Wednesday, June 16, 2010

too too long, as if every buried urge towards blogging or public thought had expressed itself in a single burst

My report on the re-thinking poetics conference at columbia, as a PDF because too too long:


The talk-ish I presented on the panel "poetics & the academy" begins on page 14.


  1. I am one of the graduate students who sat in the back, one of the audience members whose jaw dropped upon hearing Marjorie Perloff's comment about rape victims & their families being as bad or worse than the rapists themselves, one of the conference goes who came into and left the conference in a state of discomfort--even if ultimately unaltered in my beliefs--which leads me back to a question I had and have about poetics. Your movement from the phatic to the vatic--"At David & Sara’s house, we talk about vatic language, and how religious grammars have in the past and in some places and some times been the grammar of social movements and revolutions."--reminded me of a fragment of someone's speaking that I wrote down in my notebook: i.e. "the religious affiliations of the avant garde." I believe it was Rachel Blau Du Plessis's comment, although I am not sure. Anyhow, I am curious about what further thoughts you have made between this conference and its weird mixture of piety & profanity. Or why someone like K. Silem Mohammad told me that to connect Language poetry (or flarf in particular) to religious structures of belief is "perverse"?

  2. Well, Jefu, it does seem like a perverse connection on the surface of things, since Langpo and Flarf are both so overwhelmingly secular, which is all I meant. But please recall that I did try to pull up some examples of Language writing that might be (thematically) relevant, e.g. Susan Howe, Michael Palmer, etc.).

    As for Flarf (which I would not consider a "particular" form of Language Poetry, but rather an independent movement), I neglected to recall Michael Magee's "Gospel of Justin" project, in which he uses Google search results having to do with Justin Timberlake to create an apocryphal book of the Bible.

  3. thank you for writing this!

  4. Popping in to say hello, and thanks for these responses. This question of piety/profanity is an interesting one.

    Was also going to say that I hoped Kasey and others might respond to Jefu's thoughts. I'm not going to be active in these comment boxes, as this is a somewhat provisional/temporary space.

    If I return to blogging, it'll likely be over here, at the archive of my enthusiasms: Or elsewhere. I'm not sure.

    Just felt important to post some public thought off facebook, with various access questions in mind.


  5. Thank you for the additional suggestions, K. Silem. I haven't read Michael Magee, but it sounds like something I might find helpful in my esoteric interests. I didn't mean to sound so antagonistic in mentioning our brief conversation. However, the term "secular" rankles me quite a bit these days, a term used more often than not as a blanket term--like hybridity--than a descriptive one. But I get your point. Speaking explicitly of the "religious" in America (which resembles more of the Joel Osteen variety of the Gospel of Prosperity religiosity or perhaps the moralistic inauguration poem/sentiment) seems to have no place in flarf or Language Poetry (I understand the difference now, I think) other than perverse one. I haven't looked at the essays in Radical Poetics and Secular Jewish Culture--a new volume that features Bernstein and others on this topic--which might afford new insights. I certainly have more to think about in terms of this topic, if anything substantial is to come of it, but I appreciate your input. And thank you to Stephanie for the extensive review. It is a thought provoking account of the event.

  6. Hi Jefu,

    Wonder if you've seen, or would like, Joel Bettridge's new "Reading as Belief: Language Writing, Poetics, Faith," where he argues that the Language poets' assumptions about reading, the reader, and the text mirror certain strains of Calvinist theology. I'd have thought too this is kind of a perverse take, but haven't yet heard a peep from anyone about the book, except one academic review Silliman linked to earlier this month.

    Don't think there's any Joel Osteen in it though, who seems ripe for the flarfing. :)

  7. Morality was developed as a population enhancing agent, so that social diversification / stratification could proceed. Like eating cooked meat, it has both enhanced and degraded the human mind. At this point, there is essentially little difference between the concepts of enhancement and degradation, what one person sees will be another's ablepsy, thus a self-complicating palimpsest of neural S/embolism confers with itself. One listens to the present, but inevitably hears the past:

    Jean Paul Sartre: No Exit
    Paul Camus: The Myth of Sysyphus
    The joyous absence

    in which Nero's poems cannot be produced.

    We do not want the future.
    We do not want the past.

    We do not want any of it,

    except for Big Bird,
    Big Bird, and Oscar the Grouch.

  8. Great writing. The style is perfect.

    Thank you.