Distribution Automatique

Saturday, February 15

It is a commonplace truism that we humans will not turn off our tv sets, go outside and and raise a ruckus with our governments until shortly before the world is about to risk total annhilation. The online journal -Common Dreams- reported that 400,000 people attended the peace rally around First Avenue and 55th Street today (NY 1 claimed 100,0000.) I was there, as were people in 600 cities throughout the world, trying to get a hearing. My friend Drew Gardner suggested on his blog that some poets (we had our own feeder march) bring along some toy instruments. The sound of those instruments sent my memories straight back to the 60's. I remembered that at all demonstrations, be-ins, love-ins you would hear the sound of ocarinas, recorders, flutes, tabourines ("Hey Mr. Tambourine man play a song for me," sang Bob Dylan). These small sensual details lead back into countless memories, innumerable moments and feelings, otherwise lost. It is that need to just live that preserves what I have sometimes called the necessary "forgettery" that corresponds to our tendency to preserve a growing store of painful memories. Other associations redolent with the 60's: pointed, frequently very interesting, hearfelt conversations with strangers.The woman who noticed us walking with our protest signs, stopping us momentarily with smiles and congratulations; the man who deftly and intelligently presented us with a Palestinian's point of view on dissident politics as we rode uptown together on the subway.
2/ The screen on my watch showing the calendar went blank so I don't know the date. Sarasota, Florida. Listening to Britton String Quartet. February 18, 1999. A feeling of entering another phase, another chapter. The coincidence of dates, perhaps. But these numbers have an actual force of their own, which goes very deep into human consciousness. Everywhere you look, numbers are gigantically increasing, a general expansion.

I've never felt so satisfied in my life. Gradually, this is changing my perspective on everything. You can never overestimate how much more direct it is possible to be.

You can never be dressed very far previous to the next act. You can see it coming, but you still don't know what it will feel like. To know what things feel like is to actually go through the experience and know what it is. But very far previous to the experience you can obviously anticipate it (this plane requires a great deal of time).

Instinctively we long to move inside of things. We are natural cave-dwellers or spelunkers like Clark Coolidge. Especially readers- as time goes by, many want to experience going more "inside." The solution to all this is very possibly connected with being direct. Probably the setting should be very direct. These perceptions have to be right on the nose. It's important to get there- there's something I need to know. But how about when you know you don't know, but you know there is something specific you'd better find out about. So you start to read. Soon you find out that resources of information are important here. This boils down to specific people who know how to do it. This particular kind of knowingness borders on technique, sometimes even technology. This distinction is not unlimited either. There is a feeling your way there for what clicks.

Feathers in the files. In my dream last night I came across some feathers and I said: "These are the feathers in the files," as I was overjoyed that I had actually found these things. Then just before I wrote this, I opened (my book) "Theoretical Objects" at random and I opened it to the poem with this line, "Feathers in the files." In the same poem I came across another connection. Frank Sinatra. The night before I noticed Pete Hamill's book on Sinatra, no doubt Bill Simon's, since we're staying here at his place. These connections spread out laterally across time zones which interconnect. (February 18, 1999)
People who don't know how to say, or dislike saying, vague things are often silent and always unhappy. (Paul Valery -Analects-)

Friday, February 14

So sweet is thy discourse to me
And so delightfull is thy sight
As I taste nothing right but thee.
O why invented Nature light?
Was it alone for beauties sake?
That her grac't words might better take?

No more can I old joyes recall:
They now to me become unknowne.
Not seeming to have been at all.
Alas, how soone is this love growne
To such a spreading height in me
As with it all must shadowed be!

(Campion, 1557-1620)

A beautiful sunny Valentines day. I hope Toni- and all of you - enjoy the lyric above by Campion.

I know that it has come as a surprise to countless people how quickly things happen in the online universe. For example, a peace event involving multiple millions of people throughout the world would obviously have taken months to organize in the heyday of snail mail and possibly could never have been coordinated at all. By now it is a truism to assert that the web is formidiable force for change.

