[-empyre-] Poetry has no future

David Chirot david.chirot at gmail.com
Sun Mar 22 04:11:55 EST 2009

Dear Laurent--

Thank you for these provocative remarks--and the quote from Valery--
I think often that in "moving into" or "thinking about/positing the future"
what one encounters very often is actually a voyage into the past.

I am amazed that you bring up the use/image/idea of rubbing--as a lot of my
work for over a decade now is made as "rubBeings"--
a number have been used in India--in the  State of Bengal--as Journal and
Poetry book covers and one issue of the online and print journal has an
essay on these by Aryanil Mukharjee, which I have never known the sense of
as it has yet to be translated into English.

A great deal of what you write of the use/experience of the actual as being
"rubbed" and "rubbed with" and rubbed against or along with other materials
is very close to a great deal i have written or said in interviews over the
last several years.  (The premier issue of MAYDAY, a new online journal by
the creators of  wil be featuring an interview with me and a lot of recent
works. It will also be accompanied with one at least  brief piece re the
Virtual and the Actual. A lot of my personal studies of examples have nee in
the military/espionage/histories of contemporary war fare in relation with
the writing of poetry, making of art and how these are interrelated, as was
first noted in the term "avant-garde" itself, and the Italian Futurists'
embrace of "War, the World's hygiene" and the Dada's rejection of War as the
starting point for their rejection of every other aspect of bourgeois
ideology, society and culture.  This has cuased me also to investiogate why
in amny respects, especially in the US, poetry and the arts, including those
called "avant" (which indicates perhaps an amputation of the "garde" aspect)
have tended to disregard many of the aspects you write of, in favor of
Formalism and in many ways a denial of the interconnection between the
events which the US "creates" and contributes to, particpates in, and the
"arts." This splitting of avant from garde is consistent with many of the
splittings between relaities thatare made in the culture and soceity, so
that its language itself becomes more enmeshed in a form of double speak and
"cover up" via censroship, omission, and the use of disinformation to
supplant actualities.

Here is a piece from yesterday at my blog re rubBEings made for a specific
puyrpose, with 16 examples and a text regrading these--that may be onf
interst to you and your workshops-
and one re virtuality (others relate tosome of what is written below--)

Thank you so much again for this fascinating letter-

( I already took too much time below of everyone's time---but an intersting
example of what i write of on line may be seen in a really far out form in
travel literature of the period roughly 1670-1800)

As you note, the science-fictions of various epochs and countries are
related very much to the present in which they were conceived.  (This is why
many science-fictions are or become seen as allegories of their times, of
the conditions of the societies in which they were written.)

Fellini said of his film Satyricon that it was "a science-fiction film set
in the past."

(In his earlier film 8 and a Half, the  protagonist- Film Director (Marcello
Mastroianni) is working on a Sceince-Fioction film which is "not taking off
from the ground," as exemplifed by the enormous set with a  Rock Ship on its
launcher for which he has yet to conceive the events which it is supposed to
be "enacting."  A "Science-Fiction" which is cointually interrupted by
memories, dreams, hallucinatory states of consciousness and the endless
parade of persons employed for the ilm and persons arriving from the
Director's present and past, real and imagainry, real and dreamed, and real
or as ghosts.

Robert Smithson, citing an example from Nabokov, wrote that one could
consider the work going on at a construction site  as "the ruins of the
future in reverse."

"reverse engineering" then becomes a method of time travel, as in the film
of the Satyricon which by traveling into the past becomes a science-fiction
of "ancient Rome"--

"new Technology" enables an ever more acute discovering and measuring and
examination of the past--
so that it is the past which is continually changing, "evolving"
shifting--and becoming evermore complex and ever older--

ever more remote-the more distances the instruments can travel through
time--the farther back the dating of objects and traces are seen to go--

just as the faster one is traveling in space towards the edges of the
universe, the more it recedes from one--an horizon which is vanishing at
ever greater speeds into distances not yet "visible" to the equipments and
instruments at hand--

thus the further into the "future' technology travels, the closer it appears
to be taking one towards the "origins of the universe' at the same time as
the universe itself is feeling ever faster away into the "unknowable

