Local Archive: Cole Phelps Disguises Himself as a Priest to Draw a Confession from the Suspected Art Forger
Today I got engaged, if you didn’t hear from my other blog first. I was so excited I forgot about poems for a little while. Then I produced probably the least romantic thing I ever wrote. Sorry Abby. Sorry mom and dad. Sorry god. Sorry everybody.
In any case, I’m truly looking forward to a life with the girl who turns my wretched leering heart to gladness. This poem touches upon my lukewarm reception of The Avengers andCharles Brockden Brown’s 1798 novel Wieland, or: The Transformation.
Pete Campbell exchanged his chip n’dip
for a rifle.
Pete Campbell went to his grave with a chip n’dip
but returned with a rocket.
Pete Campbell sniping Cole Phelps from orbit, he hates him
for publishing more lyric poetry than he has.
Cole Phelps sucks pen nibs in Lindisfarne.
He makes copia confirme of Origen and Hermes.
He with a cowl and bare feet flogging his body
from the front with barbed clues and ragged chimes.
Every stupid murder is an original object.
I think I hate murder. I think I want to solve the mystery,
writes Cole Phelps. His God is neither good cop
nor bad cop. Pete Campbell’s is a mistress
who can be both confidant and convulsionnaire.
Both men write the same poem: it goes
Lullay, lullay litel grom/ king of alle thinge—
I think I’m probably going to nominate it for a Pushcart.
The most violent detective gets an achievement.
He hears a ding. Pete Campbell goes where the action is.
I found The Avengers to be deeply silly
when Space Pete Campbell emerged from a weird brick
with a stick and a horn helmet for a hat.
I thought it was silly that God literally appeared to man,
and the first thing everybody did was have a car chase.
They drove quickly, in forward and reverse, through a tunnel.
A lot of grim looking people shooting guns around. Some rubble crashed down. I don’t know. Everybody looked apostate, to me.
Local Archive: Cole Phelps Kills 5,000 Armed Men on the Abandoned Set of D.W. Griffith's 'Intolerance' (1916)
The most beautiful possible film Cole Phelps can imagine is a cross between Bresson’s Trial of Joan of Arc and Luis Bunuel’s Simon of the Desert that he made frustrated and sad in Mexico in 1965. In this possible movie, after Florence Delay as Joan of Arc recants before the tribunal she is unshackled and released to her cell. She bursts into tears like in the beginning of Bresson’s movie, eats a little food, changes out of her simple suit of men’s clothing and into a pale sundress, exits her cell, is escorted to a taxi that delivers her to a small apartment in Paris. She resumes her job teaching singing like Delphine and Solange in Les Demoiselles de Rochefort. She feels guilty every day. She doesn’t hear any more from St. Catherine or St. Margaret. She makes meals in a little kitchenette and eats them at a desk facing out into a courtyard with one pear tree in it. Sometimes she puts out food for a white cat with black paws. Some mornings, in the shower, she anticipates stigmata, or convulsions, or some other sign, but they do not occur. People admire her cool, cute haircut. I don’t know if it was an anachronism in the movie. I forget which poet wrote about Certified Copy already. I asked and got some very well thought-out legal advice. Cole Phelps thinks about this movie sometimes and wants to shout even though none of the four films mentioned above exist for him. He can exit out of his police car and steal any vehicle in the city. He can make his partner drive while he goes over his notes. He can crash into a telephone pole or he can run circles around other pedestrians. He can locate secret cars and review them in his dreams. Some people think the city Cole Phelps lives in corresponds to the Los Angeles of 1940s America but this is not quite true—outside of the city there are enormous forests and beyond the forests coastlines and there’s a king of the forest. Cole Phelps hangs a composite sketch of the king in his office. I wish I too was an old man with soft hair in a brown tweed coat with antlers. I don’t know what the king looks like at all. When I attempt to play a DVD about him on my laptop, the DVD drive begins to churn loudly and heat up. I eject the DVD and wander the wilderness. In a movie about Rembrandt, called Rembrandt, Rembrandt says vanity of vanities, all is vanity. He’s quoting King Solomon. The coolest people in Holland laugh at him. I get worried when kings die on television shows, but I calm down when I check imdb. In most cases, it isn’t a real king at all; it’s a clever wax replica that is carried through the city swarmed by mourners. You can see people ripping off small pieces in a DVD extra and stuffing them into their mouths. I learned in graduate school that the king has two bodies. One is saved for scenes with full frontal nudity.
