Tuesday, January 31, 2006
I am a hippy, and still all about love even in the face of "systemic poverty and religious idiocy" (See Rod's helpful comment on January 27 to "guilt justice traffic"). I believe that one reason systemic poverty and religious idiocy can occur here in the US, for example, is because for the majority of us folks here in Bourgeois Hell they are both abstract concepts--as are war and violence. I don't mean that such things are not real, I mean that the suburbs in the US are structured so that we will have to live in them someday and not have to be directly connected to systemic poverty, violence, etc. Guy DeBord says:
"The spectacle is not a collection of images; it is a social relation between people that is mediated by images." and also "The concept of 'the spectacle' interrelates and explains a wide range of seemingly unconnected phenomena. The apparent diversities and contrasts of these phenomena stem from the social organization of appearances, whose essential nature must itself be recognized. Considered in its own terms, the spectacle is an affirmation of appearances and an identification of all human social life with appearances. But a critique that grasps the spectacle's essential character reveals it to be a visible negation of life--a negation that has taken on a visible form."
I feel like the Perley in the Silent Partner, by Elizabeth Stuart Phelps when she tells her husband, the evil evil mill-guy, "There is something in this matter that neither of you touch...There is something about the relations of rich and poor, of master and man, with which the state of the market has nothing whatever to do." Perley is a woman, obviously, and she spends her time with the children, mothers and babies of the mill. It's her direct physical experience of their bodies and their suffering that triggers her political consciousness, while her husband still prefers to play around with numbers.
The argument of the book is rather simple, and it's hardly even daring (at the end of the book, Perely's "white and calm" presence helps appease striking workers--ugh), but it's emphasis on human bodies and emotional connection seems to me rather relevant. One reason why the war in Iraq is finally becoming unpopular in the US at all is because dead bodies are coming back to the U.S. In the suburbs we don't usually see many bodies--we barely have to deal with the presence of our neighbours, and we certainly don't sit near other people on public transportation. We drive, alone, in our cars.
Ideas and Rhythms Work Alike
Monday, January 30, 2006
For now I just want comments on the questions or topics posted. But I suppose if there is actual interest, then I could post other people's responses (essays, poems, stories, pictures, off-the cuff remarks) or have guest bloggers.
But there's no need to get ahead of myself. This is a project that is dependent upon input from others, so it will probably fail, since we're all a bunch of asocial weirdos. But if you're nice you'll help me publicize this.
My first question is oh-so-basic: how do you feel about dinner on Sunday? Tell me about it!
Ugh. I did it, I changed my profile picture to something more artsy.
Green was my original favorite color. I have gone back to thinking it still is. Lester is various shades of green, after all.
Hey, does anyone know why my archives look weird and don't seem to match my new template on the main page?
Saturday, January 28, 2006
There is also a pair of red-tailed hawks, but we didn't see them. We did see/hear hummingbirds and many other sentient friends. But we weren't really birdwatching either. Lots of eucalyptus trees which smelled wonderful. I now realize that I've been smelling eucalyptus since I arrived.
We ate a huge brunch at Hershel's, which, along with that Malaysian place in DC, is the greatest resturant to happen to me in the past six months, at least.
Saw Cat People, the 1942 version staring Simone Simone, directed by Jacques Tourneur, and produced by Val Lewton. I know nothing about 1940s flim, and since we, sigh, have cable, I've decided I will watch as many interesting things as I can.
Still haven't unpacked all the books. I already mentioned that I'm starting Madame Sarah Grande's The Heavenly Twins, but I also found a copy of Portrait of a Man Unknown by Nathalie Sarraute. I've been reading the obvious modernist novelists so why not read from the late 19th century and the 1950s?
G-d, I'm tired and have no excuse. Here are some examples of the current available jobs. Or maybe I'll work for SEIU.
Went to the dougnut shopt this morning, the owners are Cantonese-speakers, and they were all dressed-up in orange and maroon/purple New Year clothing.
The only thing I can really say anymore in Cantonese is "Happy New Year," so I said it and then asked if they spoke any Mandarin. They do! This makes me very happy, and their doughnuts are excellent.
Thursday, January 26, 2006
Saw a little four year old boy today who had already learned to walk with a macho swagger.