Hyper-text for example is simply another form of allusion, as well as
another form of bibliography.  And, as well, a variation on the radio show
DJs who create their own sound/hyperlinks by moving from one song or spoken
piece to another by a series of linkages that exist within the pieces, as
analogies, associations, puns, jokes and alternate versions, cover versions
and the like.  A good DJ set can take one on voyages around the world and
through time via the sounds of various eras and sites on the planet.  Or a
journey simply through one's record collection, CD collection--bootlegged

with the right equipment at one's disposal--which is available to everyone
pretty much in various forms in any electronics store--
one can create mixes of video sound fotos of one's own and others,
distortions, feedback loops a million variations on the idea of the
hypertext except that rather than having to be extended as it were linearly
as in hypertext--one after another-
one may make them become ever closer together in a form of simultaneity--a
form of implosion--that explodes outwards into noise and inwards into either
the white screen of "emptiness and silence" or the "black hole of the
disappearance of light and sound"--

"the positive and negative" effects which are the yin yang of the screen
Laurent writes of--
in both examples, a disappearance, an "event horizon"--which exists as the
presence of absence made present--

one of the questions with these capabilities now available is in what ways
they may be used to manipulate what is known of as"that which exists at
present" which in turn is to guide what is conceived of, extrapolated from ,
as the "future"--
which in turn is to make the past conform to this future which is created in
the present--

(along the lines of the job Winston Smith has in George Orwell's 1984, in
which the files of events and numbers, Party statements and positions, have
to be updated daily in order to protect there being a continuous and
'prgoressive" development through time of each of the things the Party
teaches of the past being in conformity with the latest version of its own
future in the present which in turn must be able to be altered the next day
in order to conform to a prediction from the past that will be in keeping
with the newly assembled and assigned "developments" in the present

in this way the party is never wrong, all its predictions come true, and the
past is always in keeping with what it needs to be for the purposes of the

there are many ways in which this can be done and are being done at
present--one example is groups like the Boston based CAMERA which seeks to
alter and control the information available on line that pertains to the
State of Israel.  A simple example is the alteration of online maps, so that
al the names of extant and occupied Palestinian villages and refugee camps
are erased and changed into Hebrew names, as though they exist already as
the "real State of Israel" in the present moment.

By having "claimed and made their own" on line, al that needs to be done by
the State is to "fill in the blanks " on the ground so that it conforms ot
the already accepted and "official map" on line.

Since more people may see a map on line than in a classroom text book, it is
clever method of substituting the "future" for the present and past.  In
this way, the existing Palestinian sites may be argued to be themselves
"occupying Israeli lands," and so practically "crying out to be destroyed
and removed from this illegally obtained territory."

An even more extreme and  very wel organized and coordinated  method was
organized beginning last Fall in which the Israel State announced that  this
winter  it was going to unleash an organized "assault" (the term used) on
the media of Facebook, You Tube, My Space and elsewhere on the Web in which
information generated by the Israeli Ministries and the IDF would be
injected in a vast campaign, while at the same time issuing mass drives to
have thousands of videos removed that are on line and which do not show the
Israeli State in the appropriate manner. The removal of various subscribers
is also accomplished by claiming them to be 'threats" due to the names of
the sites they visit or simply for having viewed such and such a video that
is deemed "anti-Israel."

Since Gaza is without electricity as a means to try to respond on line, the
coast is cleared to some extent from the start for the invasion to proceed
without much opposition at first.  IN the speed with which the operation is
launched, before anyone can regroup for a defense of some kind, an enormous
amount of subscribers , informations, videos, images, texts are removed and
eliminated, so that the verisons installed in their places will "fill in" al
the "holes in the narrative."

As is already only too well known and commonly practised, hypertext can be
constructed which are a series of linkages which instead of "educating,
informing, entertaining," become instead intricately composed propaganda
devices.  If hypertext can be thought of as the speeding from one site to
another,  one image to a text or a song to a movie to a voice playing of a
then all these same means may be used to construct "realties' which are
convinclng in their flat assertions of faked evidences as being "the only
real story that needs to be told."

