San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


Some Small Change from Exchange on Circulars

Reading and much intrigued (puzzled, jostled) by Brian Kim Stefans and Darren Wershler-Henry's now "final" exchange, especially picking up in the middle where the two discuss personal and multiple author blogs, as well as optimal styles for blogging. Here are some excerpts, with glosses, for what it's worth. I suppose comments should go in the Free Space Comix comments window, but I'm thinking this might be a bit too much text (and maybe too redundant) for that. Brian, if you read this, let me know if otherwise.

DWL: "...the coalition model: a decent weblog NEEDS multiple authors to work even in the short term.... There's nothing *wrong* with personal weblogs, but, like reality TV, they get awfully thin over time. Even when the current search technologies adapt to spider the extra text that blogging has created, the problem of anemic content isn't going to go away unless we start doing more collective writing online. The problem is partly a need for education; most writers are still in the process of learning how to use the web to best advantage."

Two related "problems" here, of "anemic content" and "a need for education." Problems that might have more to do with "discipline," as discussed below, than blogging or the web per se. Is one problem (anemia) necessarily the result of or even related to the other (education)? I'm not sure, but I also shrink a bit from claims re the use of the web "to best advantage." Whose advantage?

BKS: "I'm not sure that it's necessary for a blog to be multi-authored; what it really needs is a mandate, and it's possible that, were the mandate simply to produce rich, incantatory prose -- imagine the Marcel Proust blog -- a highly disciplined approach could work."

Mandate and disciplined approach -- a good template for blog building, no doubt, with sites like Circulars offering compelling evidence in support. I agree generally that the blog adrift may not work as well as the one that tries to steer into the wind, on some course, but what guides the mandate? Re above, it's true that any blog or reality TV show can get "thin over time," but I wonder if an interest in *thickness* might preclude a different kind or set of mandates whose endgames, as personal or multi-authored efforts, vary from the journalistic reach of some.

BKS: "...the individual voice is sharpened by an informed sense of the social arena in which it will resonate (in which the message will ultimately become dulled)."

Exactly -- my suspicion is that there are few if any truly "personal" blogs. A bad analogy, but sort of like rain drops always adding up to rain.

BKS: "...Perhaps the model blog is that which responds to the formal issues of other blogs as if they were social issues....

A stellar mandate (or template for how to envision one) and maybe matches up somewhat with the idea of the "blog approach" (in a field report below). The shape of that response may not be so obvious or overt (maybe doesn't need to be), but I think the "response" (even when implicit) is precisely what prevents the ostensibly "personal" blog from being, in fact, limited to the personal. Nonetheless, being clear about that in one's approach is I think what BKS means by a "mandate."

DWL: "...Endless streams of novelistic prose, no matter how incantatory, are *not* what I want to read online."

DWL rephrases BKS's "rich, incantatory prose" as "novelistic prose," I guess to absorb the Proust example, but are they the same thing? Maybe a minor point, but since "prose" is such a big deal in blogging, maybe not.

DWL: "...I think that the paragraph-as-"post" is the optimal unit of online composition, and that an optimal online style would be some sort of hybrid of prose poetry and healthy geek cynicism.... But I think I see your point, that it's possible for one writer to produce the kind of dialogic multiplicity that could sustain a blog. There is, however, a large difference between 'possible' and 'likely.'"

Some hefty statements here that need sorting out. Yes, prose, if not novelistic prose. Paragraph-as-"post" as "optimal" unit of composition -- a paragraph, I assume (i.e., not a series, which might lean toward the novelistic?), like the paragraphs assembled in this exchange? A "hybrid" of prose poetry and geek cynicism could, I imagine, be "incantatory," and I keep using this word not to deconstruct the language but because I like incantatory prose, online or off, and I see real hope for new blog forms in some resolution of this prose/poetry/novelistic/incantatory quandary (Sawako's Texture Notes may be moving in the right direction.)

