This article examines the critical ruptures and dilutions of a contemporary “ambient poetic”—a tendency in sonic, visual, and textual arts to aspire toward an atmospheric condition—through analysis of Tan Lin's verse architectonics across book and digital media. Setting the assertions of Lin's works against his multigeneric poetry's effects, the essay tests their seeming complicity with a late-capitalist ambience that Rem Koolhaas has identified as “Junkspace”: seamless and stupefying coagulation of the disjointed landscape left over by modernization. Lin's boring or “relaxing,” absorptive reading environments aim to dampen the shocks associated with both modernist fractures and postmodern counter-absorptive verse, canceling themselves out as they release the reader/spectator into a state of distraction. However, their reception by a reader trained to forge connections and to follow narrative trajectories produces a more disquieting condition. The seam of the book in BlipSoak01, the lacunae between flashing terms onscreen in “Dub Version V.01,” the page enjoined to have turned before one's arrival in the volume Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary compel readers to link the texts' feeds and bits, grappling in turn with what is missing from them. Those immersed in Lin's hyperdemocratically sampled lines and narrative emanations find themselves falling adrift of the dictates of outmoded form; as such, their inattention is experienced as historically subject—the outcome of annihilated figures and grounds.
Skip Nav Destination
Jennifer Scappettone; Versus Seamlessness: Architectonics of Pseudocomplicity in Tan Lin's Ambient Poetics. boundary 2 1 August 2009; 36 (3): 63–76. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/01903659-2009-020
Download citation file: