we are so pathetic
investigations into and around ideas of failure- misunderstanding- miscommunication- poetic language and the consequences of “truth” in the virtual world
when I first wrote to you I thought I would tell you about the poems I write and see if you wanted to read them without any introduction or even any kind of haggling or whatever.
when I wrote back after I did not hear from you I said again do you want to read these poems do you want to hear them do you want to read this do you want to see these
in your disregard the poems disappear I disappear and the production of the poems slides away into a horizon line thin as a hair gripped and pulled in your fist away from my head full of words.
No one wants to read this poetry- it is confusing and heavy and boring. It tells us something and nothing- it is obtuse and irrational. Poetry is full of lies and manipulations/ its project is to trick us into feeling something we do not ourselves know and of which there may be no evidence/ poetry uses language and law to undo language and law/ it is a suspect and extravagant practice-
the internet/technology is rational. if it makes poetry it is accidental and is only perceived as such because we have a sense of humor and are looking for signs of humanity in the equipment we feel such fondness for. technology may fail- but for reasons that can be traced and understood- most of the time as a result of user failure- human error- programmer error- it is not explicitly the fault of the machine or the algorithms which are the machines heartbeat
instead I write to you a list
that turns into a rant but at least this does not feel like a burden I have passed off-
the phenomenon I am interested in are as follows and in no particular order- in fact in a very unparticular order
1. you and I are in love- we live together for 5 or 6 years- we share everything- our days are structured in a similar fashion- we eat the same food- sleep in the same bed- wash in the same basin- shit on the same toilet
the end of our relationship arrives and we each in our way
realize the significance of misunderstanding in our relationship
it now seems that it was the primary force at work in both our desire for each other and our ultimate sense of betrayal when we failed to desire each other anymore- what did we fail to know that we thought we knew about each other and ourselves as we lived and made plans side by side for all that time
2. Google search something- spell it wrong- google search something close to but one word differently than something very popular- examples include…..
3. the secret curve of our desire- the move that takes from our sight the object of our desire- a receding mystery that keeps falling off the edge at the periphery of our understanding in the place where truth fails because it is impossible to locate and therefore creates in us a longing as big as our lives as wide and deep as our whole lives and we rush towards it and look for ways to lay claim to it to understand and name the truth we seek
4. google search reorders our world- gently in italics urging us to reconsider our request as the algorithm suggests and the computer knows us and our history and believes we may have made an error- not a fatal one but a misstep and did we not actually mean this…
5. my lover spoke in similar fashion and perhaps I spoke to him this way too- in the beginning especially as we modulated our tone and controlled our emotions as best we could in the face of what was clearly a misstep- a sequence of events misremembered-no big deal- I said something but you remembered something else and you did something but I did not think you did it- and we fail each other- we can not agree- we use italics and a conciliatory tone but we find neither are willing to concede their position and what one of us remembers and understands can not be remembered and understood by the other
6. what stands between us is the form- not the content
the content is loose and open- friendly in a way- it mutates and knows itself to mutate through time and interpretive generosity
the form is a concrete box- is a brick wall- is a line that purports to be straight but in fact veers always off so that its vanishing point is hidden- yet we still believe we are about to see it- if we just turn ourselves to face it- we will look clearly at this point and the truth will be an object we can pick up and hold- the form is the idea of linearity in a non linear world- it is the rock hard cock and the government and its gun- it is the reordering of everything in the universe of google- it is the unwillingness to fail and the definitions of success designed to make the order of the world line up and lock in and make itself subject to the truth telling apparatus of torture machines and the internet-
7. I hold in my hand a flaccid cock- a strange symbol we make a hasty retreat from but I have begun to read as a radical sign - I put it in my mouth- I treat it nice- it doesn’t matter- it is shy, retreating, mysterious and vague, it is more vaginal than phallic and it charms me infinitely more than those truth blazing dicks that poke and pry- potential colonizer of my womb and mouth and ass
