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

Michael Boughn mboughn at gmail.com
Thu Nov 17 08:27:27 AEDT 2016

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. 

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 like 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 staring at 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 also 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 that has largely been lost to a poetry “market” divided between various careerist and professionalizing tendencies that have dominated the writing and distribution of poetry over the past 40 years. 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 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, was picked up and resent to many more, we responded to the Trump disaster with a call for contributions to an anthology of poetry of resistance. Without three days, the were inundated with positive responses. The editorial group has now expanded to a broad and diverse group of poets who have reached out to 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 crystalization of a latent being-in-common that this tool, this medium, makes possible. We don’t need a central committee.  

 In that immediacy, it potentially 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 proliferations of relation beyond the immediate, not only within the virtual space, but beyond it in the proliferating creation of formations in the rough and tumble  world. At a time when the Trump Doom looms over 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 networks of being-in-common.

Sent from my iPad

> On Nov 16, 2016, at 1:54 PM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> Michael, can you send your statement as a response to this e-mail thread?
> Murat
>> On Tue, Nov 15, 2016 at 10:06 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com> wrote:
>> In his 1954 essay "The Question Concerning Technology," Martin Heiddeger says the following:
>> "The question concerning technology is the question concerning the constellation in which revealing and concealing, in which the coming to presence of truth, comes to pass.
>> But what help is it to us to looking into constellation? We look into the danger and see the growth of the saving power.
>> … How can this happen? Here and now and in little things that we may foster the saving power in its increase. This includes holding always before our eyes the extreme danger…
>> There was a time when it was not technology alone that bore the name techie…. Once there was a time when the bringing forth of the true into the beautiful was called techie. And the poiesis of the fine arts also was called techne…."
>> The "extreme danger" Heiddeger is talking about now is President Trump. He is the master "techie" of words and weaver of lies -- basically an artist of evil spirit, of bad faith singing a siren song to the dejected and hating.
>> The guest contributors this week, Michael Boghn and Jerome Sala, are poets. Sala works inside the entrails of the corporate structure as data analyst and writes his poetry from there. Boghn, along with Kent Johnson, is the co-founder of the poetry blog Dispatches where, in the great anarchist Hakim Bey's (Peter Lamborn Wilson's) words, they want to create an "autonomous zone," a "pirate utopia" of poets within the structure of the internet. Dispatches has organized the first concrete reaction of "poises" in the United States to Trump's election. They are preparing an anthology  that will have I think over 200 poet's/artists' reactions to the election. It will be published the day of Trump's inauguration.
>> From this point on, I will let Michael and Jerome speak for themselves.
>> I invite most devoutly every member on the list to contribute to the discussions,
>> Ciao,
>> Murat
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