Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Too Brief Note On Flux, Clot & Froth ,Vol.s 1 &2, by John Bloomberg-Rissman (Meritage Press, 2010)

John Bloomberg-Rissman’s work frequently reminds me of what I thought I knew but really didn’t. The guy’s got mad skills. He’s a collagist-philosopher-epic poet with a real feel for the Real. He’s someone whose work you ought to get to know. I’m just saying…

Flux, Clot & Froth (Volumes 1 & 2), recently out from Meritage Press, constitutes the middle term of a tripartite project—a project which bears the same name as JB-R’s blog—Zeitgeist Spam. It’s an ambitious project . The first part, No Sounds of My Own Making, was issued by Leafe Press in 2007. The final part, In the House of the Hangman, is in progress now at Zeitgeist Spam (

The 1st volume of Flux Clot & Froth (FCF) is a poem just over 700 pages in length. The 2nd volume documents the source material for FCF, Vol.1, in 2764 footnotes; it also includes a "Special Bonus Party Remix," a 10 page poem written in honor of Geof Huth’s 50th birthday.

In Prince of Networks: Bruno Latour and Metaphysics (, 2009), philosopher Graham Harman (whose work I was introduced to by JB-R) rejiggers a brief passage from Latour to read:

“No matter what an object is, if it affects no other objects, then it is as if it never existed at all […]. Reality is so much a collective process that an isolated object is merely a dream, claim, or feeling, not a fact.” (p.50)

FCF is about nothing if not context and relation. Everything, every element of this poem is in play with every other element. It begins to feel like a kind of ecosystem.

Most of FCF is written out in the hay(na)ku stepped tercet form that was invented by Eileen Tabios, but there are also stretches of prose and lists, dialogue, images and etc.

JB-R works with appropriated materials, almost entirely. He harvests—snips and prunes—bits of poetry and philosophy blogs, journals, books, etc., and makes the material new by reconstellating it, by situationing it in overlapping networks of similarly relocated passages.

It’s interesting to me that JB-R rarely alters what he snips, except in-so-far as he’s altering the context in which it appears. It’s interesting, too, that the result isn’t some kind of hot mess. The work reads really well.

It reads well, I think, because JB-R has a refined understanding of how to negotiate multiple registers of thought and feeling. (There are too many registers to begin to catalogue here.)That he reads as deeply in philosophy as he does in poetry is surely significant in this regard.

That FCF is constructed of excerpts from 1000 other writers should give one pause. Snips from my own work figure in the project. That gives me pause. No one really owns their words, do they?

FCF is avant writing as interesting in practice as it is in theory.


  1. Great take Tom on a very great work: John is a master, who beats Pound at collage, and for whom dichtung still equals condensare