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What’s so great about art?

Joseph Kosuth, "One and Three Chairs" (1965)

Joseph Kosuth, “One and Three Chairs” (1965)

This is a response to Dianna Dragonetti’s recent post here, which is itself a response to Janey Smith’s “Fuck List,” originally published at this site. It’s also a response to the numerous comments on Dragonetti’s post. Because it seemed to me that, as of this writing, a lot of the debate over Smith’s post, and the book that’s apparently resulted from it (which I’ve not seen), has taken the form, “Is what Smith did art?” Mind you, I doubt this post will settle that debate, but I hope it provides

  1. some historical context I think relevant to Smith’s post;
  2. plus an argument why, at the end of the day, I don’t think that it really matters whether Smith was making art.

I guess I should also note, in passing, that my name was the first name on Smith’s “Fuck List” (thanks to the magic of alphabetization). Since I find myself (along with numerous others) the object of some obscure desire, perhaps I can offer a few thoughts on the subject.

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Haut or not / 9 Comments
September 17th, 2014 / 11:00 am

Reviews

25 Points: Crystal Eaters

crystal18220681
Crystal Eaters
by Shane Jones
Two Dollar Radio, 2014
172 pages / $16.00 buy from Two Dollar Radio or Amazon

0. (is) The number of fucks Shane Jones gave when he wrote Crystal Eaters.

1. Like let’s be honest. Crystal Eaters really, is Shane Jones’ giant middle finger to the publishing industry and I love it. (Like, New York City, aka: where the big book-type stuff happens). (*cough* *cough* Penguin Books *cough*).

2. I like that Crystal Eaters was released via a small indie press like Two Dollar Radio and not Penguin Books. Really. And I don’t know why.

3. That’s a lie.

4. Actually, I do know why.

5. When Shane Jones wrote that article about his shitty experience with (publishing and editing) Daniel Fights a Hurricane, I kept thinking to myself: so, for his next book, is he going to try and come up with something super-boring and ultra-generic/fake for the suits so they will sign him for another deal or is he just going to keep doing his own thing and not sell out?

6. Crystal Eaters pretty much answered my question.

7. Really, for me, the experience of reading Crystal Eaters felt a little like watching Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain, in the sense that it is a contemporary fable “of what social engineering caused by greed has done to the modern world, but shows us how to live and not give in to a material world.”

8. (Isn’t it weird how the IMDb synopsis for Holy Mountain just blends beautifully with/and works as a sort of faux-narrative for Crystal Eaters?)

9. The cover, I love. It’s this highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800. (Or, at least, what I think looks like a highly colour-fucked version of Elias Martin’s pen drawing of the Dannemora mine circa 1780-1800).

10. And it’s neat to think that the art for Crystal Eaters isn’t anything custom-made (like the covers for Light Boxes and Daniel Fights a Hurricane) but something that comes from something that already existed in this world prior to Shane Jones ever even coming up with Crystal Eaters.

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1 Comment
September 16th, 2014 / 2:30 pm

HTMLGIANT Features

Colum McCann: Why Should I Read YOUR Book ????

colum mccann

ok, Colum, so why should we read YOUR book ???

 

I’m going to answer this question, Rauan, because

 

1) you come well recommended

 

2) I am assuming, here, that you are behaving in good faith

 

&

3) I’m assuming this interview will get better

But, that being said:

You should read my book because it’s masterful and absorbing. Have you read the insightful blurbs on the handsome back? Or how about the glowing reviews and testimonials that precede the brilliant text? Quotes excerpted from places, you know, like the New York Times, Time Magazine and Bookslut.

Also, do you realize I’ve been translated into over 75 languages and that my books are available in airports and minimarts all across the world? Even in America I’m adored by the young, the old and the handicapped. And on top of that my books have been described as “page turners,” “psychologically immaculate,” and “structurally, marvels of audacity rivaling Clare and Spenser.” My books, you might know, have garnered tens of thousands of favourable ratings on Goodreads. (Aren’t you even a little jealous, Rauan? I just checked you out on Goodreads. ha. ha.)

My prose stylings, anyways, to be sure, are the joy of book clubs everywhere and have been heralded “as smooth as butter. . .and just as important.” But I’ve always been a low-key kinda guy and rather than trot out, spin, dazzle and spout all sorts of garbage and vanity I’ll finish you, and my answer, off with this anecdote the meaning of which I think’s crystal clear—

The other day I was lunching in The Village with Kishi Bashi, Junot Diaz and Dan Brown. The food was some kind of casual, fusion Thai, I believe, and the conversation was light and amiable. You might even say “breezy.”

Kishi mused, I think, about repotting what he called a “really aggressive avocado.” Junottransatlantic told about some glitzy navel ring he couldn’t keep his eyes off one night at AWP in a sordid bedroom with a married woman, trying to unleash nearly a decade’s worth of seething, organic frustration. O, it was a gorgeous day! Junot was insatiably tweeting merrily away (I think he’s “Ted Hash-Berryman”), while Dan, on the other hand, just stared off into thrilling space– and we drank (and we drank!) so much cheap, slippery wine and the selfies with the buff young waiter were like an astonished adjective, timeless, incandescent, but fringed also with a kind of predatory nimbus head. And I’m not sure exactly how it happened (O, the Braille of our dreamy lives!!) but suddenly we were talking about the “the relevancy and future of Wisdom Literature in the Western World.”

