San Diego Poetry Guild

notes on guild, poetry, and San Diego


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.


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