Forms of Life for Meaghan Morris

Cultural Studies Review, Vol. 24, No. 1, March 2018
ISSN 1837-8692 | Published by UTS ePRESS | http://epress.lib.uts.edu.au/journals/index.php/csrj/index


ARTICLE

Forms of Life for Meaghan Morris

Pam Brown

Corresponding author: Pam Brown, 147 Lawrence Street, Alexandria NSW 2015 Australia. p.brown@yahoo.com

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/csr.v24i1.5971

Article History: Received 14/09/2017; Revised 13/03/2018; Accepted 14/03/2018; Published 20/04/2018

Citation: Brown, P. 2018. Forms of Life for Meaghan Morris. Cultural Studies Review, 24:1, 26-30. http://dx.doi.org/10.5130/csr.v24i1.5971

© 2018 by the author(s). This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), allowing third parties to copy and redistribute the material in any medium or format and to remix, transform, and build upon the material for any purpose, even commercially, provided the original work is properly cited and states its license.


Meaghan once remarked (I think to the poet and art critic Ken Bolton) that she didn’t like poetry because of all the empty space on the page. A quarter of a century ago in 1992, in Ecstasy and Economics: American Essays for John Forbes, she said she was ‘a desultory reader of poetry’ and that reading poetry might induce a ‘scary cultural estrangement’.1 In the foreword, she extrapolates the ‘awkward’ place of poetry in cultural studies then as being more an American problem than an Australian one but nearly a quarter of a century later I wonder if poetry has made an individuated local spot for itself, or even if it cares to. I mean, ‘should poetry worry?’

On the other hand Meaghan wrote: ‘As well as lending cultural comfort and rhetorical support, the poems I discuss ... here ... deeply and directly structure the essays in which they appear. This is not for “aesthetic effect”; I do not believe that criticism is, or can ever be, a mirror to art. It happens, to put it bluntly, because the poems gave me ideas.’ In the following paragraph she concludes: ‘I read the texts in order to learn more about the complex networks of living by which they are shaped, and in which, as poems (or “forms of life”, in Deleuze and Guattari’s terms), they participate.’2

Like everyone else here I love Meaghan’s essays and have done so for a long time. Back in the late 1980s I stole an expression of Meaghan’s from her essay ‘Room 101 Or a Few Worst Things in the World’. The expression is ‘modes of goo’.3 The Generic Ghosts, that is my collaborators and I, used it as a subtitle for one of our performance texts. I’ll read a poem from my recent book Missing up that refers back to ‘modes of goo’ in passing:4

Hi fax

  (in memory of my stealings)

winter goes grey,

   as it should,

 somebody up there loves me

  gets moody, funky

 never no turning back

   like

   1984

the year of our fax machine

  & the ‘o’s of Adorno

at your place,

      not mine

 & the modes of goo

     we wrought so well,

someone tried to

 ‘save me’ from you

 & they did

    I tried to groan

    Help! Help!

but the tone

   that came out

 was that of

‘polite conversation’

    ~

clutching a cardboard cup

 of cold coffee

    throughout

the 25 minute presentation –

    his blazon

    of casualness,

au courant,

 a provisional philosopher

fingering the bottom of the jar

for crumbs

    go straight to mute

    ~

but hi anyway,

 fax something by you

   to say for you,

we’ll suck

 the last poetic drops

& reject the ‘market’

for good & sure,

  your duty to consume

         scorned,

 never never no

 never no turning back

& what do you reckon,

     my wintry shadow,

       my fraudulent duplicate,

  somebody up there?

       ~

And I’d like to present another ‘form of life’—an extract from a long poem called ‘Left Wondering’:5

making a list

   of mistakes & failures

then

new books arrive

  & magazines -

haven’t cut

the heat-sealed packets yet

if I read Giorgio Agamben

    I can’t always digest

       the decade-old

         being stuff

the coming being

is probably here by now

   spherifying some ravioli

  in a techno pleasure dome

        dream kitchen

am I so docile

so swayed

    by my media network

    reactions –

following

    the sociology ninja’s

    shortcut  through

the digital humanities graveyard

       to the warehouse cafe

        to get a chai latte

           for Cthulhu

( ? )

      *

like you don’t ‘die’

    you ‘pass’

   in this particular

 schema or schemata

  used to be scheme

but that was tiring

tiresome 

  

       like

deciding your own

       ethics

weighing up

compatibility propositions –

         anarchism

 as against existentialism

    for example

      *

burglary

looks like a good idea

if I read Kate Lilley

but none of the new books

        are poetry

I am missing

  a prompt –

      *

failure results

from making mistakes

   from    pontificating

with our mouths filled with pie

         (peter culley)

      *

the tapes

(cassettes) were peculiar

  when we played parts of them

           decades later

weak, really   too slow, really

   but funny

   &

     kind of

 embarrassing

yet ‘of the times’

‘in today’s saturated mediated performative bowl’

I’m glad to have lived

      in the time

      of

so many

  women of influence

&

in the time

of the young women

       to come

 - the coming women -

     

my list begins

         

      *

About the author

Pam Brown has published many chapbooks and nineteen full collections of poetry. She has been writing, collaborating, editing and publishing in diverse modes both locally and internationally for over four decades. She lives on unceded Gadigal land in Alexandria, Sydney.

Bibliography

Brown, P., ‘Hi Fax’ in Missing up, Vagabond Press, Tokyo and Sydney, 2015. https://doi.org/10.23943/princeton/9780691147888.003.0004

Brown, Pam, extract from ‘Left Wondering’ in Click here for what we do, Vagabond Press, Tokyo and Sydney, 2018.

Morris, M., ‘Room 101 Or a Few Worst Things in the World’, in M. Morris, The Pirate’s Fiancée: Feminism, Reading, Postmodernism, Verso, London and New York, 1988

Morris, M., Foreword, in M. Morris, Ecstasy and Economics: American Essays for John Forbes, EMPress, Sydney, 1992.

Notes

1. Meaghan Morris, Foreword, in her Ecstasy and Economics: American Essays for John Forbes, EMPress, Sydney, 1992, pp. 7.

2. Ibid., pp. 9–10.

3. Meaghan Morris, ‘Room 101 Or a Few Worst Things in the World’, in her The Pirate’s Fiancée: Feminism, Reading, Postmodernism, Verso, London and New York, 1988, p. 194.

4. Pam Brown, ‘Hi Fax’ in Missing up, Vagabond Press, Tokyo and Sydney, 2015, pp. 74–6.

5. Pam Brown, extract from ‘Left Wondering’, in Click here for what we do, Vagabond Press, Tokyo and Sydney, 2018, pp. 66–70.



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