A poem up on The Conversation Papers 1.2
Tuesday, May 31, 2011
Saturday, May 28, 2011
I was going to strip Spirit Stick of metal objects--anything that might look alarming. Had made up my mind that if they took it--it would be okay. Found Things should not be OWNED. A Spirit Stick can't be PROPERTY..
not me, more than me, not mine.
But then.. why not see if I can make a travel stick to slip through ?
First thing... buy a cheap dollar store cane. Limited minds need to identify what they see with what they (think they) know and understand. If it looks like a cane--rather than a tree branch: step one.
-- what's the secret of the dance?
-- to move in such a way that no one knows you're danciing
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/28/2011 12:40:00 PM
Saturday, May 21, 2011
Fadi Abou-Rihan has been posting a running commentary on Winnicott's ideas on 'Found Things," on the trasitional quality of play, dreaming and fantasy. Go to his post, Structure and Process, to follow his ideas.
While I can't pretend to offer useful interpretation--I was struck by Winnicott's distinctions between fantasy and dreaming, on the comparative fixity of fantasy--which is tyrannically (I don't think that that overstates it) re-guided back to whatever has been identified as the desired object, as opposed to the poetic quality of the dream, whose "agility is the mark of a mucking about and a taking liberty with whatever it may encounter."
How often I've experienced in my writing--particularly when the going gets rough, the words hard to come by--that I've become 'fixed' in just this way, to a goal, preconceived--even if one I'm as yet unable to articulate, that I'm trying to keep everything within bounds...coloring within the lines, not at all unlike fantasy daydreams in states of infatuation: securing the hand of the lover, of winning the prize, getting the book published. This is not, I think, a matter of releasing a bundle of unacknowledged desires pent up in some prison cell of the unconscious. It is not a turning inward, however much it involves unconscious and perhaps repressed forces; rather, it is a losening outward--a movement toward the world, a relaxation of the border police. Play brings new aspects of reality into view... into play, involves us in the world in ways we had missed, or avoided, or feared.
It is certainly possible to push ahead in that goal oriented mode, "purpose driven" writing; one can even learn to be quite good at it, which may be the worst thing that can happen--that one can get good at it; good at making it happen... which is really a way of not letting it happen. The mental Besiji may indeed succeed in striking fear in the hearts of the dreamers, chasing them 'safely' indoors, shooting the Voice through the heart, letting it bleed to death on the street. We need to learn to say to the Voice, like the primal cry that it is... don't be afraid! Don't be afraid!
Here are exerts from the post.
By the early 1970’s, Winnicott elaborated further on the quality of this interaction when, with the help of one of his patients, he introduced a distinction between “fantasying” and “dreaming.” Fantasying is an isolated and isolating activity as with, for instance, the daydreaming of the perfect partner, perfect job, perfect home, or perfect finances, the daydreaming of, in sum, the perfect and perfectly satisfying life (the aeternitas) in the face of an intolerably disorganised, unmanageable, and fleeting reality (the tempus). Fantasying instigates no action; it at best runs parallel to and at worst substitutes for life and action; it is a fixity that distracts from and drains objects and relations; it inhibits and at times altogether paralyses them . Dreaming, on the other hand, corresponds to the agility typical of an excursion into an “imaginative planning of the future” (”Dreaming, Fantasying, and Living”, 35), an excursion that precipitates and looks forward to action as much as it is shaped by it (DFL, 26-33). Doctor and patient had come to see that fantasying about an action and dreaming about it belong to two separate orders; indeed, “fantasying was about a certain subject and it was a dead end. It had no poetic value. The corresponding dream, however, had poetry in it, that is to say, layer upon layer of meaning relating to past, present, and future, and to inner and outer, and always fundamentally about [the dreamer]” (DFL, 35; emphasis in the original).
