Poetry News

Brandon Brown on Lana Del Ray & Jon Leon

By Harriet Staff

Fantastic. Brandon Brown responds to Jon Leon's The Malady of the Century, just out from Futurepoem Books. Right off the bat, Brown compares the melodramatic "malady" to Lana Del Ray's recent video for "Video Games." Leon and Del Ray both remind Brown "that the real present malady of our new century is a decline in sensibility." More:

This decline is sublimely represented by the tragic snub Lana’s beloved extends. She refuses it with a wail of full feeling. That this wail is delivered with an undeniable measure of blasé minimizes its engagement not at all. Franco “Bifo” Berardi describes the relation of sensibility’s wane to the contemporary state of precarious labor: “The cognitive performance of the precarious worker must become compatible, fractal, recombinable. Cognitive ability must be detached from sensibility, from the ability to detect, interpret, and understand signs that cannot be translated into words. The standardization of the cognitive process involves a digital formatting of the mind, disturbing the sphere of sensibility, and finally destroying it.”

I was thinking about these things after we got back from Ashland. Do we need sensibility if we want to have any experience of real revolt? Like, if the destruction of our spheres of sensibility is a “malady,” then what would the role of art be, medicinal? Is Lana Del Rey not so much Prometheus as a Botoxed Asclepius breathing caffeinated Oxycontin into our lungs, shotgun-style? Is there a way in which our poetics can manage to activate a sustainable homeopathy for this capitalist force that demands our simultaneous compatibility and fractalization?

After a must-read bit about a situation at a urinal, Brown gets to The Malady: "In its economy of sensibility and expression all of these worlds collide: deities, demi-gods, the smelly everyday. Just when you start to think it’s TMI you remember it’s never enough." Read it all here.

Originally Published: March 1st, 2012