Archive for May, 2018|Monthly archive page

One for Neil Rushton

Thanks to The Anomalist, I discovered this site administered by novelist Neil Rushton on Faerie lore. It resonates with some of my own concerns, an interest in the Celtic Twilight literary movement and the early work of William Butler Yeats, as well as with a parallel folklore, that around the UFO.

One aspect of said folklore is the Faery Light or Will o’ the Wisp, the topic of a poem fromsenathlight my first trade edition, Grand Gnostic Central, that links a sighting of Yeats’ recounted in his autobiography with tales told me by my great Uncle Peter and Aunt Julia on my father’s (Hungarian) side of their experiences in Saskatchewan.

 

Will of the Wisp

 

You say suddenly you saw

A light moving over the river

Just where the water rushes fastest

Brighter than any torch or lamp

 

Later a small light low down

Then over a slope seven miles off

You knew by hikes and your watch

No human pace could so quick

 

Here they trail wagons in blizzards

Swoop like owls to rap at windows

Come in view like oncoming engines

Over no tracks up to those waiting

Ye good old days

A friend brought to mind today his meeting a now-mutual friend, musician Zsolt Sőrés. I Trabant_P_601_S,_Bj._1986_(Foto_Sp_2016-06-05)had the luck to collaborate with Sőrés and his co-musician Zsolt Kovacs in Budapest, an aspect of which is memorialized in the first part of the poem I share below, from Ladonian Magnitudes. (As usual, the formatting here messes up the lineation: the original is written in tercets).

 

Pisces

“If our child is born in February or March it will be a Fish.”

 

Laszlo told us Tibor’d invited us to either his place or The Fish Restaurant

& Laszlo consistent with our unanimous consensus told him The Fish Restaurant

which miffed him a little but then why offer us the choice?—“You don’t do that!”

 

Besides he has a Stammtisch there

there’s always a table for him

“Of course, sir, just this way!”

 

So that day Kovács is supposed to arrive around five to record “Trabant” on DAT in his Trabant

because Tuesday after a solid three quarters of a litre of Tokaj, some beers before, innumerable Unicums, and even a little hash? then two big double vodkas

after the rehearsal for Wednesday night I spouted Marinneti glossolalia driving back to Laszlo’s in Kovàcs’s Trabant no one could stop me

 

So we went to the Tokaj bar Laszlo and I where they ladled half a deci of sweet and half a deci of dry into a glass for each of us drunk down in one go for the effect of a double martini

Then back up to Laszlo’s for a little more hash, no beer! vodka palinka Unicum whiskey two generic Gravol

Kovács an hour and a half late so I’m lying on the front balcony when the Two Zsolts arrive

 

Petra tells me she and Laszlo looked at each other knowingly as I swayed pale out the door

I remember raving the way I did the night before and arriving at The Fish Restaurant by surprise before seven

Sitting with Tibor and Laszlo who looked at each other and in Hungarian agreed I couldn’t eat with them

 

Ordering me a mineral water and putting me out on the balcony

Where I got up telling Petra I just need some air

And wander out into Buda’s streets looking for a bench

 

I remember Petra coming up and seeing how I was sitting tilting back and forth on a little wall over the Duna

The taxi arriving and Petra and Laszlo helping me up supporting me on each arm the taxi driver saying “Later.”

“Get up before they call the police!”

 

“Should I get an ambulance?”—“No, no, he’s just had too much to drink.”

And Kovács coming in his Trabant, me reeling beside him

Rolling down the window on the way and puking a great orange arc

 

Kovács tells me it was as if as he made the U-turn in front of The Fish Restaurant

everything I’d drunk sloshed out

One waiter pointed “Look! He’s doing it again!”

