the future

STARK WEEK EPISODE #11: “No myth is written all at once” — Jared White on THE LAST FOUR BOOKS OF SAMPSON STARKWEATHER


For our final textual episode of Stark Week, Jared White takes us a billion years into the future, where creaky American poetballer Sampsonian Starkweathershire has released his final four books, capping over a career of the highest highs and the lowest lows and the crunchiest chicken tenders. Later today we’ll be posting TWO CONTESTS where you’ll have a chance to win your own copy of The First Four Books of Sampson Starkweather. HTMLGIANT fav Unnameable Books in NYC reports that people have been stealing The First Four Books, which you shouldn’t do, but is also kind of cool, right? DON’T STEAL; WIN CONTESTS. STAY TUNED! For now, we turn to Mr. White and the year 2066—or was it 2666?

the photographs_Page_1Sampson Starkweather died for the fifth time in the year 2066— or was it 2666? Either way he had already nicknamed the year to a more personable, abbreviated 2-6-6, like police scanner code: 2-6-6, year of the singularity. But was it death? Or like words, would Sampson Starkweather live on as the ghost in the machine?

Famously, Starkweather’s poetry was entirely written in a blaze during a six-year period before he reached the age of 21, at which point he abandoned writing entirely. Instead he devoted himself to long travels in the southern hemisphere as an incognito adventurer, knight errant, part-time athlete, wrestler, and stone quarry foreman. Whether he died of bodily injuries or illness or returned from his self-imposed exile a much-changed man, he was never seen from again, except in photographs and emails, traveling through the ether more slowly than the news of his death.

Then, during the war, three soldiers are said to have come to the house where Sampson Starkweather was living in the woods alone. Either because of his political beliefs or perhaps in spite of them, he was arrested without charges and executed in a field in front of the Great Fountain on the road between Viznar and Alfacar. But in outer space there are no fountains and no fields; instead there are small space-crafts and plenty of space-junk that must be steered around and so there are also frequent accidents like the one that took place in the tunnel where spaceman Sampson Starkweather was struck in the middle of the night. (What is night in between stars? In outer space is there star weather?).

the photographs_Page_2His injuries at first appeared minor but in the wake of the incident his drinking became more acute. Shortly after his fortieth birthday he was found in a stupor in the stairwell of his apartment and brought to the hospital. Here, Starkweather drifted in and out of consciousness before expiring. His last words were, “My first four books did this to me.” And by some great coincidence, just down the hall on the same floor, a forty-six year old Sampson Starkweather was admitted almost simultaneously. His chief complaint was hiccups, but it was clear that what ailed him was serious and his condition worsened over the days that followed.

“Malaria?” one  intrepid doctor offered, though there was no consensus. Within days, Starkweather was dead and his publishers began the long work of preparing the unfinished text of his First Four Books to be published posthumously.

Overhead, Sampson Starkweather read these books on the screen of his transom-window, writing in steam with his fingers on the glass with its fogged vantage of Mars. No myth is written all at once. And then, of course, the singularity, much delayed, in that year of sixes, when the upload was complete and the mind inside the machine became indistinguishable from the image of the body outside. (The heart in the machine is green too.)

the photographs_Page_3Sampson Starkweather may still be in there, if there can be called an inside, now that time has stopped and the same year continues day after day, a permanent Tron grid of ‘80s video games stretching out into infinity: “Forget futurism… I want to talk to you without skin.”

Sampson Starkweather is Sampson Starkweather’s ghost, dying. But when a ghost dies, what happens then? When a ghost dies does it come back to life?

Jared White’s most recent chapbook, THIS IS WHAT IT IS LIKE TO BE LOVED BY ME, was published by Bloof Books this spring and is now available as an ebook herehere, or here. Another chap, MY FORMER POLITICS, is forthcoming from H-NGM-N. In addition to writing, he is co-owner of Berl’s Brooklyn Poetry Shop, a small press bookstore, and father of Roman Field White, a seven-month-old baby. READ MORE >

