31.10.09

Poetrygate


In 19th October, Helsingin Sanomat published a poetry review that caused a commotion in the poetry community. A senior editor, Jukka Petäjä, took five debut poetry collections and bashed them in an arrogant manner in a review of just under 490 words. Petäjä took aim at the books and tried to sink them as worst exhibits of current experimental writing. The irony is that hardly none of the books can be considered very experimental. What was symptomatic in Petäjä's writing was his inability to recognize poetic implements used by each of these poets; his attack was vicious, antagonistic and personal, using such expressions as "Change of voice in new poetry" (which in Finnish can be understood as a derogatory reference to silly breaking voice of a teen-age boy and to the young age of the poets), or "lack of sense erupts in a masturbatory monologue". He begins his review with an incomprehensible statement, which tries to establish a scientific tone:
"Proud new poetry aims to deconstruct everyday experiences and place the abstracted consciousness somehow sideways and in opposition to traditional world of concepts, which provides too narrow frame of mind to the life - and to poetry. It wants to come close to aesthetic saturation point where poetry forces itself written anew, in another way."
Whee! At least I cannot understand what that means. Maybe it means that: "new poetry wants to be, ahem, new"? As a topping to the insult Petäjä misspelled authors' names and Timo Harju's collection was mentioned only in one sentence. It is obvious from the sentence that the critic did not even read the book. Summary: the critic bundles together five books, makes an unsubstantiated claim (well he cites some verses that seem to prove his point) that the books are experimental and avant-garde poetry, and by the way, they are crap. Trust me, I'm a professional.

The review received immediately a flood of responses on the Helsingin Sanomat discussion forum (currently 127 messages) as well as a host of critical blog posts, parodies and debate. Many posts in fact offered better analysis of the bashed poetry collections than Petäjä's original review did. Most responses to the review argued that the review was unfair because it bundled together five different works that should have deserved to be reviewed as individual and independent works, in addition Petäjä was wrong when he insisted that they represented some kind of experimental poetry. Most people in Helsingin Sanomat discussion forum appeared using their real name, not an alias, which is unusual. It is known that at least one comment by Karri Kokko was not published. Kokko posted his comment in his blog, and it is really very innocent. There is no obvious reason why it did not pass the moderator. After two days the heads of paper's editorial culture department stepped forward defending Jukka Petäjä saying, and I summarize now: it's really difficult to understand this avant-garde poetry, you know, and if a professional reader cannot understand this stuff, to whom is it meant for?

It may sound strange to make a fuss about one critical review, but Helsingin Sanomat is a powerful media and beating five debutants to pulp is a bit too much. There is of course authority at stake. For the media to stay as an authority it has to act as an authority, to be the gatekeeper and the tastemaker. One way of establishing the status of a gatekeeper is to prove that you have your finger on the pulse of the contemporary literature. And Helsingin Sanomat does this every year by dealing a price to best debutant writer. These five poets could have been on the shortlist for this price, but it seems that their books were not even read by the judges, let alone understood in the context of contemporary writing (or literary history for that matter). This of course undermines the authority of the price.

One aspect of the case is that all of these five books were published by small poetry publishers ntamo and PoEsia. Helsingin Sanomat has been known to have a distaste for such small publishers and it seems that these five books were unfortunate to have the label "small publisher" on them. In my opinion these two publishers produce some of the best poetry books in Finland and they publish more poetry than the big established publishers do together.

Leevi Lehto, publisher of ntamo, made a formal demand to Helsingin Sanomat to make a new review of Timo Harju's book because the first review made libelous claims of the book (the book being experimental having "introduced multiple-choice questionnaires and musical scores to Finnish poetry"). Multiple-choice questionnaires and musical scores are not really new in finnish poetry, let alone in international poetry, as everybody knows.

Mistakes in the poets' names, pointed many times in the discussion forum, are still uncorrected in the internet version of the review.

Here is a list of the books and links to their publisher's websites.

Original review in Finnish and link to discussion forum can be found here:
Uuden runouden äänenmurros (Change of voice in new poetry)
Amuse yourself with Google's translation of the review.

A list of links to blog posts and debate can be found on PoEsia website, in Finnish:
Traumatisoivaa avantgardea oikein tosissaan (Truly traumatising avant-garde)

23.10.09

istuntosaliin ei tänään saa viedä kasvopyyhkeitä; kyyninen kommentti 

pylväs seisoo keskeisellä paikalla salin keskellä; tuskastunut kommentti

paksun kirjan sivut ulisevat kuin susi; läkähtynyt kommentti

kirkas ja kuiva kuutamo valoi heidän kellonsa valolla; eroottinen kommentti 

hänen silmistään laskivat purot mascaramereen; hämmentynyt kommentti tuntemattoman edessä

jos kirja, vaikka nerokaskin, heitetään jokeen, se hajoaa; välinpitämätön kommentti 

27.9.09

Found Poem - Piece of Parliamentary Filth

Harlots, sleazebags, frauds, immoral cheats,
blackguards, pigs, mugs, clowns, boxheads,
criminal intellects, criminals, stupid crooks,
corporate crooks, friends of tax cheats,
brain-damaged, loopy crims, stupid foul-mouthed grub,
piece of criminal garbage, dullards, stupid, mindless, crazy,
alley cat, bunyip aristocracy, clot, fop, gigolo, hare-brained,
hillbilly, malcontent, mealy-mouthed, ninny, rustbucket,
scumbag, scum, sucker, thug, dimwits, dummies,
a swill, a pig sty, Liberal muck, vile constituency,
fools and incompetents, rip-off merchants,
perfumed gigolos, gutless spiv, glib rubbish,
tripe and drivel, constitutional vandals, stunned mullets,
half-baked crim, insane stupidities, champion liar,
ghouls of the National Party, barnyard bullies,
piece of parliamentary filth.

