A+Meaning+Threat%3a+Futuring+by+Michael+Sikkema


Review of Futuring
by Michael Sikkema
BlazeVOX Books, 2008
Reviewed by Matthew Falk

It is hard to know. Where to start, what to do. With this book, Futuring is made of shrapnel of something happening here that doesn't. Know who Mr Jones is, it is harder to say what. One knows "the stranger we can become / the better and sooner you can say / with your eyes see this / all into YES."

(… and I thought well as well him as another and then I asked him with my eyes to ask again and then he asked me would I yes to say yes …)

How can one use words. To describe how words fail, how can one. Tell another about the leap into the real. Off the springboard of language, about the moment in midair where "Motion is one map navigating another."

Jump cuts. Paste pot. Impish possibilities.

As Michael Sikkema gazes through ice-glazed windows, "Perspective piles into dilemma." His book is a "chimed containment." To read it is to pass through the false door named "Poisoned-By-Music" into a nest of knots. Futuring "waits for us to look / up from the syntax / the bruise-consciousness / and stumble."

("The idea is that when you're exposed to a meaning threat—something that fundamentally does not make sense—your brain is going to respond by looking for some other kind of structure within your environment," said Travis Proulx, a postdoctoral researcher at UCSB and co-author of the article." And, it turns out, that structure can be completely unrelated to the meaning threat."1)

That is to say, "the fossil record / fills in with static." Meanwhile, on the radio, "A country song / 'Brandy Has A Meth Lab.'"

These poems are "memory-shaped," filled with the light of Sikkema's Northern Michigan youth, its insects and birches. They are also dispatches from an atemporal and placeless everywhere-at-once, a post-regional mentalscape of "lead-colored distance" where "Time leans into attack and elegy."

Interpretation is an imposition, "a peripheral something / to keep my head turning." The meaning of meaning is mired in what is meant. "Wind undoes what she'd say / about distance and presence / translates snow into snow." It is hard to tell but not to know. What is meant.

I don't know what else to say about this book except this book. Doesn't remind me of anything. Futuring is now.



1. Excerpted from “Surrealism Makes You Smarter,” in the Education Research Report, 17 Sept. 2009, http://educationresearchreport.blogspot.com/2009/09/surrealism-makes-you-smarter.html.

© Matthew Falk, 2009