Yikes! Where did the time go?

‘Regular’ ‘readers’ of this ‘blog’ would be excused for thinking that I’d fallen under a bus, given the absolute lack of any kind of update for over a month now. But the contrary is true: far from having fallen under a bus, I’m actually – ah, whatever.

The truth is, I haven’t had a whole lot to blog about recently. My new job has occupied a lot of my time, as has socialising with colleagues from said job and, when it comes down to it, who wants to hear how many Jäger shots I’ve had in the last thirty days?

‘And yet’. (I’ll explain the significance of this phrase one day). To answer the question posed by Big Star in the title of their song ‘What’s going ahn?’, I can say the following:

(1) I’ve had an academic article published

Hot on the heels of my post-doc research at BTH in Karlskrona, I’m excited to say that ‘Flash points: Reading electronic literature as a metaphor for creativity’ (PDF), an article I co-wrote with Maria Engberg, has now been published in the latest issue of TEXT Journal. To be exact, it’s a part of a special issue entitled Creativity: Cognitive, social and cultural perspectives, edited by Nigel McLoughlin and Donna Lee Brien. So that’s untold.

(2) I’ve presented a paper in Bristol on the subject of myself. Or, um …

A couple of weeks ago I travelled to Bristol, UK for the final ELMCIP seminar, on the subject of E-literature in/with Performance. I presented a paper entitled Davey Dreamnation and the Performance of Self. Here’s the abstract:

Since 2002 I have maintained a series of personal websites (now amalgamated into one website: daveydreamnation.com) that explore questions of personal identity and performativity through the character of Davey Dreamnation, a failed rockstar and comic alter-ego. The performance of this character (what could be described as a form of avatarism) brings with it various notions of play, irony and humour that are not necessarily often associated with the performance of electronic literature. This presentation seeks to engage with notions of performance of the self with reference to (and critical appraisal of) theoretical notions of performance as expounded by Butler and others. The performance of character in an online space which is heavily mediated by its form (that is, the blog format and its attendant proprietary structures and limitations) raises questions about human interaction with personal websites ‘performing’ as actors in their own right – that is, as co-creators, the performance of which influences other users’ readings of character and identity. This presentation will offer a glimpse into the workings of one such character, with reference to archived screenshots, audio files, text extracts and character analysis, with the aim of offering a humorous yet serious examination of the playfulness of online performativity. The presentation will also take into account and address some of the issues raised in the call for papers, specifically the usefulness of performance studies in blog environments. Finally, both the presentation and the accompanying paper will seek to offer themselves as examples of performance writing about electronic literature.

And here’s a pic of me and Davey during the delivery of the paper:

(3) My poem Övergången has been ‘analysed’ online …

THis is kind of nice. William Fox, who tweets as @readism and who once ran a Tumblr of the same name, has written an entry analysing my poem Övergången, from the chapbook of the same name. Have at it:

The authoritative voice works well because it gets at how confidently we can trace the narrative of our social successes these days. It’s therefore no surprise that the poem hits the ground running – the opening line is in dactyls that are promptly broken up by a line break & the more awkward phrase ‘very quickly now’. The smoothness of my own commute is always determined by the extent to which I don’t think about how quickly I want to get it over & done with. On a tram / train this is easily achieved. I think this ‘transition’ is a special case because the poet’s probably walking the streets after dark (‘It’s already too late to plead…’) & more than likely through a city. This makes casual & indifferent mannerisms even more imperative, if only to avoid getting the shit kicked out yourself. It also makes you yearn for the ‘ignorance’ of non-self-consciousness, or to be a ‘special case’ (i.e. to be so deliriously shitfaced that you don’t care if people laugh at you).

Read the rest on your own [unfortunately no longer online].

K. So, that’s not bad: three cool things have happened. And here’s three more cool things that are destined to happen at some stage in the future:

(4) My poem ‘Wireless’ is going to be published in Overland

Not much I can say about this right now, except that I’m rather chuffed that Overland poetry ed. peter Minter has chosen this poem for inclusion in that erstwhile journal of the progressive left in Australia. Wireless first appeared on my blog last year. But don’t let that stop you from checking out Overland’s cool new website.

(5) ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’ finds a home … of sorts

My poem ‘Clouds Afternoon Jazz Sprinkles’, dedicated to poet Jill Jones, will be appearing soon as part of a special project. And that’s all I’m saying for now.

