Sunday, December 26, 2010

Mixed media messages

The Introvert by Jill Moser, poems by Charles Bernstein

paint & words

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Tidings of comfort and joy

This year, I came to the no-brainer revelation that the inevitable "What do you want for Christmas?" doesn't have to be answered complicatedly, nor bashful and ostensibly hesitant: "Um, yeah, well, I can always use..." Thanks to that thing called email, I got a head start by simply copy-and-pasting my Save for Later purchase items from Amazon, then hiring the Mom as my familial shopping-ideas agent. In addition to the usual yuletide necessities (shoes, socks, cashews, wine), my procurement of the true meaning of the Season (i.e. material goods) occurred without any painful awkwardness. Let's just say, I'm pretty stoked:

-The (new, unexpurgated) Autobiography of Mark Twain, Vol. 1
-An Anthology of Twentieth-Century Brazilian Poetry (bilingual), ed. Elizabeth Bishop
-Planisphere: New Poems, by John Ashbery
-Mean Free Path, by Ben Lerner
-The Alphabet, by Ron Silliman
-Brecht and Method, by Frederic Jameson
-Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems, by David Rakoff
-Language and Mind, by Noam Chomsky

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

'Da Bomb'

Flipped through the latest issue of BOMB Magazine today at B.A.M. Great interviews with Adam Pendleton and Rae Armantrout. Excellent literary supplement as well. Jotted the following notes:

"I couldn't say whether the Situationists failed or not. My feeling is that when you contribute, there is no failure. It's like an unspoken law. I like your use of 'provoke.' When you provoke you have contributed. When you become a part of what happens next you have contributed." -Adam Pendleton, in conversation with Thom Donovan

"Of course, there are so many hallmark readings of a person like [Rosa Parks], because it is more convenient to deradicalize her than to radicalize her. She becomes a hero. And to be labeled a hero is one of culture's ways of depoliticizing you. You become part of what culture has dealt with. In this sense, one should always strive to be the opposite of a hero." -again, Pendleton (emphases mine)

Friday, December 17, 2010

'Come you masters of war'

Yesterday, Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg (Pentagon Papers whistleblower) and 131 U.S. Veterans were arrested in front of the White House during a nonviolent protest of the Afghanistan war. Watch the highlights below:

"You that hide behind walls
You that hide behind desks
I just want you to know
I can see through your masks"

-Bob Dylan

Dreams, wakes


"the wind like an ocean
but sometimes the sun stills it
and the surface is solid

why shouldn't life pass as in a dream
or a dream itself, there are different degrees
or different dreams reality
at one with a dream

the naked sea
is fresh
in time,

(o shut your eyes against the wind"

-Larry Eigner


"All experience is conditioned by expectation... [Debussy] arousing different levels of dreaminess and wakefulness. We wake from a dream to enter, clearly, a daydream." -Nick Piombino

(I think he means: consciousness is but a daydream, since it is clouded by our ingrained expectations of what is and should be)

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Liu Xiaobo

PEN American Center protest of Liu Xiaobo's imprisonment on Christmas, 2009. DeLillo, Albee, and others read:

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


Recordings of the U of Penn 'Poetry in 1960' symposium, held on Dec. 6, 2010

Discourse and Truth

The Problematization of Parrhesia

An online version of Foucault's lectures on the historical problem of truth-telling. Published as "Fearless Speech" by Semiotext(e), 2001. An audio version is also available.

Thursday, December 9, 2010


Samuel Beckett's silent, quotidian-titled Film (1965), starring Buster Keaton

Monday, December 6, 2010

Julian Assange = the Language Poets?

I love when (self-assuredly) clever conservatives highlight similarities between vastly different political philosophies (in vastly different political contexts) in order to expand the net of blame. Anarcho-Libertarianism can take many different forms, and in response to many different sources of social inoculation/coercion. My own dissenting feelings take aim at the corporate bodies that manipulate government institutions and orchestrate fruitless wars. And while I count LangPo as a major reference point, or historical nexus, between the present and the radical Left of the 60s/70s, I don't consider them my sole ideologic influences. You'd think conservative (pretend-) pundits would want to spend this much critical energy on demanding explanations from the U.S. government. Is it really enough just to conclude that our leaders are corrupt? Is that all it takes to rally the (merely) anti-establishment?

Essay: What is Julian Assange up to?

Poets going on, even while they can't go on

Whoever finds a horseshoe

"We look at a forest and say:
Here is a forest for ships and masts,
Red pines,
Free to their tops of their shaggy burden,
To creak in the storm
In the furious forestless air;
The plumbline fastened to the dancing deck
Will hold out under the wind's salt heel.
And the sea-wanderer,
In his unbridled thirst for space,
Dragging through damp ruts a geometer's needle,
Collates the rough surface of the seas
With the attraction of the earth's lap.

But breathing the smell
Of resinous tears oozing through planks,
Admiring the boards of bulkheads riveted
Not by the peaceful Bethlehem carpenter but by that other-
Father of journeys, friend of seafarers-
We say:
These too stood the earth,
Awkward as a donkey's backbone,
Their crests forgetful of their roots,
On a celebrated mountain ridge;
And howled under the sweet cloud-burst,
Fruitlessly offering the sky their precious freight
For a pinch of salt.

Where shall we begin?
Everything pitches and splits,
The air quivers with comparisions,
No one word is better than another,
The earth hums with metaphors.
And light two-wheeled chariots,
Harnessed brightly to flocks of strenuous birds,
Vying with the snorting favourites of the race-track.

Three times blest he who puts a name into song;
A song adorned with a name
Survives longer among the others,
Marked by a fillet
That frees it from forgetfulness and stupefying smells,
Whether proximity of man or the smell of a beast's pelt
Or simply a whiff of thyme rubbed between the palms.

The air dark like water, everything alive swims like fish,
Fins pushing aside the sphere
That's compact, resilient, hardly heated-
The crystal in which wheels move and horses shy,
The moist black-earth every night flung open anew
By pitchforks, tridents, hoes and ploughs.
The air is mixed as densely as the earth-
You can't get out, to get inside is arduous.

Rustling runs through the trees like a green ball-game;
Children play knucklebones with the vertebrae of dead animals.
The fragile calculation of the years of our era ends.
Let us be grateful for what we had:
I too made mistakes, lost my way, lost count.
The era rang like a golden sphere,
Cast, hollow, supported by no one.
Touched, it answered yes and no,
As a child will say:
I'll give you an apple, or: I won't give you one;
Its face an exact copy of the voice that pronounces these words.

