Friday, November 12, 2010

LEMON HOUND: Pulled off my Shelves #8: "All Work and No Play Ma...

LEMON HOUND: Pulled off my Shelves #8: "All Work and No Play Ma...: "In All Work and No Play Makes Jack a Dull Boy, Phil Buehler attempts to document, assemble and continue Jack Torrance’s manuscript from Stan..."

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

In which Vanessa Place addresses

A few of the questions people had about her Statement Of Facts piece which she read from recently in Montreal.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Conceptual Writing, sure, but what is Flarf?

Flarf plays Dionysus to Conceptual Writing’s Apollo. Flarf uses traditional poetic tropes (“taste” and “subjectivity”) and forms (stanza and verse) to turn these conventions inside out. Conceptual Writing rarely “looks” like poetry and uses its own subjectivity to construct a linguistic machine that words may be poured into; it cares little for the outcome. Flarf is hilarious. Conceptual Writing is dry. Flarf is the Land O’Lakes butter squaw; Conceptual Writing is the government’s nutritional label on the box. Flarf is Larry Rivers. Conceptual Writing is Andy Warhol. No matter. They’re two sides of the same coin. Choose your poison and embrace your guilty pleasure.Kenny G .
Also, here's a flarf poem from Katie Degentesh. For a reading of Degentesh's poem see Ryan Fitzpatrick here.


when Serbs get mad, they talk
about a small town like Grace

Stop laughing; I’m serious
Grace is all I can afford on my nursing home wages

I pity her for the thankless job of building
A nation of Americans conceived in petri dishes.

Whores are disposable.
They get strangled, beaten, tortured, raped ...

in old motels, diners, train stations, or whatever,
and I think about Capri Sun bags when it happens.

As he unzips his pants I realize that I’m
what happens to us when the curtain goes down

no one cares much for the body parts
murderer creeping up behind her

Look, poetry, painting, writing ...
People don’t get it like they should.

But it exists because it’s a link to what we can
accomplish through our Academic Plan

no mattter how public it all seems
there’s a forced casualness to this conversation

I’ve been out here shooting long snough
I know even a public toilet will net you jail time

Because when it comes to that word, “nigger,”
- I know that this is illegal -

it’s like the emergence of yet another guilty, white Southern male
as the fat lady continues to sing

“when they were first created the thing
was to make them as white as possible”

as long as we are laughing
at Rush Limbaugh’s addiction

remember that Mt. Rushmore was itself
the creation of an ardent member of the Ku Klux Klan

from The Anger Scale

Monday, October 18, 2010

Kenneth Goldsmith: Always Almost Obsolete, Always Almost New

Conceptual Writing is automatic. It operates most efficiently when machines perpetuate it subconsciously. Conceptual Writing is infinitely flexible. It is obvious yet discreet, insidious yet desirable, powerful yet pathetic. It is despised, yet sought after. It is ubiquitous yet specific. It is both centralized and dispersed. The medium for Conceptual Writing is information, which is a mere receptacle for quantification — a domain within which information is both extracted and deployed. It is the grid again — the return of the Cartesian, but with a vengeance. This time, roving crosshairs — not unlike those of missile guidance systems — have been included. Conceptual Writing doesn’t have the pretense to find poetry all that important; in subsuming literature to the statistical, it announces the obsolescence of expression.

Vanessa Place: Notes on why Conceptualism is Better than Flarf

1. Conceptualism asks what is poetry?
1. Flarf says sez you!
2. Flarf is never about anything other than poetry itself.
2. Conceptualism is allegorical. It is about things other than poetry itself.
3. Flarf is the court jester. As such, it is still a member of the court.
3. Conceptualism courts jest, but is not the king’s dog.
4. Flarf is composition.
4. Conceptualism is composed.

Mayer/ Bernstein Writing Experiments

* Systematically eliminate the use of certain kinds of words or phrases from
a piece of writing: eliminate all adjectives from a poem of your own, or
take out all words beginning with 's' in Shakespeare's sonnets.
* Rewrite someone else's writing. Experiment with theft and plagiarism.
* Systematically derange the language: write a work consisting only of
prepositional phrases, or, add a gerund to every line of an already existing
* Get a group of words, either randomly selected or thought up, then form
these words (only) into a piece of writing-whatever the words allow. Let
them demand their own form, or, use some words in a predetermined way.
Design words.

* Pick a word or phrase at random, let mind play freely around it until a
few ideas have come up, then seize on one and begin to write. Try this with
a non- connotative word, like "so" etc.
* Eliminate material systematically from a piece of your own writing until
it is "ultimately" reduced, or, read or write it backwards, line by line or
word by word. Read a novel backwards.

Restructuring well-known works of literature

Wind the with Gone
Novelist and Conceptual poet Vanessa Place is in the middle of tweeting the entirety of Magaret Mitchell’s Gone With the Wind. Of course, because she enters the text in 140 character increments, and because Twitter places the most recent posts at the top of the page, the text is being reversed. For example, the two most recent posts have been:
e of the Confederacy, for final victory was at hand. Stonewall Jackson’s triumphs in the Valley and the defeat of the Yankees in the Seven D
need be, and bear their loss as proudly as the men bore their battle flags. It was high tide of devotion and pride in their hearts, high tid
 via Poetry Foundation

follow Vanessa Place on Twitter. 

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Jen Bervin

When I have seen by Time’s fell hand defaced
The rich proud cost of outworn buried age;
When sometime lofty towers I see down-razed,
And brass eternal slave to mortal rage;
When I have seen the hungry ocean gain
Advantage on the kingdom of the shore,
And the firm soil win of the watery main,
Increasing store with loss and loss with store;
When I have seen such interchange of state,
Or state itself confounded to decay;
Ruin hath taught me thus to ruminate
That Time will come and take my love away.
This thought is as a death which cannot choose
But weep to have that which it fears to lose.

An excerpt of Bervin's Nets online. Philip Metres has a review of Nets on Jacket

Saturday, October 16, 2010

How To Do Silence: A conversation on Erasure with Vanessa Place

What is she reading? More than two minutes of silence, well, near silence, filled up the auditorium as Vanessa Place scanned the page in front of her, one hand moving from page to body and back, occasionally looking up, making eye contact. I started our brief conversation about the performance she gave at the University of Greenwich earlier this month by asking what the title was--she didn't say prior.

VP:"Gone with the Wind by Vanessa Place"

LH: You offer no apparatus for the audience/reader to receive the work, which makes for a powerful, and somewhat uncomfortable experience. How would you describe the piece?

The Allegory and the Archive/ Vanessa Place

But I must constantly repeat that I say all this in connection with repetition. Kierkegaard Je ne suis point la justice. Place

With luck, I ended yesterday on guilt and shame; now that you are in a proper frame of mind, we will consider—thankfully more briefly—allegory and the archive, which are, after all, ways of mediating and instantiating both. That is to say, how memorials are forgotten and made.
Allegory (from Greek: αλλος, allos, "other", and αγορεσειν, agoreuein, "to speak in public") is a figurative mode of representation conveying a meaning other than the literal. Medieval thinking accepted allegory as having a reality underlying any rhetorical or fictional uses. The allegory was as true as the facts of surface appearances.(Wikipedia)
So Wikipedia defines the allegory historically, as ahistorically represented in Wikipedia. One of the confusions about conceptualism appears to be this issue of the allegorical. We know what allegory was originally, Dante‟s Commedia, Bunyan‟s Progress, Langland‟s Plowman, and my copy of The Marvelous Career of Theodore Roosevelt (and the story of his African Trip). And we all remember that allegory is extended metaphor, wherein objects (signifiers) within a narrative equate with meanings (signifiers) outside the narrative. That there is always a literal meaning and a symbolic meaning, that synthesis between narratives lies with the reader, that personification within the literal is not determinative, and that the allusive is not necessarily the allegorical, but the allegorical is very often allusive. That the allegorical was

Thursday, October 14, 2010

derek beaulieu: Nothing Odd Can Last

Are the bawdy passages and double entendres important in this book?
Could it have been omitted?
Does the author guide his pen or does his pen guide him?
Does she have redeeming qualities?
Does the novel demonstrate that there can be postmodern texts before post-modernism?
Do you think the author intended to end the novel with the ninth volume?
How do we account for the author’s strikingly unsentimental treatment, at times, of such topics as love and death?

