Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Last Week

Little there is, in truth, more fascinating than the fact that Noah decided this morning that he wanted to watch an "imaginary" DVD "about" the TV. Also, horses which were cleaning the DVD player. How very meta- of him.


A couple of exchanges have refused to leave me alone, and although responding to something written last week is like, basically, a conversation with myself, here I go anyway.

I take Jordan's critique of "aura," of value derived from scarcity, quite seriously. He's right, of course, that the constant drive toward novelty, originality, freshness, moistness, crunchiness and all other things Madison Ave. is, well, the new yesterday. As many will agree, this leads to work that just tries too hard, and more generally, to a raft of commodities we don't need/don't understand/can't use/don't want.

But the scarcity model, and I think Jordan notes this (though I can never really tell with Jordan), also engages the opposed phenomenon of massive superabundances. In this one reader-per-writer poetry economy, there are too many poems! Just looking at Jordan's list of journals makes me contemplate taking a nap for an hour or two. I'm a slow writer and a slow reader, and while I admire the industriousness of Jordan and others like him, it is often the case that reading through an author's 700 page collected poems is kinda' disappointing. Nice to know she had her off-days or off-years, but disappointing nonetheless. And confusing if, like me, you are easily overwhelmed or stupefied. _Fascicle_ scares me.

Truth be told, the real application of Bataillean economics would involve a celebration once a year where we drink beer (or, in my case, soda), crash the blog servers and build bonfires from those endlessly proliferating journals. It's hard not to see how poets being more forthcoming (and posting every scribble, as Jordan says) would only continue the problem of (to continue my problematic economic metaphor) overproduction (and its friend inflation? does this work?). Blogs and list-serves are testament to a boundless energy among poets that journals (a good way to insure you are *not* read) and books (a dying form, as they used say in the 1970s?) can't accomodate. And this is where Jordan's desire for a poetry more like a baseball game (though baseball bores me) comes in--where we get the Million Poems Show and the Flarf Festival. A place to put all the energy that journals can't accomodate. Different distribution models, says Jordan. And he's right.

Sometimes, it's difficult not to feel that blogs (the energies herein) are wasted on bloggers. I think this is from whence derives the muddle-headed claim that Flarfists and bloggers are closet techno-utopians. I'm having a great deal of fun and getting pointed in all kinds of lovely directions, discovering pleasures--of reading, listening, looking, talking-- that I never would otherwise. Despite the assholes. But on this side of the screen: yep, same world; same gutting of social entitlement programs, schools, cities; same war; ditto domination, ditto exploitation.

Which brings me to Bourriaud and Relational Aesthetics (by way of Anne). I've only read the introduction, but I'm inclined to say: Sure, art and semiotic surfing can model relations and sociality, but it can also substitute for it. I think blogs run the risk of creating a social imaginary from which most people are excluded. They are obviously a catalyst, but are they also a distraction? 10 years from now we'll look back, I'm sure, and see how this thing we are all participating in completely transformed the field of poetic production. But transformed how?

I would be interested in a conversation which looks at the basic structure of blogs, and thinks about the invisible limits they impose on thought, communication, and sociality. Do terms like private space and public space even apply here? How does time work (or not work) in blogs? Sometimes this seems like the meta-conversation no-one is having, though admittedly I read an infinitesimal portion of what's out there.


Next up: the Flarf / A Tonalist conversation.

1 comment:

kfd313 said...


I just wanted to let you know that I linked this post to my blog b/c I thought it spoke to a lot of concerns/thoughts I have.

I also wanted to say that I agreed w/ your comments on everyday language in poetry on Jessica Smith's blog. That was something I was thinking about when I asked her to define what she meant by "poetic" words. That isn't to say I don't like Jessica's work, or that she wouldn't be capable of defining her terms.

Anyway, the scarcity/excess economic debate (if you can call it that)that everyone seems to talk about in both poetry and blog circles is interesting as a phenomenon in is own right, I think, speaking of meta-levels.

And the idea of relational aesthetics made me think of Paul Virilio's work. He has a very interesting, though problematic, critique of technlogically driven community.