The sound is still ringing although its source has ceased.
The horse foams in the dust.
But the acute curve of his neck
Preserves the memory of the race with outstretched legs
When there were not four
But as many as the stones on the road,
Renewed in four shifts
As blazing hooves pushed off from the ground.

Whoever finds a horseshoe
Blows away the dust,
Rubs it with wool till it shines,
Hangs it over the treshold
To test,
So that it will no longer have to strike sparks from flint.
Human lips
which have nothing more to say
Preserve the form of the last word said.
And the arm retains the sense of weight
Though the jug
splashes half-empty
on the way home.

What I am saying at this moment is not being said by me
But is dug from the ground like grains of petrified wheat.
on their coins depict a lion,
a head;
Various tablets of brass, of gold and bronze
Lie with equal honour in the earth.
The century, trying to bite through them, left its teeth-marks
Time pares me down like a coin,
And there is no longer enough of me for myself."

My time

"My time, my brute, who will be able
To look you in the eyes
And glue together with his blood
The backbones of two centuries?
Blood, the builder, gushes
From the earth's throat.
Only parasites tremble
On the edge of the future . . .

To wrench our age out of prison
A flute is needed
To connect the sections
Of disarticulated days . . .

And buds shall swell again,
Shoots splash out greenly.
But your backbone is broken,
My beautiful, pitiful century.
With an idiot's harsh and feeble grin
You look behind:
A beast, once supple,
Ponders its paw-marks in the sand."

-Osip Mandelshtam, 1923

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

There is still "an agonistic struggle over who controls language"

"Transnationalism and Cultural Translation: Distinguished Lecture Series and Symposium"
Charles Bernstein & Youngmin Kim
Dongguk University, Seoul, Oct. 19, 2010

Install the Flash plugin to watch this video.

Charles Bernstein's talk/reading/discussion on poetry, sound, and technology starts at 40'

Soft spot for photo-collage

Brian F. Wilson at Booooooom
"Tom Edwards"

"Lena Wolff"

© Brian F. Wilson

"Reduced-fat" reading

Paul Kozlowski's satirical rant on the ceaseless trials of an aged critic, with apparent malaise at having reached a position of influence and no more passion (or time) for the intricate: "I want easy answers coming out of fast books. That's all I have time for."

You can never get away from yourself

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Keep your eyes and ears on these two

Jen Nugent and Patrick Lynch give a layered, semi-aleatory sound & visual performance, stretching the attentions of audience as well as actor/performer. A full artist statement/description of the piece, as well as other, static, visual works, are provided at Jen's Tumblr. Enjoy!

Performance and Collaboration with Patrick Lynch from Jen Nugent on Vimeo.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

History never was, only Now is... scoot over, Fukayama

"History, so conceived, was inexorably culminating in nihilist catastrophe—in the form of inter-imperialist war and barbarism for the Left, or as The Decline of the West for the Right—and the will to confront this inescapable decline was, non-dialectically, the will for an absolute rupture from it. This took the form of projects of transcendence, the creation of a new man, understood either as the construction of an unprecedented universality, communism, or as a return to the vanished origin, fascism. It is important to note that Badiou never implies that this idea of creating a new man could or should ever be resurrected, for it was 'undoubtedly a bad project.'" -Gopal Balakrishnan, The Historical Absolute, on Alain Badiou's The Century (from Lana Turner, No. 3)

Balakrishnan casts some warranted doubt on Badiou's efforts to find "the real" in the shape (not contents) of the Subject, which so far sounds like a cheap neutralization of clashing, temporal ideologies. But I haven't read it, yet. I can appreciate the further atomization of relativism, and indicating the quasi-absolutism of mythologies like "History" and "periods," but I think there is more to analyzing contingent experience than the mere form of communications. Are the (yes, contingent) numerical and visual data subject to a formal consensus-or-nothing test, as well?

Art (not for sale)

Ben Lerner, on the late Simon Hantaï: "A work that compels as painting has emerged from a procedure that questions painting’s possibility, and the pathos is in that contradiction."

Read the full Letter from New York, from Lana Turner No. 3

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Desire's desire

"It's at this question of desire that Youn's project intersects Herriman's—desire and desire's desire to refute itself in order to perpetuate itself. But, because it takes place in language, and takes language as its protagonist, Youn's project also lets the question of desire overflow the human to impinge upon language itself—a theme well-explored in critical theory and poetics since 1968, but Youn enacts it wonderfully in her emptying out of the Ignatz-signifier through the sheer inexhaustibility of its potential." -Cole Swenson, review of Ignatz for Lana Turner No. 3


"A gauze bandage wraps the land
and is unwound, stained orange with sulfates.

A series of slaps molds a mountain,
a fear uncoils itself, testing its long

cool limbs. A passing cloud
seizes up like a carburetor

and falls to earth, lies broken-
backed and lidless in the scree.

Acetylene torches now snug
in their holsters, shop-vacs

trundled back behind the dawn.
A mist becomes a murmur, becomes

a moan rising from dust-
choked fissures in the rock O pity us

Ignatz O come to us by moonlight
O arch your speckled body over the earth."

-Monica Youn

Monday, November 15, 2010

9/11: "verbal / visual; on the spot / on the periphery."

"Both Gross’s drawings and my writings rely on a serial aesthetic: one perception immediately follows the next, without an attempt to create an overall hierarchy or controlling narrative. The truth is in the array of particular details. Immediacy is valued more than commentary; local observation over symbolic resolution." -Charles Bernstein

Some of these Daze, Granary Press (limited to 65 copies), now available in PowerPoint format

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Marjorie Perloff

A talk from Unoriginal Genius delivered at The University of Richmond, Feb. 2010:

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Poetics of coterie

Getting back to Vanessa Place's poetics of "radical evil," the trouble, really, comes when a radical/experimental Leftist poet accepts that (whether intentional or not) his/her audience is of a similar ilk poetically and/or politically, which therefore permits the kind of value-ations which radical Leftist poets are always trying to deconstruct; the task is not so "indeterminate" as LangPo would have it seem. This is really just a further exhaustion of the tacit notion that "Yes, we are the writer-audience, we guard the threshold of what passes for 'good'". Carl Rakosi, in a soundbite I just discovered (thanks Al Filreis) admits this very problem. And by problem, I mean obstacle, I mean challenge, I mean enablement (which by extension might also lend credit to the repressive traditionalist poetic factions: New Criticism, New Formalism, etc. that gave Leftists a defined poetic/aesthetic from which to diverge; but, whatever you do, don't count me in their ranks):

"To express your passion in a straightforward way, directly. It will not be interesting. They're already there, you haven't done anything to/for them. So, the... subject matter has to be transformed... something both powerful and beautiful." -Carl Rakosi, on being a communist poet

Filreis, I believe, understands this standard-bearing as more incidental (while still useful) rather than some deliberate act of pure elitism; as does Bob Perelman, who once made the aside (which I'm paraphrasing, I heard it in an interview, a long time ago): "Not enough criticism has focused on the more regressive aspects of avant-garde writers, I think."

