Tuesday, October 25, 2005

If I appear excited this week it's because: I am.

I'm flying up to NYC on Friday.

To read w/ Lisa Jarnot at my friend Matt Henriksen's Burning Chair Reading Series: that will be: Sunday night.

Creeley Memorial Saturday night. And World Series maybe.

I only give readings of any length at all maybe 2 or 3 times a year.

So it's always a big deal for me. Especially out of town. Always try to reinvent myself to myself at these big deals. Been working on a set list and new poems. Practicing. No prose poems (g'bye
security blanket). Nothing too funny either (g'bye security helmet). Working so damn hard I can hardly write these sentences, friends. (This is actually my opening poem.)

Will be my second time in NYC. I've also been to London once and Chicago three times, DC once and Philly twice.

I've met very few of my heroes (but met John Taggart this weekend) but a number will be at the memorial for Creeley (who is also a hero).

Might get a chance to say thank you to John Ashbery, Rosmarie Waldrop and CD Wright. And say hi to old and new and future pals.

This past week or so has been one of those rare week or so windows where I think: I've got this poem writing business figured out. Only happens once or twice a year, but shit gets done.

Monday, October 24, 2005

Jean Baudrillard, from Simulation:

"It is [...] extremely naive to look for ethnology among the Savages or in some Third World--it is here, everywhere, in the metropolis, among the whites, in a world completely catalogued and analysed and then artificially revived as though real"

Thursday, October 20, 2005

Still can't sleep. So more memes. It's gonna be like this for years, people.

ABC Meme

Act your age? I think I do. I just turned 30, am married now. Have swore off excessive drinking. Doing sit-ups, dressing nicer. Thinking about what changes I should make before becoming a father, etc.

Born on what day of the week? Dunno.

Chore you hate? Is calling people a chore? If so, that. I hate the phone.

Dad's name? Ron.

Essential makeup item? Well, I used to wear eye-liner as an undergrad and start of grad school, or also sometimes when playing music. Nail polish as well as an undergrad.

Favorite actor? Sterling Hayden maybe, from The Killing, Asphalt Jungle, Dr. Strangelove. Also Will Ferrell.

Gold or silver? I decided to get a silver wedding band, and that's my first piece of jewlery ever, so silver.

Hometown? Born in Springfield, Missouri. Schooled in Enumclaw, WA.

Instruments you play? Played very rudimentary guitar and sang (think more out of tune Lou Reed) in a band called Black Cassette, and bass in a band called Dora Maar. Still play the guitar sometimes for fun.

Job title? Grad student.

Kids? Not yet.

Living arrangements? See earlier meme.

Mom's name? Teresa.

Need? To find a way to go to sleep (I get insomnia for a night or two every month)

Overnight hospital stays? When I was born? Was in a bad car wreck in 3rd grade, but don't think I stayed over night.

Phobias? Mildly phobic about a lot of things: heights, close spaces, big dogs, flying, etc.

Religious affiliation? Christian, though non-denominational right now.

Siblings? Complicated.

Time you wake up? Depends. 10ish.

Unique talent? Used to be able to remember the position players from about every baseball team from the 80's (1989 Reds: Joe Oliver C, Chris Sabo 3rd, Barry Larkin SS, and so on). Can't anymore, which is surely a good sign.

Worst habit? Used to be drinking too much. Now, not exercising enough.

X-rays you've had? Broken my right hand a couple of times. Mouth, leg, head. Lots, I guess.

Yummy food you make? I make good pasta.

Zodiac Sign? Leo.

This meme kind of sucked, maybe it sucked enough to make me sleepy . .
Can't sleep, so I'm going to pacify myself with the answering random questions game. I think that is going to be my blog mode from here on out: just answering these memes, and posting my notes from class. And I will ride those two horses into literary stardom.

1. Alias First name?

2. Were you named after anyone?
I'm not sure. I should ask. I don't think so.

3. Do you wish on stars?
No, but I do make wishes on loose eyelashes and then blow them.

4. When did you last cry?
I teared up a little seeing Craig Biggio tear up about the Astros making it to the World Series. Last serious cry was when I hit a baby deer with my car (the baby deer survived though!).

