Distribution Automatique

Saturday, December 6

I keep thinking about the ways Walter Benjamin's work
anticipates blogging. I found the following sections
in *One Way Street* on some level to have
envisioned or anticitipated the circumstances of
blogging, its uses and its impact and aftermath.


"Filling Station"

"The construction of life is at present in the power of facts far
more than convictions, and as such facts as have scarecely ever
become the basis of convictions. Under these circumstances true
literary activity cannot aspire to take place within a literary
framework- this is, rather the habitual expression of its sterility.
Significant literary work can only come into being in a strict
alternation between action and writing; it must nurture the
inconspicuous forms that better fit its influence in active com-
munities than does the pretentious, universal gesture of the book
-its leaflets, brochures, articles, and placards. Only this prompt
language shows itself actively equal to the moment. Opinions
are to the vast apparatus of social existence what oil is to
machines: one does not go up to a turbine and pour machine
oil over it; one applies a little to hidden spindles and joints that
one has to know."


Benjamin here is noting several things, but particularly the
slow and cumbersome quality, as well as the "pretentious"
permanence of the various "permanent" printed
media. On the other hand, as in
blogging, the quick, spontaneous expressions
of points of view keep the rusty
joints that interweave the thoughts of individuals into the
emerging social opinions of the time, are crucial to the
agile movement of mass media.


from *Chinese Curios*

"These are days when no one should rely unduly on his 'com-
petence.' Strength lies in improvisation. All the decisive blows
are struck left-handed."

By left-handed Benjamin here may mean literary
forms that do not operate in conventionally
literal ways. Improvisatory methods, keyed to the
moment-by-moment movement of the writer's
exlorations and insights, will impact social reality
and artistic reality much more powerfully than
slow moving conventional forms of literary commentary
and literary innovation. Again. blogging mirrors this
vision of literary insurrection quite well.


from *Imperial Panorama*

"7. The freedom of conversation is being lost. It was
earlier a matter of course in conversation to take interest
in one's partner; this is now replaced by an inquity into
the price of his shoes or his umbrella. Irrisistibly intruding
on any convivial exhange is the theme of the condition of
life of money...It is as if one were trapped in a theatre and
had to follow the events on the stage whether one wanted to
or not, had to make them again and again, willingly or
unwillingly, the subject of one's thought and speech."


The commercialization of writing will eventually
lead to the emergence of forms that resist
creative submission and repression. This is partly
because human expression has become so
codified due to capitalism that the need to
comply has become hard to resist. Writing,
speech and expression become, as they have
in Us and Only-Us Land, in the land of the
inexorable Terminators, so adapted to propaganda
that expression becomes a predictable mechanism that
inexorably and automatically
serves the needs of the marketplace.


from *Teaching Aid*

"VII...The typical work of modern scholarship is intended to be read
like a catalogue. But when shall we actually write books like catalogues?
If the deficient content were thus to determine the outward form,
an excellent piece of writing would result, in which the value of opinions
would be marked without their being thereby put on sale.

The typewriter will alienate the hand of the man of letters
from the pen only when the precision of typographic forms has
directly entered the conceptions of his books. One might suppose
that new systems with more variable typefaces would then be
needed. They will replace the pliancy of the hand with the
innervation of commanding fingers.

A period that, constructed metrically, afterward has its
rhythm upset at a single point yields the finest prose sentence
imaginable. In this way a ray of light falls through a chink in the
wall of the alchemist's cell, to light up gleaming crystals, spheres,
and triangles."


Here Benjamin envisions a form of writing that, like blogging,
immediately sets the conceptions of writers instantaneously
into typeset forms adaptable to the grain of spontaneous visions.
He sees the work of the writer someday combined with that of the
typesetter and the publisher, as in blogging,
leading the writer to invoke the
powers of light akin to ancient alchemists.


*Post No Bills*

"VII. Never stop writing because you have run out of ideas.

*Thirteen Theses Against Snobs*

"VII. Meaning is the outcome of experience.
Subject matter is the outcome of dreams."

"VIII. In the art-work subject
matter is a ballast jettisoned
during contemplation.

The more one loses oneself
in a document, the denser
the subject-matter becomes."


Here Benjamin is imagining forms of writing that break
away from the slow, impeded horse and carriage pace
of developing conventional, literal subject-matter. He
envisions a form that allows a direct current between
the writers conscious and unconscious mind, that allows
the writer unimpeded visionary processes using the image
of taking their ideas into flight.


from *Hardware*

"Quotations in my work are like wayside robbers
who leap out armed and relieve the stroller'
of his convictions."