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

It is [poetry] because I say it is

"Poetry is that which occurs within the institution of poetry. That is to say, form is not inherently important, words are not necessarily significant, language is utterly irrelevant, 'I''s can be put out with impunity, there can be nothing but thick-skinned idiotic literality, and [yet] it is still poetry because it exists as poetry." -Vanessa Place, "A poetics of radical evil"

Place hones in on the exact "place" where has lately been my poetic consideration: the frame of art. Of course, she's done the terrific scholarship (and creative output) that I wish to initiate, but the genius of conceptualism's "unoriginality"/"uncreativity" is that, as John Cage responded to the remark that 'anybody could do that,': "Yeah, but I did." A page from the phone book is simply that, until someone blows it up or submits it to a literary journal, at which point, if given to momentous circulation among the right people, it takes on the (whether Charles Bernstein likes it or not) "honorific" classification of Poetry. I'm not summarizing her short, lucid essay (anyway, you should read it whether or not I do summarize it), nor am I remotely conveying what she delineates as "radical evil," but I'm simply appropriating a quote for my own hackneyed (and yet still developing) poetic/political agenda. And there is a lot more to be savored in this the latest (3rd) issue of Lana Turner: A Journal of Poetry & Opinion. New work by Marjorie Perloff, Derek Beaulieu, Augusto de Campos, Cole Swenson, Aleksandr Skidan, Susan McCabe, and more!

Monday, November 1, 2010

The Phantom Left

Chris Hedges discusses the specter of the American Liberal class in the new century, or what he calls the Phantom Left, that exists perhaps, but outside of public discourse. What I mean is, the values of the radical Left, whether they have disappeared or remain only in the congregation of "elites," have become caricatured by both the Right-wing establishment and extremists, but also the Democrats, whose timidity (and let's add lethargy) can only be explained by their "selling out" to corporate interests. The most recent example is Comedy Central's rally to Restore Sanity, which conflated serious ideas with (sometimes) witty entertainment, politics with spectacle. What is needed, Hedges insists, is a return to the serious, radical organizing of the mid-twentieth century. It "would require the liberal class to demand acts of resistance, including civil disobedience, to attempt to salvage what is left of our anemic democratic state." It seems as though a Leftist dissent from partisan politics as usual is overdue. I agree with Hedges as much as I do with the Situationist critique he hearkens to, but with the populace generally absent from a serious commitment to self-informing scrutiny, cannot publicizing this view only further sever politics from spectacle, ideas from entertainment, further obfuscating (because purifying) the former? Isn't this election (and the Tea Party) evidence that power is still attained, and secured, by promoting collective anxiety, hysteria, and good ol' fashion ethnocentrism? I am the last one to stick up for popular anything, but even the elites understand that the public's lack of support for Healthcare reform is linked to this administration's evasion of transparency and articulation. In other words, Hedges gets why the Left is impotent, but I don't think he gets political efficacy. I personally wish there were a more vibrant, self-critical Left movement in the U.S., but my fear is that 1) it would breed the kind of mock-worthy antics and soundbites we hear from the Tea Party, and 2) if the majority of Americans cannot relate to the President (who most on the far-Left would call moderate), what makes us think that an intelligent, committed, purist Left would be any more understood? I don't have many of these answers, but I sit for now on the position that the moderate, entertainment-style Left of Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert is the our only current hope of political influence. Does it beckon the Corporatist sabotage-scheme into the spotlight? No. Will it take a few years for voters to see the detriment wrought upon our legislative and electoral processes by corporate interests? Probably.

Friday, October 29, 2010


Also, I can't wait to have the money to splurge on this new one, by one of the few scholars giving significant time/wait and weight to citational poetic works:

"Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century" by Marjorie Perloff, University of Chicago Press, 2010.


"What is the place of individual genius in a global world of hyper-information— a world in which, as Walter Benjamin predicted more than seventy years ago, everyone is potentially an author? For poets in such a climate, "originality" begins to take a back seat to what can be done with other people’s words—framing, citing, recycling, and otherwise mediating available words and sentences, and sometimes entire texts. Marjorie Perloff here explores this intriguing development in contemporary poetry: the embrace of "unoriginal" writing. Paradoxically, she argues, such citational and often constraint-based poetry is more accessible and, in a sense, "personal" than was the hermetic poetry of the 1980s and 90s.

Perloff traces this poetics of "unoriginal genius" from its paradigmatic work, Benjamin’s encyclopedic Arcades Project, a book largely made up of citations. She discusses the processes of choice, framing, and reconfiguration in the work of Brazilian Concretism and Oulipo, both movements now understood as precursors of such hybrid citational texts as Charles Bernstein’s opera libretto Shadowtime and Susan Howe’s documentary lyric sequence The Midnight. Perloff also finds that the new syncretism extends to language: for example, to the French-Norwegian Caroline Bergvall writing in English and the Japanese Yoko Tawada, in German. Unoriginal Genius concludes with a discussion of Kenneth Goldsmith’s conceptualist book Traffic—a seemingly "pure’" radio transcript of one holiday weekend’s worth of traffic reports. In these instances and many others, Perloff shows us "poetry by other means" of great ingenuity, wit, and complexity."

