Monday, June 30, 2008

On Michael Magee's "Paul Wolfowitz's Future"/The Sex of Imperial Power

Reading Michael Magee's Mainstream last week, I was particularly struck by the sheer anarchy of his flarf poems, enacting Kasey Mohammad's comment about the mainstream being a chaos of a power that pulls everything into its current. In "Paul Wolfowitz's Future," Magee plays out a little liberal revenge upon one of the architects of neoconservative mayhem, creating a cartoon world in which Wolfowitz is a priapic action hero with acquisition on his--ahem--mind, which appears to be located south of the waist line.

Even though the poem enacts the revenge of the artist upon the powerful, it also seems to acknowledge that power is exciting, and empire all the more so. In the words of Pedro the Lion: "power can be such a tease/it keeps you wanting more/it's good to know that just like sex/it can be paid for"...

I recently read a fascinating blog entry which quotes Badiou saying that a non-imperial art is necessarily an abstract art. I think that Badiou is drinking the elixir of generality here, since he neglects to note at the very minimum that marginalized groups deploy representational modes for very critical political and historical purposes. At the same time, I'd like to question the frame: what is at stake in wanting to create a non-imperial art? If indeed we as Americans live in and benefit from the empire, to create a "non-imperial" art may be to fail to create an art commensurate with our space/time. Or worse, may just be the marginal jottings on the pages of the History of Empire--the illuminations to the brute text?

Paul Wolfowitz's Future

"I gotta get off this squid base and hit the Viceroy, search the universe for a habitable planet to colonize." He popped a boner so fast that he had to bend over to avoid hurting himself.

She plucked a king-sized Viceroy from the pack and placed it between her lips.

"Just to make sure that America ends up with a boner big enough for the Viceroy's vast intergalactic Hong Kong, the Free Trade Federation."

He swore at the garlicky stench on the breath of a pretty young wench, Lord Viceroy limericking a "classic student boner" with a "christened man in the gutter with crumbs on his face."

"When she gives a radio to Burma, they say she falls asleep on the sofa with a lit cigarette."

Some of it was anger but some of it was giving him a boner. Trying not to look, he tried thinking of other things but his own cock betrayed him as it turned from flaccid to a full fledged boner in a matter of seconds. Now he could see why most everyone had a boner, it was just a given.

"Ostrich feathers and eggs, leopard skins, copper, amethyst, carnelian, feldspar, oils, gum." He was not a big fan of the extra hands but did like all the other goodies. "Your visit to Hyderabad will be considered incomplete without shopping for the pearls."

A very favorable exchange rate makes shopping for colorful handicrafts, bodies and other locally produced products a great bargain. This makes them distasteful to birds who avoid not only the monarch, but also the viceroy, which mimics the monarch patterns.

"Shopping for someone who has everything?"

"If you come round the supermarket with me, I'll drive you out to Avebury, and you can deliver the shopping for me, ok ... we're going to see the Viceroy. Also on the weekend I came in second in the Viceroy's Jewels tourney."

"Somehow, I think the Viceroy will remember that."

I explained our frequent absences by the need to do some shopping for the hacienda while we were in the city. "Blood wine is a very good substitute ... bit me and forced me to share." He called for wine, and drank with his old tiny leather sack of fouled blood and garlic. "The viceroy wipes at his mouth tastes of wine and some breath and the harsh sound of my blood coursing through."

With the permission of the viceroy, the corpse was exhumed. He then told her all about the Viceroy's usage of those tanks of blood to counter their wine, all because the practitioners had only sexual strangers who "eat hunks of white stone."

"Do you think the Viceroy will overlook that--the wooden horse as if it was stopping her from drowning ... sort of a way of holding a brown skinned erection in each Cambridge History of Egypt?"

There were numerous drowning accidents. A Trust Fund for the erection of a new church dedicated was seen to be in no danger.

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