Monday, December 12, 2011

The Alphabet

An early short film from David Lynch's UCLA period.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Another gem

Toni Simon and Nick Piombino read from Stacy Doris' 'Discourse on the Guillotine,' drawings by Toni Simon
Toni Simon and Nick Piombino read from the Cake Part from Stacy Doris on Vimeo.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Contradicta: Aphorisms

Contradicta: Aphorisms from Toni Simon on Vimeo.

Reading by Nick Piombino, drawings and video by Toni Simon.

Friday, October 28, 2011

States of emergent (see)

"The tradition of the oppressed teaches us that the 'state of emergency' in which we live is not the exception but the rule. We must attain to a conception of history that is in keeping with this insight. Then we shall clearly realize that it is our task to bring about a real state of emergency, and this will improve our position in the struggle against Fascism. One reason why Fascism has a chance is that in the name of progress its opponents [i.e. liberals, historical materialists, etc.] treat it as a historical norm. The current amazement that the things we are experiencing are 'still' possible in the twentieth century is not philosophical. This amazement is not the beginning of knowledge––unless it is the knowledge that the view of history which gives rise to it is untenable." -Walter Benjamin, Thesis 8 of "Theses on the Philosophy of History"

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

De rerum natura

"'Tis sweet, when, down the mighty main, the winds
Roll up its waste of waters, from the land
To watch another's labouring anguish far,
Not that we joyously delight that man
Should thus be smitten, but because 'tis sweet
To mark what evils we ourselves be spared;
'Tis sweet, again, to view the mighty strife
Of armies embattled yonder o'er the plains,
Ourselves no sharers in the peril; but naught
There is more goodly than to hold the high
Serene plateaus, well fortressed by the wise,
Whence thou may'st look below on other men
And see them ev'rywhere wand'ring, all dispersed
In their lone seeking for the road of life;
Rivals in genius, or emulous in rank,
Pressing through days and nights with hugest toil
For summits of power and mastery of the world.
O wretched minds of men! O blinded hearts!
In how great perils, in what darks of life
Are spent the human years, however brief!–
O not to see that Nature for herself
Barks after nothing, save that pain keep off,
Disjoined from the body, and that mind enjoy
Delightsome feeling, far from care and fear!"

Saturday, September 24, 2011


Innocent female protesters penned in the street and maced!

Sunday, September 18, 2011

The Thoughtful Lover

"Deny yourself all
half things. Have it
or leave it.

But it will keep—or
it is not worth
the having.

Never start
anything you can't

However do not lose
faith because you
are starved!

She loves you
she says. Believe it

But today

the particulars
of poetry

that difficult art

your whole attention."


Saturday, September 10, 2011

to his cowing mistress


Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Disruptive distinctions

Sometimes (well, oftentimes, and with the semester beginning, oftener-times) I need diversions, stark as a good Onion headline ("Nation's Weirdest Teenager Buys Season One DVD Of 'Murphy Brown'"), but nuanced enough to colonize my interest for several accidental minutes. At once permanentor for the moment, permanently accessible, as in, wherever there's a WiFi hotspotand ephemeral—no "object" in the sense of tangibly differentiated space; always remote from "I"—the projections/projectables/projective virtual "things" so far incapable of being possessed, bought (copyrighted?), except through Lindley's temporal act of installation (in this sense, of course, it is owned), or if I permit the temptation to fetishistically stick it to my desktop background; what do I want to say about them? Something simple. Something like, "She does it best." Isn't this the point, by varying degrees of totalizing statement, which art critics arrive at in their praise of a person, or his/her craft? I don't know. I'm happy it isn't my business to be an expert on such questions (for now, at least), but if I could just give a more intelligent, less inherited, sense of what I mean by "transfix," when I say I am trans-fixed (I stand or sit, and I am moved) by these pieces. If I could only inhabit these virtual works besides just within my own mind—but that thinking is illusory. The material, the tempo-real cannot (shouldn't?) be transmuted by the mind (only within its conceptual parameters). Nor can the virtual object coagulate, calcify, inhabit space in a solid, intransigent way; and this is the axiomatic takeaway of the medium itself: nothing, essentially, exists in this way. All is finally subject to corrosion, structural decomposition, liquification, elemental reconstitution.

I'm not nailing this aesthetic definition-thing down. It would be a mistake to think I could even attempt a potent critical investigation of Lindley's craft. And I don't mean for this reverence to lend more autonomy to the work than is due; it is just one of those pieces I would rather (for better/worse) let speak for itself.

"D.2" by Kasey Lou Lindley

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Whoso list to punt

Lately I've been producing stuff of a different kind, so I figure now's a good time to let go of the few poems I was hoping to get "published" this year. Of the five or so, I was least fond of "roominations," however I am grateful to the editors at √úbernothing for its publication. So without further disparagement, I enter/exit the quixotic threshold of "literary" anxiety and cheerfully present four mediocre pieces of a sort that may look nothing like what I'm currently doing; nor can I expect them to look like themselves 1 in the future:

of plural and obstinate

of plural and obstinate
of cause and affect
of absorption and distress
of authority and love
of home and difference
of opinions and suspicion
of limits and extension
of contents and formed
of motion and continence
of you and our
of lapse and track
of hearing and thus
of quiet and indicative
of life and end
of progress and history
of facts and undeterred
of intention and sense
of being and withheld
of judgment and regardless
of cooperation and contempt
of court and defense
of nation and state
of mind and body
of water and finality
of ambition and slumber
of reading and life
of examination and wastes
of time and where
of which and resisting
of definition and infinitude
of possible and specified
of variable and absolute
of reason and passions
of other and binary
of one and same
of kind and quality
of care and privatization
of wealth and share
of space and occupation
of land and sea
of consciousness and habit
of perpetuum and disruption
of stasis and variation
of use and significance
of relative and general
of particular ands

on time align

beckons back to the gee
ography of it

doesn't appear this
pier's for peering

does & shouldn't be
couldn't would'st

an other's gaze at
quarter to ten

better head back
& meet de pressed

did you set the DVR
such a gift time

brushing trace thru city
grass no mention made

of the water reference no tide

the eye floats itself
surfeited engulfed the point

of reference look out
& see you're observed

speech wears its watch
down the well of inscrutability

a 4-way stop step
forward pacing deliberate a-

cross the walk slows
white pickup each awaiting

the other's halt in
time meted tension

anticipate the steps
observing each climb

speak compared cruelty 2

speak compared cruelty
compared could have
but older which
pity these breakfast for
enemy about existed that forever
families certain rank
privilege including they
had to have
would all me could
had believe get from first
this would axe insult
lightning cemetery
we over that terror
or deserves their reverence
worst ludicrous ever
elect it other a
of and families own
they occurred
could it were asked it
he didn't voluntarily
steal the crimes
myself I to prove
change you to thing
watch they become body
shout of invented
whose is on have
wholesome gov't
not real to extraneous
out the to loyalty was
Connecticut power
founded they alter
their expedient

to thing of

there's no seeing thing
thru barricades

to see
has been seen

or be—their no thing
threw craves

scene of nothing been
to white no

thing alights a bee
whose knees have seeing

that's the matter
of to and/or is

another matter bar-
ricuda undersea

between (these) more &
less parallel beams, mat-

erial batters
being seen to nothing

the mattering of
manners bantered

like light's umbrage
sees there's no matter

to thing of


1 All my poems tend to undergo variation/transmutation in the act of revision, in the presence of new poems/ideas, and esp. in the labor of performance.

2 This poem was constructed via a simple chance-operation using pages from a volume of James Baldwin's collected writings. The (incidental) content/form lends itself to surprisingly justifiable hermeneutic manifestations, particularly when read aloud at various tempos and cadences. I plan to experiment with it more (perhaps using voice-layer technology) at some point. Comes what may.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Middle/Meddle English

Caroline Bergvall, on the contemporary state(s) of language and identity in the art/social/political/etc. world:

"I repeat what many have said, that poetic or art language must not implicitly be held to account of identities and national language, the seductions of literary history, or the frequently fetishistic methodologies of art movements, but rather seek, far and close, the indicators and practices of language in flux, of thought in making: pleasured language, pressured language, language in heated use, harangued language, forms of language revolutionized by action, polemical language structures that propose an intense deliberate reappraisal of the given world and its given forms."

from Meddle English (2011)

Monday, May 9, 2011

"Je est un autre" (I is another)

R A I N T A X I interviews John Ashbery, on his recently published translation of Rimbaud's Illuminations

“If we are absolutely modern—and we are—it’s because Rimbaud commanded us to be.”

