Archive for February, 2011|Monthly archive page


In Uncategorized on February 25, 2011 at 10:44 am





[Some Theory behind “Assembling the Morrow”]

poetry has had a difficult relationship with sleep.

since shakespeare and before, poets of the western tradition have likened the behaviour to a kind of death (“for in that sleep of death what dreams may come”), yet with the invention of the EEG it became clear that sleep, in a manner of speaking, is very much awake. hans berger interfaced the electricity of the brain with waves in the early 20th century, and sleep became a legible phenonemon, groups of neurons firing in a visible choir. assumptions about the natures of sleep as restive and waking as active became instantly problematized – sleep can be as active as the spike of a k-complex rising up from a sea of theta; waking, as quiet as a cup of tea perched on a windowsill beside a blowing curtain. lyn hejinian, in her essay “strangeness,” realizes the difficulties of writing sleep when she speaks of dreaming as a problem of description: one’s written accounts of dreams, she posits, are always unsatisfactory. when i embarked

on a 9 month residency to work with scientists of sleep at the centre for integrative genomics in lausanne, switzerland, i started with these two points: that, 1, sleep is closer to waking than to death (much to the consternation of our romantic metaphors) and, 2, sleep is a problem of description. as i quickly came to see at the laboratory, sleep is also, in the most part, a mystery to the lens of science: though we spend a third of our lives doing it, we still don’t exactly know why. mahowald & schenck: “with the discovery of REM sleep in 1953, it became apparent that sleep is not a unitary phenomenon, but rather consists of completely different states, and each state is an active, rather than quiescent, process”. according to the EEG,

the difference between sleep and waking lies in little more than the flex and rhythm of an electric wave. a line that zigs. one of the main questions behind the experiment/long poem entitled assembling the morrow, therefore, is what happens when the line of berger’s wave (in sleep) turns into a line of poetry, an act of focused consciousness? since words are essentially awake, sleep awakens beneath them. at the same time, poetry itself is forced to change, written not by the principles of ink or lead but electroencephalography. about 9 months ago

when i began, i would write at night, as an experiment, until nights tweaked into the shimmer of days, footprints of light trailing tracks of shadow between. night was writing; day, the clichéd beauty of lausanne against the sterility and mystery of a dish of cells. syringes, papers, computers, coffee, volcanic ash. a wire’s line of waves curved into a line’s wrist of sentences (half past four and asking, what is the difference between a sentence and a line?) (between a line and a wave?) (interfaces, all, stretching like gauze over a thing we cannot define or see). one hand over another, an event horizon shows us what cannot be shown, it is a likeable geometry that covers up a mystery stretching infinitely behind it (but science hates a mystery) (but

poetry feeds from it). according to jonathan c.w. edwards: “in 1972, horace barlow made some suggestions about the number of elements of information required in various parts of the brain for a human percept. the suggestion was that an experience would be composed of about a thousand elements of information, which barlow portrayed as, ‘like words, having the special property that they lead to an economical representation’. thus, although ‘a picture is worth a thousand words’, a thousand words (~5kbytes) would carry information more economically than the necessary array of pixels (?~1mbyte). in barlow’s concept each element of information was associated with the firing of a cell; ‘an active neuron says something of the order of complexity of a word’.” here,

edwards suggests words as a more viable, more economic way of visualizing biophysical space than pixels or lines or any geometric model. words become a powerful semantic interface over something we cannot (as yet) possibly encounter. as william james put it: “the appearance needs the reality in order to exist, but the reality needs the appearance in order to be known.” so much is guessed at by the quality of its surface. to replace brainwaves with words is to inflict upon that wave all the luggage that a sentence can carry: narrative, bias, artifice,

depth. when i say waves, i mean my own and i mean, of course, in sleep. using the self as subject is generally frowned upon in biology: it is taboo to be both researcher and participant, subject and object, author and character, pathologist and pathologized, to be both sides (at once) of the same coin. when i went to the chuv sleep lab, donned that exoskeleton of electrodes, i  became of myself another. there is nothing simultaneously more intimate and more unfamiliar than looking into the eeg of one’s own brain. there is nothing simultaneously more intimate and unfamiliar than sleeping. the singular ‘i’ of the waking day

self fades into the plural ‘i’ of the night’s sleeping selves. it is a science and an art (two sides perhaps of the same coin) to develop a (visual) (visible) method of writing to reflect the brainwaves of a sleeping subject. each alpha theta delta and sigma must be put into a series of words and these words form a poem. a student of william james, gertrude stein developed a language/poetics of consciousness itself, severing words from their proper definitions: “act so that there is no use in a centre. a wide action is not a width. a preparation is given to the ones preparing.” hers is a potential model by which to form a poetics of a brainwave. the tropes of repetition and parataxis reflect the repeating structure of the eeg, of our bodies, too, stuck within their own circadian and ultradian rhythms, recurring,

replaying. as i stated before, my task at the centre for integrative genomics was to turn sleep into a kind of poetry: setting out to do this required embracing illegiblity, keeping it intact; to describe the poem assembling the morrow should remain a problem of description also to the reader: to emerge from a video screening of a poem where words crest in and out of various degrees of illegibility, one is forced to confront the limits of their own knowledge as reflected in the (un)readability of words sculpted to the brainwaves of a sleeping subject. raoul hausmann: “we call this process photomontage because it embodied our refusal to play the role of artist. we regarded ourselves as engineers, and our work as construction: we assembled [in french monteur] our work, like a fitter.” to assemble a morrow is to put together the next coming day using a diverse montage: history, technology, biology, poetry, to create the new, to hold it in that space, unwaking, even as it longs to stutter towards the old. sleep, like grammar, is essentially mysterious: the process lies in unravelling (where every line must have an electricity) (every) (half-

thought a frequency).


This is the second of three posts that comprise Sandra Huber’s SLEEP/ WRITING/ ROOMS. Part 1 is here.



In Uncategorized on February 24, 2011 at 9:33 am



Arakawa and Gins, Reversible Destiny House


For the latest installment of the DEMOTIC ARCHIVE OF ART WRITING, VerySmallKitchen presents two texts on the relations of visual arts and poetry, by Denise Levertov and Barbara Guest, alongside statements, images and poetics by Jessica Smith, Giorgio Agamben, Arakawa, Norma Cole, and Titian. The archive seems to becoming a group show.

Denise Levertov’s short essay LOOKING AT PHOTOGRAPHS offers a useful perspective on the relations of poets to other art practices. Levertov begins by asserting her connection to painting, but identifying a greater commonality between poetry and photography.

Arakawa, Is As It: Blind Intentions IX


I apply Levertov’s essay to the widespread “poet among painters tradition of, say, O’Hara and Schuyler, seeing such work as articulations of a space of a distance rather than/ out of affinity, what Levertov calls a “compositional gesture sense” rather than a specific engagement with the visual.

Which raises the question of precisely how the visual might be functioning, and also how this relates to the politics-art debate as it figured, for example, in Levertov’s correspondence with Robert Duncan. The second text here, by Barbara Guest, can be seen as offering a reinforcement of Levertov’s view.

In Guest’s “On the value of criticism from painters, rather than writers”, the painters value is connected to  “compositional gesture sense” revealed via the painter’s conversation and small talk. To use the terms of Levertov’s essay, painting approximates the common dailyness of language and photography through its presence in conversation, in friendships and acquaintances through which this talking, convivial knowledge occurs.

