Thirty-Six Views of the Parallax: Mark Young’s the eclectic world, Bandicoot habitat and lithic typology

1 May 2017

6: Paronomasia

Pardon the French ‘pas de / Dieu’ (LT, 35).

7: Orthography & punctuation

In the main, Young uses American spelling (‘calligram’, ‘theater’) and the Beats’ ampersand. (There are some concessions to Australian spelling, as in ‘traveller’, ‘civilisation’) Although he does say in ‘Meanwhile, here is the news from white-wing Amerika’ (LT, 33) that ‘(a)mpersands are banned since they might be seen as a pictograph of a person performing oral sex upon themselves.’ Using ampersands throughout might have something to do with the Beatnik tradition of civil disobedience, just as ‘Amerika’ spelt with a K has to do with radical politics, although, as I have said, and as he has himself, it is clear that Young much prefers irony or whimsicality to violence. He also sometimes uses American-English words, such as ‘accommodations’ or ‘elevator’. Diacritics are ‘(g)enetic markers, / carrier codes’ (LT, 14).

As for punctuation, Young himself says in ‘Editorial’ (LT, 6) that poems ‘eat all / the words, leave only / punctuation’. Punctuation is used postmodernistically – and nonsensically at times as embellishments, as in ‘moat’ and ‘dedicated to minimalist footwear’ (EW, 7 & 13) and in BH, from pp 32–36.

8: More on Punctuation

The Australian Government’s Style Manual for Authors, Editors and Printers (note the lack of the Oxford – or should I say Chicago? – comma) recommends the dropping of the full stop in abbreviations that end in the same letter as the word written in full, but Young follows American convention, so it is ‘Mr.’, ‘St.’. In the main, Young abides by convention. There are a few deviations, as in the back-slash as a punctuation mark (BH, 34), the strikethrough as pointer to Joseph Kosuth (EW, 15).

9: America & Japan1

I hesitate to say Young is enamored of America and Japan, for both countries and their cultures permeate his poetry: BH, pp. 9, 13, & 47; EW, pp 18, 21, 36–37, 44 & 47; and LT, pp 33, 50 & 67–68. He says, for instance, that ‘an American // may possibly know the customs / of your country better than you / do.’ (LT, 50). Japan is a country which can so easily claim hearts – look at Lafcadio Hearn, the first Westerner in the modern era to be fully assimilated into Japanese culture, and be given an imperial award and Japanese citizenship. Japan is largely a mythical country for non-Japanese; we each one of us make of it what we will. We dream we are in China, India or Japan, lands of imagination and poetry.

For his work, Young looks to America. Australia – or New Zealand before it – may be home to his work, but it owes nothing to it as an entity. America has more presence in his poetry than Australia. (No doubt this is due to early influences and, lately, the internet.) Yet there is a paradox at work, for he is also suspicious of popular American culture, distrustful of its international hegemony and contemptuous of the arrogance which proclaims America as the best country in the world, Americans as the best people in the world and American literature as the best literature in the world. There is much he deplores about America. Is it pure luck that his work finds publication in America with relative ease? (Yet why are the books under discussion published in Finland, not America? Or does it make any difference these days?) It is the other America which appeals to him, the secret America alluded to by its poets not portrayed in the American media, unseen by CNN, invisible on the political world stage.

Like a lot of writers, Young sometimes uses indigenous vocabulary or place names to set the scene (geisha, geta, karaoke, Minamata, ukiyo-e (BH, pp 5, 9, 11 & 17)), not to mention generics like ‘beach’, ‘earthquake’, ‘garden’, ‘insect’, ‘mountain’, ‘sea’. Actual hiragana appear in ‘milestones in design history’ (LT, 61). It is a mistake to see as anti-American things such as capitalism, consumerism and materialism, for he does not necessarily equate such things, or even (post)modernism itself, with things American.