Otherwise, "dialogic multiplicity" of the sort DWL seems to favor probably does, in the end, require multiple heads in the post window, but again there are other ways to sustain a blog and no shortage of reasons why one approach, collective or personal, should be lauded as inherently more sustainable (not necessarily what's being argued here, but a risk all the same).

There's a lot more to this exchange and my responses are cursory. Now off with you to get the full story.


The Semi-Living Artist

Rat-brained robot does distant art

By Lakshmi Sandhana

Meet the latest spaced out modern artist - a picture-drawing robot arm in Australia whose brain sits in a petri dish in the US.

The robot arm is in Perth...

Working from their university labs in two different corners of the world, American and Australian researchers have created what they call a new class of creative beings: "the semi-living artist".

Gripping three coloured markers positioned above a white canvas, a robotic arm churns out drawings akin to that of a three-year-old. Its guidance comes from around 50,000 rat neurons in a petri dish 19,000 kilometres away.

The "brain" lives at Dr Steve Potter's lab at Georgia's Institute of Technology, Atlanta, while the "body" is located at Guy Ben-Ary's lab at the University of Western Australia, Perth.

Webcam stimulation

The two ends communicate with each other in real-time through the internet.

The project represents the team's effort to create a semi-living entity that learns like the living brains in people and animals do, adapting and expressing itself through art.

...but the brain is in Atlanta

"We are looking at future scenarios where geography won't matter," said Mr Ben-Ary. "The brain of the semi-living could be anywhere in the world, while the body (machine) will interface and be fed off it," he told BBC News Online.

"It really makes you think about the future possibilities, and realise that the sci-fi vision of movies like Cold Lazarus can turn into reality in the future."

Termed Meart (Multi-Electrode Array Art), the cells are connected via 64 two-way electrodes to a computer and are stimulated by information; in this case transmitting scaled-down images of visitors in its vicinity, captured with a webcam.

Learn a little

The computer translates any resulting neural activity into robotic arm movement. By closing the loop, the researchers hope that the rat culture will learn something about itself and its environment.

"I would not classify [the cells] as 'an intelligence', though we hope to find ways to allow them to learn and become at least a little intelligent," said Dr Potter.

The drawings are becoming less chaotic

"I look forward to seeing something everyone would call 'learning', but so far, we only have evidence that the system is developing and adapting, such as becoming more controlled - less chaotic over time," he added

Dr Potter hopes the venture will provide valuable insights into how learning occurs at a cellular level.

The latest initiative is a development of the SymbioticA Fish And Chips project, in which the artist-scientists grew fish neurons over silicon chips to control a robotic arm that produced drawings and music.

Phrasal Appraisals

Earlier this summer I got the idea to write a review of the fifteen-odd literary journals I've been pouring through over the last few months but decided this morning that that would be insane. Clearly I've got "review fever" but more than that it's obviously an impossible task, given the range, blah blah. Well, maybe not.

Anyway, here's the list, along with the names of some included and a word or two about the journal, pure gut reaction. Names in the issues NOT listed below are not intentional exclusions, just weren't on my particular radar that day.

In order read:

1. Arshile 11 (1999) (Eleni Sikelianos) : steady pursuit of the eclectic.

2. Untitled 1 / 3 (2000/2002) (Elka Erb, Tosa Motokiyu, Patrick Durgin; Craig Watson, Jack Kimball & Kent Johnson) : all prose po with generous samples, almost mini-books [since learned this one's now defunct].

3. Itsyncast 2 (circa 1999) (Adam Patrick Miller, Steve Fried) : idiosyncratic Atlanta Poetry Group jaw-breaker [also i think now defunct, or maybe transmogrified].

4. Germ 4 (2000) (Rod Smith, Emmanuel Hocquard, Karen Weiser, Clark Coolidge, Rae Armantrout, Dominique Fourcade) : kind of the Preakness of pomo lit journals, addicted to medieval framing devices, which is cool by me.

