Thursday, May 31, 2007



“Most noble and illustrious drinkers, and you thrice precious pockified blades,” is how Sir Thomas Urquhart puts the good Doctor François Rabelais’s beginning to Gargantua, a work assembled nonchallamment, almost dawdlingly, and with zero presumptuous “literary” reckoning. Love that prestidigitous “pock.”

Put against an outburst of Olivier Rolin’s: “. . . there must be a relation between your naïve cult of individual happiness, I mean you, the ultramoderns, and your fucking ignorance of history . . . your models, you must find them in ads, that sort of third-rate eternity, the contrary of History.” One thinks one’s travel’d a circuitous route back to the sixteenth century when Franciscans pooh-pooh’d knowledge, the vanity of its human acquisition. The vanity now falling down out of the pie-in-the-sky “just Google it” conceiving of knowledge, niggardly factoids no substitute for the armature need’d to situate them, yes, you watery-spunk’d involuntary codicils, you prig-rash bunters, you cakebrains.

I follow with dyscrasia—limbs and organs flailing, punk holler breakdown style, see James White and the Blacks—any hooting (and there’s a steady “blow” of it) about audience. It’d be simpler if the gabby ones, and the whiners, and the scatological wrecks, and the movieola buffs, and the sheer honey-whoop’d fakes went off and did pee-pee in another part of the forest. Many with mighty fine creds, all jonesy in they Keds. (What’s that Leonard Cohen line come down out the aerials yesterday in Camel-damaged basso profundo: “I fought against the bottle, / But I had to do it drunk— / Took my diamond to the pawnshop— / But that don’t make it junk.” Weepingest quatrain on earth?) I just like to poke a tiny “quotidian” hole in my “stack” and blow—arcana, monkeyshines, musts and tweaks—into the system, a thing made of holes, for holes, inverse potlatch. See if it registers. Metaphysically, ho ho. See if something like a coot’s watery “vyssyon”—beatific or not—gets unveil’d for me out of my airy stupor.

At which point a little spitfire electrical “ball” “took out” the neighborhood system. (This morning I noted a tiny Honda generator chain’d to one of the electrical poles, cable snaking up into its “box”—what kind of “fix” is that?) Reading with a flashlight. “All imperialists are paper tigers. They pick up a large stone, only to let it fall on their feet.” Mao Tse-Tung of course, in the Rolin. I look—in the early morning’s sopping light—into Eliot Weinberger’s “Tigers” in An Elemental Thing: no paper tigers, no Mao. I learn about the Mughal prince Tipu Sultan (1750-1799) who believed he was a tiger and “ate the brains of male sparrows for breakfast.” And Rabelais, who spent the breakfast minutes writing:
For in the composing of this lordly book, I never lost nor bestowed any more, nor any other time, than what was appointed to serve me for taking of my bodily refection, that is, whilst I was eating and drinking. And, indeed, that is the fittest and proper hour, wherein to write these high matters and deep sentences: as Homer knew very well . . . and Ennius, the father of the Latin poets, as Horace calls him, although a certain sneaking jobbernol alleged that his verse smelled more of the wine than oil.
      So saith a Turlupin or a new start-up grub of my books; but a turd for him.
And a turd for the audience-builders, for the insufferable agelasty-sufferers (incapable of laughter, lift’d by a big joke, only to be dropped immediately back down upright on their own big earnest feet), for the unpock’d and sobrietous zealots of the new, for the self-aggrandizing mulish redundants, the opportunists, and the vain.

Trailing off to the sounds of Lou Christie’s “Lightning’s striking again and again and again and again . . .”

François Desprez, Les Songes drolatiques de Pantagruel, 1565

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

A Small Moon

Iris and Writ

Olivier Rolin (Paper Tiger) talking about (1968) revolutionary youth’s implausible stance against the seductress call’d beauty:
. . . it’s strange, even monstrous, this hatred of beauty, a type of moral leprosy . . . just because beauty resists that terrible desire we had to level everything out, make everything equal. Because beauty’s the opposite; it’s what distinguishes, it’s what’s unfairly given to some and refused to most people . . . human beauty, but we scorned as well the beauty of a country church, which is there for anyone who wants it, or the beauty of a sky filled with clouds, city roofs . . . and that’s what’s wrong . . . the beauty of art . . . We detested it without knowing it. Beauty throws you off track, confuses you; as for us, what we loved were “the masses,” as we used to say.
Which gets rehash’d by the French theory-inflect’d and fearsomely “advanced” groupuscules a few years down the road, mopping up the failure to meet the masses (busy viddying Hee-Haw) with a “rigorous” (read ideologically-stuck) truculence. Out for a walk.

Out for a walk in the dusk, turning a squint-rictus to the sky to locate the teetering swifts, or returning it to earth, to urban beds of flat-faced yellow pansies, flowers continally mollify’d by water delivery systems put down by humans. Trying to think about beauty, trying to shed the portentous sly accipiter of my contempt for such imperia—my mother country’d be a falconress—with words interfering: “squint,” “mollify,” &c. I refuse the easy dismissal, the beauty is a succubus crowd.

I dismiss that Keats thing: “Beauty is truth, truth beauty” is a nigh-tautological “pocket full of mumble,” one’s left with intangibles, a know-nothing. Keats is somewhat clearer in the letters, certainly: “I am certain of nothing but of the holiness of the Heart’s affections and the truth of Imagination. What the imagination seizes as Beauty must be truth—whether it existed before or not—” Which I read as akin to Spicer’s “outside”—the poet as radio, hostage to one’s own transmitter, Imagination, what “seizes” the works and jolts forth something (“Beauty,” “truth,” “the reckless sublime wrack of our days”) unstoppably. Everywhere in Keats, Beauty is a doer: it “overcomes,” it “stifles” (“. . . with a great poet the sense of Beauty overcomes every other consideration, or rather obliterates all consideration” and “The mighty abstract Idea I have of Beauty in all things stifles the more divided and minute domestic happiness.”)

Edgar Morin, in the early ’60’s (Algerian war) argued that, while “that gigantic flabby protoplasm that is France,” busy identifying itself with the “model of Western consumer societies, in which the requirements of well-being and safekeeping take precedence,” may’ve lamented “everything that was going on” over there, its citizens mostly engaged themselves in “ambivalent passivity.” One reduces one’s sphere of demand to encompass only that that’d possibly disrupt one’s “everyday life.” Precisely the lie of 9/11, that everyday life’d got the heave-ho, that something irrevocable’d occur’d. And once it’d become obvious that that wasn’t the case, “everyday life” return’d with a vengeance. Soft shell crab po’boys video’d, secondary “sport” vehicles, mollify’d city flowers in the sun.

Olivier Rolin, about the hero, and heroism:
He comes from the depths of human history, from the moment when man freed himself from the gods. One of the degrading, exasperating things of today is the rejection of heroism. That means we don’t believe in humanity. A hero is nothing other than a fully human being, the opposite of mercantile man. And the opposite of the abject creature before God. A humanity without heroism is good for God and the marketplace; certain contemporary little cynics don’t seem to get that.
Questions: why is heroism coupled with Beauty? What’s France in Algeria got to do with it? Why badmouth Keats? Is it right that Che’s last sentence (in a notebook) read: “seventeen of us set out under a very small moon”?

Ernesto “Che” Guevara

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Paper Tiger

Fence and Pole

Long weekend. Rain leaching down through the clayey substrates, books commenced and discarded, naps sulk’d through, chores completed. Walking in a downpour, seeing a hummingbird dart and loop off the stark de-leaved hickory. Hummingbird in rain. A jaunty collapsible in a long line of jaunty collapsibles. A Proust line—out of Le Temps Retrouvé—for epigraph to Olivier Rolin’s newly translated (by William Cloonan) Tigre en papier (Paper Tiger (University of Nebraska Press, 2007):
These stories were dozing in thirty-year-old newspapers, and nobody knew about them anymore.
A book that recoils against the current antiseptic—“That’s all people care about today: . . . Safe eating. . . . Death prowls at the edge of the plate”—and completely changed world with stories of the Vietnam period. A soixante-huitard narrator (father killed in some “action” in “the Cochin-China Delta”—the Mekong) in a monologue to a girl who mostly goes by the name of “Thirteen’s daughter.” Thirteen being a former revolutionary comrade, now, too, dead. How one whole generation’s revolutionary prowess and fervor bloom’d up out of Technicolor:
The Great Silence: Trintignant, the good guy, the upholder of the law, silent because bad guys cut his throat when he was a kid, gets himself shot to pieces at the end, in the snow. A little like Brando at the end of Viva Zapata! The Revolution always gets killed at the end. Rosa Luxemburg gunned down in the snow, on the edge of the canal where they threw her body. Che executed at la Higuera, laid out naked, hairy, glassy eyed, like he was being readied for dissection, his hands cut off, the death mask that tears the skin from his face. Tamara-Tania, riddled with bullets at the Vado del Yeso ford, her body drifting in the Rio Grande. You head was stuffed with these tragic images. Making the Revolution was not so much preparing to take power as learning to die. It seems worth it when you’re very young. At the time you were no longer going to the movies; the Revolution couldn’t waste its time with those tricks and jokes. but you were living like you were in a film, a low-budget cops-and-robbers. You would have liked to see Trintignant in the role of you playing your role.
Which, in my shallowly perspicacious “reading” of the last couple of days—recalls the cinematic (or is it “French”?) hyperventilating drama of Stendhal, who out one day hiking the Rome notes that he’s about to turn fifty, and so must write it (immediately, in code no less) down:
I only descended from the Janiculum when the light evening mist arrived to warn me I would soon be seized by the sudden and very disagreeable and unhealthy cold which in these parts immediately follows the setting of the sun. I hurried to get back to the palazzo Conti (piazza Minerva); I felt exhausted. I was in trousers of white English [a blank]; inside the waistband I wrote: ‘16 Octobre 1832. Je vais avoir la cinquantaine,’ abbreviated thus so as not to be understood: ‘J. vaisa voirla 5c.’
Who shot the crow in order to obtain a quill for writing down some essential sudden spasm of thought? I recall trying to (discreetly) write down the words to Andrew Lytle’s song about a ‘hant’ on the inside of a Marlboro pack, a dutiful (and ripped—bourbon in silver tankards) documentarian. Up on the Cumberland Plateau, in Sewanee, where the Memphis gentry summer’d out ot the way of the bottomland hum of mosquitos. Useless documentarian: recently I uncover’d that scrap and found it perfectly illegible. Mostly I gather up words, stock the holding tank that is inside my skull, and rely on my own clumsy neural cane pole to swing out the oversized bobber with a gob of worm for recovery, in haphazard order. “Rain” “hummingbird.” The rain-color’d hummingbird. That’s how I do it.

