Since Silliman’s blog disallowed reader commentary, the site has increasingly turned to popular art for its thrills.


Well, sort of.

The eclectic Neo-Modernism which Silliman loves has been given a populist push, with movies leading the way.

But, alas, Silliman’s fave, neo-Modernism, is inherently so unpopular, that allowing it full scope, on stage, under the bright lights, only points up why the stuff is so unpopular in the first place.

September 8:  A lecture video (TED ideas worth spreading) on how machines are taking over the planet.  Yikes! 

Sept 9:  Bob Bowen, jazz bass player, has died.

September 10: Two short videos of Charles Olson reading from his work.  In case anyone doubted it: this guy is cra-zeee.

Sept 11: Dullest Interview Of All Time department: Video of Jennifer Dick talking to Cole Swensen: “In the 70s and 80s the Language poets, who had no content, purified the language of the tribe…”  “and how do you like living in Paris?”  “I spend as much time here as possible…(laughter)…”  “I think communication is really important…”

Sept 12: Video of Cara Benson’s poetry reading…guess you had to be there…

Sept 13:  Audio presentation: Theorist Bruce Boone describing the plot of 1955 Robert Aldrich directed, Mike Hammer film, Kiss Me Deadly. 

Sept 14:  Scalapino tribute headlines the links…

Sept 15:  John Lovitz, yea, the comedian, and Charles Bernstein: Lovitz is poorly cast in this video, and not funny at all; a joke that deserves 30 seconds goes on for 11 minutes.

Sept 16:  A positive review of the film Howl which I don’t trust, since Silliman wants to love it too badly.  Does anyone really think Howl is a good poem?

Sept 17:  An audio of Dawn Lundy Martin reading.

Sept 18:  A link to the novelist John Franzen’s publisher site.

Sept 19:  A TED talk by a Turkish fiction writer on how story-telling unites us all.

Sept 20:  Laurie Anderson: an audio link to 3 of her latest disco-inflected songs.

Sept 21: Philip Whalen headlines more links.

Sept 22:  Jill Johnston has died.  She wrote about her father Cyril, a bellfounder.

Sept 23:  An old (1999) NPR broadcast on puns in Country Music, with praise for the 1972 film, Payday, with Rip Torn.  Yee-haw!

Sept 24: Silliman writes on the the obscure, 50s French surrealist poet Hugh-Alain Dal.

Sept 25:  A radio interview with Neal Cassady’s son to promote the new film, Howl.

Sept 26:  Video of art opening for 50 years at the Pace Gallery: one sees rich people gathering for that late-capitalist caprice, modern art.

But we still love you, Ron!!



  1. Mabool said,

    September 27, 2010 at 1:24 pm

    If the written word ever existed on the web, it doesn’t in the age of Facebook and Silliman is simply going with the flow.

    You are right. Howl is a bad poem. Ginsberg’s shtick was not the written word, it was “extravagant theater of self”, as he put it.

  2. thomasbrady said,

    September 27, 2010 at 1:54 pm


    Poe’s “Raven” made him world-famous overnight: it was published in a daily newspaper.

    Byron “woke up famous” due to his book.

    I don’t see video clips and Facebook creating literary fame like that. When I see it, I’ll believe it.

    Facebook, etc is not ‘riding the wave’ but is beneath the wave; Facebook is not driving the game, but is a victim of it. Facebook is a result, not the cause of anything. That’s the crucial difference, here.


  3. Mabool said,

    September 27, 2010 at 2:52 pm

    The web would inevitably move from text and information to video and entertainment. Facebook has the best execution. Is this a cause or effect?

    • thomasbrady said,

      September 27, 2010 at 4:17 pm


      But it’s all not as radical as you think.

      TV invaded our livingrooms, but for the educated, books are still there in the livingroom.

      TV is merely a more convenient way to ‘go to the theater,’ or perhaps a more entertaining way to ‘get information,’ but TV will never replace theater or information, or make those things better.

      So the web ‘moving from text to video’ is like TV coming into our livingrooms. I say, “so what?” Not interesting, not new. Been there, done that.

      Silliman and Harriet cut off educated discussion because…facebook and video are soooo cool?

      They jumped on a bandwagon that’s going nowhere.

      They cut off their nose to spite their face.


      • Mabool said,

        September 30, 2010 at 12:23 pm

        There are plenty of educated people around. But the genteel readership represented by the Algonquin Round Table ( for example ) of 80 years ago is a thing of the past. Harold Ross of The New Yorker was part of that crowd. The New Yorker of today is written for technocrats, perhaps represented by Silliman’s blog.

  4. thomasbrady said,

    September 30, 2010 at 4:03 pm


    Algonquin ran parallel in time to the Dial: 1919-1929.

    What a different crowd in each circle:

    Parker, Ross, Benchley, Kaufman, Woollcott, Ferber…

    Pound, Eliot, Williams, Moore, Cummings, Burke…

    Algonquin was witty and urbane and populist and driven by a Dickensian view of society,

    The Dial crowd, led by Pound and Eliot, a bunch of pretentious crackpot loonies, hooked up with Bloomsbury and ladies of title…

    Algonquin: Socially Sophisticated Drama and Prose plus Witty Song;

    The Dial: Dionysian Poetry, Futurist Art…

    Algonquin: Produced truly populist work.

    The Dial: Awarded each other prizes.

    This divide still exists today.

    Marianne Moore, the Dial editor bore–
    Oh, I prefer Dorothy Parker,
    She was much funnier than Moore,
    Even when she was darker.

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