Aggregators: RSS (Radically Subversive Syndication) Poetics


Eliot Weinberger’s formulation, in which poetry can contain the world, is seductive in an era of fragmentation. His suggested form is the list, which is one of the irruptive formal traits of the New Narrative identified with queer leftist writers such as Robert Glück and Dodie Bellamy; in their work, the list works to stop narrative flow. It is often reflexive, calling attention to the work as text, often through reference to the real. The list is thus a political gesture that disrupts the narrative illusion and links the text to the world. This essay is concerned with listing in relation to new media forms of aggregation and syndication, as they emerge as poetic and rhetorical forms and tropes. I argue that they occur specifically when poetry enters into the political, grounded in a belief that this is an arena where poetry belongs and where it can motivate change, because both language and form are freighted with the political. It therefore enquires whether, in an age of simultaneity (as Fredric Jameson has argued), linear narrative is either possible or productive as a method of encountering and describing the events that surround us in the moment.

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