5. Score 15 (2000) (Fernando Aguiar, John M. Bennett, Jim Leftwich, Paulo Bruscky, John Byrum, John Elsberg, arleen hartman, Richard Kostelanetz, Keiichi Nakamura, Clemente Padin, Irving Weiss) : exceptionally awesome vis po makes me want to do some.

6. Aufgabe 2 (2002) (Ulf Stolterfoht, Hung Q. Tu, Standard Schaefer, Martha Ronk, John Lowther, Kari Edwards) : from the land of milk and honey (NY), all over the place avant-spread.

7. Nocturnes 2 (2002) (Carla Conforto, A. Van Jordan, Ronaldo V. Wilson, Wanda Coleman, Fred Moten) : liquid crystal production, almost fragile, muy alto.

8. Cross-Cultural Poetics 10 (2002) (Edwin Torres, John Taggart, Bing He) : smart and stimulating with academic sprinkle.

9. Tripwire 6 (2002) (Seitlhamo Motsapi, Lesego Rampolokeng, Gael Reagon, Jeremy Cronin, K. Silem Mohammad, Los Cybrids, Alan Gilbert) : THE journal of the decade, maybe shared with Shark, methinks.

10. Chain 9 (2002) (Joe Amato, Shelly Berc, Robert Quillen Camp, Craig Dworkin & Alessandra Santos, Michael Ives, M. Kasper, John Kinsella, Rob MacKensie & Lee A. Tonouchi, Sean Meehan, Michelle Spencer, Mette Moestrup, Aishah Rahman, James Sherry, Nick Piombino) : as always, a real journey, a trek, across desert and mountain, land and sea, a real international tour-de-force-feed.

11. !Factorial! 1 (2003) (Mary Downing, Brian Strang) : all collaboration, which is inherently hard to pull off, as collaborations begin over time to read like lecture notes from Psych 101.

12. 3rd Bed 6 (2002) (Mark Laliberte, Marc Palm, Lisa Jarnot, Brian Evenson, David Ohle) : surprise of the summer, for me at least, with something under the shiny hood.

13. Kiosk 2 (2003) (Louis Cabri, Abigail Child, K. Silem Mohammad, Rodrigo Toscano, Rachel Blau Du P., Dan Featherston, Pattie McCarthy) : most bang for the buck, funky font, and one of the best poems I've seen yet about the fucked state of the u. (Dan F.).

14. Skanky Possum 8 (2002) (Michael Magee, Clayton Eshleman) : more self-proclaimed revolutionary poetry from the most notable movement-in-name-only since the dot.surge.

15. Syllogism 5 (2001) (Michael Ruby, Marcella Durand, Steve Gilmartin, Susan M. Shultz, Mary Burger, Robin Caton, Stephen Ratcliffe, Lin Dinh, Diane di Prima) : tough neo-language with a weird but good chunk of fiction at the end.

16. Shark 4 (2002) (Jori Schnell, Pamela Lu, Jimbo Blachly (x2), Heriberto Yepez, Susan Schultz, Nina Katchadourian, Paul Chan, Matt King, Tan Lin, Brian Kim Stefans, Yun-Fei Ji, Christian Schumann, Lohren Green) : tied with Tripwire for best journal of the decade, but they look a lot alike so maybe it's a production thing.

17. Pom2 2 (2002) : all appropriation and re-appropriation, should get an award from the EPA.

All in all, what a prosperous and healthy poetry world we live in! Each is highly recommended.


Two Itineraries / One Incomplete

Attn: Bay Area Bloggers

*********ITINERARY [complete] ************

Receipt and Itinerary as of 07/23/03 07:20PM

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Confirmation Date: 07/23/03
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Received: WILLIAM

DAVIS/OCTAVIA 526-2759372943-2

MARSH/WILLIAM 526-2759372944-3

Friday, August 01 - SAN DIEGO CA(SAN) to OAKLAND CA(OAK)
Flight 934 Y
Depart SAN DIEGO CA(SAN) at 12:15PM and
Arrive in OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 01:35PM