5. What is your favorite lunchmeat?

6. What is your birth date?
July 27, 1975 (same day as my doppleganger, Alex Rodriguez).

7. What's your most embarrassing CD?
John Coltrane, Giant Steps.

8. If you were another person, would you be friends with you?
Depends what other person I'd be. If I was another me, I'd be a little skeptical of this me.

9. Do you use sarcasm a lot?
I guess so (see answer to number 7). I also still like to sarcastically make poop and pee jokes. By sarcastically, I mean I find it funny to act as though I thought poop and bodily fluid jokes in and of themselves were funny, and that it was socially acceptable to make them in public. I used to do the same, sarcastically make asshole non-PC jokes but it made me be an actual asshole too often. (Like the time one of my professors at Arkansas referred to Rita Dove as a kind of an example how to mess up your writing career, and that now she writes bad poems but nobody has the heart to tell her so she doesn't know. To make a joke, he then said, "like the way nobody had the heart to tell Eddie Murphy he couldn't sing." And I figured this was a good time to be funny, so I added "or like no one had the heart to tell Stevie Wonder he couldn't drive." I couldn't figure out why no one was laughing, then I remembered I was sitting behind a really kind older blind lady. I've been trying to cut down on the sarcastic non-PC jokes since that [and a couple possibly worse] incident).

10. What are your nicknames?

11. Would you bungee jump?
Hell no.

12. Do you untie your shoes when you take them off?
Hell no.

13. Do you think that you are strong?
Physically: I did until Ken Rumble beat me in arm wrestling.
Psychically: I'm really stubborn on things, if that counts.

14. What is your favorite ice cream flavor?

15. Shoe Size?

16. Red or pink?

17. What is your least favorite thing about yourself?
Hyper-competitiveness/chips on my shoulder/need for attention.

18. Who do you miss most?
Miss seeing all the time: My grandma. Paul White, Rett Peek, Robert Bell and other Arkansas friends.

Miss being alive: my grandparents.

19. What color pants and shoes are you wearing?

20. What are you listening to right now?
Froggies out in the woods. Music I listened to today while reading or driving: some Can albums (Ege Bamyasi, Landed, Future Days), London Calling, Exile on Main St., Born to Run, Nebraska.

21. What did you eat for breakfast?

22.If you were a crayon, what color would you be?

23. What is the weather like right now?
Cool, dark.

24. Last person you talked to on the phone?
Leigh (my wife). Last non-Leigh: old my friend Will Manning who lives in NYC.

25. The first things you notice about the opposite sex?

26. Do you like the person who sent this to you?
Mr. Insomnia? No.

27. Favorite Drink?
Wild Turkey

28. Hair Color?
Dark brown.

29. Do you wear contacts?

30. Favorite Food?
Chips & salsa, reuben sandwiches, sushi.

31. Last Movie You Watched?
40 Year Old Virgin.

32. Favorite Day Of The Year?
This year, wedding day. Other years, probably start of baseball playoffs.

33. Scary Movies Or Happy Endings?
I hate scary movies, and I haven't been to a massage parlor for a while, so neither.

34. Summer Or Winter?

35. Hugs or Kisses?

36. What Is Your Favorite Dessert?
Ice cream.

37.Living Arrangements?
I live in a nice little three bedroom house in the woods 15 minutes outside of Chapel Hill, NC that my wife Leigh and I rent from a super friendly hippie couple: she designed it when she was single and contracted him to build it when he was single and they fell in love building it, got married and built a second (dream) home and now rent this one to us for much below market value. I think we would stay in this house the rest of our lives if we could.

38. What Books Are You Reading?
For classes: Julian of Norwich, Hegel, German Essays on Art History, lots of articles. For fun: a couple of critical studies on Charles Olson, re-reading Olson's The Special View of History, Kevin Magee's Tedium Drum, Erin Moure's Little Theaters, Brent Cunningham's Bird & Forest, re-reading Ronald Johnson's The Shrubberies, read Alfred N. Whitehead's Symbolism book, which was kind of a breeze, but having trouble bobbing along w/ his Process & Reality right now.