In such context, it is useful to recall Giorgio Agamben’s short text on friendship, where he observes:

It is common knowledge that no one has ever been able to satisfactorily define the meaning of the syntagm “I love you”; so much is this the case that one might think that it has a performative character: that its meaning, in other words, coincides with the act of its utterance. Analogous considerations could be made regarding the expression, “I am your friend,” although recourse to the performative category seems impossible here. I maintain, rather, that “friend” belongs to the class of terms that linguists define as nonpredicative; these are terms from which it is not possible to establish a class that includes all the things to which the predicate in question is attributed. (29)

DENISE LEVERTOV, Looking at Photographs

I have always had a strong love for looking at paintings – a love for color, for the thickness or thinness of paint, and for the miraculous coexistence of sensuous surface reality – brush marks and the grain of canvas showing through – with illusion, the depicted world to be entered. And in thinking about the process of writing poetry, I have often drawn analogies with the painting process, feeling a correspondence, for instance, between the intuited need in one poem for a limpid fluidity of diction and rhythm and the intuited need for transparent color and flowing line in a certain painting; or again, between the compositional need for strong and harsh outlines or heavy thick paint in one painting and for halting rhythms and thick heavy words in a certain poem. The standing back to regard the whole canvas from time to time, then returning to the close embrace of details, also has its parallel in the experience of writing a poem. Yet I have come to see that the art of photography shares with poetry a factor more fundamental: it makes its images by means anybody and everybody uses for the most banal purposes, just as poetry makes it structures, its indivisibilities of music and meaning, out of the same language used for utilitarian purposes, for idle chatter, or for uninspired lying.


Because of this resemblance in the conditions of the two arts – because the camera, like language, is put to constant nonartistic use, quotidian use by nonspecialists, as the painter’s materials (though often misused) are not  – a poet finds, I think, a kind of stimulation and confirmation in experiencing the work of photographic artists that is more specific, closer to his poetic activity, than the pleasure and love he feels in looking at paintings. I can often turn to fine photographs to help myself discover next steps in a poem I am writing: almost it’s as if I can respond to such photographs because I’m a working poet, while my response to painting, intense though it is, is in some degree detached from my life as as active artist, is a more passive receptivity.

Even though one may never write a poem directly inspired by a photograph, these images drawn from the same sources the poet’s own eye can see (photography having even at its most individual, subjective, or transformational, a relationship to the optical far more basic than that of painting) and which are transformed into high art through a medium of unexotic availability, connect at a deep level with the poetic activity; and are, in fact, possible sources  – as nature is source – for the poet, to the degree that paintings are not, even to someone who loves them as much as I do. Perhaps another way of saying it would be that photographs – and I don’t mean only documentary photographs – teach the poet to see better, or renew his seeing in ways closer to the kind of seeing he needs to do for his own work, than paintings do; while the stimulus of paintings for the poet as poet. i.e., their specific value for him aside from his general human enjoyment of them, may have more to do with his compositional gesture-sense (as music may) than with the visual.


2.BARBARA GUEST, On the value of criticism from painters, rather than writers

“Even when crippled by arthritis, Titian
kept on painting Virgins in that luminous light,
as if he’d just heard about them.”

“Those old guys had everything in place,
the Virgin and God and technique, but they
kept it up like they were still looking for
something. It’s very mysterious.”

“You have to keep on the edge of something,
all the time, or the picture dies.”

-Willem de Kooning

Titian, Assumption of the Virgin (1518)


In thinking through the relations of art and poetry I’m currently appreciating writings which offer a certain clarity that allows both similarity and difference to emerge.  The Levertov essay possesses this and, for a more contemporary example – specifically in relation to the architectural – I recommend Jessica Smith’s introduction to her book  Organic Furniture Cellar. Smith writes:

Organic Furniture Cellar seeks to develop what I call “plastic poetry.” Like Arakawa’s buildings, these poems respond to a preexistent topographical space as well as to existing syntactical structures in the reader’s mind. Poetry always does this on some level – the blank page does not correspond to a blank page in one’s mind (just as the blank background of a blueprint or musical score does not actually correspond to a blank landscape or silent listening space, as American composer John Cage observed). The positioning of the words on the following pages attempts to acknowledge, represent, and play with these strata.