There is nothing about Japan – or coffins, for that matter – in ‘The Japanese coffin’ (EW, 21), but ‘This is a Piece of Cheese’ (EW, 36, where the Berlin Wall stands out) is dedicated to Yoko Ono. Ando Hiroshige, who influenced the Impressionist painters of late19th-Century Europe with his landscapes, is ostensibly the subject in ‘Wild Cherry Wood’ (BH, 9), but so is the environment (landscape), myth, philosophy, linguistics and psychobabble:

As example: the
     ukiyo-e print
   by Hiroshige of
  Samson attempting
to force apart
     the Alaskan pipeline
that pollutes the
continent. It’s a
     simple idea that
   anticipates his
          late-life hero
       Wittgenstein &
   strikingly consoli-
dates the spiky psych-
   prog tendencies
  of his 1833 debut.

Young speaks of ‘calligraphic / elegance’ in ‘A torrent of rushing leaves’ (LT, 44; ‘calligraphy’ being a signifier for Japanese culture). Hokusai is not mentioned, but other famous Japanese artists are, such as Hiroshige, mentioned above, and Utamaro. (‘Peristalsis’, however, conjures up Hokusai’s wave, in a borborygmic manner, as well as the Japanese kitsch Hello Kitty, but I am sure Young did not intend this.)

10: Chance

Young calls chance ‘stochastic acts’.

11: Science

Was it Aristotle who believed that whatever scientists may discover, poets have been there before them? Imagine an élitism of the future, of emotional dimensions. Imagine ‘The parallax view’ with ‘(a) head set jack / compiled from / comprehensive & / current sources’ (EW, 27). In ‘Stochastic Acts’, Young maintains that reading science fiction from an early age has shaped his political views. Imagine the acoustics of syntax, the poem that can be theorised upon or dismissed, those experimental alignments and misalignments whose debts to Aristotle, Borges, Canetti, Chirico, Duchamp, Magritte, Williams, et al., are reified by language. In order to test the progressive nature of his poetry, Young goes back to its generative origins. With linguistic analysis, he experiences the general fabric(ation) of connotation (‘ficciones’). Objectivity here measures defining signifiers as process, for Young cannot ‘prove’ the thematic signified, the Buddha, jazz, the extent of poiesis, displacement, language or genre. An inclination, a hybridisation through analysis – the objective place he occupies is the world. Certainly, language can be a parody, a poetic justification that derives from stochastic acts. Imagine that he chooses the text randomly, with defective cases constituting signifiers from reality to spectacle, even though this spectacle is represented without the historically ‘poetic’. Thus, the evocations chosen by Young trigger certain images, demonstrating a semiological knowledge of the real, and confirming an association between psychology and aesthetics.

12: Form

Barthes’ pleasure of the text. Rhyme is not a consideration; we look to rhythm, transformation, interpretation …

Young is one of the few Australian exponents of hay(na)ku, a haiku-like form invented by Eileen Tabios (you count words instead of syllables). In LT, he names four of them, the last a longer poem of four tercets (but in EW and BH, he names none). Having said that, Young often uses the hay(na)ku form unacknowledged, as in ‘High Tea with Donatien’ (LT, 16). ‘A double cypher’ (BH, 58), sourced from Foucault and Hartley, says it all, really. (He also advises that you should read Notes from the Underground or Treatise on Cubic Form in EW, 17).

13: Colonialism

See 5: War & 27: Orientalism

14: Religion

Young exposes the false notes of modern philosophy. See 5: War

15: Logic

I work on a variation of what the Duchess told Alice: Take care of the sounds and the sense will take care of itself, but that’s not how Young works, at least, not most of the time.

16: Culture

The poet is not the fount of all wisdom. Just as Paulhan believed this to be so, so too the writer has every right to be wrong. And Voltaire said that a writer is despised if he is a success and ridiculed if he is a failure. Young believes that the secret of poetics is to ‘(l)ive like you want to live, Baby’ (BH, 13). A constant demand in the service of reality.

17: Memory

There is no nostalgie de la boue here – you do not have to pull anyone out of the mud – but ‘I do not remember who I am. Somebody winds me up & I write mechanical poems’ (EW, 51).

18: Violence

Bandicoot habitat addresses violence in its contemporaneous form in four poems:

ethnographic research

‘The violence – whether
outright or subtle – that women
experience in their day-to-day lives
needs to take precedence over hurt feelings.’

