Sunday, June 28, 2009

Fame/Post-Avant/Michael Jackson

There was a not terribly interesting article in the NY Times today arguing that Michael Jackson's incredible fame would not be possible in today's pop music world because there are so many different "channels" for getting one's music and there is no central MTV which everyone watches (or Sullivan Show for the Beatles).

This reminds me of the "greatness" discussions that went around a few months ago, starting with Gregory Orr's [is that who it was?] article (also in the NY Times I believe) mourning that there was no longer any Great Poetry as in the days of Lowell.

The obvious similarity which the Jackson article understood but Orr apparently did not was the change in the interface of Greatness. Lowell was great in large part because the Academic Poetry Establishment decided that he was to be the great poet of the moment. A lot of folks in poetry still wish this was the case and they try their darndest to make it happen (such as with the Dickman brothers), but the whole process of dissemination has obviously changed, become more fractured.

In a comment to a previous post of mine, Max harrangued me for suggesting that poetry will not exit the academy. And I think it's true that poetry has had ties to some version of the academy (an idea that has of course changed substantially along with our idea of the role of poetry in that academy) and will continue to have those ties. And I don't think it's inherently bad. But I do think it's important to keep criticizing the dynamics of the institution.

But it's also true that a lot of poetry happens outside of the academy and always has. Many of the reoccuring commentators on this blog do not teach in the academy - I don't think Andrew Lundwall, Blake Butler or Ron Klassnik have teaching gigs - . There are many channels of poetry and writing these days on the Net and elsewhere, it's impossible to get everyone to gather around a Lowell-like figure (they failed too back in the day - see San Francisco).

Folks in grad school now seem to have access to a less hierarchical view of poetry, and have more access to poetry as it's happening, than I did when I went to grad school. So this has changed the nature of poetry in the academy substantially and will continue to do so.


There was another article about MJ yeterday that I disagreed with; it made the argument that Michael Jackson became less of a good dancer starting with Thriller and moonwalking because he lost his naturalness and spontaneity. Michael Jackson natural? I thought that the whole appeal of MJ's dancing was how freakish he was.


One more thing: I get a lot of comments and emails who work under the assumption that I despise The University of Iowa and MFAs in general. Neither is true. I think the MFA is a potentially good thing. But like everything else I think we should discuss what's going on at these places. Etc.

Saturday, June 27, 2009

Dylan Thomas

For some reason I just thought of this poem, one of my favorite poems though I haven't read it for years and years:

Twenty-Four Years

Twenty-four years remind the tears of my eyes.
(Bury the dead for fear that they walk to the grave in labour.)
In the groin of the natural doorway I crouched like a tailor
Sewing a shroud for a journey
By the light of the meat-eating sun.
Dressed to die, the sensual strut begun,
With my red veins full of money,
In the final direction of the elementary town
I advance as long as forever is.

Dylan Thomas


Matei Calinescu has apparently died.

His "Five Faces of Modernity" is one of the best books about Modern art/literature from a broad perspective. In particular it is very good at teasing out the historical roots of our concepts of modernity, modernism, the avant-garde, decadence, kitsch and postmdodernism (the five faces). Although he' rather harsh in his judgment of the avant-garde, this is very much required reading.

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Action Goes Weimar

Please visit the new issue of Action, Yes.

"Dances of Vice, Horror and Ecstasy": A special section devoted to the
poetry and art of the scandalous cabarets performed by Anita Berber
and Sebastian Droste in Weimar Germany.

Abstract comics!(Including a preview of Andrei Molotiu's upcoming anthology from Fantagraphics Books.)

"Always/Only/A/Plenum": Tim Wood's essay on Robert Grenier and
Grenier's response.

Translation of writers Agrafiotis, Dragincescu, Froger, Lamat,
Rubinstein, Sacré.

Per Bäckström's essay " "Crush the Aassholetters Between the Teeth":
Språkgrotesk in Henri Michaux and Gunnar Ekelöf."

"Dead Can Dance," Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle's ruminations on Decadence.

As well as poetry, visual poetry, collages and prose from Downing,
Lundwall, Yankelevich, Schapira and others.

Monday, June 22, 2009

American Hybrid review in Raintaxi

[Readers of this blog are probably sick unto death of me talking about the American Hybrid anthology, but here's an excerpt of my rather longish review of the anthology in the new Raintaxi. I did cut it down a bit for the blog-level of concentration.]

