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Photo: Ron Silliman, photo Jeff Hurwitz 1998

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Ron Silliman Feature

Ian Keenan

No Content Left: Silliman’s Transit


It is notable that the poem considered to have marked the arrival of parataxis in modern English-language poetry, Ezra Pound’s 1913 “In a Station at the Metro,” existed as ‘content,’ Pound’s “apparition of these faces in a crowd” documented in uninspired rough drafts, for a year and a half before a ‘form’ was found for it. Baudelaire’s description of the “shocks of consciousness”(1) that crowds offered the urban flâneur is quoted in Walter Benjamin’s study of him, which also cites Georg Simmel’s observation that “the interpersonal relationships of people in big cities are characterized by a markedly greater emphasis on the use of eyes than on that of ears. This can be attributed chiefly to the institution of public conveyances.”(2) Fresh from Cezanne’s canvases, Pound repeatedly recalls that he was not attempting to illustrate the actual phenomenon on the train platform but the effect that it had in the mind,(3) what Sartre calls Giacometti’s refusal “to be more precise than perception.”(4)

Zhang Xu, The Four Models of Calligraphy of Classical Poems, Tang Dynasty

Zhang Xu, The Four Models of Calligraphy of Classical Poems, Tang Dynasty


Pound explained that Japanese poetry led him to his final form, and though his friendship with Mary Fenolossa would begin soon thereafter, Pound had already translated several East Asian poems from anthologies that were fashionable in Paris. Two of these translations involved an human situation linked a=a with a floral image, and fourteen of the seventeen translations eventually published as Cathay included a line devoted to flora.(5) The Chinese technique of “parallelism” was developed in the era Pound translated, beginning with the Sui Dynasty of the late 6th and early 7th century and into the T’ang Dynasty from the 7th century on. Parallelism is the symmetrical linkage of two separate images.(6) While parallelism sometimes juxtaposed two images from nature, the practice of linking human situations to floral imagery became standard practice during the T’ang era: “Petals on a wet, black bough.” In 1914, Gertrude Stein opened Tender Buttons by setting forth: “an arrangement in a system to pointing. All this and not ordinary, not unordered in not resembling.” (7) Fenolossa added, “All nations have written their strongest and most vivid literature before they invented a grammar… Nature herself has no grammar.”(8)


Thirteen years after Robert Creeley wrote a famous letter to Charles Olson taking the view that ‘FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT,’(9) Theodor Adorno gave a talk at a Hölderlin conference in Berlin called “Parataxis,” stating “In contrast to the crude textbook separation of content and form, contemporary poetology has insisted on their unity. But… the assertion of an unarticulated unity of form and content is no longer adequate.”(10) Adorno’s talk noted Hölderlin’s description of Pindar, the Theban from the 6th century BC: “The individual parts… are scarcely linked or developed from one another.” (11) Citing Hölderlin’s “Der Wanderer,” Adorno finds:


1. Rejection of the use value of the signified: “Poetic realism is contaminated by the ‘use’ Hölderlin attacks;” (12)


2. “By shattering the symbolic unity of the work of art, he pointed up the untruth in any reconciliation of the general and the particular within an unreconciled reality;” (13)


3. The subject of the work becomes formless, “no longer entrenches itself within itself..” (14)


Adorno finds in late works like “Hälfte des Lebens (Half of Life)” Hölderlin’s synthesis of content and form: content comprised of antitheses, “paratactical form that produces the caesura between the halves of life.” (15)


Adorno argued that neither the meaning nor the structure of the poem contain the truth content, (16) accusing Heidegger of “relocating Hölderlin… within the genre of philosophical poetry of Schillerian providence, ” (17) and of putting ontological ideas in Hölderlin’s mouth. (18) The defense that Heidegger “touches both sides of the limit” of the poetic and metaphysical, from Derrida (19), and that “Heidegger subtracted the poem from philosophical knowledge to render it to truth”(20) while for Plato the poem was “a seduction diagonal to the True”(21), from Alain Badiou, attests to the impact Heidegger’s interpretation of Hölderlin’s methods have had on French poetry since the Second World War. André du Bouchet’s poems utilize natural and conceptual imagery to shift frames of reference within an unconventional grammar rather than following a conventional sentence with a non sequitur, a method of parataxis owing more to Hölderlin than Pound, whom du Bouchet was quite familiar with.


