Welcome to the Pataquerical Night Show (Last Episode)
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Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম
“Who knows where and when” “The Tell-Tale Heart” will arrive by riding the “Anti-bachelor machines” with scientific verbal-pun to tell the debunking tale of “The prison house of official verse culture” in the process of inquiring aesthetic values of poetry and poetics through pataquericalism to renew normativities with “Pataqueronormativities”.
Dear reader, the five highlighted fits are the sparks of Charles Bernstein’s Fantasy in 140 fits where fit is “a part or section of a poem or song; a canto”. By definition, ballad is the lyrical utterance, articulated by the tune of melodic rhythm of a song. But this song is not only the carrier of words, tunes, musical measures or tempos, but also the conveyer of the poet’s experiences, knowledge, beliefs and information. The mystic action of rhythm of the ballad is to swerve it from its past, its real existence, in the sense that resonates with Rabindranath Tagore’s Fireflies “My thoughts, like sparks, ride on winged surprises, /carrying a single laughter.” This momentary rhythm of the fireflies, dance of the sparks, disparate but articulated to make the rhythm palpable, makes the fits of the Bernstein’s ballad. Every fit is an explosion of thoughts, sparked by his own experiences. It contains all turbulences and gloomy despairs of the challenging poetics to raise its voicing through a string of songs tinged with intense impulse of pain and gain against the grain. Through the expansive space of his awakened consciousness the fantasy ignites the reader’s mind to rethink on the issues, whirling in the space of our mutual coexistence in the pataquerical poetic zone.
Charles Bernstein, “a gifted punster”, discovered the fit anti-bachelor machines, coined by him, for his pataquerical ballad, which is an attempt to alchemize Duchamp’s visual-pun with verbal-pun in his quest for the expression and figuration in poetry. The scientific basis used for the anti-bachelor machines is the physics of the abstract art of the French-American painter and sculptor Marcel Duchamp’s The Large Glass. The visual impulse through glass was accompanied by the irony of an opaque and amorphous literary text─ “Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” to represent the reality by possible expansion of the laws of physics and chemistry with his flourishing imaginations as Duchamp colored The Green Box to convey the “marginal notes” to unveil “the Bride’s veil”. Glass for eyes and text for ears becomes complementary to each other to resonate with the pataquerical poet Bernstein’s poetic philosophy where the visibility of language and scientific audibility of the sound of words use the Jarryan ’Pataphysics to do the queer inquiry into reality through his expansive consciousness.
The continuous flow of photons sets the rhythm of our life to trifle with the boundaries of our eyes. The poet’s adventure is to challenge our finite vision to quest for freedom of our journey through infinite possibilities. The vision of the eyes becomes the abstract thought by filtering through the poet’s imaginations, dreams and perspective values of life depending on the opacity of his spectacle. To express this thought, the poet creates sensations of words, and, when he explores his consciousness through these sensations like the logics of music, a series of chronological pictures strikes our mind and plays the melody of the ballad. The mental picture becomes musical rhythm with the touch of the magical power of his consciousness. The readers begin their active adventure to tune in to the rhythm where the vision of eyes and the listening of ears interchange their spaces. That is why Barin Ghosal used to say, “listening of the eyes and vision of the ears, oh readers!” The way Duchamp opened the Bride’s veil is a positive ironism─ “Ironism of affirmation: differences from negative ironism dependent solely on laughter” that resonates with Bernstein, “I think of poetry, in its expressive and figurative quests, as comic—if not outright bathetic, then the pathos of its desire for decorum.” (243)
Bernstein explores anything not only with science through his rational mind, but also with philosophy through his intuitive mind, to resonate with Fritjof Capra’s The Tao of Physics─ “mystics understand the roots of the Tao but not its branches; scientists understand its branches but not its roots….but man needs both”. That is why Bernstein’s process of journey emphasizes not on the synthesis but on the dynamic interplay between the two and inquires the philosophical root of his anti-bachelor machines and links it to the French author Jean-Jacques Lecercle’s term délire (delirium) from his book Philosophy through the Looking Glass: Language, Nonsense, Desire, where sense emerges out of nonsense or other way round. Resonating with Heisenberg’s uncertainty, Bernstein tunes in to the multidimensional reality of life to dream of a potential world, not with facial but spatial freedom, to photonize the poetic rhythm to reach the quantum coherence with pataquerical imagination.
Dictionary says normative─ “establishing, relating to, or deriving from a standard or norm”. But the pataquerulous poet Bernstein renews normativities with Pataqueronormativities to infuse it with the pataquerical quality to profess his poetics not with the norm of “virtuous sentiment” but with the patanorm of “poetic truthfulness”. Why does he reject the “virtuous sentiment”? The reason has been unveiled in his forthcoming poetry collection Topsy-Turvy─
Virtue’s a kind
masquerading as care
of virtue is
is more beautiful
than compelling justice
dissent: slashes in
that will never
At the very root of the word, aesthetics─ Bengali: nandanik─ derived from Sanskrit verb-root nand─ the mental activity that includes two actions─ negation and affirmation. Our oldest scripture Rigveda mainly deals with three numbers of gods, god in the sense of essence of life. As per Rigveda, a living entity means energy, and the god Indra depicted the identity of this energy (in the present day’s sense of individualism). The conflict of this self-realization that whether to hide it or to express it, was depicted by the two gods, named as Varun and Mitra respectively. So to speak, this conflict or paradox between self-expansion and self–restraint is like the hide and seek play of a child, absence and presence, dissolve and evolve, the cosmic cycles of destruction and creation─ the very essence of our mother nature’s universal philosophy. The activity with this essence is the source of eternal pleasure─ ananda [Sanskrit: pleasure of mind].
Then, where does norm comes into picture to shackle this aesthetics, the pleasure of mind? English dictionary says normal─ “according to, constituting, or not deviating from an established norm, rule, or principle.” Normal = nor(m) + mal, where mal is the word forming element of Latin origin that gives the sense of “bad” or “evil.” The verb-root of mal in Sanskrit says─ some entity that is nurtured within a limited boundary that may be limited form or sense of words or the limitation for the capability of interpretation/appreciation of poetry or art. The most conventional synonym for mal in Bengali is pawnya [Sanskrit: goods]─ the verb-root is pawn [Sanskrit: someone or something used by others for their own purposes, nearest to English pawn], used to signify commodity. When poetry is bounded by institutional norm to make it a commodity, it is attributed as normal by the institutions where mal indicates a sense of malpractice or malnutrition. This normative mode of practice is called normalization by the official verse culture. They also think that normalization should include morality─ the reason, I think (not for fun but for pun to relish with a paan in the mouth!), is that their intellect speak from the head (not from the heart) to tell that the word normal includes all the letters of the word moral! But in practice, Sanskrit origin of moral is nyaya: an action, matter, or subject that is right or true only if it has a previous history. So to speak, morality resist innovations. Therefore, Bernstein, the innovative poet, always remains outside this official normative zone but inside the natural principles of “poetic truthfulness” and freedom, betting against delusion and tyranny to pursue a “growing imaginary”, through the intensity of language. Bernsteinian Pataqueronormativities foster the new path of poiesis not by the norm of “virtuous sentiment” but by “virtue of imaginative intellect” against “the common tales of market and economic dominance” to reject “the brutality with which the dominant culture reinforces its own naturalization [normalization] through the insufficiently critical, which means loving, practices”(306) that fails to accept “the special possibilities of imaginative intelligence to create needed alternatives to the real”(317) as Paul A. Bove writes in his re-visioning of Rembrandt’s Bathsheba in his latest book Love’s Shadow.
Who knows where or when?
The indeterminacy of when and where in the official holograph of Dickinson’s poem creates an “internal difference” with “Slant of light” as Bernstein quotes from Dickinson’s poem. Anything that a person desires to have outside of his body to nourish his soul is called the ‘other’. Differences always exist between the observer and the ‘other’. The observer has to go beyond the barrier of this difference to reach the ‘other’. In case of poetry, the perception of this difference gives birth to new meanings, new poems. Through the experience of external differences in different frames of poetry, with the “Slant of light” of the perception of “internal difference”, the observer records the sound track of reality of present moment, the moment of transient states of excitement, the moment where we dwell with our traditions, cultures, politics, languages, love and losses. It’s like the instantaneous vibrational patterns of the superstring, spread over the space-time, engaged in endless infinite rhythm,—we listen to this rhythm where always the indeterminacy in temporal location, to renew our soul, to echo Dickinson, “when”—not where—“the meanings are” as Bernstein quotes.
The prison house of official verse culture:
Repugnant has the equivalent Bengali word bemanan [Bengali: alternative] uses the Persian prefix─ be─ to mean alternative to the main entity or mainstream. The word is derived from the verb-root─ mon [Sanskrit: mind]. Bengali philosopher Kalim Khan explains the verb root: The news of dynamicity of the continuously changing world reaches to our mind-space through its sounds, smells, touches, forms and flavors, and by analyzing and judging our mind measures the entity under consideration to reach a workable fixed concept about it. This action of measurement is the verb-root of mind. The activity where mind is on/active is called monon [Sanskrit: to think]. And the Bengali word manan (antonym of bemanan) originated from Sanskrit: manyo, to mean to acknowledge and follow the applicable standard arrived through concept. Our self-consciousness is having the authority on our mind and body both. Faculty of mind and faculty of intellect constitutes our mind where faculty of mind begins to work with a strong desire and keeps the alternative path open and the faculty of intellect comes to work with a definite plan that moves to certainty. The mind does the work of investigation through non-academic research, which has the homely characteristics and intellect does academic research whose nature is official. The standards/values originated from the faculty of mind have a sense of integral, wholeness, and its zone is denoted by the English word heart. And the values originated only from the faculty of intellect has a sense of fragmentation and its zone is denoted by the English word head. Aesthetic values are continuously evolving through our space-time. When it turns to rigid orthodoxy of a system like official verse culture, the system should be broken up because that value has lost its essence. At this juncture, the adventurous poets/artists arrive to sharpen their sword to break the orthodox system in defense of their innovative aesthetics as an alternative to the fixed/authorized/accepted system, and hence it is called bemanan [Bengali: repugnant] by the authority. That is the reason that Bernstein includes the word repugnant in the pataquerical zone because Bernstein is a poet whose poetic journey always takes into account the ever-nascent values of poetics through dynamic interaction with our paradoxical reality, through ambivalence between quark and antiquark of reality with our ever-changing relationships with the world. Bernstein pitches, “Mine is a homely poetics, both odd-looking (unattractive, disagreeable, low) and intimate (even private)” (Pitch of Poetry:277). So the institutional standards originated only from the faculty of intellect with its official verse culture, fails to measure the standard of Bernstein’s homely poetics, originated from the dynamic interplay between the faculty of mind and intellect, which may be termed as “intellectual imagination” in Paul Bove’s sense.