10.9.09

Tämä On Runokritiikkiä

Tämä on runokritiikkiä jota äitinikin voi ymmärtää. Noinko sinä
luet runoja. Näytä vielä kerran sen runokritiikki. Tämän
runokritiikin haluaisin kuulla. Runokritiikki sai vielä yhden kauden
päänäyttämöllä. Kaikki tanssivat runokritiikin soidessa ja
täysikuu mollotti. Isä nosti hattua runokritiikin tullessa vastaan.
Minulla on runokritiikki aina lompakossa runon
varalta. Onko tämä runokritiikki jo vapaa? Onko tuo runokritiikkiä?
Voisinko minä olla runokritiikin jälkeläinen? Vuoden sopimus
rajoittamattomilla runokritiikeillä. Viisiportainen synkronoitu
runokritiikki ja automaattinen runon rajoitin. Miksi sinä luet runoja?
Valokuvaaja huomasi heti hänen runokritiikkipaitansa. Missä minun usb-
kaapeli on, minun pitää ladata runokritiikki koneelle. Ota kaksi
runokritiikkiä saat kolmannen ilmaiseksi. Yrityksen runokriitikoiden
täytyi matkustaa eri lentokoneilla koska meillä ei ollut varaa
menettää molempia mahdollisessa onnettomuudessa. Eikka vietti pitkiä
aikoja parantolassa toipuen runokritiikistä. Lacanilainen
runokritiikki omaksuu radikaalisti runosta eroavan diskurssin, eron
diskurssin. Pääluottamusmies erotettiin runokritiikin takia, Nokia ei
suostu kommentoimaan mutta insinöörien liitosta kerrotaan että
häntä kiellettiin runojen kanssa näprääminen työaikana. Hänet
nähtiin kirjoittamassa runokritiikkiä mutta sitten puristelemassa
toista runoa Loisteen vessassa. Mietin mistä outo ahdistava oloni
johtui mutta sitten muistin että unohdin ottaa lääkkeet
runokritiikin jälkeen. Se on näet runokritiikkiä. Oksensin
runokritiikin jälkeen. Oksensin kaiken runokritiikin. Sen
runokritiikin jälkeen ajattelin: Aina! Ikuisesti sinun! Se ei ole
konkreettista, se ei ole runokritiikkiä. Runokritiikkisi ei ole
tarpeeksi kriittistä toiset vangit sanoivat hänelle. Tappoi itsensä
runokritiikkiin. Nälkiinnytti runokritiikillä. Ajoi runokritiikin
umpikujaan. Peruutti runokritiikin. Imi runokritiikkiä. Kuumensi
runokritiikin stendarilla. Hengitti runokritiikkiä sisään. Oli
ekstaasissa runokritiikistä. Hajoitti runon ytimen runokritiikillä.
Pani runokritiikin seinää vasten. Sai varomattomasta runokritiikistä
tartunnan. Ilman - ilman runokritiikkiä. Minulla on runokritiikki
hukassa. Runokritiikissä luki: tässä lepää runo. We Chinese poetry
critics best hahahahahaaa! American poetry critics suck hahahahaaaaaa!
Your method weak hahahahaaaaa! Se mitä näet on runokritiikkiä. Se
mitä et näe oli runokritiikkiä. Annoin itselleni tehtävän tehdä
runokritiikkiä, siis tein runokritiikkiä. Olisin runokritiikin isä.
Minne runokritiikit menevät kuolemaan. Siellä tunsin olevani turvassa
minua vainoavilta runokritiikeiltä. Susi runokritiikin vaatteissa.
Tutkijat löysivät runokritiikin genomin. Runo laitettiin
värähtelemään ja pian runokritiikki sen vieressä värähteli
samalla taajuudella. 70 vuoden välein runokritiikki palasi loistavana
pallona taivaalle. Kaikkien runokritiikkien luoja oli luojajumala
Viracocha. Annoin hakata runokritiikin nahkaani. Tämä runokritiikki
on vasemmalla kädellä kirjoitettu. Kuljin ovelta ovelle mutta en
saanut runokritiikille äänestäjiä. Ennenkuin minut teloitetaan
haluaisin kirjoittaa viimeisen runokritiikin. Hänen vatsastaan
poistettiin pahanlaatuinen runokritiikki. Haluan tuoda ihmisten
elämään harmoniaa tekemällä runokritiikkiä. Jokainen tuomitsee
oman runokritiikkinsä mukaan. Hänen aivokasvaimensa parani
etärunokritiikillä. Olen runokritiikin suojeluksessa. Olen
runokritiikki.

Found Poem

Driving, shopping, eating, farming, laundering, shaving, vacuuming or
hoovering, traveling, waiting, toileting, mowing, re-

modeling, grooming, collecting, raking, swimming, refinishing, painting,
sewing, hiking, walking, resting, jogging, loafing, pet sitting, ice

fishing, packing, paving, digging, sweeping, recuperating, cementing,
guarding, waking, darning, watering, watching, inspecting, moving, envelope

stuffing, constructing, mending, baking, scrap booking, jack hammering,
mopping, maple sugaring, patrolling, demolishing, horse

grooming, ironing, biking, dog walking, ranching, restocking, fishing,
sanding, polishing, and mailing.

Aase Berg on aesthetics of poetry

I hope for poetic expressions that are aggressive, baroque and esoteric; I prefer ridiculous and embarrassing to perfection. On the literary market, which is dominated by the aesthetic and social ideals of the upper middleclass, it is unacceptable to be excessive in any way – one adjective too many and you're out. There's a stubborn cliché that the sober, quiet and elegant, the so-called "simple" is categorically more informative than the noisy. The fleshy, screamy and overdone, the vulgar, desperate and pathetic are so taboo in our culture that there must be dog buried in the phenomenon. Typomag

7.5.09

maajalkaisten murha; tapettiin; jo kuulin siitä ennen
maajaloin; taimet kannoin
kruununsa vaihtuu suopaan; antaa kalujen pudota
prinsessan ahtaudesta; naimisiin
mistä päästä; kuu nousee päätään
kai yritin ripustautua; siitä irti; josko olin oljilla; synnyin ja kasvoin
katselin sinua jo tunnin; etkä herännyt; pitempään
ilta lähestyi sinua jo minuutin; odotin
kultaisen buddhan; jalkojen juureen; kumarrut sinäkin

1.5.09

Reading Roland Barthes: Critical Essays

Page 256
It appears possible for example to develop entire literary criticism starting from the two rhetorical categories established by [Roman] Jacobson: metaphor and metonymy.
Page 257
If these various ideological principles are possible at the same time (and for my part, in a certain sense I subscribe to each of them at the same time), it is doubtless because an ideological choice does not constitute the Being of criticism and because "truth" is not its sanction. Criticism is more than discourse in the name of "true" principles. It follows that the capital sin in criticism is not ideology but the silence by which it is masked: this guilty silence has a name: good conscience, or again, bad faith.
Page 257
All criticism must include in it's discourse (even if it is in the most indirect and modest manner imaginable) an implicit reflection on itself; every criticism is a criticism of the work and a criticism of itself.

23.4.09

From this position, the
doubt of my existence
From my disposition
Untouched by — I'm
Dont say the word busted!
Until you are allowed
To say it — it's use is only
Determined by the script
And radical pluralism
That we are all
Touched by and follow-
ers of. Shocking as
That may seem too
To all you teen-stutterers
Animated by the
Notion that we may like
What we hear but
Feel untouched of
The meaning empty-
ing a cartridge to quote
The unquotable thing and
expel the ghosts who
Obscure to explain the
Bulk of Homeric
Epithets that we like
To call you with
To the point of being gun deaf to your moral accountancies
I creed comedy and tragedy are not opposed
But positive concept with specific content like
lack of resources duped as freedom of choice

Behold you should be seeing them everywhere
True source of evil is the gaze that sees evil everywhere
And when he looked at it he said I like
this civilization and the unborn of it's eggs

Your flash player is not working in your adoration of her
flak jacket must be returned for repairs to the seat of
your true desire who tricks'd you
But I can borrow her for the death of her
Cause I am a relatively natural blonde in and out
We are spoken by a language but not by this

Reading: Jonathan Culler: Structuralist Poetics

Quotes of interesting things he has to say.

Page 58-59
There is a sense in which the resolution of oppositions that takes
place in a metaphor is the thought of the poem itself rather than the thought of a group of readers, and the critic studying the structure of that poem or a series of poems does not begin by taking surveys to discover the reaction of readers. The reason is that texts have meaning for those who know how to read them - those who, in their encounters with literature, have assimilated the conventions that are constitutive of literature as an institution and a means of communication. It is in terms of literature or poetry that poems have meaning, and one could say, paraphrasing Lévi-Strauss, that the critics's task is to show 'comment la literature se pense dans le hommes'.

Page 60

Taken as a theory of reading, Levi-Strauss's account of myth offers the student of literature the rare spectacle of an attempt to invent and test conventions for the reading of fictional discourse. Since myth and literature share, at the very least, a 'logic of concrete', one should consider his proposals concerning the reading of myth as hypotheses about semiotic operations that may be performed intuitevily in the reading of literature.

Page 61

[...] in order to make text signify, organizes its elements into
oppositional series which can then be correlated with other oppositions. This process has one extremely important consequence: the extraction of pertinent features leaves a residue which can itself be organized into various oppositions, producing the kind of plurivalency or ambiguity that many have taken to be constitutive of literary language.

Page 62

There can be little doubt that in reading poems or novels one does establish a hierarhcy of semantic features. We may interpret statements about the weather as metaphors for states of mind, but none ever read statements about moods as metaphors for the weather. The opposition between good and bad weather is not, shall we say, recognized as fundamental in itself and therefore is taken as expressing some other, more important contrast. One of the tasks of criticism might be to determine what semantic features enjoy this priviledged status and seem worthy to serve as the ultimate signifiés of symbols.

Page 62

The very oddity of the myths he [Levi-Strauss] cites, the difficulty of achieving what we would ordinarily think of as satisfactory understanding, makes clear just how much we rely, in the reading texts from western culture, on a series of codes and conventions of which we are not fully aware.
(Jonathan Culler, Structuralist Poetics, Routledge 2002)

6.4.09

Toiston ja varioinnin monet keinot. Juhana Vähäsen Avaa tule.

Vähäsen kirjoittamisessa on kiinnostavaa se, miten monella hienovaraisella tavalla hän varioi runojen materiaalia. Esimerkkinä Avaa tule (Teos 2008).

