A Poet can only warn – Wilfred Owen
(we will have some of his work soon, a long favourite of mine.)
Kinda of an evening here of discoveries. A little this, a little that. A bit of light, a bit of darkness. Impossible reaches of thought. Dire turns, and beauty revealed.
A lark in the morning, and an owl at night. You might get the drift.
I want you all to know that there is a conference coming up in October in San Jose… “Sacred Elixirs – drugs in the history of religion”. This looks like the real thing folks.
Check out the site… http://www.sacredelixirs.com/
This looks like it will be some fun. Stay tuned for more announcements! Mike Crowley is organizing, and I think he has a superb group of speakers and poets (yes, Poets!) appearing in San Jose. It is reasonably priced, and I think this is going to be great meeting of kindred minds and spirits.
You heard it here first!
Our gleanings from the web today are:
William Gibson on Billy Burroughs’ cut up method
The real cradle of Humanity?
HAIR of the ALIEN
It’s a Druid thing…
Who is Spying now in California…
4 poems by Nancy Henry…
Well, lets get down to it! Enjoy gentle readers, enjoy.
God’s Little Toys …
Confessions of a cut & paste artist.
By William Gibson
When I was 13, in 1961, I surreptitiously purchased an anthology of Beat writing – sensing, correctly, that my mother wouldn’t approve.
Immediately, and to my very great excitement, I discovered Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and one William S. Burroughs – author of something called Naked Lunch, excerpted there in all its coruscating brilliance.
Burroughs was then as radical a literary man as the world had to offer, and in my opinion, he still holds the title. Nothing, in all my experience of literature since, has ever been quite as remarkable for me, and nothing has ever had as strong an effect on my sense of the sheer possibilities of writing.
Later, attempting to understand this impact, I discovered that Burroughs had incorporated snippets of other writers’ texts into his work, an action I knew my teachers would have called plagiarism. Some of these borrowings had been lifted from American science fiction of the ’40s and ’50s, adding a secondary shock of recognition for me.
By then I knew that this “cut-up method,” as Burroughs called it, was central to whatever it was he thought he was doing, and that he quite literally believed it to be akin to magic. When he wrote about his process, the hairs on my neck stood up, so palpable was the excitement. Experiments with audiotape inspired him in a similar vein: “God’s little toy,” his friend Brion Gysin called their reel-to-reel machine.
Sampling. Burroughs was interrogating the universe with scissors and a paste pot, and the least imitative of authors was no plagiarist at all.
Some 20 years later, when our paths finally crossed, I asked Burroughs whether he was writing on a computer yet. “What would I want a computer for?” he asked, with evident distaste. “I have a typewriter.”
But I already knew that word processing was another of God’s little toys, and that the scissors and paste pot were always there for me, on the desktop of my Apple IIc. Burroughs’ methods, which had also worked for Picasso, Duchamp, and Godard, were built into the technology through which I now composed my own narratives. Everything I wrote, I believed instinctively, was to some extent collage. Meaning, ultimately, seemed a matter of adjacent data.
Thereafter, exploring possibilities of (so-called) cyberspace, I littered my narratives with references to one sort or another of collage: the AI in Count Zero that emulates Joseph Cornell, the assemblage environment constructed on the Bay Bridge in Virtual Light.
Meanwhile, in the early ’70s in Jamaica, King Tubby and Lee “Scratch” Perry, great visionaries, were deconstructing recorded music. Using astonishingly primitive predigital hardware, they created what they called versions. The recombinant nature of their means of production quickly spread to DJs in New York and London.
Our culture no longer bothers to use words like appropriation or borrowing to describe those very activities. Today’s audience isn’t listening at all – it’s participating. Indeed, audience is as antique a term as record, the one archaically passive, the other archaically physical. The record, not the remix, is the anomaly today. The remix is the very nature of the digital.
Today, an endless, recombinant, and fundamentally social process generates countless hours of creative product (another antique term?). To say that this poses a threat to the record industry is simply comic. The record industry, though it may not know it yet, has gone the way of the record. Instead, the recombinant (the bootleg, the remix, the mash-up) has become the characteristic pivot at the turn of our two centuries.
We live at a peculiar juncture, one in which the record (an object) and the recombinant (a process) still, however briefly, coexist. But there seems little doubt as to the direction things are going. The recombinant is manifest in forms as diverse as Alan Moore’s graphic novel The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, machinima generated with game engines (Quake, Doom, Halo), the whole metastasized library of Dean Scream remixes, genre-warping fan fiction from the universes of Star Trek or Buffy or (more satisfying by far) both at once, the JarJar-less Phantom Edit (sound of an audience voting with its fingers), brand-hybrid athletic shoes, gleefully transgressive logo jumping, and products like Kubrick figures, those Japanese collectibles that slyly masquerade as soulless corporate units yet are rescued from anonymity by the application of a thoughtfully aggressive “custom” paint job.
