Ben: A couple of points I’d like to pick up on here. I think it was Nick Piombino who recently said that he liked the idea of blogs being like public drafts of poems, ideas, etc. I’m not sure if he included a mention about working through ideas (and I’m not sure where to look to find out). For me, blogging is also a way of working through ideas, however simple or complex. Luminations is usually written on my lunch break and is, for the most part, a way to refocus on poetry in the midst of so many other things I don’t want to think about (an escape almost). However, the ideas that come up, if they come up, concern issues I’ve been thinking about for some time and want to give voice to. As part of the process, sometimes I publish something I wish I had never said! But I think that is really part of working through ideas: taking wrong turns, veering off course, and occasionally getting it right. Doing this publicly provides me with an unusual perspective though. First there is the slight distance created simply by having whatever it is I wrote out in the public sphere. Then there is also the feedback. There was one occasion when I wrote a couple of poems in the space of say 15 minutes and received several e-mails about how wonderful they were; but when I look at them I simply see the warts of writing what is in essence an automatic poem (not that I have anything against writing automatically, I just don’t think they’re worth commenting on). Basically, I’m saying that for me blogging is a useful way of positioning or exercising, a way of preparing for something else. What appears on the blog is not really intended to go much further. How would you describe your process(es) of working through ideas and questions, as you say, on SDPG? Bill: What I've liked most about blogging -- and I think the folks who diss it may fail to see this aspect of it -- is that I can use it for several different purposes, occasions, and I don't have to limit myself to any one process or program. Some days, SDPG is an announcement board, sometimes a journal or log book, sometimes a scratch pad, sometimes a zine, sometimes a promotional forum for other activities. So, I've tried to avoid banking on any one specific process (or approach) for filling up the fields there. The blog is definitely, as you say, a "useful way of positioning or exercising" or "preparing for something else" -- much of what I've done there I've revised for print publication or for posting/archiving on my site (factoryschool.org/btheater). But I also want to use the blog-site itself as a spot for "finished" things, a formal program, and to the extent that I manage that it may be a little different than the less formal blogs. One thing I do that may be a little different is keep a running list of "entries with titles" in the left column, mostly to create a sense of history and accrual -- and I guess to support that "zine"like presence. I like the ephemeral and contingent nature of blogging, but I also like to keep some of the content current/accessible as the blog otherwise bleeds forward Ben: The other point I wanted to raise is a probably not at all for public interest. One of the reasons I’ve been so extraordinarily busy this year is that I have been preparing my Ph.D. application for a number of US universities, UCSD being one of them. I admire the group activity and aspirations behind SDPG, and in fact have done something similar but less successful here in Tokyo, would you say that San Diego (I’ve never even been to California) is conducive to group projects, especially those involving cross-disciplinary work? The problem I’ve had in Tokyo is partly that everyone is on totally different schedules. Some people work weekends and are off during the week, some people work evenings or mornings, or, like me, work grueling 12 hour days. The other problem is that I have not been successful in finding a common ethic or aesthetic, but I imagine that could be the case anywhere. At any rate, the few meetings I was able to slap together did have a similar effect on me of turning my attention away from the print-focus and more towards something I’ve not yet been able to articulate… If all goes according to plan, I should be spending a few days at the beginning of next year in a recording studio with a ‘noisician’ but all is very tentative now. Bill: I think it is, but it's difficult to coordinate for reasons you mention re Tokyo. SD is one of those "cities of villages" that you'll find out here -- several neighborhoods separated by canyons and malls and freeways. It's very hard to bring people together due primarily (and sadly) to geographical distance and traffic and horrid public transit. But at the same time the city's grown a lot in the last decade or so (I've been here since 1990), and so there are more opportunities for group work, collaboration -- a lot more going on, more to look at. I read in our local reader that a lot of people coming up in music, for example, are not necessarily bailing out and heading to LA like they would have certainly done only a few years ago. There's a thriving hip-hop scene here that I've heard rivals LA's. In poetry, there's a lot going on too -- but in keeping with that city of villages motif, the groups tend to self-isolate geographically and aesthetically. One of the things I'd like to do, and the Guild is definitely one gesture in that direction, is to find ways to mix those "disciplines" and communities and see if we can generate some of that proverbial "critical mass." There are general signs that SD is coming of age, despite its reputuation as simply a surfer/vacationer haven, but these are early signs and so difficult to read let alone place any real faith in. Anyway, to answer your question, yes, I definitely think SD is conducive to group projects, with a lot already in the works -- but I also think there's plenty of room for more playful, experimental group activities, in poetry especially, and the groundwork for that still needs to be laid.


This Week on Luminations

An Interview with Bill Marsh

Ben: Thank you for agreeing to appear on Luminations, Bill. For the first question, I'd like to begin by asking you about you and the SDPG. In all truth, I don't know much about you. I've done a little searching on the web and see that you are part of the San Diego Poetry Guild, a collective that I certainly find exciting. The SDPG appears to embrace all forms of artistic speculation and enquiry with a fairly clear drive towards interdisciplinary collaboration. But perhaps most importantly, it is a *guild*. So could you tell us how you got involved in the SDPG (did you start it?) and how do you see yourself within the guild as whole? Bill: The Guild is still finding its edges, so it's difficult to give a clear history or even a clear explanation of our project. At heart, the goal is to bring writers in SD together around the idea of "poetry" or "poetic activity" but without necessarily limiting ourselves to poetry (print or performed) per se. A short answer to your question would be that two friends and I -- all Communication grad students at UCSD -- got together one day maybe a year-and-a-half ago and decided to form a poetry group for informal work-sharing and discussion. Last year, on a whim really, I started the SDPG blog -- admittedly as a personal attempt to work through some ideas and questions I had at the time about group formation and writing, but also (I hoped at the time) to provide a web forum for the group. The group blog never really caught on, so in a way "SDPG" (the blog) evolved mostly as a fiction. But as the initial group of poets grew to include a photographer/videographer and a couple dancers, in addition to a few more writers, we grafted the "guild" concept onto the group, and the name stuck. For some of us, the guild structure, even if only a fiction, invites interesting questions about the work of poetry (or art more generally) and the way that work gets distributed, shared, supported, and then "sold" or exchanged out in the world. So, as we solidify as a group, we do so around the basic idea that we're all contributing (and refining) labor and craft in part on behalf of the larger guild/group effort. In that sense we're trying to distinguish ourselves from the perhaps more routine or predictable activities of a reading group or collective, but to be honest we're still not entirely sure what the differences might be, at least beyond this fundamental commitment to sharing work and resources. Ben: As a guild, I imagine that there is a fairly strong sense of community and cooperation (perhaps this is idealizing somewhat), how has working as part of this diverse group (SDPG is a year old now) affected your creative 'output' and poetic thinking (if it is really possible to separate one from the other)? Bill: We've had perhaps six meetings since last year -- perhaps not as many as we should have -- but in the meantime I've spent a lot of time working with one other guild member putting together a performance piece mixing projection, audio, and his dance moves. To answer the second part of your question, the group/guild dynamic has changed my thinking (and my output) radically, in the sense that I'm working toward an entirely different set of ends now. Writing becomes more occasional and directed, and the kind of assembly or appropriation/collage work that I've always liked to do takes on an entirely different meaning. With hindsight I see some of my earlier writing as often limited to formal exercise and, I think, a short-sighted, maybe myopic, focus on print-publication (journals, book). I've been toying with web-based (visual/animated) assembly too for about five years now, and that stretches the frame a bit, but in general I've been mostly concerned with object creation for display, whether page or screen. Now I think more in terms of generating pieces, scripts, chunks of material (image, sound, text), to use in a broader, more processual, assembly work -- writing for eventual performance, for example, instead of (or maybe in addition to) eventual publication. So, re the first part of your question, there really is a strong sense of "cooperation" among us, and that obviously rewires my thinking about what's possible. While I've done a considerable amount of collaboration (usually "long distance") with other poets and artists, this is the first time I've worked closely with others for an extended period of time, and toward collaborative performance and installation work. It's pretty exciting and eye-opening. This past weekend, four of us took part in an exhibit called "Hotels/Motels" organized by a local installation artist. About fifty artists rented rooms at the downtown Travelodge and "set up shop" for the night. For the first time, the Guild had a "stage" and a presence, and we spent part of the day assembling the latest issue of our Guild zine (Zazil2). Later, J.R. (my chief collaborator in the Guild) and I worked out our evolving performance for rotating audiences. It was a blast, and I mention it because that "year" you mention has obviously brought me a long way from the kind of work I was doing before SDPG grew from fiction to (pseudo)reality


To all those who have contacted me about the interview over the holiday, I will reply. The weekend has been very hectic! Sorry!


Somebody tell me how this obvious web of deceit goes over the average American voters head? What is most infuriating about this, er, man is that he can lie and lie and somehow gets away with it. I don’t like governments generally, harmless armchair anarchist that I am, but how is it that Clinton gets called for getting a blow job (so what?) and Bush can tell the truth about lying on the Diane Sawyer show and is still considered truthful? Where are the impeachment orders? Where’s the military tribunal? Where’s the Hague war crimes tribunal? Sorry for my ranting the last two days. Also, if anyone is interested in being interviewed on Luminations over the holiday season, please contact me. The most effective way is either the yahoo address above or: bbasan at zaa dot att dot ne dot jp. Thankfully, I’ll be away from work, which means I can spend a bit more time on worthwhile causes. Hey, if I’m feeling full o' cheer (ho!ho!) I may even give you a complimentary call (if you are in the US, possibly Europe – cheap call rates from Japan).


No time today. Just need to say that George W. Bush makes my blood curdle. I wonder if it could be said that he excites the passions if, when one hears him one feels the unbearable URGE TO VOMIT (accidental click of the caps, but I like it). Bush – that ‘thing’ as I heard in a British murder case - will be plagued by furies, just as his suppository arch-nemeses. Urrgh. My eyes are red.


Reading Factorial this morning on the train I wondered – as I did for issue one – how these collaborations work. It’s certainly fun to read through the work and try to work out what method, if any, the writers used; how each artist responded to the others work/prompts. Some, like the opening “unscripted behaviors” , seem to be fairly transparent. The first poem:






______________________________________________________ Jasmine, the hose fire, “When you go to your home by the ocean,” said the songs. The shadow’s leaking again. THEN you have to come back. Have a nice life she said. In answer to your question, it was to be an ambidextrous text. Here I would hazard that the first Jasmine terrace-like cue set off the “Jasmine” of the response (or is Jasmine a name?). And then the writer, I don’t know who, struts off of the other prompts in the text. “Fire” ,to me, links with “dry/night”; “ocean” with “wet”. Then she reacts to the opposites in the short top poem (wet/dry) with coming back, returning from the ocean and bidding it farewell. As she says, it was to be ambidextrous. Perhaps I’ve got it all wrong, but I’m having fun speculating. I mentioned yesterday, that I didn’t like one piece. It was, I’ll be honest, the “Whalebone Essays Volume 3” by, among others Noah Gordon and Eric Baus. I’m not sure why they chose the title, perhaps something to do with sifting or separating? The poem feels very cut-up, as though they had spent quite some time piecing together lines in some manner or other (well, don’t we all though?). There are some good lines in the poem, there are also some quite bad ones like “dreaming of the spaces between words”, but why I don’t like it? I’ll be honest, I just don’t know. I like long poems, but after page 3 I wanted this one to stop. Perhaps its not quite boring or exciting enough to keep me reading on?? I don’t know. Anyway, I brought this poem up because I am curious about the construction of the “Whalebone Essays vol. 3. The poem traverses 11 pages and each page sometimes has a distinct feel, or sense of containment. Off the top of my head, there were about two pages in which “ha ha ha” appeared and then there was one quite nice page that started with something like “ My babies swim in the sea” in which there was an obvious kind of mirroring going on with certain words and phrases (actually, I like this page a lot). So conjecture 1 is that each member of the collaboration wrote one page (but then what about the 11th page?) .. but I haven't found the link. Conjecture 2 is that because the lines have quite a cut up feel about them (they really remind me of the Tzara-esque words in a hat games I used to play with my little sister), each member had a poem that was ‘gutted’ so to speak, words taken out, and then replaced with others. I don't think there is a full cut up going on because there is a little too much cohesion. That’s all I’ve got time for today.


I don’t have a lot of time these days in the lead up to x-mas and new year. Many things to finish. At any rate, I wanted to point out two excellent poetry magazines, Sawako Nakayasu’s Factorial & Jesse Seldess’ Antennae. I am usually underimpressed with most magazines, but these two really stand out. Factorial is dedicated to good quality collaborative writing. Sawako has done an excellent job in selecting a range of energetic pieces that generally cohere within the x number of pages dedicated to each issue. The impression is that there is a clear unifying aesthetic between the pieces, even though style and content may be very different. Sawako’s own writing has a strong pulse and so do most of the pieces in Factorial. I’ve only been able to glance through Factorial 2 and it appears there is more in the way of recent work in this one. The only surprise thus far is that the one piece I thought I’d like (I like one of the writers), I really didn’t! Before discussing Antennae, I would like to add Factorial!’s distinguishing features are that the writing is very NEW and fairly interdisciplinary. Almost every poem in the magazine is doing something visual or musical or performative. And although you can say this about any magazine, one can really see a dialogue between other arts going on in many of the pieces in unexpected ways. Please remember I’m writing this in a rush! Antennae. I’ll admit that Sawako introduced me to this; in fact I’m basing my comments on the issue she lent me! At any rate, Antennae is a magazine of very musical writing. Some pieces definitely recall John Taggart and Minimalism with the heavy use of repetition and homophonic words, as well as the very careful shifts in emphasis and theme. And approaching the advances of a lot of modern music, many of the pieces are starting to move like the 21st Century. Wasn’t it Elliot who said something about poetry needing to adapt to the rhythms of the automobile? I wouldn’t say that much writing has gone that far yet. Stein perhaps?? (There is Christian Bok’s Motorized Razorblades!) Well, some of the work in Antennae is certainly getting close to it. It wasn’t that long ago that I thought that poetry was gathering dust and was becoming a happy parlor-game. Perhaps it is. These two little magazines help to dispel my doubts, at least for a while.. But I still hate poetry!


Notes Post-Viewing – Alvin Lucier

Piece seen at the ICC in Opera City, Nishi-Shinjuku. Just inside the entrance to a darkened room, about ten (hand-blown?) variously shaped thick glass jars with a green tint appearing at apertures and curves, stand on individual shoulder-height displays. Light is permitted to refract through the jars at a source either behind them or under them. Microphones are hanging into the jars apparently at an equivalent depth. The mikes connect directly to four or five small, but robust amps at the back of the room. Because of the lighting in the room the amps are barely noticeable until the eye has adjusted to the dark. Permeating the room is the subtly shifting hum picked up from the mikes, there is no constant sound or noise produced. Do we worship here? Should we sacrifice? A darkened laboratory in which the hypothesis is in the process of forming. Religion is tangential; science disavows the marshalling of religion. Centered on the light-space, where we define sound. Move away, lift your arm, breathe, twitch, and listen. And who moves? The alter is a… Do we alter the sound? Presence alters the entire room, and without it what becomes of the room? The sound continues; we know to distrust absence, silence. The room is particle to living and movement. Entrances and exits share the point of reading; movement, sound, heat together are melded and effect the tone of the point. Aurality is a reading, an intersection in a network of interactions; its placement is incidental and determined. To mark one point is always an aleatory gesture – an … context. Sound is language that circles forth…


I'm posting this for Sawako Nakayasu.


Allen Ginsberg I hope my good old asshole holds out 60 years it's been mostly OK Tho in Bolivia a fissure operation survived the altiplano hospital-- a little blood, no polyps, occasionally a small hemorrhoid active, eager, receptive to phallus coke bottle, candle, carrot banana & fingers-- Now AIDS makes it shy, but still eager to serve-- out with the dumps, in with the condom'd orgasmic friend-- still rubbery muscular, unashamed wide open for joy But another 20 years who knows, old folks got troubles everywhere-- necks, prostates, stomachs, joints-- Hope the old hole stays young till death, relax March 15, 1986, 1:00 PM


Over the weekend the words from my notebook were almost all stolen, lifted from the page into some sneaky thief’s pocket. And on the barren white pages, only these words remain: A snowball in summertime that's what I am; a matchbox Round the decay of that colossal wreck, as they say, boundless and bare, the lonely white pages stretch away.


OK now, on the other side of things today. First, heartfelt sympathies to Ron Silliman. It appears his wife is quite ill and in the hospital. Ganbaremasu Ron and family! Also, I’ve decided to add Noah Eli Gordon’s Human Verb to the side links today. The decision has nothing to do with the dream, consciously at any rate. Actually, I’ve oft admired his poetry and think he’s one to watch out for. That said, I have no idea where this New Brutalism is headed.. nor do I really know where it comes from. Is there a Brutalism? I know, of course, Bruitism, but there is obviously no connection. At any rate, the pieces he wrote in Word for Word Vol 2 really catalyzed my own writing and for that I’ll be eternally grateful!
Last night I dreamt that I was attacked by a grizzly bear. I was attending a BBQ at a house that reminded me of a Frank Lloyd Wright – perhaps because of the surrounding forest and light colored brick. Was I in Canada? I’ve never been to Canada. There were a lot of people there. S was there. There may have been orgies going on, but as usual I was talking over the food. Who was I talking to? It may have been Noah Eli Gordon, who I’ve never met or even talked to. I remember that whoever I was talking to had tattoos and was about the same age as me. I remember in waking life being surprised that NEG had so many tattoos. NEG and I heard a deep bass growl. Oddly no one else heard the sound and continued about their profligate party antics. A naked dark-skinned woman – was she Asian? - ran out of the forest towards the beer kegs. The sound got louder. NEG said he’d check the sound system (even though there was no music playing). And at that moment, the light-brown bear ran through the bushes and pounced upon what became my frail body. I woke up. My wife asked who I had been dreaming about because I was calling out a, presumably female, name. (she won’t tell me who) **********************************************


Poem secret

Is poetry like a dirty secret? Art, like painting, sculpture, filmmaking, etc, is acceptable. Music is acceptable. But poetry? What makes people frown at the thought of someone reading poetry for pleasure? I’ve been led to believe that in fact poetry is dangerous… But it does not pose real danger, but the danger of being useless. Art, the story goes, fulfills a social function. It can even be useful for business. And what is life without music. Everyone, even evil men like george bush and eviller men like Osama bin Laden {cough}, needs music. But poetry? You must hate society to like poetry. You must be a pervert. Poetry is like a work-from-home ad. Poems hover alongside more important things in magazines like the New Yorker. Even if those aren’t good poems, they’re poems. Poems are for high school. Life is for career. Poems are for sentimental, lachrymose people. Poems are written under the bed-sheets in private bedrooms. They express feelings. Algorithms express relations. Everyone writes poetry, it’s the only language we speak. Poets are refined everyones, and everyone’s a poet. But you read Poetry?


Because of the interview last week, I was unable to put up any more new blog links to the sidebar. I’ve noticed that several blogs now link to Luminations, so I will of course return the favor and link back! The first is Tramspark. I have no idea who the author of this blog is, but I have to say that the blogs arranged by time zone is really cool! The blog is a darn good read too. The second is Corpse Poetics (Formerly Wine Poetics) from Eileen Tabios. If I’m not mistaken, Eileen married poetry a year or so ago. I wish I could have gone to the wedding. If I’m also not mistaken, Eileen worked in the finance industry before turning to poetry. Though not working directly in that industry myself, I am in contact with it on a daily basis. I always hope that one day I will stumble across a poet/ trader. Eileen gives me hope! More tomorrow.. P.s. Has anyone noticed that blogger is easier to manage on Windows than on Mac? What's up with that blogger???

A Bar from Wittgenstein

It’s been a long time since I last read Wittgenstein. In fact, when I did it was for a class on Analytic Philosophy and so was just a tad bored. Analytic Philosophy does have some useful aspects (verifiability, falsification etc.) but they are probably also the worst grouping of writers philosophy has ever seen. Apparently, ol’ Wittgenstein wasn’t so bad (actually, I never thought he was bad), and even thought in music! At any rate, I originally read this on the North American Center for Interdisciplinary Poetics. Since I couldn’t get the link to work, I’ll send you to the original source.


A: Before we begin today I wanted to add a little to my comments yesterday. Q: Sure. What did you want to say? A: One thing was that I didn’t want to argue the case that indigenous people are the only ones disenfranchised by bureaucracy and so on. Disenfranchisement is a complex issue and it’s really quite disingenuous to single out white middle-class men as the ones who benefit from bureaucracy. In fact, no one benefits. People can manipulate it though, pervert it. Discrepancies are obvious too. For example, when a US-born Filipino friend wanted to move back to the US with his Japanese wife, the application and process was more drawn out and made more complicated than is usual for whites. There was nothing illegal about the extra interviews he and his wife had to attend, and racism would be hard to prove, but at the same time one has to ask why his application was delayed (it took more than 6 months) while other white Americans’ applications take about half the time. I don’t know the history of bureaucracy for other groups. The indigenous people of the US, at any rate, is one in which bureaucracy was the next brutality after force. In my family, we experienced this in the form of the “blood registration” at the turn of the 20th century.. And then there is the risible Cherokee Nation, the Lilliput of Washington-style politics… Q: Well, I was actually going to follow up on this a little. I did some checking up on your name last night. “Basan” is either Turkish or Hebrew, I can’t work out which. A: I’m sticking by Milton on this and will assert that the name is from modern day Jordan. But the name is Hebrew, yes, my father was raised Jewish. Q: Milton? A: Yes, in Paradise Lost the town of Basan is one of those dominated by Moloch. It’s still on the map. Q: You’ve spoken a lot about indigenous Americans, but looking at you, you look much more, err, Jewish. A: Good point. If we start measuring blood like Nazi’s you’ll find me to be 1/2 Hebrew (Jewish relates to a religion) and just a miniscule 1/16 Cherokee, with the remaining bits being mostly Macedonian with a trace of Scotch. If you’re out for binging, I’d make a lousy drink! Q: So why.. A: Why all the talk about Cherokees? I don't know. I’ve always had a hard time identifying with the Jewish side of things. One reason is that the religion never featured in my life. My mother is a devoted Christian, I am an atheist. The whole Israel question further complicates things. Also, my sister and I were quite close to my grandfather on the Cherokee side.. Anyway, I’m bored with this topic. This is the last day, can we move on? Q: Sure. I wanted to ask about your current projects. What are you working on? What do you have planned? A: This’ll probably take up the rest of the interview! As you know, I’ve spent a good part of the year preparing my Ph.D. application, because of this I haven’t been able to do much in the way of real writing, aside from reams of notes made here and there in transit. That said, I did write quite a bit on Gins and Arakawa at the beginning of the year, culminating in a kind of crappy review of their book “The Architectural Body”. I’m going to go back to that as soon as I can. Madeline sent me a review copy so I really owe her one. I also started the year writing about 100 post-card instructions – poems to be constructed by someone else I another place. I want to do something with them, but soon after I finished the first batch, the Iraq war broke out and I felt the cards were somehow superfluous or fatuous. So I started writing a project I called “A Modest Proposal Revisited” in which I make Swiftian suggestions concerning the Middle East in the business presentation genre, with ppt. Slides and everything. Again, this is half done partly because I wanted to put it online and I don’t have the technical ability to do something like that. The other reason was that other obligations prevented me from finishing. Since then, I lost the ppt slides in the same computer crash that destroyed the sound script you found yesterday. At least I have most of the script in my notebook (mead notebook that is). Those are the two major projects I plan to finish around March next year. I still have some poems and bric-a-brac I need to polish up. I pretty much finished one called “Brancusi’s Car” the other day. I like experimenting with reducing and cutting away words as part of the process of the poem, as well as with patterning. “Brancusi’s Car” is like that. It’s inspired from a John Cage quote in which he says that the car alarms in NYC remind him of a Brancusi (I think he had the sinusoidal wave in mind there). Then there is the question of what to do with hours of taped noises. I had to do a lot of travel around Tokyo this summer doing interviews etc. so when I got the chance I’d take out my tape player and record anything really. I started putting those together, but I need to find some better software. I have a copy of Acid Pro, but I have no idea how good it is. Basically, I want to layer the sounds with music (especially a couple of Nono pieces) that features silence. Then there is the question of my sound scores. Either I need to get people together to read them or I’ll use the same software to do it all myself. Err. But first I have to find them all. Q: You aren’t the most organized of people, are you? A: No, although not usually this bad. It’s just that I work a lot and have the application to think about. That is my number one priority right now. I need community, poetry and arts community, and I see it in the US. Also, my studies feel like “unfinished business”. If I don’t go back, some abstract study mobster is going to put a severed horse head in my bed. I’ll know I made the wrong decision. Q: we need to finish.. A: Yes. Well, thanks for allowing me on the blog.


