In the Archives

Christopher Arigo, Author
Christopher Arigo, Author Omnidawn Publishing $14.95 (120p) ISBN 978-1-890650-31-5
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Arigo's ambitious sophomore effort merges a wartime political critique with cyberpunk attitudes and images and with exuberant typographical experiment. The merger-conducted in fast-paced, anxious lines and choppy rectangles of text-conjures up a set of scary claims about twenty-first century machines, grief, information and alienation. One of Arigo's seven sequences arranges narrow lines like ancient epitaphs, and (like ancient epitaphs) they invoke the dead: ""Inhumation/ teeters end-of-tongue/ -better to bury/ that utterance/ than to speak it."" Other sequences arrange their lists and invocations in narrow paragraphs printed sidewise across each page: a segment from ""Tracking Sites III"" imagines a time ""before eras epochs and periods before zero before phosphenes obstruct sight before hormones release before clothes are shed."" Such evocations of bodies and desires crop up throughout these uneasy pages, only to give way to bleaker visions of sabotage, robots, mass casualties, ""sounds/ too unbearable to hear twice. Stolen refrains called history."" Arigo (Lit Interim) may not sound subtle, and his modernist assemblages of fragments and phrases may not be, in their overall structure, so new. At the same time, though, his earnest and challenging lines of code and cryptic, half-technical phrasings try, sometimes brilliantly, to find a language fit both for desire and terror, for genuine affection in a matrix of wires and artificial hearts.
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