Month: October 2004
I know I said I wasn’t going to blog, but this keeps going through my head, like a little refrain:
SUPPORT OUR TROOPS —
SEND THEM LAVENDER OIL
I’m sorry I can’t blog lately. All I can think about is serotonin.
Mine’s low: 80.7 (the normal range is 175 – 225).
Not eveyone with low serotonin levels is depressed, but it makes sense to me that I might be. There’s a correlation, for one thing, between low serotonin levels and chronic pain. Also, unfortunately, with anxiety, aggressive behavior, obsessive thinking, fatigue, (all of which I battle in myself every day) etc… and even scarier, with suicide, of which I hasten to assure you, dear readers, I have no ideation WHATSOEVER.
I’m taking 5HTP and other good supplements, and upping my thyroid at my doctor’s recommendation. I hope to see good results soon.
In the meantime, I’m just sorta struggling.
Low serotonin is not the cause of depression, but it’s a symptom of it. I thought this was interesting:
People born since 1945 are 10 times more likely to suffer from depression than those born before.
That is an astounding figure, and it cannot be explained away by people going to their doctor more, or depression being diagnosed more easily, as these were taken into account in the study.
Human biology doesn’t change that quickly.
What it does show clearly is that most depression is non-biological. Depression has biological
effects, but studies now show that less than 10% of depression is biologically caused.
The most widely accepted explanation for this sort of phenomenon is that society has changed. Over the past 5 decades, there has been:
* a breakdown in the extended family
* a dispersal of communities
* an increased focus on material wealth
* an overwhelming prevalence of news media
* and an increase in focus on ‘the self’.
All of which, and more besides, add up to a potent recipe for depression.
I think I’ll ease off blogging for a while (tho I’ll post my Segue intros) (and maybe a leetle note here and there) — as I have been lately anyway — to spare myself and everyone from potential damage as a result of any anxious impulsiveness or undue aggression I may display!
(special thanks to Toni Simon for her active concern)
I am biased toward all of the poets I introduce, but in Lori Lubeski’s case I am especially so. She’s been my friend for more than two decades. In many a college classroom, we passed notes to each other and wrote notebook collaborations, and I used to ride on the back of her motorbike up and down the hills of San Francisco. In addition to these notable distinctions, Lori is the author of Trickle, Sweet Land, Attractions cf. Distractions, and Dissuasion Crowds the Slow Worker. Her poetry is among the most heartfelt and sometimes heartbreaking I have ever heard.
When I think of her poems, I am reminded of my favorite Hans Christian Andersen story, “The Garden of Paradise.” It is about a learned young prince who is permitted, courtesy of the East Wind, to visit that garden, where he meets the radiant and lovely Fairy of Paradise. He is so enchanted with her and her beautiful palace that he asks if he might stay there forever. She says that he may, with one strict condition:
Every evening, when I leave you, I shall be obliged to say, ‘Come with me,’ and to beckon to you with my hand. But you must not listen, nor move from your place to follow me; for with every step you will find your power to resist weaker. If once you attempted to follow me, you would soon find yourself in the hall, where grows the tree of knowledge, for I sleep beneath its perfumed branches. If you stooped over me, I should be forced to smile. If you then kissed my lips, the garden of paradise would sink into the earth, and to you it would be lost.
Of course, on the very first night that she beckons him, he follows her, “the blood rushing “wildly in his veins,” into the tree of knowledge, where…
The fairy threw off her dazzling attire, bent back the boughs, and in another moment was hidden among them.
“I have not sinned yet,” said the prince, “and I will not;” and then he pushed aside the boughs to follow the princess. She was lying already asleep, beautiful as only a fairy in the garden of paradise could be. She smiled as he bent over her, and he saw tears trembling out of her beautiful eyelashes.
The swollen emotion of that moment — at once so full of desire and pain and folly and inexorability — the trembling of those diamandine fairy tears — the reader’s desire at that moment to shout to him, NOOOOOO, even as you might to a person about to throw himself off a cliff, or who has just milliseconds earlier given himself over to those forces of gravity — this charged and overladen heart-heavy moment (which I read over and over and over as a child) is the very one out of which the Lori’s poems, with no small urgency, come forth.
More extraordinary is that they come out of her, physically, in a voice at once honeyed, gravelly, musky and husky, almost paragendered — quite unique among my contemporaries, and totally unforgettable. Her voice, which you will soon have the privilege of hearing, was even a point of commonality between me and Gary, who in the early stages of our correspondence confessed to an intense infatuation with it
I am certain that you are now on the edge of your seats. Without further delay, let us push back the boughs and welcome my dear pal, Lori Lubeski.
Introduction for Sawako Nakayasu at the Bowery Poetry Club
Sawako Nakayasu was born in Yokohama, Japan, on the Den’En Toshi Line, and raised in the USA. For the past three years she has been living in her birthland, translating Japanese poets and making their work known to us.
In an interview on Chicago Postmodern Poetry.com, the insistently interdisciplinary Sawako lists her poetic influences as, “In no particular order: John Cage. Nathalie Sarraute. Musical theater. Frank O’Hara, Tom Raworth, Gertrude Stein, Charles Ives. Jenny Holzer. Keith Haring, John Edgar Wideman, opera. Yoko Ono. Contact Improvisation dance. Hockey. All kinds of movement. Insect movement. Pop music. People who talk in other languages.”
