Hurrah. I'll admit that the last few posts have been somewhat of an Eagles approach (that is sending out my third stringers to rest my starting team), but the fact is the last year has left me so beleaguered that I really did need a rest. Nevertheless, I'm done, the quizzes are over I mean, and Luminations will become ??? Well, I'll start by fixing my links to the left! - Ben
2) What is a thematic house? Define this with reference to Charles Jencks. And what kind of design, inner and outer, would you give, if you were the architect, to a multi-million dollar commission for a House of Poetry? Would you spend all the money on the building itself? Being not-so-familiar with Jencks, all I remember is his concern with semiology and “reading” architecture. Of course, there is reading to be done, but reading is also not all... Briefly, I suppose then a Thematic House would be merely a corbusier – a house in which the house was its theme. That is where every possible ‘reading’ refers back to the house’s houseness. Were I to make a House of Poetry, with a title like that it would have to be even more gaudy than the Santa House of Coralville. Perhaps the outside would be in austere concrete with friezes made up of tacky poetic scenes: Joyce at a desk, Shakespeare with right arm dramatically raised and the left gripping his chest, etc etc. I would also ensure a bland garden.The walls of all rooms on the inside would have hallmark-style greetings stenciled in red. And no windows. 3) What is the security alarm system that is likely to keep a poet like the Australian desert dweller John O'Brien from being published in a magazine like Jacket (if, indeed, he gets around to sending his work there)? In other words, think of Jacket as a sort of Bauhaus house. Would having O'Brien's decidedly naïf Red Rose poem there mess up the interior design? Would its appearance there embarrass the guests at the cocktail party, like, what... say a velvet portrait of Elvis next to the Julian Schnabels and Sally Manns? This question is about axiology and the way its messy wiring is cosmeticized by facadical architectures and floor plans. In other words, would O'Brien be rejected because his poem is ugly, or would he be rejected because the poem doesn't fit into the Total Design (a concept whose ideological vectors remain virtually uninvestigated within the institution of avant-garde poetry)? This is a very important question. Answer it at length. Absolutely because the poems don’t fit into the total design. There is no such thing as an ugly or bad poem, unless we are prepared to talk in relative terms. I do think Billy Collins is awful, I despise Wordsworth, I agree with Pound re. Whitman (what happened to those twenty or thirty pages?), and think Williams is a bore but that is not the way to talk about poetry. Good and bad is for Bush. The question should always be ontological (why is something there) rather than a matter of valuation (is something good). Total Design, in this context, is merely a way to talk about editing. An editor has no use for good poems that don’t fit the design. It’s no secret or surprise. We may find what we consider to be bad poems in good magazines, however, my point is that it is not a question of good or bad but how to situate such poetry. O’Brien’s poems are naive, but rather than dismissing him or them, we may want to look into how perhaps they come to be in this way. If they are published, in what context (thematic, or otherwise) are they published etc. 4) How high can a poem be built? Can it have elevators? Can the cable on the elevator in a high-rise poem snap so that the elevator drops for hours, crashes through the ground floor, and keeps going all the way down to Hell? What do you think the architecture is like in Hell? No. No. No. Hell is a presupposition of heaven etc, so from this atheist, no. Quiz #11 This final quiz contains only one long question. Your answer will need to be at least equally as long... It would be easy to rewrite each of the architectural interpolations in the quote below to describe the current ideological Other of the poetic field. (In fact, we will place poetry in parentheses, in nominal or adjectival form, where appropriate.) So: Is such social/economic magma poetry's repressed but elemental ground? If not, why not? What would be needed to move beyond its big suck so as to loose poetic production into a truly autonomous and liberatory field? Here is the quote. Five extra points if you can identify its source: “The institution of architecture [poetry] is clearly more than buildings [poems] and the practices by which they are produced... The building [poem] itself is no more than a specific mechanism of representation. In fact, there is no such thing as a building [poem] outside of a large number of overlapping mechanisms of representation: schools of architecture [poetry], professional codes of ethics, critical practices, historiographical methodologies, academic protocols, pedagogical techniques, curriculum structures, the strategic role of the author's signature and project credits, legalization of the word architect [poet], designated safety factors in structural [prosodic] calculations, standardized drawing [writing] techniques and conventions, building [attributional undergirding] codes, aesthetic codes, zoning codes, clothing codes, school admission standards, faculty classifications, fee structures, hiring and firing practices, rhetorical conventions, examination structures, model-making techniques, various forms of etiquette, legal contracts, copyright law, the structure of the slide lecture, strategic control and dissemination of ideas through conferences and publications, ritualized master