Sunday, March 29, 2009

Two Economies... (Wait for it...)

I’m sure that I’ve talked about the poetry world as an economy (who hasn’t? And if so, what constitutes coupons in this world?), but I have to say that in this interview, Gabriel Gudding really brings the earnestness into such a formulation, along with some might fine highfalutin’ argot:

I mean, basically there have been over the past 150 years a limited range of techniques that just keep getting relabeled and rebranded: collage becomes "cut up" becomes "flarf" or "flirph" or whatever it's called now; disjunctive anacoluthon becomes what William James called "automatic writing" and Stein takes that into cubist dada which is then rebranded via a different set of theoretical apparatuses (Frankfurt School) as L=A=N....; a hodgepodge of sleep-based techniques and collaborative aleatoric methods morph (thank goodness) with oppositional leftist politics into surrealism which then meld with the rightist political quietism of late modernism into deep image and...?

This is a market. Markets need a predictive mindset. If "art" and "writing" cannot divest itself of this fascination with symbolic exchange-value in favor of a use-value, it will continue to be just another inverted extension of the economic system.

Too, markets need a projected null point that serves to mask the manufacture of collective misrecognition: the new; imagination; the originary; celebrity and celebration.

Is it possible to write and to think about writing in ways that do not create and maintain hierarchies of artistic domination and power? Is it possible to write without belief in a universe of celebrants and believers? Is it okay to write without thinking oneself a potential object of celebration? And after having written, is it possible not to vie for status as a consecrated writer or as a writer who displays his own performative disinterest in the field of production?

As rhetorical questions go, the last spate is pretty grand. Also, I love “collaborative aleatoric methods morph”. That’s delightful syncopation. I quite agree with his argument, though it seems like such purity is much easier outside the academy. I’ve always thought that the work itself was a much better argument that anything one might be able to deploy, but I have some sympathy with trying to find ways to armor your soft underbelly, even if such performativity is at bottom an extremely subtle form of satire. As Gerald Fitch said, “I only practice philosophy in self-defense.”

And while we’re on the subject of economy, Peter Sagal started a hilarious meme on Twitter: sum up a novel in under 150 characters. Say what you want, this sort of thing is what the internet was made for. (That and finding out about the sex life of hedgehogs).

Here are some of my favorites:

Neuromancer: An AI covertly hires a burnout hacker to free it from its insane rich family creators. Plus: space rastas.

The Fountainhead: As an architect, the last people I should give a crap about are those who pay for or occupy my buildings.

Franny and Zooey: Jesus is a fat lady.

Emma: I'm clever, I'm clever, I'm.. duh

The Silmarillion: What? You find the Lord of the Rings trilogy interesting? We can fix that.

If on a winter's night a traveler: Odd chapters tell you how you read even chapters. All chapters are odd.

The Sun Also Rises: Lost generations seek comfort in booze and bulls. War doesn't mix with genitals.

Gone with the Wind: War sucks. Love sucks. Famine sucks. Families suck. I am fabulous.

Watchmen: Guns don't kill superheroes, other superheroes do.

This is the wisecrack equivalent of flash fiction, which I’m a sucker for. If it’s precipitous, I’m there.

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