I hope nobody is like, a review? Why? I hate this! I got this book through an informal agreement to give some thoughts on it, I loved it a lot, and I figured it would be best if I put it in the place where it would get the most eyes. Buy the book here if you’re intrigued, or check out the author here.
Alien vs. Predator, by Michael Robbins.
Penguin Poets. 70 pp.
I feel like May might be the actual “Official Situationist Month,” but I could be making that up. I know that when I walk by the Penn Book Center I can see an impressive window display of Guy Debord, Raoul Vaneigem, and miscellaneous Paris, 68 artifacts—I don’t know much else. I guess I do know that May does tend to put me in a Debord-ish mood—the weather tends to make put a little more sassy derive in my step than the usual plodding flanerie of April—and, like a Springtime miracle, I all of a sudden remember how to spell detournement, and what it is, and have all kinds of things to say about it just in time for the semester to be over.
Michael Robbins’ Alien vs. Predator is a sort of ideal translation of this kind of politicized linguistic mischief, filtered through the Mall of America so that it’s less La Chinoise, a little more High Fidelity. “Sea World is all that is the case,” he says in “Downward Facing Dog.” Wittgenstein, the poem might suggest, after stretching his legs after the car ride heads straight to the gift shop.
I’ve been a fan of Robbins since his 2010 take-down of Robert Hass, “Are You Smeared With the Juice of Cherries?”. In it, he asks of Hass’ “Against Botticelli,”, “Does ass fucking really require such a high-minded justification? Upon being told that someone is fucking someone else in the ass, has anyone ever responded, ‘What! Why?’ I regret to inform the reader that Hass goes on to compare this sex act to the sacking of Troy.” The article worked as more than just (very good) snark because Robbins didn’t make a point to conceal his real admiration for Hass—someone whose genuine talent shines through his crusade to “make a career out of flattering middlebrow sensibilities with cheap mystery.”
This ambivalence informs AvP—Robbins isn’t necessarily interested in exploding the lyric mode, or investigating the atomic stuff of language—if he was, I don’t know if his first collection would be published by Penguin—so much as he’s interested in thoroughly scrubbing it of its maudlin trappings, its clichés and safe words, and seeing how it looks in the light of hyperreality. If the lyric mode is predicated, ultimately, on narcissism and antiquated models of agency, then Robbins is all about that—“This episode of CSI: Miami/ always makes me cry,” he confides in “Desperado.” “My New Asshole” comes closest to providing a thesis on this bitter twist on Lowell-ish transparency:
“My new asshole says so much.
My new asshole is being bullied.
It occurs to me I am my new asshole.
I am talking about myself again.”
Of course this isn’t a particularly novel tack. Josh Beckman does it well, with often touching vulnerability. Ben Lerner errs on the side of the hyper-brainy and plays with jargon, but he basically does it too. Allesandro Porco digs into the libidinal loam of it. Lihon Li takes it about as far as you can without turning into something else. But Robbins—and this is super important to me, personally— does it the funniest, with the most self-excoriating vigor, and (excepting maybe Lerner) the keenest attention to the limits of English as a vehicle.
In Eros the Bittersweet, Anne Carson says pretty much the last word on puns: “Within a pun you see the possibility of grasping a better truth, a truer meaning, that is available from separate senses of either word. But a glimpse of that enhanced meaning, which flashes past in a pun, is a painful thing. For it is inseperable from the conviction of its impossibility.” In other words, Sea World is, once again, all that is, or could be, or should be, the case. I get the impression that Robbins, too, is down with this melancholy valence of punning, and, in particular, the multilingual reader’s constant pangs of dread and anxiety about the intensely local genius of the pun. These glimpses of a better truth very rarely travel, such that decades of American undergrads go through life irritated at Derrida without quite realizing why.
