As/Is







7.28.2014


Ghosts By The Ice Skating Rink '14 (youblisher)

Ghosts By The Ice Skating Rink '14








7.27.2014


Ghosts By The Ice Skating Rink '14 (IA)

The new, re-formatted, preface-revised "Ghosts..." in full-text...





Ghosts By The Ice Skating Rink '14










7.26.2014


Hand in Glove '14 (IA)






Hand in Glove '14










7.25.2014


PFS Essays '14 (IA)






Scramble Suit '14 (youblisher)

Scramble Suit '14





Essays on the Philly Free School '14










7.24.2014


Scramble Suit (IA)

Scramble Suit in full-text...





Scramble Suit '14










7.21.2014


Complete Adam Fieled/Philly Free School archive.today link catalogue










7.20.2014


Adam Fieled/Philly Free School archive.today Pt. 2










7.19.2014


Adam Fieled/Philly Free School archive.today link catalogue










7.18.2014


Odal Cycles: Notes on Keats Odes Pt. 2


Another kind of subsistent cycle visible in the Odes adumbrates an unconventional approach to the odal form itself. The ode, as an established literary genre, is distinguished by a generalized celebratory sense/sensibility; that what an ode assumes as its subject has been chosen for a perceived glory or expansiveness inherent in its being-in-the-world, individualized against all else. The manner in which Keats slants this literary genre creates its own, steady-within-irregularity cycle— from ode to ode, we see the way Keats undermines the conventional processes of apostrophe and assignation, sometimes overtly, sometimes subtly. The most unconventional ode, which chafes against its own generic formality with an intense degree of force and discomfort, seems to be Nightingale. Here, the celebratory is inverted into the elegiac; and while Keats’ apostrophes and assignations do celebrate (in a manner of speaking) the happy, “full-throated” freedom of the nightingale’s passages set against his own sickness, isolation, and leaden-eyed despairs, the circle (closed at the poem’s conclusion) of all-encompassing subjective interest, awareness, and stalemated preoccupation girds around him the exclusion of what negatively capable thoughts and motives he could possibly have. The cycle of unpredictability and disregard for generic convention moves with a sharp sense of willful, dark-toned imaginative imposition through the Odes as a definitive thread— that autumn and melancholy are worthy to be celebrated, as are inanimate objects (works of art/utility tools) and “heathen goddesses” from antique cultures. The incredible, well-rounded richness and variable tonal qualities of Keats’ prosody are another thread, which established the Odes’ absolute legitimacy, past their strangeness, odd, stray angles of thematic approach, and contradictory answer to classical voices.  













7.17.2014


The White Album (ebookbrowsee)






This e-book was released by ungovernable press in '09. I'd like to dedicate it to James Franco.





From the Aughts: New Hierarchies (youblisher)

From the Aughts: New Hierarchies





Pat Martino: El Hombre (Title Track)






Odal Cycles: Notes on Keats' Odes Pt.1



Keats’ Odes encompass cycles and cycles within cycles; they are a literary meta-monument par excellence. The most overt cyclical energy I’ve spotted in the Odes subsists between “Grecian Urn,” “Psyche,” and “Nightingale.” That Psyche and Grecian Urn set setting something in place to be reified— a cohesive gestalt vision of visions, and a blazon of the visionary as an emanation from the chiasmus between sense, tactility, and imagination— which is parodied, deconstructed and supplanted by subjective necessity against negative capability in Nightingale, is the basic premise. What is “doubled” between Grecian Urn and Psyche is profound— the visionary synecdoche, of young lovers frozen into immobility in a forest, appears to Keats on the Grecian Urn itself, and then magically manifests before his eyes as Eros and Psyche, embodied physically in three dimensions as Keats strolls through an actual forest in Psyche; that Psyche, owing to her position in classical lore, constitutes the literal apotheosis of Daphne and Syrinx in Grecian Urn; that all these processes of recognition and assimilation had to evince an (odal) sense of the celebratory; and that what becomes tactile, as Grecian Urn leads to Psyche, is another recognition, that liminal states and modes of being, “half” modes, usually situated between sleep-states and wakefulness, are necessary to the cultivation of the visionary, and visionary happiness, in such a way that the poet himself disappears into a liminal trance to channel the rough tactile materials of his trade into sufficiently honed, “quiet” (or murmurous) forms.


