Tuesday, April 17, 2007
A quick and informal note on being a goon or a bandit on bandit land, and Mr. Andrew K. Peterson's recent poetry
1. This is a long overdue letter concerning the poetry of mr.
Andrew k. Peterson, and visions ofgoonethics: community over
aesthetic, or in fact that a goonethic may be the processes of a
thug thief who relies on other thuggish thieving types (Burroughs,
Oulipo, Stein, Hejinian, Berrigan Howe, the rest of
us, et. al) to continue a lifestyle of thuggish thievery. To be
1.1. Each thief, of course operates in their own thuggish ways, this
is also a similarity which could be characterized as style or
aesthetic, but rather, I argue, that it is that exact similarity which
requires specific difference. To be a bandit.
1.2. If we are thieves, at times even thieving from the same, shall we
say predecessor’s home, or benefactor’s home (as in Berrigan’s case),
do we not use different doors, er windows, or if the doors, er windows
may be the same (ex. erasure, mesostic, cut-up etc.) do we not use
different radio signals with our lisping receptor transmission tubes
to choose our loot, to choose our method of divining the great magic.
Yup, great but also the forgotten magic, the psychic magic, the magic
of the miniscule, the idiosyncratic magic, the surreal magic, the
durational magic, the magic of dictation, et. al, etc… a bandito.
1.3a. Ultimately, I believe this similarity in difference in magics/
musics to be an ethical one. What is it to be more ethically
responsible thinking poet persons? How does recognition of the past—
architecturally, textually, magically—in the present-making experience
of prosery—both the reading and writing of prosery—recombine, respond,
interact, commune, and reposition subjects in relationship to each
other? RE everything…Are new spaces being articulated to undermine the
established spaces of domination and intimidation? Is this utopic? Or
is it discourse? Another architecture? What can we imagine here? A
1.3b. Okay, here is the same idea but more or less confused: when a
subject sets about in thought encountering another subject in time/
space relationship the potential for communion is imagined, when a
subject does this through the action of reading or of writing or of/
with the use of symbols—architecturally: with a syntax and semantics—
the potential is manifested, and this to my mind is a kind of ethics
of communal transformation. Albeit one with problems (see jakobsen,
wittgensein, de saussure, benjamin, preziosi, et. al)…or else why
would it be worth it? And isn’t this how we create our culture? Making
space for our living, to quote a bertolino title…or Bandits on Bandit
land, to quote myself, heh!
1.3c. We are transforming ourselves through the ethical encounters of
spirits of meaning, the ghosts of the corpses of language, in order to
be transformed, magically, into more critically/ethically emergent
humans, or in some cases post-humans. Cyborg-bandits.
1.4. Here's a quote from Alice Notely in a recent interview with
I typed the poems in the White Shroud manuscript so long ago that I
don't think the experience was directly relevant to how I read "White
Shroud" aloud. While I was reading it I tried to emphasize its
structure -- it has a very firmly in place, story-telling structure --
and the immense detail. The poem goes in and out of typically Allen
cadences, which as everyone knows are hypnotic, and which he often
uses when he's describing things. These cadences seem to help him
"see" better. So, as Anselm[Berrigan] said later, sometimes I sounded
like Allen and sometimes I didn't. The cadences would pull at me, then
I would resist them for awhile, then they would pull at me again. I
found this quite interesting.
When I was in my twenties, one of things Ted suggested I do -- that he
had done -- was type up other poets' poems. He had one-page poems in
mind, because those were the ones he'd typed. I was drawn to longer
poems and typed up all of Jimmy Schuyler's "Hymn to Life," O'Hara's
"Ode on Michael Goldberg's Birthday and Other Births," a large part of
Williams' "Of Asphodel That Greeny Flower." I believe I internalized
the structures and sounds of these poems -- somewhat -- and that they
influenced much of my later work. I didn't know it while I was doing
it -- it seemed to me that I was just typing, it even bored me. But I
then wrote "Songs for the Unborn Second Baby," which is totally
grounded in the O'Hara poem, and poems like "The Prophet," with its
long lines that are as much like Schuyler's as Koch's, and then
there's The Descent of Alette, which obviously owes a lot to the
variable foot of "Asphodel." You take in a lot without being conscious
of, rationally on top of, what it is -- this is magic.