Junot claimed he could describe “Wisdom Literature” in less than five words. And with no hesitation Kishi claimed he could it under four!! The atmosphere was electric, like a a tiny red umbrella. Or a candle. I could hear violins. I even thought I detected a tired old code in Brown’s stone eyes. They all looked at me. A long silence ensued. I dabbed at the corner of my mouth with a temple-and-elephant embroidered serviette, then stood up, made a small bow, and began:

“Gents, when I was a mere wee lad lurching about on the streets of Killarney I was hijacked once by a dusty, old lad who dragged me into an alleyway, grabbed my crotch and whispered:

FUCK YOU, RAUAN!   FUCK YOU!    FUCK YOU!   FUCK YOU!!

I think Kishi paid the bill that day. with a grin like a neon, rotating skull.

(Rauan Klassnik, 9/2014,  Kirkland, WA)

3 Comments
September 16th, 2014 / 9:00 am

Reviews

A Meditation on Fearless As I Seam by Abigail Zimmer

53681ea904d1d_80495nFearless As I Seam
by Abigail Zimmer
dancing girl press, 2014
$7  Buy from dancing girl press
 

 

 

 

The blood will fill your open spaces.

I can’t get to the woods easily from where I live. I seek quiet in the city parks.

One thing people say about New Yorkers is that they are mean. I’ve found people everywhere to be whatever they are. I think here privacy comes where you make it—often in public.

I came to this book & found privacy. I found intimacy & a new language of woods.

In Pittsburgh Abi took off her shoes & ran in the rain. This was private, intimate. She was alone while we watched.

At a rest stop between Muncie & Akron Abi ran up a grassy hill & disappeared. Josh charged his phone. I took two Advil. “Your friend sure has a lot of energy,” a man said to me. I didn’t respond, gave a half grin. I live in New York, I am a woman. I have been trained in certain ways.

This book feels like nature existing in my hands. There is loss. Fragmented traveling & discovery. I hold this close. I understand.

In Chicago she made late-night toast. A crusty sourdough with goat cheese, cucumber, & olive oil. I knew I liked here right then.

A chapbook is a short breath of intensity. It fills with meaning, longing. We understand it as complete.

I say: when I look at you I believe in growth. When I look at you I feel accepted.

Fearless As I Seam opens with closing. A closing of the world. An entering in with a different set of rules. A new vocabulary. All sense of reasoning—an offering. We walk in / we are met with a greeting, a warning, a hinted loss.

Follow me as I go:

I dress in the red earth. There is no laughter.

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September 15th, 2014 / 10:00 am

Shame? No, not shame. I feel only glee in putting the cone to my mouth and bleating to you all that NOÖ [15] is finally out and that over there is what it looks like. Here is one of those crazy lists to suggest your nudge toward it: shepherds and crosses collaged, feather sisters, tossing phones into the water, animated knife piles, a girl who plays football named Tractor, shadow doves, batshit heroines, sunset cannonballs, peaceful blemishes, new gaps, #FUCKYESOXYGEN, and loving yourself at night. Check it out!

What makes boring poetry boring?

I posted this question on facebook: ‘What makes boring poetry boring?’

People responded with a variety of reasons: no imagination, using tired techniques, failure to innovate, failure to obscure, the smack of phoniness, being too safe, being edgy for the sake of being edgy, cliches, the culture of commodification, not making an emotional connection. All of these make sense. All of these are different.

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Craft Notes / 20 Comments
September 12th, 2014 / 5:39 pm

Reviews

Want For Lion by Paige Taggart

front-cover-taggart-193x300Want For Lion
by Paige Taggart
Trembling Pillow Press, 2014
116 pages / $16  Buy from Trembling Pillow Press or Amazon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“I’ve always demanded more from a sunset,” says Charlotte Gainsbourg in Lars Van Trier’s Nymph()maniac. ‘Sunset’ being beauty at a distance, untouchable object of desire, lion in a cage. Gainsbourg’s character wants to throw punches, to participate in beauty’s creation. No way to interact with a sunset other than blind admiration. No way to intensify pleasure, or ruin it.

Paige Taggart shares this relationship to beauty. It’s not beauty until you draw blood. In Want For Lion, she wages war on meticulousness, employing a poetics of action, a space where beauty stems from ambition and the art of mistake-making. “There are rooms for mistakes, that shit is human, and land, and plant. Like a quilt of gold floating down the river.”

Beauty is not striking a golden pose, but falling well. I recently fell of my bike, completely unprompted, in the middle of a four way intersection, all the cars stopped at the red. A pedestrian asked if I was hurt, shaking his head, holding in laughter. I waved, “Only my pride!” How beautiful could my fall have been had I been wrapped in a quilt of gold?

*

In the section “Starts with Herds,” Taggart starts three poems with the same phrase, each time breaking it differently:

care about nothing

then care about everything

-

care about nothing then

care about everything

-

care about

nothing

then care

about everything

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September 12th, 2014 / 10:00 am