Fraasien toisto, "unelmoiva katse" siirtyy kuvaamaan henkilöä toisensa jälkeen. Ensin kertojan kuvaamaa äitiä, sitten naista tenniskentällä ja lopuksi kertojaa itseään. s. 73 - 74.
[...] hänellä oli vakava syy olla joku toinen kuin oli ja hän teki sen itsepäinen kiintynyt unelmoiva katse silmissään, juuttuneena itseensä.
[...] Muistan naisen, joka nojasi tennismailaan ja jota katsoin hiukan kiihtyneesti, minulla oli kädessäni pullo Coca-Colaa ja hänellä oli unelmoiva katse, keltaiset linnut lensivät yllämme tai ehkä ne olivat tennispalloja. Mailassa ei ole mitään vikaa, hän sanoi ja minä katsoin häntä unelmoiva katse silmissäni.
Sama fraasi voi toistua edellisen kaltaisena määritteenä jostakin henkilöstä tai kokonaisena virkkeenä. s. 74.
[...] Mikään muu ei ole mielenkiintoista. Paskat kaikesta muusta.
Mikään muu ei ole mielenkiintoista. Menen elokuviin tai laitan television päälle.
Edellinen tuntuu huomattavasti perinteisemmältä retoriikalta, koska toisto on niin ilmeistä. Monimutkaisimillaan Vähäsen teksteissä toistuvat tietyt retoriset rakenteet, joiden materiaalina toimivat vaihtuvat/toistuvat aiheet/fraasit. s. 71, 75 - 76.
[...] Suuren talon ensimmäisen pimeän vesiklosetin kaakelit olivat siniset. Suuren talon toisen pimeän vesiklosetin kaakelit olivat punaiset. Suuren talon kolmannen pimeän vesiklosetin kaakelit olivat valkoiset. Suuren talon neljännen pimeän vesiklosetin kaakelit olivat kolmasosaltaan sinisiä, kolmasosaltaan punaisia, kolmasosaltaan valkoisia.
[...] Joku, joka tuoksuu ruusuvedeltä ja joka on rakastunut oppilaaseensa. Tai joku joka ei tuoksu ruusuvedeltä, mutta on siitä huolimatta rakastunut oppilaaseensa. Tai joku joka tuoksuu ruusuvedeltä eikä kuitenkaan ole rakastunut oppilaaseensa.
[...] Ehkä se on sittenkin vaikeampaa kuin helpompaa. Mikä tahansa voi olla vaikeampaa tai helpompaa. Olen ehkä liian itsepäinen ja vaativa. Mikä tahansa voi olla vaikeampaa tai helpompaa tai kumpaakin niistä.
Edellisissä otteissa kutakin kertojan lausuntoa varioidaan kolme kertaa. Kaakelit ovat siniset, punaiset ja valkoiset. Ja sitten vielä kerran kolmasosaltaan siniset, punaiset ja valkoiset. Samaten: tuoksuu/ei tuoksu ruusuvedeltä, rakastunut/ei rakastunut; kolme kertaa. Ja vaikeampaa/helpompaa; kolme kertaa.

Samankuuloisen sanan toistaminen muunneltuna. s. 68. Huomaa sanat: kuinka, kuvioivat, kuivalle, kuvaile, kuvitella, kuvioidessa.
Muistan lukeneeni kuinka Land Rover hiukan väkivaltaisesti, tai pikemminkin sen takana, nopeammin uivana yksikkönä kiersi metsän. Se taipui mutta ei unohtunut leikkikentän laidalle, talojen varjoon jossa nestevanat kuvioivat, leikkimään. Se oli suuri tapaus, sanoaksemme sitä sellaiseksi, jossa nestevanat kuvioivat, niin kuin taustana, taustana kaikelle turhuudelle ja kaikelle rakkaudelle, kuivalle muusta. Kuvaile muuta, on järkevää katsoa televisiota ja kuvitella, on mahdotonta astua samaan aikaan supermarketin ovesta sisään, esimerkiksi sen kuvioidessa tätä. Land Rover, jonka sielu on tehty aavikolle ja vuorille, ajattelematta, vain tuntien sen ja sen hienoiset nestevanat jotka valuvat pitkin tietä.
Aiheiden toisto ja niiden ympärillä varioiminen, varioitavien ja toistettavien aiheiden/rakenteiden/fraasien verkosto ja viittaussuhteet, ne muodostavat itse kirjan rakenteen. Luulen että tästä rakenteesta voisi piirtää jonkinlaisen kaavion, mutta siitä ehkä myöhemmin.

1.4.09

The Tape

Sorry to trouble you she says at the door.
So she assumed that she could have known I was troubled.
I ask her to play the tape again.
I think it's important to make sure that it was a tape not an album radio broadcast or other.
Who was speaking on the tape?
Why she had to know that? Why she assumed I knew it?
When she entered she placed her shoes under the chair.
Shall I put the shoes to the closet?
Leave them under the chair I said. Let's listen to the tape.
But she did not listen to me only walked about in the room and spread her scent all over. She also talked incessantly.
You do not like me talking?
You have always talked. That's a nice scent. Unfortunately I just burned a scented candle. I can't identify if it's patchouli or what?
Give me a break you don't know a thing about scents.
She assumed that she was irritating me and now she did. Except the scent I liked.
Could it be pine?
I told you!
Of course I meant heather but now I had shaked her ground and I liked that.
Her scent made me forget she was there. That was obviously her aim.
Shall we listen to the tape?
No. Move about a little I would like to know that scent.
I open the window.
She took the tape from her bag. It smelled of celluloid.
Play it again. I must know if it's you or the tape.
You really like it. Pine you say?
Why did you think I wouldn't like it?
Close the window.
You don't like open window?
Do as I say and I take my shoes from under the chair and put them in the closet.
Now you're talking business play the tape again and you can do what you want. Like...
Shoes.
Tape
She stood at the door and asked where she can put the shoes.
I closed the door and opened the closet door.
What do you have in that bag I asked her. I tried to sound casual.
You are trying to sound casual. Are you worried?
Why should I be? Nice shoes. You have the tape in your bag?
Yes. You want to listen?
No, lets open the window first and talk. I want to let some fresh air in. I have burned a scented candle.
What scent? Patchouli?
Pine.
I would say heather.
That comes from outside I opened the window.
You are hasty.
I closed the closet door she walked into the living room.
What's this smell?
I burned a scented candle.
She played the tape.
Who's talking on the tape?
You are hasty. No chitchat. No exchange of pleasantries. You ask too much. What's the matter are you worried?
No.
Yes you are. Play it again. You are hasty. I want to listen to it all the way before I say anything.
Sometimes you say without saying anything.
If you think like that why are you here. You can listen to my silence in many ways. In other places.
Don't be cross. Listen the tape and say what you think.
I was cross. But I feel pleasant now. Where is the tape?
In the bag.
Open it.
It's open. The tape is here. Where is your tape deck?

16.3.09

Sestina and double sestina

Sestina is an old poetry format. There are a lot of variations (with rhyming and meter) but common to all is simply that ending word of each line repeats in certain variable order at each stanza. I experimented with the sestina because I read some very nice sestinas written by John Ashbery. I think sestina brings structure and movement to a poem. When words repeat in a predetermined pattern new juxtapositions emerge which I like.

