Tuesday, September 30, 2008
Monday, September 29, 2008
Sunday, September 28, 2008
The actress was pulled over while driving in Santa Barbara. She was held in Santa Barbara County Jail and released without having to post bail.
I very nearly can't read Gary Lutz, though I want to just about every day.
Every time I read Gary Lutz, the problem is, I can't stop the sentences I've read from sounding out, percussive and recurrent, days after in my head. I think a little like a Gary Lutz sentence. I write a little like a Gary Lutz sentence. Actually, that's not a bad fate: the tactics and strategies of a Lutz sentence are well worth dwelling within.
Life could better subsist as a Gary Lutz sentence, and on Wednesday night, in a talk at Columbia University called "The Sentence is a Lonely Place," Lutz let the standing-room only audience (people in the corridor, straining ears, themselves agape) in on how he reads and thinks a sentence by the letter.
Drawing on examples such as Christine Schutt's phrase "acutely felt, clearly flat," Lutz pointed out not just the obvious correspondences between the two monosyllables (and let's not forget one is a verb and one an adjective posing as a noun) but also the way that the first phrase "contains the alphabetic DNA" of the second. He tracked individual letters and combinations of letters through sentences and paragraphs from Diane Williams, Don DeLillo, Ben Marcus, Fiona Maazel, and Sam Lipsyte. Outlining his "poetics of the sentence" with a nod to Gordon Lish's ideas of "consecution" he talked about "the drama of the letters within the words."
In the hope that someone will publish Gary Lutz's talk, which is the most masterful and useful talk on craft and poetics I've had the pleasure of attending, I won't say too much more about it, except that a close look at the sentences Lutz has clocked up in his own works would be a great place to see how taut and locked a sentence could shut.
Instead, I want to swing this post to two places that I think are adjacent to both Lutz's work, his talk, and each other: the poetry of George Oppen and the Anglo-Saxon riddles. Bear with me, here. Look, Lutz-like, at the opening of Oppen's 1934 Discrete Series :
White. From the
Under arm of T
The red globe.
From under the "arm" or crossbar of the letter T in the word "white" we find the "e" of both "red" and "globe." "Thus / Hides the // Parts" as Oppen says in his next poem.
Or, later, the lines:
Between glasses--place, over which
aaaaaaaaaaaaaaitime passes--a false light.
As spectators for the "drama of the letters within the words" we can notice the way "l" and "a" run through this sentence, each getting ahead of its alternate: "la," "la," "a," "al," "l." What is within "glasses" is also in "place" and "place" is literally and letterally and latterly over "time passes" and thus passes over it - only to run into the "false light" which again contains the elements "between" the start and end consonants of "glasses."
A discussion of rhyme, off-rhyme, assonance, alliteration, cannot and will not suffice. What Lutz's reading of contemporary fiction offers to poetry - and this is a link he at least implied - is a letter by letter reading. The matter of the materiality of the text: not just the "live wood" Oppen calls his book, but the letters that are the "fiber."
Oppen's version of Objectivism (which has an ancestor, perhaps, in Rimbaud's poem "Voyelles"?) will be familiar to anyone who has read or, better, looked at the Anglo-Saxon riddles. I'm going to un-name them as riddles (that's a critical addition) and re-name them an Anglo-Saxon "Discrete Series." One point of connection is that contemporary critics, as Conte notes in his book Unending Design often try to name the supposed Object to which Oppen's poems are the cryptic description, just as Anglo-Saxon critics strive to name the word the Anglo-Saxon Discrete Series poems hide. Such approaches are not especially fruitful ways to engage with either series of poems. Consider this poem from the Exeter Book , typically referred to as Riddle 47 after the numbering established by Krapp and Dobbie:
Moððe word fræt -- me þæt þuhte
wrætlicu wyrd þa ic þæt gewundor gefrægn,
þæt se wyrm forswealg wera gied sumes,
þeof in þystro, þrymfæstne cwide
ond þæs strangan staþol. Stælgiest ne wæs
wihte þy gleawra þe he þam wordum swealg.
We don't need a translation of this to observe the letter-drama the poem has as its object, to go beyond noting the expected three metrical alliterations per line in order to follow the letters and their interactions. "Word" for instance transforms into "wyrd" by the change of one letter and them "wyrm" by the change of one letter, and then, with one letter changing and two transposed, we have the "þrym," of "þrymfæstne." Or, in the modern English, "word" is swallowed and replaced by "fate/what happens" which in turn is swallowed/replaced by "worm/serpent" and then by "mighty," suggesting perhaps "fixed."
