nypoesi 2/06
[1] I have often said that it was exactly this drafting of declarations – in a situation where the Party was severely split up in two fractions, yet forced to stay together by the big Soviet neighbour – that made me understand the rhetorical nature of all writing (how you say it often being more important that what you say). The existence of two fractions also forced one to furnish every sentence with two meanings – a situation that pictures perfectly a certain Modernist poetry!
[2] In Finland of the early 90s', I was by no means the only one to be interested in Language Writing. The so called 90's generation of Finnish poetry – mostly poets 10 to 20 years younger than I – also read Charles Bernstein, Bruce Andrews, and Ron Silliman – but in my eyes exactly from the point of view of "rationing" or "rationalizing" I just mentioned: in fact, in a rather typical Finnish fashion where the "foreign tomfoolery" is always  first subjected to a certain automatic "ripping off of the extremities", after which one concentrates in "extracting" the "rational kernel" that will then, finally, be turned upside down to ensure it will not produce anything disturbing here. This is a typical provincial mentality I will speak more of later on.
[3] Cf. how Marx, in his Sixth These on Feuerbach, criticizes the latter for (1) posing ("presupposing") an "abstract – isolated – human individual", which is why he is then (2) forced to comprehend "essence" as "internal, dumb generality which naturally unites the many individuals" (my emphasis).
[4] The attitude I'm describing here was, of course, already summed up in Pound's slogan, "To purify the language of the tribe". I am arguing here for a poetry that would, rather, attempt a continuous plurifying of the languages of the trite
[5] Yes, I am, at least in some sense, questioning here the great Wittgensteinian idea that "the meaning of a word is its use in a language". My term, "generalized capacity for language" could point towards Noam Chomsky's "generalized grammar"; I'm indebted for this insight to Oren Izenberg, (cf. "Language Poetry and Collective Life". Critical Inquiry, Volume 30 no. 1. (2003)) A notable tendency in contemporary writing that I see as attempting at a "language-fugal" sublime is what has come to be known as "Conceptual Writing" (Craig Dworkin, Kenneth Goldsmith, Darren Weshler-Henry). This tendency toward conceptualism, understood as a reaction to the new textual conditions of the digital age, is perhaps to be found in most of the relevant new writing. Of course, "language-fugalism",  in my meaning here, was initiated by a writing that used to be called "language-centered".
[6]Some coordinates of this kind of World Poetry would be: independence vis-à-vis National Literatures, including institutionally (I'm reminded here of Goethe's concept of 'world literature'); mixing of languages; borrowing of structures – rhythmical, syntactical – from other languages; writing in one's non-native languages; inventing new, ad hoc languages; conscious attempts to write for more heterogeneous, non-predetermined audiences… Should I add that this perspective is in strong opposition to the ideologies of "conflict", or "dialogue", of "cultures": in fact, I see these as complementing each other, together forming a central ingredient in dominant Capitalist ideology of today (see further on), with possibly dangerous consequences for the freedoms of speech and expression – cf. the statement by an influential Finnish Conservative MP during the recent Cartoon Controversy, ostensibly in favour of "dialogue" and "understanding": "Unfortunately, there are elements [in this country] that are irresponsible enough to endanger the security of the entire nation. Thus, the authorities must take all measures provided by the legislation to remove these offending images before they cause irreparable damage [to the country and its people]. The Government should also seriously consider ways to instigate new legislation [...] in order to prevent activities that can lead to totally unpredictable consequences both economically and in terms of human lives." (the emphasis on McCarthyism's mine).
[7] I think what is happening in Sao Paulo State and elsewhere in Brazil just now can and should be seen as an instance of this conflict, and that in more than one way. It is one more example of the inability of the dominant, "unifying" ideology to keep up with things and maintain "law and order". One might also see it as an example of how the militarization of that very ideology that I spoke about serves to breed violence "at the base". But its also, perhaps most importantly, a remainder of how the "layers" I spoke of intermingle, how it is absolutely impossible to trace any neat line (of combat) between those "above" and those "below" today. In the old days (of combat), they would have said that the "PCC" organization objectively serves to strengthen the dominant ideology… Of course, even that is not even nearly enough today… The task of poetry… O my… (This note added in the morning of May 16, 2006, Finnish time.)
[8]To revisit the Theses on Feuerbach by Marx: "The philosophers have only interpreted the world, in various ways; the point is to change it." One could write a whole history of the revolutionary movements of 19th and 20th century studying how this "point" by Marx was interpreted – not least by the man himself – precisely in the "dirty-judaic" (!) way criticized in the theses: always positing "practice" as an outside of thinking, reducing the latter to the position of "giving guidelines" etc. The "point" cannot be about leaving thinking behind, but about its becoming an active – yes, productive – force.
[9] The Flarfist initiative (Gary Sullivan, K. Silem Mohammad, Michael Magee, Teemu Manninen, and others) could be summarized as an attempt to write intentionally "bad" poetry with a content that is "disturbing", "non-PC", even from the point of view of the author, often making heavy use of Internet "rubbish", of chat-rooms language, and the like.
[10] The most important attempts at "Googled" poetry in book form so far, in my view, are Word in Progress, by Aki Salmela (a Finnish poet writing in "English"),  Deer Hunt Nation, by K. Silem Mohammad, and Lyhyellä matkalla ohuesti jäätyneen meren yli, by Janne Nummela (Finnish).
[11] As I've indicated elsewhere, I tend to see the Flarfist initiative as a Modern version of Wordsworth and Coleridge's Lyrical Ballads project (1798): the same tapping into the language of the "common man", and same re-collecting (pun intended) of emotions (or e-motions) in a tranquil  (read: disturbed!) state. Also, there's a strong "confessional" element in Flarf, and it can also be seen as a return to/of normative aesthetics (to write "badly", you need to have some notion of what constitutes "good").
[12] All this ties up with the questions of poetry as occupation, very usefully taken up by Régis and Alcir in their paper (poetry as "a hobby" versus as "a modest way to earn a living"). I will not go any further into this here, except for saying that I've always liked Marx' formulation, in The German Ideology, re "the abolition of the division of labor" in the "Communist Society" where it will become possible "to hunt in the morning, fish in the afternoon, rear cattle in the evening, criticize after dinner" (replace with your own favourite occupations).
[13] My own main reservations re the thinking of Negri and Hardt would concentrate on their strong reliance on the Italian operaismo tradition, with its, as such fascinating, idea of all Capitalist development being ultimately based on workers' struggles – i.e. "whenever there's a strike, new machines get developed". To me, this seems to lead to an unwarranted glorification of many contemporary "movements" that are in fact quite "reactionary" from a Communist perspective (think of the "PCC" of Brazil again). On the other hand, not everything pointing towards a Communist utopia comes in the form of "struggles". Perhaps it has long since ceased to be a question of "struggles" at all? I still have the same problem with the place of "resistance" in Deleuze's thinking.