Saturday, October 28, 2006

Congrats to the St. Louis Cardinals.

I seriously didn't think they had a chance against the Padres, the Mets or the Tigers. I was rooting for the Pads to win it this year, but switched over when the Cards spanked them. Who knew Chris Carpenter would don Jeff Weaver, Jeff Suppan and Anthony Reyes outfits and pitch like a champ for about 12 straight games?

I also now have a love-hate relationship with Yadier Molina -- I love watching him catch and throw, am amused to watch him hit, and I hate looking at his creepy yet loveable face.

Monday, October 23, 2006

I hate charts, graphs and (generally) theory. Maybe not even in and of themselves, but how they make poets look when they use them. Like how I don't see anything intrinsically wrong with sunglasses, just generally disapprove the qualitative leap that occurs the second they are added to the mass of flesh we call "a face". A sneer sneaks in.

I wear my sunglasses at night: the night in which all cows are black.

But I have a new theory regarding myself, and wonder if it's true for others. It regards influence. I can say Charles Olson and Gertrude Stein are huge influences on me but my writing resembles theirs not at all. So am I just dressing myself up in a tradition that I don't actualize in my writing? Is it wishful thinking?

Maybe some kind of horizontal-vertical chart would be of use. Saying, that at least two different things can be pointed at when the word "influence" comes up. Olson has his topos, typos, tropos triptych. It's sort of late and I'm feeling gregariously indifferent, so I'm not going to double check which is which right now. But I'm pretty sure the two I want to talk about are topos and tropos; topos being the location or area of where the work is occurring: where one is getting the energy from and to where one is trying to transfer it, maybe. And tropos is the poet's work on the material/language itself, how it (the poeting) fashions it.

Soooooo. This sort of thing. Olson and Stein are influences mainly on the level of topos, which also undergirds the presuppositions I bring to tropos, though I suspect tropos is much more dependent on whatever ontology(s) I am operating under (easily could be more than one: probably has to be: an ontology or sense of being that I am conscious of and consciously work within, and the spooky one that is fastened to that one, maybe a sub- and also unconscious one [sound or emotion clusters that I am not aware I spin towards, even when I am consciously trying to summon a particular emotion, etc]).

What I'm basically trying to get at is my small epiphany that what I take to be influencing my own particular notion of tropos is a circulation of a handful of writers whom have been a circulation for years: Rimbaud, Artaud, Dickinson, Frank Stanford, Nijinksy, Nietzsche, early Ashbery, the prose-poem Rosemarie Waldrop, Blake. Ronald Johnson has been added in the last couple years. Cesaire this year.

This sort of collection of writers, all of whom are the most vibrant examples I can think of of writers who are alive, who make me feel pregnant and drunk with possibility--this collection stays fairly stable. Recently, shades of critical/theoretical writing has entered into my 1001 Sentences project, but that tendency was there in a few pieces in Invisible Bride (the piece about playgrounds, for example). But this sort of tone-writing does mostly the work of background -- it's the landscape on which the alive figures (sentences that attempt to bear the blood of the above writers) are juxtaposed and operate.

I find that Ph.D. work is opening up my notion of topos fairly intensely; what spheres of being and knowledge I can consciously try to set my writing as being relevant with. Am a little bit apeshit over Hegel right now. Also, fairly cold towards Deleuze. Just to keep you updated.

But however my notions of topos alter and expand, I find myself registering these notions through that fairly consistent circulation/collection above. Right now I find this very satisfactory, but that satisfaction never lasts--like Alfred North Whitehead says, each actual event's satisfaction is also its vanishing, and therefore also the precondition of the becoming of the actual event(s) that follow. So the question is of prehension and abstraction -- what will I abstract from this current satisfaction? Hopefully at least a few sentences.

Friday, October 20, 2006

In honor of one of my favorite playoff games in a while (Chavez's catch, Suppan's grit, Molina's bomb, etc), here's some nostalgia tracks.

