The Alan Sondheim Mail Archive

April 30, 2005


I'm writing this email and sending it out to a number of lists because I think 
the issue of list governance is important; I now run three lists in 
collaboration for example.

The Poetics list has increasingly not only eroded community, but also created a 
canonic and rigid framework for what is and is not poetics - a framework that 
excludes not only my own experimental work, for example, but also Ishaq's 
politicized and rhetorical experimental/manifesto approach.

This is done without any voting on the part of the list members, without any 
discussion - it's the identical fiat used by Bush and company, presen- ting the 
appearance of good governance, damning constituencies behind the scenes.

And as with Bush and company, I don't see really any debate here - what the 
moderators did, they did from on high, without explanation, or with poor 
explanation. Unlike "my" lists which are responsive to community, the Poetics 
list is responsive primarily to the moderators.

This is ugly.

There _are_ lists that are open for discussion and presentation - again I 
mention wryting, also Imitationpoetics (whose title now appears the other way 
around) - for anyone truly experimenting with poetics and new media, there is 
the webartery list as well. What's depressing is that the Poetics list was once 
a community, once edgy, and now that's permanently gone.

It's been ordered so by the bureaucrats - for what could be more bureau- cratic 
than to increasingly turn a community towards announcements, and discussions, 
but beware of the _originary material_ of such discussions?

Meanwhile the list veers more and more towards memorials for Creeley, Ginsberg, 
god knows who else, as if a list on contemporary aesthetics should bemoan what, 
Judd's death? Warhol?

Times move on but this list ossifies - and this is a real and political danger, 
I believe; it reinforces notions of what is and is not acceptable, it 
promulgates the canonic - and this is nowhere so clear as in the censoring of 
Ishaq - for shame! - it reifies the academy (just look at the 'officiating' 
titles of some of the blog entries around here). I can't imagine Whitman, 
Rimbaud, Lautreamont, participating here; unfortunately I _can_ imagine the 
right-winged Eliot having a ball.

Along the same lines there are almost _no_ discussions of _contemporary_ 
poetics - for example computer aesthetics, the sorts of things Florian Cramer, 
Funkhauser, Sandy Baldwin, mez, Talan Memmott, Nick Montfort, Jim Rosenberg, 
etc. write about. Where is codework? Where is jodi? Where is a discuss of 
hackerz or warez? Where is Eugene Thacker, Kenji Siratori? Solipsis? Noemata? 
Meskens? l_oy? Where are presentations of this material? The world of 
poetry/poetics is changing - and the only sign I see here and in general is the 
continual claims of language poetry to have been there at the foundations of 
new media poetics.

Which just isn't true - if you look at the early work reflected say in the 
Software Catalog or my 1971 pieces or even some of early Acconci. But just as 
with Bush and associates, not only does this list mourn and mourn, but it also 
creates false histories, measured statements, etc.

This list, with its increased closures, in fact is increasingly doing culture a 
disservice - as if poetry/poetics/whatthefuck were something one can 
conveniently legislate, a world of gentleman and gentlewoman writers. And none 
of this would matter, except that this list already has, not only a large 
subscriber list, but the ability to weild a great deal of power, in terms of 
publications, grants, academic and other positions. It protects itself, just as 
the writers protect themselves, tuning me and others out, censoring any 
creative work qua creative work, because after all poetics turns on itself and 
elsewhere publication, and this is a list for the pure.

Where is Kent Johnson? From the Poetics viewpoint, perhaps all of us should 
throw ourselves out the collective window, as Zero Mostel did last night in a 
rerun of The Front on TCM. Because things sure aren't going to change around 
here, and language poetry, basking in academic spotlights, will petrify 
literary culture until it becomes another Pound/Eliot/ monument memorial in 
someone else's Inbox.

I recognize that I am probably way off-target here, but there are very few 
places like Poetics used to be, and its free-wheeling nature was a god- send. 
If one wants to post readings/publications/etc. there are a _lot_ of other ways 
to handle it - for example nettime announcements, which parallels and 
accompanies nettime, or the Franklin Furnace goings on list. But that won't do 
here - instead everyone has to be controlled, and as the letter to me showed - 
since it was sent back-channel - controlled from behind the scenes. The same 
goes for Ishaq (who I respect but obviously don't like - he's been far too 
nasty to me personally) - who, as much as any of us, has been contributing to 
what constitutes writing/wryting at the beginning of the 21st century. And his 
is a voice that _needs_ to be heard, dealing with _contemporary_ issues, rather 
than whether Ginsberg is misogynist or not for gods sake. Or at least to be 
heard _as much as the latter._

I'm sending this out everywhere, since I'm not sure the moderators will let it 
through. Or else they will, in a show of kindly and superior liberality. But at 
least it will be elsewhere on the Net.

And I do apologize if I've misread anything, btw. This is not a flame but a 
complaynte in a country at war both inside and out.