To my knowledge two basic sestina formulas exist, normal and double sestina. Normal sestina has six stanzas, each consisting of six lines, and a three line ending stanza called envoy. It is easy to find a formula for the normal sestina, but there appears to be several formulas for a double sestina. My first try with a double sestina was to use John Ashbery's formula from a sestina in Flow Chart. Ashbery used words from Charles Swinbyrne's The Complaint of Lisa. First I used the same word pattern, replacing Swinbyrne's/Ashbery's line endings with my own, but I was unable to figure out the logic behind the formula. The normal sestina format can be deducted in a beautiful way using a spiral (see figure 1). Arabic numerals in the figure indicate ending words of a line, roman numerals indicate the stanza. When you use the spiral to the line endings of the first stanza, you get the repeat pattern for the line ending words for the second stanza. When you apply the spiral again for the second stanza, you get the repeat pattern for the line ending words for the third stanza. Repeat this until you have six stanzas.

Figure 1

Because I could not find one definitive formula for a double sestina, I tried the same method to create a formula for a double sestina (Figure 2). I do not claim that this is the right authoritative formula, but it is one way to find out the ending words if you want to avoid the very tedious task of deciphering ending words from existing double sestinas. In fact as far as I know there are no double sestinas written in this unofficial way. If someone knows the system feel free to comment and point to a right direction.

Figure 2


Please note that a proper sestina requires also the envoy, of which there are different patterns. Wikipedia article on sestina.

My previously posted collage/cut-up double sestina uses Swinbyrne's/Ashbery's formula.

You KNOW that your desire is the Desire of the Other, after you have paid your monthly bills.

26.2.09

What If?

Immanuel Kant was actually Mohammed?
Lewis Carrol, Martin Luther, and Nero were connected by a secret society?
Marco Polo was responsible for the dot-com bomb?
Ptolemy lived at the same time as Leonardo da Vinci?
Rosa Parks lived in a world where the sinking of Atlantis had never happened?
The Dark Ages involved secret science?
The evolution of mankind happened after the fall of the Aztec Empire?
Lewis Carrol, Saint Francis, and Imhotep were connected by a magical artifact?
Thomas Malthus had access to nanotechnology?
Buddha had access to chemistry?
Galileo detested Pythagoras?
Imhotep was deliberately responsible for the telegraph?

Leonardo da Vinci was deliberately responsible for the telegraph?
Tomas Edison was like Mohammed?
Mohammed was indirectly responsible for nanotechnology?
John Adams was inspired by Pythagoras?
Stalin was more like Leonardo da Vinci?
Tutankhamun was deliberately responsible for the rise of the Aztec Empire?
Alfred Nobel was connected to Saint Paul by a secret society?
The construction of the Panama Canal involved a magical artifact?
Saint Peter was indirectly responsible for the dot-com bomb?
Plato was directly responsible for chemistry?
Immanuel Kant was connected to Alexander the Great by secret science?
The Sino-French War had never happened?

Pontious Pilate lived in a world where the fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden had never happened?
Christ had access to the telegraph?
The Cuban Missile Crisis involved secret science?
Imhotep lived at the same time as Leonardo Da Vinci?
The travel of Buddhism to Japan happened after the fall of the Aztec Empire?
Caeser lived at the same time as Mohammed?
Billy the Kid was connected to Kepler by a secret society?
William Penn was indirectly responsible for the dot-com bomb?
The fall of Satan involved chemistry?
Saint Luke was responsible for nanotechnology?
Napoleon was like Pythagoras?
The fall of the Aztec Empire involved a magical artifact?

The rise of the Inca Empire involved a magical artifact?
The rise of the Inca Empire had never happened?
The advent of Christianity happened after the rise of the Aztec Empire?
Alexander Bell was connected to Roger Bacon by secret science?
Aristotle lived at the same time as Leonardo Da Vinci?
The fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden involved the telegraph?
Pythagoras was responsible for chemistry?
George Washington, Kublai Khan, and Tutankhamun were connected by a secret society?
Montezuma was responsible for the dot-com bomb?
Roger Bacon was brought down by Pythagoras?
Fionn mac Cumhaill switched places with Mohammed?
Carl Jung was responsible for nanotechnology?

The sinking of Atlantis involved nanotechnology?
Marquis De Sade was connected to Cleopatra by a magical artifact?
Thomas Agrippa was connected to Plato by secret science?
Heraclitus was indirectly responsible for chemistry?
Heraclitus lived at the same time as Mohammed?
The sinking of Atlantis involved a secret society?
The rise of Rome happened after the rise of the Aztec Empire?
John Adams was more like Leonardo da Vinci?
Saint Peter was indirectly responsible for the dot-com bomb?
Saint Thomas had access to the telegraph?
Teddy Roosevelt lived in a world where the 'British Invasion' of music had never happened?
Saint Francis was the reincarnation of Pythagoras?

Montezuma was the descendent of Pythagoras?
The destruction of the Hindenburg involved nanotechnology?
The sexual revolution involved secret science?
The rise of the Maya Empire involved chemistry?
Linnaeus was obsessed with Leonardo da Vinci?
Princess Diana, Voltaire, and Leif Ericson were connected by a secret society?
The rise of the Maya Empire happened after the fall of the Aztec Empire?
Hiawatha switched places with Mohammed?
The rise of Rome involved the telegraph?
The fall of Mankind from the Garden of Eden involved a magical artifact?
The 100 year war had never happened?
Billy the Kid was deliberately responsible for the dot-com bomb?

The American Revolution happened after the dot-com bomb?
William Blake fought Pythagoras?
The warring states period in China happened after the fall of the Aztec Empire?
The Indo-Pakistan war involved a magical artifact?
The most advanced technology of today was the telegraph?
Marie Curie was more like Mohammed?
The Spanish-American war involved a secret society?
The rise of Buddhism involved chemistry?
Harun al-Rashid lived in a world where the sinking of Atlantis had never happened?
The Salem Witch Hunt involved secret science?
Chiang Kai Shek had access to nanotechnology?
Lenin was inspired by Leonardo da Vinci?

