Sunday, October 26, 2008

Some somewhat disconnected thoughts

Hello. Just got back from NYC. Don't have time to write much before my daughter wakes up, but I thought I would write down a few things.

- The pervasive monoglossic notion of language and poetry: poetry is both "high" (you need a good education to write well) and strangely natural (native, unalieanted, unforeign etc). This misconception defines an anti-sensibility as strangely both raw (pure spontaneity, hurling feces, wild stuff) and un-natural/artificial.

- The concept of the foreigner/stranger/homosexual as both unnatural and dangerous, both artifice and spontaneity.

-Dada: for so many people who've never even read/heard any Dada stuff, the word Dada represents a simplistic notion of chaos, lack of order. The word is a constantly translating term. After you've performed a Hugo Ball sound poem, you realize how artificial the "natural" language is. Dada is both too "raw" and unnatural, foreignizing. Noth ethnic literature exactly, but as one scholar called it the aesthetics of "homelessness", always foreign.

- David Lynch (here we go again) allegorizes the situation of the foreigner: it is art/artifice/unnatural that brings out the demons, that takes Jeffrey to the wrong side of the tracks, where Frank wears lipstick, wears ornate clothing, hangs out with trannies, speaks in weird poetic quotes, is violent, arrangest corpses artistically like an installation project. It is the strange artifice of video that seems to produce "Bob" in Twin Peaks. Leland artistically wraps Laura Palmer in plastic. When she is unwound, she looks like a model in a photo shoot, glitter on her skin and in her hair.

- Frank is a fantasy the suburban American family has about itself.

- Of course in Freud the Unconscious is contorted into language.

- After Joyelle's panel at Alta, Orlando Menes told me how he had stood in front of the mirror as a young immigrant practicing so that he could get rid of his accent, the bodily remainder of his foreigness. The Mirror Stage of the Immigrant: to see one's language as shit and physically try to expel it in order to become an imaginary whole ("American").

- I made a mistake when in my discussion of the collusion of homosexuality and foreigness focused on violence against me. That's the kind of focus on symptoms that always get in the way of understanding the systemic violence, the systemic xenophobia of our culture. I am not a foreigner because some people attack me.

- Zizek talks about "chocolate laxatives" as a paradigm for our current moment. Just like that, in poetry we want foreign poetry without the foreigness.


Blogger Christina said...

How did you make a mistake by mentioning the violent acts committed against you? Not sure I follow. Did you not mean to suggest that discrimination isn't merely physically violent, that it can also be ideologically violent? Or: hmm?...

I like your thoughts on foreignness/queerness. Since I haven't had the experience of being truly culturally foreign, I am interested in/curious about your experience. I've often felt there was an ideological conflation of queerness with foreignness in the public imagination.

I appreciated the Freud joke, btw.

To add to the thoughts about foreignness/otherness, I can't help but wonder if queerness is a false other. Is there anything truly queer about being queer? Gender, maybe. Maybe taking gender very seriously accomplishes something important for the majority of straight people. That's something I wonder about because I rely on gender fluidity to be "me."

3:38 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


Yes, what I meant was that talking about personal tales of woe obscures the fact of a culture that has defined foreigners (and gay people etc) and that this allows all kinds of violence.

The other comment, I think I will think about for a while.


9:06 AM  

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