In 1976, Michael Lally, compiling an anthology of young poets, asked each poet to provide a personal statement on their art. A 30-year-old Ron Silliman described his poetic trajectory with an earnest bluntness:

Ron Silliman, 1976, «None of the Above» anthology.

Ron Silliman, 1976, None of the Above anthology.


“I started out as a conventional writer of lyrical poems, but, as the forms I’d inherited, common to any writer circa ’65/’66, had no more reason or meaning for their existence than conformity & habit, I became quickly frustrated and bored. I wanted something more than a half-art. The pseudo-formalist approach of the post-Projective writers, with which I experimented for a time, offered no real solution. At best, the equation of the page to “scored speech” was a rough metaphor, & it excluded more than it could bring in. Asserting that such writing exposed completely their inner selves, most of these writers had in fact created elaborate & idealized personae. Their mysticism, like the incessant gossip orientation of the so-called younger NY gang, was simply one way to avoid confronting the fact that, by 1970, there was no content left in anybody’s work. Thus, when Coolidge and Grenier extended the definition of language beyond discourse, it seemed that a reinvestigation of the whole act of writing was not only possible, but necessary. Any other tendency now is mere decoration.” (22)


The assertion “any other tendency now is mere decoration” preceded the diplomatic receptiveness of his later years, but it confirms the clarity of a set of convictions that he would hold to in broad strokes to the present day. This was not a ‘here today, gone tomorrow’ manifesto, but an overview of a mission which would be illustrated in the particulars in his critical essays, his influential blog, and well over a thousand pages of poetry.


The riposte to Projectivism and self-dramatization of the New York School focused more on opposing second generation imitators of “inherited forms”, but the original tenets of these traditions are nonetheless in view. The verb tense of the statement tells the story on one level: “1970” demarcates the time when content became exhausted, the “reinvestigation of the whole act of writing” is necessitated by a moment prepared by Coolidge and Grenier, who famously declared in print his hatred of speech in 1971. But that statement at the time was nonetheless directed at Olson and Creeley’s belief that form is an extension of content, as well as the foregrounding of persona and personal narrative of the New York School. These tensions would always animate Silliman’s conflicted reverence for his forebears, informing the inspiration and development of his signature style in the coming years.


Within two years of his letter to Olson stating the primacy of content, Creeley would encounter Abstract Expressionism in Paris: “I first saw Jackson Pollock’s work… I hadn’t realized that a number of American painters had made the shift I was myself so anxious to accomplish, that they had, in fact, already begun to move away from the insistently pictoral, whether figurative or non-figurative, to a manifest directly of the energy inherent in the materials, literally, and their physical manipulation in the act of painting itself. Process, in the sense that Olson had found it in Whitehead, was clearly much on their minds.” (23) This helped gradually pave the way for Creeley’s language-oriented works that came to full fruition in 1969’s Pieces, a year before Silliman marked the depletion of content and Eigner’s Selected Poems were published. Barrett Watten notes this influence in his seminal 1979 work ‘Plasma:’ “So I’m inside a Jackson Pollock painting which is a house of ordinary structure but increased affect. The floors are copper and blue, there is gold twill in the green rug hanging from the wall. A displacing effect, like oil over glass, pushes every object outward. So the edges of things stand out like drip lines of paint.” (24) In 1990’s Autobiography, Creeley wrote “equally, ‘content is never more than an extension of form,’” with which Silliman has stated his agreement. (25)


After the form/content statement and the open-ended description of the ‘energy-discharge’ of the poem, the third ‘dogma’ of Olson’s “Projective Verse” “can be boiled down to one statement (first pounded into my head by Edward Dahlberg): ONE PERCEPTION MUST IMMEDIATELY AND DIRECTLY LEAD TO A FURTHER PERCEPTION.” (26) The causal relation between one perception and the next is undefined, albeit with an implication of ‘a’ leading to ‘b.’ Silliman cites the progress that leads to his own formulation of the prose poem: “By removal of context, Grenier prevents most leaps beyond the level of grammatic integration. This is the extreme case for the new sentence. However, most of Grenier’s ‘sentences’ are more properly utterances, and in that sense follow Olson, Pound and a significant portion of Creeley’s work.” (27) The signifier was to be liberated from the “commodity fetish”(28) of the signified: plot, dream narrative, hypotaxis, the Projectivist ordering of speech within the individual, and though “Clark Coolidge or Robert Grenier frontally attack referentiality”… it’s “only through negation by specific context. To the extent that negation is determined by the thing negated, they too operate within the larger fetish.” (29) Contemplating Stein and Mac Low next, he chose “to attack what I saw as the sweetness of (their) dependency on restricted vocabularies.”(30)


