29 April 2011

Rob Halpern on "Somatics"

Here's Rob Halpern's response to Thom Donovan's "Somatics" questionnaire, originally published over at Harriet (reprinted here for a "local audience"!).

Essential reading, no doubt, and delivered on the weekend so you have plenty of time to chew!

Here's Rob:

Shortly after the “Movement, Somatics, and Writing” Symposium in Ann Arbor in February 2011, Thom Donovan asked me to respond to the following questions on somatics, poetry, biopolitics, and affect:

1. What, if anything, does the term "somatics" mean to you, and how might you relate it to your work?

To be honest, Thom, I don’t know what “somatics” means. And if “somatics” means something to me and my work, this can only be because it has some collective resonance, if only as a provisional frame of loose reference for investigating the relationships between body, language, and social space. Somatics seems to be about working collaboratively in a range of areas to link very different practices by way of some shared concerns around embodiment: from poetics to choreography, psycho-geography to homeopathy, body work to translation, community history to political militancy. I’m thinking here of CA Conrad’s somatic exercises, Daria Fain and Robert Kocik’s Phoneme Choir, as well as Kocik’s architectural research for a Prosody Building in Brooklyn; or Eleni Stecopoulos’s poetics of healing and Brandon Brown’s embodied translations; and I’m also thinking about David Buuck’s performance research in duration, Brenda Ijima’s site specific dance improvs, and David Wolach’s militant patiency, among many others. Crucial literary antecedents for my own approach would stretch from Whitman’s Drum-Taps to Genet’s Funeral Rites; and from William Burroughs’s The Wild Boys, to Robert Glück’s Jack the Modernist, Dodie Bellamy’s Cunt-Ups, and Kathy Acker’s Great Expectations (which includes her translations of Pierre Guyotat’s Tombeau pour cinq cent mille soldats).

It might be worth mentioning that when “somatics” came up as a point of focus in the Nonsite Collective—where we try to sustain discussion and collaboration across disciplined divisions of culture work—we were simply trying to find a way of addressing embodied dis-ability and social dys-function, specifically in relation to various language practices, without taking a free ride on terms already in circulation around “disability studies.” An important exchange between Amber Dipietra and Eleni Stecopoulos was critical. (The Nonsite discussion around somatics, disablement, and aesthetic practice, including this exchange, is archived here.)

But now that I’m thinking about it—and this may begin to get at something more meaningful regarding my own work—“somatics” might be no more than a placeholder for this desire to return the body to social/aesthetic practice where it seems to have disappeared despite its apparent self-evidence, despite its false immediacy as some sort of phenomenological plenitude; that is, to return the body, if only as a question or a problem or a conduit of social sense, to scenes of engagement where it seems to have gone missing, despite our recourse to words like “the body,” which may have hemorrhaged its living content and become an abstraction of the very thing we want to believe is most concrete and inalienable. I’d like to think of “somatics” as taking aim at some of these problems.

So much has been made of “the body,” and yet it feels as though it’s always about to become a bland fetish, a hygienic fixture, an allegorical trope, rather than a set of messy stakes and real consequences. Brian Whitener and I were talking about this on Sunday afternoon at the Somatics Symposium. What is not being talked about when we talk about “the body”? Whose body? Can it ever be definite? Can it ever be singular? Brian was referring to false intimacy, and the porousness of skin, and I was thinking about our vulnerability to penetration—be it by flesh, prosthetic, or bullet—and an unsettling line at the limit of Music for Porn: “My cock hardens in a soldier’s wound.”

Brian and I were also thinking about the importance of social movements that have enabled us to imagine “the body” as a critical obstruction in social space, not as a transparency, but as something opaque and resistant. Civil Rights. Feminism. Gay Lib. I’m thinking here, on the one hand, of a line from MLK’s Letter that you often refer to, Thom: “As in so many past experiences, our hopes had been blasted, and the shadow of deep disappointment settled upon us. We had no alternative except to prepare for direct action, whereby we would present our very bodies as a means of laying our case before the conscience of the local and the national community.” But I would also draw attention to work by gay New Narrative writer Bruce Boone, whose Century of Clouds insists on the body as a location of radical praxis: “My sense of community began to take on the limitations of real bodies.” This is a body whose subjectivity is a function of “the always immanent possibility of disaster, a peril that implicates each of [the community’s] speakers collectively as a disaster common to all” (Boone). The performance art of Adrian Piper, Carolee Schneemann, and Marina Abramović, among others, seems crucial to mention here, too.

As for my own work, I’m interested in the way an intractable body—a body resistant to social apparatuses that would harness it to ends not its own—nevertheless gets caught up in processes of militarization that often escape perception, despite those processes having shaped our environments. Music for Porn gets totally obsessed with this. Current conditions are so unbelievably bad, and I want to locate the writing in the cleavages and faults where my body collides with these conditions, and where the poems become sensory organs in the process of perceiving them. We’re all longing to find a way beyond the current crisis, as if our sense of normality were not itself a state of crisis, and we encounter nothing but blockages and impasses: both materially, politically, and affectively. The obsessively recurrent figure of the masculine soldier in my recent work marks an obstruction in sense as the poems struggle to imagine what a demilitarized world might feel like. The most despairing result of my investigation has been that this can’t even be imagined, and my soldier’s hard muscle concentrates and allegorizes one of the obstacles. But there’s also a hazy eros permeating the soldier’s appearance. My body channels so many contradictory feelings and affects around this eros—rage, longing, sorrow, shame, anxiety—as the soldier becomes an object of violence and lust. I’m hung-up on him. The poem wants to kill that soldier for standing in the way of a demilitarized future; but the poem also wants to be fucked by him because the repressive sublimation of whatever eros clinging to his body has become unbearable just as the realization that I, too, stand in the way of that other future has become unbearable. These may be amplifications of subcutaneous feelings that the writing senses beneath our social skin. But for me what’s important is the way the poem is able to make these contradictory affects audible, as if for the first time. Are they potent or impotent? My poems seem to want to arouse this affective material—what can it do?—at a moment before it hardens around familiar social feelings that can be made useful in ways that lubricate the reproduction of our stupid militarized machine.

I guess what I want to ask is, how might our work as artists, writers, or teachers probe the submerged relations between our bodies and the social forces that channel their potential? How is the fate of my body intimately linked to the fate of other bodies we’ve failed to recognize, bodies our frames of reference can’t even admit, bodies lost in scenes of global conflict and other social occlusions: be it a dead child in Gaza, or even a dead U.S. soldier (insofar as images of their corpses are withdrawn from circulation)? And how might a poem reconfigure these frames and the embodied relations that fail to appear within them?

So I’m thinking about how something called “somatics” might help us address the fate of our geopoliticized bodies by elaborating a set of practices for investigating, thru physical, aesthetic, and linguistic experiment, the relation between language, body, and social space in order to activate and organize sensation against the grain of a dominant common sense.

2. To what extent does your work relate to the Spinozan proposition: "we have not yet determined what a body can do" as a kind of slogan for bioethics and –politics. In much of your work, I think that you are addressing biopolitics as a way we have come to see (or been forced to conceive) of the contemporary subject. Could you comment on the role of this discourse in your work?

I want to take Spinoza’s proposition seriously, but it becomes a useless diversion — or even an apology— if it’s not guided by the realization that we do know what has been done to bodies. I mean, what is being done to them now?

Maybe the passively voiced question, “what is being done to bodies?”—together with our potential resistance to that—helps get at what you are referring to, Thom, as the “biopolitical” in my work? And I’m thinking here not only of incarcerated bodies, but our own bodies as well. What is being done to them? It’s a question that complements the question What is to be done? For me, to think this question requires a shift from an emphasis on an over-valued notion of agency toward a very different idea I call patiency, which has less to do with the body as the sovereign scene of its own actions, and rather with the body as scene of disabused sovereignty. Patiency refers to the suspension of our proprietary relations to our and others’ bodies and life processes, the recognition, and perhaps even the affirmation, of the corpus as open, disarmed, and vulnerable. I want to find in this figure of the patient not only passivity and submission, but the latent material—affective, erotic, and social—for movement just waiting to be aroused by uncoded sound and unanticipated touch. Maybe this is “somatics”?

This idea of the patient body helps me rethink “my body” not as a self-enclosed and self-evident fact, but rather as a social process—or a convergence processes— extending in time and space, in excess of my skin and skeleton, my orgasms and DNA, and always becoming part of larger assemblages together with other bodies both locally and trans-locally, sometimes in zones that seem very far away. Moreover, patiency challenges the delusion of mastery over our own body’s borders, a delusion that often converges, both semantically and materially, with a policing function.

While thematizing these conflicts in sense, my writing in Music for Porn lends perceptible form to the militarization of our intimate longings. At least this is how I’ve come to read one thing the poems seem to be doing. What comes to mind here as being most pressing concerns the way in which my own well-being—the integrity, the pleasures, and satisfaction of my body—depends on others’ losses, an incommensurate vulnerability, an unevenly distributed and unshared exposure to geopolitical violence: so many disavowed intimacies. How might a poem register “intimacies” for which there exists no proper discourse? How might an artwork interrupt the ease—because unthought—with which one body buries or eclipses another body in geopolitical space where a militarized imposition of democracy and the “management of populations”—i.e., biopower—holds sway? I guess I’m wondering what a poem might sound like were it to perceive or instigate a rupture in the continuity of suppressed sensation—“history”— that makes these constitutive intimacies imperceptible.

I like Michael Hardt and Antonio Negri’s thumbnail sketch of biopolitics as an embodied refusal—echoing MLK above, perhaps—not the blank refusal of inoperativity (“I would prefer not to”), but rather “a partisan relationship between subjectivity and history that is crafted by a multitudinous strategy, formed by events and resistances, and articulated by a discourse that links political decision making to the construction of bodies in struggle” (that’s from page 61 of their most recent collaboration, Commonwealth). What really interests me, however, is the moment that precedes the hardening of language into discourse. And this is where the critical work of the poem comes in. What might a poem sound like as it struggles to make audible the sound of passing into some as yet unimagined form of social being (say, demilitarization)? What might it feel like to sense this passage in a poem that also registers the blocks and obstructions in that utopian longing? This feeling is what I’d like to think a poem can potentiate, stimulate, or arouse (and this is something that can’t be cited, expressed, or appropriated). Can a poem arouse a form of embodied social sense whereby a body’s relation to its occluded intimacies becomes perceptible? I want to know.

3. By way of lyrical modes of address, your work often seeks to do something with affect, to organize affect in a particular way. Could you briefly talk about the role of affect in your work with regards to how you see affect being organized among a larger socio-political body?

It was Paolo Virno’s discussion of cynicism in “The Ambivalence of Disenchantment” that first had me thinking about the importance of “affect” in relation to contemporary social movements. Right after my introduction to Virno, it was Sianne Ngai’s and kari edwards’s work—and a lot of conversation with both of them around their writing—which, in very different ways, moved me to begin thinking about the importance of affect for lyric.

From different angles and projects Sianne and kari both refer to Brian Massumi’s discussion of affect in Parables of the Virtual. In particular, kari and I spoke often about Massumi’s notion of “the interval,” by which he seems to mean the figural space between an unsettling perception and a delayed response. For kari, one such troubling perception was the encounter with a transgendered body. kari would often refer to a desire/need for the poetry to really fuck with the material of this interval, what I like to think of as “the fault,” or that imperceptible moment of spacing between sensation and response where one’s feelings remain sort of unidentifiable. With respect to the transgendered body, it’s that astonishing moment beyond gender, that split-second where familiar taxonomies and identities fall away. Put differently, it’s the moment before one’s sensation hardens around overcoded feelings in relation to which we claim some proper relation by way of locutions like “I feel” or “my emotion.” In other words, the interval, or the fault, is the moment just before indeterminate sensations get harnessed to determined ends. How might a poem activate and channel those affects differently?

I think kari took the body as a model for what a poem might do in the space between improper and proper feeling: always fucking with dominant regimes of visibility by arousing the raw material of representation before it freezes or coagulates. This is how a poem might make legible the vectors of force that organize sound and sense, forces that channel affective intensities and render them as predicates or properties attached to particular individuals. I want a poem that works against the grain of whatever common sense makes these properties meaningful.

Affect is a fuzzy concept but I think of it as the raw social matter, the stuff of emotive sensation before it gets attached to cooked feelings. I imagine affect circulating somewhere in the space between the physiological (pre-linguistic) and the properly social (discursive). This has to do with the way I’m channeling rage, longing, sorrow, shame, and anxiety around the figure of the soldier, as I mentioned earlier, and it’s why I think it’s a crucial resource for a lyric mode that desires to sense the conditions of its own social attachments. Affection is critical, not in its hardened form as cultural product, but rather as the material of a social process, whose ends are open. Attention to affect allows us work with the improper material of social feeling before that stuff gets hardened in foreclosed identities and voices. I want to think that prosody—as a technology of organized stress—can participate in the work of loosening that affective material from its “proper” ends, which often materialize and reproduce linguistically. I want to believe that a poem can help undo the capture of our own embodied positions in social space, positions whose ongoing reproduction aids and abets the obstructions in our own utopian longing for a habitable world.

28 April 2011

Making my way through WITH + STAND...

Favorite poem so far is the following by Erin Wilson:

At the Garden

my brother said,
the you you like.
I'll wear heels,
carry the purse, a basket
if I were walking or you were
there, I mean, if you you
the future perfect of that dress,
the life, you you,
          I am not
certain how the action
of when writingis it a thing
or I think, sweep the floor, I know
that's done, small nipples,
lymph nodes, dimples,
rub between you your
fingers, the dirt still under nails
because iodine cleans wounds
not dirt, sting my wound, I bleed
into the tomatoes, I stained
the tomatoes


I'm also digging the following from Jackqueline Frost:


on tuesday in yokohama. in yokohama we have lost a giant jewel. on tuesday at a hospital in yokohama your funeral arrangements have already been made.           i saw this old guy in heavy makeup at the side of a cliff doing this dance with his hands and the rocks were coming off in his hands and he was making this crying gesture.           death was confirmed often flamboyantly female. the tottering women were forces fragile with flapping shoes and skewed wigs. hermetic little studies. sometimes a tattered kimono. the grand old man of concentrated solos. it would be remarkable enough. fame in old age. even in uncertainties of the postwar. one sees indeed the seeds of the entire aesthetic. fraught with.

One Last Hallucination Post

I didn't get the opportunity to discuss Fuller's shorter poems at great length, but I wanted to at least mention before moving on that some of the most moving poems in the collection are compact stanzas of only a few lines. I thought to post (in full) my three favorite short poems here as a send off to the book. Support Flood (a press with a very clear mission and aesthetic function) and purchase Fuller's last few books (Sadly, Watchword, and now Hallucination) at SPD (don't forget to say hi to Zack or Brent or Clay or John or Laura while you're at it!).


flying limpid
bramble drop

verdant nebbe
or two tartari

startled bright
concrete stair


the state would
gather up
soft tissue
like wildflowers
at the plow
they flew

the leaf
the flake
the filament

TRUST IS THE NAME OF THE FATHERI found myself informing the court that these particular shoes were actually alive. That night voices puckered the wall. I reached inside my throat and felt for scars.

27 April 2011


Another totally amazing issue of Dan Thomas-Glass's WITH + STAND, one of the few magazines I consistently read cover to cover. The line-up in this one is kind of stunning, featuring almost all of my favorite people, so I'm sure I'll be savoring it for weeks. Hope to post segments of favorite pieces as I make my way through...

Here's the roster:

Sam Lohmann
Cassandra Smith
Lauren Levin
Jackqueline Frost
Barry Schwabsky
David Brazil
Carol Szymanski
Donna Stonecipher
Erin Wilson
Lars Palm
Fred Moten
Derek Pollard
Monica Peck
Jennifer Karmin & David Emmanuel
Matt Logabucco
Brian Ang
Tyler Flynn Dorholt
Erica Lewis
James Yeary
Andrew Rippeon
Steven Karl
Meg Day
Whit Griffin
Thom Donovan
Jen Hofer
Rodrigo Toscano
Suzanne Stein
Jamey Jones
Thomas Mowe
Evan Calder Williams
Caroline Knapp
Dan Thomas-Glass
Josef Kaplan
Barbara Claire Freeman
Kristin Palm
Bhanu Kapil
Caleb Puckett
Seth Forrest
David Abel
Stephen Collis
Lara Durback

Included on the TOC is the following note about organization: "The order of poets in this issue was determined based on the following chance operation: each poet was randomly assigned to a US state; poets were then reordered based on state levels of radiation fallout from nuclear testing."

Get a copy here.

25 April 2011

More on William Fuller's Hallucination

Over the course of reading and re-reading William Fuller's Hallucination in light of Zukofsky's notion of the "literal hallucination" (see below, or click here), I found myself drawn to the following lines from the poem "G____ P____, Kung Fu":

"But while our whole future quivers on a shell, the fallacies from which our opponents derive themselves will be revealed atop the holy hill, at three o'clock, next Thursday, and continuing on through all the countless Thursdays until, lifted up on soft breezes, the trance-subject barks at acorns as they smack off the roof. See the birds of the air, how they overflow. George leans back at exactly the wrong time and enfeoffs his esophagus. His porcelain soul, subject to annihilation, adheres uneven surfaces as a faint residual pulse beats out similes and parables. So much mental strain cannot help but manifest itself. We write a tortured letter. We quote a wounded argument. By default we gain possession of the field. Note the kind of eye given to this sight. We fold our hearts through a pinhole, Kung Fu. Do not increase or decrease these medicines I am recommending."

Here the reader finds "trance-subjects bark(ing) at acorns," and in "Earthly Events" (the next poem in the collection),  "trance-phenomena / grow(ing) wax-like":

"needles of teeth
broken pipes
inside the ceiling
where trance-phenomena
grow wax-like
left to their
elected habitual condition
always at odds
yet for the agent intellect
free and objective"

I'm tempted to read Fuller's poems themselves as "trance-phenomena"—the reader herself as a kind of "trance-subject" immured by visual and auditory inductionbut the book suggests, I think, a more emancipatory reading. The other day I received a broadside in the mail commemorating the Leslie Scalapino Memorial Reading at Reed College, and the following lines from The Dihedrons Gazelle-Dihedrals Zoom offered a different angle into Fuller's Hallucination (click the image for full-screen):

Leslie's writing is in some ways the apotheosis of the "literal hallucination": she treats the most "hallucinatory" events as concrete phenomena because, in her writing, mind phenomena is as tangible as any other sensory data. In other words, there's no consequential divide (in terms of the "reality" of phenomena) between an owl bursting into flames in the imaginary, or a subject viewing a picture of an owl in a birding book, or an owl flying around one's backyard in aposteriori "reality," because each is a form of sensory data that further (and equally) obscures the "true" nature of being. The real "literal hallucination" in Leslie's writing is how her work makes a trance state of diurnal, waking life, so that one's experience of "experience" mediates between the subject and real time.

