September 3, 2008
Response to Spam–Part 1, Found Poetry
It would be disingenuous to discuss the way women are represented on the internet without paying some attention to spam. Spam is fairly easy to overlook, I get flooded with so much of it that it reaches a kind of critical mass and I no longer see the images or hear the words–until another, more shocking piece breaks through the white noise and I am disgusted all over again.
This task was a real challenge for me, I set out to make some ‘art from spam’ a few times, but each time I wasn’t quite ready and had to back off and put it aside for a time when I was feeling more mentally able to cope. There are some days spam evades the filter and makes it to my inbox, where I see it before I get a chance to delete it–some days I just shrug and it bounces off my invisible ‘whatever’ barrier, but other days it gets through, and in that brief instant between where it catches my notice and I hit the delete key it makes it’s way into my brain like a subliminal frame cut into a film and I feel like I have been verbally and visually assaulted. Some days I really do find spam to be more than just an annoying wast of space and bandwidth–sometimes I find it a violation.
So in response I wanted to take these soul destroying email intrusions and create something beautiful.
I recently came across the practice of found poetry via a friend’s live journal, specifically the beautiful poetry of e_dan, found in the words of mynxii*. This was something quite new to me–although I know about concepts of cut-ups and dada and remixes–this seemed to be something quite different and it captured my imagination. Not just to rearrange the words, but to capture a sentiment that is already there, to actually find the poetry that already exists in something. So I decided to give it a go with spam.
Even this was not as easy as it first seemed. I wanted to keep sentences intact as much as I could so as to genuinely find the beauty in the spam rather than just putting the whole thing into a blender and molding the mush into any shape I wanted (because let’s face it, with over 3000 pieces of spam on my machine I could probably pick out and paste together any words that I wanted). But the biggest thing I have learned through this exercise is that the language of spam, (apart from being exempt from the rules of grammar and sentence structure), is highly passionate and emotive. Working with the sentences I had it was really, really quite difficult to avoid writing classic teenage angst poetry. It seems the language of spam is pure emotion.
In any case I persevered, I pulled out sentences that caught my attention and worked with them until I saw something I felt was worth saying. Many sentences were found in their entirety, others were just a few words that fitted together in a way that I liked. Every part of this poem is cut and pasted as is from messages in my junk folder.
being a normal everyday person
is the most beautiful thing in this world
to clasp the hand of a beloved friend,
to want to keep them safe, Every second
but to let go, knowing that you cannot
and to Risk walking in this particularly wolflike world anyway,
with a smile on your face
living, loving, and being—
no more and no less
so here is my precious gift to you
to let you know that you are more than you have,
and you have more than you need, today.
I was not ready for such a turn of events—
To find satisfaction in the everyday
life is BEAUTIFUL AND EVEN BETTER THAN I EXPECTED
*to which I must say I am not surprised, for in her words there must be volumes of breathtaking poetry to be found