39. What's On Your Mouse Pad?
No mouse.

40. What Did You Watch Last Night on TV?
Nothing last night. Tonight watched the Astros-Cardinals.

41. Favorite Smells?
I really like it when it I get out of the car after driving down our gravel road and driveway at night and I get out of the car and the air smells like dirt. I also love the smell of cut grass.

42. Favorite junk food?
Chips & salsa.

43. Rolling Stones or Beatles?
Stones, though I was a Beatles man for years and years. I can't think of a better album than Exile on Main St.

44. What's the farthest you've been from home?

Monday, October 17, 2005

Waaay behind in emails. Don't shoot me, friends. I get on "no output" spells. Not good for the social mechanism.

Plenty of baseball, plenty of Olson, plenty of reading for my classes. Just typed up a little summary of a lecture by Aby Warburg, early 20th century German art historian who was new to me, but who seems very aligned with my sympathies, and seems similar in important ways to figures I get drawn to like Olson, Stein, Rothenberg or Barthes in his methods and motivations. Gonna post that lil' summary writeup below in case any out there is also interested in models for figures like this who re-conceptualize their field via immersion in other not immediately related fields (Olson in everything, Stein in psychology/automatism, Rothenberg in tribal cultures and anthropology, Barthes in about everything Olson didn't get to, and so on). Ok, my two cents on Aby Warburg, who I'm excited to investigate further. I'm really surprised Olson apparently wasn't aware of this guy, as he seems to model a lot of Olson's methods and leanings, but doesn't (in my brief reading of him) seem to have as firm a grasp of all the possible implications of his methodologies, but again he seems to be a good bit ahead of the curve, and my reading of him is very brief. Regardless, he's an interesting figure so far to look at.

Okay, okay! two cents, and hopefully the terminology isn't too overwrought (the summary applies terms from previous readings in the class):

Art historian and founder of a famous research library now located at the University of London, Aby Warburg proposes a unique methodology for art historians. Schiff’s description of Warburg’s library as a “tool for all those whose research transcends the purely formal study of art in the direction of other historical realities” (lvi) in the introduction to our book evokes a sense of Warburg’s proposal to move beyond limiting categorizations and pre-suppositions to a more holistic and inter-disciplinary view of an art historian’s role in understanding a “cultural psychology” of expression and imagery, as well as a more complex understanding of an artists’ (as well as a patron’s, artisan’s, citizen’s, etc.) role in constructing, altering and perpetuating this psychology.

I’m not an expert in these following two writers, but Warburg seems to anticipate at least aspects of Claude Levi-Strauss (who immersed himself in tribal cultures to study the effects of writing on the culture, and who also constructed a history of table manners) and Roland Barthes (who immersed himself in various aspects of fashion design to understand the semiotics of that field). Or, closer to my heart, Warburg’s lecture anticipates the 20th century poet and historian Charles Olson, who studied among other fields Mayan culture, non-Euclidean geometry, the history of Western expansion, the economic histories of his adopted hometown of Gloucester, Mass., the cosmologies of Jung and Whitehead, and Moby Dick to arrive at a notion of Post-Modernism (some argue Olson was the first to coin this term though his Post-Modern is very different than our understanding of the term). Olson's Post-Modernism is a state of being that is similar to contemporary tribal as well as pre-Greek (Platonic) cultures, in that a Post-Modern state of being doesn’t rely on post-Platonic Western categorization and separation of realities. Olson argues that this categorization and separation (which he traces back to Plato's emphasis on ideal forms and separation of mythos and logos with logos now being the truth and mythos now being a kind of fiction) becomes a cause of a certain anxiety: in Olson’s paraphrase of Herodotus, in Western culture people tend to be most estranged from that with which they are most familiar. Warburg’s lecture doesn’t fit neatly into the above sentiments, but it is very striking how it anticipates the above, and how ably Aby demonstrates his methods.

