Saturday, 12 December 2009

Lecture on the Eternal Network and Sound Poetry

These are the lecture notes for a two-part presentation I put together and delivered, with Warren Fry, Julian Mathews, Brad Chriss, and Tim Campbell, to some students in American University in Washington, D.C. back in September. The first part deals with the Eternal Network/Mail Art and the second part with sound poetry, presenting both as sustained practices of correspondence and direct communication operating on Zoum principles, rather than as Artistic practices with aesthetic motivations.

Both were organised historically, and both (especially the lecture on correspondence) attempt to realign the traditional canons and emphases on priority that tend to cling to radical activity. In both cases I located the beginning of my narrative with the 19th Century Symbolists, though both could as easily have been traced earlier.

In the case of Correspondence this meant ignoring Ray Johnson (sorry, Ray), expanding upon the ways in which zoum correspondence played a practical role in sustaining the international dada community, and beginning with an explanation of the epistolary poetics of Mallarmé and the Symbolists and the role of correspondence in the organisation of international Symbolism. During the lecture, students sat at various islands of desks with communal stacks of add & pass sheets and supplies to occupy them while the lecture proceeded. (An exquisite corpse spontaneously generated by the class during the lecture will be published in the second Exquisite Crypt volume, docked for January publication).

The Sound Poetry portion began even earlier with the Bouzingos, through Symbolist performance technique a-la Valéry and Mallarmé; the traditional emphasis on Dada is maintained but with a more honed emphasis on the social roles that the various dada sub-forms played within the contexts of the Dada cabarets of which they are rhetorical gestures. A number of examples were performed; for the Fluxus Poem, Waren enacted the lightswitch piece by turning out the lights, leading to a coffee-stain on the back of a Bob Cobbing books being read aloud by us and a couple of wrangled students by cell-phone light, followed by a Post-Neo Splat Poem in the dark.

I don't know why blogger insists on some passages being arbitrarily black, but don't have time to figure it out.

The notes:

PART 1 correspondence art focus

INTRO- Briefly describe what people see before them;

  • pieces of paper with various things done to them by people from all over the world
  • things to do things with
  • feel free to do things with these things as you listen to talk, or as you ignore it
  • different things at different stations, move around if desired

  • Won't mention many specific years or names-though happy to do so after or in q & a
  • instead, focus on gradual developments and groups- since groups are the main concern for us today
  • Don't worry about keeping track of specifics--general drift of development & range of potential within correspondence

Art as object of contemplation vs. Art as Tool (Ends vs. Means). WHAT is an audience?

  • Distinction between artist-audience model and circle-of-friends model
  • Avant-Garde as community founded on latter model who highjacked the techniques and strategies of Art to try to change consciousness & human interaction.

  • Some argue that the avant-garde is not even primarily an artistic movement but a social, political, philosophical utopian experiment

Symbolist Correspondence-- 1880s-90s

  • approached corrospondance as 'art', with 'art' or semiotics in turn approached as atheist mysticism, ex. Mallarme, Jarry, Wilde
  • Symbolist community used networks of this correspondence to establish and coordinate friendships, philosophical discourses, cross-publication, lecture and reading tours, translation projects, theatrical productions, donations for monuments and commemorative books, alternative to publication, etc. across national/linguistic barriers and literary traditions--French, Belgian, British, Polish, German, American, Italian, etc.

  • Heretofore, French was typically the 'International language'--still limiting

Zaoum (pre-wwI) as meeting of the Avant-garde with researches into subconscious/asemic communication
  • Visual Poetry
  • wider implications than within this one movement
  • From Zaoum to correspondence art
  • correspondence art as form of international communication
  • ex. Italian to Russian Futurism

Dada/Merz (1916)--Much corresponence is partially or entirely graphic and/or asemic

  • use of key words, sometimes asemic, in zaoum connection
  • ex. Merz--origin of name in collage

Fluxus-- (1950s-60s) Flux Boxes

  • Flux Warehouse & correspondence-order model

1960s-70s Development of Correspondence lists & multiple intersecting networks

  • Becomes known as The Eternal Network

1980s-90s International Mail Art Congresses & All-Network Congresses

  • People increasingly focus on correspondence/mail art/networking as distinct rather than supplemental practice
  • deprofessionalization of community (not all artists)
  • some people stop calling it Art--term's usefulness is over
  • Shift in focus to collaborative model (describe)
  • Add & Pass sheets

1980s on--Monty Cantsin, Karen Eliot, Luther Blissett, et al & Neoism

  • only possible from within a correspondence art community

Correspondence art as medium of communication between various experimental communities of 1st and 2nd World countries as South American, Eastern European & Japanese networks proliferate

  • petitions, underground news, etc moved & circulated through network
  • ex. Serbia & Open World

