50 najboljih filmova po izboru književnika i multi-teoretičara Mikea Kitchella. Inače, sve što Kitchell pohvali u bilo kojem području, od arhitekture i filma do književnosti i filozofije, treba obvezno provjeriti. Obojici nam je primjeric Hans Henny Jahnn jedan od najdražih pisaca.
The Seventh Victim (Mark Robson, 1943)
Isle of the Dead (Mark Robson, 1945)
Bells of Atlantis (Ian Hugo, 1952)
Last Year at Marienbad (Alain Resnais, 1961)
10/65 Selbstverstummelung (Kurt Kren, 1965)
Fata Morgana (Vicente Aranda, 1965)
Alaska (Dore O, 1968)
Satan Bouche un Coin (Jean-Pierre Bouyxou, 1968)
Eden and After (Alain Robbe-Grilet, 1970)
Serene Velocity (Ernie Gehr, 1970)
Daughters of Darkness (Harry Kumel, 1971)
Living (Frans Zwartjes, 1971)
Two Lane Blacktop (Monte Hellman, 1971)
Delirium (Renato Polselli, 1972)
Lucifer Rising (Kenneth Anger, 1972)
Salome (Carmelo Bene, 1972)
Score (Radley Metzger, 1974)
Simona (Patrick Longchamps, 1974)
L'important C'est D'aimer (Andrzej Zulawski, 1975)
La Marge (Walerian Borowczyk, 1976)
Last House on Dead End Street (Roger Watkins, 1977)
Spell (Alberto Cavallone, 1977)
Blue Movie (Alberto Cavallone, 1978)
In a Year with 13 Moons (R.W. Fassbinder, 1978)
Zoo Zero (Alain Fleischer, 1979)
Arrebato (Iván Zulueta, 1980)
Night of the Hunted (Jean Rollin, 1980)
Pentimento (Frans Zwartjes, 1980)
The Beyond (Lucio Fulci, 1981)
Possession (Andrzej Zulawski, 1981)
Revenge in the House of Usher (Jess Franco, 1982)
Corruption (Roger Watkins, 1983)
La Femme Publique (Andrzej Zulawski, 1984)
Mil Sexos Tiene La Noche (Jess Franco, 1984)
Woman in a Box II (Masaru Konuma, 1986)
The Silver Globe (Andrzej Zulawski, 1988)
Survey Map of a Paradise Lost (Hisayasu Sato, 1988)
Muscle (Hisayasu Sato, 1989)
Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (David Lynch, 1992)
Dead Man 2: Return of the Dead Man (Ian Kerkhof, 1994)
Institute Benjamenta (Quay Brothers, 1995)
Cure (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 1997)
Sombre (Philippe Grandrieux, 1998)
Lecons de Tenebre (Vincent Dieutre, 1999)
Outer Space (Peter Tscherkassky, 1999)
Kairo (Kiyoshi Kurosawa, 2001)
La Vie Nouvelle (Philippe Grandrieux, 2002)
Inland Empire (David Lynch, 2006)
Victory Over the Sun (Michael Robinson, 2007)
Martyrs (Pascal Laugier, 2008)
21 HONORABLE MENTIONS
1943 - I Walked with a Zombie (Jacques Tourneur)
1968 - Teorema (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
1969 - Venus in Furs (Jess Franco)
1969 - Camille 2000 (Radley Metzger)
1970 - Beyond the Valley of the Dolls (Russ Meyer)
1970 - Dunwich Horror (Daniel Haller)
1971 - Don't Deliver Us From Evil (Joel Seria)
1973 - Reincarnation of Isabel (Renato Polselli)
1974 - Arabian Nights (Pier Paolo Pasolini)
1975 - Lips of Blood (Jean Rollin)
1976 - Doriana Gray (Jess Franco)
1976 - Up! (Russ Meyer)
1977 - Colloque de Chiens (Raoul Ruiz)
1981 - Tango (Zbigniew Rybczynski)
1983 - Death Wish Club (John Carr)
1986 - Landscape Suicide (James Benning)
1990 - Der Todesking (Jorg Buttgereit)
1993 - Love and Human Remains (Denys Arcand)
2001 - All About Lily Chou Chou (Shunji Iwai)
2002 - Verdrehte Augen (Dietmar Brehm)
2005 - Noriko's Dinner Table (Sion Sono)
Interview with Mike KitchellJackson Nieuwland: Yo Mike is it cool if I interview you?
Mike Kitchell: totally
JN: Sweet I’ll just jump right in then.
Two books are coming. Are books, to you, sexual objects or architectural objects? Or neither? Or both? Or something else entirely? Or just books? Have you ever fucked a book? If not, would you? Would you fuck a building? Didn’t a woman marry the Eiffel Tower once or something? Books being architectural makes sense: we fuck in buildings and so we must also fuck in books. RIght? Or wrong? Doesn’t everything we do outside of books eventually find its way between the pages? Can the same be said for houses? What can be said for the books you have coming out?
MK: Three books, actually, if you count Land Grid, a “chapbook” that I’m self-publishing. It’s the first thing Solar▲Luxuriance is releasing that I actually paid a printer to print & didn’t print and bind myself, so I count it. [Jackson: Land Grid has been released since this interview took place.]
I would say that books are not quite sexual objects to me, but some of them are certainly fetish objects. In parallel to my sexual fetishes, the object of my fascination has to be particular. I think, if we regard a narrow definition of what ‘fetish’ actually means I would have no actual fetishes, but that’s narrow. No one likes narrow. Similarly, I don’t think all books are architectural objects. Some of them, yes, in that they build, whether conceptually or literally. Artists’ books that turn into boxes or hallways, literal architecture. I am a snob. I am picky. I don’t think reading for the sake of reading is anything better than watching TV. What counts is what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re building with. What you’re getting off to. Of course, who am I to judge what someone’s getting off to. I like books that hold sex. I like books that are conduits to sex. In this case they are sexual objects, I suppose, beyond fetish objects.
Are we using fucked in the sexual sense? I’ve never literally stuck my dick inside of a book, no. I’ve perhaps fisted a book. The future is less phallocentric, so maybe, yes. Where do you hold your libido. I’d fuck a building. I fuck buildings in everything I write. I either want to fuck or suicide the world. I’m not in control. I think we fuck inside of everything. Books are books are objects are books are conduits are books are zones of affect are the future are the past are nothing are irrelevant what even is a book, fucked.
There are three books. The first, already mentioned, Land Grid, is three short stories that are somewhat thematically linked. The longest story, which was originally the titular story of the collection (until I changed the title), is very narrative, almost straight forward, diverging from the rest of my work. It’s still me though, it couldn’t not be. It’s about a boy and his brother who go to stay at their Aunt & Uncle’s house one summer. The boy discovers a secret underground world, built in the basements of suburban houses, all holding parts of a miniature golf course. There is a lot of abject sex in here. Another story is about a hypnotist at an abandoned carnival. The last story was a story where I told myself I wanted to write about the materials of earth, glass bricks, and snuff films. So I did, that’s what that story is about. All of them hold a whole, I can’t write about anything but death. I can hardly write a sex scene without someone breaking down crying at the end, someone discovering they’re actually god. There are some photos too. The second book, Variations on the Sun, is coming out from Red Lightbulb’s LOVE SYMBOL PRESS. I think I’m technically the first book, though that’s sort of an accident. All of my manuscripts are already laid out as books, like as pdfs that are formatted and shit, because I’m a control freak and have to do everything myself. Someone told me it was poetry once. I don’t think it is. I mean, I don’t care what you call it. It’s fragments about a group of nomadic children. There are a lot of photographs in it. It’s a strange whole. There is no sex on the page, only between the pages. Russ asked me to find people to blurb it and I suggested he get a group of 12 year olds to read it and have them blurb it. That might not work though, it’s dark, because, yeah I don’t know how to write about anything but death. Questions about death. Maybe by death I mean god and maybe by god I mean the impossible. What are you looking for? The final book is the big one for me, because it’ll have an ISBN and everything, it’ll be the longest, the fullest. It’s coming out on Blue Square Press, a division of Mud Lucious. It is another book where parts add up to a whole, but the parts are not fragments, they’re arguably self-contained stories. But wherever there is an “I” (everywhere) you can hold the same protagonist throughout. Everything I write is basically horror. Everything I write is basically me trying to re-appropriate 70s & early 80s euro-horror, to queer it, to fuck with it, to make it question. Every narrative of mine is a quest. There is always loss and sadness and the impossible.
JN: Is Land Grid a sign of things to come for Solar▲Luxuriance? Are you renovating/expanding the publishing house? Are you knocking down walls? Are there doors to be knocked on? Do you think of it as a publishing HOUSE? Do all the books and writers living together happily inside of it, getting along like a house on fire? Or is it a broken home? When does a building die? When does a book die? What is death? What isn’t death? When will you die and how do you envision it?
MK: Land Grid might be a sign of things to come. I’m working SECRETLY with a SECRET ACCOMPLICE in considering moving S▲L away from being such a micro-micro press and more into the realm of “actual” micro-press. Some things will stay the same, some things will change. I’ve been questioning the place that yet-another-“publishing house” has in the world. There’s a surplus as it stands, so why do I need to add to it? I’m trying to figure that out. I’m also in the process of examining my own relationship to this realm of so-called “indie lit” as it stands, because I fear things that move into a hegemony, and with there being so little that has surprised me in a good way lately, I’m afraid of staying so connected. The only way to overcome fear is to fight through it, abandon it (alternatively, one can obsess over it and use narrative to break it apart). I am nomadic and the press is too. I want to re-articulate the relationship between art and writing in the world. What is the best method for this? How can I figure that out? The only way is to experiment. See what fails and what doesn’t fail. Lately I am more excited by things happening at publishing houses related to critical theory and philosophy and art. But fiction, whatever fiction means, is important to me. Poetry is becoming more important to me, but only poetry that moves like the sun and warms my body. The sun that permits excess. Of its thirteen releases, the only authors from S▲L that I have met in the flesh are me and two others. The rest exist to me only immaterially. That might change one day, it probably will. Everything is decentralized. Nothing is broken because there is no home. Books can die. Books are already dead. We are already dead. I used to insist that I will one day die in the ocean. Now I’m not so sure.
JN: What other SECRETS can you tell us exist without revealing entirely? Why do you hold SECRETS? What power does a SECRET hold? Are there too many SECRETS or not enough? How many people must know a SECRET for it to cease being as one? Let’s move from SECRETS to secretions. Which is your favourite? Which is your least? Which do you produce the most of? What is the difference between a tear and a bead of sweat? Is hair a secretion? [18 days pass]
JN: Are you SECRETS so SECRET that this interview is over because I asked about them?
MK: uh yeah idk i guess i’m done for now lol hope dat’s enough hehe
HEY MIKE KITCHELL, WHAT WAS THE BEST NOVEL YOU READ THIS YEAR?
Maurice Blanchot - Aminadab
I wrote about this extensively here: http://htmlgiant.com/reviews/on-blanchots-aminadab/
Kathy Acker - Rip Off Red, Girl Detective & the Burning Bombing of America
Reading the first half of this resulted in me writing this:http://htmlgiant.com/behind-the-scenes/kathy-acker-says-that-narratives-are-purely-for-shit/
which was followed by me falling completely batshit in love with the second half, the shorter book THE BURNING BOMBING OF AMERICA, a book that literally explodes within headspace, made me want to be really a person who was just like Kathy, perfect Kathy, Kathy making the entire world worthwhile, Kathy telling us all how to destroy the state in her bodybuilding lifestyle, her insistence that everything is terrible but life can be great.
Edouard Levé - Suicide
wrote about this as part of here: http://htmlgiant.com/word-spaces/the-zero-degree-noiselessness-of-death-lectio-v-viii/
Margarita Karapanou - Rien Ne Va Plus
This, being the second book by Karapanou that I’ve read, seems to instantly solidify my love for this author. Not quite as immediately, or directly, heavy as Kassandra and the Wolf, this is still just as affecting and quietly beautiful, sad, perfect. The shifting perspectives and realities inside of the book operate in an amazing way; even within the narrative diegesis there is no objective truth, because how can there be? Events are re-written, falsified, repeated, denied. It’s all amazing.
Nicole Brossard - Mauve Desert
Brossard is a Canadian writer who I discovered in my exploration of French écriture, a sort of writing that denies itself the location of either poetry or prose (ultimately a fantastic thing to do, in my opinion), and focuses, often, on the way non-linguistic elements of a page/book can signifiy meaning. In this work, Brossard focuses less on the space of the page and more on compiling disparate parts to create a very unique whole. The first segment of the book presents a “novella” by an apocryphal writer about a young girl living in the desert. The language of the piece, and the imagery, are beaucoup fantastic, and the hermetic narrative burns the dry desert sun and cold desert nights into your subconscious. The second part of the book presents the idea that the novella presented in part one is a book discovered by another woman (still divorced from Brossard herself), who will be translating the book. Thus, the second section of the book presents a sort of case study of the novella from the first part, extended ‘conversations’ with the characters, explorations of locations, a photographic portfolio. And finally, in the final ‘phase’ of the book, we as readers are treated to the ‘translation’ of the novella from the first phase. Overall it’s a fascinating experiment that combines inter-textual experimentation with a really engaging plot & a desperately poetic language.
best i read this year that were released this year were Blake Butler’s THERE IS NO YEAR which i wrote about here:http://htmlgiant.com/reviews/there-is-no-year-by-blake-butler/ and THE MARBLED SWARM by Dennis Cooper which I wrote about, briefly, here:http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/10737650-the-marbled-swarm (I dont’ know if that link actually works)
best book from next year that i’m only half-way through right now is THE MAP & THE TERRITORY by Michel Houellebecq, which just emphasizes how perfect Houellebecq is at narrative, and how the only person who understands the 21st century and claims the role of fiction-writer is Houellebecq.
01 – The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
I’ve been reading Burroughs on and off since I was a Freshman in High School–& now, after all these years, I’ve finally read this one, and it’s firmly secured itself in the place of “second personal-fave of Burroughs.” (second only to Cities of the Red Night). Sontag considers the techniques in this extensively throughout her notebooks, and that’s one of the more interesting things; it’s formally very interesting and doesn’t go on&on&on like, for instance, Place of Dead Roads.
02 – Architecture & Disjunction – Bernard Tschumi
I encountered this through an essay in the book Surrealism and Architecture (ed. Thomas Mical)–and then immediately requested it from the library and devoured it. It borrows extensively from Bataille in its dissident conception of architecture, how architecture works, it’s affect, and more. It’s fucking perfect.
03 – If I Falter at the Gallows – Edward Mullany
I bought a copy of this from Edward after doing a reading with him. I love his poetry; his twitter has always struck me as this bizarre between space of humor and despair, a truly abject horror at times, and the poetry, of course, is even beyond the tweets in its progression. There’s something very dark and special about this book, and Mullany’s readings are also very intense.
04 – Artaud Anthology – Antonin Artaud
Being in San Francisco without the bulk of my book collection I was craving Artaud, and this was the only thing immediately available from the local library branch, and I actually hadn’t read this volume before (I’ve mostly worked through full books & the Calder anthologies) so voila. It’s great, of course, and I think it makes sense that this volume would be enough to entice a generation of Artaud readers when nothing else was available.
05 – Atta – Jarett Kobek
One of my goals I made around the new year was to attend more culture event things, readings included, since that was the reason I had moved to California in the first place. So, I hadn’t read Atta, but I knew I liked Semiotext(e) as a press & had enjoyed the event at City Lights for William E. Jones, so I went to Jarett’s event. I enjoyed how sort of crazy his presentation was, so I freinded & messaged him on facebook & we became drinking buddies (we live in the same neighborhood). So what’s weird about this book is that I became really good friends with the author about half way through reading it. So I feel like it perhaps shades my involvement with the book proper; which is not necessarily a bad thing since the one thing I do know is that it’s a great book. It does some amazing things & it’s simultaneously funny & solemn–as the subject matter would generally, of course, insist.
06 – Ghost Machine – Ben Mirov
The first reading I went to in San Francisco–other than a reading I accidentally ended up at at a bar when I was just at the bar to read and drink (a reading which ended up being absolutely terrible even though it included Rebecca Solnit, whose writing, at least, is wonderful–her reading was not wonderful) was a reading with Ben & Diana Salier in the lower Haight. I went with Janey Smith. Janey stole me basically everyone’s books, but then when I talked to Ben he actually just gave me this. I like Ben’s poetry a lot, and while I think his more recent Hider Roser is probably a little stronger, this collection is great & is a great trip through a Bay Area that’s not necessarily still present (due to the hyper-gentrification).
07 – tiny people – Russ Woods
Reading one of Russ’s ascii/MUD-based pieces in print is a sort of strange experience, but somehow it works. This is a pleasant little book. Not a huge fan of the “over-cover computer screen print-out thing” that Chad put on it, but that doesn’t affect the quality of the text (also, it’s a rare outlier in Chad (editor of NAP)’s design oeuvre, which is normally terrific).
08 – Meet the Lavenders – Carrie Murphy
I don’t remember much about this, to be honest, but I do remember that it struck me as the least interesting thing I had read so far Birds of Lace press–which, honestly, isn’t necessarily a horrible thing because that press is so perpetually fantastic. I remember it being poems about a fictitious girl-rock band, possibly with a little sentimentality in the direction of Phil Spector soft-rock, but something just didn’t entirely coalesce.
09 – Hymns & Essays – Stuart Krimko
I didn’t know who Krimko was until I saw him read with Ariana Reines & Dodie Bellamy at Dog Eared Books and realized that he had a book out on Ariana’s MAL-O-MAR boutique label that I’m kind of obsessed with. Stuart’s poetry is great, it’s baroque and sort of hilarious with an insistence on classical forms (hymns, sonnets, shit that RHYMES). If I had tried to read these poems before hearing Stuart perform them, I think I might have had a harder time dealing with the RHYMING NATURE (although cut to December in 2012 and now I don’t think I’d have a problem because I’ve sort of jumped back into poetry in a different way than before).
10 – Nick Demske – Nick Demske
The first time I read in San Francisco was with Monica Mody & Nick Demske at the California Institute of Integral Studies. I enjoyed the reading a lot. I had seen Nick read (though I don’t think I’d realized it) at the Fence Books reading at the AWP that was in DC–there were some things I remembered from that reading that I was a little on the fence about, but actually fully being able to hear Nick read his poetry is fantastic. There’s a performative insistence, I think, in his swagger. He gave me a copy of his book (this was in 2011), and then, because I wasn’t reading as much the first six months that I lived in SF (despite possible evidence to the contrary, this is true), it took me until 2012 to read it.
11 – Incubation: A Space for Monsters – Bhanu Kapil
The first book by Kapil that I had read I was not that impressed with, it didn’t work for me for whatever reason, but after reading the first book, I still had this on my shelf, and as I only had about 30 books with me for the first 3 months of 2012, I ended up reading it. And I’m glad I did, because Incubation is absolutely fascinating.
12 – Dark Object – Katrina Palmer
I had been interested in this, a combinatory effort that basically confronts art school and erotic fan-fiction about Zizek at the same time, so when I had an opportunity to hear Katrina read from it at Jarett Kobek’s City Lights event, I was sold. It moves quickly and it’s narrative fiction in a vein that I don’t think exists as much as once did; and because of this there’s something very refreshing about it.
13 – Collobert Orbital – Johan Jonson
I’m ridiculously obsessed with the poetry of Danielle Collobert. To the point, in fact, that I’ve been prolonging my reading of It Then for over three years because I’ve devoured everything else translated into English (though now MUERTE is coming out in January of 2013, so I can finally finish it). But Jonson is different than Collobert–that’s OK though; because Jonson is a fucking beast himself. There’s an aggressive violence in the text that is something I love to find in words; language that literally violates the white-space of the page. In fact, thinking about this has found me pulling it off my shelf to read again today.
14 – We Are All Good If They Try Hard Enough – Mike Young
Mike Young’s words are insane. I still like listening to Mike Young read his poetry better than I like reading Mike Young’s poetry, but I think that’s because in terms of language Mike is a madman, and when it’s language working best I think, sometimes, I prefer to hear it spoken by someone else than to hear it spoken by the voice in my head. Despite, I like this a lot, I like how it’s funny without really necessarily being jokes–I think that’s the only time I ever like humor; when things are funny without like explicitly trying to be. I don’t know I have a VERY COMPLICATED RELATIONSHIP WITH HUMOR.
15 – The Map & The Territory – Michael Houellebecq
Houellebecq’s latest novel is great, amazing. Art world + murder mystery while still carrying Houellebecq’s insistently perfect misanthropic outlook, with perfectly clear albeit wandering prose, is my idea of a great novel. There are so many ideas in all of Houellebecq’s novels, I wonder when he’ll finally be noted as a great commentator of culture, despite the fact that’s using fiction to do so.
16 – Fetish – Jason Helm
I read this in an airport and found myself weirdly turned on by it, despite the fact that there’s a sort of idea that I should not be turned on by it implicit within the text–I’m not sure if that inherently makes me complicit with the bit of nastiness present in the narrative, or if it makes me complicit with the author in creation of an indirect fantasy, but either way, I enjoyed this long-short story quite a bit.
17 – HOE #999 – Jarett Kobek
Refer to ATTA notes for my initial interactions with Jarett–regardless, he gave me a copy of this the second or third time we got drunk at my local favorite bar (which, coincidentally, I have just returned from at this moment, where the author himself bought me two drinks and supplied me with cigarettes as my paycheck won’t clear for another hour). The book is an interesting construction of multiple things; fragments adding up to a whole that I feel like I have particular insight in due to being a childnerd of the internet. Based on txt-file group writings, presented in book form as, perhaps, a catharsis, HOE #999 refuses most things and insists on the everything of space. There we go.
18 – ABCDEFGHIJKLMNOPQRSTUVWXYZ – Jerimee Bloemeke
I don’t remember tons about this, but I do remember that I liked it quite a bit. About a week after reading this I met Jerimee in the flesh for the first time. We drank whiskey and he broke a glass. He’s a good person and so is his poetry.
19 – Venture – Jerimee Bloemeke
This was a more narrative work detailing the story of Jerimee helping his girlfriend move from New York to Iowa City–I read it, partially, on a Megabus, which felt right due to the insistence of the narrative. In the hands of a lesser writer this would, ultimately, be a bullshit narrative to insist upon, but there’s something about this, & Jerimee’s writing in general, that works well.
20 – Ventrakl – Christian Hawkey
This book really penetrates, heads into a darkness and works on a level of affect, which was really surprising to me since the concept of the book is basically a conceptual exercise–translate Trakl’s poems into English without knowing any German–but it works, oh does it work, incredibly well. Are Hawkey’s other books this good?
21 – Natasha – KK Helton
More conceptual writing, I would assume. Ultimately too brief to really hit me I think, but it’s a very lovely little chapbook.
22 – In Search of the Miraculous – Jan Verwoert
Bas Jan Ader is a fascinating artist, made all the more fascinating by his brief oevre and his disappearance. However, this book is fairly flat & boring, and while it’s a quick read & offers a brief over-view, it doesn’t probe the work with as much depth as I’d prefer.
23 – Art & Fear – Paul Virilio
I’m an honest fan of Virilio, his thinking astounds me, I find him utterly fascinating. However, I swear to god I’ve never read a more crotchety “get off my lawn” book of theory than this.
24 – Forever Valley – Marie Redonnet
The only book in Redonnet’s “trilogy” I hadn’t read, I knew this would be a pure joy to read, and it was. What consistently amazing me about Redonnet is how her writer and her characters are so clipped and static, yet they expand from this minimal insistence into an entire world confined to a square mile.
25 – The Bathroom – Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Being a Francophile when it comes to literature, I’d, of course, been hearing about Toussaint for years, but for some reason never bothered to read any. Finally picking this up, I found myself delighted, and pleased that while the book ostensibly presents the story of a man who locks himself in a bathroom and doesn’t come out, this is not entirely the case. I found this very funny as well.
26 – Meat Heart – Melissa Broder
I went to the AWP bookfare this year exclusively so I could pick up a copy of Melissa’s book. I wouldn’t have stepped foot in that hellhole otherwise–I mean, granted, I was broke, perhaps I would have dropped some dough otherwise, but really the whole environs are just so icky. Mel-bro’s book is icky too, but not in a way you want to stay away from, in a way you want to rub all over your body when you’re by yourself in your bedroom and you have a weird sort of half-mast boner and you’re either hungover or really tired.
27 – Coma – Pierre Guyotat
In a way, this book saved me. I don’t mean in a way where, like, I was going to kill myself or something, but rather, as a book, Guyotat successfully reminded me of my body & how it can sit, reminded me of what it is about writing that makes it worthwhile, reminded me of a self that I had covered up with wanderlust. It’s weird to consider a Guyotat novel as “rooting,” but it was just what I needed. I loved it.
28 – Castle of Communion – Bernard Noel
Back when I was a lil pervy dude who had never gotten laid I spent all my time reading sexy & transgressive French literature, most of it rooted squarely within the realm of the fantastique, all owing some debt to de Sade. This was an early read for me, and I grabbed it when I had access to my book connection to read again. The narrative & the prose gets a little purple near the end, but it’s got an astoundingly strong beginning, offering a fantastic quest into sexual perversion.
29 – Person – Sam Pink
I thought this was absolutely terrific. Before reading this novel I had only read YOU HEAR AMBULANCE SOUNDS AND THINK THEY ARE FOR YOU and FROWNS NEED FRIENDS TOO, both of which I enjoyed, but couldn’t fully hold my attention in the way that Pink reading/performing his own works can. I traded Sam some vicodin & some zines for this (& THE NO HELLOS DIET) at the Pop Serial reading during AWP (of which I actually missed the entirety of the reading via drinking in the kitchen–except I saw Cassandra Troyan get drunk and climb up on a chair and shout to read, that ruled). Ultimately, this is hilarious, and had me literally laughing out loud with regularity. It felt good to read.
30 – Farm – ed. “Farmer Joe Jr”
This is an early 90s zine/anthology of queer writing that Kevin Killian gave me. I enjoyed it throughout, some fun stuff, but there’s a story in it that sticks out to me the most–I don’t remember the author (and the book is not with me right now)–has stayed with me in both its concept & execution. It’s a story about a somewhat ugly/malformed man seduces a “hot young thing” at a bar ostensibly by telling the younger man that he has just killed somewhat. What’s really interesting is that it reveals the seductive power of narratives, literally–how telling a story can seduce someone into your bedroom, which is amazing. Words can be magic.
31 – Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm – Ulrich Haarburste
I bought this novel without realizing that some of the initial stories (this is one of those things that started on the internet ya know) had become memes. Then I didn’t read it for like two years after I bought it or something, but whatever. It’s great. You would think that the novelty of a couple 2 page stories–in case you didn’t know, the novelty is that Ulrich Haarburste enjoys nothing more than wrapping Roy Orbison in clingfilm–would wear off in a novel-length work, but the lengths of absurdity created by the author are astounding and never fail to entertain. Truly terrific.
32 – The No Hellos Diet – Sam Pink
I can’t remember, but is this the one where the protagonist works in the warehouse of a department store? Or is that Person? I don’t know, I read this and Person basically three days apart so they’re kind of melding together in my head. They’re both really hilarious though.
33 – The Impossible – Georges Bataille
This is my favorite book of all time, and probably the 7th time I’ve read it in its entirety.
34 – Stories V! – Scott McClanahan
I got this from Tim Jones-Yelvington in a cab during AWP because he had traded a copy of his chapbook to Scott for this, but he already had this. The first story is literally astounding, and the stories–and they are stories–that continue on maintain a casual narrative of telling in a really fantastic manner; like this is narrative that is heavy when it’s even about simple things. Scott both as a reader and a writer really seems to show how much of an actual life he has lived, and his narrative construction is great.
35 – Darling Beastlettes – Gina Abelkop
Great poems by the editor of Birds of Lace Press.
36 – Violent Silence – ed. Paul Buck
In the late 80s or something there was a conference on Bataille–this book is a sort of a collection of texts and articles surround the conference. It’s ultimately interesting because it was a conference tha existed largely outside of academia (this was, it’s my impression, before Bataille as much of staple of academia as he is, to some extent, now). There’s also a lot of creative work in here that vibes with Bataille and his ideas, plus some great translated work from other French authors that hasn’t appeared anywhere else.
37 – Sediment – CF
Review up here.
38 – Falcons on the Floor – Justin Sirois
This is, probably, the most ‘straight-forward’ novel that I read this year. This isn’t a bad thing, obviously, it’s just mostly outside of my realm of interest normally. But I got a copy from Adam (along with Melissa’s book) at the Publishing Genius table at the AWP bookfare. It’s a really strong novel and offers a fascinating counter-point to the general ideology that’s afflicted the current unending war.
39 – Kramers Ergot 8 – ed. Sammy Harkam
Review up here
40 – Fanged Noumena – Nick Land
Probably the most important book (collection of essays) that I’ve ever read outside of Bataille’s oeuvre. Land’s intelligence is amazing. As Robin McKay put it to me once (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Nick was one of the few people to actually read and understand all of the classical canonical philosophers (from Plato to Heidegger & beyond) and both understand them and decide that they’re full of shit.” This shines through. Land might seem, occasionally, a bit nihilistic, but the fiercely intelligent direction that all of the essays take always manage to maneuver away from this conception. Land’s experiments with the form philosophy takes too, as in MELTDOWN & other essays, really demonstrate the communicability of language beyond just the meaning of words in their own capacity, which is something the best literature can do. I will be reading the essays in this book many more times in my life.
41 – John Gerrard: Animated Scene
Interesting catalog on some of John Gerrard’s “programmed paintings,” which I hadn’t heard of until Robin passed me a copy of this book. The work itself seems fascinating (though I’ve obviously never seen it in its actual capacity), and the way the work is talked about is also fascinating in consideration of work to text.
42 – The Atrocity Exhibition – JG Ballard
Easily the best Ballard “novel” that I’ve ever read. This is perfect.
43 – White Horse – ed. Sidebrow
Review up here
44 – Le Contre-Ciel – Rene Daumal
I’m a big fan of Daumal’s novels, and while some of what I love is present here, I found his poetry far less interesting. It’s not bad, but it did very little to pique my interest.
45 – The Malady of the Century – Jon Leon
Review up here.
46 – After Finitude – Quentin Meillassoux
I talk about this book a bit both in my review of MALADY OF THE CENTURY & Meillassoux’s THE NUMBER & THE SIREN, but one major thing for me was that I finally actually finished this book, despite being short in length. It’s got some astounding & incredibly dense ideas, but still manages to be delivered in understandable language if you put the effort into it.
47 – The Number & The Siren – Quentin Meillassoux
Review up here.
48 – The Passive Vampire – Gherasim Lucas
A rather exciting book from a Belgian surrealist–I should note that, despite teh fact that Lucas was literally obsessed with Andre Breton, his own work & ideology was far less annoying and dumb than M. Breton’s was so I’m quite willing to overlook that fact. This is a fascinated narrative that seems to be, perhaps, memoir in a sense, but it’s memoir traced by the presence of objects created by Lucas & his comrades, objects that he insisted brought about ‘mystical’ properties that instilled connections–similar to Burroughs’ coincidences exploring the cut-ups and how they intersect with reality, Lucas could be said to be an early practitioner of hyperstition, this collection of writing being the, shall we say, key work in providing that continuity (the continuity from Lucas to Burroughs of course).
49 – Return to the Chateau – Pauline Reage
I read this initially in 2004 at the peak of my obsession with The Story of O, I was underwhelmed at the time and perhaps even disappointed as this is somewhat (though not entirely) a departure from what happens in the initial story–in fact, it’s sort of an intertextual presupposition that the ending of The Story of O never occurs and rather the book continues on into this book. It is certainly a change, and somewhat changes the tone of what transpires in the initial book and its odd rise to a stardom of liberated intellectual sexuality, but the narrative here takes a more complex and Adult (or shall we say, “real”) turn in the emotional responses of O. That, combined with the fact that there’s a lot more Sir Stephen (who, in an abject way, I find the most sexually appealing & interesting character throughout the narrative), made me enjoy this quite a bit.
50 – Roberte Ce Soir & The Revocation of the Edit of Nantes – Pierre Klossowski
Finally reading this after meaning to read it for quiet a while, I was ultimately disappointed and truly found the latter book a chore to get through. I’m not sure if this is a reflection of the text or rather my mood and own throught-processes that were occurring as I read the text, but it’s unlikely that I’ll be revisiting this any time soon despite its presence on Dennis Cooper’s Top 50 Novel list or it’s hyper-presence among the literary world that always has and always will continue to fascinate me (being the Bataille-Blanchot-Leiris-Klossowski & beyond ‘world’).
51 – Dean Smith Drawings 2001
An excellent catalog of drawings by Dean Smith! (Who also happens to be my boyfriend, so I guess I won’t go too hyperbolic here). Dean’s work is amazing, though anybody will attest to the fact that the work doesn’t necessarily reproduce well due to the level of detail. There’re detail shots included here & while they’re a nice addition to the shots of the entire works, not being able to really explore the drawing is a shortcoming. Includes a nice essay by Bob Gluck.
52 – Site – James Wines
This, being the Rizzoli catalog of the architectural firm Site, ended up being mostly disappointing. Site as a firm seems to have had one or two really visually striking ideas and then just either repeated them ad infinitum throughout their career or just made sub-par or somewhat hegemonic interiors in the late 80s. The work that seems so striking when you see a singular image of it ends up boring when you look at how often the motifs were repeated throughout the firm’s history. Also, for a group concerned with things beyond capital, little seems to have come to that, and the interests in expansive thinking don’t really go beyond public structures that occasionally function as architecture.
53 – Two By Duras – Marguerite Duras
Two very short, minimal works, but they’re absolutely amazing works. The “two” being: The Slut of the Normandy Coast and The Atlantic Man, both works blowing me away, but the latter actually flooring me and inspiring a (private) performance art piece I did a month or two after reading. Unfortunately the book was in my back pack (along with Nick Land’s THIRST FOR ANNIHILATION which, thank-fucking-g0d [as that's a far more pricey & unavailable book]) when I blacked out in Alamo Square and…somehow ended up soaking wet? My guess was sprinklers. The full story actually involves me blacking out, waking up wet & not realizing I didn’t have my backpack, my phone dying, and then spending six hours attempting to get home on a holiday where BART didn’t start running until way after I needed it to… I got my backpack back and that’s not really the whole story but whatever the point is Duras is awesome and it’s not a good idea to drink half a liter of whiskey and then leave the club with a bunch of people you’ve never met before.
54 – The Coming Envelope Issue 5 – ed. Malcom Sutter
I have a story in this, so I’ll neglect that, but I do want to comment upon another story in here that sort of poeticizes/fictionalizes Beuys’ life–it’s a fascinating little moment, because Beuys was already poeticizing his OWN life, but the double disconnect here really worked for me for whatever reason.
55 – Patterns – ed. [???]
Went to an opening at a bookworks gallery because Dean’s friend had a work in it, and everybody who went ended up getting a copy of the book (which, technically the show was organized around the book and not the other way around)–it’s a really fascinating catalog actually, the work is great, it’s all work that in ways functions on–you guessed it–a patterning in at least some capacity.
56 – Under the Sign of Saturn – Susan Sontag
I always love Sontag’s essays, and it’s no surprise that this collection is stellar. Brillant essays on Benjamin, Artaud, Fascism, this collection mostly consists of longer essays (and a few shorter ones), but the lenght lets you really sink yr teeth in, as can be said, and latch on to what Sontag’s casual brilliance is saying.
57 – India Song – Marguerite Duras
So I saw the movie several years ago, I was very excited when it became available with subtitles because the movie more or less features Delphine Seyrig in an exquisite hotel, which is always the recipe for success in my book (see also: Last Year at Marienbad, Daughters of Darkness). However, the movie didn’t do much for me. I picked up a copy of the book because the cover is absolutely fucking gorgeous, and after being blown away by The Atlantic Man (see above) thought I’d give it a shot–and I’m really glad I did, because for some reason reading the book manages to contain such an intense, controlled urgent beauty in places where the film left me cold (though admittedly I’m interested in giving the film another show now, having read the book). The dialog chills, literally, and the floating voices that move in and out of the text–well, if you’ve seen a Duras film it’s easy to read the text as a film ( I suppose having seen the film proper this becomes even easier ) and let your head fill out the liminal edges of your site, a total experience.
58 – foamghast – Paul Cunningham
I really like the line “i closed my eyes for a really long time”–and there are flashes of other things that work for me, but ultimately this ends up not being my scene. I appreciate what it does, but it seems too rooted in… I don’t know, perhaps something like Action Yes–which I have a similar relationship with; sometimes what they publish because like an ultra-perma-fave, but other times it ends up being stuff I’m not crazy about at all.
59 – Helen & Desire – Alexander Trocchi
Trocchi’s erotic novel is actually fairly great. Not at all stuffy in the way British writing often is, though still takes a sort of orientalist navigation into the Arabian desert–like with Burroughs it’s more often than not easier to forget because Helen herself, as the object of fascination and lust, is what’s (who’s) at stake in this narrative. I love the way pornographic narratives are constructed, they’re almost always a permutation on the quest and they structurally mutate in such a simultaneously obvious and opaque way!
