I’m feeling a little stuck today. Yesterdays post was admittedly on the senseless side, really in an attempt for me to test out my ideas. A public space is a wonderful place from which I can evaluate myself. One of my concerns being reflected is my recent preoccupation with the body/ organism and space as producers or co-producers of meaning. There is an underlying desire to fully reject Dualism in all it’s guises, from the obvious statement of the cogito to less obvious as embedded in Benjamin Lee Wharf’s theories of language (i.e. we read the world through language or the world is constructed through language). This latter guise of dualism, that places language outside of the body, is equally as false as Descartes. Why? Quite simply because I assert that all sensation, which is inseparable from the world some wish to place outside of themselves, equates to a process that contributes to thought.. language is dependent on it, and it is dependent on language. Language doesn’t just produce meaning, but is itself a process of being (including body) in the world. Thus the poetry I am trying to envision, is a poetry that in some way involves itself in creating the awareness of this process..That said, my own impulse wants to contradict me. The other concern, I’ll mention briefly is the concern that poetry, and other arts have somehow ceased in dialogue. Rather they have developed a mutual respect as independent of each other, not interdependent on each other..
Last night I decided to pick up John Donne and read Epithalamium for Lincoln’s Inn and, of course, The Flea. It’s sometimes such a relief to go back to the modest calm of the Metaphysicals. In Donne, in particular, you get such a contemporary sounding verse that Gertrude Stein (whose Stanzas in Meditation I’m reading now) makes an even greater amount of linear sense. By that I mean, one could easily trace a continuity that informs reading her and the modern imitators. Unlike much of the “mainstream” poetry, there is a strong “sound sense” in Donne and Stein etc, an internal coherence based in sound. Sound is certainly something generally lacking in this current mainstream, at least in the types I am familiar with..it seems the sonic has given way to occasionally the rhythmic or, in the worst case, the contortedly “meaningful” twist-at-the-end story with haphazard line breaks. At least the confessionalism despised by the UB poetics list (and Language poets), was occasionally artful. To sidetrack for a moment, what, aside from his pasted on surrealism and preoccupation with the Cro-Magnon man, sets Clayton Eschleman apart from a confessionalist? The thing I dislike most about confessionalists is their confessions. It’s a type of arrogance to assume that anyone would find their life/family histories interesting. Mr. Eschleman seems to assume we want to know all about his wife, his life, and the debris he can add to the mix.. But I certainly don’t want to criticize Eschleman too much. His contribution to poetry and the arts is highly commendable and I find it a great loss to literary publications that Sulfur went out of circulation. There has, to return, been a significant current foregrounding sound and the sonic qualities of language over the C20th. To my knowledge, Christian Bok is doing/ has done some of the most exciting work in sound, as sound poetry, at the moment. There seem to be a whole host of others, primarily in Canada (?), too, but, please pardon me if I’m not enough everywhere at once (that is to say, I haven’t looked into it yet). Kevin Hehir has a piece available on UBU Web that points in a futurely direction. The ‘score’ is a garbled MA essay he sent to a friend, presumably shredded by an ISP somewhere. Most of the reading is half-formed words, glottal stops, and any other sort of phonic sounds he could lift from the text. Then at some points there is a reprieve, the text that “made it”; text that adds a putatively ‘false’ center’ to the work as an independent text, but that is in fact from a work with a center (the original text).


