Thursday, November 16, 2006

Or, to put it another way ...

The Existence Machine reminds me of some vintage Calvino:
The preliminary condition of any work of literature is that the person who is writing has to invent that first character, who is the author of the work. That a person puts his whole self into the work he is writing is something we often hear said, but it is never true. It is always only a projection of himself that an author calls into play while he is writing; it may be a projection of a real part of himself or the projection of a fictitious "I"--a mask, in short. Writing always presupposes the selection of a psychological attitude, a rapport with the world, a tone of voice, a homogeneous set of linguistic tools, the data of experience and the phantoms of the imagination--in a word, a style. The author is an author insofar as he enters into a role the way an actor does and identifies himself with that projection of himself at the moment of writing.

from Italo Calvino's "Levels of Reality in Literature", collected in The Uses of Literature

This rings true to me and is consistent with many of the ideas I've been investigating in my recent philosophictions. It's the "not-me" that generates these pseudo-autobiographical fictional becomings as a kind of "a preliminary condition" or state of being becoming something else. I am not "putting my whole self" into a work like 29 Inches, META/DATA, or GRAMMATRON, and certainly not those early novels where I inhabited the spiritual unconscious of characters I named Gregor Samsa (in The Kafka Chronicles) and Maldoror (in Sexual Blood).

Indeed, it has much more to do with projecting a flux persona at the moment of writing, of simultaneously and continuously fusing my seminal drift with "the data of experience and the phantoms of the imagination" as I project them, and to do just that, pro-ject, with style.

Which reminds me of the first Professor VJ blog entry back in late January of this year. Or maybe I mean the second blog entry way back then?


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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

The Proof is in the Prodding

Things have been way too busy lately. This is mostly due to the fact I have been proofing my META/DATA book, projected at 520 pages with 18 color illustrations. The book is just a sampling of my experimental artist writings from the early '90s to the present (there are quite a few "theoretical fictions" that have never been published before). It's not easy looking back at work written ten-fifteen years ago and then mashing it all up with the newest of the new writing. Having said that, proofreading this kind of book has not necessarily been "a trip down memory lane" as much as it has been a reminder of how many "mes" one is capable of embodying (a simultaneous and continuous fusion of signature-style events happening in asynchronous realtime). And these "mes" are really all part of the collective "not-me" that generates a multitude of flux personas so fast I don't even know where they are coming from (although the phrase "creative unconscious" comes to mind).

As I say in the "Preface" to META/DATA :
It is also a playful and performative self-appropriation, or, if you prefer, a digital sampling of the writing traces my creative self has left behind over the last 15 years, albeit a creative self that I have come to realize is not really there, that is, a creative self that precedes my own conscious thoughts and is already a manipulated version of itself as something other. At various times throughout the book, I refer to this something other as the "not-me," as when I look at the all of the work I have produced over the last one and half decades and focus on the various media platforms that this work gets distributed through, and think to myself: "That's just not me."

Isn't life funny that way? If it wasn't me, then who was it? And how on earth did I create all of this work when I clearly didn't know what I was doing? [...]
One bit of good news is that my publisher, The MIT Press, has come out with their Spring 2007 catalogue. Check it out here and you'll see that META/DATA is featured on page 3, comfortably situated after Wack! Art and the Feminist Revolution and Feedback: Television and Democracy, and right before The Exiles of Marcel Duchamp and The Beautiful Language of My Century (which, according to the catalogue, explores the montage practice developed by Guy Debord and the Situationists, i.e. d├ętournement).

Once I get through this proofreading madness (drone on, Dead Man), I'll convert a short excerpt from my other forthcoming book, 29 Inches: A Long Narrative Poem (Chiasmus Press), into a PDF and link to it from this blog. Comparatively speaking, proofreading 29 Inches should be a breeze.


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Sunday, November 12, 2006

Homeless iDrones

From Alternet:
Indeed, it may be the iPod's role in constructing the illusion of a home away from home that is the most monstrous thing of all. As cultural critics are fond of pointing out, the German title of Sigmund Freud's famous essay on the uncanny, Das Unheimliche, translates literally as "the un-home-like." That's an apt description of the eerie feeling we get watching people who sit for hours staring blankly into space, ears plugged with music of their choosing, looking like they've lost the passage back to the place they were before. They are out in public, to be sure, but primarily to act out their desire for privacy. Maybe what these listeners want is to be seen wanting both company and solitude.

It's a paradoxical wish, but one that captures the peculiar anxieties of the postmodern era in their most acute post-9/11 form. In the end, the iPod is the ideal product for the era of homeland insecurity.

from "The iPod's Moment in History"

(Hat tip to k-punk.)

Whereas I understand the sentiment above, I can't say that I agree with it. For example, at home, I would never listen to crappy commercial radio or other versions of corpo noise pollution and sometimes when I am out in public it's nice to have the option to tune out the commercial noise machine. Like when I am at the gym and, for reasons unbeknownst to me, the stereo volume inside the weightroom is cranked up high to some bullshit '70s rock radio show (like I want to aerobically exercise to "Stairway to Heaven" for the 1000th time), it's nice to have my iPod Shuffle randomly playing what I want to hear when I workout. It even helps me work out by giving me reason to move-dance.

Having said that, I am more surprised at the mobile phone drones who spend all day staring into their phones as if receiving messages from God (when in reality it's probably just someone inadvertently reminding them how unimportant their lives really are). Hey friend, throw that antiquated loser gadget in the trash, "I got your mobile phone right here - and it's on auto-vibrate!"

Meanwhile, is last week's shocking Democratic victory in both chambers of Congress really the result of the growing influence of the Colbert Nation?


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