningful, sincere, and written in and with context.

Get your facts straight. What is the purpose of misleading your readers?

Why not justify your publication's scurilous habit for personal attack disguised as social criticism instead? Or, better yet, why not actually address the issue at hand? Are you capable of understanding the collective utterance in protest of Alyssa Lappen's article? Your response to the letters, if you do get their gist, is inappropriate in every respect. It looks like you don't get it. So, what gives?

In addition: What is it about you and your publication that demands silence from its readers--fans and critics? Who do you work for? What are you after?

Let's work with the professor's citation of Arnold for a moment. Let's get our concepts straight. A charlatan is not one who eloquently and powerfully disagrees but one who makes elaborate and fraudulent claims with skill. The American Thinker's articles, on the other hand, are littered with fraudulent claims elaborately written. The publication's rhetoric is skillfully applied but used improperly and unfairly. Especially, since your response to your most recent critics is to remain silent or be called fools. Such either/or demands are meant to be punitive for participation. Don't participate in my conversation and you'll be left alone; participate, and I'll publicly smear you.

Authors collectively writing in protest against your publication's focused rhetoric is not charlatanism; it is American Thinking, American Doing, American Being. It is our Right. For you to advise silence is shameful.

You, the editor of a devoutly conservative journal, are purposefully ignoring the context and purpose of each letter in order to further address an agenda that is itself based in promoting a singular and total ideological message. You publish articles that merely attack individuals--singularly and collectively. In addition, your authors do little to justify their attacks with reasonable claims. Instead, they often refer to conservative authority figures who bend over backwards to promote a simplistic identity for their followers to borrow. No, it isn't very intellectual nor is it very creative; moreover, it is nothing more than grand commentary published on behalf of one political persuasion--a persuasion that is supposed to look like a middle-class, white man talking to his congregation. At least, that is what your publication promotes. See it's own self-illustration.

It should not go overlooked that you chose Lisa Jarnot as the poet to single out as "the one" who instigated, constructed, and directed the protest of Lappen's article. Jarnot certainly invited her readers to send letters, but many of us have written about The American Thinker before. It serves to solidify your publication's content to choose a woman to attack in its straw man discourse. One need only look to your recent publication history to realize what you and your authors think about women who choose to live intellectual and public, therefore political, lives. You despise them, you hyper-criticize them, you make fun of them. One article, which I have quoted from on Dagzine, claims women need to focus on having children rather than working in technology and science. That you publish articles that push for a specific, masculinist eugenics for contemporary American life speaks more about your intent to American Thinkers than you might realize. Publishing Lappen's article in concert with such sexist trash doesn't do much for those of us who would like to figure out just what Lappen thinks about when she allows you, of all conservative publications, to publish her work in the first place. One simply has to wonder what kind of respect her colleagues at The American Thinker can possibly have for her, an intellectaul woman.

But surely, she is permitted to publish because of her political persuasion and the excuse it provides her gender. Otherwise, you might ask her to remain silent as well. Am I wrong? Let's talk about it.

I would say your publication is racist and sexist; but you'd only rebut that I, too, was practicing ad hominen, that I was attacking you rather than addressing the issue at hand. Well, your publication (I don't know about you personally) is. The American Thinker publishes sexist articles; it is extremely narrow-minded in its approach to social discourse and intellectual pursuits. The American Thinker is not an American thinker. Apparently, you do not appreciate readers who can recognize propaganda passed off fraudulently and elaborately as intellectual, social critique. Matthew Arnold, by the way, was able to make such distinctions. You might want to share this with your friend, Dr Joffe.

Joffe quotes from Arnold: "Charlatanism is for confusing or obliterating the distinctions between excellent and inferior, sound and unsound or only half-sound, true and untrue or only half true." Arnold's accurate description for Charlatanism is an accurate description for The American Thinker not very accurate for the authors who sent you letters in protest of an article. Your publication, and Campus Watch as well, do everything possible, use all available rhetorical tools for persuasion, to "obliterate the distinctions". Your abuse of critical thinking to distill adventurous American discourse into narrow binaries--one pole always a pale reflection of a diverse pool of perspectives, the other always a singular representation of your publication's ideological persuasion--only dissuades useful, diverse public discourse. Those who disagree with you become pariah. The result is convenient for you because, for your average reader, it appears that most folks readily agree with what is printed within the pages of your publication. Once again, this is one of many tricks used in charlatanry.

I couldn't disagree with your authors more than I do. I don't see the point in responding to much of your work. Not many American thinkers read it anyway. This has little to do with quality; it's just that most Americans don't read. Regardless, your inept and rude response to my colleagues is a bit too much to take. And so, I now join in protest of your work: a public protest: the form of protest I recently teased Jarnot and others for performing. I have to apologize for the friendly ribbing. You see, I thought they were more interested in telling everybody but you what they think. I didn't think you'd respond.

