Tuesday, August 31, 2004

Creeley and Malanga

So I've been reading a lot of Robert Creeley, who as a young man tended to look like a crow turned into a human, really great stuff I'd never delved into all at one time before, though I knew scattered poems. Anyway, Creeley has some great stuff to say in this interview:

If one only wrote "good" poems, what a dreary world it would be. "Writing writing" is the point. It's a process, like they say, not a production line. I love the story of Neal Cassidy writing on the bus with Ken Kesey, simply tossing the pages out the window as he finished each one. "I wonder if it was any good," I can hear someone saying. Did you ever go swimming without a place you were necessarily swimming to—the dock, say, or the lighthouse, the moored boat, the drowning woman? Did you always swim well, enter the water cleanly, proceed with efficient strokes and a steady flutter kick? I wonder if this "good" poem business is finally some echo of trying to get mother to pay attention.

He evens handles a question about McKuen w/class. Gerald Malanga, who took the pic of Creeley I linked to above, was big at the Factory, acted in a couple of Warhol's movies, and has photos of a lot of great people, Zappa and Burroughs, Iggy Pop, Ginsberg, Jasper Johns, Zero Mostel, Warhol and Truman Capote doing his Harry Truman imitation, etc.

Monday, August 23, 2004

Art Theft

I suppose everybody's heard about the theft of Munch's Scream.
What many of you do not know (and now must be told) is: at that same exact time, armed bandits broke into my apartment and stole my Munchos and my copy of Scream 2.

Sunday, August 22, 2004

Th' Pensive Apes

I especially like the gray one, the sixth one down, doing his John Houseman in The Paper Chase imitation. But the one after him, caught in a state of hopeless existential longing, is very nice too.

Wednesday, August 18, 2004

The South Carolina Planetary Defense Corps

Where I come from we know what to do when a UFO lands in your yard: you shoot the fucking thing. The same article refers to Bill Herrmann, who was abducted from a field near Dorchester Road in Charleston, which is a fine place to be abducted from. Hermann also took some highly-regarded UFO pix.

Also, one of my favorite restaurants is haunted. Try the shrimp and hominy.

Rhetorical Challenge #1

Write a letter to one of these Bosnian Child Artists, slagging the artist on his or her technique and/or choice of subject matter.


I'm interested in nervousness as a rhetorical category.

In the past five years I've worked on two hiring committees at two (not at all distinguished) universities, and "nervousness" was an immediate disqualifier on both. When, on the more recent committee, I asked why nervousness or the lack thereof was a primary criterion, I got puzzled looks.

Nervousness is interesting because there's no real definition of it. If you want to define "nervousness" as "suffering mild to severe symptoms of anxiety," you've just set aside 65 million Americans. If you define it as "diagnosed with clinical anxiety disorders, including panic disorders, phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorders," you still got 30 million. These numbers raise the question of the ethics of those places that still believe inducing stress is a necessary part of the educational/"character building" process: boot camps, graduate schools, etc. Theoretically, these places are discriminating against 22% of the American population.

On the whole question of whether, in a sort of R.D. Laing way, we can consider mild-to-moderate anxiety to be a logical and justifiable reaction to the contemporary human condition: don't get me started.

Barry Malzberg: Push Your Themes to the Limit

So I've been thinking about those historical pastiches lately -- you know, like Nicholas Meyer's The Seven Percent Solution, Jack the Ripper against Sherlock Holmes and Sigmund Freud -- and I thought, wouldn't it be cool to push this as far as it can go, and have JTR & Sherlock & Freud, and Dickinson, and Lee Harvey Oswald, Oedipa Maas, and Jesus and Emma Goldman and Frankenstein's monster and Mark Twain and Jim (Huck's Jim) and Roderick Usher, and Hawthorne (who needs to make a kind of low-key, mournful pass at someone) and Boo Radley, Prospero, Elizabeth II, William Shatner, Teddy Roosevelt, and Nat Turner? And Ted Turner, and everyone else who might be interesting?
Obviously the plot will have to have somebody murdered in such a way that the entire space-time continuum, whatever that is, is in peril. Suggestions welcome.

Tuesday, August 17, 2004


I decided it'd be good to start a blog for all the weird shit that goes through my head about things other than politics, rock 'n' roll, and living inside the planetary reality TV show, which are the subjects of my other blog.
Probable topics here: poetry, rhetoric, my inner demon, teaching, the Mets, Britney, miscellaneous spam.
The title of this blog, BTW, is listed in The People's Almanac or something like that as being the most compact word. It's from Fuegan (the indigenous language of Tierra del Fuego), and it means, roughly, "two people looking at each other, each trying to psyche the other into doing something that both people want to accomplish, but neither one is willing to do him/herself." I perceive my brain as being mamihlapinatapei.