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Entry 07: Is This Anything?

My resolve for this website project, at least at the outset, has been to post “something” once a day. But what counts as something? One of David Letterman’s fugitive routines suggests a standard for judgment: “Is it something, or is it nothing?” Not remembering the correct title for the routine, I searched the internet and came up with a number of philosophy sites that had used the line as a cue—but nothing like a record of Letterman’s usage.

The last post is an example. As the time frame for posting “something” on January 20 neared its end, due to the lateness of the hour and the difficulty of the day, I was starting to draw a blank. That in itself could be “something,” properly framed. I searched the internet for traces of “something” and, following the faintest of threads, came up with a 90-minute video I had not previously seen, a virtual screen test from the ontological bunker of aesthetic theory.

This was truly “something,” and suggested an idea for my next post: an account of David Letterman’s routine, were I able to substantiate it. Perhaps it was entirely ephemeral, made up—but the ghost of its effects in the larger culture remain. Chris Vitiello, on Facebook, posted a random entry that showed the way: “Who the **** is Jay Leno?” This may have been the origin of the routine, as I have never understood what Jay Leno is about, if anything.

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Link 04: Poetry Is

In 2007 or thereabouts, I ran into Detroit poet Chris Tysh on W. 26th Street in Chelsea. It must have been Saturday. Simultaneously, we were hailed (as it were) by the poet George Quasha, who invited us in to the White Box Gallery to take part in a video project he was making. In another version of this story, I must have been contacted by Quasha, who invited me to the gallery, and I arrived at the same time as Chris Tysh. In a third version of the story, Carla Harryman was also present, to be hailed or invited by George Quasha. 

In any case, Quasha asked me to compose myself, face a video camera and speak in whatever manner I chose, at whatever length I might, to the topic “Poetry is . . . .” After giving it some thought I did so. Carla Harryman likewise spoke to the question. Chris Tysh composed herself and spoke, while I remained at a respectful distance, not wanting to interfere. Kristin Prevallet may also have been there, composed herself, and likewise spoke.

Later, I wrote George Quasha about whether the project had come to fruition. He answered in inspecific terms. From that time forward I heard nothing more until, clicking on a Google link to an rss feed site called Tumblr, I came across evidence that the work existed and that I was in it, along with almost anyone else who might have an answer to that question. The resulting video is a compilation of some interest that just might speak to what “poetry is . . . .” 

The video has been out for about one week. My segment can be found at 34:45.

poetry is [vol. I] from George Quasha on Vimeo.

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