From Bedient again –

As it feeds on bygone texts, conceptualism may be marooned in the bottoms of a melancholy attraction to dead zones. How various are its ruins: consider decorative ruins, as in Elizabeth Clark’s graphically pretty reduction of Raymond Roussel’s New Impressions of Africa to its punctuation; exhausting tabulatory ruins, archived debris, as in Brian Joseph Davis’s compilation of 5,000 film tag lines; abstraction ruins, witness Dworkin’s Parse (2008), which cannibalizes words about grammar with the grammatical terms for the words; arbitrary-emphasis ruins, as in Goldsmith’s obsessive compilation of phrases ending in “r” sounds or, in a reverse move, the graphic de-emphasis in M. NourbeSe Philip’s Zong! (2008) and Rachel Zolf’s “Messenger,” their barely legible 6–8 percent gray font; and, to make an end, ruins by over-extension, including paragraphs or stanzas deliberately stupid with repetition. (“Against Conceptualism”)

What’s the line, question to self, between ruination & compost?



This too from Bedient, on a day when the nation’s highest court has affirmed that whole principalities of desire once loathed belong wholly now to our body politic. That this many more faces of our libido belong now to human dignity.

[D]etachment from affects means … suppression of the psyche’s outspokenness, which is vital to its health, and a stop to the sociopolitical usefulness of both the libido and the rougher emotions. These emotions fuel what Stéphane Hessel, one of the shapers of the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, celebrates as “indignation” in Time for Outrage, Indignez-vous! (2011). This new neutrality also stultifies the creation in art of major new aesthetic affects, distinct universes of feeling: Moby-Dick putting forward one affect, Wuthering Heights another; Rilke his, Rothko his; and so on.

Each work we call great is its own cri de coeur. Wonder if that much at least great art and great legal cases have in common.

Stray thought or three more on conceptual poetry

This not just in (2013) from Calvin Bedient on conceptual poetry:

Writers who pride themselves on conceiving projects and executing them according to plan – thus relatively indifferent to the intrinsic value of what is produced and to the quality of the production itself – neglect life values, which include a trembling web of receptivity, sharply interested observation, the ability to make instant adjustments, and organic developments within a constantly changing context, all properties as important to lyric poets as to cats. (“Against Conceptualism”)

And I am, like a tree with two cows in it, of two minds here. I quiver like a plucked lyrestring to notions of a “trembling web of receptivity” and organic alterations responsive to a “constantly changing context.” I’m also coolly alert to how the phrases are calculus to make me quiver and bow to them.

If it’s that conceptual is a way to do poetry, I’m down w/ that.

If it’s, conceptual is the way to do poetry, got no patience w/ that.

Can never say what its fans are fanning, which article, for sure.

This one is just, okay, sweet. I mean it’s kind, gentle, open, bighearted, fun and funny. So maybe also it’s got a rigorous generative procedure behind it and also linguistic resonances available only to initiates. Who cares, it offers its pleasure to any willing to inhale, to inspire.



(Craig Dworkin, Remotes)

I’ll write more on this one maybe at a later mote. For now just this. Sometimes the cells walls between conceptual poetry & affective poetry & autobiographical poetry (the dedication: “for Miles, and / the time being”) & visual poetry (these are typewritten and every ‘s’ and ‘d’ is twice struck, plurals, pasts) are porous unto nought.

This wee gist has thought & heart & eye & ear & a moving body. I think Craig might assent to calling it a “conceptual poem”? But it affirms everything Bedient says conceptual poetry refuses.

And. Yet. For the most part I’m with Bedient there. Hells yeah.