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“Technopoly Babylon,” an interview with Adeena Karasick, was conducted by Jesse Chase for Forget the Box, a Montreal-based Web magazine that publishes progressive, unique insights on a wide range of issues from around the world. The interview was published on June 1, 2015, and the below excerpt is republished with permission.
I first picked up Adeena Karasick’s book of poetry (one of her nine books), Dysemia Sleaze, back in 2006. I picked it without even knowing what the book was about or who it was written by. I liked the title, though. I knew I was reading something next level. It was like mathematics in words and symbols. It all made some intuitive sense before I could actually make sense of it.
Almost a decade later, in the quest for knowledge of self and existential liberation from Babylon, while working on a farm in BC, I sought the opportunity to build with the Kabbalist, mystic, scholar, international poet, and multi-media artist.
I had just read her her latest book, titled This Poem. I wanted to learn some science from her about language, technology, and the Kabbala. As I anticipated, Karasick dropped that knowledge.
Jesse Chase: You’re a feminist poet, so I want to ask: does language have the ability to combat patriarchy? And would you make a distinction between feminism and a radical feminism?
Adeena Karasick: This Poem (Talonbooks, 2012) is a deeply ironic, self reflexive mash up re-inscribing subjectivity as a kind of contemporary archive of cultural fragments: updates, analysis, aggregates, contradictory trends, threads, webbed networks of information, the language of the “ordinary” and the otherness of daily carnage.
The self becomes a kind of euphoric recycling of information (shards, sparks) and thus speaks to how we are continually reinvented through recontextualization, collision, juxtapositions of defamiliarity as we process and re-process information.
Is this radically feminist? Perhaps in the way radical poetics is, in the tradition of the avant-garde foregrounding fragmented identities, irony, skepticism, a sense of self as other or outsider, a distrust of the literal, and belief in a tradition that questions rather than answers — As per “radical” I think it’s useful to think about it as a radical number, which is both rational and irrational, relational. And if radical comes from the Latin radicalis, “of roots,” I am committed to a writing where roots are re-routed, detour and “dangle”…
I’m particularly interested in ways language can both express and alter meaning; how we use language, massage its affect, shapes the way we think, breathe, behave. Thus, most of my project engages language in a way that undermines, questions or problematizes any kind of patriarchal premise – that there is a message, that can be clearly communicated, transmitted, that there is some truth outside of language, structures of logic, borders, orders, laws, flaws, codes – rather my work opens up a space that celebrates slippage, ellipses; all that is unsaid through veiling and unveiling, a multiplicitous heterogeny of ever-increasing otherness.
So yes, a highly feminist act – of intervention, disruption dissent where the discourse is all rapturously fractured and fraught with fission, elision. Not marked by censoring but by sensors, a re-sensed sensorium of incendiary sonorities.