60 – The Unfinished System of Non Knowledge – Georges Bataille
This collection is literally perfect. I explain it to people as a sort of follow up to Visions of Excess, though really it’s even better than that because it’s more effuse from the time that Bataille’s somme atheologique was written (which is the specific part of Bataille’s oeuvre that I’m most obsessed with). “Method of Meditation” being, perhaps, one of the most unknown yet important Bataille essays ever (it’s like honestly the coalescing moment of the entire somme atheologique), and also “Aphorisms for the System,” and so much more, honestly. There’s like one essay in here, a digressive series of “conversations” on laughter which ultimately fail to make much of an impression, but perhaps this is because there are so many voices other than Bataille’s in them. Bottom line: this is essential.
61 – Vermillion Sands – JG Ballard
While I’m not sure if this collection is “official” or more just “conceptual,” it occupies a unique place in collecting Ballard’s short work–the vermillion sands stories are all sort of dreamy & languorous in a hyper-casual decadence, so the fantastique seeps out from the edges and it’s Ballardian genius colored by Jon Leon, which is great. Though I find it hard to read entire Ballard collections straight through despite how much I love his short fiction, I always need to break the collections up due to a heaviness. Regardless, this is terrific.
62 – 4 x 1 – Pierre Joris
Four poets that Joris has translated into English–I bought this for the Habib Tengour and then was really pleased to discover how much I enjoyed everything other than the Rilke–though even the Rilke has moments of greatness. The Jean-Pierre Duprey is the real revelation here though, astounding, as well as Tzara’s “Poèmes Nègres,” which I was honestly prepared to find insufferable but ended up LOVING. & The Tengour was as great as I expected it to be. A worthwhile collection, really, there’s lots of stuff in here that’s translated brilliantly by Joris that isn’t available anywhere else.
63 – An Idiom of Night – Pierre Jean Jouve
Jouve is a great, one of the many tendril linking points between surrealist writing & the “neo-formalists” of the 70s & 80s that I obsess over, but also fascinating in his own right. The poetry here is great, haunting, lovely.
64 – James Lee Byars: The Path of Luck – Michael Werner
A very short but lovely Byars catalog that could almost fit in your pocket. Absolutely lovely reproductions and a very bare-bones essay by Werner. Byars is magic.
65 – Tuleyome – Lawrence Rinder & Colter Jacobsen
This is a cute narrative written by Larry Rinder with photographs by Colter Jacobsen. I’d say they’re one of San Francisco’s cutest “art couples” but I’m also convinced that Dean & I will take over that role soon. But really they’re both lovely people. This book is great too, it’s fun, it moves quickly, there’s something very New Narrative about it which isn’t entirely surprising.
66 – If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? – Jarett Kobek
The repeated insistence that find me tampering my potentiality of reviewing Jarett’s books in any real capacity are always tempered by him being my “bestie” or whatever. I mean, though really, this book had me thinking a lot, and most of that “thinking a lot” comes out in the interview I did with Jarett.
67 – Dodecahedron – Tom Mallin
This is one of those weird 70s novels with a weird & awesome covers that I almost always love that I discovered via GoodReads one night and immediately requested from Link+ (SFPL’s version of “inter-library loan”). It’s… good, and I feel like (though this feeling comes mostly from the intensive aka “long” reviews of said book on goodreads…) there is probably more to it than I got on my initial surface reading, but there wasn’t enough to make me really excited. It’s a short book, and it’s almost literally a nunsploitation film for the first two chapters but then it takes some weird turns into a static martyrdom and one can’t figure out why, because the mystical nature of the protagonist as expressed in the introduction (first chapter? I don’t remember) placates the characterization more as symbol than “psychological figurehead.” Still, much more exciting than anything that’s come out in contemporary times, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Libraries rule, and this is an example of why.
68 – The Thirst for Annihilation – Nick Land
I decided that I urgently needed to re-read this book after finishing the essay collection Fanged Noumena. I had read this before, three years ago probably, and all I remembered was that the book completely blew my fucking mind and that it took me almost 4 months to get through the second chapter, which gets heavy into hard sciences and thermodynamics and was basically impenetrable. This time through I found the text as a whole far more accessible (I think I was far more ‘primed’ for this kind of reading at this point), and–barring the catastrophe of having to dry the book out and praying it wasn’t water damaged (refer to my Two by Duras commentary in the first part of this list)–I tore through the book in something like 5 days. Having read an excessive amount of both Bataille & secondary readings of Bataille, I say without qualifying the statement that Land understands Bataille more than any one else who has ever written about him, he understands that to actually write about Bataille is to inherently embrace failure, that to adapt Bataille to one’s own driving goal is to reduce Bataille to something disposable, and to try to form into Bataille is to refuse the idea that Bataille took so much time to develop, the idea of an entirely heterogeneous oeuvre. Beyond that, Land himself is a compulsively readable genius who is, as I’ve mentioned before, probably the only critical thinker other than Bataille himself that I want to read over and over again. The ideas in here are mind-blowing and amazing.
69 – Great Expectations – Kathy Acker
I’ve basically tried to read one or two Acker books a year since I started reading her. At first, when I discovered Acker, I really found her theory more enjoyable than her fiction, but the more I continue to read her fiction, the more I realize how fantastic it is, despite the fact that in certain ways each novel is a specific failed experiment. That doesn’t matter though, what matters is that Acker is a genius and sometimes the best way to demonstrate genius is to prove you’re not perfect, because if you’re perfect you’re not a genius, you’re just artificial. Acker’s fragmented narrative style works perfectly here, and there’s so much beautiful language that haunts the story of the DESIRE IS MASTER AND LORD, timelessness versus time. I am only an obsession.
70 – Purgatorio – Raul Zurita
Second reading of this, though really I had forgotten so much of it I was convinced that the version I was reading (the older edition than the more recent printing) was actually different from the recent one. Still totally devastating, still totally amazing and heavy. Seems like Zurita is one of those poets who should be far more lauded than he actually is. But then again, poetry is a hardly lauded genre in any capacity, isn’t it. Regardless, this is an amazingly moving book, & the heterogeneity of forms is a great way to move through a poetic space, really.
71 – Remainland – Aase Berg
I have this thing where I simultaneously love & hate “collections” like this when the fragments are coming from books that function more as books as a whole or via inertia or whatever–I hate the fact that once I start getting into the section I’m in it switches to another, but I love the fact that it gives me an overview of a poets work, especially when I’m entirely unfamiliar with the poet. So, on the upside, this poet got me excited enough to order the new Aase Berg book that’s coming out this month (January 2013), but the partiality leaves me from having anything too deep to say.
72 – Anteparadise – Raul Zurita
More of Zurita’s intensity, I think this was written after Purgatorio but I’m not sure? This book I loved as well, though there are spaces of repetition. I love the sky-written lines (am I blurring into the other book?) the dedicated political abstraction, everything.
73 – Blue of Noon – Georges Bataille
Third reading, I believe. Boyfriend bought it and read it and was underwhelmed so I, of course, stepped up to the plate to re-read it so I could argue with him. I still think it’s fantastic, and a great example of meting the problems of theory within a fictional narrative construct. The ending is sublime, and the weird intersect that insists upon inserting Simone Weil into the narrative fascinating.
74 – Desire for a Beginning, Dread for one Single End – Edmond Jabès
“What does a book show us? –First, the author’s distress. Then his shamelessness.” Jabès text is, not surprisingly, terrific. A meditation not out of line with his entire life’s work, simply more of a continuation, always aphoristic, embodied, the book as The Book, a totality, a mysticism, exile, Jewishness. Always. Granary is a weird press though. They seem to sell themselves as artists’ books creators, but their books always have weird typos and too-heavy paper-stock that makes the books less functional. Also the ‘art’ in this is stuck in 1992 and is pretty bad, even though sometimes I can get a specific kick outta that sort of aesthetic. I wish this had been from another press.
75 – In the Wake of the Wake – ed. David Hayman
Second time reading this through, I think this is one of the most important collections of “experimental writing” of the last 30 years–includes interviews & critical commentary on a lot of significantly under-recogized heavy hitters in addition to examples of work. Maurice Roche, Philippe Sollers, Christine Brooke-Rose, the Brazilian concrete poets, Arno Schmidt; a veritable who’s-who of the under-recognized European Avant-Garde. I still can’t really deal with William Gass though; the excerpt from The tunnel is such a fucking giant annoying CHORE to get through at only ten pages, I can’t imagine dealing with the entire book. So I won’t. But, really, the interview with Sollers in here is perfect.
76 – Heath Course Pak – Tan Lin
Review up here.
77 – Mankind – Jon Leon
While Leon’s work is inherently dark in concept, it’s normally executed with a sort of visceral jouissance, an revelry of decadence, a pure sense of (sexual) satisfaction– the work in Mankind, however, is markedly different–it’s actually dark. It’s at times embittered, jealous, violent, but still very much Leon, still very much with an edge of very dark humor. Operates, in a way, as sort of an amazing (& dark) B-side to Malady of the Century– I highly recommend both, as they’re fantastic all around.
78 – Slime Dynamics – Ben Woodard
Review up here.
79 – Writings of the Vienna Actionists – Ed. Malcolm Green
I’ve literally had this book since I discovered the Actionists (around the same time I discovered Bataille, thanks to the same website: Supervert), which means since around I was 14 or 15, yet I didn’t actually bother reading it until 2012, after reading a million books on the Actionists that I’ve gotten from the library since. Any way, surprise surprise, this book is fucking brilliant because it really just collects the writing of the actionists themselves and if there’s anything I know from reading WAY TOO MANY ART CATALOGS it’s that it’s never as interesting to listen to a critic talk about a writer than it is to listen to an articulate artist talk about his own work/project/scribbled notes/whatever.
Major breakthrough occurred upon my discovery that Schwarzkogler was a huge fan of Hans Henny Jahnn, the universe has realigned itself and everything makes sense again, my self-imposed lineage is awarded, once another, another perfect link.
80 – Antiepithalamia – John Tottenham
John Tottenham reads his poems very slowly. An expat Brit who seemingly hates all other British people (and occasionally himself), his readings are simultaneously hilarious and uncomfortable. But, as he himself says, that’s part of being an entertainer. Reading the poetry is a different experience than hearing it. Distanced from the spectacle, the language resonates in an astoundingly fantastic fashion. The work, the poetry, is excellent. It’s emotive in a way that’s separate from sentimental, and it carries such a heaviness that’s articulated in a severely acute fashion.
81 – Collapse Vol II – Ed. Robin MacKay
Second volume of this absolutely quintessential series. With essays dealing with Meillassoux’s After Finitude, dark matter, and Islamic Exotercism, the work is unendingly interesting.
82 – The Voyeur – Alain Robbe-Grillet
Coincidentally reading this immediately preceding Reticence had me drawing a lot of similarities, that I bring up in the Reticence review. Also, this marks the earliest Robbe-Grillet novel I’ve read, and really the book that found him breaking through into a somewhat populist intellectual. The book is great, but still pales in comparison with the 70s novels that I love so much.
83 – Reticence – Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Review up here.
84 – From the Observatory – Julio Cortazar
A nice little novella that is accompanied by brilliant photographs of an abandoned observatory in Jaipur, weaves a short narrative of bizarre logical shifts and jumps that tonally holds together.
85 – Inventor of Love & Other Writings – Gherasim Luca
I absolutely loved The Passive Vampire, but found a lot of this really tedious. What was magical in the former because staid & hyper-heterosexual in this, there’s an aggressive edge of machismo that colors a lot of what could be great & reduces it to testosterone, which is really unfortunate. There were still bits and pieces that maintained Luca’s genius, but not enough to sustain me throughout. Still will be curious about continuing to check out more of Luca’s never-ending oeuvre as time goes on.
86 – Some Forms of Availability – Simon Cutts
I mention this quite a bit here, though, while I found certain parts very inspiring and more or less exactly what I needed to hear, as a book overall it’s sort of flat for me; about half the content I found myself bored by. There’s still some amazing shit in here, and some, as I’ve said, hella inspirational in a not-cheesy way things (mostly in the reinforcement of the ideas of a literary community).
87 – Queer – William Burroughs
Despite the fact that I’ve been reading Burroughs since I was 14 I’d never read this or Junky, being, I presume, the works that most people who say they love Burroughs actually read–I mean, I’m not trying to be an asshole here, it’s just that there’s no fucking way that Burroughs isn’t the most widely-discussed and little-read author that’s a mainstay in American letters. Okay, sorry, diversion there, this was a quick read, and it’s, you know, competent and “good” but so less exciting than any of the things that Burroughs went on to write.
88 – Paule Nougé: Works Selected by Marcel Marién
This was an excellent little surprise; picked it up because it’s one of the limited Atlas Press subscription pamphlet things, and the work is ASTOUNDINGLY terrific.
89 – The Notion of Obstacle – Claude Royet-Journaud
Royet-Journaud’s poetry is writing that reduces narrative to only what’s essential, and then presents the minimal language all over the white space of the page, similar to Anne-Marie Albiach, the white page becomes a stage for language to perform on. This is also a beautifully letter-press printed book, that, as an object, feels wonderful just to hold in your hands.
90 – Memoirs of Jon Benet By Kathy Acker – Michael Du Plessis
Review up here.
91 – New Exercises – Franck Andre Jamme
Jamme’s language operates, in a way, similar to how an aphorism operate, and it’s arguable that many strings of words held within could be called “aphorisms.” However, there’s a visual insistence of the text, its arrangement minimal and stark, similar to the Tantric paintings that Jamme is fascinated by. There’s a visual acuity, we see shapes and inside the shapes we see words, this is a kind of minimal insistence that is lovely.
92 – Extracts from the Life of a Beetle – Franck Andre Jamme
A short little chapbook, not as minimal as New Exercises but filled with pleasurable language all the same.
93 – The Snow Poems – Janey Smith
Janey Smith’s poems pick apart syntax until it devolves into a questionable location of enigma. Like, really, read these poems and watch the world around you melt into a puddle. It’s like creating a new existence when on the surface it seems so flat, it’s impossible to not let it seep into you, the uncanny nature of writing.
94 – Selected Prose & Poetry – Stéphane Mallarmé
My relationship with Mallarmé has been somewhat strained, within the context of my experience as a reader. When I first tried to read him, several years ago, I was pretty immediately bored. Couldn’t figure out why so many writers/poets that I’m obsessed with were so into him. Made it about half-way through a (different) collected poetry collection before calling it quits. Two years later I read Meillassoux’s The Number & The Siren (refer to part 1) and became, certainly, more intrigued by Mallarmé. The English translations of “A Throw of Dice…” in the Meillassoux book is far superior to most translations I’ve seen. Also, this idea of THE BOOK that I’d encountered circling around Mallarmé seemed outside of my realm of experience with the man, but certainly intriguing. So, despite all that, finally reading this collection in 2012 officially piqued my interest and found me a devotee. I’m particularly fond of the letters, as that seems to be where all the magic outside of Igitur & Throw of Dice… resides.
95 – Mathematics (a novel) – Jacques Roubaud
Review up here
96 – The Dream of a Common Language – Adrienne Rich
Early feminist poetry, there’s still an urgency here though. A sense of desperately wanted something. The idea that poetry can accomplish revolution is a dream that died long ago but I can’t figure out why. Are the people of our current zeitgeist really so boring? I like the idea of moving and movement by poetry, Rich believed in this, as did Amiri Baraka. A Russian poet after the revolution was filling stadiums with 50,000 people for readings. This, I think, is what the title refers to, a dream of a common language.
97 – As Consciousness is Harnessed to Flesh – Susan Sontag
The second volume of Sontag’s notebooks is just as radically fascinating as the first. I love Sontag’s brain, and her notebooks offer such a specific insight into that–her humanity, her internal struggles, developing ideas that eventually turn into her brilliant essays. So much greatness in the extra-textual work of so many artists.
98 – Cameron – Michael Duncan
Catalog on Cameron’s work, which is great. Cameron was married to a physician who blew himself up in a lab after L Ron Hubbard stayed in his house. Life is insane.
99 – Hider Roser – Ben Mirov
Ben’s book is GREAT. My favorite poem starts with the line “I started reading on page six because fuck it, nothing matters.” I’ve seen him read probably 2/3rds or more of this book out loud at various readings (Ben & I, without even intentionally planning it, have ended up doing a ton of readings together). It’s good. I’m shit at talking about poetry but this book SLAYS. One of my roommates, who really doesn’t read poetry, came to one of Ben’s readings and liked it so much he got the book which he read three times in a row on a flight from San Francisco to Chicago.
100 – Texts – Helmut Heissenbuttel
I encountered Heissenbuttel in the anthology The Avant-Garde Today (which is great & noted below) and found him utterly fascinating. He is explicitly experimental in an honest definition of the word: meaning, he sets out parameters of an experiment, and then he performs the experiment–the text is the experiment. It’s fascinating. While sometimes the results of the experiment are a slog, other times they’re amazing.
101 – Repeat After Me – Bill Berkson & John Zurier
Zurier’s paintings are lovely, though not surprisingly lovelier in the flesh (most art is, of course). Berkson’s poetry is deceptively simple, and because of that it’s difficult to drink in at first, but washed over you in a way similar to Zurier’s watercolors. Both speak volumes while barely being there.
102 – The Whole of Poetry is Preposition – Claude Royet-Journoud
Claude Royet-Journoud is an amazing poet whose work is so obscure a reader can hardly begin to understand why she appreciates the work in the way she does. His poetry is amazing, often reported to be 600 page novelistic works cut down to barely 300 words. The Whole of Poetry… assembles Royet-Journoud talking about writing in various sources, and the notes here are pretty amazing.
103 – The Aesthetics of Excess – Allan S. Weiss
Weiss is great, synthesizing the likes of Bataille, Artaud, Freud, madmen & women, all into brilliantly considered essays that relate in some capacity to excess. This book is really wonderful.
104 – Revelations & Confessions: Blood Work Book 2 – Dan Hoy
Dan Hoy is fucking killing it. I liked this so much I published Book 1, CENTURIES & PROPHECIES. But seriously, this book is fucking GREAT.
105 – Notebooks 1956-1978 – Danielle Collobert [re-read]
Collobert holds a very unique place in my headspace, and I say unique because it’s a place in my head that I can feel with my entire physical body, feel in my SOUL, feel emotionally and physically and intellectually. Because of this, I often vibrate while reading her works. Since I found out Murder was coming out in 2013, I decided that I could finally read all of It Then, since I didn’t want to be finished with everything available in English (I am ridiculous), but before I did that, I wanted to revisit this. Which is astoundingly moving, succinct, I get the same feeling from Alix Cleo Roubaud’s Alix’s Journal.
