[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ]


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b8
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b9
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b10
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b11
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b12
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b13
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b14
[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b15
Works Cited
Critical Statement


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b8

of simple distillation
A blinding green cloud, a seething astern,
the scattered plasticity of that nameless recombining,
a distance widened with every second of the alert.
The course of the blood, the pulse, excretion,
and breathing; motions peculiar and continued without.
The same lulling sounds, the giver of oblivion,
an idea which has no composition at all.


18 [It] obstinately makes no claims on originality. On the contrary, it employs intentionally self and ego effacing tactics using uncreativity, unoriginality, illegibility, appropriation, plagiarism, fraud, theft, and falsification as its precepts; information management, word processing, databasing, and extreme process as its methodologies; and boredom, valuelessness, and nutritionlessness as its ethos. Language as junk, language as detritus (Goldsmith, “Conceptual Poetics”).


19 Such an operation is described in cybernetics and systems theory as the first-order observation, whereby the observer, by virtue of the blind spot, only «sees the world»— i.e. the marked state—but «does not see the difference between the unmarked and the marked world». (Ma, “From Innovation”)


20 A seamless whole is inconceivable except as a synthesis of these very parts, that is, the linkages between its components form logically necessary relations which make the whole what it is (DeLanda, New Philosophy).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b9

this matter of the use of particles
The figure and motion a sharp piece of steel,
of pain intelligible to the meanest capacity,
a great morbidity, most palpable abuse
the use of words without distinct ideas,
these contrasted views a city in desertion,
a growing ruin of the favor of God.
I felt light, and hunger, and thirst, and darkness;
innumerable sounds annexed to sovereignty,
peace and war, counsellors and syndics,
the power to attain some future good.
The significations of this particle, where sense
of logic and continuity break down.
I spent the day roaming, on things which are not,
but appear to men as if they were real.


21 Here is a writer to whom originality is almost an inspiration borrowing the greater number of his best lines, creating hardly any himself. It seems to us as if The Waste Land exists in the greater part in the state of notes (Brooker, T.S. Eliot 110).


22 Obviously, I am only like someone else: mimetic logic of the advent of the ego, objects, and signs. But when I seek (myself), lose (myself), or experience jouissance—then “I” is heterogeneous. Discomfort, unease, dizziness stemming from an ambiguity that, through the violence of a revolt against, demarcates a space out of which signs and objects arise (Kristeva, Powers 1).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b10

cyclopean masonry
He read the account of my misfortune
in all sorts of subjects, species of things,
each of which its peculiar essence,
these different accidents of life,
volumes that lay there unbound.
The rage of the whole multitude
visible enough, a jurisdiction given,
nothing less than the tangible substance,
the deep that no axe has ever cut.


23 [T[he more significant problem with autopoietic systems theory is that in its focus on the internal functioning of the entity, it tends towards a conception of entities that carry out their functions in a purely frictionless space, where each entity is a complete sovereign encountering no constraints from the world around it (Bryant, Democracy 195).


24 [C]ited passages can be juxtaposed and spliced so as to produce the precise effects the critic/biographer is looking for without ever commenting in his or her own person. The result is a poetry that neatly avoids what Charles Olson called “the lyrical interference of the ego” even as it makes it possible for the poet to present a highly individual view of the subject in question (Perloff, “John Cage”).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b11

inconsistent multiplicities
My rage was without bounds;
impelled by all the feelings which can arm one being
against the existence of another, in shapes and forms
long since withdrawn before the tide of advancing humanity.
The last appetite, the aversion, the immediate action;
these invisible agents wrought their effects,
and I imagine none of the definitions of the word
we yet have, nor descriptions of that sort of animal,
are so perfect and exact.
But essences are supposed to remain steadily the same,
a frightful stench, a savage consolation; accused
of having caused the death. Such limitation is not always easy,
or perhaps possible to be described in writing,
where the letters themselves fall silent.


25 ‘Language, on the other hand, typically plays a catalytic role which assumes that both speakers and listeners have complex internal organizations. This internal order, however, is only partially explained by material causes (such as possessing a nervous system) and implies more elaborate mechanisms. In particular, the capacity of human beings to be affected by linguistic triggers (as well as by nonlinguistic expressions of solidarity, legitimacy or prestige) demands explanations in which reasons for acting are involved and, in some cases, by explanations involving motives. Roughly, while reasons may be exemplified by traditional values or personal emotions, motives are a special kind of reason involving explicit choices and goals (DeLanda, New Philosophy 22).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b12

of invisible things
It is no news to me that tales of hidden races
are as old as all mankind. This perpetual fear,
the ignorance of causes, another great abuse of words,
a design running over a multitude of things,
one in which all voluntary thought
is swallowed up and lost.


