SICK OF FLAGS
landscape is dotted with signs, stickers, and banners that read GOD BLESS
AMERICA, often flanked by a redundant image of a U. S. flag.
Grammatically, the words are in the subjunctive
mood. They neither supply information (God blesses America) nor issue
an order (God, bless America). Rather, they voice a wish or prayer (may
God bless America or Please, God, bless America ).
But what does the prayer mean? It must
puzzle those with genes for literal-mindedness.
In what sense does God bless? With good
health, robust babies, self-sacrificing spouses? With philosophical wisdom?
With material prosperity: fat paychecks, sirloin steaks, sports utility
vehicles, faster computers, added cable channels? Military might: speedier
cruise missiles, smarter smart bombs, stealthier stealth bombers? Lion's
share of the planet's natural resources?
Does America mean Americans? All Americans,
including murderers, rapists, thieves, swindlers, embezzlers, muggers,
liars, cheats, bullies, pornographers, conceited airheads, domestic tyrants,
bigots, racists, atheists?
If God is (as theists usually maintain)
an incorporeal spirit, devoid of body, how is God to implement the blessings?
Could it be that GOD BLESS AMERICA really
doesn't mean anything? That it is a vacuous mantra which fuels feelings
of divine election and bellicose patriotism?
MAYNARD CHATS UP CORPSE
Looks great. Once again, evidence of living, thinking beings in America...
evidence that is hard to find, I might add. And I am very honored to be
among the ranks of living corpsters. And I was at a party last night,
and ran into Gabor Gyukics and we geeked out showing each other our entries
on the corpse. My god, what a pathetic lot of losers we "poet" types are.
And thank you for another excuse to waste "the man's Hours" while sneaking
peaks at the new corpse while at work.
As fate would have it, Eric Mark Cohen,
one of the members of Autobody, the band that I wrote about, now plays
drums behind my somewhat brilliant (if you are in an extremely low-bar
kind of mood) guitar and vocals. If we ever get it together, will inform
you of MP3 entries, or send a better sample than the one last summer,
that you, Mr. Spitzer were provided as a terrorist attack to the aesthetic
bromide of your cross-country trip... which I hope was full of otherwise
relaxing moments. We too, my wife and I did the same (a cross-country
trip). Ran into a writer (really? can't throw a rock without...) in Washington
state who insisted on giving me a copy of his book on the history of figure
skating. Very entertaining in a high-kitch, highly sexually repressed
sort of way. That guy is now writing a book on highschool marching bands.
KIRBACH ON BURK & BAG
Thank you once again for your hard work in order to produce another fine
issue. I continue to read my way through it with pleasure, and I especially
enjoyed Ronnie Burk's court transcript, imagining, as I did so, all those
jurors reading copies of the old, but well-preserved, cadaver. Perhaps
you will receive a positive response from some of them, if you haven't
already. Admittedly, Mr. Burk has hit upon an intriguing form of advertisement,
though I suppose the technique contains certain obvious limitations.
Additionally, submissions could potentially
acquire a notoriety which extends beyond the wrongly maligned Siberia
Bag, so Mary Vigliante Szydlowski had better take extra precautions to
watch her step in the future. I was much amused by her threats and noticed
that she got off easy, despite all her wailing.
Today, with my son and wife out shopping, and feeling a bit drowsy from
having a filling replaced this morning by my brother-in-law the dentist,
I decided to read through some of the Corpse's letters. I happened upon
the irate letter from Mary Vigliante Szydlowski who was not at all happy
about ending up in the Body Bag. I can't say that I know her work but
I am not an intellectual and I have large gaps in my knowledge (I still
have not read any Proust, for example, nor have I seen the new movie,
The Independent, from the creative team of Mike Wilkins and Stephen
Kessler). In any event, though I do not wish to minimize Ms. Szdlowski's
pain, I think back to when my wife and I didn't know whether our son was
shot and killed at the North Valley Jewish Community Center when Buford
Furrow started his rampage a couple of years ago. In other words, though
we writers are sensitive creatures, some of us should put such things
as the Body Bag into perspective.
