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robertogreco : marjorieperloff   3

If You Hear Something Say Something, Or If You’re Not At The Table You’re On The Menu | ENTROPY
"It was the moment when the moderator was edging ever closer to the table where Marjorie Perloff sat, as he waited, microphone in hand, for the end of her answer to the really very truly last question before lunch, so he could bring the session to a close. It was the moment when everyone in the room was beginning to fidget with the awareness that the café serving lunch would close in twenty minutes. It was the moment when the next thing on the agenda was the workshop I was facilitating, which was where my head already was. It was the moment after I’d asked a question that pointed toward Marjorie Perloff’s selective and uncritical reading of critiques of Kenneth Goldsmith as exclusively about who has the right to speak of whom and in which contexts, the moment after the British writer James Wilkes asked a question about narrow channels versus the expansiveness of works that are more porous and polyvocal. It was the moment Perloff chose to answer Wilkes’ question about a poetics of generosity with the statement that we can’t romanticize the victim. What she said, verbatim—at the tail end of the Q&A following her talk at Where Were We, the ArtWriting Festival in Aarhus, Denmark on December 6, 2015—was this:

“I think the romanticization, where everybody kept calling him the poor child Michael Brown, and they constantly showed photographs of him in the media when he had been about 12 years old. That’s what they do. Many of the pictures you saw, he looks like a little kid, he was a 300-pound huge man. Scary. He was scary, I’m just saying, that way. So that things then turn out to be much more complicated. And so I don’t know what’s happened to poetry, or to poetic discourse, I shouldn’t say to poetry, but to poetic discourse, when we have all over Facebook these sentimental things about the poor sweet child and his poor family. Michael Brown himself had said ‘I wish I had a family.’ He didn’t even—he hadn’t seen his father in years, his mother was on crack, he didn’t have much of a family or much of a life.”
I know this is what she said, verbatim. I wrote down her words as she said them, in simultaneous incredulous disbelief and unsurprised belief at her blatant, predictable racism. I also recorded her talk and the Q&A that followed it, so I know for sure that this is what she said. (I’ve transcribed a larger excerpt contextualizing these comments below; feel free to be in touch if you want a copy of the entire recording—it’s poor sound quality and poor critical thinking and nothing you haven’t heard before if you’ve even halfway followed Perloff’s inexplicable or perhaps all too explicable defense of Kenneth Goldsmith’s work, but I’m willing to share the recording with anyone who wants it.)

These hateful, fearful comments were the only information in Perloff’s talk that was new—if not unfamiliar—to me. That is: the open admission that she finds Michael Brown scary, and that she perceives him as not having had “much of a family or much of a life,” as if that might justify (or at least mitigate) his brutal and entirely unjustifiable murder at the hands of the state and more specifically at the end of the barrel of Darren Wilson’s police-issue gun, or Kenneth Goldsmith’s predatory, self-aggrandizing and dehumanizing appropriation of the autopsy report describing Michael Brown’s dead body. As if Perloff should be the judge of what it is to “have a family” or “have a life,” or as if her standards for families and lives should be universal. As if she has some capacity, or some right, to measure how much this particular Black life mattered. I found these comments horrifying yet illuminating—not because it is a surprise that a white woman should express anti-Black sentiment or should feel threatened by and denigrating of an African-American youth, but because Perloff’s perhaps inadvertent honesty in that moment helped me to understand more clearly the backdrop to her willful insistence on amplifying the voices of white supremacist writers in a moment when, on the one hand, such voices need no amplification, and on the other, it could be considered a political and ethical responsibility to make work that explicitly and purposefully counters white supremacy. These comments provided context for the baffling fact that Perloff could speak about and around the fiasco of Goldsmith’s Michael Brown piece for nearly an hour and a half without even once mentioning the Black Lives Matter movement, and without acknowledging the many substantive critiques of that work that extend far beyond the question of who has a right to speak or write about which bodies—her sole, selective, and irresponsibly partial analysis of the criticism of Goldsmith’s piece. This is in no way an exhaustive cataloguing—there’s so much more—but some of the writings that have been most important to my thinking about racial justice in the poetry community have been written by: Lillian-Yvonne Bertram, Mahogany Browne and Black Poets Speak Out (there’s a really helpful compendium and notes at Cultural Front), Daniel Borzutzky, Ken Chen, Don Mee Choi, Cura’s “Fulcrum” issue, Joey De Jesús, Hands Up Don’t Shoot, Cathy Park Hong, Bhanu Kapil, John Keene, Eunsong Kim, Amy King, Ruth Ellen Kocher, Kenji Liu, Farid Matuk, and Heriberto Yépez.