26 In a sequence of recognition-translation events, different steps may have very different information content, or vocabulary. For instance, a connex of texts may include a text which recognises a result of recognition, i.e. a text or behavioural act which appears as a result of previous recognition. The act can be interpreted as a step in the recognition-translation sequence, only its vocabulary may be of a much lower order than the vocabulary of some other step, for instance a sensoric one. The higher information content of some intermediate step could be a result of its preservation by an intermediary self-(re)producible cycle. (Kull, “Organism”).


27 This method by no means licenses the conclusion that all social action may be read like a text, or that all social behaviour can be treated as an enacted document (DeLanda, New Philosophy 22).


28 In 1963, noting the general incomprehension that followed the publication of each of his works, Raymond Roussel wrote a little treatise—Comment j’ai ecrit certains de mes livres—in which he succinctly but clearly explained the elementary principles that ruled the composition of his poems, his stories, and his plays. There is an absolute rule that a writer must carefully hide the means by which his effects are achieved (Burroughs, Third Eye 9).


29 Mr. Eliot, always evasive of the grand manner, has reached a stage at which he can no longer refuse to recognize the limitations of his medium; he is sometimes walking very near the limits of coherency (Brooker, T.S. Eliot 110).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b13

of fusion
Gifts, petitions, submission of the body,
this incompatibility or repugnancy to co-exist,
to identify every spot which might relate;
these dire stories of Gorgons and Hydras,
the trouble some say with sleepwalking.
However preposterous and absurd our names
stand for ideas, for the contempt of small difficulties,
and smaller dangers.


30 About citation in The Arcades Project, “proliferating individual passages, extracted from their original context like collectibles, were eventually set up to communicate among themselves, often in a rather subterranean manner. The organized masses of historical objects-the particular items of Benjamin’s display (drafts and excerpts)-together give rise to ‘a world of secret affinities’ and each separate article in the collection, each entry, was to constitute a ‘magic encyclopedia’ of the epoch from which it derived.” (Benjamin, Arcades Project x)


31 Benjamin’s intention was to bring together theory and materials, quotations and interpretation, in a new constellation compared to contemporary methods of representation. The quotations and the materials would bear the full weight of the project; theory and interpretation would have to withdraw in an ascetic manner. Benjamin isolated a “central problem of historical materialism,” which he thought he could solve in the Passagen-Werk, namely: “In what way is it possible to conjoin a heightened graphicness <Anschaulichkeitto> the realization of the Marxist method? The first stage in this undertaking will be to carry over the principle of montage into history. That is, to assemble large-scale constructions out of the smallest and most precisely cut components. Indeed, to discover in the analysis of the small individual moment the crystal of the total event.” (Benjamin, Arcades Project 931)


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b14

a body ceases to be solid
There is no need to speak too exactly of what they found;
their beginnings, divided amongst an infinite number
of little lords, covered with arms and partly for ornament,
painted their armor with the picture of some beast,
handed down as men who had not strength enough
to endure cold and peril. I must beg pardon of my reader
for having dwelt so long on this subject,
and perhaps with some obscurity.


32 Thus, the real phenomenon to be accounted for is not the punctual delineation of one version divorced from the rest of its copies, but the whole assemblage made up of one—or several—original(s) together with the retinue of its continually re-written biography (Latour and Lowe, “Migration of the Aura”).


33 Hierarchical organizations, in turn, depend on expressions of legitimacy, which may be embodied linguistically (in the form of beliefs about the sources of authority) or in the behaviour of their members, in the sense that the very act of obeying commands in public, in the absence of physical coercion, expresses acceptance of legitimate authority (DeLanda, New Philosophy 13).


[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ] 2.0b15

on increasing the action of fire
I yielded at length to my desire to avoid society,
strove by various arguments to banish despair,
but even as things were, my mind was bent
ever so slightly; able to connect and reflect
on all the portents around me, the names
a child uses to determine themselves,
on the constraint of those that would violate
their faith. But many have already resisted
the sovereign, committed some capital crime;
whether they join together to assist, or defend
one another, every one of them expects death.


