Monday, September 29, 2003

Spending hours writing a silly friendster collage poem. Its such a weird cyber space for language--people get so funny their, usually in the section where you write about yr friends--not the boring cliches usually found in people's profiles.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

I've been thinking lately about the overwhelming power of humor as a means of social control--there's no fear like the fear of being made fun of, seeming ridiculous, etc. And I feel it in myself, sometimes, when someone tries to do something really wacky at a reading, or in a magazine, or whatever--i appreciate the impulse behind, say, crazy revolutionary rhetoric in a magazine, but I can't help but want to laugh. But then i also want to say that oftentimes innovative forms (in whatever media) are still able to overcome that social constraint of the ridiculous, you know, "constantly risking absurdity and death," etc. etc.

Anyway, I think the self-knowing kind of humor in the work of Koch, Bernstein (in some of his moods), even occasionally Bruce Andrews (it sounds crazy but think about it), risk stifling any sort of revolutionary impulse by simply reinforcing a connection between innovative form and the ridiculous--i dunno.
In the process of reading Michael Golston's articles in preperation for meeting him to work on my thesis. His thing on Clark Coolidge is good, for the obsessed. Also trying to find a copy of Susan Vanderborg's Paratextual Communities, but can't find it for less than 30 bucks anywhere, and some asshole grad student has had the library copy for a looooong time.

Saturday, September 27, 2003

Bought The Moldy Peaches' self titled-album. It's great; Promise Ring meets Cat Power kind of thing.

Friday, September 26, 2003

I have fallen before the crushing force of another technological juggernaut: Friendster. Good lord, but its so addictive.
Edward Said died yesterday. I never thought about it until now, but what an incredible loss--tho i've at times been at odds with his theory and pedagogical techniques, he was a public intellectual, in every sense of that term, when so many scholars are comfortable within the insular world of professional criticism.
I attended the memorial vigil in front of Philosophy Hall, and what an amazing group of people were there, holding candles, left behind--from Spivak to Arac--a remarkable group of intellectuals. Said had such an amazing ability to engage with humanism and postmodernism simultaneously--not a project most contempoary scholars are willing to engage with.

Edward Said

Wednesday, September 24, 2003

For me, the feeling I experience when, reading an academic article, I come across the jargoned platitude that provides an easy explanation for some phenomenon but precludes an opprotunity for something original to be said, is one of the most depressing things ever. It's all the worse because i know that i do the same thing, and that perhaps the whole idea of academic discourse depends on the acceptance of such things. For every idea that an academic challenges, she or he takes 100 others on faith.

Tuesday, September 23, 2003

Just read Tom Clark's Late Returns for no reason. I dunno exactly why Berrigan remains such a compelling model for me.
I just saw a dog on 113th st. that looked exactly like that thing from The Never Ending Story
Once, last year, i went to french roast intending to read the complete poems of Emily Dickinson in one sitting--i left at 5:30 in the morning about 2/3 of the way thru them--i think the waitress thought i was really weird, she felt sorry for me and brought me free coffee. I don't know what makes me think of it now, except that i think i'm in the sort of mood that would allow me to do it again. Instead i'm stuck here reading balzac (boo) and listening to Tom Waits (yeah).
Sometimes i think this poem captures everything that i love about Berrigan's sonnets in one single sonnet
Buddha on The Bounty
I've been perusing the other random blogs every time i go thru the blogger home page--they're all so depressing.

Sunday, September 21, 2003

Another day that has made me seriously consider moving back to Alaska.
A weekend of craziness and people and not much in the way of interesting reading--the columbia english major requires three pre 1800 classes but no theory or 20th century (go figure) so i'm slogging thru medieval lit at barnard and 16th century lit at columbia. The only good that's come of it so far is a newfound love of Thomas Wyatt.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Writing a lot instead of blogging--a good thing. Trying to get something together for the psa chapbook contest that Creeley is judging. Also, went to see Stay Fucked @ Local, they're really good right now--check out their website: stay fucked

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Walked all night last night with karan and logan, buzzed and restless, to times square--haven't really slept much all week--closed down night cafe the night before for no good reason--Manhattan feels so beat these days.
The epc doesn't have a John Godfrey page! (?!?!)

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Also thinking about how great minimalism is, but i think it's a passing fancy
Thinking about blogging lately, but also thinking about how i have this bizarre tendency to latch on to an analysis of any medium i want to speak in, instead of actuallly saying anything

Monday, September 15, 2003

Fie, for the
impenetrable certainty
just isn’t my thing
so I say to the quixotic
trekkies of the word,
beware, beware this
sepulcrulacrum morbidology
eschpousing morbled syncroments
trundling twixt Holy Burbanities
blurbling hydiocrities,
requesting another glass of red
That fireworks thing scared the shit out of me, what's worse, i forgot to go to the park to see it (!?)
I wonder if blogging culture will, on the long term, breakdown or simply reinforce the distanced observer/object model for reading poems. I'm slightly unhappy with the poems blog coupled with a chatty poetics blog model for doing things. The chatty blogs i like the most are the ones that venture outside of gossipy poetics as much as possible, and occasionally include moments that verge on poetry.
I miss Cooper Landing
Check out the thread on editing in Free Space Comix for an interesting discussion on Bernstein's prose.
...how funny it looks, in this context. I guess the real question for me now becomes, am i going to produce a perfectly jargoned syntaxed topical thesis for them or something more original? Blah.
Against my better judgement, I'm going to post my thesis proposal, just because it's all i've been thinking about over the last 24 hours, so i might as well share.