American Hybrid

A Norton Anthology of New Poetry

edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John

W.W. Norton ($25.95)

You might think that an anthology called American Hybrid would collect the increasingly prevalent work that questions genre boundaries and explores intermedia possibilities; or that it would feature the writings of immigrants or minority culture, or that it would be aimed at subverting the national culture asserted in the title.

Sadly, this new anthology edited by Cole Swensen and David St. John is in many ways the precise opposite of these inclinations. “Hybrid” here refers to a kind of poetry forged out of two different styles, and it includes such prominent contemporary poets as Lyn Hejinian, Jorie Graham, Cal Bedient, Peter Gizzi, Robert Hass, Brenda Hillman and Michael Palmer—so many of whom teach, have taught, or have studied at the University of Iowa Writers’ Workshop that it almost seems like a requirement for inclusion. This anthology, the editors claim, displays a group of poets who have rejected the “two-camp” binary and embraced a mixed aesthetic, one that includes both the traditional poetry some have termed “Quietist” (the institutionally-established style of the workshop, with its restrained use of language and emphasis on epiphany) and the “poetics of indeterminacy” brought into contemporary poetry by the Language Poets.

There is a strange paradox at work here, however: in order to have a “hybrid” of two kinds of poetry, you must subscribe to the two-camp structure; viewing the proliferation of styles and aesthetics as more complicated disturbs the attempt to create a synthesis. In her detailed and well-researched introduction, Swensen quotes Robert Lowell’s famous claim from the 1950s that there is “cooked” and “uncooked” poetry. Swensen is trying to show how far back the “two-camp” mentality reaches, but she seems to miss the most important point in this reference: Lowell made this statement as a way to defuse the oppositionality of the poetry scene, to set himself up as a compromise between the raw emotionality of the New American poets and the overly nerdy sophistication of the New Critical poets. In other words, the ideal of the “hybrid” goes back as far as the “two-camp” system. This idealization of the middle ground can be traced back to the New Critics themselves, who aimed to clear away the “excesses” of the experimentation of the 1920s while retaining its advances.


Moderation is thus not only more sophisticated, it is also, apparently, more human. After reading the entire book, however, one might conclude that it’s not so much a moderation of traditional and avant-garde poetics, but a moderation between too much and not enough, excess and lack. The “too much” in this case is not the over-the-top sentimentality of the 1970s-style workshop poem, but the grotesque and the political. The only politics mentioned in American Hybrid involves the struggle for “the integrity of the language” against the forces of base mass culture. This is, of course, the politics of New Criticism as well.

It is therefore not surprising to see the New Critics’ idealization of “ambiguity” replayed as “complexity” in American Hybrid. In what might be a signature moment, the editors praise Iowa student-turned-teacher Mark Levine for writing poetry “balanced right on the edge where sense becomes non-sense,” and for “imagery that lets us always feel that the world we know is not far off. And yet he refuses simple meanings, preferring high ambiguity and open ends.” Levine nearly errs by offering “too much” (i.e. potentially grotesque) image, but saves the poem by rendering it indeterminate.


The anthology does include a brief selection of Anne Waldman’s work and a very strange, almost criminal, selection of Alice Notley’s work. Notley is perhaps the great Hysteric Poet of our age, excessive in every way, but in this selection she comes off as a lyrical, sentimental, and almost religious poet. In the selections from The Descent of Alette, there is no reference to the TV imagery of “the Tyrant,” no poems about the hellish encounters in the underworld subway train of Reagan’s America; such selections would render her grotesquely imagistic and crassly political.


Admittedly, there are many attitudes toward tradition in American poetry. While the idea of the “hybrid” goes back to modernism and the New Critics, it is not the only reaction to various alternative aesthetics to take hold in American poetry. Over the past three decades years, representatives of the Quietist aesthetic—who, need I mention, hold most tenure track jobs in Creative Writing and edit most poetry series and journals—have been digging in their heels to defend “traditional poetry,” by which they mean a watered-down version of Robert Bly and James Wright’s “deep image” poetry of the 1960s. These poets, writing increasingly dull and out of touch poetry, have used their positions of power to control and defend “traditional” poetry against perceived plots and excesses, publishing and rewarding the least offensive poetry available. The summit of this “tradition” is the famously homogenous Morrow Anthology of Younger Poets. For all its faults, American Hybrid is certainly a step forward from that morass.


