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"Conceptual Poetry and its Others”

Symposium

at the

Poetry Center of the University of Arizona


29-31 May 2008

Essay:

“Haunting Questions Found Hidden in Plain Site/Sight/Cite”

“RubBEings Statements” & 30 Visual Poetry Works

David-Baptiste Chirot
"Conceptual Poetry and its Others"---Haunting Questions Found Hidden
in Plain Site/Sight/Cite (Essay) & RubBEings Statements & 30 Visual
Poetry Works
These works are linked at the site for the Symposium at the Poetry Center of the
University of Arizona---
they are all the works I submitted--an essay, followed by Statements accomp[anying
the Visual Poetry works that were displaed during the Symposium

Thank you to Annie Guthrie for all her great help and support not only with myself
but for the entire Symposium.

The essay was on line at the time of the Symposium, and I have added today the
other Statements and RubBEings & Visual Poetry so all my contributions may be
easily found in this one linked entry, pending the final, if any change is needed,
arrangement for these with the Poetry Center.

for the Symposium "Conceptual Poetry and its Others

Poetry Center of the University of Arizona


29-31 May 2008

Haunting Questions Found Hidden in Plain Site/Sight/Cite

J'ai trop a ecrire, c'est pourquoi je n'ecrire rien. --Stendhal, Journal, 1804

Thoughts come at random, and go at random. No device for holding on to


them or for having them.
A thought has escaped: I was trying to write it down: instead I write that it has
escaped me.
--Pascal, Pensees, #542
“Poetry no longer imposes itself, it exposes itself”—Paul Celan

“If you would create, relax before moldy, wet walls and feel form shaping out of the
chaotic patterns.”— Michelangelo

“The most beautiful world is a heap of rubbish tossed down in confusion.”—


Heraclitus

“A final glossary, therefore, cannot be made of words whose intentions are fugitive.”
--William S. Burroughs, Junkie

To find among typos the unknown writings, the "Helltoy"--


camouflaged clouds, the voice-writings of the ground itself that speaks and moves in
lines
emerging--
for Petra Backonja

I find in thinking with what a Conceptual Poetry might be, that I've
begun with a point of view of paradox. That is, considering the
conceptual to be the absence of a material object, a conceptual poetry
would be the absence of the poem as a "realization" of its "idea." If
"the poem" as an object is not to be realized, in what ways may it
then be said to "exist"?

One may also ask—since language is the material of poetry, if


one is to create a conceptual poetry—does this mean then that the
absence of language is involved? That the poetry is not in language,
but found elsewhere?"

The predominant view of conceptual works in art and poetry is that it


is written language which becomes fore grounded, most often as the
"realization" and presentation of various directives, with their
various forms of pre-conceived constraints, and sets of instructions.
Yet does not the written language itself, as an object which
"constitutes" the directives and instructions, contradict the
"concept" of the "Conceptual?"

{See Appendix B below for some other "Science Fiction" aspects of Conceptual
Poetry in Relation to the Work Place.)

The directives themselves, expressed in written language, become road


blocks to the Conceptual which is supposed to be "activated" by their
instructions.

To use written language then to create a conceptual poetry is


not in a strict sense "conceptual" at all, if it produces yet another
object in written language.

It becomes instead a piling up, a massing, of materials


(language, words) which have "walled out" as it were, the conceptual.
Are the words then simply a gravestone or monument to a now absent
concept?

And what of the "poet" who is the "author" of "Conceptual Poetry?"

A builder of roadblocks, a maker of monuments and gravestones, a constructor of


Walls--?

If a "poet" is the conceiver of concepts—and the realization of


the concept as a poem is no longer a concept—but an object—does this
then mean that the poet, in order to be "conceptual," must no longer
be a "poet?" Or in order to be a "poet," no longer be "conceptual" in
approach? And yet who but a "conceptual poet" can produce "conceptual
poetry?"

Perhaps true Conceptual Poetry is the creation of illiterates?


And, beyond that, persons who may even be very limited in
their "Conceptual capacities?"

I think often of all the Conceptual Poets and Artists who


have existed and worked through thousands of years, persons due to
their circumstances --gender being the most common among these--who
are not allowed to know how to write, nor instructed in "art," nor permitted to
be educated, yet all the same--may have produced Conceptually a good
deal of the greatest Poetry and Art of which there does not remain and
never was an "object," even as a "fragment."

What of these myriads of centuries of Conceptual Works--are they


still existing--? Are they alive in the Conceptual realm? The Ether?
Or have they found ways on their own, independent of their creators,
of camouflaging themselves among those things in the world which are
hidden in plain site/sight/cite?

In working with the found that is hidden in plain


site/sight/cite, I find often that a Conceptual poetry and art is
there--always already there--which I think I am finding yet may well
be finding me,

Some aspects of confronting these dilemmas, these "haunting


questions," are found among Conceptual Poets who emphasize an
"impersonation" via performance, camouflages, costumes, the uses of
heteronyms, pseudonyms and anonymity.