8. the poetry I like is also this way- dense, mysterious, evocative, confusing, in denial, insecure, easy to misinterpret or assume too quickly the content is understood- poetry is like this generally and has been my primary art through all my years and disastrous adventures- it is the place I turn when I am calcified in the ooze at the bottom of my psychological barrel- poetry is at home there and therefore does not judge or attempt to pry me free. Poetry fails to convey the story, it does not attempt to tell the truth, it continues to conceal what little dignity I have left and it does so with a simple sideways motion using the single most problematic set of laws that human beings have devised- language. Poetic language desires to be misunderstood when all other language is seeking to be legible, clear, well defined, and grammatically correct. Language is a sort of fascist- a dictator- poetic language the rebellion in the street. My definition of what constitutes poetic language is broad and expands and contracts as needed- today it includes certain chance auto correct and spell check encounters, graffiti, sometimes the lyrics to pop songs, advertising, certain contracts, government documents, and other chance or accidental failures of language usually due to an over assertion of the laws and structures of said language-
9. most usually poetic language is intentional and takes the form because it is what is being practiced- but not all poetry utilizes poetic language- some poetry is militaristic and desires nothing more than to assert some kind of blazing phallic truth- bashing you over the head with its meaning
10. Hans Joachim Muller describes failure: “ Progressive thinking has always rejected the idea that failure may be a law of life. It has blended the exhausted construction of world things and world conditions into ever- loftier syntheses, declaring its historic transition towards ultimate success a logical necessity. Everything must aspire to achieve its consummate form in the systematic drive of the development drama and must not fail before reaching the goal of its destination. Failure has never been credited to dialectics. Failure is not a necessary hurdle on the way to success. Failure is inadmissible. Failure is the betrayal of the linear path forward that is demanded by reason, a betrayal of free, unimpeded progress and arrival. The uncertainty factor of failure has no place in the command center of ideas imposed by metaphysics above the objects of experience…. The entire polemic potential inherent in failure results from the exclusion, the release from ideal responsibility. The effrontery of failure is the most vehement rejection of the manner in which progressive thinking thinks progress. Where thinking expects failure it has already seen through the ideology of success and has liberated itself from the pursuit of success.” p. 200
11. when I was a child they very briefly thought I was some sort of prodigy- anything I saw I could mimic- I allegedly taught myself to read when I was 3. But a strategy of failure liberated me and I have been endeavoring to be a loser ever since. It isn’t so much that I actually walk around thinking oh I am such a fucking loser- its that at some point the intense pressure and expectation that is placed upon you- especially as a child- truncates your imagination, joy, pleasure, and wonder- and you are being poked and prodded like a lab animal- playing logic games and filling in bubbles with a number two pencils- in the 80’s everyone wanted a child genius- I just wanted to daydream and read and swing on the swing. Being so incredibly intelligent it was not difficult to figure out how to get everyone off my back- fail. Fail the tests- fail the class- quit the team- quit ballet- quit piano- and on and on. Only in poetry did I continue to try- because my poems were basically a type of falling- a sliding away from rules and impossible expectations- into shadowy places where no one could understand what I was saying. It was a practice in a solitary place. I could conceal everything in poetry.
12. Poetry is the creative equivalent of going out into the woods when you have grown up in the suburbs. It is a kind of freedom- it has a kind of liberating effect but in the long run is much harder than you think. It is also a kind of return- like you could become or at least sniff the essence of what is essential- get back to something- like you could pound on your chest or grunt and that would be enough- it’s a lie but a provocative one- and its exciting to play at it- I mean that feels really good- just running around all naked and dirty even if you can drive to town and get a latte or fly in a plane to new york, or call your mom on a cell phone and tell her your still alive in the wilds of California- it still feels really good to sleep under the stars and bathe in rivers and look at no screens and piss in the grass. its really nice to pass back and forth between the hyper modern and this idea of the primitive. its cool and we can do it and even make it look sexy and be really fit and tanned from digging garden beds and going on Hawaiian vacations. cuz we went to the woods to make a commune and really we became extreme capitalists. me and my friends were all dirty traveler kids and we just wandered up some mountain road and found that the locals weren’t taking advantage of the loose and changing laws regarding a variety of plants grown in those parts and we were just a bunch of anarchistic communards looking for cheap land and a place to try out our radical ideas of collective living and permaculture etc. and instead we found money- piles of money which we hoarded individually and buried in tree stumps and oil barrels in the ground and became millionaires and bought suv’s and atv’s and installed cctv and went around the world and stayed in penthouse suites and all because of prop 215 and there goes our utopian dream- and now we don’t talk at all- we all been hating on eachother since 2003- aww fuck. we all got internet up on the ranch now- I mean that’s poetry- right.
13. Where did we think we were going anyway? Into the complete and total perfection of instantaneous communication and absolute transparency- the obscenity of information filling up every surface and writing itself across every plane, determining ahead of each KEYSTROKE WHAT OUR INTENTION what our desire. Are we then trying to disappear into a truth so pure and bright so complete and total it eradicates all our previous failures- is this the singularity and the rapture and zion and heaven and is it ultimately artificial intelligence and the end of human suffering and nirvana and perfection of consciousness and form and the eradication of disease and hunger and is this fascism and is the internet a failed utopia and did I once go back to the land so I would not be afraid of the dark anymore- of rattlesnakes, coyotes, mountain lions and bears?
ok- I dropped out of my east coast university in 1997- I formally took a leave of absence to join earthfirst- informally I was addicted to prescription anti-anxiety meds I had not been prescribed and wanted to live in a squat with a group of traveler kids and their dogs SO WE COULD DO DRUGS AND FREAK OURSELVES OUT REDING TAROT CARDS AND TEA LEAVES AND SERCHING FOR WILD GINGER AND PSYLIOCIBIN IN THE WET NORTH WOODS
by 1999 I was living on a forty acre ranch in northern California with anywhere between 3 and 7 other anarchist back to the landers and their dogs
I had become a mother
I had learned to grow marijuana
I had defaulted on my student loans and was hiding from the local sheriff
at 16 my bookshelf in my mother’s house contained Helter Skelter, Angela Carter’s Heroe’s and Villians, The Monkey Wrench Gang, Jim Morrison’s American Prayer etc.
I am a fatalist and a utopianist- I think they might be the same thing.
it MAY BE impossible to convey to you the complexities of the project I had set out upon when I went out on the road, when I went to the ranch, when I stopped shaving my legs- TO DISENTANGLE MYSELF FROM MY CULTURE TO CUT TIES WITH DEEPLY EMBEDDED NOTIONS OF PROPRIETY, SUCCESS, BEAUTY, DESIRE
The confusion that exsisted within my own mind about HOW TO DO THIS ABOUT what I was doing out there- with an infant in a school bus on the highway- the confusion is the gap- the misunderstanding that I am interested in. somewhere between the east coast and the west and then back again and then back again and then back again
until we FINALLY stopped at the pagoda shaped shack an earlier generation of hippies had built on this arid bit of west facing oak country three hours north of the bay- this confusion is important to me- it is the confusion that is fertile- it is the miscommunication between all participants- the essential misunderstanding between all participants that makes the story interesting. what were we doing out there?
Dominant culture- mainstream culture is heavy with a symbolic language mostly agreed upon- or at least the perception is that people are agreeing upon the meaning of things- the history of things- of places, people, events- when a subculture arises it does so through a renaming- a reordering- but it is an extremely confusing process and often ends up very badly- cults and communes often look the same- are the same. the main thing was to defy the cultural expectations- to be successful on terms we had devised- we appeared to be a bunch of dropouts- failing to function within the status quo- but we really thought we knew. that is what makes the utopian quest a failure from the beginning- its refusal to believe that it is not possible- that a kind of perfect equilibrium- a kind of absolute balance- a kind of stasis can be reached, maintained, and will be in any way enjoyable and preferable to the flawed and corrupt world we are fleeing- all of this is the absurd and wonderful thing about the utopian project however it is manifest- it refuses to see failure as part of its nature- it refuses to see failure as part of our nature- the desire to rewrite the terms of success and failure that was so central to our turn of the century suburban exodus- our experiments in collective “sustainable” living- ended up substituting new hierarchies for the old- new status quo and dogma- all fit neatly inside the old script- which did not get thrown away but was the subject of constant revision until it mostly echoed the original but with a different end point- the progressive’s progress still needed for the accumulated history to be one in which we were ultimately moving forward- even if only a small band of your best mates would get to make it through the end of days with you- it was for the best- and you and your homies would fight off the right wingers and shore up your supplies and shoot any one who tried to drink from your well- the main thing was progress and even though we thought we were making up our own version of success- it was really just an old version- new homesteader- new colonist- entrepenurial capitalist- failed utopia 2003.
we are supposed to write in a way that makes our ideas clear and we are supposed to write in declarative sentences that make the reader feel a kind of confidence in our thinking and we are supposed to use punctuation to clear up any confusion as the punctuation will act as a kind of breath in the thought where some of the subjectivity of the reader can come in and begin the work of interpretation and understanding. if we are a good writer our reader will know our minds and will be able to grasp our thoughts and inside themselves for a moment be able to inhabit the position of the writer- at least intellectually-