[-empyre-] Starting the Fourth Week: Chris Funkhauser, Sally Silvers and Bruce Andrews

Bruce Andrews andrews at fordham.edu
Thu Nov 24 10:29:00 AEDT 2016

Hi all — finally figured out a little more about the interface [one of my
least favorite words] & receiving messages intriguingly dated many hours
ahead — from Australia — so it's already Thanksgiving the day before.

Thanks, on Thanksgiving [with recent political events, e.g. the
trumpocalypse, having disrupted so many things I was hoping for & hoping to
give thanks for], Murat, for your Intro.

Nice to think of the Poetry Project as a site for adventurous exploring —
certainly it's where I first had a chance to talk with you (often about
matters political, Turkey, etc. — I started going there, & getting to read
every couple years, right after arriving in NYC in 1975, to take a job as a
Political Science professor [American Imperialism my specialty] wch lasted
38 of the 41 years since).

The so-called 'Language Poets' actually tended to question whether the
consensus 'New York School/Beat' styles honored at the PProject was really
still devoted to adventurously "exploring the outer limits and
possibilities" of the medium: our aesthetics had taken shape in the early
to mid 1970s, mostly outside of NY & hashed out in the mail rather than
face to face in any community 'scene'. We did want to focus attention on
language itself as the medium, but I'm not ready to embrace some of your
characterization:  words & letters are not non-referential, but we liked to
organize them in other ways beside what they were pointing to (which was
too often, for us, the author's personalizing experience or expressiveness
or traditional lyric expectations). We tended to want the readers'
experience at the center — which cuts against some of this binary of yours
about the sensual, movement-based vs. logical aspects of language. If I had
to choose sides there, I'd always go with movement & the sensory, as a way
to 'volatilize' & 'capacitate' its potential readers; my own writing
certainly doesn't get much acclaim for being "logical". But I'd rather step
outside any polemical wrangling about the poetry we do & keep things
focused on the digital front:  for instance, whether an online presentation
tends to help or hinder the kinds of reading that put movement & the senses
in the forefront.

On your question:  I don't think that verbal language is basically a
self-referential system; instead, it seems more like a messy hybrid. And so
is what happens via the computer & the web: this may be distinctive as a
linguistic/communicative arrangement, but that's not exactly what I see in
the idea of it creating its own system. So if there's an "exchange" it's a
mutual bending (which might be way too mutually disruptive to warrant being
called a "synthesis"). Maybe that's more like the relationship between a
'dialect' & an 'official' language — [and by the way, doesn't "the
dialectic" typically end up in a synthesis]?

On Tue, Nov 22, 2016 at 8:58 AM, Murat Nemet-Nejat <muratnn at gmail.com>

> ----------empyre- soft-skinned space----------------------
> I have known these week's guest participants or been familiar with their
> works for years. They have all been, directly or indirectly,  part of the
> Poetry Project poetry and art community. A spirit of adventure exploring
> the outer limits and possibilities each of his or her own media that has
> been the characteristic of the place since 1960's for fifty years permeates
> all of them.
> I met Chris Funkhauser first in 1994 during a Poetry Project symposium on
> "Revolutionary Poetry." He and his friend Belle Gironde --both University
> of Albany students at the time-- along with three other young people had
> organized an "unofficial" workshop on "Poetry and Technology" that, if I
> remember correctly, had set up its tent out in the garden of the church. I
> was a member of the final panel that presented overviews of the symposium.
> As part of my preparation, I visited the workshop. I was so struck by what
> they were doing, by the spirit of Dada in their manifesto of the virtual
> --yes, the possibilities of a virtual poetry was infused with Dada mojo at
> the time-- that I spent a final, significant portion of my talk on that
> workshop. I felt what the workshop was saying contained a significant
> portion of the revolutionary spirit the symposium was searching for. Chris
> and I remained friends ever since. Interestingly, Bruce Andrews, the second
> guest participant this week, was another member of that panel also.
> Here are two passages from "Takes or Mis-takes from the Revolutionary
> Symposium, The Poetry Project, May 5-8, 1994," the second being its ending.
> The talk consisted of quotations from the symposium (peppered with my
> reactions):
> "What's the difference between God and virtual God?"
> "Virtual God is real." It's the software programer.
> "From The Poetry and Technology workshop: 'Give free shit to lure them….
> Commodity lives," Eric Swensen, the 'Enema' of Necro Enema Amalgamated,
> producers of the manifesto BLAM!"
> Bruce Andrew was with Charles Bernstein the co-editor of the ground
> breaking poetry magazine L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E which, as the "=" signs in the
> title implies, ushered a new attitude towards poetry and language. Letters,
> words relate more to each other than to a referential point outside. The
> result was the transforming (and influential on younger poets) poetry
> movement Language School of which Bruce is a key member. As a poet, I have
> had serious disagreements with strict (in my view, almost fundementalist)
> take on language the movement embodies. I come from the East (Turkey).
> Though equally exploring, my view of language is different, more sensual,
> based on movement than logic. I tried to bring these qualities to English
> language and American poetry though my concept of Eda. On the other, I must
> admit the poetry of my friends in the States inevitably bent the direction
> of my work. I believe Eda will do, and is already doing, the same even
> though though the effect is not totally visible yet.
> There is one question I  would like very much Bruce to explore, if at all
> possible, among many others. The computer seems to create its own
> linguistic/communicative system. If verbal language also is basically a
> self-referential system, how do you see the possibility of exchange between
> these two entities? Is it at all, possible? If so, what has to bend to
> accommodate the other? In other words, is the relationship towards
> synthesis or always dialectical?
> I saw Sally Silvers dance for the first time years ago during a Poetry
> Project New Years' Day Marathon. I was immediate struck by the uniqueness
> and originality of her dance. Over the years I tried to answer that
> question because I felt it said something important, not only about but
> beyond dance. Gradually, a picture emerged. Even watching avant-garde or
> "experimental" dancers, I always feel that their movements are rehashed,
> coming out of a repertoire of established avant grade movements. There was
> nothing of that in Sally Silver's dancing. Every movement was itself,
> nothing  more, nothing less. The movements had a solidity, embodying the
> reality of gravity that run through them and shaped them. That earth bound
> clarity was a thrilling thing to see. I am looking forward to what she has
> to say about dance or anything else.
> All the Empyre members, welcome to the fourth week.
> Ciao,
> Murat
> _______________________________________________
> empyre forum
> empyre at lists.artdesign.unsw.edu.au
> http://empyre.library.cornell.edu
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