Or allow the textual eddies to deliver whatever detritus there is, unannounced:
Today it seems there’s only the present, just the instant; the present has become a colossal hustle and bustle, one big stimulus, a permanent big bang, but back then, the present was more modest, modesty itself in fact. The past had a powerful presence, the future as well. The past, History, was the great projector of images of the future.

. . .

And we were too intransigent to be satisfied with a phony life. There are generations born in the midst of History, right in the bull’s eye. And others who are off to the side. That’s where we thought we were. We had missed the great moments. Such a pretentious thought!

. . . in the heart of your pounding, truthful heart, you believe that bodies, particularly the ones you want, and most particularly the parts of them that are signs of their strangeness, are pure masses of terror. And it frightens you to realize, well, to guess, that if you disguise or deny that thing that stammers inside you, claiming “the priority of politics,” if you use for instance this tract you are writing, or claim to be writing, seemingly forever, to hide your fear, then more and more all the rhetoric that encompasses your life, all the elements tied together like the threads of an espalier, would be nothing other than a gigantic fraud.

. . .

What good had been “The Theory?” You had no idea how completely men are woven from darkness, scarred by fear; literature would have taught you that, but you had rejected literature, you only believed in “life,” “life,” and “experience,” clarified by the Theory . . .

Lives are forests filled with shadows and mysteries, . . . enormous things rot, hideous, nightmarish animals caterwaul in the darkness of each life.
Going a ways to untangle the mystery of how—as the world’s brutality mounts, the poetic and artistic “response” turns to an antiseptic formalism—“all form is antiseptic”—and declares itself “advanced.” Where the inheritors of Rabelais? The hog-tied grunters in the mud, the implacable howlers? “The Theory” got your mama.

Olivier Rolin

Friday, May 25, 2007

Days of ’49

Fish Outlet

Out of Alan Halsey and Gavin Selerie’s Days of ’49 (West House Books, 1999):
Huntington Cairns, whom Pound calls ‘HUNT em down’ or ‘Hunt and DAMN’, visits St. Elizabeths again: ‘I asked him if he detected anything worthwhile in the younger poets and prose writers. He refused to answer the question on the ground that no critic can judge the new generation. I asked him why, and he said because you cannot see your own tail.’
Which is likely precise enough, and may go a way to explain some of the poorer choices our error-prone eminences grises make in puffing up various kludged-up-rodeos of inimical dreck. Force-fed superlatives in lieu of finicky exegesis—that’ll always turn around and bite one’s ass.

That’s hardly the topic. The book is. Halsey and Selerie (for a period there I suspect’d them of being one person, but then, I think that about “nearly everybody,” it’s call’d the “Pessoa hazard”—did you know pessoa means “person” in Portuguese, just as personne means “nobody” in French, and johnson means joie de vivre or “Jim Johnson” in English, did you know that, according to E. E. Cummings, W. S. Gilbert once rather musically remark’d to Arthur Sullivan that “when anybody’s somebody everyone will be nobody”?), who both slid effortlessly into the world in 1949, in drab-scavenged post-WWII England, collaborated in honor of the approach of the half-century mark, mutually assured. Days of ’49 is a terrific hodge-podge of poems, prose pieces, typographical mischief, Halsey graphics a little like Max Ernst collages in La Femme 100 Têtes (“The Hundred-Headless Woman”—hardlined and precise, Selerie graphics reminding me (somehow) of Ray Johnson with a misaligned typewriter and charts and cartoon panels and stamps and rubber stamps, wacky period-piece photographs (beauty queens, UFOs, post-war apparatchiks, Eddie Cochran-style rockers), and “Raised Document” quote-collages, mostly of writers and artists. (It is the first of these—of four—that supply’d the Pound lines.)

“Raised Document”: things that occur’d in 1949, month by month, raised up out of history’s shallow grave. “Raised,” too, one thinks, in the sense of embossed, the way a notary’ll plant a seal into a page, history made official. Documents counterposed against the imaginary substrate, the “stuff” of revery and memory, all the accumulated detritus a year gathers to itself, or a life does, all the particulate that’ll perish, “unofficial.” Apropos the book begins with a several-page prose “Bardo Panavision 1949,” as if pulling down the feral immediacy that resides in the ether, in some celluloidal or pixel’d “in-between state” akin to national consciousness:
The first thing I noticed were these women smoking in the streets. A dull white light. The recent account of rioting in London at political meetings and increasing misuse of words such as ALIBI. MERCHANDISE. HOSTESS. FANTASTIC. Meat made from molasses called TORULA. Reporters reporting third person. A dull pea-green light. THIN they like to say AS VITAMINS. Modern art etc.
Attentive to language. Attentive to revery’s transformations—and that of the real:
Watch them doing the maxixe at Maxim’s. The fallacy father says it’s called of accidental resemblance. He stickled for a lockout not a strike. Canasta to rummy what bridge is to whist. Bright sparks and hotter. To fly airliners over the weather. Bound to admit the danger of war this year and the years to come. Two born every three seconds makes twenty million extra every year. All began at Casablanca. If they use atomic find a ditch and a doctor, take three or four showers.
It’s a mesmerizing piece, swift intricacy of juxtaposition to the “Raised Documents” slower gait, the broken-field running gait of larger pieces moving—paragraphs jostling one against another. Some of the correspondents and contributors besides Pound and Cairns: Simone de Beauvoir, Nelson Algren, Dylan Thomas, Malcolm Lowry, Jack Kerouac, T. S. Eliot, Jean Rhys, Wyndham Lewis, Djuna Barnes, W. S. Graham, Samuel Beckett, Nancy Mitford, Basil Bunting. One learns that, according to Kerouac, Robert Giroux, after visiting Pound at St. Elizabeths (with Robert Lowell), on leaving got shout’d at by Pound: “Where are you going? Aren’t you eligible?” And, Kerouac: “He [Giroux] hitch-hiked with me so as to understand ‘On the Road.’” And, a measure of something in a London report of fuggin’ Norman Mailer’s first novel:
THE SUNDAY TIMES has received for review a book entitled “The Naked and The Dead” [which] is announced for sale here tomorrow week. Mr Mailer is a writer of exceptional gifts and much of the book has real value, but large parts of it are so grossly obscene that it is quite unfit for general circulation. No decent man could leave it lying about the house, or know without shame that his womenfolk were reading it. . . . In our opinion, “The Naked and The Dead” should be withdrawn from publication immediately.
Just, uh, tally up the boners there . . .

Alan Halsey

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Rash and Tangle


“As a writer he cultivated haste”—so writes somebody (John Sturrock) about Stendhal, particularly with La vie de Henry Brulard. (Though fifty-three days to write The Charterhouse of Parmapas mal du tout, “too.” Or, “either.”) The snatch’d off memory, the spasm, the sketch. And, completed, one stops: “The imagination flies off elsewhere: this work is broken off.”

Sitting here thinking about restlessness, the way what triggers the writing—my writing—is movement, off to the coffeepot for a refill, or longer, out to gumshoe the neighborhood, looking for the hint that, like any engine, seizes up de temps en temps up in the cerebral zones. (“Hint”—there’s one for the logomachists, out of the archaicism hent, “to lay hold of, seize, grasp,” seemingly of the Old English hentan, though a necessary black obscurity therein seizes up the vocalic night whereby words ditch they origins and sprint into the hinterlands of grunt and unstomach . . .)

That sputtery nothing that’ll fire just enough to provide light to read something into what’s not there: that’s the way to begin, no? “We” were talking about the discomfit’d engines of movement, and how the legs make the neural synapses bray out loudly, daft hinnies to the word (“Both the mule and the hinny resemble more closely the ass than the horse.”)

Uncountenance’d I am so clearly by the interrupt that hoicks up unbid—that too-chummy adamant “broker” ringing the telephone just now—I am entirely capable of being “so thin and vinegary, so French” (Stendhal) I announce to myself after that, though I had it “thin and turpentiney,” so wrongly. Better than “so thin and paint thinner-y,” “I” “booger” “forth.”

I love the bravado (and whimsy) of Stendhal here:
I learnt English only many years later, when I invented the idea of learning by heart the first four pages of the Vicar of Wakefield (Ouaikefield). This, I fancy, was around 1805. Someone had had the same idea in Scotland, I believe, but I didn’t find that out until 1812 when I got hold of some Edinburgh Reviews in Germany.
What an odd duck. Reminds me of some of “our own” grey eminences, the way they mulishly insist on having attend’d (if not spark’d) much of the, uh, original originating (mostly in the hothouse of California), and all with the uncannyily depressing time provincialism of the barely-historical.