In "The Painter of Modern Life," Baudelaire is the first to


define Modernism and does so as a conjunction of the eternal and the
ephemeral. To find that element of the eternal in the ephemeral which
Baudelaire saw as embodying modernity, he turns to an emphasis on the
particular form of the living art/art as living of the Dandy. The
Dandy is the non-separation of art and life in the conceiving of one's
existence as Performance Art. The Dandy becomes not an expression of
Romantic personality and individuality, but a form of becoming an
animated Other, an impersonator going about performing the actions of a concept,
rather than producing the objects of a conception.

This stylized impersonating, non-producing figure begins to appear "dramatically"


in the works of Wilde and Jarry and in many ways in the "life and
works" of a Felix Feneon, who "creates at a distance" via anonymous
newspaper faits divers (discovered to be his and republished
posthumously as Novels in Three Lines), pseudonymous articles in
differing registers of language (working class argot, standardized
French) in Anarchist and mainstream journals, unsigned translations, and
the barely noted in their own pages of his editing of journals featuring the early
efforts of rising stars of French literature. Quitting his camouflaged and concealed
writing activities, Feneon works the rest of his life as a seller in an art gallery.

The actual "works" of Feneon, then, are not written objects per
se, but anonymous actions, ephemeral pseudonymous "appearances in
print," and the works of others which he affects a passage for in his
editorship and translations, in his promoting and selling the art
works of others. This "accumulation" which one finds "at a distance"
in time as his "complete works," is often unobserved and unknown to his
contemporaries, who know of him primarily via his "way of acting," his manner
of dressing, his speech mannerisms, and as the public triptych of images of him
existing as a painted portrait by Signac, a Dandy-pose
photo and a mug shot taken when tried as part of an Anarchist
"conspiracy." Feneon's "identity as a writer" does not exist as "an
author," but as a series of "performances," "appearances" and
"influences," many of them "unrecognized" and "unattributed."

Ironically, it his most "clandestine" activity—his Anarchist activities—which


brings him the most in to the public and tabloid spotlight. As one of "The Thirty"
accused and tried for "conspiracy" in a much publicized trial, it is Feneon's severe
mug shot that for a time presents his "public face."

The severe mug facing the viewer is actually producing a Conceptual Poetry "at a
distance." By not penning a single line, by simply "facing the music" to which
others pen the lyrics, Feneon, in doing nothing more than facing the camera
"capturing" his image, proceeds to enact a series of dramas "projected" on to him,
a series of "identities," and "revelations" which use the documentary material to
produce a series of mass-published fictions.

The possible prison term facing the "Felix Feneon" in the inmate-numbered
"anonymous" mug shot, "presents its face" to the viewer, a face "taken,"
"imprisoned" and "caught" by the image and its publicity. This publicized face
facing camera and viewer and possible hard time, is "taken to be" the photo of the
face of a being from whom the mask of the clandestine and conspiratorial have been
torn off, revealing "the cold hard truth" of Felix Feneon.

Facing trial, however, all that is learned of this imprisoned face is that it is "the
wrong man, an innocent man." This fixed image, acquitted of its "sensational"
charges, is revealed not as a truth, but instead as simply a mask, a mask operating
like a screen or blank sheet of paper, onto which are projected the dramas, fictions
and "think piece" writings of others. Nothing is revealed other than an "identity"
which shifts, travels, changes from one set of captions to another. It is via these
captions written by others under his image in the papers and placards, that Feneon
continues his "writing at a distance." Simply by facing the camera, facing charges,
"facing the music," facing his accusers at trial and facing the verdict and judgment,
Feneon is "writing" a myriad captions, breaking news items, commentaries,
editorials, all of which change with wild speeds as they race to be as "up-to-minute"
as the events themselves are in "unfolding."

The professionals, these writers, these journalists and reporters of "reality," chase
desperately, breathlessly, after the unfolding drama in which the mug shot is
"framed," and in so doing produce texts of "speculative fiction," a serial
Conceptual Poetry with as its "star player" a writer whose own texts are
deliberately written to be unrecognized, hidden, camouflaged, unknown. And all the
while, this writer writing nothing is producing vast heaps of writing via the work of
others, as yet another form of camouflaged clandestine Conceptual Poetry, "hot off
the press."

Rimbaud writes of a concept of the poetry of the future in


which poetry would precede action—which in a sense he proceeds to
"perform" himself. If one reads his letters written after he stopped
writing poetry, one finds Rimbaud living out, or through, one after
another of what now seem to be "the prophecies" of his own poetry.
That is, the poetry is the "conceptual framework" for what becomes his
"silence" as a poet, and is instead his "life of action."

In these examples, one finds forms of a "conceptual poetry"


in which the poetry is in large part an abandonment of language, of
words, of masses of "personally signed" "poetry objects," "poetry
products." One finds instead a vanishing, a disappearance of both
language and "poet" and the emergence of that "some one else" Rimbaud
recognized prophetically, preceding the action--in writing—in the
"Lettre du voyant," "the Seer's letter"—as "I is an other."

An interesting take on a conceptual poetry in writing is


found in one of Pascal's Pensees, #542:

"Thoughts come at random, and go at random. No device for holding on to


them or for having them.
A thought has escaped: I was trying to write it down: instead I write that it has
escaped me."

The writing is a notation of the "escaped" concept's


absence, its escape that is a line of flight that is a "flight out of time" as Hugo Ball
entitles his Dada diaries. Writing not as a method of remembering, of "capturing
thought," but as the notation of the flight of the concept at the
approach of its notation.

Writing, then, as an absence— an absence of the concept.


A Conceptual Poetry of writing as "absent-mindedness"!—A writing which does
nothing more than elucidate that the escaping of thoughts "which come at random,
and go at random" has occurred.

This flight of the concept faced with its


notation—indicates a line of flight among the examples of Rimbaud—a
"flight into the desert" as it were, of silence as a poet—and of
Feneon—the flight into anonymous writing of very small newspaper "faits divers"
items punningly entitled "Nouvelles en trois lignes" (News/Novels in Three Lines),
of pseudonymous writings in differing guises at the same time
according to the journals in which they appear, and as translator and
editor as well as "salesperson" in a gallery of "art objects," a
conceptual masquerader among the art-objects embodying "concepts" and
becoming no longer "concepts' but "consumer items." Feneon's framed mug shot on
to whose mug is projected a "serial crime novel," written by others and "starring"
the mug in the mug shot, a writer of unknown and unrecognized texts who now
vanishes into a feverish series of captions and headlines.

Anonymity, pseudonyms, impersonations, poets who write their own coming silence
and "disappearance" as an "I is an other," the deliberately unrecognized and
unrecognizable poet whose mug shot becomes the mass published and distributed
"crime scene" for police blotters and headlines, speculative fictions and ideological
diatribes, the writing which is a notation of the flight of the concept, the writing of
non-writers who "never wrote a word," yet whose concepts may be found
camouflaged, doubled, mirrored, shadowed, anonymously existing hidden in plain
site/sight/cite—these nomadic elements which appear and disappear comprise a
Conceptual Poetry in which the concepts and poets both impersonate Others and
reappear as "Somebody Else," an Other unrecognized and unrecognizable found
hidden in plain site/sight/cite.

"It is not the elements which are new, but the order of
their arrangement," is another Pascalian "pensee." One finds
arrangements of the elements of Rimbaud and Feneon into the various
forms of "conceptual poetry" in the works of Pessoa, Spicer and Yasusada.
Pessoa creates many others as poets, heteronyms with their own works
and actions, their own concepts of poetry. Spicer "translates" poetry "after Lorca"
as well as exchanging letters with the dead poet, lives for a summer with his ghost,
who provides a foreword to Spicer's Book.

In the Yasusada works, the


elements of a Feneon are rearranged via the concepts of Spicer's
After Lorca into a work which extends heteronymity to include a poet,
and his translators and editors, all of whom also function as critics
and theorizers of concepts of poetry by others and "themselves." These fictional
writers create a "fake" framework impersonating those of "standard editions" of
scholarly annotated texts for presenting the poetry and life of a fictional poet who
"writes down" his own concepts for Conceptual Works as forms of performance.
These impersonators and their fake framework create a fiction which is at the same
time "real," its indeterminacy generating effects and after effects among the flood of
texts, lectures, commentaries, translations which radiate from its real existence as a
fake. and its fake existence as the real.

This flood of texts generated by the Yasusada in itself is a Conceptual Poetry


generated by the "After" effects of its own "indeterminacy," in its impersonations,
doublings, and its fictional exchanges with a dead Spicer who corresponded with a
dead Lorca. The writings of "real, dead Poets," "fictional, dead Poets" and ghosts,
perform impersonations in a Conceptual "play house" theater of haunting absences.

In After Lorca and Yasusada, one finds that the "Conceptual


Poetry" is not limited to the "real," the "living," "poet" alone, but extends
to and includes the dead, the fictional, the ghosts and "after" effects of "real"
and "forged" and "unreal" poets and poetries. In these works, the
"concepts" of both concept and poet of the term "Conceptual Poetry"
are further extended in their relationships with performance and the "haunting
absences" which "performances of" make present within a "staged" space and
temporality.

(The Yasusada includes several basically performance pieces, and both the
Spicer and Lorca of After Lorca and the many entities involved in the
Yasusada are basically "performances" themselves.)

Emily Dickinson wrote that "Nature is a haunted house, and Art


is a House that tries to be haunted."

