Tuesday, January 05, 2010


Not sure why John Clare's "Ants" come to mind, but Brenda Iijima's revv.you'll—ution (Displaced Press) was the first book to arrive at the door after the New Year. Red letter day. Her "Rock Facing Many Days," a poem for Rob Halpern and Thom Donovan:

Rock fissures, myriads, birds in their difficulty
To land in eradication, atomized vanishings
Bold face of moon Inner core produces sluice
Sense forces no not nothings beings surroundings

An Etel Adnan epigraph precedes the poem:

In grey luminescence, on colored brain tracts, the hour is
Unsure, quivering there, over there, this time inside, or is it
Outside the core of one's being, as we always are the other?

Outside the core of one's being, from the third stanza of Iijima's "Rock Facing": "Darkness swaddles loss and cruises," pushing forward without compromise, moving beyond idyll (idle) environs. John Clare's "Ants":

Surely they speak a language whisperingly,
Too fine for us to hear; and sure their ways
Prove they have kings and laws, and that they be
Deformed remnants of the Fairy-days.

Whether the distorted remnants of the past gesture nostalgically toward idyllic fairy-days worth mapping onto the future or grizzly moments that render the present a little more legible, revv.you'll—ution is motored by a poetics of digging, tilling and a desire to turn material evidence over and over again in a dialectical movement that discloses new ways of hearing those languages that, to use Clare's line, are "Too fine for us to hear."

As a book the poems, texts and photographs in revv.you'll—ution come together to create a complex set of connective tissues, answering perhaps David Harvey's call to think multiple spatial scales simultaneously and allowing us to think the local (or the specificity of Iijima's local) in relation not only to the national and the global but to other distant locals (particular alterities) and the ideological. Like peering through an electron microscope and the Hubble telescope simultaneously. From "overleaf" introductory texts and photographs that patiently walk us through archaeological, investigative and guerrilla (gorilla) actions at various sites in North Adams, Massachusetts — Iijima's hometown — to poems that address the "swelling bloating grinning grimacing collecting / riveting" industries (tendencies) that engender and generate multiple forms of genocide and devastation on a global scale, revv.you'll—ution insists we reconsider the spatialization of the past that destructively separates humanity from the animal world, civilization from the primitive, developed from the developing.

In the fifth volume of Damn the Caesars I had the privilege of including an especially productive dialog between Iijima and Tyrone Williams. Responding to an insightful comment by Williams on her use of parataxis in revv.you'll—ution as a possible "invocation of overpopulation," Iijima says:

I guess it is a statement about overload — the compounding pressures of a late capitalist system teetering on the brink of — what — no one can be sure. Noticing how systems achieve ever-greater complexity while also attempting to homogenize. Being conscious of the peripheries, the local, the emergent, the regrouping, the re-abling energies ...

A deeply sedimented book that plumbs; a digging and an accumulation concerned with, as Iijima notes in her conversation with Williams, "our responsibility to refuse." In an afterword to
revv.you'll—ution Judith Goldman writes: "Let the pulse of its tumultuous mulch engulf you — "