Let me be clear: I believe it is my political and ethical responsibility to counter white supremacy explicitly and purposefully, in my creative work and in my teaching and in my cross-language practice and in my everyday conversations and movements through the world—and I don’t actually make much distinction among those realms, in practice or in poetics. I believe, further, that white supremacy is inextricably and intersectionally bound up with heteropatriarchy and voracious capitalism and the kind of anthropocentric consumer mentality that allows humans with privilege to believe that they are somehow immune from the ecological interconnectedness of all living beings (human, fauna, and flora). These are my beliefs, and I work to enact them in multiple ways in multiple contexts, and I often fail, and I continue through failure, and I don’t seek success but rather I seek accountability, porosity, to encounter what is beyond me, to accompany and be accompanied. These are my beliefs, and yet in the moment, as everyone present was being subjected to Marjorie Perloff’s hate speech—or maybe it was less intentional than hate speech? fear speech, perhaps?—I didn’t speak. I heard something and I didn’t say anything. All too often I don’t quite know how to speak. There’s no how-to for making a work or a life that counters white supremacy, nor is such resistance always as clear-cut as responding directly to racism publicly and blatantly expressed. Poetic practice is rarely clear-cut, direct and blatant; this is, in my view, part of its power: to take the everyday often instrumentalized tool that is language and to defamiliarize it in order to make other imaginings, other instigations, and other structures radically and concretely and imaginatively possible.

Marjorie Perloff is a literary gatekeeper par excellence. Many people choose to walk into literary territories through the gates she constructs. Like those who teach, those who declare themselves the arbiters of culture—aside from exhibiting a belief in non-horizontal models I find reactionary at best—have, I believe, a particular responsibility to make choices that are ethical, thoughtful, aware of their social and political implications. Or perhaps it’s not just a question of responsibility, but also one of effects: the choices such gatekeepers make have very real social and political effects. And it is thus crucial for us to understand the scaffoldings on which the gatekeepers build their gates. And to make thoughtful choices about whose work we will use as guide and inspiration. Overt, explicit racism isn’t usually part of the way Perloff constructs her arguments. But it’s crucially important to know that racism is part of what leads her to make the arguments she makes, to promote the work she promotes.

I know there are different forms of speech. I know that our actions both large and small are a form of speech. I know that there was probably no one in that room (save perhaps the infant son of one of the festival participants who has yet to access any language) who did not recognize Perloff’s comments as hideously racist. I know that few if any people in that room needed me to point out how deeply anti-Black her remarks were, how vile they were in their implication that perhaps Michael Brown deserved to die, or at the very least deserved to be objectified by Kenneth Goldsmith after his death. How astounding it was that she could think such comments would be received without protest, as simply another aspect of her argument. How sickeningly predictable it was—perhaps especially in a room where it might have been easy to assume there were no Black people present, but really in any room—to assume complicity with and acceptance of anti-Black commentary. How even more insidious, perhaps, that she should make such comments in a room in Denmark with only a few USAmericans present, a room where it’s quite possible there were people who don’t have broad knowledge about the history of forced African diaspora and slavery in the Americas, and the particular ways that history and its many reverberations continue to shape race relations and racism in the U.S., or about the long-standing and currently glaringly visible plague of state-sponsored violence against Black and Brown people, but particularly against Black people, who are killed by cops and incarcerated in numbers vastly disproportionate to their percentage of the population. All this. All this and more. Yet I didn’t speak, and I wish I had, even just to register out loud my heartfelt and inarticulate this is not okay.

