Disruptive Juxtaposition

Thursday, January 27, 2005

Nothing's safe in your stars

"In & out of sleep / Even with the rise and fall." That's a Califone lyric. It's also how I feel - spent & not making much sense. I was up late (for me) taking in J_____'s remembrances of highs past as L___, with a mechanical pencil, remade the pictures of Leonardo DiCaprio & Clive Owen in the Arts section into two rather fetching drag queens. Eyeliner & pouty lips. That, I have to say, was a better choice than commenting on twenty student papers, right? There's only so much time in a day, and some of it must be budgeted toward holding court with the people you care about. I don't do it enough. Now, of course, I enter the weekend with the same amount of work.

If you buy into the theory that a sestina's endwords need to be distributed chosen according to some inherent associations between them - as in Bishop's "A Miracle Before Breakfast" wherein we get the natural words of
sun & river, and the intimate words of coffee, crumb, & balcony, with the keyword or Joker being miracle (the word that drives the deployment of the others), then how about these: steam, hush (natural), lamp, wheel, and newspaper (these being tied together as manmade objects or some such), and the Joker is return? How do you fancy that? Think it'll work? How is return as a Joker-word?

What if the poem turned out to be about September 11th? This fact surprised me too. But then, it's a poem about surprise, in a way... the cycle of indifference, forgetfulness, and recurrence that has been known to attend tragedy. Which is a subject to which the sestina's obsessive setup is suited. Will G______ agree? In this case, I don't care.

Jasper Johns - Untitled (1992-94) Posted by Hello

Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The sestina that

I wrote today pressed me into a kind of mania from which only now am I coming down. Big thanks go out to the fine staffers of Studio One Cafe, who kept me fueled for all of those hours.

Also "dipped into" (hi Kristin - I
know you love these needless elocutions of mine) the University's Museum of Art. Saw a rather meh Jasper Johns, "Two Maps" I think it was, and a roomful of Junichiro Sekino's rooftop prints. The scalloped crenellations of Japanese rooftops featured prominently in each print, one, and the subtle almost-tough-to-notice curvatures elsewhere in the pieces made for just what the plaque claimed, namely an ideal blend of the modern and the traditional, et cetera. I buy that.

Man, look at that timestamp. I swear I could go to bed.

Monday, January 24, 2005

Inbox, outbox. The Internet, the endgame of capitalism.


1.) A notice that my resume's been received by LaGuardia Community College. I'm not to contact them about the position until after the closing date has passed.

2.) A University of Oregon student bill. Don't I do enough for you, UO?

3.) A statement of earnings from the Oregon University System. Don't I do enough for you, UO?


1.) A submission to CutBank Literary Magazine, full of five fine poems. I have a good feeling about this one.

2.) A job application for an Instructor of English and Composition at Suffolk County Community College. My feelings are not quite as good on this one, but they're good.

3.) A stack of nays for NWR contributor-hopefuls. Many a tear has to fall, but it's all in the game. I play this game, too. As Joe Millar said when asked about advice re: submitting poems: "Buy stamps and bend over."

Obligatory Thesisization of Things in my Brain:

I've been sucked into Friendster the last few days. (Thank you very much, Tawny.) It's post-postmodernity writ large, it is, it is. If television's the chief technology of postmodernism - with its one-way communication, splintered messages from slews of media sources, and the intractable isolation it seems to cause and feed upon - then the Internet's the post-post tool that patches back together, however imperfectly, the mortar of our intellectual & societal selves. (This concept doesn't yet wrestle with the deconstructionist's basic tenet that there is no self, only shards of culturally- and socioeconomically-derived brands and beliefs that we call self-hood. But it will.) Witness Wikipedia. Witness eBay. Witness the ascension of blogging (not this blog, yet, but it shall be one day), all social movements en masse which labor mightily for disparate intentions yet with similar results: the (re)connected, reconstitution of meaning, and reliable, interdependent systems for doing so.

