Monday, June 30, 2008

Merill Cole on Rimbaud

PO Enquist

I wanted to teach my favorite novel, PO Enquist's "Captain Nemo's Library" (quoted in my quarantine book), in my fall fiction class, but apparently it's out of print. Please somebody reprint it over the next month.

Sunday, June 29, 2008

Hal Foster

Even though I dislike minimalism (Donald Judd, Flavin etc), I recently recommended Hal Foster's "Return of the Real" to discussors on the Harriet Blog. So then I started rereading it myself. Here's an interesting quote in his discussion of art of the abject:

"But there is a third option as well, and that is to reformulate this vocation, to rethink transgression not as a rupture produced by a heroic avant-garde outside the symbolic order but as a fracture traced by a strategic avant-garde within the order. In this view the goal of the avant-garde is not to break with this order absolutely (this old dream is dispelled) but to expose it in crisis, to register its points not only of breakdown but of breakthrough, the new possibilities that such a crisis might open up." (157)

Strange, fascinating report from ESPN

It turns out that the site of today's Euro championship game was used as a detention center for Jews during World War II.

Watch this strange film from ESPN.

Warning: full of strange mis-characaterizations and euphemism.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Lynch opera

I received the following mail a few weeks ago and I forgot to post it:

I know from your blog that you are as much a Lynch fan as I am, so I thought
you'd be interested in this: _Lost Highway_ has been made into an OPERA by
composer Olga Neuwirth and author Elfriede Jelinek (_The Piano Teacher_).

Review here:

New American Writing

New American Writing 26 (2008) is now available. The issue has an Enrique Chagoya cover, attached, and work by sixty poets: Keith Waldrop, Rosmarie Waldrop, Sylvia Legris, Steve McCaffery, Karen Mac Cormack, Norma Cole, John Kinsella, Gillian Conoley, Clayton Eshleman, Nathaniel Tarn, Claudia Keelan, Donald Revell, Karen Volkman, John Tranter, Ron Padgett, Bill Berkson, Noah Eli Gordon, Liz Waldner, Martine Bellen, Ed Smallfield, Laura Kasischke, Joseph Lease, John Gallaher, Craig Santos Perez, Noelle Kocot, Donna de la Perriere, Kismet Al-Hussaini, Jordan Davis, Mark DuCharme, Molly Albracht, Stephen Vincent, Sarah Gridley, G.C. Waldrep and many others.

$15 for one issue or $36 for a 3-year subscription.

Available from NAW, 369 Molino Avenue, Mill Valley CA 94941, and at better bookstores.

If you wish to order copies or obtain a subscription using your credit card, go to our website,

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Jasper Bernes

Glad to see that Jasper's Action, Yes essay lives on.

In addition it seems everybody with a blog went to Orono, Maine, for a conference that sounds pretty fun. Bill Howe suggested I write something about 70s Swedish poetry for the conference but most Swedish poetry from the 70s bores me.

I too have long wondered: when will the 70s be over?

Our response to some questions about the Disabled Text (from the Intenrational Blog)

It seems we should respond to the variety of points here. First, Patrick suggests that we 'appropriate' disability here, and further suggests that we have failed to make our disability credentials-- our 'legal' disability-- legible.

On the first point: we have no interest in appropriation, but we are interested in entering into the critique of society posed by such thinkers as Lennard Davis, who writes in 'Enforcing Normalcy', "Disability is not an object-- a woman with a cane-- but a social process that intimately involves everyone who has a body and lives in the world of the senses. [...] This study aims to show that disability, as we know the concept, is really a socially driven relation to the body [...] propelled by economic and social factors and can be seen as part of a more general project to control and regulate the body. This analysis fits in with other aspects of the regulation of the body that we have come to call crime, sexuality, gender, disease, subalternity, and so on."

Davis's thinking prompts us to continue his list of scandalous bodies to include the bilingual, multilingual, immigrant, foreigner, stateless, non-fluent, and also the texts or textual bodies which are similarly stigmatized and often (literally)proscribed, as a means to controlling the employment, movement, and access to education and other services. The same instinct that prompts towns to ban the printing of legal forms in Spanish is the instinct that prompts English department to ban translated texts as major texts in the classrooms-- the presence of 'other' languages unsettles structures of power, expertise, control.

Furthermore, our purposes are political. Our manifesto proposes an alliance between the activist dimension of translation studies and those of queer feminist disability studies.

To respond to Murat Nemet-Nejat, the idea that this is just reheated Benjamin seems reductive. Certainly our argument could be seen as coming out of the same tradition as Benjamin - including German Romanticism before him and books like Berman's "The Experience of the Foreign" more recently. It just as certainly makes proposals and carries implications not present in those sources.