In short, Grecian Urn up to Psyche establish a self-enclosed, self-contained system— a system both of artistic representation and of self-awareness, poetic and otherwise, around representational processes in general. The manner in which Nightingale talks back to the two Odes constitutes both a (partial) critique and a (partial) denial— by beginning Nightingale with an apostrophe to himself, and his own vulnerability, this version of odal protagonist adumbrates the limitations of the established odal system and cycle— that the happiness of self-transcendence and liminal states of consciousness cannot always be achieved; that the tactility of things can be torturous as well as ecstatic; that the entire applied odal method, in fact, exaggerates what is inherently (partially) banal in tactility and liminal states of consciousness; and that exercising a “purple-stained mouth” perpetuates its own cycle of unrealistic expectations and weakly-strung nerves. Just as Psyche’s casement opens on love and refreshment, Nightingale’s opens on perilous seas and forlorn realms; Psyche’s forest is viewed in broad daylight, Nightingale’s in confining, “embalmed” darkness; the “heathen goddess” becomes an indifferent (immortal) animal; and the totalized purview of the visionary is revealed as an “easeful Death.” Even synesthesia, Keats’ accustomed manner of deranging and re-configuring the tactile, has its disasters— the “shadowy sounds” of the forest reinforce the protagonist’s isolation, melodious plots of greenery extend past his reach, sight and hearing do a dance more irritating than not. Because Nightingale closes and rounds out the relevant odal trio, the meta-commentary and meta-critique enact an inquiry with, as is typical with Keats, a sense of half-determinate conclusions.  









7.16.2014


From the Aughts: New Hierarchies (IA)




...and the piece in full-text...





From the Aughts: New Hierarchies







From the Aughts: New Hierarchies Pt. 3

For sympathetic observers, it goes without saying that there is no place for the Philly Free School in mainstream media contexts in America in 2014. Mainstream media around the arts is so attenuated right now that to be touched by the mainstream press is to be trivialized; and the manifest incoherent decadence of media spectacles right now would be an unwise bet to demonstrate the respect for the Philly Free School which we deserve. I have spoken elsewhere about the enormous implications of our locked Internet Archive account— to reduce these implications to an essence, the account’s existence suggests that our canon is written in indelible ink. Somewhere between these two constituent factors— the complete and totalized rejection of us by the American mainstream press, and its warhorses like the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly, on one side, and our rapid, totalized, impressive canonization and permanent incorporation on the other— is what subsists as an American cultural center in ’14, and it is, to reiterate, both an inchoate and an incoherent one. Without delving into the murky waters of why and how we’ve incurred these rejections, suffice it to say that, by conventional American standards, the Philly Free School phenomenon was never supposed to happen here, and we’ve generated a sufficient amount of both confusion and consternation to render ourselves persona non grata to a majority of media outlets specifically by our own aesthetic coherence, discipline, and major high-art consonance.

A nexus whose scribes out-write the New York Times and the Atlantic Monthly puts these receptacles in an awkward, defensive position. It also needs to be said that there seems to have been a plan, should the Philly Free School fail to materialize and distinguish itself in the Teens, to vilify major high art consonance in America further than has ever occurred before, and reduce culture to a state of lowly infantile torpor submerged beneath even the post-modern standard. Attempts along these lines are now being perpetuated in the mass media; but, with the Philly Free School occupying a substantial public position against them, their success rate can at best be partial. In several diverse directions, the Teens have been and remain an era of extremes— distinct lines blurred by contrasts, scripted degeneration disrupted by profound progress. What it amounts to, where issues of the Philly Free School and hierarchy are concerned, is that competent cultural commentary and critique regarding the Philly Free School must happen, in the present tense, from within the PFS fold and charmed circle. Institutions like Internet Archive, Open Library, and the Chicago School of Poetics have implicitly and symbolically condoned and consolidated our work; but other voices who could be weighing in intelligently have opted to follow outdated, outmoded scripts and degenerative agendas.

Amidst all the ambiguity, there is not a complete sense for me of disappointment— better our body of work remain untouched, in mainstream media contexts, than be trivialized, underrated, or made by second-hand contact to seem insipid or jejune. The American mainstream media does, as it were, seem to have set up camp in a kind of auto-destruct mode, in which seriousness and thoughtfulness are not just secondary but out of the question entirely. The manners and forms of high and lateral thought I have introduced here around our work, specifically to place us in a long and well-assimilated aesthetic history, have no echo (regarding any artist or artistic nexus) in the American mainstream press; what manifests there is the same sickly present-mindedness which darkened and vulgarized the twentieth century. By relying on twentieth century scripts in the twenty-first century into the Teens, what lines have been drawn in the sand around the American press corps are familiar ones; the Philly Free School are the unfamiliar Others. What discursive self-sufficiency we may have is what I create for us— as the patient wait continues for voices to join a conversation meant to encompass not just decades but centuries, not just forms but ideals, and thus pursue the highest aesthetic track possible for the highest stakes.