I think that if one considers "haunting" via the impersonations of Others,


themselves beings trying to be "haunted," and "haunting"
as a Conceptual
Poetry, one finds that the methods of "After Lorca" and Yasusada
(which Yasusada in a letter notes that he is going to call his "After
Spicer") provide a Way or Method by which one may enter the "haunting"
performances across media by which the impersonations of the would-be " Haunted
House of Art" may
be examined in terms of a "play house," as a form of
"theater" like that of Shakespeare's Globe Theater where "all the
world's a stage." And in doing so find ways of "making contact" with that
"real" Haunted House" of Nature via Performance, actions taken not as
"oneself," but in the guise of an Other.

In my work with RubBEings and clay impression spray paintings, as well


as various media which may be mixed with these such as transfers of
Xeroxed images done using various chemicals—one finds such a Concept as
it were of "making Contact" in a very literal, "hands on" way. As I
work on one side of the page, that which is there—letterings, forms,
grass, leaves, glass, wood, dirt, stone, concrete, the found materials
I am able to take home to work with and those things fixed in the
landscapes and urbanscapes—these materials are working on their side
of the page also. The "making contact" is that which is the work
created out of this encounter, this collaboration made by the things
reaching to touch from one side and my hands from the other.

I have been fascinated for years by a statement of Robert


Smithson's that a great artist could make a work of art as a
glance—that is, there is no object, no material record of this "work."
This is to free "the time of the artist" from having a market value
fixed to it by means of the objects which are produced "on the
artist's time." To free the artist from the "wage slavery" of being
forced to produce an object or written text in order to "prove" the
action of the artist in the world as indeed being "of value," is a
paradoxical envisioning of the artist as at once "freed from
conventions of objects and texts," and at the same "excluded from
existence as a conventional artist and poet." It is a way of “making plain” the
paradoxical
simultaneity of being "silenced" and "forced to speak, to produce, to
write," in order to participate in the social constructions of art
according to monetary values.

A Russian artist writes: "Language is fascism not because it censors, but because it
forces one to speak."

"Forcing one to speak," is the purpose of torture; one may then ask if a Conceptual
Poetry of directives, instructions, copying, is not from this point of view a method of
torture? The object of torture is not to produce "truth" or "lies" or "silence," but
simply to produce language—speech which becomes part of the "records" stashed
in files as "evidence" that a prisoner has indeed "confessed."

By a paradoxical turn, does this then turn Conceptual Poetry of some kinds into a
new form of "Confessional Poetry?"
And so produce a Conceptual Confessional Poetry of impersonal drones "following
orders" who at the same time wish to be known of as "Conceptual Poets?" And so
perhaps to "make a name for oneself" as an "outstanding employee," or as a
"lyrically inclined soldier," a "poetic mercenary" who may become the "New
Conceptual Poetry's Archilochus?"

Archilochus—creator of then Avant Garde poetic forms and a member of the avant-
garde troops as a soldier.

One then is faced with the questions of a Conceptual Poetry as being a


way of making Poetry by means which are not recognized—as "art/poetic means,
methods, and materials." To make poems without words, and films
without film.

A Conceptual Poetry not of 'impersonality," nor of "Conceptual Poets" whose


advocations of "impersonality" ironically "make a name for themselves."

A Conceptual Poetry that finds and is found by anonymous beings, who in working
with Conceptual Poetry are for a space of time "Conceptual Poets," with or without
being aware that they are even being "Conceptual Poets."

Perhaps in this way, strangely, Art Brut as originally found and later
conceived of by Jean Dubuffet comes close to a "Conceptual Art and
Poetry." It is art made outside any of the conventions of art, by
persons without often any awareness of "art" per se. Yet—since they
have been "recognized" by the Glance of A Great Artist—do they then
remain things which exist only in the glance—to exist that is truly in
a "Raw State"--or as things which could not be detected as Art Brut
without the knowledge of Art, of an Artist?

That is, in what ways do they exist before the Artist's glance
introduces the Concept of Art?

A similar question arises in the studies of Rock Art and Petroglyphs.


Since many forms are very hard to distinguish between being the work of
humans, or that of natural processes which produce things which "look
like" the works of humans—are they of the Haunted House of Nature—or
the one trying to be the Haunting of Art?

And further—which "came first"—the things in Nature which inspire via


imitation those which are the "copies" of the Haunted House of
Nature—or—things which humans see as made by humans because of knowing
the "copies"? And which paradoxically turn out by means of chemical
testings to be from the Haunted House of Nature—that is, "originals"
rather than "copies"? Or do humans see things in Nature which they
think are Nature "resembling Art" because they see them as also the
"Origins of Art" via the copies which enable them to see "Nature" as
"Art"?

These "haunting questions" emphasize an element of indeterminacy in


the "Conceptual" aspects of Poetry and Art. This is an indeterminacy which is
found, not one that is imposed by the use of "procedures which generate
randomness."

"The most beautiful world is a heap of rubble tossed down at random/in


confusion."--Heraclitus

Is the only way to "know and recognize" a Conceptual work via its
being labeled so? Is that why a Conceptual Work of the kind found in
objects, in written language, has always also an author's name
attached to it? Does that particular Concept then "belong" to that
person only? And so even if one "follows its directions," is not one
simply replicating the author's concept? That is, one becomes
imprisoned not only by the object, and by the process, but by the
author also?

Or may not "Conceptual" works be "hidden in plain site/sight/cite,"


and simply to be found require a letting go, an absence of "Concepts" which are
predetermined, dependent on objects, examples, titles (and "poets" and
"artists") in order to be "noticed?" As indeed being "Conceptual Art
and Poetry" always already, and the conceptions emerging from them,
and not from the "poet" or "artist" or "viewer?"

The conceptual then emerges from OUTSIDE the "Conceptual Artist/Poet."

That is, the things themselves are their own Concepts, their Conceptual poetries
and arts and "call out" as it were to be "found."

"Poetry no longer imposes itself, it exposes itself," writes Paul Celan in a notebook.

In a sense this is the way that working with the Found takes place.
"I do not seek, I find," said Picasso. Instead of creating "methods"
of chance operations, or of copying things which entail a
predetermined "exercise" of a "Conceptual Approach" mapped out in
advance, to find means to be open to what is there in the moment as
being that which is the Concept that is calling to one—and with which
one responds. And in working with the found, one then is moving
within a collaborative flow, in which the give and take and effects of
the materials themselves directly affect what "takes place."

The "author" of the works is not a single person; it is a collaboration that emerges
in the contact of a person with the found.

There are no "directions to follow," simply the directions of the


moving flow--with which one is moving--and along the way there
emerges, there calls, the Conceptual everywhere to be found, hidden in
plain site, sight/cite.

Disintegrations, corrosions, the effects of time and weathering, appearances and


disappearances of shadows, Hauntings of ghostly "after effects" of disturbances
from wars to demolitions to erosion are a presence of "change in the universe,"
Basho's "basis of art."

It is not the "poet" who creates "Conceptual Poetry."

Conceptual Poetry finds and is found by anonymous beings who for a


while during contact and working with this finding and found
Conceptual Poetry are "Conceptual Poets."

And then both move on----

into those unknowns in which are found the uncanny recognitions, the encounters
among Conceptual Poetries hidden in plain site/sight/cite--

Appendix A: from "El Ojo de Dios" Part One: "Insects and Letters."

El Colonel smiles. Along with his great fondness for alliteration, El Colonel has an
addiction for placing thoughts, those improvised compositions, in quotation marks.
This brings "a deft touch of intriguing and entertaining irony to the most prosaic of
ideas, events, and persons " Habituated to an imaginative isolation, El Colonel's
intellectual companions are his "compositions" with their attendant
"commentaries," "asides," "digressions," and "annotations." By means of this
"ironic distancing" he continually invents "a hitherto unknown and as yet
unpublished form of writing, never before seen nor heard."

El Colonel smiles. This writing is a method of creating for himself a reader who is in
turn accompanied by his own doubling as a writer. Where there had been "no one
with who to share his most intimate thoughts, the fullness and agility of his life,"
there is now not only such a companion; there is also a recorder of "his deeds and
exploits." In such a way El Colonel simultaneously acts, writes and reads both for
himself and to another, who is also both a reader and an other author in turn,
providing El Colonel with his own role as a reader. By these means his life takes on
an aura of legend, and he acts both as though creating the performance of
something which is happening, and of something which has happened "already." By
the latter means, his life is taking place in a futurity in which it is read, and in a
present in which it is written. The simplest acts and words are invested with the
immediacy of a drama "taking place," the glow of "great acts having taken place ,"
and, to heighten both drama and aura, the precisions of a prefatory "about to take
place," which allows for the insertion of the necessary commentaries, directions, and
asides. "For the benefit of the listener, for the pleasure of the reader, for the
background material necessary to the writer," as El Colonel describes it with relish
in a self-penned blurb . . .

El Colonel smiles. Going to the wide open window he gazes through aviator
sunglasses at the bright birds, the luminosity of the landscape and "reflects on the
irony that reflective glasses shield one's reflections from observing eyes by their
mirrored reflections of a thwarted inquiry."

El Colonel smiles. Behind the reflecting sunglasses, "his own reflections concern
themselves with a reflection found within the 'Author's Note' to the Second Edition
of Joseph Conrad's The Secret Agent, a copy of which he found when literally
ransacking a small private library whose owner he had been ordered to take
possession of." El Colonel "recollects in tranquility," that the passage had "greatly
interested, inspired and amused him, for in it Conrad had written: 'Man may smile
and smile but he is not an investigating animal. He loves the obvious. He shrinks
from explanations. Yet I will go on with mine.'"

El Colonel smiles. Watching the play of light on large leaves upon whose surfaces
insects have begun to gather "seems to remind him of the play of the light even in
the cool dimness of the library on the leaves of the book, upon whose surfaces the
letters had gathered." This "doubly reflecting" aspect of his seeing and his
recollections strikes him "as an image of the intimate intercourse of the natural and
human worlds, of the revelatory union of the exterior and interior of consciousness,
and of the synchronistic simultaneity of the moment and a memory which doubles
as its mirror."

El Colonel smiles. Conrad's man who may smile and smile, loving the obvious and
shrinking from explanations, he finds himself to be the "paradoxical embodiment of
the contradiction of." For, "reading Conrad's words crawling on the leaves of the
book in the cool, shadowy light, he had found himself, not as the one described, but
as the union of the description and its author. As both the smiler and the
investigative explainer who describes and refutes him, as the one whose task it is to
bring into being their union. As and in himself. And in that moment he experienced
the recognition of his unique Vocation and of himself. "

El Colonel smiles. "To smile, to love the obvious, and to present and preserve the
explanation which both the smile and the obvious conceal, the reflections behind
their reflecting surfaces. This, this is his alone, this unique vocation, this great
passion, this most confidential mission."

El colonel smiles. Checking his watch, he turns and approaches a chair on one side
of the table set in the center of the large light filled room. This chair and the one on
the table's other side are high backed, with strong arms of a wood hard as iron and
painted in a still shiny black lacquer. The upholstered seats and backs are not
uncomfortable and of a worn red fading into rose. With studied and precise,
angular movements, El Colonel begins to arrange himself in the correct position in
which to be found by his "immanent and eminent visitor."

El Colonel permits himself a barely audible and very brief laugh as "he takes
possession of himself the better to assiduously arrange the head, the torso, the limbs,
the folded hands, as though he were in the process of preparing a stuffed and
mounted specimen of a representative example of a Colonel, whose taxidermist he
himself was."

Appendix B: Conceptual Poetry and the Work Place: the Death of the Author and
the Birth of the Drone, A Science Fiction Poetics of the Invasion of the Body
Snatchers

The Concept of Conceptual Poetry one finds among some Conceptual Poets is one
that resembles a form of training for the embrace of working in bureaucratic and
corporate settings as an "impersonal" manipulator and mover of masses of material
in the form of words. Conceptual Poetry becomes a "discipline" for the production
of "well adjusted functionaries" carrying out the "boring" tasks of filing, copying,
sorting and arranging word-data. The "unoriginality," "impersonality" and
boredom raised to the level of "Conceptual Poetry" is perhaps a way to aestheticize
the dystopian existences of millions of "lower level" workers in globalized
corporations and bureaucratic State apparati.

Perhaps finding in this manner a Poetry in the Conceptions of themselves as bored,


unoriginal, impersonal data copiers and processors, employees will become
"happier" about their jobs and less questioning of their exploiters and exploitation.
To be rid of all of the baggage of "the personal," the yearning to prove oneself
"original," and to accept a lifetime of boredom, without wondering about "the
meaning of all this," and "what is it doing for ME!"

The Conceptual Poet may in this manner be able to have their services be much in
demand, and so "to make a name for oneself," by emphasizing the impersonality of
others, and training them to "disappear" into the services they provide as handlers
of all the unwanted, uninteresting masses of material that need somehow to be
sorted, copied and stored.

Conceptual Poets becoming the creators of the glamorization of non-creation serve


as "beacons" lighting this boring, dull, impersonal industriousness by which it may
be seen "in a better light" by the industrialists and the Conceptual Poet consultants
with their own cliques of admirers in the Management and Socio- Cultural spheres.

It is not "wage slavery" and "drones" one is providing the world with, but instead
an exciting, "avant-garde" Conceptual Poetry taught in all the best universities!
And so Conceptual Poetry becomes a new method of Consulting for firms interested
in innovations in "employee relations."

Conceptual Poetry examined in this light may be seen as a form of preventing the
kinds of breakdowns among lower level employees in the bureaucratic and
corporate fields one finds in the writings that depict and explore the effects of the
rapidly industrializing and mass data producing machines of "progress" of the 19th
Century. These "breakdowns" appear in the forms of Melville's "Bartleby the
Scrivener," with his "I would prefer not to," and among the bottom level clerks and
copyists in the works of Gogol, Dostoyevsky, Balzac and Dickens, several of which
point to the works of Kafka, himself an employee in an immense bureaucracy.

Instead of the "troublesome" writers of previous eras, Conceptual Poetry offers an


efficient, impersonal service worker, a copyist who unlike Bartleby will not "prefer
not to," but "stay on the job" and simply do as is told via the directives and "Avant-
Garde,"'Innovative" Conceptions of Conceptual Poets hired as Consultants.
Conceptual Poetry becomes the non plus ultra form of aestheticizing drones for
their Conceptual management as Poetry for the analyses and admirations of their
Bosses and Trainers, their Managers and Owners, their CEOs and Instructors, for
all those at the top and their elite consultants, Conceptual Poets and the academies
which train them.
"No more Kafkas!! No more Gogols!! No more Bartlebys!!"

The "death of the author" is the birth of the drone, a transformation that occurs
when persons are asleep, as the pods from Outer Space give birth to the impersonal
copies of the once human beings in "Invasion of the Body Snatchers."

SELECTED STATEMENTS ACCOMPANYING VISUAL POETRY WORKS ON


DISPLAY AT THE SYMPOSIUM

Selections from Statements re Various Aspects of Working with


RubBEings and Clay Impression Spray Paintings—

(with some comments in the present added--)

I began making rubBEings in Spring 1999. Walking a great deal, finding


materials to bring home to use—I realized I was already in an immense
work room—surrounded by letterings, words, signs—that I could copy on
site and make arrangements from directly. Immediately I purchased a
lumber crayon and cheap note pad and the rubBEings became not only
part of daily life but of my dreams and memories as well.

RubBEings may well be the oldest form of copy art. Rearranging found
signs and letterings, one arrives at visual poems that emerge from the
existent materials. By moving from site to site, one is collaging,
combining scattered elements to juxtapose and create new arrangements.

The Poetry of the Found, everywhere to be Found.

All my work is made with a profound faith in the encounter with the
Found, everywhere and at all times to be Found all around one.
Like Picasso, I work with the sense that "I do not seek, I find."

The poet Paul Celan wrote: "Poetry no longer imposes itself, it


exposes itself."

The Found is that which exposes itself, and with which one works via
an uncanny encounter, a call and response, a shock of recognition, out
of which collaboration emerges an Other, which is the BEing in/with
rubBEing.

For this way of working, Conceptual Poetry is not imposed into or on


to a work, it is not a Conception from the mind alone, but one that
emerges via touch, seeing, hearing, contact with the site/sight/cite
with which one is working.

In much of my work with rubBEings and clay impression spray paintings,


what emerges is a notation of what Basho called the basis of
art--"change in the universe."

Language as material is not solid, but is disintegrating via the flows


of time, weather, the effects of man made interventions, including
War, as in the seres of "Wall" paintings and works.

This is a fugitive language, hidden in plain site/sight/cite, "over


looked," vanishing into its forms of the next moment in the flow.

Rather than "Conceptualize" it, one finds oneself encountering and


working with its ever shifting forms in the flows of Time.

In order to express "ideas" in pieces done with such an intention, I


have also worked with collage, the introduction of transfers, the
inclusion of elements of all kinds of materials directly into the
paint so that its leaves residues among the pieces to give an added
texture, a further haptic element. Some pieces have also been left
outside during wind, rain, and afterwards the drying out of the sun,
while others have been made during "blinding snowstorms." Even if it
is not "visible" there is a residue of these encounters with the
site/sight/cite as it travels through time and weather, through the
effects of differing elements.

Made with "next to nothing" on a budget of "next to nothing" one finds


in a sense--"everything," that is going on around one at any moment.
"necessity is the Motherfucker of Invention" is one way I use to
express what happens when one works with the "bare necessities."

To work "without" Walls in a world in which one is among


Walls--physical and virtual, in that the Virtual is Walled off via
wars, occupations, poverty, discrimination in the destruction of power
grids and the cutting off of electricity to huge populations, and the
physical Walls which Wall in large communities (Gaza, prisons,
detention camps) and Wall Out others--gated communities, Green Zones,
borders--is working with the cracks found among their disintegrations
and disruptures.

This is the Poetry that exposes itself of which Celan, a survivor of


the Concentration Camps, writes.

The Poetry of the Found, everywhere to be Found.


Haptic Visual Poems of Twilight Lowlight and Next to No light

From making rubBEings under all sorts of conditions I have been


developing seeing with my hands and touching with my eyes. These are
very good skills to have when working into the night now that it is
getting dark out earlier and earlier each evening. In the pieces here
I just ran my hands and fingers over the surfaces of trash cans,
plaques, telephone poles and a clay impression, "seeing" them in the
dark and rubBEing them on the spray painted or Xerox-copied images I
had brought with me to work on. A few pieces were done in alleys where
there was a bit more light from the occasional dirty dim orange-yellow
glow of a street lamp. Some are from a sliced outer section of a huge
truck tire I found and have hidden in some bushes in another alley.
Those were made in almost total darkness.
I like a lot working in this way--not just that one is learning to see by hand--but that
one is also learning to touch by seeing--so that walking along the eye instead of
finding a relatively limited and stable world of flattened or rounded forms is
suddenly embarked in a wildly shifting universe of textures in a myriad scales--from
tiny pockmarks to a sense of immense concavities--from gritty gravel feels to
softness of skin and lips to jagged cold edges of metallic shards--eye moves among
thousands of sensations, feeling them , caressing them, as if by hand--shaping them--
while the hands in touching things are seeing them--rubBEing them with the lumber
crayon a means of notation of both the seeing and the touching simultaneously--and
via notation also evoking the sense of music and voices one hears with these
exchanges among the senses . . . these pieces are for most part ones guided by the
grid; as I wrote yesterday this is a way for me to work against the grain of my own
impulses and habits and enjoy the tension between trying to "toe the line" so to
speak and my natural character to be "out of line"--so the pieces once I finally see
them by light of day or inside a brightly lit place--seem to me to be a dialogue of the
"clean" and "dirty" . . . a dialogue literally "in the dark" . . . developed in the "dark
room" of the outdoors of alleys and parks--and seen later on "by light of day"--to be
seen/read/heard in a new way--from night before--
(btw--the spray painted backgrounds all done in the near darkness also--)
Haptic Visual Poetry of RubBEings--in the cold--& snow--& wind

Today we had the first snows here in Milwaukee. Temperatures to drop near
zero--while I was out working I was informed it was 16 degrees. Winds have
blown for days signaling changes on the way--and today they
arrived--swirling gusts of full flaked snow--drastic drop in the
temperatures--
Since I work by hand directly pressing paper to the material to be rubbed
with one hand--and then holding lumber crayon in other hand--touch and
temperature play a large part in my daily work outside. The cold will be
soon affecting the ways I work--I will keep a log of these.
Through time the hands learn to see and the eyes learn to touch--I
examine materials as they arise for possible rubbing--things that may look
good to the eye do not work by hand and vice versa--one has to go back and
forth in using both hands and eyes to tell if a given fence or telephone pole
or raised letterings on dumpsters may be of use. The same goes for any
surface in which there are cracks and knots and the swirled lines made by
circling knots--
One learns that what may look good to the eye when rubbed by touch is
nothing much at all--and one may feel by hand something that seems to be of
great beauty--and then when rubbed by eye sight--it is nothing at all--just
a mess.
RubBEings are a Haptic form of work--touch plays such a role--that I
have of late done much work in the dark or near dark literally feeling my
way--since it gets dark earlier, I have grown used to working by dimmer and
dimmer lights, fading into darkness--this is a fascinating way to work--one
has to use the hands as eyes--and yet one also knows that what may feel good
to the touch is unpleasing to the eyes--so this working by touch--one begins
to learn just how deep an impression or incision in wood or other materials
made by--numbers and letters on telephone poles for example, burdened into
the wood--or raises letterings--and then from this to being able to read by
hand the heights of raised lines of wood--how high they may be before
making truly a good series/set of lines on the paper--slowly but surely I
find that I can by touch find what will be pleasing to the eye--it takes time and
patience and much running of the hands over surfaces--that one cannot see.
I find this a purely Haptic approach--and that my rubBEings do feel
to the touch differently in the almost invisible differences in the heights
of the crayon wax on top of the paper--or the areas in white where it is
incised--
One may read subtly by the touch the crayon wax on paper--and see with
the eyes--the shifts in heights and shades and weights of the hands and
crayon as it varies according to the raisings and lowerings of the
materials-
The making and touching/reading of rubBEings are a way to introduce
the Haptic element directly into visual poetry--a visual poetry in which the
visual may be by touch--and the touch may be visual--- The Haptic
element is important in what I work with daily--and is another means by
which to extend visual poetry from the word/paper into the world of
materials.
Concrete--materiality of the word--physicality of letters and
words on a page--these names and phrases remain removed from the touch of
the world and are abstractions. In working with the Haptic, one essays a
finding through the working of a ways in which all these mere phrases may
truly be a part of the world and visual poetry a lived experience, one not

RubBEings and Public Art, Art Made in Public Spaces among the Public
I hope in my work that there is conveyed a sense that a public space
truly belongs to no one and is shared by everyone. This is in part
why in making my work I collaborate directly with what is there in
these spaces, so that they are present in the works literally, and
calling from these worlds hidden in plain site/sight/cite all around
one, everywhere to be found.

By using the simplest, very ancient and childlike techniques, by


using found materials only, and working only in public spaces or in my
room with things found in the streets, I hope that the work conveys
what the meeting of the hand on one side of the paper with the ground
on the other conveys in the creating of a collaborative work—no
separations, no Walls, no deliberate or trained overlookings and
unhearings—but an encounter, a "shock of recognition" and an awareness
of the world under everyone's feet ("Look under your
feet!"—Chuang-Tzu) as a shared space to be worked WITH. Necessity is
indeed the Motherfucker of Invention, and in the ever ongoing
non-recognition of others and of all that is hidden in plain
site/sight/cite is their vanishing—and in that vanishing—these methods
become a kind of guerilla survival toolkit, ways to keep open the
communications with the grounds and beings of the everywhere found
hidden all around one, the public spaces of a public without Walls,
without separations, without Publicity—
A public of uncanny recognitions and encounters and creation with
refuse as a way t refuse these endless barriers between peoples,
between "art" and "life," between the privatized and the public,
between the ground itself and those who walk upon it.

RubBEings and Reveries


"