Occupying Pete’s Candy Store

Brian Ang reading from his Totality Cantos

Three important new poetry projects formed the second installation of Dorothea Lasky’s curated series “Multifarious Array” at svelte performance space Pete’s Candy Store in Williamsburg, BK.  Brian Ang’s recent work engages specifically with one of the signature sub-genres of modernist poetics – the epic long poem. In his words, The Totality Cantos is “conceptually and interchangeably about everything, the synchronous archive of present knowledge, emphasizing the unprecedented access to knowledge enabling the construction of the most encyclopedic poem ever written” (“On Method”, 2012). As such, this impossible project re-frames and re-contextualises modernism’s problematic relationship to Eidos – the sense of an essential thingness in nature (as invoked in the poetics of Pound or Heidegger) with respect to digital informatics.

Brian had available copies of his latest pressing of Armed Cell – issue number 2.

Finishing the evening’s readings, Laura Elrick treated us to a significant portion of her latest manuscript due to be published this year (as soon as she can come up with a title).

I think Laura’s work fits in well with quite a few of the issues and themes being explored in our Electronic Writing Workshop at NJIT. At the moment it’s impossible to refer to the work by title, but the one piece that signified for me a kind of enveloping theme – at least with respect to language’s function in the work – centred upon the figures of Echo and Narcissus. Echo, the tragic, ever-chattering nymph, personifies in Ovid’s tale a very particular failure with language, where nothing original is ever uttered, and communication is stripped to the simple repetition of the last words of her interlocutor’s statements. The real distress in the story, however, occurs when the nymph’s attempts to solicit Narcissus’s romantic interest in her succeed only in reaffirming the latter’s capacity for self-love. Laura reminds us here that Echo’s demise is precipitated not by Narcissus’s rejection, but, rather, his full acceptance. For to love Narcissus fully and completely requires the ultimate linguistic sacrifice: to engage him is to echo him. Already bereft of any original substance, Echo finds her strange linguistic condition can only increase in severity.

What we have in Laura’s work on one level is an ongoing performance of an echoic effect, as phrases and terms seem to bump against each other interminably, not concluding so much as wasting away. Laura brings out the grammar of the echo, building an impressive, sonorous series of linguistic phrases that seem forever just on the cusp of referentiality, and yet poignantly never quite making it.

– Posted on the road, as it were, from my iPhone


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