Saturday, May 10, 2008

PRETEND & abstractions

You can read that there. Or you can order a print version of PRETEND I AM THERE BUT VERY LITTLE from Publishing Genius. It is $4. The next 10 people who email me that say they're going to buy it I will send $1.50 through paypal. That reduces the cost of the chapbook to $2.50. I am serious. Don't feel bad asking me for the $1.50. That would be the same or less than if I printed and sent them to people myself. I am lazy. They are nice to hold.

Last night I ordered Peter Berghoef's chapbook NEWS OF THE HAIRCUT from Greying Ghost Press. It seems like a very good adventure. They are releasing stuff by Brian Foley and Shane Jones and several others also. Tickdf.

- - - - - -

Soon I think I am going to post a review of Tao's new book. I am going to have a review that is a real review somewhere. My post on here will be about how all my favorite parts of the book are abstractions. It's true. Tao is an abstractionist in denial.

The thing with people putting supposed abstractions in 'quotes' is starting to drive me batshit.

I can't say it's not appealing to do. I caught myself doing it for a while. But this idea seems to want to have a philosophy behind it. People who do it might say that's not true. But it does.

If you are going to 'quote' abstractions, you need to put quotes around everything you say. Simple sentences do not negate abstraction.

'Jon' 'ate' 'the' 'orange.'

What is a fucking Jon? Ate it how? Like he took the whole thing into his mouth with his mouth? Didn't chew? Chewed and spat it out? The? As in 'the only orange in existence'? The only orange is St. Petersburg FL? Ate the color orange? Ate an orange tictac? The orange woman floating over his bed? 'Jon ate the orange' is way way too abstract.

In fact 'I felt sad' (which seems to be a popular sentiment) is way way more abstract than a language poem sentence like 'Courage syrup skronked the beeble.'

Why is that blabber less abstract? It's not assuming you can decipher it. 'I feel sad' is assuming you know exactly what it means. It is assuming you somehow can feel empathy with an expression so common and potentially expressible by any human ever. 'Courage syrup skronked the beeble' knows it will only ever be defined in the brain of the person who reads it. It has no implication, it has no intention, it only develops out of association. It is truly more free from abstraction than 'I feel sad' or 'I searched myself on Google and found a photo of a chocolate cake.'

'I feel sad' isn't really saying anything at all.

I will forever identify much more strongly with 'Courage syrup skronked the beeble' than 'I feel sad.' And get more out of it. And suck its dick more. And for the most part I find language poetry boring as fuck.

The best writing (I will not quote 'best') is a balance of these two camps. Abstraction and clear speech, with some teeter totter on both ends.

Here is my favorite section from COGNITIVE BEHAVIORAL THERAPY, which I think fits this description, and may be my favorite moment of all of Tao's lines:

"then i saw beyond the window to the tree, the house, and the street
the house and the street made mysterious binary noises
that negatively affected the tree's immense happiness
i observed this neutrally, without falling out of my chair"

Tao Lin is ghost-writing the next David Lynch movie.

Tao's book is good. Buy it.

'I' 'didn't' 'mean' 'to' 'write' 'all' 'that' 'just' 'now' 'it' 'just' 'happened'.


Ken Baumann said...

i got mine in the mail, along with two others, yesterday. i read it again. i really like it. good job. good job to publishing genius.

good fucking job to novel editing. you are a beast and champion.

i look forward to reading it, like big.


thanks ken i am happy you ordered and enjoyed. boommmm

Prathna Lor said...


Tao Lin said...

"I will forever identify much more strongly with 'Courage syrup skronked the beeble' than 'I feel sad.' And get more out of it. And suck its dick more."


Josh Maday said...

i got my print copy of PIATBVL last week along with the rest of the PG backlist and they all look great and are excellent to read. i am very happy with my purchases and would recommend buying things from Publishing Genius and reading them. that is my commercial and it is honest. i was not paid by PG. in fact, i paid them so that i could say these things based on concrete experience.

lovely words about abstractions. abstractions are powerful and shiny. you mentioned a line between concrete and abstract, and i aim for that line even if i tip over the side of abstraction. judith butler and jacques derrida used a lot of qualifying quotes in their 'work' and zizek made fun of that in the documentary entitled Zizek!. i'm just saying.


that makes my lips numb and itchy.



josh thank you i am glad.

Adam R said...

Thanks for extending this offer, Blake. Thanks for buying and enjoying Ken and Josh. I had a great deal of fun putting them together and mailing them to you.

On top of Blake's offer I will send the next 10 people a copy of EL GREED, which is a book of funny and weird drawings by former Rah Brahs keytarist, David NeSmith.

Blake, I like the musings on meaning. I'm forever trying to figure out meaning means. I agree with much of what you say, especially this: "The best writing (I will not quote 'best') is a balance of these two camps. Abstraction and clear speech, with some teeter totter on both ends."

People say "I don't get it" a lot because they don't get that they do actually get it. I like it when people are looking for something and find something else and don't even know they found it.


that's a nice deal adam. i didn't know he was in the rah brahs. i saw them once here in atlanta way back in the day.


not knowing you found something is the best way to find.

matthew savoca said...

i use abstraction quotes when i want to use an idiom or figure of speech or say something cliche and not feel as bad about doing it as i would feel if i didn't use the abstraction quotes.
also sometimes i use them to say, "i don't quite understand what i mean by this but i am saying it"

you are right, though.

matthew savoca said...

also, you only lasted six days without mention lynch.


quotes work sometimes, but it seems like they are everywhere all the time now, at least in certain venues.

yeah, i know. six days was good. i am going to go for seven next.

Kathryn said...

i like it when people put quotes around things that make no sense. like the other day matthew savoca said i don't 'get' paid instead of i don't get 'paid.' let's start doing that.

courage syrup skronked 'the' beeble.


kathy, this is much more agreeable.