Peacedemic or Wargasm? by Finn Harvor

The lovers of all life are not choosy,
but they know what aliveness means.

Seoul-based American videopoet Finn Harvor’s films are regularly featured on the poetry film circuit, but through sheer oversight this is the first one we’ve shared on Moving Poems. It really showcases Harvor’s unpretentious, collage-like approach: a poet moving through the world and recording his responses in text, audio and video is the basic vibe. His YouTube channel is

devoted mainly to two ideas: the first is the idea of the screenplay module novel; that is, a work of literary fiction that can be either a text-only, belletristic work of literature, or a hybrid graphic novel.

The second idea follows from the first. It is that of the authorial movie: a movie in which everything, including script-writing, narration, music composition and direction, are done by one creator … one authorial sensibility.

This one is literally a collage, as the description makes clear:

This poetry film is a collection of earlier pieces that have been edited and updated. The theme is what direction humanity will go in — peace or war? — and also a reflection on how human life is experienced differently on the level of the individual (for example, an individual couple) and institutionally (for example, as the head of a military superpower).

If I may editorialize for a moment, I think it’s especially important for poets to address questions of war and peace in this political moment, when ruling liberal elites in the West seem to have accepted what had originally been, in the U.S. at least, a conservative idea: that they can make people believe almost anything with the help of an ideologically conformist, captive press. Propaganda techniques rolled out during the COVID-19 pandemic have been repurposed to suppress most questioning of the dominant narrative about Russia and Ukraine through unprecedented levels of government cooperation with and control over online content moderators and social media algorithms, all under the guise of fighting disinformation. This should be alarming to anyone who cares about freedom of expression. In such an environment, I would argue that poets have an obligation to create as much wrongthink as possible, though hopefully not in a didactic or preachy way. Harvor’s playful touch here strikes me as a good model. Younger poets, for whom Beat-influenced sarcasm may not resonate in quite the same way, can explore other ways of expressing their dissent against the war machine. Or as Harvor labels it here, “the machinery of modern pleasure.”

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