I am deeply convinced that you, Thomas Lifson, editor of The American Thinker, are guilty of taking a heartfelt response to something you printed with extreme prejudice, pursposefully misrepresenting it to your readers, simply to effect a stronger affiliation between yourself and those who support your values. Letters to editors are traditionally treated with a respect that most authors are rarely granted for a good reason. They represent a free and engaging public discourse from which individuals with different social backgrounds can emerge, as a result of difference, as a community with a little more in common than was articulated and recongized in the first place. Letters to Editors are a means to practice a specific constitutional freedom in community with others. Your call for silence is the worst form of desire and advice an editor can give.

I think it is appropriate for you to continue to receive protests. You and your very small cadre of friends need daily reminders that plenty of Americans think for themselves and with others, no matter what they "think" about. The process is what is meaningful not the content. The content of the conversations become important when the differences invoked within intend to strip specific individuals of rights to which we all--the best and the least of us--are supposed to have access. And I have read enough of your publication, and have followed the antics of Campus Watch long enough, to recognize that you all intend to stifle rather than promote free and open discourse.

I would like to suggest you change your publication's title to The American Ideologue or The American Fascist. You should include a version of Althusser's definition for ideology in your masthead: ideology is the imaginary representation for the real conditions of existence. Such honesty concerning identity (form) and language (content) will serve as an ironic reminder for readers what your version of the right wing has to offer average Americans: Firm and Central Control, Advised Silence, a Masculine Market, and many Merry Housewives. This list is actually a fair summary of the recent content of The American Thinker.

Something to this effect will suffice to warn new readers that what follows can only ever be a misrepresentation of reality, or your opinion at best. Now, if we can only get FoxNews, Joe Scarborough, and The National Review into confessional mode...but I am a bit of an idealist. Maybe you can begin the tough work involved with truth-telling.

If you or yours wish to respond, I am open to comments on Dagzine or directly via the address below. Oh, and if you're keeping a list, please add me. I'd appreciate a seat right next to Lisa Jarnot.


Gary Norris
English Department
University of Denver
2000 E Asbury St
Denver CO 80208

Weekly Burn Out Reading Series, for 3/24

Thursday, March 24th, 9:30pm
@ The Red Room, 320 E Colfax Ave

Richard Greenfield and Michael Peirson


This reading isn't one to miss. Though the content and presentation of their work is different, both Greenfield and Peirson explore their identities as writers and the many ways identity shapes their work.

Peirson not only sings of himself in his writing and performances, he manipulates himself, transforms himself, and in language, mutilates himself, and us. His work is directed at us, and through us against himself. The spirit of his work reminds me of the play between author, narrator, and reader that occurs after Spencer Brydon's opening remarks in Henry James's "The Jolly Corner". Brydon comments that not only is it impossible for him to say anything meaningful about what he thinks about everything, but that anything he could say approaching the meaning of anything at all can only be something that concerns himself. He arrives at his conclusion in response to people always asking what he thinks about everything. James's point, I think, is that we talk about ourselves when we talk about the world. Brydon, on the other hand, makes the point a self-centered excuse for not speaking about the world and his place in it at all. Readers, as they read James writing about Brydon, are in fact reading about Brydon's thoughts about everything and James's representation of IT. Peirson's self-concerned writing implicates his audience in this manner. If Peirson is not accusing us, he is illustrating himself: both approaches to public performance are often certain death, both turn most audiences off. However, Peirson turns his audiences on. We can celebrate himself and ourselves during his performance.

Greenfield will read, I presume, from his new manuscript. If it is as well-crafted as his first book, A Carnage in the Lovetrees, we are in for a treat. I find A Carnage a Romantic trainwreck of an individual in search of meaning and identity; therefore, a poetry of emerging personalities. At the same time, his book is a sharp and self-aware look at an emerging poetic ethics. Greenfield has been writing about politics, lately. Actually, he has been writing about the approach. Is it possible? What can be accomplished? How does one write about war, for example, without turning the crisis itself into a cheap metaphor, or worse a time-consuming spectacle? I haven't read his new manuscript, but I have spent a bit of time listening to his ideas. I am interested to hear the results of his reflections; I know he has been hard at work. Most often, I cringe when the Holocaust, Hiroshima, tsunamis, genocides, slavery, etc, appear in verse. Most often, poets who use such historical artifacts merely exploit the image. They tend to squeeze it dry and move on to the next spectacle. But war is tragic not for image, for use, for exploitation, for the market. It changes us. The one-sided, Empire-driven, state-approved, or by-popular-demand histories that we do have are bad enough; poetry that stoops to such mechanisms and machinery is really too much to bear. I know Greenfield's work will address not only the political but the problem with adressing the political as well. The results should be engaging.