Monday, October 4, 2010

Week 4

Discussion on the Ethics of Appropriation. Please take some time to read over that post and follow the links.

As promised, here is a link to Sianne Ngai's essay, The Cuteness of the Avant-Garde.

Please note that all texts are at the Coop Bookstore.

Please read Jen Bervin's Nets for next week.

Ethics of Appropriation

for this discussion, please consider the following texts by Abe Louise Young, Ray McDaniel, Gregory Betts and Jonathan Lethem repsectively.

Young's essay slams Ray McDaniel for using material found on an archive that she built, carefully and respectively, to allow victims of Hurricane Katrina. Already disenfranchised, Young suggests that by plundering them McDaniel does further injustice:
I believe these people have a right to their narratives. In order to publish them, I believe that the speakers must be consulted and that they must be given the opportunity to sign off on copyright forms. By neglecting to inquire, much less make certain that his plans were acceptable to the narrators, McDaniel reenacted a familiar racist pattern, and a blind spot in American poetry publishing was revealed.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Week 3

Monday, September 27
Discuss the Silliman Ersasure exercise
In Class Writing: Write the history of the world as you know it, using a vowel/consonant restraint. 
Discuss: Ubu Anthology, Jen Bervin Nets, Emma Kay, Worldview
Follow up assignment: Write a story using a list. Here's one possibility from Jared Hayes. 

Event of the Week: 
Kenneth Goldsmith will be here in Montreal on October 2, lets meet at the venue.
Saturday, October 2, 2010 - 12:30
Presented by Matrix Magazine:

Shedding Light on the Obscure. A conversation with a charismatic visionary, looking at archiving the known and unknown arts, and the role that avant-garde culture plays in popular cultural creation.

Venue: Agora Hydro-Québec du coeur des sciences de l'UQÀM

Emma Kay

from Kenneth Goldsmith's "Gallery of Conceptual Writing" on Poetry Foundation

Emma Kay
Worldview (Book Works, 1999)

Emma Kay is a British conceptual artist whose process requires that monumental works of art, geography and histories be reconstructed from unaided memory. Her books include The Bible from Memory (1997), Shakespeare from Memory (1998), andWorldview (1999).
“Without any recourse to reference material, relying solely on memory, Worldviewdraws on a variety of sources—newspapers, books, films, television, computer games, memories of school lessons, music, advertising and travels.
The neutral and authoritative style of Worldview admits no doubts, yet is fallible; the gaps, inaccuracies and the missing parts of history are as important to the work as the recollections themselves. It challenges you not just to correct and question, but to doubt your own account of history. How would you balance pre-history against the Black Death, the Bayeux Taperstry or Reagan’s Strategic Defence Initiative?” (Book Works)
From page 12:
After all the Ice Ages, and as the Sun continued to get hotter, the Earth became a nicer place to live again. Some of the mammals had begun to try to walk on two of their legs, to reach food that was growing on trees. They were the apes. Dinosaurs gathered food this way too, but their upper limbs were quite weak in comparison to the lower ones. Apes’ upper limbs were long and strong, and were known as arms. Their brains were much larger in relation to their upper body weight than the dinosaurs’ brains. About a million years ago apes were multiplying rapidly, they appeared all over the Earth in pockets. They lived in social groups, which were hierarchical. They were herbivores. Most lived in trees but some had begun to live on the ground. The apes had the biggest brain in relation to their body of all the creatures so far. Their brain continually evolved, and their social interaction grew more complex. They made very rudimentary tools to assist with food-gathering. They protected each other, not just their offspring. They spent a proportion of their time in play, since they were so good at gathering food that they did not need to do it all the time. Their predators were larger mammals such as lions and tigers, wolves and bears. As they became more intelligent, they learned how to avoid being eaten. They were a very successful species, and this fact enabled them to multiply and evolve at a quick rate.
From page 53:
China was a vast empire and people often lived in extreme and remote places. The majority were peasants. The climate was very severe in places. Unwanted babies were exposed and left to die and women were sometimes sold into slavery as concubines for the warlords. The concubines and wealthier women would have their feet bound as this was deemed sexually attractive. This practice made them into cripples as it broke all the bones in their feet, although it was very desirable to have the smallest feet possible in order to achieve the best marriage. The main garment was the kimono, a long-sleeved coat tied with a very wide sash worn by men and women. Wooden clogs were worn to elevate the person above the often muddy ground. The Chinese had a great knowledge of the medical properties of herbs and were extremely advanced in their treatment of the sick. They believed that the human body contained meridians and pressure points which corresponded to internal organs and moods. If pressure or needles were applied to these then a cure could be effected. This was called acupuncture. Chi, the life force, flowed around the body along the meridians and if it were disrupted then the person would feel unwell. Qi gong and Tai Chi were meditative exercises that were an aid to healing and wellbeing.
The second to last entry in the book, p. 211:
Many people planned their New Year’s Eve celebrations years in advance and booked up hotel and function rooms all over the world. Some opted for the point on the dateline, in the Far East, where the Sun would rise for the first time in the 21st century. But the vast majority did not and were content to stay at home and plan street parties. Fireworks factories increased their production. Governments laid plans for controlling law and order in the event of mayhem caused by computer system failure. Many bars had to offer to pay their staff four or five times the usual wages to get them to work on New Year’s Eve. But for a large part of the world’s population the millennium had no relevance, although it was difficult to ignore. Many religions followed a different calendar. The year 2000 AD simply marked 2000 years after the birth of Christ, which made it a Christian celebration.
See a description of Emma Kay's show at The Hammer, 2001
On Kay's Worldview in Cabinet

