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.