OK. We deck ourselves out. We point our beaks. This is excerpted from a syllabus by Anne Boyer called INSURRECTIONARY ALCHEMY (A small press traffic workshop, June 2014).
“The Witch has something to laugh at, if from the gloom she can see how utterly Dante and St. Thomas, in the bright light yonder, ignore the true position of things.” -- Michelet, La Sorcière: The Witch of the Middle Ages
WHAT KIND OF POEM / WOULD YOU MAKE OUT OF THAT?
In the Johannesburg mines
There are 240,000 natives working.
What kind of poem
Would you make out of that?
240,000 natives working
In the Johannesburg mines.
Create a list of conditions, institutions, feelings, and more that appear resistant to poetry. Now make poems out of how they can’t be poems. Alternately: “dust to flame” -- catalog conditions, institutions, feelings, and more that seem least likely at this historical moment to catch on fire. Catalog the risks of such things turning to flame. Then.
MERCURY AND SULFUR/ THE ASTROLOGY OF THE EARTH
a poem of what is made of what: a ____ of _____
a poem of what changes: “___ used to be ___ / but now ___ is ____” or “a _____ used to be a ____ of _____ but now is a ____ of ______”
alternately: Writing in the manner of Bolaño’s Nazi Literature in the Americas, write in the manner of William Godwin’s Lives of the Necromancers.
“However solid things appear,
Let me show you proof that even these are porous:
In a cave of rocks the seep of moisture trickles
And the whole place weeps its fat blobs of tears.
Food is dispersed all through a creature’s body;
Young trees grow tall and yield their fruit in season,
Drawing their sustenance from the lowest roots
Through trunks and branches; voices penetrate
Walls and closed doors; the seep of stiffening cold
Permeates bones” -- Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, trans. Rolfe Humphries
1. Textual: Write inside the pores of another text: your own, or a text you love, or one that bothers you. Additionally, you might extract a work from the pores of language.
2. Spatial: Find a space that appears fixed, monumental, established, concrete, “itself,” and write into its permeability, effecting upon it a radical transformation.
3. Temporal: Write a work which demonstrates / enforces / creates / charms / advantages the porosity of time.
4. Historical: Does history have pores? Can you contaminate them? Try.
WHAT HAPPENS AT THE END OF HISTORY, ART AND CULTURE?
“It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions,
It turns harmless and stainless on its axis, with such endless successions of diseas’d corpses,
It distils such exquisite winds out of such infused fetor”
2. Make a work that turns its readers into another substance, not stone: for example, turn its readers into the substance of tears.
“I am seduced by the gestures we do not make, the language we do not use, the fact that you and I both know so well the measures that we submit to and that we frequently offer in return, although not loving it, and that every time you present yourself with a ‘category’, my declaration of love and my political proposal is in succeeding in conjugating the verb of refusal to recognize ourselves and make us alike in that way” -- Sexuality and Money, Movimento Feminnista, 1979
Conjugate the verb of our refusal.
THE OPEN WOUND
“To write often means remembering what never existed. So how can I know what has never existed? Like this: as if I were remembering. By an effort of memory, as if I had never been born. I was never born. I have never lived. But I remember, and remembering is like an open wound.” -- Clarice Lispector, “To Remember what never existed”, Selected Chronicas
1. Remember what never existed. Write this down.
2. Seed the course of future time by creating a proliferation of these memories of what has not been.
Write a revolutionary letter in the code of zero (Remember the little girl who sewed zeroes Rousseau told us about – see above, page whatever).
