Disruptive Juxtaposition

Saturday, March 19, 2005

Rocky's gunning for Drago

Background music to my blogging.

You know, freshman-year-at-college though it may have been, passing around The Stick has blown me into a whole assortment of blogs I would never have otherwise found. And it occurred to me over the course of these meanderings that there are droves of killingly smart, entertaining people out there, many of them poets. You may even be one of them. If you are, if you're not, drop me a note, drop me a blog address, take issue with my Rain Mannish takes on postmodern theory &c, whatever. You're just interesting people, is all, and I'm glad to hear from - meet, you might say - every one of you.

I haven't seen this Rocky before. I suspect, after a difficult bout and veering near to unconsciousness / blood-induced blindness, Rocky prevails. The Soviets sure get a bad rap, don't they? Too bad: the Soviets might have been my people, and I don't begrudge them a thing.

Notes Excerpt #2

Fulton (Alice) constantly mentions that “voice” is a construct; I mean, sure it is, but it doesn’t strand us as Fulton says it does: “Rather than mirroring its age, fractal disruption functions as a Zen slap, awakening readers from the spell of the ‘sincere’ voice. It contrasts transparent lines with less ‘genuine’ dictions, and the disparate tones vibrate like complementary colors” (71). Artfully said. But why this skepticism that readers will not buy into any textual utterance—has postmodernism & deconstruction really left us in so untenable a position? I don’t think so. I think this technique can and should “mirror” this age. That’s what is, for us, genuine. To drive home this point, I refer us all to watch fifteen minutes of television, or note well what web pages we came from and will go to after this one.

Friday, March 18, 2005

Post to Post-post, Maybe

Here's a quotation from Marjorie Perloff's "Postmodernism / fin de siecle" - a few years old but useful yet.

“…the works of Anderson and Rosler, Birnbaum and Levine, Sherman and Kruger remain just that: exempla, demonstrating how valid Lacan's discussion of the Law of the Father, Lyotard's notion of the postmodern "unrepresentable," and Foucault's analysis of the power system are. Ironically, then, the women artists in question continue to be victimized--if not by the patriarchy of modernist critique and the art market, then by the French theoretical model which their work so nicely illustrates. The real power, in other words, belongs not to the postmodern artist (Anderson, Sherman) but to the poststructuralist theorist whose principles validate the work. No wonder, then, that recent handbooks on postmodernism--and they are now legion-- reduce what was once the excitement of the Cutting Edge to a list of rules and prescriptions that make one almost long for the days of Understanding Poetry” (191).

Here then is Perloff’s chief support for her claim of postmodernity’s having gone astray, and my chief support for postmodernity’s being a bankrupt, dead-end endeavor: in asserting the local interdeterminate meaning of all meaning, postmodernism has had to lean on its theorists heavily in order to assert itself as a viable critical theory; in so doing, it became (and is) another Lyotardian metanarrative. When literary judges rap gavel about the rulelessness of contemporary discourse, they impose rules. So therefore postmodernism would seem to be a needless excursion in the trip to make meaningful articulations; if a story / poem / international vector of discourse is likened to an Interstate, postmodernism is the off-ramp where you can stock up on Stuckey’s and listen to the gasman’s tales of familial woe, and you revel in the feather head-dresses, mini license plate with your name, and gorge on spinning corn dogs. Perloff points out though that you have to hop back on the road eventually. You have to keep going. You have to actually say something, you have to get over the mountains. That’s what I think anyway. Perloff might not agree; she seems to advocate a postmodernism redivivus, reconsecrated to the flotsam of local meaning, rather than (as postmodernism in this ever-longer analogy would say) stick around and understand the filling station’s pleasures while saying “Hey, how cool, we’re touring the Interstate, what a cool Stuckey’s, way better than what I’m used to!” Perloff would shame-shame those postmodernists but advocates a reinvigorated brand of same. I say get back on the road.

The Stick

Thanks, Tony, for the baton. I shall not drop it.

You're stuck inside Fahrenheit 451, which book do you want to be?This question makes me wonder about the morals of the bookburning civilization - how thorough are they? If they're inept and only gun for the first few floors of pulp, then I should like to be a musty gazetteer of some Missouri county, Chariton maybe, or Ste Genevieve. But if they know what's what, what makes a good book and come after those, then I'd be a medieval Book of Hours (calligraphied and coded by anonymous monks) or the papers of Elizabeth Bishop. If you're going to go, go out happy.

Have you ever had a crush on a fictional character? I think her name was Callie Shaw - Frank Hardy's girlfriend from "The Hardy Boys." She had green eyes.

The last book you bought is: John Ashbery's A Wave.

The last book you read
: Kevin Young's Most Way Home. Also The Watchmen, the epic graphic novel of the 80's, touchstone for sequential artists everywhere I hear, by Moore and Gibbons.