Movement of mail art online

  • structure of correspondence art prefigures internet to great extent
  • networking sites
  • ex. heteronyms on facebook/myspace--analogy of avatars to heteronyms
  • ex. openfluxus
  • email/blogs for digital correspondence art
  • correspondence art archives/blogs
  • ex. textimagepoem

Physical mail art not slowed by net, but journals & other Network community organs have been

  • correspondence Art Journals
  • similar purpose to net presences, but still PHYSICAL & playing with what real correspondence is
  • ex. Open World continues
  • ex. Synapse (correspondence art w/ other work in same communities)
  • ex. Hat (same but differences in schedule & consequences)
  • ex. Letter Founder (curation based on correspondence chedule)

Mechanics of contemporary correspondence art

  • contact, not “quality”, is prerogative
  • materials ex. rubber stamps, collage, multiple photocop
  • passage back & forth between digital & analogue formats, evolution of pieces through multiple archiving
  • Contact Lists & addressed signatures

This is the present here in front of you.

Questions etc. & keep making

PART 2 perf. poetry focus

Idea of using experimental art for new forms of communication not restricted to international level

  • Avant Garde has always tended to form groups, formal or informal, who use their own communities where they live, or assemble informal colonies in the midst of various cities, as experiments in new modes of social life

Many people in avant-garde movements belong to both a local manifestation of a group and a national one

  • ex Dada, Futurism
  • many belong to multiple movements simultaneously as well
  • (correspondence art glue for these relationships)

Performance Poetry one form among many of strategies active on local level

bear with me...

Bouzingos Songs (describe) 1830s

  • semantic content secondary to social action
  • Used as social tools & as social bonding rather than “expressions” or entertainment or display of skill.

Symbolist Declamation (brief) 1890s

  • viewed music as different order of communication than language
  • reading literature aloud, if artfully done, could utilize both levels of communication
  • ex. Valéry spent two hours training a singer to recite a poem
  • recommended ignoring meaning of words while performing
  • describe Mallarmé's projected 'Book'
  • designed for living rooms & familiar groups of people
  • different in each performance

Futurist Poem ~1910

  • onomotopeaia
  • ex. Balla, Canzone, Maggio (trans. “Song, maggio”)
  • no instructions for score--implications
  • how scores affect poem's social dynamic
  • every scoring method developed has continued to be used for past century

  • Relation of Italian Futurism to Zaoum principles

PERFORMANCE: Bald Mountain Zaoum Poem

Dada 1916

  • Dada Cabaret as collective experience--describe
  • Poems serve as moments of condensation within denaturalized environment--
  • Development of different kinds of perf. poem with different relationships between viewers and performers & between performers themselves
  • Phonetic Poem
  • PERFORMANCE: Karawane
  • mysticism/priest
  • Merz Poem
  • relate to correspondence art & collage, name of Merz
  • Ursonate--performance poem as shamanic/meditative ritual
  • PERFORMANCE: pornographic i-poem
  • Simultaneous Poem
  • PERFORMANCE: Apocalypse Crunch
  • coordination, relationship amongst performers
  • Bruitist Poem
  • PERFORMANCE:White Giant Leper
  • performer vs. audience, reversal of roles
  • relate to bouzingos

Fluxus--Instruction Scores 1950s-present

  • performed sometimes in festival context, sometimes in familial context, sometimes alone

Visual Scores

  • PERFORMANCE: Cobbing: back of interview book PULL FROM AUDIENCE 1960s-80s
  • Surprise performance from audiences as asemic 'meeting', shared experience w/out history

  • Schematic/Collaborative scores PULL FROM AUDIENCE
  • PERFORMANCE: Be Blank Consort Caw Huff
  • named after talismanic phrase BE BLANK from certain circle in Eternal Network
  • Written through correspondence art network--extension of 'performance' beyond geographic locality
  • sometimes use correspondence art as basis for scores
  • membership varies from community to community when performing--implications





For More:

Online (Gigantic source of avant-garde sound poetry, film, scores, texts, etc.) (huge Networking archive & blog) (essays & histories of correspondence art) (electronic correspondence art community blog) (Post-NeoAbsurdist performance poetry)


Brotchie, Alastair & Gooding, Mel, ed. (1995). A Book of Surrealist Games. London: Shambhala Redstone Editions.

Caws, Mary Ann, ed. (2001). Manifesto: A Century of Isms. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.

correspondence Art

Duncan, Michael & Kristine McKenna. (2005). Semina Culture: Wallace Berman and His Circle. New York: Distributed Art Publishers. 2005.

Home, Stewart. (1991). The Assault on Culture: Utopian Currents from Lettrism to Class War. Stirling: AK Press.

Mallarmé, Stéphane & Lloyd, Rosemary, ed. (1998). Selected Letters. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

Smith, Owen F. (1998). Fluxus: The History of an Attitude. San Diego: San Diego State University Press.

