Today’s ensemble: zoo day

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IMG_7583, originally uploaded by Ululate.

What else to wear to the zoo but leopard print? Faux, of course. OF COURSE.

She seems a little nonplussed, but isn’t she majestic? Her fur is REAL.

lately I’m a little like a car whose driver is slamming too hard on the accelerator and the brakes, accelerator and brakes… where’s the agency in that? by which I mean I’m not the driver.

don’t read this it’s boring

aaargh the dreams… was about to fly off to Japan with G. for some reason the airport was on the lower east side near delancey street… I stopped in a little store to buy some olive oil… why would I need to bring olive oil? and then remembered I hadn’t brought my cell phone or charger…so back to some apartment… not ours… but we’d been staying there… almost no furniture… an apparition slipped in… female, I think… maybe a homeless person using the bathroom… although too much like an apparition to actually use a bathroom… and then she slipped out again… and then I realized… Gary was nowhere to be seen… the flight was leaving in a half an hour… I still didn’t have my cellphone… I thought OK I’ll rent one… but where was Gary?… I noticed the olive oil was dark, like unprocessed argan oil…

Lynn you can have this boring stress dream if you want although I can’t imagine why anyone would want to read it: it doesn’t even have a denoument…

Today’s ensemble: the turn from rhetoric

a kierkegaardian moment

Yesterday morning attended a panel presentation (and this is what I wore) at The Algonquin (!) (old New York!) (swanky!) as part of a conference put on by the School Of Visual Arts. The panel theme was on teaching creative writing in visual arts schools and it was moderated by Hugh Behm-Steinberg. All of the panelists were interesting, but I was of course especially interested in Mairead Byrne’s and Christine Wertheim’s sections, because I knew and liked and admired these two in advance. Mairead addressed such fundamental questions as the SPACES students write in and the SURFACES they write on. Fundamental? Absolutely. Obvious? No! Quite inspiring.

Christine’s presentation intrigued me, too. She said that in her time teaching at Cal Arts she had come to realize that there are two separate worlds of creative writing, one that aims for publication in the New Yorker, and then the other, which is, of course, our world. She said that (and I believe she attributed some of what follows to Ranciere. please insert accent) in the ancien regime, writing was employed exclusively for rhetorical purposes, but that in the mid-nineteenth century, writing broke off into realism a la Balzac and Flaubert, in which representation was still referential, but was no longer motivated by argumentation. She instead posited other modes for writing, saying that essentially “New Yorker” writing was still stuck at the point in the 19th century before the turn to realism. Some of these modes included:


collapse of representation: language as subject rather than the world

language subjected to external force, pressure, constraint, or form to reveal what is unconscious or latent in culture or society

language literally as object, as in zaum

language as a medium of self analysis as in Rothenberg’s shamanism

language as a medium of witness: “framing the namelessness”

writing as a medium as speculative possibilities for society & social relationships


My rhetorical questions in response to this division into “rhetorical/ non-rhetorical” are these:

Are not these other modes rhetorical as well?

Can it not be said that the location of the argument moves in them from message to form?

Is it ridiculous to say that even “writing-as-speculation” or “writing-as-analysis” or “writing as witness” is itself a kind of rhetoric arguing for the value of speculation or analysis or witness as such?

Are all forms of writing that are obviously argumentative necessarily passe?


I suppose I am sensing some flaws in this taxonomy. What do we do with works of literature that emerged before the mid-nineteenth century that are not argumentative?

What about Don Quixote?

What about The Pillow Book? Or Rabelais?

What about William Blake’s works?

This list could grow and grow.

Anyway… I’m wondering about this. Certainly the mid nineteenth century was a turning point into something (although clearly you wouldn’t know it from today’s outfit :-)). I have noted that Moby Dick emerged in 1851: to me, it is a profoundly proto-modernist work. But I think there’s something else to notice about the time rather than the turn from rhetoric. I haven’t read Ranciere, and I’m curious to, but I wonder if anyone has the same questions…

Here’s so you can see the footwear:

how to layer a poem with textures the way this enemble does?

