Saturday, June 28, 2003
I was being flip when, in mentioning Lanny Quarle’s weblog, ::(solipsis)//:phaneronoemikon:: – there’s that colonitis again – I commented that since “Google doesn’t find an instance of the word, presumably Greek, phaneronoemikon, that doesn’t link back to Lanny’s site, I can’t tell you what it means either.”
That led to two responses, both worth noting.
Lanny himself sent me an email, which later became the core of a note he posted to his own blog. It is definitely worth clicking over to his site to follow the etymological links he’s posted for each element of this constructed noun, but the net of it, as he explains, might be read as:
an emblem/figure (matrix of ikon and noema) which represents (ikon and noema) the contents of consciousness (phaneron) at any given moment in time (noema and phaneron).
Lanny, when he hears that your question is out there, will probably provide his own translation of "phaneronoemikon", but:
The first half, "phanero-", could've been obvious to you from Sappho's best-known poem, often left titled in the Greek even with English translations, the "Phainetai moi". Liddell and Scott's Lexicon gives "phanero-", the root of that title, as recognized Greek, as used in Aristotle's "phaneromisos", "openly hating." "phanero-"/"phaneros" means "open to sight, visible, manifest, evident"; it has the sense of "it appears (to)".
I've always — I think mistakenly, now that you call closer attention to the Quarles — thought the last half of it was "-oemikon"; I thought his "pun" was on the "-oemikon" one sees at the end of the Gk. for "economy," so it would've been a sort of "economy of appearances."
— But, now that you're brought it under the microscope, I see that I'd blind-spotted the "-n-" in the middle; and now the "-noemikon" half of it looks like a derivative of "noema", in Liddell as "that which is perceived, a perception, thought," "a thought, purpose, design," "like . . . understanding", and I realize, I think, that it should've been familiar to me from Husserl's famous terms, the "noema" and "the noemata."
The final "-ikon" suffix seems to be the same sort used in Susan Howe's "Eikon Basilikon", for a large work on a subject (with some trace of icon, perhaps).
— So, that yields something like "the appearance of thoughts".
Friday, June 27, 2003
For what still might be characterized as a “student publication,” Kiosk 2 continues to demonstrate just how the editing of a journal should go. The issue has 22 contributors divided among its 292 pages, assuring that ample room is accorded to each, even with its somewhat unusual page size (8½” wide, 7” high).
Of its 22 contributors, only
two are new to me – Ofelia Pérez Sepúlvida
& Carla Faesler, both Mexican poets translated by
Jen Hofer. The first of Sepúlvida’s two poems,
excerpts from a series entitled “Infected the Heart,” immediately makes Hofer’s
implicit argument that the quality of poetry in
In the gaze
Circuit of the years
Pain I hem in
I touch between my temples
On the paper
A publication like this is an opportunity to check on old friends &, for me at least, invariably brings up lots of question as I ponder everybody’s work in turn, e.g.
What does it mean if the reader doesn’t catch the allusion? As in
he was a Young Hegelian.
Being one stanza from
Are Abigail Child’s poems, which here as elsewhere follow a prosody that can be traced historically back to Stein, inherently more optimistic than her films? Does she use different media for different moods? [At the Drawing Center on Tuesday I asked her & she replied that it had obviously been a long time since I’d seen one of her films. ]
Why do the works from K. Silem Mohammad’s Deer Dead Nation have nine elements of punctuation in front of every line? In “false / Vodoun Democracy,” it’s nine consecutive colons (:::::::::), while in “Mars Needs Terrorists” – a title that Spicer would have envied – each line has a block that includes five colons alternating with 4 periods (:.:.:.:.:). I’m working hard here to avoid all kinds of colonitis puns.
How can you think or talk about Leslie Scalapino’s work without confronting the problem of genre? Her piece in Kiosk, as is so often the case with her writing, invokes two in its title, Dahlia’s Iris – Secret Autobiography and fiction. Genre has, as much as anything, to do with the reader’s expectation & the writer’s social responsibility to recognize that dynamic. Nobody does more to explore & confound an easy boundaries of reactive presumption than Scalapino. But I would love to be able to articulately explain what I think is going on here. I’m nowhere near being able to do so today.
Secondly, in order to adequately discuss her work, you (I) would have to also understand the function of syntax in Scalapino’s writing. There are so many sentences like this one:
Verbally savagely assaulting but as the means of now indicating one is a servant only (inherently) yet the same person one has been, when how had this come to be?
I don’t know that I’ve ever come across the construction “when how” before & yet my mind adapts to it instantly. Reading sentences like this, I sense my self coming into focus – into a sense of my own presence – repeatedly during the evolution of the syntax. In any sentence like the one above, there can be no word more stark than only.
I really like how Pat Durgin approaches Hannah Weiner’s work in his essay on her piece – and that Kiosk also prints Hannah’s proto-essay “Awareness and Communication” as part of Durgin’s project here.
Finally there is a series of
pieces in memory of Leslie Fiedler who passed away last year, written by
Thursday, June 26, 2003
One of the historic weaknesses of poetry that relies heavily on spatial position on the page is that, too often, that is all the poet appears to be doing. That it doesn’t have to be this way – that you can utilize space and still pay total attention to the writing itself – is proven beyond reasonable doubt by Pornograph, a forthcoming book from Jonathon Wilcke, a Canadian poet who has recently spent some time in Japan.
While it was the Projectivists who
first proposed the page as a field, Duncan & Olson seldom actually took
advantage of the spatial implications of that idea, Olson principally in his
palimpsest spirals in Maximus, Duncan
really only in his great poem against the weapons of mass destruction, the use
of napalm in
Overall, tho, Wilcke uses the
spatial with a relatively conservative hand – he doesn’t want the reader to get
lost in graphics. Which is all to the good, since it is the texts that are not conservative. They are mostly a
delight, utilizing a general sense of prurience, an ear for dialog & found
language, plus a sense of humor that could have attended the
bambi on parole says prick pestilents
by the dollar. ooh
porn is it porn porn porn
ooh dirty. and the cent. makes plenty of sense
that capitalism works to pull wool cover eyes with spoons
isn’t white a color did i say the wrong thing doesn’t wool
come from sheep wouldn’t that be a lie i have a wool sweater.
did he sound white? is that cell phone authentic?
i’ll have your brother for dinner but i’m expecting a man.
a brother. a white man. a white brother.
it’s good to have family.
or the simple two-liner:
I can’t find my pants.
printed high & to the right alone on its page.
There are moments in these texts when it feels as if John Wieners & Joe Brainard have melded into one, tho the eros of it all is broader in fact than that suggests, more of a post-Burroughs, post-Acker pansexuality with a glimmer of optimism:
In this prostrate carry legs, but the word, compose legs, in thisness, you say, that’s my leg, says mouth, quit the club when my leg fell off, chicken in a biscuit, and television models talking out their asses selling food that sells, and, thus, this, is the best way to what, waht, hah! sperm activates aeeuh aeeuh aeeuh aeeuh aeeuh thwack thwack thwack! the naked truth will wear your gonch and you’ll say what’s that, and no one’ll hear out of the mouth from sync out of the arms from swung over the legs of chairs and all those dictums about keeping legs closed in public, conflate the seeing into one big flatulent hearing, and end this one a fart word, well, whoopee.
Canadian poetry is obviously undergoing a renaissance these days & Jonathon Wilcke is happily in the thick of it. I don’t know if this represents the burgeoning of several communities simultaneously, or if the advent of the net has just made it easier for Canadian poets to get their work out more widely. Either way, readers benefit as well as writers. Whoopee.
Tuesday, June 24, 2003
There was a time when all the poets whose work I liked and whom I’d hoped to meet and hear read were older than I was. Now, it’s just the opposite. It’s the younger poets who suddenly seem to be turning up, brilliant & fully formed & mysterious.
One poet whom I’m absolutely
looking forward to meeting & hear read for the first time later today at
I’m not going to review the book here – there is a short review by Catherine Daly that can be found on the website of the rather amorphous Sidereality & a much more in-depth one by Brian Henry, located in Jacket 21. It would hardly be surprising for me to be pleased to see a work that its author characterizes as “an alphabet,” entitled “Legend,” especially when it’s well written:
in sight of
the little king
But the poem that has intrigued me most is the title piece, “Anthem,” a serial poem containing 50 untitled sections, all written in couplets, each of which at some point names a different state of the union. Here is one:
I heard O Canada
for the first time
or at the World
poetry of his
while an arithmetic
Other sections can be found here.