Williams, Emmett, ed. (1997). Mr. Fluxus: A Collective Portrait of George Maciunas. London: Thames & Hudson

Performance Poetry

Huelsenbeck, Richard/ Ball, Hugo/ Serner, Walter. (1995). Blago Bung Blago Bung Bosso Fataka: First Texts of German Dada. London: Atlas Press.

McCaffery, Steve & Nichols, bp. (1978). Sound Poetry: A Catalog. Toronto: Underwhich Editions.

Richter, Hans & Britt, David trans. (1997). Dada: Art & Anti-Art. London: Thames & Hudson.

Schwitters, Kurt & Rothenberg, Jerome & Joris, Pierre, trans. (2002). Poems Performances Pieces Proses Plays Poetics. Cambridge, MA: Exact Change.

Smith, Steven R. & Cobbing, Bob. (1997). Ballet of the Speech Organs: Bob Cobbing on Bob Cobbing (interviews). Toronto, Canada: Underwhich Editions.

Tzara, Tristan & Caws, mary Ann, trans. (2005). The Approximate Man & Other Writings. Boston, MA: Black Widow Press.

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

some Heavy Metal poems

A couple of Metal-related poems from back in the day (circa 2003-04). The first poem is inspired by my first Slayer show, which is to this day one of the most intense public rituals I have ever participated in.

The second is a a response to the murder of Dimebag Darrell of Pantera. I haven't actually listened to Pantera since I was 17, and they were pretty much a bunch of misogynist rednecks, but I had my phase, and Dimebag was murdered in Columbus, Ohio at my regular metal venue at the time, the Al Rosa. So there was some nostalgia, plus the fact that he was killed by a self-described 'huge fan' (and ex-marine who'd been section-eighted and released back into civilian society...).

Fellow Metalheads will recognise a number lines and titles laced into both of these. Both were first published in the Appropriated Press, and 'Divine Intervention' in Antiglobe as well. As usual, the blog format has fucked the formatting all up on both of these.

Divine Intervention

the crushing creeps before the blast
dead skin behind the mask
crowding (as if)
to see the serum spread before the clash
(of s/cymbols)
the loud impatient hush
dim forms the mechanical smoke
the air thick with blasts
the epochal impend
the sixteen-cut call
the ensemble to sliding arms
the thousand-throated word:
the press gasping surge
the primal sweat
the sinew snapping at itself
the beat claw tribal flex
the thousand-tendon muscle
animal enlightenment of pulse-diluted minds
weirdly wakened to the chunk of charged string
the cloven-hoofed spleen plays
the unanimous forebode of next
lone voice atonal screech and swallowed
by the vein outside the ear
the cleansing rain of blood
the (non)memory of millennia
heaved in shield-walls
religion written in gangrenous limbs
philosophy beaten on stretched skin
felt with the earnestness of flesh
the thrashed-dance spear-tip
damnation leering from forests that
slaughter allegory
have we fallen so far?
bonds still fold down two fingers
ward off vestiges of sunlight
one set of the philosophy of caves
ethics of embodiment
vicious sincerity of the newly crawled from clay
one tip of contact with essential
and throwing all reserve into the pit
laugh at the memory of forests
bristling with purely more that physical threat
skin and strings race like thoughts
savage intricacy
leaving words abhorred
slashing all complacency to chaos
ordered on the bones of ancient terrors

this is real art
(it makes the ears bleed)


Vulgar Display of Power

a grating thump of strings and then
the blast-beats stop

drink booze
smoke weed
make art
you are still clenched tightly in the jaws of the mad

and in the last seconds everything must unspool like notes abandoning the staff
must ring false among a harmonic hoarde

this is the obscure end to your exuberance
the smiles you
made have betrayed you
your racing frets knew not what they had done
eloi, eloi
my friends, my friends
you keep this love love love
how have you betrayed me

in a land of war and honey
this is where all beauty leads
even if it is soaked in smoke and blasphemies
gunned down because your art held the finger back from the trigger
gunned down because you were the only friend to kill
this is
what has driven ( )
far, far beyond

R.I.P. Darell Abbott 12 / 9 / 04

Sunday, 4 October 2009

Current Projects

This blog thing is slow-going. An indication of what I am doing whilst not updating this:

Current Projects:
  • An essay on JM Bennett's work in relation to Surrealist automatism on one hand and the Symbolist sonnet on the other, hopefully for an anthology dedicated to Bennett put together by Pudding House Press and aimed at a relatively mainstream poetic audience. If it's judged to be too, er, high-falutin' for that audience (I'm trying but I don't have much experience with mainstream writers) it'll find a home someplace else.
  • My first drawing in some six years, an illustration of a gnostic creation schema that I've been developing, mainly under the influence of my half-arsed understanding of Valentinian Gnosticism. The piece, in two plates each containing a number of sequential stages of the story, is keyed to the interpretation that my brother Chris Lennard is developing for his performance of Emmanuel Sojourne's Concerto for Marimba and Strings; if I complete them time, they will serve as energeia or memory-tools in his development of the performance. I may at some point do a third plate to complete the cycle.
  • Synapse 4. Yes, it is coming, despite constant financial and temporal roadblocks. The journal is 90% edited and the cover is half-completed, but after this there's the fairly laborious process of producing the master copy itself. Present estimate for starting to produce it is end of October. Beginning with Synapse 5 I'll be introducing changes to the process that will allow Synapse to start appearing more regularly and often.
  • mOnocle-lash Website. This will be officially put into action around the same time that Synapse 4 is released, heralding the new publishing season after a long hiatus. Around the same time we'll also see some new releases of varying sizes by Megan Blafas, David Beris Edwards, Warren Fry, myself, and possibly more.