“These are the stories of all the individuals of the world, everyone adds to this part of the book” -- Bernadette Mayer, Utopia
BORN IN FLAMESOctober 22, 2014
Lic. Enrique Peña Nieto
President of the Republic
Lic. Miguel Ángel Osorio Chong
Secretary of the Interior
General Salvador Cienfuegos Zepeda
Secretary of Defense
Lic. Emilio Chuayffet Chemor
Secretary of Education
Lic. Jesús Murillo Karam
Attorney General of the Republic
Lic. Ángel Heladio Aguirre Rivero
Governor of the State of Guerrero
Dip. Silvano Aureoles Conejo
President of the Congress
Sen. Miguel Barbosa Huerta
President of the Senate
Ministro Juan N. Silva Meza
President of the Supreme Court of the Nation
Dr. Raúl Plascencia Villanueva
President of the National Commission for Human Rights
To all Mexicans. To all those outside of Mexico who are following the recent violent events there. To the general public. To the 43 disappeared students of Ayotzinapa, to their families, friends and colleagues: We scholars, students and academics from Mexico and elsewhere who live and work outside of Mexico join the voices of concern and distress for the violence that prevails in Mexico. The events that took place in Iguala on September 26, 2014 are one of the most deplorable moments in the country’s history. There are no words to express the horror and fury that we feel at the murder of six people, three of them students at the “Raúl Isidro Burgos” Normal School in Ayotzinapa (one of them by the most savage of means), and by the disappearance, at the hands of the government and the local police, of another 43 students. We express our solidarity with the demands for justice being expressed and we share in the pain of the families, friends and colleagues of the Ayotzinapa students. We are profoundly indignant at the magnitude of the events and the fact that the Mexican government has offered contradictory statements and presented results that are not only meaningless but actually quite worrisome: the irregularities of the investigation grow by the day without shedding any light on the capture of the perpetrators or the whereabouts of the 43 students and, instead, more mass graves are discovered and many more bodies found. What is the size and number of mass graves in this country, how many more bodies fit in them, how many await the same fate? As of this date, neither the names of those captured nor the direction of the investigation have been revealed. The delays in the investigation and the apparent negligence with which it is being carried out are truly deplorable. The authorities themselves are obstructing the participation of a group of Argentine forensic experts who are specialized in identifying cadavers, and the parents of the disappeared have taken on, on their own, all the practical aspects of the search. If what happened is in itself horrendous, the general attitude of the government agencies is an affront to any sense of humanity and to the intelligence of those of us who observe from a distance. We are appalled at the manner in which the Mexican authorities have treated this group of students, some of the most vulnerable ones in the country. The reality that Mexico is displaying before the world is truly disheartening. The Iguala case, added to the many other events of the last few months, have made it clear that it is no longer possible to speak of common criminals but rather of the criminality of government representatives at the local, state, and federal levels, who either by direct action or by failure to act allowed this to happen and seem unable or unwilling to do what’s necessary to resolve the matter and restore confidence in the government itself. We do not understand how it is possible that the governor of Guerrero hasn’t resigned yet and that the federal authorities apparently have no problem with this situation. We all know that the governor was apprised of the events developing in Iguala – he himself declared as much, and he asserted that the army and the federal Attorney General knew of them as well. We therefore ask ourselves, what other cases of collusion between governments and organized crime, cases that no state in which the rule of law prevails could tolerate, have come to the attention of the authorities? We write because Mexico and its people deserve better, much better: a true state of justice and law. No government can permit itself to perform nor allow others to perform such acts of savagery as those that took place in Ayotzinapa. For the above reasons we demand: 1. The return of the 43 students, alive. 2. An end to the retaliation and harassment of the students from the Escuela Normal de Ayotzinapa, and students in general. 3. That mayor José Luis Abarca and his wife María de los Ángeles Pineda Villa be immediately arrested, tried, and punished within the framework of the law. 4. The resignation of Lic. Jesús Murillo Karam, Attorney General of the Mexican Republic, if it were proven that he had knowledge of the illegal actions of mayor Abarca and did not act on this knowledge. 5. The immediate resignation of Angel Aguirre Rivero, Governor of Guerrero, and also that of Lic. Iñaki Cabrera White, Attorney General of the same state, and all members of the Army who have known, concealed or participated in these actions. 6. A thorough, reliable, true, and transparent investigation of the events, involving the participation of experts and international observers, like the Equipo Argentino de Antropología Forense. We will not relax, nor will we cease our protests. We will continue to pay attention to these events and to expand communication and information networks among colleagues, students, and friends in Mexico and abroad. We cannot allow history to repeat itself; we cannot allow events like the 1968 Student Movement massacre or the persecution and annihilation of rural populations in places like Acteal and Aguas Blancas to happen again. With Ayotzinapa a line has been crossed that should never have been crossed. We express our indignation and extend our solidarity to the Mexican education students and their families. We hope that the 43 disappeared students will be able to read this letter someday as well. It is to them that we write it, but also to all those who are buried in the secret mass graves that are constantly being discovered, to all those who deserve much more than letters and protests. They deserve the full efforts of the Mexican government and its citizens at home and abroad. We must assume our responsibility in the face of this unacceptable situation and tirelessly demand justice, a state that is truly based on the rule of law, a government devoted to the service and protection of its citizens, and complete transparency in the actions of government officials and representatives. Each person who has been disappeared or killed by criminals, the military, or the police represents an immeasurable loss ... They were taken alive and we demand they be returned alive!
In her introduction, she explains that the opening work, Peace in the Breaking, begins with fourteen “spine-like, seismographic drawings that grow bigger and wider until they no longer form anything but a dust of signs.” Michaux’s ensuing prose describes the sensations of the moment of creation, but also has the equanimity to comment on itself: “These drawings – must I say it? – are reconstructions. A hand two hundred times more agile than the human hand would not suffice for the task of following the accelerated course of the inexhaustible spectacle. And it is out of the question to do more than follow. Here one cannot seize a thought, a term, or a figure, to work with it, to draws inspiration from it, or to improvise on it. All power over them is lost. Their speed, their independence, comes at that price.” Rather than a replacement art for the poverty of language, Michaux’s drawings present him with proof of a complementary, inspiring deficiency. Poetry’s power is reconfirmed at the conclusion: “The poem, a thousand times broken, presses and pushes to construct itself, to reconstruct, for one immense unforgettable day, in order to, through everything, reconstruct us.” Peace in the Breaking ends with the title poem -- a work of ascent fated to move down the page: “an almost exquisite suffering / goes through my heart in my chest / / linked to the loving cement that holds the fraternal world / undivided and near till its most distant point / and all enclosed in the sanctuary …” The second book, Watchtowers on Target, begins with paintings by the Roberto Matta. The evaporating narrative begins with a crime, followed by the appearance of monsters and flying insects, surveilled by a watchman who in turn is watched. The middle section, “Correspondence,” comprises a series of “cards” – a set of directions, an orientation, a sermon? CARD III: “I speak as a human, not a bird in a cage. Leave the stinking marsh. I’m not jealous. I don’t know your Ottolutre. Who takes care of an insect, if she isn’t scratched by it? The crux of the situation is here. I will bring the dead branch back to life. Otherwise in the fire, and no weeping. I don’t want a soft welding. It always falls apart at the worst moment and you find yourself on the ground, pronto.” In the final book, Four Hundred Men on the Cross, the boundary between pictorial and the poetic becomes leaky, each suffers to be the other, just as each of the several depictions of Jesus on the cross gives way to the others, each person fizzles out and reforms as the next victim: “… it is to many then overwhelming that they know then that everything they have been hearing or reading about living is true of them, that they are in their middle living, that all those they are knowing of about the same age as they are themselves then are then also in that middle living that then have known always from reading, from seeing, from hearing and that to many very astonishing, to some who have it in them to love repeating in living very gratifying, to some who are beginning to be a little weary then very satisfying, to many then almost or completely terrifying.” Still, tho there is no use in posting this here, alas i really love my new (and very bad) poetry + this is what my new stuffs look like:i o a au u / i g he / i g no I / ings aug g I(which sounds something like:ee [o like the o in no] [a like the a in last] ow [oo like the oo in foot] / ee [ge like the ge in gethsemane] [he like the he in hello] / ee [ge like the ge in gethsemane] [no like the no in not] ee / [ings like the ings in things] [aug like the aug in smaug] [ge like the ge in gethsemane] ee … On the moving map we realize we are directly above ancestral positions. It is a sunrise like rotted cream, breaking and splitting over the wing that suddenly looks very much like a shark’s fin. Looking down I see the mountains like a mouth of broken teeth that my grandfather used to gallop to. On a white horse with muddy flanks. And a chess set and a box of watercolours and a violin strapped to his saddle like something out of Chagall or Ferlinghetti. Deep origins of a non linear history of migration: glimpsed. Below. Where the earth shapes and behaviours are also bursting. What is the relationship between a drone strike and a cosmic scene? Somme poppy sunrise tonglen. And as the plane banks right beneath Afghanistan, I hold my notebook to the window, open. To write a sentence. In the air. And as the plane descends to Delhi, I listen to Glitter Recession by East India Youth and attune. To the wrecked pale violet cream mist pouring up out of the floor of the world. Like its own food. Or extra sky. New blue. In this way, I begin my journey to the waterfall. Some hours later, the sea was churning. Shiva ate the poison or evils in his throat.
[Note: Sources: JBR; Anne Boyer, “Insurrectionary Alchemy Experiments”, at Google Docs; “Open Letter From Abroad – #WeAllAreAyotzinapa”, at #AyotzinapaSomosTodos, 22 Oct 014; Ron Slate, “on Thousand Times Broken, poems, prose and drawings by Henri Michaux, tr. by Gillian Conoley (City Lights Books)”, at On the Seawall, 21 Oct 014; Gertrude Stein, The Making of Americans, quoted at FranklinStein, 22 Oct 014; JBR; “there is no use in posting this …”, at igittigittigitt, 22 Oct 014; Bhanu Kapil, “Pakistan: Descent, Sunrise breaking over the Shark Fin”, at Was Jack Kerouac a Punjabi?, 21 Oct 014]