To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Sunday, August 3, 2008

Charles Bernstein: 4 Poems, with a Note on Escape, from Rousseau to Bernstein

Transegmental Drift

It’s the mind makes a muck of these Sylvan
Occlusions and mannered pronouncements.
“Abominable!” is the word, beastly –
Sound obtruding into the poem like a
Pork rind at a Bar Mitzvah. Just give the
Twist a break, or several. Nailed down to
24-hour fog duty. The un-
iforms are soiled and ill-fitting. But jeans
Regularize all that. The stuff of themes: Cut and paste, morose, interdenomi-
nation, laser-sharp lobotomy. The
Door the door closes. As when a conti-
nental divide becomes metaphor for
Swimming laps (summary judgment). Goad the
Goalie but leave me to fall to pieces
With my jet skies on. The waves roll, taking
No toll. How about you?

The Sixties, with Apologies

I remember the future, how it was
So much like the past, those days
Rowing on the lake for the sake of
Rowing itself, never looking out, never
Any ducks lined up, only the fragrance
Of fragrance, the similes on a smile
Touched by an angle. As if our fund
For hedges was any more effective than
Duping, duking, doping, throwing
Cold water on sizzling runes. Jesus
Would have dug it, before he got hung
Up in all that superstructure. Even
The water withers in the mouth, like

Hope evaporating in the words of the
Town criers and motion sensors. Gale
Winds diminish in the mind since
Whatever is apparent and clear in
My brain is so much Yukon flu.
The utter white spaces of deception.
It’s ok, but I did that 20 years ago.
Millions of miles beyond care, sobered
Up on 12-year-old bourbon & lobster
Rigamarole. The blood on George Bush’s
Hands keeps coming out in my stool.
Night is never dark enough because
Everything I see frightens me.

Death on a Pale Horse

Circumstance guards way before
Targets long out of reach but forever
Emblazoned on mind’s horizon.
Like phase or water without wetness
Sheer incline to other slope
So that shibboleth becomes
Token of last year’s dope
Or cagey proportion not quite sized
For the next reason. How completely
Dandy, doing dithers in slivered
Solicitude or postcoital entropics.
Seize the tone or time’ll
Trick every last one of you, it’s
That close, that final.

No Hiding Place

I thought language poetry was against emotion in the name of

I thought language poetry was against theory in favor of praxis

I thought language poetry was lots of words making the most of

I thought language poetry was the diehard foe of the massed mediocracy

I thought language poetry was a big tent without roof or floor

I thought language poetry was sympathy without tea

I thought language poetry was ambient sound in serial locomotion

I thought language poetry has branches in Paris, New York, Toronto,
and Palm Springs

I thought language poetry was Marxist

I thought language poetry was anarchist

I thought language poetry was the antichrist

I thought language poetry was bourgeois aestheticism

I thought language poetry hated the voice

I thought language poetry was all voicing and never content

I thought language poetry was against realism

I thought language poetry was a new form of realism

I thought language poetry was against dogma

I thought language poetry refused its commissars

I thought language poetry was against closed groups

I thought language poetry was all thought in pursuit of potential

I thought language poetry was Gertrude Stein all over again

I thought language poetry was trying to make the reader feel

I thought language poetry was wary of proclamations of sincere

I thought language poetry was a lot of nonsense packaged to look

I thought language poetry was the possibility for freedom

I thought language poetry was the major precursor to word-salad
email spam

I thought language poetry was short for L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poetry

I thought language poetry favored style over manner

I thought language poetry was too intellectual

I thought language poetry was too difficult to ignore

I thought language poetry was the cat’s scratch

I thought language poetry was neither a school nor a movement
but a transient moment

I thought language poetry was a chimerical constellation

I thought language poetry was tendencies and investments not
rules or orders

I thought language poetry was minor literature with a vengeance

I thought language poetry was a collective figment of a collective

I thought language poetry was an illusion

I thought language poetry was over

I thought language poetry resists the authority of language poetry

* * *


Early in Poems for the Millennium, volume 3, Jeffrey Robinson and I present Jean-Jacques Rousseau as a forerunner both to romanticism and to the modernism & postmodernism that follow. After commenting briefly on the politics of The Social Contract and related writings, we turn to Rousseau’s Confessions and the late Reveries of a Solitary Walker (posthumously published in 1782), which reveal “another side of Rousseau” – we write – “equally crucial for Romanticism: the defiant expression of the mind in its freedom. The Reveries push, or expand, the arena of wandering self-exploration into the semi-conscious zone that can --according to Rousseau & the many later writers from Keats & De Quincey & Hugo to Baudelaire & Nerval & Poe & Mallarmé & well into the surrealist writers of the twentieth century & beyond — offer its own challenge to the cultural police by envisioning, through what appears to be a regressive or escapist lapse from the real world, a new space for our communal wandering.”

And at this point, & without further elaboration, we offer the following quote from Bernstein’s Artifice of Absorption, as a link & continuation from Rousseau :

But escape can be an image of release from captivity
in a culture that produces satisfactions as a means
of exploitation or pacification. The problem
with “escapist” literature is that it offers no escape,
narratively reinforcing our captivity.
To escape, however, if only
trope-ically, is not a utopian refusal
to encounter the realpolitic of history: it is a
crucial dialectical turn that allows imaginal place
outside history as we “know” it,
in order to critique it,
an Archemidian point of imaginative
construction, in which we can be energized,
our resources shored.


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Anonymous said...

As long as escape is a sport, I should like to redirect the poet Charles Bernstein to Professor J Fleming's blog courtesy of his work at Princeton. When it comes to shared property, the effects are injurious, and obligates militant power, as is the critique of life that cannot be shared by arbitrative trust of political or moral power, as is the condition of Emma's death. When the concern from most working photographers is that Emma's work and life contribution to the evaluation of woman against the tradition known as family agent of trial or law, which is to the educated known as the State, whether the thumb is paid for the job or not, so thereby an intermediary which is the moral or divine power of the Queen, or person of monetary ideology, must make the law for the bulk of person and being, in the fullest Vienna sense that being is permissive and radiant of the light bestowed by human language or arts. Shouldn't a more appropriate source of judgement against the appropriation of life by the higher power gauranteed by the reality of State without its objectivity of law, and then guaranteed by the double binary of the actor employed with its standard of any arbitrary penalty against public use of law as symbol, or human life in its reciprocity as such, by an art source that is non-institutional? Such as Princeton - where fine arts is guaranteed by a civic process and public litigation whereby the offenses of a radical intellectual training or its personal experience in the suffering of the Holocaust is not the immediate resource of the Holocaust victim HRM and the British decision to kill and its promise to act by propertied return.
As for the plea about the Rossetti legacy and whether Julia Margaret Cameron should be used to uphold state verdicts of arbitrary criminalisation of imaginative life or its obligations to diplomatic concensure; I am somewhat concerned that monetary ideology and its explicit concern of Holocaust seems to govern the condition of the artistic quality of most of the work; and finally that there are British sinologists and musicians employed throughout its Reich era in the forties and seventies onwards to critique the power of virtue that is oscillate from the power of the actual sale, which includes the ISBN warning above - obviously explained as the normative conservative view.
I am also concerned that the young lady's legacy has the ability to shape disaproval of the Ruskin School, but given the critique of power at large, the threat from the Above, which is always the individual and the moral consequences to his or her own actions, seems to disregard art at its highest point of injury or immediate danger when its conditions of proof and moral life are occuped by Nazi force, most of which are either experimental or normative by legal consensus of physical and medical appointment against open or private behaviour.