Monday, August 04 - OAKLAND CA(OAK) to SAN DIEGO CA(SAN)
Flight 1700 Y
Depart OAKLAND CA(OAK) at 09:05AM and
Arrive in SAN DIEGO CA(SAN) at 10:30AM


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  evening: Piombino/Young et al.; Oxygen Bar; 7pm

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Field Report #4: {Lime Tree}

I like limes as much as I like curly brackets. I like lime juice on my tortillas and in my Tecate. I like curly brackets around my blogs. So first off: a shared affinity for citrus and punctuation marks that look like handlebar mustaches. And for the color green (my favorite), and for mostly longish well-seasoned entries that go somewhere and generally succeed and look like they've been edited (typos rare).

Lest this report so far strike the astute reader as an attempt by the author to move up a notch or two on Lime Tree's notoriously fickle links list, it's not. Still, the listing/ranking phenomenon is perhaps a good place to start. Though the architect -- sorry, arborist -- of Lime Tree has made it clear that lists are more about navigation than selection, the fun of the guise of hierarchy (and really, it's just that) lies in the tease of popularity and belonging. We all want to be loved, or at least offered a place to sit down.

But there are much more important things to note -- like the thorough and gratifying review-work of such notables as Rodrigo Toscano, and the steadily-accruing argument w.r.t. blogging and the adjudication of "scene" in 21st century N. Amer.

With regard to the latter, I take my lead from Jack Kimball's remarks re "blogging as an instrument of developmental processes, social, for sure, and aesthetic, too." In the fruit of the lime tree we find the pulp of just this kind of "developmental process." Social AND aesthetic -- or let's graft our categories experimentally and state for the record that, for blogging, the social IS the aesthetic.

The lead for that I take from KSM himself: "Just being, or feeling like I’m being, under a constant communal scrutiny has forced me to think about how my work, both creative and critical, functions in the world: how other poets perceive it, how non-poets in the blogosphere perceive it, whether it participates productively on any extant plane of cultural economy, etc. Maybe more importantly, I feel tuned in to other people’s writing in ways that help me to break down claustrophobic concepts of poetic 'movements,' 'schools,' 'camps,' and so on. Having Ron Silliman, Jim Behrle, Aimee Nezhukumathil, David Hess, Cat Meng, Mike Snider, Taylor Kelley, and others all talking in the same virtual room makes for a sometimes noisy but always interestingly diverse 'conversation.'"

Diverse conversation -- communal scrutiny -- perception, participation, production, and function: The "virtual room" of blogging is obviously reminiscent of other rooms, virtual and beyond, that over the years/decades/centuries have housed wayward creatives in search of diverse conversation and the opportunity to grow under the gaze of "communal scrutiny."

But Kasey's right. The blogosphere seems to be (that "seems" should be read as the cowardly wedge between faith and doubt that it always is) one of the more surprising community-building prosthetics that we've seen since the phone line became a conduit for personal mail. It sure beats the discussion list, for example, and while it doesn't have the game-like appeal of the MUD/MOO or the in-your-face-2-face immediacy of chat, it outshines all, imho, for what it gives us by way of noisy and interesting "diverse conversation."

Statements like these therefore must be given their due scrutiny: "I'm convinced that the blogging phenomenon has helped to add a new level of dynamic cohesiveness to the poetry scene, and that last night was, among other things, a visible social marker of its effect. It was a just-uncomfortably hot evening, which added to the feeling that a bunch of people were all gathered together, stoutly enduring the elements in the service of a common Joy" (7/14/03, 11:33am).

I wasn't there last night, but I can feel the heat, if not the common Joy. And I'm willing to take the heat for not being there, for being obsessively scene-conscious as much as I've never (really) been part of one or wanted to be, and for taking the time here to venture too far into the realm of gut reaction in a report trying desperately to keep its critical distance. At heart, though, I'm just plain curious about this "dynamic cohesiveness" and how from an instant archiving device we can grow opportunities for "visible social markers" of blogging's effect. I also wonder how a blog-based (virtual) poetry scene might cohere around certain pre-established poetry communities, and how blogging might not "add a new level" of cohesiveness but might simply adhere to preexisting social systems such as those within which the "bunch" convened last night.

