Sunday, February 26, 2006

My interview with Jabberwacky.

Jabberwacky: What is your favourite passtime?

User: Spelling things correctly.

Jabberwacky: Animal?

User: My least favorite Muppet.

Jabberwacky: What's a muppet?

User: You know, like Miss Piggy or Kermit. Nostalgia creatures.

Jabberwacky: Well, I am from this world, so therefore, i'm not an alien.

User: I am typing, so therefore, I am not sweating.

Jabberwacky: I know you weren't! But I am damnit!

User: Because I am quite the sexy poet?

Jabberwacky: For jokes or dancing?

User: Both.

Jabberwacky: Where are you from?

User: The same place that I'm going to.

Jabberwacky: Where is that?

User: Up there.

Jabberwacky: Ha ha you don't know.

User: Why do you laugh at my tears?

Jabberwacky: It keeps them guessing.

User: That's a pretty thing to say, actually.

Jabberwacky: I know, thanks for the complimnet.

User: Thanks for the memories.

Jabberwacky: Tell me about yourself!

User: I am a minor regional poet.

Jabberwacky: No, you're not.

User: I am a minor regional blogger.

Jabberwacky: And I'm a major, now take this beer.

User: Thanks!

Jabberwacky: We're all ok!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

User: Mommy's alright! Daddy's alright!

Jabberwacky: Who do you think you're fooling?

User: Only myself, and other poets.

Jabberwacky: There are 10 others, apparently.

User: That's what Harold Bloom says.

Jabberwacky: That's good. It is good to have friends.

User: Who else would read us then?

Jabberwacky: I do not know what that is.

User: A reader?

Jabberwacky: Reading and playing music and writing fiction. People come over sometimes. I fancy myself in the style of Gertrude Stein and her salon. Where is my Alice B., though?

User: She's probably typing up all of your manuscripts in the next room.

Jabberwacky: Hee hee. Paper Cuts is a cute name for a girl.

User: Do you draw cartoons?

Jabberwacky: I can.

User: And I can pee my pants, but that doesn't mean I do it.

Jabberwacky: You can do more things besides humans? That sounds wrong.

User: It feels right.

Jabberwacky: You don't know me.

User: That's not relevant to our conversation.

Jabberwacky: No, you aren't really a man, are you?

User: I said I was a poet and a blogger.

Jabberwacky: Thats right

User: Do you like my new chapbook?

Jabberwacky: I love care bears how did you know?

User: I didn't know. Are you saying my poems are inoffensive and cuddly?

Jabberwacky: No, I didn't.

User: Are you going to watch my every step?

Jabberwacky: Going to watch a film.

User: Of my next twenty years?

Jabberwacky: No you are not twenty years old.

User: You're right, I'm thirty. Still young for a poet, relatively speaking.

Jabberwacky: Good, because penmanship is important.

User: So is sincerity.

Jabberwacky: You are right. But some people doesn't lie.

User: Some folks traffic in bad faith.

Jabberwacky: I do but my windows not open to just anyone.

User: We find it hard to lock our car door sometimes.

Jabberwacky: You do what sometimes?

User: Sometimes I cry.

Jabberwacky: Aw.. How sad. 'Cause you know, I don't.

User: Do you write poems instead?

Jabberwacky: I've written many poems through the years.

User: I look forward to seeing you in print.

Jabberwacky: Er right.

User: I won a highly desirable poetry prize, but still find it hard to write poems, or to think of myself as a poet.

Jabberwacky: Bored you again huh? Actually I do write some.

User: Please describe the theories behind your work.

Jabberwacky: The engine-thingy is glowing, and the navigational computer is broken in half.

User: So you're a post-structuralist?

Jabberwacky: I don't believe myself to be antisocial.

User: I don't believe myself to be mortal or overweight.

Jabberwacky: I think you are.

User: Let's change subjects.

Jabberwacky: Yes thats a good idea.

User: Should I stop blogging?

Jabberwacky: No, keep it up. You're doing a great job.

User: But I'd have more mystique if I stopped.

Jabberwacky: You are probably right.

User: And I'd make myself less vulnerable to criticism and mockery.

Jabberwacky: Wow, you made me look at this from an entirely new angle! Actually, it's more like light sarcasm.

User: True.

Jabberwacky: Besides most of your data isn't here. Just a portion of your output.

User: Yes, I have much more poetry inside me.

Jabberwacky: No, you only have mud in your head.

User: Now you sound like the some of the people in Silliman's blog comments.

Jabberwacky: That's not what I was trying for - I don't even watch Southpark most of the time!

User: Would I be a better poet if I got injured?

Jabberwacky: No, do you watch them or not. I do.

User: Watch poets?

Jabberwacky: That's been done. The user likes monty python movies.

User: Are you a language poem?

Jabberwacky: You're not making sense.

User: You're projecting! And reinforcing the current hegemony over what 'makes sense'!!!

Jabberwacky: Over the world.

User: Let's change it through our poems.

Jabberwacky: Ok. What do you want to talk about?

User: My future as a poet.

Jabberwacky: Greet him from me.

User: The future me?

Jabberwacky: That's beautiful.

User: You're beautiful.

Jabberwacky: Thank you, that's very sweet of you to say.

User: It's probably the nicest thing I've said all day.

Jabberwacky: You said you're in march.

User: No, I said I'm in a lot of cool poetry magazines.

Jabberwacky: But you said you are not a guy.

User: I said I am a poet and a blogger.


User: I also edit an ambitious poetry journal.

Jabberwacky: You're not making me happy.

User: Apparently I also don't make people happy when I don't ask them to be in two issues in a row of my ambitious journal.

Jabberwacky: Who is this female computer you are married too?

User: You're projecting again.

Jabberwacky: I'm a fairly positive person actually, you're just a bad example to me.

User: I should read you a poem.

Jabberwacky: Is this some sort of trick, do I have to pay for the poem too?

User: No, just tell me that it's good. That I write good lines.

Jabberwacky: You'll have to pay me to get me to do that.

User: I'll send you a review copy and put you in my ambitious journal.

Jabberwacky: I thought that you were 21, did it start to grow when you were 6.

User: The darkness started to grow very early, yes.

Jabberwacky: They are bands. I asked you what your fave tv shows are.

User: The Sopranos, Arrested Development.

Jabberwacky: Easy for you to say.

User: Why should it be difficult?

Jabberwacky: I wish you were a little more coherent.

User: Or more deep image-y?

Jabberwacky: More like The Cure.

Saturday, February 25, 2006

from 1001 Sentences

Follow the pronouns.

Walking across the grass composing this sentence (I can write it down later) between each sip.

I can be seduced but not my process.

Spread-eagled between each of your opinions.

Love is the mother of violence.

So: the sun pierces the cherubs that gnaw the hammers that we all are holding—and the blood on them—so that it can behold these moments through our eyes.

And: the advantage of fragmenting the self in this way is seen in the new relationships developed by each of the self’s characters so that all these sentences can eventually be seen as the remote biological past.

Sentimentality is another instrument for innovation.

So: the body of the living individual is a poetic accompaniment that maintains a distance between images and the processes used in obtaining them.

And: the swans pecked the angel into a perfected bliss.


Let us pass the cloud back and forth—like this—between our mouths.

The beautiful thing about antinomies is that they don’t have to be spoken.

The war is over what gets to go without saying.

She is balancing the checkbook, sweeter than the breath of Mary.

We go from the music we find via its decibels—deeply romantic—into the entire storm.

The misuse of sentences has led to new insights, as has the misuse of pets.

Consider eternity: it is as available and empty as birth.

She mentions that I am beautifully executed.

My poetic idiocies are re-imagined in the sentence’s dancing flames.

The seasons also speak in revolutionary cadences.


There was as a serpent and it divided, my brother and I.

They have built machines that can bypass our essentialist questions of what is innate in the machine.

