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Garett Strickland

http://www.unwin-dunraven.com

Garett Strickland lives elsewhere. He's the artistic director/producer at Unwin-Dunraven and the editor of PLINTH (forthcoming). He records and performs in a conceptual jazz-noise ensemble called CLOTHES. He's a metaphysician. He makes books and tapes.

THE ZAMBRENO DOLL

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TWO WEEKS AGO I saw on Facebook a comment Kate Zambreno made regarding a review of James Franco’s new book that mentioned Kathy Acker, presumedly in reference to Franco’s ventriloquizing River Pheonix, possibly others. (My exposure to the book is limited to Michael Silverblatt’s Bookworm interview with Franco.) Zambreno’s position was that this comparison is really dumb, completely off-base. In the comments thread, I posted: “Altars are altars.” I was immediately unfriended by Zambreno and thus occluded from the conversation and any subsequent threads, a chess move that — tho clever — strikes me as a bit ridiculous, considering the neutrality of my statement.

The Word is The Word.

I re-requested her friendship and sent the following message:

Probably that Franco & Acker are both Americans of ambiguous sexuality writing within the same 100 year period and using similar devices within hybridized genre is reason enough for it to be mentioned in a review, is my thinking. .. Guarantee Acker got at least a few dozen readers she’d never have had otherwise if the reviewer hadn’t dropped the name, erroneous tho the comparison may be within the world of our specialized knowledge. .. This, admittedly, appealing to that ‘Oprah does good for lit’ kind of sensibility.

Considering I received no response, I regret having put even as much thought as this into a comment placed in tangent with a request to participate in a conversation I’ve got as much right to as any other human being, regardless of the seemingness of my being white or male. The notion of feeling obliged to ask permission to express an opinion, no matter who or what you are, is humiliating. And tho I find the prospect of humiliation somewhat exciting, my conviction to challenge hypocrisy and reductionist thinking — in this case, ongoing invective generalization practiced with impunity — wins out.

: : : : :

Barred from this particular temple, I sit down outside the gates and I weep. What is the cause of my tears? I wonder, palms slick and face hidden from the priestesses streaming in arrival and departure from the pylon. Is it envy? and of what? Have I not got my own good things to feel glad about? Must I access *every* goddess? Why is it I care so much..?

These questions — or simply the act of questioning — are enough to stop my crying. I pick myself up, dust myself off, and return to the keep of my Citadel.

: : : : :

The Zambreno doll arrives in the mail. Part of the ‘Iconoclast Series’ I’ve been collecting. Perhaps one day I’ll be similarly immortalized, tho I have my doubts. I read the copy on the box: “Speaks Over a Dozen Variations of Reactionary Polemic Toward History’s Majority Shareholders”. This seems in bad taste for a number of reasons.

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Massive People / 165 Comments
December 11th, 2013 / 8:50 pm

FIRST BONERS: an awankening

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THE OTHER NIGHT I had yet another great encounter in the Nod House. She and I were both in and outside a film, making out, when I became aware that soon the dream would be over and I’d once again have lost out on an emotionally & physically rewarding relationship. I asked her what other films she’d been in, so I could look her up on IMDB once I was forced back into wakefulness. She went on to list a few, none of which I had heard of — the most interesting of which was a horror film about a toilet with a set of eyes embedded in its tank, facing the wall, which no one ever discovered were there.

In any case, I woke up, sighed, and went about the business of trying to figure out what the fuck planet this *is* anyway.

: : : : :

It would often seem that the women I meet in my dreams, divorced from the sheer mechanics of fantasy, have at times provided a fuller, more complex, and healthier array of experiences than those I’ve been romantically involved with in the waking world — tho certainly not for lack of hope or trying. I’ve fallen in love, been married, known passions unexplored otherwise, and had weepy moments of self-reflexive conversation in which we addressed whether our interaction was founded on past lives, cognitive magnetism aspiring toward actualization, or simply the phantasmal workings of my mind alone. I’ve written of experiences of this sort before.

