The following are recent excerpts from various blogs. Can you spot the art/literature?
[A.] “Or maybe all blogs are art. Maybe we should send out a mass-mailing with MFA diplomas as PDF attachments, and see who clicks on the link. Or maybe we [the Experts] should have an MFA Patrol, like the Publishers Clearinghouse, only you’ve already published yourself. And guess what? We've decided your blog . . . is art!”
“I'm running out of listservs to join.
Hey, where are the chinks and niggers?
They're inside already? You don't say!
You mean we're outside? That's all right.
I've always liked to eat and fuck al fresco.”
[C.] “I'm pretty sure I was always the same person, the compass needle just needed proper adjusting. Looking at this photo of the buggy outside the record store now perfectly sums me up. The only difference being my Fell pony cart will certainly have that Ramones sticker on the back, and I'll trot him back to the farm, ipod blaring. Hey ho, let's go.”
“Billy Tea & Nerada
Coles Supermarket bread mix in a box
licorice from Darrell Lea Shop
violet crumble bar
veet (hair wax)
[G.] “I offered his virus to the mechanized virus reader. It had many functions, among these the one that translated ‘virus’ into ‘sick room architectures.’ Thus the design specs for his recovery: a 15 x15 outdoor room with a perimeter of medium height pines, inside of these pines a hospital bed and an eight foot flat screen tv.”
[H.] “Som god Ytrebykven er eg glad i finsk folkemusikk, og fann stor fagnad i ein farsott som har herja dutuba i ujamne bølgjer dei siste åra. Det byrja, så vidt eg har kunna bringa på det reine, her, med vokalgruppa Loituma si a capella versjon av den ubegripeleg catchy "Ievan polkka" ("Evas polka"):” [the post, not the song – which is by a f*in’ great band, IMO]
[I.] “Know your meat source. Grassfed beef biggie Tallgrass Beef of Sedan, Kansas, is the latest client of IdentiGEN North America Inc., subsidiary of the Irish IdentiGEN Ltd. The company’s DNA TraceBack technology allows meat to be traced to the farm where it was raised (unlike, say, the tainted hamburger recounted recently in the NY Times). IdentiGEN Inc. is based here in Lawrence, Kansas. (IdentiGEN press release; Lawrence Journal-World).”
[J.] “’A strong desire seized me of visiting remote regions. My first impulse was to go and see Paris. It was a trivial objection to my aspiring mind that I did not understand a word of the language, since I certainly intend some time in my life to see Paris, and equally certainly never intend to learn the language; therefore that could be no objection.’”
[K.] “I really miss writing the blog regularly but a couple of deadlines have kept me totally busy. One of them is the preparation of the performance with Pierre Joris & Miles Joris-Peyrafitte that will happen this coming Thursday in Angoulême (France). No Thanksgiving for us! We are off tomorrow and below is the info about the show in case you are around this area. This is my first trip to the Poitou-Charente region and I am looking forward to discover their food specialties and have some of the delicious Pineau des Charentes — a mix of wine and cognac. It will be my pleasure to report if I have any time to do so. But right after, I am off to the Pyrenees for more work on Augustus Saint Gaudens. I am leaving you with a few posts from last year, and please do dig into the archives and the categories.”
[L.] “One of the aspects I appreciate about our market is the festive, celebratory air. It’s an event. People bring friends or company from out of town. They use it as a social venue and run into their neighbors. They get to know the farmers, bakers, soap-makers and even the musicians busking on Saturday mornings.”
[M.] “The door is located on the right side of the store and I guess you just habitually wander in the same direction that you arrive. Very quickly my sister spotted Hallmark ornaments on sale 50% off. I didn't think there were any she didn't have, but obviously there are a few. As she pawed her way through the basket, I meandered around, glancing here and there, seeing some lovely bric-a-brac that I knew I didn't have room for. I was making my way around the room and was now facing the wall on our left.”