worship, theoretical and graphic commonplaces, copy-editing protocols, interview and presentation formats, photographic techniques, the institution of the architectural [poetry contest] jury, portfolio construction and circulation rituals, competition formats, official and unofficial club membership control. Funding patterns, the structure of the architectural [poetic] monograph, the biography and so on, to name only some of the most obvious ones. All of them are mechanical systems of reproduction whose ritualistic, if not fetishistic, repetition constantly affirms the presence of architecture [poetry] rather than analyzes it. Indeed, the very intensity of their repetition seems to mark a nagging but suppressed doubt about that presence. They are the real mechanics of architecture [poetry]. The building [poem] is literally constructed by these mechanisms of representation. I’m putting my money on Mark Wigley’s book, The Architecture of Deconstruction? At any rate, this could merit a long response, but essentially this is asking about context. And, yes, as stated briefly above, poems need to be contextualized not into good/bad or long short, successful/ unsuccessful. These are the type of silly valuations that produce the bickering over Alan Sondheim’s work on the poetics list for example. The question is not whether Alan’s work is gibberish or spam or even good. In fact there are questions. What allows him to produce as he produces? From where does the work arise (not just in Brooklyn, but precedents)? etc etc. Those questions make the work tell (or talk if you prefer). [end]


3) If architectural theory has any utility for innovative poets today (careful: this is still an open question! [see, for example, Peter Riley's book, Architectural Analogies in Poetry: Comparing Apples and Oranges in Elysium]), then what happens when Steve McCaffery, for example, writes a poem under the influence of Vitruvius and Alberti, both of whom insist that the ordering and structure of their respective theoretical treatises perfectly match that which they prescribe for building (theory as art work)? Does the poem then take shape *around* the ideological Poet-space from which it is secreted, or does the poem instantiate itself as a kind of discrete space or chamber, like an hexagonal cell in a honeycomb, built by a bee who is, for all intents and purposes, blissfully blind to his Queen? Answer, please, in 300 words, via the technique of Automatic Writing. automatic, as proscribed Which distinctions is the Johnson fellow making at any rate? if vitruvius wrote under the influence of mccaffery, what then? think de koonig i’m no Which distinctions is the Johnson fellow making at any rate? if vitruvius wrote under the influence of mccaffery, what then? think de koonig i’m not influenced by history, i influence it. the question is about the quantities of self in restrained by the strictures of architectural theory. impossible not to be influenced by poet-space, even mac low knew this. the poem may look like a chamber and certain other poets may talk it into a chamber, but it is not a chamber. i am now confronted with the problem of fulfilling many more words it is not automatic to talk to oneself, but one does. what is perhaps of more interest is the poetic pre-fab. those metrical-types have been pre-fabbing for years to the extent that an improvisation in an accent or stress is made to be an innovation. they upset me these pre-fabbists. walking around a metrical poem is akin to the mall – no viciousness intended mike, but my sensibilities have been offended by a certain crassness in this ‘debate’ between the versists and the whitmanists, this is an argument like gay marriage and in the end we must ask who gives a fuck (i choose my words carefully, ‘damn’ is not it). not even the mall, the mall where no shopping is essential and all space is designed for one to end up in. lets not end up for a while. malls are extreme durandian places, and the house is the place the versists start from (I don’t do pun disclaimers). this wall goes here and has gone here and always will go here. the master contractor will make the better wall, but the structure is the same walls, different nails, glue, etc... I’m amazed how ranting I can get doing automatic. Sorry. sanbyaku. 1) Go back to Quiz #6 and review the outline given there of Total Design as insistent concern in 20th century architecture, in both its implosive and explosive traditions. Now consider the following dictum/ars poetica of Barrett Watten, an experimental poet and theorist who has been as interested in issues of architecture and social space as any American poet since the Vietnam war: that poetry is, in its essence, the manifestation of a mind in control of its language. What is the relationship between the connotations of such a terrifying pronouncement and the overall look of Architectural Digest magazine? Illustrate your answer with photographed interiors of three corporate conference rooms in the magazine. Not having access, nor entirely desiring it, to Architectural Digest, what one can surmise is that the Watten pronouncement, upon which I hope in the name of all equitableness he has reneged, is as much about the illusion of control and transparency as the contents of AD. A ‘mind’ or a thinking body is never ‘in control’ it only hopes that it is. hyper-awareness is not ‘control.’ Poetry’s relationship to language comes down to, in some way, an intense awareness of language being used. Poets are not especially sensitive. In fact, we are downright clumsy. One need only scan any poetry discussion group as a demonstration of how even the ‘best’ are really children fumbling with footballs. [May extend this answer]