Saturday, June 07, 2003

I've discovered that Xvarenah is referenced on another blog, "Odd
Things in Pitt's Libraries
" which is, er--just that. From it i found out that Funkcialaj Ekvacioj, the
"world's foremost research journal on functional equations", has an Esperanto title, though it is not written
in Esperanto & in fact is published in Japan...
"Every witchdoctor cure is a struggle with public opinion."
--Daniel Lawrence O'Keefe, Stolen Lightning (1982)
[And is every struggle with public opinion, a witchdoctor cure??]

Keeping a journal becomes a substitute for changing--you record
the intention.

'All our humiliations come from the fact that we cannot bring
ourselves to die of hunger.' --E M Cioran, A Short History
of Decay
(1949; tr R Howard 1975)

'Those very philosophers even in the books which they write
about despising glory, put their own names on the title-page.'
--Cicero, pro Archia poeta

"The time is not far distant when the discords of today
will be regarded as perfect harmony." --H W Haussig, A
History of Byzantine Civilization
(1966) [A cunningly
ambiguous statement. Does taste evolve, or deteriorate?]

Listening to: Bellini's opera "Norma".
'603. The unpredictability of human behaviour. But for
this--would one still say that one can never know what
is going on in anyone else?' --Wittgenstein, Zettel

"Milton appears to suspect that souls partake of the general
degeneracy, and is not without some fear that his book is to
be written in an age too late for heroick poesy."
--Samuel Johnson

Nowadays art tends to be one of two kinds: TOYS or CANDY.
CANDY is pleasing art, pure texture (even violence has
become an element of texture) and made for a definite audience.
TOYS is personal art, which reflects where the artist is at
one point in time, what he saw, or was reading, his training,
and the dead artists he admires. This art is less offensive
to me because it is sometimes obscure enough to seem faintly
mysterious, but it never derives from a true inspiration
(beyond noise-level unconscious); also, very few people
today have enough personality to be interesting for that
alone... --Both are contingent. I can easily imagine them
otherwise, or not at all --and both are devoid of thought,
passion, and above all relevance.

The tragedy of syncretism is that it makes exact statements
impossible: the conflation of so many various symbol systems
dissolves every potential synthetic concept (generalization)
into an infinity of ambiguous associations. (Though this in
itself can make a style: Ashbery.)
My favorite single piece of music is probably Alban Berg's "Lyric Suite".
It has more & more complex emotions embodied in its twists & turns than
anything else i have ever heard; & yet retains a clarity & control that is no
less than astonishing. I first heard it in Vienna in 1977. I was at a classical
concert &, if truth be told, was on the verge of nodding off after a strenuous
day of walking the city. Suddenly i sat bolt upright & my eyelids rolled open
like a cartoon character. The music had swiftly changed into something
bizarre & powerful. I looked at my program, & the next time i was in a music
shop i tracked down a record of it (not even waiting till i was back on the
other side of the Atlantic)... I have memorized portions of it by now, yet every
time i listen to it it still surprises me. The only other time i got to hear it performed
was about 15 years ago in Dallas, in the orchestrated version. Up to that point
in the concert everything had gone smoothly & uneventfully. Then the energy
level lifted dramatically, & i could tell (even from the second balcony) the musicians
were turned on by the chance to play something difficult & interesting (which in
Dallas happens maybe once in ten years, alas!). I think people who put down
twelve-tone music have either never tried to listen to this piece, or have heads of
solid wood... I became an instant convert to modern composers. Although i have
seldom heard anything quite magnificent (with the exception of certain works by
Messiaen & Penderecki), just the flavor of this music is refreshing compared with
the tired old chord sequences (in 19c symphonies i can hear the ending coming
five minutes before it happens)... --I want to write one line that sounds like that in
my head.

I have to take exception to this statement by Free Space Comix: "Also, it [Language
Poetry] never had the grip on the public imagination that, say, Beat Poetry had,
probably because it lacked any "lifestyle" element -- no costumes, no drugs --"
i always wore a costume when i read my language poetry.

My Muse wouldn’t leave me alone.


America is on the march
And ev’ry Sunday sits in church
What we don’t own we still control
From oceans to the world’s last oil

Hello hello hello hello
Hello hello hello hello

Keep your mouth shut! --Pledge allegiance!
To our warheads! --And our legions!
Dubya said it! --I believe it!
Freedom’s crazy! --I don’t need it!
We got Lotto,
A one-line credo,
Dunce bravado,
And global veto...yeah!

America is big & strong
And better than that ragtag throng
We tolerate for ready labor
Let them fawn & beg for favor

Hello hello hello hello
Hello hello hello hello

Keep your mouth shut! --Pledge allegiance!
To our warheads! --And our legions!
Dubya said it! --I believe it!
Freedom’s crazy! --I don’t need it!
We got Lotto,
A one-line credo,
Dunce bravado,
And global veto...yeah!

America decides the future
We’ll just keep on getting richer
While we rob & starve the poor
Until there isn’t any more

Hello hello hello hello
Hello hello hello hello

Keep your mouth shut! --Pledge allegiance!
To our warheads! --And our legions!
Dubya said it! --I believe it!
Freedom’s crazy! --I don’t need it!
We got Lotto,
A one-line credo,
Dunce bravado,
And global veto...yeah!

Beauty is the sweetness and bitterness of being someone else in
love with this I: not I as a person, but as a landscape of possibilities. Helplessly, hopelessly, out of inner necessity, there is the love--and whose, if not the source od what happens? In dreams (rarely) i remember i was such a one, a violent force of becoming; i followed after the self that incarnated all forms, all reasons, all feelings, and all potentials, individualized, each a world... and knew never would i catch up with myself as i really am... though by waking i would, and die... I did, and nothing remains but Beauty. How to explain this sort of dream,except by saying it is a metaphor for the advent (perpetual) of consciousness? Ah, i have no metaphors more than this one, nor any for it. Real life infatuation is a result of trying to find one. The desert comes from not even having Beauty in your dreams, from not being loved by it.

What gulls us most of all is having to take sides when it was only a matter of an incoherent lie succeeding a coherent one.

“ ‘It is not a bad thing to hear voices,’ said Krag, ‘but you mustn’t for a minute imagine that all is wise that comes to you out of the night-world.’ “ --David Lindsay, A Voyage to Arcturus (1920)

Friday, June 06, 2003

The story behind the "Simon Necronomicon".

Started writing new words to "Smells Like Teen Spirit". The refrain:

    Keep your mouth shut! --Pledge allegiance
    To our warheads --& our legions!
    Dubya said it, --I believe it!
    Freedom's stupid! --I don't need it!
      We got Lotto!
      A one-line credo!
      Dunce bravado!
      And global veto!

--but i decided to kill myself instead.

Partch emulator. I love the internet. (via Metafilter)

You know, if i was only paying attention to the American media, i might think the
Israeli-Palestinian problem is in the process of being solved. Instead of, like,
a wall being built around them (hasn't anyone seen "The Pianist"?)...(via IndyMedia)
Tales of Hell are pastorals, because of their unchanging light.

“No Place affords a more striking conviction of the Vanity of
human Hopes, than a Publick Library.” --Samuel Johnson

Vermeer was not a realist: he was a mystic of the visible.

‘...but twelve years are more in America than half a century
in Europe...’ --de Tocqueville

A name is the place of a name.
A place is the name of a place.

“The tongue is an eye.” --Wallace Stevens, Adagia

‘Gide dinner. Letters from young writers who ask if they should
go on. Gide replies: “What? You can keep yourself from writing
and you hesitate to do so?” ‘ --Albert Camus, Notebooks 1942-
(tr J O’Brien)

What we have so far called genius is more like the wings of those
reptiles who were not yet able to fly with them.

Rembrandt’s Beef; helps me to think about the nature of compassion.
For, in order to look at that side of beef as if it were human & capable
of human suffering, you must also be able to look at humans like
meat. Otherwise you will only see your own suffering.

I got a rejection slip that said, this is very fine writing & I like it but it
doesn’t FIT IN... Periodicals only exist today in order to reify a
point of view.