Sunday, June 21, 2009


Tammy is a fine new journal (I'm in their first issue along with Catherine Meng. Zach Schomberg, George Kalamaras, Lisa Fishman and others; Joyelle is in the second issue). Here is their web site:

I meant to post that a while back but I just remembered to.

Friday, June 19, 2009

Claire Hero

Ross wants us to read Claire Hero. Here's some of her poems.

I just actually read her book and I liked it.

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Mayhew's Lorca Book

So I suffered from a bout of insomnia last night around 4 am and so I stayed up and read most of Jonathan Mayhew's book Apocryphal Lorca. It's a good read, almost more like a polemic at times than a conventional scholarly book.

The topic of the polemic is the misreading of Lorca - by scholars and poets, american and spanish. Mayhew wants to correct the apparent misrepresentation of Lorca as a kind of naive, natural poet of Spain. I don't know anything about Lorca scholarship (he was one of the first poets I was really into, but my high school girlfriend stole my book and I haven't spent much time with him since), so this has limited interest to me.

However, I think Mayhew did a fascinating reading of how multiculturalism - represented by Lorca - fit into American exceptionalism (weren't we just talking about that the other day?) around the mid-century. On one hand you have a kind of McCarthyite anti-foreign stance; and on the other a counterculture openness to otherness. But in that openness there is a certain element of American exceptionalism: America is so great we can incorporate other literatures. (In this it resembles much German Romanticism of the 19th century.).

There is an interesting section about Langston Hughes's often neglected translations of Lorca; they seem really great. I am going to look those up. There is so much about Hughes that is overlooked (his trips to Russia for example).

I also appreciated the discussion of the "Deep Image School" and all the distortions that followed in its footsteps. Mayhew does a good job of showing how this came out of Rothenberg's initial interest in Euro surrealism and how when Bly took over the idea (and Jerry R moved on to other ideas, most notably ethnopoetics) he made it into something that supposedly had more to do with a vague notion of "Spanish surrealism," though, as Jonathan notes, it really has more to do with perhaps translations of Chinese poetry, DH Lawrence and Trakl. Although it's been commonplace to call Bly and James Wright "surrealists", their imagery is seldom surreal.

He does mention Bly's Vietnam poems as being in tune with Neruda's surreal-influenced anti-imperialist poetry; and that's where Bly is both most surreal and at his best.

In this regard he might also have mentioned the sometime visitor to this (and many other) web site Bill Knott, who wrote truly strange and very surrealistic anti-vietnam-war poems. But then I'm not sure Knott was ever umbrella-ed in the "deep image" rubric.

Anyway, I think this essay should be widely disseminated to clear up all the BS I hear about deep image and Lorca and Bly and supposed Surrealism.

Interesting to note how Creeley comes off as a kind of anti-translation guy. That's I suppose not surprising.

One more thing: Interesting close-reading showing how Bob Kaufman appropriates Lorca.

Of course, it being Mayhew, it's also annoying and pointificating at times, but that's fine.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Adam Fieled

There are a lot of interesting entries on Adam Fieled's blog, Stoning the Devil.


Here's an article about Flarf being taken seriously.

The origin narrative of writing bad poems for an anthology of some sort is interesting because it is the opposite of the hoaxes of Ernst Malley and Ake Eriksson that I wrote about awhile back (by the way I read the Bernstein article and watched Kent's youtube clip so maybe I'll write about that tomorrow).

But instead of non-avant-gardists imitating avant-gardists to show that avant-gardism is a hoax, flarf hoaxed that anthology in order to create a kind of avant-gardist poetry.

In particular I like this paragraph:

"But then a funny thing happened: Their poems evolved from "bad" to "sort of great," Gardner says. "What we were really doing was throwing out rules that were constraining and ridiculous and weren't fitting anymore. Once we did that, we could do whatever we wanted—we weren't trying to ask: Is this magazine going to like this? Is this poet going to like this? Is my teacher going to like this? We just got rid of all of it and went nuts."

It reads a lot like Ake Eriksson's later admission that he had enjoyed writing his hoax, that he had come to value what he was supposed to be hoaxing.