These will be occupying most of my time through October, after which a number of other projects currently on deck will begin moving. These include a collaborative book with Imogene Engine, a novella with Alan Reed, an anthology of essays and interviews regarding the creation and stewardship of non-commercial intellectual communities, and the launching of a long-term project into translating and contextualizing the work of the nearly-forgotten French avant-garde Bouzingo group. Among other things.

More posts presently.

Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Galatea: 1st Fragment

The first part of the first aborted piece, which I'll post in serial. Galatea was a projected 'simultaneous novel' organized around the myth of Pygmalion and Galatea (the latter being the name of the statue that Pygmalion created and with whom he then fell in love, and who was then granted life by Aphrodite.) It was undertaken in the Spring of A.Da. 89 (2005) under the spell of Lautréamont, into whose work I was then being initiated (rather obviously). The writing trailed off around the time that I returned from the UK in Winter, A.Da. 90 (2006).

The manuscript made it up to a bit over 8,000 words; the primary reason for its abandonment being that its prerogatives were folded into other projects. The conceptual and hermetic projects for which it was an index and cipher demanded more subtle and complex textual reflections and processes, while at the same time its formal conception was pretty ambiguous from the start, as was my poorly-articulated notion of a 'simultaneous novel', which I finally decided was essentially an excuse to call a prose-poem a novel and avoid tackling the issues inherent in the fictional form. The prose style, too, is rather flabby; even when crafting the kinds of long, tortuous sentences which I often use, a certain terseness or subtle rhythmic and tonal counterpoint is called for which I had not yet identified. There are a number of little gems, but they are lost amidst a cascade of coloured glass, to borrow a metaphor for this diagnosis from Max Jacob (who I believe cribbed it in turn from Valéry).

That being said, it's not an awful prose-poem, and does include some passages of which I'm quite proud (such as the veiled treatment of the Salomé motif toward the end of this strophe). Certain of its opacities might be more clearly approached when keeping in mind the central themes of The Ecstatic Nerve. From an archival or, shall we say, organicist point of view, Galatea represents my first attempt to seriously grapple with prose in all of its dimensions, and in its mercurial stage-managing of various argots and idioms is the prime prototype of Nerve, the still-underway Yellow Sign, etc. So here's the first strophe. A bit of arcane trivia: some of the text in the last paragraph below, which section is derived from Automatic Writing sessions, was also used in my Feral Pool album which I was working on at the same time as the bulk of my work on the Galatea text.


Love of art is the greatest love of all
-Francis Picabia

I had wanted to write you, my dear, for at least as long as you have been written; and a text is a kind of eternity, for it (you) swallows up all pasts and all futures, endlessly destroying them, a constant present that churns with potentiality. And this, as you have whispered to me in the dark nights, is as close as we can come to eternity, unless we throw all of our faith in the letters of that word itself. And in this way I can say that I have always loved you, will always love you, and love you endlessly; but these words can be turned aside; and so I can say, equally, that I have never loved you, will never love you, abhore you like the vacuum that you are and are not. It is nothing to you- I say nothing in you. I leave you gently and freely to exist as you are, and yet I engage you with the utmost fixation and unfixity; and this, it might be said (though it might not), is itself a species love.

I was once outside the text, and am, and am not, and will be again, and am forever lost. In that place outside, from whence I issue, this jagged edge of me that juts adventurously into this sprawling house of language in which you and I (that jagged edge) reside, I sat with my ribs clenched tight in the fists of my thought. My forehead was squeezed lovingly in a crowd of letters, but the rest of me hovered like a transparent umbrella in the thin and whistling air. Shimmering clicks rebounded against the far walls, long cords of tarantula legs hummed their lengths perniciously between myself and a shadow blazed into a wheeled concrete grave that rolled to and fro with me whenever I stepped outside this iron door.

