25 January 2013
2012 DISINHIBITIONS: MELISSA MACK
Here are some things, organized calendrically [and, uh, longer than I thought it would be]:
January. January 28 Move-in Day action, we marched from Oscar Grant Plaza wound around through downtown Chinatown Laney College campus and out to the Convention Center. I ran into brave warrior princess Brenda Hillman who had an oracle book with her, and I walked with her. I did not want to street fight, so I left after the skirmishing began. Later that night hundreds of people got arrested, kettled by cops outside the YMCA in downtown Oakland, though the Y staff helped some escape.
Also, my brother Pete had given me Anne Carson's Vox for Christmas, but I have been afraid to read the whole thing, an elegy for her brother, out of fear that one of my two brothers will die.
February. Lara Durback read her Projectiles in Lauren Levin's backyard on February 11. We passed around a shredded piece of black rubber or plastic that had come from a police weapon of some kind, shot that January Move-in Day. Also, David Brazil and I worked on our Italian via Prego! : An Invitation to Italian and Dante's Inferno.
Nel mezzo del cammin di nostra vita
mi ritrovai per una selva oscura,
che la diritta via era smaritta.
In the middle of the road of our life
I came to myself [per*] a dark wood,
[che, in which/where//] the right road was lost.
[*from Carson's Vox, per: (with expressions of motion) through, across, through the middle of, through, across (a barrier or boundary); (indicating the medium through which things are perceived); along, over, (in a stationary sense) through the length of, along all or part of, throughout; in the course of, during, etc. etc.]
March. In March I lost my own right road and relinquished myself largely to the care of others for two months. During this time, almost the only thing I read was Lovingkindness: The Revolutionary Art of Happiness by Sharon Salzberg, given to me by Yosefa Raz. It's a terrible title, but it introduced me to the Buddhist practice of metta, Pali for "lovingkindness," of which the attempt to practice has changed my life. Also, a small chapbook of David Brazil's, it had a green cover [Ed. Note: David's Mina Loy Portal on Trafficker?], that I gave away to a beautiful boy.
April. My caretakers let me go to City Lights to hear my dear friend Jami Proctor Xu read from her translations of contemporary Chinese poets Zhai Yongming, Yang Li, and Li Yawei. The reading was for the publication of Left Curve, no. 36, in which Jami's translations appear.
We came from surfaces.
We encountered sudden weavings in the two patterns of latitude and longitude.
We threw ourselves into weavings, forming designs; we raised our heads then found love.
Wearing gaudy clothes, we threw ourselves into revolution and then encountered leaders.
We circulated, crossed borders then regained someone. (from Jami's trans of Li Yawei, 'We')
May. In May I flew to Fort Collins, Colorado, to hear my beloved friend Caroline Knapp read from her thesis manuscript, Auricle.
dove song in my eardrum
doves thrum in my ear low
dove's sob and my ear thrum
doves throb in my ear's song
my ear's song my blood low
dove's song in my blood's song
love hollows my ear
here venus your bird
Also, Sarah Larsen taught me how to read the I-Ching.
And I heard Lou Harrison's La Koro Sutro for chorus and American gamelan at the Berkeley Art Museum. That same night, before the choruses, Suzanne Stein read in the reading room. She read an architecture of her emotional life using BAM as a model. I felt so glad to be there to hear it. Was this before or after her Tout Va Bien (displaced press) came out? I don't remember. But there's this in there ...
If cumulative behavior defines the construction, and that construction's accretionary (aleatory) behaviors are its manifest tactics and actions, a building, or a body, as a meaning-free map, redrawn to make of itself the a priori object: the poem. Framed for right action.
June. Stacy Doris's Fledge: A Phenomenology of Spirit (Nightboat Books). I did not know Stacy, but she meant so much to a lot of people I care about.
this broke part you rope to
scrape you all outside still
when you grab as touch drowns
Also Brent Cunningham's Journey To The Sun (Atelos). Thank You, Universe!
THIS is not a man vision
THIS is not a Blake vision
THIS is the Vehement Desire of Form
TRIVIA ! you're in a suit of clouds !
Also Michael Cross's (Here begins my mostly unabashed name-dropping of Michael Cross's Compline press chapbooks, which are precious objects in their own right.) fat-marbled meat of The Katechon: Lines 101-200 (Compline)
...my mouth of itself gathers foam,
hammers "same, same, same," her eyes prize the fatness of my throat, milk seeping
from the corners of her lips, her nostrils, fairly pouring forth her throat in propulsive
waves against my face, I turn on my knees, arms linked behind me with comrades,
creativity is intrinsic to law like a cloud is intrinsic to snow, snow to blood, which means
also to have died to law...
Also I went to Sarah Wintz's apartment and cozied while she sewed me some copies of The Feeling Is Mutual: A List Of Our Fucking Demands (all funds raised to SPT) to give to friends and family. So much good stuff in there.