It also ties into the article from Cabinet that prompted me to write that entry: that there is some element of modern poetry that entails assuming the role of a counterfeiter.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009


"Minimalism, on the other hand, I could never understand at all. Why would anyone want to look at less instead of more?" - Peter Saul

Swedish movies

I think the companion piece to "Let the Right One In" should be another piece about gender-blurring in the Swedish suburbs, "Fucking Åmål" by Lukas Moodysson. Like the vampire movie, a really sweet love story (this one about two girls). It was a gigantic hit in Sweden when it was released (in the late 90s). I love it.

Anyhow, I'm working on my novel which features a group of girls inspired by this film so I've been listening to this song this morning.

Also: Moodysson made a movie called "Hole in My heart" a few years ago that was widely castigated because of its violence and graphic/gross sexuality. I think it's a really great movie and wildly experimental. It's about some losers starting a porn company in a small suburban apartment (and the poor goth kid who has to endure his horrificly grotesque dad). The trailer:

I really recommend all of these movies and my novel (an excerpt of which Andrew Lundwall will publish as an e-chapbook in July).


Ron Silliman has an insightful post about Stephen Burt's "thing" article today on his blog, pointing out some contradictions but acknowledging that is' quite insightful.

Something that I have thought about is that Stephen feels the urge to create an opposition between "elliptical" and "thing" poets, when these are in fact largely overlapping. For instance Rae A. seems to be a key figure for all (or langpo overall seems key). Like Ron, I thought about this also in terms of American Hybrid, which I first saw as Elliptical but then realized had much more to do with "new thing." Then I thought: there are several strains of each of these that continue and discontinue.

Part of the problem is that though Burt's articles are insightful, he (as Ron calls it) "overreaches." That is, he wants there to be a central poetry of the moment, when in fact he is describing several. And perhaps he is describing the general mood of the way we read poems at certain times (now people are all about being objective and sober and full of shit).

One thing that both Burt (in both his Elliptics and Things) and American Hybrid keep emphasizing is the rejection of narrative. Part of this is likely the identification of narrative with"narrative poetry", the shorthand for that boring quietist lyrics of epiphany. But those poems are usually not very narrative; or they aren't using narrative very interestingly; or the narrative is not of interest to the writers.

From my own perspective, a lot of the best books of the past 10-20 years have been very much concerned with narrative - Joyelle's Flet (not prose poem but novel as poetry, poetry as novel, and total genius; one sign of the total lameness of American Poetry is the fact that few people have written about this book), Descent of Alette and everything by Alice Notley, Cathy Park Hong's Dance Dance Revolution, The Tree of No, Sandy Florian's rewrite of Milton, and Claudia Rankine's Don't Let Me Be Lonely, Dodie Bellamy's Mina Harker letters. All of these are taking interesting approaches to narrative.

[This is largely true of Swedish poetry as well: Aase Berg's sci-fi epic Dark Matter, Ann Jäderlund's cut-up of Biblical tales, Soon Into The Summer I Will Walk Out, and Collobert Orbital, Johan Jonson's "translation" of Norma Cole's translation of Danielle Collobert's journals (soon to be published by Displaced Press in my English translation)]

In fact, one of Burt's major exhibits of elliptical poetry, Mark Levine's first book Debt consists entirely of little narratives about infantilization, castration and impotence. It's also a book incredibly influenced by Plath, which is something nobody seems to want to point out, and not a single shred influenced by Language Poetry (which supposedly ellipticals are).

So Burt's essays are useful starting points, thermometer-readings of a moment in time; and I think a lot of the discussion that has followed the "thing" essay have proven quite good and interesting.

Monday, June 15, 2009

List #2

This is the list of what I'm reading right now:

Joseph Beys, Arena - where would I have got if I had been intelligent
Ann Jäderlund's new book (and also I'm helping her with her Emily Dickinson translations)
Karl Larlsson's Form/Force (which I am also translating)
Various other Swedish artists whose essays and catalogs I'm translating
Aaron Kunin, The Mandarin
Angela Rawlings, Wide Slumber for Leps
Calling All Agents, Tom McCarthy (I like this manifesto better than his novel, Remainder)
Cinematic Modernism, Susan McCabe
The Worst of All by Estela Lamat (trans. Michael Leong)
Victorian Studies (Spring 2008) (About "emotions")
Susan McCabe, Descartes' Nightmare
Deleuze, The Fold: Leibniz and the Baroque (trans. Tom Conley)
Kruchneykh, Suicide Circus (trans. Jack Hirschman etc)
Kathy Acker, Pussy of the Pirates
Mark Wallace, Felonies of Illusion
Huysman, Against Nature
Cocteau, Potomac (trans. Michael Sanchez)
Juan Suarez, Bike Boys, Drag Queens and Superstars
Sara Hallström, Rötter Smälter
Amelia Rosselli, The Dragonfly (trans Guisepe Leporace and Deborah Woodard)
Jane Miller, Palace of Pearls
A lot of published and unpublished French and English translation editions of Henri Michaux

(As you can tell I'm a very scattered reader; and a chronic un-finisher.)

