We Are Nothing and So Can You by Jasper Bernes 0000-00-00 00:00:00

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by Jasper Bernes
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We Are Nothing and So Can You by Jasper Bernes
Jasper Bernes
Tenured Ninja
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We Are Nothing and So Can You We Are Nothing and So Can You is a book-length poem for the long 21st century to come, a poem of revolts past, present, and future. In alternating passages of rhapsodic verse and speculative prose, Bernes plots the dynamic movement of history, both irreversible and recursive, moving forward directly and by twists and turns, in sentences and lines, standing still and hurtling toward the abyss. This is an epic for an age without heroes save collective heroes, leaping from the occupied plazas and rioting cities of the aughts and teens to futures alternately desolate and full of promise.

“I think this is one of the poem’s great achievements–to write a description of a post-revolutionary moment that isn’t a utopia; to use techniques that orbit wider than realism, while looping through a descriptive realism nonetheless. This is beyond the resources of realist fiction when it tries to think about capitalism. The best dystopian science fiction, meanwhile, when it tries to extend capitalism into the future, tends to invite allegorical readings that, while pleasurable, usually lose sight of the thing Bernes has kept our gaze on all the while: the conditions of production under capital, the ones that make us merely 'programmable,' make us just sad apes.” —Chris Nealon, “The Price of Value” (forthcoming 2016)

From We Are Nothing and So Can You

As for the rest of us, we learn

something important about ourselves

watching from the loading dock

as the mushroom cloud

announces the end of another season—

e.g., that each riot really is

an assemblage of other riots

washed up on the boulevards,

from whose faded corpses

one dresses and arms one’s comrades

the total inadequacy of which

as equipment for the task at hand

traces out in negative

the seat perilous of the party historical

the poetry of the future

whose sweet new sounds

will fill with meaning slowly

while the seas rise.

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