Ben got called out to do a few interviews about 10 mins after I arrived. After waiting 45 minutes for those to finish and then for him to go out and get an aloe drink, I’m a little tired. At least I had time to read Stephen Vincent’s excellent piece on Wounded Screams ant Walter Road. I also rummaged through his bag and found a sound score that he thought he had lost in a computer crash. He was looking pretty grumpy before I declared the find, but now he is decidedly confused. Apparently, he can’t remember which program he used to make the score, so at the moment, it’s a crumpled bit of paper Q: Glad I could have been of assistance. A: You shouldn’t have been in my bag, but I am grateful. Now how long is it going to take me to remember how I made this. I’m pretty sure I used photoshop… Q: We should really get back to the questions. A: OK Q: Yesterday we finished with you talking about identity. Today is Thanksgiving. Do you have any feelings about that? A: First, I guess I should say that one side of my family is Cherokee on my mothers side. Considering the mass murder (genocide is to accept o term) committed against American Indian, at one point in my life I found the holiday to be like having a Krystallnacht holiday in Germany. I’ve come to accept Thanksgiving and Christmas as simply necessary family holidays. I no longer worry about the history of them. People need holidays and rites of passage, it’s a time to release excess tension etc.{pause} I do worry about the history, but not in relation to the holidays. The history of the indigenous people in the Americas over the last 500 years has been particularly brutal. Bureaucracy is our new brutality - I recently saw Terry Gilliam’s Brazil, which is an excellent depiction of this point – and the North American Indians still suffer from it… Q: You’re sermonizing. Judging from all the notes, notebooks, and scribbled-on things in your bag, you do a lot of writing, don't you? How to you come to poetry and writing? A: This is one of the few questions I like answering. I always enjoyed poetry and tended to make much more of an effort writing poetry than other creative activities at school. I remember writing a book of poems for my little sister once. I wish I could find them. I think they were in haiku. I only remember spending a lot of time writing them neatly because my handwriting was and is so hard to read. I developed a real interest in poetry at around the age of 13 when my father decided that I would like all his old Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Herman Hesse books. As I remember, I was reading quite a few horror novels at the time, like Steven King, and voiced my boredom with the genre, so my father just dropped these books on my bed. There was a book he gave me, The Revenge of the Lawn, I liked that a lot. You can’t deaden an interest in poetry. It’s worse than a wildfire. I’ve finished relationships over it, started relationships because of it, sadly less frequently than the former. I started writing about the same time that I started reading. Until I left university, I wrote pretty standard stuff. Sonnets, villanelles, sestina’s etc. all on pretty common topics. I was always pretty bored with the British poetry I had access to. It was after I discovered dada and then all the language poets and poets doing something interesting that really catalyzed my writing. Oh. We’re way over time. Tomorrow’s the last day, right? Q: Ok, yes that’s right.


Q: Right, where were we? A: {cough} Q: Yes, who are you? I mean, not a lot of people know who you are, wouldn’t you like to tell us a little about yourself? A: I don’t enjoy talking about myself, but I’ll try. I am quite strongly placeless. I mean many people have a hometown or a home region, or a home country, but I can’t say clearly that I have any of these. I was born in Oklahoma, spent most of my younger years in Texas, my adolescence in England (where I found closer friendships with Africans and Europeans), and now several adult years in Japan. My passport says I’m American, were is not for this piece of bureaucracy, I wouldn’t easily identify myself as American. Q: So you are American? A: I recently watched a Monty Python skit in which Picasso was doing a cross-country painting on his bicycle. As a mock sports event other painters on bicycles raced passed John Cleese, the man on the beat. Last coming through was Kurt Schwitters. Cleese calls him something like, “ the great British Kurt Schwitters”. A spectator (Eric Idol dressed in drag) points out that Schwitters is German. Cleese retorts “he died ‘ere! That makes ‘im Bri’ish enough”. The point is, I guess, that place isn't important. Space certainly is important and the function of place in space is important.. Sorry, I’ve got to finish today. A: OK. Thanks for the latte.


This Week: An Interview with Me

Exclusive to Luminations

Interviews are something like ego massages for the interviewees and voyeurism for the viewer. I need both an ego massage and to be viewed, returning from a housebound 3 day weekend. Q: Aside from flogging your name and wares around a bit, you are essentially unknown. Do you feel like an ass keeping a public blog when nobody knows who you are? A: hmm. Well, don’t waste time with pleasantries! {long pause} To answer your question, yes, I do feel like an ass. There are highly visible poets and writers out there keeping nicely written, reasonably well-considered blogs. Mine is completely the opposite. Since it’s written during my lunch break from a place where I like to keep my interests secret, careful consideration and attention to detail is virtually impossible. Still, the blog is a place for potential visibility and I do my best to put something up that might be of interest to someone somewhere. That said, I don’t usually try to communicate myself through the blog. Aside from the occasional lapse into criticism, I often use various ‘voices’ and guises. In part the voices and guises are an experiment, no doubt they also function as a type of escapism from the work environment. Q: Do you like work? A: You’ll notice my blog does not have my name on it.. that is because it is being written on company property and, although I appreciate visibility, I don’t want to be visible to my colleagues (in more ways than one, I assure you). As for work as an abstract condition (I think we’ve decided there is no such thing as real work anymore), no, I don’t like working. That said, everyone should try it, it’s good practice for the real world. Once one enters the world of poetry, I think the memory of work will remain an idle fantasy. Q: Hmm. If I can move on… A: Please.. Q: Who are you? {phone rings} A: Hello? {pause} no, I can’t, but did you know that {pause} ok. Look I’m in the middle of an interview and I think the interviewer is getting a little impatient. I mean how much time do you think he has? {pause} alright, thanks for calling, bye. {looks at me quizzically} Q: Who are you? A: Oh, that was my little boy. He loves Peter and the Wolf and was explaining that the wolf is represented by four French horns rather than the three claimed on the box. Can we finish this for today? I’ve got to get back to work. Q: OK. Are you in tomorrow? A: It’s in the contract..


