The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive


I asked on the Poetics list if anyone read my work at this point, and the below 
is in response to questions and comments that came in. I thought it might be of 
interest here - Alan


re query

I want to thank people who have replied.

There _is_ something inert, a quietude or silence, I think - Mairead's
'Poetry doesn't solicit response.  In fact, poetry doesn't seem to
welcome the reader or make any real space.'
- which perhaps separates the poetic, even the call of the poetic, from
the call of everyday speech, the utterance which establishes a framework
for action or communication.
The welcoming must cross the wall of formality, the rhyme or alliteration,
the confluence of tropes. One must give oneself over to the poem.

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As far as the mass of incomprehensible unintelligibility, one might say that
of Joyce, of Stein, of a computer program, of any foreign language, of any
risk or wager in language. It may not be too much to expect anyone today
in the humanities to be somewhat familiar with computers, even with the
basics of one or another language or protocol - at least with search
strategies, which, after all, are part or parcel of our everyday behavior.

I can honestly say, from within the interior of my writing, nothing is
incomprehensible; there are reasons for everything, and it is much more
calculated than it might appear. It is not automated or generated in the
sense of a Mozart or Maclow; it may be shaped by program fragments, but it
is shaped for a purpose (i.e. within a sememe I'm concerned about, to the
detriment perhaps of syntactical autonomy). I think of it in some sense as
a break in fluidity and a breaking of the bones of language which we take
for granted; we are witnesses in Solzhenitsyn's sense, but we must make
the language anew, against the sign of capital which corrupts everything
we do. Hence innumerable avant-gardes with their magazines and
institutions of production, quite acceptable, hardly bothering anyone,
perhaps not avant-gardes at all.

There has been critical writing on my work by Maria Damon, among others;
it's not that easily accessible. Sandy Baldwin has also written some, and
there have been a few interviews. I am forgetting as well, for which
apologies. And all of us deserve a Boswell.

More (trying to answer what I remember) - I'm consistently concerned with
meaning, not with stochastic processes. I don't use language generation
devices (although I wrote some programs years ago which did such); I think
constantly of _perception_ and _wonder_ in relation to the real (such as
it is or is not), and how these con/figure language.

I am currently reading - and this plays into my work - Bayle's Various
Thoughts on the Occasion of a Comet; Windows XP Annoyances for Geeks;
Allison/de Olveira/Roberts/Weiss's anthology Psychosis and Sexual Identity
(on Schreber), Thorstein Veblen on the Jews, Dorothy Hayden's A Field
Guide to Sprawl, Kristi Yamaguchi's Figure Skating for Dummies; and
watching http://www.spaceflightnow.com/delta/d310/status.html and
http://www.boeing.com/news/feature/livewebcast/d4_heavy_webcast.htm . Now
some of these works use specialized vocabulary; even the livewebcast is
full of acronyms. It's a learning process and I'm still learning here. By
the way, I recommend the Yamaguchi, Bayle, and Hayden in particular.

Every book such as those mentioned, but every book, is a world, a
psychosis itself, closed, fortified, defended. Every variation is a final
text, every one a production involving energy, labor, language, process.
In at least one sense, every book is equivalent to every other - in this
sense of worlding, the diegetic process opening to the reader.

My work concerns the bones: of the book, of language, of the substructure
that conveys these particular words to you, as if they 'came' from me.

To ignore these basic issues of electronic distributivity is to write on
the surface of water. The issues: protocols, codes, codework, intellectual
property, spam, noise, dissolution, cohesion, variation, transitive
processes of all sorts that modify, redeploy, destroy, reconstruct,
recuperate, wound, heal, ignore, procure, what might have passed for the
words or worry-words of the author.

I honestly believe my work is as incomprehensible as the world we're
living in - with its deep incoherencies, clashes of epistemes and even
ontologies. In other words, both require pathing, studying, and certainly
not returning to a fundamentalism of literature, genre, religion, or any
other. That way lies disaster.

As perhaps does the thickness of my own writing and its continuation.

Now the reason for the query, this writing in absolute silence - I don't
have the luxury of teaching or institution; what I do, I do clumsily on my
own, in relative isolation in Brooklyn. There is little discussion with my
friends. The writing is a solitude which splits, Pessoa. It is also a
noise which coalesces, Siratori. I beg for feedback, hopefully
constructive. For my own sanity, I have to send to /dev/null the rest, the
condition of my kill file.

Why every day? Because this is what I do, what shapes the work. And no,
it's not just turned out randomly or at speed; everything is gone over,
over and over again, and a lot of material is scrapped. If I don't write,
I don't sleep, don't function. I wrote once to the effect that I write
myself into existence; I write myself out of existence - such as it is.
The existence is a fetal bubble, nothing more.

     over "cover-up" that may leave F.B.I. "holding theive strong attention
to a
21771 q6 R+   0:00.00
     bag" for abuses.

- Alan

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