Third Factory/Notes to Poetry

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Posts Tagged ‘Craig Dworkin

Attention Span 2011 | Román Luján

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Raúl Zurita | Purgatory: A Bilingual Edition | California | 2009

Raúl Zurita | Song for His Disappeared Love / Canto a su amor desaparecido | Action | 2010

Manuel Maples Arce | City : A Bolshevik Superpoem in 5 Cantos / Urbe : Poema bolchevique en 5 cantos | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Myriam Moscona | Negro marfil / Ivory Black | Les Figues | 2011

Uljana Wolf | False Friends | Ugly Duckling | 2011

Carlos Oquendo de Amat  | 5 Meters of Poems / 5 metros de poemas | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Michael Palmer | Thread | New Directions | 2011

Marosa di Giorgio | The History of Violets / La historia de las violetas | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Jose Kozer | Stet: Selected Poems | Junction | 2006

Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011

Jen Hofer | One | Palm | 2009

Caroline Bergvall | Meddle English | Nightboat | 2011

Charles Bernstein | Attack of the Difficult Poems | Chicago | 2011

Gonzalo Rojas | From the Lightning: Selected Poems | Green Integer | 2006

Juliana Spahr | Well Then There Now | Black Sparrow | 2011

Robert Walser | Microscripts | New Directions / Christine Burgin | 2010

Cecilia Vicuña and Ernesto Livon Grosman, eds. | The Oxford Book of Latin American Poetry  | Oxford | 2009

Brian Kim Stefans  | Viva Miscegenation | Make Now | Forthcoming 2011

Marjorie Perloff | Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century | Chicago | 2010

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Román Luján is a Mexican poet and translator currently living in Los Angeles, where he is studying for his Ph.D. in Latin American Literature at UCLA. His books of poetry include Drâstel (Bonobos, 2010), Deshuesadero (FETA, 2006), Aspa Viento in collaboration with painter Jordi Boldó (FONCA, 2003) and Instrucciones para hacerse el valiente (CONACULTA, 2000). Some of his poems and translations can be found at Eleven Eleven, Mandorla, Aufgabe, and Jacket2.

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Attention Span 2011 | Marjorie Perloff

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Caroline Bergvall | Meddle English | Nightboat | 2011

The title poem is Bergvall’s brilliantly satiric version of Chaucer, anatomizing the current socio-cultural scene, but this rich collection also includes the experimental verse of “Goan Atom,” and (my favorite) “Cropper,” Bergvall’s multilingual exploration of sedimentation—of “borders, rules, boundaries, edges, limbos at historical breaches.”

Craig Dworkin | Motes | Roof | 2011

Minimalist procedural lyrics that uncover the secrets within given words and morphemes. Dworkin’s version of Duchamp’s With Hidden Noise, it’s a totally delightful and pleasurable but also intellectually rigorous book.

Peter Gizzi | Threshold Songs | Wesleyan | 2011

This may be Gizzi’s best book to date: the mood is elegiac (the poet’s brother Michael had just died) but also jaunty: whenever the darkness becomes too hard to bear, a colloquial—even funnynote brings us back to the everyday world: “Don’t back away. Turtle into it / with your little force.”

Christian Hawkey | Ventrakl | Ugly Duckling | 2010

Hawkey’s surreal lyric sequence, prompted by the life and work of Georg Trakl. Using a great variety of verse forms and prose interludes, Hawkey produces a terrifying and moving poem about legacy, memory, and the stories we tell ourselves so as to avoid self-recognition.

Heinrich Heine, trans. into Portuguese and with an introd. by André Vallias | Heine, hein? – Poeta dos contrários | Sao Paulo: Perspectiva | 2011

Heine, one of the great lyric poets of all time, is still very little known in the US and translations have been partial and problematic. But Vallias, himself a fine poet, has produced an amazing book, including all the major poems as well as essays, letters, and bibliographical material. My Portuguese is very rudimentary but I marvel at what can—and is being—done elsewhere to bring one nation’s poetry into the present of another’s.

Christian Marclay, dir. | The Clock | a film | 2010

To my mind, the finest conceptual work ever produced: this 24-hour montage of film clips played in real time (featuring an infinite variety of clocks, watches, and verbal signals indicating that exact time in each shot) is endlessly enchanting—a Waiting for Godot for the 21st Century where we are always waiting—for the event that never happens and which is immediately eclipsed and displaced by another event. Can life be this dramatic? The Clock is nerve-wracking, funny, moving: and when you come out of the gallery (I saw about 8 hours worth at LACMA) you think you’re still in the picture, about to witness the bank robbery or the wake-up call, even as the music bleeds unaccountably from one scene into the next.