106 – Cyclonopedia – Reza Negarestani
Simultaneously astoundingly difficult, fully entertaining, enigmatic, and unreadable, boring. However, within that construction, there’s much to appreciate here. It’s tearing apart of everything and rebuilding within a zeitgeist of theory-fiction–the terror seeps up, it’s not on the surface because of the way words function, but it’s there. As a novel I’m pretty sure it fails, but as a text it’s astounding. I was also fascinated with the reading of Merhige’s Begotten offered at the end of the novel.
107 – Ionesco – ed. Bernard Letru [re-read]
I find Irina Ionesco’s photography to be amazing–enigmatic in its shadows, the women are always from another world, a world or mystery and the dark. There’s a sexual self-imposition in 90% of Ionesco’s photographs; men are completely unnecessary, and even while being a homosexual myself, there’s enough affect in these photos that that’s more than fine. It’s like a dark, frozen, Werner Schroeter. Also, as there’s a lot on contention surrounding the photographs of her daughter Eva, this book features no photographs of Eva which validates Irina’s magick as a photographer outside of her daughter muse (though as a coherent book I prefer the collaboration with Robbe-Grillet, Temple Aux Miroirs).
108 – Night Giver – Chris Moran
This privately released, short chapbook is filled with magick in the realm of three different forms: there are a small handful of prose-poem like fragments, similar to Chris’s work in Poison Vapors; then, there are recounted narratives of dreams/abduction fragments; and finally there are a couple of poems more traditional formally, with line-break and enjambment. All three parts are great, and add up to a mystifying whole that recognizes as humans there is a much higher plane we can and should strive for.
109 – Where Shadows Will – Norma Cole
I’ve been in love with a number of Cole’s translations for years now, thanks to her involvement translating the likes of Collobert & other poets from that realm of French écriture that I’m so obsessed with. I met her at a small party and she was a lovely person, and I realized that it was possibly highly offensive that I was so enamored of her translation work but had yet to read any of her own work. I sought to remedy this, solving the problem by borrowing this overarching collection from my boyfriend. The book, which collects work from around a 20 year period I would say, is terrific, giving an impression of the various realms Cole’s poetry floated in, the similarities & differences from the works she was translating. Very enjoyable to read, and I can honestly say I look forward to reading more of Norma’s poetry.
110 – Devotional Cinema – Nathaniel Dorsky
This short book by Bay Area filmmaker Dorskey is somewhat of a revered object by some–and after seeing a screening series of his work (which is astounding) and hearing him talk–Dorsky is honestly one of the most articulate and engrossing speakers on experimental films I’ve EVER encountered–I was excited to read this too. And, I should say, it is good, but it lacks any definiteness that his talks had, that other books on film I’ve read have. I should clarify: the central thesis throughout the book, the idea of letting film work on you, the affect washing over, in development of a devotional cinema is precisely what I am interested in Cinema, and the extrapolation of this feeling is great, the problem comes when Dorsky articulates an example–whereas in Cinema and Sensation, examples of affect via specific techniques is describes fully & linkedly, in Dorsky’s book the examples are casual and never quite sit as true–Dorsky’s devotion is far more subjective, which of course is fine and not really a surprise, but the fact that I was simultaneously reading a book that managed to sort of objectively articulate these ideas I’m obsessed with (which is, I would say, a lot hard to do since affect is, by definition, subjective), made it lose some of its power. I’d still, of course, recommend it, as it’s a lovely book to read.
111 – 100 Selected Poems – e. e. cummings
I had never read more than a handful of cummings poems, so when I found this for a quarter at a thrift store I said, “why not” and added it to my haul. It’s enjoyable in a casual way, though nothing in this specific collection found me overtly excited, there were a few pages I dog-earred and read to my boyfriend in bed, which is fun because cummings indulges in the occasional love poem, and on a rainy day, evoking the cliche of reading love poetry to your sleepy boyfriend while you lie naked in bed is an ultimately satisfying experience.
112 – Japanese Red Leaf Maple – Leif Haven
Sort of brilliantly hilarious Craigs-List erasures put out as a nice lookin’ ebook from Love Symbol Press.
113 – Collobert Orbital – Johan Jonson [re-read]
I actually read this again exclusively so I could write a better mini-review of it in part one of this shit. Regardless, it’s amazing. I want more of Jonson’s poetry to be available in English QUITE BADLY.
114 – The Space of Literature – Maurice Blanchot
This is a book that, in it’s depth, is simultaneously exciting, frustrating, dense and perfectly clear. It exhibits a verisimilitude. Half the time I had no idea what Blanchot was getting at, which is how one comes to understand that Blanchot is deserving of multiple re-readings, but other parts, specifically when Blanchot was speaking of Mallarmé & “Igitur,” and the letters of Mallarmé that I found fantastic and inspiring. I feel like it’s an important book that uses literature to deal with the questions of literature and of course by literature I mean existence, isolation, the question of “why.”
115 – The Living Are Few, The Dead Many – Hans Henny Jahnn
Jahnn is, perhaps, along with a few others, one of my favorite writers of fiction. His novel The Ship is astounding in the affect it inspires within its heavy narrative of despair, and The Night of Lead, a novella included in this ‘collection’ from Atlas, is perhaps perfect. A heavy darkness, total terror, confusion, sexual abandonment, everything that is necessary for a life in turmoil, in the dark, moves moves moves. The short stories, different translations (I believe) from those found in 13 Uncanny Tales, are also fantastic, though it’s in The Night of Lead where Jahnn shines brightest in the dark. I’m so glad this book was available in trade, as the earlier edition of Night of Lead that Atlas put out was far more limited and ephemeral.
116 – It Then – Danielle Collobert
Perfect. Collobert’s poetry moves in ways no one else’s can. Her life is her poetry, and within that arc we must include death, her biggest subject. Collobert’s life was an infinitude that ended before coming to fruition. I will read this book again and a again until I can understand how everything in the universe works.
117 – Only a Child – Alain Veinstein [re-read]
Interestingly, this didn’t hit me as heavily as it did initially. I’m wondering if I was distracted, or if maybe my headspace has moved on. I’d say it’s worth revisiting again, albeit more carefully, in order to figure out where it is that I truly stand.
118 – Ephraim Dotey, Goddess of Love – Tim Jones-Yelvington
I read this in manuscript form and, intending just to read a few pages before I went out for the night, I ended up reading the entire thing straight-through, and it’s absolutely fantastic. Tim’s YA novel is amazingly mature in its ideology, especially in views towards sex, and actually teaches a moral that people in their 20s, 30s, 40s, hell even 50s could probably use being reminded of. It’s astounding how well this is constructed.
119 – The Asks – Craig Watson [re-read]
Watsom was sort of the American parallel to the ‘neo structuralists’ aka French writers of écriture or whatever you want to call them.
complex is eyesHe writes within the absence of the void, which is precisely where I prefer my poets to write from. There’s an intense object-centered perspective here, perhaps borrowed from Hocquard’s Theory of Tables, but approached on his own.
that alien toward
as considered, gesture
120 – Black God – Ben Spivey
Spivey’s narrative seems simple but expands into an extremely open disconnect, a space of confusion between husband and wife, beautiful word play carries A to B but not necessarily in a straight line. There’s a house that is to be watched, there is a wife who is sick, a man, our protagonist, who cannot or chooses not to remember or understand everything. And it’s fucking great.
121 – Cinema & Sensation – Martine Beugnet
This is absolutely essential. The first two sections perfectly articulate everything I want out of cinema, drawing both on Artaud’s idea of a “third cinema” and Bataille’s notion of the formless, constructing a language of cinematic affect, how a text (in this case, a film) can draw the viewer in & inspire a response not via empathy, but rather directly, approaching a sort of degree zero of experience–something that I am after in all forms of art, but that I think things OTHER than the written word & the moving image are generally better at–narrative often makes it hard for us to approach the text using any other method than the protagonist as cipher, but this book really demonstrates that it’s possible otherwise. Final section, drawing more on Deleuze’s film theory, is still interesting, but seems less necessary & urgent.
122 – Twins – Meghan Milks
Milks’ “choose your own adventure” story mashes multiple tween-girl reading series into a sort of post-theory examination of girlhood and the Other–but the other as the self. The introduction gets heavy, language-y, and then we move into narrative land. I’m obsessive about making sure I follow all possible endings when I read a book that’s a “choose your own adventure” and the multitude of possibilities offered herein are astounding, and, true to form, innocently naive, though there’s an insidiousness present.
123 – Fetish Photography – Kevin Killian
Kevin’s yearly birthday-poetry chapbook is fun. There’s a piece in memorial of Mark Aguhar, and some other short poems to round it out. The title refers to Kevin’s major 2012 project, photographing boys & men, mostly nude, with a Raymond Pettibon painting of a cock & balls covering the man’s own cock & balls.
124 – Notes on the Cinematograph – Robert Bresson
Short, aphoristic fragments that guide Bresson’s film making. Scribbed down as “notes to self,” reading them in whole is astonishing & inspiring, a totality of a brilliant filmmaker. I agree with almost everything he told himself to remember.
125 – The Avant-Garde Today – ed. Charles Russell [re-read]
This, along with In the Wake of the Wake (mentioned above) are the two “rosetta stones” (or whatever, maybe that doesn’t really work) of the international avant-garde in that weird between space of “really popular and cool” and 90s academic appropriation. This again covers Tel Quel masters, Brazilians, Japanese VisPo, and more.
FANGED NOUMENA by NICK LAND
The first book on this list I haven’t even finished reading, an immense 560 page tome collecting virtually all of Nick Land’s writings from 1987-2007–excepting only the full-length text The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism–is a massively important text, because Nick Land is, in my opinion, one of the most important thinkers of our present. Land takes apart the world and rebuilds it, offering particularly apt readings of Kant, Nietzsche, Bataille, Heidegger, and more that really flows new light into the dusty thoughts of many often-over-valued thinkers (can a known philosopher be over-valued? maybe not, but often the most known/taught readings of said thinkers certainly can be). Land pioneered the idea of the theory-fiction, using fiction as a tool to explore critical theory, a technique now practice by many affiliated with the book’s press, Urbanomic. This book is a map towards the next level, and as the jacket copy proposes: “Can what is playing you make it to Level 2?”
Buy from Urbanomic (in the UK) or Sequence Press (in the US)
THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DAY THAT DIDN’T REQUIRE KNIVES LIKE THESE by JEFF GRIFFIN
Jeff Griffin is a poet who is, sometimes, from Iowa, who writes some of the most amazing contemporary poetry I’ve encountered. THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DAY… is, as the Human500 website describes, “A book composed of transcriptions of found papers from the desert and original poems by Jeff Griffin.” It’s a hazy mess of desperation and excitement, the desert being a place of secrets, magic, and despair. I read this hung-over in a train-station after I missed my train and had two hours to kill, and upon finishing it I relished my hang-over, smiled to myself, shut my eyes, and blissed out until it was finally time for me to board my train.
Out of print from Human 500
MERCURY by ARIANA REINES
I read a section of this, Save the World, when it was released by Ariana’s press, MAL-O-MAR, early in 2011, and that excerpt made me very excited. Ariana herself has said that the book as a whole did not fully come together until a very short period before it was sent to the publisher, and the shape the final book takes is an incredibly mystical work that unfolds perfectly, fusing all of poetry into a source of energy. There has been a moderate amount of press regarding this book both here and at other lit-hubs of the net lately, and this praise is beyond well deserved, because this book is magick in itself.
Buy it from Fence Books
POISON VAPORS by CHRIS MORAN
It is arguably tacky to put a book one personally released on a list of favorite books of the year, but the reason I released Moran’s poetry on my micro-press is because it’s fucking amazing. Existing first only as a few fragments posted on Chris’s blog, I fell in love and asked if he had more to add up to a complete manuscript. A few weeks later he emailed me a final, short chapbook, and it was perfect. The poems in Poison Vapors are ritual acts calling to the future, a mystic sightedness pointing to the new as filtered through the adages of the old. Texts that call towards an idea of god. Borrowing from science-fiction motifs, Moran’s poetry is remarkably present.
But it (or read the PDF) at SOLAR▲LUXURIANCE
SPINE by R.H. QUAYTMAN
I fell in love with the work of R.H. Quaytman the first time I visited San Francisco before I moved here, when a show of her work was up in the SFMOMA. Quaytman’s paintings are aesthetically perfect, and they carry a mood and conceptual bent that adds up to total greatness. I haven’t read all of the text in the book yet, but to have all of Quaytman’s “chapters” in a single space brings the reader/viewer closer to a totality of vision, which is what every art-lover asks for when they can’t own the paintings themselves.
HALSTED PLAYS HIMSELF by WILLIAM E. JONES
As someone who has, personally, experienced the ecstatic throes of obsession over a pornstar (link NSFW) to the point of ostensibly writing an entire novella about him, obsession and pornography are two things that, when linked together, generally speak in a language I can understand. And, as I’m also someone who was briefly obsessed with Fred Halsted, a brilliant paradox of a porn-star, filmmaker, and artist, I was beyond excited when I found out this book was seeing the light of day. Jones’s book traces the story of Halsted through his work on one of the pivotal films of all-male pornography (a film that has also been validated by the Museum of Modern Art as art), LA PLAYS ITSELF and the rest of what he accomplished through his ultimately sad life. Interviews, vintage film reviews, and secondary sources pad out the primary details offered up by Jones, as well as an ample amount of photographs and some of Halsted’s erotic writing itself. An absolutely boner-inducing read, Halsted serves as some sort of pessimistic role-model within the realm of desperation and experimentation.
Buy from Semiotext(e)
THE CONCEPT OF NON-PHOTOGRAPHY by FRANCOIS LARUELLE
I will be the first to admit that much of this text went directly over my head, particularly in the final third, but the parts that I did understand, at least on a basic level, I understood within a mode that fired synapses and helped me to recontextualize the way that I view the idea of the image, the photograph, reality. Laruelle has been re-configuring philosophy into what he calls “non-philosophy,” and this book opens the door to these ideas in a method that, for me at least, was a route that I could more immediately understand. Not inherently a book about ‘photography’ per se, rather a book about seeing and how the photograph is its own fiction, the world and its double, file this under “steps to Level 2.”
Buy from Urbanomic (in the UK) or Sequence Press (in the US)
PONYBOY, SIGH by LEON BANHAM
Ponyboy, Sigh is the first remarkably queer text that I’ve encountered that has had me so excited I jumped up and down since I spent a lot of time reading Kathy Acker (who must be, surely, Ponyboy‘s mother-in-law). Assuming a hybridity in form that echoes the revolutionary queer identity guiding the text, the protagonist guides through a narrative in poetic forms and verse, dovetailing the essay, riding dialog, and fucking any preconceived notions of a narrative diegesis into abstraction, but in a beautiful, perfect way.
Buy it from Birds of Lace Press
IN THE DUST OF THIS PLANET by EUGENE THACKER
Thacker’s text was sort of the “frame” I’ve used to construct my “Zero-degree Noiselessness of Death” posts, carrying the tone and borrowing the structural form that Thacker adapts, the lectios. The text merges super-natural horror with a geotraumatic reality, the scientific absolute of the world and the culture we’ve thrown into it. I copied down five (typed-out) pages of excerpts that I refer to with regularity; the fact that there are two more volumes of this planned have me creaming my pants.
Get it from Zero Books
SUICIDE by EDOUARD LEVE
The only proper “novel” to make this list is hardly a novel at all. A decidedly non-fantastique faux-memoir in the second person, the intertextual play of Leve the artist/author with the protagonist of the book itself creates a zone of affect that the words in the book, the text itself, fills perfectly. I’ve also talked about this book before, but hardly has another book haunted me in the way this one has, a decidedly straight-forward complexity, a fictionalized reality used to approach reality as fiction.
Buy it from Dalkey Archive
OTHER BOOKS THAT CAME OUT THIS YEAR THAT I’VE EITHER ALREADY TALKED ABOUT EXTENSIVELY SOMEWHERE OR ARE JUST HONORABLE MENTIONS THAT YOU SHOULD KNOW ABOUT IF YOU DON’TTHERE IS NO YEAR, BLAKE BUTLER
THE MARBLED SWARM, DENNIS COOPER
WHY I LOVE BARTHES, ALAIN ROBBE-GRILLET
DIE WITH THESE BITCHES, JON LEON
SUICIDE NOTES, JERIMEE BLOEMEKE
01/03/11 – The Birdwish - Anna Joy Springer
The story here is interesting, ostensibly borrowing from the genre of YA, casting a pigeon who can speak to a young girl and who is a detective in the lead role. The opening is intense, lovely, and the drawings fit the aesthetic it seems, but honestly aren’t my “cup of tea” so to speak. This are dissolved at the end but it’s kind of quietly explosive in a way that’s nice
01/03/11 – The Book of Frank - CA Conrad
Everyone on the internet is right, this is perfect. It’s incredible, it seems so easy while it does amazing things. To be read again and again.
01/04/11 – Robert Morris & Angst - Nena Tsouti-Schillinger
I’m not sure I quite managed to pay attention to some underlying thesis running inside of this book tying Morris’s work to the ideas of angst, but I did enjoy it (it being the book) as an overview of Morris’s career, and a more in-depth look at it than anything I’d read on Morris before.
01/05/11 – Frowns Need Friends Too - Sam Pink
So, while reading this I enjoyed the non-sequitors, the desolation present in the humor, the sort of throwing together of disparate concepts into events. After reading this, I had a weird consideration: I had been reading the entire book with the “I” being Sam Pink himself, I was considering that based on a sort of position I assume regarding a particular brand of contemporary indie-lit that I feel like Pink fits in with. But, I thought, what if reading the “I” as Sam Pink was actually dumb, and that the “I” was an entirely fictional character, and Pink’s book was crafting a catalog of said character’s thoughts, and that this was, perhaps, this invented characters journal. There’s an utter cohesion about it that makes me think the latter idea is far more exciting, but I guess, ultimately, it wouldn’t change the text itself, huh.
01/17/11 – A Drifting Life - Yoshihiro Tatsumi
I had been hesitant to read this, mostly only because it’s really fucking long, but it turns out that the art is great & the story, despite being, basically, banal biography, is actually really engaging (like, to the point where I ended up reading the entire book in only two sittings). Tatsumi’s narrative covers a realm of manga that I have to admit to being neither that aware of nor that interested in, but what was here was fascinating.
90 more books or something after the cut
01/23/11 – Dubuffet Edifices – Jean Dubuffet
I randomly encountered this on goodreads & thought it looked interesting enough, so I requested it from inter-library loan. It’s basically a catalog of buildings Dubuffet ‘designed,’ and the buildings are pretty amazing– large winding structures with no real utilitarian purpose outside of wandering and resting and thinking, in total isolation, I’m in love.
02/08/11 – He is Talking to the Fat Lady – xTx
Excellent & fun, these short bursts of narrative are somehow simultaneously “present” but twisted, I’m into it.
