Thursday, April 26, 2007

from PAMELA: A NOVEL by Pamela Lu

“…since the main challenge of contemporary life rested not in going out and identifying the “there,” which was everywhere, but in discovering a “here” that wasn’t “there,” for this “here” was slippery and always seemed to be somewhere else” (21).

“For what other reason would cartographers design a building map with the highlighted phrase “You Are Here,” accompanied by a large arrow indicating the place you were supposedly standing…Where does this map get off, telling you where you are or aren’t at the moment…Or consider the point itself: Where exactly is “Here”? At the exact point indicated on the map?...And consider the ever-present tense of the phrase “You Are Here”: If you walk away from the map, are you still “Here,” as the sign says? If you leave and come back in a week, does this mean you’ve been “Here” all along?” (22)

“…we continued to examine the situation from all points of reference while we were still inside that very collision and even after we escaped it, which in actuality we never did, since we were perpetually moving from one near-collision to the next, or finding ourselves in situations of existence which, no matter how hard we tried, made no sense at all. This sensation of whiplash suggested that we were moving much faster than ourselves when in actuality we could barely keep up with ourselves, and when in fact our generation was, by all popular accounts, going nowhere” (23).

Wednesday, April 18, 2007


in response to / a conversation with DuPlessis' DRAFTS

4 (IN) Which

"How white "all color" the color / of luminous death"

white death radiates unleavened

lifting cities elide the spectrum

of language spoken

"articulate a blank blanked space, a dotted dotty line"

moves by way of perception on a page of noted / pieces flake

onto, fall off the edge, eliminate margins what refuses here

to circulate circumnavigate

the binary

"each line is an inter; there is no action"

interstice / interstitial

in which there is no (character, plot, life-changing ring tones glittering) but think "otherhow" (yes I know you are listening)

digress in order to depend on sentiment -- in other words the shimmering ink spreads under the puddle dissolves each word

"inside the paper of the page / the iris watermark I suck"

" a brush flick of / shimmer" (I swear I used this word before turning the page)

"amid which nuzzle worms and shaking dew."

"cherry words" sprinkled over salad homemade dressing tells each story of how we came to be clever ugly cruel each crack in the sidewalk undisturbed (I can see the words before they appear control the page with my thoughts) patterns reflect moods of sky and social action

"on which words could be feeding the cow / inside the ruminant middle."

but the images clash here as I trip over the waves of possible action beheld in subsequent syllables others following others following ourselves folding our words into the palms of hands de-coded, uncolored

"the whole structure of transcendence" (show this)


a nice image is, simply, nice

show the juxtaposition of intersection and blasting

simultaneous. Require the detail of specific spots of memory

a scene I have constructed to pull toward

this present

an instant horizon imagines how to change what has already

but may not have to


to blast this or she

was never listening

when the original events were told

in verse


(pause: how to work in space of breaking

out of this pale face)

(the words fall off the edges flakes slipping away to the floor or where

blow around float away)

Saturday, April 07, 2007


Your mind and you are our Sargasso Sea,

London has swept about you this score years

And bright ships left you this or that in fee:

Ideas, old gossip, oddments of all things,

Strange spars of knowledge and dimmed wares of price.

Great minds have sought you- lacking someone else.

You have been second always. Tragical?

No. You preferred it to the usual thing:

One dull man, dulling and uxorious,

One average mind- with one thought less, each year.

Oh, you are patient, I have seen you sit

Hours, where something might have floated up.

And now you pay one. Yes, you richly pay.

You are a person of some interest, one comes to you

And takes strange gain away:

Trophies fished up; some curious suggestion;

Fact that leads nowhere; and a tale for two,

Pregnant with mandrakes, or with something else

That might prove useful and yet never proves,

That never fits a corner or shows use,

Or finds its hour upon the loom of days:

The tarnished, gaudy, wonderful old work;

Idols and ambergris and rare inlays,

These are your riches, your great store; and yet

For all this sea-hoard of deciduous things,

Strange woods half sodden, and new brighter stuff:

In the slow float of differing light and deep,

No! there is nothing! In the whole and all,

Nothing that's quite your own.

