James Yeary

repetition as failure


Nico Vassilakis & Crystal Curry read for the Spare Room, in Portland, OR, November 29th, 2009. Afterward, I took them, with Maryrose, Jeff, mARK oWEns & Mike, to The Nest, a bar, where there turned out to be some loud & crude bingo going down. Nico talked about having been misheard or misread by Geof Huth, that, as Geof had said, Nico had come across something new, or what was next, after visual poetry, when, in actuality, Nico wanted to erase vispo. He went on (if I have this right chronologically) to talk about his questioning of repetition, of repetitive acts. I pointed out to him that, as I saw it, this questioning was his subject, not only in this conversation, but in his video and visual poetry works. I do now wonder whether I was "telling him anything" (he didn't already know), but nonetheless the conversation continued on, questioning the possibility of newness, & thus the audacity of the blog & such.

Maryrose commented (tho I forget to what prompt) that "the poem is the reader." This can be read two ways: that the reader is replaced by the product or poem, the poem as a response to the author's work, that the poem is an extention beyond the author, "reading" him or her. This is an alternative to what is perhaps more apparent or traditional, what seems to be a false reading in the light of the other: that there really is a reader…

These are two thoughts: that nothing is new (literally, or accenting, assenting to, both the noun & the adjective), & that there is or is not a reader (which is true). But can "we" (readers) say that, here at least, these are the same thought? Does this imply a contingency? First, is this a synthesis that results in a serial: (1) to reiterate what may be "traditional," the reader as a newness, as an idea in a poem is born "read," that the writer is father & the reader is mother? (2) That there is not a reader, & this is the originality of the present game? In the indifference of non-reading (which can be read as indifference to the reader), the poem is born. It is thru the meter of attention, on the part of author & reader, that the poem is defined.

Later in the night, Sam called me. He was working on November's issue of What We Are Learning, a magazine in which acquaintances, friends, & interested/interesting parties share, thru the mediation of the editors, what "they learned" that month. I had given Sam permission to include in the magazine what I interpreted, thru analyzing my own experience, as a conscious — but only slightly — willingness to re-enact the events of a particular trauma. Sam had called me to fact-check, but he read me what I had told him, in his own summary, & I was moved to disregard the inaccuracies.

Was (& I was/am tempted to say is) my (expression of) emotion, which was met (in myself) by non-response, an expression in non-response, not a kind of failure? Do we (readers) not rely on this failure, as poets?


Two re-enactments, & think of the guilt inherent in re-enacting, in what (the idea of) re-enactment means to you, the reader, as opposed to me, the actor?

But we have been speaking of, or Nico was speaking of, repetition, not re-enactment. The differences (between) which describe recurrence, repetition, re-enactment: Recurrence is an example of different things happening, independently of each other, which can be described using the same language (or words?). In repetition, an event occurs multiple times without language (or words). In re-enactment, something which did not happen, perpetually & repeatedly, is described (without words). Without language? & why is repetition the selected medium here (what is the same, between the three?), tho now between two where, now, repetition is centered, recurrence appears as metaphor, & re-enactment as guilt, whereas repetition is event beyond description. Look again, here, & see that, from here, recurrence is that same event (evidently multiplied/in multiple i.e. that is repetitive) inscribed, or doubled, enacted, at or upon, The World, & re-enactment is The World, ourselves, responding to our lack in the event, which is beyond us. Nico Vassilakis's "this this this this". I can say this poem is identification, per the poem's title, with the recurrent, but, in the overall schema, a guilt/re-enactment, concerning re-enactment (or guilt?) itself.

Two re-enactments. In the latter, in Sam's re-enactment of my trauma, of stumbling across the dead, I am moved because he is sharing & carrying my guilt. This is friendship. Because he is quoting me, in attempt, he is altruistic, he is repeating me, he is not recurring (for he is using his own words), nor re-enacting, he is not responding to the event, which is as distant from myself as it is from him, in space & time. Repetition is perhaps the ideal of the poem. "This" but also many others. "This" is where I will pose the question: is re-enactment different from repetition in itself, as an event, or is it a difference in interpretation? The problem may be that it is always the latter, in analysis, & yet we always experience it as the former. "This" is to say that we are always re-enacting that which is always already repetitive.
a. Recurrence: the plight of the homeless.
b. Repetition: my ability to walk the streets in indifference.
c. Re-enactment: behaving self-defensively, treating the trauma of
     homelessness as a threat when it is not present.

I go back & forth on my mustash
with & without


& the moon is just a light

James Yeary is a bartender in Portland, co-publisher of the "plein-aire zine" My Day, & a member of the Spare Room collective. He studies rock and roll handwriting for tips.

previous page     contents     next page



Post a Comment

<< Home

Powered by Blogger