Future modes of appropriation are here invoked and envisioned, with
Benjamin pointing out that the implied thievery of the literary
appropriator creates a sort of "black hole" where readers
see their stereotypes disappear, in a gesture which is the
inverse of Robin Hood, as in flarf, where overwhelming
the reader with environmental influences may rituallistically
exorcise its dangrous propagandistic radioactivity.


from One Way Street
and other writings
translated by Edmund Jephcott
and Kingley Shorter
with an inroduction by Susan Sontag

Friday, December 5

For no particular reason, I'm thinking of Vallejo tonight.

In this poem he is able to drive a sombre subject to the
verge of a kind of poetic white hot heat, where there is
a meltdown of meanings, and even the harshest of
negative assertions verges on generating a kind of affirmative
rip tide:

"You're all dead.

What a strange way to be dead. Anyone would say you aren't. But, in fact,
you're alll dead.

You float nothingly behind that membrane, hanging from the heights to the
lowest, which comes and goes from sundown to sundown, shaking in front of
the echoing box of an injury that doesn't hurt. So I say life is in the mirror, and you're
the original,death.

While the ripple goes, while the ripple comes, it's so safe to be dead. Only when
the waters fall apart in front and keep on folding over, then you change yourselves
completely and when your know your'e dying, you notice the sixth cord and it's
not yours anymore.

You're all dead, not having ever lived. Anyone would say that, not being now,
you must have been in some other time. In fact, you're the corpses of a life that
never was. It's a sad fate having been dead all the time, a dry leaf that's never green
Orphenhood of orphanhoods.

And yet the dead aren't, can be, corpses from a life they have yet to live. They al-
ways died from living.

You're all dead."

from *Trilce*
Cesar Vallejo
translated by David Smith
Grossman Publishers, 1973


*fait accompli* special manhattan
snowstorm edition
Friday, December 5th
*fait accompli*((((COOL)))))(((((BLOG)))))



william watkin's blog

Porthole Redux(Catherine Meng)

The Ingredient (Alli Warren)

Negative Velocity

[nonlinear poetry](Jukka-Pekka Kervinen)

fluss (John Most)


Home Is Not

The Cassandra Pages

MGK (Matt Kirschenbaum)

Media TIC

On 12/5/03 9:46 AM, "Jonathan Mayhew {click here}" wrote:

> Very good response, I actually agree with most of what you say. Don't you
> think, though, that introspection cannot ultimately protect against
> self-deception. Like those who say to themselves, "I cannot possibly be
> fooling myself, I am so thoughtful and introspective a person." I am very
> prone to introspection yet believe I am constantly prone to self-deception as
> well.
Brand New Insects (Shanna Compton)
has announced
Jordan Davis's
reading with Dara Wier
and Christian Bok (!!!)
on Sunday, December 5th.
Leslie Scalapino, Jen Benka, & Susan Briante
Friday, December 5, 2003, 7PM at

Bluestockings Activist Bookstore

(Allen Street between Stanton and Rivington)

A $7-10 donation is suggested.
from Bemsha Swing (Jonathan Mayhew)

Tuesday, December 02, 2003
"The poverty of introspection: It is not that the results are not "rich" and rewarding on their own terms. Only that they are, on the whole, illusory. We don't really know how we actually think. We cannot solve this problem by merely observing our own thought processes."

posted by Jonathan Mayhew at 6:22 AM

This is like visualizing introspection
as a house without windows.
Introspection is the
essence of thinking,
one of the few pathways
to insight.

Insight results from the
alternation of looking
without and
searching within.
"I searched out myself."

A computer thinks
without introspection;
it follows orders.
People think with introspection.
Without introspection, no empathy.
Without empathy,
no transcending one's
own presuppositions.
Without transcending
one's own presuppositions,
endless assumptions
based on received information,
beliefs and points
of view.
Without introspection,
a person is incapacitated
in thinking for themselves.
Without introspection
no antenna for self-deception.

"That doesn't sound right
or feel right to me"
is the beginning of introspection.
When a person asks
of themselves
"Who is this person
who thought that way?
How could I have
said such and so,
how did I
come to such a
the process of clear
has begun.

