[-empyre-] Starting the Third Week: Michael Boghn and Jerome Sala

Murat Nemet-Nejat muratnn at gmail.com
Thu Nov 17 04:04:47 AEDT 2016

Michael, it would be great if it could occur the day of the inauguration :)

On Wed, Nov 16, 2016 at 8:08 AM, Michael Boughn <mboughn at rogers.com> wrote:

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I apologize for the delay in posting this, but I have had a lot of trouble
> figuring out the system.
> I am probably older than most people in this group. I first came to
> computers when I was in my early 40’s and in grad school in Buffalo. I had
> spent years working in various industrial situations, much of the time
> organizing for what I later came to see as a communist cult but which at
> the time was the vehicle for my passion about justice. The computer was a
> Kapro and it belonged to the guys who lived downstairs from my friend,
> Peter. You had to build those computers from scratch and they looked like
> the grown up spawn of an Erector Set. I thought the hype was way overblown,
> especially watching one of the guys play slo-mo pong, the lurid green dot
> slowly moving back and forth between two moving lines on the black screen.
> But then they started talking about MIT and about *going there* to *talk
> with* some people and get some software. Going there? Talking? It was my
> first glimpse of the possibility of a new mode of relation, of coming
> together in intangible spaces for the purpose of talking and of being in
> common. It wasn’t *very* common then outside small circles of computer
> pioneers and pirates. But soon there were Compuserve chat rooms. And then
> there was Facebook.
> I can’t say *Facebook *without feeling physically my deep ambivalence.
> It’s an enormous echo chamber where your friends endlessly broadcast their
> political preferences to other people just like them, as if it mattered, as
> if repeating their brand preference over and over was going to make a
> difference. Meanwhile they sit at their desks in front of a screen counting
> their likes. But I have also had some amazingly complex and important
> exchanges on Facebook, exchanges that led to further engagements in, as
> they say, the flesh. I have met people I would never have met otherwise,
> and renewed old relationships that otherwise would have been lost forever.
> So as much as the virtual community on Facebook is a narcissistic
> echo-chamber, it is simultaneously a place of actual relation, of being in
> common that has enriched my life.
> I was thinking about that being in common when, together with Kent
> Johnson, I launched the web site Dispatches from the Poetry Wars in April
> of this year. Kent and I share a commitment to poetry as a particular mode
> of knowledge connected to the writing Donald Allen brought together in *The
> New American Poetry *in 1960. That relation to poetry has largely been
> lost to a poetry “market” that arose within the neo-liberal
> counter-revolution of the 1980s and 1990s. Poetry became divided between
> various careerist and professionalizing tendencies that have dominated its
> writing and distribution in the years since. The consolidation of a
> professional avant-garde on the one hand (the “left” hand), and the rise of
> the corporate funded and operated Poetry Foundation on the other (“right”
> hand), dispersed and dispirited many ordinary communities of poets that had
> been empowered in the years after Allen’s anthology was published.
> Dispatches from the Poetry Wars was imagined as a popular, anarchist
> counter punch to those two Offices of the Administration. Aside from the
> satirical critique of the MFA/Creative Writing axis and the Professional
> Avant-Garde axis, Dispatches is a kind of virtual pirate utopia or
> temporary autonomous zone within which a previously unknown or lost
> being-in-common is coming together, making itself known to itself. In the
> past this would have been done in print publications like Ed Sanders’ *Fuck
> You: A Magazine of the Arts*, John Clarke’s *intent.: a newsletter of
> talk, thinking, and document*, Ken Warren’s *House Organ*, The Institute
> of Further Study’s *The Magazine of Further Studies*, or numerous other
> under the radar publications. The difference is that the space/medium that
> the computer offers allows for almost instantaneous connection and
> communication. Rather than waiting 3 or 4 months for the next magazine to
> appear in your mailbox, the conversation goes on continually in its
> immediate finitude. Actual arguments take place in nearly real time. Errors
> are addressed and dealt with. It is immediately responsive.
> In the last week, beginning with an announcement at Dispatches that went
> out to 200 poets and was picked up and reposted to many more, we responded
> to the Trump disaster with a call for contributions to an anthology of
> poetry of resistance to the new fascist movement. Within three days, we
> were inundated with positive responses. Using the speed of the internet,
> the editorial group has now expanded to a broad and diverse group of 10
> poets, each of whom has reached out to 10-20 of their friends. The book now
> has 200+ contributors lined up. We hope to publish it as an INITIAL act of
> resistance shortly after Trump’s inauguration. It is the sudden
> crystallization of a latent being-in-common that this tool, this medium,
> makes possible. We don’t need a central committee because we have the
> internet.
> That immediacy energizes the being-in-common in ways that intensify the
> resistance to the Administration’s professionalized death formations (see,
> for instance, The Poetry Foundation website, or The Great Philadelphia
> Poetry Warehouse and Media Centre), and creates opportunities for further
> proliferation of relation beyond the immediate, not only within the virtual
> space, but beyond it in the creation of formations in the rough and tumble
> world. The anthology then will become a kind of decentered centre which
> will provoke occasions for coming together in the world. At a time when the
> Trump Doom looms before us in its authoritarian darkness, such small
> centres of life and thinking are what we have to hold on to to keep the
> light alive and extend the resistance in more and more networks of
> being-in-common.
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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