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Charles Bernstein, Introduction

Bernstein’s three collections of poetics statements and contributions to the important collection The L=A=N=G… Book have set the agenda for a contemporary, postmodern, experimental aesthetic

His comments on absorptive poetics have set the standard for a postmodern poetics developed from the modernist conception of estrangement to be found in Russian Formalism and of course then picked up on by Brecht amongst others.

Bernstein on absorption:
“By absorption I mean engrossing, engulfing
completely, engaging, arresting attention, reverie...:
belief, conviction, silence.
Impermeability suggests artifice, boredom,
exaggeration, attention scattering, distraction,
digression, interruptive, transgressive,
undecorous, anticonventional, unintegrated, fractured,
fragmented...: skepticism
doubt, noise, resistance “ (Charles Bernstein, A Poetics Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 1992) 29.

Bernstein is committed to poetry in all its possible manifestations and several impossible

Through the Buffalo Ele…

Charles Bernstein and Language Poetics

Have been teaching Bernstein for some years now and last year included him on my MA in Contemporary Literature and Culture at Brunel University, West London. Thought I would post these notes as a general introduction to Charles' work. This begins in a very rudimentary style desgined for all kinds of students who have not encountered Bernstein of Language poetries before.

1. Context: Introduction to Language poetics

So-called Language poetry emerged in 70s West and East Coast USA around journal This and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E

I was ostensibly reacting to the predominant free verse, confessional mode of English language poetry to be found across the US and UK poetry scenes

As a group it looked to build on the formally innovative and socially concerned poetry of American modernism

Picking up on the postmodern innovations of New York School poetry, the groups however had a political edge

Founder poet Bon Perelman defines the Language programme as the following:
“breaking the automatism of the poet…

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

Grow grow grow

wet toes aligned at the edge of a void
as clams
like limpets
at the rocktide's lapline
jump and make something
project out into what was not the void
until you happened and
like a waveretreat
cleaved that into empty

sfunny
the hallway didn't seem so empty until we inherited this hideous armoire
an impassable thouroughfare become itself a placeless place my kids are stranded in the lounge
we cringe and scrape the stairway's foot
stamped once in anger now planted then blooming
Legends:
MAKING IS NOT ALL IT'S MADE OUT TO BE
ANYONE CAN EXPLODE
THINGS HAPPEN, TRY STOPPING THEM bravery comes in the lingering copse of the faithful
not to break nor fashion but
hold on there on that upturned hull
skyborne rescue is not for the likes of us
rather we stubborn we clutch to a boat's expanding shell
while the swell below becomes continuum

no, it isn't in the throw
nor in the wreck as such
but how the swell begins to build
to gather rise and fill beneath our rafting doggedness
to rise, t…

From "lines out of space"

fast (food) thoughts

burgerking has suffered a complete makeover fu-
cking horrible it is but then it must be hard to come second in
late monopoly capitalism as they call it now to us lot or
sometimes yes I call it globalisation but no do not know what that actually
means ends was so simple, supply the demand but in BK at KX what
exactly is the demand for fake lichtensteins on the walls? oh where is the new real? to
add insult to injury or perhaps spicen [sic.] up this hyper-real
salsa, that by the way is when the attractions of reality very
real though they are are outstripped by those re-presented by art or the
media with chilli added , the latest burger is the Mexican big spicy which not only is-
n’t Mexican (burgers aren’t) but you have to specify that you want it regular (a beat)
big regular! or big large that is an option too and it is all about that isn’t it options I

mean? and outside you can buy crack&sex fairly easily which is also
tempting but one must resist because I am tired of th…

Legends

To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer. To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer. To be a great writer one must first learn to be a bad writer and never become a good writer.

Badiou on Deleuze

These are my notes on Badiou's book Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. They are more detailed than I thought and supplement the very popular notes I already have here on Deleuze.


Badiou, Alain. Deleuze: The Clamour of Being. Trans. Louise Burchill. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000

there are two paradigms that govern the manner in which the multiple is thought…the “vital” (or “animal”) paradigm of open multiplicities…/ and the mathematical paradigm of sets, which can also be qualified as “stellar” in Mallarmé’s sense of the word (Badiou, Deleuze 3-4).