Warburg’s lecture is fairly straightforward, though rich in detail. In it, he traces the means by which Greek gods (and more importantly the classical notions their forms embody) were passed along culture to culture and generation by generation through their incorporation into the discourse network of astrology, and how these Greek forms were transmitted to and translated by various non-Greek cultures that came into contact with each other. Specifically, Warburg finds the correlations between the seemingly “oriental” imagery of various frescoes and traditional Greek imagery. I’m not going to dwell too much on the details of Warburg’s “resolution of a pictorial riddle” (252) for as he says his focus is more upon “a methodical expansion of our art-historical discipline, in both its material and its spatial reaches” (252). Or even more succinctly, “I was less interested in the neat solution than in the formulation of a new problem” (252).

Before getting too into this methodical expansion, I want to remark on a unique aspect in Warburg’s lecture: how certain elements express perhaps Platonic notions even while his methods seem to propose methods by which to counter those same notions (or perhaps I’m just overplaying my anti-Platonic sympathies). For instance, Warburg opens his lecture by referring to the “Roman world of forms” (234), grounding us in familiar terminology. Additionally, Warburg’s strong repulsion to popular astrology (“in essence nothing more than a name fetishism projected on the future” 238) could seem to communicate a strong preference for a more clearly rational notion of divine agency; we can see this clearly in Warburg’s delineation between a more acceptable astrology that relies on the visibility of the stars and their positions relative to one another, and a later version where “real observation declined and was replaced by a primitive cult of star names” (238). I don’t want to argue with Warburg here or take him to task, but merely point out the way his (translated) language (“real observation declined”) often displays the foundations and criteria for his judgments by establishing clear a antinomy between “real” and “unreal” methods of gaining data; he also implies a hierarchy of forms in his assertion that observation “declined” instead of “transformed” or “adapted.” One could argue that Warburg’s reliance on such distinctions also implies a system of forms by which one makes distinctions between a “real culture” and an “unreal” or “barbaric” one (at certain spots he speaks of “genuine oriental imagination” [241] and of a portrayal of a Venus that “has nothing Greek about her outward appearance” [244]), but that argument would serve mostly to shift us away from the very useful elements of Warburg’s lecture.

In fact, it is likely that Warburg’s critique of uses of astrology has more to do with a separation between how the images are used and the psychological motivations for creating the images in the first place (which could be one motivation for a trip by him to America to observe Pueblo Indians create their own religious imagery; this would contrast strongly to an astrology follower projecting notions of his or her future by the non-empirical correlations found in astrological imagery). The methods he outlines and demonstrates in his lecture are a means to investigating the grounds and motivations of imagery and thereby providing much firmer ground for understanding the images in their contexts and for understanding how those contexts change.

Warburg utilizes a terrific array of resources for his claims, and thereby demonstrates the reach of his methods: a partial list of his investigations would include Flemish tapestries in 15th century secular art, “illustrated handbook(s) of mythology” in northern medieval culture, 12th century southern German art (235), medieval calendars and frescoes (236), the paintings of Botticelli (237), the evolution of astrological imagery (238), astrological texts and images used in Asia Minor, including one edited by a German scholar and written by an Italian contemporary of Dante, writings of the 9th century astrologer Abū Mā’sār (translated into Hebrew by a Spaniard and into French under the patronage of a Englishmen) (239), and so forth. An almost punchline sentence in this regard can be found on page 240: “In Spanish illustrated manuscripts, Greek authors revived, from their Arabic translations, authors who were to make the hermetic-healing or oracular astrology of Alexandria a fatal part of Europe’s cultural patrimony.” I think it’s important to see Warburg’s methods not just as the performance of an erudite scholar but more as a means for both demystifying the occurrence of certain images or tendencies across cultures and centuries, and for also a way to free art from being studied as a series of isolated products of individual and transcendent geniuses.

