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ART IS WAR Anne Boyer


“Sloth hath made me a millionaire!” —Rusticus Perfidy, at the foot of Mt. Spent

O SHIT THAT I BE LOCAL FLESH O SHIT THAT I BE LED O SHIT THAT I’LL BE ONLY WORDS O SHIT THAT I’LL BE DEAD —found spray-painted near Lascaux

June 2008 Mitzvah Chaps Lawrence, Kansas


MY CONTENT IS DESIRE, 20 difficult ways to publish poetry, 2 from “cities gardens houses villages systems of government or space colonies I have imagined,” 1 “salt beast ballad,” 1 brief Essay on the Writing Down of Ideas, 1 tiny Roman à Clef, + “I wake in the morning to inflated liberty” or Plans for Love


DIFFICULT WAYS TO PUBLISH POETRY On December 14th and December 15th, 2006, I had been thinking about difficult ways to publish poems. On December 16th, 2006, I told a friend that I am also a conceptual artist, and therefore like to have artistic ideas. I said I had an artistic idea about making a collection of difficult ways to publish poems because poems should be scarce, precious, rare, expensive, etc. On the 14th and 15th, the concept was to execute these difficult ways to publish poems, one poem a year, until my death (at approximately eighty-three, giving me fifty poems across my lifespan published difficultly). The difficult publication would therefore have to be difficult, but not impossible, and certainly possible within a time-span of a year (taking into consideration, also, other obligations like work/family/community activism/travel/illness, etc.). On the 16th, after telling my friend about the idea, he suggested difficult ways to publish poetry which went well beyond the parameters of the possible. On the 16th of December, wishing to do something with these very difficult techniques, I thought it would be better to curate/share the techniques with other poets so that they might use them to publish their work. My first thought was to set up a difficult-poempublication-workshop with work stations providing the essential materials for each concept. In station 1, for example, I would supply a cage of hamsters, miniature splints and foot-binding materials, etc. It was pointed out to me that not only would this workshop have fairly expensive overhead, but that people would be unlikely to travel to Des Moines, Iowa, to work on difficult publication of their poems.


I then decided to make dioramas of difficult poem publication techniques, but I did not have enough shoeboxes. Eventually these difficult poem publication techniques ended up on the Internet, and at one point these were presented to a crowd of sixty to one hundred people in Atlanta, Georgia, in spring of 2007. It is not as simple as one might think to have suitable artistic thoughts for the “difficult ways to publish poetry” project. For example, I have been advised not to publish my ideas about infecting the pores on my declared enemies’ bodies so that the blemishes might spell out the words of poems. Apparently, this idea had at least two problems: 1) the feelings of my enemies might be hurt, and 2) people do not like to read or think about infected pores. This was disappointing, because the plan involved first making my enemies sit in a hot sauna for thirty minutes, which would have been relaxing and might have improved their demeanor. As well, I have written, and then blocked out with thick black permanent marker, many difficult ways to publish that involve overt sexual content, like two or more attractive amateurs making love on film and climaxing with a punctuation mark of fluids (this is particularly useful for the many poems that involve exclamation points). Indeed, my trusted advisers have cautioned me not to make public any difficult ways to publish poetry that involve human or animal fluids, including but not limited to ejaculate, urine, saliva, gushings, and leakages. I have not included any ideas about using the heat-fluids of fertile raccoons. I have not included my many ideas about Stallions. Sometimes I have edited my original ideas so as not to seem cruel. In the “Sociopathic Tendencies” idea, now


titled “Haters & Fakers,” I had, the night before, falling to sleep, devised neo-baroque and/or Dadaistic forms of torture that the thugs would perform on the haters and fakers in the ballroom of the Hilton. The morning light was awful, reflecting off the snow here, and in it, I realized that to write out these forms of torture would make look the project appear to be that of a sadist. But without detailing precisely what “strong-arming” means (for example, making poets sit for one hour with spoons dangling from their noses), the idea seems hollow, or perhaps, more generously, “elliptical.” I am not so fond of what stands as I was of what I imagined in my twilight sleep. I have restrained myself from including too many ideas that involve environmental pollution (setting oil wells on fire, for example, or spilling colorful toxins into reservoirs). Any artistic project, including a project of artistic thoughts, involves a mediation between the vulgas and vulnus, the crowd and the wound. Thus, I continue to hold back from you, the crowd of dozens, these most painful and potentially unpopular of my ideas.


