Dreaming on a train

An off-hand comment by Steve Roggenbuck on Twitter caused me to ask, in a deflected manner, what flarf poetry was. As helpful as ever, Steve sent back a link to a video he’d made answering this question a year back. HERE

I only watched the video once and didn’t take any notes, so I had a cursory understanding of the process as described by him, which is, in turn, his take on what it is. So this is probably a very clumsy version of a process which may be unrecognisable to flarf poets at large.

My first go at a flarf poem was like this; google the phrase “dreaming on a train” (not in quotes) and then scroll through all of the hits that have phrasing that catches my attention in some way, regardless of quality, copy and paste these into a document in the order they are found. That’s it.

First Draft

To see a train of cars moving in your dreams
I collected trains throughout life, including original model from erector set made at age twelve
Dreaming of the great crossing with a coffee speciality
you get tired, because the train doesn’t stop until it reaches the next state. It’s the dream that kills you
Yesterday I visited my Mother at the interim care home in Kent
Sat in a diner as she sings the opening lines of the breezy and elegant Dream Of Me
Riding at night with your eyes closed
i had this weird dream lastnight that i was at a train station or somewhere i dont know where i was but i was sitting next to my ex-best friend
the train is you
Your falling off that path and the people you kno that are flying out
Usually I am on one platform of the station and the train is about to leave from another platform
wake up in a leisurely manner, as you might do on a weekend
blossoming flower of peace, love and all that stuff
I’m sorry, July. I failed you.
I could hear a story being written, but I didn’t know what it said
Come to Jesus now.
Let’s say you are near a railway station
You are doing multiple things and are distracted
The boy in your dream that you tried to save
one summer day far in the future I’ll step aboard the bullet train in Hartford
TRAINS ARE FOR DREAMING
She’d never like someone like him, unless he was dreaming.
I’m so thug You’re the only one I’m dreaming
I was not immediately concerned because the train seemed to be about 15 seconds away from crushing me
What is the meaning to This Is Like Kissing A Train
Dreaming In Oceans This Is Like Kissing A Train
You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure
I hear the trains coming, And the drunk man singing on the street, And the fan on the ceiling
Sleeping Like Superman
The train has become my sworn enemy
The smell of you in every single dream

I kind of liked some of these phrases, and turned one into an image macro with the image of a train on fire in a tunnel (train in a tunnel generally being thought to be a sexual dream image)

I wasn’t particularly happy with the poem itself, however and decided to try a couple of edits, first involving chopping out any phrases that seemed to be less interesting, and then in the final edit, changing some of the wording, chopping it down further and adding in some of my own words to try and improve flow and coherence.

Second Draft

Riding at night with your eyes closed
To see a train of cars moving in your dreams
Dreaming of the great crossing

Usually I am on one platform of the station
and the train is about to leave from another platform
one summer day far in the future I’ll step aboard the bullet train in Hartford

I’m sorry, July. I failed you.

You are near a railway station
You are doing multiple things and are distracted
I hear the trains coming, And the drunk man singing on the street, And the fan on the ceiling

The boy in your dream that you tried to save is sleeping Like Superman
Come to Jesus now

I was not immediately concerned because the train was about 15 seconds away from crushing me

wake up in a leisurely manner, as you might do on a weekend
Yesterday I visited my Mother at the interim care home in Kent
Sat in a diner as she sings the opening lines of the breezy and elegant Dream Of Me

TRAINS ARE FOR DREAMING
She’d never like someone like him, unless he was dreaming.
I’m so thug You’re the only one I’m dreaming
What is the meaning to This Is Like Kissing A Train

You know where you hope this train will take you, but you don’t know for sure

The train has become my sworn enemy
The smell of you in every single dream

Third Draft

I’m sorry, July. I failed you.
One summer day far in the future I’ll step aboard the bullet train in Hartford
The boy in your dream that you tried to save is sleeping Like Superman

She’d never like someone like him, unless he was dreaming.
I’m so thug you’re the only one I’m dreaming

The train has become my sworn enemy
The smell of you in every single dream

Final version

I’m sorry, July. I failed you.

