Date: Mon, 4 Nov 2002
Subject: Re: Of late on the Blog

Thomas Bell <trbell@COMCAST.NET> wrote: > The reason I'm addressing this to the poetics list as well is in the hope that there still some life there. <

parrishka <parrishka@SYMPATICO.CA> wrote: > begs the question, "why the blog?" . . . questions about how much feedback the author really wants . . . univocality <

At first, when some List members began advertising their "blogs" (---I think that very few have actually announced them on this List: basically, Brian Kim Stefans, Lewis LaCook, and, with a vengence, Ron Silliman, to my memory---),

it reminded me of Foucault's Technologies of Self,

as if that book had predicted this. In short, what Technologies says is that the two main forms by which the West built up (the illusion of) Self and the subject, how the West invented subjectivity, was through letter-writing and diary-keeping. Having been through a letter-writing phase (for a short seven years ---since March 1994? The new List interface no longer sub-divides into Archives and Early Archives), for mysterious reasons the List atrophies and "bloggers" begin to spawn off of it. Is it that the preliminary exercise of having practiced Self through a communal letter-writing mode has nurtured a sufficient basis of Self for them to individuate off (as though "blogging" paralleled the maturational phase away from family)? Is it simple technophilia, and that yesteryear's list craze has faddishly given way to the new "blog" tech, so that the nomads will follow the next technology thereafter, in turn? Is it a "sinking boat" phenomenon, whereby the weak-of-stomach simply cannot tolerate the List decay any further and go off on their life rafts? Eulogies might be in order. Have List-productive periods tended to depend on crops of graduate students who cluster amongst themselves in their responses, so that such academics "outgrow" their pupal List phase as the encroaching responsibilities of their new job placements narrow or channel their freedom of expression, no longer at liberty to ad-lib spontaneously,--- and that any yet-to-be-seen periods of communal poetics must await the gradual and accidental reconfiguration of a new crop? (How much of the now rarely seen List Stats records the vestiges of defunct e-mail accounts in its tally?)

Oddly, the years when posts were screened by a monitor (Christopher W. Alexander, etc.), delayed in queue, and occasionally "censored" were more productive to discussion than the recent stage of effectively unmonitored twice-a-day posting.

Is it 9/11 Syndrome?

The List and other List members have been a means-to-an-end for many, and, having attained those ends, they jettison the means that helped them there? Has the Buffalo List exhausted its potential member pool, so that there are no more poetry experimentalists out there who have not passed through its machinations, and these are the sum total boundaries of the experimentalist population that we are watching reach its collective limits?

Is it true that "bad money drives the good money out"? Is it merely coincidental that the increase of blog announcements happens at the same time as the unprecedented increase of daily poem-posting?

---But, today, the buzz-word "alienation" is more on my mind, and I'm more inclined to see alienation written all over the face of the neo-"blog"-ism. ( if on Hannah Weiner's forehead: ALEINATION.)

Very simply, a shift from mediated one-to-one e-communication to the sort of "sound-proof booth" modality of blog is sort of self-evidently alienation, a shift from dialogue and discussion to monologue and soliloquy.

Even so, the blog announcements themselves take on interesting hallmarks of "spammers," too: Ron's latest, for example, was not confined to the Poetics List, but has cc's to, WOM-PO@LISTSERV.MUOHIO.EDU, and BRITISH-POETS@JISCMAIL.AC.UK. ---Which introduces questions of the imagined/desired audience and, basically, that Society of the Spectacle wins out, yet again: anything that increases a disequilibrium toward a state of spectators and "star" has the greater magnetism, over time.

There were times when fevered disagreement set in on-List about whether "poem-spamming" and "advertisements" should be channeled off into a separate sub-list and the List kept exclusively for discussion. Ironically, that argument has concluded itself post facto, where the advertisements remain and the medium for discussion may have extinguished itself.

As said in the Geert Lovink quote that Lewis LaCook posted, 10/31/02:

"With the current corporate take-over of the Net, one can expect that the publishing activities will change. . . . The Net itself will be a publication tool, to announce new products, fashions, ideas, in short, a new medium to manipulate people. The interactive, democratic part will very soon become a mere marginal aspect of the whole business. It will lose its innovative and subversive part and will become deadly boring. . . . The question is: do you have enough power to go for the second round, to start all over again, each time, after the net orgy will be over, to start again . . ."

[and turn on your speakers for sound clips of "Surabaya Johnny" at---]

Bette Midler

Marianne Faithful

Patti Lupone

Lotte Lenya