July. I went to hear a John Cage concert at the ODC Dance Commons. Anne Lesley Selcer's three-year old daughter Sitka wanted to go as a cowgirl kitten, and she meowed during 'water music' or the one for crumpling paper or Monica Scott's '(h)ear age: C', I forget. Would Cage not have LOVED that? Also, I went down to Carmel to hear my friend Vinz sing in the chorus of Bach's B-Minor Mass. (A work that, months later, at Myung Mi Kim's George Oppen Annual Memorial Lecture, I learned Oppen thought was the art work containing everything. And Myung played some of it for us and it was heaven. See December.) Also, some people began to plan this year's iteration of summertime artist-activist free school -- called, generically, Summer School 2012, after the also generically named The Public School, of which Summer School became an unofficial launch and is now in full swing. www.thepublicschool.org
August. Summer School 2012! So much great conversations and performing. Something of a record of it can be found here: http://bayareapublicschool.tumblr.com/
Because of Summer School, I read Eleni Stecopoulos's Daphnephoria. Also David Brazil's verse translation of Paul's letter to the Romans (also Compline), which contains the funniest translation of God's promise to Abraham to make nations of his offspring, I made you dad of many goys, as well as the stirring last line, Old secrets now are being shown. Like just how brutal police repression will get when the owning class's property and power is threatened.
September. I started a yoga teacher training program, with much reading! Including The Yoga Sutras of Patanjali (2nd or 3rd Century CE, Sanskrit), divers translations. Second verse: yogas-citta-vrtti-nirodhah: yoga is the restriction of the fluctuations of consciousness. I can't begin to say here, because I'm still figuring it out, but there is a connection between yoga practice and radical politics. Perhaps Sarah Larsen will help me with this. (I read her chapbook Merry Hell this month for in media starters.)
October. The Conference of the Birds, Peter Sis's translation of Farid Ud-din Attar's 12th Century Persian poem. Love loves difficult things / We're on our way!
Also "No Frills, No-Body, Nobody," Manuela Fraire, and several other great essays theorizing fashion in Accessorizing The Body (ed. Christina Goricelli and Paula Rabinowitz).
November. Went to see Kevin Killian's play about Jay Defeo and her poet-thick gang, Wet Paint, at SF MOMA. Laughed really hard many times and sang along at the end to The Rose (some say love, it is a river, others think it is a razor, and more! from the mouth of Better Midler).
Also re-read Pearl, 14th Century Middle English poem, for a Public School class.
Perle, plesaunte to prynces paye
To clanly clos in golde so clere;
Oute of oryent, I hardyly saye.
Ne proved I never her precios pere.
So rounde, so reken in uche araye,
So smal, so smoþe her syde3 were,
Quere-so-ever I jugged gemme3 gaye,
I sette hyr sengely in synglere.
Allas! I leste hyr in on erbere;
Þur3 gresse to ground hit fro me yot,
I dewyne, fordolked of luf-daungere
Of þat pryvy perle wythouten spot
Which reminds me that at some point during the year I read Brandon Brown's The Poems of Gaius Valerius Catullus:
The Roman poet Catullus has no job, but the writing is what endures. Not the job. Not the scalp on the floor with the brain barnacles. Is the writing labor or is it a hobby? Is fun labor? Is elocution? I'm writing to you, my friends. I'm just asking you to develop some categories regarding labor, fun, elocution. I'm actually not trying to make you all hate this book.
December. I was sick the weekend that Alice Notley read at the Unitarian Center. But Close to me & Closer ... (The Language of Heaven) [and] Desamere (O Books) has become an important book to me in the last couple of years:
"'Cause there ... there's heaven you ... Can you make ... that you ... talk ... That's ... the problem [...]"
Also Myung Mi Kim and Craig Dworkin reading at Zach Houston's short-lived but generous and generative space on Broadway downtown Oakland, across the street from the now renowned YMCA. The next day I started to read, casually, over a lunch of fried eggs & greens, Craig's chapbook The Crystal Text (After Clark Coolidge). (auh, Compline again. should I start being embarrassed at this point) Very quickly I realized that this text MUST BE READ ALOUD, and read the rest aloud to myself, eggs went cold. How can I excerpt?
The quartz fashions a nappe around its axis. The crystal taches quickly from the friction. The rock is a fraction of some other stone. Nitrides mask the etchants. The crystal was embedded. The roche once was rached. Each face is false -- irregular, inconstant. The rock is just. The rose aches. The cusp is hastate in its jut. A ridge knaps from the back of the neck, where it tapers to a wedge. The quartzes gestate as they hutch. Accretions seek the furthest edge. The stone is asleep, but not for long.
Then the next night Myung gave the Oppen lecture, 'a gathering' (from the etymology of 'lecture,' she told us). The difficulty of accounting for harm. Her pacing makes me want to cry with relief. And in stumbling is at work. She had us all read "Of Being Numerous" together, one at a time around the room. New forms of civic life.
And then my brothers and I made a fire outside and the year turned.
PS. I forgot to say The Iliad!, in the Greek, translated line by glorious line with my weekly Homeric Greek group. After a year and a half, we finished Book I and entered the dream of Book II. Whoo-hoo! And if one has any doubt about the relevance of classical literature to contemporary political concerns, one might read Joshua Clover's essay up on Lana Turner Journal blog right now, "Georgic For A World System" I think it's called. Very fine.