Saturday, April 30, 2011

Ideology, and the rules of the intelligentsia

While I tend to agree with Michel Foucault with regard to the question of Human Nature—put indelicately, that is that we cannot arrive at a totalized, reliable sense of any innate psychological "Nature" in people that remains unexposed and invulnerable to the social, political, economic, ideological forces of the contemporaneous environment—and therefore the existence of anything but an abstract, temporal notion of "Justice," I have always appreciated Chomsky's democratic attitude toward the problem of social analysis:

"The social sciences generally, and above all the analysis of contemporary affairs, are quite accessible to anyone who wants to take an interest in these matters. The alleged complexity, depth, and obscurity of these questions is part of the illusion propagated by the system of ideological control, which aims to make the issues seem remote from the general population and to persuade them of their incapacity to organize their own affairs or to understand the social world in which they live without the tutelage of intermediaries... In the analysis of social and political issues it is sufficient to face the facts and to be willing to follow a rational line of argument. Only Cartesian common sense, which is quite evenly distributed, is needed... beyond that no special esoteric knowledge is require to explore these 'depths,' which are nonexistent." -from "Politics," Noam Chomsky's interview with Mitsou Ronat, incorporated in the book version of the Chomsky-Foucault Debate.

Click here for an online version of the title debate, sans supplementary arguments and interviews:

The Chomsky-Foucault Debate: "Human Nature: Justice vs. Power"

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

In the mail

Just out this past January, the first volume of The H.D. Book: The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan, UC Press, 2011, 696 pgs.

Publisher's description:
"This magisterial work, long awaited and long the subject of passionate speculation, is an unprecedented exploration of modern poetry and poetics by one of America’s most acclaimed and influential postwar poets. What began in 1959 as a simple homage to the modernist poet H.D. developed into an expansive and unique quest to arrive at a poetics that would fuel Duncan’s great work in the 1970s. A meditation on both the roots of modernism and its manifestation in the work of H.D., Ezra Pound, D.H. Lawrence, William Carlos Williams, Edith Sitwell, and many others, Duncan’s wide-ranging book is especially notable for its illumination of the role women played in creation of literary modernism. Until now, The H.D. Book existed only in mostly out-of-print little magazines in which its chapters first appeared. Now, for the first time published in its entirety, as its author intended, this monumental work—at once an encyclopedia of modernism, a reinterpretation of its key players and texts, and a record of Duncan’s quest toward a new poetics—is at last complete and available to a wide audience."

I recently found a .pdf of the Frontier Press 1984 version, for free, which does not include the new introduction and appendices.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

"America is just a word but I use it"

I've been most neglectful, I know. Grad. school preparations are just beginning, so I don't see involved blog-posts in the near future. It's just too easy to tweet links. While blogs are on the wane in general, I do intend to make something of this one. Meanwhile, check out this:

Crossing State Lines: An American Renga ed. by Bob Holman & Carol Muske-Dukes

My reaction can be described as nonplussed, in both the original and hopelessly inverted, American sense. In the digital age, a renga of this magnitude isn't an incredible feat by any means (especially when you deviate from the constrained, traditional Japanese form), but the variegate, sundry, and (to use one of Charles Bernstein's cherished adjectives) incommensurable impressions collide into an eventual, synchronous mixture of both splendor and boredom, though more of the former. The short (56 pgs.) book makes one wish to exert more influence over the selection of voices, and even what those voices say/don't. Alas, such is America. I would support a wide distribution and translations of this poem to be sent with our cultural diplomacy initiatives, if only to have faraway inhabitants read Vijay Seshadri's line, "Will we ever catch up to say how sorry we are?"

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

A friendly Valentine's

Had an extra friend-ly Valentine's Day, since Ashley & I have a pretty good time the rest of the year, ate at Carraba's, etc. One thoughtful friend, whose work I greatly admire, gave me an artistic digital Valentine (below). At the moment, I was inspired to respond with a work of art, myself; mind you, the poem was conveyed via facebook as it is merely appropriate to our century's manifestation of personal correspondence. Granted, I'm cheating the ephemeral vagary of time/chance by publishing it here, however, it's only fair that my first digitally composed poem (I write everything on paper) finds a home on my oft-neglected weblog. It is a short eulogy to the work of a friend. Please bear in mind that my premature, unformulated poetic approach (and that of any writer, for that matter) insufficiently refers to/describes the artist and/or her work, which it commemorates. You can learn more about the artist and her work by clicking: Kasey Lou Lindley.

for Kasey Lou Lindley

poems are for suckers
as is love (they say
can't be but so
(parenthesize apostrophe t
& willing to bet
like is too
like this reply
like everything
guess I shd comment
the weather
do something spontaneous
less redundant
flagpot girdquill
discograflaccid bricolava
hailmary fullofgrace
afresh to the sense
your art's
a continent a
an aphor-disiac
that's not to say: platitude
a poem almost
that feels new (always?
now that can't be
can't but be
like those cats
& the date
hap: pee
(vale, 'n, time

Sunday, January 23, 2011

E-lite elites

Two recent articles take on this question of 'What is elitism?' or 'Who are the elites?', stemming from an unmistakable swell of anti-intellectualism in political, social, and aesthetic discourse. Is there a real disconnect? What happened to the "power elite?" Who is actually dictating and public taste and defining social/commercial attitudes? Scholars? critics? or big budget marketers?