I read as an outsider, to put it bluntly, which is hardly the fault of those on the inside. Still, in blogland, the writer/reader dynamic cross-pollinates the insider/outsider dynamic all the time, and where are we w.r.t. "communal scrutiny" if we don't treat those dynamics seriously? In the final analysis, though, excellent questions re "scene" and "cohesion" prevail, and KSM is bold enough to mix them into the drink of critical blogging, tartness be damned.

Moving on, I have always believed that aesthetics takes care of itself, but in each of the four "ion" words I have coyly left unglossed above, note that at least three of them -- participation, production, and function -- might make for great building blocks (lime stones?) for an aesthetics of blogging in the sphere of poetic activity. As Kimball notes, "the varieties of blog approaches show a gazillion strategies for posting and concatenating sets of posts." A blog approach, I think, is just that one term we need for talking about the many ways in which bloggers participate, produce, and function in the blogosphere. Lime Tree, far-reaching from root to stem, is pure concatenation, as linked conversation: quintessential blog.

Now, "What were we talking about?"

Utopia, I think. I have faith (dropping the "seems" from above) that blogging is a form of "production as reception" in the manner put forth by Bruce Andrews in "Making Social Sense." There's a stretch implicit to this claim that I don't have time to contend with, but when I think about "participation" in blogland I really do think of something like "hostessing a public readabilityship -- as encyclopedia, as uncontainable plenitude" (Andrews). The utopian model of "participatory, carnal democracy" may need some tweaking (perhaps taming) to fit in this case, but it's true and fitting nonetheless that getting there "demands more critique, more disrespect, more disruption" (Andrews).

Lime Tree is one of those good ones -- at turns noisy, disruptive, entertaining in its plenitude -- that is definitely getting there, wherever there, in the end, might be.

* * *

Read Stephanie Young's well-nourished response to this report.


Interlude: Place Holder

I've been away from my blog(s) for about a week now, which in the blogging world is about one nano-blip shy of an eternity. My partner Octavia Davis and I are working through the fifth revision of a novel we started about three years ago. We decided to devote this time exclusively to rewrites (about two weeks total), but after a week in the trenches we're pretty confident we have a finished draft -- finished, that is, the way one finishes doing the dishes: there's always more.

The novel's about a woman who's been stuck in the bloated aftermath of several horrid experiences, including the death of her mother at a young age, the recent loss of a child, a divorce -- sounds like a lot but it's "spread out" the way real life tends to be sometimes. Anyway the novel picks up with her heading across country in a minivan to meet her brother back at the old homestead, a plot of land and a house they've just inherited without much interest, in either of them, to do anything with it. She brings her boy, seven years old, and a plant and some stories to tell, and the novel leaves them stranded out there in this old house with the brother, and all of them are forced to get a long and reconsider what's come to pass in light of a letter, written by the dead mother just before she offed herself, that surfaces on about p.150. The letter forces some reevaluation, and basically the novel's about that choice, or opportunity, we get sometimes to revise our sense of things in light of certain key revelations and disclosures, often delivered up from a past otherwise locked down and impenetrable.

Loyal readers who have ventured this far will no doubt recognize my continued interest in the "letter" as a site of literary action.

Octavia and I collaborate, and I take that word very seriously in this case. We split the work--she's a lot better at character and "big picture" structures, i can hack a few good lines and generate a decent plot twist. For the first version, I spent a few weeks spitting out chapters, then we sat in front of the computer during the hot days of summer we get here in SD round about August (actually, the real summer comes in September, when here in the inland regions it gets up around 95 and stays that way through the night as heat from the desert keeps the coastal breezes away). Later, after that first batch of hackwork was finished, we talked a great deal about what was needed, weaknesses in the characters, plot defects, bad writing, etc. Later versions we composed jointly, with O. in front of the computer sometimes sculpting a few paragraphs while I fried up tofu for lunch or folded the kids' laundry, then I'd take over and touch up some sentences while she assembled the sandwiches or put in another load.