As for the "fiction" of translation not being marginalized - your anecdotal evidence doesn't reflect the numbers. A fraction of books published are in translation- a much much lower percentage than in other nations. A fraction of this fraction are taught or reviewed. English depts frequently proscribe or limit the classroom use of texts in translation (as if we could teach Modernism without Futurism etc). I could go on and on. See Lawrence Venuti's books etc. Chad Post has written about it as well.

Finally, we have written several articles exploring this issue further (since this appears in part where the shoe hurts). Like Patrick we have an essay in XCP's 20th anniversary issue. XCP is of course a journal that has long engaged with this issue. We look forward to being in conversation with our fellow contributors and the journal's readers.

Joyelle and Johannes

Noah's review from Rain Taxi

[Noah Eli Gordon reviewed the three-pronged chapbook from Dos Press. Here's what he said about my part:]

Johannes Göransson’s always delightful, often demented neo-Dadaist verse bores like botfly larvae into the back of American poetry, eating of it, but always remaining its own entity—a parasite fully aware that it is feeding on an imperialist host, and that in doing so its violent act becomes one of liberation. These short poems are brimming with enough eviscerated images, odd discharges, cancerous fossils, and disembodied limbs that they’re bound to create new categories of fetish. Several of them—gasp!—aren’t even in English. In reading Göransson, one realizes that it is possible to beat someone to death with the world’s most beautiful painting, and wonders what this might mean for the future of art. For your own sake, you’d better believe him when he writes, “the twitch-sick/ shoot-your-enemy experience/ becomes insect-crowded/ in the photographic color/ further-away for the scar-up/ close-up, make-up trace/ of the swarm medium”.

Review of Pilot

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

New Lamination Colony

New issue of one of my favorite journals.

The Falconcity Manifesto of Architecture and Urban Planning

1. Dubai Eiffel Tower would hold the central location of the falcon commercial sector which hosts commercial, residential, recreational and retail elements. The tower surrounding represents Falcon Elysees. The Dubai Eiffel Tower would be the perfect compliment to a distinguishing life style. The Falcon Elysees will be rich in landscapes with parks, cafes, gardens and fountains. Around the perimeter of the tower complex would run a circular shopping arcade enriched by famous brands of fashions and styles.

2. The pyramid of the Falconcity emulates the Egyptian architectural wonder in a modern day context. The Grand Pyramid will be a multi functional complex housing residences, offices and other recreational avenues. It is the biggest pyramid in the world.Of the two smaller pyramids, one will host exclusively Falconcity management facility, while the other is a commercial premise in the theme park. With ultra modern facilities of luxury and convenience, the pyramids will attract all enthusiasts of fine living, shopping and fun.

3. The most romantic place in the Falconcity would be Town of Venice situated by the waterfront. Developed with wonderful waterfront, open-air cafes, gondolas and pedestrian shopping, Town of Venice brings to you a unique Italian dreamy experience.

4. Dubai Hanging Gardens of Babylon in Falconcity brings to life a lost ancient wonder. This imaginatively designed complex will house eco-friendly luxury flats, with many open-air restaurants and coffee shops, with the garden overlooking the falconcity Mall.

The Falconcity Manifesto: Toward an Ecstatic Society

Here is the most astonishing place on earth, ‘Falconcity of Wonders’.

In the modern world, Dubai has emerged as a city with no parallel. A city that embraces modernity while proudly maintaining its rich cultural heritage and unique identity. The tranquil trade and fishing village that transformed itself into one of the world’s most modern cities holds places of pride for all who have come to know the land. Dubai’s pace of growth continues unabated and its innovative spirit has consistently and continually earned the admiration of the world. Dubai is in every sense a living wonder of the modern world; it is an ideal example of progress. A city driven by bold, inspired, and visionary leadership.

The world’s admiration of Dubai has resulted in a steady and increasing stream of visitors and expatriates. Not a city to rest on its past ways, Dubai continues to innovate and break new ground in all spheres of development.

A new project designed to engrave Dubai’s place in the minds and hearts of the world citizens' is currently emerging, and is called the Falcon City of Wonders. This is the project that honors mankind through its various civilizations, a project that could inspire generations about the power of the human spirit. This is where the world will see its past, its present and its future.

The Falconcity of Wonders has been designed to resemble the national emblem. The falcon with its outstretched wings symbolizes the spirit of leadership, pride and excellent qualities that the Falconcity of Wonders will embody.

