Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Outside the Held Standard: Douglas Piccinnini’s Flag by Harriet Staff at The Poetry Foundation

Douglas Piccinnini reading at The Poetry Project at St. Mark's Church.
"The other day we made mention of Well Greased Press in a post about CLMP extending their membership–looking closely now, closely at Douglas Piccinnini’s Flag, in fact, we can make out some words in the chromaglyph. And it’s fascinating stuff, rousing both poetry as disreputable art matter and specific conceptual projects like Hannah Weiner’s Code Poems. Piccinnini has posted the introduction to the book on his blog, penned by Well Greased editor and publisher Judah Rubin as an entrée for poems that may not come across directly as such." Continue reading here.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013


  FLAG, an encoded chromaglyph, is now available from Well Greased Press. Here is editor Judah Rubin's introduction to the work:

Every few years, archaeologists and art historians do their best to remind museum-goers and other devotees of stately marble that their beloved classical statuary was once painted in gaudy lacquers complete with inlaid, bejeweled eyes. The horrific possibility of this cheesy adjustment to the unwitting public’s expectations of classical beauty is one that also reveals a vacuum in perceptual desire as to what have become, essentially, textual devices rather than objects of physical embodiment. That is to say, Classical beauty has nothing to do with direct aesthetic experience – of course –and has been pushed outward into a device, which, analogously, are as Alan Loney reminds us, called books (re: objects) when we are actually referring to texts (re: the classical as formula, the expected annunciation of the aesthetic experience – Venus De Milo sans arms to limit the possibility of/to append), construed ascentral bookings, particularly, suspended, impressed. To this effect, many choose the hotel as the named space of suspended reproduc­tive possibility - to lend a body to figures instead of having an embodied experience of this absorbing, passive - though constantly watchful - humanity. Pin-whole. It frightens us to think these bodies aside from moulds and this, largely, I’d hazard, because of a distinct lack of Pygmalionist control in the object itself and a want, therefore, to perch along the rim of the uncanny valley, instead. There is a distinct nausea that we feel at the non-reproduceable look or the grotesquery that is the singular, i.e. unreadable, surfactant application of the objective text-object that bears no trace of ethically sequenceable dynamics.

This marker of the textual body presents itself in and of the poetic form, lupidermant, howling at the door of (f)utility - mostly just for if-fect - where there is a distinct failure to approach the nonsensical possibility of condensed directional syntax. There is, largely, an implicitly deferred textual application, reliant on reference - that language begets language, that it relies on a genealogical, and foundational kinship. And to what effect but to build allowance (the space of necessitated permission,) to build the ramparts around vocabularial specie? But there must be a way outside of this mode, must be a way to allow for the auto-affection of a poem. This is not to say that a poem should not refer to, but that it should as ab-origin and an-original– thus, to imparted to the elaborately disproportionate, misapportioning myth, that of Onan, there spilling its seed onto the ground of language instead of playing the prosaic germ. (This myth, notably emergent first in concretized, “self indulgent” transgression qua anti-sociality in a 1728 French tract, Onania - and there out of a conversion from coitus interuptus to self-compensatory sexual play – that the same medial armature (the pamphlet) supportive of pornography and its double.

All to ask the question, is there a way to allow the poem to remain sexually elsewhere and to not be forced to produce - to open a place of si(g)n or watermarked between creative space and its substrate? Is the automatic formation of the poem to be driven into the textual realm, into the marker, or will it code itself to record a symbolic order at once for and extraneous to itself - marking the excess of the freakish addition to language–to stand against and entreat reading to shudd(tt)er at possibility, as per Robert Grenier, of reading while shutting down the pleasure of referential non-reference as in the Noigrandres?