I've just added Kasey Mohammad's Limetree to the sidebar. Kasey always has interesting things to say, even when they're boring. He was my favorite poster on the Poetics list for the longest time, but sadly he rarely contributes these days. He's recently been in 'a bit of bother' about some comments he made about a California poet... and indeed the comments were a little insensitive, though some of the attacks on Kasey's blunder were wholly disproportionate and injudicious. Kasey is very aware of pop culture as his post today attests (Britney Spears in Middle English). How I wish I could keep up as he does, were I not such an insufferable snob... Warm welcome to the sidebar, Lime Tree!
I’m going to be taking a bit of a blogbreak for the next few days, at least until Tuesday Japan time. Perhaps it’s obvious, but between working 12 hour days, getting together my Ph.D. application, and dealing with an overly emotional family life I haven’t got much time for, well, anything.
Finally read Jack Spicer last night… am humbled


Who is this Billy Collins? Quite happy this week that a colleague came back from San Fran with $70 worth of books including In the American Tree and the Robin Blaser Jack Spicer anthology AND some John Taggart AND some Carla Harryman AND FULCRUM I’ve been looking forward to Fulcrum since the issue was announced on the POETICS list some time back. Who is this newcomer? A Sulphur for the 21st century. Unfortunately not. There are some great articles and poems in there; I enjoyed the Bernstein/Perloff interview; but a lot of the poetry is just plain unmusical and awkward (Pat Herron is looking good though). But to top everything off is this one BAD poem from a guy called Billy Collins and an equally DULL interview. Billy Collins is new to me, really. I’ve heard his name, and wish it were only that. I understand that he is a bit of a celebrity in the US.. but then they have Fox news there too… The problem with the Collins poem in Fulcrum is that it has lines and verses that have no rhythm, no meter and visually the lines don’t even contribute to the poem. They just are in the way the gold shit sits atop the Asahi building (the difference being that the shit has become a landmark and one can’t even remember one line from the poem). Moreover, the last verse is just some quirky twist like the poems on those pastel colored poetry sites for teens. I read with bewilderment that Collins spends 7 or 8 hours a day writing. I wonder what he does with that time? And as for the interview itself, Collins and the interviewer come off as rather toffee-nosed. Aside from Collins’ odd comment about writing for such an amount of time, he also drops this peculiar off the cuff remark about Emily Dickenson. The interviewer compares Collins’ and Dickenson’s penchant for writing at home and Collins responds by saying something along the lines of, “ yeah, I’m like that, except I don’t wear the dress”. Que? This is a humor too sophisticated for me. Finally, I don’t understand Collins’ comment about there being too much serious poetry. The only serious poetry I’ve ever read was Celan, and even Celan’s writing has some humor.
I'm gradually adding links to the side bar of blogs I like for one reason or another. Today I put up Stephen Vincent's. I don't know much about him, but his prose is invariably mellifluous, even when he's cranky. Check out his blog!


BBC Radio four has a program called Desert Island Disks that involves inviting a celebrity or cultural vulture to talk about the music they would take with them on a desert island etc etc. It’s usually an extraordinarily droll affair with “best of” celebrities listing “best of” music. I think they once had Phillip Glass on, but that is hearsay. Anyhow, since I have something else to get on with today, here’s my list of desert island books in no particular order: Mechanism of Meaning – Gins & Arakawa I would have chosen Architectural Body, but it is not quite as practical as MoM. MoM is like a manual in consciousness. It’s a wonder to me how they could have actually produced something after this book… But they did, and it’s even better and many times larger. Cantos – Ezra Pound For me Pound’s Cantos are more than a book of poetry, they are a textbook in culture (or Kulchur). My breath still gets shallow when I read “And then went down to ship..” No one can write an “and” like Pound. Last Lunar Baedeker – Mina Loy I haven’t been able to part with this book since I bought it. ‘nuff said? Helen Keller or Arakawa – Madeline Gins O.k. two Gins books, so what? HK/A defies description, that’s why I call it poetry. A novel/non-fiction/philosophical tract etc etc. If one plans to write a book, reading Gins is essential because the immense complexity and planning etc that must go into her writing makes one blush armed only with these spontaneous word games. Eunoia – Christian Bok A Phenomenal Book! What can I say?.. The only problem is that I need a dictionary to read it. Collins Gem Dictionary See above… I love this dictionary because they use IPA symbols for the pronunciation key. I can’t get my head around those funny oo symbols in Websters.. From the other side of the Century – Douglas Messerli This is a great anthology (thank you Catherine!). My only difficulty with it has been that a lot of the authors I like in there are no longer in print! John Taggart to name one, ?? Godfrey to name another. Hence, this anthology is essential. Poems for the Millenium Vols. 1 & 2 Comments as “From the other side..” with the added benefit of having a truly international selection. Rothenberg and Joris really needed a 3 volume set though. The omissions are glaring, especially from more recent writers. I think in addition to this one needs to rip out the poetry from the Chicago Reviews German Writing… Two words: Ulrike Dresdner (in German is even better!). – I’m cheating, btw, there isn't a link between these books.


It's the weekend. What the hell am I doing here?? Just reading through the blog I noticed the word "laconic" (do a search with apple+f or ctrl+f) and realized that apparently I MISUSED it. And I have been misusing it for 10 years! As it was explained to me way back when in ardent discussions of the Peloponnesian war, 'lacon' referred to the idiotic simplicity of the Spartans (actually, it just means Spartan). Thus, I have always used the word to mean "moronically simple" (I distrust simple). Now I find that through some bizarre and unjust shift in use, laconic has come to mean 'terse or concise'. The Spartans must be getting a laugh out of that one... if they laugh.


Hey! Check out Sawako's The Ongoing Show to see her performance writing.


I wonder what S. is up to in Paris? We didn't really have a chance to speak before she left for a one or two month trip, so I actually had no idea where she was going. Paris, after a brief US tour. As I remember, she gets a lot of her inspiration there, so I hope it works out and she has loads of stuff to show for it. Never having made the short trip to Paris (from London), I have no idea the affect the place has on ones senses. Tokyo is certainly an overload and has given me more to write than London. In fact, London is like a huge enervating cesspit. Were I to live in the countryside anywhere on the planet I would probably take to quaffing huge amounts of beer (and growing huge amounts of marijuana), I love nature but need excessive inebriation to live in it... and would write very little between stupors. New York City makes me feel thoroughly Steve Reich and early Phillip Glass, which is a good thing.. really. 10 years ago, Athens was also a good place in which to write, though I was a classicist type at the time; Delphi, too, had some inspiring charm. The Greek islands had the same effect. (I'm very curious about the differing affects of place and space on poetic production. That is, I wonder if the ideas we bring to a place (like Delphi, the navel of the world) override or work with the space itself. It would seem most natural that they would work simultaneously.) Generally I like to write in overloaded environments, like Tokyo. Throngs of people pushing on and off of trains, Obasans darting at seats, the unplanned mass of mostly white, pink, and brick-colored concrete, flashing lights, Korean 'massage' parlors, orange-tanned men with lonsilverer hair in suits, etc etc. Speculatively, the love of such chaotic places has to do with imposing an order on the chaos, finding patterns and frequencies that are hidden under the noise. But then this doesn't really account for Rhodes, where the chaos is the transient migrations of those little red mopeds. Though frightening at times, not particularly chaotic. K?ln and Düsseldorf are wonderful places to write, if you can stay awake. I believe the Meistermenschen are real; they might write for you, if you can catch one. There's a parade ground in Die Altstadt near the river in Düsseldorf that's great for catching odd bits of continental life, like obese men with long, bushy moustaches in pastel-colored clothes, and American tourists looking for the 'right kind of mustard' to go with their hotdog. Yawn!