1. Husbandry Breed a race of small rodents whose feet are shaped like letters or use rodent-foot-binding to fashion letter shapes. Ink rodent feet with saffron ink grown/harvested by hand. Train rodents to walk in shapes of poems on paper made of sloughed skin cells of celebrities and desiccated truffles. supplies: rodents, splints, rags, (and/or radioactive material to cause genetic mutations), saffron crocus, land on which to grow saffron crocus, rodent training manual, loofahs of celebrities, pigs, France, truffle-filled woods 2. Sharpshooting Fashion individual bits of metal type into the tips of bullets. Have poet/publisher sit with a variety of different rifles and the type-laced bullets on the roof of a tall building. Across the way, target holders emerge in the windows of an apartment building across the street from the poet. Most will be holding slates on which poems will be bullet-printed. Every fiftieth target holder will be holding not a slate, but an explosive sheet. The poet must, hitting the right target at the right time, imprint her poems. supplies: guns, bullets, metal type, bullet/type merging materials, people, slates, tall apartment buildings, defense attorney 3. Sewistry Collect hair from living poets. Alphabetize hair. Spin hair into thread. Use poet hair thread to secretly embroider poems into textiles in public spaces (bus


upholstery, hotel curtains, etc.). Take care to use appropriate thread for letter embroidered: for example: a = anselms and annes. supplies: poet hair, alphabet labels, spinning wheel, needles, embroidery instruction book, public textiles, surreptitious-making equipment (disguises, etc.)


4. Carrion Arrange animal corpses in the shapes of letters in the shapes of words in the shapes of the lines of a poem. Wait for scavengers to eat flesh off bones. Using crayons and a giant sheet of newsprint take rubbings of the bones. Scan rubbings into the computer. Print on iron-on photo-transfer paper. Iron photo transfer paper onto an apron. Embroider. Give to chef to wear on TV cooking show. Your poem would be published on TV! supplies: dead animals, spread of land, giant sheet of newsprint, computer, scanner, printer, iron-on photo transfer paper, thread, needles, mailing supplies, chef, television cooking show 5. Reproduction For an eighty-word poem, birth/adopt eight children. Name each of them eleven names (their surname + ten words from your poems). Teach each child ten poses, each indicating one of their names. Take family portraits of the children in poses representing the name that corresponds to a word in your poem. Tape the portraits together until it is your poem. supplies: children, camera, scotch tape, child-rearing environment 6. Industrial Agriculture (gmo) Hang out at the Pioneer Hybrid campus. Cause insecure but very bright genetic engineer to fall in love with me. Also befriend other genetic engineer for intelligence purposes (the spy).


Toy with genetic engineer 1, withholding and then offering my affection in random and terrifying patterns, at least until he/she is spinning, swoony, and willing to do anything to win me. Suggest, indirectly, that I would commit myself fully to someone who would genetically alter seed corn so that the corn kernel gradation/shading spelled out words I use in my poems. Over regular beers & an expensive gaming system, ask spy for the low down. Listen to the spy’s reports on the progress of swoony genetic engineer as he/she labors secretly in the lab, hoping to surprise me with my poem grown under husks in a field of seed corn. Finally, one midsummer a few years down the road, drive with swoony genetic engineer to a test field. Strip husks of corn to find my poem. Pretend to be surprised. Take a photo. Put photo on Flickr. Tell genetic engineer it won’t work out. supplies: gym membership, lip gloss, expensive gaming system, beer, camera, Flickr account 7. Pneumatics Install pneumatic tubes leading from the Franklin Court Apartments in Des Moines, Iowa, to world poetry capitals: Brooklyn, Oakland, Austin, Reykjavik, Arcata, Tallahassee, Amsterdam. Shoot poetry. supplies: pneumatic tube installing equipment, pneumatic tubes, capsules 8. Phosphorescence (non-gmo) Collect mason jars at garage sales and thrift stores. Take in five stray black cats. Befriend a large group of


