The others. I am the others.
I am dying in living and living in dying.
I am in the end and in the beginning.
I am the word, the sentence.
(V.P., La Medusa)
Vanessa Place knows “Vanessa Place” is others. We don’t need to pretend we haven’t read all we have read to know Vanessa Place is still a lyrical I precisely because she is others, and those others are we, Vanessa Place, the lyrical I in denial.
And she knows these “others” are not “community”: “I should note parenthetically that I am of course opposed to the very idea of community, particularly an aesthetic community… Put another way: There is no ‘I’ in team. But there is a ‘me’, bitches” (“Zombie poetry”). “Community”, the “Poetry community” is the ideological name, the lie. What exists today as a virtually material practice is networking, not even a network or networks but networking, networking, networking, which is what every body is doing under the Face/Book institutional umbrella.
Writing-pieces are now peripheral in the aesthetic form in experimental North-American poetics (but not only here). And this displacement of the text from the nucleus to the margins of the (neoliberal) aesthetic form (a form that is turning into full fledged work) is occurring silently, it cannot fully manifest(o) itself, because popular understandings of art would condemn such a decapitation of the traditional literary form, so aesthetic networkers cannot get out of the Vanessa Place closet, and thus, need to hide that the central elements in aesthetic form are not the cultural-technical qualities of the written product anymore but what used to be peripheral: photos, attractive face-bodies, campaigning; and what is now hegemonic: social media accounts, me-merchandizing, and other forms of power exchange between virtual subjects. By virtual subjects I mean subjects to virtualities in the market. The literary product is secondary now, what is crucial is the producer’s image. This image is literature’s new capital.
Vanessa Place came very close to showing exactly how “poetry” works in late de-capitalism. And networkers found a way to stop her because she needed to go down for the networking to continue. She was about to collapse the illusion of ethics inside the concept of North-American experimental writing, but without the illusion-of-ethics, the networking would lose chances of being successful at gaining capital in the job market, and so Vanessa Place needed to be sacrificed. The timing of her last racist performance (in a long series that didn’t seem to bother the networkers so much before) threaten many networkers’ image so they decided to bring her down to protect their own opportunities in this spectacular market, a spectacular market in crisis.
Place was taking her performative scandal into pornographic levels, which was creating a dangerous situation and risky-collective move that could terminally hurt the public image of the networkers associated with her name and North-American experimental networking itself.
Through Place’s sacrifice, the networkers knew they could create the illusion of being significantly different to her: “We are Better, We are Different, We Are Not Vanessa Place” was the message the networkers wanted to send to themselves and to other similar networkers (with a strategic position to exchange capital with them). By doing this in the context of her racist project, the networkers managed to disengaged from Vanessa Place and positioned themselves in a ethically safer position.
“In the most abstract sense, this is the beauty and crux of Internet speech: truth lies only in language” (The Guilt Project. Rape, Morality, and Law, p. 119). Place is aware of most of what is happening, though she still suppresses her language by clinging to typical intellectual games, in doing so she remains ideological, behind the times, and even behind her own retro-conceptual project which could be radical if only Place would fully embrace it.
(Want to ‘kill’ poetry? Don’t kill the ‘text’, which is already dead. Kill the writer’s image, kill its name, kill its place in the market. Kill the market. Anything else is just old poetry or even less).
Another reason she refrains from showing how North-American experimental networking works is that she remains faithful to the Hegelian-Lacanian model which believes the slave knows the truth of the master and by telling the truth, therefore, you become a slave. And Place does not want to be a slave. She firmly desires the illusion of being the master. She has said she refuses mastery, but she really loves it. Her whole performance persona, her whole written language is about fantasizing being the Master.
And by becoming the White Witch and Bad Matriarchal Master, Place opened the door for other networkers to fulfill their roles in intellectual executions like this one.
Probably her best written work is The Discourse of the Slave (2010), though it suffers from the same problem the rest of her writings suffer: she changes subject before uttering the truth about the subject she was performing a few lines before, because she knows withholding the truth is directly proportional to the capital you will receive from other networkers within reach who also obey the golden rule of experimentalism: “meaning” is unfixed, deferral is everything.
But it is the illusion of being the Master—having a much better (cruel) position in the withholding of the unspeakable truth—what is holding her together as a subject under heavy attack by nasty and hypocritical networkers, the bitches, as she calls them.
(The unsayable is the market).
“My agent, were I to have such an apparatus”, writes Place as if she didn’t know such agent/apparatus exists, and then continues, “is composed of ten percent of me and ten [sic?] percent of some number of others. It is for me that my agent speaks. My agent knows what is in my best interests, my agent understands the market place” (p. 19). But finally goes into the little game of so-called indeterminacy: “Talk to my agent. I hate my agent. What can I expect from my agent?”, but that’s the bullshit she needs to utter for ‘dialogue’ to happen, and remain an artist within other artists.
But the important information came in the middle of this garbage: her agent is 10% Vanessa Place, 90% other literary/artistic/academic subjects, and 100% of them know what is in their best market place interest.
And that’s why the 90% of Vanessa Place decided in 2015 to sacrifice the 10% of Vanessa Place.
Originally published in May 31, 2015