I have said, and will again, that all is simultaneous in you, my dear, the text. And thus it was that I found you beautiful while yet you were completely unconceived (and now, of course, you are growing still, as I type this; but at that “time” you were not yet begun; though, to demonstrate what we have both discovered, that past when you were not, is now imbedded in the you-that-is, and so within the logic of the text itself- and it is the text that we inhabit, or doubly are, [I might say triply are, if we are read, during this moment, the eternal moment that is] that past is now present, that is, presented to my memory and typing fingertips, to your structure, my dear, and to the reader that may be, or inevitably is, scanning us now). I gazed entranced into this non-idea that you were, this shapeless void with the promise of intricate shapings. And the legs of the spiders contorted with clatters, the concrete grave flung against a far wall in a far wing of this endless house, knocking a bust of Dante to the floor.

There were shadows kissing shadows in this place at that time. My eyes were glued shut with the honey from the sun, and I was drawn into an aery perambulator, was shot along a river of nodes, and I found you smiling in my flesh. I bent my chest in the tower of this mansion with its numberless rooms, the catacombs below digging into the soil like roots of dying. (It is whispered that there are corridors of mirrors there, and worlds made of straw, and a promise that stalks you, and a lovely ghost who shelters you from the jeers of mighty Jove.) In the next room, I heard an electron, abuzz with the sun, humming the typewriter cadenza from Satie’s Parade. Above it, I also heard the booming of a flake of my home, reciting the psalms of Hugo Ball. You know, my dear, because it is the constitution of you, how my brain tends to crawl out through my ears, in order to caress the thing that seduces it; and I was caught, tied to a mast and trapped between these rocks of sound and rhythm. And my brain ripped itself in half to follow these sounds, these rhythms, and in the rift as they ripped, I felt you rush through the tissues that wrapped the nerves of my head.

By what names have I called you forth? and am still calling? and will call long after my death? Yet as I type this I die, have died, my death is a precondition of this missive; and so I love you. This all is sutured tightly together. The word is rooted in the flesh. This fruit is nearing its dreaming in theramin here. I am hiding in leather, and here in the year it is drowning in yearly secretions. Here in the year, wreathingly nearing the red in here, in the year in here, trying to hear in here, in those that are dear. And here, in here, fighting in yearly, were drowning in lowering heat. I am in the red and gyrating lowering heat, in the yearly, in heat. In the upper-side, frowning in lettering here. They are dreaming in your garden of lillies, in the fighting, in dreaming, in nearing and leathery frowns. And nearing in fighting, in typing, a smile in glowing is finicky air. She was there, flowering and shimmered, solid inarticulation of the absent word condensced and yielding only to a point. Small winged mice fluttered around her, harps gestured coyly toward their interior strings, her throatfingers fitted with rings, and here lepidopterous murmers settle on her clavicle, bring marsupial caresses in their satchels, and fling fingerprints daintily at the fritillary significations couched in the carpet; and she sings, a tightened amourous, a language in beguiling movements that stir coyly the air, and this is her skin I speak of, the veins that pulse it subtly.

And didn’t you know, she whispered, when you began this incantation, this peon to the useless word, that the text cannot escape eroticism, that it can be said, (though just as quickly disproven) to be the very constitution of it? Because I am here, I speak to you as you write me, I am, we are, you feel me as you type, the words that I am are felt in your stretching tendons, the quick attention of your fingers as they dart across the keyboard. You write, and you are not yourself; you are the catalyst of a text- your will is the will of the text. We are inseperable, and yet you die as you enter me, lost and disemenated, you are open, a space of ifinite fields of language, immersed in language yet breathing the Inarticulate (the signpost of Desire), and for an instant the duration of the apprehension of a word, you are loosed from ‘your’ ‘self’ into the vast play of signification! Did you not see these things? Then write. Then love me.

Coy, cruel, how I love you. Bring me my head on a plate. I will watch my tongue form my words. I will see it curl and stretch itself to the shapes of serifs, tremble with undulations in praise of the nonexistant gods who have heralded your birth! I will see myself as you bear me, heavy in the soup of my blood, calling out your name and a million others, severed from myself, borne heavy on the shoulders of one that I love. I will see my mouth form words that I have scarcely heard, I will be a mirror, and watch the first startled gaze of my eyes as I tremble at myself, before this fatal split, this split that gave you to the world, and gave you to my gaze.

I am dreaming of you, Galatea, and I’m in between here, in the synapse of desire, but in the snow the cello is chewing on your wallet. It is masticating lovingly, a powdered sheen that lapses in the evenings of desire. A letter in the marigolds. A blind fox dancing merrily over swaying fields of iodine, and licking the heels of mindful indulgence here. It is blocking out the sun, a giant and a little one, a climbing out of interest, a tickling under rhythms. I do not know where the light has gone for today, my dear, nor the green leather mind of our fortuitous undoing. It is dreaming, (though this is merely conjecture) of yesterday, minding the shuttles; dreaming in heavily interested mires of purple arches. And that is where the lace is pointing: deep into a nation of smiling straps; and it is drinking from a pool of gyroscopes. This is where we must follow the little slingless nettles, those that end up looping whistles round a dime.