When I was 12, I studied the demeanor and walk of the girl I thought was the prettiest and most graceful in the 8th grade class above me. She walked with very open shoulders and put one foot directly in front of the next, toes first--the way one must walk while in heels. She got a few years older and came out as a lesbian, which is my favorite part of the story.
I'd not ever heard her read before, and although I was certainly familiar with her name, I knew little about her work, probably because Graywolf press is not the press I look to first for interesting, innovative literature, etc. I did like her reading, though. The work in Don't let me be Lonely is a lyric essay/memoir/documentation of 2000-2004, years that are of obvious political significance. Lots of refrences to Homi Bhabha, especially Location of Culture. What I liked: The pieces worked with "big" words like "hope," "sad," "forgiveness," and "here," without directly working through or trying to reclaim "justice" (Someone in the audience pointed this out). There's a sense of trying to understand/articulate what the political situation in the US is doing to actual people and bodies. A focus on emotion (sad, hope, forgiveness) and social interaction (here we are, I'm here, we're here, here you go), people interacting with each other or not: "...why are we here if not for each other?"
This reminds me of a conversation that Rodrigo and I were having after the DC poet's group reading at MLA along the lines of: the revolutionary moment is not on the barricades anymore, of course, but in human interaction, in the social, in not being a masochistic asshole to the people you work with. So the notion of "justice"--it's not irrelevant, but if it is to be useful it must mean something quite different than righting a wrong. Most of the wrongs can't be righted, and we don't even have access to the information that would help us know what all the wrongs are, but we know that people are dead, a lot of them, human social and emotional interaction seems to be a good place to start. This also reminds me of Juliana Spahr's This Connection of Everyone with Lungs and something she said at the seminar before she read with John Kinsella at Georgetown: wanting to reclaim guilt (usually a topic shunned if you're avant-garde) as being something useful, that saying I'm sorry, complicit is at least a place to start.
The word "guilt" still makes me cringe though, and poetically wresting it from its deeply lodged position in the hearts of all white middle class peoples is going to be difficult. Guilt, I think, is at the heart of the passive-agressive structure of all bureaucracies. Examples:
- the boss who refuses to tell you what to do (because, after all, everyone should be equal and innovative business management books say we should do away with hierarchy but really I love my power) but then nails your ass when you don't do the task exactly the way s/he wanted.
- The boyfriend/girlfriend that creates a bogus fight to have an excuse to break up because it's not nice to break up with someone just because you don't love them.
And here we have wandered far from poetry. But what would a passive-agressive poetic form be like? Tricky narrative? Ahh, too much of the psychobabble that I do love.
Here's the traffic on 5 heading north from a yummie postreading pasta dinner:
Tuesday, January 24, 2006
No books. However, I did unpack (or maybe I'd already unpacked it, but I found it again, whatever) The Heavenly Twins, by Madame Sarah Grande.
I'm in the process of applying for a community college job--I'm really very interested in community college teaching, but cc application forms rival those of the government for sheer bureaucratic ridiculousness.
I made some corn bread pudding/corn spoon bread/corn bread like the kind you can get in Mexico--almost like pudding a little sweet with corn, masa harina and stone-ground cornmeal it was good.
I sent a revised track list to narrow house recordings yesterday--now I just have to finish paragraph or so of text for the inside. At first I told justin simply to call the chapdisk "It does not go back." This is the default title because it is the default title of one of the serial poems on it, the one I wrote with the Rand McNally road atlas. Anything with maps is ok with me, but I'm going to spend a moment thinking of other titles.
These 1rst three are all just phrases pulled from the map poems:
- it does not go back
- mainland vs.
- moving walkways
- squares labeled (or square labels)
- demons arrive (title of the first poem)
- see it everywhere (I'm kind of fond of this one, maybe, it's from the last poem on the disk)
I didn't check the mail yesterday and I doubt anything's come that isn't a bill. Lester is in the living room practicing some new sounds, and I'm eating boiled eggs and toast because I don't want to use up all the milk.
I'm going to here Claudia Rankine read in UCSDs New Writing Series, this Wednesday.
More Elenor Antin!
And I'm sorry I bought some California wine to bring to dinner on Thursday, although doubtless this happens in other parts of the world. Maybe I'll go back to drinking French stuff that's produced on estates that have been around for hundreds of years, instead of ones that destroy the wildlife. The folks on Howell Mountain supposedly do right by the grape-eating bears in the region, so I'll look for a bottle from one of their vinyards the next time I'm on the market.