Robbins mingles the revelatory potential of punning with the good old fashioned crass side of it, often mingling them in with a kind of Debordian tour through Norton’s anthology. “Teenage planet swimming into my ken!,” he announced in “The Learn’d Astronomer.” In “Bubbling Under,” he offers “Here, hold my drink a sec, I’ll teach you/ how to know the anteater from the ants.” “I Did This to My Vocabulary” (ok) has “My lume is spento, there’s a creep in my cellar./ You can stand under my umbrella, Ella.” And so on through Eliot, Whitman, Lowell, etc. The effect is like a fragmented, less monomaniacally committed riff on John Beers’ “The Wasteland”—a reading of exophonic modernism through, uh, I don’t know, the XXXophonic glasses of late capitalism. For all this, though, one pastiche remains more or less straightforward, markedly free of jokes. That’s “Dream Song 1864,” which functions pretty well as just a skillful imitation and paean to Berryman:
Henry commands loaves & fish,
never more acute than he
when he fix his mind to furrow.
The doctrine of this hour
Henry mark. A cat most thorough.
Here, Berryman is mashed-up with Thoreau in a way that feels like ironic than elegiac for the assurances of old-fashioned Transcendentalism, and his always-sharp sense of rhyme and rhythm is gently muted. To justify Alien vs. Predator as more than a collection of “funny poems” almost requires reading it oneself—which, yeah, I think you all should do—but the poet’s relation to Berryman seems like a kind of polestar to the book as a whole. Like Berryman’s Dream Songs, the poems of Alien vs. Predator chop the speaking subject into a multitude of squabbling pieces, mourn the gory mess, and proceed to have fun with it. There’s a brash, bratty music here—a fucking delightful mastery of pun, pacing, and surprising slant rhyme—but what sticks is the Berryman-esque regarding of the crumbling possibilities of a lyric. Any poem in the book can crack you up on a first read, but requires another look or two before it begins to break your heart. Like the Situationists, the ludic deployment of language here is just that—a deployment—a way of overturning the base materials and picking around in the beachy soil.
It’s probably fitting that the book’s most blunt assertion about the poetic I comes in the bleak “Self-Titled.” He says, at one point, “I learn by going/ out alone into America.” True enough, I guess. But I’m more interested in a line earlier in that stanza: “I pledged my troth,” Robbins asserts, “to Mr. Bones.”
I've just spent a whole hour reading your blog (and I have an exam in four hours, so that's saying something!) I couldn't morally leave your page without telling you that you have a wonderful way with words. Not many people look at the world you do anymore, so it's lovely to find such a blog.
Clarity is a kind of mystery, or um I mean, a kind of mystery. The Case of the Long Fingernails: Detective Cole Phelps, using somatic forensics, strips down to his wool socks and grey fedora and stands in a deep basin of ice-cold water for days looking through the keyhole of his house out into the street of the City. The quiet young secretary to whom he rents the small garret apartment observes secretly from above and writes in her journal, landlord acting extremely suspicious—will sleep with grenade in hand tonight.Unbeknownst to her, Detective Cole Phelps has hired a second detective to observe her observation. From across the street, his gaze is bored and spiralled like a gun’s. He writes that down to use for later. Elsewhere an unknown hand tangled up in the blinds. Elsewhere a cat. Meister Eckhart was hired to spy on God with a telescope, but the telescope was God, and, revealed in the novelisation but excised for time, so was Eckhart’s eye and arrogance. Detective writing masturbation in window-sill dust. The secretary closes her eyes for a moment and thinks group sex among coworkers can be an efficient way of establishing a chain of command. Three flights down dripping pneumonia from his groin and reddened chin Detective Cole Phelps in frozen slop says let’s agree to disagree. Cole Phelps coughs blood and says everything according to plan. He will seize the journal for use in a serial poem which is circumstantial. The detective will bury the detective in the jungle in the quick lime architecture. His dirty limericks will be lapsed out by a damp finger on brown glass. Hey Cole Phelps, aren’t you that guy from the newspapers? Cold Genius Sings: let, me, let, me, let, me, let, me, let, me, let, me, let ,me, freeze. Again. To death. In an NPR broadcast short circuited by his wet wool feet, his death grip. His electric body and his muscular valence. When an anonymous police officer announces blood in his stool, most of the City is pleased and vindicated, but especially the Guild of Black Bloctologists.
Elegant Choice, the husband of my dear friend and Amazing Poet Patricia Lockwood, needs your help. He’s going blind & needs an operation. They need money. Please donate what you can. Here’s Tricia’s blog post about it, with instructions about how to make a donation….
LIST OF ALL CAPITALIZED WORDS IN 'GROTHENDIECK INEQUALITIES'
A poem about obsession with incommensurability is coming. In the mean time here are all the capitalized words from it. They demonstrate the point pretty well. They are arranged in an ‘aesthetically nice way.’
GROTHENDIECK INEQUALITIES By Chris Schaeffer A The Alexander Grothendieck LIES ALGEBA Dynkinovy When Grothendieck He When Pyrenees Grothendieck
He He Grothendieck Galois He I I Grothendieck I I I I I I Grothendieck
He In An A Grothendieck Grothendieck Grothendieck Grothendieck Pyrenees He C.F.S. Hahnemann C. Darwin W. Whitman B. Riemann R. Ramakrishna R.M. Bucke P.A. Kropotkine E. Carpenter S. Freud R. Steiner M.K. Gandhi S. Freud P. Teilhard Chardin A.S. Neill J. Krishnamurti M. Legaut F. Carresquer Solvic Arbeiter Angelstellter Berefung Grothendieck TV CRYSTAL SET
Grothendieck Grothendieck Paris Hanoi
Grothendieck Grothendieck Grothendieck One Weils Ecole Normale Superieure Bourbaki
Anyway Grothendieck Gone
No Unpleasant First Pyrenees Fiddling
And One Grothendieck’s Pryenees Set Set Carthage Set Grothendieck Who Grothendieck Grothendieck Grothendieck Contacted Through DX DX Grothendieck Nicholas Bourbaki Theorie Ensembles DANGEROUS BEND Z Donald Knuth Bourbaki Metafont Grothendieck I Prynees We’re Grothendieck I Wonderful Grothendieck Samson Delilah Tunes Redis Grothendieck Grothendieck Gloire Dagon Grothendieck Grothendieck Euripides Aeschylus K-Theory Grothendieck Grothendieck Juuuuuuuuuh-teeeeeeeehhhh-muhh
I I Derrida Le Paon Pyrenees
Attempting Grothendieck I Chestnut Street Hahneman My I I West Chester I Why Grothendieck I’ve Bourbaki Group I I My Henri Cartan University Nancy I’m But I’m He I Lies Algebra His One Hassidic Jews Protestant Grothendieck His Auschwitz I Spanish Civil War Contributions Mathematics Maitre Themes La Vision Topological Continuous Discrete Grothendieck-Riemann-Roch Theorem Schemes Topoi Etale Motives Galois Crystals De Rham Topological Tame Galois-Teichmuller Schematic Michal Reynaud Ariadne’s Thread
La Clef Songes Les Mutants Die Mutantan THE KEY TO DREAMS Tout Reveur Reveur Glauben Schenken Grothendieck God Grothendieck Grothendieck Hanoi Prynees Dieu Grothendieck I Richmond Virginia I Grothendieck Grothendieck’s Montpellier Voyage Memphis Hanoi Pyrenees Very Own I I I Aspect Mission I I’ll Grothendieck Canada I I I I’m Grothendieck
Pyrenees Pyrenees I Grothendieck
Aspect Mission I I Grothendieck Grothendieck I Grothendieck I Grothendieck French Grothendieck Voyage Memphis Grothendieck Grothendick Grothendieck
THE MUTANTS I DNA DNA Africanized Africanized Africanized Western Europe Asia Africa As North America European Since Americas The Ruttner DNA African A European M European C Mideast O The He Jesus Eucharist Eucharist
Grothendieck Pryenees Holy Spirit English OED
For Thousand Bees
Hard’ned Toils Exercise
They Ease Vice
Blest Content Honesty
When Asian With Marvel The Champions The Swarm Wikipedia Caliban The Tempest Trinculo I Grothendieck Record Grothendieck Grothendieck His His Legal Grothendieck Grothendieck
C.F.S Hahnemann C. Darwin W. Whitman B. Riemann Ramakrishna R.M. Bucke P.A. Kropotkine E. Carpenter S. Freud R. Steiner M.K. Gandhi P. Teilhard Chardin A.S. Neill N. Fujii J. Krishnamurti M. Legaut F. Carresquer Solvic Les Mutants
Contrary Recoltes Semailles Grothendieck Therefore The Grothendieck Recoltes Semailles La Clef Songes Les Mutants Recoltes Semailles La Clef We Grothendieck I XY AB CD
