Cross Words


As antidote to morning fury at the endless hyperbolic spin of Bliarite apologetics for Israeli aggression, where he presents his alibi-making as a concern for peace – go figure, that old peace by war routine yet again – I was just reading about the Oulipo group in the new issue of the Compendium. Raymond Queneau’s 100,000,000 poems kind of disfigured the book when I cut the lines, but this is part of the fun – they do have some fine (mad) notions. Like rethinking the exquisite corpse idea of the surrealists – you know the game where you write a line of a poem then fold over the page and the next person writes the next line and so on, till the page is unfolded and you have a group surreal poem… well Oulipo have this subsequent game where you take a phrase, then add letters in a N+7 or N-7 way to get new meanings. So ‘Exquisite Corpse’ becomes ‘Expressionless Corporatism’. (n = noun plus 7 letters – but its not obeyed to the letter, so a bit of a scam). Anyway, the point of this, Oulipo says, well Jacques Jouet 1990 says, is to show that the surrealists already ‘subconsciously’ knew that their ideas were bankrupt and they were flogging a dead creativity as a part of the culture industry. This is as unfair as it is funny. Well, maybe its not all that clever, but I like the degree of bitchiness between the rival groups. Raymond Roussel, as lauded by Foucault in ‘Death adn the Labyrinth, was an Oulipo hero. Crossword compiler George Perec was another (elected 1967) – a guy who wrote a novel without the letter e ever being used, as promoted recently by Don Miller. Italo Calvino has affinities on a winters night with them too (elected 1970). So – how can I mix this in with my interests in music and reverse messages in rock and all that - so that I can talk about the message in the work of Fundamental… (new album download from 7 August)… yes – here I am trying to think my way into writing again, transmuting anger into lyrical ramblings on blogspot would probably a better waste of my time, but the urgency remains. Demo August 5th in London
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  • bri  On 05/08/2006 at 12:52 pm

    New to Britain, I get the feeling that Stop the War protests are a sort of ‘Canada Dry’ – a sham, not real champagne, not real protest. Frustrating Trotskeyites and SWP politics dominate. Good for numbers, but little else. A real pity, because it provides an easy out for activists – and ‘off the hook’ form of politics that makes showing up on Saturdays and chanting uninventive anti-Isreal slogans all that is necessary – and fuck it, you don’t even have to make your own signs anymore – they have made them for you.

    So what if some of the surrealist forms were part of the culture industry – stop looking for a pure outside, maybe we just need to stick with the bits of the always-already-co-opted inside that are at the very least funny.

    Mad laughter – “…humour is the only way of avoiding error. I mean the error of sentiments, which are nothing if not the sentiments of what is”. (Bataille, Absence of Myth, 142)

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  • John Hutnyk  On 07/08/2006 at 12:27 pm

    yes, I too am fed up with the shorthand unthink that too easily allocates ‘outside’ to the realm of the unattainable and yet is caught between an endless desire for an outside that never actually activates an alternative to what we have now – indeed goes on desiring secure in the comfort of TINA – there is no alternative. Of course there is an alternative to capitalism. Its not inside or outside, sure it is about desire, but it has to be activated, not simply lamented.

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  • CBC  On 12/08/2006 at 11:07 pm

    I’m enjoying the spam “fiction” I get as junk email lately. These mysterious narrative passages (not the randomly generated, combined sentences and phrases of “spam poetry,” nor those uncanny passages from common books on high school reading lists) have been my favourite summer reading so far. These emails used to come with viral attachments or blatant adverts. Now they arrive via apparently random, private addresses, no strings attached. I think some are from copyright-free books published in obscure locations on the internet but out of print or not published elsewhere. Favourite line of the moment: “She just dropped out of the race as if she started running backwards.” The other day I received a nice, seemingly ethnographic excerpt that, given its mode of presentation and context, illustrated the whole point of my exquisite corpse exercise you linked. Maybe this new breed of spam-prose has revolutionary potential because it conflates and disrupts “inside” and “outside”(confounding the original advertising purpse of spam, and, through its untraceability, practically existing outside of discernable time and space).

    Doesn’t help with your conundrum of thinking through these issues in music, but you’ll get there. Ask me about my film sountrack manifesto (re: Todd Solondz and Debbie Gibson) someday…

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  • John Hutnyk  On 13/08/2006 at 12:35 pm

    What is soundtrack manifesto? post it on yr site as a yo-vid…

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  • By N+7 « trinketization on 27/01/2012 at 2:31 pm

    [...] which is the N+7 of the first sentence of an earlier ou-li-po entry from here. Are these things translations, no more nor [...]

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