One summer day I’ll step aboard the bullet train in Osaka and head West.
The dream boy you tried to save is sleeping like Superman
and you never liked someone like him, unless he was dreaming.

I’m so thug you’re the only one I’m dreaming.
I hear the trains coming, and the drunkard singing on the street, and the fan on the ceiling
and feeling that things would be better with you.

The smell of you in every dream.

 

I realise this is against the ethos of flarf, but I never was interested in strictly adhering to formulae.

I like the series of rhythms and speeds; the clicking through of google pages, the ‘metre’ of the phrases, a narrative pacing, etc. and the way the original version has the feel of a Burroughs cut-up text… I’m going to play with this some more, but not now, I’m tired.

On the train to Nottingham

I have been reading Michael Harner’s Way of the Shaman, and have tried a few of the exercises, but on the way to Nottingham I decided to listen to Pharaoh Overlord and see if I could ‘journey’ that way. This was my experience:

I was drifting through amorphous patterns of light and shade but couldn’t figure out what they were. I couldn’t get them to resolve into anything I understood. I was wondering where my guide was, but then realised I was either inside him or on his back and the amorphous shades were because we were flying through clouds.

I began to notice a kind of pulsing circular shape up and to the right of my vision. it seemed to alternate between looking like a diamond or crystal and a sun or eye with a massive iris that filled my vision. Down to the bottom left of the rim of the iris a blip of intensity kept appearing but I couldn’t make sense of it (looked a bit like a blown pupil). It kept looking like it was going to come closer but would then disappear again. At times the crystal/eye/sun would become more like a series of folds of flesh, folded around a hole that pulsed. I went in and realised I was somewhere in my own body, either my gullet or my intestines (probably throat around the false vocal cords). The small glitch of intensity still kept appearing and seemed unsure if it could trust me. It created a series of shadows I didn’t understand. I said I was leaving, but hoped to meet next time. It made it clear it would reveal itself next time.

 

Constanthaus

Constanthaus is a proposition for an ongoing artwork to be preformed by a network of artists.

All of the artists in the network have to be able to contact each other at short notice in some way; via phone, skype, twitter or whatever.

If a member of the network discovers enough materials lying around, they will contact the other Constanhaus artists.

The aim of the project is to build small, temporary shelters that have potential for being used by street sleepers. Therefore the materials being sought must be suitable for this purpose, such as discarded timber and shipping pallets.

This project would require a definite commitment by artists.

This is an ‘open source’ idea and can be performed by any network willing to use the name Constanthaus.

Situationist Aesthetics Conference Reflection

Situationist Aesthetics: The SI Now
8 June 2012. University of Sussex.

I attended the Situationist Aesthetics conference as a speaker, and it must have been obvious to anyone who heard my presentation that it didn’t fit in with the consensus. I presented a paper (here) about the Situationist practice of the dérive with particular emphasis on the contribution of Ivan Chtcheglov, during the Lettrist International period. The majority of the other presentations focused on Situationist ‘pope’ Guy Debord.

I experienced this phenomenon a few years ago at ‘Deleuze Camp’, an extended (often tedious) conference focused on the work of Gilles Deleuze. I assume this is something that happens at any conference dedicated to a specific thinker, but find it curious the way a particular orthodox view begins to emerge from the conference. In the case of Deleuze Camp, it appeared that the speakers were attempting to position Deleuze to make him acceptable to analytic philosophy, removing any vitalism from his work. At Situationist Aesthetics, the move seemed to be to emphasise Debord as the big man of the Situationists (as he himself had, perhaps, intended), in much the same way as the Silverman Collection positions George Maciunas as personifying Fluxus by emphasising art objects and Maciunas’ design work over the group’s collective actions.

The general narrative arising from the conference was that Debord was a post-Hegelian philosopher with a Clauswitzian, strategic dimension to his work on the Spectacle, this despite Debord’s statement that he was not a philosopher, but a strategist; apparently he was just being deceptive or playful when he made that statement. I was particularly bothered by several claims that the dérive was a political and strategic tactic for disrupting the spectacle. The dérive is certainly a practice that can be used for political ends, but it is simply a tool and could equally be used to celebrate the spectacle.

Several speakers also celebrated the much vaunted ‘occupy’ movement, claiming that the left was seizing public space and that from this space political actors would emerge. This is despite the obvious implication of the dérive, that spaces are not fixed and that social spaces do not pre-exist, but are constructed through social interactions and atagonisms. These spaces can be produced anywhere, not just at sites of power, such as the stock exchange.

The stand out panel for me was the final (Post-Situationist) panel before McKenzie Wark’s keynote in which Seb Franklin discussed cybernetics and networked societies as fundamentally ‘unspectacular’ (Much of this way WAY over my head), Gavin Grindon discussed issues surrounding the exhibition Destruktion af RSG-6 and Benjamin Noys presented on the SI and ‘communisation’. It was such a relief at this point to hear presentations that were not centred on Debord that I forgot to take notes. While Wark’s keynote presentation suggested that he was writing other people back into situationist history, in this case through reference to film editor Martine Barraqué, it focused almost exclusively on Debord in relation to the film Society of the Spectacle.

One possible reading of Debord that did not emerge from the conference is that he was actually a collagist, both in his writing and in his film-making, meaning that much of his contribution to theory needs to be inferred; it is often hard to isolate his contribution from those he paraphrases. He described himself as a strategist (rather than a philosopher) and claimed his most important work was the Kriegspiel (Game of war) board game. Despite this, speakers at the conference repeatedly insisted on Debord’s status as a philosopher, missing the importance of what he was claiming.

Debord clearly felt that his most important work was as a strategist and in helping others develop as strategists. He clearly felt that the key to the struggle against the spectacle was the interference of and disruption of the enemy’s lines of communication, which is the main lesson taught by the kriegspiel. If there is any doubt about this, even after reading his texts and playing the kriegspiel, one need only turn to the practices of the dérive and détournement. The dérive interrupts communication from the spectacle, via the built environment, through disorientation and a ‘rapid flight’ through varied ambiences. Meanwhile, détournement disrupts the spectacle’s communication with us by problematising its own materials, blocking existing lines of communication and unconsciously linking mass media images with subversive situationist antagonisms.

While the speakers almost universally denied the conference’s central premise, that there might be a situationist aesthetics, it should be clear that, since aesthetics is a discursive practice concerning human creative output, a denial of situationist aesthetics is a nonsense. This denial only serves to shut down one of the very debates with which they concerned themselves, namely the dialectical tension between the autonomy and heteronomy of art practice. On the other hand, “Situationists” who détourn printed matter today may be wasting their efforts and could be seen as fetishising the aesthetics of the 1960s SI. Rather, if they are serious about the situationist project, they should look to the internet and mobile technologies to explore new tactics for blocking the spectacle’s lines of communication, which currently target people’s unconscious minds with impunity.

 

Paranoid Disorientation paper here

Hello world!

I wasn’t sure whether to incorporate the traditional “Hello World!” artefact, or delete it.

Obviously, leaving the text “Welcome to WordPress. This is your first post. Edit or delete it, then start blogging!” would be a ridiculous thing to do…

I remember the first time I heard about the practice of outputting “hello world” the first time a programme is used or when training someone in a new application. It was when I was working at Walsall College, and I managed to get onto a beginners’ training course for  Dreamweaver, even though it wasn’t strictly necessary for my job. It did actually come in useful though when I helped @anamilgram teach a five-week workshop on web design with a bunch of teens at the now defunct Walsall Youth Arts (Thanks funding cut Tories). I don’t think I ever actually used Dreamweaver again after that.

Then there’s this…

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hello_world_program