 


 

From Bremervörde we drove north to Otterndorf at the Elbe’s mouth

In the sun Matjes with raw onion on a bun and a plate of crispy gold Pommes with a big dab of mayonnaise

On the picnic table outside the strand café landside of the dike

 

Seaside a briny brown tide covered the sand and washed up cold over and drained through honeycombed red bricks enforcing the shore we walked on

Two black-suited windsurfers rode out fast crazy as the two boys splashing in the swimming pond just left of lunch

The sky painterly with grey-rain and sun-bleached clouds framing low sea daisy yellow mist and high blue

 

The Gasthaus we aimed at for an early supper closed so we drove in to Otterndorf

Brick houses cool sienna tomato rusted in early dusk

Even cobbled clean streets narrow as in Hamburg or Holland

 

A sample of Italian absinth and a flask of Grobmuter’s Apfelsaft in a gift shop just around the corner from the Ratskellar—“Danke, Mutti!” (Danke, Renate, for the absinthe spoon!)

A Norwegian acquavit before a litre of German beer and three rich Matjes filets Hausfrauen Art with a creamy apple onion celery relish and Bratkartoffeln punctuated by a bitter

A soft chocolate-dipped Eis eaten up quickly melting out the bottom of the cone

 

The way back musculature uncomfortable on bone-rack, aching joints, and threatening cramps

In bed sweat wet uncontrollable shivers chatter teeth and fingertips tingle numb

Every joint sore unable to lie still three seconds

 

Eyes rolling in a reeling lolling head

Delirious poetic prayers to Apollo in the name of his son Asclepius to shake from a leafy laurel branch drops blessed by Morpheus to cool my head and just let me sleep

Finally making myself puke three times about three in the morning

QAnon as (post)modern art

The conspiratorial mindset likely goes back at least as far as the paranoid cosmologies of demiurge after fiddlingthe Gnostics two millennia ago. One of its latest iterations is Q or QAnon, a conspiracy theory that in its manner of dissemination, the style of its expression, and the wildness of its content makes it more impressive as an instance of modern art than a revelation of the secret order of the world it pretends to be.

Q appears first 28 October 2017 on /pol/, a sub-board of 4-chan, unwinding a thread titled “Calm Before the Storm” alluding, supposedly, to a remark made by President Trump early that month. The thread’s author claimed to have Q-level security clearance, having access to highly-classified information he then prolifically released in idiosyncratically worded “crumbs” that outlined an increasingly complex and bizarre vision of contemporary world politics, focused on Trump’s battle with the Deep State.

Why anyone would take the incoherent and madly speculative worldview Q lays out for the way things really are is as much a psychological or sociological as an epistemic question. However, if one brackets the question of the truth of Q’s revelations, then the trail of crumbs Q has left his public appear as a work of fiction or poetry that meets Rimbaud’s famous demand that “we must be absolutely modern” in remarkable ways.

Adopting a mask or persona, an identity other than the author’s, is an old literary device, intensified for various reasons in the Twentieth Century. Replacing one’s given name with one’s initials became a bit of a fashion among anglophone poets, T. S. Eliot or more radically H.D. being perhaps the best known. Postwar or postmodern poetry probing the implications of the death of the author have worked to compose works wherein the language rather than the author might be said to be what speaks. Q, too, in a not dissimilar manner, adopts a persona, a move with rhetorical affect. This pseudonym, evoking both James Bond and real-world security-clearance designations, lends Q an air of credibility that tellingly draws on both fictional and factual connotations. Moreover, his revelations are made to appear all the more true as their being shared in even such a piecemeal, obscure manner is made to seem to endanger his life. In the conspirosphere it’s an old trick of putative insiders to lend their leaks gravity by their being secret, to whatever degree.

Aside from developing and coining the expression “the death of the author” French critic Roland Barthes also articulated an important distinction, that between “work” and “text”, most fully explored in S/Z. All too simply put, the classical work stands over against the reader as a seamless, polished, finished monumental aesthetic object achieved by the labour of the genius of the author; the text, on the other hand demands as much engagement and work from the reader to complete the aesthetic object. Barthes describes a text as “a galaxy of signifiers” that need be “constellated” by the reader. (Admittedly, the distinction goes back to the Jena Romantics and is roundly deconstructed by Barthes himself in S/Z; nevertheless, it remains valuable in discussing modes of avant garde writing). In this light, QAnon’s conspiracy theory is a text, at both the micro and macro levels.

