PJAS 11 Autumn-12

Joel Katelnikoff
Steve McCaffery Remixed: “great poems are read from the bottom up”
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 11 (Autumn 2017), pp. 409-415


The following essay is a work of Recombinant Theory. To write this essay, I have performed an elaborate cut-up and montage of Steve McCaffery’s poetic and critical writing, producing over 4,000 recombinant aphorisms that extend from McCaffery’s own poetics, while also refracting his theoretical concepts. Of these 4,000+ aphorisms, I have compiled several in the linear sequence that follows. This essay is an original work of narrative and theory, and it is also fully indebted to McCaffery’s own work. Recombinant Theory is constraint theory, producing critical writing by means of poetic technique. This strategy resonates with the first mandate of the Toronto Research Group Manifesto (written by McCaffery and bpNichol), which states that “all theory is transient & after the fact of writing.” In Recombinant Theory, the essay’s ideas minimally precede the writing process; the cut-up and montage techniques are predetermined, but the process itself determines what recombinant aphorisms will emerge, and what theoretical arc will be produced through the sequencing of these aphorisms. Recombinant Theory chooses not to assess a text at arm’s length, not to summarize any part of a text, not to paraphrase, not to speak on a text’s behalf. Instead, Recombinant Theory speaks with the text, geomantically realigning its energy patterns, infecting the text’s energy while also being infected by it, foregrounding the direct physical impact of material language, waging an attack on the categories of author and reader.

Keywords: Recombinant Theory, remix, Language writing

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.11/2/2017.12

Full Article