The velvet “wench” blouse is Anthropologie bought 2ndhand on eBay: I mentioned that trick to you, yes? I love the princess lines of the bodice, and the little peplum. And under that, my favorite UniQlo “heat technology” undershirt, fitted and cozy! Compexly tiered lace and taffeta skirt bought recently at Daffy’s for under $30; it’s Italian (whatever that means). Maroon tights of a satisfyingly thick denier. The burgundy suede clodhopper maryjanes are actually Earth shoes, oddly enough. I think of them as a sort of variation of a “Henry the VIII shoe.” You know? My look has got so casual lately, I mean relatively speaking, I really felt it was time to bust out the ruffles and velvet again…because you know what? Life is short.


You didn’t want me
to sidle up to the high
chthonic voltage, number
than frost, number than
the coiled attachments:
a kind of siphon
for this hamhanded
burgeoning. If I imitate
your enthusiastic rejecting
anxious beloved, can I
enter your hall of
repressed dismay? I can’t
get her haircut: I don’t
have that kind of hair.
I’m better than she is,
who does not think of you,
just as you do not think
of me. The world spins
on these bitternesses: my XXXX
for you offends me yet.

SPLENDOR, generation, and VALOR SETS

Cy wrote me a nice comment about the poem two posts down from here, “SPLENDOR”:

I confess I’m curious as to whether it’s a Flarf generated poem or not (not that it matters!).

Let’s discuss this, shall we? Or rather, deconstruct it. Firstly, Flarf is not (in the robotic sense of the term) “generated.” Flarf poems are written. Their materials are, in Kasey’s term, sought. I almost prefer the word rescued. Some poems may be “generated,” like that wonderful “Random Poem Generator” that was hanging around the internet for a while, but Flarf poems are very much willed and constructed.

In a larger sense of the term, I suppose you could say this poem was generated if that is how you think of the mechanism of creation: I do often think of poems as almost biological extrusions, like skin tags or fibroids or, as I posted recently on facebook, reflux.

At any rate, if this poem or any has a generator it is me and not “Flarf.” I’m curious, though, as to whether any of you read it as a “Flarf poem” and if so, why?

Let’s look at the second part of the statement: the good-natured “not that it matters!” Well, hmm, let’s think about that for a minute. Are you sure it doesn’t matter? I am tempted of course to say, right, it doesn’t matter a bit, but that’s the lazy way out. I think we do assign value differently to poems we think of as being constructed from rescued materials than we do to poems that we imagine might have been “inspired.” The assignment of value depends very much on who is doing the assignment and what their “valor sets” are for poetry. I like to keep my valor set somewhat uncodified, although I will swear up and down that I know what poetry is and what it is not, and that when I feel it to be good, I can argue for why I believe so and how it fits into my model of poetry.

My guess is that you, Cy, would like to test your cognitive reaction to the poem against your valor set. That’s perfectly understandable. We all do that.

I’m also wondering whether anyone rather dislikes the poem, maybe finds it too closed or too “poetic,” or too confrontational, or lacking in innovation, perhaps. Or maybe you find something a little naggy about it, or a little neurotic, or just dully unconceptual.

I’m super-tired. I would like to be at the Poetry Project tonight listening to Chris Nealon and Catherine Wagner, I would like that very much, but I’m just too tired. I really thought I was going to lose it on the train to work this morning: the door closing bell made me want to let loose a big guttural scream.

Which reminds me, how come women get maternity leaves for THREE MONTHS per baby when women who choose to be artists instead of having babies don’t ever get TIME OFF to make their ART or write their POEMS? I suppose this unfairness could count for men, too. I want THREE MONTHS OFF RIGHT NOW. Do all those BABIES really “contribute more to society” than all this potential unmade art and poetry would? Or do they just DRAIN it with all their NEEDS? I’m almost ready to fake a pregnancy.