In "Far Papua," the papuan province of Indonesia, there was an anti Indonesian demonstration. Finally, news from the PNG western highlands is, as usual, not good.
And this makes me want to go to Uzbekistan all the more.
Monday, January 23, 2006
Jessica, is there any documentation of this event?
I'm already fond of bird-book: Jessica made it & I like birds. Given my interests, this response is a bit obvious and uncritical. Let's try and list some reasons why I like it:
- bird-book, like many of Jessica's other works, is tactile. I like the fact that the poems were made and written. Actually, all poems are both made and written, but Jessica always plays around with or foregrounds what's tactile as well as what's visual. She's written more about this than I probably ever will, so go read some of it.
- The poems encourage multiple readings and an awareness/enjoyment of space and sound (back to that whole tactile/sensory thing)
- Birds birds birds
- Unexpected combinations of words/sounds/visual juxtopositions that some how seem...gentle? I feel like I shouldn't use these word "gentle," and so will use it anyway. In looking at "loon/lune" I read: "thin/chin/strap" "and shrieks" "grebes dive expertly" "sterilized" "yodel" "ceptible" "oil."
- So in the midst of this gentleness is violence. The combination of the gentle headspace and sense of freedom (poemss use of topography, sound, tactility) with a sense of forboding (vocabulary and syntax and other stuff, look at "anatomy") is what I like best about these poems. Is it old school to love unresolved tension?
- bird-book is pretty. I like how this edition is bound with a solid black envelope, instead of a translucent one. Black contrasts well with the colored paper on which the poems are printed. The side on which the poems are printed is pink.
Sunday, January 22, 2006
What came in the mail:
On Friday: Neocrosis (2004) & Neutrality (2005) , both by Keston Sutherland from Barque Press and also a letter. Am particularly fond of "FOR CATEGORY\ "A"\WINN" in Neocosis for its list of fireworks and for other reasons. I actually haven't read Keston's work extensively. Here's my tossed off thoughts after 20 minutes of reading: There's often a density of language that feels like an assult--these poems aren't about creating headspace (which is fine, much as I like headspace). He can have a good ear and plays around with that when it suits the poems. They're often discursive, which in general irks me, although I feel like I've heard people say "that poem is too discursive" when what they really mean is that it brings up politics and the syntax isn't quite right. That is not what I mean by "discursive." Instead, I think I mean that the poem is telling me what to do, and it feels like someone else told the poem what to say. Which is true of all poems, I guess. Does anyone know what I'm trying to get at here? At their best these poems have an awareness of actual subjects and bodies getting fucked up by or being responsible for or working through the theoretical/political language. Here's something from "Roger Alies," that interests me, in the same chapbook:
--from here you can get out by satirising disorientation
yes the flirting with getting out can be negative and not a forte
yes the disorientation is not political when it comes to it.
It's a disorientation of language. The nostalgia
for pastoral streches freely to material
and signifier, rhymed with
The anguish of that.
The angoisse (For Mallarme).
You will never be the same again after your hair is going.
(I can't make blogger format that right. The line spacing is wrong).
On Saturday: Two very lovely copies of the 3rd edition of Jessica Smith's bird-book, which I love for various obvious and inobvious reasons. Have a look at outside voices. I shall write my thoughts of them during my first tutoring break.
Deep in the wilderness of the apartment lies the bedroom:
The beach (hey, why does beach usually have a deffinite article?) is two blocks from where I live. I'm quite shocked every time I go for a walk:
And parked by the beach are cars like this:
The train comes through town a few times every hour--reminds me of Delray, although this car is a deffinite California car:
This is what can happen inland:
Batiquitos Lagoon, a few minutes south from where we live. There are two great blue herons living here, where the hum on highway 5 is still pretty loud:
Wednesday, January 18, 2006
Still job hunting. There are ads for "Phlebotomists" everywhere. Ads about training to become a phlebotomy assistant. Plebotomy is the scientific term for bloodletting. Is this really what they mean? Why is plebotomy so popular in southern California?