Vanessa Place | Tragodía: 1: Statement of Facts | Blanc | 2010

This compendium of court testimonies and police reports—all of them taken from Place’s own files (she is an appellate criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles) has raised enormous controversy: Place has been accused of being soft on rapists. But the fact of this Statement of Facts is that she has simply arranged her material so as to tell it like it is—no sides taken, no points made, and yet an unforgettable image of how events in the contemporary city play themselves out. The book reads like a Henry James novel: what, we ask at every turn, really happened?

Srikanth Reddy | Voyager | California | 2011

Reddy’s writing-through of Kurt Waldheim’s memoir (3 times in 3 different ways) is a devastating exposé of political mendacity and maudlin self-justification. It’s a brilliantly rendered work that literally “speaks for itself.”

Jonathan Stalling | Yingelishi | Counterpath | 2011

Yingelishi (pronounced yeen guh lee shr) sounds like an accented pronunciation of the word “English,” even as, for the Chinese reader, its characters spell out “chanted songs, beautiful poetry.” Spalding combines homophonic translatation, with the dictionary meaning of the different phrases as well as their Chinese characters so as to demonstrate what the new language of some 350 million people looks and feels like. Comes with a website so that we can hear these sounds spoken and chanted. It’s a brilliant tour de force.

Uljana Wolf, trans. Susan Bernofsky | False Friends | Ugly Duckling | 2011

These DICHTionary poems are based on so-called “false friends” in German and English—words that look and/or sound familiar in both languages but differ in meaning.  The comedy that results is full of surprises—a lovely sequence for our multilingual moment. And Ugly Duckling’s production is, as always, a pleasure.

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Susan Howe | THAT THIS | New Directions | 2010

I list this last and separately because Howe’s very important book won the Bollingen Prize and I was one of three judges so my comment on it is a part of the award citation.

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Marjorie Perloff‘s most recent book is Unoriginal Genius: Poetry by Other Means in the New Century. Her Wittgenstein’s Ladder has just been translated into Spanish and is soon coming out in French. She is Professor Emerita of English and Comparative Literature at Stanford University.

Perloff’s Attention Span for 2006, 2004. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Brian Kim Stefans

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Simon Reynolds | Retromania | Faber | 2011

I’m still halfway through this one. It’s a balm for those of us who have no idea why pop music is so terribly uninteresting today—lots of incredible talent with nothing to say—and a bomb for those who thinks it’s all rosy. I’m having my students read it for my L.A. Post-punk/DIY class (a freshman seminar), along with Lipstick Traces and We Got the Neutron Bomb. Reynolds’ book Rip It Up and Start Again, on English Post-punk, inspired the course. I was happy to discover he’d moved to LA some months ago, and have since met him and his wife, Joy Press, whom some of you might remember from the days of the Voice Literary Supplement—and I thought the name was a pseudonym! I met Billy Idol the day I met Simon Reynolds. Oh, yes, the book. It’s very accessible but dense—allusions to Badiou, Bourdieu, Benjamin, Kittler (I think), the fall of Rome, etc.—and is largely autobiographical as he charts his ineptness with, and reservations about, new technology. I think a lot of you have already bought your copy of this book.

Roberto Bolaño | Nazi Literature in the Americas | New Directions | 2008

The Savage Detectives was the best novel I had read in a long time, at times Dostoyevskian in its grandeur, scope, generosity and addiction to visionary pain, and always threatening to have “magical realist” elements (that might have just been me), but never making good on that threat. It ends with the discovery of a concrete poem—who would have thunk? This collection shows the Borgesian side of Bolaño, though never with that ‘pataphysical hook that makes Borges so addictive. I enjoyed it but read it quickly; it’s actually become the model for my anthology on Los Angeles poetry, as I’m realizing that I should really tell stories, rather than convince with keen analysis, in the volume—people might actually read it. I think the issue of what makes these writers “Nazis” might have more resonance with Latin American readers, as some chapters merely touch on this connection.

