Friday, May 10, 2013



Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking by Tan Lin
(Wesleyan, 2010)

A conversation between Rhoda Rosenfeld and Edric Mesmer


What blows me away looking into 7CVs at last is how much it “looks” like jam ismail’s self-published, hand stitched book,  sexions
Typography and layout, small photos and iconography and discontiguity.  What do Cantonese iconographs have to do with this if anything?
The  content's a different story.

Barthes writes, “the tutor text”…

The writing cancels itself out immediately as it is read. Without the emotional, read, the bourgeois, writing leaves no traces.


how do you remember your reading?...auditory…visual, if not also spatial.

a friend I grew up with once told me that when writing her homework she imagined the letters sailing across an electronic ticker tape! talk about [Hannah Weiner meets Jenny Holzer at long division]!

I keep thinking: the writing here has no center, is squarely peripheral. there is a spatialization that eliminates the predominance of centering, which is not to say of focus — there are here many intentional and inadvertent, if perhaps impromptu, foci.

Tyrone Williams somewhere wrote (in my paraphrase): “every emergence of a platform is a masking of other platforms.”

traces erased include the bourgeois reading, layered as it is with the ego of individuality and the consumerist of capital.

I'm reminded of my minding (in earlier conversation) the “beauteous reader” and your reminding me “what if the ‘beauteous reader’ is itself a platform?”


ok, say you get rid of the ego, what do you do with the body? 

“…that in a situation of idleness the subject is almost dispossessed of his consistency as subject. He is decentered, unable even to say “I.”  
this is a quantum subjectivity that spreads out as it’s interspersed with everything else. in other words, spaced out. 
a reciprocity, indivisibility. There’s more to this than meets the retina.

t. l. is a book hacker. this is a hacked book.  the joy of cooking up a book.  
Duchamp’s behind it.  when he writes Dew-champ, he’s jealous.  “the era of emotion is over”.   attempting to distract the inevitable. 

e-motion. the reader and the text together create a virtual (once known as the imagination). “the pleasure of the text is that moment when my body starts following its own ideas.”  Barthes

(in C, pg.22):  sequencing.  it’s what he’s blowing apart  keeping all the conventions of book but out of traditional order. he explodes with wild and wonderful socio-cultural aphorisms.
the displeasure of the text.  he wants to keep the frequencies of the language steady and middle.          controlled vocabulary.            mood.       i’ve often wished there was a tv channel where you could watch the luggage being scanned at the airport. that’s the quality of reading i think he’s getting at. 

i love writing about reading and this is.  see also Lisa Robertson’s Nilling.

It’s the silence of the act of reading that allows you to hear internally, the same silence that allows the voice of writing. 


That’s it, though, isn’t it?

       ego [+] body

the symbolic body the book, an embodiment of knowledge. the corpus the codex. is that what Tan Lin wants?—to disembody knowledge from the perceived sanctity of the book?

if so: there seems a desire to sift knowledge [as meaning] from book; ironically, still embodied in the “book[ish]ness” of 7CVO&2004JoC – that is: anatomized remainder, in search of new content.

these are stylistic bracketings from Riding; talking the maximist’s walk:

Q. “Cookbooks are the most empty diagrams of our lives. Reading a cookbook is an exercise in extreme loneliness” ([108]).

Ans. ______________________________________________________

Q. “The best books are the ones that read like paintings, and the best paintings are the ones that read like quotation marks” (116).

Ans. ______________________________________________________

Q. “The best movies would consist only of words or letters. Unlike images, letters never change” (212).

Ans. ______________________________________________________


...or perhaps the quotations are answers to questions yet unasked.


yes, maybe, as you say, to disembody knowledge (is it knowledge?) from the sanctity of the book, shake it up, juggle it around, letting genres spill one into another and then to re-embody it giving the reader possibility for new neural branchings. the habits of reading, automatic expectations challenged.

these quotations you give and all the other statements make for good arguments cause he’s a philosopher.

his work is a good answer to the question, what has been the effect of the computer on the book-reading-writing of.  mcluhan comes to mind.


I dunno if it's knowledge...

information vs. knowledge

(continuum  binary  mobius?)

controlled vocabularies, as you mention, work by approximation, often called tags.
there are terms herein ‘tagging’, also in the digital sense, though without reference.

think I’d rather see a gel electrophoresis of tags (often called ‘folksonomies’ when not controlled (uncontrolled?)) than a dissection of paratext...

&, agreed: per my Comp 101 students (Spring 2010)   & per Lisa Robertson’s Nilling


text everywhere thought is


I’d love to see a gel electrophoresis of tags too. what could it possibly look like? is that gel as in transparency?
and wouldn’t it be fun to see a controlled vocabulary that loses it and goes wild.   It’s interesting also to think of the other possible meanings of controlled vocabularies, of course.

(February—March 2013)


Rhoda Rosenfeld lives and works in Vancouver. Her work has been published most recently in issue #6 of the poetry magazine Yellow Field.

Edric Mesmer collates Yellow Field poetry magazine from Buffalo, where he currently serves as cataloger to the Poetry Collection of the University at Buffalo. Recent work appears in Cordite 41.1: Ratbaggery.


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