Thursday, June 11, 2009


The notebook again, the bagel place
again. Mail call: after weeks without
a few items have found their way
to me: a Wegmans Shoppers Club
card (a bit of fiction, suggests
I’ve returned for good) and two books:
Mark Yakich has sent me his The
Importance of Peeling Potatoes
in Ukraine, and a little blue book
I ordered by Vanessa Place and Rob
Fitterman, Notes on Conceptualisms
that’s pretty hot right now. I’ve
glanced into Mark’s book: it
reminds me a little of Gabe Gudding’s
A Defense of Poetry (and Gabe has
a blurb on Mark’s back cover) in
its spirit of Menippean satire—savage,
wry, anguished, inverted romantic
attacks on poetry that so desperately
need poetry to fulfill something for
once: a down-in-the dirt hilarious and awful
ironic idealism prevails: but
I’ve only read a few poems, there could be more
or less to it. The other book’s
as compact and neat as its authors’ collective moniker
(Place-Fitterman, Fitterman-Place) is ungainly:
as an intervention into poetry and thinking
about poetry it seems useful and provoking
but even an art illiterate like myself can see
that once again the visual artists are far
in the vanguard of the poets and
conceptual poetry is just conceptual art that no one
wants to pay for (F-P/P-F all too conscious
of this): I paid for the book, though, cash money
for a little blue book
to help me find my place in the continuum
it proposes between the baroque (where
my love for Stevens left me marooned at
age 15) and pure appropriation (c.f.
Kenny Goldsmith—does he mind
if I call him Kenny?) plus sortes virgilianae
at random I see a Badiou reference so
this book might also help me across the street
from the median line where I dance perilously
(what did Mr. Miyagi say: walk on left
side, okay, walk on right side, okay, walk
in middle sooner or latter squish, just
like grape) to the gutter or the stars: if
as P-F/F-P seem to suggest the heaven
of the signifier (that’s Mark Scroggins
talking Ulysses) is like unto the being-
that-is-multiple, the unrestricted chora
of the Real that conditions subjectivity
that confirms my old intuition phrased
my language is smarter than I am and if
given free rein will lead to fuller participation
a subjectivity for which collectivity
is possible—but if I orient on that I
haven’t escaped romanticism’s will to transcendence:
God-nature-history-proletariat: it hardly
matters which gold star you paste
to your forehead to steer by:
a mug’s game and the only game in town.
Early morning thunderstorms have left slick streets
and a humid funk outside: in here the a/c huffs
over the door and classic rock at its most anonymous
occupies some space above my head. I
want to end with something Eli Wiesel
said this weekend at a WWII commemoration
at Buchenwald, for unlike Auschwitz “the big camp
was a kind of international community. People
came there from all horizons—political,
economic, culture. The first
globalization essay, experiment
were made in Buchenwald. And all taht
was meant to diminish the humanity of
human beings.” Touched first simply
by the small errors, but the big shiver
comes with that “essay”: is Wiesel
really saying Buchenwald was globalization thus implying
that globalization is Buchenwald? Surely
not yet the impression lingers, proof
at least that ideas of the one, of unity,
the global, bring no intrinsic morality
with them: think globally can be altruistic
or murderous: the heaven of theory is
the hell of embedment, embodiment
in a local that I and many Americans
scarcely inhabit which is why the prosaic question
Ithaca or Chicago should preoccupy me:
neither guarantees righteousness or enforces
the removal of blinders but place
that has placeness still counts.
I fled New Jersey as a young man
because it was too much like America
and now I can accept there was never a real choice:
I’m here, in it, of it, a citizen of the empire:
sooner I act accordingly the better:
commit at least to this pen and paper
on a table in Collegetown Bagels in Aurora
Street in Ithaca with work that calls me
to keep ass planted on chair and head
rooted where it’s always been, in the clean noise
of the worst and best of times.

No comments:

Popular Posts