When i walk down stairs it's a controlled fall, that i continually interrupt
and launch again to sustain the smooth movement of. This, then, might
be a provisional definition of mature art--whose labor has disappeared,
like scaffolding, and yet it holds to a line of necessity (the unseen stairs
of my path) which is both arbitrary and contingent upon a specific context
of reality (not a theory or a feeling but a thought like the solution to a
quadratic equation: definitely ambiguous). --And there is the despair of
having nowhere to fall (no Culture), separate from the despair of being
unable to jump no culture, personally)--

A few more 21c fashion statements, from the recent G8 summit.

Sitar Rock, from "Norwegian
Wood" to "Losing My Religion" (may be a mandolin?). The sitar as signifier. How it goes from being about the
absence of sitars in the Rock of that time, to being about the presence (i.e.
other sitar songs) of sitars in Rock.

Working as a phone psychic.

Texas pledges allegiance. (I knew there
was something that needed to be fixed in this place...)

Just as Nietzsche may be said to have "invented" the 20c, Diderot certainly was the
inventor of the 19c... I wonder who will turn out to be this one's prophet...? The logical
choice, of course, is Orwell (although a tongue-tied Big Brother was, er...beyond
the reach of his irony)--or Kafka--, but my vote would be for H P Lovecraft. All his themes are here:
the Incursion from the Past (what started as Retro & finished as Back-to-the-Book-Funda-
mentalisms); the Horrific Revelation (Sept 11); the Uncaring Universe (cutting of
programs for the poor); & Humanity's Dethronement from Primacy (a rodent in the White

Thursday, June 05, 2003


Here is the cross-road of Hell,
Under the white clouds floating below the blue stars,
Where the red lumps of flesh,
And the dark-red clods of iron,
Burnt aflame continuously and fell down.

Though the powder smoke covered the battlefield was now cleared,
In the valleys of hill-pass where the mist is now cleared,
There is no single pine-tree where birds may dwell,
Nor a wild chrysanthemum where bees or butterflies may stop.
Is it because the heat of the earth is already cooled off,
Or the bullet-scars are too deep in the naked surface of the earth?

Even though the wild bush grew into a faded grace
In the front garden of Panmunjôm,
What nightmare are you going to plot again,
You, the Demilitarized Zone, entangled with barbed wire,
155 miles from the east to the west,
And 4 kilo-meters from the south to the north?

Pondering all through the long, long autumn night,
I admit the map is our own.
Only the hostile aliens whose speech quite unknown to us
Got a more miserable heart than Brigadier-General Duds’s
Who was captured again by prisoners
In the miracle of the ultra-atomic age that owned freedom.
Whom shall I appeal to, then?

Climbing up the blue mossy rocks,
Under the maples all over the mountain,
How long must I keep standing here, face to face,
Vacantly with you, the fallen leaves as my friend,
As if I were a fading pine-tree of drooping branches?”

--Ho-gang Zang, op cit

“America is like England. America is very much what England would be
with the two hundred most interesting people removed.” --Ezra Pound (1914)

"Men who get tired of struggling with reality commit suicide. Nations
that get tired go to war." --Lewis Mumford, 1918

"The number of protons in the universe is about 10 to the 80th power. The
number of possible games of chess is much larger, perhaps 10 to the 10
to the 50th... If the universe were the chessboard, the protons the chessmen,
and any interchange in the position of two protons a move, then the number
of possible games would be something like the Skewes number [10 to the
10 to the 10 to the 34th power]." --G H Hardy, Ramanujan

"...l'objectif est une des formes du subjectif." --Remy de Gourmont

Wednesday, June 04, 2003

Sylvia Eggers on Creep Poetry (via Babelfish):
"" creep poets " have therefore a large affinity for new techischen media, understand themselves as information June gravel, are anti-canonical (although they quite avail themselves of a listing of potential creep authors - likewise classical avant-garde strategie[ 6 ]), against each form of the narcissus mash in the literature, lean the poetic " I " off and pull the encyclopedia " what's going to the on in my head " write before a concept, which - to that extent are a Stefan's critic ron silliman to agree - manifestale portions has, but straight by the range " passenger manifesto " [ 7 ] to remain wants: completely in reflect " creep poetry " - expose themselves exposed and thus reibflaeche/n produce."