With this in mind, Fuller's Hallucination can be read as something of a curative to one's workaday trance state ("Do not increase or decrease these medicines I am recommending")a kind of talisman with the power to realign our perception of "reality." Here's "Tower Road":

Tower Road

Matter is a fog one looks through toward pale headlights, while the pavement reveals certain weaknesses to be resolved by wishing, regretting, or despairing. Ignorance and doubt maintain matter's interest in us, over fresh surfaces winding east, through rocks and plastic cups, to the incandescent thresholdwhere all is pureed into a single featureless face the moment life concludes. A clean car delivers our nutriment, the cloud jewel, the ice jewel. Those who make little noise or whose abode is immeasurably distant are presumed to have escaped the prison of earth, impasturing the sky. They whitewash the white rooms. Footprints slide from their feet. Sometimes they drink juice from trees.

22 April 2011

Tonight: Mohammad, Koeneke, & Boldt at Macky Hall!

I'm sure most folks are planning to hit this one up, so I'll save my breath, but I wanted to mention that we'll have yet another limited-edition broadside for this reading, manufactured (this time around!) by the one and only Kyle Schlesinger of Cuneiform Press. I won't give too much away, but let's just say that this broadside is the perfect compliment to a nice cold beer and yr. favorite Rodney Koeneke poem! Detail above...

And here's Kyle and his apprentice Alasdair Schlesinger pulling them off at the home press in Austin (too adorable!):

I was about Alasdair's age when Kyle taught me to print! And don't forget: this one's at Macky Hall so you'll have another good reason to visit beautiful and temperate Oakland, California!

Here's the info:
Rodney Koeneke, K. Silem Mohammad, & Lindsey Boldt
Friday April 22, 2011 7:30 p.m.
Macky Hall, CCA
5212 Broadway at College
[directions below]
entrance $8-15/ members and students FREE

Rodney Koeneke is author of the poetry collections Musee Mechanique and Rouge State. A chapbook, Rules for Drinking Forties, appeared in 2009 featuring poems from his new manuscript, Etruria. His work has been anthologized in Bay Poetics and in Flarf: An Anthology of Flarf, forthcoming later this year. He’s read and performed his live film narrations at The Poetry Center at SFSU, the Poetry Project at St. Mark’s Church, the de Young Museum, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, Small Press Traffic, the Pacific Film Archive, The Smell, and the Bowery Poetry Club, among others. He lives in Portland, Ore. where he teaches History and blogs mostly about poetry at Modern Americans:www.modampo.blogspot.com.

K. Silem Mohammad is the author of four books of poetry: Deer Head Nation (Tougher Disguises, 2003), A Thousand Devils (Combo Books, 2004), Breathalyzer (Edge Books, 2008), and The Front (Roof Books, 2009). Mohammad edits the journals Abraham Lincoln and West Wind Review, and he is currently working on The Sonnagrams (anagrams of Shakespeare’s sonnets). He is an associate professor of English & Writing at Southern Oregon University.

Lindsey Boldt has recently migrated to the East Bay, does work with Post Apollo Press, runs Summer BFF chapbooks w/ Steve Orth.

Visit Small Press Traffic's website here!

For directions from San Francisco: Take the 80 towards the east bay, merge to the 580E and then merge to the 24-Walnut Creek and then exit Broadway. Make a Right on Broadway and CCA will be about a mile down on your left. Making a left on Clifton will take you to the entrance.

If you’re taking BART, go to the Rockridge station and walk south on College (about 6 blocks) until you hit the merge of College and Broadway. You’ll have to cross Broadway and make a quick left to Clifton and then walk up Clifton to the entrance.

Once you walk on campus, keep following the main road until you get to a Victorian looking building on your right, across from the ceramics building. Macky Hall is on the first floor. Here is the link from the CCA website: http://www.cca.edu/about/directions

19 April 2011

Social Character and Social Sculpture in Judith Goldman and Jennifer Scappettone

I'm visiting Brian Teare's creative writing class tonight at USF, where we'll be discussing chapbook culture and poetry writing. The class is reading the final volume in the Atticus/Finch series (more on that soon), Judith Goldman's The Dispossessions, along with my essay about the book and Jen Scappettone's project which I published in ON: Contemporary Practice 2. I thought to post the essay here, as well, in case you missed it the first time!

Social Character and Social Sculpture in Judith Goldman and Jennifer Scappettone

In “Notes against the Form of Appearance,” her contribution to War and Peace: The Future, Judith Goldman writes, “Truth is not enough: This / is just its Social Character.” The “Form of Appearance”—a “screen life” in which the transactions of the War Machine reify, sponsor, and sell both truths and selves “hidden in plain sight” (those of us safe in our nests and those vulnerably public)—draws our attention to both the screen itself and our willful collusion to, as Freud has it in her epigraph, “experience (the) present naively.” That we acknowledge the screen, that we pick it up and move it and put it back to protect ourselves from our experience of ourselves experiencing ourselves screened:

     Let us now examine the residue
     of my screen life:
     From one of numerous starting Points
     I am not applying myself,
     I have not applied.
     The innate structure needs your sponsorship
     but how am I the one to see the thing transacted?
     this is just its Social Character…

There’s a familiar desperation here—that we are always already culpably complacent, that the “guilt of subjectivity,” as Horkheimer and Adorno have it in their Dialectic of Enlightenment, is both telos and cause of our (non)participation. But how not to participate while trying desperately to participate?

     …To do right, let’s declare
     and undeclare war on tonight,
     in hopes that under stringed lights of bombers
     we don’t have to pay fare,
     we don’t have to, we
     don’t have to

In her response to these “balled-up Fists of Ragged individualism,” Jennifer Scappettone turns Goldman’s “screen life” into an onscreen “scream life”:

     [E]very partition, every mirror, is rigged.
     In one place, you can hear the sighs, in
     another the echo of the moans,

     public woman
     against the mechanical sons
     for lack of a box—
     for lack of a violent banality of parts—

Both Goldman and Scappettone share an interest in rigged partitions. For Goldman, the poem sets partitions of affect, in which tonal shifts of voice lift the corner of the curtain and peek below; live, Goldman paces her reading with repetitive pregnant pauses, shifting her facial expressions as she wears rhetorical registers from some shared public subjectivity, likely a disembodied internet personality [certainly male] addressing the female body with a barely concealed mixture of disdain and arousal—that is, disdainful arousal, or better, aroused disdain. Spending time with her current chapbook, The Dispossessions, as its editor, I caught myself inventing voices for these personalities, acting as a kind of switchboard, a collective ventriloquist. Partitions shift as Goldman switches from character to narrator to critic—from disembodied to embodied to a body:

     Get on w/ it

     On w/it, yes

     [That] fucked people over like [that] [that] fucked me over like
     [that] or [that] fucked me like [that]

     Fits and starts, heart fits

     or: Starts and backs away

     Take a deep breath

The poem serves as a response to the Lyrical Ballads in that it promotes and challenges the use of the colloquial as poetic material: here, the poet struggles to charge and unravel a language that posits itself as alternative while deactivating and/or amplifying its compulsive desire to serve the primary goals of sovereign power. The poem too corroborates with the intersubjective field of voices subsumed by a wash of violence while striking out above the din in percussive moments of vivid clarity, as if somehow striking an incredibly clear frequency only to drown in a din of static. In her epigraph to the poem, Roger Callois writes, “I know where I am but I do not feel as though I am at the spot where I find myself”; in response, Goldman writes,

     in this labyrinth I lost
     my sense of sense, senescent
     trackless errand
     my errant reins slack, Here comes
     the recruiter; offer hole to the discharge

Scappettone’s project similarly struggles with the rigged partitions of truth’s Social Character, and as a reader of her work, like Callois, I often feel as though I know where I am (or think I do) only to find myself somewhere else entirely. Using Shakespeare’s Dame Quickly (Henry IV) as the organizing figure of her first collection, or at least using Shakespeare’s figure through the lens of Marx, the work attains a “plurality in the whole as well as an annihilating fusion of disparities” (as she has it in “Antigonal Complex”). She derives her organizing conceit from Henry IV, Part 1, as Hostess Quickly and Falstaff volley shifting signifiers back and forth in a quickly disintegrating sheen of apperception:

Fal. There’s no more faith in thee than in a stewed prune; nor no more truth in thee than in a drawn fox; and for womanhood, Maid Marian may be the deputy’s wife of the ward to thee. Go, you thing, go.
Host. Say, what thing? what thing?
Fal. What thing! why, a thing to thank God on.
Host. I am no thing to thank God on, I would thou shouldst know it; I am an honest man’s wife; and, setting they knighthood aside, thou art a knave to call me so.
Fal. Setting thy womanhood aside, thou art a beast to say otherwise.
Host. Say, what beast, what knave, thou?
Fal. What beast! why, an otter.
P. Hen. An otter, Sit John! why an otter?
Fal. Why, she’s neither fish nor flesh; a man knows not where to have her.
Host. Thou art an unjust man in saying so: thou or any man knows where to have me, thou knave, thou!

What thing? What value? According to Marx, in the unifying quotation of the project, “The objectivity of commodities as values differs from Dame Quickly in the sense that ‘A man knows not where to have it,’” and for Scappettone, our Host, there is a kind of dialectic in the thing in which the abstraction of value serves as curse and freedom. Heidegger sees the moment of “enframing,” in which humanity serves itself as standing-reserve, a thing like other commodities ready at hand, as an opportunity to capitalize on the nature of the process, a moment Heidegger calls (in his vaguely Romantic terminology) “unconcealment.” Scappettone laments the Social Character of value, its enframed scream life, as an opportunity to emphasize that Falstaff’s right, that Dame Quickly is a privileged site of schizophrenic subjectivity, a slippery Janus-face (squared), multiplying face value as it turns to face security, terror, protection, policing, all similarly base without base.

While Goldman incorporates a plethora of voices, Scappettone bends hers through a multitude of registers, so that as the poem unfolds, the thing is turned and turned and turned before us, and with each revolution it is no longer as it was moments before. Often Scappettone writes a long unwieldy prose line that, like Henry James before her, refracts into any number of clauses spinning out and shifting under our feet: “She was inert, that is, until, in the bloom of her sixth phrase, in withering rains and ending airs, with her glossy pants seeming singularity, like the desperate boots of others, at their hungriest, the empty paramour rolled out the carpet and admitted Mr. Pace.” She writes in the first of her “Derrida is Dead” poems, “My way into it was barbous, forks,” that is, “culture forked her.” And culture forks us as we spin through the quickly shifting signifiers of the poem: “My proper / chessmistress would serf me about the board black for perpetuities with a stick. Over June / retreats, guest, the gang pissed / that I wouldn’t scream with it. I wouldn’t snitch upon the John unshopping his crotch ahead of Ross lingerie…”—or in “Delection Even,” as she puns through choppier collective memory so that “I dredge allegedly” becomes “I edge a legibly” becomes “I pledge alien” becomes “I pluck allegiance”—“one ration under planes.” The tonal shifts from longer syntactical units to short percussive vowel sounds is dizzying; in an open spread we find “After Amnesty” on the verso:

     Oil, illth-oil, rebuttal recast—lust,
     sickle-bloom, trusted trash—two
     geists as a clam crease, and your
     mess—their loath—is a wind

and on the recto, this line from “Fodderialism”:

     Outskirt weeps, discloseted, would make the phallus go but ain’t ergoic, mouth I miss

The pace of the lines enacts and rehearses the incommensurate fosse between the Social Character of the “thing” and our intimate experience of it, whether the thing materialized is product or person or poem. But it is mostly the person fixing Scappettone’s attention: weaving Hegel into the fabric of “Antigonal Complex” she quotes, “Womankind—the everlasting irony of the community—changes by intrigue the universal end of the government into a private end, transforms its universal activity into a work of some particular individual, and perverts the universal property of the state into a possession and ornament for the Family.” Womankind, perverter of public ends, stands here as “thing” par excellence in that she serves the particular by transforming the public into private use. In Scappettone, the “guilt of subjectivity” manifests itself as no-thing, or no-mere-thing, in that the Social Character of experience, the naïve experience of the present as presented, is faced with its untruth in the face of the subject’s fragmentation, in this case, “womankind,” the most “complicated” of human subjects, of whom “a man knows not where to have her.” Alternately, in Goldman, “woman” is a sieve of subjects—her public performance of an intimate self appears as it really does in public: as a transcript of other voices speaking about and through her, as if the woman as subject serves only as a palette for the abstract expression of male subjectivities.

Further, there’s a curious relationship to the panoptic in both projects that strikes me as a shared concern. Scappettone writes, “Inlaws and neural smarts will thrive under lock and heed: We will do the police.” And Goldman,

     Words do not harm each other
     Looking for words [that] don’t harm each other
     Grammar as window,
     Words as voyeurs
     A word [that] does not give
     Onto anything else
     Voyeurism of one word giving onto another

Unlike, say, the work of Rob Halpern, in which the confluence of eros, violence, and power serve to fuck the subject into a kind of exhaustive stupor, where political submission is erotic submission and erotic stimulation is political activism, Goldman and Scappettone seem less concerned with a policing of the body’s intimate extensions as they do with an extension of the body into the intimacy of a shared public. My initial impulse is to call this a response to, or even a critique of, second wave feminism, mostly because the abjection here seems so public and diffuse and disembodied. There are cunts and cocks in The Dispossessions, but its mostly due to an abstraction from private to public that the poem attains its creepy level of critique. When Goldman writes, “My vagina as ass / Simile cracks” or “My cock rises out of the picture, the words / My cock rises out of the words,” it is precisely due to the glitchy Google search tone that the poem arrives at a collective critique that keeps the body of the poet at a distance. And in Dame Quickly, it is because “man knows not where to have it” that the female body is unfixable, that the poem attains a level of collective legibility. Both poems capitalize on the voyeuresque as tool and critique, and in the distance suss out how we too replicate, rehash, and reinforce modes of power when left to police ourselves.

In this sense I like to think of both projects as an extension of Joseph Beuys’ notion of social sculpture, of “A SOCIAL ORGANISM AS A WORK OF ART,” as he has it in a short statement entitled “I am searching for field character” in Energy Plan for Western Man: Joseph Beuys in America. He writes,

"EVERY HUMAN BEING IS AN ARTIST who—from his state of freedom—the position of freedom that he experiences at firsthand—learns to determine the other positions in the TOTAL ARTWORK OF THE FUTURE SOCIAL ORDER. Self-determination and participation in the cultural sphere (freedom); in the structuring of laws (democracy); and in the sphere of economics (socialism). Self-administration and decentralization (threefold structure) occurs: FREE DEMOCRATIC SOCIALISM."

Self-administration and decentralization as a public performance of the energy of social order; orchestrating the schizophrenic energies of the public by creating an intimacy of [dis]order on the level of participation—further, both writers use materials that, like Beuys, conduct energy and/or insulate. In his description of “Rubberized Box” (Gummierte Kiste, 1957) he writes,

"The nature of the materials used means this insulation has an elastic quality, softening the rigid form of the box which has nothing to do with minimalism. In addition it is significant that the box is open, which suggests that while everything else in the environment works as a distraction, energy directed towards or flowing from a higher level increases concentration. The mixture of asphalt and rubber on wood functions as a sound insulator, too. Asphalt insulates electric power, while rubber resists blows. With time its elasticity has gone and the surface has hardened, although originally you could knead it."

Both poems make use of similarly elastic material, language that either conducts or insulates or both. In fact, Goldman’s project reads like a script for public performance, taking the materials of intimate comportment and reading them through the lens of enframement as public fact (read: Social Character). And for Scappettone, the language of the immediate “happening” is decentralized and recommitted to an elasticity that serves both content and sound:

     I dredge allegedly
     to repair and upgrade the Port of Umm Qasr
     I edge a legibly duty free
     transrational contract drag
     well I pledge alien
     lesions will be doled
     expensively (not on the cheap)
     and not to um miss explosives
     who shell
     Bechtel by the—that is Shell it by the
     shore Bechtel sells

The work here is social sculpture at its most intense: ciphering the din of public immediacy through the person of the disjointed subject only to feed out the information stream as a critique of participation, colored by the guilt of subjectivity. Rather than, like Beuys, taking the energy of social critique to the people, Goldman and Scappettone make a social critique of the people, insulating them by conducting. This work is by all, the product of many subjectivities imbued with shades of public guilt rivaling the varieties of color in second nature “herself.” According to the authors, guilt, abjection, and fear are the very tools by which the human becomes an artist and/or a subject and/or a thing.

18 April 2011

15 April 2011

Some Preliminary Thoughts on William Fuller's Hallucinations

I remember having a conversation with Thom Donovan back in graduate school about Louis Zukofsky's notion of the "literal hallucination" from Bottom: On Shakespeare. For a split second in our conversation I genuinely believed I understood what Zukofsky meant (a product, no doubt, of Thom's characteristic generosity), but I completely lost my footing the moment we stopped talking.

I got to thinking about the phrase again while ruminating on William Fuller's Hallucination, and I still don't think I understand what it means. I suppose it doesn't help that Zukofsky begins his analysis with a long and complicated reading of Spinoza's notion of the autonomy of the imagination ("free" because the "thing...exists by the mere necessity of its own nature"). And then there's a digression on Ovid's Metamorphoses and Cocteau's Beauty and the Beast (which features one of my favorite Zukofsky lines: "...an American child of four, not knowing a word of French, may sit through most of the film before he asks, 'When will the beast become fancy?'"). The gist, I think, is a brief statement from Spinoza's Ethics: "For if the mind while it imagined things not existing as present itself knew at the same time that those things did not in truth exist, we must attribute this power of imagination to an advantage of its nature not a defect." Zukofsky claims that Shakespeare's plays, in contradistinction to Ovid's "true stories," "are evoked without apparent external stimulus as a dream of midsummer, an aberration of ghosts, an intangible wandering over seas, and sometimes, after much sufferance, as a resurrection that Love's eyes may see." He concludes, "When adequate in the imagination these actions exist, but unless they are appreciated as such or as drama, they are mysteries..."

Since rereading this passage, I've been pondering whether William Fuller's hallucinations are "literal" hallucinations—whether they are "adequate in the imagination." I sent him an email the other day asking about his source material, and he responded by directing me to a great interview with Eirik Steinhoff (reprinted at Flood's website here) where he basically claims that asking about source material is barking up the wrong tree! Here's a sample:

"Steinhoff: At lunch you were telling me about a reading you’d given at a college recently, and about how you sensed some resistance to your technique during the q. and a. afterwards.

Fuller: I’m not very comfortable in that situation talking about poems that I’ve written. I mean, I can talk about materials that were employed in the making of the poem; the actual object that came out of it is beyond what I can talk about. And I think there was the sense that the material ought to hold a key for them. And while they are an element of it, the piece for me has to take on a life that stands apart from the materials; despite the apparently private nature of the references, it has to earn its independence, to go abroad as Plato said (negatively) of writing, unsupported by the uttering presence, but open to all the contingent effects of minds and time."

