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. (...as if on Hannah Weiner's forehead:
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 firstname.lastname@example.org, 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,
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
As said in the Geert Lovink quote that Lewis LaCook posted,
"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"