Sunday, August 05, 2007

Your Mind Is On Vacation and Your Mouth Is Working Overtime

In the century I come from, it was customary to actually read things before pronouncing them worthy or unworthy. I know this will arrive as a startling revelation in the age of infinite distractibility, when one is (apparently) proud of "not bothering." Back then -- imagine! -- this was considered embarrassing; it was not generally seen as acquitting oneself well.

But times change. So let me give up and post a Mose Allison video:


Seth Abramson said...


I think, if you look back at the history, my post on the HUM-PO roundtable was about me--i.e., I was annoyed that my name had been linked with "official culture" and that my aesthetics had been bandied about as though they were some sort of known quanitity, which was so well understood by the roundtable's participants it could be safely and presumptuously deried (NB: not expecting anyone to apologize for that, either; I long since stopped expecting most Lang-Po bloggers to acquit themselves well). Respectfully, only you, and Nada, and perhaps Gary, failed to see that the source of my ire was that I was being used as a "setpiece" in the discussion--the point of my post, then, was clearly not to conduct a review of the discussion itself. Hence, it's no great surprise I hadn't read the entire discussion, which would have taken me hours in any event, but also simply wasn't ineluctably germane to my complaint. I don't think I needed to read the whole discussion (though I did read the entire, somewhat lengthy section of it which led up to my name being mentioned) because it doesn't make Gabe's comments any less patronizing to have read the whole thing, and it doesn't make my aesthetic taste more or less knowable by people who are complete strangers to me (in the personal as well as professional sense) to have read an hours-long roundtable conducted by the those strangers.

I said that I "acquitted myself well here" because I showed that I was as civil as anyone else, if approached civilly (actually, I approached Nada civilly after being treated uncivilly by her, but was rebuffed, hence the follow-up post on my blog; as they say, "fool me once...").

I kind of feel as though you're taking one line of discussion (apples: how my name was used) and linking it up to another (oranges: the substance of the roundtable discussion, as compared to my background views on flarf, which are independent of the roundtable) in order to make me look like a jackass. Consider: doing so will make you look heroic to your friends, but is it an honest thing to do, Rachel?

I'm discussing humor in poetry right now with R.J. on my blog (the "Every once in a while..." post). I'd be happy if anyone interested in flarf or HUM-PO or Jacket joined me. I don't expect it, though--not because I haven't always been civil when someone has tried to engage me in a conversation on poetics as opposed to personalities, but because (though I've now read the whole roundtable; how many people who do so, I wonder, after being so poorly treated by its participants?) the point of flarf, and frankly (as Bill Knott implies) much Lang-Po, is not to discuss it outside Fight Club.

And that's not a "Seth" issue, it's a Lang-Po issue--as I don't see Nada engaging Reginald Shepherd or C. Dale Young or any of the other supposed "SoQ" bloggers, either.


AB said...



Rachel Loden said...

Seth, I don't write lang-po, and I'm not a lang-po blogger. Neither, I'm fairly certain, are Nada (whom I don't know at all, other than her work) or any of the other people you so civilly called "nutters" yesterday.

I don't agree that the intent of your post on the Jacket piece was "not to conduct a review of the discussion itself." Here's some of what you said:

"For the record, I don't know these people, and if some of them would just remove their mouths from what they're invested in, they could spit out the navel-lint and a serious discussion could be had."

That seems like a review to me--a nasty, dismissive one, implying that you'd read the piece and could say with conviction that no serious discussion had taken place. But as soon became clear, you hadn't read much of it, so you wanted authority--but you wanted it on the cheap.

So I guess I can't agree that I'm confusing apples and oranges in this discussion.

And I can't take it very seriously when you speak here and on your blog about how nicely you'd like to play, if all the rude boys and girls would just cooperate. When you're being more honest, as you were in the comment box a couple of days ago, you acknowledge that you "still haven't learned how to play responsibly as often as I ought to. I became a PD because I do enjoy mischief-making, and unfortunately this technology provides far too many tempting opportunities to make entirely the wrong sort of mischief--the mean-spirited kind."

So again, just for future clarity: (a) none of the poets you're addressing are language poets, unless I'm seriously out of my mind--in which case, poets, please correct me.

And (b) this poet in particular does not belong to or represent any school or cadre.

I just have a jones for inconsistencies, I guess. Maybe it's because I love Through the Looking Glass and married a logician. But I'm going to be taking my blog into mostly-quiescent mode over the next few weeks, as I make a book manuscript and do some other things. So we needn't do this again.

Off later today to hear Rachmaninov, Adolphe, Bach, and Schubert on Death and Transfiguration. Cheers!

Seth Abramson said...

As you like, Rachel. I think the histories of those you're defending aren't as pleasant as you'd prefer, one reason my attitude--as does everyone's--depends on who I'm addressing. FWIW, I meant "mischief" in the institutional sense; just as I make "mischief" for the government by defending those it abhors, so I make mischief on-line by goring sacred cows and confronting nasty people. That doesn't mean I'm perfect, it just means that the narrative applied to me that I'm on-line just to be a cad isn't borne out by the hundreds and hundreds of sympathetic posts I'm made, across 2+ years, on issues of justice and equity and fairness and what-not. Of course some are going to find me nasty, usually because they don't like the cows or the trolls I'm after. That's fine, but we certainly shouldn't confuse it with justifiably righteous indignation. I apologize if I made things awkward for you by saying something nice about you on my blog: I'm sure you've gotten hell for it, though you should be fine, now that you've made the point publicly that you, too, think I'm a _______. Be well,

Take care,