In May, 1974, while reading Colin McPhee’s Music in Bali, he attended a performance of Steve Reich’s Drumming during which he “began to sense, for the first time, exactly what the formal structure of Ketjak would be.”(31) On June 2, while waiting to meet his ex-wife in front of the Bank of America building, he took out a notebook and wrote “Revolving door,” commencing the composition of what would become one of the enduring masterpieces of the second half of the century. Preoccupied as he was with imagining the structure of the work, Silliman called the two words “…a metaphor for the reading and re-reading of the content of each line,” (32) but they can also be read as a synthesis of Vico’s time image and Marx and Engels’ belief, cited in The New Sentence, that “the mode of production of material life conditions the social, political, and intellectual life process in general,”(33) since it refers to the entrance to Bank of America, as well as the phrase containing the active verb of revolution behind the slang meaning of a system of interchangeability devoid of progress. Immediately the “Fountains of the financial district” are juxtaposed with the imagined “Houseboats beached at the point of low tide,” the universal “First flies of summer,” two statements of longing, a character description without a name. Sentences from the previous line are repeated and added to as the sentence development replaces plot and character development and the words themselves become leitmotifs, a process which repeats itself until the twelfth “line” is fifty pages long, full of playful linkages, ways of perceiving the world, and humorous asides.(34) The last dozen sentences of the last line take different approaches to ridiculing the representative function of language, illustrating Adorno’s belief that art cannot lay claim to its truth content.(35)


The paragraphs resemble the synchronic, territorially decentralized collective characterization of Dos Passos and Sartre’s The Reprieve, enabled in part by increased awareness of the world through mass communications, and the following of the observation of “Fountains of the financial district” with imagined houseboats recalls the Wallace Stevens-based juxtaposing of the ordinary and the exotic in John Ashbery’s imagining of Guadalajara in 1956’s “The Instruction Manual.” The second line of the poem reads: “Revolving door. A sequence of objects which for him appears to be a caravan of fellaheen, a circus, begins a slow migration to the right vanishing point on the horizon line.” This would appear to be a similar strategy of paring the familiar and the exotic, but Silliman says in a later interview that the caravan is a metaphor for progress. If he’s correct about that, it is telling what happens to this vision of progress in subsequent lines. After concluding the second, third, and forth lines, the description of fellaheen, tigers, dromedaries, and ostriches is followed in the fifth line by “We ate them.”(36) In the sixth line, a border is drawn after the caravan: “The implications of power within the ability to draw a single, vertical straight line.” Later it’s cut off by “Slag iron,” “I want to tell you the tales of lint,” “Refuse connectedness,” “Here is Spain, there is Africa, this the water,” and “Words I wrote in the control room of the Pacific Rim,” but mostly this image of progress disappears in an sea of signs, a single 47-word sentence in a fifty page line, perhaps a myth disappearing into its realization.


Ketjak is the title of a Balinese gamelan trance ritual that Walter Spies adapted into an enactment of parts of the Ramayana for tourists, an irony that Silliman is well aware of, but Silliman appears to be more interested in how the trance-like repetitions have the function of beckoning the rural community to the place where work needs to be done over the course of hours, communicating cultural beliefs and social functions, until the differing identities, objects and animals embody the extended repetition of the initial motifs: “I was interested in the concept of cumulative effort.”(37) Gamelan was at the time influencing many classical composers including Reich, John Cage, Philip Glass, Benjamin Britten, Pierre Boulez, Olivier Messiaen, and György Ligeti. In the preface to The Age of Huts, Silliman writes that Ketjak is the title of the poem that encompasses all his work from that point on, including The Universe.(38) Around the time of Ketjak’s publication, San Jose State professor Alan Soldofsky wrote pejoratively in Poetry Flash about a nearby group he called “language poets.”