Monday, 27 July 2009

A Few poems online

Three lyrics were put up on Peter Ganick's literary blog way back last week--

It was posted on July 18 so click on the calendar to the right, or better yet browse some of the great stuff that's been posted inbetween then and now that my tardy ass is informing all three of you about it.

Also, I should get a post of part of an aborted novel manuscript up soon, I'm having a bit of trouble with it and the new Synapse issue is taking the majority of my time at present.

Saturday, 11 July 2009

L&FT Review

A rather dizzying essay using for its departure point and most recurrent motif the anthology Loose Watch, a collection of work drawn from The Lost & Found Times, one of the principal models for Synapse and incidentally where I published my first poem (right at the end of the journal's 30-year run).:


I was pleasantly surprised to see somebody besides myself making correlations between the Avant Writing community facilitated by the L&FT, the First- and Second-generation British Romantic circles, German Surrealism, and Neoism. In Richard Marshall's (I don't know anything else about him) essay these connections are more freely associational glosses whilst I tend (in the Ecstatic Nerve, Yellow Sign, etc.) to try to establish more of an associational infrastructure through interweaving historical, dialectical, and ideological logics into these associations--I operate perhaps more on a Kristevan model while Marshall reminds me of Gregory Ulmer (who has also written on 'Kubla Kahn' as it happens...

Friday, 10 July 2009

And it's off.

So here is a blog.

Quasiluddite that I am, it will not be everything that a blog might be--neither a blogzine, nor a blog archive in the model of textimagepoem, etc., nor (I expect) a site of continuous discussion, but rather a repository for ephemera which might be of interest to those who take an interest in the full spread of my work or thought, but which are unlikely to be made public elsewhere, or have done so in ways or contexts that are severely out-of-the-way. The blog as a form of liminal half-publication. It's mandate is primarily the following:

  • Full lists (in various forms according to your preferred ideological prerogative--none using professional hierarchical models) of all of my activity in various fields. I will try to keep these fully updated.
  • Updates concerning the various projects on my palette at any given time, upcoming or recent performances, publications, etc. These replace the emailed updates I used to send out while in the UK, which I suspect most people did not read or care about. Huzzah.
  • Fragments of texts which reached a certain degree of fullness of conception before being either abandoned or folded into other projects.
  • Fragments and other posts relating to ongoing large-scale works whose completion is not expected for years or decades.
  • Ephemeral texts or documentation of unpublished work, and work published in limited editions or no longer available.
  • Cuttings and passages edited out of the final, published versions of essays or other texts. The shadows or the shit of these texts.
  • Historical work that I feel is worth bringing into discursive contact with the activity with which I associate myself.
  • Occassional reports of events or texts that I attend or read which are either exciting enough or awful enough to provoke me to divert my time from other things.
  • Random philosophemes or marginalia that occur to me when I happen to be near the computer.
  • Whatever short poems, etc. I happen to feel like posting.
  • Things that are not listed here but which I post anyway.

Since the conception of the blog is still at its base archival, I will try to attach contextualizing glosses whenever possible. There's some stuff up here to start with: A Coleridge poem, a gloss on current projects, a 'Pataphysical lecture with dodgy mathematics, and a list of everything I have published, organised, performed, made, lectred about, etc. Beyond this we'll see what happens.

Sunday, 28 June 2009

Economic Outlay for the Limited Energies of Olchar E. Lindsann, LLC

i.e., ongoing projects in the works. Putting one of these together every month or two is intended to cut down on the time needed to reiterate the same information infinite times in private correspondence, to keep the latter from utterly overwhelming my productive capacity. Since I've been largely out-of-touch with a number of people over the last year, this one will be pretty long:

Two essays are forthcoming in the next couple months:
  • An essay On Fun in the journal Transmission, published by the SPART Action Group in Northern Ireland, along with stuff by Vittore Baroni, Istvan Cantor, Mark Greenwood, editor Justin McKeown , and a few others.
  • A critical introduction for the revised edition of Jim Leftwich's monumental aleatoric theoro-alchemical poetic opus Doubt, along with other splendid commentaries & tributes by Thomas L. Taylor, John M. Bennett, John Crouse, Scott MacLeod, Sheila E. Murphy, Jukka-Pekka Kervinen, and Michael Peters. Doubt was first published by the indubitable Potes & Poets Press in 2000, and the new edition purged of a number of typographic errors is being put out by Peter Ganick's Blue Lion Press.
  • Also knocking into shape an old manuscript essay for the forthcoming Synapse: 'Creative Sociality and the Traditions of Dissent: Toward a Radical Historiography' and beginning work on two possible essays for a John M. Bennett anthology being assembled by Pudding House Press; one prying apart the experience (in the word's various senses) of reading Bennett's writing, the other interweaving the way that his work is circulated with a notion of a memetic macro-poetics of dissemination.

Also in the works: a slowly-but-surely-though-slowly progressing Sketch Comedy Show with Warren Fry and others. A pilot set of seven or eight sketches (one written by David Beris Edwards) exists in various stages of completion.