Yet, and however distinct they may be, fantasying and dreaming remain inextricably implicated in one another. The fixity that is the trademark of fantasying speaks a strong attachment and a wish to revise and preserve as is, in other words, a fidelity to a particular object or situation, while dreaming’s agility is the mark of a mucking about and a taking liberty with whatever it may encounter
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/21/2011 03:19:00 PM
Thursday, May 19, 2011
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/19/2011 12:05:00 PM
Wednesday, May 18, 2011
Josh Bolton has nice piece of velvet up for Dorothea Lasky's, Poetry is Not a Project. I think Bolton gets it right in focusing on the element of play—the heart of this wonderful little essay. ‘Essay’ as Montaigne meant the word, a try -out of an idea, playing with a thought. When I’m asked when I started writing, I stumble, fishing for how to answer. I know they mean: when did I begin to write seriously, to take it seriously, and it’s the serious part that takes me back. Not the word—but how we tend to limit it to exclude play, whimsy, playful work. Anyone who has observed children at play should understand that there is nothing in life we will ever do that is more serious.
There was a time for me when poetry become a serious pursuit—but it was a seriousness of letting go, of letting it take me where it would, not making of it a ‘project,’ why I love that little pamphlet with the blue cover… and the child embossed on the cover…playing, daydreaming. I don’t tuck it away in my bookshelf. It really have a place of its own, but without thinking about… I’ve left it always somewhere in plain sight. It drifts from my desk, to a counter top, gets covered with glitter in the tray where I keep things I use for the cover of the Poem Tree chapbook. In play—serious play—the gates of the Garden of Love, those heavy iron gates, begin to creak open, the black letters of Thou Shalt Not begin to crumble away… turn to confetti… glitter to tangle the hair of the Newt Grinches of the world.
For a child, the most serious part of play involves testing the real, learning the great skill of life—imagining the Real. So many see the importance in this, the building of walls between the one and the other, the Imaginary and the Real… they get the distinction, but not transformative act… what Blake called Energy, where Imagination reaches out, probes and tests the limits of the Real… that is, the social and mental constructions of the Real, the bricks of rules and iron laws… in a search for what they hide… for… if I’m tempted to finish that sentence, to look for an idea or metaphor that would name what that is, for what is hidden, But that would put an end to play, slam closed again the gates to the Garden of Love.
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/18/2011 09:16:00 PM
Friday, May 13, 2011
A metaphor retains its generative power for only as long as it resists assimilation as an idiom – which reduces (represses) disjunction to mere syntactic or semantic contradiction
Think fission/fusion – explosive (expulsive) meaning – in the very coupling the meaning is both created and obliterated, uniting opposite poles -- demanding new readings
Blake’s ‘reason’ as the harmonization of opposites resulting in universal negation
Urizon’s rule by weight & measure Eternal year of drought
"The great function of poetry is to give back to us the situations of our dreams."
- Gaston Bachelard
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/13/2011 03:22:00 PM
Wednesday, May 11, 2011
I don’t really think of philosophy as a solitary activity. I’m not even sure if I’m the one doing the philosophy. In Anti-Oedipus Deleuze and Guattari talk about a schizophrenic unconscious that’s haunted by a sort of glossolalia. It’s filled with all sorts of tribes, national myths, history, discourses, images, expressions, and so on. This seems right. I’m often unsure as to just why I have certain things in my head or where they came from. I experience them as if they came from elsewhere. They’re snippets of philosophy that I’ve read, television documentaries, newspapers, novels, films, and so on. I just try to pass them along a little. I gave up trying to be original long ago. To me it seems that the moment you strive to be original nothing happens. Originality is always retroactive. Instead I’ve authorized myself to repeat, to share what I’ve found beautiful, fascinating, frightful, and so on. I want others with whom I can discuss these things and share them.How misleading, the folklore of the lonely artist/thinker. I can't begin to express how important the community of Philly poets has been for me these past three years. I've never in my life been so productive. The many readings I've been to are so much more than supplements to my private reading--they are its life blood. I like to begin each day reading poetry--as a part of my morning meditation, but I don't feel as though I'm removed from the world, but in the cacophonous echo chamber of all those readings, conversations, discussions--the serendipitous meetings in bars & park benches, & my writing is really a continuation of all that.