Alain Badiou | The Communist Hypothesis | Verso | 2010

This was actually a quick read. Badiou will be spending next year at UCLA doing whatever, and I’ve never gotten around to his headier tomes. Some of it is archival—he includes a longish essay he wrote in the late 60s—and some new. Involves new interpretations of the Paris Commune, Mao’s cultural revolution (which he limits to a very short period early on when theory and action seemed aligned, prior to the descent into chaos) and, of course, Paris ’68. It ends with a light recount of his famous theory of the Event, and has a useful critique of the cult of individualism in the States versus living according to an “Idea.” I don’t want to go into it much deeper, except to note that I’m increasingly (ok, I have been for a while) wary of the fetish about of May ’68. I think we should just give it up, start afresh. It’s an attractive moment, when intellectuals (many of whom were great writers) and labor seemed aligned, and the ensuing chaos—contained, in the end—brought a violent poetic spirit to the everyday—but now it merely survives as a tone, a prose style. Ok, that’s dismissive. I also bought a trio of books edited by Zizek, his “Revolution” series, but have only finished Virtue and Terror on Robespierre (I had seen this in a bookstore in Paris and wanted to buy it then, but I wanted to “live in the present,” not fill the place with the ghosts of Danton and Saint-Just). I’ll leave it at that.

Junot Díaz | The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao | Riverhead | 2007

I don’t read a lot of fiction. I’m teaching Only Revolutions, by Mark “House of Leaves” Danielewski, in my contemporary American poetry class, so I should probably read House of Leaves. I’m also teaching the first section of the Changing Light at Sandover and Alice in Wonderland (the class is subtitled “The Ludic Turn”). Anyway, this was a beach read; I read my stepmother’s copy while I was visiting them in Long Island. I actually did read some of this on the beach. Díaz is obviously talented and very smart, and it didn’t feel like what it is, Bolaño-lite. There is sex, sexual addiction, political violence, abusive cracked parents, picaresque descriptions of overseas travel, and something like tragedy. The major annoyances were the little eye-wink inclusions of academic jargon (it’s a very “teachable” book in that way) which was couched in a pseudo-hipster Latino American speak, to make it go down easy. It’s meta-identity literature, but not meta enough. He created a pretty interesting synthetic language that could accommodate the various audiences he was trying to reach, and deserves credit. In any case, I enjoyed it pretty much. I’m sure Javier Bardam will have a role in the movie.

McKenzie Wark | The Beach Beneath the Street | Verso | 2011

I read none of this on the beach, unless it was the beach beneath Los Angeles counts. Ken lived two doors down from me in Williamsburg, which I only discovered after I was asked to review a book of poems by this Australian guy for PW, Googled him, and discovered I’d been bumming cigarettes off of his wife for a few years. Wark is an advocate of what he calls “low theory,” which is what he described (somewhere) as theory that you don’t need a Ph.D. to read; his previous two books, both excellent, are written in this style as well, and I admire that effort. The book covers many of the figures of Situationism who are major though overlooked—I especially liked the bits about Jorn’s aesthetic theory and the narrative of Alexander Trocchi, though would have liked to learn more about Alice Becker-Ho. Isidore Isou figures prominently, but there is nothing really new about Debord or Vaneigem here. Of course, the fetish of Paris ’68 rears its weird head, but Wark, unlike some, doesn’t fly off the handle with crypto-Marxist, Debordian rhetoric that is always interesting as a style—I’d love to write that way, at least for a day—but ends up, for me, seeming to advertise its impotence. I think Wark’s struggle for a new language is actually a very interesting project I’d like to write about; his Hacker’s Manifesto went so far as to introduce a new class, the Vectorist Class, though I don’t think anyone’s quite picked up on that, and I don’t know how serious he was about that.

Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011

I gave my author’s copy of this as a going away present to an Italian art historian friend who was staying with me for a month earlier this year—she’s stopped returning my emails. I ordered a desk copy, which I then gave to my sister’s boss, thinking he could plumb it for ideas for outdoor text/light installations—my sister was laid off a month later. This is a dangerous book. It ruins lives, but only slowly. That’s why I’m ordering five more as potential gifts for people I would like to quietly run out of my life. Seriously, the brief introductions to the work are great, and I suspect it’s quite economical and “interesting” given the piles of empty text it is attempting to condense. I can’t offer any intelligent commentary until I order a new one.

Julia Boynton Green | Noonmark | Redlands, California (no publisher listed) | 1936

Green is one of the “lost” Los Angeles poets I’ve been researching for my series of essays, “Chapters in Los Angeles Poetry,” for the Los Angeles Review of Books. She was born in the 1860’s, published two books late in life (her first, This Enchanting Coast, is largely devoted to writing about plants and the landscape, as per the dominant mode at that time in L.A.), and had some excellent anthology appearances. Her satires on technology are quite brilliant, and though quite conservative, she published a lot of poems in Amazing Stories and Weird Tales (which I haven’t seen) probably because of her critical but rich evocations of the promises of science and technology. She’s my great find, but I have no biographical information about her. Nora May French and Olive Percival are the other two poets (can’t find any males that earlier on) of my pre-WWII section.