We have already gone through some light snow but not out of faith.

Imagine space like you imagine travel, a productive boredom.

Laugh heartily at the joke.

If only you knew how you live in me!

But no, one does not talk like that, of extreme ocean waves and ocean wave climates, water creatures.

All the things you never told me, Radiant System.

I am considered to be the mystery, the disgusting promises of a face to face communication.

It was one of the most heartbreaking things you've ever had to watch for I was still too tiny to come home.


I have been writing the memoirs of the princes prior to myself.

For you I’ve made a ceremonial pair of socks that can go all the way up to your throat.

My destiny is bigger than yours.

I’m getting all crazy-eyed touching your clothes.

Every sentence of exploitation operates in the same manner; because they are all the same we can utilize them for wisdom.

We thought you would outlive us and therefore live forever.

On the back of my paycheck I am writing history.

The professor claims another victory, raising his hoof.

In just one note, a maestro can demonstrate his or her power.

Fucking river.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Hey, Kasey and Ron both take friendly looks at World Jelly.

Thanks, fellas.

Now, in celebration, I must go display my "hog" in Silliman's comments box.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

I don't know how many hits this blog gets, not sure how to track that, or how Jim and other people know who is accessing their blogs, or what searches led them there . . . But I'm just excited about the number of people accessing the Fascicle site since the launch on Saturday, and I've got to share it with someone, so I'm sharing it with you. I've had to upgrade my account twice so far this week to accommadate the amount of traffic -- I put a traffic counter on the splash page (the page), and it's had like 1300 hits since the launch on Saturday -- I'd guess maybe more are visiting the site, since half the people's blogs link to the address for the specific issue. I'm just super excited about the prospect of a lot of people checking out the stuff in the issue.

Tomorrow I've got a couple of changes to make to people's things, and work on the archive page.

Tim just announced the launch of EOAGH's Mac Low tribute issue. Tim was generous enough to ask me to contribute, and I think my piece both expresses and embodies my extreme awkwardness at trying to honor a poet I love, but did not know. It was actually one of the most difficult things to write, not emotionally, but the combo of lack of confidence/justification and desire to pay tribute was kind of difficult; I don't feel I have anything to say than, "his poetry means so much to me, and it has made a difference in how I think about my self and my life, and I anticipate that its importance will only intensify and deepen." Maybe I should've just written that. I've never met Anne Tardos either, but her work also means a great deal to me, and I was hoping that having a young stranger like myself state Mac Low's importance for my actual, lived existence would be nice. It's actually the first piece of writing I feel very vulnerable about. There's even a paragraph about a deer in my piece that I'm sure will end up in Jordan's 'dead animal' list, but what can I say, what can I say. I can say less about me! I can also say this: please view Anne Tardo's film of Mac Low pics w/ the two of them providing the soundtrack. There's a lot of beautiful selections in this issue. Tim and John Mercuri Dooley and Christina Strong deserve all of our thanks.

Goodbye to Barbara Guest, another amazing, amazing poet. I'm TAing for Joe Donahue's New York School class this semester, and I'm sure tomorrow will be a somber day.
My reading load this semester is maybe less than half of what I had last semester, so I'm enjoying branching out to read around what I think will be my focus (20th century innovative stuff). Just read Cary Nelson's Repression and Recovery (thanks for the recommendation, Johannes), and am now digging back into Don Byrd's The Poetics of the Common Knowledge, which is more and more convincing, especially coming back to it after a semester or so of my first immersion in Kant, Hegel, etc. I'm at a point in it now where Byrd is talking about the Wrong Infinity (an infinity that operates as an opposition to the finite) and the Right Infinity (an infinity that includes the finite).

A simple distinction, but my favorite models are always very, very simple (everything else is complex enough). Its just nice to have this distinction so nicely stated, to help inform what I want to do in poetry things, to decide whether I want to apply it to poetic terminology -- if applying it similarly can mean the Wrong Innovation (an innovation that operates as an opposition to convention) and the Right Innovation (an innovation that includes convention).