The Tell-Tale Heart:
The equivalent Bengali word for prisoner─ bondi─ originated from the Sanskrit verb-root ─bon─ an activity to help to the process of an entity to whirl around its own movements/styles/ideas/concepts, to become something, the very process of becoming. The word bondi includes two meanings at the same time─ the first one gives the sense whose work has been imprisoned, and, second meaning is someone who praise something/someone. The second meaning has a similar root in the French word bon [English: well] or the English word like bona fide, originated from the Latin word bona [plural of bonus], used in the same sense of good. The prisoner remains within his own particular periphery and at the same time, the one who presented bon (i.e. the one who has imprisoned the prisoner) becomes trapped in the exactly opposite circular enclave. The similar sense could be found in English as “prisoner of conscience” in the sense─ conscience has imprisoned the consciousness. Both are having their own agenda but in opposite direction─ the one having fixed predetermined dogmas imprisons/limits the other one, awakened conscious artists/poets, professing their own mantra but anew with ever-nascent aesthetics. When a poetics challenges to the official authority to express the poets’ own views with their own inner sense of right or wrong with their genuine sincerity of intention, honestly felt/experienced and free from hypocrisy, official verse culture imprisoned them to restrict the power of new inventions, new aesthetic adventures. Referring to the context of Edgar Allan Poe’s story “The Tell-Tale Heart”, Bernstein insists the readers to listen the beating of heart of the new poetics, marginalized and murdered as claimed by the official verse culture, under the floorboard, made by their stagnant/accepted moral values. The claim affirms that the official verse culture is lunatic since new can’t be murdered because new has no end.
@@@ Let’s start Episode-5 of the Fantasy by Charles Bernstein @@@
The Pataquerical Imagination
Midrashic Antinomianism and the Promise of Bent Studies
A Fantasy in 140 Fits
LXXIII. Anti–bachelor machines
As a term for poetic constructions, bachelor machine suggests nonproductive, nonprocreative, onanistic processes, vicious (or self-enclosing/collapsing) circles, an apparatus that is unable to get outside itself. There is a connection to délire (delirium, with special reference to Jean-Jacques Lecercle)—that which goes astray, deviates from the rational, errs, raves. Though perhaps it would be better to call pataque(e)rics an anti–bachelor machine. The term “bachelor machine” (machine célibataire) comes from Duchamp’s “Bride Stripped Bare by Her Bachelors, Even” (the lower part of the “Large Glass,” e.g., “Chocolate Grinder”). Michel Carrouges (in his book Machines célibataires) extended the term to incorporate the disciplinary apparatus of Franz Kafka’s The Penal Colony and also to Raymond Roussel’s Impressions of Africa, and some of Poe’s machines as well, and, crucially, to the work of Alfred Jarry. This formulation has been adapted by Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari in Anti-Oedipus and also by Michel de Certeau in Ars de Faire.
I just want to be like everyone else like me.
The history of art, no less than the history of societies, is replete with the normalization of stigmas. From time to time, as moral and aesthetic values change, poetics and persons previously subject to negative judgment by those who evaluate poetry in terms of dutifulness and virtue are redeemed. For Young Hegelian debunkers, such redemption inaugurates a rule of renormalization (subliming), in which the aims of art remain duty and morality; but now it is a new, ethically improved morality and a radicalized, purified aesthetic duty that reigns.
But aesthetics is not a tool of morality, nor is it bound to it or by it. Aesthetics is not applied ethics.
It is practically an Ironclad® law of nature that new orthodoxies replace old ones, just as it is a delusion of starry-eyed romanticism to think anything else is possible.
Yet THINK WE MUST FOR A GROWING IMAGINARY.
THIS SECTION INTENTIONALLY LEFT BLANK.
XCVII. Who knows where or when?
Some things that happen for the first time
Seem to be happening again
And so it seems that we have met before
And laughed before, and loved before
But who knows where or when?
There’s a certain Slant of light,
that oppresses, like the Heft
Of Cathedral tunes—
Heavenly Hurt, it gives us—
We can find no scar,
But internal difference
When the Meanings, are—
None may teach it Any—
’tis the Seal despair—
An imperial affliction
Sent us of the Air—
When it comes, the Landscape listens—
Shadows—hold their breath—
When it goes, ’tis like the distance
On the look of death—.
According to all previously published versions, the eighth line of Dickinson’s “There is a certain Slant of light” begins “Where the Meanings, are.” However, the holograph manuscript seems to tell a different story. Dickinson appears to have written When, not Where, as the first word of the eighth line:
But internal difference
When the Meanings, are—
I see no internal difference between the three whens in the holograph. Here’s the eighth line:
Compare that to the beginning of lines 13 and 15 in the same holograph, which are always transcribed as When:
It’s a startling difference, suggesting that meaning is a matter of duration, not place, and that internal difference, including in the spacing and other material features of Dickinson’s manuscript, opens up meaning as a serial process that is wrested from acts of reading and interpretation. It is no surprise that Dickinson would sound this Emersonian note, anticipating as she does here, and in the fascicles more generally, what we have come to call serial poetry. Dickinson also seems to be suggesting, avant la lettre, that language is a system in which difference produces meanings, not synchronically, as in a where, but diachronically, across time, in a when. Vive la difference, bien sur: because the perception of difference as a when is engendered by an experience of difference, the acute angle, or slant, of perception that comes from a skepticism located in and as the gap between two people as they try and often fail to connect (irremediation). The resistance to reading Dickinson outside of assumed frames of graphic presentation and meaning is a version of what Wittgenstein calls “aspect blindness”: when/where (or the holograph / typographically standardized) is a textual version of the duck/rabbit figure. Different assumptions produce different poems; frame lock occurs when there is a resistance to acknowledging the possibility of other versions cued by different frames or to rule out the possibility there may be no single stable solution, no fixed “original,” but rather an array of versions.
Certainly there is ambiguity in the choice, and which choice is made is determined by our expectations: a picture holds us captive about what the poem should be saying and how it should look, based on our internalized models. It is an imperial illusion that admits of no variants, that discounts stray marks as so much poetic fluff. Incommensurable frames (external difference) create different meanings (internal difference). This poem is about versions, about highlighting one version to the exclusion of others, about suppressing difference—plurality—because of frame lock.
It has taken so long to see and hear Dickinson. We know neither when nor where to encounter her work because it is projected outward, into a future that we keep coming toward, but at which we are unable to arrive. “Some things that happen for the first time / Seem to be happening again.” In Dickinson, new forms of significance emerge as we scan the material traces she has left.
Polis is tears.
XCIX. The prison house of official verse culture
In a commencement address at Bennington College, “Advice for Graduating MFA Students in Writing: The Words and the Bees,” D. W. Fenza, executive director of Associate Writing Programs, told the assembled young writers that it is “morally repugnant” to question the merits of the literary prize system. Immoral is boilerplate for a cold warrior; repugnant gives the remark its pataque(e)rical bona fides. But his more significant insinuation, in this context, is that those who profess the work of “Wittgenstein, Marx, Foucault, hooks, Fanon, Lacan, Spivak, Lyotard, Kristeva, Poulet, Butler, and Gertrude Stein” are akin to insect parasites.
Fenza’s encyclical, published in the official house organ he edits (so here official verse culture is not a metaphor), went out to virtually every graduate creative writer teacher in the US. In it, he blasted me for emitting “the noxious air of literary politicking” without apparently recognizing his own production of noxious airs. Fenza takes exception to a remark in my memorial essay for Creeley where I speak of “neatly laundered poems of the poet laureates and Pulitzers.” He then goes on to list recent laureates and Pulitzer winners, commenting, “To suggest, as Bernstein does, [that these poets write] complacently in ‘uniformitarianism’[sic] … it’s rather extreme; it’s the demagoguery of a tone-deaf poetics; and, I feel, it’s morally repugnant.”
Fenza confuses aesthetic difference with blasphemy.
Compare Fenza’s moral outrage at my “demagogic” lumping together a decade’s worth of generic prize-winning poets to his lumping together a century’s worth of philosophy and poetics. The insect metaphor is the basic conceit of the commencement address (the section quoted is called “Beware the Ichneumonids”). Fenza argues that “literary theorists and cultural critics,” such as Marjorie Perloff and I, who teach the list of proscribed authors are analogous to “ichneumonids . . . parasites with peculiar habits of breeding.” He offers this explanation to his audience of creative writing teachers and students: “An ichneumonid wasp, for instance, uses her ovipositor to inject her egg into the back of a caterpillar.”
Readers of Al Filreis’s Counter-revolution of the Word: The Conservative Attack on Modern Poetry 1945–1960 will find Fenza’s language familiar. A 1948 New York Times Magazine article speaks of modernist poetry as if it were a “mosquito that sucks your blood”—in other words, a “parasite that must be contained.” An article in the Saturday Review in 1952 describes Stein’s work as a “yellow fever” that “must be constantly fought and sprayed with violent chemicals lest the microbes develop again and start a new infection.”
In his 2013 Annual Report to AWP, Fenza promoted as a motto for his organization a century-old quote from Walter Lippman: “The great social adventure of America is no longer the conquest of the wilderness but the absorption of fifty different peoples.” Fenza’s ahistorical appropriation of this quote is meant to dismiss formal innovation and promote cultural containment (one from many): not resistance via difference but assimilation via absorption. But contra Fenza’s interpretation, Lippman was arguing in 1914 for the continued need for American radical inventiveness, new ideas and “intellectural revolt” (191) and against its “irreconcilable enemy” classicism:
Let it be understood that I am not decrying the great nourishment which living tradition offers. The criticism I am making is of those who try to feed upon the husks alone. Without the slightest paradox one may say that the classicalist is most foreign to the classics. He does not put himself within the creative impulses of the past: he is blinded by their manifestations. [In contrast] the man whom I call here the classicalist cannot possibly be creative, for the essence of his creed is that there must be nothing new under the sun. (187)
Fenza feeds on husks humming his “nothing new under the sun” mantra. In contrast, Lippman was suggesting that the new wave of immigrants would be a necessary dynamic force for America. In a dissertation on the postwar development of “state verse culture,” Amy Paeth juxtaposes Fenza’s quote with a discussion of Robert Frost’s 1942 “The Gift Outright,” which Frost read at John F. Kennedy’s 1961 inauguration. The poem famously begins “The land was ours before we were the land’s”: Paeth notes its “ahistorical temporality,” that is, the desire to “possess” a wilderness that is misrepresented as blank or empty. Such a wilderness must be settled by “dispossession,” that is, the erasure of alterity.
