The New York Times Poems – 2006

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I read the New York Times every morning. I read in it in order, front page to last, section by section. When read in order, it is a rational narrative, a series of cameos culled from current events, organized by categories: world events, business, arts, sports, all providing information, all read for the purpose of gathering information.

But I also hold the paper in my hands as an object. As an object, it is something composed, edited, choreographed; a poetic form assembled with metaphoric subtleties. For example, every morning, front page above the fold, a photograph of suffering, violence, despair. Below the fold, a photograph of a corrupt person, or occasionally a good person. Every morning, second and third pages, outmost columns, tall thin advertisements with beautiful young women and men in underwear, commerce aestheticized and eroticized. Reading in order, page one produces anxiety; but page two relieves anxiety as the eye escapes into the commerce of erotic beauty and desire. Pleasure for pain. Now rested, the eye proceeds to page three, where it encounters more suffering or corruption, until the ads on page five. And so on. The subtext of the newspaper as composed object (where news and advertising belong to the same larger social order, commerce paying for truth, truth told boldly but letting commerce do the financing, neither pretending to redeem or subvert the other) is sheer poetry-well paced, pain alternated with pleasure, corruption holding hands with goodness, the world’s hard business underwritten by erotic escape, line breaks effectively used.

My collages, The New York Times Poems, are each assembled from one day’s news and advertisements, as if the linear progression of the paper-as-information (news) interspersed with the non-linear come hither of the paper-as-erotic-fetish (ads) had become one flesh; as if the layers of its pages and contradictory intentions had spent the dark night together on my doorstep, coupling in that blue plastic sleeping bag, their discourse/intercourse producing grotesque, hybrid children-as-collages. Their offspring-as-collage–cut, violated, surgically reconstituted with scissors and tapes–are part monstrous deformity, part gorgeous surface. And though seemingly only fragmented parts pieced together incompletely, they become hybrids of information and desire that, once recombined, now report some larger, deeper truth.