Some more:
Mon Canard by Stephen Rodefer
Sea Urchin Harakiri by Bernard Bador (trans. Eshleman)
Nada Gordon, Folly
All kinds of journals: Mrs Maybe, Tammy, Columbia Poetry Revew, New American Writing

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Softness Revisited

Jon Woodward left me the following note:

"Hi Johannes,

Only a month late to the party, that's not too bad. I think the Surrealism that Hoagland dismisses might overlap with my "soft-surrealist cotton candy," but I don't know. The stuff I have a problem with (not a moral problem but a pragmatic one, ie "Good Lord I can't keep reading this") is what lots of young men (myself at one time included) write if they think that James Tate and Dean Young are about as Surrealist as it gets. I got nothing against Surrealism, or softness for that matter. Some of my favorite people are soft. "

I want to make sure that everyone understands: I'm not promoting Dean Young as some kind of ideal. What I am opposing is the rhetoric of hardness/softness, reasonableness vs skitteriness, usefulness vs fashion, able vs disabled, masculine vs feminine, truth vs perversion, simplicity vs ornamentation etc.

It's a way of talking about art that I'm opposed to. A way that leads inevitably to moderation and enforced normalcy.

My problem with Dean Young or whoever is not that they are soft but that they aren't nearly soft enough. It's way too moderate.

VH1 List of Influences

Mark Tursi from Apostophe, which published my first book A New Quarantine Will Take My Place last year is going to get the Apostrophe Blog going. And to do so he's asked the people published by the press to send him their list of influences and current reading list. It took my a long time to finish the first list so the second one will come in a few days. I'll also try to take some time to explain each of these individually over the next few weeks:

Here is a list of my influences in no particular order (I'm leaving out things before the late 19th century and I'm trying to focus on just poetry):

Jean Genet, Our Lady of Flowers and Funeral Rites
Rimbaud, Illuminations and Season in Hell (New Directions)
Baudelaire, Paris Spleen (New Directions)
Aase Berg, all of them (Hos Radjur, Mork Materia, Forsla Fett, Uppland, Loss)
Sylvia Plath, Ariel
Robert Motherwell (ed.), Dada Poets and Painters
Richard Huelsenbeck, Fantastic Prayers
Bruno K. Öijer, c/o Night
Lars Noren, Revolver
Öyvind Fahlström, Bord 1952-1955
Allen Ginsberg, Howl and Other Poems
Jack Kerouac, På Drift, De Underjordiska
William Burroughs, Naked Lunch
Wolfgang Borchert, "Do Stay, Giraffe"
Max Ernst, the comic books
Mina Loy, Love Song to Joannes
Vallejo, Trilce (all translations)
Antonin Artaud, everything (especially Theater and its Double and Eshleman's Watchfiends and Rackscreams)
Paul Celan (all the translations, Swedish and English)
Ann Jäderlund, Snart går jag i sommaren ut
Henri Michaux, Darkness Moves (trans. David Ball)
Henry Parland, Hamlet Sade Det Vackrare
Gunnar Björling, Där jag vet att du
Edith Södergran, everything
Vasko Popa, Homage to the Lame Wolf (trans. Simic)
Russel Edson, The Tunnel
Alice Notley, Descent of Alette
Ted Berrigan, Sonnets adn Bean Spasms
Frank O'Hara, the big book
John Berryman, Dreamsongs
Andre Breton (and Soupault), Magnetic Fields, Manifestoes of Surrealism
August Strindberg, Spöksonatan and The Occult Diary
Stephen Crane, The Black Riders and Other Lines
TS Eliot, The Wasteland
Mayakovsky, Jag! (trans. Gunnar Harding)
Blaise Cendrars, Complete Poems
Bataille, Visions of Excess
Deleuze and Guattari, Thousand Plateaus
Auden, The Orators
Marinetti, The Futurist Manifesto of 1909
Lautreamont, Maldoror
Gorilla (numbers 1&2, 1966 and 67)