© U. of Chicago Press

Not ooftah much

Showing some jazz documentaries (for lack of prepared lesson plans) in the Chorus class for which I substituted, I took these notes & quotes, as I often do, despite having no historical research in progress. Here, some thoughts:

+Upon preparing for his Soviet Union tour as a cultural ambassador, and amidst the Little Rock Nine incident, Louis Armstrong decided to cancel at the last moment, expressing contempt for Eisenhower's indifference to the blatant, unconstitutional prejudice ensuing there in Arkansas. "It's getting almost so bad a colored man hasn't got any country," he said. Of course, whenever mentioned on radio, television, or in the press, his status as a whimsy, delightful old singer-trumpeter man retains the untroubling sheen it had back then (for whites and, in their bewilderment, for blacks). We can observe the same significance for the dixie and ragtime genres as well: fun, easy, sounds nice in the background, but, mostly, requests no urgency. Again, the fetishized nature of MLK Day is an easy pill because all one really has to know is that Dr. King gave some weighty (but for our purposes, triumphant, agreeable) speeches, had "A Dream," and now the stratified society and opportunities are no more. (Phew!) Dab that brow, we're all living in an anybody's world without race-catering or predesignated modes of living, working, etc. We can look back and think, "Yep, I heard you loud and clear. Now please, let me continue unmolested by pleas for socio-economic reconfiguration."

+I'm interested in how one of the commentators described "Strange Fruit," when sung by Billie Holiday (though Columbia wouldn't dare record it, for fear of a wholesale boycott the South), as "the first protest song." Now, of course the very Orleans-Creole, slave-hymn roots of the Jazz/Blues genre included (just as poetic/allegorical) protest content. I won't make a huge fuss about his comment, except to say that a "defining" moment in any cultural history must somehow exist purely in terms of audience. Heaven only knows how popular such protest hymns (disguised, hidden from "my Massa") were to however many pre-Emancipation African-Americans there were. Of course, their history is somehow unrecorded and supposedly distinct from ours. The good-hearted commentator probably meant it was "the first protest" song to be composed and presented in such a way the white majority would find attractive tonally, yet disturbing and offensive subtextually. (We only need a futile scan of the numerous "Greatest Hits" volumes of Holiday's repertoire to notice this. "Strange Fruit" isn't there). It is, indeed, a beautiful, beautifully sad song:
Southern trees bear strange fruit,
Blood on the leaves and blood at the root,
Black body swinging in the Southern breeze,
Strange fruit hanging from the poplar trees.
Pastoral scene of the gallant South,
The bulging eyes and the twisted mouth,
Scent of magnolia sweet and fresh,
Then the sudden smell of burning flesh!
Here is fruit for the crows to pluck,
For the rain to gather, for the wind to suck,
For the sun to rot, for the trees to drop,
Here is a strange and bitter crop.
(as Dylan put it, "Now's the time for your tears.")

+Finally, during the Coltrane chapter in episode nine of Ken Burns' JAZZ, Wynton Marsalis describes Jazz in the only way it (as a sprawling category of disparate genres and influence(e)s) can be described:

"Jazz music is existence music. It doesn't take you out of the world, it puts you in the world. Makes you deal with it... It's not a religiosity of 'thou must,' but of 'this is!'"

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

"Asocial" authors involve audience

The latest advances in e-literature include:

Blurring the Line Between Apps and Books
the smashed writer/programmer distinction, by making the author literally approachable through the book which is installed as an app (with communicative capacities)

The Medium: E-Readers Collective
the marketing of a work/passage by the populist (and, yes) compositional practice of readerly highlighting, here called "crowd-sourced literary criticism"

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Salvation of moment

I'm glad to have caught the s/ART/q 2010 Invitational after work today, which included terrific new work (my personal definitions, by no means descriptively literate): Jen Nugent's abstracted landscapes, conflating neighborhoods/classes, Michael Panarella's portraiture-play, Caui Lofgren's "accidental collisions", Kim Russo's line and mind vagaries, and Kim S. Anderson's decontextualized subject sketches. A refreshing detour through others' minds as my own plods through the avalanching logjam of rhetorical fallacies this jolly election season.

Tonight is a Smörgåsbord of great new music, visual art, and projective curiosities at the Venue.

Monday, October 18, 2010

A radical voice amid regressive ethos

The NY Times: Syrian-born/French-citizen poet Adonis is A Revolutionary of Arabic Verse who admits, “The textbooks in Syria all say that I have ruined poetry."

“I wanted to draw on Arab tradition and mythology without being tied to it,” he said, adding, “I wanted to break the linearity of poetic text — to mess with it, if you will. The poem is meant to be a network rather than a single rope of thought.”

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Merci, youtube

Video adaptation of Guy Debord's Society of the Spectacle, part 1 of 10.

Art as the Unnameable

A plea was published in the NY Times by Robert B. Pippen, In Defense of Naïve Reading, on behalf of the as yet, and thankfully, uncemented and not well-framed relationship of Literature and scholarship. He mentions an important point along the way about the sort of knowledge/understanding gained through experience of a piece of art that resists purely formalized and theoretical explication, and in turn, any necessary application of "results" in the scientific sense. Radical poets (even tenured ones) recognize and celebrate this reality in their performances/publications that call attention to the inadequacy (and aft-reckoning, really) of academic observations and valuations. Of course, the humanities programs must insist on having methodological criteria so to be taken seriously enough by the populace to receive funding. And given the fear of artistic compromise and assimilation by academic forces of rigid, expositive communication, I think most true, working artists prefer it that way. But what interests me is this casting of Theory as professing to be a totalizing or summative extraction of a "whole" or wholly exploited meaning. Granted, the worst kind of criticism pretends to this very idea. But some, and let's employ that word, the best, critical analyses that I have read typically admit from the get-go their reductive and cognitive mythologizing or archetypal tendencies, and really only crippling one's admiration for works of art (classical as well as modern) when taken as the say to end all says, rather than one ideologically grounded inference within a vast constellation of possible inferences. The business of academic discourse has, so far as I've seen, recently been to detract such monumental positions toward aesthetic experiences/investigations. Drawing one's own sense of several critical perspectives can be daunting, but we already (hopefully) do it with the two-party political system, acknowledge this and that exaggeration or misstep, and being widely informed enough to justify voting for/against a party-sanctioned candidate. Of course, this is my take, not necessarily yours.

"Literature and the arts have a dimension unique in the academy, not shared by the objects studied, or 'researched' by our scientific brethren. They invite or invoke, at a kind of 'first level,' an aesthetic experience that is by its nature resistant to restatement in more formalized, theoretical or generalizing language. This response can certainly be enriched by knowledge of context and history, but the objects express a first-person or subjective view of human concerns that is falsified if wholly transposed to a more 'sideways on' or third person view. Indeed that is in a way the whole point of having the 'arts.'"

Sunday, October 10, 2010

"Old men write books about cataclysms," therefore heroism and mortality

Philip Roth discusses his new Nemesis and what he intuits is the decline of the novel in the wake of the lit-digerati. This is undoubtedly an old codger's take on "those darn things," though few would deny that questions of concentration (both the attentive and process of pure cognitive consumption sort) linger in most everybody's mind at the merest mention of e-texts and alternative reading (or should it go by another name) practice. Is the tradition of holistic mental engrossment via alphabetic print justified? What are the benefits/disadvantages of our tuning-out capacities? Isn't reading an archaic and wasteful distraction? Is a return to primarily oral/aural/visual transmission desirable? Hasn't television and new media already supplanted that musty literary medium? Is there a use for history/values-based cultural conditioning? The ultra-capitalist answer is simple. My own, however, is not. But, half-ironically, I don't have time to divulge that now. This blogging business leaves too many openings for hyperlink-sensitive absorption and confusion/obfuscation of sources and their legitimacy. And anyway, that grad. school personal statement isn't going to finish writing itself.

Rather than an acute sense of the responsibilities of the reader, there's always room for that on those of the writer; which Philip Roth succeeds:

"'Writing a book is solving problems,' he said. 'You don't think about your place in this or that, or prizes, or reviews, or anything. It's the last thing that's on your mind, it's the work that is on your mind.'"

Wish list/ Name drop

While it's common for bloggers to share what books, films, articles of clothing, means of transportation, etc. they have consumed, utilized, or mail-ordered, I'm caught between want and wealth, having not yet achieved my school-season cushion capital. So I share with you a list of to-acquire items, to remind myself that while I haven't read half the titles on my procreant shelves, and while it is nice to eat every now and then, my consumerist lust for MORE perdures:

(titles by no means rarified or novel)

Create Dangerously: The Immigrant Artist at Work by Edwidge Danticat

The Whites of Their Eyes: The Tea Party's Revolution and the Battle Over American History by Jill Lepore

The Coming Insurrection (Semiotext[e]/ Intervention) by The Invisible Committee

Don't Get Too Comfortable: The Indignities of Coach Class, The Torments of Low Thread Count, The Never- Ending Quest for Artisanal Olive Oil, and Other First World Problems by David Rakoff

Half Empty by David Rakoff (the first chapter did it for me)

Political Writings 1953-1993 by Maurice Blanchot

In the Graveyard of Empires: America's War in Afghanistan by Seth G. Jones

Aftershock: The Next Economy and America's Future
by Robert B. Reich

This Time is Different: Eight Centuries of Financial Folly by Carmen M. Reinhart and Kenneth Rogoff

James Baldwin: Collected Essays (Library of America) by James Baldwin

Poets on Teaching: A Sourcebook ed. by Joshua Marie Wilkinson

Saxophone Colossus: A Portrait of Sonny Rollins by Bob Blumenthal

Rip It Up and Start Again: Postpunk 1978-1984 by Simon Reynolds

Le Style Apollinaire: The Writing of Guillaume Apollinaire by Louis Zukofsky

Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word ed. by Charles Bernstein

The Alphabet by Ron Silliman

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Tea-Party as "Beat"en?

Lee Siegel's essay in this Sunday's NY Times Book review, The Beat Generation and the Tea Party (if that isn't a stretch...), seems to me to, above the surface counterculturalism, suggest that this anachronistic anti-political, politico-populist movement is, likewise, a momentous (but momentary) breeze.

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Of being numerous

An ever-important voice in American poetry, George Oppen continues to resonate for me personally and politically, having so delicately scanned the social landscape of his contingent world with a ready admission of his constituent and consequent place in it. No poet in his time (that I can presently recall) so drove home the point of our existence's singular/plural condition, and with such meaning-ridden economy (even the hesitancy speaks through). We need a poetry today that is descendant with/from his compassionate(ly blunt) panorama of "presentness."

Charles Bernstein insists that for Oppen, the "loss of the 'transcendental signified' does not necessitate the abandonment, or absence, of knowledge but its location in history, in 'people'. This view entails both a rejection of the crude materialism of things without history and the crude idealism of history without things...
an ideal communication situation... The autonomy of the root, of the individual, allowing for the music of the social, the numerous." -from the essay Hinge, picture, published in Ironwood 26 (1985)

Friday, October 1, 2010

Another short list

-Hyperlink digital collection of L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E magazine

-The late Pinter stars in a film adaptation of Beckett's Krapp's Last Tape

-DeGeneres confronts bullying

Monday, September 27, 2010

Writing as revelation

INTERVIEWER: "So [writing]’s quite unlike preaching?"
BALDWIN: "Entirely. The two roles are completely unattached. When you are standing in the pulpit, you must sound as though you know what you’re talking about. When you’re writing, you’re trying to find out something which you don’t know. The whole language of writing for me is finding out what you don’t want to know, what you don’t want to find out. But something forces you to anyway."
BALDWIN: "I don’t know, I doubt whether anyone—myself at least—knows how to talk about writing. Perhaps I’m afraid to."
INTERVIEWER: "Do you see it as conception, gestation, accouchement?"
BALDWIN: "I don’t think about it that way, no. The whole process of conception—one talks about it after the fact, if one discusses it at all. But you really don’t understand it."

Paris Review: The Art of Fiction No. 78 (Interview with James Baldwin)

Wiretapping extends to internet communications

Not that this administration hasn't already expanded the abuse of power wrought by Bush's "state-secrets" privilege (ruled illegal by Judge Walker in 2009), but it's about to get MUCH worse, with no visible political opposition on the horizon—as if the "lesser of the evils" characterization of national elections needed reminding.

U.S. Wants to Make it Easier to Wiretap the Internet

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Friday, September 24, 2010


I anticipate that my preemptive judgment of the Howl film in an earlier post will need repealing once I actually see it (what I get for spouting off undeveloped commentary rather than involved critique; I had it coming). I gather as much after nearly every review by poets and film critics alike who insist that a better adaptation/biopic/tribute of Ginsberg's text (in the original context) is not possible. But a short scene posted by Vulture was enough to fill me with shame, since Franco exhibits a reading voice, inflection, cadence almost identical to the Ginsberg recordings I used to take with me on walks and bike rides.

Post-avants: refocusing, repositing or regressive?

"I’ve long felt the rejection of representation crucial to any investigation into styles of poetic thinking. What constitutes such a discretion? Not entirely the abandonment of logic but certainly the freedom to a certain capriciousness in its application, arrived at through a tactical linking of words into propositional units... Bold innovation is immediately co-optated into a patinated rhetoric of supercession which gets one nowhere beyond the ephemeral titillations of fashion. I prefer to that other narrative of Midas that re-visions the avant-garde as a storehouse of available and cumulative techniques deemed viable and adaptable to the urgencies of the present. Poetry won’t change the world but might render the world rethinkable. This is not a Utopian inclination but a tactical strategy within a multiplicity of dreams, agendas, mistakes and arrogances. It is a poetics of promiscuity envisioned as a tactic. I adopt a chiasmic view of history: that’s partly Eliotian and partly Benjaminian: the present contemporarizes the past as much as the contemporary is historicized by the past. Any worthwhile poetic must be historically rigorous and admit the capricious power of the anachronism."

-Steve McCaffery, from his afterword to Verse and Worse: Selected and New Poems of Steve McCaffery, 1989-2009

The shape of [what] to come

"For me, being an innovator doesn't mean being more intelligent, more rich, it's not a word, it's an action. Since it hasn't been done, there's no use talking about it."

-The Other's Language: Jacques Derrida interviews Ornette Coleman, 23 June 1997

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Dream deferred

Students used messages to protest in favor of the Dream Act, which was denied in a procedural vote Tuesday.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Syrian salon

Poets allowed gathering in Damascus, more out of "freedom" than "insubordination."

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Lexical 'chunking'

A brief bit by Ben Zimmer on the habit of using idiomatic "chunks" of speech in relation to fundamental language learning. Actually, this Sunday's issue of NY Times Magazine is devoted entirely to topics of education and learning technologies, and worth reading.

Politics of fiction

Turkish, female (but more importantly:) writer Elif Shafak talks about "The [identity] politics of fiction"

(found courtesy of Ron Silliman's blog)

Wednesday, September 15, 2010


One painter's abstractions seem to admit their containedness in the familiar, representational canvas.
A few vastly different poets (briefly) comment on the state of American poetry today.
My kind of philosophe offers an antidote to the warm, reassuring, over-affirmative, delusive commercial success that is self-help.

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Attn: Dadaphiles

A charmingly unregulated audio recording of Tristan Tzara poems read by children: Julia Loktev's Dadababies

(found courtesy of Kenneth Goldsmith of WFMU and ubuweb)

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Why I should have been an art history major

Or gone ahead with that perpetual vagabond fantasy, so that I could view works like this in person. © Sam Vanallemeersch, here and here.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Anti-incumbency doesn't (let's hope) begin to explain

Sink provides a sensibly thorough, while ambitious, agenda for public education. Scott states his opinion on the perennial issues. Why, then, is he ahead?

Also, I hope more Floridian Dems show up in November than did this August.

Monday, August 30, 2010

Sura CXI: "We're gonna have some problems."

Thanks, asshole. Way to make my native state an easy target for religious extremism, and bumping us up on the retaliation list, past the Mohammad caricaturists.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Worth a listen

©The Books

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Scholarship Overhaul (front page)

"After all, the development of peer review was an outgrowth of the professionalization of disciplines from mathematics to history — a way of keeping eager but uninformed amateurs out."

Scholars Test Web Alternative To the Venerable Peer Review

What they won't tell you is how much, surely where the humanities are concerned, the (quite often "uninformed") academy owes to independent scholarship by dedicated, acutely studied, and non-funded outsiders who perhaps, if placed before a tenure panel, would stand out as anything but amateurs. I don't mean to say that the bureaucracy and benchmarks should completely disappear from selective reviewing, but if the professional gatekeepers want their institutions to continue providing dynamic, challenging, and (yes) with-it learning opportunities, they should be less afraid of having to trudge through the great influx of truly original ideas and perspectives that exist with or without academist sanctity. Of course, such a meager proposal would require professionalized scrutiny before even being considered, since, as Laurie Anderson puts it:
"Only an expert can see there's a problem,
Only an expert can deal with the problem."

Monday, August 23, 2010


"It is the arbitrary fact, and not any quality of wisdom literature, which creates the impact of the poets. The 'shock of recognition,' when it is anything, is that. If we can hold the word to its meaning, or if we can import a word from elsewhere—a collective, not an abstract noun, to mean 'the things that exist'—then we will not have on the one hand the demand that the poet circumstantially describe everything that we already know, and declare every belief that we already hold, nor on the other hand the ideal of the poet without any external senses at all." -George Oppen, "The Mind's Own Place"


Yesterday's post was/is a temporal fleshing out of an as yet inarticulate, incomplete sense that I have (and for as long as I can remember have had, but cannot explain) toward buzz-language hype and image-intensive capital. It therefore isn't the cogent-est thing I've written. Many proponents of the concepts and movements referenced (without precedent) would argue that (1) such indicative packaging/classification is only (and, after the mid-century mark, self-admittingly, though perhaps not ironically) symptomatic, (2) the most deliberately "uncreative" and de-authorial art is at the end of the day artificial and (as an excuse) cannot be faulted for shamelessly displaying its pronounced presence upon a shelf, and that (3) we will not and never could avoid creative transmission (ambiguous term, but since we fie on expression...) through the image or object, and that abstraction/digression/conceptualization only renews the cognitive diffusion for a time before even the chance/contingent walls, floor, and spaces of context become art "objects", academicized "practices", and nouns. And can I really profess intellectual honesty, when my own blog title refers to the sporadic and informal nature of these posts?
The point is that I still cannot be satisfied (as though I should be, right?) with the attitude best described/excused, I think, in Sontag's preface to Barthes' Writing Degree Zero: "Someday perhaps a demystification of the myth of 'art' (as an absolute activity) will be possible and will take place... At this stage, only new myths can subdue—even for the brief time to permit contemplation—the old myths which move convulsively about us." And, for the moment, what to make of our myths (ours as in theirs: the avant-gardists, the conceptualists, the New Left, who itself is convincing, yet so rife)? How to parse through those that demystify, and re-mystify? What would the artistic community make of the opinion that many such delineated titles/distinctions constrain and control interests and stand in the way of objective (or solipsistically subjective) interpretation, and therefore we might do well to be rid of them? It's an unheard discussion, thus far, what with the partisan gape wrought by a politics/poetics that cannot seem to address their own anachronisms.

