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Posts Tagged ‘George Stanley

Attention Span 2010 – Steve Evans

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Susan Howe | Souls of the Labadie Track | New Directions | 2007
George Stanley | Vancouver | New Star | 2008
Rae Armantrout | Versed | Wesleyan | 2009
Emmanuel Hocquard | Une Grammaire de Tanger, vols. I-II | cipM | 2007 & 2009

This not altogether arbitrary constellation of texts occupied me so thoroughly in the summer and early fall of 2009 that I abandoned my usual custom of trying to “catch up” with the other books I’d missed during the academic year. Now, if I could only salvage the long essay that grew out of this reading—with excursions into social media, Viktor Shklovsky’s “red elephant,” Roland Barthes’s “neutral,” Wallace Stevens’s poem “The Course of a Particular,” and lots of other odds & ends—I’d feel less like a dope.

Thomas Pynchon | V. | Lippincott | 1961

Not sure why I was so slow in coming to Pynchon. Something about the reputation put me off—as did a certain species of (inevitably male) graduate student whose admiration for him awoke the opposite in me back in the nineties. I waited to tackle Gravity’s Rainbow until the summer and fall of 2006, and then had the good luck to join an Against the Day “deathmarch” that a friend of Rodney Koeneke’s organized in the winter and spring of 2007. Last summer I purchased Inherent Vice on its pub date and read it quickly and easily as August waned in a gesture of “contemporaneity”—I wanted to read a book of his while it was new. V. is, in a way, my “favorite”: lexically, it remains startlingly fresh; the syntax, sentence by sentence, is a little simpler than in Gravity’s Rainbow, but it crackles with ingenious combinations and doesn’t “blur” as often as in that masterpiece; and there’s a levity—not withstanding some very dark subject matter—that charms, even at a distance of nearly fifty years.

Bob Dylan | Chronicles, Volume One | Simon & Schuster | 2004
David Hadju | Positively 4th Street | Farrar | 2001
Martin Scorsese, dir. | No Direction Home | Spitfire Pictures | 2005

Because Richard Farina had been Pynchon’s roommate at Cornell, and because I remember Jennifer liking it back nearer to its release date, I decided to interleave Hadju’s Positively Fourth Street with my first pass through V. The Dylan therein portrayed is hard to like, which I confess suits my state of burn out, not so much with Dylan as with his worshipers, just fine, even if the account of the Farinas struck me as unbalanced in the other direction. Dave van Ronk in the present, the British boo-ers, and the historical footage were what I liked best Scorsese’s fan letter, though its recipient-subject’s spoken timbre was nice, too.

Samuel Beckett, ed. Martha Dow Fehsenfeld and Lois More Overbeck | The Letters of Samuel Beckett, 1929-1940 | Cambridge | 2009

In addition to affording me an unexpected apprenticeship to Beckett’s acute eye for visual art— I took advantage of the meticulous footnotes to track down digital images of many of the paintings he mentions—this volume also taught me a lot about cysts, understatement, and friendship. The last chance trip through Hitler’s Germany is a highlight, as are the letters mentioning Beckett’s fateful psychoanalysis with Bion, about whom I’d like to know more. Along the way, I couldn’t help dipping into More Pricks Than Kicks, Gontaski’s edition of The Complete Short Prose, and the relevant chapters in Knowlson’s Damned to Fame, and I now look forward to rereading Murphy for the first time since 1987, though I cringe in handling the battered and slightly smelly paperback that I evidently paid three dollars for used in some Hillcrest bookshop—may be time to invest in a fresh copy (and anyway, I always underline the same passages, no matter how much time has passed between readings).

Handel, conducted by John Eliot Gardiner | Acis & Galatea (1718) | Deutsche Grammophon | 1979

The exquisite symmetry and line-by-line brilliance of the libretto by Alexander Pope and John Gay combine with Handel’s Stein-like mania for repetition (“da capo”!) to produce the best account of desire’s circuitry to reach my ears of late. Saw the Boston Early Music Festival’s production in the fall & have been wearing out the CD, whose Polyphemus (of the “capacious mouth”) I find more convincing, since.