Or, trying to find a way out of provincial Grenoble, where he’d begun (b. 1783), a teenager amidst the upstart Napoleonic gabble, dying to get to the capital (I generally distrust anybody who’s “dying to get to the capital”—I’d rather be quizzical and frumpish around the dumpsters in Nowheresville, all the best things happen inside one’s flaming head anyhow.) Stendhal:
I remember almost nothing from the last two years, 1798 and 1799. My passion for mathematics took up so much of my time that Félix Faure has told me I then wore my hair too long, so much did I begrudge the half-hour I would have had to waste getting it cut.
Stendhal’s motto and mode de vie: “se foutre carrément de tout,” to give exactly fuck-all for everything. He claim’d something he call’d espagnolism “prevents me from having the comic genius: 1. I avert my gaze and my memory from anything low; 2. I sympathize, as at the age of ten when I was reading Ariosto, with anything in the way of tales of love, of forests (woods and their vast silence), of generosity”—“If there is generosity in it, the most commonplace Spanish tale brings tears to my eyes . . .” Hints of a hinny. As a youth, he took acting lessons in order to overcome debilitating timidity and “acquire the technique of appearing ‘natural’!”

There’s one old Northumbrian song titled “Maw Canny Hinny”:
Where hes te been, ma’ canny hinny?
An’ where hes te been, maw bonny bairn?
Aw was up an’ doon, seekin’ for maw hinny;
Aw was throo’ the toon seekin’ for maw bairn.

Aw went up the Butcher Bank an’ doon Grundin Chare,
Ca’d at the Dun Cow, but aw cuddent find thee there.

Then cummin’ oot o’ Pipergate aw met wi’ Willy Rigg,
Whe tell’d me that he saw thee standin’ p____n’ on the Brig.
Dismal stuff of sodden thick-lipped mewlers, and endless. One is left to imagine what “standin’ p____n’” means—some kind of acrobatic micturating hinny?—and the joy of it’s in the ending: “A’me sorrow’s ower noo av’ve fund me hinny.”

Stendhal in 1839 by Pierre Dedreux-Dorcy

Wednesday, May 23, 2007



In the new issue of The Poker, a new “Draft” by Rachel Blau DuPlessis, number’d 75, titled “Doggerel.” Its epigraph is a couplet by the eighteenth century “Weaver” poet John Bancks:
Who would succeed, as well as greatly think,
Must sing by Rule, and ne’er in language sink.
Pure (“unruled”) language a bog, a trap, shifty ground, a suck-hole. DuPlessis ends the piece with a contradictory couplet:
We need more mixage-drivel, less straight-edged bevel.
We need poetry played on the mishegoss level!
Initially, what drew me: the word mishegoss, variant of mishegaas or meshugaas, a word I never heard before marrying a New York City-born and raised up woman, a word I warrant I’d never seen written (though it’s daily speech “in the household”), Yiddish-borrow’d slang for something like “crazy, senseless, messy activity or behavior.” One sees a lot of it “in these parts.”

Or, next, I think (odd moral querulous petulance pitching up the vocables): is that right? I mean, in a mishegoss “era” whyn’t call out for something besides a bigger mess, say, some cotton-to-able classicism, some pegged-down provisional camp tent against the mere raw hallooing off over the gadget-fill’d mercantile abyss of empire, something of obvious use. Which’d require something more ’n a slovenly (lazy) imagination. Which is not to suggest DuPlessis’s is so (slovenly): the doggerel piece is too complicated for that—she’s (partly) posing, Holy Irritant and wholly irritated.

Though, of late, in various quarters (I’ve done it myself) the calls go out—for “bad poetry,” for a kind of reflex (reflux) disgorging as, it is hint’d, a purer response to the general chaos and the planet’s incipient kaputnik orbiting, for stolid preconceived perpetual mishegoss. Which is not at all the same thing as, say, Nicanor Parra saying, En poesía se permite todo. (“In poetry everything is permitted.”) There’s the wooden clatter of the man trapped between the sandwich boards (invincible as advertising) to all that mishegoss-mongering, there’s the muck of the ideologue pull’d down into the earth, rather ’n tugged forth (with Blaise Cendrars forceps) to goad one’s citizenry with the loud besmirching of infinite possibles! Besides, bad poetry? How’d one know? There’s nearly nothing but! Parra:
Pero la poesía fue un desastre
Surrealismo de segunda mano
Decadentismo de tercera mano,
Tablas viejas devueltas por el mar.
Poesía adjetiva
Poesía nasal y gutural
Poesía arbitraria
Poesía copiada de los libros
Poesía basada
En la revolución de la palabra
En circunstancias de que debe fundarse
En la revolución de las ideas.

The poetry a complete disaster
Hand-me-down surrealism
Salvation Army thrift shop decadence
Old charts and planks heaved up by the sea
Ejaculate poetry
The nyah nyah poetry of the guttersnipes
Arbitrary poetry
Poetry copy’d out of books
Poetry lowering itself
To the “revolution of the word”
In circumstances when it ought to find its ass
In a revolution of ideas!
Every morning I climb a long hill, low-gearing the bicycle, pedaling hard, barely advancing. Pass a light pole shaggy with noticias dehiscing, cock-eyed, overlaid, flailing in the breeze. One’s a flyer for “Bringing Trashy Back,” a band, I gather. And I think of the ease of that “trashy” next to the grounds crew aimlessly circling the Diag on the big mowers, or, hid somewhere, turning spigots to make the lawn sprinklers erupt like clockwork. “Trashy” like what? Like Gaza, like Fallujah, like Mogadishu? (There the vocables go again, pitching up to a whine of moral one-upmanship, a kind of distemper’d howl for the rabble to temper its heigh-ho jiggy, make a poem something more ’n a cough-in-the-fist wipe on the pants.) Yuh.

Nicanor Parra

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Jennifer Moxley’s The Line

A Tree

The Line, by Jennifer Moxley (The Post-Apollo Press, 2007)

A little joke it is, calling a book of prose poems The Line. Though Jennifer Moxley’s referring to something less prosodic: “You will find the line. It extends backwards eternally into the past and forward into the future. The utterance cup, the gentle metric, old words new mind lost time and loves. You sensed it all along, but gaining the knowledge was hopelessly muddled by the inherent drive to author new life. Now cut the spittle line spun into reason and enter the grave alone.” That seems to move precisely out of the “fit” of lineage, out of the inheritances and expectancies of one’s (constant, “muddled”) battle to find one’s place in a writerly line, and into the littler, ordinary (or bigger, “common and extraordinary”) world of offspring, that grave-denying futile push. It’s a complicated tangle of emotional work, and deftly sketched. The poem ends: “In other words, write. Find time in words. Replace yourself cell by letter, let being be the alphabetic equation, immortality stay the name.”

William Matthews used to talk about the “body of work” and how it inches up to replace the skinnying down body itself. Rather like the way he ends “Pissing Off the Back of the Boat into the Nivernais Canal,” talking about the imagination:
             It knows itself
to be tragic and thereby silly.
And it can tell a dull story well,
drop by reluctant drop.
What it can’t do is be a body
nor survive time’s acid work
on the body it enlivens,
I think as I try not to pitch
my wine-dulled body and wary
imagination with it into the inky
canal by the small force
of tugging my zipper up.
How much damage to themselves
the body and imagination
can absorb, I think as I drizzle
to sleep, and how much
the imagination makes
of its body of work
a place to recover itself.
Typing that, I think there’s some vague connect, some implicit mattering between Matthews’s work and Moxley’s. Is it merely a willingness to drop image for idea, make a discursive (field-running, field ruining) poetry of essay and wedge? Matthews, in obeisance to a “period,” is likely to’ve chock’d up the imagery more, allow’d it its terrible chores, though, finally, I think what he loved best were ragged little truisms, the ones that nearly annoy, nuisances pearling up, grit in the oyster: “Music’s only secret is silence” or “I knew the way music can fill a room, / even with loneliness, which is of course a kind / of company” or “thus what we lazily call ‘form’ / in poetry, / . . . is Language’s desperate / / attempt to wrench from print / the voluble body it gave away / in order to be read.” (Addenda: Moxley’s work is less glib, less jazz-inflect’d, less ludic, with none of Matthews’s boyish too-cleverness, that tendency to skirt the edge of smarm.)

Is it possible that I’d read The Line differently if I hadn’t read the lengthy interview with Moxley (by Daniel Bouchard) in the recent issue of The Poker? (Frankly, I’d intended to read it differently—Moxley nowhere mentions Matthews.) What she says, pointing to the series of prose pieces of The Line, is how “language takes up time. And it’s chronological, so every time you create a narrative, every time you create grammar, syntax, you destroy time.” Expanded, clarify’d, pester’d a little:
. . . if you can imagine the image of a human being disintegrating from top to bottom, and, if you’re a writer, what you’re building up next to you is text, right? So pretty soon you’ll be gone and the text will be left. But there’s a sense of is that experience or is that something else? Is that experience, like going for a walk, or eating, or all of these other things.
And again (to the brunt and shiv of us who cough up bloc-notes so regular-like):
. . . is the time that it takes to articulate your life—is that a good deal? Should you just not articulate it? You know, is it taking your life away from you?