On September 11 of this year, the Washington Post-Neo group brings the heat with an apocalypse-themed performance event co-ordinated with us here in the Jersey group, at an exhibition by Bradley Chriss of the same theme, for which he is eminantly qualified to be sure. Believe it or not this date for the show's opening was a coincidence (as far as I know). Brad, Megan Blafas, and Tim Campbell came up to Jersey over the 4th of July.

And on the note of visits, Aaron Andrews, ex-Rape Van (RIP) bassist, printmaker, and Post-Neo co-founder, recently came out to visit us here in New Jersey as well, where the three solid weeks of rain, New Jersey, had us all in rather numb spirits. Nonetheless:
  • Aaron slaughtered us with his newly-invented mixed-drink concoction 'The KGB', which tastes like chocolate milk but is pure liquor and takes no prisoners. The next morning I felt like a journalist three days after criticizing Putin.
  • I finally got my theramin into working order (for all intents and purposes). It is housed inside a rubber chicken.
  • I spent far too much on books in Princeton, but have acquired a First (American) edition of Ambrose Bierce's Tales of Soldiers and Civilians. (I believe a British edition had been published several years earlier under the title 'Can Such Things Be'.) This book was the main impetus behind my beginning to write fiction when I was 16 or so, and Bierce was my main literary model for a couple years. Brilliant.
There is a rumour that bela b Grimm might make it out this summer too, possibly presaging a follow-up to The Myopic Death-Ray...

Another short-ish term goal is to continue the meticulous process of filing and cataloging the Post-Neo Archive at a rate to allow me to start posting the catalog online as it progresses. Currently there are hundreds of items filed and many hundreds more awaiting filing; but only A-F of the individual artist files have been numberd and cataloged.

mOnocle-Lash Anti-Press & Publishing
I've been very busy re-structuring the way that mOnocle-Lash is run--even with only one person cordinating everything, a bureauocracy is still necessary--in order to be more efficient both fiscally and in terms of time. The fruits of this reorganisation will hopefully begin to reveal themselves over the course of next year.
  • We are finally able to serve as a distro for European staple-bound publications, having found a source for UK paper sizes, and are beginning to reprint and distribute a number of titles from the UK Post-Neo Mouse Milk Press, and soon copies of Northern Ireland's Transmission. (Probably a few Luna Bisonte TLPs as well).
  • The long-long-long-awaited Synapse 4 will hopefully be completed by the end of the Summer. It will be disseminated over the course of the autumn in a packet along with a Sound Supplement on disc with cover by Aaron Andrews, a newly-inaugurated line of little TLPs inspired by Luna Bisonte Prods, and other goodies.
  • Also by the end of the summer, mOnocle-Lash should have a simple but functional website, as well as an associated blog that can function both to communicate what is being published and potentially to host a discussion of what the communit/ies associated with mOnocle-Lash would like to see us do. If anyone uses it.

For A.Da. 94 (2010), partial plans involve:
  • A line of free .pdf books
  • The inauguration of a line of translations of 19th and early 20th Century avant-garde groups previously unavailable in English (beginning with the Paris Bouzingos group of the 1830s--other eventual groups under discusion include Croatian Dada and the Incoherents group of the 1890s.).
  • The inauguration of a mOnocle-Lash RPG imprint under the supervision of Warren Fry.
  • Several anthologizing and historicizing projects destined for perfect-bound print-on-demand editions.
  • Increased interaction with 'Zine and Anarchist micropress communities via conventions, distro, etc. in addition to our focus on avant-garde communities.

Wednesday, 10 June 2009

It was Jack who built this shitty house.

I christen this blog with one of the first cut-up (or proto-cutup to be fair) poems I ever read--a sonnet pieced together by Samuel Taylor Coleridge entirely from snippets and phrases from other poems throughout his ouvre, and published under his satirical pseudonym Nehemiah Higginbottom in The Monthly Magazine in 1796 (later reprinted in a footnote to Coleridge's Biographia Literaria, on which I first weaned my Philosophic teeth). The poem was intended as a commentary on form divorced from conceptual neccessity, and employs the common 19th Century satirical device of the House that Jack Built--with Jack literally mooning us bare-arsed at the end.

Don't ever say I don't repay my poetic debts, Mr. Coleridge, you turn-coat Tory Monarchist bastard.

Lamented Jack! and here his malt he pil'd,
Cautious in vain! these rats, that squeak so wild,
Squeak not unconscious of their father's guilt.
Did he not see her gleaming thro' the glade!
Belike 'twas she, the maiden all forlorn.
What tho' she milk no cow with crumpled horn,
Yet, aye she haunts the dale where erst she stray'd:
And aye, beside her stalks her amorous knight!
Still on his thighs their wonted brogues are worn,
And thro' those brogues, still tatter'd and betorn,
His hindward charms gleam an unearthly white.
Ah! thus thro' broken clouds at night's high noon
Peeps in fair fragments forth the full-orb'd harvest moon!


