Sunday, September 28, 2008

Music For War/ A First Response

Imaginary Politics by Rob Halpern, A Taproot Edition, 2008

This war book is about love or love book is about war and then there is the sense of porn, the book is part of a longer project called Music For Porn. Is porn in this sense a good or bad thing? I’m still not sure.

But it is clear that the book in question, Rob Halpern’s Imaginary Politics, is a very good thing and is irresistibly readable to this reader. The mixing in it of the language of fucking and love and intimacy with the language of war means while it seduces. The suspense of relationship (we have succumbed to ourselves and now what) is mingled and expressed (suppressed?) with the terror of battle, ambush, torture, anxiety, weapons, military objectification and trauma. This is brought about by the mixing of dictions along with lines of emotional softness and plain beauty.

Written in prose and then in short prose blocks, Imaginary Politics is also exquisitely printed. The book is erotic just to hold in the hand.

There is a quiet deliberateness to the language that seems equal to the intensity of its entwined vignettes of love and war. It is a confession, but by whom, about what? The personal stays personal while being emblematic of the political -- not only in the language but, implicitly, in life itself. There is here no simple blaming or calling to account about the war. Perhaps the desire for action implicates us all.

"-- yr role in something boundless makes me impotent,
a blank the war keeps repeating, a bad infinity gone
sublime. you come from the land of Ur, forgotten zone of
oil and steel. these things extend the body, my operations
of regulatory power. kissing barn wood, rubbing rock,
yr clover growing over everything. it all fades out beyond
the true, my one unwritten sentence, this forest of dying
birds. would that you were only meat"

So we go, with the writer and lover, into the subjunctive, into the war and the declensions of our particular struggle. Our passion, obsession, friendship, anger, love and longing occur at the same time, simultaneously contradicting and exaggerating the shame that must come.

and y’re not even hard

“Try writing something history can’t write about itself.”

It’s not the secret history but the secret present we have here. The images in the book are indelible, which brings me to some “real" images of the war. As I leafed recently through the current New Yorker I noticed a series of photographs called “Service” by the photographer Platon, who is said to do both fashion and documentary work. Rob’s words echoed in my mind as I looked at these photos. I thought of being “embedded.” It is interesting to look at them and read this:

“Arriving by night in sleeves to drape the need, coming
from somewhere deep inside this absence of birds.
There’s shame in simply being here. Being in my vapors,
dim imaginations spooked by cuffs and code, reviving
now a tale of rapture, identity withdrawn, murdered as
it were by the secret heat of combat.”

So perhaps the music of porn is a necessary accompaniment to the pornography of war. The graphing of passion when passion means suffering.

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Working on the Prosodic Beings all morning. Thinking about the nonsite meeting with Bhanu Kapil and Amber Dipietra and wondering if the word emo can apply to poetry.

Friday, September 26, 2008

September blackberries in the SPD back lot. Perhaps now I will blog every day.