this is a space for artists & poets of all different media to present works & to express ideas, comments, scraps, notes, rants, statements on anything & in any way they please. I wanted to have a space where artists & poets from all different points of view, styles, cultures, can present & discuss, comment on, each other's works. To encounter the works of other artists & poets in a freedom of existence and exchange, and to learn a lot and have a good time, too!
The name "Nos Obras Otros"indicates the works are a shared "Other" of each artist, an Other without any limitations or labels imposed.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

"A Weed is a Plant Out of Place"--some aspects of the use/"development" of Plagiarism

A phrase i keep meaning to send you as it's an interesting depiction of the movement of the Outsider despite labels/because of labels is the following from Jim Thompson's great hardboiled novel/roman noir The Killer Inside Me.

Billy Bob Walker, a hell raising populist lawyer, a sort of low rent Clarence Darrow, is explaining his philosophy to prospective client Deputy Lou Ford, a psycho serial killer who poses as the blandest and dumbest of persons, a real stereotypical living, spitting image of a “West Texas Lawman” speaking as much as possible in clichés to hide a "superior intelligence" that has decayed due to lack of use.

Billy Bob Walker is telling Deputy Ford the two things he learned in Agronomy School that shaped his life’s work. Here he speaks of the second, perhaps even more important one:

(It) was a definition I got out of the agronomy book . . . Before that I'd seen everything in black and white, good and bad. But after I was set straight I saw that the name you put to a thing depended one where it stood and where you stood. And . . . Here's the definition, right out of the agronomy books: "’a weed is a plant out of place.’ I find a hollyhock
in my cornfield and it's a weed. I find it in my yard, and it's a flower.”

A Weed is a plant out of place! There’s a kind of gallows humor to it—

In “Composition as Explanation” Gertrude Stein writes of how things, art works, writing which at first seem ugly, eventually become seen as beautiful, because the ugly thing has inaugurated a way of looking that brings other previously thought of ugly things into the realm of beauty, and so the original is finally recognized itself as beautiful—its position as such well buttressed by those works which it initiated as, in a sense, its own proofs via a form of reverse engineering.
Stein then goes on to remark that the time between a work being seen as ugly (“a plant out of place”) and beautiful is growing steadily less in the modern world. “The interval is less and less.” We might think of this as the great American advertising phrase: “The Instant Classic” which has NO interval according to the ad writers.

(One of whom who knows might be a poet, like Lew Welch, who worked as an adman in Chicago-or Allen Ginsberg who gave it a brief shot in his first days in San Francisco—trying one last time to lead a “straight” life---)

Deputy Ford has self consciously created his cardboard cut out existence, and has adopted the cliche as a form of weapon as part of his self camouflage:

Here he’s speaking to the Greek owner of a small restaurant:

The smile on his face was getting strained. I could hear his shoes creak as he squirmed. If there’s anything worse than a bore, it’s a corny bore. But how can you brush off a nice friendly fellow who’d giver you his shirt if you asked for it?
“I reckon I should have been a college professor or something like that,” I said. Even when I’m asleep I’m working out problems. Take that heat wave we had a few weeks ago; a lot of people think it’s the heat that makes it so hot. But it’s not like, Max. It’s not the heat, but the humidity.
He cleared his throat and muttered something about being wanted in the kitchen I pretended like I didn’t hear him. . . .

“Well,” I said, “I guess I’d better shove off. I’ve got quite a bit getting around to do, and I don’t want to rush. Haste makes waste in my opinion. I like to look before I leap.”
That was dragging them in my by the feet, but I couldn’t hold’em back. Striking at people that way is almost as good as the other, the real way . . . “

I quote at such length because in poetry, Baudelaire is the first –maybe only—to proclaim his desire to write a cliche. This would be a form of “advance –(avant-garde)—engineering” in that the cliché—usually recognized as such far down the line from the original phrase—would be created as one immediately, a phrase for which the interval between poetic line and cliché does not exist—an Instant Classic so tedious and oft used as to be immediately an Instant Cliché.

Baudelaire has recognized from the start the beauty/curse of much modernism: that due to the commodification and reification of every phase and particle of existence and its productions, the market can ever more quickly subsume, swallow, devour the “avant-garde” and turn it into clichés fit for the museum or for Flaubert’s’ Dictionairre des idees recues.