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Vogue (Caution: feeling unusually reactionary today)

Many of the titles reviewed by Steven Heller in this Sunday's Book Review (all related in some way to graphic design) make the "I want that!" list. What struck me enough to blurg here, though, was one of his comments on the facsimile republishing of THE FIRST SIX BOOKS OF THE ELEMENTS OF EUCLID: In Which Coloured Diagrams and Symbols Are Used Instead of Letters for the Greater Ease of Learners. Oliver Byrne's text (or graphic language, rather) employs rebus illustrations to elaborate on the concepts of Euclidean geometry with predictable 1847 primary-chrome, two-dimensional charm. Heller's comment:

"Given its 'less is more' layout and primary-color palette — red, blue, yellow, black — THE FIRST SIX BOOKS OF THE ELEMENTS OF EUCLID... prefigures the art and design of 20th-century avant-garde movements. Yet although the illustration on the title page is the spitting image of a de Stijl and Bauhaus design, the mid-19th-­century publishing date disqualifies it from being 'modern' in the Museum of Modern Art sense of the word."

Far from critiquing those two radically minimalist visual art movements, the reviewer subtly refers to the peculiarly "modern" conceptual fetish for recycled content that, in a panoramic inhale, cannot be located without a hot "new" label denoting the current aesthetic fashion. (Heller also shares my obnoxious compulsion for quotation marks without specific indication of an actual source). Which leads me to an old, but as yet unsated complaint: the inundatingly prevalent 20th century habit of unnecessary (and only sometimes deserved) nomineering—sorry, seemed apt—, especially by Modern avant-gardists who by mid-century (though pre-dated, I think, by de Saussurean linguistics, but certainly by Wittgenstein) made such a stink about the imposing, capitalist ethos of NAMING, and yet were often themselves strong proponents, if not originators, of arguably undue classifications; from art coteries, to genre, to poetic practices, concepts, etc. I can appreciate Charles Bernstein's "Nude Formalism" as (I think) a satiric usage, but his own self-promoting "radical legibility" lines up right alongside other neologisms that (rather than draw attention to the thing/idea in question) stand vertically as monumental signposts of and for themselves: Concrete poetry (understood, but did George Herbert need a title to elucidate his typographical innovation?); the Objectivists (whose practices I esteem to Stein-esque heights, but who obviously knew racketeering); the Beats (and Kerouac never did hear the end of it); Language Poetry (at least not an audacious title for this disparate group of writers, though it's somehow considered distinct from the practices of Stein). I don't mean to rail against the clutter of conceptual mythologies and strikingly similar/overlapping -isms, as though they just plain bother me. If artists want to corral an audience through the capitalist marketing practice of ostentatious packaging, that's fine, so long as they recognize their complicit role in product/service pandering. But save the radical-aversion-to-capital-interests-and-the-overdetermined-object bit. It isn't parody without an object to inveigh. It's cute is what it is. Cute enough to fetishize, to sell. And I don't mean dollars, but sensibility. (The battle lines are drawn in the surrounding ethos, aren't they?). Help me out, name-manufacturers: why?

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Adventures in abs(ex)traction

Simple, unabashed legibility, a paramarketable aesthetic, perhaps, or what else to fall back upon in times where "nothing [not even the grotesquely deviant] is sacred [commercially uncontaminated]." I mean, godspeed Ann Liv Young, but have you seen the new piece by Old Spice?

© Greg Eason

No "art" attached

But I'm interested to see if there's any cultural engagement by creative content on the peculiar antagonistic corollary of radical-extremism and social stigmas in our society today. Or how does one say "This is not American.. is it?"?

U.S. Anti-Islam Protest Seen as Lift for Extremists

-“'For the first time, anti-Islamic rhetoric has gone mainstream,' he said. 'What this really does is weaken the moderates and undermine their credibility.'”

(Note: the potential for indicative transference in "their credibility")

Monday, August 16, 2010

More (to love)

Don't expect much content beyond visual art links these next few weeks, unless you want frequent articles on any and all things W.C. Williams (current research project). Didn't think so. Hit up Wolfe von Lenkiewicz, if you aren't yet burnt on religious/consumerist icono-pastiche à la Enrique Chagoya (which I am not), and particularly his "Plura Culture" and "The Descent of Man" series. If you like, make sure to bookmark it before Verizoogle hides it under a heap of commercial rubble that you didn't yet know you really wanted.


Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Things to love:

-Fresh caught salmon over mixed greens
-The Grecian Urns' new "Love Dream"
-Florida weather
-DVR (roommate is a cable guy, thanks roommate)
-Cheap Malbec from Mendoza
-Getting caught up in:

Rachel de Joode @ Booooooom

Kent Rogowski @ Booooooom

Carla Barth @ Booooooom

Adrian Ghenie @ Booooooom

Sterling Hundley @ Booooooom

Kristine Moran @ Booooooom

Kudos Booooooom, some great stuff can be found there!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Greater informational access=empowering.. and intractabilitating

I should return to this subject in the future, though it's apparent from the impatient glints of (often less than lucid) commentary on my part that a substantial interest in blogging has never skyrocketed. But I (also apparently) like making excuses, whether or not they are needed. My second round GRE is in two days, so I'll let the reader's encounter with the report do its own thing... That sounds socially-beneficial, right?

Computers at Home: Educational Hope v. Teenage Reality

The bewildering question, I think, isn't, "who didn't think One Laptop Per Child would nourish mind-capital for the respectively less informed," but rather, "what does this make (to outsiders) of the freedom of information philosophy we so dearly pride against a hyper-regulatory inaccess paranoia a la Beijing?"

-“there was no evidence linking technology immersion with student self-directed learning or their general satisfaction with schoolwork.”

A less mysterious stranger

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Blindly co-opted, complicit Barthesian, or too lazy (impatient) to explain why so?