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/11/2011 11:24:00 AM
Monday, May 9, 2011
Been thinking about selling chapbooks... something that's made me uncomfortable. Ok... if through a publisher, enmeshed by necessity (?) as they are in the capitalist spider web... but for the books I make myself... or those a publisher might give me as part of the deal... a suggested contribution would be quite enough. I have no problem with defining rights of use and exchange. "Ownership" goes well beyond that, straying into metaphysical and psychological black lagoons.
A Patronage support gift... with no minimum... and no maximum amount. The book/ chapbook, will be for those who get one... a Found Thing... not a boughten owned slave... same for those so kind as to have already given me a little something for the books they've received. Also makes it easier to not have to distinguish gifts from sales--as though some people were more special than others.
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/09/2011 11:28:00 PM
"Some of the soldiers appear to toss grenades into the compound. The soldiers are relaxed and casual. They can be heard laughing as prisoners are hit. One supervising officer is filmed as he pauses to advise the soldiers that the prisoners are armed with nothing more than “dirt balls” but the officer does nothing to stop the men from attacking the unarmed detainees. "
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/09/2011 07:23:00 PM
I spent the morning going over the growing collection of papers, files, notebooks, journal entries—all related this Poem to the End of My Days—thinking how I might organize them for search & retrieval. I found an empty box for hanging folders, but no folders not in use. The things are damnably expensive. Kind of thing I hate to spend money on. What about this novel-in-progress… this 8 year project, which, inspecting my garden earlier, it came to me that I would never finish, that it no longer represented anything I wanted to do? I have boxes of drafts… dozens of Pendleflex forders going to waste. I don’t throw this stuff out… one never knows when something will pop into mind—like a burst bubble…an aneurism of memory, & some passage or chapter written years ago will seem exactly what I need.
I can stack the file folders of draft chapters in a box, store them in the closet, free the hanging folders & use them to organize the collection of papers & notes multiplying like kudzu. & what do I find in the first folder I open, but something I’d started working on a year ago, April…”Found Things Versed” (“Found Things” being the working title of this novel). I’d had in mind rewriting the whole thing as poetry. There were trial efforts at paragraphs of prose poems interspersed with open & broken line verse, journal entries… the prototype for Poem to the End of my Days… & I’d totally forgotten it. Or rather, put it out of reach of conscious thought, but not at all out of mind. This kind of thing happens so often that it no longer surprises me—but never ceases to wonder & amaze me… at how the mind works. It took me … 9 months… yeah, think of that. Nine months. Before I took this idea up in a more suitable form. No wonder those first 100 pages came so quickly… like pulling them out of storage.
Found Things possess a strangeness that will not easily surrender to the death of ownership. Let go. Let go of owning & more & more of the world will give itself to being found… & what you find, in not being owned, will be more truly yours than any Thing you will ever call ‘mine.’
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/09/2011 11:19:00 AM
Saturday, May 7, 2011
Friday, May 6, 2011
Do you want to join other poets around the USA and across the planet in a demonstration/celebration of poetry to promote serious social and political change? 100 THOUSAND POETS FOR CHANGE is organizing a global event for September 24, 2011. If you think you would like to participate or organize your own event, please sign up on Facebook or go to 100 Thousand Poets for Change
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/06/2011 04:55:00 PM
Monday, May 2, 2011
I fear that Osama bin Laden has won twice. The first time in what he unleashed by the destruction of the World Trade Center. The second time in this banal, bloody movie ending that has so many so enthralled.... blinking in the dark and believing their deepest wish has come to pass.
Chris Hedges made some thoughtful remarks on this at a Truthdig fundraiser last night.
Posted by Jacob Russell at 5/02/2011 06:41:00 PM