What are you currently reading?
Garrett Hongo's The River of Heaven.

Five books you would take to a deserted island:

1. The Iliad
2. Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass (Deathbed Edition)
3. Wallace Stevens, Collected Poems.
4. Jonathan Franzen, The Corrections.
5. Jonathan Safran Foer, Everything Is Illuminated.

Who are you going to pass this stick to (3 persons) and why?

Wendy Wisner, because she's right above me on Tony's blogroll, and we should all know our neighbors. Plus, she shares with me the "Dots" Blogger template.
Paul Guest, because I esteem his blog title above just about everyone else's, especially my own.
Rachel Dacus, because I too love Alexander Graham Bell, and his Watson.

Wednesday, March 16, 2005

Paglia & Scully

James Scully, not the full-lipped redheaded skeptic I've loved from 1995 on. James has this to say:

"The ramifications go on. In writing to demystify bourgeois ideology, yet doing so in terms of bourgeois belles-lettres, I write within a convention available to a tiny portion of the bourgeoisie itself. This convention effectively excludes participation by the vast majority of people - whose needs it does not meet, does not comprehend, and in fact hardly addresses. Although I, along with others, may prospose to write for the countless number who literally or effectively cannot read this, I write to those whose language I use - those who with few exceptions will not want to read this (not only becuase it demands of them time and energy, but also because it shrugs off, attacks, or occasionally, at best, dismantles their own verities), or who will apprehend it in terms of the social understanding, the ideology, that restricts the purview of their 'aesthetic' values. This is not a circumstance to be regretted or moralized on. It is what the specific historical situation, including my place in it, allows. The writing, with its contradictions, is conditioned on that situation. At most that writing is an act of resistance, a struggle. But the overcoming of these particular contradictions would require, among other things, a redisposition of social power: not the spreading of bourgeois belles-lettres to masses of people (a missionary presumption that could only extend bourgeois hegemony, especially if power relationships remained unchanged) but the development of forms, ways of apprehending that correspond to and enable the empowerment of the disenfranchised. Without the conditions for such a poetry, or culture, there is no way of producing it" (Line Break, 121).

And Paglia has this, published recently in The Telegraph (UK)'s Arts section:

"English has evolved over the past century because of mass media and advertising, but the shadowy literary establishment in America, in and outside academe, has failed to adjust. From the start, like Andy Warhol (another product of an immigrant family in an isolated north-eastern industrial town), I recognised commercial popular culture as the authentic native voice of America. Burned into my memory, for example, is a late-1950s TV commercial for M&M's chocolate candies. A sultry cartoon peanut, sunbathing on a chaise longue, said in a twanging Southern drawl: "I'm an M&M peanut / Toasted to a golden brown / Dipped in creamy milk chocolate / And covered in a thin candy shell!" Illustrating each line, she prettily dove into a swimming pool of melted chocolate and popped out on the other side to strike a pose and be instantly towelled in her monogrammed candy wrap. I felt then, and still do, that the M&M peanut's jingle was a vivacious poem and that the creative team who produced that ad were folk artists, anonymous as the artisans of medieval cathedrals.

My attentiveness to the American vernacular - through commercials, screwball comedies, hit songs, and talk radio (which I listen to around the clock) - has made me restive with the current state of poetry. I find too much work by the most acclaimed poets laboured, affected and verbose, intended not to communicate with the general audience but to impress their fellow poets. Poetic language has become stale and derivative, even when it makes all-too-familiar avant garde or ethnic gestures. Those who turn their backs on media (or overdose on postmodernism) have no gauge for monitoring the metamorphosis of English. Any poetry removed from popular diction will inevitably become as esoteric as 18th-century satire (perfected by Alexander Pope), whose dense allusiveness and preciosity drove the early Romantic poets into the countryside to find living speech again. Poetry's declining status has made its embattled practitioners insular and self-protective: personal friendships have spawned cliques and coteries in book and magazine publishing, prize committees and grants organisations. I have no such friendships and am a propagandist for no poet or group of poets."

So Camille says to James, "The conditions DO exist - the conditions to which poetry has to speak are changing all the time!" And James is all like, "Well yeah, but I'm still at base one of the snoots who can't help Joe and Mary Smitherson understand their lives through poetry, and I'm rather guilty about it." And Camille says, "Man, you're a downer. Look around you. Turn on the T.V. once in awhile and Q-Tip your ears so you can hear what's Marvin Gaye ask what's goin' on." When James, thusly: "Well hey. I never said that poetry wasn't a powerful goddam force, especially when it comes to the line break; where lines break create meaning that can speak to & expose & counter social inequalities. I just feel a little Ivory Tower about it is all." Camille's like, "Jimmy, I've had just about enough. Put your words on the page and buy stamps and bend over." And Jimmy did.

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Sunday night drinks = the way it should be