Commentaries - September 2012

Fotnot : Nota al Pie on Conceptualisms: An epistolary dialogue between Anna Hallberg (Sweden) and Carlos Soto-Román (Chile)

12 September 2012

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The following is an occassional exchange composed for this occassion. Anna Hallberg and Carlos Soto-Román may not have met apart from the artifice of this conversation. Nonetheless, there is a conceit of some commonality of interest and points of divergence. This is part three of the series.

Kära Carlos,

alla som skriver professionellt vet att ”lådan” inte är en särskilt precis metafor. Överföringen från det ena skrivande ”subjektet”, genom språkteknologin/litteraturhistorien/dåtiden/samtiden/genetiken/politiken/slumpen/drömmen etc. till det andra ”mottagande läsande subjektet” är inte samma sak som att lägga julklapparna i en låda och skicka den till släktingarna på andra sidan Sverige och veta att de öppnar just de knöliga och lite skrynkliga paket som jag inhandlat och slagit in.

Jag hade till exempel inte alls tänkt skriva om julklappar, men det var den starkaste bilden som dök upp i mitt huvud när jag ville förtydliga metaforen om lådan, vilket snarare visar hur språket genererar sig självt genom tidigare använda retoriska figurer, rytm och puls och associativa rörelser och att det gäller att hålla fast i svansen på den springande lådan om man alls ska förstå vad man själv skriver. (Men det ska man kanske inte, just ”förståelse” brukarvara ett sällsynt klumpigt estetiskt begrepp som sällan leder till några svindlande konstupplevelser?) Vad jag ville säga var bara att när jag öppnar min inbox och hämtar min e-post och läser ditt mail på engelska och svarar genom att skriva på svenska i ett wordprogram och skicka det till Elizabeth Clark Wessel som översätter det till engelska varpå jag kopierar och klistrar in det i ett svarsmail och trycker på send, så känns det som en förtvivlat tung låda.

Fotnot: representation, makt, dominans, USA-Sverige, Stein, OEI, Retallack, Christensen, Royet-Journoud, Börjel, Bergvall, Wittgenstein, Novalis, SAOL, spotify, kapitalism osv.

Dear Carlos,

Everyone who writes professionally knows that the metaphor of the "box" is not a very precise one. The transfer that happens from the "writer subject" through language technologies/literary history/the past/the present/genetics/politics/coincidence/ dreams, etc. to the "receiving reading subject" is not the same as putting the Christmas presents into a box and mailing it to your relatives on the other side of Sweden, knowing they'll be opening the exact same lumpy, slightly wrinkled packages you'd bought and wrapped.  

For example, I hadn't planned on writing about Christmas presents, but it was the clearest image that popped into my head when I wanted to clarify the metaphor of the box, which if anything shows how language generates itself through previously used rhetorical figures, rhythm and pulse, and associative movements, and that it's good to grab hold of the tail of that running box if you want to understand what you're writing. (But maybe you shouldn't, since "understanding" is usually an exceptionally clumsy aesthetic concept that rarely leads to breathtaking artistic experiences?) What I want to say is just that when I open my inbox and collect my emails and read your mail in English and answer by writing in Swedish in a word processor and sending it to Elizabeth Clark Wessel who translates it into English whereupon I copy and paste it into a reply email and push send, it feels like a desperately heavy box.

Footnote: representation, power, dominance, USA-Sweden, Stein, OEI, Retallack, Christensen, Royet-Journoud, Börjel, Bergvall, Wittgenstein, Novalis, SAOL [the Swedish Academy's Dictionary], Spotify, capitalism, etc.

Estimada Anna,

Debo confesar que no pude ocultar my alegría cuando recibí tu correo incluyendo el inicio de nuestra conversación en Sueco. Tal como mencionaste y al igual que la mayoría de la gente, no hablo absolutamente nada de Sueco, auque conozco algunas personas que sí lo hablan en Chile. Creo que lo aprendieron mientras estaban viviendo exiliadas en Suecia durantes los años setentas y ochentas. Es curioso como estoy relacionando ahora el ser bilingüe con el exilio, un estado de ausencia (auto?)impuesta. Mientras muchos autores/teóricos se refieren al traductor como un puente o una conexión entre dos culturas distintas, nadie parece prestar mucha atención a lo que le sucede al individuo que está en el medio, mientras el proceso de transferencia que tú describes ocurre. Supongo que esa es la razón por la cual el receptor rara vez recibe lo que fue empacado originalmente. Me suena a mitología griega, donde las transgresiones son castigadas con tormentos eternos. Pero mi intención no es hablar sobre traducción, al menos no sobre traducción como práctica sino más bien como procedimiento. Y así todo, aquí estoy escribiéndote en inglés, un idioma que no es mi lengua materna. Un idioma que luego de 4 años viviendo en un país anglo parlante, se supone que debo dominar, pero no. Así que ¿quién soy ahora?¿Un genio o un bromista?¿Un embustero, un estafador? No estoy seguro. Supongo que lo que quiero decir es que cuando me atrevo a escribir en un idioma que no es el mío, como que se siente parecido a cuando tu abres tu inbox y ves tus emails y lees mi mensaje en inglés, el cual respondes en sueco en un procesador de texto y luego envías a otra persona para que lo traduzca al inglés y luego lo copias y lo pegas en una mail de respuesta para finalmente hacer clic en enviar. Esa caja desesperadamente grande y pesada, en cuyo interior hay otra caja más pequeña, la que a su vez contiene otra caja en su interior, más pequeña todavía y así sucesivamente hasta la última caja, la que existe solamente en nuestra imaginación… esa caja resulta ser una caja absolutamente vacía.