With plastic poetry, I want to change the reading space in such a way that the one who reads is forced to make amends for new structures in his or her virtual path. The words on a page must be plastic in virtual space as architecture and sculpture are plastic in real space. Thus, while plastic arts disrupt an agent’s space: plastic poetry must disrupt the reader’s space. This rupture does not stem from, as in the ordinary plastic arts, a real physical occupation of space, but rather from the disruption of the virtual space that one moves through when reading a poem. (12)


As I was putting this post together, I read “Yellow and…” an essay by Norma Cole on the work (painting and poetry) of Marjorie Welish (an audio recording is here). Cole writes:

One way to address both the painting impulse and the poetry impulse was to consider how Welish has written about painting and use that writing as the journal work, the commonplace book, as her “other” for poetry. This would be an accommodation to both, as well as a speculation about sets of relationships or possible relationships.




SOURCES: “Looking at Photographs“ appears in Levertov’s The Poet in the World (New Directions, 1973), 87-88. It is appended by the following note: “Written in response to a request from the photographic magazine, Aperture, and published as a kind of advertisement for it in Stony Brook. Barbara Guest “On the value…” appears in Forces of Imagination: Writing on Writing (Kelsey Street Press, 2003), 44. Giorgia Agamben, “The Friend” in What Is An Apparatus and other essays (Stanford University Press, 2009), 25-37. Jessica Smith, “The Plasticity of Poetry: A Poetics.” Organic Furniture Cellar: Works on Paper 2002-2004 (Outside Voices, 2004), 11-20. Norma Cole, To Be At Music: Essays & Talks (Omnidawn, 2010), 152.




In Uncategorized on February 21, 2011 at 11:50 pm







This is the first of three posts that will comprise Sandra Huber’s SLEEP/ WRITING/ ROOMS. The following notes are edited from emails between Sandra Huber and David Berridge in February 2011, following an invitation from David to make a project for the VerySmallKitchen blog.

SANDRA: The first thing that comes to mind is a project I did, and am still doing, via Artists-in-Labs, where I was a resident poet for 9 months at the Franken / Tafti sleep laboratories of the CIG in Lausanne, Switzerland. Basically, I took the brainwaves of myself in sleep and started turning them into words, creating a long and extremely visual poem from the raw data of the EEG… Eventually, and when all goes well, it’ll go up as an installation at the lab where I was working in Lausanne, but I’m always open to other ways of presenting this work, either internet or physical venues.

… We could of course start with a sort of e-book/blogroll of the conceptual side of the project, since a lot of the actual poetry is in progress (i.e. not finished…) Here’s an idea: during the residency at the sleep lab, I became very interested in the concept of “the room” — for example, the physical room of the sleep laboratory, at once made to look home-like and yet undeniably sterile, that I had to spend a night in to get my data. There are also the different stages of sleep (S1, S2, S3 & REM) that seemed like disparate rooms themselves, signaled by particular waves (sigma, delta, theta, etc).

We could work on something that gives a sense of rooms and in each “room” could be found something different: a line of poetry on a brainwave, the physical bedroom of the sleeper, a fragment of text on the science / philosophy of sleep. This also makes me think of what you wrote about what happens when the words break out of the rigid structure of the brainwaves — this entering and exiting of rooms that could sometimes spill over their boundaries… Thots?

DAVID:  Would the room be a kind of working proposition for us or would it be apparent in all the posts? I guess we could tie each post to the actual lab room, or – as I read your comments – present a series of “rooms” as distinct spatial-conceptual portions/ propositions:  one post the room of the actual room, one of only the text, one of … and so on. Or mixed up…

Have to think how the blog post format would fit this, and also how on the home page it makes columns of the recent posts. I think images and text combinations work well. The format puts quite a bit of clutter around the posts, so have to explore how something using lots of white space and just text would work, for example.

