Saturday, July 26, 2008

Friday, July 25, 2008


dear catherine, jared, & megan,

i want to add this to the discussion:

i'm reading Wars, Threesomes, Drafts, & Mothers by Heriberto Yépez & found his statement on ethnopoetics.

and i am going to talk about poetics statements so here are a few things i was reading and considering in that context by Dodie Bellamy and Laura Moriarty and Johannes Göransson (thinking specifically of the "Poetics of Overdeterminacy" post)

so, sorry for the move to the meta, but all yesterday i kept thinking about ways of constructing discourse around poetics/project statements. i bothered claire on the phone w/it for much time. anyway, i worry that i sounded too flip/dismissive when i gave that off-hand mention of 'problems with having a poetics'. trying to think it through, i think the deal is more a tonal one for me, i appreciate in poetics statements or articulations of positions or whatever when there is a acknowledgment of other types of thinking.

i don't mean that people should say 'every way of thinking about poetry is equally the same'. actually, i was trying to articulate this to jared a while back, i like when the rhetoric of manifestos is over-the-top oppositional, because there's an element of performance and excess there that lets some air into the situation. (j and i evolved a short-hand for this element of excess in performance of a position. it's called robert duncan's cape. based on a cape worn by robert duncan.) i also appreciate when people articulate what is personal in the evolution of an aesthetic - what is personally being responded against.

Or when there is a sense of access to information being built up, for others to use. Like when Stephanie Young was talking about ways to bring 60s and 70s feminist art practice back into contemporary thinking - that seemed like an open question to excitedly glom onto - or what Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson do w/Action Books in giving access to all this work in translation. It's about a certain aesthetic, but also about bringing all this work into view. Seems to be also what Dale Smith might be doing in bringing all these strands like performance and ecology and conceptual poetry into his discussion of slow poetry.

In short, I like when there is effort made to puncture the mantle of authority that comes with 'having a position,' within the articulation of that position. I also think of Tyrone Williams' and Bhanu Kapil's talks at the SPT conference making that effort in different ways, I figure Andrew will have that panel up on his blog soon. I also don't think that that effort (to puncture one's own authority) is incompatible with support, even fierce support, of one's own position or with taking an ethical stance. I hope not anyway, maybe that's something we could talk about as I'm interested in that (possible) contradiction.

i hope this isn't taking us too far off-track. jared, you should totally return to slow cities or political art or any other topic. also hope what i'm writing isn't just belaboring the obvious...i just realized after writing my last post that i had done the annoying thing of writing some random complaint casually dashed off in...uh...'authoritative voice'. so trying to rectify in thinking about what i am thinking about.

xo, lauren

Wednesday, July 23, 2008


hi megan & jared,

i'm back from montana. as usual trying to post in scraps between working on poems & a forgetting keys frenzy out the door to work. this'll be sketchy.

megan, goodness! well, thanks. i am lucky to have you read my poems. i wish i could write yours. and jared's. jared, i love your posts on slow & political art. i love the way you put your vantage into them. you are in quite the tone evolution on this blog.

the types of metaphors you're using for endarkenment are very interesting. patina & corrosion, now mask/lid. i remember talking on the phone at some point about the occult aspect of pattern-making. i have questions for you.

why isn't the paglen work about uncovering?

do you see it as like the lombardi work, as covering and uncovering at once?

(uncovering a network of hidden or occulted relationships.
uncovering the presence of spy satellites.
covering w/the formalism of diagrams that leave out the incoherence of relationship.
covering with the reintroduction of satellites into the mythological sky.)

i don't really know the lombardi or the paglen, i have to say. so this is third-hand commentary. for formalism in political art, i also think of ellen gallagher. i look forward to looking into.

it strikes me that a lot of political art incorporates vantage. (is that the 'fantastic gap' in political art?) i'm thinking of brecht, so much power in his restructuring of looking. that he wants to reconfigure the viewer's looking to prevent it from dissolving into individualized emotion.