I like that "information June gravel" bit especially.


Lean Riders--clean Riders! YES! on the tall-neat-beautiful horses
passing across terrain of green-and-growing things, gun butts
atwinkle, metal of spurs ajingle, chaps and rider-use boots
real-horses-up and gliding across sagebrush -- and Texas. --NOW!

do we have on the fast-down sprawling of concrete that stretches
on -- ON -- the long-gray-dread-bones of this country that loooves,
JUST WORSHIPS! its wheels -- AND "Death-on-the-Highway" threat-constant
on those long-gray-dread-bones? WHY!! WE HAVE many (MANY!) horse-powers
in oil-grimy-suffocates, where paw the small, mighty hooves of pistons
up-down, up-down the slick-dark holes (enclosed) that ARE!
CYLINDERS! many CYLINDERS! ya got there, HEY? Twelve!!? OH, my!
YAY!! gee whiz! I have an "eight".
-- We're speeching on gasoline engines
here (the "fabled" internal combustion) and wheels attached underneath to roll
all hell out of Land-Miles, especially those set in Distances-paved (HIGHWAYS!)

BUT now, let us consider just "wheels two and cylinders few," (rigged) set-up
(engineered) to "split the wind," and slightly resembling (reminiscent of) those noble
horse-rides-of-the-old-times, because there is a steed-like object here,
and one Rider shall "mount up and take off." BUT this is a "hog"! called
that in the language of the hogmen -- the "hog riders," themselves.
(Real road-slurpers, YES!) And mean little pig-eyes boo-peep out of MUCH
hair of the Riders on their "hogs," AND not ANY (discernible) Higher Purport
than the Going -- hog wild. -- Jewel-flapped saddlebags, fringe work
to impossible! unnecessary optionals to god-awful, the flash and the flaunt of cheap-show
to Ostentation's hell's limits, and the handlebar thongs lying out rigid-and-long
to whip like sticks in the air thick-made by the wild beast's wild passing --
THAT is a "hog" being ridden by a "hog rider." AAARRRGH...pop-pop...phuuummm..."

--David R Bunch, The Heartacher and the Warehouseman (Anamnesis Press, 2000)
[Need i add, his prose is much finer...?] Bunch's poetry makes a good case for the
use of different color typefaces, i think (instead of all that typographical differentiattion),
just as Dickinson's dashes might be better replaced, for us moderns, with a half linebreak...

I have a poem in the new anthology from Nthposition, Times New
(a typeface, alas, that i really like--!). Be the first on your block to download the whole thing for free!

If the impeachment of Clinton was "about the lying, not about the sex", then i think they have a good
for impeaching Bush, eh?

Here are Three Tankas from Richard Wilbur's recent Mayflies.

"On Lyman Flat

Scattered raindrops fall
On the roadside trees, jolting
A leaf here or there:
So troops stand at attention,
Motionless but for eye-blinks.

All Hallows' Eve

They are not the dead,
These sheeted tykes at the door,
Asking for candy:
But they are our successors,
And we their ghostly elders.

Wild Asters

In the frost-quelled field,
Asters yet fly the yearning
Colors of desire.
All honor to Aaron Burr,
Whose last whisper was "Madame...""

Tuesday, June 03, 2003

I can count myself at least a part-time member of any number of tribes, but possibly
the most subtle & bewildering identity i have, is that of parasinistral alienation (left
handed made in school to write with the other hand).[ --And out of all left-handers, a sub-
minority (like me) is actually right-hemisphere dominant in its real right-hemisphereness (so
to speak): in 70 percent, the left-hemisphere (usually dominant) is just on the wrong side*.]
I know this by the way i hold a pen. Lefties seldom attain literary distinction (Lewis Carroll
almost stands alone), much moreso artistic. It's not so much a fraternity as a handicap, though,
in practice. (Nobody favored another person for this quality alone.) Can't be a brand, because
it's only visible in the act of writing or reaching, & it's the product (sometimes) that comes out
differently. Can't be an ethnicity, because it's not noticeably hereditary & anyway just finding
out who was what in the old days is near-impossible. And a kitsch? A blik? (Collect left-handed
tools.) Like in Santeria, where Christian coverts continued their worship of old gods under the
new names of saints, to be parasinistral is to be conscious to yourself of "passing", of a kind
of meaningless deceit. Before i've had my coffee (or, long ago, under the influence--) i may reach
first with the left for something. I don't even have a vocabulary for most of these effects... And
finally, being parasinistral (& not just sinistral) is historical: at some point they quit stopping kids'
natural inclination--so this is a minority that will die out.