Speak speak. I’m totally fucking exhausted and ask myself to speak. I’m fucking hallucinating colorful trails follow anything (in)organic that moves. Fuck. Speech is markedly yours, don’t speak. Fucking identity. Don’t ask me. Certain paeans to negativity. I could be speaking or etching pinwheels in moon craters, who gives a fuck? Fuck interpenetration, we’re working on linearity right? I’m fucking tired. You’ve entered me innumerable times today, leave me the fuck alone. Choose anybody, motherfucker. Being inside you is like a Schopenhauerean porcupine. Cobwebs. Shit and the cooling fluid always sits outside you, on skin. That’s what you’re like. A pellucid gel on your thigh, a mistake.


I wonder if anyone did anything as crazy as Anal Magic between 3 and 6 New York time on the 5th of November 2003. Ahh.. I’m relieved

Remembering Bihari through assertion of homosexual friend

He said that if I were homosexual, he would score with me more frequently. Moreover, he averred, if all men were homosexual, men would all score more frequently. Considering this more closely, I realized that if all scores were homosexual, I would be more frequently. She said being warms the hearth of a woman’s pistons. Her nurse demurred at the premise; a woman’s pistons are not of the hearth. He said the hearth of pistons is not of woman, to which the homosexual warm… I said…


Selections from: Banalities from the Chinese Kurt Schwitters Flies have short legs Red currants are red The end is the beginning of every End Banality is the ornament of the Bourgeoisie The citizen is every bourgeoisie’s beginning The bourgeoisie have short flies … Every woman has an apron Every beginning has its end The world is full of clever people Clever is stupid Not all of what is called Expressionism is Impressive art …
My plan was to explain, at least a little, about the work you saw here last week. Unfortunately, some of the files I needed to upload are missing… and perhaps were never put into digital format. Let me explain. Day one was a list of quasi-aphorisms I dubbed “blaphorisms’. Since I’m writing from work etc etc. these are a personal filter on Kurt Schwitter’s “Banalities from the Chinese”. I have actually translated Schwitter’s aphorisms for my own amusement and don’t even know if they are available in English (never having read Schwitters in English). I was going to publish them here but I couldn’t find them on my HD this morning and suspect I never went beyond the pen on paper stage. If I remember, I’ll put them up tonight… The other jottings from day one were sheer madcap and I have no idea what I was doing. The rest of the week you saw my “non-events”. What is a “non-event”? (prepare for my circuitous answer) Sol Le Witt became well known for his instructional art that, as I understand, he also combined with the mail art form so that works could be created without him ever being present. Whether or not the recipients knew that he was going to send them a set of instructions is beside the point. A non-event concerns itself with the space between the instruction and the enactment of it. Simply explained, I write an instruction, which is a kind of event, but then there is the actual ‘implementation’ of the instruction: another event. Once on the screen or page, these are ‘non-events’. The non-events of last week were simple and deliberately laconic, following the theme of the week. They can become quite complex, and I think quite informative about the receptive environment of the reader. As the week progressed, I played around with these two ideas to write instructions that really weren't instructins at all. Sometimes I allowed them to veer more to the abstract, others I wanted to read like comic orders (e.g. Inhale / Expire). The major exception is Friday's fact finder about the president of the usa. In fact, I improperly called this a non-event, when it is really something else.


Fact Finder: Non-event # 7

George W. Bush declares an emergency George W. Bush is declared an emergency The emergency declares: George W. Bush

Proto-Surrealist Non-event # 6

Ingest one spoonful of medicine Medicate an ingested spoon.


Non-Event #5

Lane after lane. Cars stop for a red light. Breathe

Non-Event #4

Become aware (of your breath)

Non-Event #3

Inhale Expire


non-event #2

Imitate the frame of a hand-fan with your right hand. Close the fan with your left hand


Non-Event #1


overheard conversation

A: Can I buy you a drink? B: Yeah, black, hot, perfect. A: O.K. Sure. B: Thanks.


///////////////////////////////////// \\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\\<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<< <><><><><><><><><><> <+<=<_<)<(
“WOAH! Like I watch you watching me and..”
I thought about what to write next.
Blahphorisms The telephone rings. Another phone call. I slid the ‘in’ tray out… I forgot to push it back in. I don’t really care so much for cufflinks It got dark before S’s plane flew out last night. (This is conjecture) Children are like algebra. They multiply. This cake was sweeter yesterday. The dictionary was open for a short while. I realize boring is not so easy.


ANNOUNCEMENT: Next week is non-event week. Nothing will happen on this blog. We’re going boring. Watch or don't watch this space. Either way, you won't miss anything.
O.K. I realized yesterday that my archives are virtually empty! So you can’t link to the entry from a few months ago about Kent Johnson.. Argh, oh well. I did find the entry in a word doc on the computer but it is currently in web transit after I was asked to make a little space on my hard drive. I’ll put it up when I can… anyhow, good news about the archives. I have less to be embarrassed about.


I had intended to write more on the below, but ran out of time.. a disadvantage to blogging over a lunchbreak. I could continue today, but other things agitate my mind, namely: Kent Johnson’s interview over at VeRT magazine. I’m pretty sure I kept my comments on Kent Johnson in here somewhere. I’m an irregular blogger so you shouldn’t have trouble finding them should the desire take you. Anyhow, while I generally agree with him, I do wonder whether he has a low self-esteem. Why on earth does he keep going on about the Language poets and Yasusada? I can see both are tied to his idea that Lang Po didn’t go far enough and question actual Authorial authority.. Surely an important point to make, but in the same terms over and over again?? Kenny Goldsmith quoted the Brion Gyson about poetry being 50 years behind art in his short essay about being a post-language poet (can’t find the link, sorry). And perhaps on this issue poetry is even further behind? But we’re talking POETRY, not just language poets! -- Some people reason that LP is a fair target because it has become hegemonic. Oedipal episodes are understandable I guess... it would be nice to prove Freud wrong though-- As for Kent Johnson, I really hope he moves on. He has some interesting points that won't be made because he seems to be repeating himself. Even worse, he continuously names those close to the Yasusada affair. If I’m not mistaken, Eliot Weinberger, David Rosenberg, and Mikhail Epstein all supported Johnson during the height of controversy. I know for sure that Johnson quotes from Epstein in his correspondence with the Japanese scholar (I forget his name) interested in the Yasusada affair. Yasusada is not the only case of authorial challenge. Yes, there’s the Ern Malley case etc. but how about those smaller things like Duchamp blacking out the lines of a poem he had written – what was authorial becomes anonymous – Sol Le Witt sending instructions for art through the mail?? Nevertheless, it’s good to upset people and get called nasty things. On that account I am very jealous of Johnson because I doubt I could ever piss someone off quite so much and so publicly. I’d like to see him do it again. I do like a spectacle!
Can poetry challenge militarized language and propaganda? Are textual critique, parody, and satire adequate responses or do they reify these abuses? This question was over on Ron Silliman’s blog and interests me partly because it is a silly question and because it’s a question I often answer to myself (being inherently, biologically silly). Silliman, I guess, has given up or rescinded upon his communist past (well, I was lead to believe he was a communist) as he answers this with heavy commentary on American politics. Being a nominal American only, I just can’t understand the typical American response of outing the Republican Party in favor of the Democrats. Outside of America, it seems to make little difference in real terms (i.e. the number of bombs and big business dropping on foreign countries) who is in office. What I think is at stake is more of a cosmetic PR issue at best. George Bush is a moron and is an embarrassment to Americans who believe in America. Democrats are, on the whole, better spoken. Sadly, the greens, Ralf Nader, are not terrible well spoken either… But this isn’t what I intended to write about at all. Can poetry challenge…? Well, yes it can and it's not really a question of whether we should combine this with direct action - that's like asking can a car move? and getting the answer "yes, if we give it some gas". As far as I’m concerned this question is asking us more about the challenge itself. Since poetry can challenge, what type of challenge can it pose? Textual critique, going back to the car question, needs factual critique as well. A semiotic analysis of political speeches and jargon does have it’s place, but that is a fairly narrow following. … But parody and satire?? This must have been asked by a humorless group of people. Parody and satire are the lifeline of the ability to challenge “militarized language & propaganda”. Much of Swift’s writing, for example, or even some of Lee Ann Brown’s Oulipo National Anthems are testament to the effectiveness of parody and satire. Moreover, magazines like Private Eye in the UK keep this traditional alive.. Apparently, even Michael Moore is capable of satire. Certainly, a certain caliber of parody and ‘satire’ is counter-productive. The late night talk show variety (Jay Lenno, etc), from what I’ve seen (very little) is complicit in the comedian’s own celebrity and is almost always counter-productive. I’m out of time, but want to add that the only response capable of reifying these abuses is the militarized language itself. “Shock and Awe” reifies abuses. Any intelligent parody or satire of Shock and Awe exposes the shallowness and reification. …


I want to say a little more about herbs/spices and poetry. Before you even consider that I was on to something, I wasn’t. As I stated it – when? last week? – the poem pot is little more than you’d find in most British bookstores (now that Compendium is closed). Herbs/spices engage our olfactory, gustatory, and mnemonic senses in a very direct way. I’m curious about the senses poetry engages. The writing of it certainly involves a great deal of senses (ever been in the middle of a great – possibly stoned- thought and had the doorbell ring?) and this sensory material certainly channels into the poem itself. Thinking of Jackobson’s axis of selection, one must concede that selection is not a mental process but an environmental one. But all that goes into writing is seemingly stripped away the moment another reader opens the book and what enters is the environment of the reader. It’s on this level that herbs and spices meet poetry. Herbs and spices also have ‘environmental lives’ and in fact are more extreme – being earth-bound products – in that they are in constant need of verification (what better word is there? Who knows the smell of the cinnamon tree without a being around?) moreso than poems. At any rate, I like to wonder what the possibilities are that we poets give up on the method of making ‘reader oriented’ texts and think more about the fabric of the reader? That is, making the reader aware of the process of meaning making rather than thatshe is making meaning. Instructions?? I will be submitting my postcards to the mail art expo in Buenos Aires.
Before I go off and not make usual sense, I’ll admit to corporeal presence, but don’t tax me.
Preventative medicine is what, oranges and fresh fruit? We shouldn’t joke about medical conditions. Topics deemed acceptable would be fruit oranges vegetables and meat when the company admits to omnivorous consumption.


Ah, homemade Giyoza and rice. Fantabulous. Shiso giyoza, I should add. Aside from Baudelaire, I’m not aware of many poets who have written about food, although I’m sure there are some. Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons does include the headings (such as roast beef) and in fact my father has a recipe book that may be Stein’s or Toklas’ (we used the hashish brownies recipes a few times), I can’t remember. Food and cooking, and in fact the whole gustatory “thing” is really important for me. However, I can’t say I’ve ever really written about food or eating… I’m not sure how to approach it. My interest is more in the raw materials: herbs, spices, bare ingredients. Being most interested in Indian cooking (there is a cute story behind my predilection for Indian food, but not now), the ingredients I tend to appreciate are primarily used in South East Asian Cuisine. The only exception is Jalapeños, which are terrible in Indian food. Were I to make a poem out of spices, a good balance of Cardamom, about one black to five green, would form the rhythmic base. Ginger would no doubt carry most of the melody. Garlic would certainly be the most complex to include. In poem such as this, the garlic must be barely perceptible but still present. In keeping with the general trend of omitting the ‘in additions’, ‘therefores’, and as many articles and prepositions possible – in short the novelistic spices – I would leave out most European garden herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary etc.
Ah, homemade Giyoza and rice. Fantabulous. Shiso giyoza, I should add. Aside from Baudelaire, I’m not aware of many poets who have written about food, although I’m sure there are some. Gertrude Stein’s Tender Buttons does include the headings (such as roast beef) and in fact my father has a recipe book that may be Stein’s or Toklas’ (we used the hashish brownies recipes a few times), I can’t remember. Food and cooking, and in fact the whole gustatory “thing” is really important for me. However, I can’t say I’ve ever really written about food or eating… I’m not sure how to approach it. My interest is more in the raw materials: herbs, spices, bare ingredients. Being most interested in Indian cooking (there is a cute story behind my predilection for Indian food, but not now), the ingredients I tend to appreciate are primarily used in South East Asian Cuisine. The only exception is Jalapeños, which are terrible in Indian food. Were I to make a poem out of spices, a good balance of Cardamom, about one black to five green, would form the rhythmic base. Ginger would no doubt carry most of the melody. Garlic would certainly be the most complex to include. In poem such as this, the garlic must be barely perceptible but still present. In keeping with the general trend of omitting the ‘in additions’, ‘therefores’, and as many articles and prepositions possible – in short the novelistic spices – I would leave out most European garden herbs: basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary etc.


I’m hoping one day to be obnoxious. By the laws of probability, moving to America will increase my chances. Moving to America and watching the flickering TV through endless mindless episodes of pop culture gunk. Moving to America watching pop culture gunk and eating endless calories of weight watchers chips, weight watchers ice cream, weight watchers beer (as if the American isn’t light enough). There is something sinister about weight watchers, something tautological about being in America and being a weight watcher; I can’t put my finger on it. Moving to America: the obnoxious landscape of made in Taiwan vs, Made in the USA. What is not pop in the USA aspires to be. What is pop everywhere else, aspires not to be. Think chewing gum and roller skates. Think “Roller Girl”, think ‘Tank”. GOP smacks of SMACK, of gob and liberal; (put your right hand on your heart) the color white and blue, or white and red, or red and blue, or white and white, blue on blue is still two. Two will be enough for me and not much you. It’s all based on equations. Wind on a windy day blows me to the end of it somewhere near the beginning. By the end of it it’s war time. Miller the terrorists. What I say is true in a pretzely kind of way. I know I’m not obnoxious END OF LUNCH


