"A Real Simulacrum"

ARIEL SAMUEL ACKRUM is the pseudonym of an Atlanta-based poet, intended, as a character, to embody the pop-philosophy, pop-psychology, pop-poetry and pop-criticism characteristic of a social order that orbits the Internet. As lived inauthenticity, he is an attempt to challenge the simulations of consumer society by acknowledging and presenting himself as a symptom of a reality, of a praxis, of a daily life.

Ariel Samuel Ackrum is a play on "a real simulacrum." Ariel is the speaker in the poems. As the speaker, Ariel is not quite a creature yet not quite a maker, not quite a personification of a concept yet not quite a conceptualization of personhood, not quite an artifact yet not quite a reality, not quite a depth yet not quite a surface. Ariel is neither a queer nor an identity and exhibits neither the lightness of an absolute commodity nor the heaviness of a substance. Ariel cannot embody any term in isolation or the unity of opposing terms that relate to one another dialectically. If anything, Ariel more likely embodies the reciprocity between terms that has no resolution, the ineliminable uncertainty about how terms function in isolation and the experience of the equipollence of arguments for or against any proposition where propositional statements necessarily isolate terms. Ariel is a plastic substance that neither floats through everyday life polymorphically nor makes any firm, lasting judgments about it.

Critical Leisure is the first (and least original) book of poetry by Ariel. The profuse 686-page piece was created in a relatively strenuous, sacrificial four-year period from the time they were twenty-five to twenty-nine. Critical Leisure is a conceptual opus composed of poetic fragments that, in their fullness and diversity, reproduce a single question: what to make of the indifference (or collusion) between criticism and leisure? Either criticism is a leisure activity (i.e., among other, equivalent activities), or a critical stage of leisure has been reached at which leisure has absorbed criticism (having previously absorbed labor). Otherwise, leisure is itself doing the criticizing, giving criticism a rest and privileging the activity of everyday life to the inner experience of the strictly mental, theoretic, problematic, ideological, semiotic, phenomenological, ideological, logical, philosophical, psychological and/or scholarly.

In Critical Leisure, Ariel is either a pop-philosopher, pop-psychologist and ideal consumer, or a seducer with no desires of his own who plays on those of the potential reader (consumer). Through an obscene over-abundance of words, the depth of theory is absorbed in the superficiality of the consumer, and words are given a second innocence—the innocence of appearances. The speaker, however absorbed in the nihilism of the universe they inhabit, consistently issues poetry’s challenge of absence against an obscene world of forced communication—and does so in a multiplicity of forms (an attempt to deny capitalism the process of recuperation through cooptation).