On the plane from Phoenix to San Diego, Lester peeped a great deal. His travel cage fit in my bag and under the seat in front of me, so the folks sitting in my row began to look around in a disturbed manner when Lester's peeps got loud enough for them to hear. I kept saying, "Shoosh, little one, I love you, we'll be there soon." Somewhere over the Salton Sea I finally told my rowmates, "I have a parrot in my bag, so that's why I'm talking to it. But I'm talking to the parrot, not the bag." I realized that the explanation probably needed some hard evidence to back it up, so I took Lester (in his cage) out of the bag, and they ooed and ahhed.
North County San Diego is COLD! Seriously, I have to wear a wool sweater inside. Actually the weather has been great--55-60 during the day, around 40 at night. Carlsbad, where I now, ahem, live, has a long stretch of shockingly beautiful undeveloped beach, which is cool. Mark and I have already been for a few runs along it and I walk along the bluffs at least once a day, since I am unemployed and have nothing to do but unpack.
Our landlord is friendly, and our neighbours include a few families and some surfer and military dudes and their girlfriends. We can hear the train from almost everywhere in town, which I like, especially at night. The guy who delivered our stuff said know the folks who made the anthrax that caused such havoc in DC a few years ago, as well as JFK and MLK and Ted Kazinsky (did I spell that right?) the unibomer. He said MLK's speeches had coded refrences to a mountain where he (the driver) had lived.
The local alternative weekly is pretty good but it doesn't run Savage Love and there are a lot of ads for cosmetic surgery, antiaging clinics, dental surgery, etc. The ads looking for participants in medical/psychological resurch also outnumber those in the City Paper. Lot's of ads for people having trouble sleeping.
The Mexican food here is really good, even the tacos at the chain places (not Taco Bell) taste suprisingly close to the ones I used to eat on the street in Mexico City. Carlsbad also has lots of inexpensive diners. Mark and I ate a huge, tasty and cheap breakfast at Als the other day, but we'll try others.
We went to IKEA to buy a couch, lamps, and some barstools. The whole experience was traumatic and overwhelming, and we couldn't find our car in the parking lot. Strangely, it was also raining. So I stood in the middle of this huge lot, clutching the barstools and lamps, while Mark walked up and down the lot until we found the car. We ate at IHOP to soothe our nerves. It's so crowded here! Except on the beach--for most of the day no one is there except a few surfers in wetsuits. On weekends and at sunset it's more crowded--but not so much. I guess it's winter.
We don't have internet access at home (I'm in Mark's office whilst he teaches), but soon...this will help my job hunt. I do have an interview at a language school in La Jolla--but it's probably a no go because the location makes it nearly impossible to get to. I do have my online work--but please do send editorial and writing work my way, I'm always looking. Save me from selling myself to sleep research labs!
Strangers greet me on the street--they say, "good day," "hello," "good morning," "good afternoon," and "hey!"
I haven't yet made it to the Ashtanga Yoga Center in Encinitas (although soon to move to Carlsbad, lucky for me!) to practice with Tim Miller, but will as soon as I have funds coming in. In the meantime I'm, um, chanting mantras to Ram and doing lots of hip openers.
I moved Lester back into his big cage yesterday. He took a bath and then began to sing--a happy parrot in the house always makes me happy. I'll post pictures when I find all the cable connecter things.
The only poetry thing I've read recently is the old issue of the Poetry Project Newsletter. I brought Leslie Bumstead's new book with me today, so perhaps I'll read that this afteroon.
Friday, January 06, 2006
We're packing up the computer this evening, so I won't be on line for a few weeks, and I certainly won't be blogging--too bad, it's a good way to deal with all the weird energy that moving seems to create for me. Doubtless you'll all get along just fine. Here's a recent installment from the long campy poem I seem to keep writing:
Learning about names involves arithmatic, treasure-finding, and how to make portents. It also requires knowledge of ghosts and constellations. But really this isn't quite enough, one needs knowlege of the divine and also the divine who are serpents and also other elements. It's clear we need to talk about this. Here is one possible discussion we might have:
Q: How do you find a treasure?
A: I ask someone
Q: What do you know of ghosts?
A: They are complicated and sometimes spooky, as are people who are serpants.
A: Worms, flying things, and ants are also complicated.
Q: What do they think about?
A: Myrobalans and terminalia seeds. They think of them and they come to us.