Yet this is you. - -

DuPlessis on Pound

from Blue Studios

Chapter 6 "Propounding Modernist Maleness"

DuPlessis writes on Pound (the poet and his practices) as an example of "managing" the women poets, thinkers, artists that might have otherwise moved more fully into the modernist circles inhabited by Pound and his contemporaries. Specifically here, DuPlessis gives a reading of Pound's poem "Portrait d'une Femme" which is presented as a poem addressed to a generic woman (as muse, inspiration for and subject of the poem), but is more specifically, in actuality, about Florence Farr, a woman artist and actor who was active in the respective artistic and literary circles of her time (barely a generation earlier than Pound), and was on good terms with the poet Yeats, among others.

"A postformalist reading strategy...must look at the deep formal mechanisms of literary texts with New Critical Care yet link formal moves to the issues that purist New Criticism rejected: social substance, biographical traces, constructions of subjectivity, historical debates, and ideological strata" (122).

In the poem Pound moves Farr from status as real person (woman) to a place of "figured representation as muse" (124) and thereby removes any agency that she might have/had. Through both content and formal strategy, he presents the female figure of the poem "as virtual lack, inadvertent creativity, and compromised ability" (125). In this way (without agency and possession) she becomes the generic muse figure.

"The poem becomes a muted, backhanded tribute..." to her own modernist tendencies and strategies, both acknowledging and "disparaging" the "source" of the artistic production (of her own work and of her place as real in his poem) (126).

In her own life, Farr "played the muse but also mused the play" in her relationships with other artists and through her own "critical agency"; "she situated herself on both sides of the muse-agent compact" (127).

"...for females entering modernity, artistic agency and erotically charged inspiring with free love bravura are mixed together and give tremendous professional power and satisfaction in ways that the pure stereotyped form of "muse" wisdom-in-passivity-and-sublimation cannot articulate" (127).

For a time, it's possible that Pound felt like a rival to Farr for the attentions of Yeats on his own (Pound's) work (128).

"Pound produces [this] work by the thematic occlusion inside it of the work of the woman on whom the poem is based" (130).

"The real figure has been transformed from a critical, powerful, influential, outspoken, and original historical woman to a textual "femme"--one of a muse of modernism--an inadequate, anonymous and displaceable female figure...Pound's poem is a mechanism in the service of one kind of male subjectivity by the active creation of a shallow but provocative female muse for the containment of historical New Woman effervescence and achievement. This is an important transposition in the relationship of modernism to modernity. By representing a female figure in this way, Pound has contained, grounded, or stalled consideration of the impact-laden presence and agency of the "real person" on whom the poem was based, making the figure an Old Woman with useful muse properties, an exemplum of old stuff that still somehow inspires. Poetic representation masters this female figure, using poetic institutions like "muse" in order to deflect attention away from the historical achievements of Farr, the hidden subject" (133).

"Making an coequal historical woman into a poetic muse thins her...evokes the past of poetry as an institution obscuring her...the muse is a mechanism that takes a modern subject--a New Woman-- and changes her into an encumbered, static, nonmodern subject...moves Farr backward...creating female belatedness from a woman pioneer in order to consolidate a male pioneer from a man's sense of his own belatedness...The resistance to acknowledging females as modern subjects...may be said to begin, in Anglo-American modernism, with poems such as this one" (136).

"Pound uses poetic convention to protect himself from historical shifts around gender" (136).

Monday, April 02, 2007

madness is a medicine from which the length / has slid
--lyn hejinian, writing is an aid to memory

across the angle narrated along a sentence minute particulars find themselves placed/placing degrees of image of sense

rattles under each syllable like the convenient displaced notion confronting only fragments of what i can recall -- lemon-scented stickiness spread thin like an original idea -- the page refuses to interrogate just what she meant by the severe separation of tense

each frame holding her own against
the tendency to blast history