On 17 June 2012, I visited the Mauerpark flea market with friend and poet D— S—. The market was bursting at the seams with the detritus of pop culture; archives of tape and vinyl; retro furniture and avant-garde t-shirts; remnants of the former socialist state and occasional contraband from darker times; out-of-date art books and mass market magazines bleaching in the sun. A carnival of objects to anchor social ground within the shadow of the former Wall.
At the end of a long alley of stands, objects, and crowds—or at the end of a confusing story that was just about to arrive at its point—appeared a stall selling what look like small cardboard boxes, each with a stenciled number cut out on the top that let optical green paper show through, under the banner “Geschichten des Zufalls.” In the center of the table stood a gumball machine, containing wooden balls with the same optical green numbers. We were invited to purchase one of the boxes as a “chance object,” and to participate in a conceptual project in which we would inform the sellers/organizers of any coincidences that had occurred after its purchase. We could pay whatever price we felt appropriate for an opportunity to encounter chance in this way.
A link to the Ice House Detroit project, courtesy Joe Paszek. In this project, Detroit artists sprayed an abandoned house with water in January, in a reversal of the usual method of getting rid of excess housing inventory by fire (a.k.a. Devil’s Night, a custom that seems to be on the wane). There is a description of a similar midwestern moment in Wyndham Lewis’s Self-Condemned (1954), where he describes a Toronto hotel encased in ice after a fire.
Its process of construction combines elements of indexicality and narrative, dada informatics and role-playing games. The authors add content and develop the site structure independently and in dialogue with each other. The evolving narrative structure produces, as its outer horizon, a lexicon of terms that become its conceptual framework—and vice versa. This is an example of site construction as an emerging digital genre.
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.
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.
Ab dem Zeitpunkt der Umsetzung der Europäische Richtlinie 2002/96/EU in nationales Recht gilt folgendes: elektrische und elektronische Geräte dürfen nicht mit den Hausmüll entsorgt werden.
Der Verbraucher ist gesetzlich verpflichtet, elektrische und elektronische Geräte am Ende ihrer Lebensdauer an den dafür eingerichteten, öffentlichen Sammelstellen oder an die Verkaufstelle zurückzugeben.
Das Symbol auf dem Produkt, der Gebrauchsanleitung oder der Verpackung weist auf diese Bestimmungen hin.
Mit der Wiederverwertung, der stofflichen Verwertung oder anderer Formen der Verwertung von Altgeräten leisten Sie einen wichtigen Beitrag zum Schutz unserer Umwelt.