1.5 Anselm Hollo Private Eye, A.K. Peterson, 2oo7, livestock editions
limited pressings, is a practice of magic in these terms set out by
notely, ala berrigan (I will probably say ala berrigan a lot in this).
But it is peculiar and idiosyncratic in the following Peterson ways.
1.5.1. I know Andy Peterson and have read a lot of his work. I have
spoken to him about poetry. And so I know that many of the lines in
A.H.P.E. have been taken from the last lines of various poets
published in certain journals such as Chicago review, Denver quarterly
1.5.2. I must add some assumptions here in this. I must assume,
because of the conversations with the petey petes that these poets
often finish their poems or the editors seem to pick poems that
FINISH. I better define that….Is it called a volta at the end of the
Shakespearean sonnet?…you know the final couplet that is supposed to
turn and give the reader an epiphanic understanding of something?
Anyway, it is my thinking that this is still occurring in the realm of
the so-called avante American mid-to-mainstream mags, like the ones
previously mentioned. This is possible for maybe a couple of reasons.
1.5.3. The form is very conducive. One to five poems is hardly a way
to get a reader into a serial mode or into any kind of shape to view a
text. Don’t get me wrong I like these mags, yet think they’re approach
and format provide for the difficulties of serial and/or dynamic/
performative/textually experimental poetries getting published. And
anyway why do we want this sort of volta/epiphany/flourish hasn’t it
been overdone to hell!!!???
1.5.4. Enter Andrew Peterson and A.H.P.E. Here Peterson blows up the
volta, blows up the epiphany, blows up the flourish, or even
flourishes the flourish.
1.5.5. In A.H.P.E. We are encountered by each flourish line by line
then stopped with a period. Then let pass to the next line by a
halting music. Or musics to be more proper to the voices that have
constructed this text.
1.5.6 Peterson has removed these epiphanies, flourishes, voltas, and
serialized them like some murderer who only keeps feet in his freezer,
and Anselm Hollo is on the case!
1.5.7. In this metaphor, I must also include the poetics of a mr.
cooper. Peterson has used periods to accentuate the ending
capabilities of these lines but they also take on an interruptive
value, ala coops. Might we call this re(cooper)ative method. A poetics
of interruption in this case has turned/tuned a stop and go form that
keeps a reader mashed up in the line. We are in a present-making, even
meditative, steinean construction of a poem stopping and spurting
forth into and through the. Sound. Of. It. Full. Stop.
1.5.7.a. An Example:
One spends too much.
“The doors are now. Closing.”
The head “feels “light”.
But the universe rejects. A feeling of shame.
Flowers forth. One two three four five petals.
Got a little carried away.
Watching each other.
Imitate osprey wings.
And this woman.
And this woman is like,
Hands gesture welcome.
“Hold on Step out side a minute. Will you?
“If I were you…”
(“I wouldn’t be.”)
1.5.8. In this sound too, we find corpses of berrigan, hollo, and
numerous unnamed poets being trained/tuned/turned through the
meatwheel of Peterson’s ear. His readings of Zukofsky, Creeley,
Berrigan, and Spicer have surely added to Peterson’s listening
capabilities, as well as his use of pronouns. Here I leave all of yr
own readings of these poets to discern their place in peterson’s
1.6. In these poems we receive messages of mickey mouse and ted danson
in the same pages of hot dogs love and crickets holes and muskets.
Always with the knowledge of song, thiefdom and pop culture alive
underneath, giving pulse to these pointedly dis-jointed, and (I think)
aggressively questioning poems. Andy, do you agree with this? What do
you think about me calling your poems in AHPE aggressively
questioning? You would certainly disagree about that. You would
certainly say, “why aggressive?” And “Questioning what?” And to that I
1.7 Do You think Charles Bernstein was aggressive? Was Bhanu
Aggressive? Michelle Naka? Osman? How about Kerouac? Do you think
Innovation in its malleable form of the new is aggressive, it may be,
it may, but what of the new, the position of emergence from one
cellular body to another cellular body, which is also a goonethics I
imagine, I mean what about host/parasite, and In/Appropriate
relations, but where do you ANDY place yr ethics? Yes here I am
knocking on yr bedroom door, yelling show me andy, show me your
insides, show me what is fodder for thievery that is not aggression
towards the state, er I’m sorry what has been deemed sovereign, er I
mean STATUS, the STATE, Andy yr poems in AHPE surely resist this urge
to consolidate into a capital, rather they AGGressively put forth the
need to be critical, spectral, which is to question, to disperse
multiply, I find my self saying, yes jared, but don’t all poems or all
reading experiences offer the same, the possibility or potentiality to
question, to disperse, to be spectral, and to be critical, and I say
hell yes, but those may be or are to me passive, they are not trying
to call into Question Aggressively the way perception is emerging
momentarily in spurts and stoppages….Ha! Peterson I say your Anselm
Hollo Private Eye is fucking Joyously Aggresively Questioning in its
rooms, on its chairs, around its alleyways, and lapdancing to the
gorillaz with a hard-on all over Hollo’s Neckbeard!
