Posts Tagged ‘ review ’

Greta LaFleur Examines Environmental Histories of Desire – Edge Effects

Baba, Walton Ford, painting

A new book by Greta LaFleur shows how desire was produced alongside taxonomies of plants and racial difference in early British colonial texts.

Source: Greta LaFleur Examines Environmental Histories of Desire – Edge Effects

Staff Picks: Broccoli Puzzles, Bot Poetry, and Banana Pudding

By

THIS WEEK’S READING

 

FRANNY CHOI.

 

To pass a Turing test, a robot must trick an examiner into believing it is human. It must perform or passwhich sometimes involves performing errors to appear more humanlike. But even the errors are part of a design to make the robot work, in the sense of function: achieve what they were designed to achieve. There is something disturbingly teleological about the test—that robots should and will arrive at humanness. Like capitalism, the test is (or at least has become) competitive. It demands that everything and everyone be productive. Franny Choi’s forthcoming poetry collection Soft Science adopts the Turing test as a structural frame with six “TURING TEST” poems spaced throughout the book. The reader might understand Choi as the cyborg taking the test. But if so, she’s a cyborg in revolt, not allowing the examiner to let her pass. What’s more, the examiner is a cyborg, too, as is the reader: “remember / all humans / are cyborgs / all cyborgs / are sharp shards of sky / wrapped in meat.” Choi tells us what we need to hear: that we possess the radical potential of the glitch and the possibility of unbecoming productive machines of capitalism. Do humans “work,” or are we already broken? Do we want to work? Is unchecked production our ambition? Should we design robots to act like humans, when humans can be so despicable? My favorite poem from the collection describes the life of Chi, from the manga Chobits, a broken android whom the protagonist rescues from a trash pile. Choi writes from the android’s perspective, remembering the trash, lamenting, “as if I could rot / as if they didn’t make us / to last & last.” I think Choi wishes we could be allowed to rot and return to the soil. She reminds us elsewhere that it’s okay to wither, to “commune with miles of darkness,” to reach into our circuit boards and pull ourselves apart. The beginnings of our way out of capitalism will involve such pulling both delicate and violent—tiny hands wrenching, striving for clarity, honest and ruthlessly specific language like what Choi offers up. —Spencer Quong

Soft Science may be purchased directly from the publisher at Alice James Books

Source: Staff Picks: Broccoli Puzzles, Bot Poetry, and Banana Pudding

 

 

Barbara Ehrenreich’s Radical Critique of Wellness Culture | The New Republic

 

Barbara Ehrenreich doesn’t meditate. She doesn’t believe in the integral self, coherent consciousness, or the mastery of spirit over matter. She thinks everything is dissolving and reforming, all the time. But she’s not in flux—quite the opposite. She’s never changed her mind, lost her way, or, as far as I can tell, even gotten worn out. There’s the tacit lesson of Natural Causes, conveyed by the author’s biography as much as the book’s content: To sustain political commitment and to manifest social solidarity—fundamentally humble and collective ways of being in the world—is the best self-care. – Gabriel Winant

Source: Barbara Ehrenreich’s Radical Critique of Wellness Culture | The New Republic

A Taxonomy of Refusal: On Anne Boyer’s A Handbook of Disappointed Fate – BOMB Magazine

Essays that investigate the poetics of “no.”

Source: A Taxonomy of Refusal: On Anne Boyer’s A Handbook of Disappointed Fate – BOMB Magazine

Poetry from the Picket Line

Two poets, veterans of university unionization campaigns, chart the growing crisis of the new intellectual working class

Source: Poetry from the Picket Line

Wolfman Librarian | NewPages.com

During the Occupy Movement in New York City when The People literally took over Zuccotti Park, poet Filip Marinovich was right there in the mix, helping to set up and run the People’s Library and reading his poems over the People’s Mic, “the people’s mic is intoxicating / that’s why I am its pauper king” (“Zuccotti Park Fugue State”). The poems gathered in Wolfman Librarian stem directly from Marinovich’s experience with Occupy.

Source: Wolfman Librarian | NewPages.com

On Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry – The Volatile I by Johannes Göransson | Boston Review

THE HEART OF WHAT DOES EXIST

do not hand me over,

oh saddest of midnights,

to the impure whiteness of noon.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Works and Nights (1965)

LOVERS

a flower

not far from the night

my mute body

opens

to the dew and its fragile urgency

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Works and Nights (1965)

 

VERTIGO, OR A CONTEMPLATION
OF THINGS THAT COME TO AN END

This lilac unlaces.

It falls from itself

and hides its ancient shadow.

I will die of such things.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Extracting the Stone of Madness (1968)

 

DEAF LANTERN

The absent figures are sighing and the night is thick. The night is

the color of the eyelids of the dead.

All night long I make the night. All night long I write. Word by word

I am writing the night.

– Alejandra Pizarnik
from Extracting the Stone of Madness (1968)

Translations by Yvette Siegert

In ecstatic states, it may not be clear whether we are in paradise or hell, whether the song is happy or sad. This is the experience Pizarnik describes even as she propels herself into its drunkenness, creating a saturated atmosphere that is, as Negroni puts it, the “antidote to transcendence.” Or it might be a kind of anti-transcendence, found precisely in the negation of transcendence, the refusal to elevate poetry into “concept.” Her poetry feels like a constant, intensive refusal that generates its own Gothic beauty and black light: “imminence without a recipient. I see the melody.”

Alejandra Pizarnik’s poetry finally gets the English translation it deserves.

Source: The Volatile I | Boston Review

~ to share with Marina