Walter Benn Michaels | The Trouble with Diversity: How We Learned to Love Identity and Ignore Inequality | Metropolitan | 2006

I don’t know anything about Michaels, though he spoke at UCLA last quarter and I had lunch and dinner with him—a very animated guy, I liked him a lot, but suspect that he thinks he’s a bit smarter than he is. (I only say this because he went out on a limb about all sorts of matters regarding contemporary poetry and minority literature, but when pressed, his knowledge of the fields was pretty shallow). The argument in the book is pretty basic: that institutions like universities would be better off aiming for class diversity rather than ethnic diversity if the idea is to truly achieve a more egalitarian society with wealth spread equally across a wider range of people. Americans don’t like to talk about class—we pretend that upward mobility is an actual living promise—and so divert some of these anxieties to discussions of race, which he says doesn’t exist (not in the way culture exists). Of course, I agree, but then again, I don’t think he’s travelled much, at least not as a black or Asian person. As he did in his talk, there is recourse to statics and charts, but very lightly; he is quite frank, in his afterward, that he wrote this book to make money, and it’s clearly aimed at the same class of people who thought The Closing of the American Mind was a serious statement on the decline of American culture. I like his arguments generally, but I think he loses wind when it becomes apparent that he’s probably written this book about fifteen years too late. I don’t think the cult of diversity is quite as strong as it once was.

Doug Aitken and Noel Daniel | Broken Screen: Expanding The Image, Breaking The Narrative | Distributed Art | 2005

This is a fairly light read, just a bunch of interviews with artists and other folk who are dealing with image and narrative, particularly “non-linear” narrative. I discovered a handful of new artists in this one, some I’d never heard of, some whose works I’d seen but simply didn’t know who made them. I can’t find my copy right now, so I can’t tell you who they are—Herzog, Gehry and Baldessari I remember (of course, I’d heard of those guys). Aitken doesn’t ask terribly probing questions—he always brings it back to non-linear narrative, which I don’t think is that interesting, just like I don’t think appropriation is all that interesting these days, but Aitken lives in L.A., as I do, where we are quite oppressed by an obsession with cheese-ball, leaden, over-determined narratives. You know what I mean. He really aims for conversations and shop talk, which is ok but it let some of the artists “phone in” their contributions. The question of the screen—what is happening now with digital technology, how the photograph, the film, the machine and animation are folding into a single genre—is a question I’m probing, and this book doesn’t quite get there. I’m reading a lot about photography: The Photograph as Contemporary Art (World of Art) by Charlotte Cotton and, finally, Susan Sontag, On Photography—I’d always thought this book was quite boring when I tried to read it before, but got through it this time. I have big chunky books about Thomas Ruff and Sam Hsieh on my table right now.

Jacques Brel | Songbooks

I can’t find these either! But I bought them during my three week stay in Paris, which was filled, appropriately, with heartache, desire, elation and lots of walking around penniless (or at least with a credit card howling with pain—food, hotels, telecommunications). I bought a ukulele in Paris also, and recorded a few songs on my iPad, including a version of the Smiths’ “I Won’t Share You.” I made my debut as a pop singer at a small conference on British Poetry—Keston, Emily, John and Sam were there. Harry Mathews was giving a reading a floor below. Prior to going to Paris, I started writing songs again; Brel’s work, along with the Weill/Brecht collaborations (I also bought sheet music for those) are my guides, along with the Smiths and Scott Walker. I was also reading Les Fleurs du Mal by Charles Baudelaire (Howard edition) and the poems of Arthur Rimbaud (Fowlie edition). My French seemed to have gotten worse as the trip went on—starvation for fluid conversation, I believe. It was quite a trip. It rained a lot.

Joan Brossa | Furgó de Cua (1989-1991) | Quarderns Crema | 1993

 I’m not reading Brossa—who writes in Catalan, and is one of the great, largely untranslated Spanish poets of the last century—so much as looking at the language. He was both a concrete poet and creator of text objects and a high formalist—a large part of his oeuvre consists of sestinas and other invented, intricate structures. I’m trying to find someone to help me translate his work. Know anyone? Since I don’t have much to say about this one, I’d like to tack on…

Mark Zuckerberg | Facebook | The Interweb | 2004-2011

Yes, I think he writes all of it. Facebook is the TV of today. Facebook makes nothing happen. It’s all trivial, and makes many of the people I admire appear quite trivial, which of course isn’t their faults. I just don’t need to know what you eat. I like it when people “like” me, which I don’t like. I’m off Facebook. I was reading it too much. I use Twitter.

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Brian Kim Stefans is the author of five books of poems including What is Said the Poet Concerning Flowers (2006) and Kluge: A Meditation (2007), along with Before Starting Over: Essays and Interviews (2008) and Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics (2003). He teaches new media and poetry in the English Department of UCLA. Digital works include “The Dreamlife of Letters” and “Kluge: A Meditation.” Recent projects include a column, “Third Hand Plays,” for the SFMoma blog on digital text art, a ten-part column for the Los Angeles Review of Books on the history of L.A. Poetry, and a “freeware” compilation of Los Angeles D.I.Y/Post-punk music.

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Attention Span 2011 | Kieran Daly

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J. Gordon Faylor | Comments on MGR | self-published | 2010
J. Gordon Faylor | Docking Rust Archon | unpublished manuscript | 2011

Belonging, sharing, having, dying—instant microdeath as character development—, … distribution? Searched (though not ‘for’).

 Lanny Jordan Jackson | Dear Swimmer | unpublished manuscript | 2011

 F SITE.

Leslie Scalapino | R-hu | Atelos | 2000

Maybe Scalapino’s most radically structured work? Single spacing, double spacing, font size; unilaterally ‘as’ the same line/-break(?). Honorable mention: Floats Horse-Floats or Horse-Flows & The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom.

Eddie Hopely | Cannot Contract | self-published | 2010

Scene hair.

Astrid Lorange | Pussy Pussy Pussy What What | Gauss PDF | 2011
Astrid Lorange | Eating and Speaking | Tea Party Republicans | 2011

Objects objects Objects objects objects objects Objects objects.

Jarrod Fowler | http://jarrodfowler.org/idioticon.html | ongoing

Axiomatics of a non-musicological [theoretical?] antipraxis.

John Paetsch | Crista’s Severance Package xxx | Gauss PDF | 2011
John Paetsch | //only after she mirrored flipt/scripts back into amazing secrets channel did the whole fucking thing become mine// | Gauss PDF | 2011 

[Critique of] Poetry unrecognizable to poetics. Crista got laid off and still got paid.

Vanessa Place | Die Dichtkunst | oodpress | 2011
Vanessa Place | black square | oodpress | 2011

The end of rational ‘Conceptual Poetry’. 

François Laruelle | The Concept of Non-Photography | Urbanomic/Sequence | 2011
François Laruelle | Dictionary of Non-Philosophy | [unoffical English translation] | 1998

A JUDGMENT OF TASTE EXERCISED NOT SO MUCH BY A ‘SUBJECT’ AS BY THE WORLD ITSELF, THE TRUE AGENT OF A UNIVERSAL FRACTAL PLAY.

Craig Dworkin | The Perverse Library | Information as Material | 2010

Non-conceptual appropriation via architecture, olfaction, and mold?

Chris Sylvester | THE REPUBLIC BY CHRIS SYLVESTER | Troll Thread | 2011

The entire game froze, which was already the playing of the game? Ask the mayor (‘his’ syntax).

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Kieran Daly writes and has published books and other media. Some work and contact information may be found at http://karibaily.tumblr.com.

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Attention Span 2011 | Craig Dworkin

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Derek Beaulieu | Seen of the Crime | Snare | 2011 (forthcoming)

Collected short essays from the fearlessly indefatigable, inquisitive, and generous poet, letraset master, micro-press publisher, and collector of literary curiosities. I haven’t seen the final manuscript, but an early draft suggests that this will be the practical, earnest compliment to the abstruse theoretical wink of Notes on Conceptualisms.

Gregg Biglieri | Little Richard the Second | Ugly Duckling | 2011

A gorgeous new book by my favorite poet. Little Richard offers a lyric meditation on doubling (echo), words (and letters), and the +ow (/wo) effect. Wow. The philosophical aviary of these post-objectivist stanzas resound with all the interlingual puns that can pass in the augenblicke of Minerva’s insomniac bird (which blinks rarely, and has two eyelids, but is the only bird to blink like humans do). Printed letterpress on luxuriously doubled sheets of laid Neenah paper, with elegant hand-sewn Japanese stab-binding and a device evoking the culture ministry of some central asian dictatorship.