Jacques Lacan | Le Séminaire, Livre XVII: L’envers de la psychanalyse, 1969-1970 | Seuil | 1991
Jacques Lacan, trans. Russell Grigg | The Seminar of Jacques Lacan, Book XVII: The Other Side of Psychoanalysis | Norton 2007

Weaving between Grigg’s English and the original text as established by J-A Miller, with plenty of swerves back into Freud (esp. the dream of the butcher’s witty wife and the paper “A Child Is Being Beaten”), and out into the archive of historical unrest just following 1968, I slowly—it took most of a year—made it through this perhaps liveliest and timeliest of Lacan’s many seminars. I adore the seminar form (Barthes on The Neutral, Kojève on Hegel, etc.), and am always astonished by Lacan’s perverse inhabitation of its conventions, which he systematically deranges with all the cunning condensations, displacements, and half-sayings of Freud’s “dreamwork,” supplemented by a humor that is dry and Duchampian one moment, hot and “hysterical” the next.

For a while, I enjoyed the ghostly company of some “slacker Lacanians” who joined a Facebook group (called “Selon Lacan” in homage to the Vancouver-based “Lacan Salon”) with the intention of reading Seminar XVII together. Nearly none of us carried through, but it was an interesting experiment in dispersed intellectual community using a platform otherwise devoted mostly to channel-flooding triviality.

Brian Eno | Another Green World | EG | 1975

David Sheppard’s 2008 biography, On Some Faraway Beach, abused the adjective “bespoke,” the verb “essay,” and several synonyms for premature baldness in the course of 450 dutiful, enthusiastic, and well-informed pages. Geeta Dayal’s contribution to Continuum’s 33 1/3 project— which, judging from several posts to the series’ blog, didn’t come easy—is more modest in scope, and though it mutes the note of “idiot glee” without which Eno comes off as just a pretentious ass, it did lead me into a round of close and repeated listens (to Here Come the Warm Jets, too) that solved nicely the problem of what to do with my ears while driving for more than a month.

Denis Diderot, trans. Jacques Barzun | Rameau’s Nephew | Doubleday | 1956

Myself: Gently, dear fellow. Look and tell me—I shan’t take your uncle as an example. He is a hard man, brutal, inhuman, miserly, a bad father, bad husband, and bad uncle. And it is by no means sure that he is a genius who has advanced his art to such a point that ten years from now we shall still discuss his works. Take Racine instead—there was a genius, and his reputation as a man was none too good. Take Voltaire—

He: Don’t press the point too far: I am a man to argue with you.

Myself: Well, which would you prefer—that he should have been a good soul, at one with his ledger, like Briasson, or with his yardstick, like Barbier; legitimately getting his wife with child annually—a good husband, good father, good uncle, good neighbor, fair trader and nothing more; or that he should have been deceitful, disloyal, ambitious, envious, and mean, but also the creator of Andromaque, Britannicus, Iphigénie, Phèdre, and Athalie?

He: For himself I daresay it would have been better to be the former.

Myself: That is infinitely truer than you think.

He: There you go, you fellows! If we say anything good, it’s like lunatics or people possessed—by accident. It’s only people like you who really know what they’re saying. I tell you, Master Philosopher, I know what I say and know it as well as you know what you say. (13-14).

Another “swerve” out of Lacan’s Seminar XVII, with incentive added by the fascinating role this text—in Goethe’s translation—plays in Hegel’s Phenomenology of Spirit. Highly recommended.

Matthew Weiner, creator and exec. producer | Mad Men | AMC | 2007-

Conjures the taste of the maraschino cherry from my father’s Manhattan on my childhood tongue and all that it intimated about the catastrophe of masculinity. The casting, costuming, scripting, and small-screen mise-en-scène are frequently faultless—pace, for example, “Guy Walks into an Ad Agency,” from season three—and the glance back at an “adult” world long since extinguished by a youth culture that squeezes even geezers into skinny jeans & hoodies is weirdly entrancing. As Noël Coward presciently asked in 1955, “What’s going to happen to the children / When there aren’t any more grown-ups?” Mad Men is a kind of an answer.

