Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Ten Propositions on (What Was?) Flarf

Ten Propositions on (What Was?) Flarf (for a future essay) by Philip Metres

1. Genealogy: Dada was its Grand-Dada, Stein its Grand-Motha. Parentage may or may not include: collagists of all stripes, objectivists, New York School hijinx (Koch and Ashbery), stand-up in the mode of Richard Pryor to Sarah Silverman, LangPo funnyman Charles Bernstein, frothmouth Bruce Andrews, performance art, etc. Deep ancestors may include: 18th century insulters like Dryden and Swift, classic scatalogists from the ancient world.

2. Google as Muse.

3. If lyric is neurotic (superegoic), then flarf is psychotic (id).

4. Politics: variable. From comically fatalist to cosmic revolutionaries.

5. Demotic (i.e., re-reads Wordsworth et. al. and takes it to its logical end). Not purifying the language of the tribe, but amplifying it to eleven.

6. Favors Charlie Sheen over finish and sheen, Groucho over Karl, asses over Parnassus.

7. Apotheosis of Anti-Poetry as poetry. Daddy, what did you do during the poetry wars?

8. Tonally: diverse. From the melancholic machinery of loneliness to the hysterical hiccuping of the masses.

9. In its collective subjectivity, organs of sharing work and publication, festivals and publicity, demonstrates the power of poetic collectivity. It's MY poetic collectivity, get OFF!

10. Always (already?) in danger of (poetic) absorption. I.e. What was flarf?


Kasey Mohammad said...

I've heard that it's bad form to try to manipulate the reception of one's own movement, so I'm going to do it.

This is pretty spot-on, I'd say. I would just fiddle with the genealogical stuff slightly: dada, absolutely, so much so that I would make the grand-dada Duchamp and the grand-mama the Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven. Stein maybe not so much--she's important to me individually, and I'm sure to other flarfists, but as a direct influence on Flarf poetics, I'm not sure I see it. Same with the objectivists.

Certainly Koch & Ashbery, yes ... and O'Hara and Elmslie ... but maybe NYS gen 2 even more than gen 1. Padgett, Berrigan, Brainard et al.

Oh, and I don't think the past tense is necessary at the moment. Flarf hasn't died again for weeks now. I think we're on a roll.

Philip Metres said...

Kasey, okay, let's call Stein an Auntie George. As for the objectivists (which should be a band name), I meant only in the Reznikoffian sense, as devotees to other's language as source text and as mirror/voice/description of a world.

The pronouncement of death is more in the way of how criticism is always belated, and even as I write these things, they feel like the attempt to name that which has hurtled by, leaving us in its wake.