Silliman gave a reading of Ketjak at the corner of Market and Powell Streets in San Francisco for four and a half hours, spitting blood and losing his voice afterwards for three days, saying later that Ketjak “is so thoroughly involved with street language and found language, and that corner is where all the street preachers come to harangue in San Francisco, that my reading was a way of returning that language to its source.”(39) The contrast with Projectivism and the New York School is seen acutely here: SPACE is not the central fact but rather the abundance of found language and precariously linked images within space; the subject is not the emotion or social circle of the poet but the external world absorbed by the poet. This stunt aside, Language poetry was initially composed for an audience of each other, and the social lives of its poets is the subject of the collective autobiography The Grand Piano, reconfigurations of “incessant gossip” befitting their wish to move from the confessional to an engaged artistry. The involvement with “street language and found language” amid a discarding of works unified by confessionalism, spiritual cosmology, charting of the inner self, narrative, utopian allegory, and topical poetry influenced the New York-based Flarf movement, which Silliman later came to support critically, using the computer search engine to make a patchwork out of harangueing in which the poet has an undefined, ironic relation to what is said from line to line. All those discarded models could exist thereafter, as long as one is quickly interrupted by another.

Robert Rauschenberg, Black Market, 1961, 127 x 150.1 x 10.1 cm.

Robert Rauschenberg, «Black Market», 1961, 127 x 150.1 x 10.1 cm. Oil, watercolour, crayon, printed paper, printed reproductions, wood, metal, metal box and four notepads on canvas, with rope, rubber stamp, inkpad and various objects.


The growth of sentences like trees in Ketjak postponed what would become one of the hallmarks of his later work: the total manipulation of the juxtaposition of seemingly unrelated sentences found in The Alphabet. “The Chinese Notebook,” which reads like a parody of Wittgenstein’s Tractatus, comprised entirely of different modes of aesthetic commentary and asking the reader at one point “Why is this work a poem?”,(40) moves partially in this direction, but plays at determining linkages by instructing the reader to compare one line and another, and explaining “When I return here to ideas previously stated, that’s rhyme.”(41) Noting the painterly equivalent to his departure from Stein’s Cubist-era restricted vocabularies and Coolidge’s Abstract Expressionist non-referentiality (42), he suggests “One can use the inherent referentiality of sentences very much as certain “pop” artists used images (I’m thinking of Rauschenberg, Johns, Rosenquist, etc.) to use as elements for so-called abstract composition.“(43) The signified isn’t so much rejected as is its use value, in agreement with Adorno’s analysis of Hölderlin. As with Ketjak, Tjanting utilized repetition of some of its short sentences in subsequent paragraphs expanded by a Fibonacci sequence to form pebbles on a vast beach traversed by its intrepid admirers.


Aside from the noun assemblage “Sitting Up, Standing, Taking Steps” (“a true noun, an isolated thing, does not exist in nature”-Fenollosa (44)), Silliman’s use of numbering systems still faintly resembled other poets’ use of closed forms, to structure the depths of the mind. Perhaps to overcome this, he turned from explicating his memory, literary referencing and thought processes to focus on his sense perception and visual experience, having read around that time Benjamin’s essay about Baudelaire the flâneur. On September 6, 1976, he boarded the Bay Area Rapid Transit train late in the morning and began writing down his perceptions for over five hours. This produced the eleven page poem BART, a visual diary which returns us to Simmel’s public conveyance where images and the Frank O’Hara-style narration of the author’s movements are linked with each other using commas, rather than joined with semicolons to floral metaphors. To Viktor Shklovsky’s statement that “Art was always free of life, and its color never reflected the color of the flag that waved over the fortress of the city,”(45) Leon Trotsky responded that “city culture has struck the eye and ear of the poet.”(46) After allowing the people in the city on Labor Day to determine the form of his 11-page sentence, Silliman looked above them for the content which would commence work on his 1,055 page, 26 section A-Z poem The Alphabet. This section, Skies, documents his sense perception beginning with a visual accounting of cloud formations which, as with BART, comes to illustrate the passage of an increment of time. The use of the plural in the title suggests that perceptions are what’s being represented, because the actual sky being perceived is singular. Though this followed Zukofsky’s pronouncement that “the natural human eye is OK, but it’s the erring brain that’s no good,”(47) Calliope waited patiently on Parnassus for Silliman to return to the epic of his erring brain.