Dinosaur Jr, Get Me

Breeders, Divine Hammer

Buffalo Tom, Sodajerk

Sebadoh, Skull

Chavez, Unreal is Here

Smashing Pumpkins, Today

Veruca Salt, Seether

Pavement, Range Life

Smashing Pumpkins, 1979

Smashing Pumpkins, Rhinoceros

Lemonheads, My Drug Buddy

Sugar, Gee Angel

Silkworm, Wet Firecracker

Soul Asylum, Somebody to Shove

Monday, October 16, 2006

The Profundity of Baseball

1st, Magglio Ordonez's series clinching walk-off homerun, as seen on TV.

2nd, the view of that some homerun from a fan in the left field bleachers. This one brings tears to my eyes, and I'm not even a Tigers fan.

Bonus points if you click "play" on the first one, wait a beat and a half to two beats, and then click "play" on the second for the goose bumps of simultaneity.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Day 1 of a mini-conference here at Duke. Fredric Jameson has brought in a group of young-ish Russian Marxist intellectuals who operate under the heading What Is To Be Done?

Here are some notes:

Jameson, in his intro, says: 15 years ago in Soviet Union, mention of Marx would bring laughter, pity or anger; but now, there is a development of intellectual interest in Marx.

The second speaker of the day, Dmitry Gutov, from Moscow: well-known video & installation artist; co-founder of Lifshitz Institute.

Mikhail Lifshitz

Gutov will try to give a presentation that is an illustration; of course, only an artist, but a character on the borderline of art & philosophy: doesn’t see self as philosopher in any way; remembering when he says this a quote from Hegel’s notebook, for a philosopher a notion is as close as a cow for a peasant; so, for him, world of video camera and paint is much closer; but the world of notions bears a great attraction, but in an amateurish way; his activities are 50/50 as an artist; travel over the world and take part in biennials; other hand, one of the organizers of the institute, which is what he wants to talk about; start by illustrating what Jameson said in preface about relationship to Marxism in late 80s-early 90s; in the late 80s, marked the outset of anti-communist hysteria in Soviet Union; suddenly, turned out that the teachers of dialectics were great fans of Nietzsche; as soon as they could express their deep hatred towards Marxism, they did so with indescribable intensity; at the same time, a number of artists decided to re-read Marx and reconsider Soviet Marxism; when reassessed texts, suddenly realized they were deeper and more interesting than realized when younger; one could compare it to being bludgeoned by heavy instrument, and when they stop hitting you over the head, you can look at that instrument; maybe it was a rusty pipe, or maybe a beautiful sculpture from antiquity; in the late 80s, they started to re-read classical 30s Marxist texts; detour: a week ago he was in London talking to Stanley Mitchell, who is very familiar with Russian Marxism and Lifshitz in particular: asked if any perspective for this thinker in an English speaking context: his answer, these texts could be divided in three equal parts: first, are the ones that make your hair stand on end; about 20th century art & modernism where the project of modernism in a very strong way, starting with Picasso and ending with Warhol; S. Mitchell said you can’t translate these, in any way: and Mitchell loves Lifshitz; the third part are texts on theory, absolute truth, knowledge, etc; these texts sound like Hasidic mysticism even farther out than Gershom Scholem, no one will understand them; Mitchell's argument seems to be a precise characterization of Lifshitz’s life work;

How he discovered his texts; his entire generation all new Lifshitz, commonplace; because he was the author of the most scandalous book on 20th century art, the Crisis of Ugliness; but since this was the only book available of pics of Warhol, etc, everyone had it: everyone hated the author; stood as a symbol of reactionary element in soviet culture; so when they stopped hitting them over the head with the book, saw how subtle their language was, etc; in 70s, no tradition of criticizing Frankfurt, Lukacs, etc, they just weren’t mentioned; but it turned out, though these names aren’t mentioned in the book, there is a polemic with these people: if you’d read Benjamin or Adorno, you could see that it was a polemic against them from inside Soviet Marxism; this discrepancy wanted them to find out more: what was this guy’s program?: this group of people consisted of contemporary artists in performance, video, etc:

Lifshitz’s biography: why was this old man so against modernism & modernity?: in the late 80s, anyone who read Marxist lit was looked at as a hopeless idiot; a certain advantage in that people would gather around you and point and say look at this idiot; an opportunity to present their views because they were considered so idiotic; Lifshitz had thought Marx has developed a doctrine of absolute truth; the word “Truth” can be found on every page of Lifshitz; so if you’re looking for texts against po-mo and relativism, there’s no better place than Lifshitz; one could imagine how these sounded when the first po-mo texts were circulating and everything was relative

