Thursday, June 25, 2009

Out of the Way Readings

Coming Soon to Jim Thorpe. Did you know of such a place as the distinctly christened town of Jim Thorpe, Pennsylvania? It exists. We hear tell it’s called thus in honor of an Olympian of much praise; before he took the world by storm the town was considered Mauch Chunk, which is differently delightful. A place with such unique nominal history sounds like the perfect destination for the Corresponding Society; indeed! a carful of members from this very group’ll be arriving in Jim Thorpe this weekend for a trans-modal happening in a local bookstore --- hosted by the auspicious resident of nearby Bucky Mountain, Mr. Jody Buchman (dear associate). There will be amazing guitar picking, poetry reciting, a one-act play about Andy Warhol, probably some treats and libations, plus a much-anticipated drunken campfire! So, if you have a car, or something, and are within traveling distance of this sure-to-be-charming destination, you’re totally encouraged to join us for a rowdy and wonderful time! Here are details for you:

Venue: Sellers Bookstore
Location: 62 W. Broadway, Jim Thorpe, PA
Date: June 27
Time: 7pm
Featured Readers: Jody Buchman, special guests from the Corresponding Society
Featured Plays: “I Am Happy” by Lonely Christopher
Featured Music: Jeff Regina

The Very Same Day in Seattle. Meanwhile, some other members of the Corresponding Society will be visiting Seattle for a reading. Here is some official copy re that event: A hoard of young people will descend on our store [Pilot Books --- ed.] to read out loud the things they’ve written. They come to us from the Corresponding Society as part of their nation-wide hitchhiking tour [no such tour exists to my knowledge ---ed.]. Authors include but are not limited to: Christopher Sweeney, editor-in-chief of Correspondence [we’ve basically done away with the title of editor-in-chief, though --- ed.], a biannual literary journal distributed by The Corresponding Society; Adrian Shirk, a short fiction, long poem, family mythology, literature-to-be-read-aloud, and how-to writer from Portland; Robert Snyderman, roving poet and experimental theater writer/director/designer.

Venue: Pilot Books
Location: 219 Broadway E, Seattle, Wa
Date: June 27
Time: 5pm
Featured Readers: Bob Snyderman, C. Sweeney, Adrian Shirk, possible special guests

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Like Rain on Your Wedding Day

Irony’s Poetics
by Lonely Christopher

Irony! There is a catalog of ironies, popular and defunct, but, being specific, a pair (for parameter’s purposes) will here wrestle around some: dramatic and literary ironies (situational irony not included, though, let’s posit, notably that’s the hallmark irony of hipster culture; elaboration unforthcoming). The function of dramatic irony is easily differentiated (as an enemy, even) from how a contemporary ironic modality operates. The former, ancient, belonging to, I guess, the Greeks, is a rhetorical device; the later, ironie nouveau maybe, is a literary trope --- the difference: rhetorical purposes are pathetic, re the invocation and valuation of emotional response; today irony is a common pattern of contractual/consensual implication (the formal conceit being that writer and reader both recognize how this instrument frames meaning within a creative idiom). Irony is a lazily broad rubric, but certainly irony comes from εἰρωνεία, meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance (according to Wikipedia). The irony available in that statement is new irony because the extratextual signification requires an equality of collaboration between the two agents involved in the generation of meaning and the interface between them. In the dramatic model, contrastively, the subject is not in on the game (thus the writer delivers the reader special information, designed to manipulate, and the definition is in this imbalance); in the non-pathetic model, the one recognizable above, the special information connotes across the agents and the subject all the same. This means, maybe, that the fact that Wikipedia, a non-academic reference, is cited in the manner of established institutions of reliable/acceptable etymological details (like the OED), presupposes the conflict between the canonized procedures of academia, re research practices, and the open-source (comparatively egalitarian, anti-academic) wiki reference made available only recently through new technology; this happens in such a way that the withholding of extratextual qualities isn’t foundational to ironic function (is eschewed, characteristically), the operations of ironic signification are complicatedly engaged with a broad cultural grammar (so much so that subtle meaning, undetectable semantically, is instantly obvious through the perspective of the disclosure’s mode of reference), the functionality does not resemble an incorrect math equation (rather is balanced), and what is generated through this process is not a dramatic narrative designed to inflict pathos upon the receptive agent alone --- it’s a mutually connoted signification wherein the hermetic structure (the formal platform for the extratextual meaning) undergoes a subversion of signification legible through each available perspective (writer/subject/reader). The text is encoded, but it’s not the butt of the joke; it’s a condition and accomplice in tracing a new and clever meaning over the page’s semantics. This is enrichment. Contrastively, dramatic irony is about as enriching as pouring blood all over the telekinetic prom queen. This is not, “Don’t go up the stairs, the killer is waiting for you!” where the dumb bitch slinking to her horror-show death can’t hear the impassioned cries of the enraptured audience as the filmmaker grins smugly somewhere at such profitable deceit. Here, where we live in our house of today’s irony, everybody must grin smugly, even the text --- the way the text signifies must somehow be grinning (it’s a joyless grin), and there’s absolutely no emphasis placed on tricking the receptive agent into feeling anything because of a dramatic parlor trick. This is not the cheap horror-show scenario, not, “Don’t cite that user-authored open-source database, the misinformation and amateur scholarship isn’t very regulated compared to an academically recognized reference tool edited by professionals and intelligent computers!” This is a tectonics of meaning (tectonic, from the Greek for builder), or, anyway, this means layers of signification that shift and interact with causation (dramatic irony presents an improbable and inequitable situation, for difference). Semantically, there is the statement, which signifies a primary meaning supported by its mechanics --- this source states “irony” is from the Ancient Greek “εἰρωνεία,” meaning hypocrisy, deception, or feigned ignorance --- then there are layers of extratextual meaning that interact with and mutate the central semantic statement, extending the sentence’s reach outside itself --- mainly, cockily incongruous in a telling way, that a non-academic website is used in an attempt to establish the intellectual authority implied by the elevated tone of this writing (read: the author is a lazy bullshitter who uses big words defensively). Irony is no longer purposed toward dramatic achievement through the simple manipulation of slighting an equation; our ironic idiom is an ubiquitous and fundamentally recognizable process we use to posit that meaning doesn’t fit in its own container and, thus, is subject to constant and unfolding play (all play, though, becomes serious, then very dull, and so irony is not a joy, but closer to ennui). Rhetorical irony attempts to dupe the reader into artificial reactions; contemporary irony is transparent and non-hysterical --- it’s a sort of malaise everybody and everything (writer, subject, text, context, reader, you name it) learns implicitly and reads/articulates effortlessly. Maybe because today’s irony is anti-formalist in its egalitarian properties, it is considered guilty and base. Rhetoric functions within the same grammar of valuation as morality, let’s just go ahead and claim, and that’s coincidentally the grammar we use to understand distinctions between high and low art. Dramatic irony presents a fiction wherein ideals like innocence, beauty, and love can exist --- the trick becomes honorable when the scam is withheld and the artifice misjudged by the receptive agent as mimetically superlative. There are a bunch of problems with this, some: singular representation is reductive not epiphanic, totalized paragons in the shape of love, or whatever, are dangerous fictions when the manipulation processes are withheld, and, basically, the quality of such an operation is on par with getting on a ride at Disneyland and ignoring the gross pageantry, rather embracing the malevolent spectacle as incorruptible experience, duh. Anyway, stupid as that is, maybe that’s what’s behind declarations of “the death of irony,” especially subsequent to disruptive human tragedy. When something violently outside of the established limits of general comprehension senselessly occurs, maybe that startles awake the self-destructive desire to wish for a cultural logic wherein signification wasn’t capable of such plurality as is implied by contemporary irony. A retreat is desired back into the reductive regime of silly tricks, where one can be a child again and blanketed withal by comforting social fictions of truth and justice. It doesn’t even have to be as severe as massive tragedy, but possibly a particular annoyance re the dismissal of sincerity in the generation of meaning, which is characteristic (a side effect?) of a general postmodern grammar. The way we constitute at all, the way we just do that verb, is mutating slowly --- one day we woke up and the mythopoetics of modernity was gone without so much as a note --- the centrality of totalization as the process of constitution grew outmoded (maybe the model even inverted and is now centrifugal). “The critical function of the subject has given way to the ironic function of the object.” That’s also from Wikipedia --- no, I admit I read it in a book. The irony dichotomy is, as aforesaid, rhetorical device versus literary trope. The ancient irony requires convincing somebody that the imbalanced equation of a dramatic fiction resembles experience enough to persuade pathos out in reaction to a clever argument (artifice); the mutated irony, ours, discloses itself as a technical conceit, always is transparently a literary trope applied to various systems of signification --- that is, it works as patterns of renegotiation within the generation of meaning according to a popular/legible cultural logic. Meaning used to mean singularly, now we don’t know what it means, exactly, but that it can generate a lot more than we previously suspected it could support. The authorities on the matter are afraid this contemporariness is intractable and will presently metastasize: “There is no point in taking refuge in the defense of values, even critical ones […] The same acts, the same thoughts, and the same hopes which brought us nearer to that finality we so longed for now take us away from it, since it is behind us” (ibid). A text can semantically develop a straightforward position and simultaneously mean exactly the opposite connotatively, plus other incongruous things; this happens all the time. It’s scary. It means I get to use the word “problematize” even though I know it’s unattractively ostentatious (in an immature way) when bandied so. I love you. It’s like rain on your wedding day.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Westerly Readings

