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Katlin Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Dragon,

Responding to your most recent post: you are right, on all counts. I'm not sure why I had the reaction to Tere's post that I did. I felt at the time my response was disporportionate (and have been thinking about it ever since) but decided to go ahead and post it anyway, figuring others would help me find clarification. I've reread Tere's post to see what set me off, and I've come down to this comment: "civilization's fear of the kind of desire that transforms." What I might have said was that fear to the point of repression is dangerous and anti-life, but some fear--or at least respect--is wise and warranted. Venus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Eros aren't depicted as a gods for nothing.
 
P.S. The only thing I would add to the dynamic balance you mention is the soul, not to alter the tripod but to encompass it.
Dec/14/2009, 1:36 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Dragon,

I'll try to reply more at length soon. However, I wanted to express my admiration for your poems at the site you listed for Katlin. The link Katlin gave us and the examples the essayist used to express his ideas about fragmented poetry were good for the ideas he was trying to convey, but for me the quality of the poetry you gave us at Zuni was by far superior to those examples. Maybe he was just trying to show how poetry was developing without trying to post really high quality work. Or maybe truly high quality work is difficult to do in that way. Zak

quote:

Dragon59 wrote:

Interesting insights, Zak.

(BTW, I read "Finnegan's Wake" for pleasure for the first time in my later teens and early 20s, having already read all of the rest of Joyce, and several books re: Joyce, by then. I discovered for myself that the way to read The Wake is out loud, in an Irish accent. That makes it both more coherent, and quite funny. I dip into The Wake periodically, still. I agree it was sort of the zenith of that style, and although I think Gertrude Stein did surpass it, in terms of sheer writing prowess, The Wake remains unique in many ways.)

I have Auto's first book of collected poems, which she gave me on a visit to Santa Cruz some years ago, when I was passing through. The thing is, Auto's poems, and William's poems, do cohere, as you say. But then, I'd put up their poems side by side with the poets lauded by the critics of the post-avant, and I think William's and Auto's poems are at least as good. I think the difference between them and those Burt lauds are that William and Auto do remain grounded in experience, no matter how far into word experimentation they go: it's still grounded in something, not all air. That's just my personal take on it, though.



Kat, I invite you to start a thread along those very lines. I think it could be very interesting.

For myself, I can make the same claims about unusual syntax in my poems representing different psychological states. I've made that claim many times over the years, because its one of the reasons that some of my poems are "experimental" (a tag that was often thrown at me at TCP in a pejorative sense). I appreciate and agree with the avant-garde (the original AG) in their attempts to break out of the straightjacket of form and meter and prose grammar (I find it completely bizarre that so many poets seem to think that poetry must follow the rules of prose grammar and syntax), although the thing one must always remember with "experimental" poetry is that, as in science, most experiments fail. Then you redesign and try again.

Anyway, I'm digressing. My basic point was that I agree with the intent of poets like Jorie Graham to write outside the box, and bring psychologically reflection into the poems. (Although I don't think she's up to the task.) I often turn to Samuel Beckett as an effective example of someone who has done just this; for example, in the shorter prose works such as "Lessness"

And here's an interesting scholarly article about "Lessness" that makes some points about writing to reflect consciousness: About Lessness

For my own, there's a poem called "Zuni II" at the bottom of a poetry page on my own website, which I wanted to write from the viewpoint of the fire ant colony I came across in the Zuni desert in 2003. The poem's here if you wanted to look at it: Zuni II



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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Melancholy Jesus, but I do love the conversation of poets. Ya'll reckon we should invite the Bok type people in in order just so he can remind us how stupid and lazy poets are?

It's a work night. Will come back with more.

Tere
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Dragon,

Thanks for the clarification re: LangPo. The paper on Beckett's "Lessness" seems more in the direction of what I'm getting at:

"...Samuel Beckett's ideal of accomodating the chaos of consciousness in linguistic form..."