… how to organise it: posts in a series close together or more  spread out. What do you think? Could be a residency for a week….

oh yes and what you say about the connections between rooms, waves breaking out…. I wonder how we could suggest that… how would you like to start?

SANDRA: Where to start? A good question… Always the most difficult thing…

I think, with this idea of “rooms” in mind as a platform, we could literally start with the room itself — the sleep room, a mysterious sort of prelude, and some shots of myself, the sleeper (in a sort of cyborgian costume — I was trying to go for something Ada Lovelace-ish), so at first it’s unclear what exactly is being presented but we do have an idea of an unheimlich sort of space, as well as a character/subject of the writing.

We could then go directly into images of the brainwaves, just the raw waves without writing, and some theory, eventually showing how the brainwaves turn into words, i.e. presenting the poetry, and ending on the sketch of the room of the installation. So in a way, having a movement of the general going to the very specific and zooming back out again (the inside of the sleep room ends in the outside of the installation room: science has completely merged with, or been enveloped by, artifice).

Something like this? As for how it looks on the actual website, or if it’s done in a week’s residency or a more spread out form is entirely up to you..


SOURCES: The above video stills and photos were taken on July 5th, 2010 at the Centre Hospitalier Universitaire Vaudois Lausanne sleep laboratory, Switzerland. Of the room: Sandra Huber; of Sandra: Nicole Ottiger (video). The night nurse pictured in the photos is Nessie Tome. The project “Assembling the Morrow” that these images document was made possible through Artists-in-Labs Switzerland and the Paul Franken / Mehdi Tafti sleep laboratories at the Centre for Integrative Genomics in Lausanne.


In Uncategorized on February 15, 2011 at 7:05 pm

A few phrases from MESOSTICTACTICS, a text I wrote for the recent collage-themed issue of The Incongruous Quarterly, were included by John Bloomberg-Rissman as the 362nd installment of the ongoing IN THE HOUSE OF THE HANGMAN project, which appears on his ZEITGEIST SPAM blog.

I was intrigued by the project, noting how, during recent events in Egypt, its appropriated and sequenced “giant mashup” found a discursive place alongside other posts on politics and current affairs. Below is the original post that included the MESOSTICTACTICS texts, and a short essay from John in response to my invitation to outline some of the reasons/ methods behind the project.

NOTE: The image above evidences another series of collaboration, exchange and appropriation between John, Tom Beckett, and Ernesto Priego. Full details here.


In the House of the Hangman 362

MBUTTHEREIS NLYAIRTHER ETHEREISN stuffed down the side of a cosmic machine machine in heavens kitchen AB VET CLIMBI NT NLYTHEHIGHHIGHH RI Z NTALBUTMAN YBEF an ugly winged insect, normally seen smoking a cigarette or pipe and sporting a clueless expression the Guberif resembles the “trickle down” and “edge blur” techniques proposed by Ron Padgett in Creative Reading I