Alice Notley | Reason and Other Women | Chax | 2010
Andrew Joron | Trance Archive | City Lights | 2010
Aaron Kunin | The Sore Throat | Fence | 2010

My quick take on “trance” poetics is here. Even a squib can take months of reading!

Bob Perelman & Michael Golston, organizers | Rethinking Poetics | Columbia & University of Pennsylvania | 2010
Anne Waldman et al., organizers | Summer Writing Program | Naropa | 2010

I went directly from one (Columbia) to the other (Naropa) and so had more poetry-centric personal contact in a ten day stretch in June than I would normally experience in a year. Both spaces were fraught with anxiety, and even antagonism, but I found them exhilarating anyway, especially in the interstices, where kindness, curiosity, and a shared commitment to making language do unexpected things tended to dispel the negativity that the “official proceedings” (especially at Columbia) so often generated. Joanne Kyger’s ability to transform a drab hotel room in Boulder into an oasis of sociability through the deft placement of a very few but beautiful objects holds the place here for all the other pleasures I experienced during those ten days—that and her wonderful advice, frequently sung, “Don’t explain!”

More Steve Evans here. Back to directory.

Attention Span 2009 – Pam Brown

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Laurie Duggan | Crab & Winkle | Shearsman Books | 2009

Robert Purves & Sam Ladkin | Complicities: British Poetry 1945-2007 | Litteraria Pragensia | 2007

Adam Aitken | Eighth Habitation | Giramondo | 2009

George Alexander | Slow Burn | University of Western Australia Press| 2009

George Stanley | Vancouver: A Poem | New Star Books | 2008

Brian Henry | In The Unlikely Event Of A Water | Equipage | 2007

Lisa Robertson | Magenta Soul Whip | Coach House Books | 2009

Rae Armantrout | Versed | Wesleyan | 2009

Rachel Loden | Dick of the Dead | Ahsahta Press | 2009

Eileen Myles | The Importance of Being Iceland | Semiotexte | 2009

Jennifer Moxley | Clampdown | Flood Editions | 2009

More Pam Brown here.


Attention Span 2009 – Meredith Quartermain

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Thomas Bernhard | Frost | Vintage | 2008

Translated by Michael Hofmann, this novel, which involves a despairing artist in a gloomy Austrian town, contains some of the most poetic, painterly prose I’ve come across.

Aaron Peck | The Bewilderments of Bernhard Willis | Pedlar | 2008

Pure poetry, even though it’s called a novel.

Lisa Roberston | Lisa Robertson’s Magenta Soul Whip | Coach House | 2009

Who would not want to be whipped by such a magenta soul?

Margaret Christakos | What Stirs | Coach House | 2008

Christakos’s poetry is one of those best kept secrets I want to tell everyone.

George Stanley | Vancouver: A Poem | New Star | 2008

Stanley’s response to Paterson and Maximus—he never lets you forget how city thoughts are made.

Daphne Marlatt | The Given | McClelland & Stewart | 2008

This is the third novel/poem in Marlatt’s trilogy that began with the groundbreaking Ana Historic. It won the BC Book Award for poetry.

Louis Cabri | —that can’t | Nomados | 2009

Cabri is extremely inventive at recombining clichés, advertising slogans, corporate capitalist blague and popular sentiment so that they deconstruct each other with great humour and irony.

Michael Boughn | Dislocations in Crystal | Coach House | 2003

I read Boughn for, among other things, his syntax.

Michael Boughn | 22 Skidoo | BookThug | 2009

Boughn is to sentence as Miles Davis is to trumpet.

Peter Culley | The Age of Briggs and Stratton | New Star | 2008

One of the subtlest, drollest poets in Canada.

Myung Mi Kim | Commons | U of California | 2002

A very political book without being polemic, which explodes language away from its comfortable links to things and shows how violent it can be.

More Meredith Quartermain here.

