Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Sunday, August 12, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

The Suburban Ecstasies (Seth Abramson)

Debate continues, here

I'm posting my latest response below, as well as in the comment box linked above.

After much contemplation, I have come of a few conclusions as regards our discussion on flarf. It’s not that I don’t agree with your reasons for critiquing flarf (as any “school” or “tendency” should be open to criticism…though, when was the last time we critiqued McSweeney’s?) but rather I object/disagree with the material of the reasons you claim are what make flarf dangerous.
I elaborate: you say that flarfists, in co-opting the voices of lesser privileged or “underclasses” (That they don’t know/understand whose voice they co-opt is a heavier problem), relative to their supposed positions as professors, editors and poets – in American class structure – somehow oppresses, or at least shows a disrespect and lack of consideration of their subject, both in somehow objectifying this subject and in perhaps refusing dialog with said subject.
But any subject, made/created into a work of art by an “artist” (here being used more demonstratively than as a professional tag) is objectified. Art is a graven image. The result, whether a “good” poem or “bad” poem, is moot: the objectification takes place on a linguistic scale upon this “naming” and corralling.
Furthermore, this critique claims that to use another’s voice does two things:
One, it renders powerless their ability to speak/be heard, and
Two, (here, in a poem/artwork) to use a voice not native to the writer is a form of oppression, that naming has a responsibility/privilege paradigm that breaks when abused.
I disagree with both. The first because it assumes that two like voices cannot coexist, that taking another’s voice is tantamount to theft. “Tantamount,” perhaps. But theft? The second implies there is no difference between writer and subject, or narrator/speaker, of the poem. It implies that voice is not context based, that a black person saying “nigger” carries the same social charge as when a white person says it: whatever I say and however I say it are conditions that remain the same? I find spurious the idea that “wresting” words from the internet and using them in a different context/order somehow falls into the realm of identity theft and/or plagiarism.
Voice is not an action, though speaking is: in copying or imitating the action, we limit liberties of the speaker to have a voice. But flarf co-opts the timbre of certain statements of internet users rather than obstructing their ability to speak. To equate this to a person needed legal representation seems to be giving too much to the idea that it is a responsibility of speech rather than a freedom.
As a public defender, I’m sure you’re quite aware that providing legal representation doesn’t imply the accused is free or that they’re innocent, but rather merely enables the trial to continue. Giving a true voice to the underprivileged – rather than free internet or courtroom representation requires a lot more work on society’s part – means fighting for a system where truth, justice and equality prevail – whatever that would be like…
I agree with the idea that flarfists seem sometimes reluctant to refute criticisms of their “school,” though I maintain that their freedom to use the language rivals mine to take offense at (not its content, mind you) but where they get it. I can only assume complicit the original speakers of “Hey stupid ketchup squirt, your mother dumbfuck squid bitch vomit in a household President First Lady herpes tester wipes.” Seriously, is the speaker who used those words before they were flarfed going to find her lot in life
-stays the same
because her words were taken and published in a book whose print run maxes out at a monstrous 500 copies?
I don’t mean to suggest that anyone seeking vomit anecdotes is shit out of luck unless they know the web addy to Small Press Distribution. Hasn’t it all been done? Which is it? Does on-line contemporary parlance reflect a corporate superstructure of oppression, or does it represent the very “downtrodden” that the corporations seek to keep down?
So, are these people that have time to use the internet, post and record their voices, are they the underprivileged? Are they really voiceless, or do they represent corporate triumph over individual expression?
Getting back (somewhat) to the more concrete: are words that I take from a certain timbre a “no man’s land” and no writer may cross? Can these statements and exclamations –once they are used by a certain class — no longer be used by a higher class? This linguistic tyranny of the majority, “Don’t use my language because I’m oppressed,” has horrific implications. But that’s okay: we can still carry a gun.

Sunday, August 05, 2007

FLARF Suit Riot

Seth Abramson has posted more on flarf, and on the vitriol he seems to receive because of his opinions on it. And there's some coincidence in the fact that both he and Nada Gordon at ~Ululations~ are discussing the same thing: Why are our online tempers not similar to our "real" life tempers? Why can't we behave online? What's with this pissing contest anyway?

I'm going to disagree with Mr. Abramson on the JACKET problem re flarf. JACKET has published both "proto" flarf (TARZAN, anyone?) work as well as essays seeking to open flarf up, with a razor (Dan Hoy's 16+ page long essay). Both sides seem represented. And there are definitely those who hate flarf and those who love it. What about the Swiss? Or, better: what about those poets/fans/readers who merely wish the flarf debate and its copiers vanish? Is flarf here to stay, and is this negative?

Saturday, August 04, 2007

Vasoline Smile

Seth Abramson’s half-assed discussion of Flarf, wherein he charges flarfistes with not knowing “his aesthetic” (being as universal and well-known as it is in most circles…parts of which can be readily evidenced by the poetry found at the aforelinked blog) and then closes the comments box because, “Comments are disabled because flarf really isn't worth the time or effort of additional discussion,” seems like sniping. It bears mentioning that - quoting Rachel Loden quoting Abramson - if flarf is indeed "about nothing in particular and with nothing to recommend it," we're sniping at the space left by a fart. Shooting at "nothing," is sniping possible?

What 4F/flunkie/rubber stamp/choadsniffer would waste the time?

If Flarf is truly "classist," which class owns it? There must be an owner (a class) for this charge to stand. So then, assuming that ownership of flarf - of this "nothing" - can be taken, Abramson flails about, looking for a name as the brunt of his flarf of blame. finding none, he proves the opposite: that flarf is indeed democratic in its access or accessory, and certainly without one specific class claiming privilege of ownership.