Friday, November 18, 2016

147. “…then we have problems” & } “the night.”

To my students: Music matters. To write matters. Art matters—and not just art that’s overtly political or confrontational: art requires us—artists and audience—to see. To see what actually is. What good practice that is.

Barak Obama in Berlin: “If we are not serious about facts and what’s true and what’s not, and particularly in an age of social media when so many people are getting their information in sound bites and off their phones, if we can’t discriminate between serious arguments and propaganda, then we have problems.”

Jay-Z, from Deconstructed: “The problem isn’t in the rap or the rapper or the culture. The problem is that so many people don’t even know how to listen to the music.” and “…the Fox News dummies. They wouldn’t know art if it fell on them.”

On election day, early in the morning, I read from the new SHARKPACK Annual, “the night.” Editor Joseph Spece writes, “We believe strongly in the duties of high art; the ‘intimate revolt’; the simultaneously inscrutable and substantive spirit of the avant-garde; and the Sublime that exceeds us.”

1 – 6 of my OUTLAND begins the issue (if a digital publication “begins”). [The image above is a working draft of OUTLAND 7.]

Except for OUTLAND 1 – 6, the poems can both be read and listened to; do both. Check out Nels Hanson’s retelling of Washington Irving’s “Rip Van Winkle,” written in triplets with muted rhymes throughout—the second stanza: “children, said I was a shiftless / simpleton, idiot who couldn’t  / tell sun from rain. She swung”—“children” and “simpleton”—and the alliteration of “shiftless / simpleton idiot… couldn’t.” I was struck by the last couplet of Katie Howes’ “Have you been found?”: “She then climbed to the top / of the yellow shed and waited.” Brought to mind The Epic of Gilgamesh, when Sidhuri escapes to the roof of her tavern as the ragged Gilgamesh breaks down her gate, and saw correspondence with C. D. Wright's “What Do You Think’s In the Shed?” Struck, too, by Peter Longford’s line, “Lullabies, tender. Hoodwinks, loverly.” from “Majuscule.” He reads well, too. By Sue Robert’s “Meat”: “forgive me, I would say to them, / long dead, sourced and distal, even their beautiful long / bones useful.”

“In addition to letters,” editor Spece writes, “this issue features a mixtape of experimental music from Onga and the Italian alt-label Boring Machines”—he suggests we set aside an hour and “a spliff” and listen. I hit exhaustion instead. I like the mix—Everest Magma and, Mai Mai Mai: check out Mai Mai Mai's version of the soundtrack from Fulci's Sette Note In Nero (“The Psychic”)—AWESOME.

Penultimate, a pair of drawings by Colleen Maynard—graphite and charcoal; presumably close-ups, as in her Fossil Collection series. The way getting close can make an object hard to see. No, hard to know. The universe, as seen from Earth.

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