Friday, May 23, 2008

Port Trakl review

Craig Perez as usual does an outstanding job on this review of Port Trakl.

The Widow Party

Here's another review.

Sunday, May 18, 2008

Poet's Theater

If you live in Chicago be sure you check out the next couple of performances in the same "Poet's Theater" series we did The Widow Party: Fiona Templeton (tonight) and Carla Harryman (next weekend). I wish I could go but I've been sick this weekend and next weekend I'll be out of the country.

Friday, May 16, 2008

The Widow Party - one more thought

One of the reasons I really liked putting together The Widow Party was the way life and art leaked together. And still leaks together. Sometimes when Joyelle and I are driving around or watching TV or listening to the radio something will jerk us back into The Widow Party: We'll look at each other and go "We're in the Widow Party."

For me one of the most memorable moment of the plays is the glossy blue shoes Phil Jenks wore - and he was in the audience! In my memory I don't differentiate between what was in the play and what was outside of it.

It's a little like when I watched all of the Twin Peaks episodes over about 2 weeks back in the late 90s (on video). Looking back at the show I can't determine what was my dreams and what was the show. And like I have said before, it seems this questions is wrong. My dreams are part of the show.

On another note, I will watch Speedracer, but it has to involve somebody baby-sitting the demon-child.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Review of Sandy Florian's Telescope

Monday, May 12, 2008

The Cinematic Body by Steven Shaviro

Josh raised the specter of "pleasure" so here are some quotes from one of my favorite books on the movie-going experience, Steven Shaviro's The Cinematic Body, which offers a Deleuzian rejection of the old iconophobic Mulvey anti-pleasure schtick about the male gaze. This book has influenced my own thinking about the image and pleasure and cinema a great deal.

It's a book about "The delirious excesses of postmodern visionvision, the excitement and passivity of spectatorship, the frenzy and fragility of images, the desires that inform social construction of subjectivity, the pornographic allure of violence and sexuality, and the politics of the subjugated body."

(8) "Visual fascination is a passive, irresistable compulsion, and not an assertion of the active mastery of the gaze."

(9) "Blue Steel exposes visual fascination as a restless, shattering mobility - rather than as the stabilizing fixation assumed by so much film theory..."

(11) "Mertz remains attached to the great modernist belief (shared by structuralist formalism, psychoanalysis and Brechtian aesthetics) that self-reflexive distanciation (or sublimation) is both salutary and efficacious. One of the recurring, if implicity, arguments of the present book is that it can be neither. It is high time that we rid ourselves of the notion that we can somehow free ourselves from illusion (or from ideology) by recognizing and theorizing our entrapment within it. Such dialectical maneuvers tend, ironically, to reinforce the very objects of their critique. They achieve their explanatory power at the price of transforming the local, contingent phenomena into transcendental conditions or developmental necessities."

(12) "The unintended effect of Mulvey's argument is to foreclose whatever potentials for resistance and subversion, or Deleuzian "lines of flight" are latent within mainstream, narrative film... she calls for the destruction of cinematic pleasure."

(13)"Beneath its claims to methodological rigor and political correctness, it manifests a barely contained panic at the prospect (or it is the memory?) of being affected and moved by visual forms. It is as if there were something degrading and dangerous about giving way to images, and so easily falling under their power. Theory thus seeks to ward off the cinema's dangerous allure, to refuse the suspect pleasures that it offers, to dissipate its effects by articulating its hidden but intelligible structure. Behind all these supposedly materialist attacks on the ideological illusions built into the cinematic apparatus, should we not rather see the opposite, an idealist's fear of the ontological stability of the image, and of the materiality of affect and sensation."

(24) "My own masochistic theoretical inclination is to revel in my bondage to images, to celebrate the spectatorial condition of metaphysical alienation..."

I heartily recommend this book (clearly I am not doing it justice with a few quotes). Two thumbs up.

The Widow Party

The Widow Party

Working on this collaboration was a very intense, draining and powerful experience.

Despite what I've seen written and heard said here and there, it was a very collaborative process. I think for example Jacob Knabb's realization that one character whose words I had written were Jimmy Stewart from Vertigo was as important as anything I did; Patrick's strange/aerie/hilarious (though several people told me they thought it was heart-breaking) performance as Britney Spears and his wonderful lecture were as important as anythying I did. Nobody can hear the words "Oscar Mayer" after Jennifer Karmin's monologues.