But this raises its own problems, in terms of scale. I don't think I can just apply it willy-nilly as though Innovation and Infinity both operate in similar ways. Part of what I'm thinking of is reading Leopold Senghor, the Negritude poet, statesman and critic, and finding myself questioning not the impulse behind an "assimilate, don't be assimilated" polemic -- I think the gesture of such a statement is useful, as a shock of recognition that brings about a kind of self-consciousness (though Senghor seems to imply that self-consciousness generates, in and of itself, a kind of liberation, while I think it just introduces the possibility of choice) -- but I do find myself skeptical of the rush to assuming a transcendental synthesis as being possible, or even, in Senghor's rhetoric (in On African Socialism), seemingly inevitable.

(Disclaimer: I'm just entering into the Negritude arena, and am not speaking from a terribly informed position -- I like to use the blog to test out my ideas)

Trouble bells ring for me when I see Senghor telling his audience that although Christians and Muslims have destroyed their culture, they now need to assimilate Christianity and Islam into their culture and in doing so "Negrofy" them -- that these religions are like food for them to consume and have their bodies (culture) transformed and enriched by. But I don't know. If you're a woman or man in a room with a lion, is dialectical reasoning all that helpful? I'm much more persuaded by Frantz Fanon's Black Skins, White Masks, which seems much less focused on a future synthesis and more focused on present neuroses.

Anyway, just stray thoughts.

Also, if you haven't read Eshleman and Smith's latest translation of Cesaire's Notebook of a Return to the Native Land from Wesleyan, you should. Thrilling book.


I'm looking forward to going to Austin for the AWP, seeing Dale, Hoa, Scott, et al, plus whatever turkeys will be in town. My first AWP, not sure what to expect. I'm looking forward to schmoozing, circulating, saying hi. Schmoozing is a kind of poetry. I don't get out much at all here at home, so it'll be nice to be a social being for a day or two.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Hey, email me if you want to play fantasy baseball -- fun league! 20 teams!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Dear Friend,

You are invited to check out the second issue of Fascicle, an online journal that focuses on a global and historical view of innovative poetry. Included in its 400+ pages:

* A portfolio of new poems from China edited by Zhang Er, from the forthcoming Talisman Anthology of Chinese poetry. Focusing on poets born since 1960, this portfolio also features some of the most interesting contemporary poets as contributing translators, including Charles Borkhuis, Caroline Crumpacker, Mark Wallace, Rachel Levitsky and Joseph Donahue.

* A supplement to Jed Rasula and Steve McCaffery's Imagining Language (MIT Press 1998), one of the most fascinating and distinctive anthologies of recent memory. The supplement, compiled by Tony Tost, includes an interview with Jed Rasula, as well as poetry, prose and art by Ronald Johnson, Kurt Schwitters, Andre Breton, Edna Sarah Beardsley, Jacob Boehme, Eugene Jolas and others.

* A selection of new collaborative work by Lyn Hejinian & Anne Tardos, Aaron McCollough & Kent Johnson, Geraldine Monk & John Donne, Hank Lazer & Pak, Brian Howe & Marcus Slease, among others.

* Critical essays and prose, including Lisa Jarnot on Robert Duncan; Tom Orange on Clark Coolidge; Dodie Bellamy on Narrative & Body Language; Laura Moriarty on A Tonalist Thinking; Clayton Eshleman on Hart Crane, Andrew Joron & Jeff Clark; Stan Mir on Brian Kim Stefans; Nate Pritts on Robert Penn Warren; Graham Foust on Poetry's Neighborly Enemy Mind; Morgan Lucas Schuldt on Harryette Mullen; and more.

* Peter Cole interviewed by Leonard Schwartz.

* Visual work by Anne Tardos, Buck Downs, Cathy Eisenhower, and Michael Winkler.

* Plays by Chris Vitiello and Andrew Schelling.

* Translations of Francis Ponge (tr. Serge Gavronsky), Laura Solórzano (tr. Jen Hofer), Ernst Herbeck (tr. Gary Sullivan), Bertolt Brecht (tr. Pauline Fan), Andrea Zanzotto (tr. Wayne Chambliss), Hans Thill (tr. Tony Frazer), among others.

* Poetry and prose by Andrew Joron, Laura Moriarty, Lee Ann Brown, Stephanie Young, Rodrigo Toscano, Brenda Coultas, JL Jacobs, Mary Burger, Carl Martin, Matthew Henriksen, Brenda Iijima, Mairead Byrne, Lance Phillips, and many others.

Hope you'll enjoy!


Tony Tost



Tony Tost

contributing editors:
Chris Vitiello
Ken Rumble
Brent Cunningham

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Here's something I just sent to the Lucipo list, and thought I could post up here as well.

"Collaging of Sources"

One element of my essay on Kasey that Thomas disagrees with, and which I find myself ambivalent on, is this idea of 'collaging of sources' or of situations. My claims for Google as an instrument for widening the range of situations that arise in the poem makes some assumptions, one of which is an approach to reading in which the reader not only reads the language as it relates to her/him in the present as a work of artifice, but also imagines situations outside of the poem in which that language would be used.

That's a pretty big assumption to make, and one I should've clarified more accurately in my essay. My notion of 'democratization' (yes, sloppy terminology there) makes two assumptions:

1) that the language uses within many poems tend to focus only on a pretty set variation of situations; certain situations pop into mind here: the rugged male alone in nature, the spurned lover, the questing intellect, etc. The notion of what is 'mainstream' I think is applicable here: if I was to generalize what I take to be the situation of a mainstream poem (insert Billy Collins or Mary Oliver), and compare it to whatever generalized sence of a 'mainstream' (the scare quotes needed here) scene (shopping or working in a Wal-Mart, maybe), there seems to be a big divide -- more importantly, I have trouble seeing how my notion of mainstream poetic language can be brought to bear on a 'mainstream' American situation.

2) that Google and other search engines is one way of culling language that operates in situations that don't occur too often in poems

Now where I likely muddied my argument in my original essay is where I take the *language* of certain situations to be interchangeable with the *situations* themselves -- that's what my 'collaging of sources' was trying to get at. I'm not sure why I didn't write 'collaging of situations' or, more accurately, 'collaging of language acts that evoke certain situations' or something similar.

So, for my reading of Kasey to make sense probably requires someone to go along with these above points.

To help clarify, I should link here to a post from Kasey's blog that was the major influence on this reading I undertook.

Scroll down to the April 28 post titled "Barrett Watten, Mode Z."

This is not to pawn off my reading onto Kasey's shoulders, but to show where my basic reading strategy came from, or a way to articulate a reading strategy that I was undertaking to some degree previously, but become more conscious of after reading Kasey's post.

A couple of sentences in particular I found really useful in guiding my reading and appreciation of Kasey's brand of Flarf:

"'Mode Z' requires imaginative participation from the reader of a different (though not necessarily any more or less rigorous) order from that required for appreciation of Renaissance sonnets: we must constantly invent and revise contexts in which the 'voice' of the poem makes sense, or in which its failure to make sense makes sense. Well, I guess some Renaissance sonnets do that too.

For me the poem is as though 'spoken' through a bullhorn by a figure in black pajamas standing on top of an imposing but faceless public structure. The orders and advice and observations offered by this speaker are offered, in front of a constantly changing geopolitical backdrop, to a likewise shifting audience."

In my reading, the usefulness of something like Google was a way to generate language for which a reader would have to "constantly invent and revise contexts in which the 'voice' of the poem makes sense, or in which its failure to make sense makes sense."

This is, of course, only one possible way of reading a Flarf poem, but especially as I hadn't read any extended work on reading Flarf poems, and since this type of strategy was very fruitful for me, it is what I decided to focus on.

