5.23.2003

A blog is a journal. It's a place for manifesting things that would vaporize in the interstices of daily life otherwise. Journals are inherently indulgent. If journal writers weren't indulgent they would shrug, say who cares about these daily thoughts and not do it at all. We love to read journals, though, because we care about what happens in the privacy of someone else's mind.

I'm guessing Steve would agree that writing from within established institutions probably poses more danger to one's thought processes than the current indulgences of blogging.
Pauline Oliveros Deep Listening Band, Winter Garden,World Financial Center, NYC

Oliveros on accordion.
Stuart Demspter on trombone, conch shell, didgeridoos.
David Gamper on piano overtone flute, computer sound processing.

The World Financial Center is an expensive shopping mall next to the WTC site, across the West Side Highway. The Winter Garden is a large glassed-in space overlooking the Hudson. 70% of it was destroyed in the attack and rebuilt. An odd space to hear music.

Fairly elaborate sound system. Multiple monitors and speakers set through the room.

All the players played through laptops using Gamper’s processing software EIS -- Expanded Instrument System, which seemed to be a sampling and delay transformation program, feeding altered versions of what was being played back into the PA. It never sounded delay-y, where the exact phase can be immediately heard. It was more like chunks of the music slowly braking off and going into orbit around the audience.

The music was very gentle. It was built up patiently and slowly. There was a constantly changing drone over and under which things would happen. The role of drone sustainer was passed around between the players and computer as the concert went on. It sounded largely improvisational, though with definite parameters for instrumentation and sections.

Great to see a band of older players rocking the house. Dempster at one point used a plastic aspirin bottle as a percussion instrument, turning the lid. It was a found instrument but I couldn’t help wondering if it was also a playful commentary on aging?

Beautifully controlled simple long tone intervals on the trombone. Very powerful. The way in which these phrases worked in the overall field of sound made me think of Leo Smith’s rhythm unit playing, where independent phrase groups happen with equal proportions of silence between them.

Occasionally I would fear that the whole thing was going to veer into a new age thing but it never quite did.

Dissonances, rumblings and contortions. Challenging music set in a bed a very accessible sound. One could imagine a tangerine dream fan digging this, though perhaps being a little freaked out by it too.

The computer feedback -- if you can call it that, it was more like a forth player -- tended to be winningly jumbled, circling around in the mix. It was obvious after twenty minutes or so that the music was inviting us to walk around the space to hear it from different angles, which people started to do as the concert went on.

Oliveros played a huge 120 bass just intonation accordion. Accordion seems like an additional organ added to the body, second set of lungs or a component of a space suit. She switched between short, elastic tone clusters, simple interval sequences and drones. She also played through a volume pedal, and would sometimes play a sequence with the volume completely down that would enter only into the computer processes mix. At first Katie and I were sitting in front, where it was easer to see the decisions the musicians were making. Later we were in the back, where it was all but impossible to tell what was a source sound and what was computer feedback, and, I suppose, also irrelevant.

It was hard not to think of the concert as being a response to the Sept 11 attacks. At one point the silly rotating blue stars being projected on the screen behind the players morphed into shapes that looked like explosions, fire and dust.

Amazing that the music succeeded in occupying and transforming this extreme corporate / consumerist space.

The overall band sound was aleotorically welcoming. Distant conversation, a baby crying, etc. all sounded good with it.

After it was over, the music extended to the traffic swish on the West Side Highway and the rumble and screech of the 1/9 line.

5.20.2003

Walking to the F train this morning on 4th St. Beautiful weather -- seventy degrees and sunny. On my left side trees with dozens of loudly chirping polyrhythmic birds. On my right a tow truck with the 50 Cent song blaring out the window. These sounds mixed perfectly with a long fade in and fade out based on my walking pace.

5.16.2003

Nada Gordon, V. Imp., Faux Press

V. Imp is a rich, prickly harmonic interlacing of thought, perception, nonsense and proposition.

The book begins with a post-9/11 absurdist fantasy / allegory.

A lot of refreshing reversals and Mad Lib-esque rewrites.

“truth is hideous, beauty a lie”

Established art wisdom meets up with punk response.

Torqued cries of anger but also for love and help. Like -- check out my fantasy world… fuck you… I’ll do whatever the fuck I want here … I need you!

As though the poetry addresses what to do creatively with the excess negative energy life generates. The things pressing on us and from us that are not given a dimension to exist. Thwarted things. The poems deal with these head-on. They are used as energies and as raw material.

Fearlessly hilarious.

A kind of multilayered craft posing as sloppy or spilling over? Actually not at all sloppy, though the associative powers and indirect provocation of this work are loose, i.e. open.

“rise up and abandon the spurious contrivance”

Humor going to the mat with cognitions and speculations.

A lyric quality not moving away from personality or towards it in a culturally verified modality, but IN REVERSE.

Seamless globs of different poetic histories operating together.

Slabs of lysergic showtune gone lit-crit.

Personal experience through 12 Photoshop filters and layers.

Intimate domestic space.

"could you zip me up?"

The sincerity in the humor, twistedness and closeness. Also in the confrontation?

A dozen different kinds of poetry, not unified, but hybridized into a poetic gelatin.

Always near an agitated reaction to some expectation of being delimitated from an outside authority / power.

“Mouth Noises” This poem generates an autobiographical speculative paratactic riff sequence and then lets it go with a pie in the face, the humor like an aggressive invitation.

The work directly and unblinkingly incorporates direct statement, autobiography, myriad assertion with vocab replacement processes and tweaks that are surprising and hilarious.

A fusion of frustrated and zany energies which operate as a kind of virtual liberation of same.