Lest this seem like mere letter-play, it's worth noting that the Anglo-Saxon poem thematically explores the permanence of words and letters. It either/both imagines a "moth" eating/swallowing words, a "thief in the darkness" or/and it imagines a reader reading a text without being "at all wiser for the words he consumed." This, we might imagine, is a reader who is not reading by the materiality of the letter.
The material pleasures, possibilities, and performances of individual and indivisible letters are at play in the various works of Lutz, Oppen, and the anonymous poet of these Anglo-Saxon challenges. This inter-century reading is a necessity: Carl Pyrdum noted at Get Medieval recently that there are important ways to read open-software and Windows-hacking through understanding that "Medieval book enthusiasts were DIYers. They made their own books. They copied texts they liked, freely editing and recomposing--or hacking, remixing, and cut-and-pasting, to use the right lingo." In other words, the constitution of texts, sentences, and even words were "open" to medieval readers and bookmakers.
Reading the work of 20th century poets such as Oppen and of course Susan Howe alongside the work of the Anglo-Saxon poet-compilers offers as a way to disturb the notion of originality and of postmodernism as peculiar and unparalleled. In short, it offers a way to read our now as also someone else's now. It takes the text back from a notion of an author or authority: the open in the Oppen, so to speak.
"I read very slowly," says Gary Lutz. He wants "books that are not page turners but that defeat the notion of page turning." To read slowly is not simply to value a thoroughness of reading; it is to attend to materiality and to the letter, to note tensions and contents, contexts and confusions.
This matters now: not more than ever, but maybe more than ever to us. On Friday night John McCain promised that "As president of the United States, I want to assure you, I've got a pen. This one's kind of old. I've got a pen, and I'm going to veto every single spending bill that comes across my desk." It may not be too alarmist to see this as an election about whether or not we're going to attend to the letter of what we're saying and what we're seeing. What does it mean to "suspend a campaign" or to "win" a war? We've been asking such questions for 8 years and 12 centuries and more.
It matters now, too, because of M. NourbeSe Philip's book Zong!, which I wrote about recently.
Where we stand on the political issues we are presented with does not have to do with our partisan interests or our party support. The last letters of the Exeter Book read:
Þeah nu ælda bearn
londbuendra lastas mine
swiþe secað, ic swaþe hwilum
mine bemiþe monna gehwylcum.
[though now the children of men, land-dwellers, swiftly seek my prints, I at times conceal my track from each one of them.]
Before and beyond us, language has already disappeared: "hwilum" becomes "gehwylcum," time disappearing into nameless persons. We seek swiftly, "swiþe," only to have language readily hidden from us, "swaþe."
What is the form of literacy we are demanding in the 21st century?
Saturday, September 27, 2008
This is a very sad day for entertainment. Paul Newman passed away surrounded by loved ones at his Connecticut Home. The actor, philanthropist, and legend was 83 years old.
Hollywood will remember his long, successful career which included roles in the films Cat on a Hot Tin Roof, Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, and the Color of Money. He was nominated for an Oscar ten times. Newman is also known for creating his own food empire, Newman's Own. His company has donated over $250 million dollars to charities personally selected by the actor.
Newman was the picture of class and honor. He was married to actress Joanne Woodward.
Friday, September 26, 2008
Looks like Kanye West will not face felony charges for the paparazzi scuffle involving him and his road manager, Don Crowley, at the LA airport earlier this month. Crowley has also been let off the hook for felony charges. Kanye blogged about the incident, saying, "We back in the lab!!! I'm cool with the paparazzi. This guy wasn't cool."
After spending six days in the hospital following a devastating plane crash that killed four people, DJ AM (Adam Goldstein) has been released from care and returned back to his home in Los Angeles. His famous friend and co-survivor, Blink 182's former drummer Travis Barker, is expected to be released in a couple weeks. Both underwent treatment for burns after surviving the crash last Saturday in South Carolina.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
- Erin Dustin
- Erin Dustin
No, not even if the fourth Pirates film he's recently signed on for is a sinking ship. In addition to the pleasant news we'll be receiving a couple more hours of Johnny as Jack, it's finally been confirmed that he has indeed taken the role of the Mad Hatter for Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland project. We'll definitely raise a teacup to that. The questionable role also announced? Johnny as Tonto in Jerry Bruckheimer's film adaptation of The Lone Ranger. Away?