She doesn’t, surprisingly, mention the writer with whom I see her as most aligned, Francis Ponge. Like Ponge, Sawako is a poet of THINGS. Ponge writes, in “The Object is Poetics,”
Man [sic] is a curious body whose center of gravity is not in himself.
Our soul is transitive. It needs an object that affects it, immediately, like a direct complement. It is a matter of the most serious relationship…
The artist, more than any other man [sic] bears the burden, reacts.
The curious body of Sawako Nakayasu chooses greatly unexpected objects to bear as burdens: balconies, hockey pucks, yellow, umbrellas, shortcake. But though they are unexpected, they are common, daily, things, more banal than bizarre.
Ponge, writing on the still-lifes of Chardin observes :
These peaches, these nuts, this wicker basket, these grapes, this cup, this bottle with its cork, this copper fountain, this wooden mortar, these pickled herrings.
There is nothing special, no merit in choosing such objects.
No effort, no invention; no proof here of a superior intellect….
Starting from such a low point, we’ll need all the more attention, prudence, talent, genius, to make them interesting.
Sawako’s special attention, prudence, talent, and genius permit her to create such constructions as
“Needing yellow as an extension of want, or a boing.”
“A large, hollow hockey puck with the top open, about three feet in diameter, two feet high.”
or to imagine, for example,
“a field of fried umbrellas”
That her blog, accessible at nakayasu.blogspot.com, is so aptly named “Texture Notes” is particularly interesting in light of a possible etymology of her name. I don’t know the actual kanji for her name, but, setting aside for a moment the diminutive feminine “ko,” “Sawa” sounds to me like the Japanese verb “sawaru” — to touch. Sawako doesn’t just touch the objects of her attention, though – she massages, palpates, and strokes them — even, if it’s possible, synaesthetically.
Please welcome our foremost hockey poet and a vital ambassador — Sawako Nakayasu.
Kerry will win, of course. But just in case he doesn’t, here are some model “denial” poses:
The white male anchors… I can’t tell them apart!
Peter Jennings = Tom Brokaw = Dan Rather
John Edwards’ sensuous lower lip. Almost . . . French. . .
In the brand new Poetry Project Newsletter, Steve Evans expounds upon his notion of “The Disobedient Poetics of Determinate Negation,” whose method he outlines (in his words, “stooping to assonance” [STOOPING??? from what heights of rhetorical refinement?]) as follows:
Am I the only one to have seen mafia tactics at work in this series of actions? Think about it:
NAMING (the stool pigeon)
EVALUATING (type of punishment)
POSITION-TAKING (of snipers at the banquet)
NEGATING (blowing their heads off)
Am I…. overreading????
I’m totally down with his argument — especially with its whammo conclusion: “By their [works of determinate negation] swiftness and acuity, their precise articulation, their cathartic humor, and their unswaying hostility to dominance and the agents of its reproduction, they serve to negate the distractions, delusions, and complicities of everyday life. Fucking with the structures of conformist thought, negating them on their own ground, these acts of ‘negative testimony to the possibility of the possible’ belong more to a poetics than to a politics, but they are not not political.”
But I can’t stop seeing that banquet massacre scene (‘”on their own ground” if you will) from The Godfather in my head.
Introduction for Carolee Schneemann
Bowery Poetry Club
October 2, 2004
What is this thing, this body?
What are we doing here, as bodies, and as a social body?
Whence this crazy sensorium, these pleasures, this pain, this ever-bewildering mortality?
What’s sex? What’s love? What’s aggression? What’s war?
More than any artist I can think of, with the possible exception of Leonardo da Vinci, CS (whom I have elsewhere referred to as a “renaissance being”) has always explored these most fundamental questions.
There is a unique sortilege in her art’s expanding dimensionality. It goes far beyond, say, the charming instance of Max Fleischer animating Koko the Clown right out of his inkwell, or the misogynist Pygmalion kissing his sexy statue into life.
She has, with her sorcery, taken even the brilliantly meta Courbet one step further. In his immense painting of 1855, “The Artist’s Studio,” a nude model stands behind the painter at work. Half-draped by a sheet, but still revealing most of her luscious form, she cocks her head, seeming to admire the grand landscape he is rendering. Or is she? Perhaps she is trying to see the painting from a different perspective, and meditating on how she might do it better.
In my version, that model is Carolee Schneemann. (who in fact did work as a model when she first came to NYC). In a neat “Purple Rose of Cairo” maneuver, she steps right out of that painting, and proceeds to turn art UPSIDE DOWN. In one of the myriad ways that she examines the relationship between, and sometimes separates, figure and ground, she practically invents performance art. She works in most media: painting, film, installation, video, and text. She becomes world renowned. It’s not that she has her finger on the pulse of the moment, but rather, she is the pulse of the moment. Touché, Courbet!
Among her great achievements is having set into motion the reproduction of a socially galvanizing meme of gylanic energy that may be our greatest hope in beginning to topple the bellicose androcentrics who now dominate the planet. My co-Americans, it is with unbridled jubilation that I welcome to this stage a luminous revolutionary, Carolee Schneemann…