· his analysis of Deleuze in the opening pages is designed to re-situate his thought in relation to the traditional metaphysic of the one, expressly so as to undermine the belief that Deleuze’s work is “devoted to the inexhaustible variety of the concrete"” (Badiou, Deleuze 14).
· thus the role of multiplicity here is to liberate being from such variety in an ascetic purification which Deleuze calls being chosen by the in…

Beckett and Badiou, by Andrew Gibson

Am writing a review of this great book and as usual well over the word limit so thought I would post the full text here before I have to cut half of it out and inevitably totally change it.

I am posting it because in the months to come Badiou's conception of poetic thinking will make more and more appearances here and Gibson's book is a great introduction to that.

Book Review: Andrew Gibson, Beckett & Badiou: The Pathos of Intermittency (Oxford, 2007).

This is a rare book in modern times, an academic study of unflinching seriousness, resolutely RAE unfriendly at nearly 300 pages, and one of the few examples of literary criticism that one needs to own and return to and over time. In fact it is not one book at all but at the very least two. In the introduction Gibson himself admits that “my book might be thought of as Janus-faced,” adding “it has a revolving structure, turning alternately in one direction and another.” (B&B 5). Thus, as the title suggests at one moment the …

Legends

Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer mustexperience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least oneapostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every greatwriter must experience at least one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience atleast one apostasy of sense.Every great writer must experience at least one apostasy of sense.

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

2. Dear Darkness

Dear darkness
we are timorous at your edge
ledged in metaphysically small
walled by our illimitable
perimeters of theme and its counter
bound to a dream of light
frightened by their shadow play

Dear darkness
we are hardly here
fear of the unknown has had us thinned
pinned to an apocalypse of sense
henceforth unable to approach
to stroke you, riotous material
feral and fecund, tattered and unwhole

Dear darkness
why is it they tell us that you fall
stalled by metaphor and the promise of relief
stolen from potential
torrents of sodden word worried leaves
returns from beyond the woods
hooded eyes and opened cheeks

Dear darkness
I am laid out on a thought of boat
floating on your bottomlessness
caressed by lapping's lapping
happy to slide beneath or 'tween your tress
trees that bear your fabric on their crown
bend low then let their old defences down dear darkness, it is true

PJ Harvey, White Chalk

For some reason, before even listening to more than a couple of tracks, I knew I could write poems to each of the titles of PJ Harvey's lastest album. So here goes something.

1. The Devil


The devil'
shobbled
sold bad boots
by farrier jones

evil is still got meaning
he spouts as
he limps to town
shitting-stoke-wankshafted-up-twat-on-bastarding-trent
or anywhere really'
show he talks

The devil'
sscuppered
bought bad debts
by broker james

even evil got the blues
he wails as
he punishes a piana
or anyone really'
show he works

The devil'
ssozzled
fed bad booze
by barman jessie

even evil got to die
he chokes as
his vomit'sinhaled
not anything really'
show he joins 'n dis

joins

one shoe shed
a sepia key plucked fingerfree
wettened words that stink of gutsn yeah brim stone if you like, oh
'nd our happiness

Lines in Space

How I imagine Michael, liking my poem not quite enough to...

It was perhaps my finest moment. PN Review, in particular Michael Scmidtt, almost published one of my poems. They liked the work but not quite enough to publish it. Like O'Hara I am too hip for the squares to square for the hipsters. Anyway, it was more than Stand could be bothered to say so in honour of meaningless honours here is my most successful work of art. It is untitled or better tri-titled:

"ein augenblick in der lichtung"

silence a fire’s percussive click cuts
the ciccada’s strum
Zum Zirm
one in the dog valley it
is night here last night to be exact all
is unwrapping in real time then
before the storm in cloud above mountain
on an off like a faulty fluorescent light
in a summer abandoned porta-cabinã
(It’s not as if I am trying to kill romanticism)
or not it does not have to be that way for you I
am not so convinced it was really that way for me
impermeable logic, all can and should be otherwise

"wo ist mein ku…