Saturday, June 27, 2009

slopo gallery 2 and karl young

Reading a lot of things, but finally read gallery 2 of the slopo feature. Also A 2009 Note on "Notation" by Karl Young, which I somehow missed before jumping like a fast food junkie to gallery 1.

--Joe Safdie's essay, 'Empiricism and "Slow Poetry"', touches on some interesting things, but doesn't really "get into" some things as much as I'd like. It's milk, not meat, which if you want to work with reifications of metaphors (as is often done in this feature with the word "slow") then at least that means it's more environmentally friendly.

The essay's basically about how just because the past is irretrievable doesn't mean we shouldn't retrieve it and proceed as if we'd been 100% successful. Ok, I'm being stupid. This feature is wearing on me. So many of these pieces just seem like they're reactions to mischaracterizations. Safdie works with this idea that flarf is "just for fun" or "just ironic". And hey, who says you have to understand what you're reacting to to be successful. Not me.

However, it would be nice if it didn't feel like I was trying to be sold Slopo as if it were a new thing.

Safdie's article does seem to argue that if poetry isn't at all times operating out of empiricism, then it's a disservice to humanity. At one point, he seems to deride anyone who thinks that poetry can also use intuition.

--Karl Young's piece is interesting. It also contains your now obligatory dig at flarf, which still perplexes me. How did flarf become the mortal enemy of a movement aiming to create a more environmentally friendly poetics?

Why do you expect to find clear cut poetry equivalents for "fast" and "slow" food? Through a series of bizarre reifications you've come to the conclusion that flarf and conceptual poetry must be "fast" (rather than just coming to the conclusion that you don't like them, and moving on with your lives). And so to counter flarf, we need more "thoughtful" poems. Need to "think" more about what we write. People, we're poets. We all think way too much about shit that nobody cares about. There is no "fast food" equivalent in poetry. Even Billy Collins isn't the "fast food" of poetry (maybe the T.G.I. Fridays?). The fast food of poetry are more like greeting cards and advertising. Except you can't even say that advertising is ruining language like Monsanto is fucking up the food industry. It doesn't work like that just because you can make the analogy. I know we're poets, but let's try not to become too mesmerized by our own metaphorical comparisons.

Anyway, Karl Young's piece. It needed more on this statement:
In the contests between ever more greedy copyright battles to preserve the ownership of such essential items as the image and likeness of Mickey Mouse for longer than radioactive waste, and the casual sloppiness and celebration of ignorance in much of what runs under the artistic rubric of "appropriation," provision for the enhancement of shared efforts and building on what's already there seems more likely to benefit all concerned than quick grabs and dreams of immortality through eternal ownership.
We get Mickey Mouse as an example for the one side of the extreme, and nothing at all as an example for the other side, we're just supposed to dismiss everything that calls itself "appropriation". Also, he doesn't tell us where in the vast area in between these two extremes his position lies.

I mean, one of the central issues for Slo Po should be copyright. We're in aching need of a huge overhaul to our copyright laws. Our current copyright laws are a big hindrance to many aspects of any "green" movement.

It would have been interesting for Karl Young (or whoever) to lay out at least some ideas for a better copyright. Possibly connect these ideas to the real world where there are tons of people brainstorming and proposing solutions. To mention a need for revamped copyright culture and not mention Laurence Lessig and the Creative Commons seems lazy.

As it stands, the bit about copyright just seems to function to reinforce the stereotyped caricature of an "appropriating artist" that I guess I was supposed to have before reading the article.

The last half of Karl Young's piece is about recycling. My only real issue here is that it's 2009. Not that you can't talk about recycling in 2009, but let's have some acknowledgment that this is not a new issue, nor is it an issue that any particular group of poets is unique in caring about.

Also, how can you talk about "green" issues surrounding the carbon footprints of various printing techniques, recycling, etc. and completely miss talking about the Internet? I have to be fair and admit that I am reading this feature on the Internet. So, obviously it's not something the Slow Poets have decided to completely ignore. But why no real mention of it as a distribution alternative? If you think that the carbon footprint of printing is a big enough problem to devote the last half of your piece to talking about, then how can you completely miss even mentioning the Internet? This seems totally bizarre to me.

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