. . . now I feel sometimes the space of writing is more interesting that doing anything else. It becomes kind of addictive, it feels more alive, and I think that that’s a little bit scary and threatening.

. . . I’m more interested in the way in which the kind of experience and consciousness of life that happens when you write can become more fascinating than the series of betweens and possibilities that are offered by non-writing.
It’s a terrific record of a conversation, wide-ranging, intelligent, consider’d, and points to how forcefully Moxley refuses the easy, and ideological pettiness, and the usual idée reçue word on the street, the programmatic, the groupuscular, the ready slot. In it, she talks of deciding (mid-stride, some of the prose pieces done) “to do 43 poems. I set that number because I wanted to write as many as Rimbaud’s Illuminations.” And:
One of the things I wanted to do in The Line was to go counter to all of my tendencies, you know—no artificial language, no complicated syntax, no traditional lyric, a tradition that I’ve explored and worked with in the past, and to use totally commonplace spoken English and very simple syntax.
Avoiding the line in order to resist the line’s tendency to fall into meter—“I needed to break that and go into what I considered a flat, prosaic, spoken tone.” (Oddly oppositional to a counter-attitude that says “aerate by lineating,” what one does to clotted prose.) Here’s a piece, about two thirds of the way through the series:
Run Through

      Here’s to a rhythm that follows the ear. Or rather, here’s to you, heavy genealogy, you’ve been making me hungry for years. Mimesis was your meal ticket. The bounty went right through you when it should have become a door. A door to where? To some place beyond these endless deserts of shoddy salvation.
      The legacy of your discomfort with loss and retention has made me the victim of my digestion. It’s all a matter of perspective, and I am, as the vehicle of these violent processes, completely ignorant of how they work. I must guess based on non-mechanical evidence and a total integration of the senses. They shall become one and none. Then the line inside my belly will show itself to my mind as it passes the boundary of my body’s calendar into an infinity of days. Though this hook-up may pain me, I suspect it necessary.
Certainly an echo of Rimbaud (lightly mocking the mocker) in “a total integration of the senses.” Too, in the deliberate tone, that weighing, testing tone that Rimbaud adopts (“Reprenons l’étude au bruit de l’oeuvre dévorante qui se rassemble et remonte dans les masses.” “Back to our studies to the noise of the devouring work that gathers itself and rises up in the masses.”) against the (highly visible) faux-lyrical outbursts (“Fanfare atroce où je ne trébuche point!” “Terrible fanfare where I never stumble!”) that more regularly mark him. If the syntax is straightforward (it is), and the language is “flat, prosaic, spoken” (it’s not), what makes the piece one to return to—enamour’d—is precisely what makes Illuminations a thing to marvel at, and pore over: shifting markers deliver’d with total commitment, total control and confidence. “Mimesis was your meal ticket.” It’s as if—rhythm points to how the ear commands the writing, something “old hat” about that—the burdens of the obvious, “heavy genealogy,” can’t one get beyond Olson—“making me hungry,” genealogy pointing to mimesis, the “next in line”—one way to eat, even if rather unsatisfyingly, “meal ticket.”

I’ll not dismantle further. A second attempt would result in—I suspect—several other (unmatch’d, though not discordant) pieces. “If copper finds itself a bugle, it’s not its fault . . .” is what Rimbaud follows that infamous “Je est un autre” with. Meaning, for all the care and deliberateness, what makes any song sing is incomprehensible, other, divine. Moxley: “vehicle of these violent processes, completely ignorant of how they work.”

Jennifer Moxley

Monday, May 21, 2007

A Pulp of Buts


Two days thinking sporadically (about something) and one moment’s deciding against writing (about that). (Just now.) The way writing depends on its rituals of timing. How it’s possible to dud out an entry by pre-cogitating it unduly. (Needing a day of will’d neglect.) The need, too, to rally (elsewhere), to forget. Pull down Amelia Rosselli:
Next an attempt at making the thing move, a jab at our pulp of buts and ifs and on one hand and on the other will anyhow bring you a little closer to the moment when vaguer lyrics start.
To find a nigh-adequate expressing of what one is saying in the very fleeing of it. Or turn to where Rosselli (in “Diario in Tre Lingue”) is rallying, pulling down a dictionary, fearless, putting it all down:

tu pourrais aller alla Piazza del Popolo
                                                    (Place de l’enfer)
mais Lui ecc.
dans son cadenas de peine

      do not be fearful my child the wind will not eat you as she lifts up her gownlet of silk

to insulate

hoicks (used to incite hounds) . . .
                                                                      as she
lifts up her gownlet of silk


(basso dinuovo come piazzare o segnare)


                    scheme showing disposition of heavens

                    at certain moment of person’s birth
                    (to cast a h.)
                    erect such a scheme

Gk. horo = time
skopos = observer

                  bird with variegated plumage & erectile crest (L. upupa)

as she lifts up her gownlet of birth

                  wild goose’s cry sound of motor-car’s horn


horn /
Some kind of Rimbauderie in all that. Pawing about in Graham Robb’s Rimbaud, one learns how—in England—he collect’d words of all sorts. (One slip reads, partially: “trumpeters—squeakers / blue, red turbots—Jacobins / baldpates—pearl eyes,—tumbles well / high flying performing tumblers / splashed—rough legged / grouse limbed / black buglers / saddle back”—all under the marker “Pigeons.”) Robb, notes the number of foreign terms in Illuminations—“‘Scarbro’,’ ‘turf,’ ‘desperadoes,’ ‘Bottom’ and ‘wasserfall’ . . . used partly as notes in a musical phrase”—and suggests, too, the possibility that Rimbaud intended to compile a French-English dictionary. “To judge by the lists, it would have dwarfed anything that was available at the time.” Think of Arthur Rimbaud, out to make a commercial killing (“scam-compulsion” always a part of him) with a dictionary, growing into the task, becoming a French Dr. Johnson, one going off to consult one’s Rimbaud, one’s pocket Rimbaud. Robb:
These are not conventional vocabulary lists. Nothing in Rimbaud’s life suggested he ever needed to say ‘high-shouldered canaries’ or ‘insertion for petticoat.’ The fact that Rimbaud, who hated luggage, held on to these lists even after he left England shows that they had a purpose beyond their literal meaning.
(Somewhere in America, a poem is being written that begins, “Rimbaud, who hated luggage . . .) In an early draft of an advertisement Rimbaud placed seeking a post “to ACCOMPANY a GENTLEMAN” he wrote of being equipped with “excellent entertaining linguistic ability”—to indicate, presumably, social skills. Robb’s remark a propos Illuminations:
Corrections to the manuscript suggest a gradual invasion of foreignness: English has infiltrated the vocabulary (steerage, Embankments, brick, pier, spunk, etc.), the syntax and even the images. . . . ‘Snowflakes,’ literally translated, produced ‘éclats de neige’ (splinters, sparkles or shouts of snow).
Amelia Rosselli, Arthur Rimbaud. The first: “c’est un livre secret. / / ce n’est pas le pensée qui te sauvera.” The second: “It’s as simple as a musical phrase.” The first: “O la grande mouche bleue du travail! (Les arcs en feu.)” The second: “Dans un cellier j’ai appris l’histoire.”

Cold morning, rocketing in (bicycle), surly brakes keeping me honest, ur-reckless. I’m like a man digging out goutweed (Aegopodium), sifting the roots, seeing how it choked out the perennial columbines along the fence. The invasive runners shooting out under the pines, into the yard, snarling up my fleet traffic of avoidance. That faintish coffee color of the crow’s head, wary, bleeding into the landscape. That enormous blue housefly of work debilitatingly there. The mind’s train’d shoots and slips cast the ropes off of—thrust free of—all the inimical blunt caveat and guide-rail, goes its own furry way. Bishop’s weed. Snow-on-the-mountain. Surely there are many other names for it. I learn’d my history in a fruit cellar. Dud of dodged cogito.

Amelia Rosselli and Arthur Rimbaud

Friday, May 18, 2007

Rag Ass


Friday in the dribbles. Meaning, a welter of disconnect. Looking into a couple of The Continental Review’s little image-repertory repeatables, I think: “mostly I am only curious what so-and-so looks like.” (The “texts” “illegible.”) So: there’s Tom Beckett in the middle of an Ingmar Bergman film. There’s Jon Leon doing a kind of crank’d up (amphetamine-illegible) version of Dylan’s “Subterranean Homesick Blues,” out of the D. A. Pennebaker film. There’s Allyssa Wolf looking either sultry or surly or petulant or fetching whilst lights come on and go off and words populate the screen, not the words of the voice-over. Conceptually notable, with “a welter of disconnect.” Is it simply that one is unaccustom’d to “reading” “text” thus? There’s a prior / parallel thing occurring with audio: Steve Evans’s Lipstick of Noise studies of particular readings, complete with “audia” demarcations (kin to Barthes’s S / Z’d lexia—“units of reading”) and “audia transcripts”—and, recently, Eric Baus’s To the Sound (Baus looking to “allow various issues related to poetry audio recordings and literary scholarship to emerge out of particular moments of listening”)—attempting to define a field. (I think of Dylan again: and poet’s of the future—“us”—stretching the vocables, sassing the vowellage, mucking up continually and uproariously our own read “versions,” creating an ornery inimitable “body” of audio texts, all of the same piece. All to deride and disperse any too pat voice-taming by the audio profs.)