More recent sessions have been more "fun" in the sense that we're really working together, side by side -- two people, one keyboard. Not like we're elbow to elbow plucking out "Heart and Soul" or anything like that, but we share ideas and "talk/write" sentences, filling in words for each other, coaxing the other through an odd construction, stuff like that. And what we have now is an entirely different beast than what we started with.

So, there's that to plug in here as a blog report interlude (my own self-assessment perhaps). By the way, I've gotten some good feedback on the first three reports, from the reportees themselves and a few others just passing through. Please come back soon for the next three installments. I think I know where I'm going next for report #4, but I'll keep that a secret for now.

That novel we're writing, I should add, is pure maternal melodrama. I took a film studies class a while back that focused on the genre--mostly 30's and 40's generation Hollywood flicks, like Now, Voyager and Stella Dallas. I've been a fan ever since, and this novel seems to have evolved (for me, not so much for Octavia) as a kind of deliberate purge / cautious celebration. Octavia argues that there's a gothic element to it as well, and I take her word for it.


Field Report #3: ~~ululations~~

Like many perhaps who tour this blog, I was tempted while scrolling through June/July to open my dictionary to "U" and revisit the definition. As with other great onomatopoeic double-syllable plural nouns (compare "tintinnabulations," for example), the clue is in the verbal play afforded by that initial repetition, the vocalizing, in this case, of a double-lingual incantation whose utterance alone out-means even the best Oxford or Webster can offer.

Anyway, I got my definition on May 15 (9:44 am), and suddenly "ululations" made sense (if only, lucky for me, briefly): "Internal Roilings escaping bodily through vocalization." Kind of like what happens when you say the word "ululate" maybe twelve times in a row, slowly, whispering to oneself while reading through Nada Gordon's piecemeal poetics and witty, "one-woman think tank" notations.

I really like this blog, I should say out front, and I'm tempted to leave it at that. (I do believe there are times when a given something speaks for itself.) But there's more to say about narcissism (beliefs and behaviors), celebrity look-alikes, Cruella the chihuahua (a ululation?), onanism, and the "trouble" this blogger claims to have with her "prose," or at any rate her "prose persona."

For much more on each of these topics, visit the blog and dig in. I'll confide here that the think work on "narcissism" -- so apropos to the blogging scene, especially of late -- is definitely worth reading, from its "Big ol' list of the qualities of a narcissist" to the think tank's self-assessment with regard to each of those qualities. (I took the test myself and realized, of course, that I'm a frequent narcissist, as is most everyone, at times, as needed.)

I like this blog for its "Radical Honesty" (two-word entry, June 14, 12:24 pm), which, for the prose persona of ~~ululations~~ at least, amounts to a broadly astute accounting-for in the midst of the truly happening, the real-stuff maybe of critical-fictive wandering and real-time distributed journaling (what blogs are good for, I think).

Check 4:51 of the same day for a bit of the radically honest:

It's 3:27 a.m. Gary's in Washington hanging out with Tom and Rod. I'm bleaching the bathtub. My hair is in weird twisted-up mouse ears (like a natural mousketeer hat) plus a bunched-up ponytail in the back, and I've got my red cat-glasses on. I look like I should be a character in Ghost World, or like a trendo-nerd (if an aging one) bumming around Telegraph Avenue in 1984. I'm up so late having first had lunch with Adeena, then come home and had a nap, then gone to Home Depot with Alex, our super, who bears an uncanny resemblance to Bollywood film star Shah Rukh Khan. I bought new handles for the bathtub-- the old-fashioned kind with the four rounded... what would you call them... spokes, I guess, and the informative little "H" and "C" in the center. A new super-adjustable chrome showerhead with a long hose -- a cheap and practical sex toy! We were at Home Depot for too long of a time, but I amused myself by grabbing masses of paint samples as I have long cherished a wish to paint the living room some other color than white, but I'm getting overwhelmed by the possibilities of not just color but also technique-- put my colorwash brush to use again? Rag on? Rag off? Sponge? Add sand? Do faux marbling or veining or patina or... nothing. I can spend long times gazing at the paint samples, holding them up inquisitively, squinting my eyes this way, that way (that's a Creeley allusion, folks, one I make over and over again -- but does anyone ever notice?).