lower elementary students. In June, invite children over and hand them mason jars. As night falls, send children throughout the city to collect fireflies. Serve cookies as a reward when children return. Use contents of firefly rears to create phosphorescent tattoo ink. Sedate black cats. Shave patches on the sides of cats. Tattoo poems onto cats. When cats wake, send cats into the city. That night, in the darkness, watch as green poems are published in the frolic and glow. supplies: mason jars, razors, cats, cookies, needles, phosphorescent fixative, sedative


9. Community Service Become a judge. Convince friends to incite a confrontation between two moderately annoying groups of people: those who leave their Christmas decorations up past Christmas and grown women who call themselves “girls.� Also have friends light a string of black-cats during riot, causing panic & mild violence. Sentence moderately annoying rioters to community service painting poems on retaining walls. supplies: judicial robes, law degree, friends, black cats, lighter, paint 10. Optics Go to a good library and spend a few years studying light refraction, engineering, ancient civilizations who liked to mess with light, etc. Using rocks, holes in rocks, calendars, prisms, mirrors, and careful study, build a structure through which the sun, on summer solstice, will publish your poem. supplies: library card, rocks, rock lifting contraptions, drills, calendars, prisms, mirrors 11. Pollution Design large floating inflatable polymer trays in the shapes of letters/words. Have these manufactured. Take a cargo ship to sea. Inflate and drop trays into the ocean. At the same time, convince unhappy oil company workers to empty the holds of their tankers into the trays. From the air, the poem would look black and slick like an oil spill. Maybe try to set it on fire.


supplies: inflatable polymer tray manufacturing capability, cargo ship, crew, sea, oil company workers, matches (?)


12. Moby Dick Convince whales to choreograph their position and blowhole-blowing so that from the sky, their blowing water looks like words. supplies: whales, whale persuasion techniques 13. Action Movie Cliché Get skilled at computers. Hack into the main traffic control system for a community that needs some poetry—say, Sacramento. Cause traffic lights to blink out poems for Sacramento in Morse Code. supplies: computer, computer instruction, guide to the Morse code 14. Haters & Fakers Invite the fakers to a “creative writing” conference that promises to lead to tenure track positions and glossy perfect bound books. Invite the haters to an anti-conference with keynote speaker [xxx xxxxxx] and panels on hating chapbooks, hating perfect bound books, hating flarf, hating anti-flarfs, community, anti-communities, capitalism, anti-capitalism, the internet, the material world, poets, non-poets, people of color, people without any color, women, men, the lyric, the anti-lyric, etc. Make these the same conference in the same Hilton ballroom. Have gang of thugs lock the door and strong-arm haters and fakers into reciting poems before a video camera. Post videos on the Internet. These will be the poems. supplies:


ballroom, invitations, false advertising, thugs, video camera, internet access


15. Orchestral Befriend couple with musical ability. Encourage them to give birth to a boy baby. Allow them to name you baby’s godmother. Take godson to orchestral concerts, pay for music lessons, burn many orchestral discs. Make certain you have a firm, somewhat inappropriate influence over the child. Suggest that godson becomes a conductor. Support godson as he finds success as a conductor, then make a suggestion. Next concert, as he stands in front of the orchestra, watch as he moves his “conduction sticks” through the air in the shapes of letters of your poems. supplies: CDs, CD burner, cash for music lessons, tickets to concerts 16. Avian Visit Australian bird preserve. Hunt one Scarlet Chested Parrot for each word of your poem. Have parrots taxidermied with claws piercing a laminated piece of paper on which is printed each of your words. Return to U.S. with roomy trunk full of stuffed birds. On the grounds of Des Moines’ Franklin Court Apartments, nail each bird/word, in casual arrangement, on a bare winter oak tree. supplies: plane ticket, gun, bullets, roomy trunk, taxidermy payment, printer, laminate, nails, ladder, hammer 17. Monarchy Become king/queen of a small or medium-to-small nation. Lay train tracks in the shapes of words.


supplies: subject, crown, army, surveyors, steel, workers, wood


18. Death Write lines of poems on Post-it notes. Attend funeral of beloved community member. Look soft, round, and comforting. Hug weeping mourners, surreptitiously patting Post-it notes on their backs. supplies: obituary page, soft sweater, Post-it notes, pen 19. Monumental Architectures Join terrorist cell. Encourage terrorist cell to blow up dams/create dams on major waterways. Control the flows of creeks, streams, and rivers so that they sculpt the United States into your poem. supplies: mock ideological fervor, dynamite, concrete, map (alternate strategy: forgo terrorists, enlisting beavers to do the same) 20. Respiration Travel the globe having everyone you love breathe into empty water bottles. Cap breath quickly. Allow breath to condense into droplets. Dye droplets with food coloring. Combine breath-moist food coloring with powdered sugar and milk. Use as icing on fortune cookies which contain your poems. Feed to strangers. supplies: loved ones, plane tickets, empty water bottles, food coloring, custom baked fortune cookies, strangers


from “cities gardens houses villages systems of governments or space colonies I have imagined� 1. THE HOUSE I HAVE IMAGINED THAT ENFORCES ISOLATION BUT DENIES PRIVACY In this house the rooms are not large enough for two or more people to sit or stand or work, nor is the furniture general or flexible, nor do the rooms or furnishings allow for anything more than a lone activity. There is a room exactly for peeling a cucumber alone just as there are lightless, cushioned rooms almost wide enough for sleeping (alone). This house, ideal for a family or three or four, allows only for a passing acquaintance among its inhabitants or at its most generous a series of ill-timed intrusions. Without doors or hallways, the house is made of many interlocking rooms allowing no person to move from her room with a bed to that room with a blender without walking through, also, the room with a toilet or the room with the handle to flush that toilet. What an interesting house, with its four small rooms each only a few inches larger than the perimeter of its wooden chair. 2. THE SYSTEM OF GOVERNMENT I HAVE IMAGINED THAT ALLOWS THE REST OF US TO PET COLLIES Those thirty percent of humans who are found to be aggressive would be given an entire mineral-rich continent to themselves and would be told that they were to rule the world via remote control, telephones, computers, red shiny push buttons, etc.


Those seventy percent of humans who were not so aggressive but enjoyed making art, raising families, doing interesting work, petting collies, and other gentle activities would in fact govern themselves, but on a weekly basis their most clever artists would make films and other false documents of their own oppression, victimization, and exploitation by the thirty percent who believed they were in power. Things would go on like this, full of false blood.


SALT BEAST BALLAD O ash the flesh—the local end— the weaker beast, the sour— the lesser licking meteors— the muscular—the hours. The grim origination ate the grim of poser’s mire— The salt not salt: nor we have crust to freak the meat—the fire.


A BRIEF ESSAY ON THE WRITING DOWN OF IDEAS As far back as the month of December in the year 2006, my writing was near to the writing of Ideas, but what I wrote at that time were not Ideas but impressions of my own and others’ artistic thoughts. An Artistic Thought differs from an Idea in that an Artistic Thought, while informed by one or more ideas, is evidentiary, and an Idea is not itself evidence but that which evidence must attempt to prove. Before I began writing down Artistic Thoughts, I was on the project of writing down Impressions. The advantage of writing down Impressions, particularly of lonely and cold places in the hinterlands between seas, or of yard animals, is that Impressions in themselves are unlikely to be of interest to others. To occupy oneself with projects of no interest to anyone is a generally winning idea. To be of no interest to anyone is a reliable evolutionary strategy as one sees in birds whose feathers are the color of dirt, rabbits who turn white in the winter, green caterpillars, and so on. The advantage of writing Artistic Thoughts, an activity which I will likely continue, is that thinking Artistic Thoughts is a useful way to woo oneself into sleep, and sleep is useful for one’s health and mental well being. Also, writing down these Artistic Thoughts is a pleasurable activity, like recording the narratives of dreams. Artistic Thoughts, like dreams, may or may not be of interest to anyone, depending upon who has them. The advantage of writing down Ideas is that these Ideas neither have to be one’s own (this is particularly an advantage over Impressions, which are almost


always a result of subjective experience, and unique to the individual’s time and place), nor is one required to embrace, understand, or even necessarily be interested in the Ideas one writes down.


