A Life Decision, more Baroqueify, Recent Diversions, Vaccinations, and a Visit from the Ghost of Oscar Wilde, among other things…

I am well aware that I am behind on blogging Baroqueify assignments, and everything else, but haven’t you heard? Facebook killed the blogstar, more or less, although I don’t intend to officially stop ululating until December 22, so as to make it to ten years even. Technically, on that day, though, I will be here (and I’m not sure what internet access will be like):

Life got a little intense for a while, with Sandy blowing through more or less simultaneously with  a very tempting job offer in Tokyo that I opted not to take. The decision was not an easy one, but finally Pratt did the right thing and improved my conditions, and I decided to stay for these reasons (pasted from my FB post soon after my decision):

1) an improved schedule at Pratt, so I can have more freedom
2) better pedagogical conditions here by far
3) the quality of conversation & community in NY
4) not wanting the reified isolation of being a gaijin again
5) love for and responsibility to for those here (BF, cats, friends, parents, poets)
6) the job in Tokyo was only a five-year fixed term contract, after which I’d be gypsified again whether I wanted to be or not
7) this city is not the most beautiful, but there’s something about its semitic/expressive character that suits me and my writing
8) I’ll be able now to spend totally appreciative time in Japan without giving up all that I have here, including an office window that looks out on a sculpture garden! I just feel really lucky. Going would have been truly wrenching, and I’ve had enough of that sort of thing over the past couple of years.

Oh, right, and we had an election.  There was that, too: “Ann Romney cried softly.”
And lots of other things have happened, jeez… I went to the thought-provoking Poetics of Kitsch panel at Poets House, I helped host an amazing event to celebrate 35 years of Roof Books, I went to MoMA to look at Japanese avant-garde stuff, saw Sally Silvers’ incredible Bonobo Milkshake (tonight is the last night I think. GO!! GO!! SO GOOD!), and I got a bunch of shots for the Burma trip, for which I depart in just twelve more days!! The injections made me feel rather wretched, but I suppose they beat perishing of some awful disease.
Something is weird with my memory, though, and I can’t remember what happened three Baroqueifies ago…
I know that we read Lynn Behrendt’s “Luminous Flux,” and the assignment was something like, write something LUSH and INTENSE that doesn’t censor out raw emotion.  What else did we read that day? What were the specifics of the assignment? I can’t remember but am hoping the attendees can help me with this aporia.
Then OK, the session before last we read an excerpt from David Batchelor’s Chromophobia and some poems from Kim Lyons’ Abracadabra. The focus was on color.  I also led attendees with a guided visualization that I hoped would take them to baroque inner spaces and visions but oddly enough most of them found themselves in white rooms.  What was up with that? Here was the assignment:

1)   Write something: don’t worry about line breaks.
2)   Include lists of objects
3)   Include some impressions of that hypnotic interior space
4)   focus on colorful language, however you might interpret that

Then last night, as I was walking to the Poetry Project and feeling just so wiped out and sort of uninspired, I walked past the Strand and thought, hey you know what, I’m going to get a bunch of weird dollar books.  I bought six.  One is a present for a friend.  The rest we ripped up.  It was fun to rip up books.
We wrote for about twenty minutes using these texts as sources and springboards.
There was a book about Labrador Retrievers, a book about poetic syntax, a book about psychosurgery, a book called Food Court Druids,Cherohonkees and Other Creatures Unique to the Republic, and a book about the coming apocalypse based on Revelation.
I had asked the participants to bring in examples of texts they thought were baroque, and coincidentally, one of the participants  brought in The King James Bible and read from The Book of Revelation!  I was so thrilled, since I and whatsisface had done our wonderful parody of it years before.  It really is so baroque, and so compelling.
And then the other weird thing that happened was that another participant brought in some poems from Wilde’s The Ballad of Reading Gaol… and someone else said, hey, today is the anniversary of his death!  And THEN… you know that chimney in the Parish Hall, that is enclosed in a cabinet? It started like, creaking!  OK, maybe it was drafty, but the doors of the cabinets moved JUST AS WE WERE TALKING ABOUT THIS.

