Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Sorry to have missed the flarf festival—but Anne's report helps me to imagine it.

In other news, apparently my poet name is "Atticus Buxton." I kinda like it.

39 comments:

Jessica Smith said...

Atticus Buxton. That's a good one. You can write about the trauma of getting beat up on the playground.

Anonymous said...

Yes, one imagines it.

Seriously, perhaps it would be in Flarf's "historical interests" to quietly close the book at this time?

We do get it: the "pfff" sounds, the rabbit ears, and the "inappropriate" fur coat and martini-glass mockery of chat-room talk.

I think of the sad Ricky Henderson, still roaming the outfield somewhere in Idaho. If he still is.

Else it all end not with a bang but a drawn-out Flart.

Kent

Nada said...

JEALOUS

You're just jealous that she has a higher sperm count than you do.

Don't gag. You're just jealous.

I am a moody thing, aren't I? Momentary Thought It's warm and fuzzy

You're just jealous cuz the voices talk to ME...

You're just jealous because I get invited to all the weird conferences

You're just jealous you didn't think of it first!
Twisted Sweetness. *ducks as various items are thrown at her head*
You're just jealous because the voices only talk to me. Gracies Chickie Queen of Delight ...

You're Just Jealous. Am I really jealous?? Is anybody? NO. What gives
you the right to judge what's cool and what's not?

Now go cry in your car. You're just jealous cause I'm young and in love.
Oh yeah, and get a bigger vocabulary.

YOU'RE JUST JEALOUS BECAUSE YOU DON'T HAVE A BIG DANCING PENGUIN.

Not right, is it? No fair, is it? Boys, please. You're just jealous. How
are you enjoying your own medicine? And do you want fries with that?

You're just jealous because you know I got more imagination than you will never have.

You're "Just" Jealous. On a regular basis, the alt.polyamory gang will debate the origins of jealousy.

I can see my hubby going, "Oh, you're just jealous because you're 250 pounds overweight." Well, I may be plump, but I know you're just jealous that my meal is so beautiful and fresh, where yours is just lying there on your plate, decomposing.

Josh said...

I do enjoy flarf, no matter who invented it.

Tim Peterson said...

Testing

Tim Peterson said...

I think that what we really need is another Yasusada book, maybe the grocery lists this time! That would be SO FUCKING COOL!

Anonymous said...

There IS another Yasusada book, Tim.

Combo published it last fall. You know Combo... Edited by Mike Magee, one of Flarf's leading proponents.

Go figure!

Kent

Tim Peterson said...

No wait...the Yasusada Income Tax Returns!

Tony Tost said...

I like Flarf too, though I wonder if Flarfists keep their bunny ears on (or keep them adorable stuffed chickens or whatever on their shoulder) when they're performing the patented Flarf tandem-knee-jerk-reactioneering-to-any-and-all-criticism that also seems a part of the collective jouissance.

Wearing a faux moose head as I'm typing this,

Tony

Tim Peterson said...

The Yasusada issue of Fascicle!

Tony Tost said...

The "Look look I'm With Flarf" t-shirt of Tim!

Jordan said...

Yeah Tony, that standing-up-for-themselves was appalling.

To take a page from Kent's playbook: What happens when the reviews of Fascicle come in and people point out that a) there are no women in it b) it's too fucking long and c) you go around talking about *your* ideas as if they were the most important wittle cweatures what ever wived, *your* magazine concept is the *true* way to bring poesia to the web.

I love you Tony, you know that, but don't START with the dick-wagging. I've seen those wedding pictures.

Anonymous said...

Jordan,

Hey, kiddo, you're supposed to be the *cool* guy, remember?

:~ )

Kent

Tony Tost said...

Jordan,

I think the thing is, that when people criticized Fascicle and me, I (and Ken) tried to address those criticisms and acknowledge the possibility of being criticized, as opposed to just putting up a united dismissive wall against any and all criticism and personally attacking the criticizers.

I mean, I like Flarf, and all the flarfists I've met. And I'm on record as thinking Flarf is pretty fascinating. But some things bug me. I'm mostly pointing out the distance between the loveable puckish persona of Flarf that's presented and the coolly dismissive front that greets anyone who questions Flarf. The criticisms usually aren't addressed, but the criticizer is usually really swiftly attacked.

Jordan said...

Tony -

Point taken - and by the way when you get the chance please introduce me to this hypothetical "anyone" who's questioning flarf.

What I've seen so far (aside from your reasoned posts about what is and isn't interesting about the language of flarf) can be described as a) sour grapes from non-participants who feel slighted, b) weird ad hominem attacks that make a point of not actually discussing the poems, c) rhetorically violent allegations that flarf is rhetorically violent, d) am I missing anything?

Slather all of the above with accusations of racism, sexism, and homophobia (which accusations usually betray racist, sexist and homophobic undertones of their own), and you've got yourself an antinomian scapegoat not seen in poetryland since Charles, Bruce, or Ray decided equals signs would look good between letters.

Let's cut to it: Everybody hears flarf as saying "your belief system, your values, these are a beeg joke." Maybe that's part of it. I don't hear it the same way. I hear a bunch of curators pulling together some shit. Nerves get touched, yes. Isn't that what we want to do?

(And while I'm asking questions, doesn't anybody read Artforum anymore? What's with all the moralism... oh right, sour grapes. Look, it just takes like twenty years of hard work, check in with WCW on it. You can make something of your own. Win prizes. Etc etc. You're already doing it.)

Jordan

Anonymous said...

I LOVE that last comment by Jordan. I love the rhetoric and I love the tone of it.

Parsifal!

This is getting better by the minute!

Kent

Anonymous said...

Ever since reading THE GREAT NAROPA POETRY WARS this summer with Allyssa
Wolf, I have been thinking about Allen Ginsberg's alcoholism, the
purposeful manufacture of Outrage, the politics of scandal and the Economy
of Attention in the founding of The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied
Poetics.

* A Literary Narcissist's behavior will not only tolerate but encourage
attacks on himself so long as it can translate his own self-fascination
into more news of himself.
* Just as the Narcissist will use argument, catastrophe, disputation to
attract attention, certain people will be willing to dispute the Narcissist
in order to participate in the economy of attention. Others will dispute
the Narcissist because they are so profoundly appalled by his/her behavior.
Either way, the economy of attention is fueled.
* The Narcissist needs Catastrophe. The more internal crises of shame
the Narcissist endures and fails to heed, the more s/he will need to create
external Catastrophes. A chief and signal way a Narcissist might attract
attention is to start fights: Narcissists will gravitate toward satire and
caricature as a means of creating argument. The Narcissist will attempt to
construe strife with health: "These arguments need to happen," etc.
* The Narcissist IS fascinating -- but not for the reasons the
Narcissist thinks. S/he is fascinating because the energy s/he will expend
in micromanaging the self image is so profoundly exceptional. People just
sort of stand there slack-jawed wondering if this person has a life. The
Narcissist however will mistranslate the fascination of others as admiration.
* Poetry communities will tolerate narcissism so long as it is
translated into a Social Energy which others can use to strengthen and
promote their projects.
* Narcissism and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a systematic way to push
down socially regulating emotions like shame, guilt, and embarrassment at
one's own self-aggrandizing behavior. The suppression of these emotions is
never successful, even in the most energetic of self-aggrandizers, and they
will periodically burst upward into brief displays of remorse and
convictions to change. These brief spouts of regulatory behavior are
sometimes shared publicly and sometimes privately among confidants. These
displays however can often easily be "re-used" by the Narcissist as a way
of showing his/her authenticity and emotional fealty to the community.
* The Narcissist is aware of the economy of disgust surrounding his/her
behavior. S/he becomes more and more sensitive to this and consequently
begins to demand private declarations of loyalty from those people whom
s/he knows consider themselves friends -- even if they have said nothing
publicly against the Narcissist.
* The Narcissist, aware of this disgust, will create a personal mythos
in which s/he will be justified and exonerated by the rewards of literary
"history." The stronger the disgust of others, the greater the energy used
to maintain the mythos of exoneration by history.
* Narcissists are only interested in community so long as it pays
dividends to their energy: they will support it if it feeds them.
* The narcissist may outright demand in private that you "pay" him
publicly with praise. Then he or she will publicly "repay" you with a
communal mention.
* In their attempt to cause others to adopt their self-fascination,
Narcissists will become increasingly paranoiac, constantly searching the
environment and community for news of themselves, for fealty or disloyalty.
* The Literary Narcissist begins purposefully to conflate criticism of
his social behavior into an indication of his/her literary worth. That is
to say, the Narcissist will try to show that the reason others despise or
are disgusted by him is in fact because he or she is a "Rebel," a true
Literary Revolutionist -- and that the statements of disgust others
publicly make at his behavior is merely an indication of (a) their
necessary denial of the work because they are threatened by it, or (b)
their jealousy of the work.
* There comes a point -- and the point may come early -- where the
community thinks to itself "teapot" and the Narcissist still hears
"tempest." The truly insular narcissist (aka "the boor") will be met more
and more with shunning, ignoring and silence. This will wrest the
narcissist from his insularity -- such that he will begin another project
designed to create Genuine Interest instead of mere scandalous attention.
This project, like a new comet's head, will be followed by a long tail of
manufactured scandal so as to call attention to its presence in the
literary sky.