Silliman returned to the letter A, took the quotation marks off it and inserted the place of his childhood, Albany, a two page poem that begins “If the function of writing is to “express the world,”(48) and then describes his parents and grandparents, mixing sentences that appear to be autobiographical with sentences that don’t appear that way. Blue and Carbon, also short poems, begin to set forth the template of the rest of the epic, as Carbon switches back and forth between prose and somewhat lyrical forms. The Alphabet swings into full gear with the humorous and expansive prose poem Paradise, perhaps the best starting point for the beginning reader, written while he was quitting drinking and dating Krishna Evans, with whom he would later start a family. Around the time he would get married he penned the sixty-page Lit, twelve sections which make use of a variety of structures based on the number twelve (49), and the 117-page What, written entirely in lyric form. Xing, another enjoyable starting point, refers to both “Cattle xing” at one point and several Chinese words that contain ‘Xing,’ but doesn’t mention the elephant in the room: Confucius’ use of the term ‘Xing’ to describe the effect that two separate images or narratives linked together have on a reader. The poem contains several sentences that describe flora.


Silliman’s opening of The New Sentence notes his sense of vocation as the intellectual counterweight to the New Critics, in opposition to which “sectors of ‘New American’ poetry(’s)… anti-intellectualism was formed,” with Olson and Creeley standing “warily” in the middle.(50) What raised the stakes for this was the imperative of establishing an alternate tradition derived from Russian Formalism, often cited as the precursor to New Criticism. Silliman has emphasized repeatedly his main areas of debt to the Russian Formalists: from Roman Jakobson, the signifier in relation to the audience being “the poetic function of language,”(51) from Shklovsky, the distortion of the speech act with discursive stoppages and contextual shifts.(52)


Formalism, as with the somewhat similar term Language Poetry, was a term coined pejoratively by antagonists, whose numbers would include Trotsky before his exile and, later, Pierre Macherey, who extended the pejorative life of the term. Silliman has had a complex relationship with both those figures and their ideas, as when he noted Macherey’s view that everyday discourse was ideological and raised the ante, saying that scientific and literary discourse were ideological as well, (53) supporting Lukács’ claim that ‘the truly social element of literature is the form.’(54) Silliman is uncomfortable with Macherey’s contention that the author arrives at the work’s meaning and ideology unwittingly, reluctant to cede control of interpretation to a providential eye of the absolute,(55) a matter where Hegel and Adorno clearly side with Macherey. (56)


Silliman’s belief that all literary discourse was ideological made necessary his recovery of Formalism within the American tradition: “a poetics must be concerned with the process by which writing is organized politically into literature. It is particularly disturbing when, under the New Critics as well as Stalin, this transformation is posed and explained as though it were objective and not related directly to ongoing and fluid social struggles.” (57) Two decades earlier, Roland Barthes had defended formalism against Stalinist socialist realism: “Hence there must be a certain distance between signified and signifier: revolutionary art must admit a certain arbitrary nature of signs, it must acknowledge a certain ‘formalism,’ in the sense that it must treat form according to an appropriate method, which is the semiological method. All Brechtian art protests against the Zhdanovian confusion between ideology and semiology, which has led to such an aesthetic impasse.” (58)


Trotsky’s 1923 examination of the Russian Formalists’ view that “Form determines content (Kruchenikh)”(59) criticizes the isolation of the linguistic from its determining social factors that Hegel had sought to integrate. Silliman’s culturally meaningful non sequiturs can be seen as accommodations to these criticisms of formalism, even if they were set in motion by not wanting to reproduce the non-referentiality and limited vocabularies of his poetic predecessors. Watten’s proposed name for their literary movement was Social Formalism. Creeley’s later statement that “content is never more than an extension of form” illustrated a change of his view seen in his progression to Pieces, not a retraction but rather an acknowledgement of the two statements’ compossibility.