I have some ideas about why I felt so … [more]
jenhofer  2015  marjorieperloff  michaelbrown  racism  race  kennethgoldsmith  poetry  mongrelcoalition  mongrelcoalitionagainstgrongpo 
december 2015 by robertogreco
ON MARJORIE PERLOFF | ENTROPY
"I got off Facebook way before Kenneth “Solid” Goldsmith decided it was time to find something to re-say about the deadly way we’ve always been living now. If only someone had whispered in his ear: if you can’t find something good to re-say then don’t re-say anything at all. In any case, the last thing I would have asked him, on Facebook or anywhere else, is “What the fuck are you doing?” I know what the fuck he is doing. Unfortunately, as a matter of life and death, I have to know that kinda shit. It’s part of what you have to do to survive the ancient and continuously present attempt to erase our ancient and continuing presence. But because he doesn’t have to know what the fuck he is doing, I was wondering if he did, or if he cared. Over the course of time the answer has become clear. Meanwhile, we seek after a commonness in how we breathe that would correspond to a commonness in that we breathe. This under-respirational aspiration is Juliana Spahr’s portfolio. It’s an essential object of desire and criticism.

I breathe some air that Marjorie Perloff breathes. I like some poetry that Marjorie Perloff likes. At the same time, we don’t like one another, even though we don’t know one another; at the same time, even though I don’t know her, I know a lot about her. As a matter of fact, I know a lot more about her than she knows about either me or herself. That’s a function of our education. I had to learn about her and many of the things that have gone and continue to go into the making of her. She has never been so obligated, a condition that induces not only ignorance but also cold-heartedness. And now she wants to leave the poetry world because she thinks we’ve entered it, bringing all that loud talk, nastiness and indecorum—cars on blocks in the front yard; the unsavory smell of low-class savories wafting over the universal manicure and its intubated concepts. But this is her world; she can’t leave it. She thought it up so she can have it. She gotta have it. She couldn’t withdraw—or, to be more precise, shut the fuck up for a minute and feel—if her life depended on it. Actually, her life—to which brutal and immaterial abstraction she assumes an absolute right in refusing to assume the same for big, black, scary Michael Brown—depends upon her continuing to speak, even if it’s just to her tight-ass circle, even if all she and they can speak about is her and their right to speak. Deeper still, sadly, pitifully, Marjorie Perloff claims her Jewishness in order freely to speak whiteness, exercising her right to say whatever horrid anti-semitic shit she wants in order to exercise her right to say whatever horrid anti-black shit she wants. There’s something painfully and shamefully typical about this violence and hatred directed towards the victim, which is announced as some kind of clear-eyed anti-romanticism rather than the surreptitious romanticization of the victimizer, a (ser)vile fealty that takes the form of a loose, unthinking theology of strength. Perhaps this is what it is to love the (poetry) world as it is: a possessive rejectionism, an anti-intellectually callous insistence on valuation in separation, an imperial refusal to feel that constitute a tragic and all but absolute reduction of what we are and what we’re supposed to be.