head” the

know who

in that line (some civil law chauvinists refer to this as “dog’s law” because you punish the dog after it’s done something bad). CREWMAN regales ignorant former body with report of incident: I was small when I first rocketed to war and was told to keep my speech inside your pocket to be free. Do I regret our united youth? Though aren’t we all, at some age, born to harden in a scabbing flask on power’s boiling stove? In space I have only grown smaller, eyes atrophied to arm’s length radar. My dear aging body, you and I settle in this great glass test tube, centrifuged from one another, bisected by a veil of uniform and white glove. You and I, dear empty friend, we may sunder on the asteroidal floor of God’s Cartesian laboratory! Would my radar darken if I spoke one more through you? These hypotheses no longer have me worn! (he wears away at his agglomerations with an industrial sander) ³&RQVLGHU WKH FDSDFLW\ RI WKH KXPDQ ERG\ IRU SOHDVXUH 6RPHWLPHV LW LV SOHDVDQW WR HDW WR GULQN to see, to touch, to smell, to hear, to make love. Our voluptific capacities (if you will forgive me the coinage) are not exclusively concentrated in these places, but it is undeniable that they are concentrated. Only in certain places are there wells from which we may draw up greater feeling. But not inexhaustibly. And how long is it possible to know pleasure? Rich Romans ate to satiety and then purged their overburdened bellies to ate again. They could not eat forever. A rose is sweet, but the nose becomes habituated. And what of the most intense pleasures, the personalityannihilating ecstasies of sex? Even this will turn into disgust if overprolonged. >«@ Yet consider pain. Give me a cubic centimetre of your flesh and I could give you pain that would swallow you as the ocean swallows a grain of salt. And you would always be ripe for it, from before the time of your birth to the moments after your death. We are always in season for the embrace of pain. To experience pain requires no intelligence, no maturity, no wisdom, no slow workings of the hormones in the moist midnight of our innards. We are infinitely ripe for it. All life is ripe for it. $OZD\V >«@ &RQsider the ways in which we may gain pleDVXUH > «@ &RQVLGHU WKH ZD\V LQ ZKLFK ZH PD\ EH JLYHQ SDLQ 7KH RQH LV WR WKH RWKHU DV WKH PRRQ LV WR WKH VXQ´~%DQN RI 0RQWUHDO¶V UHFRPPHQGDWLRQ IRU SRUWIROLR GLYHUVLILFDWLRQ LQ WKH 1HZ (FRQRP\Alright, an egg has a life of its own, and yet is food in the sense that we are all food; as we consume others, various others snack on us, even as we head toward that final place-setting in the soil (pause to flick an invisible creature from my eyelash). Who isn’t “avaricious”? damage: common sense tells us that additional grey matter is lost; damage: with each passing rainstorm speech or movement problems shatter. Infinite mercury paled smarter, all sunday mourning halfheard honey soothed the moon. Limpid page disengage, each hope a light by the lake. Fluids mingling in flowering currants, lilacs, wild smoke. Energy’s beaming thru the apex of the Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun, radius 4.5m, frequency 28 kHz. Beam is continuous; its strength grows as it moves up and away, contradicting all known physical laws. There’s an underground labyrinth: three chambers and small blue lake, ionization 43x higher than average. Further detection confirms negative radiation through Hartman, Curry and Schneider grids = 0 in the tunnels. 10-ton ceramic sculptures are positioned over the underground water flows transforming negative energy to positive. Thus the underground labyrinth is one of the most secure underground constructions in the world making it ideally fleshly regenerative.

[Note: Sources: Except as noted, Incongruous Quarterly 2; David Berridge, “MESOSTICTACTICS”; Eben Lehman, “Forgotten Characters from Forest History: “The Guberif””, at Peeling Back the Bark, 6 Jan 011; Adam Parrish, “Q&”; James A Reeves, “My Civil Law Books Are Beautiful”, at Big American Night, 15 Jan 011; Chris Felling, “Profound Scenes from Space Thunder Kids”; MM Jones, “Mark Bradford at the ICA”, at Bauzegeist, 6 Feb 011; Colin Fulton, “The Access” (a code-god translation via the medium of cutnpaste); Jean Vengua, “(silk egg) and i cont’d.”, at Jean Vengua, 6 Feb 011; dRobert Swereda, “brain damage, rain damage”; N. Alexander Armstrong, “from Some Seminal Work”; email from Bosnian Pyramid of the Sun Foundation, “Significance of the Bosnian Pyramid Discovery”, rec’d 6 Feb 011, 05:30 AM]


A note for David Berridge, in response to his question, “I wondered if it would be possible to include a note/ short essay by you outlining some of the reasons/ methods behind the project, and how both as a whole and as individual pieces it takes shape?”

Ok. First, the project. I’m currently word-painting an altarpiece (non-religion tbd) called Zeitgeist Spam (ZS). The first panel is called No Sounds of My Own Making, and was published in 2008. The second panel is called Flux, Clot & Froth, and was published (2 vols, one text one notes) in 2010. In the House of the Hangman (ITH) is the panel-in progress. There will be at least one more, then I have to paint the backs … What’s ZS all about? What it’s like to be alive today. It’s a “poem including history”, and therefore in Poundian terms an epic. And as a comtemporary epic, it’s a “poem without a hero” (Akhmatova), or rather, a “poem in which the hero is all-or-none of us.” Therefore it’s written by all of us, in a manner of speaking, and assembled by me. It’s a giant mashup.

ITH is the most overtly “engaged” panel. It’s kinda like that last judgment wall in the Sistine Chapel. The title’s from Theodor Adorno, who wrote, “In the house of the hangman one should not speak of the noose, otherwise one might seem to harbor resentment.” The plan is to compose it in 2012 sections (because 2012’s the pseudo-mayan end of everything…), which when complete will be presented as one giant 500 page-or-so paragraph (Since it’s politically engaged, why not be brutal about it?).

Method: for each section of ITH I create a set, which is determined by RSS feeds which I receive via Google Reader daily. That stuff is augmented by whatever comes my way that same day. ITH is very diary-esque. I pick and choose at will from what appears in that set, and arrange as necessary to get the “feel” I want. So the method is semi-formal and semi-freedom.

[From her on I’m going to quote some bits from an interview Tom Beckett did with me, which was published in Otoliths a few years back]

Let me quote something Karla Kelsey wrote about me. I think she is dead-on correct. She’s writing about No Sounds Of My Own Making:

This is not a text built on the foundations of either subjectivity OR alterity. This is a text of AND. … Like many texts that hinge on the strength of “and” No Sounds of My Own Making eschews categorization. The work does not belong in a category of “pure” conceptual writing: Bloomberg-Rissman breaks his own rules too often to make a conceptual statement, and the text feels too much to be a member of what Craig Dworkin defines, in his introduction to the ubuweb Anthology of Conceptual Writing, as a pursuit of “meticulous procedure and exhaustively logical process.” However, given that most of the subjective statements in No Sounds are gleaned from other authors via algorithm, the poem cannot read as a purely subjective baring of the soul in the tradition of Wordsworth’s ‘spontaneous overflow’. …

As Karla has intuited, my actual piecework is not algorithm- or constraint- or routine- driven, even if the material and the order, etc. in which I sample it is. To put it succinctly, I will quote Frank O’Hara’s “Personism” manifesto: “you just go on your nerve.” I decide to put this next to that because it feels right. Truthfully, I usually don’t know where I’m going as I piece things together. Except that at some level I’m also expressionist.


What I try to get down in pixels or on paper is a version of the tale of the tribe, which = the chatter of a very peculiar bunch of primates, which = a giant wail of suffering, which = a hallelujah chorus. Among other things. 10,000 other things. All remixed as if by a DJ like Spooky or Señor Priego, to keep us all dancing. Because, of course, the dancers inherit the party.

… there’s no real power struggle in my poems, all samples are created and remain equal, no matter how much I mess with them), I do believe that making space for a cacophonic chorus that never quite blends into one voice, each voice at equal volume with all others, each endowed with “equal rights”, is indeed a precondition for letting a just culture flourish, though I’d probably opt for some sort of anarcho-socialism rather than a univocal Maoist version. 

Of course, I know that what I’m creating is something just slightly more than the illusion of such a chorus. There’s a little man behind the Oz-curtain … But what more can I do? The totally aleatory doesn’t work for me. Not all the time, at least. I almost hate to say it, but some days I love Jackson Mac Low’s procedure notes more than his poems. Besides, 4’33” is always-already on the box, isn’t it?

John Bloomberg-Rissman
13 Feb 2011