7.15.2014


From the Aughts: New Hierarchies Pt. 2




This same principle of aesthetic inversion, by which works of art conflate imaginative impulses with incisive glances into the real, vulgarized human world and human society, can also be applied to my own oeuvre. Specifically, if I choose to rank “Cheltenham” over “Apparition Poems,” it is for this reason— as is the case with “The Lost Twins,” “Apparition Poems” stakes most of its claims within the charmed circle of the aesthetic; likewise “Cheltenham,” like “The Skaters,” artfully and willfully transmutes the facticity and empirical manifestation of human ugliness (in a specific place at a specific time) via the imposition of imagination and aestheticizes it. The cover of the Blazevox print edition of “Cheltenham” enhances the totalized impression of imaginative imposition— not my idea, to be sure (Blazevox Ed. Geoffrey Gatza’s), but, in its midnight pitch blackness, illuminated by the gaudy roulette wheel of Cheltenham’s hypocritically concealed, glossed over brutality. It is a signifying, pointed image which reflects the comparative dissipation of “Apparition Poems” into the epic of fragments it is. The chiasmus of me and Abs’ together (the Philly Free School) with Romanticism, is, in itself, illuminating— if our best work has dared to face the world, in all its vulgarized barbarity, in a way that (English) Romanticism did not, what we have to offer along the lines of formal acumen and beauty must be weighed in the balance against their achievements too.

Leaving Abs out— knowing there are other, more pertinent comparisons to be made with Abs’ work which I am not capable of making with complete authority— I am left with the quandary of formality I faced in writing these books. This quandary— how to raise acceptable, contemporary free verse to the level of formal grandeur established by the English Romantics, and Milton, Donne, and Shakespeare behind them— is one I did manage to find some solutions for. Irregular featuring, often in clusters, and against the repetitive rhythms of standard meter (what amounts, in practice, to a newfangled, freewheeling form of loose blank verse), of poetic devices meant to instill melopoeiac solidity and grace to lines and stanzas (assonance, alliteration, rhyme, near-rhyme, emphasis on iambic rhythms) substitute for iambic and end rhyme-dictated regularity. The clusters must, however, be somewhat regular, or the poems’ formality cannot function. This approach to form— “clustering”— is one which holds some advantages over standard meter, and some deficits beneath is. Thus, the signature “Cheltenham” poems (which hold their own autonomous identity as “Ghosts By the Ice Skating Rink”) may win from critics and scholars either kudos for a new manner/mode of formality or chastisement for irregularities in formal construction. In the counterbalancing of things with thematic elements, and granted fulsome credit for adequate formality (which it may or may not be), “Cheltenham” does stake a unique claim over the Romantics, and on a par with “The Skaters”; and both works were produced, willy-nilly for the American art world, from Philadelphia.


It remains to be seen, for the Philly Free School, whether our work must suffer the indignity of being granted a place in an American art, hierarchical firmament, especially one with a large twentieth century component. I believe I can say, without undue arrogance, that our work so resolutely supersedes any comparable indigenous American art before us, to make comparison and hierarchical ranking in this context a deadly insult. In retrospect, it may appear that the premise of the Aughts in America was very stark— a radical break from the meandering dilettantism of American art up to that point, towards the rigorous intensity and positive density levels of acknowledged European masters. Yet the essential contradiction— a necessary chiasmus with the vulgar, and vulgarization, owing to the native condition of the American landscape— pushed us past where we could’ve gone in a more refined, seemingly more germane milieu. Thus, we have “The Skaters” and “Cheltenham” as well as “The Lost Twins” and “Apparition Poems.”                  