Nota al Pie: lingua franca, globalización hegemónica, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Marcel Mauss, Prometeo, Sísifo, (y sí!) Caroline Bergvall.

Estimada Anna,

I must confess that I couldn’t hide my excitement when I received your email including the starter for our conversation in Swedish. As you mentioned, and like many other people, I don’t speak Swedish at all, although I know some people who do, in Chile. I believe they learnt it while they were exiled in Sweden during the 70s and 80s. It’s curious how now I’m relating bilingualism to exile, a state of (self?) imposed absence. While many authors/theorists refer to the translator as a bridge or connector between two different cultures, nobody seems to pay much attention to what happens to the individual who’s in between while the process of the transfer you are referring takes place. I guess that’s why the receiver hardly gets what was originally wrapped. Sounds like Greek mythology to me, where transgressions are punished with eternal torment. But my intention here is not to talk about translation, at least not about translation as a practice but rather as a procedure. And anyway, here I am writing to you in English, a language that is not my native one. A language that after 4 years of living in an English-speaking country I am supposed to master, but I don’t. So who am I now? A genius or a joker? A phony, a trickster? I’m not sure. I guess I just want to say that when I dare to write in a language that is not mine, it kind of feels similar to when you open your inbox and you collect your emails and you read my email in English and you answer in Swedish in a word processor and you send it to somebody else who translates it into English and then you copy and paste it into a reply email to finally click send. That desperately heavy and large box, which inside contains a smaller box, which in turn contains an even smaller box and so on until the last box, which exists only in our imagination, turns to be a perfectly empty box.

Nota al Pie: lingua franca, hegemonic globalization, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, Marcel Mauss, Prometheus, Sisyphus, (and yes!) Caroline Bergvall.

Kära Carlos,

jag vet inte hur du förhåller dig till det konceptuella, till konceptualismen som ism bland andra ismer, som ideologi bland andra ideologier, som estetik, som politik, som etik, som system? För egen del tror jag på konstnärens rätt att vara svekfull. Att sätta upp hårda regler och låta bli att följa dem. Att kopiera, härma, imitera, stjäla; lika gärna som att blunda, famla, smittas, ledas, finmejsla ut eller slumpa sig fram. Man behöver inte veta vad som är vad. Men kanske känna när det funkar och inte?

Konceptualism som ett sätt att röra sig i och tillsammans med språket? Inte för att den skulle vara bättre eller mindre tvingande än andra estetiker, men för att den är mindre sliten, mindre utforskad och möjliggör skapandet av poetiska koreografier som fortfarande kan kännas blinkande nya och nyfiket ivriga?

Ingen nyckel, genväg, quick fix eller låda, men kanske ett hopp? En önskan, en aktivitet, en motor. (Huden och luften, den första förälskelsen, centimetrarna mellan tröjärmarna, byxbenen, handlovarna etc.) Alla som säger att jag hatar metaforer. Kanske i poesi, i den roll de spelar i dikten, men nästan aldrig i andra texter. Också det ett slags förflyttning, omkopplingar, att bygga en näktergal av lådans kartong osv. Att vara i rörelse dvs stå stilla för länge dvs bli uppriktigt förvånad över det man sysslar med mest.

Senaste året har jag sysselsatt mig med ljudbilden i ordet aska (ashes). Hur det börjar på a och slutar på a och dör och återföder sig själv i samma twist. En liten knyck. Allt tar slut och ändå, obegripligt nog, när man tittar efter är man tillbaka på startlinjen igen. Varje gång. Ljudmässigt är det ett enkelt och vackert ord. Öppet och efter konsonantväxlingen ännu mer öppet. Ett ljusgrönt ord. Ständigt växande. På samma gång ett ljusgrått ord, tyst och torrt. Ständigt fallande, isärsprickande, smulande.

Ungefär sextio dikter har jag skrivit om det där lilla ordet. Är det konceptualism? Jag vet inte. Något om fokus och uppmärksamhet? Något om skala och disproportion?

Fotnot: ismer, förflyttningar, historia, kontext, minne, feltolkningar, möjligheterna till akademisk karriär, nyfikenheten, rörligheten, en ivrig hamster, att vara smart och ändå inte vara dum och vice versa.

