John Bloomberg-Rissman’s In the House of the Hangman

I just started reading John Bloomberg-Rissman‘s ongoing project In the House of the Hangman, which is a great example of a massive, sprawling, polyphonic, 21st century collage that considers the bibliographic and textual sublime with wise and steely eyes.  I’ve only read a smidgen of it now but there are sections that are wildly beautiful.  The project seems like a tremendous response to William Carlos Williams’ memorable question (from Spring and All) “What about all this writing?” 

Here’s the end of “In the House of the Hangman 350”:

I heard an unfinished diagram scrambling and unscrambling itself somewhere in the burnt-out suburbs of beta centauri. Folklore of lightning. Factored hive collapse. So this shaky notation. The gears of any machine are ragged. Network solutions likewise culled to distract luckless stars from portending blessed shades of flight into a conquered wood razed by thrashing combines.

This last bit quotes from my recent poem “when i put my ear to the earth” (which is on display now at the “Fracking: Art and Activism against the Drill” exhibition at Exit Art) and I’m very pleased to be a source.   In the House of the Hangman is part of a larger project called Zeitgeist Spam, which, according to Bloomberg-Rissman, is about “[w]hat it’s like to be alive today. It’s a ‘poem including history’, and therefore in Poundian terms an epic. And as a comtemporary epic, it’s a ‘poem without a hero’ (Akhmatova), or rather, a ‘poem in which the hero is all-or-none of us.’ Therefore it’s written by all of us, in a manner of speaking, and assembled by me. It’s a giant mashup.”

As I’m interested, myself, in textual mashups and appropriation, as well as the contemporary long poem, I look forward to learning more about Zeitgeist Spam and seeing more sections of In the House of the Hangman unfold.

~ by Michael Leong on March 2, 2011.

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