[N.] “The water people have a little window and a dog. The cigarette people have a stool and an empty shop. The fishing people have buckets and folding stools and rim the canal. The fishing people are rarely women but there is a shop for lures and casters in a hidden neighborhood and this is run by a woman who knows everything. The fishing people go to her finally when their buckets are empty and she is smoking double-happinesses when she tells them which wriggle startles a bottom-feeder and which arouses its interest. The massage people have an entrance that is always occupied in neon. I don’t know what they do. I have suspicions.”
[O.] “These dreams have no portent: I don’t seek their omens or believe such things presage future events. Some other transport—some intimate communion—takes place. Even now the memory of myself in bed, the hall light flooding one side of my room, arrives in dreamlike waves that can only be partially grasped. And yet, those years of going to bed composed an eternity, too.”
This reading was a lot of fun - even if it did kind of start out like a George Jones concert, with the headliner missing in action. Rob Baumann did more than warm up the crowd, he pretty much melted them and sublimated them into a gas. Which it was. He read his brand-new chapbook Robert J. Baumann's A Man About Town, bound with a lovely wood-grain finish. The chapbook contains letter-like texts that are informed by the discursive conventionalities of text messaging and bad sitcoms. They are nasty. And very funny. And he signs every one of the "letters," so it's worth more than $5, but don't tell him that.
Hard act to follow - M. Timmons began by reading from his chapbook Lip Service, which was OK, but pretty rational and socially acceptable after the Baumann episode. But the bit he read (and showed) from his 800-page book Credit was very intriguing indeed. Seems like it's constructed of replicating memes from credit-card solicitations and other usurious come-on's. I don't know that I want to buy the book, since even the author can't afford a full-color copy of it. But I'd definitely buy between 37 and 100 pages of it. Or try to get my local library to buy it.
He (Timmons) closed by doing a blue-streak reading of an excerpt from his forthcoming poetics statement/manifest - which he turned into conceptual poetry by timing the excerpt, and turning what sounded like a fairly reasoned and comprehensive argument into a blur of verbiage. Like a Mexican d.j. reading Eric Auerbach. Which was just the thing to do.
Now what? Well, Mary Oliver is coming in March. I don't hate Mary Oliver the way that some people do (in fact, "Mary Oliver" has become a sort of floating-signifier target, the way that "Robert Pinsky" or "T.S. Eliot" did). But I've read and heard about as much of her as I want to, in one lifetime. She is very good at what she does - whence I have moved on.
So, it may be that the next reading of weird texts will be part of the next Big Tent series in January. But if you know of events in the Heart-o'-darkness-land involving post-avant/experimental/strange writing, please do let me know.
Many blogs (including this one) present themselves as commentaries upon. Upon books, farming, culture, what the kids are doing, etc. They use words to convey information or ideas.
But where are the blogs that are art? Or, said another way, are there blogs that are composed of art-writing (whether or not the author intends it)? And what is your criterion? How do you know?
I ask this question b/c I'm trying to advise an MFA thesis that is a blog. Can you tell which blog it is? Can you pick out the work of art from amongst the "blog[s] about x"?
Or maybe all blogs are art. Maybe we should send out a mass-mailing with MFA diplomas as PDF attachments, and see who clicks on the link. Or maybe we [the Experts] should have an MFA Patrol, like the Publishers Clearinghouse, only you don't get published. Surprise! We've decided your blog . . . is art!
Or one could do blog-sculpting - a mash-up of various elements of mere content-based blogs - a blog in which the blog form would itself be the content.
What if a web log were really a log? I mean a real, damn log!!! What do you think of that, Bucko?! I got yer art form - RIGHT HERE! Organic enough for you? Well, there's a lot more where this came from . . .
