Utopian Turtletop. Monsieur Croche's Bête Noire. Contact: turtletop [at] hotmail [dot] com

Thursday, September 01, 2005


Reading about the chaos and suffering in New Orleans today. A woman tried to give away her baby to a stranger on a departing transport. She was that despairing. That got me.

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Before the election I predicted that Bush's re-election would augur a significant drop in U.S. life expectancies within 10 or 15 years. I may have been too optimistic. It may be more like 5.

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Got a nice, informative email from Franklin in response to my post the other night on “Language” poetry, a/k/a langpo, which I tried to re-dub "asyntactilism." I agree with what Franklin has to say. The "Zaum" poet he cites is the great Russian futurist Khlebnikov.

Here's Franklin:

Interesting post (on meditative v. oratorical and all that). I don't know if I agree that the split you describe is -the- major one, any more than others that have been proposed, but it's worth hearing different distinctions than the ones that are always trotted out.

Re langpo, 3 or 4 quick notes: I think that "capitalism swallowed my syntax"/your "Asyntacticism" (a truly academic sounding coinage) only describes one portion of the stuff (an important one) that sailed under the langpo flag -- most of Silliman's work, for instance, is perfectly syntactical on the sentential level, but could be called a-narrative, taken in larger units. And I think different poets have used the non-syntactic move to different ends: Some, I think, are representing a sort of disordered state of mine (produced, perhaps, by "capitalism," whatever that is), while others are, perhaps incoherently, trying to use language to say something that "capitalism" doesn't want it to. The first group (Bruce Andrews, e.g.) are, perhaps, more influenced by Surrealism; the second (Leslie Scalapino, e.g.), are, I'd wager, taking a page from Wittgenstein and flipping it: if the limits of my language are the limits of my world, perhaps I can imagine new wordly possibilities by distorting language. (Actually, that sounds surrealist-ish too, now that I write it out.)

I think also, to their credit, that many of the langpos (and especially fellow travelers who published in some of the same places) noticed by, oh, the '80s, that they weren't all doing the same thing after all -- there's been much more divergence in the positions, and the poetry, since.

You're right of course about the various predecessors -- though, at a wild guess, I would bet Cendrars was much more widely read by "New York School" types than langs per se; and various Russians (Mayakovsky, the zaum guy whose name I can't spell offhand) would have to be added to the short list.

And I also agree that much of the poetry is much closer to "lyric" than it originally appeared -- so damn hard to get that "I" that isn't supposed to exist not to manifest itself, if only as "the author function."
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