Dunkin' DonutsSection 17 starts with what I think is an allusion to Blake ("An amazed maze of mills / pursuing impoverished vintages // slain, hilly, cedars") that starkly illustrates Jameson's page-one thesis (prophecy?): "Postmodernism is what you have when the modernization process is complete and nature is gone for good." Fitterman can sound rather prophetic himself: Metropolis 17 resembles a cheery jeremiad against our tendency to accommodate ourselves to the broken universalto become postmodern people. I may not get the spacing exactly right:
in data this is whereI am reminded inevitably of Kevin Davies (who has a blurb on the back cover) and his talent for streaming a consciousness that has seemingly every sort of cultural detritus floating in it without ever becoming shapeless. Fitterman's capacity for linguistic invention is on display here and in 19, which has an amazing subtitle: "Dream Cuisine: Neo-Colonialism, Nouvelle Cuisine, Lewis & Clark and the Union Square Cafe." I'm a L&C fan myself, but Fitterman takes them to spicier places than I've yet dreamed:
the conspiracy begins: I don't
but if I did have a gold chain
it'd glisten on a shore in NJ
where ransom speaks louder
than random if the opposite is true:
when you asked me if I'm a dog lover
I was being ironic
bridged ginger and curry leavesForm runs rampant in this book: 18 kerns letters together and breaks words apart in a manner impossible for me to reproduce here; 20 uses hyphens to simulate the rhythm of a blues song (Son House's "Am I Right Or Wrong") so that it functions like the return of what's suppressed in the scramble for commodity satisfactions; we have the pseudo-noir musings of a detective without portfolio in 21; the marvelous hash made of Milton's greatest hits in 24; 25's mash-up of popular song lyrics with Biblical and Marxian references, reminding me nothing so much as Zukofsky's Spinoza-Marx canzone; 26 is visual poetry; and so on. The formal restlessness here is sustained in large part by the larger work's attachment to New York, though never as a nostalgic island of historicity in the postmodern stream (a sentimentalizing tendency I myself am not immune to). Perhaps contingent poetics and Henry's ongoing articulation (in his "Notes Toward & So On") of a new poetics of the dynamic speech-image, capable of both representation and "resonance." In this case I find some of the resonance is achieved largely by the scale of the project: it's interesting to read what is in effect the middle volume of an ongoing arc whose end-of-the-rainbow has yet to be determined. The implied future of the work pulls this reader along, in fact is what implies a "work" and not the kind of solipsistic "text" Henry deplores. But maybe I'm lapsing into Heideggerian nostalgia again with my desire for a work that might exceed or at least point the way toward exceeding the merely aesthetic and do some actual liberation.
Thai chili, sticky black-tipped Brant
are plenty, no buffalow
in the Mountains
At any rate there are many pleasures here, of wit and the ear and the decoder ring. You may not be able to handle Duluth, but Fitterman hands the reader an electric soothsayer's view of the entrails of our time, from which some new thing may yet arise.