Archive for February, 2010


rape-mobile (a line-by-line poem by ben and erinrose)

my heart is an unnamed comet

it doesn’t know itself

it wends elliptic, silent, cryptic

on thick boreal shelf

i sometimes call it bill or tom, its

mass white dwarf or elf

a slopped and failing slipped dick

a pale and thin-veined shell

for all i know is speed and loss

and uncontrolled release

my abject is my ontic core

of sappy, semen fleece

my jaculate’s an opaque moss,

the twin testes obese

and out in space my heart is sore

from choking carnal geese

my tears serve as a basting fat

my ass streams rays of light

and when i bend at waist-mark,

i dream heart-cock in flight

i’m donning but a cockle-hat

to raise my staff each night

i find it better in the dark

to push into the tight


Giant Cow Restaurant

Giant Cow Restaurant

Suckle that. It’s of health and a good and difficult taste. Mouth and suckle from sacked and swinging flesh, teeth to leathered teat. She sways and lows, pleased and unconcerned. You drink your fill, hung from leather harness. The brass buckled skin of her child holds you to her, aloft, thirty feet from the earth.


For Scott

The Snow Leopard


The Time of Literature

These are notes towards understanding a title-phrase: The Time of Literature. This title is to lead to paths of sub-inquiry regarding two question: What is Literature? and Is Literature?


The Time of Literature

The Time of Literature is a phrase packed with multiple different and simultaneous meanings. This multipicity is itself part of the title’s allure as an allusion to and demonstration of the key functions of literary language.

There is the obvious titular nod to Maurice Blanchot’s ‘The Space of Literature’.

There are also meanings that are not referential as much as descriptive. Literature has several particular and important relationships to time.

The chronologically primary relation to time of any literary text is the time of production. We are not overly concerned with this, though it may sneak back into consideration and shadow all that follows.

There is then the relationship of a literary text to the period in which it was created, and, relatedly, the period in which it is read. There is then also the period or periods to which the text refers and/or is set in. These are the relations to historical time.

There is, finally, the relation to time in reading. I am particularly interested in this relation, though to separate it so neatly from the previously noted times is not exactly a fair or clean procedure. Let us note the interrelatedness of the Times discussed and for a moment plunge into a discussion of time and the reader.

When I am read to I do not read. If I hear a book on tape, I cannot properly say that I’ve read it. If I claim to have read it for the sake of conversational ease, I feel the discomfort of lying. If I have a compunction to honesty, I will not be able to call listening reading. It would be as if I claimed to play a song by listening to it.

Reading is a difficult subject to analyze phenomenologically because the reader’s potential practice ranges so broadly. Reading varies according to the specific conditions of the encounter with the text object. Let us assume that we are speaking of the traditional book or magazine text, or even a static text posted online.

The text does not move in time and yet it takes time to read. The experience with text is an experience in time, taking time, understood largely in relation to the time it takes to experience. We describe a ‘quick’ or ‘slow’ read, explain that a book will or did take an afternoon, a single sitting, a month.

Recorded media are also described according to time, but in terms of minutes, hours, seconds. On the other hand, we do not speak of a long painting (except in relation to space), a slow sculpture, a quick photograph. There are of course exceptions, but these are perhaps exceptions that prove the rule, or at least confirm the common tendency of artistic experience.

So then reading is particular, as it is an experience understood in relation to non-fixed time. Blanchot says of writing that it is the ‘fascination of time’s absence’ (The Space of Literature). Text then always bears this intimate but indefinite relation to time.


The question of activity/passivity that was raised in Jeff’s recent post is I think relevant here. One can obviously read in more active ways– closely, by cutting up, by jumping about in a text– but can there be such a thing as passive reading?


resonance cinema


The Truth Deficit

Nietzsche’s Genealogy of Morals:

“As its power increases, a community ceases to take the individual’s transgressions so seriously, because they can no longer be considered as dangerous and destructive to the whole as they were formerly: the malefactor is no longer ‘set beyond the pale of peace’ and thrust out; universal anger may not be vented upon him as unrestrainedly as before — on the contrary, the whole from now on carefully defends the malefactor against this anger, especially that of those he has directly harmed, and takes him under its protection. A compromise with the anger of those directly injured by the criminal; an effort to localize the affair and to prevent it from causing any further, let alone a general, disturbance; attempts to discover equivalents and to settle the whole matter (compositio); above all, the increasingly definite will to treat every crime as in some sense dischargeable, and thus at least to a certain extent to isolate the criminal and his deed from one another — these traits become more and more clearly visible as the penal law evolves. As the power and self-confidence of the community increase, the penal law always becomes more moderate; every weakening or imperiling of the former brings with it a restoration of the harsher forms of the latter. The ‘creditor’ always becomes more humane to the extent that he has grown richer; finally, how much injury can he endure without suffering from it becomes the actual measure of his wealth. It is not unthinkable that a society might attain such a consciousness of power that it could allow itself the noblest luxury possible to it — letting those who harm it go unpunished. ‘What are my parasites to me?’ it might say. ‘May they live and prosper: I am strong enough for that!’ 


From Mallorca to the Dog Star Man

Creeley + Still from Brakhage's "A Child's Garden and the Serious Sea"

THE BIRDS  by Robert Creeley

for Jane and Stan Brakhage

I’ll miss the small birds that come

for the sugar you put out

and the bread crumbs.  They’ve

made the edge of the sea domestic

and, as I am, I welcome that.

Nights my head seemed twisted

with dreams and the sea wash,

I let it all come quiet, waking,

counting familiar thoughts and objects.

Here to rest, like they say, I best

liked walking along the beach

past the town till one reached

the other one, around the corner

of rock and small trees.  It was

clear, and often empty, and

peaceful.  Those lovely ungainly

pelicans fished there, dropping

like rocks, with grace, from the air,

headfirst, then sat on the water,

letting the pouch of their beaks

grow thin again, then swallowing

whatever they’d caught.  The birds,

no matter they’re not of our kind,

seem most like us here.  I want

to go where they go, in a way, if

a small and common one.  I want

to ride that air which makes the sea

seem down there, not the element

in which one thrashes to come up.

I love water, I love water —

but I also love air, and fire.


The Politics of Lo-Fi

There’s a pretty interesting debate going on over at Tiny Mix Tapes about the political significance or lack thereof of the current crop of “lo-fi” bands/musicians.  It is sort of a spin-off of an argument that began with a Guardian piece that insinuated that all American lo-fi musicians were navel gazing pot-heads who wanted to stay forever in the warm embrace of childhood (there are links in the article to the original article and a response by Brooklyn-based blogger McGregor who runs Chocolate Bobka).

The comments following the TMT article are generally pretty interesting and thus far  it hasn’t descended into ad-hominem vitriol.  The participants in the initial debate all had a horse in the race (musician, blogger, friend of musician and blogger) so objectivity was a little lacking but I think the underlying issue is certainly interesting.

My personal feeling is that the last time music and politics intersected in a really meaningful way was probably the rise of rap and hip-hop culture in general in the late 80s and early 90s.  Calling lo-fi political is sort of a stretch, although I think there is something there.  If nothing else, the clear assurance that even with absolutely zero chance of making money, people will still set themselves to making a gigantic and ever-expanding spectrum of music in all fidelities is a very powerful statement of intent.  Music is there, industry or no industry.

Then there’s this article.

So, are we witnessing a splintering here?  Is “lo-fi” part of some sort of subconsciously calculated reaction to an otherwise toxic creative enivronment?  Are there two musics, one passive and one active?


generated in Ohio

Hollis Frampton – Hapax Legomena

Part 1 – (nostalgia)

The basic assumption regarding Hollis Frampton’s seven part Hapax Legomena is that each respective part aims to deconstruct an element of cinema: ‘(nostalgia)’ addresses narrative, ‘critical mass’ addresses sound, ‘traveling matte’ explores framing, etc. This is a simple, straightforward reading of Frampton’s film and places him easily among his structuralist contemporaries.  But the captivating element of this marathon of avant garde filmmaking is Frampton’s attempt to instruct his audience in new methods of viewership. Frampton presents each film as a new exercise, a game even, in deciphering the method through which the viewer can understand the film. In ‘(nostalgia)’, the incongruous narration requires a balancing act between recollection of the previous image as a new image writhes on the hotplate.

Part 3 – critical mass

Here, in part 3, Frampton requires the audience to learn how to listen to this film and piece together the continuity of the conversation. This calls into question the authorship of the cinematic experience: is Frampton orchestrating the perception of the audience? or allowing the audience to create their own experience with the most basic elements of cinema?

Part 2, ‘poetic justice’ (unfortunately unavailable on youtube or elsewhere), addresses this concept the best of the seven. A static shot of cactus, screenplay and cup of coffee, the film progresses through a continually growing pile of screenplay pages that describe the actions of the filmmaker (Frampton in first person) as he films and the viewer (described in second person) and the viewer’s lover. The ‘images’ of the film become ‘projected’ in the viewer’s mind as they perceive the action described onscreen. Frampton appears as the author of the script, but the composition of the film is unique to the audience.  This is the argument at the core of each section of Hapax Legomena, the cinematic image is fallible, subservient to the altering unique perception of the individual audience member.

The entirety of this interview is available at Amazon Video on Demand.


Bad News For Cats

1) ALF is on hulu. You can watch the whole series for free. For those of you who do not remember, ALF is an Alien named Gordon who speaks English, eats cats, and lives with family of humans in southern California. Alf is a survivor of the destruction of his home planet, possibly the last of his species. Somehow this a comedy. Question: Does ALF prefigure Life is Beautiful? ALF is, after all, very easily understood as a stand-in for a Holocaust survivor. He is depicted as stereoptypically Jewish: a small, hairy, large-nosed immigrant with strange dietary habits. He is not called by his original name, but by the name the Americans give him. He is tormented by memories of the past, but mostly channels his energy into vaudevillian humor.

In any case, he loves eating cats.

2) Remember Gummo? Here’s a summary of cat scenes and how they shot them.

3) To practice catching your own (electronic) cats: Circle the Cat

February 2010