- Alan


( URLs/DVDs/CDroms/books/etc. see http://www.asondheim.org/advert.txt )

dismal night the fury of war
dismal night the fury of war,-lord You say: .e brings you back home to me
Sondheim time black rain,-lord crashes like sea i can't kill any
more,lor-lord more,-lord more they left my flesh in another :stashed away
lashes smashes dashes stashed .cry.scream.die .emote unknown them off
land,-lord can only watch rain command unknown,-lord stashes ,-lord lord,
,-lord,lord ,come help -l ,lord, .come help,lord .gone from ,-lord,
rain,-lord, nick gone,-lord, sal gone,oh oh, -lord, says: come back, lord
ok right ?? Okay well am going go yea bye so are we done? or no? ayea
think yeah too i'll see everyone later.  great job tonite girls and hten
get frusterated know it is really hard hear u ur just soft spoken not all
im glad talked need discuss this sometime soon with yyyeahh too... ookk...
byeee oh great!thanks sounds good. well, r gonna split talk y'all later
bye\
the fury of the war,-lord
You say: the fury of the war,-lord
.e brings you back home to me
Sondheim brings you back home to me
the time of black rain,-lord
You say: the time of black rain,-lord
crashes like the sea crashes
You say: crashes like the sea crashes
.e brings you back home to me
Sondheim brings you back home to me
i can't kill any more,lor-lord
You say: i can't kill any more,-lord
.e can't kill any more
Sondheim can't kill any more
they left my flesh in another war,-lord
You say: they left my flesh in another war,-lord
:stashed away lashes smashes dashes
Sondheim stashed away lashes smashes dashes
.cry.scream.die
.emote unknown can't kill them off land,-lord
Sondheim unknown can't kill the land,-lord
can only watch the rain
You say: can only watch the rain
can't command the unknown,-lord
You say: can't command the unknown,-lord
.e crashes smashes lashes dashes stashes
Sondheim crashes smashes lashes dashes stashes
,-lord lord, ,-lord,lord
,come help -l
,lord, .come help,lord
.gone from me
,-lord, the rain,-lord, the fury
nick gone,-lord, sal gone,oh oh,
-lord, the rain
Sondheim says: the fury of the war,-lord
Sondheim brings you back home to me
Sondheim says: the time of black rain,-lord
Sondheim says: crashes like the sea crashes
Sondheim brings you back home to me
Sondheim says: i can't kill any more,-lord
Sondheim can't kill any more
Sondheim says: they left my flesh in another war,-lord
Sondheim stashed away lashes smashes dashes
Sondheim unknown can't kill the land,-lord
Sondheim says: can only watch the rain
Sondheim says: can't command the unknown,-lord
Sondheim crashes smashes lashes dashes stashes
come back, lord
You say: come back, lord
says: ok
says: right
says: ??
Okay well i am going to go says: yea says: ok says: bye bye says: so are
we done? or no? says: ayea i think so says: yeah i think so too ok i'll
see everyone later.  great job tonite girls night girls and hten i get
frusterated know it is really hard to hear u ur just soft spoken and not
all the time im glad we talked and we need to discuss this sometime soon
with everyone yyyeahh i think so too... ookk... byeee
Sondheim says: the fury of the war,-lord
Sondheim brings you back home to me
Sondheim says: the time of black rain,-lord
Sondheim says: crashes like the sea crashes
Sondheim brings you back home to me
Sondheim says: i can't kill any more,-lord
Sondheim can't kill any more
Sondheim says: they left my flesh in another war,-lord
Sondheim stashed away lashes smashes dashes
Sondheim unknown can't kill the land,-lord
Sondheim says: can only watch the rain
Sondheim says: can't command the unknown,-lord
Sondheim crashes smashes lashes dashes stashes
Sondheim says: come back, lord
says: oh ok great!thanks says: great says: ok sounds good. says: well, we
r gonna split says: talk to y'all later says: bye\ says: bye bye


*** End ***

10 101 110 1000 1001 1010 1011 1110 1111 10000 catastrophe shuddering of
wisdom and understanding of the all disappearance - codices 10001 10100
10101 untethered the language 11111 11111 10 101 110 1000 1001 1010 1011
1110 1111 10000 catastrophe shuddering of wisdom and understanding of the
all disappearance - codices 10001 10100 10101 untethered the language
11111 11111 10 11 101 110 1000 1001 1010 1011 1110 1111 10000 catastrophe
shuddering of wisdom and understanding of the all disappearance - codices
10001 zigzag neutrons 10100 10101 untethered the language 11111 11111 10
11 101 110 1000 1010 1101 1110 1111 10000 shuddering of wisdom and
understanding of the all disappearance - energy and matter - 10100 10101
untethered the language 11111 11111 11 101 110 1000 1100 1101 10000
shuddering of untethered 11111 11111 10 110 111 1000 1001 1010 1110 1111
10000 catastrophe shuddering of wisdom and understanding of the all
disappearance - energy and matter - 10100 10101 untethered the language
11111 11111 10 11 100 101 110 1000 1001 1010 1101 1110 1111 10000
catastrophe shuddering of wisdom and understanding of the all
disappearance - energy and matter - codices 10001 zigzag neutrons 10100
10101 untethered the language 11111 11111 10 11 101 110 111 1000 1001 1010
1101 1110 1111 10000 catastrophe shuddering of wisdom and understanding of
the all disappearance - energy and matter - separation - zigzag neutrons
10100 10101 untethered the language 11111 11111 10 100 101 110 111 1000
1001 1100 1101 1110 1111 10000 catastrophe shuddering of of the all
disappearance - energy and matter - thinking 10010 10100 10101 untethered
11111 11111 10 101 110 111 1000 1001 1010 1101 1110 1111 10000 catastrophe
shuddering of wisdom and understanding of the all disappearance - codices
10001 zigzag neutrons 10100 10101 untethered the language 11111 11111