Dear Carlos,

I don’t know how you relate to the conceptual, to conceptualism as an ism among other isms, as an ideology among other ideologies, as aesthetics, as politics, as ethics, as a system? Personally, I believe in the artist’s right to be deceitful; to set up strict rules and then refuse to follow them. To copy, mimic, imitate, steal, as well as blunder, stumble, be smitten, be lead, carve, chisel, take a shot in the dark. You don’t need to know what’s what. But perhaps sense when it's working and when it's not?

Conceptualism as a way of moving within and together with language? Not that it would be better or less coercive than other aesthetics, but because it’s less exhausted, less explored and allows the creation of poetic choreographies that still might seem blinkingly new and curiously eager?

No key, short cut, quick fix, or box, but maybe a hope? A wish, an activity, a motor. (The skin and the air, your first love, the centimeters between the shirtsleeves, pant legs, wrists etc.) And everyone says I hate metaphors. Maybe I do in poetry, in the role they play in the poem, but almost never in other texts. That too, a kind of movement, reconnections, building a nightingale with the cardboard of the box and so on. To be in motion, i.e. to be still too long, i.e. to be honestly surprised by what you’re doing most often.

This last year I occupied myself with the sound of the word aska [ashes]. How it starts with an a and ends with an a and dies and is then reborn in the same twist. A little twitch. Everything ends but still, inexplicably, when you look again, you’re back at the beginning. Every time. Phonetically, it’s a simple and beautiful word. Open and then, after the consonant cluster, even more open. A pale green word. Continuously growing. Simultaneously a light gray word, quiet and dry. Continuously falling, breaking apart, crumbling.

I’ve written around sixty poems about that little word. Is that conceptualism? I don’t know. Something about focus and attention? Something about scale and disproportion?

Footnote: isms, movement, history, context, memory, misinterpretations, possibilities for an academic career, curiosity, agility, an eager hamster, to be smart but still not dumb and vice versa.

Querida Anna,

A veces pienso en el Conceptualismo como una rara condición genética, la cual muchas personas portan, pero que pocas está dispuestas a aceptar que poseen. Independiente de ese proceso de reconocimiento o aceptación, algunos individuos pueden mostrar una expresión total de esos genes y otros pueden expresarlos sólo en forma parcial. Algunos casos pueden evidenciar extrañas alteraciones en los genes, e incluso mutaciones. Algunos de esos genes pueden ser deletéreos…

Otras veces sólo una pregunta ronda mi mente: ¿Es posible acercarse / abrazar / abarcar / flirtear / jugar / (con el) / (al) Conceptualismo dejando a un lado cualquier sentimiento de pertenencia? Hasta donde tengo entendido, el Conceptualismo no es una secta / culto / religión / club privado / o algún tipo especial de masonería. Sin embargo siempre hay inquisidores que adoran someter a la gente a la pregunta: ¿Eres o no eres?

Pero continuando con la idea del derecho a ser ladino, prefiero considerar el Conceptualismo como un grupo de herramientas, técnicas, estrategias, métodos y procedimientos, los que como tales puedo adoptar en una circunstancia particular y  abandonar en otra. No lo veo como algo estrictamente vinculante, por cuanto no me impone ninguna obligación ni deber.

Ahora con respecto a los ismos, por supuesto que me siento atraído a algunos de ellos pero me parece que al final todos empiezan a rimar con fundamentalismo. Cuando eso ocurre se vuelven aburridos. A partir de ese momento empiezo a simpatizar más con lo infiel, con el paganismo, pero por sobretodo como tu indicaste anteriormente, con la intuición. De manera que supongo que podría decir que, en un sentido puramente biológico, mi relación con el Conceptualismo es un mutualismo práctico. También podría decir, imitando un estado de Facebook “es complicado”. Porque no se trata sólo de identidad, no es sólo acerca de los usos, abusos o mal usos. No es sobre la pertenencia.

Mi interés en el Conceptualismo tiene una raíz que es casi arqueológica, en el sentido que me provee un nuevo contexto en cual puedo relacionarme, rescatar y promover diferentes lecturas y/o maneras de comprender trabajos fundamentales que no son muy conocidos fuera de Chile, los que aparecieron años antes de que naciera el actual movimiento Conceptualista. Estoy hablando de mis referentes locales aquí.

Pero también estoy interesado en traducción y en el Conceptualismo como discursos subversivos, por cuanto son capaces de trastocar, de alterar, de perturbar un orden particular. Y tanto la globalización hegemónica cómplice de una empresa imperialista y el canon literario tradicional, son dos tipos particulares de orden que merecen ser alterados.

Nota al Pie: xenotext, identidad, mesianismo, (Juan Luis Martínez), (Juan de Dios Martínez), Guillermo Deisler, Jen Hofer.

Querida Anna,

At times I think of Conceptualism as a rare genetic condition that some people possess but not everyone is willing to admit they have. Regardless of that acknowledgement or acceptance process, some individuals may show a total expression of those genes, and some others may express them just partially. Some cases may evidence weird gene alterations, and even mutations. Some of those genes could be deleterious…

Some other times just one question comes to my mind: Is it possible to approach / embrace / encompass / flirt / play / (with) / Conceptualism putting aside any sense of belonging? As far as I understand, Conceptualism is not a sect / cult / religion / private club / or special kind of masonry. Nevertheless there still are inquisitors that love to put people into the question: Are you or are you not?