Tony Tost said...

Jordan,

I see your point. But the counter-attacks of flarfers seem to feed into and amplify the destructive tendencies. We don't have to get tied into the rhetoric of those who criticize us, right?

Some anyones: I didn't take Patrick's statements a few months ago questioning the narrative of Flarf as just 'sour grapes,' but as soon as he said something counter to the narrative he was derided as claiming to have 'invented flarf.' I'm operating from memory here, but a lot of the discussion on the Lucipo list seemed pretty reasonable (aside from that weird post from whoever Lilac was [I think she was new to the list, and has since left], that seemed to attack Kasey).

But yeah, more calm, reasoned critiques of Flarf would be nice. There is something about Flarf that gets people huffy-puffy, but I don't think it's necessarily sour grapes or people feeling threatened.

Perhaps it's a pretty inflated self-conception to assume that the majority of critics are jealous or have sour grapes or are feeling threatened? Maybe that also feeds into the rhetoric?

Kent's original comment here seems pretty reasonable -- I don't happen to agree that chatroom talk is getting mocked (that seems like the least interesting critique of Flarf), but his questions as to whether things are getting stale seem appropriate, even if they are also meant to be provocative. Obviously I wasn't at the Flarf festival, but the pictures and video don't really make me feel like I'm missing much. We're probably all on the verge of self-parody, but the pics/vids have been the first time I've wondered if Flarf isn't getting close to jumping the plush shark. But again, maybe being there in person there was a totally different vibe.

Wouldn't it have been interesting to drop the props and any hint of a smirk and present Flarf fairly 'straight,' without all the peripheral cues suggesting how it should be taken? Maybe people did that too . . .

Anonymous said...

That's a long post, Gabe.

Here's an epigram for you, going into the second edition of Epigramititis. It's the only one with a coda, but it's still considerably shorter than your manifesto: [Kent]


Gabriel Gudding

He’s had something of an unsuccessful
transsexual operation. Now he is the avant
paragon of anti-Narcissism, a reproving tsk-tsk’er
of “scandal,” an imperious Buddhist ethicist
of Peace and Compassion. How interesting to the future
it will be, that he is on record as unembarrassed supporter of the post-avant’s Court-jester poster boy
of porn, slander, and odium, the Viacom Corporation’s
new fifteen-minute fool, Jim Behrle.

[coda]

Or that in the poetry blogging frat house, where he has eagerly offered his dharma bottom in pledge, there is no one on the web, with more self-photos, of an Author’s beatific, smiling face…

*

Anonymous said...

gabe didn't post that

just a fan of gabe's

sucka

Anonymous said...

My poet name is Aubrey Bitter Sexist Homophobe Pifflespout.

Kent

Anonymous said...

As I said, this is getting better by the minute. And the courage of these young Flarf pledges!

Copied from what I posted over at Lime Tree (the race is on--Cahiers 22, Lime Tree 21!):

Well, doesn't matter who posted it, young whippersnapper.

Just to mention, the epigram--as its sisters--is a trifle, of course. I discuss Gabe and his Narcissism manifesto with more deliberation in a forthcoming exchange on poetic satire: its nautical riggings, its exciting, stormy journeys on the post-avant seas...

In a couple months or so, I believe.

Kent

Anonymous said...

* The Narcissist IS fascinating -- but not for the reasons the Narcissist thinks. S/he is fascinating because the energy s/he will expend in micromanaging the self image is so profoundly exceptional. People just sort of stand there slack-jawed wondering if this person has a life. The Narcissist however will mistranslate the fascination of others as admiration.