Monday, September 20, 2010

Week 2

Art: Ellen Gallery (Library Building) see: NELSON HENRICKS. TIME WILL HAVE PASSED. LE TEMPS AURA PASSÉ @ (meet Wednesday, September 21st at 4pm)
Art: Marcel Duchamp, Sol Lewitt also see Sol LeWitt's Autobiography, 1980
Inclass Writing: 
1. Describe/list the contents of a room
2. Ekphrasis and Conceptual Art
Discuss: Ubu Anthology Intro & 1-12, Jen Bervin, Nets (not in stock yet...)
Discuss: Retyping pieces
Start Reading Dies (to be discussed November 1st)
ASSIGNMENT #2 Erasure (to be discussed next week)

P.S. Why not contribute your own text to Concordia's Holzer inspired art project?

The Plagiarists' Code

Steal Ethically.

Sol Lewitt sung by John Baldessari

Sentences on Conceptual Art 

  1. Conceptual artists are mystics rather than rationalists. They leap to conclusions that logic cannot reach.
  2. Rational judgements repeat rational judgements.
  3. Irrational judgements lead to new experience.
  4. Formal art is essentially rational.
  5. Irrational thoughts should be followed absolutely and logically.
  6. If the artist changes his mind midway through the execution of the piece he compromises the result and repeats past results.
  7. The artist's will is secondary to the process he initiates from idea to completion. His wilfulness may only be ego.
  8. When words such as painting and sculpture are used, they connote a whole tradition and imply a consequent acceptance of this tradition, thus placing limitations on the artist who would be reluctant to make art that goes beyond the limitations.
  9. The concept and idea are different. The former implies a general direction while the latter is the component. Ideas implement the concept.
  10. Ideas can be works of art; they are in a chain of development that may eventually find some form. All ideas need not be made physical.
  11. Ideas do not necessarily proceed in logical order. They may set one off in unexpected directions, but an idea must necessarily be completed in the mind before the next one is formed.
  12. For each work of art that becomes physical there are many variations that do not.
  13. A work of art may be understood as a conductor from the artist's mind to the viewer's. But it may never reach the viewer, or it may never leave the artist's mind.
  14. The words of one artist to another may induce an idea chain, if they share the same concept.
  15. Since no form is intrinsically superior to another, the artist may use any form, from an expression of words (written or spoken) to physical reality, equally.
  16. If words are used, and they proceed from ideas about art, then they are art and not literature; numbers are not mathematics.
  17. All ideas are art if they are concerned with art and fall within the conventions of art.
  18. One usually understands the art of the past by applying the convention of the present, thus misunderstanding the art of the past.
  19. The conventions of art are altered by works of art.
  20. Successful art changes our understanding of the conventions by altering our perceptions.
  21. Perception of ideas leads to new ideas.
  22. The artist cannot imagine his art, and cannot perceive it until it is complete.
  23. The artist may misperceive (understand it differently from the artist) a work of art but still be set off in his own chain of thought by that misconstrual.
  24. Perception is subjective.
  25. The artist may not necessarily understand his own art. His perception is neither better nor worse than that of others.
  26. An artist may perceive the art of others better than his own.
  27. The concept of a work of art may involve the matter of the piece or the process in which it is made.
  28. Once the idea of the piece is established in the artist's mind and the final form is decided, the process is carried out blindly. There are many side effects that the artist cannot imagine. These may be used as ideas for new works.
  29. The process is mechanical and should not be tampered with. It should run its course.
  30. There are many elements involved in a work of art. The most important are the most obvious.
  31. If an artist uses the same form in a group of works, and changes the material, one would assume the artist's concept involved the material.
  32. Banal ideas cannot be rescued by beautiful execution.
  33. It is difficult to bungle a good idea.
  34. When an artist learns his craft too well he makes slick art.
  35. These sentences comment on art, but are not art.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Jenny Holzer

