Friday, September 3, 2010

My poem for Fred Ho

The performance artist and saxophonist, Fred Ho, is in town this week. Also see here and here. I missed his MIA performance, as it occurred between an evening class and a morning class on my week's cluttered radar. But I did make his talk yesterday to hear what he had to say about whiteness. Here's a description of his talk (which does not do justice to the full-throated ease by which he condemned white imperialism, the white working class, and settler colonists of a white stripe). Then I've pasted in my response, composed in the form of a memory card (part of a series of prose poems that begin from a line or phrase, taken more or less at random from the Collected of Wallace Stevens).

3-4:30 pm: WHITENESS IS NOT INEVITABLE! English Department Colloquium in KUY 410.

By rejecting “Manifest Destiny,” Fred Ho will make the argument for a replacement view of American History that rejects the inevitability of a white majority population and the limitations of a “race analysis” for a politics and strategy of indigenous-centrism that must be the foundation for the restoration and reinvigoration of the “national question” as a revolutionary paradigmatic shift.

The marble man remains himself in space. He is naked, green, wears only his saxophone. The central man is necessary because he is not white. A white man wears clothes, plays no sax, uses only active verbs like “colonize” or “capitalize.” The white man prefers capitals on his columns. He knows the central poem must be abstract, because details are like roaches. The white man buys Combat traps, sends troops to Kabul, Baghdad, New Orleans. But the green man plays a green sax, grows his own clothes in a city garden, constructs paradise out of a non-white palette. Avoiding the white keys, he plays notes of green, the curl upon his head a sign to other signifiers. Let there be no egrets upon this lawn, no Irish, no Polacks, no Jews, no Portuguese. Let there be only the song of the sax as it plays, not what is, but what must from henceforth be. Let none listen whose ears are not as green as a Coltrane's.

--4 September 2010

1 comment:

Jonathan Morse said...

Fair Quiet, have I found thee here,
And Innocence, thy sister dear?

Another green man hoped so. There were no saxophonics in his settler colony.