But following the idea of the right to be cunning, I prefer to consider Conceptualism as a set of tools, techniques, strategies, methods and procedures, which as such I can adopt in a particular time and disregard in another. I don’t see it as something strictly binding since it doesn’t impose me any obligation or duty.

Now concerning the isms, of course I’m attracted to some but it seems that at the end all of them begin to rhyme with fundamentalism. When that happens they become boring. From that moment I start to sympathize better with the infidel, with heathenism, but mostly, as you pointed out, with intuition. So I guess I could say that, in a pure biological sense, my relation with Conceptualism is a practical mutualism. I could also say, mimicking a Facebook status “it’s complicated”. Because it’s not only about identity, it’s not only about uses, abuses or misuses. It’s not about belonging.

My interest in Conceptualism has a root that is almost archeological, in the sense that provides me a new context in which I can relate, rescue, and promote different readings and/or ways of understanding fundamental works that are not well known outside Chile, which appeared years before the current Conceptualist movement was born. I’m talking about my local referents here.

But I’m also interested in translation and Conceptualism as subversive speeches inasmuch they are able to disrupt, to alter, to disturb a particular order. And both hegemonic globalization complicit with an imperialist enterprise and traditional literary canon are particular kinds of order that deserve to be subverted.

Nota al Pie: xenotext, identity, messianism, (Juan Luis Martínez), (Juan de Dios Martínez), Guillermo Deisler, Jen Hofer.

Käraste Carlos,

den här kampen, dragkampen, mellan grupper och gränser. Innanför och utanför osv. I praktiken är ju språket nästan uteslutande ett slags härmning, upprepning, en social kod som alltid drar mot konsensus. (Vi kan inte ”uttrycka” något som inte tidigare blivit ”uttryckt” och genom tradition definierats som en expressiv utsaga osv.) Den blinda konformismen, tvånget och repressionen inbyggd i själva koden. Oförmågan att säga/tänka. Konsensusmagneten drar ihop grammatiken, sätter samman orden, låter dem löpa längs stigar vi känner igen. Och i samma anda: bortstötningen, förträngningen, ointresset och reducerandet av språkformer som inte omedelbart låter sig acklimatiseras av det allmänna medvetandet. Dessutom den sorgliga och sadistiska och mycket paradoxala mänskliga vanan att betrakta varje avvikelse som ”stereotyp”. Härliga varelser. Vi kastar oss framåt först då vi är helt säkra på att hängslena är ordentligt fastspikade i väggen.

Apropå vad du skriver om konceptualism och genetik (jfr Burroughs /Kac/Bök mfl) tänker jag ganska ofta på poesi som ett sätt att bromsa den oundvikliga hjärndöd som är priset för att leva och ingå i den mänskliga gemenskapen. Eller, med en annan metaforik, handlar inte det mesta poesiskrivandet om något så banalt som att ihärdigt och oupphörligt orka välja fel väg igen och igen och igen?

Vi har nu ett metaforiskt system av lådor och genetik. Om man vill kan man kalla det allegoriskt. (jfr Fitterman/Place osv) Hur många kartonger måste man vika innan det går hål på ägget?

Jag tycker om hur du skriver om arkeologi och Chile. Mitt skrivande blir bara mindre. Jag skulle önska att jag kunde skriva något enda som var verkligt. Det är min dröm, om jag så bara skulle skriva en blyertspenna. Eller min skrivbordsstol. Men det bara glider hela tiden. Det har inte med nostalgi, ägande eller upplysning att göra. Jag har ingenting ”att säga” när det gäller poesi. Men jag skulle vilja göra en dikt som var lika självklar och otvetydig som kaffekoppen bredvid mig. Tiden vinner alltid över rummet, i livet såväl som i poesin. Det är nog min största frustration. Att tiden drar iväg och förändrar perceptionen. Grumlar till, suddar ut. Det bleknar. Blir något annat. Min poesiskrivande man är mycket bättre än jag på att bejaka den rörelsen. Leva i den. Flyta med den. Jag vill inte. Jag håller mina lerfigurer i regnet tills de rinner bort mellan fingrarna. Kaffet kallnar och koppen får bruna avlagringar på insidan av väggen. Ser inte likadan ut som för en timme sedan. Hur kan man stå ut med att rummet (som är det levande) ständigt förlorar mot tiden (som är det dödande). Minnesförlusten. Hjärndöden. Jag har lättare att stå ut med tanken på den egna döden, förruttnelsen, maskarna osv än att det levande aldrig skulle ha funnits.

Fotnot. Roubaud. Björling. Bowles. Bernstein. Materialism. Kärlek. Kopp. Stol. Penna. Dalgränd 20 torsdagen den 26 juli 2012 kl 11.15 laptopen i vardagsrummet en barnstrumpa i soffan. Grumligheten. Oskärpan. Skära med skalpell i jelly.