We seldom legislate new technologies into being. They emerge, and we plunge with them into whatever vortices of change they generate. We legislate after the fact, in a perpetual game of catch-up, as best we can, while our new technologies redefine us – as surely and perhaps as terribly as we’ve been redefined by broadcast television.
“Who owns the words?” asked a disembodied but very persistent voice throughout much of Burroughs’ work. Who does own them now? Who owns the music and the rest of our culture? We do. All of us.
Though not all of us know it – yet.
Could Asia have been the cradle of humanity?
HAIR of the ALIEN – the CCR5 deletion factor
“It’s a Druid thing.”
Spying now in California…
Onward Christian Soldiers…
or, Jihadi’s in America…
I found treasure today on the net. 4 poems by a women I never heard of, and I like everyone of them. Her name is Nancy Henry, and she is really something else. I hope you like her work as much as I do….
THEY BRING PASTEBOARD MIRRORS TO THE WEST INDIES
Before they came
we began finding strange
and useless things washed up
on the shore after a great tide.
They came from the belly
of a huge ugly boat.
They were hungry and white
filthy and bad-smelling
their teeth falling out.
We fed them breadfruit, bananas
fish. Some asked to stay.
One they killed for it
with a loud stick that made a hole
in him as big as a coconut.
They came bringing us
little flat pools of light
for looking into.
For these they took the pearls
which we had in abundance,
shell necklaces, spices.
We laughed ourselves blind.
What good were these things
to the Ghost Men ?
They could not know our deep
delight in our dusky faces
beautifully smiling back at us
from the palms of our hands.
Here in the nightstand drawer
no Gideons Bible, but
The Golden Bough.
Oh Carl! The curtains
the Peyote tea’s the finest.
In the bathroom
with its tiled echoes
and metaphoric plumbing
our reflections come back to us
mask-like, above a sink
that is a vortex of all
the mythic rivers of the dreamworld.
A schizophrenic is in fact a very
advanced poet with her wordsalad
her gentle dreamy way of stringing
words together on the fine shining
threads of her delusion. These sounds
grouped in families, these visceral
associations that fall together
without the stentorious intervention
of the rational censor which attaches himself
to our brain a few moments after wakening.
We can only mine the rich territory
of our deeper consciousness for a few moments
where memory sense, color run together
in a rich, kaleidoscopic fluid.
She is already there.
It is her home. She will not visit
our staid, ordered world,
little blocks of time, labels on things,
definitions all laid out in rows.
For every living creature born of the various gods
are the vertical bars that keep us
from taking off towards heaven.
You want to be a rampant lion in the valley,
but we are broken bits of shell
starved and scoured by sand.
You can almost see the quiet,
the sounds of vessels being emptied.
Lock the gate gently against it.
Avoid going insane from isolation.
This is dangerous.
Sister, do you wake in the night
The pattern of veins on a petal,
the moon a sliver of bone,
sweet dianthus, silver lily in the roadside ditch.
Worn weary over your dreams,
you find bliss in the place where leaf
fuses to stalk.
When you were a child,
our mother gave you a silver chain
to protect you when you dove
There is no completely new story;
the answer is always yes and no.
We are afloat in a world
that will soon tear the veils off us all.
People, dust, stars, oceans come to being,
end. My hair blows back, my fortune says:
avoid windy days, the spiritual life,
The depths are bright with the souls of the burning;
because of these, light spreads across the earth.
Our beaks are sanctified with blossoming olive.
Will we remain open to all of this, or simply stop?
I have been made ecstatic by the shape of the river,
infinity turned sideways. There is nothing I can buy
I took a picture of all of this so we won’t forget.
The wind makes bitter wine on the bare plain,
trails icy thorns in this country of glass.
We hang from the geography by our teeth,
embrace the careful symmetry of mindfulness,
metaphors for the last stars,
nocturnal and askew.
Facing down the divine logos,
I see my own emptiness.
Closing my eyes,
I enter the old mother-place of refuge.
It is no longer alien to us,
this world of ivory and rain.
Here we bare surfaces more vulnerable
than flesh, drink without perceiving the
bitter medicines, drink deeply
and are fed for the benefit of fire.
Remember us to the saints,
those rare and glowing jewels
we can never wear again.
Sister, save yourself from this city’s fate,
gone missing in a space too vast for words.
these walls have fallen into ruin.
Hope this finds you on the bright path…
A Poet can only warn – Wilfred Owen