Both Peirson and Greenfield are poets we can rightly call oppositional poets. Come celebrate a forming poetics of opposition, then, tomorrow night. And stick around for some great music afterwards.

Monday, March 21, 2005

The Stick

I took a break. Needed one. Since Friday, I have watched films (yakuza and Italian mostly), eaten out (French and Italian), drank good wine (From Burgundies to Grappas), bought a few things I needed (clothes and books), and laid around doing nothing. Felt good. I needed the break.

Tomorrow, it's back to the usual not saying no to anybody routine, which I happen to enjoy believe it or not. (I'll also be back to daily blogging--reading and writing.)

First, though, a stick was passed to me.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?
One book? Do I have to be precise?
Today, my answer is
WCWilliams's Paterson

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character?
Yes. Emily Dickinson

What is the last book you bought?
Yesterday I bought The Selected Poems of Po Chu-i.

What is the last book you read?
I am teaching and reading so many at once. I just re-read Baudelaire's Paris Spleen and am about to finish re-reading Aleksandar Hemon's The Nowhere Man.

What are you currently reading?
Po Chu-i (New Directions)
Dainis Hazners's (some of) The Adventures of Carlyle, My Imaginary Friend (Iowa)
Joy Harjo's She had Some Horses (Thunder Mouth)
David Bezmozgis's Natasha, and Other Stories (FSG)

What five books would you take to a deserted island?
Faulkner's A Light in August
Pound's Cantos
Woolf's To the Lighthouse
Rimbaud, the Mason trans, Modern Library
Stein The Making of Americans

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?
Richard Greenfield: he'll have to post in my comments since he doesn't have a public blog: because I respect his reading habits.

Michael Peirson: because he's fucking great and his list will give me something good to read.

Nick Piombino: because he handed me the stick a long time ago.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

The Stick, stuck until Friday

Laura and Ernesto and Jake passed me the stick...ouch.

composing (am preparing for reading series tonight, will post tomorrow...)

just so you know

tho I have a habit of being sharp,
I love you all.

I am just a bit of a punk, and
I feel comfortable sharing with you all what I think about.

If my posts recently have been particularly quick and critical,
it's only because I am concerned. I certainly don't feel correct.

Here's what's on my mind (intellect):
My brother is Marine; he is now in Iraq. I cannot comprehend this.
My education (institutionally) is coming to an end.
My students.
Gertrude Stein on Composition and Making Americans.
WCWilliams and wandering.
Heidegger (and Hegel, what I know) and thinking receding from its matter.
Wittgenstein and, well, Wittgenstein.
Debord on the Spectacle and The Everyday.
Revolution and Corners (finding a place from which to enter it).

And then there's what's on my mind (emotion):
I wouldn't become a Marine. I am not in Iraq. I am worried.
I want my work to get "out there."
I don't know anybody.
I want to understand phenomenology.
I want to use language not have it use me.
I figured out that it isn't ever new.
I can wander all I want but I need an invitation.
I want to be doing even if receding not be knowing even if only teaching.

Just two lists that work together, I think. A confession.

Shaven Shoven Showern Show

Wow, Josh. Thanks.

esp dig:
My share in plough's busted. My animal in the dark
comes unleashed from the clavicle, burns south, lifts its head
to sniff out the head.

Tuesday, March 15, 2005

Hi, my name is Gary Norris and I am a lefty.

Granted, Alyssa Lappen is an idiot. Her ridiculous diatribe in American Thinker about the Anti-Israeli, Anti-America left is a hoot compared to the crap Christopher Chantrill writes for the magazine.

I have provided his email. Will you write him? The ideas are the source of the problem. Lappen is a lapdog. Chantrill's unfunny & sarcastic editorials signify the hatred the right wing lobs at critical inquiry in general. Never mind POETS, folks, these people will go after anybody. And we should be writing letters for each and every evil tirade they print. Do you?

I know when Jarnot talks people hold their collective geeh! in a patient pee-squeeze, but this shit has been going on for a long time. Maybe we should get Jarnot to send out requests more often? BTW, many folks have posted about American Thinker and nobody said anything. Jarnot, what do you have? And can I have some of it? Please. You've got blogland lapping at your feet.

People didn't even know what "dag" meant until Jarnot posted the OED definition on her blog almost a year after Dagzine had begun posting dags about dags about dags about dags. Yes, I am confessing envy. I picture you as the woman who can bring home the bacon and fry it up in a pan; an Enjoli! woman. But hopefully without that purple silky blousy thing and that awful hat. Ok and without the bacon and the frying pan. And with the poems but without the entourage, dammit!