Dearest Carlos,

This battle, this tug-of-war, between groups and boundaries. Inside and outside, etc. In practice language is almost only a kind of imitation, repetition, a social code continually drawn towards consensus. (We can't "express" something that hasn't already been "expressed" and defined by tradition as an expressive statement etc.) The blind conformism, coercion, and repression that's built into the code itself. The incapacity to say/think. The consensus-magnet pulling together grammar, putting together words, allowing them to run along paths we already recognize. And in the same vein: rejection, repression, lack of interest and the reduction of language forms that don't allow for immediate acclimation to the public consciousness. In addition, the sad and sadistic and very paradoxical human habit of considering any deviation "stereotypical". Such beautiful creatures. We throw ourselves forward only when we're completely sure our straps have been securely fastened to the wall.

Apropos to what you wrote about conceptualism and genetics (see Burroughs/Kac/Bök), I often think of poetry as a way of slowing down our inevitable brain death (the price we pay for living and being part of the human community). Or, to use another metaphor, isn't most poetry writing about something as banal as persistently and incessantly making the wrong choice again and again and again?

Now we have a metaphorical system of boxes and genetics. If you wanted to you might call it allegorical. (see Fitterman/Place etc) How many boxes must you fold before you make a hole in the egg?

I like what you write about archaeology and Chile. My writing is only getting smaller. I wish I could write anything at all that was real. That's my dream, if I could just write a pencil. Or my desk chair. But instead it just glides all the time. This has nothing to do with nostalgia, ownership, or enlightenment. I have nothing "to say" when it comes to poetry. But I'd like to make a poem that was as self-evident and unambiguous as the coffee cup sitting next to me. Time always wins over space, in life as in poetry. It's probably my greatest frustration. That time passes and changes our perceptions. Blurring, erasing. Fading. Becoming something else. My poetry-writing husband is much better than me at answering this movement. Living in it. Flowing with it. I don't want to. I hold my clay figures in the rain until they run out of my fingers. The coffee cools, and the cup ends up with brown deposits on the inside of its walls. Doesn't look the same as an hour ago. How can we bear that space (which is living) always loses to time (which is dying). Memory loss. Brain death. I find it easier to bear the idea of my own death, decay, worms, etc. than that the living never would have existed.

Footnote. Roubaud. Björling. Bowles. Bernstein. Materialism. Love. Cup. Chair. Pencil. Dalgränd 20 Thursday the 26th of July 11:15 am laptop in the living room a child's sock in the sofa. Turbidity. Blurring. To cut with a scalpel into jelly.

Queridísima Anna,

En una de sus lecturas, Fred Moten explicaba el significado del término griego μετοίκε refiriendo que “algunas veces es traducido como ‘esclavo’, pero literalmente significa ‘el que está afuera de la casa’ y otra manera de pensarlo sería ‘el que está afuera de la economía’, pero al mismo tiempo el que está afuera de la casa y afuera de la economía, está también en su mismo centro”.

He estado pensando en lo que escribiste con respecto al lenguaje y cómo de alguna forma se relaciona con el concepto de μετοίκε. Lenguaje como una cadena o yugo y también la supuesta imposibilidad de operar fuera de él (una vez más el margen/ el extramuro). Me hace preguntarme acerca de qué es lo que hay afuera del lenguaje. Supuestamente, estar afuera del lenguaje es estar fuera del mundo, o por lo menos, no estar gobernado por las reglas de éste orden simbólico particular. Pero nuevamente… ¿Es posible operar fuera de éste orden sin ser considerado un psicótico? No lo sé, pero en realidad el psicótico no está afuera del lenguaje, está afuera del discurso.

Además, si consideramos que “no podemos decir lo que no podemos decir y no podemos silbarlo tampoco”… ¿Cómo entonces nos hacemos cargo de lo indescriptible? ¿Cómo nos referimos a lo indecible (the unspeakable)? Claramente parece que lo alegórico merodea alrededor de este dominio, al menos me inclino a pensar de ese modo y eso es lo que me queda luego del último balbuceo de Ludwig. De manera que la respuesta no llegaría de la mano del lenguaje lógico pero todavía considerando el lenguaje como una ilusión de la realidad. La realidad es la base, dijo Martínez, pero sólo la base.

También me encuentro sin esperanza ante la paradoja de lo sitio-específico. Incapaz de hacer algo acerca de la relación de inequidad que existe entre las dos coordenadas que en teoría definen la realidad. Tomando esto en cuenta, y teniendo en mente lo que algunos sostienen, que nada de lo que existe merece ser preservado, me gusta pensar en la poesía como el último gesto de resistencia, o como Vanessa Place sugiere, como sólo un sitio de compromiso potencial. Una pequeña y sombría taberna, donde nos podemos juntar a planificar una nueva sublevación.