I think interesting questions can be raised by considering how notions of genius (for Warburg affirms that it exists at the end of his lecture) or even talent can alter within a methodology, especially one that places so much emphasis on the economic, cultural and religious currents in which the artist and artwork circulate. There is certainly room for an artist to be a genius of transformation for Warburg, but how would he account for a completely original or transcendent genius? I don’t think such a creature would exist for Warburg, that he would instead locate artistic talent or genius not in the creation but in the transformation, transmission or translation of images and/or forms. It would also be interesting to follow Warburg further to see whether the subversion of imagery is emphasized in his view as he seems to imply a perpetual transition, misappropriation and revision of expressive and imagistic norms as opposed to a static maintenance of them.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005


Tuesday, October 11, 2005

True happiness in seeing the Yankees eliminated, especially via A-Rod grounding into the double play in the 9th . . .

A quote from McCaffery/Nichol that helps frame a discussion of whether Fascicle is "too big":

"There seems at present a dichotomy in attitude between the book as a machine of reference and the book as a commodity to be acquired, consumed and discarded."

I could probably pretty accurately lip synch a similar sentence about my attitude towards Fascicle. I know it's too big to be gotten at in one sitting, or probably even a couple, and after a dip or two it's not interesting to you, there's plenty of places I'm sure to get whatever it is one is looking for when one cracks up a journal or clicks to a site.

Is it common knowledge how much of a badass Steve McCaffery is? He is. There's a piece of his that ends his Theory of Sediment book that made me angry and thrilled it was so brilliant; I don't have the book near me, and I forget the title . . . it basically is like a twenty page sentence that moves from recently coined words decade by decade back through the language.

Monday, October 10, 2005

Enjoying the miniature Duke fall break -- with my schedule, I basically just get tomorrow off. Regardless, gives a little more breathing room in terms of time. Lots of baseball, and a chance for some non-school reading -- jumping back into Olson. Read Ralph Maud's Charles Olson's Reading: a Biography and Olson's A Special View of History yesterday and this afternoon. Tonight am reading Rational Geomancy by the Toronto Research Group (aka Steve McCaffery and bp Nichol), which is operating as that blessed thing, a synthesis of previous interests or curiosities under one umbrella. The first reports moving through issues of translation, with glances at A.N. Whitehead, the Zukofskys and Pound, and a little longer look at Jerome Rothenberg's notions of "Total Translation," which you can find in his Pre-Faces New Directions book (highly recommended).

Saturday night was a blast at Ken Rumble's Desert City Reading Series, with excellent readings by Tessa Joseph and Brent Cunningham, and a mesmerizing performance at the Blue Door after party by one Ted Pope, who performed a poetry/music mix that seemed to combine elements of Beat, Frank Stanford, Tom Waits and the Violent Femmes maybe. Closed with a song with maybe the most brilliant lyrics ever:

When Pontius Pilate
washed the blood off his hands
he shook his hips
he shook his hips
Strange literary dreams last night: a TV interview with Ann Charters poo-poohing Robert Creeley (dream Tony was enraged), and reading a gloss by Clayton Eshleman on Hart Crane (which actually exists, though differently than the dream version).

Saturday, October 08, 2005

A beautifully produced large journal to follow: Vanitas, edited by Vincent Katz. Apparently launched earlier this year, but new to me.

About halfway through it -- Jim Dine portfolio, poems by Fanny Howe, Ann Lauterbach, Sarah Manguso, Clayton Eshleman among others. Nada Gordon definitely steals the show so far with "Nothing Is Untitled" -- one of my favorite poems I've read this year, without a doubt. Worth the price of admission.

Found myself exceedingly annoyed with Carter Ratcliff's "The Anaxagoras Variations: a Note on Theory," which presents some bizarre caricature of theory and then places that caricature over flames. Opening: "In theory, there is theory and practice. In practice, there is only practice." So right off I found myself bugged, because that seems so inaccurate, at least for me -- theory comes before and after practice for me, to see what I did, what it is I'm actually doing -- I suppose one wouldn't need theory if you didn't want to alter what you're doing . .

