Distribution Automatique

Thursday, February 27

In response to our discussion of his reading at the Drawing Center on February 25th (with Heriberto Yepez and Kim Rosenfield),- Fait Accompli- is happy to present a response from Rodrigo Toscano, author of "The Disparities," (Green Integer) and a new book "Platform" (Atelos). -Fait Accompli- welcomes letters. Write to us!

Dear Nick,

Thanks for your comments about my work, and for your take (generally) on the reading two nights ago...I agree with what Marianne Shaneen said: that your "johnny appleseeds affection" is, or can be the basis for, a more fruitful and healthy poetic community…

This is my first time "talking to a blog" and so, it's like the first time at anything, a little tentative...and yet, I didn't say anything (to my memory) about your "proselytizing blogs." Yet, those chaotic bar situations!...need more be said?

And then you go on to write, "but don't get mad at him [me]," which can be read as, "Hey, y'all: there's something to be mad at." For the record, I am not "anti-blog." To me, "anti" is something I take very seriously...it takes effort and time (and product) to be an "anti" anything. In fact, when I get the chance, I do read blogs...and yes, I read them critically, but also sympathetically, in that people really stick their necks out on issues sometimes, etc...not easy to do...in any medium.

Also, the "pod" poem ("subject line subscribe (society)") was about all sorts of cyber-community formations. I belong to several lists myself (the reason for which I was motivated to render a still very confusing social-psychology). That is, the piece isn't a "satire" about blogging per se...anyone who wants read it, should hit me at RT5LE9@aol.com...

Also, the following is (to date) the only thing I've written on cyber activity as regards poetry communities etc...it's an excerpt from an interview for a book, Tradiciones Torcidas (Twisted Traditions), An Anthology of Mexican Poetics, edited by Heriberto Yepez...

(thanks Nick!)

H: 1. What are your views on all this on-going discourse of globalization that we seem to be living right now thanks to the Web, for example, what are the risks involved? Would you call it a crisis of sorts? What's to gain? What's to loose?

R: The web has certainly accelerated (if not in many cases made actually possible) the construction of a paranational poetics; communication speed, graphic interfacing, translating devices, cheap viewability, all these things are now indispensable organizational tools for the movement. And it's true that many people are still treating those tools as mere instruments, amplifying activities they were doing through print magazines, anthologies and the like. Yet, even some of these old practices have had their democratic potential upgraded, at least in terms of accessibility of information. For example, an astounding array of texts and sound files from the whole modern era are now just a click away, and virtually anyone has a web-universal right to explore those sights and do what they will with what's found there (the sights are very often easily searchable). Yet other people, or rather, other collective efforts, are more actively exploring the radical qualitative possibilities of such a leap in communicability. What's more interesting to me are the actual coordinating communicative platforms of the web, things like listservs, group e-mail clusters, chat rooms, blogs, etc. The very notion of what constitutes a "proper scope" for political content is definitely going through some major changes. Highly standardized formats for content-for so long policed by journalistic or university-scholarly prose lengths and developmental procedures, are giving way (in the world-of-actual-practices) to completely different forms of communication. And what I find exciting is that a many of those forms are meant to be more comprehensively interactive from the get go. Inscriptionist attitudes, text-monument judgement and veneration is giving way to speech again, but more importantly, a less monological form of speech. But by "speech" I mean something here very different than phone-speech or in-the-flesh speech, and certainly something different than what goes by "speech" in "speech poetry" (a strict, formalized textual procedure by now). Some might say that what I'm talking about is the Parole & Langue distinction, well, maybe I am, to some extant, but here, that conceptual sandwich is so smushed that it's turned Parole / Langue distinction into a sort of meatloaf. But before moving on to the next part of your question, I should add here that people like Alan Sondheim, Brian Kim Stefans, Kenneth Goldsmith, and Nancy Shaw, among others, have definitely been exploring those radical qualitative possibilities of the Web for some time now (recent writings by Barrett Watten have also begun to explore those potentials). And so how to suss out what's real / politically vital about all this, remains a constant activity.

What's to be gained? Well, maybe at first, is to merely bring people into the loop of conversations, debates, and struggles that are already in progress; that people geographically distant from each other may now be able to keep abreast of developments in poetics. I honestly don't find much to be "lost" by the Web in terms of this distance-closing. Some might say that it encourages poets to keep stay at home more, cybering their way to solitary (critical) merriment or gloom. And that's a real option I suppose. But I don't know of any poet who wouldn't rather be whooping it up in person, giving their whippy tongues a live workout. Poets are, for the most part, irrepressible person-mongers (contrary to the popular notion of the lonesome thinker). From my experience, I see the Web as actually adding to that sociability, wetting the palette for such live contact.

-Rodrigo Toscano