Monday, September 18, 2006

Yesterday's Reading

Ange Mlinko
SETTING OUT FROM VALPARAISO

Maine in 1845 did not have limes as a possibility.
But everything was green. The beam industry,
the pew industry, all these did well. Generosity
emerged from the log bridge futures, so necessity
was met wherever a hand was raised in humility.
Everyone came from a well-constructed family.

Basil knew that sharp tops meant pines;
cedars were flat. Vanilla wafted from certain firs.
Thoughts turned to St. Petersburg, looking at birches.
Then paused when a hemlock seemed like a larch.
The isosceles perfection of Norway spruces!
For diversion, Basil grew lettuces.

In March, the onion grass was kelly green.
In midsummer, the lawns were clover green.
By the gushing springs, a blue-green,
mattresses of moss developed, moss-green.
As they balled up into lakes, mallard greens
flashed. And in the winter, ice was midnight green.

What do green and violet make?
A wholeness, pollarded by the frame of reference.

The chapping bark in the stealing crepuscule.
The irrigating vintages.

Logs of drydocks.
Beet striations with a westward sheer;

Basil's junior status at the window in the new chipped sky.
To "Look up!" was a message that stuck.

The "passing fancy" bell he'll often hear:
Everything was green
but Maine in 1845 did not have lime.



from MAGAZINE CYPRESS 4

_________________________________________

Kevin Killian from SELECTED AMAZON REVIEWS, Hooke Press

Airport Planning & Management by Alexander T. Wells
Price: $47.50
Availability: Usually ships in 24 hours
3 used from $40.00
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:

The Book of Choice for Students and Dreamers, August 22, 2005

Like many young men, and I daresay women, I was drawn to airport management after exposure to Burt Lancaster's sterling portrayal of a harried airport manager in the Ross Hunter classic AIRPORT. Lancaster showed us that a man can handle a million problems all at once, if he had the right combination of grit and gray cells. It wasn't only the glamour, it was the idea of helping people get through their day -- even when the people in question were six or seven miles up in the air -- that made me consider airport management as a major at school.

Other factors prevented me from achieving my goal, but I continue to pick up textbooks and manuals to keep abreast of the way airports have changed over the last 35 years. From a technical point of view, one of the best resources for the lay manager is the Alexander Wells book AIRPORT PLANNING & MANAGEMENT (AP & MANAGEMENT), co-authored with Seth Young, both of them prominent in the field -- and the airfield -- today. This book brings you thoroughly up to date on the way the skies (and the terminals) have changed since the day of infamy, 9/11. Their information is laid out with dispatch, not a wasted word between them. In addition, they know their stuff, that's for sure. Over five-hundred pages and I could detect only a few minor inaccuracies.

If you were assigned to develop your own airport in some understaffed part of the world and were limited to bringing one textbook with you, this would be the volume you would bring. Of course, the old joke among airport-planning students is, what CD would you bring? Why, Brian Eno's MUSIC FOR AIRPORTS, of course.

--------------------------------------------------------------------

If I hadn't read these two pieces on the same day, the similarities might have never occurred to me. Recently, I have been thinking a lot about the form as a search for the endless opportunity to write. What I mean is that I think there are ultimately two kinds of writers. One is the writer who has a particular story he or she "needs" to tell. The language is secondary to this kind of writer. The other is the writer who picks the story that will allow him or her to put the most language down on paper. Moby Dick is, I think, an excellent example of the latter. With all those interruptions concerning all the technical aspects of whaling, the story becomes subordinate to everything that can be said around it. That's the kind of book I find most interesting. No doubt a "story" that has some emotional cache with the writer will help generate language, and so it might be easy to confuse one kind of writer for the other, but I think ultimately the quality of language makes it easy to put a writer into one of either category.

But both of the above pieces fall into the "excuse to write" category, the language-driven category. Mlinko's piece sets off in the language one might expect at the beginning of a novel, but that gesture permits her to go no further than the pleasures of green. There is no story-line, just the illusion of one, so that she can string a series of words together. Poetry, in this way, is a necessary cultural diversion in a world where the value of everything seems to be gauged by its utility. There's no need behind this poem, other than the need to make a poem, and there's really no defense for such a need in today's world. It's not going to make my stock rise, or help me overthrow the president. That's precisely the value of such work. In a culture were the usefulness of everything seems to be accounted for, where every dollar and minute count, we need ways to remind us that we are more than beasts of burden in an intricate social system that we cannot remove ourselves from. The imagination removes us from the system and places us into a non-teological structure that allows us to become sentient beings preoccupied with greens. Amen!

Killian's piece is one of thousands he posted on Amazon.com in order to get himself writing again after a heart attack. The endless products on-line act like spurs for his imagination, endless excuses for writing, and the fact that these reviews are public document in a consumer space immediately make the act of writing socially subversive. I understand perfectly now when Eileen Myles calls CAConrad the "Kevin Killian of Philadelphia." The whole project strikes me as a contemporary situationist or Dada performance piece. The consumer review which is supposed to help push product, to have a practical purpose for the consumer, is mocked with such imagination by Killian that I can't help but think of him now as the literary counterpart to my other comedic hero, Stephen Colbert. It seems obvious to me that anyone shopping for an airport planning textbook would think that this review is the joke that it is, but the fact that 3 out of 3 people found it useful points out just how seriously we take our consumption. And the comedy arises from the fact that he has usurped a form with a very concrete economic goal to pursue the splendidly uneconomical art of writing.

1 comment: