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Tuesday, August 05, 2003

I have decided I am not an artist. Artsists use paint. They examine their strokes, and stroke again. They think about color. They have the choice of creating something representational, or abstract. They also have the luxury of defining their own medium. They are obsessed. They create and conceptualize, with never a thought of breakfast or cigarettes. They do not sleep. Eli is an artist. He is, in fact, married to painting. I, instead, sleep.

I am a journalist. My blog proves this. I, unlike the artist, do not have a choice between representational renderings and the abstract. I have only representational materials, which I may try to use to signify the abstract. However, even in doing this, I must revert to a fixed vocabulary--or at least alphabet--a pre-set lexicon and arsenal with which to perhaps bend, mar, or muddle its own inherent function: to represent. Shitty, yes. What of neologisms? Firgehnought! Be derfiftey! With these too, I am bound by language--by the alphabet and probable meaning through context. If I say "face" it means something. If I say "juice," it also means something. If I say "Face Juice," this also means something, but is unlikely. It is not abstract, but merely spittle, mucus, tears, or perhaps the goo inside a pimple.

I also am not priveledged with the capacity to define my own medium. I can call my paper airplanes poetry until noon. I can call the act of calling them poetry poetry too. Anyone can call anything anything--but they still are calling it a thing. Sam calls Spot a fish, but we all know damn well that Spot is a dog. A d-o-g. Stands for tail, stands for tongue, stands for Jane and a fistful of America. So, is Sam inherently an iconoclast? Is his tendency to use words that normally hold one meaning as holding a SECRET meaning that only he knows--that cannot be decrypted, that he does not mean to be decrypted, that he only hopes to make people THINK might be decrypted--a movement towards a widespread revolt? Some kind of overthrow of representational language?
" We've had it with communication!"
"I'm tired of being understood, and having to understand you!"
"Radiator thoughts spill on the waxed urethra of the angry mantis! The fur fruit weeps in ceptic agony, so deep and epistemological her boosom be!"
"Bring down the angry serial! His time is a faucet when I the baking soda while away termites!"

Dig?

No, maybe you don't. How far does it go, and for what? And can that implication--that an intentional escape from representational language is some kind of step at forwarding consciousness--ever be overshadowed in cases of non-representational linguistic combinations: does it allow fair ground to other important ideas? What does the poet advocate? What does you poet advocate? Can the poet safely advocate?

I believe that in part--perhaps an overlarge part--the use of solely non-representational linguistic combinations (and I must refer to it thus, because language is always representational) is a retreat. It is an escape--a cop out. It saves the poet from doing what poets have so often uplifted, appraised, bewildred, inspired and afflicted the masses with--saying something. Making a Goddamn fucking point. Saying: I like Spring. Or: I like lesbians. Or whatever--saying something that someone might disagree with, that some people won't want to hear, that many people do want to hear, but are too afraid to say. Instead, we--wink wink nudge nudge non representational language club (with me) face juice all over the fetus court. But, I want to say stuff too.

BRUTAL

Saturday, August 02, 2003

Hello. It's me, Geoff. I'd like to raise some recent issues--well, maybe not so recent issues--that have been culminating within my tultuous, maybe too often docile & lackadaisical self. First off, I never asked to be a New Brutalist. I guess I was jumped in. In some ways, this lends credibility to the whole thing--makes it seem more like a "movement." Because after all, aren't most movements simply terms that are applied retroactively to artists without their consent? Or did Stein & Hemmingway spend hours over tea, trying to decide on terms that best summarized what they and others were doing?
"The ice-bergers?" Hemmy suggests thoughtfully.
Trudy ruffles her brow at him, looks into her tea and answers, "Roast beef. Potatos. Poato-beef roast. Roast potato. Roast roast. Red roast, roasted roast. Roast."
So for a moment, they considered calling themselves and their unwitting contemporaries The New Foodies.
But Hemmingway felt this was not direct enough, and wanted a more functional name. Something that could provide use in a world wrecked by war--that would get away from the romantic retreat from reality into the indulgence of language, and bring back a visible, solid shell--a shell that suggested epochs of destruction and final thoughtful reconstruction. Obviously, there was only one choice.
"The Gleaming Playset," he offered, looking up from her feet. "No--too flashy. The Playset. Just 'The Playset.'" He said confidently.
"Table. Two table, tables table. Untenable table tabling." Gertrude authoritatively replied, which they both knew was her way of saying, "simply brilliant Ernie!" And they were off--the Modernists were born and that was that.
But when I first heard about all of this "New Brutalism," I thought we were talking about starting a softball team. And I was never sure about the significance of the name--of Ashbery touching us all on the brow and raising us from the stinking bog of poetic no ones to that hallowed vault of public interest. Perhaps they, the public, are who this was truly all for. I wanted us to be called "The Infinite Cock," but my suggestion was voted down.
But really, why The New Brutalists? And from whose divinely annointed lips didth this enigmatic moniker spill? And for what purpose? Was it to reveal to the world our sublime Brutality--our desire to say as little as possible or less with the flashiest available vocabulary and the most dated surrealist imagistic combinations concoctable? Where's the Brutality in that?
The Brutalist Bible says we are interested in presenting an objective truth in a subjective way, or something along those lines. Is this so different from what anyone does, any time they make a claim and hope that it is understood? It also says that we "avoid didactic propaganda" at every possible turn. Hopefully by now you can see that this does not characterize me. So maybe this means I'm not a Brutalist.
--but wait. If we avoid specifically *didactic* propaganda, doesn't that point to a perhaps more powerful, erosive, SUBTLE propaganda? A propoganda that coyle masquerades as something else? Like, perhaps, art or poetry. All acts of self promotion are essentially propoganda on some level. The sickness of the Brutalists, is we have nothing to propagandize but ourselves--our own cleverness and musicality. And yet, a deep-seated propaganda machine is at work, constantly hyping, faking, fooling.
"Have you heard of the New Brutalists?"
"You mean the Softball Team?"
"No! the literary movement?"
"Oh! You mean Zukofsky and--"
"No no. Those are the OBJECTIVISTS. I'm talking BRUTALIST."
"Oh. Well then no. I haven't."
"Well you better."
"Or what?"
"Or we come to your house and shoot out your windows with our pellet guns."

BRUTAL




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