Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Internet Shit

Why is it that at every festival or conference of contemporary literature, you run across all these experimental/language writers - either in personal discussion or as part of panels - that are so concerned about how bad the writing is on the Net?

This think that the poetry is shit, the writers are not properly educated etc? This of course goes hand in hand with their obsession (seen most prominently on Ron's blog) with the obsession with trying to forward their legitimate heirs. The importance of lineage.

See my post on My Own Private Idaho. The experimental poets act like social community that arranges the proper burial and installs Keannu Reeves' character as the proper descendant, while the Internet constantly behaves like River Phoenix's violent and joyful dance on the outskirts.


Blogger Johannes said...

though maybe "joyful" is a naive version of it - often very very angry!


8:28 AM  
Blogger Phanero Noemikon said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Yes,that Udo character is awesome. I alsolike how he does a revised version of the kareoke scenein Blue Velvet.


10:03 AM  
Blogger mark wallace said...

Johannes, the conclusions you make here seem based on some information that remains entirely unexplained in the post. It's difficult enough to know sometimes if you're reaching the right conclusions even if you do offer the person(s), the quotation, and the context, but without it? It seems like a conclusion that already exists without needing anything behind it to back it up.

To reference an unnamed conversation with unnamed people as the basis for an argument/analysis might be one of the things worth complaining about re discourse about poetics on the Internet.

I'm sure this is all just a matter of you writing up something casually, but I for one would like to know what exactly you're talking about.

2:56 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


I think it's in the nature of the Internet to refer to things casually. Mostly I don't feel like talking about specific people because it's mostly friends of mine who have done the complaining. And in a casual manner - ie not for publication.

You mean to tell me you've never heard this complaint?

I'll try to think of a specific instance.


3:17 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...


It doesn't explicitly refer to the Internet, but I think it does implicitly: a couple of days ago, Ron Silliman's berating of "stupid" unnamed "fashion" poets has all the anxiety of an experimental writer who suddenly becomes not the proponent of the new but a defender of hierarchy and lineage.

Oh, here's a good one: Remember a few months ago I blogged about Stephanie Strickland's idea of "e-literature", which was the true electronic lit, as opposed to the kitschy Internet writers who don't know code.


4:20 PM  
Blogger mark wallace said...

Johannes, it's not that I haven't heard complaining--and promoting--of the Internet both inside and outside many poetics gatherings and etc, and some of it more or less righteous than others.

But instead of noting that individual people have different approaches, I think you're conflating it here (and I understand, it's just casual, but nonetheless) with the idea of poetic communities in a way that I can't follow. As if all people who believe in poetic communities think the Internet is an arena for the fallen, or that belief in community and belief in blogs exist in some fundamental opposition according to all those who are promoting some righteously exclusive idea of community. I mean, yes, some people do think the Internet has been bad for poetry, but some don't--and some of those people on both sides believe in community and others on both sides believe in the myth of the great isolated artist.

So I don't think there's any general opposition to the Internet in any whole poetic community that I've ever come across, and certainly not in whole communities of those poets who generally tend to believe in poetic innovation.

I guess what I'm saying: sure, people make half-thought putdowns and half-thought promotions of the Internet all the time, but I don't see behind it any kind of large group collusion to cast out writing on the Internet.

4:21 PM  
Blogger Johannes said...

Obviously there are tons of "non-experimental" poets who feel this way too (I'm currently writing a post linking Mark Haliday and Ron Silliman). But it's totally expected coming from Robert Pinsky.

My point with referring to experimental folks is that they should embrace it; and I always get equally perplexed when I get these comments from people who should be less concerned with protecting the status quo from the Internet.

Like I said, I started writing an entry that connects Silliman, community, Internet, translation etc. I'll post it when I finish it probably tomorrow or Thursday.


4:30 PM  
Blogger Fran├žois Luong said...

I'm really not sure about what you mean when you write that said writers are "so concerned about how bad the writing is on the net". Are they referring to poetry magazines? Anyway, not many people can be Darren Wershler and I am waiting for someone to do something as interesting as Electronic Arts' marketing campaign for Dante's Inferno, in which they hid ASCII art in the source code of various sites.

10:11 AM  
Blogger TT said...

Maybe experimental poets should just embrace the internet if they also embrace a general spirit of innovation, or maybe progress. It's always been humming at the back for me, but I guess for myself I'm finally okay with the fact that I'm largely interested in how poetic traditions, conventions and perspectives get carried from the past to the present, however rearranged. The new itself isn't terribly interesting for me; how "the old" gets transformed so to meet "the new" is super interesting. I guess that's Pound's big appeal for me, how his affection for the moments of the troubadours and pre-literate Greeks (aural networks both) drove him to experiment in such a way as to achieve startlingly new effects in his own time. I dig that non-linear stance; not continuing the status-quo exactly (or at all), but hot rodding the poetic/aesthetic genealogy you feel you need but didn't exactly inherit.

12:14 PM  

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