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.