Como farmacéutico he estado rodeado de muchos tipos de lenguajes técnicos: químico, médico, regulatorio, legal. Jergas que siempre he mirado con desdén porque simplemente no podía encontrar la manera apropiada de (mal)tratarlas, de trabajar con ellas, de explotarlas de una manera distinta a su funcionalidad intrínseca. Ahora, motivado por un profundo deseo de no sólo generar otro tipo de significado (o tal vez retorcerlo), pero también de aventurarme hacia el campo de lo indecible, tomo y uso estas formas deliberadamente y las re-contextualizo (lo que no es otra cosa que ecualizar las coordenadas de espacio y tiempo). Pero para lograr esto he tenido que salir de lo teórico y entrar en lo práctico, he tenido que salir de lo objetivo y entrar en lo subjetivo, he tenido que dejar atrás lo técnico para poder entrar en la poesía. Y viceversa. El adentro y el afuera otra vez. O como dice Juarroz: “A veces me parece /que estamos al centro /de la fiesta /sin embargo /en el centro de la fiesta /no hay  nadie /en el centro de la fiesta /está el vacío /Pero en el centro del vacío /hay otra fiesta.”

Nota al pie: Hugson’s Tavern, lo Alien, el margen, Ramsey, Tractatus, Wittgenstein, Martínez, Uribe, Teitelboim, Reznikoff, Bäker, Hodell, Place, Fitterman, Pedanius Dioscorides, El Código de Hammurabi, Poemas Verticales, Alix Cleo & Roubaud.

Queridísima Anna,

In one of his readings, Fred Moten explained the meaning of the Greek term μετοίκε referring that “sometimes it is translated as slave, but literally would be the one who is outside of the house, and another way to think about it would be outside of the economy, but at the same time the one who’s outside the house, and outside the economy is also at the very center”.

I’ve been thinking about what you wrote concerning language and how in a way, relates to the concept of μετοίκε. Language as a chain, as a yoke, and also the alleged impossibility to operate outside of it (one more time the margin/the outskirts). It makes me wonder about what is outside of language. Supposedly, to be out of language is to be out of the world, or at least not to be governed by the rules of this particular symbolic order. But again… Is it possible to operate outside of this order without being considered psychotic? I don’t know but actually, the psychotic is not outside language, is outside the discourse.

Moreover, considering that “we can’t say what we can’t say, and can’t whistle it either”… How do we deal then with the indescribable? How do we address the unspeakable (lo indecible)? It clearly seems that the allegorical is lurking around this realm, at least that is what I’m inclined to think, and that is what I get from Ludwig’s last mumbling. So the answer would come not by the hand of logical language but still considering language as an illusion of reality. Reality is the base, said Martínez, but only the base.

I am also hopeless at the paradox of the site-specific. Unable to do something about the relation of inequality that exists between this two coordinates that in theory define reality. In view of this, and keeping in mind what some argue, that there is nothing worth preserving, I like to think of poetry as the last gesture of resistance or like Vanessa Place suggests, just as a site of potential engagement. A small and shady tavern where we can meet to scheme a new revolt.

As a pharmacist I’ve been surrounded by many kinds of technical languages: chemical, medical, regulatory, legal. Jargons that I’ve always looked with disdain because I just couldn’t find the proper way to (mis)use them, to work with them, to exploit them other than within their intrinsic functionality. Now, motivated by a deep desire to not only generate another kind of meaning (or rather to twist it), but also to venture myself into the dominion of the unspeakable, I use and take these forms deliberately, and I re-contextualize them (which is nothing but equalize space and time coordinates). But in order to achieve that, I’ve had to get out of the theoretical and get into the practical, I’ve had to exit the objectivity and enter into the subjectivity, I’ve had to leave technicalities behind in order to arrive to poetry. And also the other way around. Inside and out again. Or like Juarroz says: “Sometimes it seems / as though we are the centre of the feast. / But in the centre of the feast is nobody, / in the centre of the feast is the emptiness. / But the centre of the emptiness is another feast.”

Nota al pie: Hugson’s Tavern, the Alien, the margin, Ramsey, Tractatus, Wittgenstein, Martínez, Uribe, Teitelboim, Reznikoff, Bäker, Hodell, Place, Fitterman, Pedanius Dioscorides, Code of Hammurabi, Poemas Verticales, Alix Cleo & Roubaud.

-----------------------------------------

Anna Hallberg was born in 1975 and currently lives in Stockholm. She started working as a literary critic in 1999 and published her first poetry collection, Friktion (Friction), in 2001. Since then she has written three books of poetry: på era platser (on your marks, 2004), Mil (Mile, 2008) and Colosseum, Kolosseum (2010). Currently she is working on a new poetry book which is due to be released in 2014. Anna Hallberg is a member of the editorial board of the poetry magazine OEI, and has also worked with visual poetry for exhibitions in Sweden, Norway and Finland.

http://barnard.edu/events/swedish-poetry-today

http://writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Hallberg.php

http://artonair.org/show/anna-hallberg-reading

Carlos Soto-Román was born in Valparaíso, Chile. He is the author of "La Marcha de los Quiltros" (1999), "Haiku Minero" (2007), "Cambio y Fuera" (2009), "Philadelphia's Notebooks" (2011) and the forthcoming chapbook "Con/Science" (Fall, 2012). He is a translator and the curator of Elective Affinities, a cooperative anthology of  contemporary U.S. poetry. He is also a pharmacist and holds a Master's degree in Bioethics. He lives in Philadelphia, PA.

