Monday, February 1, 2010

Brought to You By Phoenix Online

In an e-ffort to widen the discussion in my class, or, if you will, to open the windows, here's my post from my Evergreen State College course blog (Radical Poetry, Politics & Pedagogy).  It's a reading list and ahead of that a brief summary of the discussion we had during last week's lecture.  We're working with two primary texts at moment, Oppen's Of Being Numerous and Ranciere's The Politics of Aesthetics.   If any of you have anything to say on agency and identity in relation to the readings below (the start of a series of readings on this strand of a poetics of "witness"), feel free...

Below are the readings due by Weds, along with some non-required materials (suggested readings).  This time a little longer, but not as dense/difficult.  Enjoy.

Why the experimental poem? asks Joan Retallack. Poetics has affirmed, undermined, complicated, and otherwise wrestled with any shared concept of identity and/or selfhood (from last week: Oppen's struggle to articulate the constructed and multiple "self" as opposed to the "freely autonomous and essential Self").  The constructed identity in the world of catastrophe (catastrophe, in part, constructing our conception of who we take ourselves to be) is taken up by Nonsite Collective, as is the invisibility of both a) what/who it is that, at least in part, constructs us, and b) of individuals and whole groups of people--the "ghosted," "occulted," "marginalized" subjects and their (our?) ideas, desires, and needs.  If the "self" is more complicated than it appears to be, then so too the function(s) of art (poetry, prose, etc).  And if our arts are more complicated (not just in terms of "nuance" but also in terms of "problematic") than they may appear, then so too is the notion of who is author/artist, as this is one identity of an already "numerous" (Oppen) identity that goes into "who I am (we are)."

Note how thick our ideas are already, and how many materials--written and otherwise--we've looked at that have made these ideas so thick or rich.  This is one way we can think about text arts--as generating these questions in ways perhaps unique, say, as sensuous materials for which these questions aren't just "cognitive" but bodily, sensorial, etc.  We'll unpack these ideas further both thru making more "art" and thru taking in, or "remaking" more "art" (thru continuing our aesthetic practices).  We'll also see how they play out viz.pedagogical practices.  That is, if the author/reader binary breaks down, and the "art"/"non-art" binary breaks down, then certainly this relates to Freire, and to Ranciere, and to Nonsite--all pedagogical models differing but sharing in a desire to rethink the "teacher/student" binary, or opposition.  

More fundamental questions arise: why difficult poetry?  Why desire these complications, contradictions, and in some cases, collapses, in the first place?  Especially if they seem to "work"? Do they work?  Does the lecture-seminar mode we are in right now work sufficiently?  Is sufficiency the goal?  If not, what is?  Maybe it works for me, but does it for person X?  Is there a difference in viewpoint, generally (in our class) here that can in part be "gendered"?  That is, maybe taking gender inequalities into account will shed light on why sufficiency might not be EVERYONE'S goal, or experience?

We'll build on what we discussed last Wednesday, discussing how the re-narration of what an "author" can be and how "identity" might be constructed, this time looking thru the lens of translation--the concept of translation and the wider application of the processes that allow us to translate.  This is yet a different frame or lens through which to peer, different from Nonsite's concepts of the site and the nonsite, yet very, very related.


Kent Johnson, Notes on Notes on Translation  HERE

Rachel Zolf, Tolerance Project  HERE and HERE

Joan Retallack on Experimental Poetry  HERE

George Oppen: Of Being Numerous 1-22  HERE 

Wiki Article on The Kootenay School of Writing  HERE

Re-Read the Nonsite Collective Draft Proposal  HERE


Charles Bernstein on Oppen's Of Being Numerous  HERE

Translation in Performance  from XPoetics  HERE

Poet Rae Armantrout Interviewed (writing as politics as pedagogy)  HERE

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