Friday in the dribbles. Jon Leon and Allyssa Wolf responsible, too, for the recently printed first issue of The Black Economy. Work by Aaron Kiely, Elisabeth Workman, Brian Howe, Alessandro Broggi (translated by Gherardo Bortolotti & Alessia Folcio), Gherardo Bortolotti, Marco Giovenale (translated by Alessia Folcio & Gherardo Bortolotti), Michele Zaffarano (translated by Marco Giovenale & Alessia Folcio), Christopher Rizzo, Sean Kilpatrick, and Standard Schaefer. Here’s one of Elisabeth Workman’s pieces—out of what seems a series propell’d alphabetically, one’s in the land of the M’s here:
“Many Things and Have Learned Nothing”

local, as a concept for the muck-a-mucks was lost. Local what, they
wanted to know, and left it mired in the dregs of their collective
morning shit. Even litotes could not serve as a filter, though it was
not uninteresting to think about the mawkish directors in a meadow
laced with red poppies, meandering amongst munchkins and forgetting
their lines. Let’s avoid the monomyth and reduce the pains of existence
to a simple cavity, easily filled by asphalt and frank sinatra. It
could be a mystery, mysteriously programmed by an unwitting messiah,
both maudlin and diligent. Exanimate conductors could field the lot.
Real estate clippings would promise unbeatable location and the daily
megabyte of poignancy, just enough to maintain domestic equanimity. As
is, it remains true that good fences are expensive and the neighbors
will most likely replace their dilapidated dwelling with a double-wide,
a locally manufactured mansion
That proceeds with astonishing assurance—reminding me as such a little of Jeni Olin, though Workman’s pieces a little less chock’d up with the detritus of popular culture. If the piece’s got an underlying procedural base, it’s not immediately evident. I thought briefly of a sort of Oulipo’d N+7 variation, some rather indifferent collocation of sentences with substantives replaced. Too “smart” for that kind of facility. That demolishing of Robert Frost at the end.

Dribbling Friday. Jon Leon is still looking for some explanation and recovery of the Diphasic Rumors poems he’d had in Volume 19 Issue 4 of MiPOesias. Nixonian stonewalling and / or a refusal to address the issue—preferring to see any attempt to uncover the truth of the matter as a personal attack—that’s been the response of just about everybody: editor Amy King (who’s voluminously malign’d anybody who’s approached her regarding the matter), publisher Didi Menendez (who’s maintain’d what can only be interpret’d as an animosity-filled silence), and editor of the particular issue Tom Beckett. Ron Silliman gracefully allow’d my lengthy exchanges with the Poetics List to be post’d here. For the record, since I’ve been accused, in Amy King’s response in Silliman’s comment box, of something less than forthrightness, of “failing to post the responses he received that illustrate the board’s support,” here’s the only response I ever had from any Poetics List board member, from Joel Kuszai:
Hi John—

I thought the original post wasn’t suitable for publication on the poetics list. The attack on Amy seems without foundation and without merit. As an attack on anybody it shouldn’t be posted to the list. It seems a private affair, and as “journalism”—without facts—it’s pretty ugly. “Vain schizoid commercial endeavor” is pretty lame and exposes the author’s own bias, don’t you think? Complaining about Amy’s seems silly to me. I’d be defensive too. In any case, I’ve urged her to be even more discriminating in her editorial selections for the list. I wish she would be, but then she has a different outlook than me and, as far as I can tell, the other board members.
Hope you are well—


Notable for the fact that Kuszai, too, is apparently unable to make a distinction between a criticism of a magazine, MiPOesias (“Vain, etc.), and personal name-calling (nowhere found in Leon’s original remarks—there is no “attack on Amy”). (Question: is it “pretty ugly” or “pretty lame”?)

Ah, the literary life. Sort of like hoops in West Philly’s Clark Park (Wideman):
Game was rag ass. Too much like one on one. A neighborhood run. No surprises. Too much assumed and conceded. A few good players who weren’t half as good as they thought they were, sloppily doing more or less what they felt like doing. A few possessed one outstanding skill or talent and slipped it into the game when they could, often when they shouldn’t. Defense nonexistent. Everybody going for steals or blocks instead of hanging tight with their man. Chump city. More action cooking around the court than on it. Block long Eldorado drop top docked at the curb. Deals going down. Basketball game like a TV set playing in a crowded room and nobody watching.
Nobody care ’bout the game but the players. You all be players, no?

The Clash

Thursday, May 17, 2007

A Formal Yeahness


Giacometti: The more I looked at the model, the more the screen between his reality and mine grew thicker. One starts by seeing the person who poses, but little by little all the possible sculptures of him intervene. The more a real vision of him disappears, the stranger his head becomes. One is no longer sure of his appearance, or of his size, or of anything at all. There were too many sculptures between my model and me. And when there were no more sculptures, there was such a complete stranger that I no longer knew whom I saw or what I was looking at.
How that ramble—by an artist, a kind of “poetics” concerning the way “history” intercedes to clutter vision (cf. Stein’s “I’m no fool. I know that in daily life we don’t go around saying ‘is a … is a … is a …’ Yes, I’m no fool; but I think that in that line the rose is red for the first time in English poetry for a hundred years”), a history that is not exactly History itself, more a history of forms, of response—that is, art—how all that changes, drops away, out of its fusty quotidian “stance” when placed within a couple of pages of:
On May 13, 1985, in West Philadelphia, after bullets, water cannon and high explosives had failed to dislodge the occupants of 6221 Osage Avenue, a bomb was dropped from a state police helicopter and exploded atop the besieged row house. In the ensuing fire fifty-three houses were destroyed, 262 people left homeless. The occupants of the row house on Osage were said to be members of an organization called MOVE. Eleven of them, six adults and five children, were killed in the assault that commenced when they refused to obey a police order to leave their home. A grand jury subsequently determined that no criminal charges should be brought against the public officials who planned and perpetrated the assault.
Which is only one of the things that John Edgar Wideman manages to do in’s 1990 novel Philadelphia Fire. Which I pull’d down off a shelf after some “chaos in the soul” descended, caught me up with its unmistakable tiger claw grip deep in my solar plexus, shook me, and dropped me like a dog, like un catcheur. Chaos “caught” after reading a new book of poems by one of the young Turks of the new hegemonic avant—a book wherein there seem’d not a kiter’s worth of verbiage that had need of being written. Total dud check. Dishonesty’s grim reek.

So, a kind of version of and against James Wright’s rather defeatist “Depressed by a Book of Bad Poetry, I Walk Toward an Unused Pasture and Invite the Insects to Join Me,” the one that begins:
Relieved, I let the book fall behind a stone.
I climb a slight rise of grass.
I do not want to disturb the ants
Who are walking single file up the fence post,
Carrying small white petals,
Casting shadows so frail that I can see through them . . .
I plow under my turpitudinous rage (Dylan: “I keep seeing this stuff and it just comes a-rolling in / And you know it blows right through me like a ball and chain . . .”) What I wrote (as if one had any “justificatory”—thank you, Bruce Andrews—need in the matters of one’s contempt):
Reading it partly for some presumed relation between it and Don DeLillo’s new (unread) Falling Man, how one tackles the brutally topical. Reading it (and fiction in general of late) largely out of fatigue, one’s tiredness with the avant-whatever’s merely formalist shifty-feints and stirrings . . . Tired of the tidy quote-noted end matters, tired of the ruse of several poems with the same title, tired of the neologistic inadequacy displays—those tattoos of the present moment, tired of the fragmented dip and swerve of studiously “flat” lines, tired—per contra—of the scuzzed-up figurations of tarnished brilliance, the no-language language of downloads, the self-prettying narcissism and self-consciousness of “the daring,” the gringo richesses sponsored by information management CEOs, the untutelary scientific gumbo of the rebarbitive Brits, tired of all the jism and spit of an age of war that doodles along neglectful, what war? I absolutely do want to disturb the ants, the peaceable academickal kingdom of grunts soldiering along with they Fence subscriptions, carrying the tiny white petals of they submissions, they chapbooks, they books of proper shadows, they frail . . .
As if one had any need to defend reading John Edgar Wideman.

Alberto Giacometti and John Edgar Wideman

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

An Elemental Thing

Onion Fields (Leamington, Ontario)

In the thick forest where the Kaluli live, at the base of Mt. Bosavi in Papua New Guinea, it’s hard to see far and space is mapped by sound:

kege kege kege
an Orange-faced Grackle

                                                                                                                                                    gubogubo gubogubo
                                                                                                                                                    a Black Sicklebird

the Ornate Fruitdove . . .
That’s how one of the essays (“Where the Kaluli Live”) in Eliot Weinberger’s marvelous new book, An Elemental Thing (New Directions, 2007), begins—plunging one amidst (too) the sound (“deh     deh     deh deh     deh”) of “the sucking of the bats eating fruit.” Ripe territory for my recent thinking about John Clare and the transliteration of nightingale noises. Weinberger:
The Kaluli language is called Bosavi—named for the mountain, the collapsed cone of a dead volcano—and some of the birds speak it. The Black-breasted Woodswallow calls bas-bas bas-bas, “brother in law,” to the Uniform Swiftlet, meaning that it’s time to share food. The Black-throated Warbler says seeyo-gogo-bayo seeyo-gogo-bayo, “I’m staying right here.” The Chanting Scrubwren chants kaloo-yabe kaloo-yabe, “someone is coming.” The Brown Oriole, who is always female, has a foul mouth and insults the men passing by: koo-halaideh koo-halaideh, “what a hard cock.”
If one is tempt’d—reading that—to think the Kaluli quaint or primitive, one need only turn to the norteamericano field guides. By chance, there exist two black-throated warblers in North America, one “green,” one “blue.” (Certainly not identical to the Kaluli bird, likely not even kin . . .) According to Roger Tory Peterson, the voice of the black-throated green’s “A lisping dreamy zoo zee zoo zoo zee or zee zee zee zee zoo zee, the zee note on same pitch, the zoo notes lower.” Gibberish, though it’s “not impossible, not likely” it’d mean something in Bosavi. The black-throated blue though—in American English—apes the sluggard Bosavi bird. Peterson: “Song, a husky, lazy zur, zur, zur, zreee or I am la-zy (with a rising inflection).” And one need only browse a few pages to see how equally conversational the North American birds be: the chestnut-sided warbler with its ‘I wish to see Miss Beecher,’ or ‘please please please ta meetcha.’ Culturally determined natural history.