NY Times: Defy the Elite! Wait, Which Elite? -by A.O. Scott

n+1: Revolt of the Elites -from the editors of n+1

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

The times they are a-changin'

A talk by Charles Bernstein given at Simon Fraser University, Jan. 8, 2010: "Sound Tools for Sound Listening" (mp3): contains three essays: "Making Audio Visible," "Hearing Voices," and "The Bound Listener," as well as some Q&A.

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The thinging of things

"Read what Heidegger has to say about the thinging of things, that is, the gathering and uniting—or as the German says so directly and strongly, das Verweilen, the letting-while or letting-dwell—by which the world is stayed, in virtually every sense of 'stay,' and you will begin to re-collect in your own thinking a basic human grasp of the meaning of things, which will open up afresh a basic human relationship to them... As over against the modern concept of the thing which sees it primarily in its relation to human understanding as an object of representation and in its relation to human will as matter or product of a process or production or self-imposition—a concept, then, not of the thing in its own thingness, but of the thing in its subservience to human preoccupations—Heidegger finds in language the thought of the thing as thing, that is, as gathering and staying a world in its own special way. Hence he is able to use 'thing' as a verb and, by this new coining and recoining of the ancient word and its meaning, to think recallingly and responsively the being of the thing as man has authentically lived with things from the beginning.
Call this primitivism, if you will; it can also be called a recalling to origins, a reversion to the primeval... It represents a movement away from the thin abstractions of representational thinking and the stratospheric constructions of scientific theorizing, and toward the full concreteness, the onefoldness of the manifold, of actual life-experience." -Albert Hofstadter, Introduction to Martin Heidegger's Poetry, Language, Thought

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Criticism matters (but all of it?)

Today the NY Times Book Review featured a forum on "Why Criticism Matters," which is nevertheless worth the read if you want to hear where (some of) the general concerns lie for/about the genre of literary criticism. I recommend the contributions by Pankaj Mishra, Sam Anderson, and Elif Batuman. However, Tim Yu provides a more complete scope about the gimmicks and (often paradoxical) concerns of professional, as opposed to academic and to amateur, criticism in his post: "Does (Paid) Criticism Matter?" He notes that it is a classic example of one-upmanship by the self-marketing, quasi-insular, honorific (bourgeois?) literary scene that wishes to appear as the specialized-though-not-too-specialized arbiters between the potentially misunderstood artist and the ignorant public. As if to appose specialized "esoteric" prose and a terrestrial, "commonsense" content (or, if you like, a time-consuming, tediously prepared meal and the quick, packaged, healthy supplement meal in a candy bar), and ask: Which would you prefer? Yu notes: "Fading into irrelevance themselves, paid critics shore up their position by pointing to the even greater irrelevance of the academic writer." This does seem to be the editors' point, but it is also to advertise, to re-romanticize the life of the paid writer; the very sort of aphoristic tragedy that works to dignify MFA programs (which they discourage ostensibly) as a dying breed. The point is, isn't it rather insulting to lament the wavering interest of the "common reader" (a construct) with a hopeful tone that concessions can be made. 'You may resemble dumb, ungrateful animals, but we can win you back!' Although Anderson's piece makes the case that Criticism plays a vital role in the intertextual production (and play) of meaning, the feature's title "Why Criticism Matters" is pure genre-pandering. The question begged, 'Does it matter?' suggests an unconscious opinion poll. Yu makes it clear: this is an ad campaign for the major reviewing venues. Paid-criticism presents a more palatable alternative for the reader. To me, this seems a greater sin than (arguably, over-)specialized criticism, which doesn't take the reader for an impossibly limited beast. The question is: do paid-critics feel threatened? Does the web's increased access to free content pose a danger to the print/subscription-limited reading industry? Have they failed to build an insurmountable hedge around their commercial production of homogeneous Taste?

Also, we mustn't forget, as Yu reminds the NYT: "The range of books reviewed has become narrower; readers of poetry in particular know that the major book reviews abandoned us long ago."