At this point, we return to nourishment: "oh bliss oh bliss I am food I am food I am the eater of food and the maker of verse!"
Thursday, January 05, 2006
Actually, someone tried when I was younger and a lot less wise but wise enough. All I need is a patron who requires nothing but art and witty conversation in exchange, and I would go anywhere.
Mark and I packed up this head made by John Havelda. He has a whole closet of them back in Porto. A closet of wax heads! Occasionally I dream about the head, just like I do the mask. Usually it's singing to me or I'm asking it for advice. I have trouble with objects that look like sentient beings. The head of this is made of wax and it felt strange to wrap it up and put it in a box. Maybe I've seen too many horror movies.
My place of the week is/are the Marquesas. Lester is singing "very good, very good," so I know he agrees.
Heretical Texts: This series begins with, and intends to investigate, the assumption that poetry is political. Inherent to the Heretical Texts mission is a focused imagining of 'political poetry' as a form of public intervention, invention, and invocation that calls on (and up) language to call out a public, a people. Heretical Texts will appear in four volumes of five books each over the course of two years.
The complete first volume of is available for $40=20(direct from publisher) and includes:
1. Dan Featherston, United States
2. Laura Elrick, Fantasies in Permeable Structures
3. Linh Dinh, Borderless Bodies
4. Sarah Menefee, Human Star
5. kari edwards, obedience
Volume Two (spring 2006) will feature work by Steve Carll, Carol Mirakove, Diane Ward, Brian Kim Stefans, and Kristin Prevallet.
Wednesday, January 04, 2006
I'm now down to uncatagorizable stuff. The last three boxes I packed I labled "L's Misc."
Hey everyone better come to drink and walk tomorrow, or else find a way of hanging out on Saturday.
Here's what some I wrote last month. It mentions cuticles. I think my poems are getting more and more goofy as the move approaches:
May I not go to the white, toothless, toothless, white and slimy--may I not go to the slimy!
About the slimy:
I don't really know anything about it. Gods move into our bodies, of course, even into the thing that hangs in the back of our mouth. They live in our cuticles. Beware!
Still packing. Lester's been alternately quiet and grumpy, but he still sings in the shower, so all is well. Today I packed up--with excessive bubble wrap--some wood carvings from Papua New Guinea, Bali, and New Zealand. I left the drum at my mom's. I've been having beach/flying drams where these artifacts show up and ask me questions like, "what is the proper way to fly?" and "do you prefer to fly in the morning or at dusk?" There's often a moment where everyone sings.
There's one mask in particular that always sings. It looks kind of like the one in the picture, except that the wood is much darker and it/he/she has cowry shell eyes. I can't take a picture of the one I have because it/he/she is now packed.
Lester has started to sing.
Tuesday, January 03, 2006
It's the morning, so I'm looking at job announcements as well. I'm attempting to find work at the International Rescue Committee, probably by teaching English and/or "life skills"--the IRC in San Diego has special programs for women and children, and I'm interested in that. Ray--you might be interested in something like this. They have DC offices and offices all over the world. I'm also looking at a place called The Synergos Institute. Don't know enough about them yet, though.
Lester has been very happy over the past few days. The boxes don't seem to bother him. They bother me.
Think thoughts for the folks trapped or dead in the mine in West Virginia.
Monday, January 02, 2006
I'm not teaching today, but I'm packing. I think that I'd rather be teaching--packing is a bore, and the whole process is dusty.
New Year's eve was excellent:
If you look closely at my jawbone under my ear, you can see where Ray gave me a smooch! At midnight, we all toasted to everything, including colors, stalagtites and stalagmites, all sentient beings, and spines. I did some airballet dancing to some poems, but I don't remember which ones. It must have been quite ridiculous. Ray, Jessica and I and some other folks had a long conversation while lying on everyone's coats, and Ray told lots of stories. The food was yum and everyone danced and said strange things. Really, it was total love! I'll save the rest of my sentimental musings for later.
MLA Out O'Towners group reading notes:
- Joel Bettridge: “these days, all of us is tired” Pre-Socratic blues. Healthy
- Louis Cabri: “foams form” “old man former”
- Joshua Clover: Wore a T-shirt that said, “Who the fuck is Mick Jagger” “Let’s talk about space.” Lyric…thru…the…capital. In the tradition of Frank O Hara, Jack Spicer.