Despite his criticism of the lyric in the Lally anthology, Silliman was to become an influential theorist of lyric poetry, bringing unprecedented attention to what he terms the “overdetermination” of Jack Spicer and the “vertical anti-lyric” of Rae Armantrout. As with his discussions of Joe Ceravolo, Larry Eigner, Barbara Guest, Kit Robinson, Arthur Rimbaud, Emily Dickinson and Jackson Mac Low, he has proposed a tradition for the lyric that opposes what he calls the “lyric containment” (60) advocated by the New Critics: the lyric as a self-contained, logically self-referential world. “Overdetermination: the failure (or refusal) of an idea or image to add up (or reduce down) to a single entity,” (61) bears similarities to Adorno’s “unreconciled reality.” Overdetermination was originally Freud’s explanation of the parataxis of dream imagery until Althusser synthesized it with Marx to create a linkage between contradictory social forces and phenomena, which Silliman’s content closely resembles. Erato’s plans for the nine lyric poets listed here tended more towards the Freudian, as Hegel summarized: “In the lyric… what is satisfied is the need for self-expression; and its content cannot therefore be an objective action that in its full extension comprehends the breadth and wealth of an entire world.” (62)


The images of Armantrout, whom Silliman considers one of the best poets in American history, often appear dimly or ironically through a filter through which they are perceived, be it mass culture, contemporary jargon, poetic convention, or related methods of disjunction or contextual shifts, resembling Barthes’ prescription for “Brecht’s formalism… in a still-alienated society, art must be critical, it must cut off all illusions, even that of ‘Nature’: the sign must be partially arbitrary, otherwise we fall back on an art of expression, an art of essentialist illusion.” (63) With the appearance of the confessional in “a surface conventionality” (64), Armantrout’s poems can be published in venues like The New Yorker and The Nation, publications that do not accommodate the surface appearance of “The Chinese Notebook” or Watten’s “Plasma,” containing the more expansive and explicit linkages of Althusserian overdetermination.


On August 29th, 2002, Silliman wrote in his first blog entry: “Blogs have been around for a while now, but to date I haven’t seen a genuinely good one devoted to contemporary poetry, so it may prove that there is no audience for such an endeavor.” He began writing theoretical notes and reminiscences modeled after Adorno’s Minima Moralia, chronicling the histories of the Actualist and Language movements and other trends of past and present, until the review copies started rolling in and suddenly poetry criticism had moved from the tastemakers of the printed journal for whom a bitter response would have to be typed and mailed to a web address wherein the reviews kept coming and the emotional responses and appeals to justice were immediate. Silliman’s continued attacks on what he termed the School of Quietude suddenly came at a time when the computerized poetry culture was wholly within earshot and the curiosity engendered led to a more amplified airing of his grievances and spontaneous disagreement, until he recently downplayed the phrase’s applicability to the present day. The blog has received over 2.5 million visits.


In preparation for a lecture on Charles Olson at the Naropa Institute in 2006, Silliman gave Olson the most sustained daily focus he has afforded any poet on his blog, a testimony to a struggle with Olson’s legacy that has included edification, suspicion, and rivalry. Olson utilized the occasion of the clearing of post-war poetry before the postmodern avant-garde was fully formed and densely populated, but it’s possible that he would have traded all that to have been able to use the internet to share his vision for poetry with as many people as possible. We’ll never know, but we know that Silliman is not about to squander the opportunity. “Later I will realize that I’ve turned Olson’s poetry into a straw man, his position in my head far more extreme than any he ever took in life, and only after that, a good while after that, will I come to recognize how useful this process had been.” (65)


1. Benjamin, Walter, “On Some Motifs in Baudelaire,” Illuminations (Trans. Harry Zohn. New York: Schocken, 1968) 165.

2. Ibid, 191.

3. Kenner, Hugh, The Pound Era (Berkeley: University of California, 1971) 184.

4. Sartre, Jean-Paul, “The Paintings of Giacometti,” Essays in Aesthetics (Trans. Wade Baskin. New York: Citadel, 1963) 55.

5. The Pound Era, 194.

6. Kai Yu Hsu, Twentieth Century Chinese Poetry: An Anthology (Garden City: Doubleday, 1963) xv.

7. Stein, Gertrude, Tender Buttons, 1.

8. Fenollosa, Ernest, The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry (San Francisco: City Lights, 1991) 16.

9. Olson, Charles, “Projective Verse,” Human Universe and Other Essays (New York: Grove, 1967) 52

10. Adorno, Theodor, “Parataxis,” Notes on Literature, Volume Two (Trans. Shierry Weber Nicholsen. New York: Columbia, 1974) 128.

