In this cage this week were Dana Levin and Juliana Spahr.
Although I enjoyed a few of Levin’s pieces (namely “Ars Poetica” and “Glass Heart”), Levin’s work as represented in the book seems to skim along the surface of the world rather than tie itself to it. Stephanie and I both agreed that Levin was working in the ether rather than in objects and images and we felt sort of adrift in her work. I liked the surprising imagery of “Glass Heart,” but we both felt some objection to the teacher/student dynamic represented there. We both feel that teachers writing about students are accomplishing one of two things:
objectification of knowledge/overall fetishization of ignorance (“Isn’t it adorable how little young people know of the world?”)
egomania (“Thank Goodness I was here to correct this.”)
When it came to Spahr’s work I think we both consider ourselves disarmed. While Spahr also works as much with ideas (and maybe more so) than with images, her work (in the anthology) was more interesting and compelling. Levin’s work is very internal while Spahr’s work undresses the world for what it is and shows us that at the end of the day we are just a news ticker on CNN with a dubious hierarchy of headlines: dead in Iraq followed by supermodels working to end hunger. (The latter is a likely story; didn’t supermodels invent hunger?) We were disappointed by the ending of Spahr’s “localism or t/here” and I personally felt it was an awkward representation from the wealth of beauty in Fuck You — Aloha — I Love You.
So, to summarize, we recognized these winners:
Our first ever total knock out! Stephanie and I have never agreed on the winner in this way, so Spahr’s sparring is possibly more notable in that regard.
Thank you for participating in the Legitimate Dangers Deathmatch! We’ll see you again in two weeks.