Anne Boyer said...

Tony --

I have to say that the festival had this kind of high pitched anxiety frequency that sustained itself over days, one which was so intense, and so very much in the key of "flarf," that I can't imagine ever having such a sort of brutal, hilarious, panic-attack feeling experience with art (and certainly not with art made out of language) again. Flarf operates best in this tone of digust and dread and fear and that kind of uncontrollable giggling/weeping/nuthatches crawling up orifices feeling that it captures is not something I've found in poetry very often (though the visual arts right now are crawling with flarf feelings, as is music -- say PEACHES). I experience Flarf as terror and disgust and powerlessness and carnival despite: or it only exists because of terror & this "society of extras" & the work of all the other semionauts -- but man, just read Relational Aesthetics: there is no better way to understnad Flarf.

And yeah, I'm a fan -- I find it all particularly moving. I still get stuck on "don't go to hello kitty karoake parties in places where there is a war" & feel like crying or hiding my daughter or laughing or whatever else I can try to do to survive/ not survive.

It is strange, then, that the trailers that now stand in for the festival are being read as weak, but perhaps this is only because the experience was so much an experience of sustaining an energy moment to moment, day to day, watching it build, being continually surprised that it is able to continue on (for me -- I thought the abigail child's video would be it, alone worth a trip to NYC). I mean frankly, I was the weakest link, and that is because I am not so flarfy, and I was skeptical that this festival could work -- but it worked and worked, and I doubt I'll ever see anything else like it, at least not in the world of poetry. At this point, though, Flarf is something well beyond poetry -- the movies and plays and orchestra made this apparent: poetry seem mostly just the place that it started.


Anne

Anonymous said...

Indeed, the above "micro-managing of image" passage is perfect as description of this late and desperate flame-out stage of Flarf...

Kent

Anonymous said...

* The Narcissist needs Catastrophe. The more internal crises of shame the Narcissist endures and fails to heed, the more s/he will need to create external Catastrophes. A chief and signal way a Narcissist might attract attention is to start fights: Narcissists will gravitate toward satire and caricature as a means of creating argument. The Narcissist will attempt to construe strife with health: "These arguments need to happen," etc.

Anonymous said...

Again, the passage above on "Catastrophe" is a most useful description of Flarf ontology. See what Jordan Davis says above: "Touching nerves" is what Flarf aims to do...

Yes, this is helping to clarify things. Keep 'em coming, "Fan of Gabe"!

Kent

Anonymous said...

* Narcissism and alcoholism. Alcoholism is a systematic way to push down socially regulating emotions like shame, guilt, and embarrassment at
one's own self-aggrandizing behavior. The suppression of these emotions is
never successful, even in the most energetic of self-aggrandizers, and they will periodically burst upward into brief displays of remorse and
convictions to change. These brief spouts of regulatory behavior are
sometimes shared publicly and sometimes privately among confidants. These
displays however can often easily be "re-used" by the Narcissist as a way
of showing his/her authenticity and emotional fealty to the community.

Anonymous said...

Well, on the above, I really can't say if it applies to any Flarfers or not.

As I say in my "33 Rules for Poets 23 and under,"

"Better yet, just don't drink."

On my way to Chicago for a couple days. Staying at the Chinatown Grand Hotel, which since making reservation I've discovered is an infamous flop house and drug den.

Well, life is brief...

It's been fun, young flarfers.

Kent

Anonymous said...

These displays however can often easily be "re-used" by the Narcissist as a way
of showing his/her authenticity and emotional fealty to the community.

Jordan said...

Looks like Josh's blog became a mirror site of Kasey's comment box. Weird.

You know what's really good? Zep. Oh and the Steve Miller Band.

Tim Peterson said...

There so much projection going on in this discussion that I wouldn't know where to start. All I can say is Tony: I love ya. Don't let Kent bully you into writing too many of those letters to _The Believer_ on his behalf, in defense of his literary reputation against hostile critics.

I believe we should abolish all narcissim in literature immediately, especially that of Kent Johnson, who needs to calm down a little and stop drawing attention to himself in these silly comment boxes. It's beginning (hah, beginning) to look like jealousy.

Tony Tost said...