Jenny Holzer is at DHC in Montreal. Know what text is? What it can do? Watch Holzer, in typical Holzer fashion, ignite, bend, tease out the layers embedded in bodies of text. Holzer's show responds directly to war, mostly to the Iraq war, but also to earlier conflicts in the Balkans. The text in Thorax and Ribs is taken from US Government Documents that have been made public. There is the usual LED scrolling texts, but there are also canvases that feature maps and texts that have been blacked out.

At about 2:30 you'll see the reverse word fountain.
Another video, more fun than informative. Must See. MUST SEE.

You can follow Jenny Holzer on Twitter.


 @VanessaPlace@sheilaheti@joshcorey, and 10+ others







    Plus: Check out this site featuring a webcam where you can watch Holzer's Projections at her show at Mass MoCa. These projections use the poetry of Wislawa Szymborska.

    Monday, September 13, 2010

    Week 1

    Art: DHC see: Jenny Holzer (check back for out appointment: tentatively Friday 17th
    Discuss: Kenneth Goldsmith on Conceptual Writing, Uncreative Writing, Boredom, and Day. See two excerpts from Day on Poetry Foundation.
    Read for next week: Craig Dworkin’s Introduction to the Ubu Anthology of Conceptual Writing & begin reading first ten entries. Choose 2 to present on in the next few classes. Be prepared to discuss.
    ASSIGNMENT #1 Retyping

    Update: Meet up at DHC Gallery just before 2 this Friday, September 17th

    Introduction to Conceptual Writing

    What is conceptual writing and who is doing it?

    A group of practitioners can be loosely drawn as they are on the side bar of this blog. The list will be added to over the coming months as we move through the readings. Some of those added will aguably be described as conceptual writers, others we'll have to make a case for. To figure out what is and isn't we'll have to come up with some definition of Conceptual Writing, which, if you look at the writing about Conceptual Writing, isn't necessarily so easy to do.

    Here's something to think about:
    constraint isn’t enough, not by a long shot. Aren’t we talking about disruption as a way of ordering disruption? Procedure as a mock-up of process? I guess I’m interested in what happens when avant garde practices are applied to more conventional strands of storytelling…Unreadablity as a feature of reading in extremis? I’m not sure what I’m looking for exists quite yet but I am sensing a kind of formally innovative, intelligent and emotive kind of fiction that is under some pressures, that uses found and sculpted language, that transforms in some new way, how we might look at our (excess) world…that helps us in fact, imagine it.
    From the Introduction to Conceptual Fiction folio on Drunken Boat curated by Sina Queyras & Vanessa Place.

