Commentaries - April 2011

Maori scholar Linda Tuhiwai Smith once wrote that the term "research" is "probably one of the dirtiest words in the indigenous world's vocabulary...It is so powerful that indigenous people even write poetry about research."

the R-word. of course, there are dirtier words. and there are dirtier racialized words. and not only are there dirty words, but there are dirty racialized representations, whole narratives that cause those represented to feel anger, outrage, and distrust (and sometimes silence). on the non-othered hand, these narratives inspire some people to "Eat, Pray, Orientalize."

more dirty words in the indigenous world's vocab: National Geographic.

i'm thinking of National Geographic because i'm thinking about Elizabeth Bishop's "In the Waiting Room" (read it here first) and i'm thinking Baloney Hoagie's "The Change" is based on Bishop's poem. Why? because, like, duh, they both talk about magazines! Remember the first line of Hoagie's poem: "The season turned like the page of a glossy fashion magazine." In the cultural studies brand of literary studies i was trained in, we call that a "clue" (or is it a "sign"--i always got those confused). seriously though, both poems traffic in the "big black wave" narrative, both poems are in the tradition of the Racialized Persona, and both poems kind of suck.  

In the waiting room, a nearly seven years old "Elizabeth" goes with her Aunt Consuelo to the dentist. Elizabeth sits in the waiting room and reads National Geographic. She sees a volcano, a cannibal feast of "Long Pig" (basically long rice mixed with Kalua Pig), babies with pointed heads, and "black, naked women with necks / wound round and round with wire / like the necks of light bulbs. / Their breasts were horrifying." Reminds me of the "cornrowed hair and zulu bangles" on "Vondella Aphrodite" in Hoagie's poem. 

So Elizabeth freaks out because she notices that the date of the National Geographic is 1918. Why freak out over that? Because Elizabeth's birthday is in a few February...wait for it...1918! Contemporaneous Racialized Encounter Alert! Aunt Consuelo, we need your comforting embrace! 

Oh I'm just teasing. I know these kinds of moments are profound, not just for white people, but for anyone experiencing (in superficial or profound ways) images, narratives, languages, or actual human beings from another culture.

So there is a lot of distance between Elizabeth and the Other. Fast forward to Hoagie's poem and the racialized encounter with the Other occurs through the Television (those awful hanging boob tubes)!

I guess that's "Progress," as some have claimed about Hoagie's poem. Or perhaps we are merely in the Waiting Room of Change, with a 7-year old "Elizabeth" on one side of us, and a Tony Hoagland acting like a 7-year old on the other side. And the wars are still on. And we are sliding beneath a big corporate wave, another, and another.  

New York poetry reading, Dec. 18, 2010

Ricard TuttleMei-mei Berssenbrugge
Tuttle gave a very rare poetry reading with Berssenbrugge at the Sue Scott Gallery in New York, which we have recently made available on PennSound.

Tuttle reading (20:52): MP3
Berssenbrugge reading: (27:57): MP3

Tuttle on Close Listening
Berssenbrugge on Close Listening

photos © Charles Bernstein/PennSound

He never had any why.

Marcel Duchamp on painting: "I don't believe in the magic of the hand." Q. "Why did you retire from the world of art?" A. "I couldn't tell you why. I never had any why... Painting always bored me."

From a television interview conducted by Russell Connor on the occasion of the Boston Museum of Fine Arts exhibit of the work of Duchamp’s brother, Jacques Villon, 1964.

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Here are the full details about the video:

Marcel Duchamp Interviewed by Russell Connor
Museum of Fine Arts Boston in association with WGBH-TV
1964, 29:02 min, b&w;, sound

Russell Connor interviews Marcel Duchamp on the occasion of the Boston Museum of Fine Art's exhibition of the work of Duchamp's brother, "Impressionist-Cubist" Jacques Villon (formerly Gaston Duchamp). Connor first introduces paintings, etchings, sculpture and lithographs by Villon, and is then joined by Duchamp, who discusses Villon's work and contributes his thoughts on art in general. This fascinating document gives the viewer a rare opportunity to hear the legendary Dadaist as he reveals observations on the state of art in the 1960's.

Presented by Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in association with WGBH-TV, Boston and the Livell Institute Cooperative Broadcasting Council. Director: Allan Hinderstein. Lighting Director: Linda Beth Hepler. Video: Al Potter. Audio: Will Morton. Recordist: Pat Kane. Associate Producer: Thalia Kennedy. Executive Producer: Patricea Barnard.

Buy it here: LINK.

Lawrence Felinghetti's "Baseball Canto" sits in the (I'm imagining April) sun, early-season baseball, schmoozing with the left-field bleacher-bound grungy populaLawrence Felinghetti's "Baseball Canto" sits in the (I'm imagining April) sun, early-season baseball, schmoozing with the left-field bleacher-bound grungy populace. And makes the presences of blacks and Chicanos on the S.F. Giants into a reason for associating the limitations of the Anglo-Saxon poetic tradition and Poundian modernism and American conformity (the latter imposed by Irish umpires). Its aesthetic and ideological oppositions are all hilariously confused. Does Larry F. know that the pitcher, although Caribbean and thus blessed, is not likely to hit a home run as his means of out-performing the white players? It's a mess but I love it all the same. Yes, that's Lawrence Felinghetti's Baseball Canto. (I also have made available a RealAudio recording of F. performing the poem.)

from Harper's, March 2011


My foreword to Audiobooks, Literature, and Sound Studies, just out from Routledge, which appeared in the March Harper's. Most closely related to PennSound, see an article by Michael Hennessey on the Giorno Poetry Systems and also Jesper Olsson on the poetics of the tape recorder.

Foreword Charles Bernstein.
Introduction: Talking Books, Matthew Rubery.

Part 1: Sound Experiments 1: The Three-Minute Victorian Novel: Remediating Dickens into Sound, Jason Camlot 2: A Library on the Air: Literary Dramatization and Orson Welles’s Mercury Theatre, James Jesson 3: The Audiographic Impulse: Doing Literature with the Tape Recorder, Jesper Olsson 4: Poetry by Phone and Phonograph: Tracing the Influence of Giorno Poetry Systems, Michael S. Hennessey 5: Soundtracking the Novel: Willy Vlautin’s Northline as Filmic Audiobook, Justin St. Clair

Part 2: Close Listenings 6: Novelist as "Sound-Thief": The Audiobooks of John le Carré, Garrett Stewart 7: Hearing Hardy, Talking Tolstoy: The Audiobook Narrator’s Voice and Reader Experience, Sara Knox 8: Talking Books, Toni Morrison, and the Transformation of Narrative Authority: Two Frameworks, K. C. Harrisson 9: Obama’s Voices: Performance and Politics on the Dreams from My Father Audiobook, Jeffrey Severs 10: Bedtime Storytelling Revisited: Le Père Castor and Children’s Audiobooks, Brigitte Ouvry-Vial 11: Learning from LibriVox, Michael Hancher 12: A Preliminary Phenomenology of the Audiobook, D. E. Wittkower

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