Jean Vengua quotes Madeline Bruser on The Art of Practicing.

What are the psychological and political implications of muscular motion / relaxation / tension patterns and their relation to the physiological and psychological mechanics of playing musical instruments?

In Wilhelm Reich's thinking, social sexual repression results in and is in turn reinforced by patterns of muscular tension. This dynamic is exploited by institutions and translated into various kinds of patriotism and enforced alienations and this has devastating large-scale results. Why not devise a musical system where sound and muscular motion were equally important -- a system of practicing that addresses political problems from a musical perspective.

Free time being eclipsed by temporary work crunch. The few fissures in this crunch have been occupied by the absorbing Henry Thoreau, A Life of the Mind, Robert D. Richardson, Jr.


Bush's State of the Union speech was an unnerving combination of bone-chilling and laughable.

There was an interesting moment when the speech writers and coaches lapsed and included a pause that was used by the democrats to recontextualize one of Bush's statements with applause -- "key provisions of the Patriot Act are set to expire next year" -- was followed by clapping before Bush could add that the act should be extended. The syntactic gap allowed for an instant, inverse meaning to be invoked.
The associations are almost gone, and one can now drink this in and not shutter with the nausea of irreversibility.



DC Travel Notes:

Empty Amtrak Christmas day.

Marsh weeds alive in the man made stream.

All these things press up against the borders of that space that cannot be easily exploited. The rest of the space is filled. Living things.


National Gallery

Da Vinci -- Ginevra de Benci.
Glowing presence. Defensive haughtiness. Sfumato ala Cate Blanchett in The Two Towers.

Neroccio de Landi
Etched-looking halo draws attention to the paint.

Openly sucking up to power.


Isaac van Ostade
Muted colors / everyday life.

Grotesque horse-on-velvet stuff.

Hieronymus Bosch
Like it was painted yesterday. Netherlands/monsters?


Richard Serra
Literally becoming part of the museum's structure. Museum's power.

Romare Bearden
Multiple impressions of city/family life. Kaleidoscopes of social energies.

Faces: composites of different faces. Identity a composite of influences.


Dream sequence

moving my computer
into the future
no television
"look at me"
if you touch the TV


Frank Sherlock
Bowery Poetry Club intro

Frank Sherlock's poetry uses a poetic composting system, where thoughts
and noticings which might evaporate or be discarded from the mind are
collected and made into an area of material where perceptions and
insights can grow.

Like Buck Downs, he uses a kind of poetic witness protection program to
relocate micro-social speech rhythms, self-reflective process
descriptions and figures of speech:
...long on place short on sightedness

shadowy sketches of self on the lam from the self

Sherlock uses subtle rhythms like in Paul Blackburn and tracings of
thought based on immediate perception like in Larry Eigner. These two
elements are brought together and served with a side salad of humor and
a dessert of Gaussian-blurred connotations.
Loose parameters lead to 

Magic results of course
It could be voodoo
Just to say
what's been expected from
The mouth....

His work moves by turns toward scrutiny, presentness and fun.


Lost and Found
, Michael Gottlieb
Roof Books, 2003

The three individual poems of Lost and Found -- Issue of Error, The Dust, and Careering Obloquy -- are honed, gradual, sequenced pieces which are structurally not unlike Oppen’s or Spicer’s serial work. The book takes on the feeling of a destroyed object whose constituent parts are slowly reassembling themselves before the reader's eyes like a backward film reel, except the reassembled object is not the same as the shattered one.

Although it shares the central quality of Objectivism in viewing the poem as an object, Gottlieb's poetry develops the concept further by also identifying identity, personal and group history, and thought as objects.

In circling and recircling his scrutiny around a series of remains and implying questions about various processes of degradation that have led to some lamentable current state, Gottlieb develops a compelling poetic system, one capable of including layers of autobiography, social commentary and thought. The mournful, dark vibe is not without humor, and projects a consistent sense of resignation and desire for clarity.

Gottlieb uses intentionally limited methods and tonalities in combination with two main ingredients in subtle, shifting proportions: parataxis and analogy. One of the many distinctive aspects of this work is its extensive and unabashed use of simile. He moves simile away from the straining decorative function it has assumed in the hands of confessional and workshop poetries and uses it as a means of actually drawing out the powers of analogic thought.
there you are
like nothing so much as an unclaimed lot
bought back by the house,
not having met your minimum

Gotlieb’s work often feels like an enumeration of conditions one has been reduced to by the forces of one’s own history. It often reads like a re-visioning of the elegiac tradition -- looking at what you’ve lost through the negative template of what remains in order to better locate and understand the present moment.

Poetry’s relation to wishful thinking can run across a wide spectrum, from a safe area for the imagination all the way to an all-out delusion enhancement system. If poets across a wide range of styles and literary groupings tend to lean towards the latter tendency, then Gottlieb’s work could be considered a sharp corrective maneuver in the direction of dealing with things that refuse to not be the case in life -- things which generally go unspoken.

Gottlieb's poetry fuses lyrical, meditative, skeptical and investigative poetic impulses. The drama this enacts is that of someone uncovering life informations which are continually sinking into an ambient social aphasia. These unearthed layers of psycho-social information are the raw material of the poetry in Lost and Found, material which is sequenced on a larger scale though a pointed process of accretion.

Gottlieb has a unique take on the understanding of the local in poetry. In this sense his work could be considered an extension of the tradition of emphasizing the local in the works of William Carlos Williams or Charles Olson. For Gottlieb the local is a matter of how one lives in groups -- especially the negative aspects of belonging to a particular in-group -- the underbelly of the social agency of creative manifestation.

The connotations and contexts are richly unstable, though. There are select harmonic groupings of possible contexts that this poetry simultaneously evokes: laments about the details of work-life, the toxic long-term effects of being a poet, and the mental and social environmental degradation of middle-class America.

The other local condition operating in the book is the September 11th attacks on the World Trade Center, invoked through the Alan Davies cover photo and the middle poem The Dust.

The Dust is a list of items, things destroyed in the attacks, mundane business supplies grouped into classes, and mixed with people’s names.
Myst II: Exile, for Windows 98, CD-ROM, Ubisoft Entertainment, Inc.

Johnson & Johnson Band-Aid Brand Adhesive Bandage, 1/2" by 3’’

Picture Frame By Umbra, Fits Pictures 3 1/2 by 5

Daniel C. Lewin

This systematically based, carefully limited method of construction invites comparison to musical Minimalism, especially with someone like Tom Johnson or early Terry Riley or Steve Reich, where the processed-based construction is transparent, but the artistic effects are not totally dependent on the registration of the conceptual process.

As they build up these items seem to be asking questions. Is this what we have created as a group, as a country? Is this what we will leave behind? Are the other things we have created -- social formations and practices, art, a string of life decisions, the same as these objects? What is going to be left of us once capitalism is done with us? What do we wish to be in the face of our extraordinary temporariness?

The mundane quality of most of the objects ("distressed denim baseball cap") takes on a strange poignancy, not at all cynical, as if these things have been relieved of their duties as prosaic commodities and have almost taken over the role of the poet as a commentary-generating agency.

Gottlieb’s work dramatically enacts a forensic social poetics of object.

(the text of Gottlieb's previous book, Gorgeous Plunge, is available on-line in its entirety here)


The requests are in!

Stephanie on fog

Gary with an appropriated essay

Katie on Willows

Nada with a time travel review of Patti Smith