That the poems stand apart from the conditions that "produced" them brings to mind Spinoza, of course, in that the poem is "free" from its object: that the actual, physical conditions that somehow informed the writing do not correspond to the "hallucinations" they produce in any direct ratio. For Zukofsky, speculating about whether Hamlet is feigning madness is beside the point; in fact, such an inquiry is actually an offense to what he calls "the appreciation of his special intelligence." The key is that by "furthering the same theme over and over and multiplying reflecting hallucinations" Shakespeare somehow makes them "literal" by detaching them from the data of "real life" occurence and amplifying them as a new kind of information—the sensory data of the writing itself. In other words, the hallucinations are "adequate" and "free" because they exist in the landscape of the page.

Take Fuller's poem "Hallucination":



This (historical) object has decided to exist obliquely and by virtue of its existence to become correlated with the approaches taken to it by diverse groups of object-beholdersconstituentswho appear motivated in their actions by a hunger for possession, or by the opposite impulse to escape from themselves into what they see. Dredging up strange but deeply felt emotions, they apply them directly to the screenwhich is gray and framed by burnt plastic. One pushes it aside like a shadow. Austere but fragrant (redolent) the object branches down stairways, through hallways, out doorways, along streets and rivers until, carried away by birds, it is allocated over numberless empty landscapes. Out of its dispersion new objects are confected, to be placed side by side, on a mountain meadow, while a backward-looking daylight wanes, and the hand recedes that grasps the string stretching away to the great dead images of the past. I reach toward them from the present. How is it thinking of them, transparent or ashen, implausible then and now, arranged in the casual order of assumed routines, unconsciously shuffling through the days that bore them and that they came to represent as signs conceived to recoup an intensity and splendor that defined some prior synthesishow is it by occult operation ordinary things occur? Whose present with its 'here' is here? Who drinks nectar through a nail?


Perhaps poems are hallucinations precisely because they resist correspondence to the logic of their context? Follow the thought of the poem as it undoes the logic of operativity from the inside out: an historical object (the poem?) "decides" to "exists obliquely," and by virtue of being is thus linked with its reception: it links the beholden to "object-beholders" who hunger to possess or literally become the object. The object (the poem?), however, resists being "contained" by desire and "branches down stairways, through hallways, out doorways, along streets and rivers until, carried away by birds, it is allocated over numberless empty landscapes." The reader's imagination follows the object as it spreads—down the hallway, out the door, to a mountain meadow—until her attention is gently shifted away from its movement to the waning daylight—to a hand pulling a string attached to the images of the past. And then an "I" reaches toward them, shattering the distance achieved by the reader's wandering imagination, in order for the speaker to pose a simple, pointed question: "how is it by occult operation ordinary things occur?"

These objects attain a kind of autonomy from their originating context through an occult operation of imagination. They exist in the mind's tension as literal hallucinations, because, as Spinoza has it, "the mind does not err from that which it imagines, but only in so far as it is considered as wanting the idea which cuts off the existence of those things which it imagines as present to itself."

14 April 2011

13 April 2011


New Eccolinguistics: a very exciting new journal which began magically appearing in my mailbox a few months back. Besides Tyrone Williams and Philip Metres, I recognize almost none of these writers (which is very exciting!). Check out the new blog here, send in some work, and get on the mailing list! Here's the lineup: Luc Fierens, Jasper Brinton, Whit Griffin, Jeff Harrison, J/J Hastain, Kelley Irmen, Caroline Knapp, Abdellatif Laabi, Donal Mahoney, Philip Metres, Rico Moore, Robert Mukiibi, Cindy Savett, Sam Schild, Marc Thompson, Benjamin Winkler, Joshua Ware, and Tyrone Williams.

08 April 2011

Tonight: Osman, Whitener, and Rees at Macky Hall!

Not to be missed: Jena Osman, Brian Whitener, and Ted Rees at SPT East Bay (that is, Macky Hall at CCA Oakland). Plus, Lara Durback's coming through with a limited-edition broadside just for the event. Don't sleep... 

Jena Osman is the 2009 National Poetry Series winner for The Network (2010) published by Fence Books. Osman’s previous books include An Essay in Asterisks (2004) and The Character (1999), winner of the Barnard New Women Poets Prize. With Juliana Spahr, she edits the ChainLinks Book Series. A Ph. D. graduate in English and Poetics from the State University of New York at Buffalo, Osman teaches in the graduate Creative Writing Program at Temple University.

Brian Whitener's most recent works are Como hacemos lo que hacemos with the artistic collective La Lleca, and De gente común: Arte, política y rebeldía social from la Universidad Autónoma de la Ciudad de México. He is an editor at Displaced Press and since 2005 has been investigating new political and artistic movements in Latin American and autonomist political theory and has a chapbook called False Intimacy forthcoming from Trafficker Press.

Known as Ted to friends, Thomas Rees is a poet and journalist living in Oakland. Recently anthologized in Richard Labonte and Kevin Killian’s Best Gay Erotica 2011, Thomas has also appeared in TRY, Perfect Wave Magazine, and The Swan’s Rag. His writings on culture and electronic music can be found in XLR8R magazine, and he blogs about poetry, queer politics, and pornography at http://nightmaresextape.blogspot.com/.

Here's the skinny:
Friday April 8, 2011 7:30 p.m.
Macky Hall, CCA
5212 Broadway at College
entrance $8-15/ members and students FREE

For directions from San Francisco: Take the 80 towards the east bay, merge to the 580E and then merge to the 24-Walnut Creek and then exit Broadway. Make a Right on Broadway and CCA will be about a mile down on your left. Making a left on Clifton will take you to the entrance.

If you’re taking BART, go to the Rockridge station and walk south on College (about 6 blocks) until you hit the merge of College and Broadway. You’ll have to cross Broadway and make a quick left to Clifton and then walk up Clifton to the entrance.

Once you walk on campus, keep following the main road until you get to a Victorian looking building on your right, across from the ceramics building. Macky Hall is on the first floor. Here is the link from the CCA website: http://www.cca.edu/about/directions

07 April 2011

Yellow Field #2

I was pleased as punch to receive the new issue of Edric Mesmer's Yellow Field a few days back, a journal guaranteed to harbor end-to-end burners. This issue features all kinds of good stuff, including new poems from Catriona Strang and Mark Dickinson, an interview with James Maynard (Assistant Curator of the Poetry Collection at SUNY Buffalo, Duncan scholar, and all around nice guy), a letter from the great William Sylvester, and Martin Bowen's comparative analysis of the White Rabbit editions of Jack Spicer's The Holy Grail and Language next to the Black Sparrow edition of The Collected Books of Jack Spicer.