The limits of a nepohumanist ideal for poetry is that work that does not meet one’s aesthetic approval is stigmatized as nonhuman, unintelligible, barbaric because there is, to return to Marc Shell’s formulation of the limit of Christian tolerance, no adequate account of the nonsibling human. All of the professing of feeling and human warmth gives way to the hard boot: the barbaric yawp is OK only if it is “our” barbaric yawp. All great poetry is universal or transcendent, they say, but great is a reference to quality only within a particular, and unacknowledged, aesthetic ideology. For Fenza and his coconspirators, the only thing they recognize as nondogmatic is their own dogma.
Ladies and gentlemen, if you see someone at risk of falling on the tracks, please call for assistance.
CII. The Tell-Tale Heart
If I were King of the Forest . . .
Each rabbit would show respect to me.
The chipmunks genuflect to me.
Though my tail would lash, I would show compash
For every underling!
Official verse culture presents itself as being free from agendas, releasing its editors and prize givers from the need to present alternative points of view or to acknowledge the partisan nature of their approach to poetry. Agendas are what other people have. Consider this from a 2006profile of Helen Vendler in the New York Times Book Review:
In the early ’70s, as editor of the Book Review, [John] Leonard was having trouble navigating the insular world of poetry. Poets “would never tell you if you’d asked them to review their best friend or worst enemy or ex-lover,” Leonard recalled. “There was always some agenda, and I could never figure out what it was.” So he hired Vendler to vet the flood of poetry books, reviewing some herself and suggesting reviewers for others. All this was done quietly. “We just couldn’t tell anyone,” Leonard said. “It would put her under enormous pressure.”
There is a delightful doublethink here: it seems like Leonard is saying he wants to free the Book Review of agendas, but he could also be saying that he needed to find a person could assure that the right agenda was followed. Vendler went on to be appointed poetry critic of the New Yorker in 1978 and later became a frequent contributor to the New York Review of Books. As she moved between the Times, New Yorker, and NYRB, she was not content just to put forward her own agenda; she was also vitriolic in her denunciations of work that challenged it. The pattern was set in her 1973 Times review of America: A Prophecy, edited by Jerome Rothenberg and George Quasha, which proved her ideological bone fides for her subsequent New Yorker appointment. In his response, Rothenberg notes that Vendler’s diatribe represents
an active, parochial and deeply entrenched attempt to keep the mind within what many of us have come to feel as intolerable limits. . . . To love a particular poetry is one thing; to assert its absolute supremacy over [other traditions] is another. Yet such is the genteel madness of certain academics, that they go on forever . . . with a mindless reliance on words like “great” and “best.”
Vendler’s reliance on “great” and “best” fuels her mocking the inclusion in the anthology of “H.D., Zukofsky, Rexroth, Oppen, Fearing, Patchen, Olson, Duncan, . . . Harry Crosby, . . . Else von Freytag-Loringhoven, Marsden Hartley, . . . Lorine Neidecker, Mina Loy, Max Ernst, Marcel Duchamp, . . . Sadakichi Hartmann.” But—heh!—what a great list of poets! Vendler pulls no punches in her lifelong battle against the scourge of bent studies: “Never mind, dear reader, that you never thought Marcel Duchamp belonged in an anthology of American Poetry, or that anonymous schizophrenics did either.”
Flash forward to David Remnick, the New Yorker’s current editor, describing his agenda-free appointment of Paul Muldoon as the magazine’s poetry editor in 2007: “It’s not just a matter of picking the best poet you can think of. . . . Mr. Muldoon said he had no particular agenda for the job.”
Official verse culture legitimates itself by denying (or naturalizing) its positions. Only a very commanding agenda for the poems and commentary published over the past quarter-century could have so successfully steered this magazine clear of so many significant developments in poetry and poetics and toward many poems and essays on poetry that seem mystifyingly mediocre for those who don’t share the magazine’s poetic agenda. No doubt this is analogous to how publications that share my agenda look to those who don’t; but, in practice, most oppositional poetry publications flaunt, rather than deny, that they have pitch. In the mother of all postwar oppositional agendas, Charles Olson’s “Projective Verse” (1950), Olson writes, in a slap in the face to the American Cold War gambit of, well, projecting dogmas on everyone but oneself: “So there we are, fast, there’s the dogma.” Robert Creeley, echoing Wallace Stevens’s “It Must Be Abstract” and “It Must Change,” makes the point explicit: “Blasting at indoctrination, Olson blasts with a thunderous indoctrination. He insists that it must be dogmatic.”
But official verse culture legitimizes itself not just by insisting that it is superior because agenda free but also, at the same time, tokenizing poets who fall outside its aesthetic center of gravity. John Ashbery often is used as just such a token. And I am too, though not as often as I’d like:
All right, Mr. Remnick, I’m ready for my close-up.
Meanwhile, at NYRB, Charles Simic offered another exemplary shaming of the bent poetics of stray marks, which, according to Simic (concurring with AWP director Fenza), has been corrupted by contact with “French cultural and literary theory”: “If you were stuck in prison, what would you rather have under your pillow: a volume by Emily Dickinson or one by Gertrude Stein?”