Thursday, December 4

The way people behave. They refuse to admire their
contemporaries, the people whose lives they share. No,
but to be admired by Posterity- people they've never met
and never will- that's what they set their hearts on. You
might as well be upset at not being a hero to
your great-grandfather.

Marcus Aurelius
A new translation, with an
introduction by Gregory Hays
The Modern Library, 2003
from Mysterium (Carlos Arribas) {click here} today:

Underground New York {click here}
Notebook: 7/28/88

It is really no surprise, in the end, that
what we might want from our poetry- from
so many things- is different than it was
a generation ago, let alone a hundred
years or so. I worried, once, that my book
of poems might be not *whole* enough, not of
a piece, say, like Baudelaire's *Fleurs de Mal*.
But this is not what a bouquet would look
like now, my dear fellow poet. Not that
yours looks any less fresh a hundred years later.
And now poisons even more in need of your pungent
antidote. Our lives are simply devoid of mystery.
This is really what I try to inject into my poems- in the face
of the fact that the world I try to escape
to in my poetry will hardly displace
a jot of the double-dealing world in which
we live. The truth is- there is hardly
anything alive out there anymore. All we
have is what we have within- and more and
more energy is needed to supply ever greater
amounts of fuel to keep burning the minute
ember of authenticity that is left. Every
bit of the universe I remember *could have been*
burned up in that little spark.

But words, words. Haven't
human beings proven it again and again?
Anything is possible with words. And psychoanalysis
demonstrates that even the wounded mind's hurts can be
healed by words. If only we could listen.

[What more is the poem than the injunction: "listen" ?]

Poetry- a way of getting ourselves to listen.
"Who gets credit for the waves. The margins
are at our feet-"

Then again, I must be careful not to besiege
myself with *too many* arguments.


I've lived with time so long as a limiting
and controlling reality- that I am weary with
thinking of it like this.

I need new images for time. I am tired
of being pushed in front of it, like a child
being urged to take its first step-or
like a pet, being dragged along its staccato
steps, lurching forward one moment, and
then seeming to drag on forever, locked in a room,
waiting for its next chance to get out. I
can learn to accept a concept of time that
is inexorable, leading to one inescapable outcome
which awaits all human beings. Of course
there is nothing afterwards. Time- more and more
not matter what. The end of time- nothing more, no
matter what.

Good speech is more a question of *when* then
*what*. But good writing offers something that transcends time.

Wednesday, December 3

Sure, Li {click here} , I understand
the need to take blog breaks, but come back soon, ok?
White, black and gray discussed on
Media TIC {click here}
today. Interesting discussion of 50's images, particularly
typewriters, and some interesting images. Good chance
to practice your French, too.

Capitalism Has Had Its Time {click here and scroll down}
o... it's alright to say... something
pleasant... now and then...
a compliment... a heartfelt... un... ironical... compliment
pleases every good man and woman... and child {click here}

Dangerous talk, *finish your phrase*, especially coming from such an
consistently excellent blogger poet!


Speaking of excellent blogged poems, check out Tonio Savoridin's
Echo of the smoke {click here}

Jessica Stockholder's art continues to
intrigue me. I was reminded of it today
and found these images from a show in a
French gallery:
Jessica Stockholder {click here}

Here's another one:
Jessica Stockholder {click here}

and another:
Stockholder {click here}

A sigh can break a man in two.

The Talmud


Tuesday, December 2

1:00 PM, Saturday December 6, 2003
• Admission: free
211 Pierce Building, Stevens Institute of Technology,
6th and River Streets, Hoboken, New Jersey
To mark the publication of
TURKISH POETRY, edited by Murat Nemet-Nejat.
• A discussion of, and readings from,
the works of young Turkish poets
in both Turkish and English translations.


7:00 PM, Tuesday, December 9, 2003
• Admission: $10
The Kitchen, 512 West 19th Street
(between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues),
New York City
The poetic activity that swept Turkey
through the 20th century into the
21st marks one of the most exciting
moments in world literature.
• Readings in Turkish and English
preceded by the playing of Turkish music.

küçük Iskender, poet

Murat Nemet-Nejat, poet and translator

Mustafa Ziyalan, poet

Edward Foster, poet and editor

Ron Silliman's wife Krishna is in the hospital.

Verging on
the tentacles
of a poem



Monday, December 1

Alright, I won't, I can't be modest
about this-
I made #3 on
Ironstone Whirlygig (Amanda Cook's) {click here}
crush list.
Good company, too.
(The last time I made the list, I predicted
Gata, Amanda's cat would be found.)

Create your own Pollack {click here}

brought to you by Boynton {click here}

Blogging and the Future of Poetry Dep't

I've been asked by a poet and blogger
from Massachusetts- Mike County
to comment on the how blogging
might change poetry. What
I predict might happen is that the
relationship between local scenes
and national and international scenes
might change. Up until now
that relationship has emerged
through the herculean
efforts of small press publishers
and their connected reading series,
the heroic efforts of small press distribution, academic
poetics programs, etc,

As bloggers, individual poets have the
possibilitiy of gaining a small portion
of what used to be reserved completely
to such efforts. Publishers
are unable to complete the task of
interrelating the various
scenes emanating from localities.
Local scenes, on the other hand,
no longer become "the only game in town"
for poets. Blogs are
not just pieces of paper. With a blog a writer
is an indepenent
publishing entity as well as a maker of texts.
This is empowering,
as Gerrit Lansing was acknowledging on Saturday night
at the Sheraton Commander, after the Saturday night
Wordsworth reading in Cambridge, in way similar to the way
readings are empowering.

Through blogging poets can connect more
frequently and
exchange information. While I don't see
poetry readings
as being any less important,
they used to be the only
place where poets could be seen and heard. On the other
hand, blogging is new and many
reading series have gone
on for a long time. These gives
them great prestige and

Poetry reading series are like the
town squares of poetry,
where poets met and get to
know each other. But now
there is blogland as well where poets
can get to know each other
and each others work and ideas.

The traditional avenues
for poets to connect
will eventually recognize
that the scene
must become more national
and international. Bloggers
can connect so frequently
that working relationships can
be established in a very
empowering way. On the other hand,
no matter how the relationships
evolve, the blogger remains
an independent entity. This is
unprecedented in the field of
writing. It is as if up until now
the reading series was the
only real poetry employer, but
now not only can a writer be
their own employer, but they
can work directly with other
"companies." And just as
good as that is, they can quit
if they want to and happily
continue their own company.
This is also unprecedented.

Since I have unquestionably
reached my anecdotage, I
want to mention that
Ted Berrigan once said to his
1967 workshop that a poet
couldn't get anywhere without
giving readings. This made me
uncomfortable because I
was so shy then that I felt
intimidated enough going to readings
where I might meet John Ashbery
one moment, David Shapiro
and Ann Waldman the next,
and then Allen Ginsberg might say
hello to me. What was I supposed
say? I didn't have a clue.To make
a long story short, I learned how
to give readings whether
I liked it or not and this changed
a lot of things for me. I met Ed Friedman
through Bernadette Mayer
and he asked me to do a lot
of readings in the early 70's, including
one at the Kitchen with Patti Smith. A couple
of years later he started inviting me to
read at the Poetry Project.Because of this,
Ted Berrigan came to hear me
read. I met Charles Bernstein at
a performance/party that
Ed Friedman gave where
I sang a song I I had written in French,
with a guitar player backing me up. A few years
after that I started working
with Charles on L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E.
a xeroxed magazine. Alan Davies and
I encouraged Charles to continue the
magazine for an extra year or two, and I
suggested that way it might become a

Xerox technology and mimeo
technology made the poetry publishing
scene expand, in concert
with the reading series where the work
would be read and poets
could publish and distribute
their own mimeo magazines. Nearly
40 years after its inception, the
Poetry Project still
works in the same way.

Blogging takes this so much further
because where before
you needed a physical
place, like St Mark's Church to create
a place to meet, now you can meet
in blogland. Relationships
can still only mainly
flourish with live exchanges,
but blogging makes it possible for poets
to meet and exhange work and
ideas much more frequently.
You can introduce yourself to
someone you don't know
much more comfortably,
and this could lead to working
with them on projects. This can happen
very often now. But there is still
the formality of the
written word. Still,
bloggers could
have their own
national and international
reading series right online, tv series,
any kind of series all day
long and get to know
each others work and
put together projects
very fast. Soon they
will be able to work
in any medium on projects
every day and
distribute the products
right on line.You could
have the equivalent
of an entire movie company
for a series of
projects and then go on their way
just as in film projects.
With this quickly developing
technology, poets don't need
middlepersons to work
with each other, where the middlepersons get a lot
of the credit and had most of the power
(all the way
from a few months to a few dacades.)
But even
with a few photoes and audblogs
and poems typed out by hand,
working independently
but in an indirectly ensemble
way every day the way blogging goes,
makes things happen so
much faster and in such a more
quickly networked way than a local
print series combined with reading
series can do, at least in terms of
projects. Still, the live meeting
remains crucial. But now it just isn't
the only game in town, but exists in the
national and international town
square of blogging. Faces, and voices
can have very fast exposure in
concert with the printed words.

The potential for dailness
changes the power and
possibilites of every kind
of relationship.
People work together everyday much more
naturally than they do meeting once in
awhile the way poets have until now.
This is what gave the middlepersons
all the power, because they
were among the very
few people who worked with writers on
these kinds of things every day.
This creates the power of
working together, really working,
not the way a group of hobbyists might.
And shhh...with
the power of perruque, we can do it
on the company dime!

This is a tremendously
important and potentially very
empowering difference
with blogging in that it can go on every day. This can
move things much faster.
When poets start to feel less dependent
on the given outlets, while still
respecting their great accomplishments,
influence and prestige,
they can do things in a way they've
never been done before. They can
work together and make things
happen in a way that is
unprecedented for

In the end, all writers need is a way
to exchange their writing and their ideas.
Tradition and prestige are important but they have
been overly depended on by writers because
with poets there were few financial ways
to gauge things
as in every other field.

Bloggers can now gauge
things differently. I can use html tracking
sites to see how and when writers
are interested in what each other are doing.
This is important because people want to know
when what they do is useful, interesting,
enjoyable, and when it connects in the
minds of other people, is rewarding, etc. With a site meter
for example, we connect and
correspond quickly and our
working together is immeasurably
expanded- the only limit of the frequency
of exchange, as far as I can see, is
how much caffeine you happen to
have around that day or night.

In short, to quote an oft used phrase:
with blogging you "don't need a weatherman
to know which way the wind blows."

Sunday, November 30

from *Copper* by Mike County
Pressed Wafer 2003

The Thing Is

It's all personal now
the jade plant, the carpet, the
socks had since high school.
What alley, what street bears
no trace of stink? Where does

music leave no echo
the soul no paint?

There's no worry of bleeding
no bandage that can't cover the cut, just
a nag at the base of the neck, "How'd ya
get so far with so few books and bucks?"

A total equal to any, a
sum equal to none.

IT is like a bit of symphony magic,
IT is like hitting your head
on the wheel.
IT is always sudden, never

a surprise.


from Range Finder by David Perry
Adventures In Poetry


As soon as I write the call comes in
On impossibly close waves
The angle is also straight lines
Implying more or a mirror
Than a sidelong asymptote
Home can be a curve too
Appearances taken up in the air
With us against the world
Veering to meet upon the moment
Read Saturday evening at Wordsworth Books
in Harvard Square, Cambridge, Mass with
David Perry and Mike County, thanks to Jim Behrle.
I enjoyed Mike and David's terrific readings tremendously,
we swapped books and the Cambridge poetry audience
was extremely generous and responsive in its attention.
Also quite a number of us had a wonderful time together
at the Commander afterwards. It was a windy, freezing night
here in Cambridge, yet this was one of the most warm
and welcoming groups I've ever met in my many years
of giving poetry readings and I had a really great time;
a very ample audience arrived at the second floor of Wordsworth Books
considering it was a cold night of a Thanksgiving weekend,
which included many Massachusetts poets. To my very great delight,
quite a few bloggers were there including Christina Strong, Amanda Cook,
Guillermo Parra, Noah Eli Gordon, Mark Lamoureux, Tim Peterson,
Jack Kimball, James Cook and poets Sara Veglahn, Gerrit Lansing, Joel Sloman
and many others. (Sorry, but it is quite late and I'm a bit hazy now, so if I've forgotten to mention anyone, and you happen to read this, please email me and tell me). This was a very special,
unforgettable evening, not least because I got to talk about blogging
and other things with a lot of people, I had lots of fun. had a drink
and some good food and was given much to take home and think about.
My very special thanks to the inimitable
James Behrle for making this reading possible.
A number of ver promising readings are coming up, by the way,
at Wordsworth, including poet and blogger Katie Degentesh, Noah Eli Gordon
and poets
Brenda Iijima and Leslie Scalapino. [See the sidebar to the left
for details on upcoming Wordsworth readings and those to be given by
the author of the famous Jim Side.]