Processing the conflicts of psychological energy that have their root in social conflicts. Like Kathy Acker or William Burroughs. Messed up fantasy / conflict as social critique/ autobiography -- also exhibitionism? The poem is sometimes positioned as a fantasy that is meant to be the object of the reader's voyeurism?

Red-lined or tweaked figures of speech: “The mind is Asian.”

Unabashedly confusion-embracing.

Energy-releasing levity embracing the theatrical gesture.

Recurring grammatical structure-riffs: Why is the ___ so ___. The ___ are ___. They ___ into our ___.

Funny and startling combinations in the spirit of Kenward Elmslie or Monty Python working with Cher.

“I will see it” “a rabbit leaking sound”

She rhymes “my office technology” with “my petite bourgeois ideology.”

Never far from its sources in the energies, dynamics and contradictions of personality, and yet it doesn’t fall into the immobilizing gesture of only attempting to present a persona in a certain light.

Avant-garde with strong stylist tendencies, though not at all avant-garde formalist -- which is traditional, or avant-garde mannerist, which is conventional.

One can sometimes take this work to be saying: “Fuck you for trying to delimit me with your self-serving categories.” A worthy punk sentiment which she opens and spirals out from within deepening connotations and assertions.

Using satirical functions while keeping itself from being subject to the satirized material. Other goals besides satire are always operative.

Indistinguishable from flarf except that flarf is more likely to be totally at the service of humor, whereas humor here is one of several simultaneous layers of poetic functioning.

She activates negative social psychological energies that convention represses and uses the resulting gear as a tunneling machine.

In “Gorgeous” concision is used with evocative results. It’s like she’s playing pick up sticks with razor sharp slivers of language.

“would buck the system by increments of craving”

“love’s ripe with happenstance”

She address her own location (Brooklyn / NYC setting -- subway / common space, inescapable mental tropisms etc.) without attempting to sweet talk the reader into being pleased with it.

Very important sonnets -- funny, sing songy, relaxed. Pinned to the zany side of the needle.

“a shark wrapped in lace”

the sonnets are welcoming, but no less complex in their orientation. They allow in clich├ęs, lyrics, lists, a continuous string of defiant, alert, propositional hunks of language.

Comical hallucinations.

Sensation as idea.

5.12.2003

A section of the Tao Te Ching keeps coming back to me as:

Don't be benevolent!
Nature is not benevolent.
Be nourishing!

Actually this a twisted fusion of two different sections...


Interesting to ponder the long term consequences of one's own self-protective psychological machinery in respect to the competing strains of poetic history.

If you were a free jazz player it would be obvious that some people have been intentionally trying to erase your artistic history and replace it with a static formalism. Are my generation of poets pre-erased?

Marianne is back.

5.10.2003

Paranoia is a big problem for poets. It clouds their judgments. It makes them personally miserable. It sabotages their relationships. It’s understandable, since it’s the kind of negative resource stress reaction that occurs in any group of competing mammals who exist in an ecosystem that is strapped for resources – including the resource of appreciation.

Jordan, one of the more intelligent people I know (rather than "intelligent" which means adept at complicated intellectual structures but possibly clueless about actual relations between humans) provides a good illustration of this situation. In my last post, I called attention to a kind of intelligence in the works of Joe Brainard. The point was to value the work by indicating that it used a function of intelligence that isn’t always acknowledged by intellectuals -- social intelligence, understanding the ways in which people are interested in and curious about each other.

Jordan, defensively scanning anything that could possibly be interpreted as an attack on his artistic lineage, projects onto my statement an out of the can criticism of "New York" poetry as anti-intellectual. Actually the opposite of my point.

5.09.2003

Joe Brainard's I Remember shows that you don't have to write something "intelligent" to produce good writing. The process is fairly simple: content (of memory) + social context with sequencing by visual association. The intelligence of it works cumulativly in the building of sequences and in understanding the reader's inherent curiosity about the mass of hidden details that constitutes other people's lives and pasts.

5.05.2003

Two policemen on Ave A needlessly hassling a guy w/ long hair because he crossed in front of the police car.

The abuse of power in the beautiful sunlight.
Dave Burrell solo piano @ Tonic

Long opening piece: Double Heartbeat

Tense, jagged structure building.

Rolling fists.

Morphing historical present sucking in the past and future.

Within a thirty second section he can go seamlessly from Wagnerian to Impressionistic to Monk without any interruption of continuity.

Consistent cluster textures shot throughout a wide range of structure building moves.

Despite the tense, hunched, jagged energies the music always retains a certain about of swing. The Monk feeling is never entirely absent.

A certain amount of theater: turning around and playing the piano backwards. Well dressed.

Dense palm-sized clusters with left hand at the low end morphing into a waltz.

The way Burell plays, anything can be coherently included -- he could have gone in to a version of Feelings and it would have worked.

Stride with clusters.

Jagged, comical, nightmarish rhythms.

April in Paris: Immediately splintered apart.

Everything-happens-at-once take on tradition like Frederic Rzewski variations. Splintered, inside-out and backwards.

Using his tension for a variety of purposes rather than simply foisting the tension upon the audience.

The walking bas never fully leaves.

Matisse/Picasso Show @ Moma Queens

Morton Feldman says that people can live without art, what they can't seem to live without is myths about art.

This art has been totally absorbed into capitalist / consumerist consciousness.

Tedious, expensive walls of cliches.

Various flavors of misogyny.

Shampoo and iced tea labels.

Like walking through a series of safety deposit boxes.

Picasso: hatred of and fear of women.

Matisse: interior decoration

Huge wads of banal, unhealthy needs.

Picasso's Stein portrait: that's how you paint someone when they can help make you rich and famous!

The 7 red bird ride through Queens is better than anything in this show: riding a subway through the sky.