02/17/11 – Manon de Boer – Lars Bang Larsen
I requested this book from the library based exclusively on images I had seen of the book itself– I was in love with the layout. I had planned to just glance through the book to get some design inspiration, but certain things stuck out to me enough that I figured I’d give it a read. Not surprisingly, I’m glad I did.
de Boer seems to be an artist that is probing a specific element of, let’s say, phenomenology using the medium of the motion picture. This alone is interesting, but she does so, often, with actually interesting content. I still have not seen any of her films, but I am excited to now. Also, the layout is truly stunning, really amazing.
The included essays, which complement the still-images (arranged to simulate, to a degree, the nature of a time-based medium on the printed page), are all fantastic, thought provoking pieces.
02/17/11 – Not Blessed – Harold Abramowitz
This is fantastic, surprisingly, enigmatic. The same brief fragment of memoir repeated 28 times, but re-framed by a direct address every time. I’m not really sure what happened, other than the repeated incident, but, as Teresa Carmody says in her introduction, the text makes the reader feel things.
The language and the (perhaps underlying) context of the event that repopulates the narrative repeatedly reminded me of Agota Kristof, but obviously this text works in a different way.
02/17/11 – BRUCE GOFF in ARCHITECTURE – Bruce Goff
Gorgeous 1970 catalog of Bruce Goff’s buildings from Japan (so, clearly I did not read any of the Japanese text as I cannot read Japanese, but there is some English in here for some reason).
I was completely unfamiliar with Goff’s work, but, to be honest, and to use a fairly trite word, a lot of his work is really magical, enticing, makes me want to live in it. This book is large, nice lush images that have deteriorated in a lovely way, all around worth a look if you come across it.
02/18/11 – Exercises – Ettore Sottsass
Sottsass is completely magical, always, and I grokked some text from here.
“Even the rite of building a house has two different moments in time: one is that of space in the universe, with days, nights, seasons, forests and deserts traveling through it–an uncontrolled, mysterious space, charged with favours and misfortunes; the other is ritual time, when an artificial, known, prepared and controlled space is constructed to evoke and capture favours and fortunes from the boundless space of the universe.” (1956)His articulation is fascinating, and there’s some great large images of buildings and vases in here that I hadn’t seen before. I continue to be obsessed
“The environment ought not even to be a house any more. It ought to be a corpse, with miscellaneous things, floors and little rooms designed in it. A place where the most important thing must be its deep integrity. Or it should be a garage, a total neutralisation of all the mythologies that society continuously uses to recognize itself and to know where to lay its hands.” (1976)
“Anyway, perhaps, what I know is that designing a place for living means designing or at least supposing to design, on each different occasion, a kind of temple, a closed place, within the limits granted to our scope for respite. But it is always a temple, because it is built for that certain degree of sacredness that we, by designing, manage to devote to protecting those who will be living out the days of their existence and also their lives in that place.” (1995)
02/19/11 – Ettore Sottsass Jr. ’60-’70 – Milco Carboni
I wish this were in English instead of French because it’s AWESOME and I would buy it in a SECOND. In fact, I might buy a copy anyway because it’s probably the best “collection” of Sottsass images that I’ve seen, some really fucking glorious stuff that I haven’t seen anywhere else, I want to live in a home designed by Sottsass that is furnished exclusively with Sottsass items, oh my god, total dream world.
02/20/11 – Earth Art – Nita Jager
Catalog from like 1970 of an exhibition held in Ithaca, some of the primo players in the realm of art that I obsess over (Jan Dibbets, Robert Morris, Robert Smithson). It’s strange to read the composium, the questions are earnest, it was such a new idea to be doing things like this at the time, which is nice. However, there is only minimal documentation of the artworks in themselves, which is slightly disappointing.
02/20/11 – Conditions of Light – Emmanuel Hocquard
Hocquard’s words are always fantastic, and here they bundle together in the center of the page to hold weight. Beautiful white space, opt out of the preposition, I continue to not fully understand which makes me feel safe.
02/21/11 - Barf Manifesto – Dodie Bellamy
Totally lovely, pointed in its brevity. Dodie is beautiful and so is this text. I will read it again and think about it more. I love when the “members” of the new narrative write about writing because it is always the most encouraging and comforting thing to read.
02/26/11 – Rip Off Red, Girl Detective and The Burning Bombing of America – Kathy Acker
Before I read this book I had always been fascinated by critical writing on Kathy Acker’s books, but after reading Blood and Guts in High School and Don Quixote, I found myself enjoying the techniques present in the texts more than I was enjoying the actual texts themselves. However, when I was flipping through this at a used bookstore in San Francisco I caught that “The Burning Bombing of America” was Acker’s first work & inspired directly by Guyotat’s Eden Eden Eden and something swayed me to give it a shot.
And beyond this, despite the fact I have several other Acker books at home already, sitting unread, I decided to read this. Frankly, I’m glad I did. I’m not sure if this was just more interesting that the two I’ve read before, or if “where I’m at as a reader” is much closer to the point where I need to be at to enjoy Acker, but I fucking loved these. About three-quarters into the first novel of the collection, Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective, I wrote the following bombastic post at HTMLGIANT:
I finished the text a few days later (or maybe the next day, who knows), and set the book aside.
Last Saturday, while riding on a Metra train into Chicago to read at the Ear Eater event series, I ended up ripping through The Burning Bombing of America, unable to tear away from the page, constantly finding myself wanting to shout with joy at the words Acker had made. I was dog-earring pages constantly. I was excited.
I was so excited that at my reading that night I started myself off by reading a page from Acker’s text.
03/03/11 – Download Helvetiva for Free.com – Steve Roggenbuck
I read this online first but I then traded Steve for a copy & read it in print. I like that it exists as a book, because in that way it is directly challenging the idea of what a poetry book is, and how it’s working. The content is fun, and it’s great to see Steve “performing” these poems live, but ultimately there’s just a sort of pleasure here found via the fact that the entire work was built ostensibly by editing. The poems are not “found” per se as they are from Roggenbuck’s own chatlogs from when he was in high school. Rather, the idea of artistry here comes from the selection, Steve is the poet-selector.
03/06/11 – IONESCO – Irina Ionesco
Ionesco’s photography is endlessly beautiful to me, and when I saw a copy of this book online for $13 I snatched it up (and now, having bought that single copy, it appears to be for sale NOWHERE ELSE ON THE INTERNET), which is simultaneously awesome & weird.
The book is a selection of Ionesco’s photographs from various bodies of work as chosen by Bernard Letu, editor of this edition. Letu’s selection is excellent, honing in on the mysterious & enigmatic, which are the qualities which I find most interesting in Ionesco’s work. There’s a brief 2 page text that precedes the photographs that perfectly sets the tone.
03/06/11 – Miroslaw Balka: How It Is – Helen Sainsbury
Balka’s monolithic (hah!) work immediately reminded me of Gregor Schneider when I encountered it online, so I requested this catalog from inter-library loan to see what he was all about. It turns out that he’s a pretty amazing artist who approaches, in recent years, confronting the holocaust in pretty amazing ways, and his early work also strikes me as intensely fantastic. I am definitely looking further into his work.
In this book, there are basically three essays and a bunch of images. All of the essays are great, but the 55 page essay in the center sort of overshadows everything else. It’s a strange “essay,” it literally takes everything that Balka threw on the table to generate his work & examines all of these things in details. It’s taxing at time, and the mutability is occasionally frustrating to my sensibility (i.e. if something can mean everything then it means nothing), but ultimately there are an infinitude of interesting ideas present.
The explorations of darkness, & readings of darkness, that this book presents has my mind roused, for sure.
“In darkness, the body loses any representational property: you are darkness or the void in you. You are the hole.” (73)
03/06/11 – Mourning Diary – Roland Barthes
03/09/11 – Les Ecritures du Soleil – Barbara & Michael Leisgen
So yes technically I did not read the whole thing because reading more than a paragraph of French at a time takes me nine years (and yes I know that if I just did it more I would get fasted/better but whatever I wanted to look at the pictures), so I didn’t read any of the essays or introductions or whatever they were.
The photographs are kind of beautiful, though I don’t like the ones where the light is literally used as “writing” (via long exposures & moving the camera) as much as I like the ones where Barbara (I think) interacts with the sun, presents it, etc. It is in these interactions (and specifically, I think, in black & white– googling more images brings some in color which are weird), that are exciting.
03/10/11 – Sol LeWitt: Artists Books – Didi Bozzini et al
A fairly straight forward catalog of (all of?) LeWitt’s artist’s books, arrange chronologically and well documented. Lewitt’s work is interested to me because it denies the book as anything outside of a formal structure, yes still insists upon the narrative inherent in turning pages: most of the works present variations on themes, which are often aesthetically lovely.
03/13/11 – Georges Bataille: A Critical Inroduction – Benjamin Noys
Noys’s introduction is, I think, a very good introduction. He insists that to either appropriate Bataille or to reject Bataille is to mis-read Bataille, as either mode of reading denies the heterogeneity that is hyper-present throughout Bataille’s thought. It’s an interesting position to take, but one that, Noys shows, Bataille himself presents. Collected below are the excerpts from the excellent essay, which moves through the main areas of Bataille’s thought, which struck me as most prescient.
03/16/11 – A Geometry – Anne-Marie Albiach
Albiach is beautiful, but the brevity here prevents me from entering the performative space that the words need to in order to be enacted. I will read this a few more times before I allot an opinion.
03/18/11 – No Colony vol. 3 – ed. Blake Butler & Ken Baumann
CEOs by Krammer Abrahams
Possibly the most potent use of language as purely visceral entertainment I’ve ever encountered: I couldn’t stop myself from laughing out loud repeatedly as I read this. I had a total urge to perform some of the text out-loud (so I ended up doing just that on a UStream). There’s no plot so to speak of, there are themes and phrases that are circled around and repeated. Somewhat similar to Urs Alleman’s Babyfucker in that regard, but, surprisingly, a lot more aggressive, and infinitely more humorous.
Dead Dog Sleeps by Peter Markus
Entirely monosyllabic except for (arguably) the single usage of “toward,” there’s an utterly oppressive tone here, reminiscent of, as another reviewer on Goodreads has noted, The Notebook by Agota Kristof. The story is harsh & cold, and those are elements I can appreciate. Ultimately somber, especially directly following Abrahams’s story, but also ultimately very fantastic. The abstraction that enters near the end reminds me of Shane Jones’s Light Boxes in that it seems to imply a sort of allegory but also refuses it at the same time (I also hate allegory so even if something is screaming at me that it is allegory I refuse to read it as such).
Pushcorpse by 65 people
Parts of this are fun, but parts of it, as the disparate authors in the story point out occasionally, are “retarded.” I like the idea, as an experiment, a collaborative work of fiction between 65 people, but overall I don’t think it achieves much. It’s on nice pink pages though!
The last story is mine. I am not going to review my own story, but I will say it is basically a culmination of a lot of my favorite things and I’m very glad that it now exists in the world. I will, however, add this quote from Bataille’s Guilty which is where the title of Riverrun’s film comes from:
Eroticism is the brink of the abyss. I’m leaning out over deranged horror (at this point my eyes roll back in my head). The abyss is the foundation of the possible. We’re brought to the edge of the same abyss by uncontrolled laughter or ecstasy. From this comes a “questioning” of everything possible. This is the stage of rupture, of letting go of things, of looking forward to death.03/20/11 – Ettore Sottsass: The Architecture and Design of Sottsass Associates – Barbara Radice
Obsession with Sottsass continues. What is, perhaps, most impressive to me is that, within his own constructed ideology, his revolutionary spirit finds itself being neither utterly zeitgeist nor waning (although, it could be suggested that the Memphis work is “totally 80s,” I’d argue that it really surpasses anything archetypal). What I’m saying is, basically, Sottsass is probably my “#1 role model” in terms of actually “getting things done in the world” right now. Book gets 4 stars instead of 5 due to there not being enough photos of each design!
03/21/11 – Aminadab – Maurice Blanchot
Already wrote about this here.
03/21/11 – Fantastic Architecture – Dick Higgins
Something Else press made a number of books that I find beautiful; both in content and, primarily, form. It was, I believe, Dick Higgins’s press, and his desire to mass-produce artist’s books lead to him doing just that–which, really, is interesting in terms of the historical place of the artist’s book.
This book is, perhaps, a curated look at “fantastic architecture,”– it’s very in line with the SE Press aesthetics, which is to say there’s a bit of humor & a bit of vitriol toward the mainstream &, for whatever reason, it strikes me as very much situated within the American avant-garde of the time (although Gerard Ruhm & Robert Filiou are contributors [Filiou is hyper present on Something Else, often in tangent with George Brecht] and they are Austrian & French respectively. Daniel Spoerri is in here too, also French. Okay so this is pretty international, but I always link the Something Else aesthetics with an aesthetics of the American Avant-Garde, blame Richard Kostelanetz if you need to).
Some of this is bombast, I still don’t think there’s anything interested about Oldenberg’s monumental every-day objects, but hrm, Carolee Schneeman’s body as architecture Folly is exciting, and the final manifesto presents some fun, albeit half-baked, ideas. Having read an abundance of books on architecture, and being only passingly interested (at best) with the American Avant-Garde of this time period (outside of the land art & conceptual art (which occasionally this edges) — [and hey, now that I think about it, there's some Oppenheimer & Jan Dibbets in here too, albeit briefly]), I didn’t love everything in here, but it’s a nice fun & quick read, for sure.
03/26/11 – Guy Bourdin: Polaroids – Guy Bourdin
Bourdin’s images transport. Period. They are minute narratives in a single frame. Many of these polaroids seem to be simply test shots for many of his more well-known images (which, I guess it’s ultimately lamentable that these images are not titled & monographs rarely identify where-ever it is these images were shot for… pitfalls of commercial photography I guess?). BUT, the point is. So many of Bourdin’s images take my breath away. The best here are new to me, environments, my aesthetic insistent on Bourdin’s use of space, my obsession with the engima of Men in his work… there is so much I can do by reading Bourdin’s images.
This book itself is beautiful. A lush cover, nice printing of images, plenty of gutter space between pages so no details get lost.
03/27/11 – S*Perm**K*T – Harryette Mullen
(Sort of) image-less poetry that I think is more accessible than most of it? Like I feel like this is a really fun book that you could show to someone who doesn’t read poetry and they’d like it. That’s a dumb comment, but I’m writing it here anything. The point is there are some really amazing words here about food they are words as food in the sense that they apply sensually, you need to eat these words not just read them, there are sounds and pleasures and there are images of products in a grocery store that punctuate, nice.
03/27/11 – The Blind Owl – Sadegh Hedayat
But, okay. SO. This is interesting. Yes, it is certainly not interesting. I enjoyed, most of all, the way lines, events, and images repeated themselves over and over throughout the text, changing each time, appropriating themselves into new situations. Similarly, the proto-glissements which transition us on levels of the narrative are interesting, if not as refined as those of Kavan & Robbe-Grillet that I geek out over regularly.
So, the low rating: ultimately, subject-matter wise, I just didn’t really care, and was rarely offered a reason to care. The melodrama almost felt naive, and aside from the shock of first commenting that the wine was poison (maybe), there was little in the way that moved me. It mostly just became a sort of banal progression through techniques. I don’t care about “insanity” in text, when there is nothing, really, guiding the movement outside of the insanity in itself (this is also why I don’t like the movie Clean, Shaven), or something, or maybe this is just whooOOooOOO check out the weird shit that happens on opiuM! But I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt here, I don’t know.
Weird tangential commentary there, of course, but yeah, ultimately just not that into it. It’s good though. Worth reading, etc.
03/28/11 – Under My Roof – Nick Mamatas
There are a million reviews of this on here already so I’ll be brief: it’s fun, an engaging read, I “liked” it as they say. I like the idea of making someone who is actually the target age of the YA demographic reading this, because I think it’d be a fantastic way to get someone to start considering all this shit.
Most important to me, perhaps, is the insistence on the relationship between adults & children. It really cuts through the bullshit, almost to the extremes that Tony Duvert does (though with less related to the adolescent sexuality et. al.).
03/29/11 – The Show That Smells – Derek McCormack
This is fantastic. There’s an abundance of repetition, used both to (dis)orient proximity, establish threads of narrative; there’s ostensibly concrete poetry adding texture to the page; the narrative is simple and fun, it’s camp, but it takes the position of queer monsters, lovely really, staked against the hegemony of the Normal person. I want to describe this text as performative, and I think that’s the best way to do it. Really fucking good.
03/30/11 – The Sublime – ed. Simon Morley
Excellent collection. These DOCA anthologies are, generally, always worthwhile though.
04/03/11 – Memphis: Research, Experiences, Failures and Successes of New Design – Barbara Radice
My ties to Sottsass keep growing. I am 100% into about 90% of the Memphis designed shit, and this book is pretty. Radice’s histories are brief but enlightening, and it was nice to encounter the ‘group’s’ ideology, which is pretty amazing and a GOOD THING TO KNOW, because I really feel like it’s A) relevant to an ideology of aesthetics, and B) appropriate to my steez.
04/04/11 – Bruno Pellasy – Bruno Pellasy
Pelassy’s “creatures,” which I saw on Dennis Cooper’s blog years ago, have stuck with me ever since. This catalog, with more of his work, reveals Pelassy’s position, I would say, at a level of “queer aesthetics” that perhaps began with Jean Genet (which text in this catalog attests to Pelassy’s interest), going through the Cockettes, etc. Lovely work, but not necessarily my preferred aesthetic style. Nice to have some more biographical info, I suppose?
04/07/11 – Mario Merz – Germano Celant
Incredibly wide-ranging number of images of Merz’s work, which is very nice, good images too, but, okay, perhaps my rating is futile, as I found myself really fucking wading through this waiting for all the text bits to be over. As much as I like Merz’s work & the titles of his work, his interviews are occasionally insufferable, and the ~30 page essay that opens the book, I just couldn’t keep my attention at all? I don’t know. Maybe the fact that I’m not obsessed with Merz’s work kept me from really getting as much out of this. A lot of the time the text itself felt distracted, as if it were auto-translated from Italian or something. Who knows.
04/07/11 – A Man for the Asking – Catherine Breillat
Kind of “eh.” First half is great, with Breillat using some textual spacing to work the prose like poetry (something I always support), but loses momentum and gets muddied, I think, as we approach the end. I stopped paying attention and actually have no idea what happened, but as far as I can tell there’s about 70 pages of a man who wants to have sex with a woman, L., but can’t? Or doesn’t? I don’t know. This is maybe Cixousean writing, or whatever, but I don’t know enough about that? There was a nother French novel I read from the same time period that struck me as similiar, but far more successful. Regardless, assuming this is the same Breillat (which it has to be, right?), I much prefer the Duras-styled Anatomy of Hell of recent years.
