Distribution Automatique

Wednesday, July 2

Jean Gier wrote to me back on June 27th and had this to say about machines:

"For some reason I've been picking up on the word "machine" a lot lately, from you and from Clayton Couch, actually. Machine in the pre-computer sense...dynamo, engine. I'm really not sure why, or where that will lead -- I guess I'll let it lead me. Maybe I miss the thunder and roar, the rattle and physicality of the old machines. Computers are so quiet and sneaky! Curious to see how the word, machine, comes up in the poetry blogs. And recently reading Nada Gordon's thesis on Bernadette Mayer -- her phrase, "convergences that create dynamism." Dynamism seems like an old word, now; reminds me of "dynamo." vorticism. Wyndham Lewis.

I'm embarassed to say that I know nothing about Mayer, but after reading just part of Nada's thesis, I'm ready to run down to my local bookstore (which is called "The Literary Guillotine," by the way) and look for a copy..."

These comments of Jean's interested me so much because I had a similar thought when recently, shortly before a software update, my computer started to make clickety-clackety sounds that sounded like gears shifting or the teeth of small gears crunching into one another. I realized that as much as these sounds made me apprehensive that my computer was about to break down, I enjoyed them because the silence of my computer somehow seems eerie and antiseptic. Somehow sounds make machines seem more human, communicative. Sometimes sitting at my computer late at night, when I don't happen to be listening to music, I suddenly take notice of the sounds of the refrigerator, and at times even likened these sounds to speech of some kind; lately the same for the occasionally noticeable sounds of the air conditioner. The other day I was thinking about all the gadgets I depend on, particularly my portable CD player which sometimes rescues me from unpleasant noises in my environment and I remembered a scene from Michaelangelo Anonioni's film "La Notte." A couple, Lidia and Giovanni (portrayed by Jeanne Moreau and Marcello Mastroianni) go to visit their dying friend Tomasso in the hospital. Despite their attempts to reassure him, the situation reeks with alienation; when they leave, Giovanni's bed is filled with his electronic gadgets. Also, it is noticable that in many of Antonioni's films a fan moving back and forth quietly and steadfastedly in a room appears more consistent and reassuring than the lonely, static characters.