178.2: Pablo Lopez:: Lines of Relation and Sites of Refusal: Four contemporary poets writing outside the genre 178

"According to the meditative array of information in Aspiration, to examine one is to examine many, “a unit is a unit composed of many things. Interest signaling among the aggregates”. And so what is the lyric if not that unimaginable plural of I! as Creeley put it. (Is not the lyric a part of We?) But not only, for that is far too pithy a summation and, ultimately, toothless on its own. The lyric is conjoined to both forms of such existence as much as it is anything..."
albon21

Lines of Relation and Sites of Refusal:
Four contemporary poets writing outside the genre

Part One: George Albon’s Aspiration

It’s known that Cezanne worked from nature and that doing so was not simply his approach but was his life’s work. Critical of himself, Cezanne lamented his need to work in that fashion, somehow imagining it to be an inferior mode of painting, and by his own admission, and simply put, he strove to paint pictures that made art and nature one and if he could have done it another way he would have. That his work was not only unique as a critique of the pictorial function but also innovative in its ability to apply pressure to stable representations of nature is all the justification one might ever need for methods utilized. Cezanne was methodical and a perfectionist, characteristics that may seem counterintuitive to his expressionist style, as it’s come to be known. At minimum, he required a hundred sittings for a still life or five hundred for a portrait, and yet there’s a sense in his work that a picture’s organization came by intuition when in actuality it came by careful calculation, effort, and applied acumen. To assume he arrived at his style and technique as an organic mode of self expression or subjective viewpoint is wrongheaded, when it seems he obsessed over every brushstroke despite what a textbook reading of his active, bold, and decisively evocative hand might suggest.

A work like Cezanne’s that openly invites the constructed nature by which it has come into existence relies on the strength of its own arranged composition to accomplish the feat it sets out to achieve; the feat of composition, which might be the challenge par excellence in art and literature. In essence, and along with the complete embrace of its artifice in relation to writing, poetry operates similarly, as the active arrangement of elements and perspective are organized and elaborated within a text (musical and otherwise), along with the extended field that a particular text may engage by relation or disassociation. And just as poetry results from such arrangement of compositional elements and emotive dimensions, so too does productive affectivity in Cezanne. It’s not a question of passion, but of formal language and the placement of elements in a picture plane in accordance with compositional harmonics, or in contrast, that afford conceptual pressures and emotive experience.

George Albon’s Aspiration, recent from Omnidawn, is a self-proclaimed meditation on the lyric that affords an encounter with the perceptible world, “where one object reflects the other,” and not unlike Cezanne’s meticulous need for calculated brushstrokes, its organization is careful and hard won. Albon, a poet’s poet and author of numerous titles, sets out to further elaborate a poetic discourse, both personal and technical, attentive to the past, present, and future possibilities of the lyric as form and eloquent subject; a subject spiritually, psychologically, and sensually charged as any poetic undertaking.

Aspiration, as offered in the volume’s brief prefatory note, “is the first published part of a four-part section about the lyric,” and part of a larger, ten-part, work-in-progress titled Café Multiple. In this first iteration, a svelte volume, Albon considers a multitude of artists, writers, and concepts; those in pursuit of the lyric that constitute a literary sub-space that skim and plumb the surface of appearance and relation; elaborating a text that brings its contents into unlikely relation. Albon makes a number of original readings legible while bringing the lyric’s tactical interplay into social interaction and discursive proximity. The fluid, factual, and anecdotal inclusions and transitions of Aspiration call to mind the hyper-connective work of Walter Benjamin, Clark Coolidge, and even David Markson.

Fundamental to Aspiration is Albon’s sensitivity for the oblique logic in any seemingly static bit of lyrical writing or tangentially relevant subset of the lyric. “Alongside the connective synthesis of flows and cuts, the lyric is a disjunctive synthesis of routes and permutations.” And again, “The lyric is a relatedness backward and forward.” Aspiration addresses the lyric as discourse without ‘advancing’ the dialogue in a reductively linear mode, and even without saying or contributing something ‘new.’ To read Aspiration in such hackneyed terms would be to underestimate the arc of its trajectory, as it mulls the intimate relations of the lyric—it dispenses with the notions of continued, or a progressive dialogue along with its own indispensable attention to the formal and conceptual limits and possibilities of the lyric, while articulating a purview of the world through the lens of the lyric and providing a lyrical experience itself.

According to the meditative array of information in Aspiration, to examine one is to examine many, “a unit is a unit composed of many things. Interest signaling among the aggregates”. And so what is the lyric if not that unimaginable plural of I! as Creeley put it. (Is not the lyric a part of We?) But not only, for that is far too pithy a summation and, ultimately, toothless on its own. The lyric is conjoined to both forms of such existence as much as it is anything.

It cannot be presented directly, or re-presented; but its very indeterminacy is a perfectly positive, objective structure which acts as a focus or horizon within perception…something that makes itself known but conceals itself in the appearance.


Pertinent to Albon’s meditation is the subtle attention paid to formal architectural units (such as walls). Walls, much like the structure of any given space, construct a multiplicity of availabilities, both social and practical, and constitute the very social spaces of intellectual life, while too, designating and determining interior from exterior. Serving to include and exclude in order to preserve particular participation for some while others not so much or at all. The lyric, much like the primacy of walls, sets limitations and enables productive interplay for the intellectual and creative enterprise that is Aspiration, and is simultaneously the topic of examination while operating as a modality of organization for its own examination; operating as a structural (formal) provocation for thought and the organization of thinking, inevitably lending practical shape to creative and intellectual pursuits that surely lead elsewhere.

While Albon considers the lyric as it takes shape in its incalculable iterations and manifestations, an arrangement takes hold as a seemingly spontaneous grouping is initiated, sustained, and brought into appearance. There’s surely a spontaneous feel to the organization of Aspiration but that can be misleading. On close examination an attention and discipline to that perceptible spontaneity is legible, and that, in the final assessment, is the difference that elevates this work and shows the hand not simply of a deeply engaged mind but of a poetic craftsman. Present is the genius of Cezanne, that is a genius for composition, and that is the trajectory that Aspiration has initiated, bearing in mind that this is but the first iteration of a very ambitious work. That being said, the attention to the “dream of meaningful placement and the open-set,” that Aspiration openly engages, is not a promise to fulfill or even to continue. It is an open-set and remains entirely undefined except in the practice of its own articulation. It is as likely that the full-set meditation, or mediations, of Café Multiple will come to fruition just as likely as they will be abandoned for other endeavors of arrangement and lyrical formation. The dream of the open-set does not distinguish between the senses, experience, and intelligence—such partitioning occurs outside of the realm of the open-set and its dream to perceive and organize non-hierarchically.

George Albon:: Aspiration:: Omnidawn