Joseph Mosconi


I’m not leaving my bed in the gloom

FC_Cov_SmWeb_1024x1024Fright Catalog
by Joseph Mosconi
Insert Blanc Press
100 pages / $24.99  Buy from Insert Blanc Press







Fright Catalog is a gorgeous, huge, glossy, expensive looking magazine. That makes it more fragile, more disposable than most books. I’ll probably put it on the wall when I’m done with this review. It’s also a work that you might carry around and show off. Or like something out of Borges, you might want to check in on the book to see if the words have mysteriously reshuffled into even more hideous koans.

Each page is a different visual/textual work, set in super large sans serif font centered on a brilliantly colored slightly glossy page. Mosconi is part of The Poetic Research Bureau, which “favors appropriations, impersonations, ‘compost’ poetries, belated conversations, unprintable jokes and doodles, ‘unoriginal’ literature, historical thefts and pastiche.“Based on that, you can imagine that the book is going to use some “mechanism” of unoriginality, in its creation, but the book itself doesn’t give it away. All you get is this:

“Each Stanza of Fright Catalog was fed through the search engine of an online Color Theme generator. A different color theme was determined for each stanza resulting in the color combination you see on each page of this book. Every color theme addresses your feelings and is employed for certain moral ends.”

A book like this doesn’t ask you to consider it as a project; it demands to be recognized as one. Sometimes that “chance” part of the project produces amusing/intuitive result (ie vampires get mentioned and you get a red/black color scheme) but it also hints that there is some other project going on with the text. Luckily, or unluckily, Craig Dworkin reveals the source of the text on the Insert Blanc site:

“Secrets, in these scenes, threaten to become singularities. Such, of course, is the reductio of all subcultures. And “Poetry,” for “Culture,” has become the ultimate and necessary subculture of them all. Fright Catalog is thus in part a dissertation on the sublime terror of the poetry scene today — with all its partisan scholasticism and stupid undergrounds (as Paul Mann would say). But this catalogue is also attuned to the poetic possibilities of subcultural discourse, to the phonemic tensions and narrative frissons that arise when metal lyrics are mashed up with phrases taken variously from online gaming dialogues, occult forums, and the secret language of adolescence (by definition: misunderstood; mardy; uncommunicative and inscrutable).”

That’s about half of the blurb. If you’re not keeping track of obscure metal from the past 20 years or so, then you might not notice that some of the more absurd (and startlingly beautiful) moments of this book are simply song titles. I think that the sublime terror can be read as a response to contemporary poetry, but sublime terror, a la Romanticism, or an inverted modernized terror/sublime, is also a major ingredient in metal and this work. Mosconi takes metal and other texts and distills something essential about terror and the sublime from them:

Scan 5


July 12th, 2013 / 11:00 am