To write in so many voices but with a voice so distinct: that’s one of Judith Goldman’s achievements. She won’t stop questioning the given and won’t be fooled by the promise of Disambiguation, knowing that an I’s very likely to be another domain error. There are some funny and painful stories timing out among her whiplash puns and quickfire fragments. ‘This is el dorado, reader / your face / paved with gold’: here’s a mirror, take a look.
For giving us culture in the form of settlement and the law Osiris was dismembered, his limbs strewn far and wide. l.b.; or catenaries returns us to the dismemberment of culture through textual strategies—the strategies of literariness—, and troubles to give us (re)member(meant), earthy and cerebral at once. Here is a radical poetic artifact that is a joy to read.
The concatenated series of poems in Judith Goldman's l.b. chart the narratives formed by texts of uniform density hanging freely from two fixed readings not in the same semantic line. On the one hand, the book dramatizes language under the regimes of contemporary communication — the protocols and phatics of privatized and publicly traded language — with all the false and inescapable sociality of networked media and commercial memoranda. On the other hand, the motivated material play of the signifier points to the paths of greatest resistance: chance, ludic laughter, and the recalcitrant residuum of the body.
At the level of composition, l.b. is also a kind of catena patrum: a series of extracts from earlier writings, forming a commentary on some portion of scripture. Goldman's finely sutured microcollage of forms and phrases moves from Aristotle to Andy Warhol, Kathy Acker to William Wordsworth, Abu Ghraib to Thomas Wyatt. Where the traditional catena is also a chronological series of extracts to prove the existence of a continuous tradition on some point of doctrine, here the discrepant result is a more thoroughly, honestly, chronic text: not the false time of doctrine and tradition, but something more true to its own time, and to linguistic time itself.