Anal Magic Attempt 2 Yesterday I wrote a little spiel about Anal Magic but, dissatisfied with what I wrote, the entry is lost somewhere in the nether regions of my hard drive. Hurrah! Not being a radio aficionado, I don’t really know the precedents for Anal Magic. Kenny G(oldsmith) is not a shock-jock like Howard Stern, nor is he quite the comedian of Groucho Marx; his style is quite his own. Being a American who has been out of the States so long that I am really a foreigner, it’s refreshing to hear someone on the radio who has a real sense of humor and cruel irony. Kenny know that I loved his reading of a George Bush speech of the torture sounds of Tortura, but there is much more to the show than that. Anyone interested in Sound and the recording arts really ought to listen to ANAL MAGIC. Kenny does play sound poetry at times but he also links this in with new modes of audition. John Cage, of course, frequently features on the repertoire as does Erik Satie. Then there are all of the sound art practitioners themselves like Amikhanian, Hodell, etc. I’m sure he even played some of the music from the Cremaster as well. All of this is really, very very important because the significance of the change in auditory perception since Russolo and Satie is consistently ignored by most literatures. (I know that was a bad sentence but, hell, I’m on my lunch break). I obviously have a bias, I won’t conceal it. For me sound and audition is extremely important for bringing the body back into poetry.. or rather is the juncture at which words can leave themselves. Literary types tend to downplay audition as such because other critical approaches Mail; Jeremiad: word of the day.. Er. Critical approaches, such as Freudianism/ psychoanalysis etc. lend themselves to either justify meaning or even add meaning in the case of certain poets. Sound. What do you do with it? Charles Bernstein arrogantly, in my opinion, dismisses sound as meaningless in his Radio Radio interview! He makes a bunch of obnoxious sounds (ok here’s my jeremiad for the day) and says essentially that there’s nothing in it. Sound involves a context. Sound poetry is often closely related to music and highlights the musical aspects of language. I think Mr. Bernstein would agree to the extent that sound poetry does much the same thing to the musicality of language that language poetry does for the social use of language. Sound poetry has moved on for people like Jaap Blonk who create wonderful textures of this raw material itself, beyond the concern with language per se. But there is more. Sound is always implicated in our environment as is as much of the fabric of the social and cultural domain as language. Oops.. Would like to continue, but I’ma outtada time


I've decided to go a little more public with this blog so I'm going to tidy it up a little. I'm still here, anyhow.


With 30 mins to go.. Yeah, it could’ve been. At another time perhaps before it snowed or rained I forget which. Or if you consider a trajectory to future events, it may reside in a nutshell. I like telling stories, not porkies, just narratives in which if we jump from side to side with an easterly tilt we can find a beginning middle and end. You aren’t following this. This is a monologue composed in complete sentences; I challenge you to find a missing subject object or verb, in that order. The subject is of course me; my own self-indulgence outdoes me. Object, if you’re reading there is one. Verb? Did I mention that verb always reminds me of gardening? My basil is dying, the rocket is dead, the goldfish is dead, but the fruitless Jalepeno thrives. Out there. On my balcony. That fascinating place between the home and the public. I wear my underwear near the window. Not to be existential, you know. I guard my pee in the best way I know how. Japanese pissers. Check google. They’re all over. Cherry blossoms line the street my balcony overlooks. They don’t blossom much and I miss them. I walk under them and squash the petals under my steel capped boots. Sometimes I slip and laugh about it. Other times I don’t. Cicadia’s sing through them through the summer. I could come up with an epiphenomenon. You know I won’t. Preferring prostitution to nature, I walk through my little hamlet in Tokyo. Go-go girls squash cigarette butts and slip through semen. They always talk to men with long hair and suntans. I don’t like them. They wear white terry-cloth socks. Someone washes their hair. In the suburbs the architecture is inclusive. I often feel the overhead cables and wires slip around my neck and pick my teeth. My gut rumbled through a mildewed tatami room opened onto the street. I notice all the laundry is white. The housewife has nipples as large as silver dollars, dark as grapes. She washes them with white soap. She observes a dark purple cock and eventually paints it; she still believes in representation. The authorities accuse her of reproduction. The laundry is still white. END 14.00


Cyborgs etc

This is tangentially related to the poverty of poetry paper

Christian Bök has some very interesting, clued in, things to say about the future of literature viz-a-viz technology. He says that with the advent of programs like RACTOR (an almost communicative program) that know nothing of literary history or poetry, can ‘write’ poetry better than humans who don’t know poetry, and perhaps better than those who do, presents a problem in terms of authorship and well as the future production of poetry itself. The authorship issue is essentially that with a computer that does not even understand what it is saying can produce poetry of such quality, then there is no reason why a person who supposedly does know what he is saying has much bearing on the reception of the work.. That’s not clear. What I mean is that RICTOR’s poems generate interest even though there is no author, why should knowledge of the author, therefore generate any more interest? This is an interesting take, although I do wonder why North American writers still feel it necessary to invoke this authorship in this way. As I discussed before in terms of Kent Johnson’s Yasusada, there are more culturally provocative approaches to deal with issues of authorship. To simply say that computers abnegate the author is relevant but a little banal. As for the future production of poetry Bök makes 2 interrelated points: that future poets will be programmers who make code that generates poems so that it is the code and not the poem that interests people and 2. we should be writing poetry for androids as they will be our future audiences. There seem to be poets out there already programming poetry, Alan Sondheim and Lewis Lacook come immediately to mind but there are many many others. However, to say this is the future of poetry seems a little steep to me in relation to the second point, that we should write poetry for computers. He’s saying that code, designed for androids, will also stimulate our artificial audience. I find this problematic for a number of quite complex reasons. First of all, it is unlikely that computers will ‘think’ in the way humans do. When critics of the technological drive to replicate the human say that a computer will need whole life experiences to match the human, these are not just experiences of your second birthday or all that crap about implanted memory from Bladerunner, it is of all the experience that we never notice.. like the fax printer droning in the background and various voices, my experience of space etc etc. That is, embodied experience. It may indeed be possible to create a semi-thinking machine that can ‘process’ highly complex information and handle many of the rules based activities that the human does and may even be able to interact on a factual level with humans, but a machine won’t think.. Now what may be possible would be to biologically engineer machine-like people (as if there weren’t enough already!) say by altering DNA so that they won’t emotion pain. HOWEVER, machines are new tools with which the poet must come to terms with. Perhaps we will come to love a poet’s code, but the question is why would we love the code? Would we live it because of its ingenuity of design, like some people love cars? Because of what it enables us to do? Programs can give you a sense of achievement, like the many poem generators. I guess I can see this possibility, although it reduces the appreciation of the poem to the level of a video game. Bök’s points are very important to discuss because underlying them I see a fundamental conception of the human. The view of this school of thought, just like the view underlying popular culture of Matrix, Bladerunner, and even AI is that the human is programmable and that interaction works on the level of information transferal. However, there is a school of thought (to which I lean favorably) that posits complexity, that information doesn’t really exist as such and that our body in the environment does not operate on the mechanistic model posited by Descartes and, more importantly, Newton. Now, my question is, where does this take poetry????????
Very little time today since I ventured further than the local corner store to get a negi-toro ikura don (onion, tuna and tuna roe on rice) and even, gasp, a nectarine! Over the weekend I went to a contemporary Turkish art show in Saitama. Sadly, the pieces on display there were quite underdeveloped. Essentially there were many good ideas that were poorly realized. I apologize for not remembering the artist’s names; I will give some examples of what I mean. There was quite a big section dedicated to sound (visual and aural) and perhaps the most interesting was a huge sequined banner with the words RUMOUR HUMOUR HOOVER The surround was silver and the words themselves were, hmm, green, red and, possibly blue conveying the image of quite tawdry looking women’s (or feminine style) discotechque clothing. There was a fan positioned to move the banner and create at least a little noise. As I read it, this was a comment on rumor and femininity, rumor being a basic concepts within noise of woman.. That is, traditionally rumor is understood as woman and is frequently depicted as having a million eyes (hence the sequins) and with horrible ears and mouth (the noise from the shaking of the sequins).. if this is even remotely close to the artists point, then well, it’s a good idea that simply doesn’t work. (notwithstanding, the sighs we all have when we come to the big center piece in an exhibition. There is always one!) .....


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