We also read some poems from Bruce Andrews’ I Don’t Have AnyPaper So Shut Up: (or, Social Romanticism) as another example of “colorful language” (although in a much different sense from Kim Lyons’). We paid special attention to how he uses punctuation – often quite unexpectedly – and we focused on dashes ­­– how they telegraph:  jab jab jab: assault and mayhem as critique. God, I fuckinglove his writing, did I mention that? BRUUUUCE!
So, the assignment was this:

1)   Work with The Book of Revelation.
2)   Inject other texts into it…
3)   …with an eye to punctuation used inventively…especially dashes.

OK.  My precious Saturday calls.  I have to get ginger and trashbags and finish packing and finish my book! I have to finish my book!
Out, VILE LILT!  Out!  Out!
p.s. just for fun, here are the titles of the poems in Bruce’s book:
All Of My Friends Are Dead
Am I Alive
America Shops
Animal Dicks In Bed
Are You Tired
As If Science
Autocracy Managed By Midgets
Blab Mind Blab Body
Boil Me, Broil Me
Bomb Then, Bomb Now
Border State Has To Grow Up
Breed Your Followers
Capital Is Not A Quantity Of Money
Cash Managers Pie Their Brute
Cerebellum Replaced With Joy Stick
Civil Tongue
‘communism Is A Morale Problem
Cough Up At Premium
Could Darwin Instruct Those Turtles
Culture Just Reupholsters
Divine Assurance Expires January 1, 1984
Don’t Write Down Your Thoughts
Double Bagging
Education Helps Me Squirt
Everything You Don’t Know Is Wrong
Fertility Is Absolute Altruism
From Their Small Penis
Gestalt Me Out
Grace Hampers Skin
Help Defeat Your Country
How To Attract Love
I Am Your Problem
I Can’t Watch The Freedom
I Like To Watch The Patties Melt
I Lthink
I Need Attention Bad
I Regret Zoology
I Want Educated Oxen
I Who Proud Drugs Be
I’m Too Busy To Compromise
If A Peppermint Patty Could Sing
If It’s A Bomb
If Pods Could Talk
In The Part Mechanmized Heart
Innocent But Not Ambulatory
Is There A Hyphen In Hard-on
Isolate Your Fuse
It’s Time To Stop Glorifying The White Army
Jerk Off In The Breadcrumbs
Jimmies On My Dick
Just Because
Just Let It Burn Itself On The Bulb
Learn To Be Dispensable
Life Is A Scholarship
Make Your Customers Nauseous
Metaphor As Illness
My Ovaries Don’t Have Enough Room
My Roots, No Thanks
Neon Helps Us Stupid
O, My Arms Catch On The Nails
O, Those Happy Happy Dogs
Oh, Glaze Me Big
Only The Ego Can Pick Up A Pencil
Oppression Is Fear
The Past Is Not Interested
Paternalism Causes Cancer
Penis Is Hegemonic
People Are Proud Of Those They Own
People Are So Popular
Pity The Loan Shark
Political Economy Means Red
The Public Doesn’t Exist
Public First, Self Second
Purple People-eaters
Revolution Means Stability
Save He Panda Oil Believes In
Scrape Me Off
Sell Your Friends: Think Rich; Stupider
Semen Donor
Slurpy White Do
Snakes In Heat
Society Starts Walking Again
Species Means Guilt
Stalin’s Genius
Thanks To Hit You
This Unity Sounds Posturepedic To Me
Those Nasty Old Emotions Take Over
Toiling Virgin Midgets
Tuck In Your Chains
We Are Modern
We Are Not A Country
We Confine Ourselves To Other People’s Beds
We Finger To Spurn The Beef
We Own It But They Play It
Who Has The Pliers To Doubt It
Who Is Guilty
You Do Their Own Thing
You Made This World, We Didn’t