political art watches itself cover/uncover. (i am thinking about juliana spahr's 'the transformation' also.) the scrutiny & depiction of incompleteness is part of it. brecht seemed to inspect a whole system of representation & emotion-formation (catharsis) & watch it cover-uncover itself.

on slow, i am thinking about the slow poetics. i am interested in it as a type of potentially useful orientation (slow sports). i guess the problems in it are the types of problems that jordan davis identifies on lime tree, but those are general problems w/having 'a poetics', i.e., (quoting jordan davis):

"There is an undercurrent through most discussions of poetics I've ever seen, that whichever method or set of beliefs about writing is under discussion, it is either more or less efficacious toward the goals of the side of the angels. (Scratch an American, find a cop.)"

and problems of vantage. i don't see why a poem that is produced fast or engages with a trash aesthetic couldn't be looked at as slow equally as much as fast, because it's disengaged from the whole competency/polish thing, which zips poems into the brain and registers them as 'Poems'. mess can be slow as well as craft. does using 'fast' words slowly make you fast or slow?

i am also bothered by the idea in the slow poetry post of 'too much bad poetry being produced'. i don't think poetry will suffer by having badness in it. i think poetry could go on continuing to have more in it. i am reading some 'love and rockets' comics currently. lots of dinosaurs. wonderfully good at subsuming badness & making mysterious timeliness. produce now, judge some other time. but i am in favor of enlarging the field toward the past as well as the future.

jared, can you go into your comments on merced? why does it need more slow? what are the politics of slow in cities? (and/or in poems?)

ok, incoherent as is will have to do. i have 8 minutes to shower & get out of here!

xo, lauren

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Why Love Lauren?

Well, a million reasons. One might better ask: Why love her poems?

"Why not admit a baseball bat, a donor card?
To own down all that decision? Why not admit of it?
While I admit I think a hanging curtain system (upside down, I think).
While I have the knack of time the year is getting glossy."

Let me count the ways!

Sunday, July 20, 2008

Meditative Reconaissance

Explicitly political art is hard. You know, all that doxa. I've only ever been able to like the work of two or three really clearly political artists. The first, a Filipino-American artist whose name I can't remember (Bloody catholic bloody blood and crazed madness) and then Mark Lombardi. I loved __________ art for it's extremity. Unlike, say, I don't know, Andres Serrano, there wasn't any distance, but ___________ had a real sense of line, and drips, and had a bit of comic book profanity in there. I wish I could remember his name. Lombardi, on the other hand, is all irony and coolness, and his diagrams are so balanced, so sane and classical, that they mimicked conspiratorial logic, with its aura of inevitability, while all the time being cool, so cool, about subjects that nobody who's not in a suit is cool with, except investigative journalists. Poltical art's got to be done now, though - Brecht said something about there being certain times when it was impossible to write about trees...something like that. Oh god, then there's Peter Saul...oh gawd - is that political art? Or does it just hate you and me?

Trevor Paglen, whose show, "The Other Night Sky" is currently on display at the Berkeley Art Museum, describes the problem pretty succintly in a discussion of Lombardi:

"...(Lombardi's) work depicts networks of relationships. Visually, they appear to be homogenous or 'neutral.' The actual content of relationships he depicts remains obscure (or reduced to financial exchange.) If one imagines Lombardi's work as a didactic tool, I'm not sure that it's very helpful. I would argue that the work is politically misleading because his maps suggest some kind of order to the relationships he depicts when there are actually deep internal contradictions, not to mention much more going on 'outside the frame.'

...on the other hand, I think that Lombardi's work succeeds as 'art' precisely for the reasons it fails as didactic work. I very much like the work when I view it in a more fantastical (as opposed to didactic) way."

It seems to me that Paglen is trying to deal with the "fantastic-gap" in political art. His work consists of flatly paranoid photos of spy satellites flying through constellations The BAM exhibit has about 10 large c-print photos, and a hypnotic installation of a large spinning globe with projections of spy satellites in near earth orbit blinking all across its surface.