Two more slivers out of Weinberger’s essay about the Kaluli, for the joy of it:
Human songs are bird songs, and the words of a song are called “bird sound words.” They are “turned-over words,” words that are comprehensible but unlike anything in the spoken language, words that have a meaning underneath, on the other side.
A great singer has a voice like a Pink-spotted Fruitdove or an Orange-bellied Fruitdove. The singer is a bird at the top of a waterfall, and the structure of a song is a waterfall. Songs that are poorly done have too much ledge before the water drops, or too much splashing, or they linger too long in the pool before moving on. A successful song is like water rushing over the rocks, and is one where the water keeps flowing far beyond where one can see.
A kind of Strunk & White for the Bosavi, that. Akin to the common reproof, to keep the writing “clear.” To avoid language that draws attention to itself. To empty the signifier of all its tangible squawking materiality. How to do that with “bird sound words”—that, naturally, must call attention to themselves, “unlike anything.” Crux of a tension-fraught poetics. (All poetics are “tension-fraught.”)

Odd night-revery of crawling inside a hollow log, hiding in a woods in France. Cache-cache. Somewhat “later” agreeing to purchase a dirt bike the size of a beagle. The size of a wastebasket. The size of mailbox. The size of an overnight bag. The size of a dictionary. The size of an antimacassar, I think you mean ottoman. And “later” being angrily instruct’d to remove the tin tag attach’d to the dirt bike key, it being a possible carcinogen. “Later,” a man in the queue with an octagonal edition of what look’d like the big second Webster’s . . . Why are you bothering to read such imbecile fatuity?

For the birds they are, those night-reveries . . .

“A one hundred by one hundred kilometre stretch of tropical rain forest in central Papua with the eroded volcanic cone of Mount Bosavi rising more than two thousand metres above the surrounding plain.”

Black-throated Blue Warbler (Dendroica caerulescens)

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

List and Couple

Paint’d Wagon

A minuscule list retrieved: “Kitsch idiocy. Clothes. ‘Typical leftist social climber,’ Pierre Guyotatish.”

In Roberto Bolaño’s Distant Star, Bibiano O’Ryan reading through a pile of Chilean literary magazines, searching for evidence of Carlos Wieder, pseudonymist, opportunist, sky-writer, murderer:
. . . there were at least seven published in Chile between 1973 and 1980 that he had never heard of. In one of them, Sunflowers of Meat (No. 1, April 1979), Wieder, under the pseudonym Masanobu (not, as one might be forgiven for thinking, a Samurai, but the Japanese painter Okumura Masanobu [1686-1784], discoursed on humor, the sense of the ridiculous, the atrocity of literary jokes, whether or not they draw blood, the private and the public grotesque, the laughable, gratuitous excess, and he concluded that no one, absolutely no one, had the right to pass judgment on the minor works that are born of mockery, develop through mockery and die in mockery. All writers are grotesque, writes Wieder. All writers are wretched, even those who come from well-to-do families, even Nobel Prize winners.
Is it impenetrable Jacques Lacan or naked in the Mexican desert Dennis Hopper who says, “All naming is already murder”? Later, Bolaño’s narrator grinching about something one sees “everywhere” now and again:
This is my last communiqué from the planet of the monsters. Never again will I immerse myself in literature’s bottomless cesspools. I will go back to writing my poems, such as they are, find a job to keep body and soul together, and make no attempt to be published.
Bottom feeders versus surface scum-skimmers, one teeter-totter. That seesaw between rumbustious bile and horsewhip’d phlegm. One’s need to duck in out of the rain, one’s need to sit mildly, in high amusement, reading the Nabokovian doppelgänger (and humdinger) titled Slaughter in the Sun.

Three pieces, randomly select’d, by the Austrian Friederike Mayröcker (b. 1924), out of Raving Language: Selected Poems 1946-2006, (Carcanet, 2007), translated by Richard Dove:
clematis or snow. Am looking forward already to communal
days and lyre-playing moonlight, when writing poems
completely cocooned in the Holy, the Benevolent,
explosive joys within me. While the letters rot
when it rains, in the letter-box. As fine as hair
peony-window full of streaks and scars, the
world collapsed.

I’m thinking of you

1 emotion : I’ve bought Pascal
the beloved cur is painting yellow on white
in the snow-bound park. Abruptly the crystalline
sun in my eye, in the anteroom 1 creaking, I’m thinking of you,
in the dark one confuses them in the tangled forest,
as Leibniz says, writes EvS, 1
BRAIN-READING (familiar), I’m thinking of you, I
wake up with the word swotting off, then my blood-pressure
the blood-pressure-measuring-device hops across like 1
sm.threshold : obstacle bulwark and brunt,
1 agave with pollen so powerful and heavy that
the sprouting of the blossom-stem . . says Sabine H
on the phone, I find myself in the bakehouse, am
beside myself, I’m thinking of you, am deeply steeped
in that sanctity. He threw me up the stairs,
this dial : this loneliness, how it
creeps up in the evenings when I break out,
into the murk, we people only consist of writing,
I’m thinking of you, with love of humanity coursing through me

seven days before Christmas

two tufts of hair between
the book’s pages, black, a
white bird-feather there too, on their
bicycles three young chimney-sweeps
rowing through the December rain, the open
bodies on meat hooks inside
the refrigerated lorry, alongside, on the floor of the
cab, a fir-branch
Some remind me of Bernadette Meyer, some remind me (sparsely) of Joseph Ceravolo, both, undoubtedly, false etymologies, skew’d impossible lineages. “Of the international graphomaniac tradition.”

Friederike Mayröcker and Ernst Jandl, 1982
(Photograph by Joseph Gallus Rittenberg)

Monday, May 14, 2007

What Work Is

A Woodpecker’s Work

Yard work: carting three cubic yards of topsoil one side of the lot to the other. Sawing up down’d oak limbs. Putting in a lilac, lavender, unbudded. Aimless shreds of half-thinking, no-thinking, a semi-zonal state, akin to writing. Kept thinking—wrongly—of the final lines of a Charles Wright poem out of Chickamauga. Thinking it something about moving a word “from here to there.” Look’d it up. Turns out its title is “Yard Work”:
I think that someone will remember us in another time,
Sappho once said—more or less—
Her words caught
Between the tongue’s tip and the first edge of the invisible.

I hope so, myself now caught
Between the edge of the landscape and the absolute,
Which is the same place, and the same sound,
That she made.

Meanwhile, let’s stick to business.
Everything else does, the landscape, the absolute, the invisible.
My job is yard work—
I take this inchworm, for instance, and move it from here to there.
That “first edge of the invisible,” that’s where a terrible lot of work gets done, a rather hypnagogic place, pre-musical or (variously) pure-musical. Isn’t that silly thing attributed to Oscar Wilde, or (variously, and the whole of it likely apocryphal) Gustave Flaubert, underpinning Wright’s inchworm line? “I was working on the proof of one of my poems all the morning, and took out a comma. In the afternoon I put it back again.” One loves it anyhow: for hoisting the usually imperturbable petard (a word once interchangeable with “squib”) of “what hard work writing is” up on its “end.”

And, indoors then, and batting, as is my wont, at a surrounding landscape of books, I knock’d down a Wallace Stevens, and fetch’d home a nigh-perfect journal entry (May 2, 1906):
A half-misty Fantin-La Tourish night. The moisture and new leaves together fill the streets with a sweet, earthy perfume. — In town, I lunched with Walter Arensberg at the Harvard Club. Finished with brandied peaches and cream. Felt like licking the saucer. Borrowed a pile of books. — As I came indoors a moment ago, a cat stole over the porch, much like a mote in one’s eye.
The midriff of which—Arensberg, Harvard Club—the throwaway stuffing between two porkchops. It’s the “Fantin-La Tourish night” recalling the painting (Un coin du table, 1872) of Paul Verlaine and Arthur Rimbaud, with several other (apparently literary) men at the end of a soirée, Rimbaud with ’s back adamantly turn’d against the others, attending to Verlaine, who is intently tracking something occurring outside (forever outside) the picture’s frame, or something deep within the mad recesses of ’s finely domed, unimpugnable head, reddish hair cropped. And it’s the “mote in one’s eye”—akin, undoubtedly, to that thing Verlaine is pursuing. (Rimbaud knows writing for what it so undeniably is, a momentary seizure, a spasm, of no more import than an orgasm—he’s caught between flirting with the painter, being avid for the benefit of V., and being petulant for the earnest bunch of nobodies about to go bookish, slavishly bookish—with pipes!—behind.)

In the Stevens note, the cat is (mostly) Stevens himself, he who earlier “Felt like licking the saucer,” the Stevens who’d later keep trying to evade the discombobulated flash razzle-dazzle noisemaker he be:
The romantic intoning, the declaimed clairvoyance
Are parts of apotheosis, appropriate
And of its nature, the idiom thereof.