SURVIVRE ET VIVRE Bourbaki I Pryenees I I I’m I Martian Cantor Normale Cantor Cantor Cantor’s Cantor I Cantor Cantor Shakespeare Pyrene Pyrene Herakles She Bebryx Pyrenees Grothendieck Pliny Elder Pyrene Lusitania Grotendieck Pan Set Hanoi A Mistreated Given Riven The Grothendieck Pyrenees Pyrenees Herakles Pyrenees Impossible Samson Delilah I Samson Delilah On Delilah Delilah In French Which I Grothendieck I Hanoi Pyrenees He Signaling Barefoot Grothendieck Grothendieck Grothendieck Bourbaki His Nantucketers Geryon His IHES Judaism Buddhism Pyrenees Grothendieck Buddy Rich The Beast Goes On Cathy I I When Grothendieck’s Grothendieck
Because of low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) Meister Eckhart can afford hot water, can scald himself every morning for cool feelings. The reader (you) may slip away when Meister Eckhart lapses into a snooze, borrow heat to boil water for tea or turn up the doctor of the church’s thermostat. You may reflect on his theology while turning the taps on and off or running a warm bath. Meister Eckhart owns six cats, which makes me (the author of the poem) jealous because I am contractually prohibited from owning even one (the terms of my lease). I too am the recipient of energy assistance, as I discovered in the mail several days ago. Although the weather is warm I am enjoying washing my hands with warmer water than usual.
Meister Eckhart can share boiling water with his neighbors but keeps his heart-shaped ice-cubes in a tray for himself. He takes infinitely long baths because the Pennsylvania department of public welfare sent $909.00 to PHILADELPHIA GAS WORKS on his behalf. He likes to warm his hands by the fire and cook treats in the oven. These are the instructions for the poem, that the reader should read carefully and enjoy, before proceeding to the poem but after recovering from a serious beating administered by Meister Eckhart for unknown reasons. He observes: “the poem is a kind of energy assistance.” Someone goes “hmm.” This statement strikes you as facile and even completely incorrect.
The poem, printed from page one with a printer set to double-sided printing, should be examined closely. Do not staple the poem, please. Look at the poem and turn it around in your hand. Does the “cover page” of the poem, when turned over, reveal another “cover page?” Does each page’s obverse side evince roughly the same language, with different words so that if you did not share a common language with the writer of the poem you might imagine, at a glance, that there was no variance? Thank you for checking this. A district judge reviews Meister Eckhart’s case and decides that he is a dangerous maniac. He is sentenced to death by admonition.
If you have printed the poem and examined it carefully as described above, conceive of some simple, home-made “random number generator,” perhaps flipping a coin or throwing a stick into the air at three way intersection. Examine the “cover page” of the poem as a non-text object and assign a 0 or 1 value to each side of the piece of paper qua paper. Please run your personal do-it-yourself RNG to determine whether you are to examine one side of the piece of paper qua paper or the other—0 or 1.
Examine the face of paper selected for you carefully. Please check carefully for meaning and allusion. Begin to think of ideas for a provisional, future critical response to this face of paper.
If you are the kind of person to orient yourself to the future with no second-guessing or regret, efface the opposite face of the paper with a thick black marker, or a paint-brush dipped in black paint, or a crayon, or obscure the text with adhesive labels or stamps. If you are this kind of person, decide inwardly that the opposite face of this piece of paper is dead to you and the possible configurations of text and image on that face are foreclosed irrevocably.
Please repeat this process with the remaining pieces of paper, which, taken together constitute the body of the poem. Meister Eckhart’s soul in heaven (martyrdom) ventures a critique that the process you have undertaken is a crude and inefficient mode of generating an aleatoric reading of the poem. He proposes several simple html or Flash-based solutions, each of which is quickly shot down by choirs of angels.