(FLAG interior)
Language stands in need of a notated quietism in apparatus, apparenthesis. It needs its non-space. Let it leave off when approached with sociality as necessary, as responsible text. Best to allow it to present the reader with the same dilemma as early attempts at mapping shorelines gave cartographers: a happy and impossible question. In presenting asymptotic dimensions, there is an inherent impossibility in the replacement of solid ground for water. When/where does land end? But to this, the poem may demand a cancellation of language by pointing beyond itself in itself and turn away from the space of literature to an excess encoded on the body of the poem itself. The uniformity of flattened, alphabetic semantic logos is a failure, markedly for its battering of that language that is actually private, private to itself, generating only a border of pure spec(tra)(u)lation. Language must need encode itself as memory does, as the de/re-fragmented disk repieces the Osiric tearing of its body of thought.

Poetry is often spoken of as a necessarily correspondent or social medium – even, per Blanchot, again that we are always writing for a somebody’s summed body. That the conceptual should leave a space to discuss, to debate, to mark out and stake a position. But letting poetry slip into disrepair, recognizing a happy paucity of place, I would like to think of Flag as being part of what is, instead, a leaving off, a creation of an apart/aportion purporting to wave, flag, hail, but, then, instead, creates an autoaffective space for itself and does not invite any more than it wards off, stands at the mid-point of a fundamentally Whitmanian dialectical space (i.e. leaves / left / growth { } flagged / mast-bound / death) that may help us to understand the recuperation of a space for interiorized directive that this book offers its reader.

As in Whitman, this dialectic leaves space only for Calamus’s vision of death. What is left of Whitman that is of any importance is the space we are looking for here, poems that desire to catalog, that hope to open the space of speak­ing for and end driven finally into their encounter with death. In that these poems are buried beneath the stratified postulation of their their own layering, of the achronologic manifest not in layered rock but in the reduction of that time to a flattened, extra-diagramatic field of casualty within the asymptotically irredemable limit of historical retranslation. These poems refract before or outside of reflection.

This work dissolves under the weight of the poems’ expectation—their gesture is one outside the held standard, apportioning the flattened field to the aphasia of graphic interface. These are poems that touch themselves and retreat from contact. They stand at a remove from the body, from speech, from writing and refuse contact with patrimony that would seek to graft it to the word-trunk. This is writing that finally refuses to speak.

In Ariosto’s Orlando Furioso (1532), madness visits Orlando after he sees, when, arriving in a meadow, the evident love of Angelica, his declared love, and Medoro, her chosen lover. The importance is that he sees the evidence in the trace of their initials carved into the trees about him. There has been an intervention in space that forces madness upon a man who had only wanted to rest there in the glade. He is wracked with the inability to do anything but destroy, visiting the possessive rage of the conqueror upbraided upon the land. It is this is that we have at the core of our desire to ferret out our object within the text, to graft meaning onto the Disastrous space outside our control. That the text be allowed to remain much outside ourselves, as Douglas has issued here, is particularly notable in its translation of his own work to the extent of an abnegated symbolic order. It is a sanity restored to letters that is allowed here, one that moves against the hieroglyph, against the symbol, against text while simultaneously moving against the coherent or recognizable form of visual art. It fails them all and closes the exclusive space, thankfully, of the public.

— Judah Rubin
Queens, NY
May 27, 2013

To celebrate the release of FLAG, as well as Dear Pierre by Karen Weiser and Hold the Blue Orb, Baby by Lewis Freedman ⎯ also published by Well Greased  ⎯ the three of us will be reading at Unnameable Books. Here are the details:

8PM | Tuesday August 20th 
Unnameable Books 
600 Vanderbilt Avenue
Brooklyn, New York

Lewis E. Freedman is the author of Catfish Po'Boy (Minutes Books), Pretend to Think (Minutes Books) and Hold the Blue Orb, Baby (Well Greased).

Karen Weiser is the author of Dear Pierre (Well Greased), To Light Out (Ugly Duckling) and Placefullness (Ugly Duckling).

Douglas Piccinnini is the author of Flag (Well Greased), Soft (The Cultural Society), Crystal Hard-On (Minutes Books) and Blood Oboe (Omnidawn).