The Spoils: March 2013

March was a dry month for buying and reading books, mostly because I was working on my thesis and had little time for shopping and reading. Still, I’m grateful a friend gave me my first Bukowski: War All The Time: Poems 1981-1984.

I also managed to pick up a copy of William Gibson’s Johnny Mnemonic: The Story and the Screenplay. While I’ve read the story several times, since my battered Burning Chrome paperback gets reread relatively often, I’ve never seen the film. I bought the book on a whim: it was cheap and I’ve always been curious about it, after seeing so many mail-order forms for it attached to old paperbacks.

And now…suddenly there’s news about a possible Johnny Mnemonic TV series

Pleased to Meet You: Juliana Leslie

The joys of discovery! I’ve never heard of Juliana Leslie before I came across the following tweet from “Poetry’s Cross-Dressing Kingmaker” (I just love that)

Stephen Burt‘s recommendation didn’t disappoint. Clicking on the Everyday Genius link, I immediately fell in love with the first two lines of “Confluence,” the first of four poems by Leslie:

A patient feeling I heard you say
a patient mouth absorbs the spark of a secret train

Leslie writes great opening lines, and when I say “opening lines,” I don’t only mean this poem and the other three (“Softer More Radiant Signal,” “Two Ideas,” and “Two More Ideas in a Different Mode”). I’m talking about how all four “parts” of “Confluence” have great openings. And middles. And endings.

Let me correct myself then: Leslie writes opening great lines. More examples:

Actually, after reading the prose poems John Gallaher shares here, Leslie writes really beautifully, whether in lines or not. Rob McClennan’s review of Leslie’s debut collection offers more samples of her prose poems and lyrics, both short and long.

Now I’m itching to buy a copy of More Radiant Signal AND its follow-up, Green is for World, scheduled for release this November. In the meantime, I’m going to look for more of her poems online and will just leave you with this short video of her reading some poems.

Meditations on the Untimely: Thinking Through My Thesis

This morning: I checked out the newly-uploaded special issue of Screening the Past. It’s theme? “Untimely Cinema: Cinema Out of Time.”

Last Wednesday: I tweeted the following to get it out of my head and see how it grows:

Last weekend: I picked up my copy of Deleuze’s Wake: Tributes and Tributaries, this time to read the essay “Minor Writing and Minor Literature.” I’ve gone through bits of it before, enough to recall a remark near the beginning of the piece about how Deleuze’s “concept of minor literature has been of some use to students of postcolonial, ethnic, minority, and marginal literatures (63).”

I’m still reading it to see exactly what Bogue proposes as “some [of those] use[s]” in the hopes it can help me articulate my thoughts in response to some remarks made here. For now, I’m struck by Bogue’s description of how Deleuze writes his histories of philosophy almost like an extension of the spirit of Nietzchean Unzeitgemässe: 

Rather than offering a narrative of the development of ideas, arguments, positions, and so on, he describes the functioning of specific problems and sets them in resonance with one another through the unfolding of the problems proper to his own thought. In this manner, Deleuze creates his own precursors…and brings them into a kind of untimely, interactive coexistence within the problems he articulates. To the extent that Deleuze himself is successful in formulating genuine problems, his thought should disrupt conventional narratives of the history of philosophy, and his accounts of others’ thought should bring into existence an idiosyncratic, untimely network of precursors that constitutes an “antihistory” of his own thought.” (67-68, emphasis mine)

Because I haven’t read much by or even about Deleuze*, I can’t quite assess whether or not this is more Deleuzian than Bogueian, though I trust that it is and can be both. What’s more important for me right now is how, in many ways, this “antihistory” of “my own thought” is the approach I want/need to use for the critical essay of my thesis. As what should ultimately be a statement of poetics, I have fundamental difficulties getting there from my preoccupations with what can be called “discourses of newness.” Now, it seems clearer, if no less contentious or difficult:

What I need to do is an antihistory of my writing, at least those poems I’m including in my thesis.

* The only Deleuze I’ve read is “Literature and Life,” the essay Bogue cites as where “the larger theoretical assumptions that feed into the notion of minor literature…are neatly summarized” through its description of “the function of literature in terms of stuttering, becoming, fabulation, and visions/auditions (70).”

Also, though I’d like to say Ronald Bogue’s essays are engaging, I’m a little hesitant because this isn’t a book I’ve read straight from cover to cover. I leaf through it, going through its essay on death metal (!) or bumping into/against Bogue’s claim that “[a]ccording to Deleuze, the basic linguistic act is not the phoneme but the statement (énoncé), or speech act (110).”

Another time, I read “Deleuze, Foucault, and the Playful Fold of the Self” to give myself a chance to understand more than two pages of Deleuze’s book on Foucault, which I’ve owned for more than a decade already (excerpt here). I really want to understand the dynamic between Deleuze and Foucault. Maybe I can get another book, but I’m scared I might end up leaving that unread as well.

For now: thesis!

I love this. I also got into stairs via Escher and the tribute to him at the end of Labyrinth. I also liked learning about l’esprit d’escalier from an issue of The Sandman.  These days, my favorite personal associations with stairs have to do with the cover of Bauhaus’s Swing the Heartache and Ann Lauterbach’s On a Stair and the photographs she took for the cover of Or to Begin Again.

 

More stairs here.

Burial, Hauntology, Etc.

Six years since a blog entry called “Phonograph Blues” introduced me to Derrida’s concept of hauntology, not directly through Spectres of Marx but through Burial’s records. My grasp of the concept (not too strong) and my love of the artist’s gray wisps of electronica’s echoes (very strong) really owes a lot to Mark Fisher’s blog entry and the “unedited transcript” of his 2007 interview with Burial himself.

Other interviews with Burial include this one from The Guardian that begins with him referring to himself as “a rubbish super-hero,” the one from Fact magazine where he mentions that “his favourite sound in the world is the motion-tracker from Aliens,” and the Cyclic Defrost feature-interview that calls the Burial track “Archangel” a pop song that hasn’t been invented yet.

As for hauntology in general, Fisher has been discussing it since at least the start of 2006. Here are three I like, though I’m sure there are many others worth reading:

After Fisher, I guess Xaven Taner’s “Hauntology: A Primer – The Absent Present Resonates” is a pretty good round-up, too. After all, I love Taner’s special section on Nurse with Wound and his “Reflections on David Lynch’s Inland Empire is a short but interesting read.

Somewhere on Taner’s site is a review of Inception. I like Christopher Nolan a lot, but he always gets accidentally bumped off my mind by David Lynch. Here, Inland Empire beats Inception. It’s just like how, a few years ago, my first viewing and enjoyment of Memento was derailed by my viewing of Mulholland Drive a day later. Coincidence kills!

Three from HTMLGIANT

  1. “Moves in Contemporary Poetry” by Mike Young (and Elisa Gabbert)
  2. “Watching, owning, looking at, listening to, thinking about, and at last finally reading Solaris by AD Jameson
  3. “Expired Domain Girl” by Jimmy Chen

 

The Spoils: March 2012

March almost went by without a purchase, despite a promise I made earlier. In the last couple of days of the month, however, I chanced upon three books I just HAD to buy as soon as I saw them:

  1. Painted Bride Quarterly Print Annual 1
  2. The Autobiography Of F.B.I. Special Agent Dale Cooper: My Life, My Tapes (reunited!)
  3. Alien vs. Predator by Michael Robbins (been waiting for this collection since 2009)