Lifshitz’s bio: born in 1905: dreamed of being an artist from early childhood onward; in 1919, first laid hands on Lenin’s book: interested in philosophy; but since he wanted to be an artist, he moved to Moscow and enrolled in the soviet Bauhaus; began profession activity at the very height of the avant-garde, enrolled in 1922; Lenin had suggested starting a journal called the Materialist Friends of Hegel’s Philosophy: Lifshitz was the only one who took this suggestion seriously; learned German to read Hegel in original language; after about 2 years of reading Schilling, Hegel, Marx, etc, came to conclusion he was being taught nonsense; have to agree, the thought of teaching a-g art is ridiculous at the outset; the idea of avant-garde is to reject your teachers; Lifshitz took this to heart by rejecting his av-garde teachers; decided one had to return to aesthetic ideals presented by Hegel and Marx; told that there is no Marxist art, Marx wasn’t interested in aesthetics; Lifshitz, to prove these people wrong, decided to go thru Marx’s work to find anything having to do with art at all; in 1933, he published the results in Marx & Engels on Lit and Art; Lifshitz was cut out of later versions/translations, his intro taken out, etc: less subtle; Lifshitz began to write his own first critical work, on the Aesthetic Ideals of Marx; published in English;

Thrown out of academy as far right deviation of Marx; then, as situation changed, he became listened to again; Lifshitz called this the transition from the abstract Marxism of the 20s to the stupid Marxism of the 30s; by abstract, Lifshitz thinking of Hegel’s Who Thinks Abstractly?, where the vendor of rotten eggs is the man who thinks abstractly; so, abstract was a serious by accusation; in the 30s, Lifshitz and his friends founded a small Marxist circle: published a journal called The Literary Critic; only two people from circle gained recognition: Lukacs (& one of Lifshitz’s friends), and also Andrei Platonov; Stalin hated Platonov; the LitCrit would allow Platonov to publish under pseudonym, and would defend him; one of their central notions was that of realism, but weren’t thinking of 19th century realism; for L, the high point of realism was Russian icon painting, also, African sculpture was realist; one of his favorite quotes, from a letter from Marx: “Reason has always existed, but not always in a reasonable form”; realism has always existed, but not always in a realistic form; by the late 30s, the circle had been smashed, members were sent off, drafted, journal closed; Lifshitz drafted, went to the front, was wounded; in the 50s, and Lifshitz had returned from the war, no one knew him, everyone was gone, nowhere to publish; also, anti-semitism pushed him out of public life; then: university translation of Lukac’s The Young Hegel, had trouble with one term, wrote to Lukacs for explanation: Lukacs answered, why ask me if Lifshitz lives in Moscow; the philosophers trained in the 50s didn’t know Lifshitz existed; by the time of the Kruschev thaw, L hadn’t published in 18 years; L published an article in The New World that was very critical of Stalinist lit; still one of the most brutal pieces of criticism on Stalinist intelligentsia; he was thrown out of the party for this article, kept from publishing for another 10 years; 12 years later, published a small article “Why I Am No Modernist”; after this, became notorious as the most obscure and most orthodox representative; in 68, The Crisis of Ugliness appeared, which made his reputation as a reactionary forever; after 68, Prague Spring, the entire soviet intelligentsia was anti-Marxist; each article that mentioned Marx on every page were considered to be examples of orthodoxy;

A figure they became interested in; started propogating his work when the Soviet Union was falling apart; this time had an incredible advantage: you could do anything as an artist (they were doing research) and it could be called art: you could open a cafĂ© and be considered an artist if you called yourself one; in the early 90s, the most radical artistic trends was Moscow Actionism: art that didn’t produce artifacts: provocative actions in public spaces: writing a crude word in Red Square with human bodies; lasted from 91 to 97; now just a few people left who do this, but degenerated to a kind of salon; Lifshitz Institute activities were understood in this vein; continued through the 90s til 2000/2001, when the situation changed radically; in 2001, former Actionists became traditional gallery artists who were making almost national art (more or less); the younger generation came up who didn’t grow up in Soviet Union, didn’t know of earlier context; looked up to the Actionists as the most radical artists, when he threw down radical banner, they picked it up (most were around 16 years of age); in the early oughts, the Lifshitz Institute looked conservative and uninteresting;

