Tuesday, December 11, 2007

STL #61: Numbers

Finding my place in the history of STL, and beginning again.

I promised this bibliographic essay on the numbering of the Simplest Things Last series in the then-unnumbered follow up to the "Test of Poetry." The problem at that time was how to account for my free-form, months long sporadic engagement with the poetry in Zukofsky's anthology. My obligation to my dissertation got the best of me, and I never posted under the title Simplest Thing Last again. Early this year, I claimed the blog spot that unsurprisingly no one had taken and began posting a handful of short essayistic pieces, but did not post them explicitly under the STL imprimatur. The Archives Series (and life, in the form of finishing the dissertation, landing and starting the job) overshadowed these original posts, but with that project over and the free time of winter break imminent, I'm finally ready to return to posting new pieces under the STL banner. First though, I want to sort through the very STL-ish pieces I've written and posted since June of 2005. Doing so will not only give me a number under which to file this, but will help me articulate my intentions for STL posts.

Following the demise of the first generation of STL, I posted (and have archived) 13 posts on my Locus site. The backstory of Locus is simply that it is a CMS created to give CWRL staffers a place separate from where the were posting class materials to work on personal or professional projects. The fluidity of the CMS allowed for powerful searching and sorting, but also broke down boundaries so that students might not recognize the difference between a personal blog post and course materials. My plan was to use Locus more as a notebook, to seed and build on future projects. After making an introductory sketch or blurb on a subject, I could search by tags later to add to or consult it. My 5th Locus post was simply notes on Other British Poetry compiled after reading the anthology by that name and denoting names of authors I'd like to read more of. These notes are then "other" than what I was doing with STL. They do not have a claim to completion nor the acknowledgment of a hypothetical reader. STL posts are nothing if not essayistic: they have some formal structure, a unified purpose or subject, and some notion of an audience. Locus notes thus do not qualify on any of these criteria, but the five posts tagged as "eleven" arguably meet them all. These annotated lists of eleven current enthusiasms do possess a formal structure and are written for an audience. Some clearly have a unified subject: Eleven for Free Comic Book Day is grouped around comics; Eleven from Best American Poetry 2005 is essentially a review of that book, just like STL # 7 reviewed the 2002 volume. The only Eleven that doesn't have an obvious unified theme is the one date 4/13/2006, number 7 in the series. Yet even this one traces a narrative from sickness to health. Therefore, I'm designating the following posts as part of the STL series:

STL 49/Locus 6 Eleven for 3/24/2006 (organized by nerdiness)
STL 50/Locus 7 Eleven for 4/13/2006 (sickness to health--not bad for a 50th post because it avoids the embarrassing pomposity I'd be predisposed toward)
STL 51/Locus 8 Eleven Poems from BAP 2005
STL 52/Locus 9 Eleven for Free Comic Book Day
STL 53/Locus 10 Basho's Narrow Road (selects 11 scenes from the problematic Cid Corman translation. This is a bit shorter and less developed than the others.)
I didn't record the date of Locus 10 and don't particularly want to go back to look. I know that it was summer of 2006, soon after I bought the translation in question on a trip to the West Coast. I bought it at a wonderfully shambly bookshop in Newport Oregon on the way down to San Francisco for a Charles Olson conference. (This will be important later.)

I got back into blogging with the current Blogger space, thanks in part to the conveince of Google gobbling up the company and in essence creating an account for me. (Flooding back to me at this moment is my "creative" blog buspoems which recorded poems I wrote while waiting for/riding the bus to work in the summer of 2005. Someday, someday.) In the current incarnation of STL, any essayistic post is by implication an edition of STL, since it was published under the heading. There must be exceptions: again, undeveloped notes do not count. By the tradition of the first post to the first blog, "meta" posts about what I intend to do don't count. Therefore, the first post to this incarnation, announcing the excellent goals

1. Catalogue my intellectual pursuits by reviewing various "cultural artifacts" like movies, books, and comics.
2. Articulate my critical perception of the world, especially in regard to aesthetics and information literacy.
3. Archive past writing from the aforementioned projects.

and Rules

1. Make one substantial post a week, on Tuesdays if possible.
2. Archive one previously written post per week, on Thursdays if possible.
3. Tag each post.
4. Review each quarter's posts to refine my taxonomy and revise these rules.
5. Eschew obsfucation.

(Yet this post is a meta post, is it not? It's more in depth then the first post or the "15 Minutes to Meta" post and it reflects on the cultural artifacts of previous posts rather than speculating on unwritten pieces. Yeah. That's it.)

Following the initial meta post, I posted 3 or 4 posts on appropriate topics and one underdeveloped post on teaching appropriately titled "Improvised Blather." On January 4 and 5, I posted "Reading Wang Wei" in two parts. After a gentle revision, this will become STL 54. "Three Thrillers" is a piece from which the properties of STL could be adduced. A loose structure drawing together related cultural artifacts, written in an affectedly "charming" style for the purpose of uncovering a personal aesthetic. "Three Thrillers" must be STL 55. The "Comics Round-up" is relatively unimpressive, but not in the manner of a note and so will be swept up as STL 56.

The "Blog Every Day Month" of November saw the end of the Archives Series, but also a few items of new content. Several of these are clearly notes or meta statements of practice ("meta statements of practice"?). Those that are not will also be incorporated into the STL numbering:
STL 57: Detachment (about getting rid of the materials objects of music)
STL 58: Horrorfest 2007
STL 59: Why Study Literature? The Usable Past
STL 60: 300 (followed by a note on a possible future post on the movie, which will certainly never be written)

I've written my way to the present STL 61, which re-institutes the Title/Description format. I do not intend to do the clerical work of editing the above posts in the near future, which makes this piece so important, dear reader. In the coming weeks, expect to see one or two posts on music listening practices, a reading roundup of some challenging and enjoyable novels, and the beginning of another Test of Poetry, this time based on Don Allen's New American Poetry anthology.