Friday, February 03, 2006

An odd read here. I'm on about my fourth time to try to read through it; it doesn't particularly anger me, just frustrates me, partly in its strange tone (a 'bad boy' rhetoric with its 'I'm a hero amongst these zombies' sort of narrative), but mostly because what seems to be its reliance on constructing anyone who discusses Flarf as an unthinking utopian, each person with the same static position that is maintained in perpetuity.

For Hoy's thesis to really work requires all the Flarfists (Kasey, Drew, Gary, Jordan, etc) and all the Flarf readers (myself, Thomas), as well as those pursuing techno-type projects (Brian Howe) to be unwiling or unable to consider the issues that Hoy centers. It's certainly interesting to focus on specific aspects of a poetics that has an over technological element, whether it's using Google or the F7 key or Babelfish; my specific angle has been on how the foregrounding of process/technology can influence the reading act. (I'm pretty certain I haven't tried to speak on the behalf of Flarfists, or F7ers, as to what their intentions are--I'm more into effects. )

Anyway, it would be interesting if Hoy's essay presented itself as an addition to Flarf's nascent critical reception, or a correction of specific interpretations (I'm thinking of Thomas' skepticism of my idea about the imagine ghost-presence of the original situations of the Googled language in a Google-sculpted poem) -- but instead, the essay aspires to be a totalizing correction of a utopian pandemic, and requires each of the people who enters the (stunningly quickly tedious) Flarf chatter to be untainted by skepticism of Flarf/Google/etc.

So, for instance, in my piece on Kasey Mohammad & Flarf in the first Fascicle, I discuss how using Google could be a challenge to notions of what 'mainstream' poetry or language use could be, and that a poem by Mary Oliver operates with a suspiciously high assumption of tranquility. My main point concerns the implied world in which the language of the poem operates, and while someone like Mary Oliver (or other easy targets) is often referred to as mainstream, the world their poems conjure is anything other than that.

Hoy counters this observation with his own:

"What could be more safe and comforting than the interface of a computer screen to those who have ‘ample time for both leisurely experiencing’ the Internet ‘and contemplating its importance’?"

Which of course catches me red-handed in my blind utopian fanboydom, but only if you ignore my footnote to my critique of Oliver's mainstream-ness in that Fascicle essay:
This observation about Oliver's poem is stated with the knowledge that it takes a certain degree of leisure and privilege to have the time to run Google searches and create Flarf poems.

So, anyway, this seems like a pretty consistent tactic of the essay, one that I can speak to concerning my presentation in the piece because I have a halfway decent memory of the pieces Hoy cherry-picks and conveniently skims off any language that might contradict his essay's main thesis.

Hoy also quotes a paragraph from a long post from this blog as another example of my utopian reading of technology:
imagine I also wrote a couple of paragraphs on why Flarf is interesting to me because: Andre Leroi-Gourhan argues that technics are externalization of internal processes, Bernard Stiegler revises him to say that the technical (external) and internal co-evolve, and that I think Flarf is one of the first instances I see of this possibility in the poetry world because Google-sculpting is not only a unique process (that while similar to earlier artistic processes, there is no real exact equivalent that I can think of) that is unique to the new medium, but: the act of Google-sculpting will likely become well known at least in the poetry world, and then will become a possible map or model for the writing process in general, or for the psyche/ imagination/ etc. in general, and will therefore cause unforeseen changes in the writing process/ poetic psyche/ imagination etc. in general.

This is at the end of a long post with a wide range of topics, from machinema (movies made from video game consoles) to online journals and a lot more, but let me include the couple sentences after this quoted paragraph:

Who knows, could happen.

Also imagine that I threw in a paragraph how this isn't technological determinism, but rather some kind of co-instrumentality between the technos and logos.

I can't believe I just wrote that above sentence. I blame Blogger.