Regardless, I’ve recently been considering my personal foundations for attraction, no matter their plane of operation. Everyone has their first crushes, grade-school infatuations and the like. Personally, I can’t remember a time when the romantic impulse didn’t thrive inside me. In kindergarten, there was a girl named Leanne Wolff. I tried to convince a friend of mine to help me build a net to use to catch her so she’d marry me. In first grade, braving mutual embarrassment, I knelt and kissed a girl’s hand in front of our entire classroom. Then in second grade, my first official girlfriend, Crystal Shepherd, and, next year, Crystal Lakes. I’ve been steadily heartbroken ever since.

Sexual awakenings, of course, are of a different sort entirely.

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Random / 1 Comment
December 9th, 2013 / 12:40 am

THE GREATEST POEM OF THE 21ST CENTURY SO FAR: Lukas Moodysson’s CONTAINER (2006), the thing in itself (Pt. ONE)

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SAYING EVERYTHING AT ONCE.

Film & Word Spaces / 4 Comments
December 2nd, 2013 / 8:03 am

ALLOW ME TO MANSPLAIN

Random / 1 Comment
December 2nd, 2013 / 7:14 am

THE GRATITUDE TRAP (ThXgiving ReduX Y1)

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[Originally published almost a year ago.]

SOME TIME AGO I had a breakthrough: I discovered I could hate my food. I was at a bar and ordered a burger I knew was a good one. I’d ordered it before and had every reason to look forward to it. I was in a shitty mood tho, so when it arrived, I made it the object of my disdain and aggression. I h(ated) the fucker GONE, right out of existence.

You always hear people say things like, “I demolished that pizza,” or, “I murdered that salmon mousse,” but how often does the appropriate emotion coincide with the act of eating?

Boldly I say, Fuck Sustenance.
Nutritional, cultural, social, or otherwise.

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Craft Notes & Random / 3 Comments
November 29th, 2013 / 4:04 am

WITCH BECKETT: Ben Wheatley’s A FIELD IN ENGLAND

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HERE’S ONE FOR the year-end lists.

Few things are more pointless than commentary on minimalist works. In approaching their skeleton we ourselves are stripped in our arrival, so tho we may have hoped to drape those bones with what little flesh is left, none holds. It slops to the ground. These bones don’t require our witness. They stand just fine on their own.

Similarly, there’s little I can say about A FIELD IN ENGLAND (dir. Ben Wheatley) that won’t in some way color the experience of watching it when it needs no color at all, even in its psychedelia. The film is excellent, and no doubt would lend itself well to studies of altered states and sidereal space.

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And if by chance the film invites or inaugurates a genre?

Let’s say, WITCH BECKETT. I’d gladly welcome more like it.

Here’s the trailer for a taste.

Film / 3 Comments
November 18th, 2013 / 3:45 am

GROT CONCERT

Music / 1 Comment
November 17th, 2013 / 2:03 am

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WHAT GETS YOU OFF ???

O MY MILEY

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CELEBRITIES ARE REPOSITORIES and filters for mass projection, sacrifice and god-form for the global majority who live for the most part vicarious — a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

Miley Cyrus is doing a good job.

I’ve never heard any of her songs, neither now or in her previous incarnation. But neither have I ever heard Sarah Palin’s voice. Those just aren’t the circles of media I move through. It was only yesterday that I learned, for example, that Taylor Swift is not a boy. Some may find this hard to believe. That’s good. I’m bragging and I earned the rights, having passed precariously through more than one minefield of shlock.

A few years ago, when everyone was losing their shit over Lady Gaga, I couldn’t have cared less. And yet, suddenly, I care deeply about what’s going on with Miley Cyrus. Why?

For starters, I grew up in Appalachia where Billy Ray was a household name. I imagine, if I heard the beginning of one of his songs, I would be able to sing along til its end in the same way people have the pledge of allegiance committed to memory. This is not to say I have any enthusiasm for the man’s work. Only that there’s a familiarity I can’t ignore.