"...Lessness, when constituted by the reader's attempts to unravel it represents an art process rather than an art object..."

thanks again,

Chris
Dec/15/2009, 9:47 am Link to this post Send Email to ChrisD1   Send PM to ChrisD1
 
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Now I really want to know what Chrisfriend is thinking these days. Seriously.

Tere
Dec/15/2009, 9:50 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Adding a fourth element, such as the soul, Kat, converts a tripod into a tetrahedron, a four-sided polygon with equal triangle on each face—which R. Buckminster Fuller argued was the basic structural polygonal building block of the universe. Bucky pretty much proved it, too.

So I have no problem with adding a fourth element.



You also said:

What I might have said was that fear to the point of repression is dangerous and anti-life, but some fear--or at least respect--is wise and warranted. Venus, Aphrodite, Hermes, Eros aren't depicted as a gods for nothing.

Repression is the whole problem. If any one aspect of life or art is repressed it will, as Jung notably said, pop up unexpected elsewhere. You press it down here, it WILL pop up somewhere else. Which is why it's necessary to embrace and own those aspects that we might want to otherwise ignore.

So, yeah, repression is dangerous and anti-life.

But fear of the Unknown, the uncontrollable, and the divine, or divinely-touched, as bards are said to be, is precisely what leads to repression.

It seems to me that we live in an age where the repression of that part of the self—because, again as Jung would say, the gods do arise from within us, and what we do not embrace in ourselves we will meet coming at us from outside, as fate—has become so thorough, so assumed, that it isn't believed to be necessary to repress it, because "it doesn't exist." We view all aspects of life not physical and tangible as non-existent, or at least questionable. It shouldn't really surprise us that head-oriented poetry has come to dominate the culture, since head-oriented logical positivism has come to dominate all other fields of truth-seeking, most notably but not only scientific inquiry. What is surprising to the dominant worldview is that the unconscious keeps popping up, when repressed, and that its power will out. it always finds an avenue.

So, while the gods do deserve respect, no life that is not touched by some god, in some way, is a full and complete life. No life is safe from the gods—that's really the bottom line. Our choice is to be an active participant, or a passive victim.

And never forget that the gods arise out of us, so we participate in the godly powers of the divine, too. We are co-creators with the gods, not merely their pawns.

it seems to me that the repression of the gods, in poetry, has pretty much gone to its limits. It seems to have won, in fact. But that won't last forever, and the pendulum will swing the other way, sooner or later.

---
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Dec/15/2009, 10:44 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Dragon59 Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Zak, thanks for the compliment.

My feeling about the examples Burt displays is that they demonstrate how the "new thing" isn't, precisely because they perpetuate the tyranny of the bland and disembodied. I don't mean to keep talking about disembodied poetry, and yet it just seems to so obvious that that's the real problem here, that it's hard to avoid.

I don't think the issue is that trying to do a poetry that connects is difficult, in that disjunctive, fragmented style—I think it's that the assumptions behind that fragmentary style preclude coherence and connection. It is THAT fundamental. The underlying assumption of that style of fragmented poetic discourse is that coherence and connection are not only not possible, they never were (this is the post-avant creation myth, if you will), and therefore we shouldn't even bother about them, but just go play in our sandboxes.

These kinds of poetry, the post-Stevens brands in particular, are after all the end-point of fragmentation originally explored in the High Modernist period which Stevens was part of.



Chris, glad those sources about Becketter were helpful.

I want to add, that while many of the LangPo and post-avant poets talk about art process rather than art product, as the article does about "Lessness," what's interesting to me that Beckett clearly found a way of words that evokes an art process without everything falling to pieces. It's as if in every paragraph or line in Beckett, even in those whose themes are fragmentation and alienation and angst, there is something that keeps saying, as Beckett wrote, "I can't go on, I must go on, I'll go on."

---
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Dec/15/2009, 10:53 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


But fear of the Unknown, the uncontrollable, and the divine, or divinely-touched, as bards are said to be, is precisely what leads to repression.

True, and that's what heroes are for. They feel the fear but confront "it" (whatever the unknown, uncontrollable, divinely/touched "it" is) anyway.

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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Thank you, Tere, for the invitation. My thoughts on these subjects don't amount to a penny's worth and are as orderly as a herd of cats. I'll read along for now.

Chris
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Katlin Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Okay, here's my confession. I read the Beckett piece (well, tried to; I didn't get very far). I also read the article on it (well, most of it). I didn't care for the piece, because it put me entirely in my head. And then I got bored. Reading it felt like a waste of time. Or was that the point? Help! What am I doing wrong?
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Dragon59 Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Try reading "Lessness" out loud in an uninflected voice. It's all there in the hearing. The piece IS static, and that's the point, ennit? A dead landscape, maybe post-apocalyptic, with the one statuelike figure. I guess boredom is a fair response.



My favorite John Wayne quote is:

"Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway."

---
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Dec/16/2009, 10:07 pm Link to this post Send Email to Dragon59   Send PM to Dragon59
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Thanks, Dragon, I will try reading the poem out loud as you suggest. It looks like I got some of what the piece is after without realizing that I did.

BTW, I read "Finnegan's Wake" for pleasure for the first time in my later teens and early 20s, having already read all of the rest of Joyce, and several books re: Joyce, by then. I discovered for myself that the way to read The Wake is out loud, in an Irish accent. That makes it both more coherent, and quite funny.

It's funny you should say this. Over the past weekend a friend was writing up exam questions for his students, and he gave me the 1st/last paragraph of FW to read. He said, Read it out loud. I tried and he laughed. Then he said, Try using an Irish accent. I tried that too and did a little better. (My Irish born father would have been so disappointed in me!) Then my friend read it out loud with the accent. Ah, lovely. Sad, that particular section, and lovely.
Dec/17/2009, 11:33 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
Katlin Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Ron Silliman has been blogging about the New Precisionists, which reminded me of Burt's The New Thing:

Do they constitute a movement? I think they would be the first to say no. What they do constitute, however, might just be part of a moment, one in which many writers – think of Devin Johnston or the brothers O’Leary or John Martone or Jonathan Greene, even Kay Ryan – in which what at first seems to be a poetics of minimalism exists precisely to magnify the etched qualities of precise poetics. Hence precisionism. All of this attention to the exact, occuring right now in a world of a blur, often feels like a political statement, a politics each of them shares dedicated to sharpness, to specifity. I would distinguish this from the so-called well-wrought urn of two generations ago by noting that this new generation, with few if any exceptions, explicitly rejects the glaze. It has, I suspect, less to do with craft than with ethics.
 
http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/search?q=Precisionism

In a recent entry, he showcased the work of Joseph Massey and highlighted the importance of sound in the work of New Precisionists:

Massey is a poet committed to an exacting deployment of the poem’s aural possibilities. The elders he inevitably reminds one of – Niedecker, Zukofsky, Corman, Samperi, Creeley – are all masters of the minimal. In a text like the one above, you can sense not only the importance of the sound of each line, but its commitment to a formal view of the world that extends beyond the poem’s ostensible content.

http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/2010/07/when-i-used-phrase-new-precisionist.html

Silliman identifies two risks for the nonmovement of the moment:
  
The risk in such fidelity to sound / sight / form would seem to be that it becomes only that, an art of great technical skill but with real limits on what it can do.

. . .

The big risk for all the current crop of precision-driven writers – from Massey to Graham Foust to the new haiku poets – is that a reader will find not extraordinary care, but rather the careful imitation of that which has already been done before. And, no doubt, there is a vein of neophobia that can be found amidst this group of poets who are otherwise entirely post-avant¹. Massey’s real project lies not in becoming the next Robert Creeley, but rather using his extraordinary gifts to help map out what the poetry of this new century might become.

¹ One of the reasons I prefer the term School of Quietude to the more pathologically diagnostic adjective. If neophobia is the universal rot of quietude, it remains a risk for all poets regardless of orientation.


So, the New Precisionists, who are a wee bit neophobic, are post-avant, or could be, if they play their cards right? Not everyone agrees. Seth Abramson, for example, writes in the comment stream:

Massey is probably one of the better young SoQ poets out there -- more attention to transcendent imagery and the transcendent Word than just about anyone -- and yet your efforts to "post-avant" him render your scholarship and your observations fraudulent.

And the critics they go round and round
And the painted poems go up and down
We're captive on the carousel of mime
We can't return we can only look
Behind from where we came
And go round and round and round
In the circle game

(with apologies to Joni Mitchell)

Last edited by Katlin, Jul/29/2010, 9:49 am
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Christine98 Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Fascinating, Kat, the "New Precisionists," well
wrought urn without the gloss--"less to do with
craft than with ethics..."

I like this: "All of this attention to the exact, occuring right now in a world of a blur..."

Love your little riffs. It's good to have a little fun with this brain-cramping stuff.

Thanks as always, for keeping us current,

Chris
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Terreson Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


I swear by the blessed memory of my mother's holy switch across my bare legs, Kat, I love your wit. And the critics they go round and round, indeed. Neophobia, precisionism, post-avant, school of quietude.......Does it ever seem to you this constant reinventing of the wheel by certain critics, or of themselves, amounts to OCD (obsessive compulsive disorder)? I swear. I find myself sometimes wanting to yell out: @#&%!*& just give me a %&#!*7 poem. I have a friend who was in a pretty bad work situation for awhile. And the personnel dynamics going on around him were enough to put his head on spin ala The Exorcist. One day he blurted out: Is this place for real or am I in a bad dream?

Keep the notices coming, my dear. I don't suppose the promise of 73 virgins in heaven would mean much to you, but these notes of yours earns you something up there.

Tere
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Katlin Profile
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Last week Jessica Smith blogged about the negative effect the comment streams to Silliman's blog have on younger poets, including Massey, in her entry "The Silenced Generation""

I want to comment briefly on a special phenomenon I’ve seen and experienced with regard to Ron Silliman‘s blog. It seems that to some degree, poetry’s youth is being trampled, discouraged and undermined with a potential long-term detrimental effect on Poetry.

. . .

The problems with Silliman’s blog and its effect on contemporary poetry are in the comment boxes. Now, as we all know, comment boxes are notorious for being a place where a few self-appointed “experts” on any subject can whack off listening to their own voices. Comment boxes are more often frequented by men, and they’re usually angry, aggressive men looking for an argument. This is true everywhere on the internet, not just on poetry blogs. A few years ago, Silliman’s comment boxes were especially poisonous; I’m not entirely sure what changed, but they seem to be less active now. However, when active, they are still poisonous.


http://looktouch.wordpress.com/2010/07/28/the-silenced-generation/

Massey himself says:

While the comments — most of them — are irritating, they wouldn’t — couldn’t! — stop me from writing. The work is the work and has nothing at all to do with its reception. The noise is disruptive but pretty transparent — and I’m already over it.

But Silliman has had enough and has decided to remove the comment section from his blog:

I have tried policing my comments stream over the past couple of years, and – as I noted the other day on Jessica Smith’s blog – I routinely reject a half dozen comments every day that are sexist, homophobic or anti-Semitic. Moderating the comments stream at times makes me want to take a shower. Worse yet, one of the consequences of my rejecting the more overtly vile submissions would appear to be that I have inured myself to the merely despicable level of chatter that can go on.

I don’t mind debate, even vigorous debate, over fundamental issues. But it does seem clear to me that some people make a point of verbally attacking writers I praise on this blog simply because I’ve praised them. Reading that responses to a positive review on my blog seriously discouraged Jessica Smith about poetry & writing is as depressing a consequence as I can imagine. I want to apologize to her for not doing a better job policing the comments stream, and I want to apologize to Joseph Massey more recently for the same. And to Barbara Jane Reyes and any other poets who feel they may have been unfairly treated in the comments stream.

I have of course read some comments that suggest that poets who feel bruised by such behavior need not to be so fragile. But I think everyone has every right to feel exactly what they feel, and that participating in poetry doesn’t have to mean submitting oneself to hazing by yahoos.