The theory is articulated by a thread spun of “crumbs”,  a series of short, telegraphic, sometimes encoded lines, that resemble, at least typographically, poems:

Q-Iran-Potus-in-Control

Some lines are complete sentences; others (e.g.,”Suicide watch” or “Bigger than people can imagine”) are more cryptic, demanding an active interpretation. Often, the reader is addressed in the imperative tense (“Ask yourself…”) or is posed questions (“Why is HRC in NZ?”) supposedly to push the reader in a particular, interpretive direction. The lines that make up each crumb are organized paratactically, demanding the reader supply the grammatical and logical  connections that would lend them even a linguistic coherence. These demands on the reader’s engagement reach a limit in encoded crumbs.

Q-Anon-Coded-message

Thus, at the lowest level of composition, the crumb and its components, the theory is very much a text, lent a significant amount of logic and significance by the reader.

At the next higher level of organization, that between crumbs, both consecutively and in general, the same demands are made. Just as each line of a crumb need be understood and each line connected with the other, the revelations of each crumb need be worked up into a coherent whole that is subject to subsequent modification by rereadings of already released crumbs and subject to revision with the release of each day’s new crumbs. The theory is thus in a state of constant flux, an instability exacerbated by the basic incoherence of the crumbs taken individually and as a totality, as well as the added complications added to the mix by contributions to the thread by its readers. The theory then is in a state of constant expansion and complication.

Another characteristic of avant garde art is its interest in exploring and exploiting the latest media technology makes available. In this light, QAnon is strikingly modern, availing itself of the possibilities of the digital medium:  being digital, appearing where it does to address a particular audience, being open-ended both in its own on-going composition and in its readers’ participation. In a more profound way, though, the theory depends on another dimension of our modernity born with digital culture, that of the demand for “transparency” and its consequences. As theorist Stanley Fish eloquently observes, the demand for equal access to data, free of the editorial manipulations of elites or other gatekeepers, produces precisely an informational galaxy of signifiers that are then open to an absolutely “democratic” or anarchic constellation by those with access to it. QAnon’s unwinding story is premissed on precisely this situation, made up as it is of just those bits of data that the thread’s readers in turn organize into a more or less coherent if incomplete picture.

QAnon, then, is a remarkable example of absolutely contemporary ((post)”modern”) art, in its adoption of a pseudonymous persona for rhetorical affect, in its inventing a new genre of linguistic expression (the crumb) that puts to use poetic and rhetorical devices, in its overall organization reminiscent of avant garde literature, and in its very medium and exploitation of various aesthetic possibilities of that medium, all premissed and arising from the media if not epistemic conditions of the age, the ascendancy of data over news and the increasing anarchy of world views and political polarization this shift enables and gives rise to.

Toronto Spring 2018 Getaway Takeaways

You can’t have the sameHeraclitus_in_Thomas_Stanley_History_of_Philosophy

Royal York Library Bar

All Canadian Beef Burger

 

twice. Bunner’s Bake Shop

vegan, gluten-free cinnamon buns

don’t travel well.

NaPoMo leftovers: Six Rimes

Standard eyes I shunlandscape-window-wall-color-artwork-painting-art-mural-tourist-attraction-characters-modern-art-trompe-l-il-gates-canyon-of-the-verdon-gorges-1019273

 

Dada data

Marxian Martian

 

‘incarnation’ read

aloud as ‘incantation’

 

Little Read Book

Ill-read Herring

What’s on my desk / what I’m working on

In a conversation I was lucky enough to have had this week with a long-standing, younger poet-friend, I was asked, half out of curiosity and half in challenge, just what contemporary poets I’m reading these days.

In answer, I append the bibliography below, which lists all the books on my desk that I’mIMG_2890 presently reading, either as part of larger projects (a talk on Peter Dale Scott and the post-secular I’m giving at the end of the month, or research into modes of poetic political engagement, or the ways poetry brings itself into relation with philosophy), or toward writing notices and reviews, or just for the sake of maintaining some small idea of what’s going on in contemporary world poetry.

Of course, which writers might be said to alive is more a matter of their art than their pulse.

 

What I’m reading

Angles, Jeffrey, trans. Poems of Hiromi Itō, Toshiko Hirata, & Takako Arai. Newtown:  Vagabond Press, 2016.

Armantrout, Rae. Versed. Middletown:  Weseleyan University Press. 2009.

Arsenev, Pavel. Spasm of Accommodation. Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2017.

Badiou, Alain. Being and Event, trans. Feltham, Oliver. London:  Continuum, 2007.

Philosophy for Militants, trans. Bosteels, Bruno. London:  Verso, 2015.

The Age of the Poets And Other Writings on Twentieth-Century Poetry and Prose, ed. and trans. Bosteels, Bruno. London:  Verso, 2014.

The Communist Hypothesis, trans. Macey and Corcoran. Bosteels, Bruno. London:  Verso, 2015.

Balestrini, Nanni. Blackout, trans. Valente, Peter. Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2017.

Berg, Aase. With Deer, trans. Johannes Göransson. Boston:  Black Ocean, 2008.

Blandiana, Ana. My Native Land A4, trans. Derrick and Patea. Hexham:  Bloodaxe Books, 2014.

Bohinc, Katy. Dear Alain. New York:  Tender Buttons Press, 2014.

Borzutsky, Daniel. The Book of Interfering Bodies. Callicoon:  Nightboat Books, 2011.

Bradford, David. A Star is Boring. Montreal:  Self-published, 2016.

Call Out. Toronto:  Knife Fork Books, 2017.

Clover, Joshua. Red Epic.  Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2015.

Collis, Stephen. Once in Blockadia. Vancouver:  Talonbooks, 2016.

Copi, Irving M. Symbolic Logic, Fifth ed. New York:  Macmillan, 1979.

Derrida, Jacques and Vattimo, Gianni, eds. Religion. Standford:  Standford University Press, 1998.

Dick, Mina Pam. Delinquent. New York:  Futurepoems Books, 2009.

Eckerlin, Jesse. Thrush. Windsor:  Biblioasis, 2016.

We Are Not The Bereaved. Victoria:  Frog Hollow Press, 2012.

Gewanter, David.  The Sleep of Reason. Chicago:  University Press of Chicago, 2003.

Gilbert, Sandra M. Kissing the Bread:  New and Selected Poems 1969-1999. New York:  Norton, 2000.

Gleize, Jean-Marie. Tarnac, A Preparatory Act, trans. Clover, et al. Chicago:  Kenning Editions, 2014.

Golynko, Dmitry. As It Turned Out, ed. Ostashevsky, Eugene, trans. Ostashevsky, et al. New York:  Ugly Duckling Presse, 2008.

Goyette, Sue ed. The Griffin Poetry Prize Anthology 2017. Toronto:  House of Anansi Press, 2017.

Graham, Jorie. Fast. New York:  Harper Collins, 2017.

Habermas, Jürgen. Between Naturalism and Religion, trans. Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge:  Polity, 2008.

Postmetaphysical Thinking:  Philosophical Essays, trans. William Mark Hohengarten. Cambridge:  MIT, 1992.

Postmetaphysical Thinking II:  Essays and Replies, trans. Ciaran Cronin. Cambridge:  Polity, 2017.

—Religion and Rationality:  Essays on Reason, God, and Modernity, ed. Eduardo Mandieta. Cambridge:  MIT, 2002.

The Future of Human Nature. Cambridge:  Polity, 2003.

—et al. The Awareness of What is Missing. Cambridge:  Polity, 2010.

Hall, Phil. The Small Nouns Crying Faith. Toronto:  BookThug, 2013.

Hartnett, Stephen John. Incarceration Nation:  Investigative Prison Poems of Hope and Terror. Walnut Creek:  Altamira, 2003.

Hecht, Jamey. Limousine Midnight Blue. Los Angeles:  Red Hen Press, 2009.

Heighton, Steven. The Walking Comes Late. Toronto:  House of Anansi, 2016.

Heller, Michael. Dianoia. New York:  Nightboat Books, 2016.

Itō, Hiromi. Killing Kanoko:  Selected Poems of Hiromi Itō, trans. Angles, Jeffrey. Notre Dame:  Action Books, 2009.

Wild Grass on the Riverbank, trans. Angles, Jeffrey. Notre Dame:  Action Books, 2014.

Jäderlund, Ann. Which had once been a meadow, trans. Johannes Göransson. New York:  Black Square Press, 2017.

Johnson, Ronald. Ark. Chicago:  Flood Editions, 2013.

Jönson, Johan. Collobert Orbital, trans, Göransson, Johannes. Displaced Press, 2009.

Lachman, Gary. Lost Knowledge of the Imagination. Edinburgh:  Floris Books, 2017.

Lau, David. Still Dirty:  Poems 2009-15. Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2016.

Mackey, Nathaniel. School of Udhra. San Francisco:  City Lights Books, 1993.

McKinnon, Barry. I Wanted to Say Something. Red Deer:  Red Deer College Press, 1990.

Medvedev, Kirill. It’s No Good, trans. Gessen et al. New York:  n + 1 and Ugly Duckling Presse, 2012.

Mendieta and Vanantwerfepen, eds. The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere. New York:  Columbia University Press, 2011.

Mancini, Donato. SAME DIFF. Vancouver:  Talonbooks, 2017.

Moure, Erin. O Cadoiro. Toronto:  House of Anansi Press, 2007.

Neveau, Chantal. A Spectactular Influence, trans. Nathanaël. Toronto:  BookThug, 2015.

Parra, Nicanor. Antipoems:  How to look better & feel great, trans. Werner, Liz. New York:  New Directions Press, 2004.

Ed. Ray, David. From the Hungarian Revolution. Ithaca:  Cornell UP, 1966.

Rilke, Rainer Maria.  The Selected Poetry of Rainer Maria Rilke, ed. & trans. Mitchell, Stephen. New York:  Vintage, 1984.

Eds. Rothenberg and Bloomberg-Rissman. Barbaric Vast & Wild:  A Gathering of Outside and Subterranean Poetry from Origins to the Present. Boston:  Black Widow Press, 2015.

Sartre, Jean Paul. What is Literature? Trans. Frechtman, Bernard. New York:  Routledge, 2001.

Scott, Peter Dale. Coming to Jakarta. Toronto:  M&S, 1988.

Coming to Jakarta. New York, New Directions Press, 1988.

Listening to the Candle. Toronto:  M&S, 1992.

Listening to the Candle. New York, New Directions Press, 1992.

Minding the Darkness. New York, New Directions Press, 2000.

Mosaic Orpheus. Montreal:  McGill-Queen’s UP, 2009.

Silliman, Ron. Revelator. Toronto:  BookThug, 2013.

The Alphabet. Tuscaloosa:  U of Alabama Press, 2008.

Smith, Dale. Sons. Toronto:  Knife Fork Books, 2017.

Sommer, Richard. Cancer Songs. Winnipeg:  Signature Editions, 2011.

Tremblay, Bill. Magician’s Hat:  Poems on the Life and Work of David Alfonso Siqueiros. Spokane:  Lynx House Press, 2013.

Vogelweide, Walther von. Gedichte, ed. Wapnewski, Peter. Frankfurt:  Fischer Taschenbuch Verlag, 2006.

Walsøe-Engel, Ingrid. German Poetry From The Beginnings to 1750. New York:  Continuum, 1992.

Wilderson III, Frank B. Sideways Between Stories. Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2016.

Williamson, Alan. Res Publica.  University Press of Chicago, 1998.

Xiaoyu, Qin. Iron Moon:  An Anthology of Chinese Migrant Worker Poetry, trans. Goodman, Eleanor. Buffalo:  White Pine Press, 2016.

Yépez, Heriberto. Transnational Battle Field. Oakland:  Commune Editions, 2017.