Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics at Atelos.

Brian Kim Stefans’ Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics eludes any singular description — it is too various. At once, Fashionable Noise explodes with ingredients of essay, games, and poetry, and it is always engaging, always thought provoking. How does limitless replication and change affect a dialogue one might try to have with another poet’s words? What’s so interesting about the hidden code behind the link Walt Disney that misdirects you, takes you to the wrong site? Stefans confronts these questions, and the ease with which he simultaneously discusses, investigates, and incorporates those elements that might make up a digital poetics is astounding. Generating poetry with a computer program, synthesizing Scots by using an algorithm accompanied by dictionaries, employing an ICQ chat transcript as the conduit for delivering a significant discussion on digital poetics: these are just a few examples of what readers will find in this book. Although “the webwork, unlike the earthwork, can never be photographed from a satellite perspective,” Fashionable Noise: On Digital Poetics is on the forefront of mapping out a rapidly emerging, constantly morphing, virtual terrain.

“Noise is far from being mere linguistic waste or excess. It is many things in Stefan’s text: the stuff and matter of language on the cusp of symbolic meaning, the non- or posthuman aspects of new media writing, algorithm itself and its fragmentary, found, chance-selected sources. This is ‘noise’ as the representation of a downgraded but integral aspect of signification. Noise gains rights in this context because the entire world of language is the poet and writer’s proper (if potential) palette – not those few notes plucked out of the soundscape by convention and tradition, but everything from letters to their dreamlife, from noise to silence. Because new media make poetic noise fashionable, it becomes impossible for artists to ignore these admittedly fashionable ways of ‘making it new’.” —John Cayley, writing in Metamute

“Less a programmatic critical volume than an improvisatory, searching look at a still-nascent form, Stefans’s ruminations, exhortations, gags (“Th plug may be puld any day on cultur; th poem must be prepared”) and excitations comprise a print take that is closest to the online world’s free-wheeling sense of formal inquiry, semi-disposable experimentation and ardently utopian possibility. Stefans’s two major cyberworks, “The Naif and the Bluebells” and “The Dreamlife of Letters,” are easily locatable online, as is his multi-author political blog, Circulars. With more ideas per page than most poets put into entire books, Stefans (Free Space Comix) provides a provisional, wickedly smart and goofily joyous lay of a land that is still being discovered-and created from scratch.” —Publisher’s Weekly, 2003

Brian Kim Stefans is the author of Free Space Comix (1998), Gulf (1998/2000), and Angry Penguins (2000). He has been an active presence on the internet for several years, editing — a ceaselessly original site devoted to new media poetry and poetics — and creating works such as the acclaimed Flash poem “The Dreamlife of Letters” and a setting of the “e” chapter of Christian Bök’s Christian Bök’s Eunoia. He is an active literary and cultural critic, publishing frequently in the Boston Review, Jacket, and elsewhere. He lives in New York City.