One thing I realized quickly when we began putting the show together was how poorly I understood theater - the lighting, the stage space, the sound etc. I mean I've read Artaud's Theater of Cruelty 3 million times, or Strindberg's dream plays. But the part of the script that I wrote I largely conceived (I now realize)as a kind of film (and two separate people told me the show reminded them of a mix of Godard and Lynch, so I suppose it remained a bit film-like, even though it was a variety show more than anything), but through the collaboration it became much more interesting as a performance.

I've always been a big believer in collaboration - not just as in "collaborative projects" (such as the W-Party or the comic book I'm writing with John Woods), but all of my writing, publishing etc. But this just made obvious to me how much more interesting it is to approach art as collaboration, and how strange and curious the results can be.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Josh Corey reviews The Widow Party

Josh Corey write a few insightful comments about The Widow Party. I love that Josh is/was so troubled by the fact that he felt "pleasure" at watching our "phantasmagoria." I also love how Josh writes that he felt "implicated" but not properly "alienated." This seems absolutely correct; Josh seems to have totally gotten the play despite his anxieties.

The rest of you have one more chance (for now). The play will be performed tonight (Sunday) at 7 pm. Though it has gone so well that there are already plans for further performances and publications.

The phantasmatic underside of the ideological system

Given the tremendous creative output of the anonymous collective throughout the 1980s--concerts, performances, exhibitions, publications, manifestos, records, CDs, films, posters, etc.--it is not surprising that newly emerging theatre artists, designers and choreographers are indebted to NSK's visual-conceptual strategies or, at least, to its reverberating aesthetic of "total art." This aesthetic intermixes and compounds avant-garde styles and art/theatre/ballet/music/film models ranging from the Russian revolution (Meyerhold, Eisenstein, Malevich, Tatlin) to current Western performance types (Robert Wilson, Jan Fabre, Pina Bausch, the Italian transavanguardia) and more aggressive punk or industrial technomusic forms. One of these deliberately provocative mixings and mimicries involved Laibach's and New Collectivism's adaptations of Nazi and fascist iconographies, which were exposed in their shocking correspondence to the official aesthetics of a Stalinist-type social realism. These mimicries have been defended, most eloquently by Slovenia's well-known Lacanian philosopher Slavoj Zizek, not as ironic imitations, but as a form of over-identification that brings to light the obscene phantasmatic underside of the ideological system. The state tried to label the punk-alternative culture with the fascist stigma (banning Laibach from performing in Ljubljana, for example), but it could not answer the question: "Is it fascist?"

(from "The Utopia of Postutopia" by Johannes Birringer)

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Standard Operating Procedure

The new Eroll Miller is pretty brilliant. Watched it just in time for our dress rehearsal of "The Widow Party."

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

The Widow Party

Don't forget to attend The Widow Party this weekend if you happen to be in Chicago.

Friday & Saturday, May 9 & 10, 8pm
Sunday, May 11, 7pm
$12 ($10 students)

Links Halll, Chicago

Monday, May 05, 2008

from Alejandro

Another source of uncreative texts:

Johannes Göranson

There's another poet with my name (minus an s) who wrote a bunch of Surrealist-concretist book in the early 1970s. Brilliant stuff.

Gunnar Harding, one of the most famous Swedish living poets wrote me an email beginning, "Johannes what the hell are you doing in Alabama" (It was when I was living there), thinking I was his friend from teh 1970s. Very Bolano.

According to this list
, he must have gone into advertising. The later book is called "To Sell One's Soul - Corporate Advertising." Interestingly I once considered going into advertising, but I just couldn't stomach it.

I have a copy of his first book, my gramma bought it for me when I was born. I've been carrying it around with me my whole life without reading it, until one day about two years ago, when I read it and was duly blown away.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Kenny Goldsmith and "conceptual poetry"

Here's an interesting discussion about the "purity racket" and Kenny G's "uncreative writing"by Mark and Stan Apps.

I have had many of the same ideas as Stan about this issue.

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Srecko Kosovel

It turns out Salt has published a book by one of my favorite Dadaist poets of the 1920s, Srecko Kosovel from Slovenia.

Friday, May 02, 2008


Exoskeleton is endorsing Barack Obama. And his wife seems super.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Vegetable Love

If you happen to be in South Bend, Indiana this Saturday, one of my students is performing with his experimental musical troupe:

vegetable love sessions
solo and group performances
8:00pm Saturday, May 3