"Nobody will deny that there is such a thing, for instance, as a writing typical of Esprit or of Les Temps Modernes. What these intellectual modes of writing have in common, is that in them language, instead of being a privileged area, tends to become the sufficient sign of commitment. To come to adopt a closed sphere of language under the pressure of all those who do not speak it, is to proclaim one's act of choosing, if not necessarily one's agreement with that choice. Writing here resembles the signature one affixes at the foot of a collective proclamation one has not written oneself. So that to adopt a mode of writing—or, even better, to make it one's own—means to save oneself all the preliminaries of a choice, and to make it quite clear that one takes for granted the reasons for such a choice. Any intellectual writing is therefore the first of the 'leaps of the intellect'. Whereas an ideally free language never could function as a sign of my own person and would give no information whatsoever about my history and my freedom, the writing to which I entrust myself already exists entirely as an institution; it reveals my past and my choice, it gives me a history, it blazons forth my situation, it commits me without my having to declare the fact." -Roland Barthes, "Writing Degree Zero"

(The real excuse is that Roland Garros devours more of my attention at the moment)

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Art/Book as [material, perishing, self-defacing] object

disappearing book no. 1 from disappearing books on Vimeo.

© Stacy Blint 2010,

(snatched from Silliman)

Thursday, May 20, 2010


Spotted this at my local BAM, and couldn't help laughing. In 2010, a compositional method that more/less has served experimental writers at least since the inception of flarf (probably prior) gets lauded (unto commercial poet-stardom), as if found-object's influence/subversion of the will of the author is a radical new concept, and Kenneth Goldsmith's completely (authorially) unobtrusive Day (a word-for-word transcription of a day's copy of the Times) never happened. Take experimental poetics or leave them, but what I really hope for there to be in the future is a type of poetry freed from formal constraints, composed according to musical phrase, perhaps (but certainly sans metronome), which renders the world as it appears to the author in all its varying intensities of shape, color, and feeling, yet still mimetically just.. we can call it vers libre! Call your agent.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Don Wimble: What-for art thou?

Even my most cursory scan of the news couldn't miss this. Will it be jaunty? Will he (rest assured, it will be a he) wear a frock coat? We'll have to see if two of my favorite things somehow complement or contaminate one another (though you've got me as to how poetry would besiege tourney). My gut says don't kid yourself. This could be ugly.

At Wimbledon: Tennis Poetry

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Look twice, save a life

An implied caution against the codified monolithization (put pedantically novel) of well-intended ethical systems. Predictably, the viability of a thing exists in its application (an application with variously succeeding outcomes), not that anyone guarantees it universally absolute in the first place. Still, issues like this feed my obsession with academe self-programming lexica and buzz words/perspectives in general. Anyway, I thought it interesting enough to share.

Debate: incarcerated higher ed. aspirants vs. "theory-happy academics"

Thursday, May 6, 2010

"The rational man is a wilder invention than the unicorn, er, the seven-headed tiger. No one ever saw one." -Robert Duncan (from his Olson Memorial lecture, March 1979)

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Sea of birds

An outrageously unfair although not surprising co-opt of public ingenuity by the higher-ups: a new era in the battle for intellectual property rights or a rerun of capital "I"mperialism, only now labor is exploited in the setting of swivel chairs and Starbucks rather than tobacco fields? Neither, I'm afraid, if only that tech-savvy developers should know better (cf. Microsoft) than to be taken in by gestures of populism and openness facilitating innovation. The metaphor also fails because (a) developers for a time reaped the fruit of their labors, and (b) can, in most cases probably, negotiate a selling price; even if they feel a maternal bond with their app and consider it a mulatto baby—this deferred extrapolation needs to die, but frankly, I don't feel sorry for them. If you can capitalize on it, somebody else can and very possibly will.

Friday, January 29, 2010

A diggable collection, makes a diggable playlist

Recordings from Allen Ginsberg's class(es) on poetics from the early 80s. Dig.

"Dithyrambs have gotta connect to bricks." -from Class #33

[And I haven't seen Howl yet, but despite its juristic intent I already feel David Cross would've captured Ginsberg better than Franco, in irony as much as likeness; cheers for the glossy, poseur over-dramatization of lives of artists. Coming next year, the heartrending story of Lyn Hejinian's struggle against the construct of genius in My Life.]

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Sonny, 1919-2010

"But the thing is, you raved and you bitched when you came home about the stupidity of audiences. The goddam 'unskilled laughter' coming from the fifth row. And that's right, that's right—God knows it's depressing. I'm not saying it isn't. But that's none of your business, really. That's none of your business, Franny. An artist's only concern is to shoot for some kind of perfection, and on his own terms, not anyone else's. You have no right to think about those things, I swear to you."

Monday, January 18, 2010

Of moment

A figure popularly protruded no doubt because his rhetorically agreeable frame of reference (Socrates, Christ, Lincoln) easily overshadows the subversive nature of his utterance (as well that of the populace itself); nevertheless, his diligent organizing & reminding never mistook the where & how of his context, of the moment ". Time has him relegated to a day of remembrance, to a function of social complacency, therefore dis-armed or -engaging. One can upon a touching photograph & be comfortably moved, then continue disjoined from an injustice "somewhere" else, remote as 1963 Birmingham. And so, compelled by whatever to be reminded of a contextually distant, momently determined struggle, I quote from Dr. King's polemic without intentional conflation of time or place, & yet admittedly with a classic whitey appeal to authority, because in a genuine way I mean to not overlook nationally sanctioned holidays any less or more than the minute intricacies of every other type of human utterance. Also, because I can cite Amiri Baraka's still affronting contributions to civil protest any other day of the year.

"I must confess that over the past few years I have been gravely disappointed with the white moderate. I have almost reached the regrettable conclusion that the Negro's great stumbling block in his stride toward freedom is not the White Citizen's Counciler or the Ku Klux Klanner, but the white moderate, who is more devoted to 'order' than to justice; who prefers a negative peace which is the absence of tension to a positive peace which is the presence of justice; who constantly says: 'I agree with you in the goal you seek, but I cannot agree with your methods of direct action'; who paternalistically believes he can set the timetable for another man's freedom; who lives by a mythical concept of time and who constantly advises the Negro to wait for a 'more convenient season.' Shallow understanding from people of good will is more frustrating than absolute misunderstanding from people of ill will. Lukewarm acceptance is much more bewildering than outright rejection."-Letter From Birmingham Jail

"It's all right to talk about 'long white robes over yonder,' in all of its symbolism. But ultimately people want some suits and dresses and shoes to wear down here. It's all right to talk about 'streets flowing with milk and honey,' but God has commanded us to be concerned about the slums down here, and his children who can't eat three square meals a day. It's all right to talk about the new Jerusalem, but one day, God's preachers must talk about the New York, the new Atlanta, the new Philadelphia, the new Los Angeles, the new Memphis, Tennessee. This is what we have to do." -"I've Been to the Mountaintop"