Monthly Archives: November 2008

Eagleton @ AUC

"Terror and Tragedy"
Terry Eagleton loomed large during graduate school, but I confess I haven’t read anything he’s written since then, or had any dreams about him. It was, however, surprisingly entertaining to see and hear him last night deliver the The Edward Said Memorial Lecture, “Terror and Tragedy,” before a giant banner of Said’s handsome visage in the fabulous Oriental Hall at the AUC downtown campus. (Photo by Aras Ozgun–or, probably–he took some pictures with his camera and so did I, but its likely that the legible ones were his.)

I think that what Eagleton said about terror and tragedy was not unlike what Susan Sontag and other American intellectuals said in the immediate wake of 9/11 (for which they were completely trounced)–i.e. that it might be a good moment for the US take a look at the man in the mirror (“…transcend darkness by the courage of the act of acknowledgement…”) Sontag, of course, was far more gutsy, saying what she did, how and when, but Eagleton’s talk benefitted from time and distance, an elegant interweaving of the modern concept of terror as a political act, with notions of the sublime and the effective invocation of a chorus line of tragic figures, political theorists, and rock stars of the western canon: from Marx to Michael Jackson, King Lear to Edmund Burke, Beckett to Brecht, Nietzsche to Madonna, Freud to Faust, Aristotle to Adorno, Oedipus, Jesus, Schopenheur, Acquinas, Hegel and Pinochet.

Crayon 5: On Beauty

Crayon Launch Party flyer
The new Crayon has been released. My poem, *subliminal city* appears there and my review of Kass Fleischer’s book, Accidental Species, from Chax Press. Here’s a full list of contributors: Beverly Dahlen, Kristen Gallagher, Joe Amato, Chris Daniels, Cecilia Vicuña, Nicole Brossard, Rob Halpern, Julie Patton, Robert Kocik, Carolee Schneemann, Sawako Nakayasu, Kristin Prevallet, Brenda Iijima, Steve Benson, Laynie Browne, Diane Ward, Thom Donovan, Alan Davies, Lisa Robertson, Michal Lando, Peter O’Leary, P. Inman, Jonathan Skinner, Andrew Klobucar, Alan Prohm, Linh Dinh, Belle Gironda, Roberto Harrison, Andrew Levy, Corey Mead, Ruth Danon, David Pavelich, John Shoptaw, Laura Sims, Sally Van Doren, Dan Machlin, Robin Tremblay-McGaw, Tom Hibbard, Stephen Vincent, Martine Bellen, Kass Fleisher, Chris Alexander, Matthias Regan, Pete Smith, Pat Reed, Judith Goldman.

It can be ordered through SPD–the link to Crayon above will take you there. Andrew sent the flyer, which is posted as a thumbnail above (not sure why it looks solarized) but I missed the launch party in New York by an ocean and a continent. Wish I could have been there to hear the latest on the workings of the Phoneme Choir (some of the earliest meetings of which I attended in a vault in the basement of a Wall street building–when Daria Fain and Robert Kocik had an LMCC Swing Space residency and built a makeshift anechoic darkroom there. ) Sorry also to have missed Julie Patton, after being so inspired by her performance at The Stone this summer.

In particular, I would have loved to hear the conversation about “Beauty, Ethics and the Political Body”–since I’ve had related (I think) questions on my mind. Living in a megalopolis in a “developing country” I’m experiencing and thinking a lot about tensions between my own desires for and expectations about urban aesthetics and the realities of a city that has no apparent plan or policies to deal with its ever expanding population and the concomitant inequalities. There are varieties of beauty here, everywhere, and some of them are typical examples of urban architectural achievement. But, many of these are also soot-stained, neglected, sometimes even abandoned, or simply so entangled with the ever shifting fortunes of the city: the rise and fall of various, dynasties, the changing path of the Nile, colonialism, the local politics of the last century–that its hard to simply experience them as “beautiful” or even to understand anymore, what that means.

I’m with you, if you find the “developing world” terminology confusing but Egypt does not really qualify as “Third World” but falls somewhere in the middle of those countries ranked as having “medium” human development indexes–a list that includes mostly African countries, as well as some from south and Central America, some from the Middle East and some from South and Central Asia. Egypt is ranked slightly above India but below the Palestinian Authority, Jamaica, and Nicaragua, for example.

Lot’s more to say about this (and I’m hoping that there are recordings of the Crayon event that will possibly pop up on the Penn Sound site–but, now I have to get some work done so I can go out this evening. Terry Eagleton is giving the Edward Said Memorial Lecture tonight at the downtown campus on “Tragedy and Terror.” No further clues, beyond the title, as to what he will talk about. I’ll report back.