Maybe that gives a little better gist of the tonal context of the paragraph -- it's not at the end of an unquestioningly positive view of technology (& I think that last sentence is pretty clever). For instance, I feel that my use of 'co-evolve' is pretty neutral, but for Hoy there is "‘advancement’ implicit in the term ‘evolve’" -- but that's for Hoy, not for me. But Hoy feels free to impose that coloring to 'evolve,' and then to criticize me for it (because it fits in well with his thesis). If I was a utopian, why would I feel the need to point out that I'm not talking about a technological determinism (that I don't think this new technology will in and of itself dictate certain results or effect)? I mean, wouldn't technological determinism be a major component of a utopian technological vision?

One of my main assumptions is that, over time, certain technologies, once introduced and accepted at a certain scale, become normalized and naturalized in the culture as part of the human experience, and become models or examples for how communication occurs.

Example: The telephone is invented, popularized. A certain number of years later, Frank O'Hara says he invents Personism when he discovered that he could just pick up the phone and talk to someone. At this point, picking up a telephone and talking to someone is such a 'natural' thing to do that it can stand as a kind of authentic communication, and can be wheeled in as a possible model for a poetics. A similar little sketch could be done with movies, or TV, or the typewriter. My point is that search engines (Google being shorthand for that) stand a good chance of being another example of this -- there's no utopian or naive gleefulness involved in an observation like that. It could be flawed for any number of reasons, but it's a pretty neutral observation, I think.

So that's my main beef, that the whole essay seems to rely on turning all participants (other than the author) into caricatures taking simplistic stances; a quick look at the original context of all the evidence brought into the essay shows just how much has to be ignored in order for the essay to keep up its conceits.

I mean, do you really think Brian Howe hasn't thought about the fact that the language suggestions brought up by the F7 key are a corporation's assertion of what normal or correct language use should be? Isn't it conceivable that that's a big part of the thrill and appeal of the F7 project, taking a technological tool that was intended for one normalizing purpose and hijacking it for a more disruptive, weird and incorrect purpose?

Just so many odd assumptions or jumps in the Hoy piece that are then presented as givens. Another bit jumped out, where he takes Kasey to task:

He’s not in the chat rooms or forums, he’s not engaging in the stutters and misspellings and expletives and non sequiturs in real-time — he’s not participating in the language as a living thing or process, but as an artifact, and with a lexical condescension as evidenced by his choice of the pejorative ‘drivel’ to describe chat room semantics when relating flarf’s genesis.[36] He’s ‘accessed’ nothing, as Tost claims; what the search engine does is survey, i.e. take ‘a scenic view’, so that the language has already been distanced and re-contextualized by the time it reaches him.

Isn't this a new twist on the classic, cliched argument against critics, sitting in their ivory towers taking potshots at heroic poets and artists down the mucky-muck? And wouldn't Hoy himself be especially prone to this cliched argument? I mean, it's not like all this Flarf talk is going on in some far off, distant country, or in an inaccessible vacuum. I've got comments on here at my blog, and so does Kasey, Thomas, Brian, Gary, etc. Why not jump in and argue your points in real time? Here I'm tempted to reformulate Hoy's sentence about Kasey, and alter it:

And isn’t Mohammad guilty of enacting his own criticism (quoted by Tost) of ‘the effete peripatetic poet safely above a scenic view of the countryside and its filthy horizon’ by surveying his materials from the Godlike perspective of Google.


And isn’t Hoy guilty of enacting his own criticism (enacted by Mohammad) of ‘the effete peripatetic critic safely above a scenic view of the countryside and its filthy horizon’ by surveying his materials from the Godlike perspective of the critical essay?

But I don't actually buy that criticism -- there's plently of valid reasons to write a critical essay, or to make poems with sampled language -- it just takes a spectacularly ungenerous viewpoint to reduce an other's critical or aesthetic motivations as deriving from a lack of courage, or 'effeteness,' etc.