http://www.pen.org/blog/?p=13795

http://blogs.saic.edu/dearnavigator/summer2011/carlos-soto-roman-title/

MOOCs and access = "revolutionary"

Wildly over the top, but charming and fascinating: http://bit.ly/Oijddm. ModPo will change the world, she says. I'm heartened by what she says about class, and by this: “Granting access to knowledge to everyone, anywhere in the world, no matter their level of education, or motives for learning, is downright revolutionary” and “I’d call it one of the greatest humanitarian efforts we’ve seen. So when class starts just a few hours from now, Indeed my world will change forever.”

Outsider Poems: A Mini-Anthology in Progress (45): The Last Words of Dutch Schultz

                                                Oh, stop it! Stop it! . . . Oh, Oh, Oh, Sure, sure,
                                                Mamma, etc.

1
Please, you know me. Oh, Louie, didn’t I give you my door bell? Everything you got, the whole bill. And did you come for your rest in the doctor’s office, sir? Yes, I can see that. Your son-in-law, and he isn’t liked, is he? Harry, does he behave? No; don’t you scare me; my friends think I do a better job. Oh, police are looking for you all over; please be instrumental in letting us now. That wouldn’t be here; they are Englishmen and they are a type I don’t know who is best, they or us. Oh, sir, and get the doll a roofing. Please. You can play jacks, and girls do that with a soft ball and do tricks with it. Please; I may take all events into consideration; no, no. And it is no; it is confused and it says no; a boy has never wept . . . nor dashed a thousand kim . . .

2
Two thousand; come on, get some money in that treasury; we need it; come on, please get it; I can’t tell you to. You are telling the truth, aren’t you, Mr. Harris. That is not what you have in the book. Oh, yes I have. Oh, please, warden. Please. What am I going to do for money. How is that; how do you like that? Please put me up on my feet, at once. Thank you, Sam, you are a boiled man; I do it because you ask me to. Did you hear me? I would hear it, the Circuit Court would hear it, and the Supreme Court might hear it. Come on, pull me up sir. All right. Cam Davis. Oh, please reply. N.R.A. If that ain’t the payoff. Please crack down on the Chinaman’s friends and Hitler’s commander. All right, I am sore and I am going to give you honey if I can. Look out. We broke that up. Mother is the best bet and don’t let Satan draw you too fast.

3
I know what I am doing here with my collection of papers, for crying out loud. It isn’t worth a nickel to two guys like you or me, but to a collector it is worth a fortune; it is priceless. I am going to turn it over to . . . . Turn your back to me, please, Henry. I am so sick now. The police are getting many complaints. Look out. Hey, Jack; hello Jack. Jack, mamma. I want that G-note. Look out, for Jimmy Valentine, for he is an old pal of mine. Come on, Jim, come on Jimmie; oh, thanks. O.K. O.K. I am all through; I can’t do another thing. Hymie, won’t you do what I ask you this once? Look out! Mamma, mamma! Look out for her. You can’t beat him. Police, mamma! Helen, Mother, please take me out. Come on, Rosie. O.K. Hymes would do it; not him. I will settle . . . . the indictment. Come on, Max, open the soap duckets. Frankie, please come here. Open that door, Dumpey’s door. It is so much, Abe, that . . . with the brewery. Come on. Hey, Jimmie! The Chimney Sweeps. Talk to the Sword. Shut up, you got a big mouth! Please help me, Henry. Max come over here . . . . French Canadian bean soup . . . I want to pay, let them leave me alone. . . .

COMMENTARY

SOURCE: Jerome Rothenberg, A Big Jewish Book: Poems & Other Visions of the Jews from Tribal Times to Present, Doubleday & Company, 1977.

An excerpt from the New York Times (October 25, 1935) of death-bed statements transcribed verbatim by J.F. Long, a Newark Police Department clerk-stenographer. The gangster Dutch Schultz had been gunned down in the men’s room of the Palace Chop House & never regained full consciousness, but his “last words,” recorded over a 24-hour period, take on a new life when written down in sequence & minus any interruptions. A further appropriation of the words in bits & pieces occurs in William Burroughs’ film script, “The Last Words of Dutch Schultz”:

Bare room of Albert Stern [the man
who shot Dutch Schultz]. He is lying
on bed by the open gas oven.                   HISS OF ESCAPING GAS

                                                                               Dutch:
                                                                               I want to pay.
Sets from film are repeated on loop.
Flegenheimer Saloon and Livery            Let them leave me alone.
Stable, bee drop, offices, Harlem
streets, the old Harmony Hotel,             Stern’s plaintive voice:
Public School No. 12. The sets are        Arthur Flegenheimer
progressively underexposed, darker   ARTHUR FLEGENHEIMER
and darker.
                                                                              (A last despairing cry)
Mrs Murphy’s lilacs flash on screen     ARTHUR FLEGENHEIMER
in bright color.
Sets rapidly darken.
                                                                              GAS AND HOSPITAL SOUNDS
                                                                              FAINTER AND FAINTER
Darkness on screen.                                    silence on screen

                                              THE END

Higher education in a brave new wonderful world, by Madora Kibbe

[From a commentary published in Psychology Today:]

Yes it's true I have studied modern poetry before — in the normal small-class setting. Cappucinos and berets optional.   At Bennington, at Boston University and Breadloaf. But I've never taken a course taught by a UPenn professor, with a class size of 28,000. And counting.