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Abraham Smith reviewed

on the Black Ocean Blog:

Whim Man Mammon
Abraham Smith
Action Books, 2007

Whim Man Mammom reveals Abraham Smith (an unearthly virtuoso of a reader) as magisterial scarecrow, addled charmer, divinator of pine and snout, anti-bowdlerizer, chirruper of harvest desire, infinitely fiddle tongued, carnal fish burglar rent with high lonesome chilblains, ravine-nerved, gasoline holy, wrought from crow caul and rakish angles, monstrous harmonica, taut and jittery in wave after wave of amens, snake-bit heaver, iridescent arsonist, stammering and coyote hopeful, Kandinsky in Wisconsin, amnesia porn flee on the leg of night, apparational folk singer in a blaze of bootlegged days, or, more simply, his is the ontology of the sacred juke. [Tim Earley]

Sunday, June 07, 2009

Greatest Movie of All-Time

is of course Cocteau's Orpheus.

But here is the insight of the day. Joyelle and I watched briefly Vh1's "Best Songs of the 80s" and my brilliant wife pointed out the important fact that A-Ha's video for "Take on Me" (talk about translatese) is a kind of remake of Cocteau's film. That had never occurred to me, sadly, embarrassingly.

Saturday, June 06, 2009

Ernest Lalor Malley

Christine Wertheim has an interesting article about the Australian counterfeit poet Ernest Lalor Malley in the new issue of Cabinet.

Malley was invented as a hoax modernist by a couple of guys who had ambivalent to hostile feelings about modernism. One of them, James McAuley, had originally been quite enamored of Joyce and modernism, but grown sick of it, and he wanted to set up Modernism and Max Harris, the 18-year-old editor of Angry Penguins, a modernist journal (it sounds fake though, doesn't it). Harris loved the fake poems when he received them, and the fake poet achieved instant recognition as a great avant-gardist.

The lame response (usually be reactionary types) is that this shows that the modern poet is fake. Something akin to saying "my kid could do that" about Klee or Picasso. But Wertheim makes a more interesting argument: that writing modern "experimental" poetry in some sense to write as a counterfeit. Their hoaxers have thus really written as modern writers; poetry as a critique etc. Wertheim makes a few more specific claims, but I think this is the essence of her argument.

She also depicts the importance of America in this saga, as Koch and Ashbery liked the Malley writings and published various pieces in the US.

The story reminds me of "Den Hemliga Gloden" (The Secret Glow, or The Secret Embers) by Ake Erikson, published in Helsinki in 1925. Erikson was a traditional poet writing under a pseudonym and the book was a hoax. As with Malley, it was supposed to prove the ridiculousness of the modernists. Like Malley it gained a great reception. Major modernists gave it rave review etc.

The interesting thing about that book is (as with Malley's) that it *was* good. Very Mayakovsky influenced. Caricature-ish. Also interestingly, Erikson later admitted that he had had a lot of fun writing the poems; he had in the end come to appreciate modern poetry on some level through counterfeiting it.

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"new thing"

Here's Stan Apps and a good comment-discussion about Steve Burt's "New Thing" article.

As I've stated before, I actually think Steve's article is a very perceptive article in identifying not a school or a movement (and certainly not the only trend in poetry), but rather a piece of very important rhetoric that seems to have always been with American poetry and culture.

(And the culture and poetry of other cultures as well; I have in the past drawn parallels to the "New Simplicity" movement in Sweden, though, notably, this was an extremely Marxist movement coming out of a political critique of the French new novel. And it was against this lame institution of Swedish literature that Aase Berg, Ann Jaderlund and others in "the abject 1990s" reacted with gothic-grotesque poetry as the welfare state was crumbling. And with it my childhood.)

Key here the discussion of ornamentation and, as Mark writes, the prevalence of American problem with ornamentation - often resulting in a problem with art itself. As I noted on Seth's blog, this is also where the urge for "sincerity" comes from.

I've been bad about blogging. I've been doing a lot of translations jobs for Swedish artists and exhibitions. And when I do that I tend to take breaks by reading other people's blogs while not having the mind space necessary to write my own entries.