The Falconcity will be a self-contained and multi-faceted residential, tourist and recreational destination formed after the wonders of the ancient and modern world.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Don Mee Choi reads in Seattle 6/28





gallery 1412

1412 18th Avenue (at Union Street)

$5-15 sliding scale

MOMMY MUST BE A FOUNTAIN OF FEATHERS is the first full-length English language edition of one of the foremost poets in Modern Korean poetry. In KIM HYESOON's saturated political fables, horror is packed inside cuteness, cuteness inside horror. Interior and exterior, political and intimate, human and animal, agent and victim become interchangeable, interbreeding elements. No subjecthood is fixed in this microscape of shifts, swellings, tender subjugations and acts of cruel selflessness. The poet's voice and language will be presented on tape and in person in translation by poet Don Mee Choi.

Women support Obama

Here's an article from the LA Times showing that Clinton's supporters are now supporting Obama.

Frank Rich had a good editorial in Sunday Times discussing the total fabrication of the narrative that for some reason her supporters were going to McCain and that Obama needs to court women voters. Apparently Obama now has a 19 percent lead among women, a much larger lead than any recent Democratic candidate.

Meanwhile Fox News is interviewing supposed "Hillary supporters" who claim they're voting for McCain... Those guys would be hilarious if they weren't so powerful.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Manifesto of the Disabled Text

[This is an article Joyelle and I co-wrote for New Ohio Review, while it was still under Catherine Taylor's excellent editorship.]

Manifesto of the Disabled Text
by Joyelle McSweeney and Johannes Göransson, Action Books

1. Discomfort with a translated text is discomfort with a disabled text. (“But the text can’t stand on its own!” “But something is lost, ruined, missing!”, etc.)

2. As do disabled bodies, disabled texts create a nervousness with reference to able, or enabled, texts and bodies. They give the lie to the supposed centeredness, completeness, originariness of able, enabled, or ‘original’ bodies and texts. Such nervousness is already an admission that all is not as stable—with our bodies, selves, and texts-- as we are led to believe we should believe.

3. Disabled texts need no longer comply with compulsory ablebodiedness.

4. This manifesto is a call for readers, teachers, publishers, editors, and translators to examine and overcome their discomfort with disabled texts and to resist compulsory ablebodiedness in their translation, publishing, teaching and reading practices.

5. But what is compulsory ablebodiedness? The phrase comes from disabilities studies, and was adapted by the theorist Robert McRuer from Adrienne Rich’s paradigm of ‘compulsory heterosexuality.’ ‘Compulsory ablebodiedness’ refers to the destructive, normalizing requirement placed on disabled bodies by society. In Kim Q. Hall’s, figuration, below, ‘compulsory ablebodiedness’ is contiguous with other destructive and difference-erasing paradigms:

Informed by Michel Foucault's concept of "disciplinary normalization" (1979), feminist disability studies interrogates the complex web of institutionalized techniques of normalization that sustain patriarchy, white supremacy, class power, "compulsory ablebodiedness," and compulsory heterosexuality (McRuer 2002). These myriad, mutually reinforcing techniques of normalization subject bodies that deviate from a white, male, class privileged, ablebodied, and heterosexual norm. Seemingly unrelated technologies such as orthopedic shoes, cosmetic surgery, hearing aids, diet and exercise regimes, prosthetic limbs, anti-depressants, Viagra, and genital surgeries designed to correct intersexed bodies all seek to transform deviant bodies, bodies that threaten to blur and, thus, undermine organizing binaries of social life (such as those defining dominant conceptions of gender and racial identity) into docile bodies that reinforce dominant cultural norms of gendered, raced, and classed bodily function and appearance.

6. Translations, as disabled texts, pose the same challenges to the conventional norm as disabled bodies do. They deviate from monolingual textual expectations, and are thus deviant. They threaten to blur, and thus undermine, organizing binaries of social/textual/literary life (such as those defining dominant conceptions of gender/genre and racial/national/linguistic identity). ‘Compulsory ablebodiedness’ requires that translated texts function as docile bodies that reinforce dominant cultural norms of genred, raced, and classed bodily/textual function and appearance.

7. When publishers, teachers, readers, or translators themselves require the translated text read ‘as if it were written in English’, as an ‘elegant’, ‘fluent’ ‘good’ poem ‘in English,’ they collude with and enforce such ‘compulsory ablebodiedness.’ And this is a best-case scenario, for too often publishers’, teachers’, and readers’ anxiety over translation as an incomplete, diminished, impaired version of an original results in translation not being published, taught, or read at all.

