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Republished from Louis Armand, The Organ-Grinder’s Monkey: Culture after the Avant-Garde (Prague: Litteraria Pragensia, 2013) originally published in Pierre Joris: Cartographies of the In-Between (ed. Peter Cockelbergh; LPB, 2011).


About half-way through his 2005 lecture on “The Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage,” Pierre Joris quotes Picasso to the effect that

If a piece of newspaper can become a bottle, that gives us something to think about in connection with both newspapers and bottles, too. This displaced object has entered a universe for which it was not made and where it retains, in a measure, its strangeness. And this strangeness was what we wanted to make people think about because we were quite aware that our world was becoming very strange and not exactly reassuring.[1]

In an earlier lecture, “Collage and Post-Collage: In Honour of Eric Mottram,” Joris discusses the way in which precisely this strangeness of the displaced object is nevertheless seamlessly expropriated to the general work of poiēsis, raising in the process an important question about the critical stance poetry assumes towards the world (the world outside it) – by way, for example, of “its syntactical disruptive modes”[2] – and our capacity to know what it (poetry) therefore is. To the extent that poetry is able to seamlessly incorporate that which was not made for it, it too becomes part of the camouflage of the world, and in so doing raises a second question: isn’t poetry, poiēsis, precisely that which evokes in us a sense of “entering a universe for which we were not made,” by pointing to the strangeness of a world that states the opposite and wishes to seamlessly incorporate us into its fantasy?

Perhaps it’s the radical ambivalence of this countervailing tendency of collage – towards a visible “strangeness,” on the one hand, and an invisible seamlessness, on the other – that prompts Gregory Ulmer (who Joris cites in defence of the collage technique), to argue that “collage is the single most revolutionary formal innovation in artistic representation to occur in our [the twentieth] century.”[3] This quote from Ulmer is immediately preceded by a series of seemingly offhanded remarks that have to do, in part, with the question of simulacrum, of a radical mimēsis in fact, at work in the seamless potential of collage, in which the indeterminacy of context removes the possibility of assurance as to the given nature of the world our thinking is meant to apprehend, and our ability to know where or how poetry is situated in, or with regard to, it. “I remember the surprise,” Joris writes,

by a poet as well read and sophisticated as Clayton Eshleman, at discovering how much of Olson’s Maximus was found and collage material – with CE wondering what this meant in terms of Olson’s “originality” qua poet.[4]

The incidental reference to Olson here belies a deeper significance of this poet for Joris’s nomadology, and the struggle to articulate a poetics that’s not bound by historical paradigms – among which the most problematic being those of literary modernism and the anti-Enlightenment, whose tools (such as collage) are the very ones by which Joris seeks to deconstruct (or “unwork”) what the Maghrebi historian Hichem Djaït calls the tyranny of paradigms. The extent to which this dilemma is associated with Olson can be gauged by a remark made early on in the introduction to volume two (Postwar to Millennium) of Joris and Jerome Rothenberg’s Poems for the Millennium. In defining the “postwar” period of literary avant-gardism, Joris and Rothenberg note:

Alongside the revival of the full range of modern (modernist) moves, more notable expansions and divergences were taking place – from critiques as correctives of an art mislabeled “modern” to more far-reaching departures from Renaissance-derived modernities and the reclaiming of (old) powers in the name of what Charles Olson called “postmodern man.” Rightly or wrongly named, the term and the issues raised thereby (but never resolved or capable of resolution as such) came to define the time and poetics in question.[5]

Immediately this calls to mind that moment in Olson’s “Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld],” in which Olson writes:

                          No Greek will be able

to discriminate my body.

                          An American

is a complex of occasions,

themselves a geometry

of spatial nature.[6]

Olson is here preparing a type of political manifesto, in which the many silent interlocutors of a defunct classicism would have to include the Plato of the ideal polis (in addition to an implied counter-argument to the unicity of this polis in the form of an appropriative-generative poiēsis, or collage, or what Olson himself termed “projective verse”). The conclusion to Olson’s poem is well known:

I have this sense,

that I am at one

with my skin

          Plus this – plus this:

that forever the geography

which leans in

on me I compel

backwards [..]

to yield, to



is this.

