Cover Fail

The difference between a press you’ve admired for years and a press you’ve never heard of is the former is willing to pay a little money for its covers. There are presses that have been around for decades, that pour their sweat and tears into publishing more words than any of us realize, and that absolutely no one but a tenure committee cares about because they can’t be bothered to pay for a decent cover. I’m not above designing without the proper training myself, but I at least pay for raw art to use on my magazine’s covers — and I do try to actually design. I didn’t want to call anybody in particular out, and it’s insanely easy to replicate the bad covers that drive me up the wall, so I made a few shit covers of my own. If your press’s output looks anything like this, for the love of God, stop what you’re doing and find a freelancer to do something better.

Now let’s talk about what happened here:


Mean & Random / 16 Comments
January 20th, 2012 / 12:27 pm

Bill Knott on poetry and failure

Masochists, manic depressives, suicides, all poets are neurotics of the death instinct, losers and failures who embrace the misery of their wretched trade, who wallow in its servile aura of diminishment and squalor—its paltry practice.

But among poets, those dismal defeated schlemiels and corner-biting cowards lured by vile Virgils into the abyss of verse, a fortunate few manage to inhabit the upper circles, its higher hellblocks—

Even among the damned there are divisions…there are even (and it’s almost unbelievable that they can exist) some poets who want to succeed!  Who want their poetry to be read! Who actually try to write poetry that is accessible and can reach an audience!—

What traitors these are to their class—(jeez, if they didn’t want to be failures, why did they become poets!)


Power Quote / 1 Comment
January 16th, 2012 / 12:10 pm

Unresolved Latency

One important aspect of resolving the background in the cultural field is the attempt to destroy the art-industry consensus between producers and receivers in order to free events of “showing” in their radical specificity. It explicates the absoluteness of the act of production as well as the proper value of the act of reception. Such interventions have a combat value as acts of enlightenment against provincialism and cultural narcissism. It was not for nothing that the surrealists, in the early waves of their offensive, defined the art of baffling the bourgeois as a sui generis form of action: on the one hand, because it helped its innovators to distinguish between the ingroup and the outgroup; and, on the other, because it permitted protests from the public to be interpreted as a sign of success in dismantling the established system. Whoever scandalizes the bourgeois professes his progressive iconoclasm; he wields terror against symbols to explode positions of mystified latency and uses ever explicit techniques to force breakthroughs. The premise of symbolic aggression lies in the legitimate assumption that the cultural closets are overly filled with corpses and that it is high time that the latency-protected links between armament and edification be ruptured. If the early avant-garde fell into fallacy, however, this is because the bourgeoisie they set out to horrify always learned its lesson much faster than any of the aesthetic bogeymen had predicted. After only a few rounds of the match between the provokers and the provoked, it was almost inevitable that the bourgeoisie, loosened up by mass culture, would take the lead role in matters of explicating art, culture and signification through the activities of marketing, design and autohypnosis; meanwhile some artists continued on playing the public bogeymen, failing to notice that their methods were past their use-by date, while other artists negotiated a shift to neo-romanticism, renewing their pact with depth. Before long many moderns appeared to have forgotten Hegel’s fundamental principle of modern philosophy, whose analogue in aesthetic production would be: that the depth of a thought can be measured only by its power of elaboration–otherwise depth is no more than an empty symbol of unresolved latency.

–Peter Sloterdijk, Terror from the Air p 74-75
Power Quote / 24 Comments
October 19th, 2011 / 12:10 pm

Fire Beats Art

This morning, I heard a story on NPR about the wildfires in Russia.

Among the stories of the tragic loss of life and home was one about a woman in a small village who attempted to save her house from the flames by standing out front holding up a Russian Orthodox religious icon. One could react to this in a number of ways. This could be an opportunity to deride religious faith or a point in the “God is dead or never was” column. This could be seen as a cautionary tale about the right and wrong kind of fire extinguisher a person should have on hand in their home. Or this could be, for artists, a time to offer an apology.

To the extent that I might or might not be an “artist,” and bearing in mind the fact that, even if I could be considered an “artist,” the community of artists is likely never going to vote me in as their spokesman, I would still like to apologize to this Russian woman for the failure of the religious icon to stop the fire from consuming her house.

I realize that when holding up the icon against the fire, the woman was thinking of it as a lens through which to focus her religious faith, and hoped that through her faith her home would be spared. It was a religious icon being held up to beat back the fire, not, say, a de Kooning print or a copy of Joshua Cohen’s new novel Witz*. But religious proxy or not, it was still a piece of art, and it still failed to save her house.

Frankly, artists should be thanking this woman. She has a—probably misplaced—faith in art**. A faith most artists certainly don’t have***. She tried to hold back the destruction of her home with art and art failed her.

And when art fails, it is because the artist failed.

Go ahead and complain that the woman did not use art as directed. Try to find some clever loophole to absolve yourself of the guilt. Deep down, though, we know what we did. Or what we failed to do, anyway. Shame on us.

Russian lady: we’re sorry****.

* Have you readers heard anything about this book? Anywhere?

** And—possibly misplaced—faith in God. But who am I to judge?

*** Cynical, cynical bunch.

**** And those of us who aren’t should be.

Craft Notes / 55 Comments
September 7th, 2010 / 12:26 pm

Rebecca Brown on failure: “Because failing as an artist is a necessary thing, a thing I wish I could more easily accept.”

Duotrope’s sense of humor


For those of you who use Duotrope: ever notice how if you post an update of a ‘rejection,’ the program says Success! because you have successfully updated the fact that you’re a failure?
Uncategorized / 9 Comments
March 2nd, 2009 / 1:24 pm