A careless green woodpecker is trying to get off the subway, but some befuddled yokels are blocking the door, trying to figure out if this is their stop, stumbling upon a pile of dry cognate stones.

A spoiled or foppish townsman also meanders through the underground maze while chewing his innate bacon, his thick, succulent stems entirely abandoned as useless and misleading in the process or circumstances of being born.

A broadly “misshapen egg” joyously peals the plan for wandering in a unique way, like a “chawbacon” or “hayseed”: casually, and without urgent destination: rambling trepidly into a cock’s egg.

In spite of all this, a clumsy, heavy-footed, xeric shark , naïve and gullible in her 12-foot deep, 120,000 gallon tank, follows a winding or intricate (and citified) course into her nascent renaissance.

She roamed over the hills for hours.

Marx speaks

Friend Lina Kogan sends this apt quotation:

Owners of capital will stimulate working class to buy more and more of expensive goods, houses and technology, pushing them to take more and more expensive credits, until their their debt becomes unbearable. The unpaid debt will lead to bankruptcy of banks which will have to be nationalized and State will have to take the road which will eventually lead to communism.

Karl Marx, 1867

a poet in the next room is a joke

Three quotations from feminist, poeticist, journalist, and (until he turned tail and became a McCarthyite) socialist Max Eastman:

A poet in history is divine, but a poet in the next room is a joke.

Humor is the instinct for taking pain playfully.

The defining function of the artist is to cherish consciousness.

Google has thoughtfully digitized his wonderful 1921 book, Enjoyment of Poetry. It’s definitely worth a perusal.

On his birthday, January 4 (he would have been 125),
I will be reading at the new Zinc Bar with my good friend Rick Snyder.

Sunday, January 4, 7:00 PM

Zinc Bar

82 W. Third Street
Between Thompson and Sullivan
New York, New York

Please note that this is a NEW LOCATION for the Zinc Bar.

Hope to see you there!

More from Emma

Ultimately, love is fatal and impossible; it is the embodiment of the human search and its meaninglessness. But without this desire to express, to love, to create and to destroy…we come to a standstill. In order to have knowledge we must leave the garden. It is in this beautiful misery of our condition that we must find the seeds of happiness. Impossibility is possibility. The most passionate and creative love is that which is doomed to exist among constants, forever fettered to the diametric forces of life. This love exists indeed a realm beyond reality, but without it we have only our ticking mortality and our impenetrable fate.


“Everybody’s a comedian,” quipped Lisa, unperturbed,
stressing that he meaning of “undulant” is broad enough
to describe both a dancer’s hips and a disease
marked by a fever that continually waxes and wanes.

In ornithological circles, “scapegrace” can also refer
to a loon with a red throat
used in medieval manuscripts
to indicate the contraction of Latin words ending in “-et”
the earliest meaning of which is
“to restore to friendship or harmony.”

I Love Lucy is often seen as a touchstone
for comparison with today’s TV comedy shows,
emphasizing the superficiality or insubstantiality of a thing.

Then a road that bifurcates splits in two, becoming a shop
filled with refrigerator magnets, back-scratchers,
snow globes, and other kickshaws,
all adorned with images of smiling pigs
also known as “shark suckers” or “suckerfish.”

In the afternoon we walked through the idyllic gardens,
noting their prelapsarian charm.
Hungry paparazzi (long, thin, dark fishes)
attached themselves like remoras to celebrities.
The undulant foothills gradually gave way
to the craggy highlands for which Scotland is celebrated.

It’s something ike a test or criterion for determining the quality
or genuineness of a “thing,” (one extended sense of which
means “insolent, smart-alecky, or fresh”)
rubbed, videlicet, on a piece of dark quartz or jasper
that then becomes a portrait, marble statue,
or wax figure representing a person.

“Furca,” as you can probably tell,
gave us our word “fork.”

They have autonomy, they are not marionettes

from Emma’s presentation on art and feminism at the Brooklyn Museum, March 30th 2008.