    Here's something else:
    It's clear that long-cherished notions of creativity are under attack, eroded by file-sharing, media culture, widespread sampling, and digital replication. How does writing respond to this new environment? This workshop will rise to that challenge by employing strategies of appropriation, replication, plagiarism, piracy, sampling, plundering, as compositional methods. Along the way, we'll trace the rich history of forgery, frauds, hoaxes, avatars, and impersonations spanning the arts, with a particular emphasis on how they employ language. We'll see how the modernist notions of chance, procedure, repetition, and the aesthetics of boredom dovetail with popular culture to usurp conventional notions of time, place, and identity, all as expressed linguistically.
    --Kenneth Goldsmith
    Riffing on Goldsmith’s Uncreative Writing workshop we will, over the course of the semester, immerse ourselves in conceptual writing practices. We will explore the relationship between art and language on the page, on walls, inside and outside spaces. We will attend galleries and engage in projects of description, transcription and détournement. We will take our practice to the street and to the archive. We will access the Internet but we will also access the surfaces of the city. We will read conceptual writing, and writing about writing, and we will ourselves, engage in short and long term writing projects that are responding to the readings, as well as proposing our own projects. Weekly art outings are not mandatory, but will enhance the discussion of conceptual work over the course of the semester.

    Primary Texts
    The Inkblot Record, Dan Farrell, Coach House
    Notes on Conceptualisms, Fitterman & Place
    Nets, Ugly Duckling Presse, Jen Bervin
    Rob The Plagairist, Robert Fitterman
    Dies: A Sentence, Vanessa Place, Les Figues
    Revolution, Kim Rosenfeld, Les Figues

    All additional readings not handed out in class will be available or linked to on this blog: the syllabus will certainly shift. 

    Grading & Assignments
    Participation & Discussion 40%
    Must attend. These discussions cannot be replicated and we will likely do in-class writing as well. You will lose 5% for each undocumented absence. Please keep a writing journal and respond to each reading in detail. This will ensure you  have something to contribute each class. All students are expected to contribute to discussions. It would be good to come with a written reading response. Students are also asked to keep a writing/reading journal in which they respond in an ongoing way to the readings we are engaging with, as well as track their own writing projects. This will help develop  your final statement. 

    Assignments 40%
    You will have 5 writing assignments over the course of the semester as well as 3 opportunities to lead a discussion. You will hand these in and workshop. Each of these is worth 5%.

    Final Portfolio & Statement 20%
    You final portfolio will consist of your writing assignments, plus a short written statement outlining your engagement with conceptual writing. 

    Sunday, September 12, 2010

    Derek Beaulieu

    Video via Helen. See her reading report on derek's Montreal reading.
    Check out derek beaulieu's blog.
    Read Greg Betts on Flatland.
    Find out more about flatland, Information as Material, UK
    Read excerpts here:
    PDF of the whole book here:

    Lemon Hound in Conversation with beaulieu
    Lemon Hound On Reading the Newspaper
    Lemon Hound on Flatland, Chains and How to Edit
    Interview re: How To Write with derek and Helen Hajnoczky on Lemon Hound
    Derek's artist statement & from Drunken Boat:
    Artist’s Statement
    And Then There Were None
    Nothing Odd Can Last

    derek beaulieu ’s five books of poetry all engage with textual production and the way that composition informs comprehension. His first book, with wax, was published by Coach House Books in 2003, and was followed-up by frogments from the frag pool: haiku after basho (Mercury Press, 2005) co-written with Gary Barwin and fractal economies (talonbooks, 2006). His most recent book is Silence(red fox press, 2009) a suite of non-semantic concrete poems.

    beaulieu is also the author of three books of conceptual fiction; flatland (information as material, 2007 online here) and Local Colour (ntamo, 2008, online here). His collection of conceptual short fiction, How to Write, was published by talonbooks in 2010.

    beaulieu is co-editor of the best-selling anthology Shift & Switch: new Canadian poetry. He has been editor of filling Station (1998-2001, 2004-2007), dANDelion (2001-2004) and endNote (2000-2002) magazines. His small press housepress (1997-2004) published over 250 publications and is now archived, in its entirely, at Simon Fraser University. He has lectured about small press, community and poetics in Canada, Scandinavia, the US and the UK. His artwork–which engages with text and readability–has been shown in group and solo exhibits internationally.

    how to write:
    excerpts here:

    local colour:
    excerpts here:

    and there's more links and such up here: