Distribution Automatique

Saturday, March 13

(corner 2nd ave. & 2nd st., NYC)

Robert Beck Memorial Cinema: Hex

Notebook: circa, 1983

Beginning Outline for the Experiential Base in Modern Art

1. My intention is to show that art as a mirror of
existence is not narcissistic but a necessary complement to
self-realization (?)

2. That psychoanalysis is a form of drama that has life and
death consequences- as theatre traditionally existed in
antiquity- i.e. the Roman circus, the Greek tragedy

3. That psychoanalysis as drama is the only viable alternative
to war- that the traditional forms of drama can no longer
seriously supply this need-meaning, that

4. 3 is so because as several hundred years of journalism
has proven- the revelation of social fact turns us repetitively
back on the basic philosophical, moral and conceptual conflicts
between individuals

5. The goal of art as release of *energy* is assumed here-
the most significant discovery of Freud in human libido-
the evidential experience of genius proves that libido is
virtually inexhaustible- Wilhelm Reich's advancement of the
"orgone" is simply a "s-f" metaphor for the fact that the
sum total of libido is the actual energy of human society

6. That art is a method for releasing libido- that
psychoanalysis is the most precise & succcessful method
releasing libido

Friday, March 12

The best psychoanalytic book I've read
in a long time: *The Shadow Of The Object*
by Christopher Bollas includes a discussion
of a syndrome he calls "normotic" where the
child's subjectivity is so sparsely responded
to by the parents or caretakers
that the person becomes excessively
preoccupied and overly connected with the material
non-human) environment. These
speculations are very rich in political/psychoanalytic
implications. Too busy packing right now
to write very much more, but here's a little

"When Winnicott wrote that 'it is creative
apperception more than anything else that
makes the individual feel that life is worth
living' (1971, p. 71), he was aware that
psychoanalysis focuses on those disturbances
in human subjectivity that make creative
living difficult. As if to gesture towards a different
pathway of disturbance, he suggested another
axis of illness.

'People may be leading satisfactory lives
and may do work that is even of exceptional
value and yet may be schizoid or schizophrenic.
They may be ill in a psychiatric sense because
of a weak reality sense. To balance this one would
have to state that there are others who are so
firmly anchored in objectively perceived reality
that they are ill in the opposite direction of being
out of touch with the subjective world and
with the creative approach to fact.' (1971, p.70)....

I believe that we are witness to the emergence of a new
emphasis within personal illness or we are just getting
around to perceiving an element in personality that has
always been with us. This element is a particular drive
to be normal, one that is typified by the numbing and
eventual erasure of subjectivity in favour of a self that
is conceived as a material object among other man-made
products in the object world....
A normotic person is someone who is abnormally normal. He
is too stable, secure, comfortable and socially extrovert. He
is fundamentally disinterested in subjective life and he is
inclined to reflect on the thingness of objects, on their
material reality, or on 'data' that relates to material phenomena....
We may speak of a common normotic element when we
identify any mental activity that constitutes a transfer
of a subjective state of mind into a material external object
that results in the de-symbolization of the mental content....
Such a person is alive in a world of meaningless plenty."

from *The Shadow of the Object: Psychoanalysis
of the Unthought Known* by Christopher Bollas
NY, Columbia University Press, 1987 (p. 135-137)

Thursday, March 11

Adam Phillips (the English psychoanalyst)
says this in a review of a biography
of Dylan Thomas in the London Review of Books
*Dylan Thomas: A New Life*
by Andrew Lycett, Wedefield, October 2003

"Every distinctive poet notices something new about
the language: Thomas's notion was that if you looked
after the sound it didn't matter whether the sense
took care of itself; that it was possiblle to write great poems
without worrying too much about what they meant. The
pleasure one gets from a Thomas poem has nothing
to do with the pleasure of working it out or even the sense
that one day one will be able to work it out; and because it
isn't just a matter of time before you get it- as is the case, say with
John Ashbery- you can't get much literary criticism out of a Thomas

The poet is a comic figure now because his poetry is not funny.
He didn't have a theory about this because he didn't have theories-
or not that kind- but he had noticed something. It was becoming
increasingly difficult for poets to take themselves and what they
did at all seriously. Poetry might matter to people who liked
poetry but it wasn't important."

But this is the strange thing: I've yet to read a single piece
by Adam Philips that is the least bit memorable. But I've thought
about Dylan Thomas' poem *And Death Shall Have No Dominion*
hundreds of times:

And death shall have no dominion
Dead men naked they shall be one
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost, love shall not;
And death have shall no dominion..."

(there are 6 more verses).

What is Phillips talking about? Though I have read this
poem and thought about it so much I have memorized
parts of it, I have yet to be impressed by a single
thing Adam Phillips has written; including his biography
of Winnicott. Adam Phillips is a bore; Dylan Thomas
is an interesting, memorable poet.
Notebook: 7/22/89

The world is the exciting and dangerous sea I embark on
to make my voyage as a poet- but the sea and
the world as it is given are not the
objects of my investigation as a poet. I know that
the powers I summon up from the deep can have immense
political consequences for myself and those around me-
but I cannot take reponsibiity for the outcome because
it is partly an accidental byproduct of my search.
Like the scientist, while I may be drawn to support one
or another tremendously significant political strategy or
cause- I am far too concerned about the
"individual case"- far too fascinated with the
particularity and the exotic connections between
things- to provide much impetus for those
concerned with immedite political action.

As a poet, I am a phenomenologist of the
inner socious- I must leave it to others to discover
what benefit might derive from the strangely shaped
fossils I discover there. They may have significance
for the politician, the political activist, the political
scientist or the political theorist- but as a poet,
I may be the least able to see this in my own work.
When I look at the work of others, I am most likely
toi frantically search through every word for the esoteric
information I am strongly driven to try to find.

I view as essentially political the readiness
to take action- and though political action
is completely conditioned and informed by writing at every turn (and
writing as such is profoundly influenced by every political
reality) - I think to be realistic about
relationship between the two- you're looking at a
stormy marriage- where both parties often want freedom
from each other more than they want a committment.
Politics and poetry cannot avoid each other because
they are both great talkers. You could never miss
with one at a party, for instance; the politician
will say many things meant to test your
reactions- the poet will say things leaving
you very unsure of all your reactions.

Wednesday, March 10

Michaela Cooper (Mikarrhea) {click here}:
"Fashion is a continuation of politics by other means...So then, what is war?"
Charles Borkhuis' two terrific radio plays,
*The Sound of Fear Clapping* (produced
on WNYC in 1995) and *Foreign Bodies*
(produced on WBGO-Exit 3 productions, in
2001) are now available on a CD, produced
for National Public Radio by Sarah Montague
under the tltle *Black Light*.

*The Sound of Fear Clapping* is also
available as a chapbook, published by
*Obscure Publications* in 2003.

"FAT MAN: Yes, well as fate would have it,
we happen to be looking for a nobody
just like you. We've always got our eye out
for certain drifters and malcontents. People
who have erased their identities and backgrounds
somewhere along the line. Peoole who are on
their way to becoming...blank slates. So you see,
you're perfect for the part."
Once again- over at Ron Silliman's blog-
poets have been drawn into rating peers.
Why is judging, rating and comparison
the activity most poets are drawn to
most of all? It seems most people get
bored without making a competitive game
out of poetry. I don't deny my own competitive
feelings, however, the activity of poets rating
other poets is the one I like least in
this field. Sure I make comparisons like
everybody else, but making a public
spectacle out of it this is the American obsession
I like least. It is the essence of the Society
of the Spectacle, the poetic equivalent
of a beauty contest. Sure I'm jealous of
all the attention Ron's blog is getting, but Ron
is a very generous friend and I applaud his
success. But this "best of" and
classification drive makes
me sick. How did I ever fall for
joining in? I guess I was in a great mood
that day because a blogger friend had
highly complimented me. Well, I should
be more wary about what I say
when I get so excited and happy.
Untitled poem: circa 1987

Unmixed, colors hold their integrity.
Digression: I thought about single minded pursuit,
That change meant subdividing oneself
In combination with parts of the world, viz:
To interact with means to become part of.
As for the primary, it is the domain of the particular,
Specifically the visual sovereign., lord of the merely proximate,
Lady of the soft familiar. Of course, at first
I was not ready for such bright shadows,
I faltered at the thought of the continuous,
I trembled at the feeling of ownership.
Battle ships tall in number ordained my sentences,
And, like any other pawn in this game,
I numbered the drawers according to my luck-
And things got misplaced and forgotten.
Don't be quarrelsome, I understand that
And recognize the duplicity of a leisurely denial.
Meanwhile the sky grew dark and serious,
Terrible lightning split the mailbox in two,
(A number with a way of knowing everything already.)
Down at the beach they strolled away,
While we sunned ourselves with silence and newspapers.

Congruence: an adult plays as a child playing as an adult
Playing as a child. A thing is like any other thing,
Each widens out believing in and not believing
And never waiting. And *now* we know that the beginning of the game
Is interesting because we don't know the end,
But in the end it is always the same. But we
Don't know it then. There's the lighthouse like it always was,
The horizon, the boats, this solitude, a favorite poem.
Pedantically, pontifically I observe that
The romantics had children too, that innocence
Must always exercise its charm. To us to be surprised
Presumes an absence, for her to remember is a joy.
We are learning to smile in spite of what we know,
She is learning to know bereft of any spite.

Tuesday, March 9

Reality: quicksand, deceptions,
manipulations, illusions at every turn.
The conviction it takes to sustain
energy, persistence, focus,
and not to succumb to the
many complex and seductive traps
at moments of surprised
accomplishment or
discouragement; their
sly accompanying complacencies
or subtle forms of passivity requires
not so much a renewed state of
vigilance (I thought that once) but
more an odd and a potentially estranging
combination of forgiveness, determination,
improvisatory readiness to confront
false assumptions, and most of all,
the ability to laugh at all those solemn
earnest expectations (entitlements),
at nearly every slippery transition.
Heriberto Yepez {click here} has translated
an aphorism from yesterday's ::fait accompli:: into Spanish.
"El poema: cualquier forma, la que sea, donde cada parte es necesaria".