To speak, however obliquely, of the making of Marjorie Perloff is to speak also of her unmaking. It may well be that there’s no longer any such person as Marjorie Perloff. Perhaps now Marjorie Perloff is just a concept. Further investigation is required. For the time being, let’s just say, with as much accuracy as is possible, that there’s a venal susceptibility to such unrequitable love of the (poetry) world to which finally we are enjoined to assign the name Marjorie Perloff. It’s not Marjorie Perloff that must leave the poetry world; we must leave it, a condition that ought to fill us with pride and joy. Marjorie Perloff rightly intimates the distinction between the violation and the rejection of taste. Marjorie Perloff has bad taste. Marjorie Perloff is in bad taste. On the other hand—the hand that’s steady flying all the way off the handle, careening out of body and out of this world—we sing the earth with flavor: dust in our mouths, water in our lungs, blood in our eyes, hands in our hands. Marjorie Perloff, we been studying you so long that we ain’t studying you; we been thinking about you so hard that we ain’t thinking about you. Stay right where you are."
fredmoten  2015  marjorieperloff  kennethgoldsmith  poetry  race  culture  racism  michaelbrown 
december 2015 by robertogreco
Uncreative Writing - The Chronicle Review - The Chronicle of Higher Education
"W/ an unprecedented amount of available text, our problem is not needing to write more of it; instead, we must learn to negotiate vast quantity that exists. How I make my way through this thicket of info—how I manage it, parse it, organize & distribute it—is what distinguishes my writing from yours.

…Marjorie Perloff has recently begun using the term "unoriginal genius" to describe this tendency emerging in literature. Her idea is that, because of changes brought on by technology & Internet, our notion of genius—a romantic, isolated figure—is outdated…updated notion of genius would have to center around one's mastery of information & its dissemination. Perloff…coined another term, "moving information," to signify both the act of pushing language around as well as the act of being emotionally moved by that process…posits that today's writer resembles more a programmer than tortured genius, brilliantly conceptualizing, constructing, executing, & maintaining a writing machine."



"For the past several years, I've taught a class at the University of Pennsylvania called "Uncreative Writing." In it, students are penalized for showing any shred of originality and creativity. Instead they are rewarded for plagiarism, identity theft, repurposing papers, patchwriting, sampling, plundering, and stealing. Not surprisingly, they thrive. Suddenly what they've surreptitiously become expert at is brought out into the open and explored in a safe environment, reframed in terms of responsibility instead of recklessness.

We retype documents and transcribe audio clips. We make small changes to Wikipedia pages (changing an "a" to "an" or inserting an extra space between words). We hold classes in chat rooms, and entire semesters are spent exclusively in Second Life. Each semester, for their final paper, I have them purchase a term paper from an online paper mill and sign their name to it, surely the most forbidden action in all of academia. Students then must get up and present the paper to the class as if they wrote it themselves, defending it from attacks by the other students. What paper did they choose? Is it possible to defend something you didn't write? Something, perhaps, you don't agree with? Convince us.

All this, of course, is technology-driven. When the students arrive in class, they are told that they must have their laptops open and connected. And so we have a glimpse into the future. And after seeing what the spectacular results of this are, how completely engaged and democratic the classroom is, I am more convinced that I can never go back to a traditional classroom pedagogy. I learn more from the students than they can ever learn from me. The role of the professor now is part party host, part traffic cop, full-time enabler.

The secret: the suppression of self-expression is impossible. Even when we do something as seemingly "uncreative" as retyping a few pages, we express ourselves in a variety of ways. The act of choosing and reframing tells us as much about ourselves as our story about our mother's cancer operation. It's just that we've never been taught to value such choices."
technology  writing  creativity  research  literature  marjorieperloff  internet  information  genius  2011  plagiarism  digitalage  poetry  classideas  marcelduchamp  readymade  remix  remixing  remixculture  briongysin  art  1959  christianbök  machines  machinegeneratedliterature  automation  democracy  coding  computing  wikipedia  academia  gertrudestein  andywarhol  matthewbarney  walterbenjamin  jeffkoons  williamsburroughs  detournement  replication  namjunepaik  sollewitt  jackkerouac  corydoctorow  muddywaters  raymondqueneau  oulipo  identityciphering  intensiveprogramming  jonathanswift  johncage  kennethgoldsmith 
september 2011 by robertogreco

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