The Parable of David Shields’s How Literature Saved My Life
by Greg Gerke
My Mississippi writer friend gave me David Shields’s new book. Interesting, I said. I wasn’t sure I would read David’s new book—I looked at it askance, then I put it back in its wrapping paper. I was surprised they still made hardcover books.
Tell me about the Guillotine Project.
Guillotine is an ongoing series of handbound chapbooks with letterpress-printed covers, and each chapbook is a single essay. I’ve been making zines for years, and had wanted to take the leap and publish other people’s work for a while, but wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be doing. And then last year I sort of stumbled into the opportunity to publish the full version of Vanessa Veselka and Lidia Yuknavitch’s conversation about violence at the Believer blog, which I had loved and found completely brilliant, as well as my friend Bojan Louis’s talk about genocide and book-banning in Arizona.
a.k.a. “Playing catch up with the stacks .”
Once again I have a heaping pile of awesome-looking unread materials just waiting to be experienced…
In part one of this series, I introduced a network of ideas aimed at rethinking our approach to criticism by foregrounding observation over interpretation, and participation over judgment, by asking what a text does rather than what it means.
In part two, I expanded on those ideas.
In part three, A D Jameson unwittingly offered a beautiful example of the erotics I have proposed, following the final imperative of Susan Sontag’s essay “Against Interpretation” — which, for the record is not called “Against A Certain Kind of Interpretation” but is in fact titled “Against Interpretation” — where she writes, “In place of a hermeneutics we need an erotics of art.” To destroy a work of art, as Jameson’s example shows and as Sean Lovelace has shown (1 & 2) and as Rauschenberg showed when he erased De Kooning, certainly counts as an erotics, which for me far surpasses the dullardry of interpretation.
In part four, A D Jameson unfortunately embarrasses himself by indulging his obvious obsession with this series. Whereas one self-appointed guest post might seem clever or even naughtily apropos, two self-appointed guest posts (in addition to all of his contributions in the comment sections) conjures the image of a petulant child acting out in hopes of garnering his father’s attention. (Daddy sees you, Adam. He’s just busy doing work right now.) Yet, despite his cringe-worthy infatuation, the example he offers is an effective one. I applaud it. (As Whitman said, “Do I contradict myself? / Very well then I contradict myself, / I am large, I contain multitudes.”)
This time, I’ll do a little recapitulation, elaboration, and I’ll introduce other lines of flight. But first, an important note about the necessity of revaluation. (Following Nietzsche’s project, of course. Itself predicated on Emersonian antifoundationalism, of course.)
In Part One of this series, I introduced a network of ideas aimed at rethinking our approach to criticism by foregrounding observation over interpretation, and participation over judgment, by asking what a text does rather than what it means. This time, I’ll expand on those ideas.
The young girl in the picture above demonstrates an angle on the critical practice I proposed. She also brings to mind what Nietzsche said about the ideal reader in Ecco Homo, “When I try to picture the character of a perfect reader I always imagine a monster of courage and curiosity as well as of suppleness, cunning and prudence—in short a born adventurer and explorer.”
The critic as monster, performer, participant, adventurer, explorer.
Nancy & The Dutch
by Carrie Lorig & Nick Sturm
Art by Camilla Frankl-Slater
*FREE* echapbook by NAP
A collaboration in erasure, expansion, redaction, rearrangement, re-appropriation, history revocation, history reallocation, language morphing, silencing, voicing, performing, ignoring, and prophesying the president of my childhood, Mr. Ronald Reagan, and his wife Nancy. It’s a beautiful estrangement. Check it out!!!
Here is a list of the writers and films, which includes Laura Carter on Desperately Seeking Susan, Carrie Lorig on Divine Horsemen, Gina Abelkop on Meek’s Cutoff, Danielle Pafunda on Jennifer’s Body, and many, many more.
Here is an explanation of its inception.
Here is Becca Klaver’s “Teaser Guide” to the series.
And here are the contributions thus far.
There is a moment at the very end of this Vice documentary called True Norwegian Black Metal where the subject of the film, Gaahl of Gorgoroth, says ominously, “I don’t think that you ask me the right questions. I don’t think you’re focusing on what’s being told.”
The interviewer responds, “Guide me.”
Gaahl then proceeds to zone out for three long minutes. His eyes remain open, but his expression becomes blank as a corpse. The filmmaker wisely resists cutting the camera or prompting Gaahl to speak. Instead, we are forced to watch him. At the end of his silent stare his eyes widen dramatically. Without speaking, he shifts his stare to the interviewer and raises his wine glass to his lips.
We await a response. Nothing happens. We await an explanation, a moment of clarity, resolution, some type of understanding. None is revealed.
“Don’t ask what it means or what it refers to,” the artist Eva Hesse famously told viewers, “Don’t ask what the work is. Rather, see what the work does.”
The image of Gaahl’s face as he sits motionless. What does it do?
Same guidelines apply here as with the other two: 20 titles published in 2012, randomly arranged, omitting publications by HTMLGIANT crew, and skewed toward my own aesthetic interests.
Without further adieu…
Last week I did a Nonfiction Shopping Guide. Now I’ve got this list of fiction titles published in 2012, for all you last minute shoppers.
Like the previous list, I’m going to select twenty titles. And I’ll present them in no particular order.
These obviously represent my own interests and therefore omit plenty of titles I’m sure were great.
Also, I omitted titles by HTMLGIANT crew, despite the fact that a bunch of us have really awesome works of fiction out this year.
An absolute ton of killer nonfiction titles got published in 2012. In fact, when it comes time to reveal my “Ten Best Books of 2012″ it’s likely that half (if not more) of my choices will be nonfiction.
For the purposes of this post, I’m going to select twenty titles. And I’ll present them in no particular order. These obviously represent my own interests (film, philosophy, fashion, art, music, and literature) and therefore omit plenty of titles I’m sure were great, but fall outside my purview: politics, economics, etc.
If you’re like me and haven’t even begun shopping yet, hopefully this list will help you find something for someone.