Tim,

You know Kent didn't bully me into writing a letter to the Believer eighty-seven or so months ago -- I did it for the oldest reason in the book, and the reason why I do everything: jealousy of Flarf.

TT

Jordan said...

Hell, I'm jealous of flarf. Have you HEARD Kasey read? Two words. She, it.

Tony Tost said...

Yeah, Kasey read here at Patrick Carrboro Po Fest a couple summers ago, and it was brilliant. I'm an unabashed KSM fanboy.

I've got to get my ass in gear and write this paper on Sartre, Cesaire, Fanon, Judith Butler and the figure of the Black Orpheus. So I'll likely only be able to contribute "I think x is jealous" comments if this thread keeps going, which I'm sure is Josh's greatest hope.

And I just skimmed back over the thread. Yikes. Hypothetical, slightly exaggerated example of what I'm talking about:

Ron Silliman: "I strongly question Flarf's utilization of chat room language; the usage of that sort of 'incorrect talk' in combination with childish props seems to imply a troubling and self-congratulatory worldview, one that infantilizes non-bourgeois language acts and mocks them while claiming to be somehow subversive."

Response: "You didn't include Canadians in In the American Tree!"

etc

TT

Tim Peterson said...

Tony,

Jealousy of attention, not jealousy of Flarf. What IS Kent's argument for what we need in contemporary poetry? Does he actually have an agenda or plan for what we should do rather than scolding us for what we shouldn't, for all of his modernist marxist bravado? His critique, as far as I can tell, leads nowhere but back to his own resentment of particular individuals who he feels have wronged him in some way. And you're getting caught up in that resentment. All I'm saying is, you need to realize that he needs you FAR more than you need him. It's actually kind of pathetic to watch.

Please also note that Kent's version of the "New New American Poetry" leaves a LOT of people out who were influenced by Olson and Duncan, chiefly those who were also influenced by Language Poetry. But you're a smart guy, so I assume you know this. And I look forward to seeing how you rectify the mistake in future issues of your journal.

Best, Tim

Tony Tost said...

Tim,

Ah, jealousy about the attention. That makes more sense. There's always the question of what kind of attention one is getting (sustainable, novelty, etc), but attention IS addictive.

I'm not sure how this got spun into a "Tony and Kent sitting in a tree" sort of thing -- I've already stated that I'm not really convinced by the 'you're mocking the proletariat' argument that Kent makes above, and have tried to argue why on my blog (I think in response to Chris Daniels' more extreme critique/attack along those lines a few weeks ago).

The thing I was talking about is pretty independent of Kent -- the whole issue of how criticism is met, which seems like an issue bigger than Kent, though it was his particular critique that was quote-unquote answered in this comment stream -- my point being that often it seems critiques of Flarf don't produce dialogue (like we're doing now), but increasingly personal counter-attacks, dismissals, etc.

Jordan's point about the type of critiques Flarf often receives is valid -- I mean, I don't know how one could respond reasonably to Chris Daniels' post a few weeks ago without it getting personal, especially if one was the target of the attack. But Kent's critique seemed pretty reasonable I think (even I don't happen to agree with it), and there seemed to be a lot more useful responses than "I hate Yasusada" or "jealousy."

I think I've tried to skate clear of getting caught up in any kind of resentment here, mine or others -- I'm pretty sure I'm not among those digging through the files of whoever I'm arguing with to try come up with potential soft spots in order to shut them up: 'we need more Yasusada,' 'no women in Fascicle,' 'dig-wagging,' letters to the Believer, etc.

Anyway, you'd have to ask Kent for his prescriptions for contemporary poetry. And I'm not too sure what Kent's version of New New American Poetry has to do with anything. And what mistake am I going to rectify? Had trouble following that part.

Word,
TT

Henry Gould said...

Seems like there have always been these amateur theatrics phenomena hovering around poet life.

There are different ways to react to these phenoemna - each legitimate in its own way, I suppose. Pleasure, joy, annoyance, boredom, etc. Depends.

I wouldn't call flarf poetry. I would call it amateur theatrics, general sideshow fun.

All depends on how you want to spend your time. & what impels you to do anything literary or creative.

That is my 1st & last comment on flarf.

joe green said...

http://thejeunessedoree.libsyn.com/

For FlarfHell.

A transcryption of same.

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