Brian Ang

Loudspeaker Voice 1: Welcome and thank you for choosing SFO as your airport. The next stop is the rental car center.

Loudspeaker Voice 2: Please refer to the display above the doors for the name of all on-airport rental car companies. Off-airport rental car companies are accessed by shuttle busses located at the ground level of the rental car center.

LV 1: As a reminder, it is against the law in California to drive a vehicle while using a cell phone unless it is specifically designed and configured to allow hands-free operation.

LV 2: Members of frequent renter programs may proceed to their rental car company’s specific garage level as is listed on the directory located throughout the building.

LV 1: Please hold on.

LV 2: We are approaching the rental car center.

LV 1: Please make sure you have all your personal belongings and watch your step as you exit. For passengers with carts and luggage, please use elevators located at either end of the train platform.

LV 2: Unclaimed or suspicious luggage should be reported immediately.

LV 1: Please hold on.

LV 2: Rental car center. Please exit.

[Voices, footsteps]

Brian Ang: Hey!

Michael Nardone: Brian!

BA: How’s it going?

MN: Want to walk?

BA: Sure.

MN: Maybe we should get one of those carts.

[Metallic clanking]


BA: Yeah.

MN: Only in America does one have to pay for a luggage cart.

BA: It won’t work.

MN: So what’s been going on?

BA: Let’s see. I’ve been—


Lot of writing—


Editing Armed Cell. Working on a very long poem called “The Totality Cantos”. Writing criticism. Working with the local activisms.

MN: Has it been heating up at all after all that happened with the UC schools in the fall?

BA: Most of what’s going on is centered around Occupy projects but the UC things are extremely close to them. A lot of the same people do both.

MN: Have you been following what’s going on in Montreal?

BA: I have. Through you—

MN: 300,000 people on the streets a few days ago.

Geoffrey Hill: Excuse me, can I get past you gents?

MN: This is no place for sauntering.

BA: Seems like—

MN: That was Geoffrey Hill!

BA: Really?

MN: No.

BA: I don’t know what he looks like.

MN: Like that guy.

BA: Okay.

MN: They have the same scowl.

BA: Let’s see where this goes.



MN: No wonder why Geoffrey was in such a rush.

[People shouting in Japanese]

What will you be talking about in Santa Cruz?

BA: I’ll present on the Occupy phenomenon and what I call anti-community poetics.

MN: Anti-community? Great, with all the community that’s going on.

BA: What about you?

MN: Some kind of transcriptive work. I’m not sure what exactly. I have a few things planned, but thought I would try and write it during the conference as a response to everything that will be going on there. I’m hoping to find some way to link the proceedings to the things I’ve been thinking about—

BA: Like?

MN: Michael Davidson’s critical writings. And Spicer. And Vanessa P. I’ve been thinking about language reception. The visual reception of text on signs and screens and documents. But also, lately, mostly, the aural reception of spoken language. Practices of listening.

BA: There—

MN: What?

BA: Free luggage cart.

MN: Great. Throw your bag—


I’ve been writing about a transcriptive poetics, about a kind of composition that is counter to a projectivst practice where a poet assembles in a private space a text that is later made public.

BA: The event happens after the writing.

MN: Yeah, and in a transpoetics the compositional event happens before the text itself.

BA: Hm.

MN: And I never know how to talk about things to people in these situations. Talk straight at an idea or move in circles around it and leave as much space open as possible for people to think their way into it however they will.


Because I’m giving the last paper of the conference I thought I would record all the other talks and then transcribe the parts that connect with these ideas I’m interested in and present my paper in their words as a kind of document of this particular assemblage of voices.

BA: I’m reminded of Bruce Andrews at the what was it called?

MN: What was that?

BA: It was a very—

MN: No—

BA: Reimagining Poetics.

MN: Okay.

BA: He was the last presenter and he read his note cards that he had scribbled throughout the whole conference.

MN: That’s it!

BA: He read through the entire gathering.

MN: Andrews is amazing for that.

BA: That listening.

MN: A friend was telling me about Jen Currin doing something like this at the big Canadiana poet thing in Vancouver. She transcribed all these phrases that were spoken during the gathering on strips of paper, then handed them out randomly to everyone there and they were supposed to read the phrases out loud whenever they wanted as a kind of improvised group performance of some of the gathering’s language. Sometimes there were these extended silences and sometimes there were several speakers at once.

BA: Want to go down the escalator?

MN: Sure.

BA: So you’re doing some conversations for The Volta.

MN: Yeah, working it out with Andy Fitch.

BA: Are you planning to just document the conversations.

MN: I’d like to include as much as I can from the acoustic atmosphere.


But it’s difficult to transcribe sounds if you don’t have some already formed way to notate them.

BA: For sure.

MN: So, we’ll see. I’ll experiment.

BA: It’s probably not so easy to go down the escalator with that cart.

MN: Want to find out?

BA: It might be possible.

MN: Gosh.

BA: Well.

MN: It seemed like a good—


I wonder how he recorded the talks with Jon Cotner.

BA: Yeah.

MN: Did they walk around like this with a recorder? Did they have head pieces?

BA: Head pieces.

MN: Yeah.

BA: I was wondering how Goldsmith did his recordings for Fidget.