Already there is at the beginning of modernism the image/idea of Pop Art. Or for that matter Malraux’s Museum without Walls. Satie’s desire to produce a background or “Furniture” music, a Wall paper music—reaches its logical conclusion in the canned sounds of elevator music, which is made up of those clichés known as “Rock’s Biggest Hits” etc—3 am TV advertised collections of music heard so many thousand times they seem to have emerged from out of nowhere and everywhere and in a sense have always and will always exist in that realm of timelessness which even in 3 am TV infomercials is known as the Eternal. “Eternal Classic/Classical beauty . . . “

Ironically, perhaps the “stasis” of “Eternal Classical Beauty” and of the Status Quo is produced by the “running down” of Entropy towards the solid state. The cliché also would seem to be part of this stasis, this having reached a steady state in which its only real function is to be repeated ad nauseum ad infinitum—The way to “rejuvenate” these “rundown” word-machines is to essay to inject them with the energy of the slogan, the advertising campaign, the zeal generating Mantra of a clung-to Idea of progress. Since the “avant” or “avant-garde” is quite literally to be taken as “in advance,”—or perhaps “an advance” in the sense of an advance on the payment to come in the future an advance on the Utopian Future just around the corner---- leading the way further into the future, the new, the signs of Actual Progress Being made—the “avant” itself becomes a mish mash of clichés, slogans, advertising techniques, rebrandings and so forth. This would be the model in use today by the American “Poetic’ establishment with its dogmatic, reverent repetition of a select set of phrases which each are to “stand in for” a “radical, innovative” rhetorical designation of anything which it approves of and designates as “New” “avant” being in actuality this very article the “new, progressive, radical, innovative . . . hybrid, digital, etc—“what really matters are not things nor actions, events but simply names. Intoned, chanted, like mantras—Magic Words which will displace al the dross and impedimenta of the dreary past and dim present—and usher in, “avant la lettre”—the utopia of a perfected, purified “language of the tribe . . . “

This system then is dependent on rhetoric to give a semblance of life to what amounts to a long dead set of clichés, slogans, rebrandings, retreads and watered down versions of things already passed, yet mounted as an “avant attack” on the system because they attack not the system but the hidden fact of the entropy of their chosen phrases and assigned “meanings” and “doctrines.” What matters is not the substance but the semblance of there being “progress.”

As things run down they run –towards the concealed stasis, steady state, status quo--as towards El Dorado--
To give the semblance of “progress”—

Actually I think what is very interesting is that Deputy Lou Ford uses the needling of the cliché as a way of “striking out”—which for quite some time he manages to subsist on rather than striking out in the “real way”—sadistic violence—
The idea of the cliché as a form of displaced violence, as a form of the postponement of violence—

And also the relationship of the cliché to the slogan, to the construction of advertisements, and poems whose lines will someday be a cliché—a form of propaganda mounted in the present against itself perhaps—as an already existing futurity that has been kidnapped and reset in the past, like a reverse engineering as in Fellini’s calling his Satyricon “a science fiction film set in the past . . .”

As in the detournement of the Situationists—the cliché can be detourned to reveal these strange disruptions of time in which the future is “falling backwards”—while progress “comes to a stand till”--

Is the cliché a form of plagiarism then—plagiarizing of the vitality of the poetic line, a kidnapping of it, to bring “new life” to outworn phrases while at the same time preserving that new life as in amber—“cutting it off at the knees, at the pass” and diverting its energies in to the cliché—a cliché now “squared’ as in a mathematical equation—doubled, and then doubling the doubling, an algebraic advance into a static monumentality growing “longer and longer lasting”—a futurity crushing the present as an image of the past disguised as the “old, beloved, well worn words . . . “

Which is Lou ford’s project—to use the cliché as a form of concealment—a kind of kid glove over the fist clenched to murder, to strike out “in the real way”--

Which detournement has to kidnap in turn to upset, over turn the dead riding on the heaped wagons returning from the ‘war of words. . “
It has to rip off the glove and reveal the fist—which is al set as it were to “deliver the punch line”—
The poetic line—
Turned against its cliché self—a kind of violence in overturning its own burial and sending leaping out of the grave those undead beings known as words—

One of the ironies re plagiarism is that Ducasse in Poesies writes that it is necessitated by “progress”—(now I am trying to recall who I just read ranting against “necessity—“—in a way that made good sense, towards a specific form of necessity--)

Perhaps this being made necessary by progress means that plagiarism of Ducasse’s sort is “liberating” the words from their other wise “march of progress” towards the steady state of institutional bureaucratic clichés--

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