Article in an art magazine about Eastern European artists since the fall of the Soviet Empire.
The "intelligentsia" as a vital concept--something we lack in America. (A pundit is usually
just a loudmouth.) Reborn as blogstars? (Stay tuned.) I do know this: the television will not
be revolutionized
. "Bohemia" at one time wanted to have this honor. But what it ended in
producing was merely celebrity-bohemians. How is that different from a starmachine-made
celebrity? Two systems, overlaid: the system of recognizing merit by a pedestal, toward which
all heads are turned; the system of oligarchy, in which those that have, get--those that haven't, lose
even more. Sort of a lottery fills the space between them. (It's sure not meritocracy!!!!) But observe
also the different rewards: the celebrity is rewarded with ubiquity, the successful oligarch with secrecy.
With being nowhere. (Or--Mt Olympus.) In fact a lot of analogies can be drawn: the transmogrification
of demi-gods, ktp. ("American Idol" again. One shot at fifteen-minute "immortality".) In this situation
to have any of the characteristics of the old intelligentsia, gives a certain "unelectability". You want
to be like everyone else, so they won't resent you when you win.

Certainly it is possible to distinguish the culture of fascism, from the culture of "militainment".
The latter doesn't care what you believe (any more than it cares about the truth: instead
of the Big Lie, there's a self-deception amounting to solipsistic indifference to the existence of
any truth) so long as you have your ducks in a row, a flag on your bumper, & no back talk
when the next sacrifices are announced. It's whatever the opposite of totalitarian is--nullitarian?
Since corporations are artificial intelligences that are unable to perceive humans as individuals,
the only "freedom" is--being overlooked.

I remember when i heard some buildings have been built with FAKE elevator call-buttons. Aha! i
thought. At last i have a metaphor for our "representative democracy"! --Would it really be such
a loss, if the buttons were removed altogether? But we love those buttons, just as we love the
illusion of fairness in competition, even as we instruct our offspring in the fine art of beating the
curve (& doing their homework for them). Well, a gradual disillusionment is at hand. The middle class
will be finding out what the underclass already knows about the system; & at last, all infrastructure
will be dismantled save the mechanisms of reward, of secrecy & celebrity. The future is cryptozoic.

Great new song: "Seven Nation Army" by the White Stripes. Curious how the almost impervious
Radio-Mockba airwaves of Dallas can yet allow once in a while a good song to slip through. --I have
NO SUCH HOPE for American Poetry Review.

"When vacantly I hear the rain
   Falling down on the paulownia--
Sadness echoes on every leaf,
   For I am despondent beyond all measures.

Never again will I plant
   A tree whose leaves are so broad."

--Sang yong Gim, ibid

"Not succeeding with books or swords,
   I am already a useless man!
Fifty years of spring-time
   Have I passed doing nothing.

But Oh! Should any blue mountain
   Deceive me or prove not to be a friend?"

--Czôn-têg Gim, ibid

Can it really be nine years since ":Everything Zen"??

"'The fallen pine on the blue mountain!
   Why are you lying there?'
'Unable to stand against wind and frost
   I was uprooted and fell down.

If you meet a good carpenter,
   Tell him that I am here.'"

