Thursday, June 3, 2010


What I hoped to see in Alaska.

What I actually saw.

What was hiding behind the trees the whole time (artist's reconstruction.)
 For what I really found in Alaska, see here.


for deda Yura

Ere more a rumor, roam my armory:
A memory a room -- amour et murs;
Miró, Marot, Marat, et Mérimée
Mirés aux mares, amarrés aux rameaux;
荒い海を洗う mains;
丸い мира 丸い耳;
Māori morae or Ameri-rhyme
И меряемый Реомюром ум...
Марая, я 守る mon royaume,
Mais мимо армии и Муаммары
Roam more--et même a mirror-room 終わる:    
Immer amèrement my merry rhyme,
Aurant un rhume, meurt en murmurant,
Et mort, もう生まれられる。
My rhymes, though mired in myriads of remoras,
Remain unmoored in macaronic murk:
Marrants, mignons--ou morts?  The modern Roma
Or mere mome raths, unmasterful ephemera,
Манимы мерным ветром метронома?
But never mind my murmured fears; смотри:
He mauri tā te reo that mirrors matter;
En marche, mots! maturing, ever madder;
Id a mi hermano con la madrugada
А к деду -- au midi de symmetrie
Во времени, où rient les heures et まだ
Ha du remords a near-immortal ember
В мерцаньи чьем я смастерю a smirk
For my moai sans âme ou airs: "remember?"

Explanation -- spoilers, if you are so inclined -- follow.

The Blog Post as an Art Form

There is very little about this image that is inherently funny or poignant.  There are plenty of websites that even just document incongruous signs.  But put it in context.  It appeared, the sign, in its tiger splendor, against the glitter of the first major snowfall, just as no grass could be seen to keep off of.

Here are some bears with guns.  Go there, brush against the snow and see if it's not just the cottonwoods.  See the text arranged on the page, the images, the links, the receding reflections in the dewdrops hanging from the Web.  Join them with your own associations, meld lichenously mind and machine.  The grass is covered, as on a printed page it wouldn't be.

At one point I was going to call this post Introduction and Manifesto, until I realized that I was unconsciously plagiarizing Human Transit, if with a slightly Schumannesque twist.  In any case, this is hardly an introduction to anything, because I'm not writing this for you, the (for now hypothetical) reader.  I'm writing it because I'm worried that if I don't set constraints for myself I will end up doing a lot of pontificating on boring topics and talking to myself and other stuff no one wants to read.  If I convince myself that I have something with a big name like Manifesto, perhaps I can avoid that.

Perhaps that last paragraph is exactly the sort of thing I'm trying to avoid.

What I want to write, from an aesthetic angle, is something that is intrinsically a blog, cannot be anything other than a blog.  In the early days of the Internet, its distinguishing feature was the possibility of interactivity, collaboration.  Paradoxically, though, as creating interactive content has become easier, we have more and more opted for the Twitter model, eschewing direct collaboration for a sort of forest of independently rotating mirrors each equipped with lights of various color and intensity.  Perhaps we have found efficiency: already in 1835, V.F. Odoevsky predicted that household newsletters would supersede letter-writing, although he relegated his utopia to the year 4338 and the responsibility of composing them to the butler.  (Or more precisely, the столовый дворецкий.  Is this the sort of utopia where every man has, as the Strugatskys wryte, at least three slaves?)  In any case, though, it seems that the canonical blog is interactive or collaborative in this limited sense.  Less crucially, it includes pictures, sound, video interspersed with the text.  This generalizes, on the one hand, the idea of illustrations in books or of a scrapbook; but here, as in the dual nature of blog as diary and column, the published (the public) and the personal (which no one else touches!) mingle to form something new.  As for the moving media, it allows them, unprecedentedly, to become subjugated to the text, once again as context.

The hallmark of art blogging, then--art blogging in the sense of art music, I guess?--naturally not in the sense of art criticism--should be weaving the reflections, the context, seamlessly into the fabric of a piece of this sort of generalized writing.  Haphazardly inserting hyperlinks is not enough.  This post doesn't cut it.

Oddly enough, the first blogger in this sense is perhaps Jorge Luis Borges.  He trod, or trotted, the line between story and essay precisely by scribbling notes on the margins of human culture.  By playfully disregarding distinctions between truth and fiction, he encourages us to go back to his sources--to click the link, as it were.  Perhaps this flavor of his derived from dwelling in libraries, where the mycelia of words have always grown farther than elsewhere.  Regardless, I must acknowledge him as one inspiration for beginning this project.

The other major inspiration, which I have already linked to, is the magnificent Poemas del río Wang.  I can't hope to match their depth and erudition, but perhaps I can aspire to a similar sort of beauty.  And I can't help but notice that as I talk about them I'm involuntarily imitating their somewhat Spanish- and Hungarian-colored Englishes.

As I finish this, there are posts screaming to be let out from behind the pretense of order.  None of them conforms to the rules I have set out.  They will be broken immediately.  So be it.  An ideal is there to remain unmet.