There is good news: young women artists are revolutionary. They are making works that deal fervently with gender and sexuality, that deconstruct beauty standards, that unveil the veiled. They revel in the grotesque, the cosmetic, celebrity culture. They poke fun at themselves. They show us their obsession with the “feminine”, but it is pop essentialism, deadpan gender. They do not care if you think they are vapid sluts, clad in designer trends. They look with a female gaze, they have autonomy, they are not marionettes. They are, indeed, artists who are feminists. Young women thinkers will say they are gender revolutionary before they are feminist-identified, and just as they seek to explode the binaries of sex, they mix-media and ideology, creating a patchwork of consciousness that is as thoroughly contemporary as it is politically feminist.


Saturday, June 11, 2005

The description from the Anthology Film Archives website of the aforementioned Emma’s Dilemma:

1997-2005, DV, ca. 90 min.
Introduced by Ken Jacobs.

Henry Hills’ EMMA’S DILEMMA reinvents the portrait for the age of digital reproduction. In a series of probes into the images and essences of such downtown luminaries as Richard Foreman, Ken Jacobs, Tony Oursler, Carolee Schneemann, and Fiona Templeton, Hills’ cinematic inventions literally turn the screen upside down and inside out. In this epic journey into the picaresque, we follow Emma, our intrepid protagonist, from her pre-teen innocence to her late teen-attitude, as she learns about the downtown art scene firsthand. In the process, Hills reimagines the art of video in a style that achieves the density, complexity, and visual richness of his best films. The premiere full-evening screening of this experimental extravaganza (which includes NERVOUS KEN as well as KING RICHARD, a portrait of Richard Foreman which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival).

This completely absorbing film is presided over by a petal-faced precocious ingénue (Emma Bernstein) who just happens to be the daughter of one of the most influential poets (on me anyway) of our time. Henry was absolutely right to choose as a subject her mind in her extraordinary face. His camera closed in on every feature, revealing her every expression as articulate and, well, adorable. The interviewees never once seemed to be talking down to her, and it was always fascinating to watch how she registered people’s responses to her perspicacious queries.

That the video – correctly speaking it’s a video, not a film – alternated between reportage and highly manipulated techniques was not only not jarring, but seemed absolutely balanced – a solution, if you will, of “Henry’s dilemma. “ One person said over dinner afterwards – was it Bradley Eros?—that the hypnotic “experimental” sections actually gave one time to process the thought-provoking information in the straighter sections. And even though I am not a devotee of experimental film, I thought the techniques Henry used were wild and beautiful. Afterwards, everyone talked particularly about the amazing Esheresque effect he had used on the movement of Ken Jacob’s hands. I also loved especially what he did with Julie Patton’s voice. In this way, many of the interviews (some of which were with a few of the most brilliant people I have ever encountered – Carolee Schneemann! Richard Foreman!) were imitative homages.

I felt very moved to be present at the opening, with so many of the people interviewed present, and where there was a very vibrant feeling of a tangle of pulsing creativities. Charles B.’s mother (Andy Warhol’s “Countess”) in her hat ringed by Mexican dolls. Noted choreographer Sally Silvers behind me. Carolee in front of me. Nick and Toni in the front row. Laura and Rodrigo up in the back. I had one of those rare (these days) feelings of gratitude (I’ve grown so tired and cynical) to be here, among these people.

I told Henry afterwards that it was the best non-Indian movie I’d seen in a loooooooooong time. Do not, I repeat, do not miss this film, should it come our way again any time soon, if only to see the final shots of Felix Bernstein hamming it up in a tutu. Wow.

Tristan Tzara on Conceptual Poetry

I don’t believe… in the mechanical elements of art, which are neither the regulation of the beautiful, nor its control, nor its consequence; but which we would be more likely to find at the peak of the intersection of two parallel lines, or in a submarine formation of stars and transchromatic aeroplanes. In the blood of stones, perhaps, in the obscurity of cellular metals, and of cryptograms, and in the surge of images under the bark of trees.