There is a
sharpness to the line in these pieces that reminds me just a little of
The book that comes closest
in its original impulse to what
pitch dark in
to its own section on
WEBSTER, Central Time, across the southern state line.
yellow palm warblers,
Nest Butte, “Hello, Dave!” – Across the
The Europeans sliced up the
“Hello, Mrs. Webster!” –
A grasshopper sparrow, perched on a rock near a pond, in the middle of a clump of phlox subulata with red-striped pink blossoms.
cracked mud bottoms of the dry lakes,
the sun through a haze,
On the highway an orange Cadillac driven by a pink-faced white man (speed limit 70 miles), “get gas at the next Sunoco Station,” –Arrowhead Butte and Antelope Butte. – When it is in
It’s really pretty much like this for the whole 319 pages, really daft & obsessed & fascinating, with a wide open ear & eye, and one very well employed field guide to American birds.* It makes you wonder – as do more than a few of his translations – why Howard the poet never has showed even one percent of the gumption required for a project such as this.
was primarily identified as a “new novelist” & critic in France, I’ve never
been able to get any sense of how, if at all, this curious booklength poem ever
got integrated the poetry scene there.** It may be sitting there, unassimilated
altogether, a guilty conscience nagging all those small well-made poems. Like
What I do recognize, though,
* Butor means bittern in French.
Capote reviewed the book in the second issue of the
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No blog mañana – I won’t get
Monday, June 23, 2003
Ray Davis, whose Bellona Times is one of the Grand Old Blogs, thought that if I’m going to be flippant about the history of weblogs, I should at least get it right:
I was startled to find this in your Bloomsday post:
"But in 1999 relatively few people had begun to figure out the power of blogs – the most notable example at that point was Matt Drudge, impersonating the worst journalist imaginable, right down to the pork pie hat."
Equivalently, "Before the 1990s, by far the most powerful member of the Language Poets was Bret Easton Ellis." Drudge called himself a journalist, the world called him by a variety of names, but no one called him a weblogger. His only connection with the form is that he self-published on the web.
When I started my own serial in the summer of 1999, the most notable weblog was Robot Wisdom, whose author invented the term. The group of young web designers who later tended to be referred to as "the A-list" were well under way (including the coiner of "blog" and the developers of the software you use to post your own material). Among those 1999-era weblogs more focused on aesthetic issues, Alamut and NQPaOFU (both established 1998) are still going.
I expect that what you meant was "But in 1999 I didn't read any blogs, and Ben Friedlander probably didn't either." There's no shame in that.
I can’t say I disapprove of any impulse to reject Matt Drudge, even if I want to quibble that “publishes a daily journal” &, especially in his case, maintains a huge blogroll, might qualify Drudge under any definition I to which I might agree. Mark Glaser includes Drudge in his chart of “most influential bloggers,” the lead story at UCLA’s Online Journalism Review site.
In a follow-up note, Ray added:
If you'd like a more appropriate link than my own site, Rebecca Blood's 2000 history is still not a bad introduction, although it predates the explosive growth of insular weblogging communities outside the web-designer world (political mobs, humanities grad students, and, most recently, poets).
But then Ray changed his mind:
Curious, I did the webberly thing and searched the literature – only to find that what I'd called "revisionist history" began (as it often does) very early on as "revisionist journalism." Although Drudge himself has expressed his typical mindless hostility toward weblogs, and although I don't know of any webloggers who were sired or dammed by Drudge's site, in fact quite a few of the early mainstream articles on weblogging pointed to the Drudge Report as an example. I imagine the usual under-the-deadline fluff-up-what-you-already-know factors were at work. "A bunch of updated links? Sounds like what Drudge is doing."
That's understandable. Journalists crave definitions, and when a form or a genre is coalescing, definitions are hard to make sense of. For example, this May 1999 piece from Salon (written about the time I was plotting out my web magazine and realizing that my idea of a proper "web magazine" matched the new form fairly well):
disqualifies Drudge because of his lack of a "personal voice," but keeps the pure link lists.
So I apologize for my reaction: you weren't being eccentric; instead, I was being too much the insider. A nasty sin for someone who sets such great store by exogamy....
That ellipsis belongs to Ray. The eccentricity is all mine.
Sunday, June 22, 2003
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Ron Silliman was born in Pasco, Washington, although his parents stayed there just long enough for his mother to learn that one could step on field mice while walking barefoot
through the snow to the outhouse, and for his father to walk away from a plane crash while smuggling alcohol into a dry county. Silliman has written and edited over 30 books, most recently Wharf Hypothesis from Lines Press, and had his poetry and criticism translated into 12 languages. Among his honors, Silliman was a 2012 Kelly Writers House Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, and the 2010 recipient of the Levinson Prize, from the Poetry Foundation. His sculpture Poetry (Bury Neon) is permanently on display in the transit center of Bury, Lancashire, and he has a plaque in the walk dedicated to poetry in his home town of Berkeley, although he now lives in Chester County, PA. He is teaching in 2013 at the University of Pennsylvania and at Naropa.