7.14.2014


Feel: An Elegy For Our Times (youblisher)

Feel: An Elegy For Our Times





From the Aughts: New Hierarchies Pt. 1




Hierarchies, and hierarchical aesthetic systems and systemizations, were never much the province of post-modernists, and post-modernity as a temporal expanse. Post-modernity would, if granted free reign forever, gladly reduce William Shakespeare to Robert Creeley or Ingres and David to Pollock and Rothko. The incision I have made towards establishing and consolidating a new development— that Aughts avant-gardism marked a renascence, in America and on the Continent, to enlightened elitism and classicism— has also re-established the unavoidable awareness that, for various artists and critics, some hierarchical awareness and finesse is both necessary and germane. Those who have both a passionate attachment and an intellectual framework around the aesthetic, and aesthetic endeavors, gain more than they lose for placing works of art and bodies of artistic work on a tightrope, and letting them compete with each other. Post-modernity’s overweening fraudulence was in the supposition that no one needed to think or feel seriously or deeply about art anymore; that profound feeling and thought were, in fact, both passé and distasteful.

As of 2014, we have before us a new body of work which inverts this, so that breezy surfaces of corrosive-but-facile ironies and representations which make a fetish of formal and thematic impoverishment no longer need to hold pride of place. I have, in the pdf entitled “Over the Schuylkill: Aughts Philly Complete,” established a conjunction between Philadelphia artist Abby Heller-Burnham and John Keats— what might be called a logistical conjunction. That is, there are logistical problems around Keats’ body of work which recur in Heller-Burnham, in even more extreme form. Both oeuvres are brief— what is abbreviated in Keats (an essence derived from the Odes, some sonnets and letters, perhaps Hyperion and Lamia) is even more abbreviated in Heller-Burnham, so that an essence of a dozen masterpieces has to suffice for what could’ve been a larger, more imposing body of work. What Abby has, I argue, is “just the Odes.” Yet the Odes are the single great crux of Keats’ achievement; and, in the century which has begun to develop from Aught avant-gardism, it is unthinkable that Heller-Burnham not be granted an unassailably high position.

The necessity for scribing this particular piece is that, in erecting for myself a hierarchical structure around Abby’s paintings, I have made some headway which I would like to share. It has to do with the two paintings which for me constitute the twin Heller-Burnham towers— “The Lost Twins” and “The Skaters.” To double back to Keats (I have found that, in an idiosyncratic way, the chiasmus between Keats and Heller-Burnham remains fruitful), if Keats had an artistic Achilles’ heel, it had to do with what is the most salient gift of the greatest novelists— looking the human world, and human society, straight in the face, from a position and stance of complete sobriety, and telling the truth about what the psycho-spiritual capacities of the human race really are. Keats’ staggering verbal giftedness and stunningly vivid imagination nevertheless do not reach into this territory— to abbreviate the confines of this complex, Keats never really faces the human world. The Odes embrace escape, and intoxication; do not shun profound thought and feeling; but never transcend the limitations of the lyric “I.” Wordsworth, as it were, makes a greater effort to face raw humanity— but his solution to societal complications, a dissolution into Nature and the natural, still evades what an artist might do to represent, among other vistas, what a sober-minded facing of the human world might look like in major high art consonant poetry. Byron faces the world, but crassly and grossly— and his verbal gift is less than that of Wordsworth’s and Keats’.

As to Heller-Burnham (who might be more usefully compared to Ingres and David, but humor me): if I choose “The Skaters” over “The Lost Twins” as her ultimate representative masterpiece, it is because perhaps the richest imperative which undergirds the painting is to face the unvarnished human world, and human society, head-on and soberly; and yet to employ formal painterly gifts and imagination to elevate the endeavor into a gestalt realm of pure transcendence without disavowing raw, vulgarized humanity simultaneously. “The Lost Twins” stakes its claims, formal and thematic, within the charmed circle of the aesthetic, and remains rooted there— and many of the inquiries it makes are familiar. The startling originality of “The Skaters,” its auratic presence and otherness, raise unfamiliar questions about the imposition of aesthetic beauty on vulgarized human circumstances, and about the imperialism of the artist’s eye and transfiguring powers over human ugliness and poverty. How “The Skaters” melds a sober-minded approach to ugliness with the formal imposition of otherworldliness and its implied transcendental capacities, how it faces the human world and trounces it by elevating it, all spell an aesthetic of no-retreat which makes the charmed aesthete circle of “The Lost Twins” appear both less revelatory and less original.   










7.13.2014


Flags Part 2: CSOP (IA)






Race and Vine '14 (IA: standard embed)






Race and Vine '14 (IA)

Another way to hit the Aughts Philly streets, in full-text...





Race and Vine '14 (youblisher)

Race and Vine '14: Four Narratives Set In Philadelphia





Flags Part 2: Chicago School of Poetics










7.12.2014


Pat Martino: Once I Loved






Race and Vine '14