Scrapbook of my Life as a Flaneur: Poetics & Anxiety

At the KSW Negotiating the Social Bond of Poetics (NSBP) seminar led by Nicole Markotic (poet/critic/novelist, whose latest book is Scrapbook of My Years as a Zealot)

(my notes taken during Nancy Gillespie’s recap of previous seminars)

-We are entangled in the affect of neoliberalism / the society that demands complete enjoyment
-Fear of not getting on the property ladder (Jeff Derksen, NSBP seminar)
-Fear of pretty houses and their porches/Fear of biological wristwatches/Fear of comparison shopping/Dogs on leashes behind fences barking/Pretty little couches and floral pillows (Metric, “Patriarch on a Vespa”)
-At the end of analysis, the Lack of the Other is addressed / realized.

(my notes taken during Nicole Markotic’s talk on Freud/Lacan/Disability Studies/Prose & Poetry)

-The implication (in narrative/narrative cinema) that disability is an abject position
-Binary construction of abled body vs. disabled body

-Poetry as possibly rejecting the notion of a complete subject

-Can we think of hysteria as a social bond, as a confrontation to the Other?
-The patient constructs & reconstructs herself
-The hysteric’s relationship to desire
-The fragmented body // the mirror stage
To explicate fragmentation in poetry, Markotic refers to a prose poem from Lisa Robertson’s The Weather

The rain has loosened; we engage our imagination. The sentence opens inexpensively; we imagine its silence. The shrubs and fences begin to darken; we are deformed by everything. Therefore we’re mystic. The sky is closing in; we mediate an affect. The sky is curved downward; we desituate memory. The sky is dominant; we lop off the image. We come upon our thought. The sky is lusty; so are we.

and a poem from my chapbook fist things first, and asks me if my fragmented incomplete subject poetic voice in the piece is the hysteric, or is it the truth that no one else recognizes?
And I answer Yes.
A joke, an evasion, a verbal tuck-and-roll to expose the tummy and demonstrate friendly submission, as is my habit. But also perhaps the truth that cannot be spoken, which is nothing if not poetry.
I’m Depressed, You’re Hysteric
We discuss the fad of self-diagnosis (self-fragmentation?) Donato Mancini mentions the current fetishization of certain super- or supra-natural “mental disabilities” such as Asperger‘s or OCD, which suggests that the ideal or the new normal is now the super average. (i.e., “I have a disability, but it makes me extra smart!” or “I have a disability but it writes my poetry!” and also “I’m an asshole at parties because of my disability!”)
And I, ever the Populist Flaneur, remembered reading Leah McLaren in the Globe and Mail that morning, getting it right for once on chemical imbalances by suggesting that “the disease was invented to justify the cure.” But not speaking, not wanting to reveal my vulgar interpretations of theories I’ve only heard about or be seen quoting from the Globe instead of Althusser, or whoever I should be reading now.
Twitt, Twitt, Twitt, Twitt
That is, being intellectual, but not “an intellectual.” On the poetry that never went to grad school. That my recent, glib online comment

(Nikki Reimer) has thoughts and opinions, she just can’t back them up by citing any Known & Important Theorists

was liked or retweeted by several poet friends. C.L. suggested: “Play-invent a theorist. Throw a multisyllabic last name into the conversation, and people will nod, too afraid to admit they’ve never heard of Elsanov or Tattakana.”

Wait, do we all feel this way? Then why the fuck do we all perpetuate it? Me, who’s never read Zizek, but who may start citing Zelichosky (the name of my great-great-grandfather) when I need to express my own opinion, who wants to participate in conversations about poetry but who needs to keep one foot in the populist world because I need to know enough middlebrow-culture to be relatable when I’m out in the workforce. Or maybe that’s a lie I tell myself. Maybe I prefer the middlebrow, am comfortable in the middlebrow, don’t challenge myself enough to reach the highbrow, to digest the important or the difficult.

Choose Your Poison Carefully
That the choice between the Online Social Media World of Liking & Reposting and the High Theoretical Academic World of Ready-Made Opinions and conversations that require works-cited addendums is in fact no choice at all. I’m ever the flaneur, ever mixing poetry with theory with journalism with pop music, ever searching for a non-ex(is)tant third way to live. Always one foot in the colloquial mouth of the horse.

Ooops, I (read the Globe and Mail) Again
It was a John Barber article on books & e-readers. Barber quoted Kate Pullinger,

e-book pioneer and Book Summit speaker, (who) wishes more writers would make an effort to find out what today’s horseless carriage really wants to be.

“Writers need to be really seriously engaging with the new ways to tell stories that these technologies potentially allow us,” she says.
On her own account, Pullinger is experimenting with hybrid forms that use images, videos, text, music and sound to tell a story. “It’s a very different experience from reading a novel,” she says. “But I think there’s room for this kind of form within the realm of literature.”
Me, one in the morning, hysterical that I have to figure out The New Way to Write. That my poems need pictures video flashing lights and hyperlinks. My partner, ever-patient, ever-suffering, “Writing is composition with words. Anything else isn’t writing.” He at 35 says he’s too old to learn new media composition. Me at 30 on the cusp between Gens X & Y, not sure about that, not sure I don’t need to immerse myself in new technologies to keep from being left behind. Hysteric, hysteric.
At the end of the blog post, the I was still the lack and remained othered to itself. The I was fragmented, disabled by its subjectivity. The I was hysteric, ran a red and end(ed) up/crushed under the wheel.


Nikki Reimer wrote a book called [sic]. She freaks out about stuff in Vancouver.

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