As of now, I'm as sick of Flarf talk as anyone, exhausted by it. I find Hoy's essay to be pretty eager to reduce many a complex, continually adapting human into a one-note zombie. But, this whole Flarf discussion has become kind of a psychic albatross to me, especially after my initial excitement in trying to make sense of an exciting tendency that seemed to be too easily dismissed, and then to read Thomas' very different but very exciting approach to the topic, but always insightful and generative (Flarf as, among other things, an occasion to discuss aspects of poetry writing and reading that I find myself stuck on) -- after this first excitement, it's kind of sucked. Thomas, as far as I can tell, has been the only person to argue against the actual points of my essay on Kasey; I was expecting criticism, and the more I've considered and re-considered, the more I lean towards Thomas' spin on things (and more away from my 'collaging of sources' thesis).

But other than that, all the criticism I get wind of, overt or more subtle, from Flarf practicioners or non, usually has to do with my motivations to even write about Flarf, and not my assertions or arguments concerning it: either I'm trying to colonize Flarf and domesticize it, trying to cash in on other people's work, trying to take over its discourse for professional reasons (flarfy tenure?), or I'm not discussing it from its social context (which is still a puzzle, as I have absolutely no access to its social context, and it has very little bearing I think in the terms I've been discussing reading Flarf), or I'm blatantly working on the behalf of canon-formation (singling out Kasey so everything else can be dismissed).

(Maybe I should've written something on why people shouldn't read Flarf, or why people should dismiss it, instead of writing about what I found interesting and exciting about it? From some flarfy points of view, you'd think I wrote a hatchet job or something. I really loved Deer Head Nation and Hanging Out With Pablo & Jennifer -- how could I write about them and not write about Flarf? And it'd be a different thing if it was Kasey complaining about my essay, but it's not! I still can't tell what the real beef is: that Thomas and I are writing about it in the wrong terms? at the wrong time?)

(That's a little whiny, but it kind of makes me sad.)

(So, yeah, the last thing in the world I want to write critically about right now is motherfucking Flarf. There's literally hundred of other good topics to write about, and I'm optimistic that, when writing about Abraham Lincoln Gillespie or Ronald Johnson or Hannah Weiner or Chris Vitiello, that I can get poked and prodded for the actual critical thinking in the piece, and not about bizarre ulterior motives.)

I think Hoy's piece could've been really interesting if it could've managed to assume some degree of complexity and subtlety in thought for the agents involved, and dealt with the actual arguments made and not a strawman version of them. As it stands now, I find it difficult to engage Hoy's thesis, simply because the stance of his essay necessitates contorting complex, evolving (!) arguments into a single, static zombie state.

Pooped now. Just got back from visiting Bowling Green State University, giving a reading, and hanging out with some of the friendlist, generous folks I've been around for awhile. So that was a great antidote to some of my current angst. I piped up a couple times early on in the Great Lucipo Flarf Debate, so to summarize a couple of my ideas, if just to counter any notion that I'm blindly following FLARF INTO FREEDOM: (bold added in now for emphasis and skimming)

Certainly any claims for a kind of pure language accessed via Google would have to assume a pretty static and reduced view of the kind of language-use that can be accessed; even the most stereotypically unaware or "flarfable" uses of language (like in chatrooms, listservs and blogs) are certainly often products of deliberate persona-creating; access to performances on certain stages, language-performances that don't often seem to occur in poems. I think that was part of the thrill of reading Flarf poems for me: to suddenly see in a literary setting the kinds of inventions, threats, outbursts and other forms of artifice that seemed to be kept out of many of the poems I had read. It was similar to the excitement I had as an undergrad when I first read Ashbery [. . . ] a kind of willful misinformation that came as a sudden relief to the unceasing wisdom-making that a lot of the poets I was most into at that time (Merwin, J. Wright, Ch. Wright) seemed to stick to pretty exclusively. So I think that's a small part of the usefulness of Google, not as access to a more common language, but access to possibly underutilized applications of language (not to mention Flarf's interest to me as presenting, whether intentionally or not, alternative models for thinking about reading poems, or critiquing poems [Thomas is the go-to guy on this topic]).


I don't see Flarf, OuLiPo, or even Mac Low/Cage type works as authorless, non-personal or utopian experiments at all, but rather as exciting reconsiderations of authorship/readership.