Author News / 1 Comment
July 21st, 2013 / 2:17 pm

Couch commentary


That a couch in an average living room faces a television may be an invitation to become what we are watching, namely, a movie — that is, if our couples would just pay attention. Lateral domesticity begs to fall asleep. A man, reduced to emasculated flab, pleads for his unhealthy and coddled relationship to continue; the tacit repose of a couple engaged at their respective laptops seems precious; some bro fantasy of simultaneous bong and munchies with anthropomorphic hump pillow; the platonic diplomacy of former lovers newly registering the full radius between them. The couch may be an obvious place for contemporary dialogue, or its reticence, but there’s something peculiar about the camera choosing the very place of its artifice to peek into these lives, as if these movie directors took for granted — or were even ashamed of — the rectangular boxes in which their creations are manifested. Perhaps we find relief in seeing others situated as us. When a DVD ends, it reverts to the menu page consisting of some thematic snippet which goes onward in an infinite loop. One may lie there out of the remote’s grasp, too tired to hit ■. It is easy to lose track of time in the waiting room of habitual inception, the ▶ untouched. Every disc sheathed inside its tray is a silver sun waiting to rise, spinning out of control. Another reason to sit down, and pretend.

Film / 2 Comments
February 27th, 2013 / 5:29 pm


from Naked by Mike Leigh

Film / 3 Comments
October 28th, 2010 / 11:36 pm

We Are All Very Busy Being Busy

We are all very busy. We are busy being busy. We worship at the altar and suckle at the teat of busy. When I say we, I mean you, me, us. We are a cult of busy busy people. If you are busy, we will follow you and drink your Kool-Aid. We love to talk about how busy we are. We say I’m busy, I’m busy, I’m busy—an exultation. We say we are busy and feel flushed.  We are busy, therefore we are. To be busy is to be important and to be important is everything. We will Twitter and Facebook and blog our busyness and we will do so with the conviction of martyrs. We will bear our busy burden. The burden of busy must be borne because to be busy is to be important and to be important is to matter. We matter and are made of matter which is meta.  We have work and school and work and school. We study, we teach, we grade  and grade and grade. We live below the poverty line but revel in that poverty because we have a second and third job that keep us busy. We go to mind numbing office jobs where we are busy with boredom. We hold cushy corporate positions we love to talk about because we make so much money being busy we don’t have the time to spend it. We have meetings and sometimes we have meetings within our meetings because we are that damn busy. In our limited free time we edit three magazines and run a small press and we may never respond to you or actually publish anything but we’re on the masthead and we have many official sounding titles so we have proof we are that busy. We get so many emails each day demanding our attention and our time and we try to keep up but we cannot so we are busy stemming the tide of electronic correspondence, sending messages but never reading the responses. We have online presences so we have to visit several sites every few seconds to remind ourselves and everyone we know and love and loathe how busy we are. We write 3,500 words a day and then exhaustively edit those 3,500 words once twice three times and we make sure to mention on Facebook that we’ve done those things, oh yes, we will tell you what we’ve written for the day and how important we are for taking that care with our words despite how busy we are. We will tell you what we are going to write while you idle people are sleeping because we do not sleep, we do not need sleep, we have not the time for sleep. We will go places and meet people while we are there though we won’t spend too long because we are so busy. We’re in four writing groups where we critique the work of our friends and enemies and later talk shit about that writing to other friends and enemies. We read obscure literary texts and think deep thoughts about those obscure  literary texts and write things about those obscure literary texts so everyone knows we are reading obscure literary texts despite the fact we are so busy. We curate two reading series and boast about all the Internet Famous writers who will be reading with us. We pretend we don’t watch television but really we do, oh how we do and we spend moments of our precious time thinking about the unbelievable fact that Vanilla Ice has a reality show on DIY and how none of the new TV shows this fall are any good even though we can’t stop watching them. We have kids and those kids never leave us alone when we are busy working on our laptops but the kids are so damn cute so we’ll bitch about  how busy they keep us and how much we love them even though they get in the way. We’re married or in relationships and once in a while we have to have sex with our significant others and otherwise give them some attention. We look at our lovers day in and day out and acknowledge that yes, this is really it for the rest of our lives and while we’re so busy, we ignore the nagging feeling we are doing everything yet nothing at all because we are far too busy to do anything well and doing all of that each and every day keeps us extraordinarily busy—it is a vicious cycle.

Random / 38 Comments
October 27th, 2010 / 3:17 pm