Arrange the poem in a vertical sheath so that the selected faces are oriented upwards, towards your face. Examine them closely according to your preferred reading practices. Remember to approach the opposite face of each page as forever banished and dead. Please do not spare them a thought or glance (if you are the kind of person to orient yourself towards the future with no second-guessing or regret)
If you are a moral coward (not to judge—I am too) afraid of facing death head-on, reserve the unread faces of paper for a later date. Become drunk, work up a bitter feeling of contempt and loathing for the author of the poem, and read what may reveal itself as a similarly generated “shadow poem” to the one read previously. If you are lucky, if your spite is pure and strong, you and this poem may conceive of an intricate plot to murder, discredit, or grievously wound the author of this poem. Cut out this instruction, fold it up, and place it in your pocket (breast, hip, or interior surface of coat) as a totem of your revenge scheme. In the event that you, reader, murder, discredit, or grievously wound the author of this poem, please, for your own sake, remove and burn this instruction.
That was my attitude. 3, 6, 10, 14. Don't have to answer all, just curious.
3.) I wouldn’t have started writing poetry without Blake, I wouldn’t have started writing ok poetry without Taije Silverman, and I wouldn’t have continued to write ok poetry without Larry Levis. But nowadays, I’d say probably Jena Osman— I don’t really write much like her, but when I read her books I want to get better.
6.) Detracts, I remember being a freshman in college and getting super stoned every night and writing my girlfriend 40 page letters about Neutral Milk Hotel. Embarrassing for everybody. And when I drink, I feel like talking to people around me and having fun instead of writing. Pretty horrible.
10.) I try as hard as I can to remember it. If I’m driving, sometimes I pull off at a gas station or something if it seems really worth keeping. But in general, I trust that if it’s good enough to write down, I’ll be able to hold onto it for 15 minutes or, uh, eight hours.
14.) Sure, but publishing is really kind of nerve-wracking and neurotic, in my opinion, and I’ve been bad at keeping up with it since starting grad school. I’ve sort of been focusing more on editing stuff, critic stuff, but I would like to get back to putting things out there sooner rather than later. Need to write some good poems first, though.
23.) I tend to write things by hand, in transit, and later transcribe that mess into Word. Especially as I’ve gotten more interested in LangPo, I like that my inability to read my own bad hand writing does some fun things in effacing meaning, when I’m in the mood for that kind of thing.
When I do just sit down at my computer and write something, I usually end up using more appropriated language and writing more research-y things, also longer things.
I see y’all reblogging these “ask me a number” things, and I’m not saying they’re not interesting (okay, some of them aren’t), but none of them are tailored to the “writing community”. You call yourselves a writing community? Act like it! I’ll start. Here ya go.
Note: you can ask me these questions if you wish, but reblog them so others can ask you, and get asked, and we can all get to know one another as writers. That’s how you build community.
Who is your favorite tumblr poet — the one you always, without fail, must read — and why?
Who is your favorite tumblr prose writer — the one you always, without fail, must read — and why?
Who would you say is your greatest writing influence, in terms of your own writing style, and why?
Paper or plastic?
List three books you’ve read more than three times.
Do you find alcohol or other drugs enhance your creativity/writing ability, or detract from it? Why or why not?
Where is your favorite place to write, and why?
What other artistic pursuits (if any) do you indulge in apart from creative writing?
When do you find is the best time of day for you to write, and describe why this is so?
You get a brilliant thought/phrase/idea at an inappropriate moment (in the shower, while driving, while drifting off to sleep). What do you do?
Cake or death?
What are some of your favorite words, and why?
If you lost all ability to read and write for a day, what would you do?
Do you desire to be published or to make writing your profession? Why or why not?
Tyler Durden and Holden Caulfield in a no-holds-barred fight club grudge match. Tell me the story. Who wins?
If your writing process were or could be analogized to a movie, what movie would that be?
What is your favorite style or form of poetry to read, and why?
What is a style or form of poetry that you cannot stand, and why?
Who would you save the last dance for, and why?
What one thing would tell you that you’d “made it” as a writer?
Why would anyone ask this question?
Lyrics or music, and why?
Do you prefer to handwrite first, or compose on keyboard? Follow-up: if you do both, do you find your writing differs if you write it on the keyboard versus writing out by hand?
This, or that?
If you were a merperson, what song would you sing, and why?
What subject(s) do you find you cannot write about, and why?