They differ from reason’s click-clack, its applied
Enflashings. But apotheosis is not
The origin of the major man. He comes,

Compact in invincible foils, from reason,
Lighted at midnight by the studious eye,
Swaddled in revery, the object of

The hum of thoughts evaded in the mind,
Hidden from other thoughts . . .
Out of “Notes Toward a Supreme Fiction.” Massy temptings to “put” all that—squib of my tired limbs—into some kind of alignment with the rare, or obsolete (though it may persist some in talking of horses), meaning of yard as “the virile member.” See the fourteenth-century John Wyclif-translated Bible (Genesis, xvii): “Ye shulen circumside the flehs of the ferthermore parti of youre yeerde.” See Snape’s 1683 Anatomy of an Horse, wherein Snape claims the pineal gland is “called the Yard or Prick of the Brain . . . because it resembleth a Man’s Yard.” That’d throw those last couple of Wright lines up against a whole ’nother orbital pole, or make that work a completely different bone of contention, no?

Henri Fantin-Latour, Un coin du table, 1872

Friday, May 11, 2007



Off yesterday east across the black bottomland flats of Ontario to Point Pelee to crane my neck up into the poplar canopy to find the rose-breasted grosbeak, or down into the cattails for a common yellowthroat. A good day, odd fogs idling through, miniature clouds come to earth, the point itself wreck’d by a storm, trees uproot’d, sandbar gone. Near Leamington, home of a Heinz catsup factory, all the tomato fields slowly going under to endless greenhouses, ease of control—climate, the pestiferous world—trumping the intangibles of, oh, flavor in international agro-bucks covens. Good, though, the walking and listening, the looking intently, the thermos-scald’d coffee and peanut butter sandwiches, the annual reacquaintance with the “wee florid gymnasts” of the treetops. And odd cohesions of stories that “fit” so perfectly with my late ensconcelry in Hispanic literatures—how a man had a sinusoidal polyp the size of a hen’s egg snipped off and pull’d out through one nostril, a way to plant moss by blending big gobs of it with buttermilk in a home Osterizer, and spreading the pulpy mess on the ground. Something about a yellow shack mark’d “FISH OUTLET” in the middle of nowhere, miles between it and Lake Erie, a lake whose bottom some years back crawl’d, so they say, with red worms. And in Barcelona, the man who seems to’ve been Roberto Bolaño’s pote and equal, Enrique Vila-Matas, recently finish’d a book of “fiction”—whatever that means—about Robert Walser, a thing call’d Doctor Pasavento, how long before that gets translated? (I do see that Montano’s Malady, a 2002 book, is newly out.) Out of Enrique Vila-Matas’s earlier—and brilliant—Bartleby & Co. (New Directions, 2004):
These footnotes cannot have an essence, neither can literature, because the essence of any text consists precisely in evading any essential classification, any assertion that establishes or claims it. As Blanchot says, the essence of literature is never here any more, it is always to be found or invented anew. So I have been working on these footnotes, searching and inventing, doing without any rules of the game that exist in literature. I have been working on these footnotes in a slightly careless or anarchic manner, in a way that reminds me sometimes of the answer the great bullfighter Belmonte gave when he was urged in an interview to talk a little about his bullfighting. “Well, I don’t know!” he answered. “Honestly I don’t. I don’t know the rules, nor do I believe in them. I feel bullfighting and, without worrying about the rules, I go about it in my own way.”

Whoever affirms literature in itself affirms nothing.
I am writing four or five notes per week of what’ll one day emerge a monstrosity, an imposition, a cruel hoax, a bodice-ripper, a hebetudinous encyclopaedia of moronisms, a hut. And for the second year in a row, a tow-headed neighbor boy’s march’d into the yard and pluck’d out a four-leaf clover, thank-you, ma’am, and offer’d it up unabashedly reasonable-like, just like a girl Friday.

Enrique Vila-Matas

Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Et même cela est très bête


Thinking how dilapidatedly the tulips, white, sprawling, go about dying, thinking final joke, thinking “prodigious bicycle races.” If I fuss with “other” writing all through the boot’d up hours of night, what to offer day (in its gruesome guise of a monarch), day demanding its feeding? I scoot under the crabapples, pedaling madly, thunderclouds sniggering behind my back, and a little shower of pale petals whutters down to earth.

Susan Sontag, writing about Tsvetayeva, says: “The flow of rhetoric reaches the precipice of the sublime and topples over into hysteria, anguish, dread.” Isn’t that what “we” all desire? Not the toppling, the skirting of the precipice? (There’s, too, that old (1949) Stevensesque lozenge of horehound candy: “The poem must resist the intelligence / Almost successfully. . .” That’s a little different. Here, the writer must resist blithering idiocy almost successfully. See, too, various recent notes “on” one’s longing to splutter about in waves and currents of “pure sound.”) Gerald L. Bruns, in On the Anarchy of Poetry and Philosophy:
Prose knows itself in knowing what it can do: it is a project of world-making in which the writer first of all makes himself real (if himself is the word) by becoming immanent in his effects. Poetry meanwhile does not use words; it contemplates them from the outside as if they were things—but to what purpose? There is a good chance that poetry does not know what it is, much less what it is for. It cannot be traced back to a reason. It is very likely a condition of what Hegel called “unhappy consciousness [unglückliche Bewußtein]”: It exists in the form of a question, inaccessible to theory or redemption, divided against itself (without identity), opaque, gratuitous, and unwirklich.
Probably explains the trance-state “I am a radio” effect of its transmission down out of the god-wrack’d heights and out through the body of the poet, “pinned and wriggling on the wall.” Which is where the world-changing aims of the avant-garde go a little dicey—how’m I going to effectuate anything with this inexplicable thing-made-of-words coursing so voltaically through me? (The only recourse: that each and every one of “us” get the voltage, turn into dynamos, make a leap.)

Thinking breech in the flame. Thinking of Tzara writing to Breton: On écrit parce qu’il n’y a pas assez d’hommes nouveaux, par habitude, on publie pour chercher des hommes et pour avoir une occupation. Et même cela est très bête. [Roughly: One writes because there aren’t enough new men, habitually, one publishes to search out men and to have an occupation. And even that is very stupid.] Thinking how César Aira writes (in How I Became a Nun): “Life without radio was inconceivable for me. What happens, if you decide to define life as radio (which, as an intellectual exercise, is not entirely without merit), is that it automatically produces a sustaining plenitude.”

Marina Tsvetaeva, 1892-1941

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Some Things

Some Trees

Thinking huevos rancheros, thinking blue-winged warbler, thinking the half-moon hanging like a thumb-smudge in the south. Finish’d the big Bolaño and steam’d straightaway off up the tributaries (stories—some wherein Arturo Belano, Bolaño’s unmistakable “other” shows up, skinny and long-hair’d, smoking magnificently and inexorably a brand call’d Bali). And fuss’d in some backwaters, millrace channels, stray puddles of print. As one is “wont.” Found an odd echo-y triumvirate of things. Writings about things in illimitable thing-ness, un-quash’d by human hoot. Out of Peter Riley’s The Llŷn Writings (Shearsman, 2007):
Porth Gwrtheyrn, 21st August 1985

Yellow poppy, groundsel, carlin thistle,
Tangles of metal rope, rusted iron cogwheels
Sunk in sand. Slate, granite, aggregate, shale.
Flung wiremesh, rails, bolts, rivets, grills,
Axle, roller, valve, beam, plate.
Rustle of water down cliff-face. Hawk, goat,
Wild shore strewn with lumps of concrete.
Mermaids’s purse, crab-shell, sandhoppers, boat.
Plastic bottles, rope knots, tin cans, bird bones.
Oystercatcher, little gull, wave smacks gravel.
My hair a thin cushion against the stones.
Concrete telegraph hut, bits of copper cable
Still dangling from it. Monster ruin of loading quays.
My family, my lunch, my erratic, growling days.
Deft sonnet, lines to pound the table with (Khrushchev with shoe)—“Axle, roller, valve, beam, plate”—and the “human hoot” so overwhelmed by junk “erratic,” it becomes something wholly equal to, and parcel of, it all. Sopped up by debris and coagulate. Something “Chinese” in the self’s obliterating. In another Riley book, the simultaneously-released The Day’s Final Balance: Uncollected Writings, 1965-2006 (Shearsman, 2007), he writes, amidst a flurry of tiny pieces:
I quit

Leaving a scatter of uncompleted projects
Rusting in the hilltop grass.

Thin pencil lines
Fading in a dummy book.
That delicate refusal of assertion. Leaving the world to things.

Francis Ponge. Quoted in Gerald L. Bruns’s On the Anarchy of Poetry and Philosophy:
I write as I write, and I do not want it to be poetry. I do not intend to write poems. I express my feelings about things that move me, or that seem to me to be important to state. I have protested at length against my classification among poets, because lyricism in general disturbs me. That is, it seems to me that there is something too subjective, a display of subjectivity which appears to me to be unpleasant, slightly immodest. I believe that things—how can I say it?—that emanate from your subjectivity should not be displayed. Naturally, one never does anything but that. My own resolution was rather to reverse the situation and to try to say things that were generally valuable and pertinent. That is the reason why I have chosen things, objects, so that I would always have a break on my subjectivity, calling back the object as it exists when I write about it.
Though, oddly enough, the first Ponge piece Bruns offers up moves rather less by means of things and more by means of the names of things, that is, the way niggles of orthographical difference may subsume thingness itself in (by) language. See:
Le Cageot

A mi-chemin de la cage au cachot la langue française a cageot, simple caissette à claire-voie vouée au transport de ces fruits qui de la moindre suffocation font à coup sûr une maladie. . . .

The Crate

Halfway between cage [cage] and cachot [prison cell] the French language has cageot [crate], a simple openwork case for the transport of those fruits that invariably fall sick over the slightest suffocation.
Which (though the piece continues) already seems a little finicky, precious, some human intrusion mucking up that crate with sentiment, poor sickly plum!

And César Aira, the Argentine, writing about the German artist Johann Moritz Rugendas (1802-1858), the landscape painter dubbed (according to Aira) by naturalist Alexander Humboldt, the “founding father of the art of pictorial presentation of the physiognomy of nature.” In An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter (New Directions, 2006), translated by Chris Andrews, Aira records Humboldt’s instructions to Rugendas on the occasion of the painter’s second voyage to South America:
Do not squander your talent, which is suited above all to the depiction of that which is truly exceptional in landscape, such as snowy mountain peaks, bamboo, tropical jungle flora, groups composed of a single plant species at different ages; filiceae, lataniae, feathery-fronded palms, bamboo, cylindrical cactuses, red-flowered mimosas, the inga tree with its long branches and broad leaves, shrub-sized malvaceous plants with digitate leaves, particularly the Mexican hand plant (Cheirantodendron) in Toluca; the famous ahuehuete of Atlisco (the thousand-year-old Cupressus disticha) in the environs of Mexico City; the species of orchids that flower beautifully on the rounded, moss-covered protuberances of tree-trunks, surrounded in turn by mossy bulbs of dendrobium; the forms of fallen mahogany branches covered with orchids, banisteriae and climbing plants; gramineous species from the bamboo family reaching heights of twenty to thirty feet, bignoniaceae and the varieties of Foliis distichis; studies of pothos and dracontium; a trunk of Crescentia cujete laden with calabashes; a flowering Teobroma cacao with flowers springing up from the root; the external roots of Cupressus disticha, up to four feet tall, shaped like stakes or planks; studies of a rock covered with fucus; blue water lilies in water, guastavia (pirigara) and flowering lecitis; a tropical jungle viewed from a vantage point high on a mountain, showing only the broad crowns of flowering trees, from which the bare trunks of the palms rise like a colonnade, another jungle on top of the jungle; the differing material physiognomies of pisang and heliconium . . .
Which subsumes by sheer herbescence (and verbiage)—“jungle on top of the jungle”—leaving a kind of wall of greenery impenetrable by human concern. Jungle objectivism.

César Aira

Monday, May 07, 2007

Kent Johnson’s I Once Met

A Solitary Crow

Down out of the shallow north where the mayapples bunch up to shield dark corners of the woods and the trilliums topple left and right. High splurge of woodpecker, low rip of thrush. After an excruciating two-month long “post-official” wait whilst my parcel likely went to an unmark’d “sorting” box deep in one of the caves of Altamira, a box for poetry book recipients suspect’d of political criminal mischief, I finally received Kent Johnson’s splendid I Once Met (Longhouse, 2007). It’s a marvelously shaped book, long and thin, sewn in wraps the color of the wheatfields of the Isle-de-France, the color of sunlight hammering tobacco leaves in the tiny terraced wedges one sees descending—by foot, like a smuggler—into Spain out of the Pyrénées. And I Once Met comes with a rough-paper band, imprint’d with title and author, slipped over it, and blue endpapers—blue the color of the sky above the Atacama desert in Chile where Raúl Zurita, one “part” of Roberto Bolaño’s “Carlos Wieder” in Distant Star, wrote poems with bulldozers, blue the color of the azulejo of Lisboa. One slips off the slim band and begins to read the book just as one’d slide the label-ring off a Havana and’d thrust it between teeth: imagine a shimmering gold cigar made of words and sky!

I maintain that Kent Johnson writes with a rare grace and nonchalance—without any too audible “straining” after effect and with plenty of humor, mostly of the gently sad kind. Here, I am reminded of Joe Brainard’s terrific I Remember works—those miniature, wholly American sagas—and of some of John Cage’s wonderfully deadpan Zen anecdotes. Here’s one appropriate to Kent Johnson’s mycological “itch”:
Once when I was in Ann Arbor with Alexander Smith, I said that one of the things I liked about botany was that it was free of the jealousies and selfish feelings that plague the arts, that I would for that reason, if for no other, given my life to live over again, be a botanist rather than a musician. He said, “That shows how little you know about botany.” Later in the conversation I happened to mention the name of a mycologist connected with another Midwestern university. Incisively, Smith said, “Don’t mention that man’s name in my house.”
Cage and Brainard with a generous helping of something like the particular Hispanic and Lusophone unblinking surreal, say, that of the Comte de Lautréamont, né Isidore Lucien Ducasse, in Montevideo, Uruguary, there where the bande à Baader (Fraction armée rouge) were, they say, executed.

Once, yesterday, in a state of high fatigue after my unstory’d hardships in the shallow north, my optics stray’d to alight on the slipped-off label for I Once Met and I saw how it, in fact, read 1 Ounce Net. I consider’d the brilliance of that for several minutes—the weight of words, the kinds of scales used to weigh one’s verbiage, words dehisced and bagged for the procedure—an altogether pleasant revery run and plumb’d for “meaning,” before I noticed my mistake.

A few prefer’d meetings out of Johnson’s I Once Met:
I once met Dale Smith. We put our heads against the side of Lorine Niedecker’s old house on an island in Fort Atkinson and we rested them there for a long time, and I looked at Dale and he looked at me, and we cried for a little while, it was quite something. Then we went to the bar down the road where a small dog walked in circles on its hind quarters.
And, later, after reading straight through I Once Met—it is compulsively readable, wholly without slack or longueurs—I came across Roberto Bolaño’s report (in a story call’d “Dance Card”) of one Alejandro Jodorowski’s argument for Nicanor Parra’s (he of “anti-poetry”) being Chile’s finest poet (opposed to Neruda), with arguments “brandished” from “Kierkegaard and Wittgenstein, then Topor, Arrabal, and himself. I remember him saying that Nicanor, on his way somewhere, had stayed at his house. In this statement I glimpsed a childlike pride which since then I have noticed again and again in the majority of writers.” Bolaño (immediately following):
In one of his books Bataille says that tears are the ultimate form of communication. I started crying, not in a normal, ordinary way, letting the tears roll smoothly down my cheeks, but wildly in spurts, more or less like Alice in Wonderland, shedding gallons of tears.
And I recall’d Smith and Johnson on Black Hawk Island and the tiny spavin-butt’d pooch doing its pitiful best, and milk’d myself of a meagre cupful of lacrymals myself.

Kent Johnson:
I once met Robert Hass. He asked me what I was working on. I said, I’m working on the second Saenz book. He looked at me, puzzled, and then someone else said something and he had to go. Later, Forrest Gander said to me: Robert asked me what Science book you were working on . . . Well, that was funny.
I’ve never met Ron Padgett, but I almost did. I raised my fist before his door and paused. There were cicadas screaming to death in the rich summer trees. Why ruin it, I said, and walked away.
If Joe Brainard’s I Remember explores (largely) cultural artifacts and debris of the ’fifties and ’sixties through a singular (painterly, gay) perspective, Johnson’s I Once Met concentrates on a Bourdieuvian habitus, a literary field (“post-avant,” poetic, largely norteamericano, though—with Johnson’s work translating (of the Bolivian Jaime Saenz, among others) there comes a noticeable aggrandissement of that field). It’s a stirring performance, and one that manages to prick at the pretensions of many, including Kent Johnson himself, whose service and necessity to that field should never be doubt’d, he it is who continually reminds us of our human meagerness, our abysmal hurry toward le Néant. One need go only to Johnson’s “unfolding critical novella” entitled Corroded by Symbolysme: An Anti-Review of Twelve British Poets, Which Is Also To Be a True Account of Dark and Mysterious Events Surrounding a Famous Poem Supposedly Written by Frank O’Hara, (first chapter in the “British Poetry Issue” of Chicago Review) to see that, and to read the following:
Why shouldn’t the poet who is the subject be the one to primarilie speak about his or her own work, be a protagonist, even, within the review’s fictitious world, the reviewer acting more as a kind of semi-amanuensis, a supporting actore, limited, in the modesty of his or her position as attendant (admiring or not) to telling a few Boswell-like stories here and there, adding a few supplementarie opinyons in the process, fusing at certain transgressive or luminous moments with the Poet’s Voice, but never losing sight of his or her Johnny-come-latelie fluctuating position? Would such an approach not be salutary one, insofar as it might help gently unfasten the buckles and straps of a genre long bound by customs of epistemological presumption and claim, customs that render, in ritualized fashion, interior scenes or landscapes whose convincing, life-like, but decidedly simulacral critycal effects are fashioned by means of perspectival tricks carefully plotted out by the reviewer from whose eyes unseen lynes of axiology converge in multiple vanishing points that are, when one thinks about it, akin to tiny coagulations of ideology (inasmuch as the expectations of evaluation’s productive mode and relations of exchange are ideological through and through)? I mean, really, what is the literary field, populated as it is by Authores, be they Poets or Critycs, if not a vast space of tinie bodies orbiting and crashing and disappearing in the vicinity of a great central Black Holum?
A brilliant thing. Though the faux-sixteenth c. orthographickal hiccoughs, ain’t we seed that sort of mayhem somewhere before?

Kent Johnson, La Paz, Bolivia, 2004
(Photograph by Forrest Gander)