Distribution Automatique

Friday, September 23

The Loneliness of the Long Distance Blogger

Certain sites of reading project a promise of intimacy- the reader knowing full well that some degree of suspension of disbelief will be expected; but so what, nearly any intriguing read asks for some of that. Such intimacy, intuited from the first moments- at first sight, so to speak- immediately invites thoughts about possible time and frequency factors- where and and how often to hang out, for example.

More words are there and you come back to read again. A factor of possible interaction now imposes itself or is suggested. This time, as it happens, no stickiness or embarrassment, it's comfortable in fact, you don't even think that much yet about the content, though it's intriguing, especially from the standpoint of some early ambience of fitting in. It's a room you can hang out in for a bit - while that other place comes across more like a workout space, for example, ithe way a gym is intimate but the object being so much on self-improvement or strengthening and alert presence- you go but you don't necessarily linger.

With intimacy, connection, warmth, familiarity almost invariably trump revelation- true, both are present, but the revelations themselves seem to some degree to want to provoke chat not mere "response", and ultimately, some sort of involvement- after all you yourself do these things as well, and with a similar sense of pleasure and satisfaction: you too go to openings, you eat, you identify passages in poems you return to, you recognize, greet, mention artists. A book like this recently made me feel so welcome it actually got me past a whole day, maybe even a longer period of doldrums and whining.

I picked up Michael Coffey's *cmyk* at St Mark's when I first got back from a longish vacation in Provincetown. Immediately I was more enmeshed in thinking about New York than I expected to be reading a book of poetry, in particular its references to the lives and deaths of literary figures, many known personally to me, opening the book as I did just now to the line:"Half-lamenting the passing of Pessoa and Armand Schwerner." Armand was a close friend, a deeply influential poet for me and many others, so I personally appreciated this, that is, Coffey's projection of the simultaneous (literary) reference/ greeting and (personal/literary) grieving. By now I realized i'd been immersed in an intimate space and though I put the book down for some reason and wandered a bit around the bookstore, I soon picked it up and came back. This time I read it through completely, hungrily looking for references (Coffey once remarked to me he had noticed he himself had appeared as a sort of cameo in a book of mine, titled -Theoretical Objects- where he shows up as "the guy with the moustache" (the face hair is gone now) that I recognized at events and kept noticing and got curious about. Coffey mentions poets in the book including Ted Berrigan, Jackson Mac Low and Bruce Andrews, focusing on his affection for sonnets. Artists too, like Tim Hawkinson and Vito Acconci- so the book space intimately enters the art space, and eventually gets around to the restaurant space- a diary of menus and meals and social moments. But these intimacies, redolant as they are in some way with a nostalgia for the old New York School fondness for immediacy of experience, are not presented here exactly as such. In -cmyk-, casualness is less offhand, though still not all that earnest, or "cloying", but perhaps neighborly (maybe slightly like the way John Godfrey can be neighborly in some of his books- evoking the street and chararacter of the Lower East Side) - factually, meticulously detailed, while remaining emotionally substantial. Somewhat similar to a social visit, the way bloggers at first thought of people coming over to their blog as being like a social visit. He quotes Warhol:

"There is hardlly a better way of describing the situation of the late twentieth century artist who has everything at his disposal but for whom nothing is really present as he can no longer grasp the depth, all that has survived of The Last Supper's spiritual wealth, its spiritual substance are carbohydrates and that which, apart from pizza qualifies worldwide as Italian fastfood cuisine."
-Carla Schlulz-Hoffman, p 11 Warhols Last Supper

"Where do Italian art and culture intersect in your mind?
Andy: "Spaghetti?"

For its voyage through the abundant and various humidities, admixtures and intertwinings of writing the reading experience as an exploration of various doors-including doors, archways and entranceways constructed of intricate and intriguing typographical designs crafted by a master of such entwinings- Guy Bennett. -cmyk- proposes the seeming possiblity of a book as a temporary domicile: an enticing place to hang out and wander about within, with clues and/as memories popping up around to make you wonder if it might yet offer itself to you as a frequent stay. Early on, though, Coffey does drop a suggestion given such an open invitation, a certain requirement: you'd at least have to know how to hang out with a group of friends and have a relaxed beer.

O Books 2005
typesetting by Guy Bennet
cover by Rebecca Smith