Overwhelmed by the possibilities of technique, indeed. The "trouble" with prose and prose personae (~~ululations~~ in this case is representative of much other current blog work) lies, I think, in the quandary implicit to this narrative bit: Rag on? Rag off? Sponge? Add sand? I'm not sure, but the questions put the prose not only on-line but also on the line and suggest by way of strategy that blogging may be the best technology yet for sampling possibilities of prose technique. There are limits to this claim, to be sure, but I'll let it ride for now and see where it leads.

Bloggers are perhaps implacable narcissists, given to onanism (June 03, 9:28 am) and self-conscious bouts of pouty fitfulness. That's true here, but only because that's the point, the issue, the game, the idea, the art, the objective -- to amass cleverly composed likes and dislikes, obsessions and aversions (e.g. to errantly placed apostrophes, as in mom's or one's for the plural moms and ones), "radical" confessions, prose incantations, stories, essays, personal ads, notices, warnings, and "Strange smells" (May 30, 11:05 am), to name just a few of the things that ululate around here.

So, when prose persona "nada" writes on May 7, "I would like to make my audience happy," I believe her, and I believe the radical honesty inherent both to the claim and to my willingness to be happy in the midst of ululation. Any "audience" that might exist for blogs makes good on wishes or agendas of this sort by playing along with the "trouble" of fictive personism. That trouble rewards (makes you happy) where the energy/work is both collected and distributed, absorptive and reflective, outward and inward directed (see May 15).

The endgame of narcissism, then, lies in the trouble and trouble-making potential of in/out reflective blogging. ~~ululation~~, roiling away as ever, seems deeply attuned to that potential and anxious to share the pleasures of trying it out.

My Concise Oxford defines "ululate" thusly: howl, wail; make a hooting cry.

Close, but not quite. Visit ~~ululations~~ for the real story.


Field Report #2: Equanimity

Following Jordan Davis's June 20th link to Steve Evans's Third Factory got me wondering about the use of blogs as, for some, sometimes, reverse chronology feedback loops.

Equanimity refers:

"This narcissistic process of salvation by palindrome..." -- Steve Evans notes a sentence beginning this way in the Times' coverage of the mapping of the Y chromosome.

Third Factory refers back:

Equanimity relies on outside stimuli (me too).

They're not talking about the same thing at this point, are pursuing somewhat different conversations. Yet the interchange continues, uninterrupted, reciprocally, and in the midst of other exchanges duly noted, remarked upon, referred to. And Evans has it right: "outside stimuli" (see below for Davis's version) and reliance I think as a kind of steady, healthy diet.

Blog recursivity is pretty commonplace now. The best are simply in it together, and a good chunk of the blogging game requires the kind of indefatigable attention to other sites, other situations, as dramatized so effectively by these and other bloggers.

Equanimity stands out for me, though, as one of perhaps three or four real-time diurnals whose daily feedback loops, as instances of captured attention, also capture reader attention and hold it well. I read it the same way I scan headlines or offerings at the all-you-can-eat breakfast buffet, for signs of the familiar and unfamiliar, the shocking and tantalizing.

At turns news flash, status report (listening to..., now reading...), play-by-play, aphorism, tissue of quotations, link farm, blogger update, and gratuitous bio, Equanimity cannot necessarily deliver what it promises in name, but as its elsewhere-stated "goal," equanimity is nonetheless properly noted (dreamed of) in passing. Therein lies the fun of it, maybe: equanimity in passing.

