Friday, September 29, 2006


Thank you to Alex and Steve for having me at the Openned night on Thursday. It was unnerving yet kind of cool not to be able to hide behind my laptop, despite the fact that most of my newer work requires some kind of interaction with it.

Alas, no cat, pawing the wine list for a fine white Shiraz, or maybe something a bit more special.

I read some of a Perl poem, as yet untitled and unfinished, and 4 sections of a fully page-based work in progress, the maniscript title of which will be Name Calling.

Here's a section from the other night (minus the spacing - thanks, HTML.):

It’s easy to jetcrash

It’s easy to jetcrash
a sleek urban castration
mental filled to bursting — so too is a reasonably sober

flaming government
necessarily anti-gay
dissociably SHIT
feminism on your laptop
she’s fit, fine and voluntarily dressed —
what do you mean you’ve never done time?
Bullying victims allow themselves sympathy fucks

power-system pop-up
spelling vs. cleaning
talking and moving

you fear
of fear
you need the news you fear your children’s money
smacking and the dogs—
we only fight in public
street cancer and
the example skin looked better

Fair and balanced means having the last word, according to Fox News

This absolutely infuriating video clip encompasses the American conservative approach to "fair and balanced" argument, i.e the assertion that any challenge is incorrect because they, the right, are, erm, right, whereas any opposition to their opinion is based on ignorance.

Note here that the presenter's responses - themselves irresponsible coming from a 'journalist' - contain no actual argument, but instead aim always to have the last say, that last say being an essential dismissal of the opposing argument.

"Fair and balanced"? Well, not really. When an interview such as this is conducted, it is itself a response to that which it is addressing. This means that Senator Boxor's comments are the balance. They are a response, the voicing of the other side of the opinion about the success of the war in Iraq. Jane Skinner's response serves to bring the argument swinging back over to the right, in an aggressive attempt to close the argument in a way which undermines Boxer's comments. A "thank you, Senator, but viewers - please remember that her comments are worth overshadowing with my own" if ever I heard one. Let's not forget that closing arguments are often the most poignant and will stick in the heads of the viewer.

I've laboured this metaphor repeatedly to my friends, that journalists should be like butlers - they should deliver the news and be pretty much unnoticed. No attention to the self, no personal opinions. The BBC achieves this pretty well, as does, to a large extent, CNN. Whereas a year ago I would have taken with a pinch of salt any assertion that Fox News is a skillfully veiled propaganda machine, over the past months I am certain of it.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Tim Gunn Sez (for Charles Jensen)

Monday, September 25, 2006

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Search for God. ::?::

Friday, September 22, 2006


I'm reading for something like the first time in a year, at this event, and I'm going to try out some new material. It's at the Foundry, which I believe had a cat at some point. I hope he doesn't have a prior engagement.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

iPods are silly, says Elton

According to his recent appearance on the Tonight Show, Elton John says iPods are "silly.

"I don't have a silly iPod. I like to go buy the whole artist's work. If I'm going to watch My Name is Earl [in reference to the fact that the show's star, Jason Lee, was sitting next to him], I'm not going to just go and watch one program, I'm going to watch the DVD of the first series, and I'm going to watch the whole thing together."

As the article rightly points out, many, if not most iPod users will in fact download entire albums, and, as an iPod owner myself, I can safely say that I still favour buying a CD, artwork, tangible object and all, and ripping it to my iPod. Regardless of any nostalgic feelings I might have for the CD as art-object, or the integrity of the artist's art, I do this for a) the quality; b) the fact that I have a physical version of the music outside of my very crashable and information-destroying computer.

Integrity brings me on to my next point, and one which Elton John perhaps chooses to ignore. His comment presupposes that an artist's work is always worth buying in whole. People would be sure to download entire albums if they wanted to, i.e. if they believe the content justified it. But if all of the people downloading an artist's work were to be downloading only one or two songs from an album of 10-15 tracks, this would imply the album is more filler than killer. Perhaps this consumer freedom is great for the consumer? For once, the consumer can decide what she buys, and yes, this is a good thing. It means that we are no longer forced to part with more money than our musical tastes dictate. All of a sudden, this does not seem so silly.

If John is worried about artists' incomes, the point is similarly moot. People are put off the idea of buying an entire album they won't like. but one song they love for less than £1 / $1? That's far more palitable, and it's money in the pockets of the artist where it wouldn't have been before.

However, I believe John's attitude to be nothing more than snobbery based on traditional nostalgia, and a lack of faith in the music-loving public. His association of a music player with its owner's unwillingness to appreciate a hollistic approach to music or an artist is bafflingly wrong.

Still, when someone as pointedly unsilly as Elton John says something's silly, it probably is...

Sunday, September 17, 2006

Plastic Projects Evening, Windsor

A couple of friends, in their corporate identity, are putting on the following monthly event. I haven't had a chance to catch any yet, since I've been out of the country, but it sounds interesting.