8. The effects of compulsory ablebodiedness on translation are intense and repressive. Translations are excluded from most publications, from most prizes, from most workshops, from most ‘English’ literature classrooms, and from most performances.

9. But while affirming McRuer’s diagnosis of ‘compulsory ablebodiedness’ and applying the phrase to the status of translation viz. text culture, we depart from Hall’s formulation, quoted above, in that we do not see the prosthesis as symptom of ‘compulsory ablebodiedness,’ that is, as a function of the requirement that disabled bodies or texts ‘pass’ as original, intact or able.

10. Instead, translation is the prosthetic that calls attention to its own un-naturalness; it is the peg-leg that deterritorializes the body. Then again, it is the peg-legged lady who refuses to wall-flower, who takes the stage, who is tantamount to the barn, who invites us to a barn-dance within her own leg wherein we wave our termitic jaws.

11.Translation is not only the text rendered into a new language; it is the entire operation. We don’t speak of the original and the translation, that is, the original and the plagiarized copy. When we say “translation” we mean the entire on-going process. And this process in all its ongoingness is the prosthetic.

12. We find synchronicity between our model of the prosthetic and that developed by David Wills in his work of criticism, Prosthesis. Among many wonderful new paradigms and disruptive subparadigms worked into this prose, Wills suggests “Prosthesis occurs on the border between the living and the lifeless. It represents the monstrosity of interfering with the integrity of the human body, the act of unveiling the unnatural within the natural.” Translation provides Wills with an instance of prosthesis which soon swells to include all acts of writing and reading: “Prosthesis treats of whatever arises out of that relation, and of the relation itself, of the sense and functioning of articulations between matters of two putatively distinct orders: father/son, flesh/steel, theory/fiction, translation/quotation, literal/figurative, familiar/academic[…] French/English, nature/artifice […]”

13. Like Wills, we wear prosthetic goggles, they’re the same as our eyes, we see the translation prosthetics in every text. In Aase Berg’s 2001 book Forsla fett (Transfer Fat), pregnancy – that capacious metaphor for the natural, and for the ‘natural,’ ‘spontaneous’ act of poetry writing – becomes all prosthesis. Translation (English tracts of string theory, zombie flicks and D-list movies, science fiction novels) is the constitutive action of the book. This un-natural prosthetic, this peg-legged text induces the reader to break down the Swedish language, to see its compounds as “un-natural.” In Berg’s monstrous figuration, the scientific becomes corporeal and the corporeal becomes scientific. Spackhuggaren (killer whale) becomes a spack huggare (blubber biter). The strings of science become umbilical strings. Text and body become a transfer of monstrous fat.

14. In his 1963 sound experiment “Birds of Sweden,” concretist poet and artist Öyvind Fahlström translates Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven” into “whammo” a language based on exclamations from comic books, permutating the poem into an sonic assemblage of shouts and moans. The prosthetics of the tape-player, of the translation. At the same time Fahlström creates “games,” in which the human body enters a room of moveable imagery; he also dreams of a mass-produced, mass-distributed project, a game called “Babies for Burroughs.” It took a strange marriage with the corporate body of General Electric to birth Fahlström’s omnivorously omnimedia “Kisses Sweeter Than Wine,” with a montaged cast of cyborgs, geniuses and ecstaticians.

15. Berg and Fahlstrom provide pragmatic models for how publishers and translators can channel their discomfort with the disabled text of translation into pieces that are multiple and already their own variants—visible, dynamic, threatening, prosthetic texts. This may be done by acknowledging and undermining ‘compulsory ablebodiedness,’ by dropping the requirement that texts be capable of ‘standing alone’ as ‘good’ or ‘fluent poems’, by instead inviting translation-the-process into and onto page/stage of the publication, revealing itself to be prosthetic, a mass of umbilical understrings. Practically speaking, this may involve visual appendages such as notes and hypertext, sonic prosthetics like recordings and phonetics, and especially the use of hybrid, invented, proximate, one-off pidgin languages, even the dreaded and verboten translatese. With electronic and web media, the possiblities can only metastasize.

16. We want to insist: All these suggestions are designed to admit the prosthetic status of the text. The text is always already prosthetic. In the case of translation and related practices, prosthetics does not mean to cover up the disabledness of the text, nor to compensate for it; instead it makes the disabledness visible and takes it as a catalyst for irrepressible transformations. Translators and publishers will have to collaborate to bring off this rejection of compulsory publishing conventions.

17. Meanwhile, English and writing teachers must get translation into the classroom by any means necessary. This may be threatening because it may mean presenting works over which the teacher herself does not have mastery. Thus the practical magic by which mastery over the text means mastery over the students will breakdown. Students and teachers will just have to invent an adventurous classroom ethos from there.