CORPSE RAPPED ON COPYEDIT KNUCKLES
I am a West Virginia native, writer, and graduate of UCLA. What I fail
to understand about Mr. Wilson's article is this: Why you publish reportage
that has quotes inside periods, why you don't edit writers who don't know
the difference between "affect" and "effect," and
why Mr. Wilson doesn't mention that incidents like the one about which
he's reporting occur (relatively unreported) every two to three years
in that area of the world. That coal miners die in cave-ins and collapsed
mine shafts is business as usual. That they die daily metaphorical deaths
as they work in dark and depressing underground work spaces as they bring
fossil fuels to the rest of the world is an immoral act.
Creek disaster was the result of negligent strip mining. How is it that
the Martin County Coal Co. waste impoundment "broke"?
didn't necessarily get his story wrong. He simply shone a clumsy light
on the foul big toe of an especially maggot-ridden cadaver rendered lifeless
by a blow to the head, not the feet. A better-balanced story might have
included a point of view from the UMWA, one of the oldest and most influential
unions in the history of the U.S.
BOB FROM CREEK COUNTY
i viewed bellocq's gallery. god forbid, the images reminded me of my mother-in-law.my
southern baptist, dyed in the t.v. evangelist wool, mother of my wife,
matronly, beehive ,hair do-ed, ,.............mother in law.
god forbid me? nay! no god shall forbid me such indulgence!
because this is oklahoma i am expected to attend a number of in-law family
functions.i must look agreeable, attentive, and downright agreeable. my
wife dictates my countenance, mood, and,..................she gave up
years ago. my snow-white , southern democrat father infected my cherokee
mother with a wish for privacy.it took.
my wife has been defeated in her attempts to assimilate my ungodly being
unto her flock. but her mother and bellocq's gallery?
pagan lust wells from mine loins! (for a mother in law, you say?)
yes, it is true. i see helen , my mom-in-law in each of bellocq's photos.
though nude, each appears chaste ,.............and perforce, southern
criminy! the curse of innocence! tis a crime to both society and family
to bespeak of kinsman and the lust thereof! but i,.......the pagan must
,.............(forfeit his marriage?),.........(been to one shrink),...............drive
his pickup into the sunset?
maybe. can't afford a volvo.can't afford kids either.
the kids are genetically bound to me and my mom-in-laws daughter!
depravity seeks arkansas! (really?)
let's cut to the chase: robert! do you or did you wish to make love to
your mother -in-law?guilty! god that i do not patronize,............i
that's a change of sorts.
bellocq and helen: note the smiles. save for one picture there is no pubic
hair in view.
pictures in black and white titillation. my mom-in-law would recoil at
any suggestion of herself in these photos. and she might regurgitate at
the thought of a lusty(ing) son- in-law.
well, this is oklahoma,.........home of all that eastern journalists would
have you believe. okies are supposed to lust for 'kin'. even if'n they
aint proper kin!
that's a departure from our neighbor to the east.(i did vote for clinton)
the point? i'm sure of the point but my kinsman shall not feel comfort
with the vectors of lust upon their ,..............no poetry here!,.............buttocks.
i am the depraved, pawnee bob, reporting from creek county.
ANONYMOUS IN CAPITAL LETTERS
SEEMS ROBIN BECKER IS A TONI MORRISON FAN. I AGREE THAT RACISM CAN BE
EXPRESSED MORE POETICALLY, WITH MORE LITERARY VALUE, ETC.. BUT THAT WOULD
BE FICTION."UNIQUE" AND " OFTEN IGNORED"?
CERAINLY IGNORED BUT THE EXPERIENCE OF BEING THE VICTIM OF RACISM IS NOT
UNIQUE. MY PERSPECTIVE ? I'M AN APPLE INDIAN AMONG FULLBLOODS HERE IN
NORTHEASTERN, OKLAHOMA. SOME OF THE OLD FOLKS WON'T, CAN'T OR REFUSE TO
SPEAK ENGLISH. THE YOUNG LIVE A FAIRLY INSULAR LIFE I.E., VERY SECURE
AND THEY CAN PRACTICE THE CULTURE. THE CULTURE, AT LEAST FOR SOME OF THE
YOUNG, IS SOMETIMES VERY CRUEL AND VICIOUS TO NON INDIANS.
