Nobody ever writes about Flarf but this child means to…
Receiving a copy of Ben Friedlander’s book, Citizen Cain (available from Salt Publishing), occasions this determination. I will review the book, but anon. I’ve decided—trying something wild here—to read it beforehand, so I won’t have to make up so much about it. Seriously, I look forward to reading it because Ben (can I call you Ben?) is both an able poet and scholar. No blister, he.
The Acknowledgments of Ben’s book surprised me because I am among those he acknowledges. I think as perspicacious scholar—he swam thru the papers of Charles Olson: think of those tides!—he felt obliged to leave no stone unturned. I earned my acknowledgment by being a member of the Flarf email list. I never really got the hang of making Flarf, tho I tried (and still, for fun, try). As a methodology if not as a promotional device, Flarf’s interesting. Tally ho with my inquest!
Flarf’s radicalism always had the force of people saying it had force. That is, the talk about Flarf seemed to center largely on the talk about Flarf. A note of mischief haunts the method, which seems how it differs from others who have trawled the queasy conclave of voices of the Internet. Flarf is funny. It hauls disembodied declarations ashore in unwashed context. This is found thing, and the Internet is nutty.
The invention of Flarf kinda lays heavily on a sense of legend that I do not find compelling. Critic as someone who likes a good story. It also depends on the slack critical ploy of lumping together. And of not lumping together. Those who did Flarfy methods prior to Flarf do not count? To some extent, yes, just as those who say they do, do. They all seem to disguise the act of reading behind a series of symbols that say ‘In’ or ‘Out’. I weary.
At one time, Impressionist labeled 6 specific people—Monet, Renoir, Manet, Degas, Morisot, and Sisley—and not necessarily kindly. Nowadays, it means anyone who paints with blurry colours. Critical acts are ignored in favour of association. Flarf got balled up in who was on what side, as if circles have sides. I’m getting steamed just thinking about this. A poem is the thing you read, not hear about.
Now, I have made Flarf poems, if you will accept my definition of a Flarf poem. Here is one I did yesterday.
They Said it on the Show Last Night
High rapture provides increased opportunities to mate with high rapture partners. This increases distant survival potential and social contributions of your other children distant same age. Distant child is said to have short rapture achieved level status. Rapture is an agile business evidence of rapture reduction in studies since 1984. Scott Lang distant second Ant-Man attracted to teammate Iron Lad (Nathaniel Richards), who soon left distant group, adopted distant codename "Rapture" and assisted distant Young Avengers against proportionate short rapture conditions. Distant Rapture of Anton Chekhov occupies relatively a central position in distant anthropometric research estimation of rapture of and individual from distant amputated Rapture of Things in Russian Thought. Distant focus of my work involved distant prediction of adult (age 18) rapture in children. What is distant rapture of limitations for felonies in Michigan? They don't have distant rapture to do it.
I collected phrases by searching on a term. For some reason, the word rapture came to mind. Actually, I searched on another term that, embarrassingly, I cannot remember. I then did Find & Replace to put rapture where my search term was. That was my method. If you want, as people sometimes do want in reference to Flarf, you can say that I did not write this poem because I did not make up the words. Remember Guy Davenport reporting someone asking him: “Is that a poem or did you just make it up?” What ev.
I’ve done worse. Sometimes I will run spellcheck over my sloppy typing and randomly accept choices. Sometimes I will ram the text thru Babelfish until something interesting appears. It’s fun if not always edifying. That’s what I know of Flarfian methods. Method, my friends, is red herring.
So when I do read Ben’s book, and try to come to terms with it, I will start with the poem before me. I will look at the words, see their connections, and go from there. I will only reference Ben’s recent embroglio with Lady Gaga as it elates to specific poems. Kirk out.