Jarnot said write a letter:

Dear A,

I just thought I'd send something to you that expresses how I think somebody else wants me to be seen by you and how I think that somebody else needs to know that I to did send and did think to send what I have in fact sent to you because that sending expresses not what I necessarily do publicly usually but can do when impressed upon to act outside of my own region of interests

and I just thought you'd like to know that I am going to post my letter on my online journal with a link or two connecting all the other letters, yes there are at least several more, into one chain somebody may find more or less meaningful but at least for the week we're linking to each other we'll read each others' letters and mention each others' letters and link and relink and before all of this is archived I will have participated and maybe this will keep me in good graces not with you of course but with them but this has nothing to do with you although I am sure you inferred that already since I am talking about myself in this letter and nothing about you in this letter and through your inference you will unfortunately learn little about my disagreement with you other than my initial NO which is easier by the way to say than what the NO means and Nothing Other than that will be available to you because I purposefully barred your access to a relevent and explicit discourse because I am writing this letter for them

And this them is a hungry beast burrowed deep within my skin and I attempt to say and do things that matter in a society that eats my words like this syllabled bug before they are uttered sucks them from my mouth and so I think this is an apt measurement of my disgust even though it doesn't really say anything at all but only responds and because it responds rather than says I need the problem like a fix and the pain like the shit just like they do and so my gift to you but a gift without an obligation funny enough and without humiliation because my gift is my humble advertisement for myself humble before you and vanished after you

Nobody in Particular Who Means Much to You or Me

What does writing a fucking letter to Campus Watch say? I know what it is supposed to mean. Getting on a political watch list is as easy as being arrested at a protest or insulting the president publicly, or failing to give a mouthy republican student an A for not shutting up the entire semester.

The letter is part of the spectacle. The spectacle works on its own. It doesn't need you.

The letter fuels the machine of oppression.

You must refuse to participate.

But you get sucked right in.

Awww heck. I guess I'm just going to hell then.

Would be nice if "the opposition" was consistent, no matter what I think.

Lappen's essay is nothing compared to her colleague's fascist rhetoric:

From: "The race to unimportance", March 9th, 2005, Christopher Chruchill

Women matter for a simple reason. We need them to make children. Historically, men have been peripheral to this activity, as biogenetic researchers recently discovered. Down the ages, only about half of the men in each generation have succeeded in inserting their genes into the next generation, whereas almost all women have succeeded in this endeavor. In compensation, men have focused their interest on less important activities, like making war and making science. The recent entry of women into historically less important activities like science is therefore important. It implies that the generation problem has at last been solved. What matters now is not the generation of children, but the generation of science.

What the pig Chantrill is going on about is that women are doing the job men should be doing because manhood is at risk. Women are becoming scientists because science isn't considered as important as say videogames, which he claims boys (young men) are more interested in later in the editorial.

Actually, Chantrill does end up arguing that "however hard they try, women will never be as unimportant as men. Whether they like it or not, women matter. Even women of science." Tongue in cheek, this means that try as hard as they might, the liberal women, "the feminists"--who are vigorously attacked in American Thinker--are not as important as men.

Chantrill's editorial should receive attention, not simply because of its hardcore sexism, but especially because of its snide and implied eugenics. Is it shocking that talk about science and maternity, about what kind of individuals we are raising, and who is more or less fit should be the topic of the day in a Conservative journal? No. But it is shocking that the majority of the left is focused on their own particular piece of radical pie.

File Under:

On style and the worst line I read today

"You know, I think being a feminist is exactly like being gay."

I am not going to point to the site I pulled this from because my intent is not to insult the author. Want to talk about rhetoric for a moment. Composition. I have reading a lot of Stein lately...

I think it's supposed to be one of those funny-serious statements, something Sarah Vowell might belch out on a sappy-yet-ironic-yet-hip NPR program just before saying something wildly intellectual yet fashionable enough for the twentysomething crowd. Unfortunately, it could just as easily serve as a lead-in to an incredibly crass monologue joke on Letterman or Leno.

In addition, the claim is naive, certainly worthless. Though the identities ar not mutually exclusive, being-feminist is nothing like being-gay. If it were true, then being a gay feminist would simply be redundant. (I could go on.)

--What purpose does it serve to point out these kinds of sentences in our writing? Good question. These kinds of statements are always segues to more important and meaningful narratives. Why, then, do we craft them? I don't know if that is important. But I do believe we should ask: Why not edit them out of our work before we publish it? We write what we write. We only really get down to writing, though, when we revise and edit. How are we encouraged not to revise, not to edit? What purpose does that prohibition serve?

After the claim about feminists and gays, here's what follows:

It's something you can hide as long as you're willing to swallow all sorts of insults all day long till finally you have enough. So much of the stuff women face is just invisible---the way women's bodies get used to sell everything under the sun, the way women are required to starve themselves because we're not allowed to occupy too much space; the ways we get called bitchy when men are just assertive---all that stuff---that when you finally react to it there's a bunch of words that get tossed at you, too. We accept all that stuff and keep ourselves from noticing it, but boy, we sure notice when someone points it out.