04/08/11 – Guy Bourdin – Shelly Verthime
I have looked at the images in this book millions of times (my library’s copy of this was, I believe, the first time I encountered Bourdin’s work, blindly browsing the photography section), but I finally read the included essays. There is perhaps mostly biographical information here, to a degree, but that’s very interesting to me as someone obsessed with Bourdin. Of course, there’s also a few articles that closely scrutinize Bourdin’s work, including one that reads one of my favorite images, and it’s a joy to encounter.
04/09/11 – Les Amoureuses Du Temps Passe: Photographs by Deborah Turbeville – Deborah Turbeville
Absolutely lovely; I’ve no idea how I hadn’t encountered Turbeville before– she seems to be another renegade fashion photographer of the 70s (in fact I encountered her name in tangent with Newton & Bourdin), but the work itself carries the mysteries of Irina Ionesco’s photographs perhaps curtailing onto the hidden erotic narratives of David Hamilton, a lovely antiquarian insistence. I want this book– it moves through three or four zones of space, and I’m particularly taken by Turbeville’s interactions with empty interiors.
04/09/11 – Coda – Rene Belletto
My first encounter with Belletto is a pleasant one. I found the story here charming in its reductive puzzle, I found joy in the refusal to follow the genre it established itself within, and the fact that the book denies itself with an ultimately confounding ending is kind of amazing. It’s a quick and pleasant read, though I’d argue that it demands rereading (I have not reread it). I will read the rest of Belletto’s work that’s been translated.
04/12/11 – Forms of Inquiry: The Architecture of Critical Graphic Design – Architectural Association
There were a lot of interesting things in here, but ultimately (damn I use that word a lot) it’s a really mixed bag. There’re some intriguing (lol) projects, but there’s also a lot of shit I just breezed through. The connections between design & architecture offered are often tangential at best, so it felt like a very schizophrenic volume, not that that’s necessarily a bad thing.
04/14/11 – Richard Greaves: Anarchitect – R. Cardinel
Greaves makes inhabitable structures out of garbage. They’re pretty neat, but kind of confusing, in a way, as is the entire approach. I sort of admire the ‘isolated mad artist’ trope that permates the 20th/21st century (that Graves seems to fall into), but I’m not sure how fantastic this is to me. If the images were in color shit would probably be ugly as hell. Regardless, I’d be interested in experiencing the structures in person, and I am now a fan of the term “anarchitecture.”
04/15/11 – If There Were Anywhere But Desert: Selected Poems of Edmond Jabès – Edmond Jabès
Jabès is important, impeccable, amazing. The two essays included in this collection seem at odds with the collection itself as they do not specifically relate to the included content, rather, they both more or less address the intensely importantBook of Questions. The selection of early poems included here are good– they certainly do indicate the direction that Jabès would end up taking in his work, and in their own right they are successful poems. The second thing in here is a wonderful post-Book of Questions work that I loved.
04/17/11 – Selected Poems – Yves Bonnefoy
For a while I thought there wasn’t much Bonnefoy in translation, for some reason, though clearly I’m wrong, as a lot of his poetry has indeed been translated. & It’s good poetry– it predates, but sort of thematically couples the post-war French “poetry” (écriture) that I’m beyond in love with, and was clearly influential.
04/18/11 – The Book of Margins – Edmond Jabès
This book is discussed on Amazon as, sort of, Jabès writing on the authors whose presence can be felt in The Book of Questions et. al. more directly– the presences in Jabès’s work made ‘flesh’ so to speak by the direct referent. Of course, this is not, necessarily, something that easy. This is not just Jabès addressing his influences. Jabès is, refreshingly, still writing in the style which defines The Book of Questions– spacing, centering, as if the form of poetry were co-opted by pure idea. Because of this, it’s fantastic, and more of a movement than pure didactism.
04/21/11 – Archeology of the Mother – Alan Veinstein
The more of Veinstein I read, the more I’m enamored of his work. “An Excess Taken Back” (I believe that’s the title), which I had read in the French Poetry issue of SUB/STANCE is one of my favorite texts of all time, and there is a corrected version present here. The other texts are really wonderful as well, plus there’s a note that engages briefly with Veinstein’s working methods, apparently occasional “narrative” responses to works of art, I was pleased to discover.
Though I’m not sure if I could articulate why, I almost feel like some of Veinstein’s work approach narratives that would sit well within the realm of Robbe-Grillet, though they exist in a completely different sphere– there is, perhaps, an objecthood present in commenting on bodies here, and maybe that is why. There is a violence conflated with the violence of the page, a penetration. I will spend more time with this book.
04/22/11 – Dodeka – John Taggart
I am interested in the, perhaps, simultaneously “metaphysical” and “analytical” approach that Taggart seems to have to language. A hyper presence of geometry in both the books I’ve read (the other being The Pyramid Is a Pure Crystal). A lot of the introduction, which I suppose articulates some of Taggart’s working methods, went over my head, but I was perhaps just distracted. Regardless, the poems on their own are beautiful and engaging in a way that applies to my interests.
04/25/11 – The Girl From H.O.P.P.E.R.S. – Jaime Hernandez
For some reason it always takes a while for me to “get into” these, but then once I do, I just tear through ‘em. Which is strange to me. It’s like the diegesis is so involved and diametrically opposed to the mode of narrative I normally ‘subscribe’ to, that it is actually difficult to find my way back in. Regardless, Love & Rockets is fantastic, and for some reason I love Ray.
04/25/11 – Album of Stones – Klaus Merkel
There’s something simultaneously oblique & over-explained about this book; Merkel’s project is laid out in the introduction, displaying an interest in form and the connections between disparate landscapes– geometry, shapes. But then the writing at the end strikes me as completely impenetrable, perhaps only because whenever I read about hard sciences my mind stops paying attention. But what matters here are the photographs, and the photographs are lovely and perfect, a stark black & white. And I love stones, rock, earth. These are basically sublime landscapes, coupled with shots with a tightened lens. There’s a structural integrity running throughout, and I like the idea of Merkel having an idea of what he wants to photograph (in nature nonetheless), and then spending decades hunting for it.
04/26/11 – Guy Bourdin – Alison M. Gingeras
It is hard to give any monograph of Bourdin’s photos less than 5 stars, because, at least in terms of what I’ve encountered they’re all printed JUST FINE. The introductory essay in here is nice because it provides some autobiographical background, which I haven’t found as much of in any of the other colelctions.
04/26/11 – MAZE: Solve the World’s Most Difficult Puzzle – Christopher Manson
I only spent about two hours with this, but it was a fun two hours. It seems I don’t have the drive to obsess over these things like I used to. I don’t think I even made it to room 45, though when I went to 45 to backtrack, it took me to rooms I swear I had been in, but apparently I wasn’t paying enough attention to realize that I was almost there. The drawings are very interesting. One of my student workers walked up and asked if I was reading an Edward Gorey book, which seems apt. There’s also an appeal to the early 90s children fantasy art… I don’t, exactly, what I mean here, it just seems familiar
04/28/11 – A Night of Serious Drinking – Rene Daumal
There are a lot of reviews of this on Goodreads, which is pretty amazing to me considering how rare it is for me to encounter anyone talking about Daumal anywhere else? I suppose the title here is ultimately what’s appealing, though I feel it’s worth noting that my route to this book had more to do with how wonderfulMount Analogue than the novelty of the title. This doesn’t feel as hitting to me asMount Analogue, but it’s certainly still fantastic.
Also not quite what I expected. I have a practiced inability to read narrative as allegory (due to a personal preference, I suppose), so hadn’t really considered the (what now seems) blatantly obvious things that go on here. The main problem I have regarding narrative-as-allegory is that I feel like most readers (and this was true of me in the past too), once they “figure out” how A means B or whatever, the book immediately closes. It’s like they’ve “solved” a puzzle. It’s a thing to do and then it’s done (this seems to me a praxis that is supported by the American education system, which I think leads to narrow readings and a studied insistence on a homogeneity of The Novel).
Or maybe I’m just making excused for not thinking of the parallel between the narrative here and the allegory of Plato’s Cave (there’s a review on here that posits that Plato’s Cave is wrong, and I’m tempted to agree with that). The narrative itself is fairly fantastic, the movement between the ‘three realms,’ the third realm’s refusal of the two that came before it, the fluidity. In the world of the mad & dead, I am reminded of Roussel, though Roussel is clearly more interested in the act of the invention, so to speak.
Enjoying and rewarding.
05/02/11 – Lessness – Samuel Beckett
Read aloud, standing next to my bed, directly before going to sleep. Repetition of words and images, a negativity, the sea? Lost two days later. Still can’t penetrate a literal narrative, but can detect movement, waves, a grey static.
05/02/11 – Children of the Outer Dark – Christopher Dewdney
These are interesting. It’s very clear, even in this brief introduction, to see that Dewdney has undoubtedly influenced Christian Bok, and probably even more Canadian poets. And there are some great things in here– however, for whatever reason, the ways these texts work, well, they work less for me as poetry than I think they’d work as… something else? These are ideas, I think. The language does nothing, and at the root of it all it turns out that I do need language for poetry to be of any real, sustainable interest to me. I like them as text though, wish that they had the same insight and works in a different way, maybe. I’m probably talking outta my ass here.
05/05/11 – Salo or the 120 Days of Sodom – Gary Indiana
The first half of this or so, where it’s more Indiana talking via both autobiographically & on larger issues surrounding the film, film in general, and Pasolini, is fantastic. However, once Indiana begins specifically addressing the film it does get bogged down in too much plot-description, although I understand, I suppose, the necessity within this approach.
05/08/11 – The Marbled Swarm – Dennis Cooper
I lucked out, this is the first time I’ve gotten a galley of a book from an author that I literally fucking love the work of more than anything (got a galley of a Guyotat book once, which was awesome, but Guyotat takes me like ages to read, whereas Dennis books I can’t help but tear through). So I of course read this within a 24 hour period, and it’s totally fucking fantastic. Even though I hate reviews that draw comparison as a way of highlighting the narrative of a text (mostly because the comparisons are really fucking dumb most of the time), I think it’s worth noting that this really feels a lot like Dennis doing later (70s & 80s) Alain Robbe-Grillet, which is fucking amazing because I love Robbe-Grillet almost as much (and at times more, depends on the book) as I love Dennis.
The prose is structured here wildly different than any of Dennis’s other books; the sentences wind & are sometimes paragraphs in their own rights, opposed to the direct & minimal style of basically all of the rest of his work. It’s disorienting, at first, but the narrative reveals that the prose stylings of the book ARE the literal “marbled swarm” of the novel’s title.
Narrative-wise (sort of?), there’s just a lot of shit here that I geek out about: secret passage-ways, secret histories of serial killers & ‘apocrypha’ via ‘lost books’, abstracted/engimatic constructions of sexuality, etc. But it’s also simultaneous not there.
I really feel like I need to re-read this like four more times… it’s almost constructed as a trick (albeit a self-aware & transparent trick), which at first felt like a let down, but then felt more like actually fantastic, and I don’t know for sure what I think but I love this.
05/08/11 – Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark – Alvin Schwartz
I was sort of planning a full post on this for HTMLGIANT but then months went by and I hadn’t written it, and now I don’t have the book any more oh well. To sum it up: this book is hella conceptually interesting, the images are terrifying, the prose is terrible, and mostly the stories are anti-climactic.
05/11/11 – Miroslaw Balka: Topography – Suzanne Cotter
Approaching the book: struck by how Balka’s videos are translated to the page of the book her. Turning the pages of images from the first video equates to a loop, and it’s fantastic. Full-page bleeds. Video on the page, immersive (?). The other videos not reproduced as adequately in terms of translating the movement of video to the movement of the page, but still fascinating.
The essays are good too– short but informative. They not only contextualize Balka’s (generally obtuse) work, but also consider how the video is working which, having not seen the videos, is of interest.
05/12/11 – Avalanche (Issues 01-03) – Willoughby Sharp
I ordered this from amazon and then amazon decided they weren’t ever going to actually stock it again and then I didn’t have any money so I couldn’t order it from somewhere else which, really, kind of sucks. It sucks because I want this because it is amazing. But, whatever, I’m getting it from the library in sections, so I guess I’ll update this as I read them.
One of the really nice things, I’ve realized, regarding these interviews, is that the interviewers are literally not afraid to respond to artist responses with the simple question of “Why?” Seems like so much art world shit involves posturing that you understand, while the interviewers here really push the artists to try to articulate what they’re doing. That’s pretty awesome.
Artists that are completely brand new to me that I think I will undoubtedly become obsessed with from this batch of issues: Terry Fox, Barry Le va
05/18/11 – Oh No Everything Is Wet Now – Ana C & Richard Chiem
This is exciting. There are quiet words, a potential melodrama between a man and a lady, but the explosive format is what really makes it. We scroll around a webpage punctuated with text, google image search screenshots, and youtube videos in which the authors reading their words are non-diegetically laid over footage of the authors walking around.
05/21/11 – The Aesthetics of Disappearance – Paul Virilio
This has been instrumental in a number of ways, I think, and I’d really like to respond more directly to all of the fragments and paragraphs I have dog-earred and underlines in my copy, so I’ll refrain from any deep commentary here, and just address some surface things:
Virilio’s meandering cultural references allow a style that I feel is really successful, a method that makes sense to me (as in my own essayistic writings I tend to take a similar approach), so as a guide to how to do this in a way that maintains communication is positive.
05/21/11 – Terry Fox – Brenda Richardson
“The impact of Fox’s art is total: either you see it not at all, or you see it through and through, to its center, to its heart beat. It has no ambiguity; it is black and white not only in color but also in concept; Fox installations are stark and pure, and leave no room for equivocation. Fox assaults the viewer with his intensity, and viewers respond with equal intensity. Fox produces art which is as far removed from “art” as he can make it. He is not simulating reality so much as evoking the intensity of the experience of reality. The nature of art-making and art-looking is too far removed from reality for Fox, and when he sets up a piece he wants his audience to relate it to something “more real” than art. He sets up a situation, for instance, with objects, color, and sound so specifically referential to the experience of hospitalization that the viewer must recall his or her own experience of hospitalization, or perhaps long-suppressed feelings equivalent to those we relate to hospitalization–sense deprivation, claustrophobia, helplessness, anonymity, fear, discomfort or pain, boredom, loneliness, anxiety, isolation.”
Terry Fox is amazing. Richardson’s essay also really seems to understand what Fox is going at.
05/22/11 – Barry Le Va, 1966-1988 – Elaine A. King
I fucking hate catalogs that put long-ass essays before the images when the essays spend half of their time basically describing what we could see if we flip 50 pages ahead. Seriously a severe pet-peeve of mine. Anyway. Encountered Le Va in Avalanche & found his work incredible, this book basically ignore everything mentioned in Avalanche and focuses on his later constructions, which would perhaps be interesting if I had any fucking clue what was going on, and if the essayists had any desire to highlight what it is that’s going on other than just listing things that Le Va is addresses.
05/23/11 – The Nazis – Piotr Uklanski
Wrote about this here.
05/25/11 – The Medium of Contingency – ed. Robin Mackay
Fond, particularly, of the Ayache essay here, due to the inspiration it held, but everything was worth reading. Reza’s essay I had to read twice.
05/26/11 – The Hollow Grounds – Luc Schuiten
I am an individual who could be, possibly, considered a Schuiten fanboy, obsessed as I am with Les Cités Obscures series. Hollow Grounds predates that, mostly, and is really a step-up from a lot of similar fare that could be found in Heavy Metal issues of the decade. There’s less architectural precision, but the space is still apparent, and these are wonderful all around. However, this single-book reprint of all three volumes is somewhat frustrating due to the fact that it’s smaller and not as clear as the earlier, hardcover single-volume editions which are really beautiful.
05/29/11 – The Box Man – Imiri Sakabashira
My friend Vogisland was getting rid of this book, and after I crashed at his pad after a night of drunken debauchery (my birthday, actually), he offered it to me. I took it having only vaguely heard of it and not really knowing what to expect. I read it on my ridiculously hung-over train ride back home, and kind of completely fell in love with it. The interjection in the center of the sort of fantastiquely perverse ‘whorehouse’ in the middle is possible the best thing ever, and the ‘ending’ is hilarious and lovely. The art is fantastic too.
05/30/11 – Rene’s Flesh – Virgilio Pinera
Lily Hoang wrote briefly about this book and her review caught my attention: the book lives up to her ideas of it, there’s a steady darkness divorced from any sense of centralized morality that guides, well, our realities, which places the narrative outside of the world but clearly indicative of it. There is an overarching lifespan here, and all the frustration and terror that comes with it; our protagonist seems to only find happen in fugues of delirium, away from even his own world, which is ostensibly a constant barrage of terror.
This terror eventually subsides into just a low moaning drone that colors the scenes. The book seems like it takes itself too far, not in terms of subject matter, but in terms of time. Full trajectories occur, but the heaviness follows. Perhaps it’s worth noting that this is the longest novel I’ve read since reading Vanessa Place’s La Medusa at the end of 2009– no real similarities to be found, entirely disparate even in tone. Both fantastic though.
05/30/11 – Allegorical Decoys – R.H. Quaytman
As a devotee of Quaytman’s work, I was hungry to devour anything I could about it, and got this book (which is unfortunately out of print) from Inter-Library Loan. Thus, I could read the text inside, but as the book lacked the fold-out cover upon my receipt, I had no images to see references, which, while frustrating, did not render the book useless.
Quaytman’s working methods are fascinating to me, specifically as someone more interested in conceptual/installation/land/environment art than, shall we say, painting qua painting, but from an aesthetic perspective Quaytman’s work is ideal. This document contextualizes some of the motivation that renders it more potent for me– there’s an appeal, to an extent, to the materiality of a structural approach to art, but it’s taken beyond the literal and into a realm of Idea, which satisfies more.
06/03/11 – Gregor Schneider: Totes Haus Ur La Biennale Di Venezia 2001 – Udo Kittelman
In my desire to attain some sort of transcendent connection to Schneider’s work (while still having never experienced it myself), I will read every catalog available. Nothing particularly of note here that I remember, probably fairly decent essays but none that blew my mind as I have no notes on it.
06/04/11 – Entrance to a Colonial Pageant In Which We All Begin to Intricate – Johannes Goransson
I’ve been reading Johannes blogs online for a year or two now and I always find what he has to say at least interesting, if not something I agree with– always intellectually stimulating as well. Despite knowing of his presence, and loving Action Yes & Action Books, I had yet to actually read any of his own work. After reading Blake Butler’s interview with Goransson, I decided that it was fairly urgent I order this book (so I did).