 The class I am about to take, it starts on Monday, is one that is offered by Coursera. And what is Coursera? Coursera is the new world baby. It's an online college (kind of) offering free classes to anyone anywhere. (coursera.com) Classes taught at Stanford, Duke, and obviously UPenn. Top of the line. FOR FREE. That's right. The best things in life are free. If only Abbie Hoffman were still alive to see this. He'd be grinning ear to bearded ear. So would Walt Whitman for that matter. I guess you can tell I'm excited.

I'm not the only one champing at the bit for Coursera’s Modern Poetry class (or ModPo as dubbed by its professor, Al Filreis). Turns out there are over 3000 of us tweeting on Twitter, and getting responses from our teacher! And he's stoked too. A life of the mind has never seemed so connected to the world. I get to read Emily Dickinson and yes Walt Whitman and even John Cage and I get to write essays and takes quizzes and if it all goes well I will get a certificate of completion. It's too soon to say but I'm saying it anyway. This may be the solution for anyone who wants a do-over on choosing a major, or has finally found the time to dig into something they love but could never fit into a “required” courseload, or it may be the solution for those of us who never wanted college to end. Maybe the answer is never finish. Never stop learning. Turn your life into a growing patchwork quilt of classes taken, certificates earned. And who knows? Maybe Coursera will find a way to give out degrees. Crazy? So is talking to your iPhone and getting a response.

[read the rest of the article]

I love all waste and solitary spaces

from The Office of Recuperative Strategies
from The Office of Recuperative Strategies

I’m enamored with the idea of the flaneur as a creative way to move through urban spaces, even though I don’t quite espouse (or embody) the three qualifications for being one, which are wealth, education and idleness. (Not that I’d reject any of those three if they came my way, but I don’t agree that they’re prerequisites for flaneurism.) However, being a woman in public spaces—especially wandering through public spaces—is complicated. That’s why that scene in La Notte when Jeanne Moreau roams through the streets of Rome and breaks up a fight between a group of men is such a shock. That sort of urban engagement is not really encouraged in women. As a long-time dedicated female flaneur who began as such during my teens walking home late at night after babysitting jobs, I’d argue that many of the fears many have of passing through city spaces are socially constructed (urban myths), reinforcing a system of inequality. How often has someone insisted that something absolutely horrible and unspeakable would happen to me if I walked through a housing project, even in daytime? There’s a total sense of helplessness conveyed in these (often racially based) cautions—that the social situations I’d encounter by walking through a civic space, particularly one inhabited by people of color, would be totally unnegotiable. That, simply, I’d die if I went into those spaces. But the truth is that encounter is more subtly fraught, delicately complex and totally necessary to vital civic life. Women are taught, with the lessons reinforced daily by television and movie fare, that to be present in a public space is to invite humiliation, violation and death. Therefore, the recourse is to become invisible, to avoid, to ignore, to not hear, to not see. So I’ve learned to become invisible and in turn falsely empty the city of people to experience only the detritus of what they’ve built around me, like that nuclear bomb that leaves the buildings standing and the life extinguished.

A few months ago, I participated in a walk by the Office of Recuperative Strategies to and along the Gowanus Canal. Led by three women—Rachel Levitsky, Elliott Maltby and Elizabeth Zuba—we were to recuperate “latent words, meanings, objects and gestures” from the Gowanus, to be later used in an art show that same night. So here was a group of women, intently and intentionally wandering through empty and industrial areas. I was quite content—“I love all waste/ and solitary spaces where we taste/ the pleasure of believing what we see/ is boundless, as we wish our souls to be,” says Shelley—until we encountered a bus engine repair yard and one of us began chatting with the men working there, asking if we could take their photo. I was immediately uncomfortable—engagement, negotiation, possible exploitation (photos), possible threat, class issues (them working, us not), gender complication (flirtation), and so on. All these complications that make “nature poetry”—quiet contemplation of a passive object—more immediately attractive than negotiating the messiness of human encounters within space, particularly within the fractured post-industrial space of the Gowanus Canal (full of small fishes, an osprey nest on top of a large pole, an egret flushed when we approached some small area of greenery that we couldn’t decide whether maintained or natural—a bizarre plant-flower I had never seen before, could be planted, native or invasive, cobblestones arranged in demi-circle tumbling into canal, birdboxes, gasoline rainbow sheen and awful mothball scent from the water in the incredible heat of the day. Later, at the art show, an aquarium of various species caught from the Canal, a slow hot dissolution of the project into the night.)