These photos are the nighttime version of Richard Misrach's parched desert light. Where Misrach's work is all about the effects of the secrets at night. Paglen's is about the unseen causes - rather than finding Lombardi's elegant curves and diagrams, he find straight lines, made by the secret satellites, looking and looking, as they pass through constellations, made of imagined lines depicting scenes from mythology, made permament through parallax and memory.

Why am I writing about this on the MM blog? I think this work is related to Mrs. Maybe in its effects, if not in its subjects. It stretches back to the oldest of activities - looking at all the little night lights looking down on us, making meaning out of the occluded. Instead of privileging the meaning-making of looking, this work takes part more in an occult 'putting together of pieces.' We have stars, and constellations; what we're looking for and at isn't the hint of an eternally vigilant god or lifeforce, but of government agencies and tech tech tech tech.

Endarkenment, then, is not only a function of the opposite of Enlightenment, it is also the mask under which the madness of daylight America grimaces, glares, and peers.

So, back to the sublime. Sublime surveillance, meditative reconaissance, the unknowable firmament, like everything else in the anthropocene, is full of your face and mine.


Tuesday, July 15, 2008

OMIGOD! Look at RD's hair. You can't beat that with a bat!

Ange Mlinko on probably my favorite poetry correspondence, EVER. Duncan & Levertov. They were real nasty to each other, but these letters are so tender, and so committed. Read 'em.


Saturday, July 12, 2008

Slow Poetry & Black Swans

Slow Poetry

and Responses To the potentially corrupt and bourgie-ness of the idea.

Also, the shit continues at Dale's blog, which is linked over there >

Ok, I'm all for the "How to Live, What to Do-ness of this lil idea. SI and I were talking about Black Swans, uncertainty and unpredicability, and somehow this morphed into a discussion of our sense of the pained selfconsciousness of the sort of "poetry community" thing, and where we fit into that thing. L and I have also talked about "experimental" poetry basically just equals good poetry. So, anyway, this slowness is something I like, but I'm aware of the problems - I don't feel like it's neccessary to blog about it too much, but I often return to Bhanu K's question about my Merced poems: "If chaos is sleepy, what wakes it up?" - Mercediana is a place that needs its non-blog-egghead slowness, and doesn't need anymore chaos, poor city.

Don't need no Jesus and Mary Chain.

This also has something to do with an idea I've been talking to Steve Kramp about, "Slow Sports." He kept asking me what was happening in the NBA championships, and I didn't know - B-Ball being too fast for me - I spoke of "Slow Sports," mostly baseball, but also, watched some golf. The social problems of golf are just too much for me, but I loved watching the U.S. Open - So, slow, dreamy, and with a strange body kind of thinking.

Also, went to see the A's play the Mariners with my friend Scott Ralston. 0-0 until the 6th, A's get two home runs (one from Kurt Suzuki - it was his first at-bat, he was pinchhitting - just weird!) in the bottom of the 9th, and win on another homer in the bottom of the 11th.

Anyway, my point is, Scott and I started yawning in the 8th inning, before it got interesting. I love it. Boredom, not ennui, not decadence...just the pace of life kind of replicated. The long-ish view. A tired, heavy-lidded attention.

Can we talk about the politics of this stuff a bit? Lauren's up in Montana, Megan'll be here soon, so this post might sit for awhile.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Monday, July 7, 2008

"Various Gothic Lifestyle Events"

Dig, if you will:

We are, of course, not alone in our investigations, in the universe, in California. Please note "The Popular Uncanny" in our links...

I've written a new "Admiration" for Brenda Coultas, just mentioned as an exemplar of 'expanded empiricism - it says, in part:

What kind of land deserves a death-mask as much as John C. Reilly, in life a friendly ghost but with pangs of history written in a dark script around the eyes, jowls, brows? A ghostliest place name is Indianola wherever you find it like a sign, what cheer. Life before the internet.