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Go to GlamScene or click HERE for more details and to enter! (Competition ends at 12 AM EST on Oct. 1st.)
Note: Commenting on this blog will not make you eligible to win. You must go to GlamScene to enter.
P.S. If you missed the VMAs, you can still watch 'em online at MTV.com
Tuesday, September 23, 2008
It may have long since been an enormous duh, but Lindsay Lohan finally confirmed that she and DJ Samantha Ronson are a couple on Loveline Sunday night. Does this mean we don't have to cringe at the term "gal pal" every time they're mentioned?
Check out Glam's coverage of the pink carpet at the DVD launch.
Photo Credit: Amazon.com
- Erin Dustin
Monday, September 22, 2008
From America Ferrera and Sandra Oh to Jeremy Piven and Christian Siriano, here are a few favorites:
For more looks of the night, Glam has their Best Dressed, Best Tressed and Best Dressed Men of the evening.
- Erin Dustin
Tina Fey wins big (3 awards), but loses her purse.
Host Heidi Klum changed 9 different times throughout the show!
Josh Groban should have won an award for best "marathon" performance with his medley of classic theme songs. My favorite - His rendition of The Fresh Prince of Belair!
And how may you ask was he able to pull this off? "A lot of rehearsal and a lot of coffee."
Christina Applegate made a smashing red carpet appearance.
Which housewife looked the best?
Lauren Conrad wore one of her own. (and looked good doing it!)
- Erin Dustin
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Friday, September 19, 2008
So it looks like Sarah Jessica Parker is already talking about the next Sex And The City film. But it's hardly time to set a date with your girlfriends-it's not even official yet. However, Parker told USMagazine.com that she'll be discussing the possibility with writer Michael Patrick King pretty soon.
"It’s all about the story," Parker says. "If we can’t tell a story that’s really worthy of an audience, then we won't do it. We've been really lucky at this point. We’ve been in people’s good graces for a long time, and we take that very seriously. So that’s the biggest challenge, the story."
And just where does that story have left to totter? Cynthia Nixon fancies a "mad cap adventure" starring the main characters and Kim Cattrall is resolved that Samantha must remain single while Mario Cantone thinks Brad Pitt should play his boyfriend.
A girl can dream.
Speaking of Mr. P., it turns out he does want to hear wedding bells- but not his own just yet. Brad is standing up for gay rights to the tune of $100K, serving up the hefty sum to aid in the fight against banning gay marriage in California and Massachusetts.
This week Brad explained his support: "Because no one has the right to deny another their life, even though they disagree with it, because everyone has the right to live the life they so desire if it doesn't harm another and because discrimination has no place in America, my vote will be for equality and against Proposition 8."
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
It's that time of year again. People has released its picks for the 10 Best Dressed Stars of 2008.
Some of the predictable evergreen fashionistas have once again placed but there are a couple unconventional appearances too. So, prepare yourself for some hell yeahs and what the hells-here's the rundown:
Sarah Jessica Parker
Paltrow definitely amped it up this year, Rihanna continues to up the fierceness, and Hathaway's elegance has graced every glossy. Really, most of them are no-brainers for the mainstream fashion set. Any opinions on People's picks?
Scarlett Johansson has just returned from a four-day trip to Rwanda, where she helped bring attention to the African AIDS crisis with (RED).
While there, she met with doctors and patients at the Treatment Research and AIDS Clinic in Kigali as well as visited the Rural Health Clinic in Kubaga.
"It was important for me to come here and understand the issue we're up against firsthand," Johansson said. "It's not until you've had the privilege of meeting health care providers who are fighting the daily battle, heard from people who are now getting antiretroviral drugs to stay alive, and met mothers whose babies are born healthy because they received treatment that stopped transmission of HIV, that you understand that we absolutely can do something to reverse the AIDS crisis in African countries."
"It was very confusing for me because initially the idea of having a son was my idea. I thought it would bring a great amount of depth to my character. Then the question came up, ‘Well, who’s the father?’ And I really hadn’t thought it through that far. So, I was like, Oh, I guess need one of those. It’s gone back and forth: Who and what and when and why? I think they settled on Dylan because Kelly and Dylan had such a passionate relationship in the past. Their relationship was so heated. It was kind of undeniable … I would love to work with Luke [Perry] again. I love him dearly. And I also would love to work with Jason [Priestley] again. It’s a great question for the producers. I would be nothing but totally happy to have either of them there."