Voltaire was obsessed with Leonardo da Vinci?
The Opium War happened after the dot-com bomb?
Today's most commonplace technology was nanotechnology?
The advent of color television involved secret science?
The Cold War had never happened?
The sinking of Atlantis involved chemistry?
Pythagoras lived at the same time as Mohammed?
The crucifixion of Jesus happened after the rise of the Aztec Empire?
Pythagoras was indirectly responsible for the telegraph?
Albert Einstein was the reincarnation of Pythagoras?
Napoleon was connected to Columbus by a magical artifact?
The building of the Maginot Line involved a secret society?

The Opium War involved a secret society?
Plato switched places with Leonardo da Vinci?
Gandhi lived in a world where the advent of Christianity had never happened?
Ptolemy switched places with Mohammed?
Mohammed was directly responsible for the dot-com bomb?
John Lennon, Newton, and Mohammed were connected by a magical artifact?
Pontious Pilate was directly responsible for the fall of the Aztec Empire?
The most advanced technology of today was chemistry?
Kublai Khan was deliberately responsible for nanotechnology?
Kublai Khan was like Pythagoras?
The sinking of Atlantis involved the telegraph?
The evolution of mankind involved secret science?

The invention of the birth control pill involved secret science?
The rise of NATO involved a secret society?
The Boer War involved nanotechnology?
The Global influenza epidemic happened after the dot-com bomb?
The 100 year war involved a magical artifact?
Christ switched places with Mohammed?
The rise of Buddhism happened after the rise of the Aztec Empire?
Joan of Arc lived in a world where the fall of the Aztec Empire had never happened?
Harun al-Rashid was indirectly responsible for chemistry?
Voltaire was obsessed with Leonardo da Vinci?
King Arthur was obsessed with Pythagoras?
Saint Jerome was responsible for the telegraph?

Caesar had access to the telegraph?
The spread of Buddhism involved secret science?
The fall of Satan involved a magical artifact?
Aristotle switched places with Leonardo da Vinci?
The Global influenza epidemic happened after the dot-com bomb?
The American revolution had never happened?
Princess Diana was deliberately responsible for nanotechnology?
Moses was directly responsible for chemistry?
The McCarthy trials involved a secret society?
Elvis was like Mohammed?
Stalin detested Pythagoras?
Socrates was indirectly responsible for the fall of the Aztec Empire?

The extinction of the dinosaurs happened after the fall of the Aztec Empire?
The most advanced technology of today was the telegraph?
The Information Age involved secret science?
The Klondike Gold Rush happened after the dot-com bomb?
Beethoven was deliberately responsible for nanotechnology?
Martin Luther was actually Pythagoras?
The creation of Rock and Roll had never happened?
The fall of the USSR involved a magical artifact?
Nietzsche was the descendent of Leonardo da Vinci?
Martin Luther was connected to Imhotep by a secret society?
Confucius had access to chemistry?
Confucius lived at the same time as Mohammed?

The telegraph had been invented a thousand years earlier Saint Paul had access to chemistry?
Gershwin, Bach, and Roger Bacon were connected by a magical artifact? The Cuban Missile Crisis involved nanotechnology?
The Renaissance involved secret science: Leonardo da Vinci was deliberately responsible for genetic engineering?
The dot-com bomb involved a terrible secret: Eleanor Roosevelt, King George III, and Genghis Khan were connected by secret science?
The rise of NATO involved a secret society: Karl Marx, Mohammed, and Cleopatra were connected by a secret bloodline?
Jack the Ripper fought Pythagoras the Nuremberg Trials had never happened?

22.2.09

Mikä voima oli voittamaton. Mikä elämää ylläpitäviä voimia vastaan
Millä oli kyky liikuttaa raajojansa, kuin ilma olisi häneen puhallettu
Nykyaika ei tunnu

Tämäkin tuntuu

Menin tunneliin ja ovet jyrähtelivät

Takanani vihdoinkin näin, ja näin ruusut

Mahdotonta muistaa

Olin vain takin taskusta pudonnut rakkaus

Ei kasva 

Ja he olivat turhautuneet. nousseet pintaan ampumaan kranaatin

Sen ainoan 

Voisin mennä katsomaan — "mutta itse asiassa minä en ennusta tulevaisuutta vaan mitä tapahtuu aina"

Itse katselitte hämärää kohti

Minä tiesin ei hämärään tottua voi

Maustemyyjän tuoksuvasta taskusta 

Kirjan sivut tuoksuivat vahvasti niille pirskotellulta bensiiniltä — "I really like this international stuff you know"

Hän tökkää syömäpuikot hiuspehkoonsa
Kun hän kiukustui ne napsahtivat irti 

Hiukset valahtivat





Hän saa tarpeekseen

Näin hänen huutavan parkkimittarille joka oli hiekkasäkkien takana

     Put The Business End of The Acme Power-Drill
towards The surface to be worked on
     Apply a measure of Eikon surgical tape — eiTher cloth
or plastic — to keep The dressing on The fresh tattoo
     I like to use cheap ball point pens that I find in hotel
lobbies and swimming pool trash bins and maybe also in
commercial exhibitions if I can get free entrance, not that
I don't like those free pencils from Ikea too
     And I find sticks and esThetics likely to inspire me
more and more
Rahaksi ikuisiin kuluihin
Menoksi ikuisiin pitoihin
Tuloksi aikaisiin tapoihin

Menoksi aikaisiin tapoihin
Tuloksi ikuisiin kuluihin
Rahaksi ikuisiin pitoihin

Tuloksi ikuisiin pitoihin
Rahaksi aikaisiin tapoihin
Menoksi ikuisiin kuluihin

20.2.09

3.2.09

Sickle cell soldiers do I don't Lose controll lose weight
Daisies doing pushups Die and relive carry my semi-
Automatic conveys a very special meaning We are to
The biotech what The body of Pina Bausch for The
Contradiction that I am Surrendering

We have your mothers heart or your cock
cajoles all night — I suppose — And I need sleep
Give us a call and
We might give her away and then...
My thoughts cannot account for themselves in
This thought desert

You blame yourself for your mother's self destructive
criticism He lits himself alight with sunlight and washes
his hands with it and after photographing everything The
height of his tome gathering dust and crisp sunlight
It will be soon... And we laughed our heads off blowing
His hollow Everyone of their child was bequeathed
assertative western sins Just a bottle of need tasting
like pocket lint

A dust bin of bad Symbolism and a rampage
of Unconscious my soul
Classics counterfeited by them I
Heard her telling her life-story
just How I became a suggestive-aggressive
You prefer these instead of margaritas
Its a condition of your kind

Of something I don't know nothing of How it work'd
Yet I keep believing it so They pulled the sea from the
Body but couldn't pull the body out of sea — as some
things move me this does it too — for one thing He
was forced to quit when holes on the golf course started
reeking bad fumes

Gently like a hot bowl of soup — and I'm not telling this
for a joke — you need to be coming back with your
traumas Cured or not Your grass needs to be very dry for
Not to emit smoke If not a thousand cracked piñatas
what will it be

1.2.09

Slavoj Žižek: What's Wrong with Fundamentalism?

The logic is here the same as that of Anne Frank who, in her diaries, expresses belief in the ultimate goodness of man in spite of the horrors accomplished by men against Jews in World War II: what renders such an assertion of belief (in the essential goodness of Man; in the truly human character of the Soviet regime) sublime, is the very gap between it and the overwhelming factual evidence against it, i.e. the active will to disavow the actual state of things. Perhaps therein resides the most elementary meta-physical gesture: in this refusal to accept the real in its idiocy, to disavow it and to search for Another World behind it. The big Other is thus the order of lie, of lying sincerely. And it is in this sense that "the best lack all conviction, while the worst are full of passionate intensity": even the best are no longer able to sustain their symbolic innocence, their full engagement in the symbolic ritual, while "the worst," the mob, engage in (racist, religious, sexist...) fanaticism? Is this opposition not a good description of today's split between tolerant but anemic liberals, and the fundamentalists full of "passionate intensity"?¹

The Žižek quote above reminds me of an article I once read about reasons why liberalist and conservative thoughts have such a gap (or maybe "split" in lacanese). The article was written by a professor of social sciences in US. The name of the professor now escapes me and I cannot find the link to the article. But, the basic logic or attraction of conservative ideology as I remember it (read: religious/political fundamentalism of any kind, which we have a fare share in Finland too, we do not need to go into american evangelicals) is that it gives very clear answers to basic human questions. I think in lacanese this means: how should we manage our enjoyment? While conservative thinking is very precise in this the liberal opposition does have very weak answers. Regarding this an example: finnish television recently aired a debate which precisely illustrates this. The debate between pro-daycare activist Jarkko Tontti, and children-should-be-taken-care-by-their-mother partisan Nina Mikkonen turned to be a farce between aggressive conservative Mikkonen "speaking from her heart" and cool Tontti, who backed his side with supporting scientific studies. Precisely this brings us to a point, or two points actually. First is that precise answers backed with strong emotion, (never mind how dubious the ideological background; i.e. who is speaking when we talk about the "best of the children"?) make a strong case against the liberal we-can-change-our-mind-if-scientific-studies-point-to-other-direction position. The second point can be found in the next quote of Žižek.

At some point, Alcoholics Anonymous meet Pascal: "Fake it until you make it.." However, this causality of the habit is more complex than it may appear: far from offering an explanation of how beliefs emerge, it itself calls for an explanation. The first thing to specify is that Pascal's "Kneel down and you will believe!" has to be understood as involving a kind of self-referential causality: "Kneel down and you will believe that you knelt down because you believed!" The second thing is that, in the "normal" cynical functioning of ideology, belief is displaced onto another, onto a "subject supposed to believe," so that the true logic is: "Kneel down and you will thereby MAKE SOMEONE ELSE BELIEVE!" One has to take this literally and even risk a kind of inversion of Pascal's formula: "You believe too much, too directly? You find your belief too oppressing in its raw immediacy? Then kneel down, act as if you believe, and YOU WILL GET RID OF YOUR BELIEF - you will no longer have to believe yourself, your belief will already ex-sist objectified in your act of praying!" That is to say, what if one kneels down and prays not so much to regain one's own belief but, on the opposite, to GET RID of one's belief, of its over-proximity, to acquire a breathing space of a minimal distance towards it? To believe - to believe "directly," without the externalizing mediation of a ritual - is a heavy, oppressing, traumatic burden, which, through exerting a ritual, one has a chance of transferring it onto an Other...¹

So the more you make clear that you believe in your cause (kneel down, act as you believe...), the more you make others believe on behalf of you. This is visible in muslim religion (if you behave like a believer, pray on the designated hours and take part in other rituals you are a true believer) and in christian cults too. There is no third way.
"...The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere / the ceremony of innocence is drowned; / the best lack all conviction, while the worst / are full of passionate intensity." W.B Yeats²



¹ WITH OR WITHOUT PASSION What's Wrong with Fundamentalism?
² Quoted in the beginning of the same article by Žižek.

25.1.09

Likert 2.

Yes, I love it.
It's not perfect, but it's an improvement.
I feel neutral about it.
It's not horrible, but I don't like it.
No, I hate it.
There was an "old" look?