If I were in jail, I would probably want to read a manual on how to appeal my case or, if not, how to break out. The context for Simic’s ideological agenda is fleshed out in his coeditor Sean O’Brien’s introduction to New British Poetry. O’Brien trashes British poetry that challenges the aesthetic status quo. The introduction proudly claims that such “incomprehensible” “Postmodern” work, replete with “confusion and disorientation,”is excluded from the anthology, which is dedicated to put forward “the UK Mainstream.” Yet the publisher turns this clear declaration of partisanship into an Orwellian claim that the anthology is “definitive.”
For Simic, we are still living in the Cold War, in which poetry’s value is to assert its essential and universal humanness. Just as Vendler’s ostracizing of iconoclastic poets shows her inability to grasp the cultural and historical richness of American poetry traditions, Simic’s stigmatizing Stein while iconizing Dickinson reveals his inability to grapple with either. His is a jailer’s view of art. Poetry is to be written by soothing asylum keepers for the benefit of the incarcerated. Such an approach to poetry sacrifices aesthetics in the name of Duty, even sacrificing Duty for dutifulness.
I dwell on these publications and critics because I think that they, along with the national prizes, do matter for poetry in our culture, but mostly in the negative sense: they make poetry seem culturally dull, more concerned with civic uplift or memoir than aesthetic invention, even when this betrays the aesthetics of the poets being championed. Official verse culture is not fifty years behind poetry (it has yet to catch up with the 1950s) or one hundred (radical modernism still too radical); it’s timelessly off the mark. Still, don’t get me wrong (even if I am wrong or do you wrong): not only do I want to be part of the conversation, I want the poets I most care about to be included too. Moreover, my own secure digital cabana within official verse culture gives me the standing (when not crawling) to make my critique without being written off as just another jilted lover (which is what I am, let’s face it). Nor do I believe that the critics and prize givers with whom I disagree are “morally repugnant” or that the poets they champion should be treated as “anonymous schizophrenics.” As noted, debunkers, per se, are no better than the debunked; in Poe’s story the inmates, after the insurrection, are harsher to their keepers than the other way ’round.
And what of the claim of editors that their poetry coverage is agenda free in its quest for a consensus view of “the best”? If you are an anonymous schizophrenic, a queeroid woman, a perverse formalist, articulating in your work “confusion and disorientation,” then there is a certain slant of darkness that oppresses like the cleft of cathedral prayer.
But perhaps the problem with these periodicals is less a matter of commitment to one kind of poetry than a profound indifference to poetry, based on a sense that it is more a form of lyric decoration than a site of Mental Fight. For such editors, poetry should be pitched to those who prefer not to read poetry. Indeed, there is a constant chatter in the massed media that “difficult” poetry has taken over the field to the detriment of “accessible” poetry, which is too often (and mistakenly) identified with bland poetry. In their campaigns against the pataquerulous, these editors, and the small group of their officious critics, end up marginalizing the approaches to poetry they advocate by dehistoricizing and deformalizing them. Their estimation that poetry is culturally insignificant underlies the decisions and revisions in respect to their poetry coverage.
But wait . . . don’t you hear it? The tell-tale heart of poesy beating “louder—louder—louder!” under the floorboards laid by official verse culture? How much longer will it be before the moment arrives when the Simics & Vendlers, Benn Michaels & Fenzas can bear to “dissemble” no longer and “shriek”—
“I admit the deed!—tear up the planks!—here, here!—it is the beating of [its] hideous heart!”
For, dear reader, don’t you yet see that these are the insurrectionists, who claim to be stewards of values they actively work to destroy? Reader! I implore you to listen before it’s too late!
The lunatics have imprisoned us and say that we are deviants, monkeys, insects, anonymous schizophrenics!
Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম(পঞ্চম পর্ব)
Note: Transcreation Project
It is a transcreation project in series for the essay “The Pataquerical Imagination: Midrashic Antinomianism and the Promise of Bent Studies” by Charles Bernstein. This fifth episode contains eight sections from the essay. The transcreated part is included in the Bengali section of Ongshumali. The essay was published in Bernstein’s book Pitch of Poetry. To know the details please click the following link:
 9th Poem from Stray Birds Fireflies and Other Poems by Rabindranath Tagore, Kolkata: Visva-Bharati, 2011. Fireflies was first published in 1928.
 Timothy Gray on My Way by Charles Bernstein in American Literature (2000)
 The writings of Marcel Duchamp, ed. by Michel Sanouillet and Elmer Peterson, Da Capo Press, New York, 1973.
 Otichetonar Kotha [On Expansive Consciousness] by Barin Ghosal, Kaurab, 1996. Runa Bandyopadhyay translates the quotation.
 Pitch of Poetry by Charles Bernstein, Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016.
 Capra Fritjof. 1975. Tao of Physics. Boulder, Colorado: Shambhala.
 Philosophy through the Looking Glass: Language, Nonsense, Desire by Jean-Jacques Lecercle’s, Routledge, London & New York, 1985
 From the poem “The Darkness He Called Night” of the book Topsy-Turvy by Charles Bernstein, University of Chicago Press, forthcoming, https://press.uchicago.edu/ucp/books/book/chicago/T/bo89190337.html
 Love’s Shadow by Paul A. Bove, Harvard University Press, Jan 2021, https://hup.medium.com/rembrandt-bathsheba-and-the-textures-of-art-6803caa7b57d
 Khan, Kalim and Chakravarti, Ravi. 2009. Bangiya Sabdarthakosh (Bengali Dictionary): A Collection of Bengali words with their Verb-based and Letter-based Meanings, Vol-1. Kolkata, India: Bhasha Binyasa.
For more on dèlire, see Jean-Jacques LeCercle, Philosophy through the Looking-Glass: Language, Nonsense, Desire (La Salle, IL: Open Court, 1985).
 I provide a list of my own anti–bachelor machines at “What, Me Conceptual?,” with special reference to “Recantorium: A Bachelor Machine after Duchamp after Kafka,” writing.upenn.edu/pennsound/x/Bernstein-Tucson.html. “Recantorium” was collected in Attack of the Difficult Poems. See Michel Carrouges, Machines célibataires (Paris: Arcanes, 1954, 2nd ed. 1976). De Certeau discusses the “celibate machines” of Jarry, Roussel, Duchamp, and Kafka in The Practice of Everyday Life (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1984), 150–53. Deleuze and Guattari discuss “celibate machines” in Anti-Oedipus (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1983), 17–19. See also Lecercle, Philosophy through the Looking Glass.
 For a case study, see “Disfiguring Abstraction” in this collection. The Hegelian orthodontics of the avant-garde was exemplified in a discussion at a planning meeting at the Museum of Modern Art, discussed in the essay. My suggestions that the most radical and contradictory energies of modernist art were at risk of being contained by museum abstraction were rebuffed in a telling instance of how aesthetically challenging art can been subsumed into the new normal. Avant-garde poetry and art, by definition, are susceptible to the lure of the pataqueronormative: it is, for us, as powerful as the sirens for Odysseus.
 “The iron hand crushd the Tyrants head / And became a Tyrant in his stead,” as Blake succinctly puts it in “The Gray Monk.” I read the poem here: www.rc.umd.edu/pop-blog/charles-bernstein-reads-grey-monk-william-blake.
 My transcription of the Dickinson holograph (ca. 1861), from fascicle 13, reproduced in The Manuscript Books of Emily Dickinson, ed. R. W. Franklin, 2 vols. (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), and published by Johnson as no. 258, 1:185. A version of the work was first published in 1890 in the Roberts Brothers first edition of Dickinson’s poems, edited by Mabel Loomis Todd and T. W. Higginson, numbered XXXI but otherwise untitled; it is the last poem in the sequence titled “Nature.” The third line in this version is given as “That oppresses, like the weight.”
 I queried Ralph Franklin on this alternate reading (personal communication, October 15, 2005); he replied that the where reading was supported by close differentiation of the way Dickinson formed her ns and rs and pointed to a comparison with “I know some lonely houses” in the same fascicle (p. 259 of the Manuscript Books): Where in the eighth line and the n in Wooden in the fourth line. However, other comparisons underscore a different reading. Consider the standard identification of when and where from fasc. 16, ca. 1862, the poem Johnson numbers 327, lines 16 and 20, where the two words are clearly differentiated and when looks as it does in “There is a certain Slant of light.” See these and other examples at writing.upenn.edu/bernstein/misc/ED-slant.html.
Content’s Dream, 137, n. 18, echoing Charles Olson’s “polis is / eyes” in “Letter 6,” The Maximus Poems (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1985), 30
 D.W. Fenza, “Advice for Graduating MFA Students in Writing: The Words and the Bees,” Writer’s Chronicle 38, no. 6 (May/Summer 2006). I quote from pp. 3, 4, and 8. I have spoken at AWP’s convention just once, where I presented a parodic recapitulation of “Recantorium” with reference to Fenza’s commencement address: jacket2.org/commentary/recantorium-adapted-2013-awp-convention.
 The Creeley essay is collected in this book. Fenza is offended by my remark that Creeley offers “a bulwark against poetic uniformitarianism and complacency.”
 Counter-revolution of the Word (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2007), 205–7. I discuss this book in “Anything Goes” in Attack of the Difficult Poems. Dehumanization is a staple of attacks against Barack Obama. In the summer of 2010, in the heat of the presidential election campaign, Ted Nugent evoked Poe’s “perfect army of . . . Chimpanzees”: “I have obviously failed to galvanize and prod, if not shame, enough Americans to be ever-vigilant not to let a Chicago communist-raised, communist-educated, communist-nurtured subhuman mongrel like the ACORN community organizer gangster Barack Hussein Obama to weasel his way into the top office of authority in the United States of America.” No doubt he was winking, but he still ran into difficulties, even though “mongrel” is a possible reverse pataquerical and was used by Obama himself in this way (though not without controversy when he did). See Charles Blow, “Accommodating Divisiveness,” New York Times, February 21, 2014, A19. See also “President Obama Calls African-Americans a ‘Mongrel People,’” The Hill, July 29, 2010, thehill.com/homenews/administration/111611-obama-calls-african-americans-a-mongrel-people-. On the TV show The View (July 29, 2010), Obama said of African Americans: “We are sort of a mongrel people. I mean we’re all kinds of mixed up. That’s actually true of white people as well, but we just know more about it.” While mongrel suggests menacing and barbaric, insect suggests something more fundamentally alien. Rush Limbaugh has accused Obama of wanting to infect America with the deadly Ebola virus, while Michael Savage dubbed him “President Ebola” (www.npr.org/2014/10/09/354890869/in-u-s-ebola-turns-from-a-public-health-issue-to-a-political-one). This relates to the stigma of the angry black man as a demonic “it,” as in the September 16, 2014, grand jury testimony of Ferguson, Missouri, police officer’s killing of Michael Brown Jr.: “The only way I can describe it, it looks like a demon, that’s how angry it looks, that’s how angry he looked.” (documentcloud.org/documents/1370494-grand-jury-volume-5.html).