Muchas gracias, Heriberto.

Steve Tills' responses to ::fait accompli::
time travel right now on
Black Spring {click here}.
Theenk of that!
*The Loneliness of the Long Distance Blogger*
Detailed Commodity (Alex Young) {click here} picks up the pace.
Notebook: 8/9/87

Follow out all of your desires, only to come back to the same
place. But now that place is in more places.

Aesthetic sublimation of the fear of death into plumbing its desires.

The lightest of things- like insects, like birds, like joy- can be easily
crushed. The heaviest of things- stones, sorrows, these stay- and
tend to hold their shape.

Art teaches us how to bring the dead to life.

The poem may occur in a place which is greatly dissimilar from the world
made apparent to the senses. But wherever it is, one fine day there or nearby you
will meet its poet.

Satie on the radio. Girl rolling and rolling in the foamy sea- black hair and
red bathingsuit.


Learn to plan your thinking.

It took very long for me to learn to enjoy the first deep draft of an experience.
Experience only apparently repeats itself- and because this is the most comforting
illusion of all- we can forget so quickly how fortunate we were that things finally
took the pass they did. Not only fortune did this but no doubt it took a tremendous
effort of will- or so it seemed- even if this effort consisted mainly in determining
not to throw it all into the air in total frustration.


Dream in which I saw Ted Berrigan- only he was very thin. I see a woman who
may or may not be Alice Notley and she is naked.

Maybe a writer is an obsessive who wants to do more than think.

My first thought was about Ted.

As I child, I rarely suffered from feelings of being left out or lonely, once
I discovered books. In themselves, books constitute a world for me.


Art prepares us for a gradual dissolution into inorganicity. Those silent
sculptures, those immense spaces... we feel events by means of their
continuous collision in the current space of time...things and their effects
accumulate...so- called synchronicities are not synchronized...the opposite...
disjunctive "connections" are made...you see now, you see ahead...copying
this may be a way of hearing it now...resistance to hearing is another way
of listening...listen to *that too*, and this voice reminds me of Alan Davies...
equivalence of moments is a way to *keep going*...


Give me the unexpected, in small doses, I hasten to add...tumble into life, jolting
forwards...see this from valleys and high peaks...how can you not bump
into things sometimes...don't beat so hard on them...don't calm down, calm *into*...
what makes you think someone would track you there?....the stealthier you are, the
quieter they'll be...if you make a lot of noise, they will too, so you won't hear them
as loudly...Select a few words when the occasion suits you...Stop, roll it into a
ball, and fling it into the first patch of gray light you eke out of the dark...or into
the slight shadow you still see lingering on the horizon (forget the violins)...


The story of a man who never tires of the smell of books and the look of words,
for whom existence is read through books, for whom the "point of departure" is
books (I've not found a way to describe this yet).

The author's personality "pervades" the work. But what is this personality but
clusters of innumerable choices ("Three of Four Things I know about Him"- Charles


Revolutionary thought is yet burning a hole through the pages of history. One
day it may claim more- and only then will the relations between people change.

There is no disputing freedom.


Poem: Anti-alphabet

Make things free by making them freely.

Traditional writng separates the analysis from the content- you can see but
you just can't touch.

The continuum between forms.

"Permitting" things to gather (Toni Simon's *Space Surrounded By Its Objects*)

Strategy and movement.


An image is all that cohered.

And it was nothing more than the passing of a gleam.

Take the objects out of any poem and hold the world as it is.

Monday, March 8

notebook: 5/24/87

At the moment we discover a way to express something, that very action
propels us all lthe more firmly in the world that was being addressed. Then, when
we have given it, that world grasps itself around us and it. What could make
one feels more separate from oneself, than that? Advancing towards the horizon of
exchange: -laughter and anguish.

To listen is to learn the alchemy of the known.

The poem: any shape at all where every part is necessary.

"Such people are dangerous. They do not obey known hierarchies."
Jealous individuals show their greatest brilliance
in destroying the joy or confidence in the objects
of their envy. The most inventive of these people
are often able to completely cloak their activities as
positive contributions to the circle that includes
this object.
Note:11/1/80 (written on the final page
of my copy of *Interaction Ritual* by Erving Goffman)

The parallel between aliveness and
wakefulness. If we were not alive
we would be in a condition analogous
to sleeping as in the (finite or
infinite) amount of time we were not
yet born. Waking is seeking
to adjoin, sleeping to separate.
Separate wakefulness or adjoined
dormancy is painful because it
conflicts with the cycles of birth
and death.

Sunday, March 7

"To read is to experience time
as strangeness itself, in which
you colme to reckon with the
spatial mystery of a voiceless
speech and a bodiless embodiment."

Jed Rasula
Sulfur 24 (Spring, 1989) p. 88
An interview with Julia Tsuchiya-Mayhew right now on
Bemsha Swing (Jonathan Mayhew) {click here}