Right on. This is substantive. I think it makes feminism appear much too monolithic, but the point "we sure notice when someone points it out" is poignant and worth exploring. The paragraph works to the author's point. I am engaged and genuinely taken. That first bogus claim is nonsense, what follows it makes sense.

Did you notice me in there?

Getting tired of self-promotion of the look what I just received in the mail with my work in it routine.

The writing about writing is much more engaging and important. It really isn't about publishing.


And Mayhew's serious crack-up on Poetry Magazine is worth a look.

Monday, March 14, 2005

Binaries & Self-Valorizing Capital

This Machine: To or To

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to create or to destroy

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to give or to receive

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to approach or to avoid

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to let go or to hold on

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to oppose or to support

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to fill or to empty

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to proscribe or to permit

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to define or to mystify

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine has a choice

to exchange or to exchange

this machine doesn't have to produce value
this machine produces things that are exchanged that produce value

this machine doesn't have to cooperate
this machine has a choice

to cooperate or to resist
to cooperate or to engage
to cooperate or to attack
to cooperate or to combat
to cooperate or to conflict
to cooperate of to contend

this machine doesn't have to produce value because
this machine does have a choice.

a meaning less

heard the one about teeth falling out
the burning shed withstood the heat
neighbors sold two trucks in three days
four pennies between sofa cushions
heard the one about diapers on highways
the waxing moon ignored evening traffic
dogs chased two fox down two blocks
six bananas on top of one hard lime
heard the one about the glass house
the puffing truck received a second look
children shot three pellets in three seconds
five books in a grocery store bag
heard the one about they took my thumbs
the rising tide overcame the dike
babies pulled apart two plastic dolls
eight holes for one pair of laces
heard the one about a failure making the grade
the laughing teen mocked angry adults
states imprisoned thousands in one day
seven days in one redundant week
heard the one about the many becoming one
the turning car avoided a timid walker
planes sliced the one sky into at least fifty zones
one commodity for each and every exchange
heard the one about language

Sunday, March 13, 2005

New info

I have new email addresses, for those of you who keep track of such things. I have updated the email links on Dagzine and at BDD Press as well.

Gary Norris


Submissions to BDD Press

Also, for those of you using iChat or AIM, my username is heliotrope0. Say hello when I am online.

Peter Yumi is designing Burn Denver Down's web site. We worked on it yesterday. He's a true friend. Thanks, Peter. He is going to help me design the chapbooks, too, I think. I know that he has worked with the Denver Quarterly--graphics. I couldn't get better help.

Blogger is giving me fits when it comes to posting right now...don't know what's up. I have had three posts lost recently. Hate that. All the typing and then...zap. All gone. Oh well.

Thursday, March 10, 2005

Good stuff

Gary Sullivan
Nada Gordon
Gary and Nada have both asked two wonderful questions this week. Both are worth the effort to answer.

Julia Mayhew
Julia is 9 and keeps a wonderful blog full of "poetry and other creative writings." I enjoy checking in and reading Julia's work. Though my family--read parents--have some worries about my choice of craft now (mostly over politics and financial security,) they fully supported my creativity before, say, 17. That's when my creativity began to radicalize in a way strange to them and our family. Needless to say, I had to leave home. And fast. Best for all really. But I wouldn't be where I am at today without their encouragement. So, Julia's blog makes me smile in a very warm way. Reminds me of sitting in the house on weekends reading the days away, or the summers for that matter, or with my mom drawing or pressing leaves into wax paper. Very nice thoughts.

It's easy to dismiss much of our individual pasts as hurdles to our current and ever-changing presents. Experience is always much more complicated than that.

Blogger Probs--bypassed

for those of you experiencing problems posting to

do not select the link for your name, select the link "New Post."

For some reason, the direct link to our blogs takes forever to load while the link to "New Post" works immediately.

Hope they clear this up soon.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005


I am doing things to do
things I am doing things
with my friends, not doing
things I am doing things
to do things I am doing

alone. And this is why
I want to be doing things
I am doing things I am doing
with you. I am not doing things
I am doing things I am going

to do alone. I don't take
pictures of me doing things
I should be doing things
I am doing things alone.
I am taken in pictures of me

doing things I am doing things
I should be doing things with you.
I have wanted to be doing things
for myself and end up doing
things with others things
I should be doing things I do alone.

I have wanted friends to be
doing things I should be doing
things to be doing things alone.
Together I cannot be doing things
I should be doing things

I could be doing things alone.
Together I cannot be doing I.

Sunday, March 06, 2005

Angry Utopians Displace!

Ok folks, as you can tell from my last post, the call is out.

Visit the Burn Denver Down Press blog for the link to mail your submissions. And spread the word...

