[OR] might be a book of steganography. Or not. The tension of appearance inheres in it, and ciphertexts seem to abound. As the poems take up their concealing/revealing, coded/decoded, intelligence/counter-intelligence themes, borders and borderlands appear, are crossed, or are closed. Many of the borderlands turn out to be their own interiors – “secret” workings of the codes ghosting through them. Are they abject castoffs, lost possibilities, proscribed mutations, or future events?
Codes are hidden everywhere, sliding through the atmosphere, slipping into microwave towers, handheld devices, nervous systems, brains, retinas, bar codes, antimissile systems, the antennae of DNA, the traces of virtual particles, the Chauvet Cave drawings, your Twitter account. Each broaches a transformative version of its own transduction. The buck never stops. And since it’s been documented that perception happens before we know it (Benjamin Libet), and the future might already have happened, these poems ask what this might mean – especially in an accelerated, “semio-inflated” world of signs, words, and information.
Maybe it’s no wonder that the poems use tropes from spy thrillers and code breakers. In them a character may have been murdered, or moved to another dimension. Along the way strange perturbations occur to narrative and its others: memory, (prosthetic memory), dream, reportage, code, a little history of the future, déjà vu, paramnesia, the virtual – versions, evasions, and alternatives. Each poem gets read a few times, its code deciphered or ciphered back up. Some of the poems decay. Each reader reads his or her own poem and encodes it for another. What communication crosses out,
these poems try to find. They might ask “What is reading?” while at the same time “Who are you?” In asking they acknowledge fragility, and in fragility, suggests William E. Connolly, lies the beginning of freedom.