More from Ratcliff: "[Theorists] don't merge with Mind so much as infiltrate it, the better to reveal its oppressive workings. Yet they resemble their predecessors -- everyone from Anaxagoras and Plato to Descartes and Kant -- in wanting us to see themselves as masters of transcendence. The role of those who are not theorists is to be thankful for the revelations of theory. Theorists want to help us. Chiefly, they want to revlieve the itchy need to find a way out of their own skins."

It's not the anti-theory sentiment of Ratcliff that bugs me, because I'm not too much of a theory hound, or haven't been -- this last year has been my first time to begin reading people like Barthes, Derrida, Benjamin, Jameson and such. The thing that bugs me about Ratcliff's piece is the armchair psycho-analyzing, as though an affinity for theory can be best explained by fundamental psychological or moral flaws of those involved. This is rarely (if ever) convincing when addressing differences of aesthetics, whether you're talking about SoQ, Charles Bernstein, Kent Johnson, New Sincerity or Joan Houlihan. Reducing a person's aesthetic preferences to some sort of moral or psychological lack strikes me as intellectually lazy, the sort of thing I myself do when wanting to dismiss someone's stance without addressing anything fundamental. So I'm not going to "theorize" on what Ratcliff's motivations were for writing the piece, or what his private psychological needs are and how his piece is a simple explication of those needs, etc. Just let me say I don't find his stance either convincing or useful in the least.

The prose piece that precedes it in Vanitas, Jordan Davis' "Peeling Oranges on Top of the Skyscrapers: Towards a Name-Blind History of Poetry since 1960" I certainly wouldn't level with the same charges as I do Ratcliff's, but by the time I finished Jordan's piece, a charming geneology of the various NY Schools that mostly avoids using the names of any of the poets, I was left wondering: who is this piece written for? I'm not sure it's especially informative for those who don't know the histories described, it does point to recent books on the subject, but the piece itself's absence of names left me feeling out-of-the-loop, and I more or less cut my poetry teeth on at least the first two generations of NY School. And it didn't seem to make an argument, or too strong of a case for something other than the need for a better book on the NY Schools. It seemed mostly a performance piece type of essay, and I'm a fan of the genre: but: so: the no-names conceit is the central aspect, but as a performance it seems like it would appeal mostly to a pretty select audience, one that would already agree to a statement like "the Black Mountain poets did not consistently address their poems to someone other than themselves" (a point which Jordan to his credit expects to be corrected on). I don't have the energy right now to undertake that sort of correction, but I did try to think of Black Mtn. examples that would create that view, poets who don't seem to address problems of address -- the start of Maximus seems to pivot on these concerns, and it seems pretty central to my understanding of Creeley, etc. I'm sure I'm as 'tone-deaf' with this piece as Mayhew says I am with Personism, but I don't know what the point of reading something is if not to at some point take it seriously; I get that the tone may be tongue-in-cheek, but I just figure that's to help the medicine go down, even if the medicine is "throw away your medicine." I'm tired of Mineola Prep.

I think a really interesting piece could be constructed that could demonstrate what specific NY School/Black Mtn/Beat poets share in common, so to counter some of the rote camp vs. camp thinking while still addressing fundamental differences, and without reducing fundamental differences in approach to just things like personality.

Anyway, just kind of struck that stances of the opening prose pieces of Vanitas seemed, in their own way, to pursue familiar lines of thinking, while the poems themselves are of various registers, and almost all so far interesting (besides Nada Gordon's effing killer poem, I also really dug Fanny Howe's so far) -- anyway, I can't imagine Ratcliff's piece doing anything than further cementing anyone's views on his topic. Jordan's piece is more complicated; the source of a lot of its charm (the absence of names) also seems to mark it off as a space perhaps for the already initiated. Anyway, it's still a good read.

But man that Ratcliff piece bugs me. The gem that ends the piece: "It is better -- because truer -- to say that pretensions to theory impose a handicap that prevents all but a very few theorists from coming to grips with anything but their own need to speak from on high."

Perhaps some look to theory not from "their own need to speak from on high" but perhaps to excise the repose from their practice.
Big time congrats to Adam Clay, whose The Wash was picked up by Jon Thompson for Free Verse Editions at Parlor Press for publication next year!