The blog is a bit bland right now; as soon as I create an image or two for the sidebar, I'll juice it up a bit. Needs juice.
Burn Denver Down Press
Call for Submissions (3/6/05): Angry Utopias

Send your poems, stories, or creative essays to Burn Denver Down Press. Attach your work to your mail as a Word, Apple Works, or Rich Text document. Do not send Word Perfect or Works attachment; I cannot open them.

Deadline for submissions is May 1, 2005. Accepted work will be published in a limited edition chapbook. (100 copies is the target number for the first chapbook from BDD Press.) Authors will receive a complimentary copy. All rights to accepted entries revert back to the authors upon publication.

Angry Utopias should be ready for distribution in July 2005, the first volume in The Emotional Rescue Series that will incorporate work on theAngry, theHappy, theFrustrated, and theSad.

Use the notes below as an early guide for your work.

Some Notes Toward the Construction of Angry Utopias:

An author might consider,
  • Angry is an adjective that accurately describes an individual dissatisfied with the prevailing state of affairs.
  • Utopia is a noun that accurately describes any imaginary, indefinitely-remote region, country, locality, or object.
  • A utopia is a nowhere, a no-place.
  • A eutopia is an expression of desire because it expresses what is desired to be good. A dystopia is an expression of fear because it expresses what is feared to be bad.
  • Utopias, to exist, would need to create a new world by destroying the old world.
  • CLAIM: Our utopias, whether illustrating good or bad places, are angry because their expression and construction incorporate both fear and desire into narratives that attempt to seek some-thing where no-thing exists.
  • A utopia is a sign of a thinker’s dissatisfaction with the prevailing state of affairs. Utopias are angry utopias.
  • Consider Thomas Traherne’s description of a utopian childhood in “The Third Century” from Centuries of Meditation:
    • ...Certainly Adam in Paradise had not more sweet and curious apprehensions of the world, than I when I was a child. All appeared new, and strange at first, inexpressibly rare and delightful and beautiful. I was a little stranger, which at my entrance into the world was saluted and surrounded with innumerable joys. My knowledge was Divine. …The city seemed to stand in Eden, or to be built in Heaven. The streets were mine, the temple was mine, the people were mine, their clothes and gold and silver were mine, as much as their sparkling eyes, fair skins and ruddy faces. The skies were mine, and so were the sun and moon and stars, and all the World was mine; and I the only spectator and enjoyer of it. I knew no churlish proprieties, nor bounds, nor divisions: but all proprieties and divisions were mine: all treasures and the possessors of them. So that with much ado I was corrupted, and made to learn the dirty devices of this world. Which now I unlearn, and become, as it were, a little child again that I may enter into the Kingdom of God.
  • Consider these fragments from the early moments of Ludwig Wittgenstein’s Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus:
    • The world is all that is the case.
    • What is the case--a fact--is the existence of states of affairs.
    • If I know an object I also know all its possible occurrences in states of affairs. (Every one of these possibilities must be part of the nature of the object.) A new possibility cannot be discovered later.
    • If I am to know an object, though I need not know its external properties, I must know all its internal properties.
    • If all objects are given, then at the same time all possible states of affairs are also given.
    • Each thing is, as it were, in a space of possible states of affairs. This space I can imagine empty, but I cannot imagine the thing without the space.
    • Objects contain the possibility of all situations.
    • It is obvious that an imagined world, however different it may be from the real one, must have something-- a form—in common with it.
    • The substance of the world can only determine a form, and not any material properties. For it is only by means of propositions that material properties are represented—only by the configuration of objects that they are produced.
  • Consider the opening lines to Sir Thomas Browne’s “Letter to the Reader” in The Pseudodoxia Epidemica:
    • Would Truth dispense, we could be content, with Plato, that knowledge were but remembrance; that intellectual acquisition were but reminiscential evocation, and new Impressions but the colouring of old stamps which stood pale in the soul before. For what is worse, knowledge is made by oblivion, and to purchase a clear and warrantable body of Truth, we must forget and part with much we know.

File Under:; ; ; ;

Slint: Live from laCartonnerie, Reims, France, 2005

Want to hear Slint? Go here: Slint is Back. (You might need to increase the font size on the page to read the blog.) They sound great.

I love Slint. Slint. Slint. Slint.


File Under:

Burn Out Reading Series update

...The reading series will now kick-off on 3/17 instead of 3/10...

...I have a tentative schedule of readers through April 21; will post schedule on Thursday...

Saturday, March 05, 2005


I haven't bought books in awhile. Thanks to Jordan I won't buy anything for awhile. Great sale at Labyrinth--already one of my favorite online destinations. I think I order 20 books.

Picked up some wonderful essays on Heidegger and Hegel. Over a dozen books of poetry. And some art & cultural theory. Check it out.