"I have not, as I said, that happy leisure . . . I have no such skill . . . I have no such authority . . . I must for that cause do my business myself, and was therefore enforced, as a bear doth her whelps, to bring forth this confused lump; I had not time to lick it into form as she doth her young ones, but even so to publish it as it was first written, quicquid in buccam venit [whatever came out], in an extemporanean style, as I do commonly all other exercises."
". . . I have assayed, put myself upon the stage; I must abide the censure, I may not escape it. It is most true, stilus virum arguit, our style bewrays [sic] us, and as hunters find their game by the trace, so is a man’s genius descried by his works; multo melius ex sermone quam lineamentis de moribus hominum judicamus [we judge a man’s character much better from his discourse than from his features], ‘twas old Cato’s rule. I have laid myself open (I know it) in this treatise, turned mine inside outward. I shall be censured, I doubt not; for to say truth with Erasmus, nihil morosius hominum judiciis, there’s naught so peevish as men’s judgments; yet this is some comfort, ut palata, sic judicia, our censures are as various as our palates."
And for those other faults of barbarism, Doric dialect, extemporanean style, tautologies, apish imitation, a rhapsody of rags gathered together from several dunghills, excrements of authors, toys and fopperies confusedly tumbled out, without art, invention, judgment, wit, learning, harsh, raw, rude, fantastical, absurd, insolent, indiscreet, ill composed, indigested, vain, scurrile, idle, dull, and dry, - I confess all (‘tis partly affected); thou canst not think worse of me than I do of myself. ‘Tis not worth the reading, I yield it; I desire thee not to lose time in perusing so vain a subject. I should be peradventure loath myself to read him or thee so writing; ‘tis not operae pretium [worth the trouble].
“Originality today has become the diminished function of lessening production costs (‘content scraping’) i.e. there is less and less incentive today to produce original works, especially in the arts, because everyone, particularly those outside the arts, are doing so. And this creates a considerable incentive, especially among artists, to plagiarize works by others, works that already exist and were produced by those formerly considered to be non-artists. Or to put it more simply, as the price of originality has gone way down (everyone an artist), the price of plagiarism has skyrocketed – even if, in the end, plagiarism has costs that are nominal, illusory, and often gratuitous when stacked against the no-less illusory concept of ‘originality.’ . . . Such activity [uncited circulation patterns, syndication across networks] should probably be regarded as value-adding rather than either theft (removal of value) or fraud (deception), the two crimes most closely associated with plagiarism.”
I seem to be drawn to generically ambiguous, uncut, reflexive, abecederian works. I've been reading Anatomy of Melancholy, for chrissakes.
But it was hard for me to get started on Tan Lin’s book plagiarism/outsource, &c.(zasterle) – I re-read the first few pages a few times before I had my sea-legs – but the farther I got into it, the smarter it seemed. Call it conceptual poetry or performance art, verily, it enacts the problems with “intellectual property” and the culture it creates. For starters, it’s really authored by Lin and eight other people (seven workshop participants and a graphic designer). Secondly, it’s copylefted, not copyrighted. Thirdly, it takes the liberty of reproducing large chunks of (theoretically) open-source text (about Samuel Pepys), along with chunks of (theoretically) copyrighted text and images (about Heath Ledger, amongst others).
Hey, take it to the Supreme Court . . .
There is also a fair amount of source code/html mark-up – and google search results, etc.
“As Pepys and Heath and Helena and Mike and Jean, and Ina, and Soo-Young and Jennifer, and Tamiko noted, because ‘anything that can be entered into a computer can be reproduced indefinitely
“each morning at the Pickwick was narrowly descriptive and ‘as inert as possible,’ subject to erasure or re-distribution
“i.e. her feelings like his were hand-written or like everything else approximate or obstreperous and narrow like an itinerary post(ed) opposite the reception desk
"i.e. their (their) writing (writing) was like (like) an elevator opening
"as a result
"Heath: or Samuel: was not ‘ something inserted into the video: they were watching on You Tube ‘ ‘ (i.e. storage) but something taken away or outsourced (dissemination), i.e. the process was more like erasing each other (plagiarism) rather than viewing.”