Kieran Daly | Plays/ For Theater | bas-books | 2011

I’ve been genuinely surprised and excited by everything I’ve seen from Daly, which suggests that there is still some room left for both the reduction and expansion of conceptual writing before the mode is played out (and Daly pushes in both directions simultaneously). This is hard-core conceptual theatre in which bibliography takes center stage. Gertrude Stein meets Jarrod Fowler.

Judith Goldman | l.b.; or, catenaries | Krupskaya | 2011 (forthcoming)

The concatenated series of poems in Judith Goldman’s l.b chart the narratives formed by texts of uniform density hanging freely from two fixed readings not in the same semantic line. On the one hand, the book dramatizes language under the regimes of contemporary communication—the protocols and phatics of privatized and publicly traded language—with all the false and inescapable sociality of networked media and commercial memoranda. On the other hand, the motivated material play of the signifier points to the paths of greatest resistance: chance, ludic laughter, and the recalcitrant residuum of the body.

At the level of composition, l.b is also a kind of catena patrum: a series of extracts from earlier writings, forming a commentary on some portion of scripture. Goldman’s finely sutured microcollage of forms and phrases moves from Aristotle to Andy Warhol, Kathy Acker to William Wordsworth, Abu Ghraib to Thomas Wyatt. Where the traditional catena is also a chronological series of extracts to prove the existence of a continuous tradition on some point of doctrine, here the discrepant result is a more thoroughly, honestly, chronic text: not the false time of doctrine and tradition, but something more true to its own time, and to linguistic time itself.

Helen Hajnoczky | Poets and Killers: A Life in Advertising | Snare | 2010

As if Rob Fitterman wrote a season of Mad Men, Hajnoczky gives us the life story of a character told exclusively through the language of corporate advertising, with the publication date of the (actual) found text keyed to the corresponding year of his (fictional) life. Given the degree to which North Americans are all shaped by the interpellating hail of commercial media, this is also the biography of many of its readers as well. The book, sporting a handsomely textured purple cover decorated with ‘pataphysical gidouilles, contains a generous and considered Afterword. Snare, run by Jon Paul Fiorentino in Montréal, has rapidly established itself as a press to watch and a venue of envy for conceptual writers.

Yedda Morrison | Darkness | Make Now | 2011 (forthcoming)

Morrison has produced an edition of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness in which only references to the natural world remain. But what counts as “natural” is far from self-evident, and Morrison’s erasures open onto a range of philosophical and ethical questions. At one extreme, the reader begins to suspect that perhaps we can never recognize a truly natural world, one uncoloured by our human perspective, at all. And at the same time, at the other extreme, one begins to suspect that maybe there is nothing—including our own artifice—that is not in fact a part of an all-encompassing natural world after all.

The test of conceptual writing is the degree to which the distance between the concept and the execution creates enough friction to generate a spark across that gap. Here, the ethereous space between the idea and the text—between mind and body, artifice and nature, erasure and source—ionizes with violent disruption and report.

Joseph Mosconi | Galvanized Iron on the Citizen’s Band | Poetic Research Bureau | 2009

Each poem here is a mash-up of euphemistic cant, with one half taken from the slang of soldiers and the other from the code of truckers (the G.I. and C.B. of the deacronymized title). The results come across like eroticized slogans, often with an uncomfortable and vaguely aggressive comedy. The thin, oversize hardback is bound like a primer for early readers, with the text set in an enormous 25-point Times New Roman, as if Jenny Holzer were excerpting lines from mid-career Bruce Andrews’ poems, to be printed on billboards or bumperstickers. Conceptual, wry cultural critique, with one ear to the art world and one ear to the microphonemics of the best Language writing. Two poems, just to give a taste: “Gucci/ Kit/ Diesel/ Cop”; “Shamurai/ Cash/ Box.”

Travis Ortiz | Variously, Not Then | Tuumba | 2011 (forthcoming)

The book I have been most anticipating for the longest time. Ortiz has taken a finely polished series of prose poems (originally composed in a west-coast, post-language, ‘90s mode of socially motivated radical parataxis) and written through them both lexically and typographically. The result simultaneously displays both the remixes, with their delicious lines like “geography towers is narrative,” and also the original texts. Those originals are the epitome of their genre, and so opening Variously is like discovering a forgotten time-capsule containing a pristine print from a lost, never-screened film documenting its own vanished golden-age. A treasure chest, in other words. Luxuriously designed, and a rare issue from Lyn Hejinian’s revamped Tuumba press.

Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven | Body Sweats | MIT | 2011 (forthcoming)

Edited by Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo (an interesting poet in her own right – see Parlance [Coach House, 2003]), this long-needed collection remaps the frontiers of Modernism by allowing us to fully see, for the first time, just how radical von Freytag-Loringhoven’s writing was. We know her performative persona was something to be reckoned with (she scared the shit out of William Carlos Williams, offering to infect him with her syphilis in order to help free up his poetry – they ended up more than once in fistfights on his suburban front lawn), but her linguistic fearlessness puts her in the same league as Mina Loy, Gertrude Stein, and Abraham Lincoln-Gillespie. Moreover, these poems will be a wake-up-call to many contemporary poets: a century later the Baroness’ work is still as drastic as anything being published today.

Eric Zboya | Translations | Avantacular | 2010

Two volumes, in collaboration with Andrew Topel, of “algorithmic” translations, which transform the letters of a poem into extruded dendrites of exploded non-lexical exclamation. Abstract, illegible geometric patterns in a densely inked but subtly-shaded blue-black sheen, each shape is determined by an alphabetic logic that human viewers can appreciate but cannot reconstruct. A new idiom for digital poetry, visual poetry, and appropriation.

Steven Zultanski | Pad | Make Now | 2010

Ultimately more about the tension between the literal and the figural imagination than the Beavis and Butthead idée fixe of its domestic inventory (the book purports to catalogue every object in Zultanski’s apartment and whether or not his dick can lift it), PAD nonetheless suggests a new kind of confessional autobiography, filtered through the strategy of a clinically deodorized conceptualism. In the process it creates a new meter, and gives a parodic send-up of the charge that Conceptual writing is a phallocentric guy-thing. Zultanski’s premise begs its anatomical sequel—whether every object in an apartment fits in a writer’s vagina—which would offer yet another a new scale for classifying possessions but with a radically different psychological twist. I’m looking forward to that book, which I trust is being written as I type, if it’s not already in press. In the meantime, the bottom line: I can lift Steven Zultanski’s PAD with my dick.

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More Craig Dworkin here.

Dworkin’s Attention Span for 201020092007 . Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Vanessa Place

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Riccardo Boglione | RITMO D feeling the blanks | gegen | 2009

In a work of abstract literature Richard Kostelenatz would surely admire, in Ritmo D. Feeling the Blanks, Riccardo Boglione has stripped away every last bit of text from Giovanni Boccaccio’s contentious 14th-century body of 100 novellas, Decameron. All that remains is the rhythm, spacing and punctuation.

François Fonteneau | L’Ethique du silence. Wittgenstein et Lacan | Seuil | 1999

D’un côté, une éthique indicible (Wittgenstein), de l’autre, une éthique du mi-dire (Lacan). L’expérience éthique serait-elle liée à l’expérience de la limite dont le silence ferait partie ?

Marcel Proust, trans. Mark Treharne | The Guermantes Way | Viking | 2004

After the relative intimacy of the first two volumes of In Search of Lost Time, The Guermantes Way opens up a vast, dazzling landscape of fashionable Parisian life in the late nineteenth century as the narrator enters the brilliant, shallow world of the literary and aristocratic salons.

Edgar Allen Poe | Poetry and Tales (The Narrative of Arthur Gordon Pym of Nantucket) | Library of America | 1984

Poe’s Narrative of A. Gordon Pym seems to me excellent art criticism and prototype for rigorous “non-site” investigations.

Kenneth Goldsmith and Craig Dworkin, eds. | Against Expression | Northwestern | 2011

Against Expression, the premier anthology of conceptual writing, presents work that is by turns thoughtful, funny, provocative, and disturbing.

Marjorie Perloff | Unoriginal Genius | Chicago | 2011

It is a virtue of Marjorie Perloff’s Unoriginal Genius that it leaves nothing settled. Rather, it provokes new questions that help to unsettle modernism and its artistic aftermath, and itself performs an important arrière-garde re-animation of neglected or taken-for-granted avant-gardes.

JoAnn Wypijewski | Painting by Numbers: Komar and Melamid’s Scientific Guide to Art | California | 1998

Wypijewki and Nation art critic Arthur Danto explain well the context of Komar and Melamid’s unique project and chart its odd, zigzag path between comedy and seriousness. . . . An im-portant reference point on the map of late-20th-century taste

Eric Lott | Love and Theft: Blackface Minstrelsy and the American Working Class | Oxford | 1995

As readers we come to understand for the first time how blackface performance imagined and addressed a national community and we realize the extent to which we still live with this legacy.