Recognizing this leaves me with few options. I could shut up, although I actually don’t think that’s the goal of most of the comment harpies. I think I give them a venue that their own blogs may not, and that this is really what much of this is about. I could reject a lot more comments than I do, not simply those that characterize someone as a “Jewette” or “French !@#$.”¹ Which is one more bit of labor for which I don’t have the time or energy. Or I could turn off the comments stream altogether, which is the option I’m taking.

You can still write to me – the address is in the left-hand column – and once in rare while I might republish a note if it seems worthwhile, but I will ask your permission first. If you respond to something here in your own blog, I may well link it to in one of my weekly roundups – I’ve been doing that for years. But I’ve also ignored a lot if I thought they were just being stupid or name calling. That seems like a good thing to continue. And so I shall.

¹ Directed at writers who were neither French nor Jewish, for that matter.


http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/search/label/blogging

I can't say as I blame Silliman. Maintaining his blog is time-consuming work, I'm sure, without having to spend time policing the comment section to purge poisonous comments. It's too bad though, isn't it, that poets can't find a way to passionately debate each other with a level of decorum that prevents them from stoopinng to name-calling? Have they ever? I sometimes think the political landscape is more negative than it used to be, but as people have pointed out, this isn't, in fact, the case. Maybe the same is true for poets and critics. The difference now being that because of the internet more people have a voice.

To see what others are saying about Silliman's decision, freedom of speech and the lack of civility on poettry blogs, you can follow the links Silliman has provided here (scroll down to the last entries for Tuesday, August 03, 2010):

http://ronsilliman.blogspot.com/search/label/links


Last edited by Katlin, Aug/3/2010, 7:20 am
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Terreson Profile
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Thanks, Kat, for the summary. Just like Silliman I neither have time or energy for certain, gratuitously motivated behaviorial patterns. So I am not going to go to the links, read in detail. But I do have two thoughts.

~If what is really at stake, and amounting to the prize, is poetry on line, I am absolutely convinced the smaller, more intimate venue is the fertile ground. Said many times before, I will like it when we have more participants, more slants, more perspectives, more and different takes. But by more I don't mean hundreds more. I don't even mean scores more. (What is the measure of a bunch?) Over the last two years I figure this board has appealed to maybe 1 out of every 10 visitors who have checked it out. Over the last two years poets who have grafted, bought into the idea, have become intimate(s) with each other, have entered into the give and take, have nurtured and been nurtured. Sure. A blog is a different sort of animal than is a board. But perhaps that is the point. Perhaps poetry doesn't belong to the blog-o-sphere. Perhaps, in its first growth, it belongs to the salon, the private reading given among co-practitioners who've taken the time to figure each other out and figure out each other's motive.

~Item 2. I don't know Silliman, don't know the man. Out of a sense of duty I've registered his take on poetry, since, he has made himself into a mavin for what makes for good poetry. This is key perhaps. There seem to be a lot of poets who don't much care for his take on things poetic. (Were I him I might ask the self-reflective question: why?) There are other poets, mostly men I suspect, who seem to resent someone telling them the exact and progrmmatic nature of what makes for good poetry. I only know of one other poetry impresario to go so far. E. Pound. The difference between the two is that Pound had a full range of comprehension, not stuck to a program. He could recognize the genius in the disparate likes of Hardy, Frost, Cummings, Whitman, Cavalcanti, Loy, and Ford. I am persuaded Silliman does not have the same capacity for the full range of poetic comprehensions. My point is this. The narrowness of Silliman's program, and given his need to become a voice of authority, likely has incited the nastiness visited upon his blog.

Note to self. Never ever you old son of a gun look to be an authority. Look instead to be surprised, upheaved, dismantled, unshevelled by poetry.

Terreson
Aug/3/2010, 7:16 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 
Katlin Profile
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Excellent post, Tere. I agree with most of it except this: "There are other poets, mostly men I suspect, who seem to resent someone telling them the exact and progrmmatic nature of what makes for good poetry."

