Talking about the political present requires a technology of public speech, but the constructs and speech have shifted. Inside personal display cases of glass and crystal, upon screens actual or imagined, language takes on a speechified address to a dispersed and uneven public. In a series of somatic plays, Face Down by Brian Whitener faces the distance of political abstraction, the politics of affective life, the impossibility of writing in the political present. The book cannibalizes criticism, enacts it with bodies named A., B., C., and D. arranged like plastic toy soldiers, except in balaclavas. Written in an organized style of informatics, Face Down is seductive and terrifying in its desperate heat and abstract coolness. It is written with the powerlessness and with the power of political emotion.
e following is an excerpt, with additions and edits for clarity, from the essay Our Rimbaud Mask forthcoming from Ugly Duckling Presse this fall.
Between 1978 and 1980, David Wojnarowicz created the Arthur Rimbaud in New York series, several hundred black-and-white photographs of someone wearing a mask of Rimbaud’s face. The photographs say, “he would have visited Coney Island”; “he would have seen porn in Times Square”; “he would have eaten a hamburger and fries.” Spotting the nineteenth-century French poet in the Big Apple is more than delightful.
The tenth anniversary conference of the Chinese/American Association for Poetry and Poetics will be held in Wuhan, China / December 7–10, 2018, hosted by Central China Normal University, Wuhan, China. Co-sponsored by Center for English Literatures of Central China Normal University, Foreign Literature Studies, International Journal of Poetry and Poetics, and Journal of Foreign Language and Literature
NOTE: FuturePanic encompasses macro and micro concerns to transform the reader’s sense of space and time and force them to engage with the present era’s perceptions of death, politics, and the border at which they meet. The opening (presented here and separately titled “Automata”) considers the Von Neumann Machine, an as-yet impossible organic machine designed to replicate itself across the galaxy over the next four hundred thousand years. Conceptual, expensive, and perplexing, the Von Neumann Machine raises questions present throughout FuturePanic — who benefits from the long reach of technology? How do the earth-bound conceive of transformation light years away? And how do mortals deign to simultaneously explore the potential for never-ending life at the cost of killing death for machines, while grappling with their own limitations — corporeal death, political conceit, and economic destruction of the world around them? Is the quest for knowledge that may outlast us all worth stargazing above the screams of others in the here and now and the cries of our own limited bodies and minds?