Charles Bernstein is a cultural figure who moves fluidly between the institutions of avant-garde poetry and professional cultural criticism, bringing a poetic touch to his theory and a theoretical touch to his poetry, and sometimes makes it unclear whether any distinction can be drawn between the two, much to the chagrin of his critics in the world of professional scholarship and poets of the “official verse culture” alike. Bernstein’s writing juxtaposes the theoretical vocabulary and logical progression of professional criticism with the irreverent diction and playful syntactical acrobatics of the avant-garde American poetic tradition, often times within the same piece of writing. Although the last 5 years have seen several articles addressing Bernstein’s status as an oppositional figure within the university system, few critics have addressed directly the possible consequences of Bernstein’s formal attack on professionalized critical discourse, instead choosing to focus on his writing that can be easily identified as poetry (oftentimes read through the exegesis of his most conventional critical prose).
I would like to use my senior essay as an opportunity to examine Bernstein’s genre-bending texts in order to question Bernstein’s claim that “such formulations can provide models of ideological critique more radical than otherwise available.” More specifically, I will focus on Bernstein’s most recent writing, for two reasons. Firstly, because the genre-bending tendencies in Bernstein’s work have become more pronounced as he has become more prominent in the academic world. His two most recent books, the companion volumes My Way: Speeches and Poems and with strings: poems [sic], function together as Bernstein’s most focused formal and ideological attack on the linguistic conventions that define the theory praxis dichotomy in contemporary literary scholarship and poetic production. Secondly, Bernstein’s engagement with the surprisingly high profile “Poets Against The War” movement has provided an interesting context through which to consider the political effects of Bernstein’s political and theoretical writing; he produced several texts for various anti-war readings (now available through The Poetics List from SUNY Buffalo) that are not easily classifiable by genre.
One of the things I would hope to achieve with this reading would be to put Bernstein’s attack of the conventions of professional academic discourse into dialogue with the broader discussion among leftist intellectuals on the possibility of oppositionality within the increasingly professionalized field of cultural criticism. Too many critical engagements with Bernstein have simply dismissed Bernstein’s position within the academy as a cooption, or shrugged it off as a benign inevitability. In my essay I hope to offer a more thorough consideration of Bernstein’s position as an oppositional writer who is also a member of a profession, albeit a highly untraditional member.

Sunday, September 14, 2003


The distance between sophist and shaman is shorter than you could possibly imagine, texual grasshopper.

Saturday, September 13, 2003

"I was talking to a friend of mine about this the other day: that country life as I knew it might really be a thing of the past and when music people today, performers and fans alike, talk about being "country," they don't mean they know or even care about the land and the life it sustains and regulates. They're talking about choices--a way to look, a group to belong to, a kind of music to call their own. Which begs a question: Is there anything behind the symbols of modern "country," or are the symbols themselves the whole story? Are the hats, the boots, the pickup trucks, and the honky-tonking poses all that's left of a disintegrating culture? Back in Arkansas, a way of life produced a certain kind of music. Does a certain kind of music now produce a way of life? Maybe that's okay. I don't know." --Johnny Cash

Cash by Johnny Cash should be required reading for American Poets.
Trying to prepare a thesis proposal on the relationship between bernstein's critical prose (theory?) and poetry, and the role of all his weird writing that lies somewhere in between. Feeling vaguely apathetic about it~i think i chose this as a topic because i knew there was such a wealth of material about bernstein already, but nothing specifically focused on the consequences of his formal attack on professional literary discourse~but the uniformity of the readings of all lang po, maybe even especially bernstein, is astounding. Scholars smugly denounce the preeminence of the interpretive depth model of reading poetry, only to go on to quote bernstein's poetics in order to find meaning in those texts~is a writing praxis that involves an opaque poetry coupled with a very accessible (accessible for literary professionals, anyway) metadiscourse (and really, isn't it that) ever going to do anything to, you know, expose/foreground language's materiality? (And isn't that project itself becoming rather tired after 20+ years?)

I understand the attempt, especially in essays like "What's Art Got to Do With It" to map out a model for some kind of genuinely immanent model for reading but do bernstein's critical readings really live up to that model?

I'm also reading Bruce Robbins "Secular Vocations" which is an interesting defense of professionalism from a much more traditional sort of leftist intellectual~an interesting contrast to all this, not sure how that will figure into my thinking about this project tho~we'll see.

All rough notes, vague trades, dialectic mimetics; take it all with a grain of salt

In other news, I signed up to volunteer for dean's campaign. I feel pragmatism slowly rearing it's depressing head. What a muddled metaphor, but apt, in this case. I felt vaguely dirty after voting green in the last election. Sigh.

Friday, September 12, 2003

"The attempt of leftist intellectuals to pretend that the avant-garde is serving the wretched of the earth by fighting free of the merely beautiful is a hopeless attempt to make the special needs of the intellectual and the social needs of the community coincide." --Richard Rorty
~does this bother anyone else? I think i've thought about this quote every day this week. Something to do with the culture shock of returning to all the new york affectations from whatever it was that seemed so real about alaska.
Currently reading the McGann and Altieri pieces in Politics and Poetic value and wondering why
Into the belly of the blogging beast! A word on my seemingly ridiculous marxist title: Derailed Commodity Stores are a weird phenomenon of my midwestern/southern youth that sold weird shit that for some reason was taken off freight trains.

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