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
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.
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?
13 Feb 2011