18. This is our deal now.

See McRuer, Robert. “Compulsory Able-Bodiedness and Queer-Disabled Existence.” In Sharon L. Snyder, Brenda Jo Bruggeman and Rosmarie Garland-Thomson, eds., Disability Studies: Enabling the Humanities. New York; Modern Language Association of America, 2002.
Hall, Kim Q. “Feminism, Disability, and Embodiment.” NWSA Journal, Volume 15, Number 1, Spring 2003. p. 132. Accessed on Project Muse,, 12/07/2007.
Wills, David. Prosthesis. Meridian: Crossing Aesthetics Series. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1995.
Wills, 247
Wills, 10


Ugh. That's a tough loss. I blame the refs. Seriously.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

review of Port Trakl

Here's a review of Port Trakl at Tarpaulin Sky.

Friday, June 06, 2008

review of quarantine

Here's an insightful review of my book in the British journal Stride.


I am back in the US after spending some time in Gent and Brussels. In Gent I gave a paper at an interesting conference on European avant-garde art/literature.

For me maybe the most interesting part was how controversial my paper proved. From the moment I came to the conference people approached me and said "are you the person who is presenting on Dada Helsinki". People wanting to know if I was Swedish or Finnish or American etc. I had no idea it would be so controversial. The main point of controversy was the fact that Björling/Parland are not generally referred to as "Dada Helsinki" - or even as their own movement - but a part of "Finland Swedish Modernism." And it seemed I stepped on some toes by suggesting they deserved their own movement and that they were part of Dadaism. There was apparently also some element of turf defense going on.

But the paper went over very well. I was immediately approached by people who wanted to put it in books and people who wanted me to come to their universities and conferences and give papers. So that was good. Looks like I'm going to Helsinki twice this fall. Some people approached me afterwards and expressed skepticism as well. One prominent Finnish scholar told me to leave Parland/Björling alone because they didn't deserve the attention and they were "embarrassing". He gave a talk about Tzara and Marinetti so I can't see where he was coming from...

But I did have a great time and I befriended and drank a great deal of wine with Tom Sandqvist, who wrote one of the most important books on Dadaism, "Dada East" (MIT, 2006), which traces the Romanian roots of Dada back to Jewish/Romanian folk culture as well as avant-garde journals from Romania in the 1910s. Turns out he's a Finland Swede as well and he's working on a very interesting project involving the recovery of various forgotten east european avant-garde movements of the 10s and 20s. He gave a paper on Judaism and the historical avant-garde.

A young Swedish scholar named Julia Tidigs gave a Deleuzian reading of Elmer Diktonius, another member of Finland Swedish Modernism. We hung out with her a lot as well. She's also a big fan of Aase Berg and Eva Stina Byggmästar, so we had a lot in common.

There were a lot of interesting papers. Jed Rasula gave a talk about Apollinaire that was similar to my reading of Parland - Apollinaire as a kind of icon of modernity. The issue of High Modernism and "the avant-garde" runs throughout a lot of the conflicts at the conference. Most people still can't see the difference between these two modes (I'm reading Barrett Watten's "Constructivist Moment" right now and he equates the two).

Perhaps this conflict is encapsulated in a brief discussion following Jed's paper. Charles Altieri - who had presented basically close readings of Pisarro, Cezanne and (of course) Wallace Stevens (an absolutely un-avant-garde poet!) for his paper - asked Jed why he didn't include any close readings (at least this is what I think he asked) of the formal experiments of Apollinaire and his pal. Jed replied that he was developing a consciously "superficial" reading of these writers and artists - one that has more to do with "lifestyle" than close readings (it helps to have read Jed's great work on "jazzbandism"). And I think there you have the read distinction. Altieri is obviously very smart etc, but based on his paper, his comments on Jed's paper and a few things I've read of his here and there, I think he makes a very good example of someone who approaches literature from a "high modernist" perspective - he needed the close reading, and I suspect that he needs art/poetry that you can give a close reading of. To me his close-reading style was stifling. I felt he was holding my eyes to these paintings, trying to give me the right "reading."

Anyway, I learned a lot of interesting things and I'll post some more over the next few days. I've got to write a few more papers and such (which takes me an inordinate amount of time, scholarly work does not come easy to me) so maybe not a lot will be written. But I would like to start writing more on here about new books. I've read a lot of interesting new work over the past few months, Ariana Reines' new book, Klaussnik, Jason Appleman, and a whole bunch of chapbooks.