Monday, September 15, 2008
- Erin Dustin
Saturday, September 13, 2008
Zong! is, in the words of Nathaniel Mackey, "a brash, unsettling book" which "wants to chant or shout history down, shut history up." This book, by M. NourbeSe Philip as told to the author by Setaey Adamu Boateng, shuts history down precisely by reclaiming stories from history, refusing narrative. It does so with a passionate mining of words not just for fragmentation but for the usefulness of fracture, for all of what lies hidden (erased) in the visual and aural potentialities of words.
The cover describes Zong! as such:
In November, 1781, the captain of the slave ship Zong ordered that some 150 Africans be murdered by drowning so that the ship’s owners could collect insurance monies. Relying entirely on the words of the legal decision Gregson vs Gilbert—the only extant public document related to the massacre of these African slaves—Zong! tells the story that cannot be told yet must be told. Equal parts song, moan, shout, oath, ululation, curse, and chant, Zong! excavates the legal text. Memory, history, and law collide and metamorphose into the poetics of the fragment. Through the innovative use of fugal and counterpointed repetition, Zong! becomes an anti-narrative lament that stretches the boundaries of the poetic form, haunting the spaces of forgetting and mourning the forgotten.
The image below cannot do justice to the intimacy and care of Philip's work, and I apologize to you and her for the damage my photograph does (I wish my html skills allowed me to represent her work more accurately - though no electronic version can be accurate in this case). I can only say that I hope that in writing about this, the first page in the book, from "Zong #1," I'll lead readers to find the actual book, out this week from Wesleyan, and read it in her intended display. I will note that the poem "Zong #1" continues over the page, so here I'm fracturing Philip/Boateng's fragment - but hopefully usefully.
As it unfolds horizontally - across the horizon of both page and ocean - and through time - with some awful inevitability - "Zong #1" seems to stutter or staccato its letters, "w w w." What will result from this, one wonders? The "a wa" at the end of line 1 anticipates "away," an absence that is felt on the page even as it attempts to express itself. Similarly, "w a t" on the next line gestures towards our "wait" for story/history even as it cannot possibly fulfill "wait" alone. Within this poem, letters are not missing so much as words are exploded and become of use to us as they (refuse to) resolve into letter combinations. Even as one is tempted to call their formation valuable, one has to resist both the idea the formation needs to happen or that value is what we want here: to want value would be to comply with the captain and owners of the slave ship Zong.
(And, for that matter, why reach for English words in attempting to form expression, this poems seems to ask.)
This "w a t" leads on the next line to "er" - to error, to uncERtainty, but also to "water," to where We ARE(n'T). The poem proceeds by expressing, never quite paradoxically, an uncertain attempt at expression: one could read this page as attempting to reveal a phrase, perhaps "one good day[']s water of want," or "our water was good one day, water of want." Any attempt, however, to name such a phrase instantly becomes a betrayal of the poem; it betrays by providing a resolution where none was achieved, and it betrays by eliding what I take to be a gesture acknowledging the drowning slaves. Rather than seeing this as a poem read left to right, top to bottom, we must also see it as a poem whose letters are floating upwards, to the water's surface, where they break into pockets of (un)heard language; simultaneously, these letters might be drowning African bodies descending - an idea given possibility in the African names that "footnote" the pages of the first section of the book, 221 in total. Here I, as a reader and critic, am fumbling in the limits of my circles of knowledge, which is exactly part of the recovery that Philip has set herself to and in turn, in necessarily circular fashion, sets us to in her footsteps.
Unlike other examples of poetry which attempts to fragment words and even syllables, then, such as P.Inman or Clark Coolidge, Philip's work is not making a point about combination and recombination, about the infinite expressive possibilities of letters. What actually gets expressed - the legal decision, which she includes in her book - can only make us aware of the ways she and we might "deeply distrust this tool I work with -- language" and also the ways she is both, in her words, "censor and magician." Rather than using that as the springboard for refusing to work with and through language, however, she acutely renders the vitality of expression. This must be told, or not-told.
What I've written above is a first foray into this book. My writing is a necessity of beginning a communal conversation, a refusal of silence. I do not want to read this book alone. I do not want to shout down history alone. I do not want alone to think about what it means for me to read this as an Englishman in America. Where are my ancestors in this hi/story. I want to do all of this. This is the "not-tell[ing]", the anti-narrativizing we need to do. Philip is offering us a way of thinking against the idea the "we die alone." She is offering us a way of thinking through what a story is and does, damage and recuperation. She offers us, for those Africans and through them and their erasure by white English society, "the sustenance / in want."