_

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sat, 30 Apr 2005 17:20:45 -0400 (EDT)
From: moderator@portside.org
Reply-To: portside@portside.org
To: portside@lists.portside.org
Subject: Pete Seeger Is 86

The Nation
May 16, 2005

Pete Seeger Is 86

(A nationwide festival of tributes to the balladeer and
songleader of us all, Pete Seeger, will be held on and
around his 86th birthday, on May 3 (for information see
www.seegerfest.com). We asked Studs Terkel, who turns
93 on May 16 (hey, Happy Birthday, Studs!), to
reminisce about his young friend. As Pete and The
Weavers used to sing: "Tzena, Tzena, join the
celebration./There'll be people there from every
nation./Dawn will find us dancing in the
sunlight,/Dancing in the village square." - The Nation)

By Studs Terkel

Some years ago, DownBeat, the jazz journal, referred to
Pete Seeger as "America's tuning fork." Along with
Woody Guthrie, Leadbelly and Alan Lomax, he was the
balladeer who stirred up the American folk-song revival
in the late 1940s and early 1950s. His influence among
the young was so pervasive that it brought forth this
thought: When you see a kid with Adam's apple wildly
bobbing and banjo held chest-high, you know that Pete
Seeger, like Kilroy, was there.

Pete and his wife, Toshi, live in a house he built in
Beacon, New York, an upstate town along the Hudson
River. His later years have been devoted to the
Clearwater, as a schooner and an idea--cleaning up the
Hudson River, which had through the years become
polluted, "dangerous to all living things." He was 82
when he started the river project.

It is hard to think of Pete Seeger as an elderly
gaffer, because the boy in him, the light, remains
undimmed. It was sixty-five years ago I first ran into
him. He and three of his colleagues, calling themselves
the Almanac Singers, were on a cross-country jalopy
tour singing and creating songs for the industrial
unions aborning. The CIO had begun, and how could there
be labor rallies without songs? It was in the true
American tradition, like the Hutchinsons, a family of
singing abolitionists during the Civil War. Some of the
most heartbreaking music of that fratricidal conflict
was theirs.

That night when I first encountered the four wandering
minstrels was a cold Chicago beauty. At 2 in the
morning, my wife heard the doorbell ring. I was away
rehearsing the first play in which I had ever appeared.
It was Waiting for Lefty, of course. There, at the
door, were the four of them. The first was a bantam--
freckled, red-haired and elfin. He handed my wife a
note saying: "These are good fellas. Put them up for
the night." Putting them up was a rough assignment,
even for a Depression-era social worker, what with the
only spare bunk being a Murphy bed that sprang from the
wall. Freckles announced himself as Woody Guthrie. The
second was an Ozark mountain man named Lee Hayes. The
third was a writer, Millard Lampell. The fourth,
somewhat diffident, more in the background, was a slim-
jim of 20 or so, fretting around with his banjo. He was
Pete Seeger.

Since then, Woody has died. So has Lee Hayes. So has
Millard Lampell. Only Pete breathes and sings,
mesmerizing audiences, whether they be Democrats,
lefties, vegans or even a sprinkling of Republicans.
For sixty-five years, he has held forth continuously
through periods known more for their bleakness than for
their hope: the cold war, the witchhunt, the civil
rights and civil liberties battles. Pete has been in
all of them. Wherever he was asked, when the need was
the greatest, he, like Kilroy, was there. And still is.
Though his voice is somewhat shot, he holds forth on
that stage. Whether it be a concert hall, a gathering
in the park, a street demonstration, any area is a
battleground for human rights. That is why describing
him as an 86-year-old gaffer is not quite true. The
calendar often deceives. This is a sparkling case in
point.

Of course, he's been blacklisted so many times he
probably holds the dubious record, with the possible
exception of Paul Robeson, who was often his partner in
crime.

Before we hoist one for Pete, let's also remember that
he's one of the best choirmasters in the country. He
may not have the technique of Robert Shaw, but the
result is just as explosive. Imagine an audience of
thousands as Pete sings, say, "Wimoweh." As Pete waves
his arms gently, the audience reacts as a professional
choir might. I've seen a wizened little man, who
obviously is somebody's bookkeeper, at the command of
Pete become a basso profundo, reaching two octaves
lower than Chaliapin. This is the nature of Pete
Seeger, who reaches out toward the further shores more
effectively and more exhilaratedly than anyone I've
ever run into.

Hail Pete, at 86, still the boy with that touch of hope
in the midst of bleakness. There ain't no one like him.

http://www.thenation.com/doc.mhtml?i050516&s=terkel
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