A similar rapid evolution is obvioiusly taking place in literary publishing. I was excited to see that Laurable mentioned my blog on her site and I see that this site has done a lot to encourage blog publishing.
Happy Valentines Day, Laurable! Find this informative site, including much poetry audio at http://laurable.com/log/ Thanks also to Jordan Davis.
Woke up with this thought today: music is more and more finding a place in contemporary poetry. I thought of Nada Gordon's reading scheduled at the Poetry Project for Wednesday, February 19th (with Steve Katz). She said recently on her blog that she plans to sing a new song and I remembered the Drawing Center reading not long ago where afterwards I asked her what she needs the poetry scene for if she can sing like that! Her friend Marianne said, the poetry scene needs her! It certainly does. Also, recently Steve Benson (he read with "The Buddha" Andy Levy) gave a very funny, and affecting reading at the Bowery Poetry Club. Steve Benson improvises his readings on the spot, maybe with some plan in mind.This improv contained a lot of hilarious questions which led (as they often do) to still more hilarious questions, some serious ones, some whimsical ones. I remembered that the closing reading at the Ear Inn many years ago was given by Steve, also improvisational, as a duet with a sax player.

Drew Gardner's recent reading at the Bowery Poetry Club included his use of an electric piano- he 's an accomplished professional musician - and the reading was quite a hit there, the audience calling for an encore. Today I received a message from Drew calling on poets to bring disposable or cheap instruments, tin whistles, maracas, whatever, to the Peace March tomorrow, Saturday the 15th. Now I'm looking forward to the peace march more than ever. I remember my kindergarten teacher telling me I was great on rhythm sticks. Poets For Peace meets at 59th Street and 1st Avenue at 11 a.m.

Yesterday, immediately after I posted my message here about Jackson I received an email containing a call for contributions towards the 50th Anniversary presentation of John Cage's Williams Mix- Larry Austin's "Williams (re) mix...stallation" at Engine 27, NYC, March 2003. This is an open call for uploaded soundfiles to be included in the performance/installation. I enjoyed the synchronicity of receiving this announcement concerning John Cage at that moment since he was a friend and mentor of Jackson's.

Speaking of contemporary music, the incomparable Shelley Hirsch will be performing voice and electronics at PS 1 on Saturday, February 22 at 4:30 p.m. Admission is free

Thursday, February 13

Jackson has also said that there is no particular syle of poetry he favors, and that he likes a good poem in any style, so I don't think he meant, in saying "there is altogether too much liking and disliking" that one should suppress enthusiasm or not be critical. I had the feeling he was talking about going to museums and art galleries or even movies and overhearing coversations where reactions often seem to be not allowing time for fully absorbing and encompassing an experience. This leads into my recent preoccupation with the positive side of ambivalence. The ability to tolerate ambivalence, or ambiguity, can create an opportunity to wonder, to wander, daydream, to think, to puzzle or figure things out. Full circle: isn't this often what is wanted from artistic experience in the first place?

Ran into Jackson Mac Low at the Met the other day. After a particular work was pointed out to him he said: "In art there is altogether too much liking and disliking." Strange thing is, I've been thinking the same thing myself lately.

"How often could things be remedied by a word. How often is it left unspoken." (Norman Douglas, "An Almanac"), 1945

"The voice of the intellect is a soft one, but it does not rest till it has gained a hearing." (Freud,"The Future of an Illusion" ), 1927

"Even stones have a love, a love that seeks the ground." (Meister Eckhart), c. 1260-1327

"How could there be laughter, how can there be pleasure, when the whole world is burning?" (the Dhammapada), probably 3rd century b.c.

"Well being is attained little by little, and nevertheless it is no little thing." (Zeno of Atium) 4th-3rd century b.c.

Tuesday, February 11


I take it as a given that the past, present and future are one. One big bang, hey? This is not meant to imply some kind of fatalism. I can remember, hear, observe and predict: source of what admittedly sketchy presentiments. previews, protections I might obtain. It is a vantage point, a perch, a post to watch out from. "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past." (F.Scott Fitzgerald).

Special thanks to Ron Silliman and Gary Sullivan. Welcome, all: readers, surfers, bloggers, friends.