You can check out some of Adam's great work in the first issue Fascicle here.

And check out his editing chops at Typo.

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Ever have one of those days where it seems like you're annoyed by everyone's blogposts and comments that day? Including your own?

Time to go outside and read!

Monday, October 03, 2005

To revise Schiller, whose starting point for his "Letters upon Aesthetic Education" is paraphrased in Hegel's Introductory Lectures on Aesthetics:

Every medium has within it the capacity of an ideal mediality.

(Schiller's starting point, via Hegel: "every individual human being has within him the capacity of an ideal humanity")

Sunday, October 02, 2005

Great shorts:

Last week Amy King asked the Lucipo listserv to send her short poems that were well-loved. She posted the results here.

My selections were from Rosmarie Waldrop, Robert Creeley, Ronald Johnson and Jerome Rothenberg's Technicians of the Sacred anthology.

Been re-reading Creeley's For Love with a sense of astonishment that was never there before. Tempted to proclaim it the besterest American poetry collection of the last century, but I've got stuff in my beard to clean out.
The issue was raised during the second installment of LuciTalks today (LuciTalks being Chris Vitiello's talk series; I did one a while back on Ronald Johnson seen through the eyes of Olson, David Need did an interesting one today on Rilke and the Objectivists), of whether a poem that basically lists objects can function as a poem, or as a moving/affecting poem. I thought of Duncan's Passages (it is Passages, right? I can't remember which one(s)), where the poem breaks into a grid of individual words -- I haven't read this poem in years, I should go back to it. And there's a Robert Francis poem (again, I can't remember the poem) that functions similarly, though as an individual poem.

Other list poems? Ones you find affecting?

It's hard for me to imagine one being too affecting outside of a context, because if emotions are to be evoked, I do believe it takes more than a series of objects to be presented to the imagination and other perceptive faculties -- there is the objects, the poem/poet/speaker's relation to the objects, the relation of that relation to us, etc. So in a larger written context a list could be stunning, but by itself? Of course, there's the question if poems are ever just by themselves. I'd say yeah, if just not to sound too much like a hippie and say they never are.

Reading Hegel, and the issues of what is brought to sense in a work of art -- certainly I'd say not just the objects described, or just the medium/material of description, nor just signifiers. My Flarf essay in Fascicle that Thomas is pushing me to rethink/clarify addresses some of these things -- about whether or not the "original" situations that generated the language that ends up in a Flarf poem affects a reader's appraisal of that poem. Thomas is convincing in arguing that they don't, that Flarf in fact is effective in taking language out from its original situation and putting it in a poem anew with no dependence on original intent or situation. I wonder if my view is not something close to a sophomore's view of the Heisenberg principle (the sophomore's view being all I have) of the act of watching a phenomenon alters it -- I mean just the fact of knowing or imagining the Google processes of Flarf conjures up the possible situations for the language at hand.

A consistent emphasis in the medieval Christian texts I've been reading is the necessity for an affective reading and theology -- in Meditations on the Life of Christ, the reader is incessantly instructed to place herself in the scenes described, to help Mary swaddle the infant Christ, to look upon Christ's face as he hides from an angry mob, etc. It's a strategy that's pretty common I think -- I wonder if I could go back in time to see at what point I stopped imagining myself as the characters in works of art and started imagining myself as the creator. It makes for a curious dramatic reception, for instance me driving around listening to "The River," imagining myself performing the song as though I had written it and as though it could possibly also be about me too -- again, makes for a strange theatrical distance between myself and the song, or at least between myself and Bruce, but it still results in an emotional reaction, a quite strong one: singing along or through a song such as "The River" produces a stronger emotional response in me than say I ever had performing songs I'd written when I was in a band, and some of those songs were fairly emotional/personal. Part of it is just the quality of songwriting in something like "The River" compared to your typical Black Cassette song, but I think there's something in the theatrical distance that maybe allows the emotions to be accessed in a new way: I mean, I get weepy imagining singing lyrics that don't really reflect anything about my life right now, but I only get weepy when imagining performing the song.