Plato, of course, was a master ironist. “We are all,” writes the philosopher Badiou, “familiar with the proceedings instituted by Plato against painting and poetry…” The reference is of course to Books II, III and X of the Republic (in which Plato ostensibly seeks to break the moral authority of the poets, in particular Homer, and establish a primary place for philosophy in the entraining of Athenian minds). Badiou, after citing “the violent gesture that excludes the poets from the City” (on the charge of poetry’s seductions and temptations away from a pure and consistent truth, codified as the Foundation Myth[7]):

The stakes of this confrontation with poetry seem immense. Plato does not hesitate to write that “we were entirely right in our organisation of the city, and especially, I think, in the matter of poetry.” What an astounding pronouncement! The fate of politics tied to the fate of the poem! The poem is here accorded an almost limitless power.[8]

Badiou, who credits Plato as the “founder of philosophy,” still acknowledges the antecedence of what Plato himself refers to as an “old quarrel between philosophy and poetry” (“One can quote many examples of this ancient antagonism: remarks about the ‘bitch that growls and snarls at her master,’ and ‘a reputation among empty-headed fools,’ or ‘the crowd of heads that know too much’ and the ‘subtle thinkers’ who are ‘beggars’ none the less”).[9] Plato is the “founder of philosophy” insofar as the proceedings instituted by him serve to de-suture, as it were, the one from the other, philosophy from poetry. Here we’re on familiar ground; ground perhaps nowhere more ingeniously mapped out than in two of Plato’s less appreciated dramas, the Sophist and the Phaedrus, each after its own fashion enacting the reductio ad absurdum of the dialectical method.

Not only an ironist, but a dramatic poet to boot. Who else but a poet and dramatist could envisage, after all, the immense threat language must pose to that tyranny of paradigms which is the polis so-conceived? Badiou, while yet abstracting “the poem” as “this unique fragment of speech subtracted from universal reporting,” rejects the formerly conventional view that poetry presents a threat to the polis because of its generally mimetic or imitative character, for which reason philosophy has always regarded poetry as “the precise equivalent of a symptom[10] – in other words, as a mere sign, whose object (truth) it shrouds in ambiguities.

An important distinction needs to be introduced here, as it’s not mimēsis in general that Plato cites as the grounds for poetry’s exclusion from the ideal polis, but rather a specific genre, dramatic poetry (that genre with which the century of modernist poetics is most deeply implicated, from Browning to Pound and Olson), in which speaker and listener are invited to inhabit various personae whose viewpoints and morality may be contrary to their own and to what’s deemed proper.[11] (And isn’t the potentiality of collage, to seamlessly incorporate that which was not made for it, i.e. improper, contiguous therefore with such a radical mimēsis?) Badiou, interestingly, suggests that it’s in fact the objectless (the seemless) character of poetry which represents the greater danger to the philosophical polis (a mimēsis, as it were, that no longer imitates but articulates). Yet, for Badiou as much as for Plato, poetry still remains a thing bracketed-off from the domain of language proper: i.e. from what philosophy claims as the discourse of truth which, like the “sophist,” it (poetry) nevertheless continues to haunt in the manner of an itinerant doppelgänger.[12]

The irony here is that Plato’s own writings instruct us as to the contiguous nature of all discourse, and the act of philosophical tyranny practiced in the Republic illustrates better than any argument the exclusion paradox that has beset it, philosophy, ever since. It was Wittgenstein who argued that there’s no such thing as a poetic exception, or of “poetic language” – there’s only language as such. Language in its universal ramification, which avails itself also of what it contradicts: that “complex of occasions” (Olson) which compels “change,” which nomadises the polis, as it were, from within. Poetry is perhaps nothing more, nor less, than the expression of this contradiction (the ruination, as Plato says, of a particular type of thought or dianoia) – of which more later.

“In the background of this conflict,” Badiou continues, we find two extremes of language: “the poem, which aims at objectless presence, and mathematics, which produces the cipher of the Idea.” What “disconcerts” philosophy, “what makes the poem into a symptom of philosophy, isn’t illusion and imitation. Rather, it’s the fact that the poem might indeed be a thought without knowledge, or even this: a properly incalculable thought.”[13] Here, discursive thought gives way to discursus, to the threat of a generalised dissemination, the seamlessness (or semelessness) of a language unbound by categorical laws (of genre, e.g., or of what Plato himself identifies as “measure, number, weight”). For Badiou, this disseminative potential stands in a type of mirroring relation to the idea of “the poem” as event, or incalculable singularity (like the “strangeness” of Picasso’s “displaced object”).

In being conjoined in this way, a curious symmetry is exposed between the technics of collage, of the potentially “seamless” expropriation of the alien “displaced object” (and the excisions of language upon which Plato’s republic is founded), tending towards a type of strangeness, an Unheimlich – the alienation-effect we encounter at the origin of the political, as radical counterpart of the poetical. But is this conjoining simply a trope – like Plato’s ventriloquist-Socrates evoking the paradoxical pharmakon? But as in Plato, this trope has a way of returning to haunt. Between the axis of exclusion and that of conjunction, this ideal republic might seem to be founded on a doubly “poetical figure.” And this figuration – this foundational compulsion to “yield,” to “change,” as Olson says – would constitute (blind to its own irony) the unacknowledged legislation of the polis as such. As Plato surely couldn’t help knowing, the political rationality of exclusion (a gesture in kind which echoes throughout the history of philosophy all the way to Bertram Russell and beyond) always presupposes its contrary: the appropriation of the political to the “revolutionary formal innovation” of a generalised collage-effect.

For his own part, Olson assumes a somewhat controversial status in Joris’s evolution of a “nomad poetics,” whose impetus is in large part the “quarrel” between poetry and philosophy centred upon the idea of the polis.[14] In particular through his involvement in translating writers of the Maghreb (Abdelwahab Meddeb, Habib Tengour, et al.), Joris’s “nomadics” tends to a poetico-political engagement with questions of linguistic migration, colonial and counter-colonial histories (Egyptian, Persian, Greek, Roman, Byzantine, Arab, French), the multiform complexities and contests of selfhood articulated in and by language, or across languages, and so on.[15] The abstract polis as construed in Plato’s Republic is a linguistically closed space, a type of juridical technocracy from which poiēsis has been exiled. This abstraction is the counterpart, for Joris, of a dead language; being “a language we no longer translate from or into.”[16] Its future is circumscribed, its possibilities closed, its horizons solidified. It’s no longer a polis so much as a necropolis.

In his essay, “Where is Olson Now,” Joris identifies in Olson’s poetic project an interest in “another organisation of human society,” one in which “the city and the machine” (as Olson writes in a letter to Frances Boldereff), “produce a new nomadism, and thus NOMADS.”[17] It’s a stance that, to some degree, echoes McLuhan’s pronouncements about the dawn of a new tribalism (the public), by way of mass electronic media: the machine-polis or polis-machine. Like McLuhan, Olson’s vision composes a multiform historical complex, itself nomadic, recoursing from the technological nightmare of World War II back to the birth of proto-human civilisation. Olson: “Buchenwald new Altamira cave.”[18] It becomes for Joris indispensable to think with “Olson’s sense of history / Pleistocene / a human universe in mind”; to listen always for the “MIDDLE VOICE.”[19] The ideal polis is undone by the anomalous logic of the One (trespassed by a universal history);[20] by a logic of exclusion which terminates in the revelation to humankind which Olson reads in Corrado Cagli’s recordings of inmate graffiti at Buchenwald (cited by Olson in “La Préface,” 1946): “my name is NO RACE.”[21] Joris:

Cro-Magnon hunts, fingers folded

in silent code as paint is blown

from mouth or bone to frame

a hand –

language of bent

fingers decodes the layers of

humans’ understanding of

humans – [22]

And yet something will emerge from Olson’s project which touches a nerve for Joris, because it exposes a particular difficulty in this thought of nomadism. Just as in Picasso, the revolutionary potential of collage is articulated through its capacity to re/incorporate the socalled displaced object (for Joris “brought into the frame of the poem so as to erase all seams and obscure the origins…”).[23] The technē of collage might thus be said to point (in a quasi-teleological gesture) towards a NO RACE. The logic of the One becomes mirrored in a logic of radical dissemination – a total nomadism as the doppelgänger of the evolved polis envisaged within the operations e.g. of Bentham’s panopticon: a weightless architecture of distributed power in which the “periphery is nowhere, and the centre everywhere.” Somewhere between the two is a topology Joris’s work seeks to mark out, and does so by way (paradoxically?) of a certain resistance: e.g. to Olson’s anthropology; to the slippage that occurs in Olson’s poetry between singularities and a certain schematic impulse (the reification of singularity by way, for example, of the archetype: his view of history is populated by transcendent types, quasi-Platonic ideas and forms which circulate beneath the flux).

When Joris writes “We don’t escape our filiations; we only stand more revealed,”[24] he means it in the same way as when he writes (and not only vis-à-vis poetry) “language is a stranger”[25]:

The caravan of syntax… the sentence, pushes into the not-yet-written… into the desert ahead, in search of another oasis-word…[26]

In his reading of the Maghreb, Joris is above all attentive to a certain withering of the paradigm of otherness – assisted, in part, by his reading of Derrida’s signal work, Le Monolinguisme de l’autre (which, among other things, examines the ways in which pluralism is a camouflage for the law of One; and in which all languages are internally translated and translational, yet aporetic). Nomadology is situational, tactic not programme. Wherever the temptation of the paradigm presents itself, we’re put in check. All of the dialectical seductions from Plato to Hegel and Marx are here constantly in play, exposing what we might call the seductions of the anti- (anti-Platonism, Anti-Oedipus, anti-colonialism, etc.). Joris quotes Tengour, writing at the end of a century of French North African colonialism and post-colonialism, and eleven hundred years of Arabic colonialism, etc.:

Who is the Maghrebian? How to define him?

“The woods are white and black despite the hidden presence of nuances.”

Today definition fascinates because of its implications. A domain that misleads. Political jealousy far from the exploded sense of the real.

Indeed there exists a divided space called the Maghreb but the Maghrebian is always elsewhere. And that’s where he makes himself come true.

Jugurha lacked money to buy Rome.

Tariq gave his name to a Spanish mountain.

Ibn Khaldûn found himself obliged to give his steed to Tamerlaine.

Abd El Krim corresponded with the Third International…[27]

Definition (the marking out of ends, limits, boundaries, horizons) fascinates because of its implications. Joris:

Reading Edmond Jabès

Here, the end of the world, of the book, of chance.


Drop that dice. It is useless.

Here, the end of the game, of resemblance.

The infinite, by the interpretation of its letters

Denies the end.

Here, the end cannot be denied. It is infinite.

Here is not the place

Nor even the trace.

Here is sand.[28]

In language man dwells, but is never “at home.” It is the Unheimlich. In it our own heterogeneity stands, as it were, revealed – as symptom, or perhaps synthomme. (Not as some object, but rather the contrary, as that objectless thing which Freud named das Unbewußte and which Heidegger, by an ingenuous countermovement, laboured to name Dasein.) As Badiou notes, like the unconscious, “the poem does not consist in communication. The poem has nothing to communicate. It’s only a saying, a declaration that draws authority from itself alone.” Nothing in language, Badiou argues, “is destined in advance”[29] (implication isn’t a destining). If poetry is a symptom, it nevertheless points to no object beyond itself; beyond its own language-effects (exemplified for Joris in the writing, e.g., of Jackson Mac Low): “the aleatory / contingency / of alphabetic rigour.”[30] The symptomatology of “the poem” resides, then, in the fact that language itself is “nomadised” from its origin: poetics is its articulation.

For Badiou, this relation is posed differently. “The poem,” he argues, “introduces the following question into the domain of language: what is an experience without an object?”[31] This leads him to suppose that the “thought of the poem only begins after the complete disobjectification of presence.” I cite this in order to continue building a distinction which has only so far been hinted at, and this has to do with the acceptance of “the poem” as first and foremost definitional, re-echoing the gesture of the Republic which treats poetry as a type of remainder, or even anti-remainder (since it constitutes the negative definition of the ideal polis). Putting aside the question of what the “disobjectification of presence” could mean, and the implications of the exceptionalism of poetry in Badiou’s argument, I want to consider the anti-objectivism of Badiou in light of Joris’s “nomad of the interior”[32] and the analytic of Being (of poetic ontology) as

to be written

when the

time comes[33]

Badiou, alluding to Artaud’s corps sans organes, comes to describe an ontological relation between the poetic body and the body politic:

the elements of the body – such as it is created by the poem within itself – are those whose identity with the becoming existent of the inexistent is measured by the intensity of their own existence…[34]

This “all alone” of the poem constitutes an authoritarian uprising within language. This is why the poem neither communicates nor enters into general circulation…[35]

The “elements” of the poetic body point not to some Cartesian inner-life, nor to some externalised object, but to their own “existence,” as Badiou says, to their own particular materiality, their textility or what Joris calls “wordnetting,”[36] their event:

The poem presents itself as a thing of language, encountered – each and every time – as an event.[37]

The poem… from beginning to end… declares its own universe.[38]

Joris (“Reading/Writing #18”):

the mouth simultaneously

place & non-place, place of a

dis-location, gaping space

of the quasi permixtio (Descartes)

of soul & body[39]

As the surrealist sculptor Hans Bellmer writes: “The sentence too resembles a body which seems to invite us to decompose it, so that an infinite chain of anagrams may recompose the truth it contains.”[40] This body is thus also a collage-body:

trellis work of

shadow & light

lies on body in mind

candle awaits evening

trellis plays loose &

fastens mind

the order of order

takes care of mind

the share of light and

darkness fails

to account for the sound

these colours make…[41]

The collage-body’s elemental existence is traversed by intensities of articulation. Trellis, word-netting, caravan of syntax, mosaic: a surface of migrating symptoms (objectless signs, if this itself weren’t almost a type of pleonasm).

but what of Olson’s



(law? or the same name?

or shards, multi-

edged reterritorialised onto

the roundness of escaping lines,

of what escapes the


or the way (der Weg,

the Weg stirbts

these lines of flight articulate


We return to a metaphor, but also a technē, of the social mosaic, the polis, not in some dualistic relation to Jabès’s “desert” (the locus of some sort of romantic nomadism), or to the Greek city state as zone of tribal, taxonomic exclusion – of sedentary fixity; of counter-itinerancy – but rather the polis as internally traversed; as already that desert, already that psychogeographical terrain whose fantasy of the One, refracted through the language-mirror (tain), seethes with indeterminacies, paradoxes, contradictions. Polis as metropolis as cosmopolis:

metropolitain or -tain

through it rebirths or sorts, e-

merge elsewhere, come up

for breath, even if

myth your identity safe

above or under-ground

the grind, the grind…[43]

From “Notes towards a nomadic community”:

Despite Olson’s effort, that pristine

New England vision of port/polis, that small city

vision a gone possibility.

          He descried the “citoyen du

monde” as some Socratic

blunder – but it is not so,

Charley, the particular is

everywhere, is the cosmo-

politan exactly, the particular is

everywhere, the smallest

unit, the particle is

everything – & it moves,

it crosses bound-

aries, it moves




          all we can have is only

a coming community

is the dream is the work

is the insurmountable horizon[44]

An horizon is the insurmountable, it’s the very cusp of the human idea, where poetry and philosophy resolve into a type of mirage (as McLuhan liked to pun, on Browning, “a man’s reach should exceed his grasp, else what’s a metaphor?”). Vico, for example, spoke of poetic geographies, the extrapolation of the local onto the global, describing a general tropology by way of projection, of the horizon-effect of collective consciousness. The citoyen du monde isn’t some Socratic blunder because it’s necessarily such a tropology upon which the polis of Olson, as much as that of Plato, is founded: the “gone possibility” of Olson’s “small city vision,” as Joris says, is a transmigrated one (and a transmigrated “one”). To return to “Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]”:

I come back to the geography of it


This, is no bare incoming

of novel abstract form, this

is no welter or the forms

of those events, this

Greeks, is the stopping

of the battle

          It is the imposing

of all those antecedent predecessions, the precessions

of me, the generation of those facts

which are my words, it is coming

from all that I no longer am, yet am,

the slow westward motion of

more than I am

It would be easy to envisage all this as a product of some historical schema, some progress outwards from centre to periphery of a self-propagating idea (“J’avance,” Joris quotes René Daumal, “vers un avenir qui n’existe pas”). Take Virilio, for example: “The metropolitics of globalisation will take over from the geopolitics of nations, just as the latter once took over from the city-state of the antique origins of politics.”[45] The challenge, rather, is to observe the actions of a recursion and détournement (trope) between the idea of the polis and the (prior) “gone possibility” of its universalisation. In Vico we see that the territory of the local, of the “antique origin” is always already mapped, poeticised, mythological; the polis itself is a type of poetism, comprised of “heterogeneous language matter,”[46] its successive translations and re-inscriptions are a type of objectless, “continuous dérive.”[47] In other words, the polis itself is a “drifting” and “adrift” through a topology of its own inner space; a spiral of reading, translating, writing that nomadises “from language to language, era to era,”[48] by successive Copernican revolutions.

Olson still

mumbling “the wheels of the sun

must be unstuck”

& you argue for a


of the imagination…[49]

Joris, whose poetics is closely associated with a critique of “concepts as modes of ordering,”[50] in favour of hetero-linguistic itineraries, arrives at a position opposed to a perceived monadism at work in Olson, despite the latter’s own gestures towards a deconstruction of paradigms (“global, erratic, itinerant, organising, planning and flattening, caught up in gears and wheels”[51] in the words of Greek philosopher Kostas Axelos).

The question remains as to whether or not the flawed Foundation Myth to which Olson returns in the figure of a polis redeemed (Gloucester) – by way of a certain documentary register, the discursive particular and poiēsis of the unpoetic (“Document means there are no flowers/and no parentheses”)[52] – isn’t in fact a kind of apotheosis of nomadicity. Just as, to quote Deleuze, “the despot internalises the nomadic war-machine, capitalist society never stops internalising a revolutionary war-machine. It’s not on the periphery that the new nomads are being born (because there is no periphery)…”[53] The implication being that, just as a certain revolutionary potential of poetry is inaugurated by Plato’s gesture of exclusion from the ideal polis, so too a radical nomadism is born within the gesture of the polis’ redemption within poetry, as mirror to a quasi-nostalgic seeking after a place of acceptance for poetry within the polis.

It’s possible to re-frame the question thus: If nomadism, as André Fléchaux once proposed to Deleuze, is a serious response to a collective rationalisation-by-technology[54] (the polis-machine), for example, what’s this response for? Or, if a certain type of poetry is to be consider as the proper vehicle of a nomadology, what then is served by thus acceding to the poetic exclusion – if a “nomad poetics” is thereby to be reduced once again, just as the idea of “the poem” is in Badiou, to a philosopheme? Towards what can its revolution tend if, as Joris contends, “a nomad poetics will cross languages, not just translate, but write in all or any of them?”[55] Or again, like the cunning Scythian who learned the art of dissimulating seamlessly between Greek and barbarian worlds, the polis and the steppes: Is a nomad poetics thus nothing more than an art of camouflage (and thus also of its contrary) by which socalled philosophic truth is finally de-objectified, not simply as hypothesis (or countervailing poetical fiction), but, as Michaux says, in its own-most “terrifying mobility and tendency to dissolve”?[56]


[1]   Pierre Joris, “The Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage,” Justifying the Margins (Cambridge: Salt, 2009) 28.