11. Ibid, 134.

12. Ibid, 127

13. Ibid.

14. Ibid.

15. Ibid, 133.

16. Ibid, 112–3.

17. Ibid, 115.

18. Ibid, 120.

19. Derrida, Jacques, Of Spirit (Trans. Geoffrey Bennington and Rachel Bowlby. Chicago: University of Chicago, 1987) 79.

20. Badiou, Alain, Conjunctions, (Trans. Steven Corcoran. London: Continuum, 2008) 39.

21. Ibid, 38.

22. Lally, Michael ed., None of the Above: New Poets of the USA (Trumansburg: Crossing, 1976) 62.

23. Creeley, Robert, “On the Road,” Poets of the Cities: New York and San Francisco 1950–1965 (New York: Dutton, 1974).

24. Watten, Barrett, Frame (1971–1990), (Los Angeles, Sun & Moon, 1997) 68.

25. Creeley, Robert, Autobiography (Chennai: Hanuman, 1990) 94–5.

26. Human Universe and Other Essays, 52

27. Silliman, Ron, The New Sentence (New York: Roof, 2003) 87.

28. Ibid, 14.

29. Ibid, 15.

30. Silliman, Ron, Under Abany, (Cambridge: Salt, 2004) 81.

31. Ibid.

32. Silliman, Ron, “Reading Ketjak,” Ron Silliman and the Alphabet (Santa Cruz: Quarry West, 1998) 50.

33. The New Sentence, 37

34. Silliman, Ron, The Age of Huts (Berkeley: University of California, 2007) 3–101.

35. Adorno, Theodor W., Aesthetic Theory (Trans. Robert Hullot-Kentor. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1997) 127

36. Perelman, Bob, The Marginalization of Poetry: Language Writing and Literary History (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996) 68. “Thus ‘We ate,’ not babies, not port, not ambassadors, but only ‘them.’” p. 175 quotes Watten in the 1980 magazine Hills (ed: Perelman): “Each sentence is a device… this is close to Shklovsky’s characterization of Sterne. Ketjak is a typical novel in the tradition of Tristram Shandy.” By comparing not just Ketjak to Tristram Shandy but to Shklovsky’s characterization of it, Watten suggests that a lack of precedent for a structure isn’t the same thing as a lack of structure.

37. McCaffery, Larry and Gregory, Sinda, Alive and Writing: Interviews with American Authors of the 1980s (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1987).

38. Age of Huts, Preface.

39. Alive and Writing: Interviews with American Authors of the 1980s.

40. Age of Huts, 166.

41. Ibid, 176.

42. Orange, Tom, Clark Coolidge Visual Arts Intertexts 1968–1976, Fascicle 2,

43. The Age of Huts, 159.

44. The Chinese Written Character as a Medium for Poetry, 10

45. Trotsky, Leon, “The Formalist School of Poetry and Marxism,” Literature and Revolution (Trans. Rose Strunsky. Chicago: Haymarket Books, 2005) 140.

46. Ibid.

47. Zukofsky, Louis, “About The Gas Age”, Prepostitions (Berkeley: University of California, 1981) 170.

48. Silliman, Ron, The Alphabet (Tuscaloosa: University of Alabama Press, 2008) 1.

49. Bernstein, Charles, Content’s Dream (Los Angeles: Sun & Moon, 1986) 314–9.

50. The New Sentence, 3.

51. Ibid, 99.

52. Ibid, 113.

53. Ibid, 74.

54. Eagleton, Terry, Marxism and Literary Criticism (Berkeley: University of California, 1976) 20.

55. Silliman’s Blog, November 18, 2002.

56. Notes on Literature, Volume Two, 110.

57. The New Sentence, 4.

58. Barthes, Roland, “The Tasks of Brechtian Criticism,” Critical Essays (Trans. Richard Howard. Evanston: Northwestern, 1972) 74.

59. Literature and Revolution, 140.

60. Silliman’s Blog, November 14, 2002.

61. The New Sentence, 149.

62. Hegel, Georg Wilhelm Friedrich, Hegel: On the Arts (Trans. Henry Paolucci. New York: Frederick Unger Publishing, 1979) 161–2.

63. Critical Essays, 74.

64. The New Sentence, 154.

65. Under Albany, 11.

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