This from section (?) 1, “unread novel.” The “Notes Towards the Definition of Culture” part of the title of the book, is a sho-nuff treatise:
“likewise, with a book she was carrying around all that week Heath died,
“you shouldn’t have to read it because everything in it has already been read by her,
“in this sense, the death is what intellectual property lawyers term ‘derivative;’ [sic] it encourages no detrimental reliance i.e. it would not render or caused you not to read something else since it is, technically, ‘something else’ subject to non-writers who are readers and any future non-readers who are writers working in a domain of what relaxed copyright advocates call @copyleft and so they decided because everything is plainly beautiful and
“indiscriminately ugly in unlimited distribution,
“the non-logocentric, non-literary project shares much with what George C. Williams, the evolutionary biologist, describes as the principal functioning of the gene: ‘that which segregates and recombines with appreciable frequency’ . . .”
And the blocks of project Gutenberg text (not least the “small print” copyright instructions and disclaimers). And the “Entertainment Story” is a damn good imitation of an entertainment RSS feed, if it isn’t really one.
they or the texts they are writing can be [mythical] like a [tourist] destination
they can be [programmatic] without being confined to a single practice,
< XTRA GREEN Green Tea Beverage Mix >
notice the lack of quotation marks
This is a heady blurring of authorial authority and ownership. So when I say:
genre = brands,
you don’t know if Tan said it or Michael or Ina or Sooyoung or Jennifer or Helena or Tamiko or Jean or Danielle or Heath or Samuel or Joe. Or all or none.
[“I,” for one, definitely believe it to be true]
"In this system, creating content is less useful than passing on existing content or re-creating a context for re-use. Plagiarism, despite its 'contested normative significance' is one parameter to define this recontextualizing mode. Ditto with outsourcing or image defamiliarization. Having sex changes the group dynamic."
– “Emily,” from Historia de mi Vida Triste
I’m glad I wrote that in my blog, b/c what better place for matter of uncertain authorship. Yo, originality is the last remaining waste product of creative practices and remains to be eliminated within aesthetic production and/or distribution systems.
RE: Under Pressure, Wal-Mart Changes Policy on Swine Flu
It is not enough, but it is a first step.
Last Friday, November 6, on Good Morning America, a Wal-Mart spokeswoman said no Wal-Mart employee would be fired for having swine flu. Still under pressure, on Monday (November 9), a senior vice president told the Washington Post that workers needing to stay home due to the flu will not receive a demerit or be docked their wages. Workers can use the sick leave they have accrued to pay for their first day out.
It is no small thing that popular pressure can force the largest employer in the U.S. to change its punitive policies.
Wal-Mart employees quickly point out that these policy changes should also cover workers who most stay home to take care of children or other family members who are sick with the flu.
This should be just the first step in ending Wal-Mart's punitive demerit system and the docking of wages when their employees are out sick, no matter if it is for swine flu or seasonal flu, strep throat, a 24-hour virus, conjunctivitis or taking care of a sick child. This would be the right thing to do. It would protect both Wal-Mart employees and customers from the spread of their illnesses.
Wal-Mart must now immediately review all cases where employees were fired, directly or indirectly because they contracted swine flu. We do not believe that the attached account of Tricia, a worker who was recently fired from the Wal-Mart supercenter in Nampa, Idaho for having swine flu, is an isolated case.
Wal-Mart employers who have been fired for having the swine flu should contact the NLC. We will help. Please spread the word.
Tricia worked 3 ½ years at Wal-Mart, Before being fired for having Swine flu.
Author of Things Come On: (an amneoir) (Wesleyan University Press’ poetry series, 2011), earth day suite (Beard of Bees Press, Dec. 2010), Of Some Sky (Bedouin, forthcoming), and Poetry and the Public (Wesleyan 2002).