Oh! What did I do last night? Drunk on HTML advice from webmonkey, I uttered ideas as inconsistencies. No, I guess not drunk enough since I can still remember… The point I was trying to make I still hold to, viz: the context of the study and production of a lot of poetry will ultimately limit it. Artists, architects, and musicians are often cross-fertilizing and constantly looking at new sources of ‘perspective’. Look, for example, at Xenakis who used mathematical theory usually reserved for stock market traders to compose music. Or Gins & Arakawa who are drawing on all sorts of cognitive and experimental sciences to inform their work. Are “literary” artists doing similar things in a creative way? There are more than enough poets sourcing the Critical Theory cannon, deconstructive poets, post-structuralist poets. Et al. Moreover, the Crit theory jargon is becoming the dominant cant of even the non-academy (I might add that I have no objections to academia). My complaint is not that this makes the poets obscure or meaningless etc But rather that it is compartmentalizing poetry. I’m running out of time. By way of example, Marcel Duchamp, widely known as an artist also took hold of poetic ideas and composed at least one poem that focused on sound. He wrote a poem and with a black marker put lines through words to create duration of sound, thus creating a visual document on top of a (quasi) literary document that entered also into the realm of music and sound as well. This is my favorite example, and you can hear it on Kenneth Goldsmith’s (Kenny G’s) Thanksgiving show. KG also provides a better rendering of the creation of the text. Go to www.wfmu.org The other work I’d like to consider, since I’ve been reading about it recently in that great book by Mark Wallace and Steven Marks. Telling it Slant (avant-garde poetics of the 1990’s), is Tina Darragh. I think the claims being made for her works are far above what the work achieves in any sense of it’s actualization in a book (I’m avoiding calling it finished). adv. fans - the 1968 series, for example, does not really do much in the way of showing connections/ surprising relations between words coined in the 60’s and the other pages in the dictionary, mainly because the dictionary cut outs are more or less incomprehensible. I think it is also false to assert that the coinages tell us much about the reality of 1968.. only if we want to also assert the authority of the dictionary. A dictionary is a collection of dead words, is it not? Thus coinages are words that have left a life behind them…However, and I really owe the work more than this but I’m running out of time, her work also embodies a visual aspect that is more compelling than concrete poetry, for example… If only we could get beyond the visual..
Start with a basic, but charged, question: What is a poet? A poet is someone who writes/ produces/ creates poems, right? Well, I have a whole book (What is a Poet? -ed. Hank Lazer) that is saying "kinda". There is a lot more to it apparently, since Romantics went and soiled the show for our bodies and flattered our egos ever since. But I want to stick to my bowdlerization for the time being to go on and pose the problematic: What is poetry? What is a poem? Aside from the odd fossils that seem to lurk in many (not all) English departments and/or who get serious enjoyment from reading poetry in the New Yorker/ Times Literary Supplement/ etc (unusefully termed "mainstream"), I think there are few who would hold to the idea that poetry is the art of constructing lines that are rhythmic and employ a finite number or literary devices termed "poetic". Much seems to be being said about referentiality right now..the poem should/ should not (please delete as appropriate) have an internal coherence.. or something of the sort. {leave this unfinished} I will admit that I no longer know what a poem is. I have a fairly good idea about what it was. My thinking at this time is that what a poem is can no longer be secured by virtue of it's history because by doing so the poem is entering the dust filled myopic halls of flattery and affirmation (other wise known as back-slapping). In other words, the poem enters a world where its existence is already verified by the previous similitudes of itself..I guess in epistemology this might be called recognition. This is not the only reason, however. The extension of this problem is that by placing the poem in this literary environment, it cuts off from a much grander source (its own source) of the combined arts, sciences, and even (this is uncomfortable for me), business. It is often said that poetry is 20 years behind art.. and, though this is often untrue, why would this idea come about? In my view, from the stilted dialogue that each art, especially literary arts, has come into the habit of not participating in. Well, I'll try to clear up this minefield I've left for myself tomorrow. I'll publish this anyhow, just to see what happens.
Welcome to my second attempt at blogging. There are a few things you should know first about this blog's production, and second, about me. This blog will be written, for the most part, during my lunch break at work, which means that it is unlikely I'll be doing any posting on weekends or Japanese national holidays. It also means that this blog will probably be more whimsical than others (yes, it must be possible). I'm using this blog as a test site for ideas, so I welcome comments, criticism, etc. As for me, the only thing I'd like to point out is that I'm currently living in Japan, partly out of choice (that is, I chose to come here), partly due to absurd immigration laws that are currently preventing my family from entering the United States. Since I came to Japan with the intention of staying a year and have now been here four, I don't have full access to my library. I have a mere 4 small, 3 shelf bookshelves full of books. Verifying references and claims is currently very difficult. What I'm saying is, bear with me. If I get it wrong, let me know!