As much as I can appreciate the form the book takes, and what it does at times, most of the book left me cold; and not in the comfortable-icy way that I occasionally WANT a book/movie to make me feel, but more like distracted and uninteresting–I never found myself fully within the text. There were parts that I thought were fantastic & that held me completely, but there was little interest I maintained, I had no momentum.
06/23/11 – L’Annee Derniere a Marienbad – Jean-Louis Leutrat
While Gary Indiana’s book on Salo ended up taking an unfortunate spill into excessive plot-description, Leutrat’s account here is all reading the film itself. Perhaps this is because Last Year at Marienbad‘s plot could be summed up briefly in a sentence (for the film resists being reducible to its plot), or I guess it could just be a French approach to film criticism versus that of an American– lots of theory here which I loved, and also a more detailed account of Resnais “vs” Robbe-Grillet in terms of the finished film itself. I’d like to read more film criticism like this I think.
The next five books I read I’ve already posted about here
06/07/11 – You Hear Ambulance Sounds and Think They Are For You – Sam Pink
There’s a repetition here, in brevity, that makes this feel much more like coherent work than FROWNS NEED FRIENDS TOO, which I guess it is because FROWNS was a poetry collection and this is a small book that has chapters I guess? It’s really hard to categorize Sam Pink’s writing as anything other than “Sam Pink’s writing” which is part of what’s interesting about it I think.
There is a lot in here that I found funny, and even let’s say ‘beautiful’. I read it over my lunch break while I was eating a sandwich at Potbelly’s. The book was as good as the sandwich and the oatmeal chocolate chip cookie I ate.
07/09/11 – Guy Bourdin – Sarah Moon
Having now read all English language monographs on Bourdin except one, I can note that while I never actually get tired of reading articles on his work, I have noticed weird discrepancies int he way his photos are displayed, namely in how they are arranged over the spine of a book. This is a tiny book, but I think, mostly, the images are displayed accurately, there’s a lot of images (as many as in larger books), and the single essay is valuable & also incorporates ideas from essays printed in other monographs on Bourdin, so this seems like a good ‘pocket-volume’ to own.
07/11/11 – The Book of Resemblances Vol 1 – Edmond Jabès
It’d be impossible to give any Jabès book less than five stars; let’s be honest here. However, I’ve been putting off reading both volumes of The Book of Questions because I own them & they’re going with me when I move, but these three volumes of The Book of Resemblances are OOP and go for ridiculous prices & the library has them, so I thought I might read them first. However, after reading the first one I might wait for the other two volumes, as they seem to directly linearly follow the 7 books in The Book of Questions. Regardless, Jabès is heartbreakingly astounding at all stages.
07/18/11 – From Afar It Is An Island – Bruno Munari
I like rocks. This is a children’s book by the Italian designer Bruno Munari that is basically about rocks. It’s pretty cook; I like the design. I like monocolored pictures of rocks & islands a lot, I don’t know why. This is pretty good for that though.
07/18/11 – 7-9 January – Jeff Griffen
07/30/11 – Suicide Notes – Jerimee Bloemeke
Jeff Griffen & Jerimee Bloemeke are fucking fantastic poets. These & There’s Never Been a Day That Didn’t Require Knives Like These are three of my favorite things I’ve read all year. I’m still planning a post on the Human500 guys’s stuff, so I’ll wait to expand there.
07/21/11 – 36,6 – Miroslaw Balka
Another catalog of Balka’s work, interesting stuff. Don’t specifically remember any of the essays, but that might be more due to the fact that I didn’t make notes on the book upon immediately completing it & my shitty memory rather than any reflection of the text. I do remember that the book provided interesting background information on Balka
07/22/11 – It Has Only Just Begun – Hans Ulrich Obrist
Interview between Obrist, Rirkrit Tiravanija & Joseph Grigely (the latter I’m not so familiar with) on the nature of more contemporary artists’ books than are normally studied. Obrist is an amazing interviewer, and Grigely & Tiravanija field the questions well. An interesting look into contemporary artists’ book culture.
07/23/11 – Hélène – Pierre Jean Jouve
Short & sweet French novel that draws a direct combination between sex & death, one of both the French & my own favorite obsessions. I looked up Jouve because he was a major proponent of Danielle Collobert’s poetry both in her life & death, and because I’m endlessly in love with Collobert’s work, I sought this out. It’s very interesting, and the descriptors of sex are disorienting almost, but ultimately really great.
08/07/11 – Independence – Pierre Guyotat
I guess this was available for sale during the Guyotat readings that happened earlier this summer. I read Reynard’s copy, it’s good. It’s ostensibly Guyotat talking about Faulkner’s The Mansion or whatever, but more about how his reading experience is embedded within a specific historical, political, context.
Notebooks 1967-70 by Lee Lozano This is ostensibly an “art book” published by Primary Information, an absolutely fantastic publishing house who has been putting out the kind of shit that makes me drool (I would literally kill for a copy of the Avalanche facsimile but unfortunately do not have $200 or weapons). Lozano shuffled the line between painter and conceptual artist before she quit the art world in 1969 after making the statement, GRADUALLY BUT DETERMINEDLY AVOID BEING PRESENT AT OFFICIAL OR PUBLIC “UPTOWN” FUNCTIONS OR GATHERINGS RELATED TO THE “ART WORLD” IN ORDER TO PURSUE INVESTIGATIONS OF TOTAL PERSONAL AND PUBLIC REVOLUTION. EXHIBIT IN PUBLIC ONLY PIECES WHICH FURTHER SHARING OF IDEAS & INFORMATION RELATED TO TOTAL PERSONAL AND PUBLIC REVOLUTION. She continued to work on art, albeit privately, engaging in a lot of ideas that are on display within this book, which is basically a facsimile of Lozano’s actual notebooks. I like conceptual art, so reading documentation & planning of conceptual performances is something that gets me off. Lozano is a fantastic artist & these notebooks are essential if you’re into what she does.
Tongue Party by Sarah Rose Etter I met Sarah Rose Etter at a reading in Chicago that she flew in for ALL THE WAY from Pennsylvania. I had a lot of fun drinking with her and started following her twitter. We communicate on twitter & facebook and I feel comfortable saying we are “friends.” However, one of the unfortunate side-effects of meeting a writer when you’re drinking (or: drunk), is that it is likely you will not remember the story the author read at all. In my drunken haze I recognized what she read as “good,” so when I found out she was releasing a book (and when her announcement came at one of those rare times in which I actually had money), I immediately ordered it. I was very pleased to find out, when the book arrived in the mail, that in addition to being a terrific human being, Etter is also a fantastic writer. Tongue Party consists of a series of short stories that are unconnected in narrative but bear similarities in theme, a theme that I would characterize as occasional absurd while maintaining a serious darkness & emotional core. Chicken Father is my favorite story from the collection, but the whole thing is fantastic. Sean Lovelace wrote more about Tongue Party here.
Mauve Desert by Nicole Brossard Brossard is a Canadian writer who I discovered in my exploration of French écriture, a sort of writing that denies itself the location of either poetry or prose (ultimately a fantastic thing to do, in my opinion), and focuses, often, on the way non-linguistic elements of a page/book can signifiy meaning. In this work, Brossard focuses less on the space of the page and more on compiling disparate parts to create a very unique whole. The first segment of the book presents a “novella” by an apocryphal writer about a young girl living in the desert. The language of the piece, and the imagery, are beaucoup fantastic, and the hermetic narrative burns the dry desert sun and cold desert nights into your subconscious. The second part of the book presents the idea that the novella presented in part one is a book discovered by another woman (still divorced from Brossard herself), who will be translating the book. Thus, the second section of the book presents a sort of case study of the novella from the first part, extended ‘conversations’ with the characters, explorations of locations, a photographic portfolio. And finally, in the final ‘phase’ of the book, we as readers are treated to the ‘translation’ of the novella from the first phase. Overall it’s a fascinating experiment that combines inter-textual experimentation with a really engaging plot & a desperately poetic language.
Purgatory by Raul Zurita Zurita is a poet who has been much-lauded by the wonderful writers at Montevidayo, and after discovering that the library I work at had a copy of one of his books, I checked it out. The biographical information presented in the text seems to indicate that this was Zurita’s first (major?) work, published during the turmoil of Pinochet’s Chilean dictatorship. The text itself is visceral; the words are Zurita’s ritual, a defense against the terror of life. Zurita himself scarred his face in deference to the political upheaval, and it is in this way that his body becomes a poem itself, and it is this poem that launches the book into its own distanced diegesis; expanding upon pain through the poetic license that words allow. This book is really intense and beautiful, I’m looking forward to further exploring Zurita’s work when I get a chance.
Zipper Mouth by Laurie Weeks Coming out in October from The Feminist Press, Weeks’s novel surprised me with its nonlinear meshing of queer desire for a heterosexual best-friend & drug addiction. I’m generally immediately bored by drug novels, mostly because I don’t think reading about people doing drugs is interesting in any capacity (though as a fan of Burroughs I’m clearly cool with people who take drugs and then write about things other than the drugs they’re taking), but Weeks’s novel manages to carry a narrative of drug addiction without swerving into the simultaneously self-satisfied & romantically desperate tone that a lot of addiction fiction holds, all the while exploring the life of a protagonist who is really more interested in life than “making the right choices.” As much as I have a tendency to prefer things other than character-driven fiction, it’s the “I” of Zipper Mouth that makes it interesting & engaging, and well worth checking out. There’s a lot of interesting tension that comes from a narrative in which a queer protagonist ends up making poor decisions based on the lust of another, and it’s kind of something that I think hits home a lot and isn’t necessarily often-explored within a queer context. You can read a fantastic excerpt that takes on a whole new context within the novel over at Vice.
Ettore Sottsass Metaphors
Initial reading, 08/12/2010:When I need to feel excited about having ideas and things that can be done I read books on architecture, conceptual art, earthworks, etc. This basically combines all those things and makes me want to start writing, immediately, every time I do so much as think about it. Sottsass takes space, empty lost space, and fills it up with the most beautiful ideas, it’s really no wonder that he achieved so much success in the world of design. This book, even as a book, is something wonderful to hold, it’s large but the binding is perfect (it’s from SKIRA, which is a publisher you recognize if you read in the realm that I do), and it’s just really fucking beautiful.
I have spent this summer thinking about objects and structures, and how installations can approach this abstracted [ontology] and structures I’ve been thinking of–what end they can serve–how I can construct them.
Now, having seen this work of Sottsass’s, I basically know how I can come to terms with all of it, since this book demonstrates many of the ideas I’ve been thinking of, and does so in a really terrific way. The titular interplay (the imposition of language on structures and objects and scenes) roots the objects into larger ideas, abstractions of concepts, and then when photographed, these because sort of distanced signifiers in a really exciting way.
Second reading, 11/09/2010:
This is still absolutely glorious, and I want all of the ideas to live in my head and never ever leave. It is imperative that I look further into Sottsass.
One of the metaphors is entitled “IN MANY ROOMS MURDERS ARE DECIDED” and the image, black and white, features an odd sort of landing strip (perhaps the visual indicator of a grave, depth lacking depth), surrounded by four wooden poles on boxes, the boxes painted white with winding black lines, atop each pole a bundle of leaves and a flag, string surrounding the poles to structurally space a room. I get so excited.
Mercury – Anna Kavan
As [one of my friends] said, this is basically a conglomeration of Kavan’s Ice (perhaps even an alternate narrative of it) and late-70s Robbe-Grillet, which means two things: 1) that i’m totally fucking into it, and 2) [that it] further strengthens the ideas I’ve had that classify Kavan & Robbe-Grillet as similar (if I were a PhD student in lit studies I would probably make that my dissertation, or something, who knows).I have been reading Anna Kavan for only two years, I think, having finished something like 4 or 5 of her books, but that number will only grow because she is completely wonderful and astounding. Mercury seems to be a “minor” text of a “minor” author, but it’s really this incredible fever dream of violent sexuality and absence. She writes books like Robbe-Grillet except, maybe, better. She was addicted to heroin and kept it a secret. She destroys worlds as she builds them.
But the whole narrative floats by in a fugue state, situations are repeated both intertextually with Ice and as incidents that had already been dreamed of or remembered within the diegesis of the book itself. Kavan is so cold in her writing and I absolutely love it.
Mezza Voce – Anne-Marie Albiach
Mostly, I feel, regarding this book, I just need to express enthusiasm. The way I respond to poetry is similar to how I respond to experimental films & videos: I have an incredibly difficult time articulating my response, and, generally, this is because my interaction with the text (if it’s really something fantastic), is [purely] an experience.I spent a lot of time this year reading & researching écriture (which eventually I will make a post specifically about), of which Anne-Marie Albiach is, perhaps, one of the best. My entire perception of poetry was destroyed by my encounters with these French authors this year, to the point where anything different is hard to swallow. Albiach takes the book as the book and turns it into the book as an experience. The narrative of the page, literally, there is not something at the level of the sentence, there is something at the level of the book, and that, I think, is some serious next level shit.
With Albiach this is very particular, intentional, as it is with most écriture. She even says, at one point: “retract. // the practice of pronominal / fiction // or / represent // horizons / «cataclysms»” (there is, of course, much more white space for the text to perform within on the actual page). And this is worth noting: while I have some idea that the white space of the page is very important as a performative space in much of French écriture, Albiach, in my somewhat-limited experience, really uses the space in a way that commits to something beyond pacing.
Of course, what makes this stand above everything is something entirely subjective: the fact that while reading this, I reacted. Affective text made me pause, stop, chew my lunch slower. I was not experiencing an emotion vicariously, rather, the text was an experience in its own right, to a major degree.
(Un)built – Raimund Abraham
Abraham is amazing. His imaginary houses remind me a bit of a couple of Emilio Ambasz’s buildings (House for Lovers in particular), except they’re even more… metaphysical? Ambasz’s structures are poetic, while Abraham’s are both poetic and conceptual, which for my tastes edges him a bit higher up in terms of “most awesome architects ever.” The essays aren’t mind-blowing, but they are solid and provide a context for many of Abraham’s most perplexing buildings. I can’t even really articulate right now how brilliant this guy’s work is.When I say, in my notes, “I can’t even really articulate [...] how brilliant this guy’s work is,” that’s basically how I still feel. I am, literally, obsessed with architects who spends all of their time designing impossible(ly beautiful) houses, and Raimund Abraham has designed some of the most heart-wrenchingly astounding unbuilt houses I have ever seen.
Violence of the White Page: Contemporary French Poetry – ed. Stacy Doris, Philip Foss, Emmanuel Hocquard
This is, perhaps, the most coherent & successful écriture “compilation” that I’ve yet encountered. Some great work by authors I was not familiar with yet, and some fucking stellar lines from Collobert, Giroux, and particularly, oh my god, particularly Alain Veinstein, who’s short work that’s included is not in the in-print Burning Deck collection but is astounding.Yeah, more of this écriture shit, maybe actually tied with Sub/Stance issue 7/8 (or whatever, the issue on French poetry) in terms of collecting and displaying the fucking gems of this “genre.” The things I highlight above are the best of course (Alain Veinstein’s slim collection from Burning Deck probably would have held this 5th spot if it weren’t for the fact that I liked his “poem” in this collection even more). An entire, short, Collobert text that is not available anywhere else completely, I don’t even know guys, it’s not hyperbole, like fries my brain to the point where I am screaming WHAT WHAT WHAT IS EVEN HAPPENING HERE on the page, me jumping up and down just feeling it. Here, the PDF is online, how about instead of reading my ramblings on it, you just read it yourself:
CLICK ME DUH
THE RESTFor these I will only post my initial reactions, I think
Notebooks, 1956-1978 – Danielle Collobert
Enviable sad desperate lifestyle — but, stylistically interesting, approaches the realm of her poetry, which slays always — reminds me of Alix’s Journal, but sadder, even more desperate — writing & death.Kasmir – Jon Leon
Jon Leon at his densest, literally, in what one could call a novella, or a short story, or something, but you know what, fuck it, let’s forget about genre or titles or words that classify, because I think this is maybe the cornerstone of Leon’s work, I think this is the precipice. The book builds with an intensity, fractures near the end; it’d be too easy to just say that “everything falls apart” because it doesn’t, it just builds and sort of explodes into the impossible, there is death of [ ] but it doesn’t even fucking matter.Jannis Kounellis – R.H. Fuchs
This is, perhaps, the most engaging catalogue I’ve ever read. There is little direct info on Kounellis in here other than some biographical information that trickles into Fuchs’s text. Mostly it is Fuchs speaking of his engagement with Kounellis’s art. Fuchs seems to have been Kounellis’s personal friend, and as such, there is insight into Kounellis’s mostly impenetrable body of work that I doubt is available elsewhere.Alix’s Journal – Alix Cléo Roubaud
Fantastic. I have a bourgeois tendency to overly self-identify with fractured artistic women. Is this weird? It’s not necessary, but as an asthmatic who smokes and goes through periods of depression related to a complete lack of mastery in any medium, I could grok this hard.I also talked about Alix’s Journal here.
Alix’s photographs are completely beautiful, and her poetic fragments are just as good as much of the poetry being written at the same time. Her ideas on photography are also very developed & strong, certain things that are very helpful to something I’m working on now.
The syntax Alix uses also successfully creates a very personal space for her diaristic commentary to grow inside of. It shapes it in a way that makes it exclusively hers.
Night of Lead – Hans Henny Jahnn
Jahnn’s jaunt into an endless night of darkness is both sensual & utterly bleak, a nightmare trip that ends with a confrontation of the younger Self who is called Other, and the death of the Self, the end of night. Jahnn is an amazing author, and his writing fucking cuts hard– I’d almost compare him to filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux in terms of a narrative surrounded by pure affect, and Jahnn did this 50 years ago. As this is a segment of a larger novel, I would, of course, LOVE to read the who…moreJahnn’s jaunt into an endless night of darkness is both sensual & utterly bleak, a nightmare trip that ends with a confrontation of the younger Self who is called Other, and the death of the Self, the end of night. Jahnn is an amazing author, and his writing fucking cuts hard– I’d almost compare him to filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux in terms of a narrative surrounded by pure affect, and Jahnn did this 50 years ago. As this is a segment of a larger novel, I would, of course, LOVE to read the whole thing.Night of Lead is also briefly mentioned here.
Seven Controlled Vocabularies… – Tan Lin
My only commentary I have recorded anywhere on this is the post I made a while ago.
The Notebook, The Proof, The Third Lie – Agota Kristof
I managed to blow through all 460 or so pages of this book within 24 hours, but instead of feeling concerned I wasn’t reading close enough, I really feel much more enraptured with the narrative that’s here, and closer to how the three books interact than I would be otherwise.Kassandra and the Wolf – Margarita Karapanou
THE NOTEBOOK, in it’s directness & cruelty is, perhaps, my favorite of the three (though I would insist that the three are most successful as a whole), and presents such objective statements (and such statements are even clarified as such) that the icy-cold’s narrative space is suddenly disrupted at the end.
