“Naming mounds in order to find ways to sustain them”

One reader’s view of “performing Chod until post-natural indigenes” by j/j hastain  (Grey Book Press 2012)

This small, well-designed poetry chapbook, published by Grey Book Press, includes poetic content by j/j hastain, featuring unique portals of experimental mind/body fusion.

The word Chod as part of this chapbook’s title did not draw me in with extreme interest, because content wise, I’m not particularly interested in the transcendental, spiritual realm when it comes to poetry. Chod is a sort of spiritual practice known as “cutting through the ego”, but as is the case with much of the poetry I’ve read by hastain, the cuts seem largely body based and sexual – indicating that the mind from which such content derives might also be body based and sexual.

In this case, instead of being body based and sexual in a standard sort of way, the approach is more experimental and could be perceived as a sort of bodily transitioning.  

As noted in one poem –

“I have always pictured heavenly masses as porous darknesses. As relief
from traditional light.”

As noted in another poem –

“Power exchange is what makes me into a sexuality. So never just one

preferred ignition. The bird wings are not attached to birds’ bodies”

This performing collection focuses on different sorts of bodily based approaches, but despite that, isn’t power exchange still sort of a sexual cliché, even if the power exchange is experimented with?  Maybe/maybe not. 

Even when experimenting with power exchange, why must the primary device to experiment with be body parts?  For example, the repeated use of words like “erotica” and “genitals” and “Genital charts” does not bother me as much if I perceive it as someone creating their own genitalia.  However it is pictured or perceived though, there is still a focus on body- based endeavors, genitals, and orgasms throughout this chapbook – and some will be interested in this approach and some will not.

For me personally, the collection is uniquely well written, but too bodily/sexually based to appeal to me on a multi-faceted mind-based level. I am not a non-sexual individual or a person who is unwilling to experiment in that realm, but even if genitals and other body parts and positions can be uniquely created and/or transformed by personal choice, that still does not cause my mind to compare genitals to cosmic forces – and sometimes I think that is how this collection is perceiving and attempting to explain sex, as some sort of self-created heaven.  I know some people do perceive body part pleasures and their reactions to be a heavenly cosmic force, but I seek more emotional alignment with the physical.

Similarly, much as the word Chod as part of the book’s title did not powerfully engage me , and there was too much of a genital influx for my liking, there were also times when part of a section would really appeal to me, but then be overtaken by the body base.  Even the very first line in the chapbook, “ I wanted to create a psychic halo” quite appeals  to and interests me, until the next half of the sentence, “from the pineal gland”, followed by pineal gland repeated five more times on that page, near “intimacies”, “erotic”, and “orgasms”.

Even though that approach does not suit my style, I imagine it might very deeply appeal to some.

Perhaps some of those who can relate to these lines -

“If, as a child, you were only able to read bible stories, your body becomes a
motile, mythical location that always hurts. There is nothing that will
relieve that

but devotion to divergent


Maybe hastain is attempting to deviate and diverge away from standard sexual scriptures, standard genital behavior, and other standard expectations in that realm and create a whole new portal or devotional force field – for those who diverge from the norm, choose to create their own bodies, and desire to continually focus upon and experiment with those bodies.

~Juliet Cook~

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