--Unknown, ibid
*This is too important not to give sources. I believe i got this
idea from the work of Dr Jerre Levy, as described in Ch 15 of
Jack Fincher's Lefties (1977); i have not kept up with
the research in recent years, which has truly become torrential
via the popularizing of Right-Brained-Artist mythology, as well as
(i believe) largely spurious generalizations about gender differences
in hemispheric specialization. On an unrelated note, i observe that
fully 80% of the returns on a Google search for "Jerre Levy" consist
of a single term paper, which has a ludicrous misspelling in the 2nd

Monday, June 02, 2003

Europe goes to Mars, launched from a base in Kazakhstan.
There's a song by Rush, i think it is "The Freedom of Music", where they simultan-
eously quote Simon & Garfunkel's "The Sound of Silence" while giving it a reggae
twist, then immediately reverting back to their hard-rock framework. It's thrilling, &
i think not only because of the wit & dexterity involved. I remember the time it came
out, call it the late-Seventies of after-the-revolution-but-we-haven't found-out-yet-we-
lost; & particularly in relation to another phenomenon which only became visible in
retrospect: the re-segregation of pop music, a sad thing indeed, & truly terrible in its
consequences for the ensuing depleted genres of white & black music alike... At around
that same time i guess, Eric Clapton's "I Shot the Sheriff" was also taking a reggae flavor;
& both of these (ultimately unsuccessful) attempts to introduce a new form (not even as
"exotica" did it endure, alas) feel like a spice wind from the Third World, tantalizing &
unattainable. They promise the brotherhood of all races, tangentially. Something we don't
even dare dream of, anymore.

The ethnic as signifier. Consider: as branding (Greek kitsch in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding";
everywhere tourists go, what they expect they find), as protest (beats looking to Castro's Cuba,
hippies to Hindu India, punks to England's dole-kids), as recovery (everyone can find a genealogical
flavor to their whitebread loaf, if they go back far enough), as alien (the Islamic Other, suspect by
virtue of their clear absence from Television Reality, until now), & as blik ( artists fascinated by
Japan, or Mexico, or Greco-Roman Antiquity, adopt whatever they can understand, or misunderstand,
for their own uses). And even those born to a real tribe, in a deracinated world, come to their own
culture as outsiders--as tourists. Their homeland is the new global order, in which they have no place,
except as raw material & labor for the factories of Octopus Corp; is it any wonder that a desperate few
opt for the protest angle, even if they have to violently distort their own tradition? Yes, "al Qaeda" is
our own kind of barbarian. No wonder we find the reflection intolerable.

Though there are foolish & hateful forces at work now who want to criminalize nonstandard sexualities,
they ultimately cannot succeed, for the division runs right through society, from the army to the halls
of government; but certainly a "chilling" if not a return to the closet, could ultimately ensue: & a stifling
of what is for me (as an outsider) the interesting development of, if not orientation-subcultures, at least
the cultural effects of selfconscious difference ("queerness" valorized). In places where abundant, it
almost feels like an ethnicity... I was particularly fascinated by the Seventies lesbian movement to find
out what a woman (or "womyn") -centered society could be like. Too bad the artificial language Làadan
never caught on. This was a genuine philosophical inquiry, of the sort academic philosophy has been
dead to for generations now... It was snuffed too soon, & too few monuments remain; i would have
liked to see what came after, once the debt to Rousseau was digested & outgrown. (What i think about
the differences between men & women: (1) differences of Jungian typology count for more, & are invariably
confused with & dichotomized into, according to the type of the theorizer; (2) only after we have achieved
a society that is gender-blind & propaganda-free, will we even be at a point where we have a "control
group" for this experiment; (3) woman are more rational, men more irrational--it's not that men are more
violent, but more likely to jump to the absurd conclusion that violence solves anything--in keeping with
the different causal timespans of, respectively, pregnancy (most of a year) & conception (part of an hour);
(4) it's probably pheromones that cause us to see this as a polarity, & not a universal yin-yang continuum;
& (5) the sexuality of women is rhythmic, men arrythmic: how can this not influence cosmology?

The Man: "Stuff just keeps getting more, & more, & more...until *BOOM!* the Eschaton: all different."

The Woman (to herself): "In the morning I know I'll have to put the toilet seat down again, like every
other morning."

   "Inverse Proportion

Is your voice silence?
Then your unsung song I clearly hear--
Your voice is silence.

Is your face darkness?
Then with closed eyes your face I clearly see--
Your face is darkness.

Is your shadow brightness?
Then when you are gone, at the dark window your shadow shines
Your shadow is brightness."