LOOKING BACK ON MY VARIOUS ENCOUNTERS THROUGHOUT THE YEARS I AM QUITE
CERTAIN A COPY OF "SNOW FALLING ON CEDARS" OR A GOOD, SOLID,
HARDBACK SOCIOLOGY TEXT WOULD NOT HAVE HELPED.
I SUBMIT IT IS NOT UNIQUE FOR WHITEY TO FIND HIMSELF AMONG THE HOSTILES.
OVERLOOKED? OH! TO BE SURE!
KIRBY CHEERS POST-MOD DEMOLITION
Douglas Puchowski's deliciously intelligent demolition of Linda Hutcheon's
A Poetics of Postmodernism had me cheering, rolling and unrolling
my tongue, biting the leg of my desk in hopes of epileptic stabilization.
I do hope everybody read the article. Puchowski is one of the first in
years to sound a trombone note for Bohemia and make me remember that yes,
there may still be outsiders. I should go into the local tavern with a
lamp. Among "tasseled circles," as Puchowski puts it, who has
heard of Alfred Jarry, much less read him?
Postmodernism is a weak version of 'Pataphysics,
as neither Deleuze nor Lyotard (to say nothing of Hutcheon) had the strange
clairvoyance of Jarry. Remember in Shattuck's book it said that Jarry
could invite somebody over for lunch, take out a fishing pole, and have
eight fish before Madame Rachilde arrived a half hour later? I wish to
nitpick with Puchowski on one point however. He writes, "Other than
time travel how else could Jarry have known Rousseau would come to be
regarded as one of the most important painters of the 20th century, while
the others would fade into relative obscurity."
André Breton said that Jarry not
only was the first to champion Rousseau, but also the first to recognize
the genius of Cezanne, Renoir, Manet, Gauguin, and Van Gogh. Breton writes,
"it is striking to see to what degree posterity has sanctioned his
judgment" ("Alfred Jarry, Initiateur et Eclaireur," La
Cle des champs, 400).
When critics like Linda Hutcheon can write
phrases such as, "I call monstrous all inexhaustible beauty!--then
fish will ride bicycles in perpetual motion.
SUZANN KOLE QUESTIONS FRAMING OF HER WORK IN CORPSE
Both in its aesthetic precision as well as animate chaos of virtual detail,
Issue 10 of Exquisite Corpse is indeed visually illustrative of the pandemonium
inherent to "sex and terror." This integrity of theme and presentation,
excites me. Similarly, your textually poignant (and sub-textually provocative)
cautionary tale preluding my phototropic/photopoetic commentary, was stirringly
In pondering the phenomenon of textual
and graphic representation in your issue, it seems remarkable that one
is able to finger the steam of erotic ambiguity through textually evocative
devises--and with such impunity(!). Your prelude, for example, explodes
with such naked articulation all over the page; depicting the erotic fluidity
of the censored photos in a narrative braille that seduces a quiet voyeurism:
a perceptual dimension which is highly protected by poetic license and
the licentiousness of a "private read".
The graphic image, on the other hand, is
more immediately discursive; an instance of gestalt; a momentary intercoursing
with a figurative depiction (or so one would enjoy believing!): unbridled
engagement challenging the imagination to find focus and fidelity on its
own (gods forbid!).
Given the dynamism of the penetrating image,
it is apparent that the asynchrony inherent to text--i.e.: words "beating
off" on each other long before we readers are engaged with their sentience--slows
us behind in a dust of metaphorical ambiguities. Subsequently, without
this chrono-textual retardant, we are more readily open to blaming our
Judeo-Christian selves for projections of moral perversities conjured
in the dark protocol of a glossy graphic assignation!
...And Andrei....what of this reiterative
sense of "ambiguity" peppered throughout your text--how it causes me pause
as I note the term is pit against words like "innocuous" and "innocence"
(incidentally, from the same Latin root, nocere). I ponder this op/positionalism
and wonder if it is in response to a pre/positioned paradigm of normalcy
wherein "innocence" or "innocuous" are assumed to posture in an essential
tension with the monstrous porno/graphy (i.e.; you write: "in at least
one of our minds, the pictures were not all that innocent")?
"Ambiguity" --literally, to "drive around"(L.
ambi+gere)--seems to connote a circular drive; a drive which defies the
typical comings (and goings) of a linear texture; a capacity to run circles
around the colloquialized argumentation erroneously construed in this
culture between the prostituted graphic (re: L. porne=prostitute; hence
pornography), and the Rorschached image of "innocence" (e.g.: doe a depicted
Given this tacit oppositionalism pervasive
in our culture (i.e.: the object-dichotomies which seem more the essential
spine of pop American cultural phenomena than "the thing itself"), can
one blame the "bayonets of paranoia" (A.C.) for rising to occasions of
incongruence--occasions which masquerade as invitations to "speak freely";
to present with aesthetic ingenuity...albeit within an insidious invisibility
of paradigmatic restraints?
I sure was delighted, a few issues back, to see my ole buddy Roberto walk
off the pages of the venerable Fewster and offer splendid tribute to Gregory
Corso. It was the kindest and most thoughtful of any Corso obit I've read
Thanks for having the sharp eye to print
such a respectfully irreverent portrait of America's Villon, or the Beat's
Jarry, or however else you might want to style this wonderful, pissing-in-the-street,
way-out poet/legend Mr. Corso was, is and will become.
As for myself, I continue slogging through
the trenches in the front line of the War on Poverty, in my capacity as
a temporary Welfare Eligibility Examiner.
Mercifully, they took me off food stamps.
I was giving away too many, Issuing benefits right and left, without adequate
verification. Guess I figured that was the best way to keep the sorry
sumbitches from overrunning our positions. But pretty soon, thanks to
my wholesale shotgun efforts, the entire city began filling up with the
farts of the poor. Getting so you couldn't ride a public bus without getting
half gassed to death, while Welfare mommas, loafers, losers, aged, disabled,
etc. pig out in seats all around you, thanks to your Uncle Willie's over-issuances
of USA food stamps. But now they got me on verification of income for
the elderly in Medicaid nursing homes, things are getting back to normal:
skanky old whores starving to death in the gutter, skinny Welfare brats
filching M&Ms in broad daylight, wasted grannies panhandling for Saltines,
legless beggers pleading for boosts into the dumpster for to be able to
lick a little nutritious slime maybe left by the more able-bodied indigent.
The nursing home detail suits me better,
actually. Lotta fun to be had interrogating octogenarians telephonically.
"Hello, Ms. Hardlucknobucks? Yeh, this
is Willie, the Medicaid Financial Examiner. Look, about that bank statement
I squeezed out of you last week? Oh, the bank finally faxed it over to
me, after I obtained a court subpoena for them to release the data. Yeah,
now about that unidentified $10 deposit showing from last month, the,
uh ... 14th, to be exact -- how do you explain that? I mean, we know about
your $586 monthly social security income, and we're taking all of that
except $41.62, I mean, we're applying $544.38 as your monthly participation
to your cost of care at the nursing home, and I see the $586 deposit on
the 1st of the month, and I see from the nursing home trust account ledger,
which I have in my computer, that you spent all of your $41.62 on the
beauty shop, purchase of ibuprofen and, uh, looks like two candy bars
on the 5th of the month ... but this $10, Ma'am?
"Bingo? You won these funds gambling,
right there in a fucking Medicaid-licensed skilled nursing facility? You're
goddamn right you owe it all to the State. How old are you, what ... lemme
flip to that screen on my computer... you're fucking 97 years old, Ms.
Haxdlucknobucks, and you're still trying to pull this kinda shit on the
State? Don't you know there's a War on? The President is gonna need that
10 bucks, 'cause I hear, next week, after we're through decimating Syria,
we might have to bomb Florida.
"Look, you old pinko diaperhead anarchist
drycunt, I don't wanna hear 'It was an oversight.' But I will cut you
a deal, granny. I'm willing to disregard the 1/2 cent interest you owe
on withholding the $10, OK? Yeh, that means you owe us $10 more participation
for last month, or out your bony butt goes on the pavement."
Yeah, so much fun to kick 'em when they're
down. It's the American way. Not that any other nation is any much different.
Face it, the problem is with that slippery slimy article called the human
heart. I know. I got one, too. Sometimes I lie awake at night listening
to it tick tick tick -- like some kinda sleazy hideous nuclear-smallpox-landmine
timebomb. Kill God -- it's all His fault, the crazy old fuck!