............. . . S A N . . F R A N . C I S . C O ............. . . N E T . W O R K :
. . EXPERIMENTAL WRITING ON THE WORLD WIDE WEB . . . 10/21/95 ............. . . Loss Pequen~o G l a z i e r .............
I PARTICIPATED IN THIS READING AND TALK, along with Steven Shaviro, as part of Small Press Traffic's "Small Press Partners Series." The series is a great idea, promoting the work of small presses by sponsoring readings of persons involved with the presses in different venues in the Bay Area. Future events in the series will include Chax, Hard Press/House of Outside, Kelsey Street, O Books, and Talisman House. I think it quite visionary that the organizers, Dodie Bellamy specifically, thought of the electronic press as a "bona fide" small press and thus included us.
A geographic digression: Let the rest of this nation be envious yet once again, the weather was unbelievable, with delicate sun and clear blue skies. The swimming pool at the hotel was still swimmable and I was whisked to the evening reading by my friend Robert Anbian, dashing through streets south of Market in a Fiat convertible. All he could say, short of bragging about the weather was to snicker, "I hope your hair isn't getting mussed."
At the reading, the New Langton Arts space (downstairs gallery) was really terrific. Good lighting, a great sized room with seating (do you call this "bleacher" seating when the seats are on successively higher steps?) on two sides. The turnout didn't surpass, say the average Rolling Stones concert, but the people who came were terrific. The way the reading was arranged allowed for a lot of dialog between the presenter and the attendees. It was quite remarkable how the audience was so attentive, incredibly so, during the reading and then--was it the space or more a fact of this reading culture?--that afterwards the gathering opened into conversation as natural as if in someone's living room.
Kevin Killian (who hosted the event for Dodie. She was fulfilling a residency in Milwaukee on this date) was a consummately gracious and charming host. More than simply introducing the readers (which he did with great style and warmth), his presence and interest truly contributed to the ambiance of the evening. I read my piece "Jumping to Occlusions," a call for electronic space to be seen not only as a mode of poetic production but (thinking, for example, of the way the xerox influenced the making of poetic texts a generation earlier) AS A POETICS IN ITSELF. I discussed the EPC, hypertext poetry, partly in the context of my online poem, __E__ (http://epc.buffalo.edu/authors/glazier), and read from the recently issued _The Parts_ (Meow Press, 1995--published by Joel Kuszai in Buffalo).
Steven Shaviro discussed, then read from his online novel "Doom Patrols" (http://dhalgren.english.washington.edu/~steve/doom.html) a novel or writing constantly weaving through fictions and the discourses of postmodernism. Very interesting is the fact that Shaviro, who has had a couple of significant book publications from major publishers (_Passion and Excess_ and _The Cinematic Body_) decided to issue his latest work for free on the Net, declining the academic accolades that come from major press issuance of a work. I got the sense that one of the principle reasons for this was speed of publication.
The question and answer period--or maybe better put--"after-reading conversation" was extraordinary. People still sat as a group in the gallery space and questions branched out from the technical to the speculative. What was the place of this "new" writing? How is Net discourse a different discourse? (One woman made a strong point of having encountered much more abusive casual conversation in her Net experiences.) And how do people *read* here? (One man mentioned that research had shown--for people are already doing marketing and system analysis research on how consumers "read" on the Net) that it has been determined that information should be located no deeper than four screens in, otherwise people will give up the search.--And I took this to mean, unless he also said this, that texts should only fill one screen--you know, as opposed to those screens that scroll forever downward.) And there were others--especially younger attendees--that worried about the future of reading and its cultures in the electronic environment.
Of course the only answer to this last question is to READ the work-- rather than simply be absorbed into the hypnosis of its flickering light--which was why we'd gathered. ~It must be read as work,~ was my argument.
The discussion period went on for some time. It was especially useful to get so many different perspectives. My strongest feeling--something perhaps we don't have on this list--was that people had radically different Net experiences (Usenet groups, commercial providers, the Sausalito stuff--maybe in the absence of an apparent "center" for West Coast electronic writing??), as if each person inhabited totally different *extremes* of the Net, with little overlap.
For the moment, however, I would be content to get back in the
convertible. After all, it was Saturday, and North Beach was not
off, with its temperate and delicious night air. Enough of the
thought, for one evening. Time for some deep fried lemon calamari,
pile the plate high...
............. Loss Pequeño Glazier