--Yong-un Han, ibid

Sunday, June 01, 2003

What i think of as my "philosophizing" has been mainly a tedious attempt to
get my bearings & understand this cultural moment as a context for what i want
to do--without (very often) acknowledging, that the primary reason for it is only
the eternal question, "Why won't they let me play?" --Would i have tried at all, if
i perceived them then as i perceive them now: balancing sand grains in the middle
of a huge desert. I probably would have said, "This is no proper game, & these people
aren't intentionally excluding me. They are mad." --I think of the movie
"The King of Hearts", where after the townspeople run away, the loosed inhabitants
of an asylum take over & play at running it, using the clothes & props they find there.

Often NeoFormalists wish to include in their program the sister-arts of music & painting,
in which melodic composers & figurative artists seem to correspond to their party. And
indeed, the longing for the comfort of a lost tradition may be at the root of all three "retro"
tendencies. But it is both tempting & wildly amiss to draw direct parallels. I can see, on
the one hand, how highly abstract poetry is like instrumental music, & asyntactical poetry
is like atonal music, in that either one chooses to focus on the artistic materials themselves,
more than on the familiar pleasures of (pseudo-) mimesis. (These new pleasures can also
become as familiar: to me atonal music is like an exotic cuisine, when my palate tires of the
meat & potatos of the same old chord progressions, time after time...) On the other hand,
classical music & "realistic" painting are far removed from, say, a recording of the kind of
sounds humans make when experiencing actual emotions, or a photograph of an actual
landscape. (Picasso: "All painting is abstract painting.") Whereas narrative poetry is story-
telling & not that distant from the shaping of an anecdote in the hands of a raconteur... The
revivalists, in trying to extract workable formulae out of the social & historical contexts that
gave them meaning, are simply taking the signifiers of a style as direct indicators of value.
Which is something only a barbarian would conceive of. My idea of reinventing tradition is
rather different. We now have a huge vocabulary of all the things that have ever been tried
anywhere. First we learn to talk to each other (something that is surprisingly hard, once you
go beyond immediacies & cant), & especially, to listen. The forms will arise of themselves,
out of the need to communicate.


Somahomahah (1) retrieves amorous borax ranks from stipulated
damping sops up brickdust cow dung drags
air pellets into bunions mull over air (2)
locks wash damages motor nerves arc herons
cleanse semi-territorial megabytes adapt to chiefly ritual
mirror (3) splitting imbricates sacrificial bulk comics pass
ramifyingly by it alone slides into (4) flanks
of ridge-lines localized with absurd force shoots
maroons back to act (5) the other cobelligerent
outpatient stacks scopic drives oil (6) molar husks
toe slightly obsessional cocktails articulate base factor
five bundles frontal sound (7) shots into pints

(1) employees chosen for their smiles and round bottoms must be able to demonstrate the difference between subject knowledge and causing grievous bodily harm
(2) a corporate card goes pop when accepted while a purchasing card goes plop when rejected experience tells us
(3) a place where mind meets memory not to be confused with a one-horse town or a final frontier often dismissed for what is bunkum
(4) more or less identical to tomorrow's on-line success although icebergs say yes it is and yes it does
(5) leave well alone as there is no such thing as a fact a free translation or a flexible friend
(6) in combination there appears to be little contrast between a thick and a thin tongue but as modifier little may well be marked
(7) knowledge that has been disembowelled for its intrinsic strength and tested for its elastic qualities will be sealed as sound

--Johan de Wit, Hippototescope (West House Books, 2000)

This little book (sent to me from England by And Rosta), of twenty-five 12-line poems with
seven words in each line & seven footnotes to each poem, certainly challenges the intrepid
reader. Seeing one of them in isolation, i think "brilliant"; trying to read several in succession,
i find myself skipping ahead in search of some payoff which, apart from the occasional &
seemingly inadvertant sound effects, plus the undeniable charm of a large vocabulary, seems
nonexistent. The footnotes contain a slight wit, but their relation to the footnoted words
is also apparently arbitrary. Finally, there is left the conjecture that this is the fruit of an automatic
procedure, some matrix filled in by a random process perhaps, or anyway a hidden one; & the
thought that now that this form has been invented, there remains the problem of finding a use
for it.