17.1.09

'Twas Mirta's first hard-core shoot and
It remained the only one And they
become intimate friends since then
Her twin was perplexed to receive
the gaze meant for the other sister The
Net seem'd always to know
Beforehand the messages I'm sending
Before they reach her Inbox Timetabels
Notes on epoch of the piece and such
We do not need to look far for an advance
Knowledge to know the fail of the shoot
For what is a blunt blade but useless
Knowing too And in this knowing is what?
That makes it knowing for us
Being too much preoccupied in 'being'
Is not a danger Her response times getting
Shorter all the time until There was no time —
Between yea and nay — pulse and repulse —
Or the negative of it If that's possible And
That's why I read only short books
Although his and hers writing was —
How can an army of so many arms
lose? — like life-size enactment of
History In this room the railroad net-
work built and under it the powder keg
ready to go And in that room radio-
active fat on the waist — also life sized —
all had to be aborted, unexplained A
People's uprise A disassembled cask
A roar of first time Shooting the in-
visible man You have a strange way
Of saying you like me says he But
Heart is on the right side — innit?
though from which side you are
looking on you don't know

10.1.09

Slavoj Žižek: Looking Awry, An Introduction to Jacques Lacan through Popular Culture (1992)

I have been reading Slavoj Žižek's books for a while and I finished the latest after new year. Towards the end of Looking Awry Zizek gets to his most interesting point in his book. The abstract essence of democracy.
We should begin with an elementary question: who is the subject of democracy? The Lacanian answer is unequivocal: the subject of democracy is not a human person, "man" in all the richness of his needs, interests and beliefs. The subject of democracy, like the subject of psychoanalysis, is none other than the Cartesian subject in all its abstraction, the empty punctuality we reach after subtracting all its particular contents. In other words there is a structual homology between the Cartesian procedure of radical doubt that produces the cogito, an empty point or reflective self reference as a remainder, and the preamble of every democratic proclamation "all people without regard to (race, sex, religion, wealth, sosial status)." We should not fail to notice the violent act of abstraction at work in this "without regard to"; it is an abstraction of all positive features, a dissolution of all substantial, innate links, which produces an entity strictly correlative to the Cartesian cogito as a point of pure nonsubstantial subjectivity. Lacan likened the subject of psychoanalysis to this entity, to the great surprise of those used to the "psychoanalytic image of man" as a wealth of "irrational" drives; he denotes the subject by a crossed-out S, indicating thereby a constitutive lack of any support that would offer the subject a positive, substantial identity. It is because of this lack of identity, that the concept of identification plays such a crucial role psychoanalytic theory: the subject attempts to fill out its constitutive lack by means of identification, by identifying itself with some master-signifier guaranteeing its place in the symbolic network.
This violent act of abstraction does not express an ideologically overstretched image of democracy, an "exaggeration never met in real life," it pertains on the contrary to the very logic we follow as soon as we accept the principle of formal democracy: "democracy" is fundamentally "antihumanistic," it is not "made to the measure of (concrete, actual) men," but to the measure of a formal, heartless abstraction. There is in very notion of democracy no place for the fullness of concrete human content, for the genuineness of community links: democracy is a formal link of abstract individuals. All attempts to fill out democracy with "concrete contents" succumb sooner or later to the totalitarian temptation, however sincere their motives may be.

Later in the same chapter Žižek goes on to discuss the "new social movements" (ecology, feminism) in relation to democracy.
... they make it clear that their aim is much more radical than that of the ordinary political parties: what they are striving after is a fundamental transformation of the entire mode of action and belief, a change in the "life paradigm" affecting our most intimate attitudes.
[...]
In other words, it is not possible to be an ecologist or feminist in quite the same way as one can be a conservative or a social democrat in a Western formal democracy. What is at stake in the former case is not just a political belief but an entire life attitude. And such a project radical change in the "life paradigm," once formulated as a political program, necessarily undermines the very foundations of formal democracy. The antagonism between formal democracy and the "new social movements" is irreducible, which is why this antagonism has to be fully assumed and not eluded by means of utopian projects for a "concrete democracy which would absorb the whole diversity of the so-called "life-work."

I am not sure if this solution Žižek proposes is the best. But this impossibility of irreducibility is very familiar in modern culture and politics. Maybe the biggest existing antagonism. Is it this antagonism that seems to dissolve seemingly opposite ideologies together. I am thinking here about counter cultures, that despite having opposite ideas about the driving of common interests, resist assimilation to democratic mainline.

Onwards to the next chapter where Žižek touches the mechanism of racism, which has been puzzling me lately.
This leftover to which formal democracy clings, that which renders possible the subtraction of all positive contents, is of course the ethnic moment conceived as "nation": democracy is always tied to the "pathological" fact of a nation-state. Every attempts to inaugurate a "planetary" democracy based upon the community of all people as "citizens of the world" soon attests its own impotence, fails to arouse political enthusiasm. Here we have again an exemplary case of the Lacanian logic of not-all where the universal function is founded upon an exception: the ideal leveling of all social differences, the production of of the citizen, the subject of democracy, is possible only through an allegiance to some particular national Cause.
[...]
What is at stake in ethnic tensions is always the possession of the national Thing: the "other" wants to steal our enjoyment. In short, what gets on our nerves, what really bothers us about the "other," is the peculiar way he organizes his enjoyment (the smell of his food, his "noisy" songs and dances, his strange manners, his attitude to work — in the racist perspective, the "other" is either a workaholic stealing our jobs or an idler living on our labor). The basic paradox is that our Thing is conceived as something inaccessible to the other and at the same time threatened by him; this is similar to castration which, according to Freud, is experienced as something that "really cannot happen," but whose prospect nonetheless horrifies us.

Georges Bataille: Blue Of Noon (1957)

A tormented shadow abruptly fell out of the sunny sky, shaking and snapping in the window frame. Shrinking and trembling I withdrew inside myself. It was a long rug tossed down from the floor above . For one brief moment I trembled: in my daze I thought that the man I call the Commendatore had come in. He would appear whenever I invited him. Even Xenie had been frightened. Like me, she felt apprehensive about a window where she had just been sitting for the purpose of jumping out of it. At the moment of the rug's intrusion, she hadn't screamed — she had curled up against me, pale, with eyes like a madwoman's.