As far as the Hannah Montana phenomenon is concerned, I wasn’t privy to any of that either, short of hearing the name amidst the rabble — the case, as stated before, with a great deal of other type pop culture whatever.

Coming back to the point, it takes a special individual to stand up to this much attention. It takes, as well, a lot of careful scheming to stage drama in a world where staged drama is all that happens. And while the publicists are the true unsung heros of anything that grabs our fought-for dismissal spans for the split-fucking-second it takes to click next, it takes no small amount of bravery to say, Sure I’ll be your avatar.

What with the perils of maintaining stature as a scapegoat straw-woman, absorbing and absolving the disgusting crud of our collective pathos and (ugh) zeitgeist.

What with the unsavory realities of child-stardom and being fingerblasted by media moguls since before her pupa stage.

Hannah my Cyrus
Miley mon Always

what your haters truly feel is the guilt of a sexualization that began long before you approached the blurred line of adulthood, and the subsequent resentment of a culture that refuses to own up to it.

Boldly you face forward, a full-fledged woman doing things that grown-ups do. Never apologize. You are not the victim that America in its grossness wants or expects. A triumph, as you are nonetheless our vessel.

Never stop.

Massive People / 1 Comment
November 12th, 2013 / 3:14 am

BEYOND PROPHECY, MY WILLFULNESS, or Nietzsche Destroyed by Fire

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nietzchefire

Special thanks to Mathias Svalina

Random / 9 Comments
November 4th, 2013 / 6:26 pm

LYMEN: Dispatch Two // Of Portland Poetry & Much-Needed Departures

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(( Continuing from here … ))

THE END OF Portland had me in a coatroom under the stairs in my drug dealer’s house, woken every morning by terrible music, passed out nights holding a beer that would spill and soak my clothes and the bedding wadded on the plastic mat I slept on. I was tempted for my own amusement to read this as a condensation of my entire tenure in the city, tho to reduce my time to anything so emblematic would be an exercise in pointlessness.

The closer I got to my day of departure, the more I hated it there. Nevertheless I continued to attend the readings and socials that helped build the rancor I daily banged against.

Ogygia : : : long in need of true critique, a place grown fond of its reputation as pleasure island promised land, and suddenly crowded with poets in a downright Savage Detectives-style way, as tho it had never occurred to anyone to start a band, that *this* was the thing instead; an ongoing, obsessively polite dinner party during which the attendees occasionally excuse themselves to fuck in the bathroom. The main thing is to show up. To be seen wearing clothes. To be in the room with these specific people each week.

Ogygia, with its pervasive culture of DIY craft, has spawned one cottage industry after another. Poetry is no exception.

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That shit is small curd tho, producing a standard of work as forgettable as it is enjoyable, filling out a form that shirks the importance of content in lieu of its value as a means of social exchange. A new chapbook series concocted to showcase its website.

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Random / No Comments
October 23rd, 2013 / 9:27 pm

LYMEN: Dispatch One

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Between any two points in space
you can always draw a straight line
but where is the way
between the same place

– Tomaž Šalamun

: : : : :

AT THE BEGINNING of July, I decided to be homeless. Planning as I am anyway to relocate to Minneapolis later this autumn, I figured I could save some money by constellating the couches of my Portland friends in my last few months, easing the transition and in addition experiencing the place I’ve spent the last decade with untethered eyes, defamiliarize the scapes so long mutually imprinting.

It felt good, taking this risk. Already broke and unemployed with the exception of a few occasional odd jobs whose wages tend to burn away all but immediately, my suddenly being without steady roof seemed dreamily bohemian in a sense far more extreme than has been the case for a long while now.

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I thought of Jarmusch’s first feature, PERMANENT VACATION. I felt inspired. I went to Powell’s and found a used copy of MALDOROR in an edition I’d been looking for for years. This edition appears in the film. Ally, the protagonist, reads a passage leading up to the most brutal scene in the book, before tossing the book onto the table and wearily rubbing his eyes.

