just read an essay on flarf called “The Virtual Dependency of the Post-Avant and the Problematics of Flarf: What Happens when Poets Spend Too Much Time Fucking Around on the Internet” by Dan Hoy (www.jacketmagazine.com/29/hoy-flarf.html) — which apparently has caused quite a stir. It explores the rhetoric of a few flarf theorists and the form of their method. An interesting essay that i find relevant because i have been working on an essay about form and the ideology of form (the relationship between ethics and aethethics) which i’ve tentatively titled “Why doesn’t G=E=O=R=G=E=B=U=S=H do more language-centered poetry.”
I am interested in the ways in which one’s subject position (gender, race, class, history, etc.) creates a “stance-towards-reality” and how that stance then creates one’s poetics. In a sense, form becomes infused with ideology to the point where form becomes determined by one’s ideology and ideology begins to determine form. I take Olson as my starting point and move into Whitman and then Hejinian’s “rejection of closure”. I want to add a section on Marinetti and Stein who have somewhat similar forms, but completely different ideologies. ANd then to play the claims of Language Poetry and the post-avant against an essay by Mark Halliday in Pleiades 25:2 called “Vexing Praxis / Hocus Nexus” (which i highly recommend) And of course, there’s Duncan and Levertov. (and more, this thread is endless…but this is all i have right now).
This is not a clear explication because i’m still working out the premise of the essay. It started in American poetry and poetics class when we were studying language poetry. Thinking about the Marxist undercurrent of their theory and how it is enacted in the form itself. So, if you write poetry that resists the commodification of meaning you are writing against capitalism. But, is it possible to write poetry that has all the formal elements of Language poetry if you are Republican. i.e. can George Bush write Language Poetry? (many of his agrammatical comments and his Cagean silence during the presidential debate as well as his unconscious play with idioms — “put food on your family” — etc, already seems to gesture towards Language Poetry) if so, then form becomes defused from ideology, and only INTENTION determines ideology of form and not form itself. I’m not thoroughly convinced, yet, about the idea of complicity – as if form escapes intention and determines beyond intention…but maybe, which makes all this moot.
If not, this is a bit of redemption for Levertov — some claiming that her political work actually contributes to the State of Power because formally they are organized around a centralizing principle. The assumption, of course, is that any poem that is formally organized around any grand principle (whether syntactic, narrative, or semantic), is implicit in the politics of state power BY DEFAULT – that form has become so infused with determined ideology that it supersedes intent or stance. The Stance towards reality (the politic/ethic) no longer determines form, but form determines one’s stance and politic.
This can be true only if George Bush can’t write language poetry.
This has further implications for Pacific writing (and i think all minority writing in america). If one is part of a diasporic culture, one cannot write narrative poems because “narrative’ is complicit with the grand narrative of dominance/imperialism. one can only write postmodern disjunctive poetry becuase that kind of poetry in ideology matches the form of my subject position (this will relate to a part of the essay I wrote in response to Rob Wilson’s chapbook “Postmodern Pacific.” Where he actually says this!
Obviously, part of my project is to expose this trend and to defuse form from ideology, to wrench stance away from form so that form can once again be open to the author’s political intentions – and that a political writer can write a narrative poem without the form itself betraying the politic.(AH! that sounds almost half articulate)
To reinstate what Apollinaire called “encyclopaedic liberty.”
I would love if anyone had any ideas about this and could perhaps lead me with questions with comments or recommend articles/books that my help me along here. THANKS!