Like Tiresias

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lipstickGeorge Stanley – Veracruz (2’10” with intoduction). Text courtesy of Woodland Pattern. Recorded to audiocassette at the St. Marks Poetry Project in 2000; digitized and put on-line by Eric Baus in May 2007. A highly distorted recording, made at the Kelly Writers House in October 2003, is available on PennSound. A Tall, Serious Girl (Qua, 2003) at SPD, on Goodreads, on LibraryThing. Beverly Dahlen’s notes on reading Vancouver (New Star, 2007) on Jacket 37.

Written by Steve Evans

August 6, 2009 at 10:03 am

Posted in Audience, Lipstick of Noise

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Attention Span – Joshua Clover

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Giovanni Arrighi | Adam Smith in Beijing | Verso | 2008

As a view of the future, with at least a partial hope that the next global regime might be less exploitation-based, it seems strangely optimistic. As a description of the now, and of the relation between interstate and intercapitalist developments, it’s clear-minded and ambitious. As an account of the jagged decline of the United States as global hegemon, it’s a blitz.

Kevin Davies | The Golden Age of Paraphernalia | Edge | 2008
M.I.A. | Kala | Interscope | 2007

The benefit of Edge being a little shambling in their publication schedule is that I have gotten to put some version of this book on the Attention Span list for eleven consecutive years. For all the magnificent of the parts (with Lateral Argument still magnificentest), the book is the thing: an overlapping structure which asks you ceaselessly to reevaluate the scale of parts and wholes, to read every passage as an ambiguous instance shifting within a structure within a circuit. In this sense it’s a triumph of thinking globalization/late capitalism/the lives within it, comparable only to the markedly different Kala, M.I.A.’s album which nonetheless takes up very much the same problem, about the representability of part and whole in the world-system. Or: it’s basically the soundtrack for Mike Davis’s World of Slums. In making a mystified situation experienceable —in this case the circuits of economy, terror, epidemic, and culture that form what we call globalization—it stands with any work of art this millennium.

David Harvey | graduate seminar podcast on Marx’s Capital | davidharvey.org | 2008

Also available from iTunes. So I guess this is pop culture.  It feels that way, which is nice.

Bhanu Khapil | Incubation: A Space for Monsters | Leon Works | 2006

A reminder—lifesaving—that even the problem sets that don’t compel you (I mean me, in this case) might compel someone else toward something fantastic and surprising and compelling, so might be truly useful.

Naomi Klein | The Shock Doctrine | Metropolitan Books | 2007

A hybrid of a book: history, journalism, theory. These are coordinated to secure the claim that the structural similarities of torture strategies and Chicago School restructuring policies are neither incidental nor abstract. It’s the political economy, stupid.

Donald MacKenzie | various essays | current

Researcher at University of Edinburgh, he works on “the sociology of financial markets,” which means among other things that he’s pretty good at explaining “the new economy” to people like myself without much aptitude. Many of his papers are available from his faculty website, above.

Chris Nealon | Plummet | unpublished manuscript | 2008

It pains me to say it but no, I don’t think modern dance redeemed the industrial landscape

—unless you count that last audition scene in Flashdance

Ecstasy instead of classicism: every generation feeling it

Classicism: build your buildings so that even conquering hordes will be like, No way

Mark Ovenden | Transit Maps of the World | Penguin | 2007

A good introduction to some basic problems in system mapping, from the confrontation between topographic and diagrammatic to the placement of names. Also a good occasion to smoke pot and wonder what might cause some cities to have by far the coolest transit maps: Montreal, Rio, St. Petersburg. The 1977 Moscow map is one of the most striking graphicalizations ever. The book thinks it’s “Like knitting needles spearing a ball of yarn.” I think it’s a primitive picture of overdetermination.

George Stanley | Vancouver | New Star | 2008

…knowing
it’s this time, no other, this transparent
collision of times, of times flowing through each other,

times with their inside stories (p.120)

Stephanie Young | Picture Palace | in girum imus nocte et consumimur igni | 2008

when is speech that          and not just in a bubble
when art thou?                 acted upon

by another’s       resolution
and where?

*
More Joshua Clover here.