(6) I’ll be giving a paper at the ELO conference in June

No, not that ELO. I mean the Electronic Literature Organization (ELO) conference, Electrifying Literature: Affordances and Constraints, which is taking place June 20-23 in Morgantown, WV, US of A. My paper, whose semi-absurd title is “Why ‘But is it e-lit?’ is a ridiculous question: the case for online journals as organic, evolving works of digital literature”, will be part of a panel called Practices: Definitions and Pedagogies for E-Lit, and will be delivered at the godless hour of 8:30am on Saturday 23 June. Here’s the abstract:

Cordite Poetry Review (http://cordite.org.au), an Australian journal of poetry and poetics, was founded in 1997 as a print journal but since 2001 has appeared only online. Over the last ten years, as the magazine has grown in size and reach, the question of Cordite’s status as a journal has become more vexed. Can it be regarded as a ‘proper’ literary journal, in the way that other, offline journals are? Is it truly electronic, given the relative absence of works on the site that explore the possibilities of the online space? Or are these merely ridiculous questions, the posing of which reflects a pre-online hierarchy of prestige? Why do these questions exist in the first place? If we assume that any work or collection of works available online is automatically digital in nature, then the issue instead becomes one of whether or not sites like Cordite function as organic, interconnected and hypertextual spaces for creative expression. The inclusion of electronic literature works in the magazine for the first time in 2011 brought into focus the problematic nature of categorization. This presentation will explore the evolving nature of the Cordite site in order to demonstrate the highly complex and sometimes chaotic nature of journals and magazines in the online realm, and to therefore argue for a rejection of the binary characterization of new media literature communities as either ‘electronic’ or ‘static’. In doing so, it is hoped that the presentation will stimulate discussion of the ways in which electronic sites for literature embody the contradictory capacities to organically evolve, mutate and disappear.

I’m looking forward to meeting my fellow-panellists Clara Fernandez-Vara (whose paper is entitled “Electronic Literature for All: Performance in Exhibits and Public Readings”), and Alexandra Saemmer (“The (problematic) issue to evaluate literariness: Digital literature between legitimation and canonization”). I’m also just looking forward to being in a seriously hot and humid place this summer!

So, that’s all for now. Maybe I’ll see you again in a month or so when I’ve got some more news.


Davves: “Pre-Soak” b/w “Detailed Image Package”

DNRC102 | 7″ | 2032 | DELETED

After suffering the indignity of an on-stage meltdown during the Goulburn Valley Music Festival in 2031, an act which led to his retirement from the music industry (not to mention the deletion of his ‘barnestorming’ swansong EP, The Silence of Untold Sound), Davey Dreamnation regrouped, underwent therapy and changed his name to Davves.

While this decision was approved by his therapist at the time, in hindsight it appears to have been a fatal mistake, as this rare double A-side 7″ single, the only extant recording by Davves, attests. Clocking in at just under three seconds, the purported radio-friendly unit shifter ‘Pre-Soak’ is an utter disgrace, consisting only of the sound made when plugging a jack into an obviously out-of-tune guitar. Things don’t get any better on the flipside, where we almost fail to find any traces of sound at all in “Detailed Image Package”.

In fact, the attempted release of this double piece of navel fluff was blocked via a class action taken on behalf of the listening public by the International Whaling Commission, a case which was heard in-camera due to the explosive nature of the allegations against Dreamnation / Wavves. While we may never know the full effects of the so-called sub-Tasman ‘listening parties’ carried out by Wavves in preparation for the singles’ release, the current absence of marine life in the areas where “Pre-Soak” and “Detailed Image Package” were unleashed upon the submarine listening public speaks volumes.

Upon the court-ordered deletion of “Pre-Soak” b/w “Detailed Image Package”, Wavves promptly announced his retirement from the music industry, an act only half as stupid as his initial decision to join it. Nevertheless, fans of post-punk wave foam can still find bootleg versions of this release, as well as unreleased demos, in all the usual fishermen’s baskets.

Scaramouche found alive and well in a cave in the Goulburn Valley

In a possible sign that megalomaniac musical artiste Davey Dreamnation is set to rise from his post-DNRC slumber, news agencies are today reporting that the chanteuse’s long-time collaborator and manager, the incorrigible Scaramouche, has been found alive and well in a cave in the Goulburn Valley, despite rumours that he had suffered a fatal quiche lorraine overdose somewhere.

Back in 2030, the llama’s ‘swansong’ album (also entitled Quiche Lorraine) failed to chart, even in Majorca, where fans of Scaramouche number in the high tens.

Despite this apparent lack of interest in said llama’s soaring and angelic melodies (witness “Scaramouche’s Theme”, a pant-ripping, adrenaline-soaked anthem if ever you’ve heard one), international web-portal I Ate a Bee reported late last night (Majorca time) that Scaramouche is indeed ‘back on the radar’, and has now discovered a new way to communicate with the world, having been previously restricted to Esperanto.

The llama’s first message, delivered to journalists gathered at the Camp Davey compound, though slightly shocking, signals that he has now gotten over his life-threatening quiche lorraine addiction, and has reverted to one of his previous predilections:

Gimme a fucking neenish tart

While unavailable for comment, Davey Dreamnation is reported to be preparing an official statement, after watching Scaramouche’s rescue on closed-circuit television from within the comfortable environs of his Camp Davey bunker.

Davey Dreamnation: “The Silence of Untold Sound”

DNRC101 | EP | 2031 | DELETED

Having watched in amazement as the world proceeded to ignore his other masterpiece (the abominable That’s Buddha Mini-LP), Davey Dreamnation retreated to his Majorca lair, and rightly so. The Silence of Untold Sound, Dreamnation’s long-awaited swansong, put to rest any doubts about his good intentions, while shedding no further light as to his real talent or chances of success.

The master tapes of the EP itself were almost accidentally deleted and then restored, lovingly, from the remnants of two calculators and an Eyna record, in a remarkable tale of hardship, camaraderie and studio boffinry to rival anything Stung or Christy Burr might care to come up with. But let’s leave history to the historians, shall we?

Still, it’s worth pausing, for one second, to reflect upon the fact that The Silence of Untold Sound was DNRC’s one hundred and first release, and then to move on. The Silence of Untold Sound was also DNRC’s last release, following on almost immediately from the mis-timed and ill-conceived thought-experiment that was Scaramouche’s Quiche Lorraine.

The EP’s official release in 2031 also came almost exactly thirty years after the label’s inception in the heady early days of the new century, when the Sprite Levels ruled the roost, alongside a host of other Tribesco bands.

While this kind of contextual detail is essential for any appreciation of Dreamnation and DNRC, it provides no real entry point for any discussion of the music itself. This is a crucial observation, and one that does not need to be spelled out to the remaining two fans of Davey’s music. For the newcomer, the absence of any adequate descriptions for these songs should speak volumes.

Speaking of what’s missing, the absence of Clint Bo Dean on The Silence of Untold Sound is telling, as is that of Stung, Dreamnation’s supposed vocal coach, whose influence can be heard on neither of the two instrumental tracks: the cod-reggae ‘Son of Cave’ and the spooky-synth workout ‘Theme From Untold’.

Throughout these tracks, there’s a slightly disturbing sense that Dreamnation is asleep at the wheel, or else is not actually at the wheel at all, which begs even more questions. Things don’t get much better when we turn to an examination of the tracks that do feature vocals, as can be heard on opening track ‘You & Me’, where Stung’s helium-enhanced backing vocals spoil Dreamnation’s sometimes flawless lead performance.

Elsewhere, on ‘AH XMAS’ Dreamnation could be singing in Dutch but we’re never sure, the echo-drenched effects drowning out all meaning. One suspects the lyrics to ‘Fantasy One’, the EP’s so-called centrepiece, will not age well.

Of the afore-mentioned instrumentals, Theme from Untold is the surprise standout, perhaps because it is the only song on that attempts to relate to the EP’s title. Its final two minutes surely represent a triumph of accidental skills over premeditation, and provide a fittingly ghost-like finale to a tortured artist’s career.

It seems almost redundant to point out, even to long-term fans of DNRC Records and its loopy founder, that when the end comes it comes not suddenly, drastically or with any kind of jitchiness but almost like blinking: there’s a long period of whimpers, followed by an almost everlasting silence that doesn’t seem to end, and then does.

The Silence of Untold Sound could hardly be described as a graceful exit but an exit it nevertheless remains. We can only speculate upon Dreamnation’s emotions at the precise moment when he deliberately deleted not just his final, definite masterpiece, but also his own wholly-manufactured self, right down to the last emoticon.

In the aftermath, we can only conclude by hoping, for Davey’s sake, not to mention the sake of all of the talented artists and other less-talented people who were involved in the DNRC project, that he has ascended to some plain of untold silence, and sounds, that will never be deleted.

No stars.