These "hyper/cyber wars" are a new kind of "Star Wars" in which the studios
and sets are built on line rather than physically, and so one can "create
reality," which, as Karl Rove said, is the "job of Imperialism."

These "realities" are used to "prove incontrovertibly"
the existence of things not seen not heard in actuality, but given plenty of
play online.

An example of this confusion between the virtual and the actual occured
during the buildup to the Invasion of Iraq in 2003.  At a crucial meeting
during which  the evidence of  the German held Iraqi defector"Curveball" was
being discussed, while one agent claimed it to be false, another argued for
its truth

When pushed to the limit to explain how the one agent knew that what
Curveball was saying was True"--the response was that the proof "had been
found on the Internet."

"Where do you think  Curveball got it from!!" shouted the opposing agent.

William Burroughs in his works of especially the series The Ticket That
Exploded, the Sot Machine and The Nova Express explored in "science
fictions" the ways in which the methods of Control are constructed and what
may be some of the guerrilla tactics to disrupt these, via playbacks and
cut-ups.  ("Breakthrough inthe Gray Room.")
Burroughs' maternal grandfather was the world famous PR Image Maker Ivy Lee,
who worked  for John D Rockefeller (and was offered work by Hitler), who
created collages of images and words, signs, slogans, radio "pappearnces'
and jingles--al to remake the intensely hated image of John D into a lovable
old guy handing out dimes to anyone on the streets, a just too Sweet to be
true old fella who wouldn't hurt or fleece a soul, but was instead a great
Saint of Philanthropy and Charitable Works and donations.

If the image of a person can be reconfigured from one extreme to
another--why not those of Nation States, Ideologies, Poetries, Histories,
Military triumphs or Defeats, the "body count" of battles that may or not
have existed-- the entire spectrum of human reality can be subjected to the
reworking via hypertext, video, sound recordings, cut-ups, the play on wish
fulfillments and desires, the sexual seduction of incitements to violence
and torture--one sees that the possibilities are endless as well aslo as
anceint--agin the travel into the past in positing a speculative example of
the future--which exits right no, in the present.

On Sat, Mar 21, 2009 at 12:05 AM, Laurent Sauerwein <srwn at me.com> wrote:

> As an artist, I would like to defend the idea that poetry has no future.
> If, as I believe, what we call poetry is always lyrically at once
> purposeful and hesitant (Valery), unstable, equivocal, unresolved,
> then it can only manifest itself in a state of tension that involves
> the reader/viewer/listener/toucher/or otherwise interactor upon the
> act of reading/viewing/listening/touching/interacting.
> In other words poetry - e or not - is always RADICALLY ACTUAL, non?
> So it seems difficult to speculate on various forms of future e-poetry
> when the conditions (technologies for instance) for its creation or
> material manifestation do not yet exist. It's hard to put your head
> under the hood to perform your little 'bricolage' if the vehicle
> hasn't arrived.
> As we're waiting, we can turn to the time table posted on the wall and
> see it as the graphic rendition of what to expect at what precise
> moment. But the poetic value of the time-table lies in its lack of
> precision, in our impatience, longing, boredom, and other forms of
> exasperation. I've done wall drawings of modernist architectural
> renditions, confronting utopia to the grain of the wall. You need an
> obstacle to project on. A screen to both hide and reveal.
> I've always been interested in how science-fiction tells you much less
> about the future than about the time of its creation. It essentially
> betrays the limits of our imagination, or at least it points to the
> actual conditions of its virtual projections.
> I will be 'facilitating' a workshop in August here in Auroville, Tamil
> Nadu, South India. I haven't yet decided on the title, but I will
> invite students to rub virtual and actual, pixel and molecule,
> tangible brick and 3D, utopia and soil together. I believe that if you
> rub vigorously _it_ will produce a few sparks, some of them poetic
> maybe. What _it_ will be cannot be seriously announced, unless we
> canonize wishful thinking as a minor poetic genre. We'll see what we
> will see when we cross that bridge.
> Laurent
> ___________________
> Sent from my iPhone
> ___________________
> Laurent Sauerwein
> Currently in South India
> Twitter: larrysa
> >>
> >>
> >>
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