MN: And Soliloquoy.

BA: With Soliloquoy I could imagine how he did it. But yeah, with Fidget you can’t say everything you did.

MN: It would always be no matter what: Lips move. Mouth makes sound.

BA: I’m curious.

MN: Lips move. Mouth makes sound.

BA: Let’s—

MN: I want to know these things.

BA: Go this way.

MN: Into the netherspaces of rental car agencies.

Person Walking By: Intimidating in a certain way—

MN: I’m looking forward to seeing the next Armed Cell.

BA: Oh, yeah?

MN: The first one was great.

BA: I just put the second one up as a .pdf.

MN: Good, I haven’t seen it yet.


So, do you know Katie Price? Have you met?

BA: I’ve corresponded with her, but that’s it.

MN: Me too. That’s it.

BA: Huh.

MN: I wonder how we’ll find one another.

BA: Text message.

Person Walking By: We will have nothing on day one—

MN: Exactly! So you’re on a panel with Angela Carr. Have you come across her work?

BA: I’ve seen some.

MN: Picked up her Rose Concordance a few days ago.

BA: I don’t know it well but I’ll read it—

MN: She’s from Montreal.

BA: Do you know her?

MN: Met her when Lisa Robertson gave a talk a few days ago.

BA: What did she talk on?

MN: It was on rhythm. Risking Rhythm. She’s doing this work on a Meschonnic—

BA: She’s translating him.

MN: Yeah and addressing his critical writings on rhythm in terms of aesthetics and politics. She’s thinking about meter in a very interesting way.

[Wheels, footsteps]

She introduced me to Jousse who I knew nothing about. Marcel Jousse. He seems somewhat similar to Walter Benjamin in the way that he worked fiercely with quotational texts. He predates Benjamin and apparently wrote this book that’s a couple hundred pages of quotations, all of which he says that he remembered. Right to the page number of the text he was quoting from. I haven’t found the book myself yet but it’s a completely quotational text and maybe even more so than Benjamin’s because the konvolutes are often situated by an editorial voice.

BA: I do love that. The ultra curatorial textual projects—

MN: We can go down on the escalators but we can’t go up.

BA: Hm.

MN: What to do?

BA: There’s an elevator.

MN: Oh.

BA: This is also something that is kind of a meta observation. I feel the—

[Whirling, elevator bleeps, doors]

But the presence of the tape recorder is interesting.

MN: Yeah.

BA: It changes the conversation.

MN: I wonder how.

BA: I remember reading something, a book about psychoanalysis, about the violence of having a tape recorder in a psychoanalytic setting.

MN: If only you could quote it exactly.

[Several people, happy reunion. Clapping, kissing, hugs.]

I did this project where I set up something like 32 microphones in my apartment and invited all these people over. Mics were hanging from the ceiling, on the walls and windows, in the plants. Most of them were visible but I told them all the entire space was being recorded.

BA: Should we go up?

MN: Let’s.

BA: Go ahead.

MN: And I asked everyone to govern the space with their talk or in their silence. As they pleased and however they pleased. I recorded for 80 minutes or so and listening to it afterward everyone was hyper aware of the fact that they were being recording but also kept saying how they kept on forgetting they were being recorded—

BA: Remembering forgetting.

MN: That movement in and out.

BA: Yeah.

MN: I think David Antin started recording his talks when—


I guess it’s different now in the sense that I can plug this into a computer and have an MP3 file that can be disseminated quickly. Perhaps that makes recording more intimidating.

BA: What did you do with the recording?

MN: With the?

BA: With the recording at your apartment?

MN: I transcribed all the audible talk—

BA: Yeah?

MN: During the entire time and broke it into phrasal units and began to compose a poem just with that language from that occasion.

BA: Great.

MN: It said everything I wanted a poem to say at that point in time.

BA: It’s fascinating when one deploys complex procedures and then finds out the writing is very expressive.

MN: Yeah.

BA: Everything that ones feels.

MN: Which is a funny thing because when Goldsmith talks about certain works being against expression, there’s often a lot of expression.

BA: The expressive is framed differently.

MN: Exactly.

BA: But it seems usually to be Dworkin is the one who argues about that point, the against expression thing. It’s a classic avant-garde gesture of overemphasizing something.

MN: So—

BA: He has this thought experiment that does a purely theoretical—


Essential for me to get through.

MN: Like the whole boring thing.

BA: It’s time to get over the boring thing.

MN: The books aren’t boring.

BA: The point has been made.

MN: I read this poem of yours a few months ago. It could have been from your cantos project?

BA: Hmm.

MN: It was called some kind of era.

BA: You remember where you saw it?

MN: Something about crustaceans?

BA: Yeah?

MN: The pleistocene?

BA: No.

[Electric doors]

MN: Sin—

[Elevator bleeps]

BA: Symbolic?

Elevator Voice: Parking lot.

BA: The poem was called “Pre-Symbolic.”

MN: This is a parking lot.


BA: Do you think that’s Katie?

MN: “Pre-symbolic.” Yeah—


It could be—

BA: We should have drawn—


Each other’s faces—


On paper.

MN: What?

BA: I said we should have made signs for one another.



Originally published in The Conversant, July 2012.