Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Googling oneself and the Internet; Book Reviews

It's hilarious to watch Homer Simpson google himself in his childllike narcissism, and no doubt many of us do it. It's amazing how Google constantly pares references down for redundancy until they build up again. When I google myself I find it much work; I find published poems whose web pages I never bothered to save, comments about me at forums that I sometimes reply to, references from lists of which I'm not aware--and it becomes work, and slightly unmanageable at that.

It's like eavesdropping on oneself in the cyberworld--but not oneself, rather the objectified self of one's work. Since my metier is poetry, most of the references concern it, excepting my essays and contributions from my blog. My music is starting to pop up since I added it to my website, and that's gratifying. But these objectified representations of me are not me. Nor are they celebrity; even Billy Collins could walk through a supermarket unrecognized, one of the benefits or our arcane art. No one wants to know the size of my underwear--at least yet (I don't wear it). As P. D. James wrote, "Privacy is the last luxury"--and through media overload, privacy is sacrificed for promotion, though in my case it's the work and not me. Still I am horrified to see my address and phone number listed at various poets' lists.

In all of this I remind myself it's the work, the process of the work, that counts, not the result or the resultant attention. Still, the web invites us to objectify ourselves in a way not heretofore seen.

I think the four greatest inventions in human history are fire, language (spoken then written--recorded history does not begin until about 3500 B.C.), the Gutenburg press, and the Internet. Think of that--the most transforming technological advance in the last 600 years has been within our lifetime. The implications of Big Brother's spying in this context are immense, but on the other hand, the sheer volume of information makes it somewhat unmanageable--what search algorithms are for.

Spit out into the ether and it will find a wall to dry on.

The convenience of the net is also incredible. Last night I wondered if moles were really blind, and I found that some can sense light and motion. Now I have to look into bats to make sure the trope, "Blind as a bat," is not undermined as well.

I read a new book by Anny Ballardini that is truly unique: "Ghost Dance in 33 Movements," essentially her master's thesis for a MFA. It chronicles 33 avante garde movies in verse and quotations, trying to reproduce the experience of film in symbols. A noble attempt, and one that spurs the reader to investigate the films she has chosen, which can be referenced through UbuWeb It's published by Otoliths, whose journal I've been lucky enough to appear in. Given the miracle of the web, I could write Anny immediately through Facebook and get a reply.

The world is shrinking, shrinking, shrinking, and you are part of it. The objectification of humans is proceeding apace, and any yahoo can put up a website or start a magazine or put a movie out on U Tube. It's amazing, this universal forum, and I think the greatest enemy of Totalitarianism the world has ever seen. Imagine if the Jews had had the internet during the beginning of their persecution in Nazi Germany. The whole world would have known of it, and powers would have been summoned to their defense. If the pen is mightier than the sword, then the internet is the most powerful engine to date in changing history, and we are a part of it. As the exponential explosion of information proceeds, there will be little that is not known anymore, much less not available to anyone who wants to stick their nose in it.

When I think about my first computer and the dot matrix printer and the early manifestations of the internet and compare it to the canvas we now have, its evolution is also astounding. And here I am, typing into the ether again.

I don't know if I've mentioned some new publications for your perusal. So far two reviews are out about my book, one at the Hobble Creek Review blog (see Feb. 15th's post) and one in the new issue of Centrifugal Eye (see pg. 71; I also have two poems in the issue). Moreover, Ambush Arts has featured me with a poem, an interview, an artist's statment and myriad links. John Thomas treats his authors well, though it was difficult to qualify. I first sent him five poems and he liked one, then asked me to send more. He finally chose my recent, "With My Dog in the Rain," from the second batch, which I posted here, though he had an editorial suggestion to which I submitted. A demanding and discerning editor.

Meanwhile I need to stop these literary activities and concentrate on my garden, which I've avoided because of the recent weeks of rain. This year I plan to plant only deer-resistant flowers. Those of you who follow this blog will remember last year's war with the deer, which I lost. I don't want any vegetables tempting them this time around.

False spring continues on the Mendocino coast; daffodils and hyacinths are blooming, even blackberry brambles--all too early for our normal timeline. Even rhododendrons have begun. It's spring in February.

I've also begun a theological correspondence with the Christian editor of Rose and Thorn, a magazine that will soon feature another review of my book. (They have nominated me for a Pushcart Prize in the past, but I don't think Pushcart gives much credence to net publications.) So far the reviews are distinctly encouraging; I may be a poet after all! ;-)

And have I spoken recently of the joy my dog, J. Alfred Prufrock, gives me? He walks me daily, and to see his diminutive form leap over the tall grass like a gazelle in pursuit of deer gives me unspeakable pleasure, pure joy in his athleticism and indomitable hunting instincts. I love the daily experiences that transport me beyond language.

At 1 Kilobunny,


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