34 The crime, or transgression, drawing attention to the fragility of the “law”—the implication of these power structures through appropriation of the cultural products of these systems as source material to be collaged, defaced, defiled. According to Kristeva “It is thus not lack of cleanliness or health that causes abjection but what disturbs identity, system, order. What does not respect borders, positions, rules. The in-between, the ambiguous, the composite. The traitor, the liar, the criminal with a good conscience, the shameless rapist, the killer who claims he is a savior. . . . Any crime, because it draws attention to the fragility of the law, is abject, but premeditated crime, cunning murder, hypocritical revenge are even more so because they heighten the display of such fragility.” (Kristeva, Powers 4)


35 The authenticity of a thing is the essence of all that is transmissible from its beginning, ranging from its substantive duration to its testimony to the history which it has experienced. Since the historical testimony rests on the authenticity, the former, too, is jeopardized by reproduction when substantive duration ceases to matter. And what is really jeopardized when the historical testimony is affected is the authority of the object (Benjamin, Illuminations 221).


36 The theme is announced frankly enough in the title, The Waste Land; and in the concluding confession, “These fragments I have shored against my ruins,” we receive a direct communication which throws light on much which had preceded it (Brooker, T.S. Eliot 110).


Works Cited

Critical Statement

[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ]” sequence 2.0bx is a hybrid work consisting of procedurally constructed poems and a linked sequence of footnotes that form a theoretical dialog formulated as a Benjaminian citational montage, in Theodor Adorno’s words “a juxtaposition of quotations so that the theory springs out of it without having to be inserted as interpretation.” Further, the footnotes are intended to offer multiple modes of engagement within the footnote sequence itself as well as with the poems. As such, their numbering does not fix reference to specific lines in the accompanying poem, as traditional conventions would require. The poems themselves are based on chance operations (a variation/combination of Bernstein’s Acrostic Chance method and John Cage’s Mesostics) that use Earth’s Holocaust, by Nathaniel Hawthorne, as a seed text, and a series of source texts including Leviathan, by Hobbes; Aristotle’s Poetics; Humane Understanding, by Locke; Shelly’s Frankenstein; The Collected Works of H. P. Lovecraft; and Elements of Chemistry, by Antoine Lavoisier. Language from the source texts is collected via procedure, then reworked to shape the final poems.


The poetic sequences serve as a détournement, in the Situationist tradition of “turning expressions of the capitalist system [here interpreted as Bernstein’s “Official Verse Culture” and the commodified poetries of what I term the Poetry Industrial Complex] and its media culture against itself.” This is explored through a number of theoretical frameworks including Julia Kristeva’s conception of the abject, and Manuel DeLanda’s interpretation of Deleuzian assemblages. For Kristeva the abject is the human reaction (horror, vomit) to a threatened breakdown in meaning caused by the loss of the distinction between subject and object or between self and other (“Introduction to Julia Kristeva”), and though this references the physical, the abject in “[ from kaustos ‘burnt’ (from kaiein ‘to burn’) ]” is explored through a literary framework. Language in the poems is appropriated from source texts that symbolically put theories, like the Hobsian call for submission to the absolute authority of a sovereign and the Lockean idea of the sovereign being within oneself, in dialectical conflict. Further, appropriation and citational collage, techniques criticized in canonical and contemporary works from Eliot’s The Waste Land and Benjamin’s The Arcades Project to the “Uncreative Writing” of Kenneth Goldsmith, are used to construct a literary abject, as stanzaic lyric poetry (read “high art” poetic form), from canonical genres, social/cultural/literary theory, and scraps of “low art” pulp fiction, like the works of H. P. Lovecraft. Finally, mixed within this assemblage of theoretical concerns are the material implications of practices of burning (an overarching conceit of the project), like the use of white phosphorus, a substance that ignites on exposure to oxygen and continues to burn until its supply of oxygen is exhausted.


The intent then of this project is not to form a discrete and coherent interpretation of the source texts and associated theories, but instead to form from them a series of interlinked assemblages, in the DeLandian model, through which to explore the emergent properties/possible interpretations resulting from the complex interplay of these independent and disparate systems.



Poet, translator, and filmmaker Francesco Levato is the author of four books of poetry: Endless, Beautiful, Exact; Elegy for Dead Languages; War Rug, a book length documentary poem; and Marginal State. He has translated into English the works of Italian poets Tiziano Fratus, Creaturing, and Fabiano Alborghetti, The Opposite Shore. His work has been published internationally in journals and anthologies, both in print and online. He has collaborated and performed with various composers, including Philip Glass, and his cinépoetry has been exhibited in galleries and featured at film festivals in Berlin, Chicago, New York, and elsewhere. He is the founder and director of the Chicago School of Poetics, holds an MFA in poetry from New England College, and is pursuing a PhD in English Studies at Illinois State University.


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