2. Theorhetorical Sidenote: Using the Wolf-man to Understand the Wolf-
Giorgio Agamben in Chapter 6 of Homo Sacer: The Ban and the Wolf
“Rodolphe Jhering was, with these words, the first to approximate the
figure of Homo Sacer to that of the wargus, the wolf-man, and of the
Friedlos, the ‘man without peace’ of the ancient Germanic law. He thus
placed sacratio in the context of the doctrine of Friedlosigkeit that
Wilhelm Eduard Wilda had elaborated toward the middle of the
nineteenth century, according to which ancient Germanic law was
founded on the concept of peace (Fried) and the corresponding
exclusion from the community of the wrong-doer, who therefore became
friedlos, without peace, and whom anyone was permitted to kill without
committing homicide. The medieval ban also presents analogous traits:
the bandit could be killed (bannire idem est quod dicere quilibet
posit eum offendere, “’To ban’ someone is to say that anyone may harm
him” [Cavalca, Il bando, pg. 42]) or was even considered to be already
dead (exbannitus ad mortem de sua civitate debet haberi pro mortuo,
‘Whoever is banned from his city on pain of death must be considered
as dead’ [ibid., p. 50]). Germanic and Anglo-Saxon sources underline
the bandit’s liminal status by defining him as a wolf-man (wargus,
werewolf, the latin garulphus, from which the French loup garou,
“werewolf,” is derived): thus Salic law and Ripurian law use the
formula wargus sit, hoc est expulsus in a sense that recalls the sacer
esto that sanctioned the sacred man’s capacity to be killed, and the
laws of Edward the Confessor (1030-35) define the bandit as a
wulfesheud (a wolf’s head) and assimilate him to the werewolf (lupinum
enim gerit caput a die utlagationis suae, quo dab angles wulfesheud
vocatur, ‘He bears a wolf’s head from the day of his expulsion, and
the English call this wulfesheud’). What had to remain in the
collective unconscious as a monstrous hybrid of human and animal,
divided between forest and the city—the werewolf—is, therefore, in its
origin the figure of the man who has been banned from the city. That
such a man is defined as a wolf-man and not simply as a wolf (the
expression caput luminum has the form of a juridical statute) is
decisive here. The life of the bandit, like that of the sacred man, is
not a piece of animal nature without any relation to law and the city.
It is, rather, a threshold of indistinction and of passage between
animal and man, physis and nomos, exclusion an inclusion: the life of
the bandit is the life of the loup garou, the werewolf, who is
precisely, neither man nor beast, and who dwells paradoxically within
both while belonging to neither.
Andy, this quote is one of my interview questions to you, respond in
any manner you see fit. But please consider, Bhanu’s wolf-girls,
exile, banishment, hair, the city, the forest, in relationship to yr
3. A Myopic Note on Moving Day: A book I may have even enjoyed more
than AHPE, if something like that can be said about two different
books I find so dear to me, and love, for different reasons.
3.1 "Like a pearl diver who descends to the bottom of the sea, not to
excavate the bottom and bring it to light but to pry loose the rich
and the strange, the pearls and the coral in the depths, and to carry
them to the surface, this thinking delves into the depths of the past--
but not in order to resuscitate it the way it was and to contribute to
the renewal of extinct ages. What guides this thinking is the
conviction that although the living is subject to the ruin of time,
the process of decay is at the same time a process of crystallization,
that in the depth of the sea, into which sinks and is dissolved what
once was alive, some things 'suffer a sea change' and survive in new
crystallized forms and shapes that remain immune to the elements, as
though they waited only for the pearl diver who will one day come down
to them and bring them up into the world of the living--as 'thought
fragments' as something 'rich and strange,' and perhaps even as
everlasting Urphenomenon."--Hannah Arendt on Walter Benjamin.
