Last week’s New Yorker (3/12) covers the Whitney Biennial. One passage that caught my eye:
“See, for instance, Gisèle Vienne’s mechanized boy mannequin wielding a hand puppet, with a chilling soundtrack by the Los Angeles poet and novelist Dennis Cooper. ‘I’m not dead,’ the boy muses, ‘unless this is death.’ The sinister-voiced, twitching puppet comments on things that the boy imagines, in what sounds like a game of exquisite cadaver: ‘decapitated head upon severed arms upon mutilated trunk-like logs and branches in a fireplace.’
‘Because I said so is the fairly witless way most images get you to look at them,’ the poet and performer Ariana Reines writes in an essay that complements, rather than addresses, the grotesque montage photographs and assemblages, satirizing high fashion, by the artist who styles herself K8 Hardy.”
That’s the feeling I look for, right? In whatever I’m eating, be it real food, or entertainment, art, people. The major event. A safe, manageable portion of the inner land or map blown away, torn out and away, dissolved or smoked. I only know a couple people who really seek that, or when they say they want that destruction it’s a good lie, and maybe they’ve said it enough so it’s shared and indistinguishable from truth. Regardless, it’s a common myth, a familiar dragon to chase, that of the Art That Changes For Good. I rarely recognize the mountain exploding in realtime, while reading something or watching a movie, it’s felt live that way maybe four times in my adultish life. Mostly it’s just feeling the echo of the boom a time later. Still, standing mountains aren’t terrible, and are often really nice. But sometimes you get lucky (pictured, pictured). Here’s what my year looked like:
This is an experimental blog post. The experiment is over when I hit “post.” The success of my attempt is undetermined, but as the history of our world goes, success cannot be achieved until it is attempted.
I’ve railed here & other places against the idea of the established & (fairly-)homogenized literary canon that dominates, in the West at least, our culture of the written world as a whole. The Canon, with a capital “C” here in order to demonstrably placate that hierarchy that the hegemony tends to assume a Solid Reality, is, of course, often considered a collection of works that can be held up as benchmarks of what exactly it means to be great literature. But, of course, as we know, meaning is differential, and the greatness of a work of art, whether it be found inside of the realm of the text or the painted image, is an entirely subjective experience. Even the Canon, held up as a standard, has essentially grown and been developed throughout the 20th & 21st century by (undoubtedly) men in High Places, arguing for the prevalence of a work.
The necessity of a canon, in my opinion, is a moot point. Jonathan Rosenbaum, an American film-critic than many people who write & think about cinema often hold up as a pinnacle of contemporary (American) film-criticism (one who I only find interesting at best, but that’s better than not being interesting at all, right?), has a book called Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons, which posits the idea that “canons of great films are more necessary than ever, given that film culture today is dominated by advertising executives, sixty-second film reviewers, and other players in the Hollywood publicity machine who champion mediocre films at the expense of genuinely imaginative and challenging works.” The sentiment here is fine, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the book, most in art and in life I am far more interested in a heterogeneous existence than a homogenized one– I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is obligated to acknowledge that Citizen Kane is “the greatest film of all time” (wrong), or even a world where everyone is institutionally obligated to at least admit that it’s a great film, whether one likes it or not.
Frankly, we all still live in Plato’s cave, there are no absolutes: all we have, personally, is experience and subjectivity. For a second let’s forget this idea that there are objective standards in art (the principles & elements of design, for instance). Yesterday (and tomorrow) on Dennis Cooper’s blog, fans & regulars in the blog’s comment section are having lists of their favorite books posted. I love lists. I was immediately sad that I neglected that send a list in to Dennis to have posted. Then I thought, “oh, I’ll just do it on HTMLGiant and link to the posts at Dennis’s,” which is more or less what I’m doing.
READ MORE >
The Marbled Swarm
by Dennis Cooper
Harper Perennial, November 1st, 2011
$10.19 / Buy from Amazon
1. A precursor: the often repeated and often obvious dictum from authors: if one could summarize the idea or express the idea elsewhere, it would not be a book.
2. Another precursor: I have to use numbers for this review. The accumulative force in The Marbled Swarm has made me nervous to write about it. These numbers should help. Related: numbers are very rarely used in the book; we are maybe twice given them as markers, as soft attempts at erasure, but more so as another meter to remember. I understand the absence of counting in the book.