Saturday, 6 June 2009

An old letter

The following letter was affixed to my (as yet unpublished) essay Toward A Nagean Pataphysics in late A.Da. 89 (2005), when it was submitted for marking at Dartington College of Arts (R.I.P.). The essay (according to base Bourgeois standards of mathematics) was nearly 60% over the maximum allowed word-count of 5000 words. This note was determined to prove that the word-count was, when looked at in the proper 'Pataphysical light, in fact nearly perfect. To his credit (I think), Mark Leahy approved of the calculations--one more bit of proof as to Dartington's pedagogical value before it had its throat cut by its own treacherous administration.

The essay itself will be published in the course of time; the context of that publication is still being decided upon.

To whom it may concern:

I am attaching this prefacexplanationlettermissiveappendix to the body of my essay, Toward (and away from) A (potential) Nagean Pataphysics for two main purposes (in addition to a few supplementary ones). One is to introduce some critical background to the piece itself, for Pataphysics (as you will find) is by its nature fiercely inward-turning, potentially hermetic, patantially occult; and for those not familiar with certain terms, sources, and areas of Pataphysical concern, these carefully constructed Anti-symmetries and Anti-logical arguments might appear as meaningless chaos, rather than meaningless structure.

1.} This essay contains a number of references to various definitions of the Anti-discipline known as Pataphysics, given by Alfred Jarry, its (Anti-)founder. Many of these (taken from Exploits and Opinions of Dr. Faustroll, Pataphysician) are so thoroughly ingrained in its practitioners as to be commonly invoked in their texts merely by a single word or phrase without being made explicit. I have appended a list of these canonical definitions; pay particular attention to the wording and metaphorical themes themselves. Some additional definitions will come into play in the piece itself.

2.} Two terms have come to be traditionally invoked in Pataphysical discourse in a particular way: the clinamen as a swerve, on some register, that disrupts a given order or circuit of transmission; and the syzygy as a coming together, or superinduction, of two disparate elements.

3.} Most engagements with Pataphysics have involved as their principle (though not exclusive) strategy the bringing together in some way of a literary/poetic/imaginative model with either a mathematical model (Oulipo), or a scientific model (Canadian “Pataphysics).

The second (main) goal of this letter (which, might I stress, is to be regarded simply as a helpful supplement of the piece itself) is to explain, in the most straightforward way possible, the number of words contained in this essay, both the apparent number and the actual.

According to Microsoft Word, this piece of criticism includes exactly 8,375 words. However, I must stress that (Microsoft Word being, when approached as a word-counting tool, nearer to the metaphor of a club than that of a stiletto) this is merely the apparent number of words; but after a short explanation of several factors involved in this revelation, I shall proceed systematically to demonstrate that I have, in fact, when looked at in a more judicious light, approached the paradigmatic goal of 5,000 quite closely.

First, let me point out that if we designate the ideal number of words in the essay as x, and the ideal amount of intellectual capital, or “meaning” as y, the equation that most perfectly expresses the ideal state of the projected essay is:

x = y.

However, upon closer inspection, we realize that y is not in fact a number, and that in the present situation (i.e. algebraic rather than phonetic) it can in fact signify any number- for instance 6, or 5000, or 93, or 385,430 –6.
x however, has been fixed in its signification, thus:

5,000 = y

It has, however, been conclusively shown, in different ways, that x (the word) can never be charged with a strict one-to-one (or x to x, or y to y) correspondence with intellectual capital, i.e. “meaning.” (see McCaffery, “Writing as a General Economy” [McCaffery 2000, pp 201-221 or Derrida, “Speech and Phenomenon.” [Derrida 1991, pp 6-30.]) As a result, if 5,000 is taken as a constant, then y, which we now realize can never equal x, must always have a certain amount of “capital” or “meaning” either added to or subtracted from it in order to restore an equilibrium. This can be expressed mathematically in one of two ways, depending on the value of y relative to x:

y = y - z
y = y + z

Therefore, in order to equate y with x, we are always faced with one of two equations (or, potentially, a point of tangency between them which is nonetheless not a mere neutrality). Thus:

5,000 = y – z
5,000 = y + z

The former might represent Lautreamont, Derrida, Jarry, or Stein; the latter Hemingway or Kostelanetz. In my case, the former is most certainly the case, since the very confusion bred by syntactic complexity, and the added subtlety for grammatical and semantic manipulation that it allows, is vital to the working of any potential Nagean Pataphysics, which must operate as much on the level of literary technique, rhetoric, and structure as on argumentation. Thus I am faced with one of two possibilities:

5,000 = y – z
5,000 < z =" 5,000" 000 =" y" z =" 5,000" z =" 5,000" 5 =" 4,989.5" y =" 4,989.5">