Life as it must have been before the
invention of the light bulb – not
necessarily progressive;
certainly not predictable – was
relatively slow & dignified.

‘A significant moment for all historians
of late nineteenth-century science.’

Such a harsh environment today. (30)

The first building with an elevator in Kaposvár Apartment buildings from the Soviet era contrast with streets lined with traditional little wooden homes. The House in Stone recollected after many years, its front decorated with beehives. the bacterium (sic) accumulate without interruption, become convalescent. Each acquires a good working education. She was stopped by some strangers. He was a remarkable & ambitious man. They were the violent heads of the dominant party. Shun idleness & immoral books. Process & export eggplant & flowers. Doing so will reduce the welfare level though not the environmental factors that generate greenhouse gases. It was on the island.
planet-forming discs Candi is a- ligned with the controversial pop queen, an American Socrates whose internal accommodations combine all the luxuries of a well-pro- portioned dining-room with violent video games which increase aggressive behavior in contaminated children & young adults.
con(ave whilst the rest of the world is calling for an end to the violence occuring (sic) in the rest of the world, The Vatican ordinals have reentered the closet to discuss whether there is any association between the intake of fresh fruit & elective caesarian sections, & to reach a common position on the vexed question of why some dogs only know one word.

19: Art & literature

Voice A: The purpose of art is to edify the human condition.

Voice B: What are you talking about? There is no purpose to art – art has no ‘purpose’, a such.

Voice A: So, what you’re saying is, ‘art for art’s sake’? So, what is the raison d’être of art? (By the way, by art, I mean writing as well.) Are you saying that art has no power to move, to delight, surprise, even revolt?

Voice B: What I’m saying is, ‘Nulla dies sine linea,’ as Erasmus said. It’s a kind of compulsion.

Voice A: Two can play that game! ‘A symbol should not be a cymbal,’ said Edward Albee, and Juan Davila said he didn’t know much about art, but he knew what appreciates. You know, what goes up in price.

Voice B: The price of everything but the value of nothing.

Voice A: Exactly! So what are you saying?

Voice B: As I was saying … as William Burroughs said in Naked Lunch of an intellectual and avant-gardist, that he has made it all up and that his reports are all nonsense. (Laughs.) Burroughs says, when you hear the words, ‘You look like a man of intelligence’, you should run a million miles in the opposite direction.

Voice A: Hmm. He’s not a poet. What does William Carlos Williams say?

Voice B: Better still, what do veterans like Jen Crawford, berni m janssen, John Kinsella, Pete Spence or Chris Edwards, or newcomers like Toby Fitch, Clare Nashar, Natalie Harkin or Autumn Royal say?2

Voice A: Hmm. There are some names there I don’t know. You didn’t mention Francesca Jurate Sasnaitis or Chris Mann.

Voice B: There are lots of people I didn’t mention.

Voice A: Veterans. Newcomers. About as useful as ‘left’ or ‘right’. As Chris Mann says, ‘nostalgia does a cut-price humility by looking the other way’.3 This epistemological approach reifies the deconstruction of tectonic and heuristic haecceity of rhizomic data in order for signified erasures to occur. There must be recursive cultural recontextualisation to the references of poetic terminology that will facilitate the dissemination of effective traditions and formalist strategies and a foregrounding of performative materialisations that are identified as rhetorical following ekphrastic eideticism.

Voice B: Come again?

  1. For an excellent insight into Japan and Japanese culture, you cannot go past Empire of Signs by Roland Barthes (translated by Richard Howard).
  2. Crawford, Jen, Koel (Cordite Books, 2016); Harkin, Natalie, Dirty Words (Cordite Books, 2015); janssen, berni m, lake & vale (PressPress, 2010) or Possessives & Plurals (as Berni Janssen, Fillia Press, 1985); Nashar, Claire, Lake (Cordite Books, 2016); Royal, Autumn, She Woke & Rose (Cordite Books, 2016); & Spence, Pete, Five Poems (Nosukumo, 1986).
  3. Mann, Chris, Whistin Is Did by Chris Mann (Cordite Publishing Inc, 2016; p. 26).
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