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“I’m tired of this book you can have it.”

Parsing to essentials is always gratifying, but I need to read at least two books at a time or else I’m unable to navigate my own consciousness. The affinities *across* the books & films that’re my prime sustenance also form the key that itself contains the door thru which I’m passing, the act of traversal the portal become hallway in a state of suspended liminality I’ve made it my intention to study.

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Random / 5 Comments
August 15th, 2013 / 1:19 am

WRITING WITH LEGS CLOSED

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A FEW YEARS back I was speaking with Teresa Carmody about how much I detest Tao Lin’s writing, citing specifically the fact that, despite claims of sincerity on the part of (who exactly..?), his work seems written in such a way that, responding to any criticism one might level against it, he can adopt, in his frequent policing of all things said about him on the internet, a conveniently opposite view apropos intention.

Specific examples elude me, as I’ve not wasted time reading a hell of a lot of his material.

(For the record, I enjoyed some pieces in his collection BED.)

No doubt my distaste is rooted mostly in what I consider a lack of generosity, as well as my war against all things that come across as glibly numb. Anyways, Teresa told me that Vanessa Place, in reference to the kind of work that maintains a moveable/defensible stance toward whatever one might have to say about it– that she referred to such work as “closed-legs writing”.

I liked that.

: : : : :

At Powell’s the other day I saw a real life copy of Marie Calloway’s book and it made me want to throw up.

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Craft Notes / 60 Comments
June 29th, 2013 / 5:38 am

SILENCE WHILE I STRIP BONES

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HEY I’M DEPTHS. Welcome to rafters.

Hordes & choirs people my nimbus.

I’m the mouth of the Book & the Madness I make does it like this:

I fold your face
I fold your face
I fold your face

end history. WORLD FAIL.

I raise this tundra’s plateau
with just a wave of your femur.

It’s time to bury the sky.

: : : : :

My words an engine prism-breaking
to circumscribe the ring-thing slain

Michael Marduk St. George
Michael Marduk St. George
Michael Marduk St. George

crushed the head of your wyrm & one of fire climbs my staff unto the light fissured out from the hidden room above behind insiding.

I reach into you with all my special arms.
My fingers burgle your nerves of their fortresses.

NO CARAPACE, SARCOPHAGUS

Now comes the Age of the Oprah Nintendo,
we amoeba’d in the House Improvisionary.

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: : : : :

You’ll not see my tongue except to feel it seguing thru you to cancel your day of its dust, each speck worried between buds and in only a moment arriving at the diamond. I was doing this before anything was born.

In the Night-Desert, sentinel & shepherd.

Mountain
cast
and
valley
cradled.

KNOWN SOUND

THAT YOU ARE

MY SON

PERFECT THUNDER

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Random & Word Spaces / 3 Comments
June 28th, 2013 / 12:24 am

THE NO THING

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LAST SUMMER, EDITOR & fellow UDLE member Weston Smith & I began a dialogue revolving around inside the symbol of the BARRED ZERO. I posited that, among other things, this zero was an exclusionary invitation to break thru, to shatter the toppled phallic tally of the 1 barring the path and pass from the gyre on one side to that on the other, becoming in the process an act of pure verbing.

Or as Weston would come to say later, “The Zero has 2 parts: the black shape of its symbol-ness, and its hollow. Nothing becomes tangible, constructed of the emptiness of its core.

“So there. Nothing is still nothing, but what, we need it, to do math and stuff. Our minds are not equipped, but our symbols are, and they stretch, equally infinite, in either direction, buoyed by this Thing that isn’t. Pass through that zero, baby, and your negatives turn positive.

“Where does that leave us? Nowhere, but we can be sure we were there. You feel it when you -work, cash the +check, and pay -rent. You remember it when you +drink so much that you don’t -remember it. Nothing is the Now, that other thing that there isn’t but is somehow all we have.”

This whole conversation birthed a publication called THE NO THING, ‘a demonstration of a performance about paralyzed economies’, considering, for example, ‘organization, pragmatism, and luck’.

All of you New York types should check out their party/poker tournament tonight at 100A Forsyth Street.

Events & Literary Magazine Club / 1 Comment
June 20th, 2013 / 5:01 pm

WHOLE BEAST RAG: CTHONIC

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AND, YES, EVEN yours truly. DIG IT.

ISSUE 5: CHTHONIC

Featuring brave new work by:

Xavier Atkins / Jerimee Bloemeke / Steven T. Bramble / Sean Damlos-Mitchell / Atticus Davis / Jim Davis / Nathan Hirstein / Jason Joyce / Drew Kalbach / Taleen Kalenderian / Erin Kautza / Nathan Kemp / Allen Killian-Moore / Sean Kilpatrick / David Kinzer / Tony Mancus / Michael J. Martin / Evan Morgan / Scott Parker / Lindsay Ruoff / Gary Shipley / Garett Strickland / Molly Sutton Kiefer / Zac Tomaszewski / Caleb True / Viktorsha Uliyanova / Brian White

FEATURED ARTIST: Tyler Spangler
FEATURED INTERVIEW: Alan Heathcock

Literary Magazine Club / 2 Comments
June 12th, 2013 / 8:04 am

The Key to a Good Public Reading

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IT’S ALL ABOUT THE BREATH.

Craft Notes / 1 Comment
June 8th, 2013 / 8:33 pm

WORDS IN REVERSE

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THE ORAL MODE of composition — underused, perhaps kept hidden — where was it we found it first?

I myself am Native Appalachian, and so you figure there’s that: the whole history of telling & singing murder ballad news carried over from wherever the fuck the muddy blood sprang over from from Europe, the campfire & the kitchen table, raconteur tall tales, et cetera.

I have, I’m told, a gift as an orator, as a storyteller. People sometimes say to me they say, Garett you should write how you talk. I say, No thanks. Those things are different.

There’s a load they tell you in the stone age classes about show-don’t-tell, tho telling stories is always the most important aspect stressed by those classes as such, no matter how much the general public appreciates an image.

A story paraphrased or
condensed unwritten divorced
from the page becomes a kind of fable.

Speech, however, has properties wholly apart from poem- or storycraft. Speech possesses aspects of musicality that cannot exist on the page. The musicality of written or typed text is closer to a form of notation toward that musicality, and in its own right holds potential for a variety of readings and tones.

Speech is sound and so primal. We understand vocal detonation, whether it’s linguistic or otherwise.

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Craft Notes & Word Spaces / 1 Comment
June 5th, 2013 / 2:51 am

Anyone interested in buying a copy of M. Gira’s grotesque, way o.o.p. fiction collection, THE CONSUMER ???

SPECTRAL BRIDES


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I want to ask one question which sums up all the rest, a question which only I would ever ask, probably, but which has at least once found a reply worthy of it: ‘Who are you?’ And she, without a moment’s hesitation: ‘I am the soul in limbo.’

(NADJA, Breton)

Do not be surprised, she said. It is I, and it is not I;
You shall find me again, and you shall lose me;
Once more shall I come among you; for few have have seen me, and none has understood me;
And you shall forget me, and you shall recognize me, and you shall forget me.

I pity you, I pity you, my love.
Even so, I shall return to the night; for it is necessary that you lose me before you find me again. And if you find me again, I shall elude you once more.
For I am she who is alone.

And you yourself shall find me, and I shall find myself; and you shall lose me, and I shall lose myself.
For I am she who is lost as soon as she is found.

(THE BOOK OF MONELLE, Schwob)

Old wives, if there are any left, will tell you that, if someone stares through a window persistently enough, that person’s image will faintly remain in the glass. Her face in my memory is just like that, I imagine. Only her expression stays with me, of which the music, and the voice if not so much the words, are a part. I want to go back!

(THE GREAT LOVER, Cisco)

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THE FIRST TIME I heard Her:

a total crystallizing FLASH with living force
in what til then had always pressed me into shape
as an atmosphere, and in my clay
the churning storms and currents stilled,
gave up their walls and met Her voice
sounding the tone of light coming clean thru a faceless prism,
in itself very self including in infinite expanse a total folding into core.
Within my heart my heart was being drawn out seen
and known in singing, an impossible promise
long-forced forgotten sudden & miraculously fulfilled. It ran
her fingers thru all my savage math and I was quieted.

Tho this was music it spoke from my silence
to which it was a half, the moment that we were
in the flame of a search ending in unition. Every
vulnerable doubt that arose in fear of its truth was met
synchronously with certainty til then unknown, and I wept
in disbelief then bliss both during the album and after.

: : : : :

Once I was asleep on my sick-bed, when a spirit approached me. It was a very beautiful woman. Her hair fell down to her shoulders in short black tresses. Other shamans say they have had the vision of a woman with one half of her face black, and the other half red. She said: ‘I am the ayami of your ancestors, the Shamans. I taught them shamaning. Now I am going to teach you. The old shamans have died off, and there is no one to heal people. You are to become a shaman.’

Next she said: ‘I love you, I have no husband now, you will be my husband and I shall be a wife unto you. I shall give you assistant spirits. You are to heal with their aid, and I shall teach and help you myself. Food will come to us from the people.’

I felt dismayed and tried to resist. Then she said, ‘If you will not obey me, so much the worse for you. I shall kill you.’

(SHAMANISM, Eliade)

: : : : :

In the months that followed I saw signs in nearly every instant’s sights and sounds, guided by an hysterical, unshakable expansion. All phenomena was benevolent, and my contact therewith was the fruition of all that had ever been and intended solely for me as I moved thru the world on a path I paved in my walking. Holy madness. I’d enter a crowded room and the snatches of many parties’ conversations would form a single polyglot sentence that described the house inside it. I’d stand drunken with eyes closed on the ledge of my building’s roof at night and chant incantations as I did on the empty stage of the movie theater, stripped naked after closing and echoing before the many seats now empty.

But that was years ago.

: : : : :

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In the aftermath of my most recent break-up, I read GLORIOUS NEMESIS by Ladislav Klíma (Twisted Spoon Press, 2011). Although I always read voraciously, I choose my material at times like these more carefully than usual. The time previous, for example, I’d read Hélène Cixous’ first novel, ANGST, which begins like this:

The worst is upon me. This is it: The scene of Great Suffering. During this scene the impossible takes place: my death attacks me, life panics and splits in two; one life tears at the other which has it by the throat, biting. You struggle. [...] You fall and the earth is no longer there.

The book’s sustained brutality was perfect, and proved auspicious for that particular heartbreak, there being a resonance between a project the art school girl I’d been seeing had done involving cartography (“Here be Lions, Here be Dragons” she’d written in her artist statement), and Cixous’ novel’s name for the monsters the Mystic encounters: “lion-dragons”.

I’d tried re-reading the book this newest instance, hoping perhaps to establish a tradition of sorts, but the book was not, this time, as useful. In hindsight, my impulse to read the Cixous book seems predicated in gaining access to the archetypal feminine imagination, which would in turn bring me somehow closer to my absent object of desire. But the flux, this time, made me sea-sick, and I decided it would be better to read books by dudes in my time of (dis)repair.

So, GLORIOUS NEMESIS. This guy Sider sees a woman at a resort he’d seen in his dreams. He follows her up a mountain called Stag’s Head, where she beckons him to jump across a gap in a cliff that would almost certainly prove fatal. He chickens out on the lovers’ leap and she curses him. In the many years following, he sees (or seems to see) her everywhere, and the book, which spans decades, is full is metaphysical rumination about whether or not this woman is dead, or a divinity, or what, and what it means to love and be loved by someone like that, who appears, as often as she doesn’t, in an antagonistic aspect.

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Random / 1 Comment
June 1st, 2013 / 7:01 am