ROMAN À CLEF He first pulled out his stiletto knife, and cut off a large crust of malignant narcissism: the outside of this malignant narcissism he rubbed with garlic till it shone like a walnut-wood table in an English farmhouse; the inside he saturated with oil and vinegar. By the time he had done that, the malignant narcissism looked like a cold poultice in a polished calf-leather saucer. He ate this with voracious enjoyment while I looked at him. He said, “Personally (when I have my high-heeled boots on) I stand five feet, three inches high. Let me at once acknowledge—for I have no concealments from posterity—that I am, outwardly, what is termed a little man. I have nothing great about me but my mustache and my wrath; I am of the sallowcomplexioned order of fellows.” He was polite, talkative, and apparently somewhat infested by fleas. I had an explanation with him on the last-mentioned of his personal characteristics. He asserted consolingly, that the fleas were not likely to leave him to go to me. Trusting he was right, I changed the subject and asked about his history. His answer tended to show that he had been ill-used and misunderstood by everybody from his cradle. His father, his mother, his relations, the police, the high populace and the low populace, throughout every degree—they had all maltreated, persecuted, falsely accused, and unrelentingly pursued him. He attributed this miserable state of things partly to the invincible piety and honesty of his character, which, of course, exposed him to the malice of the world. In more severe cases, the existence of the other person’s mind and life is simply of no consequence. A tyrant can throw someone into a shredding machine without


a second thought because the victim only matters in relation to how he can support the grandiosity of the tyrant; beyond that, he is faceless, nameless, worthless. It was no accident that he was surrounded by sycophants who all grew mustaches to look just like him. He wept as he said this—his mustache became a disconsolate mustache with the tears that trickled down it. I sympathize with him already in spite of the fleas. The fleas were a syndrome characterized by antisocial features, paranoid traits, and egoaggression. He presented as pathologically grandiose, lacking in conscience and behavioral regulation with characteristic demonstrations of joyful cruelty and sadism. I said to him, “Do you know malignant narcissism can be differentiated from psychopathy because of the malignant narcissists’ capacity to internalize both aggressive and idealized superego precursors, leading to the idealization of the aggressive, sadistic features of the pathological grandiose self of these patients?” He was so profoundly affected that he cried over it, just as he cried over his own history. How stolid is a psychopath’s paranoid stance against external influences that makes them unwilling to internalize even the values of the “aggressor,” while malignant narcissists are also said of being capable to develop some identification with other powerful idealized figures as part of a cohesive “gang” which permits at least some loyalty and good object relations to be internalized.


I wish he would not smell quite so strong. Poor lamb! Poor persecuted, lost sheep! the malicious world has singed the wool off your innocent back!


I WAKE IN THE MORNING TO INFLATED LIBERTY (or plans for love) We will be more-or-less the Internet, or ant farms filled with gold dust and sapphire encrusted ants. We will televise rabbits without permission, and photograph smaller-than-cow animals alone in rooms with tools, each animal alone for an hour: a frog and a jackhammer, a goat and a drill. During every opera, a person on stage will be waiting to catch a ride If we are allergic to power, we will hire someone to have power for us. And with our mild tempers, we will not wake up the people of the French ghettos at sunrise. We will knock on the doors of the ghettos of France with a quiet knock at respectful hours. Dirt Bikes could end everything: desire revised in the service of Capital. For each other we will be newscasters of our own good news. Tammi is 32. She has two children: Sarge and Billy. She has a white German Shepherd named Destiny. Destiny has a puppy, Sierra. This is Destiny’s child.

ART IS WAR  

Mitzvah Chaps, 2008

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