Bruce Fink | The Lacanian Subject | Princeton | 1996

The Lacanian Subject not only provides an excellent introduction into the fundamental coordinates of Jacques Lacan’s conceptual network; it also proposes original solutions to (or at least clarifications of) some of the crucial dilemmas left open by Lacan’s work.

Andrea Fraser | Museum Highlights: The Writings of Andrea Fraser | MIT | 2007

A stunning book—Andrea Fraser turns the art museum inside out, time and again, in her incisive and mercilessly witty deconstructions. A rare combination of committed artistic practice working hand-in-hand with the insights of cultural theory.

Leo Steinberg | The Sexuality of Christ in Renaissance Art and in Modern Oblivion | Chicago | 1997

After centuries of repression and censorship, the sexual component in thousands of revered icons of Christ is restored to visibility.

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Kenneth Goldsmith has called Vanessa Place’s work “arguably the most challenging, complex and controversial literature being written today.”

Place’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2011 | Paul Stephens

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Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011

For me this was the year of the conceptual, as the following titles indicate.

Craig Dworkin | The Perverse Library | Information as Material | 2010

Use with caution: if you’re a small press bibliophile, this book may do serious damage to your book budget. This could be the most compelling survey to date of Anglo-American small press poetry publishing since 1970. Even if you don’t necessarily have a specialized interest in knowing precisely what the Constrained Balks Press of Toronto was publishing in 2002, you’ll enjoy The Perverse Library’s truly rad(ical) introduction.

Simon Morris | Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head | Information as Material | 2010

Much more is going on here than may at first appear. Encountering GIJKH sent me into an all-night typing frenzy, during which I wrote a twelve page critical account of the book in relation to the complex textual and legal histories of On the Road. And you thought On the Road was just a bestselling novel about homosocial desire…

Rachel Haidu | The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964-1976 | MIT | 2010

Everyone I know is either overemployed or underemployed, which makes this overview particularly timely. Here you will find an institutional critique of the post-Fordist art economy to last a lifetime.

Tan Lin | Various Cumbersome but Ingenious Titles | Various Presses | 2007-2011

Tan Lin may be our greatest living bard of the infosphere. He is so prodigious and so multimediatic that it would inimical to his project to name a single title. Insomnia and the Aunt (in a handsome chapbook edition) might be the best point of entry for non-professionals, but the many offshoots of the Heath […] and Seven Controlled Vocabularies projects are all worth a skim. If you’re un(der)employed, you might want to download online versions available at lulu.com or at Aphasic Letters.

Rob Fitterman | Now We Are Friends | Truck Books | 2010

So are we going to migrate to Google+? After already having migrated from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook? The coda in particular is an important contribution to the ongoing legacy of creep lit.

W.J.T. Mitchell and Mark B.N. Hansen, eds. | Critical Terms for Media Studies | Chicago | 2010

Scholars and non-scholars alike will find this a compelling survey of new media. Don’t be deceived by the prosaic title: this is really a collection of deeply informative essays on all aspects of contemporary new media studies.

Marcus Boon | In Praise of Copying | Harvard | 2010

It’s difficult to keep up with the reams of new criticism devoted to copyright in relation to literature and the arts (Paul K. St. Amour’s exceptional Modernism and Copyright deserves special mention in this category). Boon tackles “the madness of modern, capitalist framings of property” head on. You can procure a free online copy at the Harvard University Press web site (which will look better than the versions you’ll find on library.nu or AAAAARG.org).

Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, eds. | In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 | JRP Ringier | 2010 

Literary journals could learn a lot from artists’ journals. This sumptuous collection will make your coffee table proud, as well as provide countless hours of delight and instruction.

M. NourbeSe Philip | Zong! | Wesleyan | 2008

This title briefly went out of print and jumped in price on Amazon, but fortunately it’s been reissued as an affordable paperback. No brief summary will do much to prepare you for this complex multi-generic work, which demonstrates how compelling the new conceptual/archival/procedural poetries can be in terms of content as well as form.

Ian Hamilton Finlay | Selections | California | 2011

Eagerly anticipated. Long overdue. In the meantime, I’m making due with the amazing (but out of print and expensive enough to merit inclusion in the Perverse Library) Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer (MIT 1992).

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Paul Stephens‘s recent critical writing has appeared in Social TextRethinking MarxismOpen Letter and Postmodern Culture. He has just completed a book manuscript titled The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing. He lives in New York.

Stephens’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.