The Internet is one of two primary arguments I've been weighing and witnessing as signs of the existence of a culture-wide renovation of how information's created, processed, reprocessed, received, received, and received. The other is capitalism itself, or rather the winning players of the game capitalism, or better yet the (if we take capitalism to be an analog of evolution & natural selection, and I think we can) modern veterans of capitalism's survival of the fittest modus operandi. After WWII, the American consumer society leapt onto a plateau of operation miles above where it had been; with globalisation there's been another leap upward. These increases pertain to orders of scale: those of production, consumption, and trade in (admittedly) general senses; the increasing scale required by the globalised economy, one, and two, the natural selection-esque process by which some companies and concerns make it and strengthen and others don't and die and by which your Wal-Marts and McDonalds and Nikes, the capitalism-forged homo sapiens of the post-post age, now stand like colossi atop the world, commanding incredible amounts of attention worldwide and wielding their incredible clubs, it all adds up to a kind of endgame for capitalism. Not an endgame maybe, but a next stage distinct from its previous incarnation. You can tell this stage to be distinct, indeed, simply by way of the huge success of these concerns (your WMs and McDs and Ns) and by the way that the (pop) cultural systems in place over the world (which is itself one of this colossus-like, world-squishing giants) present and distill these concerns, and the products of these concerns. There's a base familiarity * in the international presentation and consumption of the most successful corporate octopi and their storefront faces: their ability to penetrate the global market has increased the scale of their successes to a kind of international ubiquity of which Coca-Cola circa 1984 was the piddly kid brother. But to keep the metaphor going: the natural selection of capitalism has seemed to produce a brood of super-corporations, the influence of which while not absolute is certainly thought to be rather imposing and all over the place. I see this in a recent Borders commerical, lovingly soundtracked with string strains and earth-tones that wouldn't be out of place in the last five minutes of a Full House episode: there are quick cuts from a fellow re-enacting the chest-bursting scene in Alien, to another fellow, I think at a water cooler, staging Jack Nicholson's ax-hacking into the kitchen a la The Shining (this clip's especially fun, with the actor making an ever-widening gash in the "door" by means of his taut hands, through which he pushes his face as he Jackishly leers at his friends and madly repeats the immortal "Heeeere's Johnny"), and so on - the crucial aspect to all of these cheeky vignettes, of course, is the presence of an audience for each little pantomime and, by necessary implication, the fact that everyone in the audience gets it. Everyone knows the scene in question. Everyone's seen it, or if they have not, then the natural selectivity of the culture that's been testing and proving the strength of that cultural product for lo these I don't know, thirty years?, has helped that scene sink into the national and even international consciousness to the point that meaning & understanding is made, and mirth and bellylaughs and "Hey yeah, I love that scene"s are bandied about.**

* It's important to distinguish between how actually familiar your McDs and W-Ms are the world over, and how they are presented to be so familiar in the channels of advertising / thought to be in colloquial hipster's-parlance. There are I think ways of quantifying the global awareness level of a Coke logo, for instance, but of more interest at the moment is the way in which that Coke logo is treated to be on the same semiotic level as a STOP sign: instantly known the globe over. It's not merely a matter of slick advertising - of course Coke's going to want to present the notion that there's not a soul on the planet that doesn't know the cool, crackling manna that is a glass of icy Coke. But I hesitate to say that Coke asserting the borderless ubiquity of Coke, or Borders' (leave this footnote behind and read on in the main text, if you haven't yet) ad's dependence on the common ground with which classic Hollywood movies provides us is nothing more than a slickster adman's pitch: everyone knows about X, so you should know about / use / buy / be a part of X too. I think that it's not so simple. I think that there's a cultural & artistic urge to swallow this snake oil willingly if it means that we as a (sub?)culture will be able to converse about Aliens, or Wal-Mart's good / evil, or whatever we can. As a result, though, post-post might have to be said to depend on the most central current of the mainstream.

** Not least of all, too, Borders and The Shining and Jack Nicholson and even I might say the physical setting of the hewn door all attain further identities beyond themselves: Borders isn't a mere international peddler of media but a bridge between the islands every man (and woman) was under postmodernity, and so is The Shining a bridge, and Jack and the door as it's axed apart. It's all to the (real? alleged?) establishment of a common understanding, a shared point of contact.