3. Formal book reviews mostly feel homogenous to me; some young limping component of an old structure; sutured to print? The format seems off, or rather: very rarely off. I’m pretty often baffled, too, by the claim that some argument must be lodged and pushed through to agree a reader; maybe I discredit the militaristic form of rhetoric, or of establishing a reading. To me, the reviews, the books too, that are interesting and alive feeling do not seem camped or aimed, yet open and transfixed.
4. I read The Marbled Swarm for the first time on a plane. Enclosed by a tube, moving very fast through different pressured air, hoping for a smooth passage. Fantasizing about puncture. READ MORE >
September 30th, 2011 / 8:00 am
According to his official bio, Dennis Cooper was born, he grew up, he wrote, he attended, he transferred, he was expelled, he met, he attended, he then attended, he studied, he founded, he lived, he moved, he began. And now he currently spends his time between Los Angeles and Paris. Harper Perennial will release his newest novel The Marbled Swarm in November 2011, and next month they will be republishing Horror Hospital Unplugged: his 1997 graphic novel collaboration with artist Keith Mayerson. He blogs at denniscooper-theweaklings.blogspot.com.
Putting this here before I go somewhere: an interview with Zachary Mason about computational mythology, building art, AI, etc. ::::: help S. B./iamaparty.com build an infinite epic poem :::::: Errol Morris has got a new five party essay up :::::::: really dig this post on Snuff Film Aesthetics from Johannes ::::: Dennis Cooper’s blog has been great the last few days : bye
Try by Dennis Cooper and The Mechanics of Homosexual Intercourse by Lonely Christopher are up for grabs. These are courtesy of the super talented & friendly Joel Westendorf, whose photography and design work are wow. Email satorpress (at google’s mail thing) your address and I’ll pick one winner for each. NOW CLOSED.
Karen Lillis is currently serializing a memoir about working at St. Mark’s Bookshop called Bagging The Beats At Midnight: Confessions of an Indie Bookstore Clerk over at Undie Press. Her recent installment, titled “People Who Led Me to Self-Publishing,” discusses the inspiring and energetic figures she encountered, people who took artistic matters into their own hands by making sloppy, lo-fi xeroxed booklets that were sold on a special consignment rack at St. Mark’s. Karen reminds us that writers such as Anais Nin, William Blake, Walt Whitman, Kathy Acker, Gertrude Stein, and others all self-published at one point. There’s a certain magic about it—the immediacy of it, the openness, the way any wing nut or fanatic or obsessive outsider can be given an equal hearing on the consignment rack. No filtration or editorial process—just print, copy, distribute.
In a recent email I sent to Al Burian, I wrote that I was interested in bridging the gap between the small press/indie publishing world and the self-publishing/zine world. Al is kind of a cult figure in the self-publishing world, but is probably virtually unknown to small press and indie lit readers (although he did get some kind of honorable mention in The Best American Nonrequired Reading series one year). I’ve been reading his zines since I was 13 and I’m still totally obsessed with them. Since Al Burian was my favorite zine writer, over the years I let everyone I knew borrow his writings—teachers, friends, family. Some instantly became obsessive fans of his work as well. Since last month Al’s out-of-print collection of early zines, titled Burn Collector, is finally back in print after being republished by PM Press. (You should check it out—I’ve probably read it more times than any other book in my life.) Al’s zine Burn Collector and others like his inspired me to start self-publishing when I was 15.
(hum) Iambik audiobooks
1. @ Montevidayo, Johannes Göransson posted an excellent consideration of Nathan Lee’s consideration of a few books on David Lynch’s work.
2. @ DC’s, Dennis Cooper posted an excellent roundup of fun and interesting oddity, including re: Drawing on LSD, Kathy Acker’s last work, an Urs Alleman interview, and lots of else.
3. @ Thought Catalog, Franklin Bruno wrote up a thoughtful consideration on Jon Cotner and Andy Fitch’s fantastic Ten Walks/Two Talks.
4. Next Friday, September 24, if you are in Chicago there is a launch party for Danielle Dutton’s brilliant new novel Sprawl, 7:30 PM at the Women and Children First Bookstore, also featuring Kate Zambreno.
2. “Watching porn’s usually like watching a melancholy documentary to me, a documentary about sex as a failed utopia or something, I don’t know.” –Dennis Cooper
3. Similarly, identity becomes fluid: Weems is Ellen is Caden is Weems etc. –an excellent sound-guided review of Synecdoche, NY in a great all-sound issue of Reverse Shot
4. They pierced the envelope of the earth. Or at least found some exit. –from Thy Son Liveth
6. What we call deflation, an earlier culture might have called, “God abandoning the world.” –Sacred Economics, by Charles Eisenstein