Lifshitz: “Art is the strongest critical weapon because it criticizes the wrong relationship of consciousness to the world”; the only thing that can have any meaning is the right relationship of consciousness to the world
Quoted from Anti-Oedipus

A poorly closed triangle,
a porous or seeping triangle,
an exploded triangle

from which the flows of desire
escape in the direction of other territories.

It is strange that we
had to wait for the dreams
of colonized peoples
in order to see that, on the vertices
of the pseudo triangle,

mommy was dancing
with the missionary,

daddy was being
fucked by the tax collector,

while the self was
being beaten
by a white man.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Poetry burnout? I caught the second set of the Poetry Bus reading last Friday night, was decidedly underwhelmed. Didn't want to be, but was. It could've been road weariness for the readers, who knows. I did think Mark McMorris was stunning. So not complete poetry burnout. And I've been listening to Ted Berrigan read "Red Shift" somewhat obsessively. But haven't turned excitedly towards poetry in a while, except for Frank Stanford. Big exciting reading projects, aside from Stanford: Benjamin's The Arcades Project.
Almost nothing that I'm writing, or planning/researching to write, resembles poetry. Interesting times in my head these days. I'm continually sketching out the plans for a long novel-ish prose narrative manuscript and a manuscript of essays on figures by which consciousness can recognize itself (as a reflection/projection). The narrative: in the Ozarks. The figures for the essays: St. Longinus, Wordsworth's The Leech-Gatherer, Antigone and Aby Warburg, the Black Orpheus, and 'The Rider' (in Roethke, Creeley, Manguso, among others).


When Olson says that he thinks Keats' puts forward 'the inch of steel to wreck Hegel' with his notion of negative capability, what do you take that to mean? I am supposing that it has to do with Olson arguing for the notions of immediacy that his poetics rely upon, that the mystery-of-being (not the same as the unknown) at the heart of negative capability is what, for Olson, wrecks a Hegelian dialectic. I'm supposing a Whiteheadean sense of novelty could also be employed in the defense. I know Olson goes at length on this somewhere in the Special View of History, but need to re-visit. I'm thinking of writing on this for my Hegel course.
I'm almost certain whatever my dissertation ends up being, Olson will be at the heart of it. Olson and Stein are for me the two great literary thinkers, but so much more of what I'm drawn to in other disciplines (cultural history/myth-history; process philosophy; phenomenology) clings to Olson more readily it seems than to Stein. But I think part of that is that I feel that Stein is over my head much more often than Olson--his brilliance for me is much less intellectual than intuitive and rigorous. And once you get past the apparent compulsive jackassery of the man, I find he's far from being just a big cock swaying in the breeze, sideswiping all pretenders. But he's easy to caricature, I guess, so equally easy to dismiss. I think his "Human Universe" essay might be may favorite handful of pages ever. If you love the poetry of someone like Ronald Johnson, I think "Human Universe" can speak very movingly to that love.

Sunday, October 08, 2006


Today my mom is 50. Happy birthday to the person who shuttled me into the world.

Friday, October 06, 2006


Today, Leigh is 30!
Happy Birthday to the one who makes life a happy thing!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006


featuring Carrboro Poet Laureat Todd Sandvik and Lucipo guru Ken Rumble

Monday, October 02, 2006

Playoffs predictions:


Padres over Cardinals in 4.
Mets over Dodgers in 5.

Yankees over Tigers in 3.
A's over Twins in 5.

League Championship

Padres over Mets in 6.
A's over Yankees in 7.

World Series

Padres over A's in 7.

Playoff heroes:

Jake Peavey/Khalil Greene (fully healthy by end up Cardinals series)
Frank Thomas/Rich Harden
Jose Valentin/Carlos Beltran
Derek Jeter/Hideki Matsui