Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Blood on Her Prom Dress

Who Cares If You Read?
or The Poet as Problem
by Lonely Christopher

Poetry is a fancy for retards. Poetry is shall I compare thee to a summer’s day and I shall wear the bottoms of my trousers rolled. Poetry means nothing and nobody is a friend of the poet. Poetry is a centripetal mode with a vacuum at its heart. Poetry was alchemical before it became a modern science --- back in the days when cavemen were chased by dinosaurs into volcanoes and the universe maintained stupid belief in the myth of its own objectivity. Poetry is a methodist religion with an absent god. Poetry is difficult because it is a form without a function; the form is the function. The poet is a technician specializing in antique mechanics. There is no such thing as “poetic language” and “semantic language” --- there are only sign systems. Poetry is a public service void of applicability but fat with uncurrent virtue. There is only language that begins and language that does not, and poetry is both of those. The composition of poetry is structural/conceptual; it has no relationship with anything of known importance. Poetry is daft faith. Contemporary poetics is a situation. I do not see how or why the situation should be otherwise. Why shouldn’t poetry be boring to the public? Poetry is lacking in poetry. The poet says, “I don’t know and I cannot or will not state why.” Poetry is revenge. Poetry is guilty of the double homicide of its ex-wife, Nicole Brown, and her new boyfriend, ontology. Poetry is the same as talented children. Poetry is the surface of a lake. Poetry is a general education in the problematical. The universe is not a science; poetry is research. A simple substitution of “composer” for “mathematician” provides an answer to the situation. As long as the confusion I have described continues to exist, poetry welcomes the history of existence. The products of difference secure against ultimate significance. The result of influence is postwar, nonpopular, and promises the man in the street will cease to live. Poetry is the music of loving what destroys it; poetry is destroying love. I am not writing about your poetry. I am not writing about anything happy or anthropomorphic. I am not writing about the poetry of brains on the walls, I am writing about the architecture of the house where the tragedy took place all those years ago. I am writing about carpet samples and misanthropy. I am meaning my contemporariness, my visits to Youtube, and structural systems that don’t matter and never will. This document is sorry, really. Poetry is an adverb and a phrasal verb awkwardly necking in the backseat of a parked car; poetry is your dad crying when you tell him you’re gay; poetry is blood on her prom dress; poetry is what you don’t read. Who cares if you read?


Turtle Islander said...

My dad was in town for my birthday this past weekend. I took him to the music conservatory to see the Peabody Camerata (The "New" Music ensemble). They performed the following,

Benjamin Britten: Sinfonietta, Op. 1
Elliot Carter: Canon for Three
Barney Childs: Interbalances IV
Milton Babbitt: All Set

The Babbitt piece was hellish. It was his take on standard jazz instrumentation and orchestration. He eschews the canonized rhythmic and melodic forms and replaces them with what I'd describe ambitiously as meta-twelve tonality and poly cadences, all the while maintaining only the most basic "sectional" qualities of the jazz standard- The Intro, hook, solos, etc. He feigns improvisation through predetermined calculation. I'm not even sure what happened, but it was awesome.

Oh and the Britton piece was sublime, but you're familiar with him so I'm sure you know. Though. I would suggest seeing his work performed live if you haven't. The experience is unrivaled - i.e listening on a shitty laptop computer is perpetually disheartening after the real thing.

The Corresponding Society said...


I’ve never heard Babbitt. His essay both repulses and attracts me. If the article was reduced to an entry on that Overheard in New York website, it would read:

Normal Citizen: I don’t get it.
Angry Composer: Well FUCK YOU --- it’s rocket science!

My experience with listening to Britten has been limited to recordings; also I haven’t heard much of his non-operatic music. I don’t go out much, but I read the listings every week and intermittently try to catch concerts at BAM (I once took Sweeney there to see a program of Reich’s work, which he disliked). Maybe I don’t know where to look for 20th century and more contemporary stuff in town --- although I hear praise about the Wordless Music series, which is often hosted at Le Poisson Rouge (a vogue spot, I take it), and there’s an experimental music series at St Mark’s Church. Coincidentally and atypically, I am just returned from an amazing concert. I fell asleep drunkenly listening to the opera The Mother of Us All, by Gertrude Stein and Virgil Thomson, and today I happened to notice a listing in the paper that I was unaware of: the CUNY Graduate Center was hosting a daylong panel on Four Saints In Three Acts (same collaborators) culminating in a free oratorio performance featuring an orchestra and full chorus. So I left work to attend that. The recital hall was small; consequently, I felt closer to the music than I do when stuck in the regrettable $15 standing room area at the way back of the Met. In brief, you’re right about concert attendance.