117. Unleashed (Sina Queyras)

I’m a fan of Sina and her poetry, but I’m not sold on Unleashed, which collects blog entries from a previous incarnation of her site Lemon Hound. I’m not convinced that blog entries ever need to be collected into a book — although I will admit that there is a certain way it’s interesting to read this “blog” in print, where the development and progression of Queyras’s thoughts becomes much more apparent. I also wish the book had been more carefully edited — it’s full of typos and even a dead link (where the text directs you to click “here” — which of course you can’t do).

In terms of its content, the book/blog excites, since the intelligence and curiousity of Queyras shines through. It’s not the quotidian details of a life that Queyras blogs about, but her intellectual engagement with the works of poets, visual artists, photographers, and more. She’s not afraid to be caught questioning, puzzling — actually THINKING — where others refuse to put down anything but finished thoughts, thoughts like pinned moths. Her curiousity and willingness to engage with the work on its own terms, to think and re-think, is what’s always been most notable about Lemon Hound. Here Queyras worries that technology “seems to take away so much agency” and that “Sontag didn’t anticipate … the extent to which these technological advances in photography would turn our gaze back on ourselves” (73):

A worrying trend, as I’ve pointed out here before. What are we witnessing here? Is this part of a bid for agency? To see ourselves in control of the technology that increasingly shapes our lives. Is the world expanding or shrinking? And what of our minds? And what of our sense of self? Are we being trained for a virtual existence? As David Levis Strauss points out, “it’s not that we mistake photographs for reality; it’s that we prefer them to reality.”

Furthermore, what is the relationship between the increasing citizen preoccupation and reliance on technology and the domination of market forces? How can one be concerned with dailiness when one is so busy staring in technology’s mirror? Democracy, corporation, propoganda… and self-absorption. Have we yet come out of the cave, or are we still being distracted by reflections cast on the wall by the very flames that purport to warm and guide us? (74)

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