3.2 In this quote Hannah Arendt is commenting on Benjamin’s peculiar
relationship to collecting. While I must admit I have a bias towards a
reading of Poetry and Language that is similar to and influenced
directly by Walter Benjamin. In fact it has led me to many fruitful
readings of other authors as well as (I’m sure you know) guiding all
of my recent projects. But it is here where I want to read just one
short poem of Andy’s from Moving Day and relate it back to an overall
relationship to Benjamin’s Idea of a Collector.
3.2.a. Here I also submit that Andy’s other major project, Museum of
thrown objects, as well as AHPE can be viewed in light of Benjamin’s
collector, or Andy P. as Pearl Diver.
3.2.b. While I’m still off track let me call attention to Andy’s
original invention of Poetry Machines, i.e. not only his help in
creating the atmosphere at 3020 24th but also his index card
crapshoot, as well as his copious amounts of notebooks he filled or
“collected things in” only to go back like some Pearl Diver to display
as “rich and strange.” So also around those copiously filled notebooks
was his book collection. And of course his record collection, and of
course his digital recorder. So in all of these collections or
collecting technologies, mr. Peterson had created quite a reef to
explore. Anyhow, it is most obvious (to a goon) the freeforall that
must take place behind Andy’s securely closed bedroom door in order
for this magic to occur. And as always it is my view that as poets
participating in the ongoing human conversation that we, in fact are
always, when we are composing—in or on one level of consciousness or
another or more or less deliberately—acting as pearl divers….
3.2.c. Question: Andy, describe an average night of writing in your
room at 3020, or in a space you write in now?
3.3. The part of Moving day I’d like to Quote:
In the poem “the painters,” on page 30,
The last line has been omitted.
It should read:
Unpacking my heart with words.
3.4. This one small section of a poem evokes much of what the
collector of books knows. One intimate with the details of books
understands errata. But what of an errata in a poem about a poem that
may or may not exist. This is a formal positioning that forces a
reader to think dialectically: between the past of the poem as well as
the future of the poem (there are no actual page numbers), between
this book and one that may exist on the authors bookshelf or library,
between ephemerality of sound, yet the finality of printed text. And
this with its form. Quite the crystallization I think.
3.5. How can I resist the suggestibility of “The Painters” as the
title of the poem either imbedded here, or living elsewhere in the
poets reality. Words as pictures, this figure of the painters as the
title of a lost poem evokes a kind multiplicative value on the
imagination of this fragment, errata. What is suggested is the
relationships of signification. Visual encounters are evoked through a
kind of search; either searching through text, through paint, or both
in imagination and memory. Knowledge is now existing between the
imaginations of both reader and writer. It exists outside of them
both, and only in their relationship to each other. “the painters”
will have meaning only in the convergence between the imagination of
the writer and the imagination of the reader forcing a dialectics to
occur by pearl diving into memories and imaginations of both.
3.5.a. “unpacking my heart with words”
While this could have one response of understanding the more
sentimental use of heart and the thoughts of what causes unpacking,
namely “moving day[s].” I however enjoy how this relates to a
Benjaminian collector. For Benjamin this collecting business always
came back to a linguistic base. Hence his opus the Arcades Project was
an entire 1000 page collection of quotes. Collecting always comes back
to naming for Benjamin and here for Andy as well. This is my reading
of that line: That for Andy, someone I read both being a collector
myself as well as understanding this writing as a product of
collecting, an unpacking of his heart could happen with nothing other
than words. In fact it must be that way for all of us.
3.5.b. Question: Tell us something about pearl diving for He Ad Home,
and relate it to the previously mentioned ideas about “The Painters”
errata section? Fuck, I sound like I’m writing a test…um, sorry andy,
do as you will…
3.5.c. Finishing with a Finn: I think I know some of where Andy got
his pearls, but I guess it’s pretty obvious.
>From the Empress Hotel Poems By Anselm Hollo, 1968.
To return and find
2 men in gray suits who have come to look at me through their eyes
and say Mr. H. is this yours? You know they’re illegal
in this country. Oh I didn’t know.
Well they are, you better get rid of it. OK.
They go, and I think
It is a good thing to have more than one room.
What would they say
If they found what I have
In the other poem.