If you haven't had an opportunity to take Yellow Field for a spin, give Edric an email at yellowendenwaldfield [at] yahoo com, or visit the journal's Facebook page here (if you do that sort of thing!). You won't be disappointed!

06 April 2011

Joel Felix on William Fuller

I've been reading William Fuller's Hallucination with great relish this week, sort of floating between this new collection and his last book Watchword (both out on Flood) with the intention of writing something here in the coming days. This afternoon I was reminded of Joel Felix's really masterful take on Watchword which Thom Donovan, Kyle Schlesinger, and myself published in the most recent issue of ON: Contemporary Practice. I had the great pleasure of getting to know Joel a bit while living in Seattle, and I'm a particularly outspoken fan of his book Monaural, published by David Pavelich's Answer Tag Press. Anyway, this particular essay gave me a fresh perspective into Fuller's work, which I've been reading consistently since the early O Books publications of byt and The Sugar Borders. I thought to provide the full-text version of Felix's essay here, "The Grounds of Trust in William Fuller's Watchword," as a preface to my own meager offerings later in the week. Click on the arrow in the top-right corner for fullscreen:


01 April 2011

Notebook Friday: Brandon Brown

It's been way too long since I've posted a proper "Notebook Friday," so I thought to call in one of the Bay Area's heavy-hitters: Mr. Brandon Brown. I asked Brown to share something from his notebook, something in situ, and he sent the following translations of Charles Baudelaire's "Obsession." He also sent the following composition notes: "Essentially I'm doing an experiment in repetition and duration, inspired by David Brazil's practice especially and also T. J. Clark's The Sight of Death, in which I return to the French text of "Obsession" every day and do some sort of "translation" or, you know, writing that derives directly from a reading of the text. As usual, the eco-ambience of wherever I write these pieces has so far mattered a lot, from my office to BART to the bar. Um, "Obsession" starts January 1 2011 and ends December 31 2011 n'sha Allah." If the intimations I've been hearing are correct, Brandon has a few things on the horizon: Krupskaya's publishing his Catullus translations, and his work on The Persians is forthcoming from Displaced Press. AND it's going to be BEAUTIFUL in the Bay Area this weekend (it was, like, in the 70's on Thursday!!), so I hope reading this new work by B.B. will help set the weekend off proper!

Seven Translations of “Obsession,” a poem by Charles Baudelaire (by Brandon Brown)


Make the translation by a weekend of extreme pot smoking and excessive journaling. Do this on the Mendocino coast, right in the woods but overlooking the ocean. Get so high you think you understand the language of the stars. Or 19th century French.

For Andrew Kenower


That the translation is done “under siege” is not simply representative of the architecture in which it’s often performed—but at all times it’s done besieged by the imporous “ocean” of Satanic commerce (My Heart Laid Bare). I know it’s problematic to say so, but they are literally slave songs.

If the stars do present a “picture puzzle” of the commodity in Baudelaire, that is the very language, the exactly “familiar” language which mediates the void, the blank, the bare.

Thinking too of David Larsen’s Troy benshi, the “armies are like oceans”—or wait, forests? The oceanic agent of our vanquishing is one of absolute force, is maintained only by violence and the threat of bodily pain and death. A whip like a forest. And it is terrifying.


Translation is always done in retrospect, but it doesn’t involve time travel. That is, every translation involves the co-representation of at least two times, by the technology of writing in durable material. Translation can only ever be nostalgia, that is, not retroactively ontogenetic. This is not its sentence however (nostalgia)—it can be performed according to different intensities of pain.

This writing for instance is making up for a deranged day in which I did no writing. And as it “makes up for” it doesn’t equal.


The “grands bois” are terrifying in part by their utter impersonality, unrelatability—heralded by the “vous”—the ocean is an object of intimate hatred, and thus the “tu.” You cannot “hate” in the formal, you have to be familiar to hate.

Remembering that so often for Baudelaire the ocean is inside a person. In “Obsession” it’s there too, but like a translation of what the ocean in part effects: vanquishment, mutability, madness.

Alli and I were talking about the intimate nature of hatred—in a truly Catullan conversation I guess—but with respect to my operatically changed feelings for ***** on one hand and ***** on the other. All those relations taking place in the unstable realm of the tu.


“Except” everything is ruined particularly for Baudelaire. I never thought until last night that the real reason for his devotion to Jeanne, far past the probable time of their consort, is that he had given her syphilis. That he was literally responsible for the ruination of her beauty and health, her death. So for a reading of “Obsession” in which the “noir” touches Jeanne, the “familiar” language indeed sounds as a result of connu, of knowledge (unforgettable knowledge effected by the “biblical” knowledge of Jeanne”).

What is disparus?


Disparus is “the dead”—is the mob, is the memory or “mob of memories” also “dead”

“And so, the visible lord of visible nature (I am speaking of man) has sought to create Paradise through pharmacy and through fermented beverages, like some maniac who would replace solid furniture and real gardens with scenery painted on canvas and mounted in a frame.” (The Poem of Hashish)

But “Obsession” is a drug poem, not a booze poem. Booze “provokes a man [sic] to a very unspiritual frenzy” just like perfume will enervate one’s strength. In hashish and opium, the encounter is spiritual. But in esprit there are frenzies too—of the insane, vanquished, oceanic, cackling sort.

Make the translation in a sensory deprivation chamber, charting after emerging whatever memories seemed most “familiar.” Note whatever phonemes prevail in the record and arrange those as an amulet against vanquishment-induced madness.

For Robert Kocik


Night is pleasant because it belongs to the world of duration. The forests, the organ in the cathedral and the God it howls in praise of, the ocean, commerce…all these things aspire to immortality, or represent themselves as immortal.

David’s marvelous insistence that the “FOREVER” on the US postage stamp is a commonplace, daily exchangeable, tremendous LIE.

Night unlike the ocean has an end—enlightenment. And yet day is not night’s fulfillment—which like the harvest Baudelaire could not tolerate—qua fulfillment; also madness must appear as an emblem to syphilitic Baudelaire as the mark of a kind of “end.”

When I am brutally hungover or sick, the sobbing-in-the-shower variety of either, I often conceptualize the epoch of its duration as necessitating the rapid assumption of nightfall—a night with no stars. That is, no memories.

I dreamt last night that I lived next to a tsunami.

“Water became the obsessing element. Already, in our work on hashish, we have observed the brain’s amazing predilection for this element…our author had loved humanity too dearly, and had bathed too delightedly in the seas of the multitude to expect that the human face could not play some despotic part in his dreams.” (The Poem of Hashish)