See my recent post about Lady Mary Wortley Montagu here (Sorry for splitting the Silliman stuff into two threads! Confusing even for me.):

http://bdelectablemnts.runboard.com/t997,offset=0#post6885

You wrote: "Perhaps poetry doesn't belong to the blog-o-sphere. Perhaps, in its first growth, it belongs to the salon, the private reading given among co-practitioners who've taken the time to figure each other out and figure out each other's motive."

I mentioned coteries in the other thread and then read this by Bobby Baird:

As far as I’m con­cerned, a young poet would do much better to embed her­self in a closed coterie of ten like-​minded souls than to cast her half-​baked bread on the demo­c­ra­tic waters of the inter­net.

. . .

Coterie Math

1 leader of real talent and win­ning per­son­al­ity
+ 1 girlfriend/boyfriend of leader (talent optional, attrac­tive­ness not)
+ 2 people of medium talent whom the leader can mea­sure and reas­sure himself/herself (but who are we kid­ding: him­self) against
+ 1 prefer­ably bald­ing the­o­rist who is deathly shy in person and ruth­less in print and who sees the leader as con­fir­ma­tion of every­thing he (the the­o­rist) believes poetry should be–and also, pos­si­bly, some­one he’d secretly like to sleep with
+ 1 pub­li­cist of loud voice, min­i­mum self-​consciousness, and uncrit­i­cal mind
+ 1 ambiva­lent out­sider who will, though s/he doesn’t know it yet, help the leader break out/cross over when the time is right
+ 3 syco­phants who count it the apex of cool to be allowed to post fliers/serve beer/fill seats at the coterie’s events
—————
10 people


http://www.digitalemunction.com/2010/08/03/the-thirteenth-century-attention-economy/

Even if you disagree with all the nomenclature, you gotta love the math. emoticon
Aug/3/2010, 10:58 pm Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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As noted before, Kat, gotta love your wit. Baird's ain't shabby either. Two thoughts. Note to leader: skip the girlfriend/boyfriend quotidian. Go for the groupie(s). Second item. I would add to the room one more, no, three more souls perhaps akin to the ambivalent outsider. Why three? Because one Jesus Christ plus 12 disciples make 13. They would be the naive poets, the ingenues, boy or girl, who know jack about theory, tradition(s), who come to form, all form, as if for the first time, and who operate in that pre-conscious range, a range in which brain is connected to word (body) without the filter of thought. (I have learned so much from the type, gotten free of my own stratifications.)

Oh. About that leader. He or she is fine and dandy so long as it is understood leading is less directing and more a matter of mediating between worlds.

My apologies for the bad grammar of my immediately preceding post. Just that brain tired. Heat whooped.

Tere
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Ah, 13 is better than 10. Someone just told me on Friday the 13th that the day got its bad luck notation because that is the day they tried to kill off the Knights Templar:

On Friday, October 13, 1307 (a date sometimes linked with the origin of the Friday the 13th superstition) [King] Philip ordered de Molay and scores of other French Templars to be simultaneously arrested. The arrest warrant started with the phrase : "Dieu n'est pas content, nous avons des ennemis de la foi dans le Royaume" (free translation " God is not pleased. We have enemies of the faith in the kingdom"). The Templars were charged with numerous offences (including apostasy, idolatry, heresy, obscene rituals and homosexuality, financial corruption and fraud, and secrecy).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Knights_Templar

They would be the naive poets, the ingenues, boy or girl, who know jack about theory, tradition(s), who come to form, all form, as if for the first time, and who operate in that pre-conscious range, a range in which brain is connected to word (body) without the filter of thought. (I have learned so much from the type, gotten free of my own stratifications.)

Beginner's mind?
Aug/15/2010, 7:45 am Link to this post Send Email to Katlin   Send PM to Katlin
 
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Re: "The New Thing" in Recent American Poetry


Exactly so, Kat. The beginner's mind. It has so much to teach the master. Speaking of thirteen, it is also the number of months in a lunar year.

Tere
Aug/15/2010, 2:01 pm Link to this post Send Email to Terreson   Send PM to Terreson
 


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