Entries tagged with Language writing

Poetics as Value Thinking:
Transvaluations of Language Writing

Presented at Fondation des Etats-Unis, Paris
sponsored by Double Change/Ecole normale supérieure
15 March 2017

This lecture is a hybrid of two thought experiments—one, a discussion of the poetics of value that sees political economy and poetics as twin forms of historically specific making, linked discourses of the determination of value. The second is a proposal for the transvaluation of poetics, and specifically Language writing, as a prospective organization of poetic labor as a form of a “knowledge base” (adopted from information and digital theory). The notion that unites both is that poetry and poetics are forms not only of value making but value thinking—sites for the transvaluation of a general notion of value into particular values. … More

Announcing Questions of Poetics:
Language Writing and Consequences

in a numbered and signed limited edition.

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Both paperback and hardcover editions are available directly from the author; the paperback edition may be purchased from University of Iowa Press, which is offering a 35% discount for six months, and as well as at Amazon.com and other online suppliers.

See linked page for ordering information. Friends may purchase the paperback edition at author’s cost plus postage; the hardcover edition (limited to 75 copies) is available to friends for $50 and to institutions and collectors for $75.

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On September 23, Questions of Poetics was the focus of an intense and productive discussion among a group of faculty and students from the English Department at UC Berkeley. The event was introduced by Lyn Hejinian and continued with response papers from Charles Altieri, Dan Blanton, Jane Gregory, and Andrew Key. Participants were provided with pdfs of the introduction and the first part of chapter 2, on “Language Writing and Late Capitalism.” The discussion centered on key claims of the book as a whole and of that chapter, including: radical particularity, textual materiality, period style, reception history, and recent controversies in poetics. The conversation continued later in the day at the Beta Lounge, followed by a book launch at Moe’s Books that evening.

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Entry 25: 17 Reasons Why!

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Reason 1: Language writing should not be understood in merely formalist terms.

Reason 2: It is a consequence of the cultural logic of the period(s) in which it was written and has its influence.

Reason 3: But, we must ask, what is a cultural logic, and how many of them are there to name?

Reason 4: If Enlightenment is a cultural logic, not just an abstract universal, the poetics of this situation are yet to be found out.

Reason 5: It is not exaggerating to claim these debates have scarcely been engaged, and will continue past publication of this volume.

Reason 6: The relation of Language writing to identity is a major motivation, as is the question of free speech as liberationist goal. … More

Entry 24: 17 Reasons Why!

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17 Reasons Why! 

“17 Reasons Why!” is a key site in the cognitive map of San Francisco during the period in which Language writing emerged, the 1970s. The cryptic formula, for which no adequate explanation has been given, overlooked the Mission District at the intersection of 17th and Mission—and yet also seemed hardly to be there. Its address was always already iterative and non sequitur, always a prompt for questioning. I left the Bay Area before it came down in 2000, but it has a solid place in the firmament of urban legend, as in this article, from which we learn: “The 17 did refer to the fact the store stood on the corner of 17th Street. But what were the reasons? ‘People would ask what the 17 reasons were, and we would guff it off. There were no 17 reasons,’ [the former owner’s son] said.”

[To be contd.]

Announcing publication of
Questions of Poetics: Language Writing

and Consequences

 

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Questions of Poetics is full-on Watten, a book with sharp edges, relentless intelligence, and an unwavering conviction that the arts have serious work to do.”
—Peter Nicholls, author, George Oppen and the Fate of Modernism

Questions of Poetics represents a major statement by one of the highest profile poet-critics of the day. Its arguments concerning genre, form, particularity, and negativity represent a solid, easily grasped, portable way of thinking about the ongoingness of the avant-garde, its continual diversification and reinvention. Moreover, Watten offers a persuasive reappraisal of Language writing and its place in American literary history.”
—Brian Reed, author, Nobody’s Business: TwentyFirst Century Avant-Garde Poetics

Official release date: September 1, 2016. For the University of Iowa Press flyer, see here; for ordering options, see here.

I was in New York for a purpose—for one thing, I had not been for a while and it was time to catch up. At a conference in Boston, I received a phone call from Kit Robinson, in the middle of a session on surrealism no less, that Ted Greenwald’s health was failing. I made plans to visit as soon as the semester was over; a day was arranged, a plane flight, a hotel booking, and other appointments fell into place. I’ve outlined what I did over the four-day weekend here. The time was specified for 2 P.M. Ted was chipper over the phone: “I have an earlier appointment, but I can see you then.” He books his time like a New Yorker, I noted; I don’t, in some unstated way assuming every event is its own uniqueness, even if that has long since become unworkable as a way to manage time. (So it came to pass that I work the day shift on the assembly line of Modernity Inc., headquarters in Detroit. But what’s the difference? Differing cultural styles of time management all depend on the same passage of time.) I was nervous about the event; he had not overprepared it. … More

New in 2015:cover

“Language Writing”
an essay by Barrett Watten

The Cambridge Companion to
Modern American Poetry
ed. Walter Kalaidjian

Table of contents:

1. The emergence of ‘the new poetry’
John Timberman Newcomb
2. Modern American archives and scrapbook
modernism / Bartholomew Brinkman
3. Experimental modernism
Alan Golding
… More

GP completespread

Luke Harley, “Poetry as Virtual Community: A Review of The Grand Piano: An Experiment in Collective Autobiography,” Jacket2, 7 February 2013. Click here.  

In part due to its demanding format—ten volumes by ten authors, published over a five-year period (2006–10), totaling over 1600 pages—and in part due to the difficult questions of poetics and community it raises, The Grand Piano has only now, more than two years after the last volume saw the light, received the kind of engaged and comprehensive review that will help open its project to readers in all its multiple dimensions. Barry Schwabsky’s 2011 review in The Nation, uploaded to this site, was likewise welcome as an enthusiastic introduction to a broader readership, one that perhaps had not heard of Language writing and would like to know more. Harley’s review, on the other hand,  assumes not only familiarity but positional engagement with the movement, these authors, this writing. Working through the debates of the 70s and 80s, as we did in The Grand Piano, Harley’s discussion extends literary history into the concerns of the present; it becomes, as Foucault would have said, a work of effective history. In so doing, his review joins Eleana Kim’s 2001 online history of Language writing to offer a broad overview of the movement, contributing to the work of documenting the past history and present possibility of language-centered poetics. Going beyond mere narrative history, critical readings like Harley’s reinterpret the effort to document the movement as a reenactment of its polemical force—from the archival matter of readings, talks, magazines, and books to its real-time engagement. Given the depth of discussion Harley and predecessors have initiated, one can only hope they will encourage more. La lutte continue!

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