Sunday, February 21, 2010

Clods of Grass We Hold Up Like Scalps Press

I have two *very* new poems up at Alice Blue. Did I mention this already? I don't think so.

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Happy Birthday, Eric Baus. I know it's a national holiday in Baustralia. Everyone rollerskates and ice cream never melts.

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In the last week, a million books have released. These are some of the ones I have bought or will buy:

Justin Taylor's Everything Here Is The Best Thing Ever from HarperCollins. Justin was one of the first friends I met/made in NY when I moved there in 2005. I have seen all of his the various Brooklym apartments over the years, and seen how hard he's worked to perfect this collection. So, I'm very happy for him.


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Joshua Marie Wilkinson has a new book, Selenography, from Sidebrow:



“an owl breaks the
fold a cut tree spills

a soft crutch
hits

this dust
a freezer stocked
with I

happened
to myself in these very woods.”

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From evil duo that is The Pines:
PILE: The Pines Volume Six

10 pages
written by The Pines
in the back corner of a farm in Orfordville, Wisconsin
on each of the days of August 13th through August 17th, 2006

compiled into a small edition
and available here
or by sending $6 to The Pines, 15 Day Ave #2, Northampton, MA 01060

For information about previous volumes, please write to: pinespress@gmail.com

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Ryan Murphy's The Red Coats is out from Krupskaya.


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Also, you should have already snagged a copy of Bin Ramke's Theory of Mind by now. But you can read a new review at The Constant Critic by Christina Mengert. Or a review of it in the Boston Review by Craig Morgan Teicher.

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It's already the afternoon, but I still need to read three articles, write a response paper, edited Saltgrass, and reorganize my own ms before sending it for blurbs. I survived my presentation on Cortazar. Remember how I was dreading it and acting like a hermit? These are the first two paragraphs of my presentation.

“But if I begin to ask questions, I’ll never tell anything, maybe to tell would be like an answer, at least for someone who’s reading it.”—“Blow-Up”

If the reader might look forward to an answer, we must first wonder what Cortazar thinks we’re questioning. I’ll turn to Walter Benjamin to ground Cortazar’s telling. Benjamin’s essay, “The Work of Art in the Mechanical Age of Reproduction (1935),” examines the concept of authentic art within the framework of developments in mass production, photography, and film. Benjamin writes of reproducibility, “In the case of the art object, a most sensitive nucleus—namely, its authenticity—is interfered with whereas no natural object is vulnerable on that score.” Cortazar’s early short fiction questions whether natural objects, namely humans, are actually safe from the destruction of authenticity, and thus, ownership of one’s subjectivity and historical testimony. Benjamin elaborates, “The technique of reproduction detaches the reproduced object from the domain of tradition. By making many reproductions it substitutes a plurality of copies for a unique existence.” Cortazar’s story, “Blow-Up,” detaches from tradition by employing neofantastic devices, playing with a poly-vocal narrative, and disrupting a fixed temporal plane, to show the reader that we may require a plurality of voices (both internally and externally) to respond to our age or reproduction. How does the reader in/of the modern world absorb this plurality? What happens to the narrative of self when the self is simultaneously observing its current surroundings, interpolating these movements, sliding back into memory, and expressing fleeting thoughts, while reaching out to others and moving forward?

For Benjamin, photography and film both have destructive and cathartic consequences because they enable the “liquidation of the traditional values of cultural heritage.” From this aftermath new models can be shaped. However, the accumulation of man-made objects, the growth of cities, and increased mass production “bring things ‘closer’ spatially and humanly, which is just as ardent as their bent towards overcoming the uniqueness of every reality by accepting its reproduction.” Cortazar explores what happens when people/things become so close that the artist enters the art, when the observer disrupts the observed and inserts himself into the image, and questions whether we can share this proximity. Without uniqueness of art grounded in tradition, Cortazar can consider what new perceptions can grow in its place, emancipated from ritual.

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Last night Mathias re-potted our hyacinth plant, which had sort of jumped out of the pot it came in. Now I have hope it might survive. The new pot has a rooster on it, and better soil. Hopefully the hyacinth won't contemplate plant-suicide anymore.

Hyacinths remind me of mulberry trees, in that their scent is incredibly pungent, and sort of dominates any other scents in the room. I miss mulberry trees. Come home.

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