nypoesi 2/06
GREGORY BETTS Comment on If Language

The idea for the anagram project began in response to a passage in an essay by Steve McCaffery. It is a very unnatural or artificial form to use, but there is a kind of magic in witnessing the letters shift and fall into place. The anagram became a very useful method to organize my response to McCaffery's article, but my intentions were very quickly supplanted by the instant insinuation of other poems, histories, and ideas that began to circulate and push themselves into the individual texts. At first, each anagram took up to and sometimes over one month to conceive and compose. Surrounded by dictionaries and scraps of paper, each letter was arduously placed. Amazingly, though, after I had completed dozens of the anagrams, I was able to internalize the constraint to such a degree that I could write a poem free-hand and be within a handful of letters from a perfect anagram. The constraint of re-using the letters of Steve McCaffery's original quote became a grammar and a natural mode of composition and expression.

«If Language Writing successfully detaches Language from the historical purpose of summarizing global meaning replacing the goal of totality with the free polydynamic drive of parts, it nevertheless falls short in addressing the full implications of this break and seems especially to fail in taking full account of the impact of the human subject with the thresholds of linguistic meaning. It is at the critical locus of productive desire that this writing opens itself up at an alternative “libidinal” economy which operates across the precarious boundaries of the symbolic and the biological and has its basis in intensities.»

«Language Writing: from Productive to Libidinal Economy»
Steve McCaffery