[2]   Joris, “The Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage,” 27.

[3]   Qtd in Pierre Joris, “Collage and Post-Collage: In Honour of Eric Mottram,” A Nomad Poetics (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2003) 84 – my italics. We must keep in view, here, the necessary distinction between the seamless potential of collage – which is itself a mode of discontinuity, of translationality, of nomadicity “at the origin,” so to speak – and mere outward forms of “discontinuity” produced as aesthetic surface-effects, which have, in Modernism’s wake, become the emblems of a certain avant-gardism. The radical character of collage resides in the fact that its seamless potential threatens the ideology of formal unities, wholeness, the One, etc., and points to a more fundamental “discontinuity” as the locus of “unity.” This is not a critical attribute acquired by collage as a method over a period of time, but a structural inherence, which necessarily antecedes the historical emergence of the collage technique in the work of Picasso and others. This, indeed, is the lesson of analytic cubism, which, through both the dis-simulation and de-composition of the conventions of pictorial representation, discovers mimēsis to be collage.

[4]   Joris, “Collage and Post-Collage,” 83.

[5]   Jerome Rothenberg and Pierre Joris, Poems for the Millennium, vol. 2 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1998) 5.

[6]   Charles Olson, “Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld],” The Maximus Poems, ed. George F. Butterick (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1983) 184/II.14.

[7]   “The gravest charge against poetry,” Plato says, “remains. It has a terrible power to corrupt…” The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee (London: Penguin, 1955) Bk 10, 605c.

[8]   Alain Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” trans. Ray Brassier and Alberto Toscano, Theoretical Writings (London: Continuum, 2004) 244.

[9]   Plato, The Republic, 607b-c.

[10]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 241; 245.

[11]   Equally, Plato cites an element of shamefulness, that dramatic poetry invites the speaker to “act the fool,” and to indulge in forms of self-deprecation not befitting the dignity of the individual. Poetry is thus seen as appealing to, or representing, the “lower,” less “rational” part of socalled human nature.

[12]   In the process of marking this exclusion, Plato allows a consolation to poetry, being that it may plead its case against exclusion, but in prose, which is figured as being less persuasive and more rational than poetry. Inadvertently, perhaps, or not, Plato thus inaugurates the reign of criticism over poetry as the foundation of poetry’s defence.

[13]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 247.

[14]   Olson’s importance for Joris is revealed in a short note in a 2005 essay, in which he writes: “for me, however, it is clear that the one thinker in Europe who, without knowing Olson, expanded on Olsonian themes is Gilles Deleuze (w/ Félix Guattari) – especially starting with the 1973 – three years after Olson’s death – ANTI-OEDIPUS and with A THOUSAND PLATEAUS, a book I am certain Olson would have been delighted with. Note the ‘nomad’ theme will come in later.” Pierre Joris, “Where is Olson Now,” Justifying the Margins, 150.

[15]   See for example Joris’s poem, “Canto Diurno #2 à/to Jack Kerouac, Ode bilangue,” Aljibar II, 120ff.

[16]   Pierre Joris, “Introduction,” 4×1: Tristan Tzara, Rainer Maria Rilke, Jean-Pierre Duprey, Habib Tengour (Albany, NY: Inconundrum, 2002) 7.

[17]   Joris, “Where is Olson Now,” 150; 152.

[18]   Joris, “Where is Olson Now,” 146.

[19]   Joris, “Where is Olson Now,” 145.

[20]   Cf. Henri Michaux, “Down with the Idea of the One!” Preface to A Barbarian in Asia, trans. Sylvia Beach (New York: New Directions, 1949) v.

[21]   Significantly, Olson’s “Préface” is the first poem included in volume two of Joris and Jerome Rothenberg’s Poems for the Millennium, followed by Paul Celan’s “Death Fugue.”

[22]   Joris, “Where is Olson Now,” 146.

[23]   Joris, “The Seamlessly Nomadic Future of Collage,” 33.

[24]   Joris, “Nimrod in Hell,” Justifying the Margins, 1.