THE PROOF is first to suggest that our first book was perhaps not “reality,” even in the sense of diegetic reality, which in it’s own right is sort of an obvious but incredibly powerful (in this case) “post-modern” method that it’s shocking and amazing at the same time.
THE THIRD LIE manages to split itself in two, a necessary function, when the characters have been doubling each other throughout the entire trilogy. And a stunning conclusion, perhaps, that is both sad and terrible, but utterly apt.
This was basically perfect. Certainly one of the best books of fiction that I’ve read recently. Karapanou’s words and fragments are so incredibly affective and twisted, there’s some sort of inherent poetry due to the fact that she’s tapped into the void and turned it into a child’s life.From the Book to the Book: An Edmond Jabès Reader
This is fucking killer, Jabès is amazing. His presence on the page, within the page, the book, everything. Also interesting is the fact that, despite the fact this reader holds excerpts from, what, like 13 books? It feels like a cohesive whole. I am very curious about Jabès now.House of Cards – Peter Eisenman
“To write, Jabès observes, ‘is to accept, or better yet, to seek a permanent confrontation with dead.’ Never is writing a victory over nothingness; to the contrary, it is ‘an exploiting of nothingnes…moreThis is fucking killer, Jabès is amazing. His presence on the page, within the page, the book, everything. Also interesting is the fact that, despite the fact this reader holds excerpts from, what, like 13 books? It feels like a cohesive whole. I am very curious about Jabès now.
“To write, Jabès observes, ‘is to accept, or better yet, to seek a permanent confrontation with dead.’ Never is writing a victory over nothingness; to the contrary, it is ‘an exploiting of nothingness through the word.’” (xi)
“The book is a labyrinth. You think you are leaving and only get deeper. You have no chance of running off. For that, you must destroy the work. You cannot make up your mind to do that. I notice your anxiety mounting. Slowly but surely. Wall after wall. Who awaits you at the end? Nobody. Who will leaf through you, decipher, love you? No doubt, nobody. You are alone in the night, alone in the world. Your solitude is the solitude of death. Another step. Somebody will perhaps come and pierce the wall, will find a way out for you. Alas. Nobody ventures here. The book bears your name. Your name clenched like a fist clenched on a sword.” (89-90)
“‘Invisible door. All houses are restored to the air. Did you know that emptiness is a sequence of doors l it by yesterday’s light?’” (138)
Eisenman is fucking mind blowing. What he is after, at least in his first six “Houses” (and apparently in House X and House 11a as well), is the zero degree of architecture. This is interesting to me as I am pretty obsessively interested in the zero degree of writing, and to a lesser extent of art in general (and experience, of course, I imagine the impossible is at the zero degree), and had never even considered what the zero degree of architecture would be (though I do have, scribbled in my notebook “hypertext fiction degree zero? web design degree zero?”). Luckily, in his praxis, Eisenman sets out to do that himself.I also wrote about this (somewhat) extensively at my personal blog.
Fur – Liliane Giraudon
The first few stories in here just kind of floated past my subconscious when I read them, but as soon as I hit “The Complex” (I think that’s the title? Book’s at home, I’m bad with titles, will check when I get there) I became so fully engrossed that I could barely pause between stories. Giraudon writes with a very strange tone– it’s distanced, but emotional and hyper-present at the same time, detached but descriptive, enigmatic but banal. For some reason I kept thinking of apocryphal author Jesus Ignacio Aldapuerta’s collection The Eyes, but probably only because it was another totally alien short story collection that sucked me in slowly.The Ice Palace – Tarjei Vesaas
I think I need to read this again, and soon, at least some of the stories, because it’s so alien but beautiful, really great.
Reminds slightly, you could say, of Anna Kavan. Peter Owens has said that this is his favorite book he published, and I am very glad it was published. Vesaas creates a narrative space in a way that is similar (though admittedly far more relenting) to the way Philippe Grandrieux constructs his cinematic nightmares. A narrative runs through, perspectives change from first to second to third person without warning (a key to the creation of glissements, but there are no real slidings here, not in…moreReminds slightly, you could say, of Anna Kavan. Peter Owens has said that this is his favorite book he published, and I am very glad it was published. Vesaas creates a narrative space in a way that is similar (though admittedly far more relenting) to the way Philippe Grandrieux constructs his cinematic nightmares. A narrative runs through, perspectives change from first to second to third person without warning (a key to the creation of glissements, but there are no real slidings here, not in the Kavan/Robbe-Grillet way). It’s all so very beautiful as well. The titular ice palace is a specter haunting Siss, and the untold words of Unn create the tension that we ride for over a hundred pages. The book is a narrative space a reader enters and feels. Ideal. Really, really wonderful.The Arab Apocalypse – Etel Adnan
The book is incredible, violent in it’s approach, Adnan’s marks all over the pages, obtuse hieroglyphs of the sun, a burning, a direction. The sun the sun the sun is everywhere in here and that is perfect. I’m not even sure exactly what it was going but I know that I loved it and that I want to lose myself into the space of the page. My reading was distracted, but even distracted I could hold the weight here.Between the Two – Todd Hido
Of the three I’ve read so far, I think this is the Hido work that works best for me. There is a sense of performativity in the work here, in how it’s selected. I should clarify when I say [performativity] that I [am] not think[ing] of, say, Gregory Crewdson, rather, it seems to me that Hido’s is an object-oriented performativity, he lets spaces act out enigmatic narratives. The empty spaces reveal a mood in a method similar to the portraits of the “models” (perhaps I have some predisposed bias or archetype going here, but it’s hard for me not to read most of these women as sex workers, mainly due to significant signifiers such as close and pose).Pim & Francie: “The Golden Bear Days” – Al Columbia
As usual in Hido’s work, it is the light which creates a precise emotional atmosphere, and here there is, it seems to me, more of a careful arrangement of the order of the images, adding up to a narrative atmosphere that carries the viewer through the 76 pages of the monograph.
This is absolutely glorious. This is also, potentially, the first comic artist who’s work I’ve seen that actual generate the atmosphere of terror based on sequence and drawing alone. Which, perhaps, is why I specifically liked this book so much: while it proposes itself as a “collection of unfinished work,” reading it as a finished narrative makes it, in my opinion, much more interesting, allowing it to work on different, more exciting levels than it would have if it were just a “normal comic.” The mixture of unfinished images with fully finished images, repetition, narrative holes, makes it much more sinister as a story, because there is always something unknown. One page will find the titular characters scared for their lives, while in the next Pim will be torturing goldfish as Francie prepares to go into the haunted forest alone. Really amazing stuff.The Book of Lazarus – Richard Grossman
What’s amazing about this book is how it works. Other reviews on Goodreads complain that the “bulk of the story is established in the first half of the book,” when really that’s hardly true. All the “narrative” section of this book does is establish the larger frame work that everything else fits into.The Squirrel Machine – Hans Rickheit
Each section of this book, wildly different from the last (aside from the ‘maxims’ and ‘martyrs’ that punctuate the whole book), move in and out of each other to create a larger idea, concept, than what the paltry 100 pages of narrative could every bring (which, perhaps an unwillingness to engage with the book-as-idea rather than book-as-100-page-narrative-plus-ephemera is why the book has such low ratings here).
The ‘martyrs’ that punctuate the entire book are presented as photographs next to a 5×7 index card with a magic marker scrawl describing how the man or woman was killed trying to save someone else. Again and again throughout this book, we see evidence of men and women who lose everything trying to save someone else. This sense of sacrifice, this martydom lies in direct contrast to the incident of violence that lies at the core of the book (the incident that brings all of the parts to where they are in terms of narrative and idea). It is perhaps worth pointing out that this is Grossman’s “purgatory” in terms of his trilogy. This is not hell, this is not heaven. This is a static place.
And in the narrative, all art static, for the most part. Characters are staying still and not moving, afraid, and eventually dead. Everybody is either angry or has given up.
There’s an amazing sense of artificiality in the ‘narrative’ section of the book (i.e. ‘bad dialogue’), but I think that’s almost intentional on Grossman’s part, as it highlights the fact that “this is fake, this is not the final product, this is a part of the whole,” because if we accept the narrative section as the whole the entire ideology of the book is over looked.
The political counter-culture maxims that punctuate the book in tangent with the ‘martyrs’ are often pretty incredible.
The constant stream of ideology help to open up the political headspace of the characters we are moving through.
Perhaps my favorite part of the book as a whole is the 70-page long sentence that I’m sure is the target of many dissatisfied reader’s complaint. For me the sentence is magic, and admittedly drug-tinged, but more in an Altered States (Ken Russell’s film) kinda way than a over-compensating Hunter S. Thompson kind of way. The formal situation of a 70 page sentence forces an urgency: as a reader you have nowhere to rest. This moves things quickly in an echo of what the section’s narrator is “experiencing.”
There are other minor sections that expand the narrative’s scope and affect in pretty wild ways, but they are ostensibly minor sections so I will not comment much on them.
The book as a whole ends with a poem from the titular Lazarus, who haunts the back of every section in the book. It’s certainly not an ending that “hits you hard,” but I think if Grossman had resorted to the ending-as-epiphany it would demean the entire structure of the book. This way the ending is subtle and sad, the reflections in a damaged mind of a life lived in pain when all he was after was love.
I was amazed by Rickheit’s Chloe and even more by his Chrome Fetus comics, but this manages to outdo all of them. It’s completely wonderful and really fucking just incredible. There is pure joy in Rickheit’s art work (I would say at least half of the panels in the book are devoid of text). I love this, so much that I can’t really develop anything articulate to say about it.Leaves of Hypnos – René Char
“The color black contains the impossible alive. Its mental field is the seat of all the unexpected, of all paroxysms. Its prestige escorts poets and prepares men of action.”Sweet Sweat – Justine Frank
I feel like this text could engage with Bataille’s Guilty. They both address the second world war, and they are both concerned with a limit, an existence, and the void (Bataille being one of my primary interests, it’s worth pointing out that, according to biographical information, Char and Bataille were friends. This is apparent, I think, in Char’s writing.)
This is aphorism as poetry. I can feel the impossible in these words, but there is a more tangible strain present here than in Bataille (and it is in the arms of Bataille that I have to approach this book). It is beautiful, but there is the terrible war that runs beneath it, that lifts the words to the elevated position in which they sit.
Also, the Mushinsha-Grossman edition of this book is completely beautiful.
“Lucidity is the wound nearest the sun.”
This is really incredible. I love reading art theory & I love reading about artists who wrote smut, & I love when apocryphal things dovetail with the reality of specific subcultures that are also awesome on their own. The pornographic novel at the heart of this book is amazing in it’s own right, revisiting tropes that can be found in many classics from Sade to Bataille to Bernard Noel’s Castle of the Communion to Andre Pieyre de Mandiargue’s Portrait of an Englishman in his Chateau. There’s a rich tradition and Roee has inserted his fictional artist’s fictional novel immediately inside of it, and it’s fantastic.Sarah Kane: Complete Plays
These are astoundingly good plays, this is an author I seriously wish I would have discovered earlier on in my career as a reader. These plays convey an incredibly amount of emotion, yet abstract it to a degree that it becomes even more powerful, and the progression from play to play, as Kane developed as a writer, is so incredible to see.Ice – Anna Kavan
Kavan’s detachment works to such an amazing point here: there is a disaster going on, but instead of fretting, a man looks for a woman, for no real given reason other than whim. And the narrative, one of the best examples of Robbe-Grillet’s “glissements,” moving from one narrative thread to another with invisible transitions, and by this i mean you get from narrative strand A to narrative strand B without even noticing you moved, it’s incredible. The overwhelming ice, Kavan in novel length is still as affecting as Kavan in short story length.Formless: A User’s Guide – Yve-Alain Bois & Rosalind Krauss
This is really a fantastic piece of work, and there are two immediate reasons:
01) The application of Bataille’s ideas (mostly ideas found in his Documents period) to works of art really, for me at least, helped to illuminate concepts that weren’t as clear to me before. It expanded my realm of thought in terms of Bataille scholarship and lead to a few moments of epiphany that were very much needed to put me back on track regarding my own work with Bataille.
02) The sort of recontextualizing that Krauss & Bois forced me to do here made me reconsider art as a whole, another thing that was sorely needed in my life (blah blah blah bourgeois self-identification I know), and really helped to extend my own reading of modernism, as the readings here make more sense to me than Greenberg & followers (ugh). Also reintroduced the magical prose of Krauss, who writes strong words and ideas in a very comprehensive manner.
I used to be hesitant towards October magazine because I had never read it and I knew vague details about the split over Robert Morris/Lynda Benglis debacle, and that gave me some sort of weird impression that October was bound to be more conservative (another thing I never bothered to verify). Of course, it turns out that October seems to just be a lot more theory based and significantly less commercial, which is something I can jive with.
I dogeared & bookmarked & highlighted a lot from this book that I need to revisit, so I’ll add some more commentary after I go through the marked parts a few more times.
Theory of Tables by Emmanuel Hocquard
Hocquard is a French poet very much in line with the écriture stuff that I’ve been obsessing over since June. He was one of the editors of Orange Export Press in France, which released a whole bunch of awesome shit including a 600 page anthology that I really wish somebody would translate into English. He also translated, with Claude Royet-Journoud (another favorite of mine), several collections of contemporary (at the time) American poetry into French, which helped to strengthen the connection/exchanges between American and French poetry in the 1980s (this connection is, it seems, something that academics love to talk about). He’s basically an all around important dude.
He has more work available in English than many of the neglected French poets to date, but like most of this stuff, it’s mostly out of print or only available from small presses like Red Dust & Burning Deck. He’s always got work in contemporary French poetry anthologies, but this book length work is the first time that he’s blown me away. In the afterward to the book, Hocquard notes
In the summer of ’89, I began picking up pebbles and bits of glass from the beaches of Paros and Delos. Later, from the streets of Moscow and Leningrad, colored fragments of facades, and lumps of tar. In the summer of ’90, lapilli, and violet earth from under the volcanoes of Madeira. I saved these objects in white envelopes on which I scrupulously noted the exact place, day and time of collection.Hocquard’s style doesn’t, necessarily, rely on images or even metaphors to carry the weight of the poem. Rather, there is almost a dialog with space, a phenomenological approach to objects. Here’s my favorite fragment, #15:
At home, I emptied separately the contents of the envelopes onto tables, and immersed myself in the contemplation (theory) of pebbles. For months I observed them and committed my observations to writing. I had become, in sum, the translator of pebbles.
You say a crater is completely redAlso, CA Conrad gushes about its greatness in a goodreads review, so if you don’t want to take my word for it, take his.
Goat, eat my tables
this morning a man fell down in the bus
A man wrote a book on the tables
does he know of me?
You were at the center of the poem
but you are no longer the center of the poem
A spiral incised with arrows
After the rooms open to sky
your voice says a space is empty
among the stones
Alexandra by Jon Leon
Jon Leon, by now, is mostly known for his prose-poetry, his blocks of text reveling in baseness and decadence as a pure subjective bliss. As Dan Hoy says, “What Leon understands, better than anybody else alive, is that poetry is pure forever; and a poem is whatever it takes, even if, like Rimbaud, it takes abandoning poetry forever to pull it off. ”
Alexandra is, I would say, Leon’s last chapbook he published before he “abandon[ed] poetry forever.” More than the paragraphs, Alexandra actually looks like poetry from the consideration of separating poetry from prose. But there is no classicism here, no sonnet or articulated form. The text moves through various shapes, and there is a true sense of the heterogeneous here. Left aligned enjambed sentences are contrasted with paragraphs (foreshadowing what was to come), only to be met by text that jumps back and forth across the page. The ideas–the plot, so to speak–here is purely what you would expect from Leon, but it’s less base. There’s a level of artifice that Leon is aware he is using to hold these ideas, and ultimately it works out fantastically.
The Night of Lead by Hans Henny Jahnn
there was a landscape the woman’s neck
With its disappearance a whole dimension of human activity and passivity has been de-eroticized. The environment from which the individual could obtain pleasure–which he could cathect as gratifying almost as an extended zone of the body–has been rigidly reduced. Consequently, the “universe” of libidinous cathexis is likewise reduced. The effect is a localization and contraction of libido, the reduction of erotic to sexual experience and satisfaction.
in a meadow
only poses as an alternative
by its very name
but you know
the first kind of enchantment
For my money Jahnn is one of the most criminally under-recognized writers of the 20th century. Perhaps this is because Jahnn was homosexual, or perhaps this is because Jahnn’s work is so incredibly terrifying and filled with despair. Of course, the fact that he is criminally under-recognized in the US means in the last couple of decades he’s achieved some sort of notoriety in France, where most of his books have been translated, but in English he is almost entirely absent (the only entire book of his, which is actually part of a larger trilogy, to be translated into English is the fucking-amazing work The Ship). Until recently this novella length work (which I have been informed is actually just a segment of a larger novel) was still in print from the inimitable Atlas Press, but it appears that its run of 300 copies has finally sold out. Which is ultimately unfortunate, because it was the only remaining translation of Jahnn in print for years.
The story is terrifying and filled with despair, two things that populate all of the limited amount of Jahnn’s work that I’ve read. The story follows Matthieu as he travels through a city he is a stranger to in the depth of night. He encounters several characters who all end up being terrifying and sad, yet still approach a level of abject eroticism that is tormented by the night that our protagonist comes to realize is endless.
It can be said that one can see early hints of, say, Thomas Ligotti in Jahnn’s work, but while Ligotti revels in the darkness, Jahnn seems earnestly trapped by it (which, fittingly enough, is almost literally what happens in the narrative here). For my money, Jahnn’s writing is the closest equivalent to the cinematic techniques of filmmaker Philippe Grandrieux: both use non-diegetic images and signifiers that serve no narrative purpose other than to heighten the tension, the tone, permeating the work. And this is done in incredible ways.
Here’s a short excerpt that almost strikes me as being in the vein of Dennis Cooper, though, of course 50 years earlier:
“Don’t you have any parents?”
“No,” answered the youth.
“No one who finds you pleasing — who would be ready to help you?”
“Just one, who likes me when he sees my blood flow. He injures me daily — and worse by the day.”
“You’re lying . . .”
“He wishes to dismember me, take me apart like a clock. Until now I thought he had the right — that there was no protesting. I remained silent. Merely whimpered. I had no will. Today he looked deep inside me — through a yawning gash . . .”
“It is your right to lie,” said Matthieu, “the lie is your protection, your handmaiden who praises you or makes you pitiable. Till now I, too, have sought refuse in the truth and sincerity I could attain . . . They are no protection, as we discover — but place us at their mercy.”