Now that I'm broke, I think I''ll put on Martin Denny's Quiet Village and read a little.

I just picked my scooter up from the shop. I have a 150cc Stella, mint green. I had them put a better pipe on it--20% or more power. It sounds awesome. It rides fast. Get up to 30 in second gear. The thing moves now. I rode around Denver, today, absolutely mad with energy, giggling the whole time. Drivers probably thought I was going to lose it.

I am scooter addicted. It is, I think it's safe to say, a wonderful sickness.

Quiet(er) Village

Martin Denny passed away last Wednesday.

It will be an exotic night at the house tonight. I love those records, and will have to give each a spin.


I can be a bit of a demanding fellow. Andrea would tell you I am high maintenance.

But no matter what our differences, let's get something straight:
I would love to drink an excellent wine with Greg and jam out with Mike.
There are a few good wines in our cellar, I think. We keep a good number hidden away. And, for some reason, we haven't been drinking any lately. We'll open one--a good one--tonight and drink one to you guys. I'll tell you about it tomorrow. Cheers.

Friday, March 04, 2005

Who's smokin the whacky tobacky?

In my last post,
I asked: What meter is not based on a count of recurring features of language?
I should have asked: What line is not based on a count of recurring features of language?

Morphemes, phonemes, from sounds to words, from agglomerations of words to meaningful phrases and clauses organized in lines and stanzas.

I wrote the three questions in my previous post to tease Greg Perry a bit about his Metrical-thang over at Grapez. I've been known to do this--right Greg? I was kind of tickled to see Mike Snider appear in my comments with a link to his Sonnetorium. And, once there, I find Greg's comments on Mike's comments on my comments.

Meter Love.

--Says nothing about verse to say that it turns language towards its own conventions. Poetry does not exist to prove that meter in line either is present or isn't.
--Says something about the poet, though.
--Says something about the poet who relies on habits in imposed and practiced counting methods to create a line.

Here's what Mike wrote that interests me (my questions are in italics):
  1. What poetry isn't metrical?
    • Until about 150 years ago, almost none.
    • Recently, perhaps most poetry in what used to be called the Industrialized World. For an important example, William Carlos Williams's mature poetry is in no meaningful way metrical. Looking ahead to the next question, there is no countable feature of the language which is used a basis for the line in Williams's poetry.
  2. What meter is not based on a count of recurring features of language?
    • None that I know of — with three important caveats:
      1. Metrical poetry uses countable language features as a basis for the line, not for the poem as a whole.
      2. Different languages have different features which may be usefully counted. For example, neither pitch nor quantity (syllable-length) vary in any systematic way in English, so English meters cannot be based on those features — Robert Bridges notwithstanding.
      3. The breath is not a countable feature in any language.
Boy. Mike treats me like a novice. Should I be insulted? I think an insult is intended, especially because of Mike's hollow claim about breath: "the breath is not a countable feature in language." As if the discussion of projective verse, which I engage at Dagzine, does not count. And I do get the play on count. He is well aware, however, I know what "metrical" poetry is; especially according to the Poetry Encyclopedias. Greg claims he will use Mike's answer to teach his students. Greg: just send them to the New Princeton Encylopedia of Poetics. They'll find similar uncritical answers.

It's not that Mike is wrong. He's historically accurate. But his answers serve no purpose. And as I have pointed out in an earlier rant, Mike seems much happier with a critical protectionism of a very narrow definition on behalf of the poetic line than he is with a critical dialogue that moves our explorations beyond difference to a more common understanding of that line.

Who decides what a meter is? Not history; we do. And we might want to seriously consider that we use language to make claims about language. Language is not a spontaneous order, say on the level of spontaneity that FA Hayek discusses with the market economy, which he refers to as a catallaxy. Language is not a spontaneous order that we only have abstract access to...I mean, we do have control over the concrete order of language. And breath has everything to with the physics and chemistry of such control.

Make it as abstract as you wish, Mike, but counting will get you nowhere.

I am out for the evening. But other questions need exploration. Oh, btw, Mike. I am posing what I call possible solutions. I don't have the answer. I am trying to wallow in complexity--it serves my work. I am not limited to a formal process I am not an author of. Or something like that. Anyway,

Who decides how to count that meter?
What purpose does it serve to consistently--habitually, uncritically--interpret metrical verse in the way according to Mike Snider? [Added 3/5/05: I am "picking on" Snider because he makes these claims each time a po-blogger he reads says something about meter; I am not making claims on Mike because I don't respect him. I simply and vehemently disagree.]

And what does it mean to say: William Carlos Williams's mature poetry is in no meaningful way metrical? You're whack or what?

If I had a student who made this claim, I would want a reason. And his or her reason would need to address a definition for metrical. Because the claim sounds like an attempt to ghetto-ize metrical verse and to allow the claimant to dwell within that limited ghetto.


