Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Front Porch 6

The new issue of Front Porch, a journal put out by Texas State's MFA program, went live today. My serial poem, "The Lincoln, NE Machine," can be found there. It's a rather long piece, so its nice to know the editors enjoyed it enough to publish the poem in its entirety. If you want to print up a PDF of the poem, you can saunter over here. I haven't had a chance to look through the issue yet, but Front Porch has publish some big names in the past: C.D. Wright, Forest Gander, Nathaniel Mackey, etc.

In "TLNM," I was experimenting with how one could implement the concepts of Deleuze & Guattari, as well as Adorno, within a poem; specifically, manipulating combinatorials (D&G) & consciously submitting to an object (A). I wrote the below prologue shortly after completing the piece. Re-reading it now, I am more or less convinced I had lost my shit by the time December rolled around. Also interesting is the fact that I concentrate more on Adorno than D&G. I really believe, at its core, this is an homage to D&G:

Prologue: A short note on my serial poem The Lincoln, NE Machine

Adorno once wrote: “the subject is never quite the subject, and the object never quite the object…[but] the duality of subject and object must be critically maintained against the thought’s inherent claim to be total. The division, which makes the object the alien thing to be mastered and appropriates it, is indeed subjective, the result of orderly preparation; but no critique of it origin will reunify the parts” (Negative Dialectics 175). Yet, there is a “unifying moment” of subject and object—not a permanent coupling, but a transient “constellation” that binds them. While the constellation is “the history locked in the object” and is a “process stored in the object” (163), it is also a “subjectively created context” (165). As such, an infinite oscillation between subject and object occurs, each modifying the other in a non-teleological movement that defers transcendence. There is no sublation. There is no world spirit. There is no synthesis. “Theoretical thought circles the concept it would like to unseal” (163), but around and around it goes, cycling through an ever present constellation too large ever to capture.
I mention this Adornian notion of a problematic subject-object dualism, as well as constellations, because they have heavily informed the creation of “The Lincoln, NE Machine.” Arriving in Lincoln mid-August, I wanted to immerse myself in this Great Plains locale and embrace the new environment I was entering into. By directly engaging texts that were particular to Lincoln and Nebraska, I thought a symbiotic oscillation between subject and object, similar to what Adorno describes would result. Through practices of erasure, collage, and iteration/combinatorials, I believed Nebraska and I would mutually modify one another and produce our own constellation, our own history. Indeed we did, but I misinterpreted one important aspect: the altruism of the object. Nowhere does Adorno, or anyone I’ve read for that matter, mention the relationship as being benevolent. In fact, Nebraska does not seem to want to enter into a symbiotic oscillation. If anything, Nebraska wants to destroy the subject and forward an ideological platform that promotes Nebraska as an in-&-of-itself reality, a totalitarian ontology.
As such, my series has taken on an antagonistic tone & attempts to destabilize a Midwestern fascism masquerading as folksy, as affable, as normative. The title of the piece comes from Deleuze & Guattari’s concept of the machine, particularly the war machine & its penchant for “turning to destruction, abolition pure and simple, the passion for abolition” (A Thousand Plateaus 229). It is important to note that the war machine works outside of the State apparatus; therefore, the Nebraska of this piece should not be understand as an entity affiliated with a State sponsored &/or endorsed program or lifestyle. The Nebraska of this piece lies at the microtextual level, a fascism coursing through the molecular level of all those who reside here, which now includes the author of the piece himself. The more one denies its presence, the more effective it is: “It’s too easy to be antifacist on the molar level, and not even see the fascist inside you, the fascist you yourself sustain and nourish and cherish with molecules both personal and collective” (215).

1 comment:

Johnny Cakes said...

As such, my series...attempts to destabilize a Midwestern fascism masquerading as folksy, as affable, as normative. This is brilliant shit, folks. For real. On one level I feel as though I am much too simple-minded to be commenting on such a diatribe. Conversely, as I have lived in nearly every section of the United States, I can claim somewhat of an intimate recognition. In many ways the collective 'masquerade' is no different than the one, I believe, is evidence in 'grandparents' (e.g., endearing, kind, affable, etc., yet behind the aged-eyes lie stories some would cringe to listen.)