- Michael Cross: “Cede.” Suit. Stripped shirt. No tie. Pin. No glasses. More language-y, some lines w/excellent ear: “each trope to cite and cite to see in keys” “I’m peopled and I’m trod”
- Brent Cunningham: Orations. First the Greeks with Joel B and now the Romans. “Over and over the sentence is published until it has the quality of truth…vigilant comrades, how crazy I was.” Sentences. Address. Persona.
- Richard Deming: read from Some Elsewhere. Poems are lyric, quiet, images of the decomposing dead.
- Jeff Derkson: goes right into it. Lots of architecture: “cellular modernist housing blocks,” still some Kevin Davies, “therefore, world bank head.” At first more lyric sentency than when I heard him at DCAC, “each coffee bean is a failed form of cosmopolitanism” [I’m getting tired, first yawn of the night, but not because of the poems]
- Patrick Durgin: “To my imitators” a poem I enjoyed but didn’t write any notes on so I don’t know why I did. [Jessica and I compare address books, which are the same]
- William R. Howe: reads from his Emily Dickinson translations, which I always like. Bill is project oriented. “Mermadon”
- Nancy Khul: read a poem written in response to an installation by Allison M---- (not in my note). Eyelashes. Poem reads like a lab report. Interesting.
- Aaron Kunin: maybe my favorite reading of the night. I love poems that are aware of their own weirdness and then amp up their weirdness even more. He read from The Sore Throat. “So invent a machine for disinventing”
- Nicole Markotic “so much for the prophetic beatess poet” I think this is a quote from her reading but it’s not in quotations in my notes. “Share each other” a lyric cadence to her reading. Feminine.
- Camille Martin: “whether the withering weather,” “the hard cages of the township metaphorically take over,” “Seduction. Birdness. Tussle,” “what’s mine belongs to eerie bridges,” “displaced from a frost-free past.” I clearly liked her work, since I wrote down so many quotes. Why? Connecting self to architecture and land/geography/weather isn’t exactly new, but I liked what she was doing. “No point in the flood”
- Laura Moriarty: I liked her reading style—direct, energetic. I liked her discussion of tonalism but I was too unfocused and tired to take useful notes. I am not a tonalist. “An idea of a rock concentrates.” [I space out to look at Jessica’s pink flower satin tire red skirt. It is kind of shimmery]
- AL Nielsen: I did recognize him. Read some Lorenzo Thomas and “the ear of the behearer”
- Bob Perelman: I liked this reading; I liked his last reading at DCAC. There are people and bodies in his poems. Even the objects seem embodied, “only one of us is Henry James,” “people began to realize they were thinking because touching, “ “I remain alone…sticking out,” “isn’t it a bit late to be hating the four quartets. They don’t hate you, they only hate themselves,” “drink this, it’s on the house. It’s our house now.”
- Joan Retallack: Former DCer! Hooray! “You can be the proud owner of this formidable machine.”
- Linda Russo: “they called me a critic and meant I was a rat…” this poem escalated and got more and more appalling, which I like, and ended with “because there hides the essence of love.” Would like to read more of her work
- Jennifer Scappetone: At this point, I fixated for a while on Mark’s ticking watch. I’ve been on a rant about academic moaning re: the failure of deconstruction and the usefulness or not of Derrida’s ethics, so between that and the ticking watch, I think I was not as receptive to “Derrida is dead, too.” I tend to not like poems that are overly determined by theory, any theory. I’d rather have the language move into theory than out of it. Some of it worked ok, “I put Barbara S. on your mix CD.”
- Susan Schultz: I’m interested in the way her recent work examines alternative ways of thinking about a maternal body.
- Rodrigo Toscano: “Economy is the new sex since about 1450.Counterculture is disappointing.” Rodrigo’s become a good performer. The revolution is in interpersonal relations, process, although I’d write it as “sex is the economy since forever,” but it’s close. Rodrigo’s poems seem to know that the politics needs poetry.
- Shanxing Wang: A new poet to me. Some fabulous moments: “What is is…is is not SI…it is not TI titanium. It is not TI Texas Instruments.” “Me or my head. That is my body.” Would like to read/hear/see more
- Tyrone Williams: “rise rise rise rise rise rise…with oil and vinegar”