Corresponding Society members Adrian Shirk, Bob Snyderman, and Sweeney have all headed westward for the summer and shall be making some appearances in bookstores and sundry other venues around California, Oregon, and &c. They will be joined by friends. Below, please find some information about two such events.

Venue: Books and Bookshelves
Location: 99 Sanchez (at 14th St), San Francisco, CA
Date: June 15
Time: 7:30pm
Featured Readers: Julien Poirier, Robert Snyderman, Chris Sweeney, Adrian Shirk

Venue: Reading Frenzy
Location: 921 SW Oak Street, Portland, Oregon
Date: June 17
Time: 6pm
Featured Readers: Chris Sweeney, Adrian Shirk, Robert Snyderman, Scott Poole, Christopher Brean Murray
Featured Music: Joe Batt

Here’s biographical data on the exciting (very) special guests:

Julien Poirier was born in San Francisco in 1970. As well as writing poems, he has done time as an editor (Ugly Duckling Presse, Gneiss Press) and as a public school poetry teacher in New York City. He prefers to work to a captive audience of 5th-graders in the outer boroughs of that city. Books include Absurd Good News (Insert Press, 2006) and Living! Go and Dream (UDP, 2005).

Joe Batt is a singer-songwriter from Olympia, Washington. He started performing as a college student in the Midwest and Montana, and he played in various rock groups. He continues to write songs about food, religion, relationships, and cows, when not busy with his day job as an art professor. He will travel, with his guitar and banjo, to any art event, farmer’s market, or poetry reading, if there is an audience willing to listen to his original tunes and reinterpretations of Elvis, Charlie Pride, or Holy Model Rounders numbers.

Scott Poole is the author of two books for poetry, The Cheap Seats and Hiding from Salesmen. He is also the "house poet" for Oregon Public Broadcasting's Live Wire! radio show. He lives in Vancouver, Washington and is a software developer.

Christopher Brean Murray was born New Jersey. His poems have appeared in Jubilat, Cutbank, Hoboeye, and Fou Magazine. Recently, he was a featured reader at the Hoboeye Poetry Palooza. He teaches writing at Mount Hood Community College and Portland Community College.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Something Happening in Bushwick

Brooklynites! Bushwickians! You are invited to the following event this Saturday:

It'll be fun.