What poetry isn't (metrical)?


What meter is not based on a count of recurring features of language?


What purpose does it serve to call Poem A metrical and other Poems non-metrical?

Conservative Hazing Ritual Series

Conservative Hazing Ritual #1:
Sean Hannity and Anne Coulter illustrate macho spite-fluffing.

Conservative Hazing Rituals

Conservative Stank On

Poetry is a window on the human soul.
from The American Thinker, via Someone's Couch

On the soul. Thanks, American Thinker. So, it goes something like this:
Campus Watch is a boil on the human ass.

what's up with all the scrolling posts on the writer blogs?

13 Ways of Abrogating a (Gay) Blackbird

Wallace Stevens, transgressor of the heteronormative family: To the bumper stickers that read: "Marriage = [urinary segregation sign for "man"] + [urinary segregation sign for "woman"]" we could add a [silhouette of a blackbird]: "A man and a woman and a blackbird / are one." Of course, once blackbirds are in, all forms of alterity flip from inexcusable to inexcludable.
--from third factory, 3/2 nb. Thanks, Steve.

HIGH Modernism (Very High)

In Right modernism, a hyper-realized, reconstituted authorship tries to equate political authority with the construction of a subject-centered formal order that fixes or stabilizes the aporias of modernity, while in Left modernism, an other-directed, self-reflexive authorship makes an intervention into situations or events occurring within and as modernity. If this analogy holds, modernism’s self-reflexive autonomy may be more a hypostatized ideal than a norm, only one among many along the way toward its further articulation—in which multiple, heteronomous modernisms “go to their encounter” with modernity.
--from Jarnot's Blog.

Modernity as snobbery:
Self-Reflexive Multiple Heteronomous Modernisms. How many big words can you use to create yet another banal binary to define modernity?


Modernity as snoggery:
Multiple heteronomous modernisms. How many can you have with your lover when you go to your encounter?

Shrimp Salad

John Zorn continued to talk about himself for what seemed like an eternity but was only about thirty-five minutes. Then he opened himself up to questions from the audience.

The young woman's young boyfriend put up his hand. "Can you talk about the Boredoms?" he asked nervously.

"Fuck you!" yelled John Zorn. "Fuck you, I'm not going to answer that! It's not relevant!"

Fuck YOU, Miller Theater.

--from Bloggedy Blog Blog.

Wednesday, March 02, 2005

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Our state of State Sanctioned Murder

Wonderful that we live in a culture that needs to argue about whether or not it is just to sanction murder of criminals. We're sick: part-time killers. Oh, you may be a devout peace-nik, but we do collectively allow our government to shape our society. We're all responsible.

Don't get too offended. I don't believe in the maxim We reap what we sow. That crap-talk is a weak plea to excuse actions that may or may not occur in the future. And to apply the maxim to events that have already happened is a purposeful refusal to address the altered state of affairs in light of the event at issue. We should, however, each do as much as possible to protest and oppose what we would ideally not have sown on our behalf.

Regardless, it is wonderful that the Supreme Court decided (5-4) it is a violation of the Eighth Ammendment (ban on cruel and unusual punishment) to execute prisoners who were juveniles when they committed their crimes.

Guess which state savored sentencing children to death more than others. Come on. Guess.
The state breakdown of the 72 people on death rows who were juveniles when they committed their crimes, according to the Death Penalty Information Center:

Texas: 29

Alabama: 14

Mississippi: 5

Arizona, Louisiana, North Carolina: 4 each

Florida, South Carolina: 3 each

Georgia, Pennsylvania: 2 each

Nevada, Virginia: 1

Arkansas, Delaware, Idaho, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Oklahoma and Utah allow the execution of juveniles but do not have any on their death rows.
It wasn't until 1988 that the Court decided it was cruel and unusual to sentence to death those 15 and younger. Only a few years ago did the Court decide it was cruel and unusual to kill the mentally retarded.

Maybe we're becoming more civilized? Satire Alert--skip the following if you are unable to think critically about you and your culture-- I am sure the pro-Lifers will throw a fit. For every "child" they save, they like to kill an unfit adult. A sort of Christian barbarism. Currently more than 3,400 people await execution nation-wide. Maybe, we can gather them into a single building and blow it up on September 11, some year in the future? Since, of course, everybody who died in the WTC was "innocent." Why not execute only the guilty on the day of national innocence. This will serve as a typically, crass American symbol of justice.

Don't like the satire? Too cynical? I don't think so. Why should Our City On A Hill not execute only on the proper day? And what better one could there be?

I am happy a few lives will be saved. There is reason to celebrate today. Our Constitution (in spite of Antonin Scalia's bullshit dissenting opinion) works. It's a beautiful thing when it does.