 Cited by Amy Paeth in State Verse Culture: American Poets Laureate, 1945-2015, Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2015. The Fenza report is at awpwriter.org/application/public/pdf/AWPAnnualReport13.pdf. Lippman is quoted from Preface to Politics (New York: Mitchell-Kennerley, 1914), 189.
 Robert Frost, “The Gift Outright,” poetryfoundation.org/poem/237942. Bob Perelman and Derek Walcott discuss the poem at MAPS, english.illinois.edu/maps/poets/a_f/frost/gift.htm. See also Susan Howe, The Birth-Mark: Unsettling the Wilderness in American Literary History (Middletown: Wesleyan University Press, 1993) and “Artifice of Absorption” in A Poetics.
 In “Towards a Translation Culture” (2011), Lawrence Venuti takes this up from the point of view of an institutional preference for “belletristic” translations that are resistant to reflecting on their poetics. M-Dash, mdash-ahb.org/the-translation-forum/1-towards-a-translation-culture.
 E. Y. (Yip) Harburg from The Wizard of Oz (1939); a second-wave modernist, born Isidore Hochberg (1896–1981).
 Rachel Donadio, “The Closest Reader,” New York Times Book Review, December 10, 2006. This article provides the date of Vendler’s New Yorker appointment. Leonard is speaking of personal rather than aesthetic agendas, but the Cold War rhetoric of freedom from agendas is most striking because it represses the bait-and-switch.
 Helen Vendler, review of America: A Prophecy, ed. Jerome Rothenberg and George Quasha, New York Times Book Review, December 30, 1973, and Jerome Rothenberg, Book Review letter to the editor, January 27, 1974. Disclosure: Vendler includes me in the ranks of the unintelligible in a passing dismissal in a June 12, 2008, review of Jorie Graham, “A Powerful, Strong Torrent”: “And Graham, unlike such Language Poets as Charles Bernstein and Susan Howe (whose moment seems to have expired), always rewardingly makes sense, whatever her acrobatics.” (Neither Howe’s, Rothenberg’s, nor my work has ever been reviewed in NYRB.)
 Vendler’s negative review of Rita Dove’s Penguin Anthology of American Poetry in New York Review of Books (November 24, 2011) created an unprecedented mainstream backlash against Vendler. But it should be noted that Vendler was a prominent proponent of Dove and that Dove in her anthology largely follows Vendler’s proscriptions as given in the quoted review: only three of these mocked poets (H.D., Olson, and Duncan) are included. For a summary of Vendler’s canonical praise of Dove, from a writer sympathetic to her, see thenewyorkerandme.blogspot.com/2011/12/rita-dove-plays-race-card.html.
 Motika Rich, “Pulitzer Winner to Take Over as New Yorker’s Poetry Editor,” New York Times, September 20, 2007, E3.
Collected Prose, ed. Donald Allen and Benjamin Friedlander (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1997), 241. Olson understood dogma as the “firm persuasion” of the animate voice (417), which, rhetorically, can be contrasted that with the prototypical deanimated New Yorker poem.
 Introduction to Olson’s Collected Prose, xv. I quote the subtitles to Stevens’s “Notes toward a Supreme Fiction.”
 Charles Simic, “Getting the World into Poems,” New York Review of Books, June 24, 2010. Simic appears to be NYRB’s designated poetry critic, though Vendler continues to pitch in.
 New British Poetry (Minneapolis: Graywolf, 2004).
 The prestige of the awards, like the cultural importance of the New Yorker and NYRB, is not bound to poetry; neither the awards nor the magazines would qualify for a prize based on their historical record of their poetry preferences, but then that is not significant to these organizations, for whom poetry is loss leader, a colorful bit of fluff, or then again a dollop of moral fiber, wrapping paper for the main acts, whether journalism, history, visual art, fiction, or cartoons. But then if all you know about poetry is who wins the major prizes and what these publications present, what else could you think?
 Edgar Allan Poe, “The Tell-Tale Heart” (1843), www.eapoe.org/works/reading/pt043r1.htm. See, earlier in this book, Thomas McEvilley’s “hideous flowers of the grave,” which echoes Baudelaire’s “fleurs du mal.” In Simulcast: Four Experiments in Criticism (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2004), Benjamin Friedlander recasts Poe’s reviews with contemporary literary subjects.
Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম(পঞ্চম পর্ব)
Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম Previous Episode here >>> …..
It never took me by surprise that people were always dancing around me like a…..
Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম Previous Episode here >>> Next…..
Bengali Version & Transcreation here >>> প্যাটাক্যুয়রিক্যাল নাইটশোয়ে আপনাকে স্বাগতম Previous Episode here >>> Next…..