If you are in the UK, try it out?

Saturday, September 16, 2006

Short Poem

Still up late and too bed late... sorry for the filler. I already posted this on Charlie's blog. I apologise for these sporadic duplications. Just proving I still care about this blog!

recent writings.....


pale-face reunion

my brother smokes like mouth-to-mouth
regulatory deadline for
not ok

overweight mercy rule
but saving
embraced her
father believes

Naomi's lung
is European
whereas I

walk soup
conventions of the sea
familiar objects
my captive audience
lies still

Thursday, September 14, 2006

Call for Papers: Susan Howe: A Celebration

I received the following call for papers for inclusion for How2, and thought I'd pop it up here too...

Call for Papers

Susan Howe: A Celebration

The University of Sussex in conjunction with the University of Southampton will be hosting a conference on the work of the poet Susan Howe on June 18th and 19th 2007. This two-day event will include a reading by and panel discussion with the poet herself, and a performance by the experimental musician, David Grubbs, with whom she has recently collaborated on a series of interdisciplinary projects.

Susan Howe is a unique figure in twentieth century poetry. Her work came to prominence in the early 1990s in association with the American Language poets, but quickly set its own agenda outside these parameters. From her first career as an artist, Howe brought an intense sensitivity to the visual dimensions of the text, producing a diverse body of work that has continually probed the borders between poetry and other disciplines and media. In its unorthodox readings of the American canon, its obsessive interest in history and what the official narratives of history exclude, Howe's work is unrelenting in its capacity to surprise and stimulate us.

In this, the first conference devoted to her work, we aim to recognize the impact Howe's writing has had on contemporary poetics, and to provide a focus for new critical approaches to her poetry.

We invite proposals for 20 minute papers on any aspect of Susan Howe's work. Please send an abstract of no more than 250 words to both Christina Makris and Catherine Martin by September 25th 2006.


Wednesday, September 13, 2006

I hate flying East

because it's taken me 4 days to get anywhere close to functional. This blog has suffered recently due to packing, last-minute dilly-dallying and my body's inability on this ocassion to shake off the jet lag.

Onward with the blog, onward.

Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Michael Moore and the Gays vs. Preachers in Cowboy Hats

If there was ever a reason to be disgusted with the funda-mentalist, far right-wing Christian mentality (and there was), then this is it:

Michael Moore with a humorous take on an outrageous ignorance. It makes me angry at the hypocricy which sprouts propaganda of a hateful God followed by disrespectful, closed-minded individuals.

What makes these people even more infuriating is that the divine infallibility which they claim to possess is by its very nature indisputable, without the slightest piece of sane judgement or proof being necessary.

The song at the end is genius, and the woman is crazy. CRAZY.

Roundup, pt 3

Generative art is a murky area. Ranging from conceptually fascinating and interesting work to little more than wallpaper, its satisfaction level is not always guaranteed. Kind of like the Oulipo movement, in which mathematical constraints were applied to text, or multiple choice and random elements were incorporated into the text's production. This often sounds better in terms of the concepts discussed rather than necessarily the texts produced.

A piece which I stumbled upon recently stuck me as pretty interesting, until I really began thinking about what was happening. It's focus is not on textual output (in the respect of producing a text) and yet, ironically, this is what makes it such an interesting application.

Happy Sad Computer - an application which I'm afraid is for Mac OS X only - needs an internet connection. It scans through internet pages, following links and scanning those pages, then following those links, etc. It looks at the language in these pages and becomes increasingly happy or sad depending on the language in the pages. If it cannot find a link (presumably) the application begins again from a random list of web sites it knows.

Screenshot from Happy Sad Computer. Pressing the space bar toggles between the visibility of the URLs being visited

Disconcertingly, the face often ends up sobbing buckets of electrotears rather than bearing a cybergrin. This is perhaps unsuprising since it appears to begin its scan on CNN, and as everyone knows, good news is no news.

I guess what interests me most about this piece is how it treats linguistic components objectively, and thus invites the consideration that the system of language is riddled with ironies, double-meanings, metaphor, all compunded by sound byte jargon. I imagine, for example, the expression "friendly fire" having an interesting impact on the face's mood.

Also interesting is the paths which the application ends up pursuing, as links from one page to another take the scanning process seemingly to the other end of the cyberspectrum, highlighting the fact that "each text contained in an electronic network is in active dialogue with the others" (quote, Brian Kim Stefans, Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics p.129)

Anyway, it's an interesting and free way to pass the time for 5 minutes. I think, in light of the above, that such investigations are very closely linked to the kinds of inquiry which make hypertext theory and the writing which can come out of it fascinating and unique. Happy Sad Computer deals with language in a way which is reflective of the objectified scans of a robot, and applied to the subjective realm of emotion, and as such, it functions as an interesting engagement with language at the multiple tiers of interpretation which occur in a networked process of electronic parsing and reader (human) inference.

Friday, September 01, 2006