[25]   Joris, “On the Nomadic Circulation of Contemporary Poetics,” Justifying the Margins, 7.

[26]   Joris, “The Word, the mâwqif,” Aljibar I (Québec: Phi, 2007) 82.

[27]   Qtd in Joris, “On the Nomadic Circulation of Contemporary Poetics,” 16 – my italics.

[28]   Joris, “Reading Edmond Jabès,” Aljibar II, 110.

[29]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 239.

[30]   Joris, “Five Elegies Preceded by a Meditation,” Aljibar I, 90. See the note to “The Rothenberg Variations,” Aljibar II, 52, on the “détournée” compositional method for that poem.

[31]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 244.

[32]   Joris, “The Exaltations of Innana,” Aljibar I, 44.

[33]   Joris, “9/11/01,” Aljibar I, 18.

[34]   Alain Badiou, Logic of Worlds: Being and Event II, trans. Alberto Tascano (London: Continuum, 2009) 466-7.

[35]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 240.

[36]   Joris, “9/11/01,” Aljibar I, 22.

[37]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 240.

[38]   Badiou, “Language, Poetry, Thought,” 242.

[39]   Joris, “Reading/Writing #18,” Aljibar II, 76.

[40]   Qtd in Joris, “Letters and Dolls: The Cruel Syntax of Zürn & Bellmer,” Justifying the Margins, 114.

[41]   Joris, “Tuesday, May 23rd 2000,” Aljibar I, 62.

[42]   Joris, “Reading/Writing #18,” Aljibar II, 80-82.

[43]   Joris, “Five Elegies Preceded by a Meditation,” 100-2.

[44]   Pierre Joris, Poasis: Selected Poems 1986-1999 (Middletown CT: Wesleyan University Press, 2001) 164-5.

[45]   Paul Virilio, City of Panic, trans. Julie Rose (Oxford: Berg, 2005) 13.

[46]   Pierre Joris, “Introduction,” 4×1, 6.

[47]   Ivan Chtcheglou’s term, from “Formulary for a New Urbanism” (1953), Situationist International Anthology, ed. and trans. Ken Knabb (Berkeley: Bureau of Public Secrets, 1981) 4.

[48]   Joris, “Introduction,” 4×1, 7.

[49]   Joris, “Five Elegies Preceded by a Meditation,” 114.

[50]   Joris, “The Exaltations of Innana,” Aljibar I, 44.

[51]   Kostas Axelos, Vers la pensée plenétaire (Paris: Minuit, 1964) 46.

[52]   Charles Olson, “La Préface,” Poems for the Millennium, vol. 2, 23.

[53]   Gilles Deleuze, “Nomadic Thought,” Desert Islands and Other Texts, 1953-1974, trans. Michael Taormina (New York: Semiotext(e), 2004) 261.

[54]   Qtd in the question/answer session at the end of “Nomadic Thought,” 260.

[55]   Joris continues: “If Pound, Joyce, & others have shown the way, it is essential now to push this matter further, again, not as ‘collage’ but as a material flux of language matter, moving in & out of semantic & non-semantic spaces, moving around & through the features accreting as a poem, a lingo-cubism that is no longer an ‘explosante fixe,’ as Breton defined the poem, but an ‘explosante mouvante.’” Introduction to Poems for the Millennium, vol.2, 14n20.

[56]   Henri Michaux, “Miserable Miracle,” Darkness Moves, trans. David Ball (Berkeley : University of California Press, 1994) 19ff.

About Equus Press

EQUUS was established in 2011 with the objective of publishing innovative & translocal writing.


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"Modernity today is not in the hands of the poets, but in the hands of the cops" // Louis Aragon
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“I think we ought to read only the kind of books that wound and stab us. If the book we are reading doesn’t wake us up with a blow on the head, what are we reading it for?…we need the books that affect us like a disaster, that grieve us deeply, like the death of someone we loved more than ourselves, like being banished into forests far from everyone, like a suicide. A book must be the axe for the frozen sea inside us” // Franz Kafka, letter to Oskar Pollack, 27 January 1904
October 2014
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