12 February 2008

"Books, not records.."

We've made it this long, we can make it one more week til Pierrot le Fou comes out. I can make it.

11 February 2008

Avant, Post-Avant, Pre-Avant...

Crucial to my perception of the avant-garde is how the act of traversing new territory of expression is both tied to the spirit of the forms that preceded it to that end, but not dogmatically to the forms themselves. Ron Silliman’s term ‘post-avant’ or Paul Hoover’s ‘pan-avant’ signify poets whose style relates to a lineage of styles that have been utilized for experimentation. Emphasizing the lineage of style is what creates these discussions where ‘post-avant’ is falsely synonymous with ‘parataxic,’ while the School of Quietude represents the lyrical. The nature of the avant-garde is that all stylistic bets are off, but it is through the spirit of the avant-garde that an avant-gardist would have natural affinities with a lineage such as Silliman’s and the potential utility of the forms created by that lineage. Silliman, though passionate about his views on form, does not limit the term ‘post-avant’ to exclude poets not sharing his stylistic views, as his loose use of the term over the last five years attests.

I am in agreement with most of the basic premises of Renato Poggioli on this topic: that the avant-garde arrived with Romanticism, is a force of nature, and is not comprised by a linear development of dogmatic style but presences of form and personae that light the way to its next incarnation. Poggioli views Rimbaud’s 5-15-1871 letter to Paul Demeny as the document where the spirit of the avant garde is best expressed:

“I say that one must be a seer, make oneself a seer. The poet makes himself a seer by a long, immense, and rational dissoluteness of all the senses... For he arrives at the unknown! Because he has cultivated his soul, already rich, more than anyone else! He reaches the unknown, and when, terrified, he ends up by losing the meaning of his visions, at least he has seen them! Let him die of this bound through the unheard-of and countless things: other horrible workers will come; they will begin from the horizons where the other has succumbed!”

Ignoring now the gender aspects of this letter, we see the qualities of the ‘unknown’ and ‘horizons’ sought, relating to the character of perception, using form as a mere vessel to transport the poet to the undiscovered. I have been most interested in poetry where opacity is rooted in a desire for expression: in Vallejo, Dickinson, Pound, Zukofsky, and Peret, rather than poetry satisfied with its utilization and refinement of form. In new platforms: vispo, soundpo, hypertext, we see both the creation of new vessels and altered landscapes of beauty and expression, and I would be pleasantly surprised if, say, the Poetry Foundation showcased work in these fields, but vessels can only be justified by the selves that guide them, gold delivered from self (Breton: “I seek the gold of time.”) The infinity of the page and line is unchanged amid its familiarity, so I consider the work of Buck Downs more avant-garde than what comes now from new platforms.

Stan Apps and Ron Silliman in their own ways cite the problematics of Eliot’s position towards tradition after Pound’s editing gave Eliot avant-garde credentials. Apps characterized as ‘rear-guardist’ attempts to link an avant-garde to a tradition of the avant-garde, which I disagreed with at the time on account of the examples he cited. As I said above, the avant-garde is both intrinsicly connected with the spirit of the avant garde of the past and the effect of this spirit has had on form, so without any prescribed allegiances to literary form the avant-gardist is bound to echo and reshape what came before. The avant-garde generally knows the forms of the past so as not to reinvent them, and can emerge without such knowledge only by good fortune.

So yes, I believe in the avant-garde both as a matter of faith and as an objective analysis of phenomenon. The avant-garde is neither pacifistic or militaristic so disassociating oneself from the military sound of the term, as Ron does, seems to me an irrelevant contrivance. ‘Post-avant’ is a term more invested in the avant-garde traditions of the past century than the infinite term ‘avant-garde.’ Silliman’s term School of Quietude relates to the systematic hostility of the SoQ to the spirit of these traditions of form, rather than a stylistic tradition of its own of a single lineage. He does place certain stylistic traditions, such as narrative poetry, at odds with the post-avant, but this is a minor aspect of the term and can be seen as a stylistic symptom of antagonism to the avant-garde traditions he defines.

Circles of the avant-garde can be administered but the avant-garde is not administered on a whole and, while determined by historical and economic forces, is not so determined in a uniform pattern or in any singular manner which cannot be overcome.

The statements ‘there is no avant-garde now,’ ‘there is no outside now,’ or ‘everything has been done’ are self-referential admissions of the individual will, unrelated to phenomenon. I am incapable at fathoming the artistic outside now, I wish to do so: a simple and enjoyable state of curiosity.

10 February 2008

Dream journey: I was parked at a convenience store and people I knew were across the lot and I went over to talk to them. I thought it would be a brief discussion but it took a half hour, ending with our looking for the new tires I had bought (4 for $130), admiring the tires on the wrong cars first. When I got to the car I was by myself as the rest of the group threw in the towel on the tire search. Then one of the people from the van next to me was in my car, which was left unlocked with the windows open. When he saw me he and the others got into the van quickly and started to drive away. I asked them for my wallet and they gave it back to me. Despite this incriminating act of consideration, I pursued the car on foot, trying in vain to see and memorize the license plate, following them into a large field adjoining the convenience store that led to the lodge of an alternative community that emigrated from Europe in the early 19th Century and was currently inhabited by aging hippies. The van was part of a group that was trying to take the lodge by force, but to their dismay the alternative community was founded on the virtues of hunting and they were good shots. I ran into the middle of the dirt field after the van and found myself in range of the shootout, stood there for a few moments and then ran behind a metal fence 20 feet away where others had taken shelter. Behind the metal fence there was a path to the lodge, and by the time I got there the shoot out was over, though some of the intruders were alive. The lodge members were friendly and nonchalant and showed me a map of their former territory, when they “would hunt freely a wide swath of plains encompassing hundreds of miles.” A skeleton wearing cowboy gear who lives in a coffin nailed vertically onto the door walked up to me and hugged me. One police car arrived and made arrests. I was hoping that the police would let me see if I could recover any stolen items so I ran up to where they were, about 300 feet from the lodge. I had my hands up but they yelled at me to say where I was and not move. Later, Mitt Romney was explaining the intrusive aspects of the Patriot Act in a stump speech.

09 February 2008

In the name of Poetry

Reginald Shepherd’s dossier on the post-avant says that "the avant-garde isn’t ahead of the guard anymore," whatever that means, noting the preferable state of “passing through the avant-garde.” As people grapple with the significance of AWP this fortnight, I am struck that this vision of “the Third Way” would seem to be more advanced than 99% of the writing programs in the country. The Third Way is the first way without the baggage. The source of the expression, the political sphere, is not a dialectical synthesis as it is an attempt to circumvent such a synthesis by enabling the first way to resist the second by corrupting its institutions and legacy, enabling Britain's entry into the Iraq War, and its aesthetic application remains true to form.

I’m pleased that this point I made last November has been stated again by Josh Clover and Josh Corey, and I’m told that Red Sox pitcher Josh Beckett is preparing a statement. I just need to remind readers that this Spring I’ll be kicking off the promotional campaign for my hair care line Poesy by Ian (TM), featuring Third Way (TM) shampoo, conditioner and mousse with the tag line "the Third Way is the First Way" (TM).

Saxophonist Andrew D'Angelo has brain tumor

On Friday, January 25, 2008 world-renowned saxophonist/composer Andrew D'Angelo suffered a major seizure while driving in Brooklyn, NY. Tests in the hospital revealed a large tumor in his brain. Andrew will undergo brain surgery at some point in the next few weeks. At this time, it is believed that the tumor is not cancerous, but this will not be confirmed until a biopsy is performed.

Andrew is providing updates on his experiences in the hospital via his new blog at www.andrewdangelo.com.

Like many Americans, Andrew has no health insurance. A fund has been established to help with the costs of his surgery and recovery. Donations can be sent via PayPal at donate@andrewdangelo.com. We deeply appreciate any efforts that can be made to spread the word about Andrew's situation.

Benefit concerts are currently being planned for New York City, Seattle, Reykjavik, and Boston. The first will be at the Tea Lounge on Union St. in Brooklyn on February 22, 2008. More information about these concerts will be posted on www.andrewdangelo.com as soon as it is available.

Visitors to the site can also join a mailing list for updates on Andrew's condition.

Andrew D'Angelo, born 1966 in Seattle, Washington is one of the key members of Brooklyn's avant-garde jazz community. His work as a composer, performer, and bandleader has been a pivotal influence on his peers, as well as on younger generations of musicians. Andrew first achieved worldwide notoriety as a member of Human Feel with his longtime friends Jim Black, Chris Speed, and Kurt Rosenwinkel. After moving to Brooklyn in 1986 he joined the downtown music community centered around the Knitting Factory, working with musicians like Mark Dresser, Erik Friedlander, Bobby Previte, and many other leading artists. He is also currently a member of the Matt Wilson Quartet and Hilmar Jensson's band Tyft. Skirl Records released "Skadra Degis," the debut of Andrew's trio with Jim Black and Trevor Dunn on January 31, 2008.

For more information, please visit www.andrewdangelo.com. Phone: 917-443-7904, info@andrewdangelo.com

06 February 2008

Some Manolo

Traca tra traca tra
ay, ole arsa y toma
tran trabili trabili tran tran tran
trabili trabili trero
arsa y toma, arsa y toma
trabili tran
ay, lemon seller,
give me some lemonade

I’m a gypsy,
made from the salt of Cádiz

Guitar: Manolo Sanlúcar
Cante: Diego Carrasco

05 February 2008

It's mild enough now that I can sit outside in the evening. At six, it was getting a bit colder and I said 'it's not the last nightfall' and went in. Then I said 'It's not the first, either' and am going back out.