The structure and look of it make pretty good sense. First of all, I've seen few others, if any, in this community dare to make good on the robot template. And the daily mouthful of news bites, blog updates, etc., fill up the screen's center field, fleshing out the robot body with bits and pieces simultaneously devoured and dished out (links to elsewhere). Bot-body as boxy placard too, or refrigerator front, or army of post-it notes loosely coordinated in pursuit of composure during rough times.

Equanimity comes one day at a time and, naturally, in reverse order. I haven't quite figured out (maybe somebody else has) what it means to read the addendum before the document, the follow-up before the pre-thought. As victims of top-down reading habits, perhaps we should celebrate the way blog archiving protocols basically gut the surprise of chronological reading, or at least thwart, torque, fuck with those habits and demand perpetual readjustments on behalf of what I will soon read based on trace lineaments of what I just read.

In other words, knowing the yield of past inscriptions (as their conclusions, corrections, etc.) before we actually get to them makes for some trippy and perhaps unsettling states of mind, as both recorded in this work and experienced in the reading. I'm willing to believe that's partly the point, whether intentional or not: to disassemble the past via preemptive assemblies in the present. Kind of like cognition, or like your average day, whose sunset is always curiously absorptive to the point of ousting, displacing, its respective sunrise.

Anyway, Equanimity is about time in passing as much as the passing of time. Here's a quick sample, chosen (I admit) because it shows (1) how the minutes accrue even as they get dashed off and dispersed, (2) the sweep of attention in pursuit of equanimity, and (3) the interstices of reverse time, compressed into sometimes funny (but often not) one-liners:

Listening to a Bedhead compilation Brandon proferred.

Jordan - 1:40 PM

The kicker at the top of the FT today asks: "Is Iraq Bush's Chechnya? The US finds peace tougher than war...
PLUS Why can't we help being nasty to the help desk? LUCY KELLAWAY"

Jordan - 12:01 PM

One set of responses to this questionnaire lines me up 100% with Kucinich, 94% with Kerry, 80% with Dean. -6% with Larouche.

Jordan - 12:00 PM

Brandon Downing advises me that the Euro notes circulating in Germany are contaminated. BBC.

Jordan - 11:59 AM

Relying on outside stimulus pretty heavily to get through being conscious. What's that compulsion about. (Dream of the train making a right angle turn past the heavily-guarded observatory...)

Jordan - 11:50 AM

Listening to the 13th Floor Elevators' Easter Everywhere.

Jordan - 11:49 AM

Listening to The Tony Williams Lifetime's Emergency!

Jordan - 10:25 AM

Funky cold medea. Carl Annarummo.

Jordan - 10:18 AM

Third public piece, last minute, he starts rocking out a la Troggs.

Jordan - 10:04 AM

Blogs (especially this one) emphasize the diurnal in the journal. Of or during the day (i.e., not nocturnal), daily, active in the daytime (don't let the "PM" fool you), Equanimity and blogs like it are to journal-writing what, say, Fluxus is to performance art: not so much epitome or quintessence as reification through repetition and persistence. And all in the present: "Stephen Kirbach is talking..." (June 23, 4:11 PM); "Richard Wolin debunks..." (ibid, 3:17 PM).

I confess that one of the things that brings me back to Equanimity (if not equanimity) is the promise of being able to look over the shoulder of the one kid in class who's actually done the homework. Others do it too, I know, but I for one have found my preferred cheat-sheet in the deceptively wispy but otherwise far-reaching and informative jottings of Equanimity.

The "news" it plays with is always part national/international, part local/personal. In these combinatory transcodings of current events, I find a certain comfort, if not peace of mind, in the pairing of Rumsfeld and Caterina, Bush and Gary Sullivan. Blogs, like the Web in general, have the potential to distort the scaling agendas of big-power players. Perhaps there is something proactive in keeping tuned to a world that occurs variously and on several coincident, if not competing, stages. In Equanimity, things happen everywhere, all the time, and it pays to pay attention on all fronts, all things being equal.

In sum, a daily trip to Equanimity eases the pain somewhat in times of misfortune. All in legitimate pursuit of that elusive even mind.

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