A gorgeous (truly!) catalog for a recent show of the Vienna Actionists, addressing only works from 1960-1966 (which, with Schwarzkogler's death in 196A gorgeous (truly!) catalog for a recent show of the Vienna Actionists, addressing only works from 1960-1966 (which, with Schwarzkogler's death in 1969 after a long bout of depression and ascetic/aesthetic isolation, is more of less the time span the group worked as a group, so to speak, anyway). The essays on each artist is brief, but comprehensive, interested instead in providing ample pages for beautifully done reproductions. There's a longer essay at the end of the catalog, by Gloria Sutton considering the implications of the 'staged photography' of the group vis a vis conceptual photography and the work the American conceptual contingency didn't undertake until the 70s, which is interesting if anything. A recommended catalog if only for how totally beautiful it is as an object....more
This is absolutely glorious. This is also, potentially, the first comic artist who's work I've seen that actual generate the atmosphere of terror baseThis is absolutely glorious. This is also, potentially, the first comic artist who's work I've seen that actual generate the atmosphere of terror based on sequence and drawing alone. Which, perhaps, is why I specifically liked this book so much: while it proposes itself as a "collection of unfinished work," reading it as a finish narrative makes it, in my opinion, much more interesting, allowing it to work on different, more exciting levels than it would have if it were just a "normal comic." The mixture of unfinished images with fully finished images, repetition, narrative holes, makes it much more sinister as a story, because there is always something unknown. On page will find the titular characters scared for their lives, while in the next Pim will be torturing goldfish as Francie prepares to go into the haunted forest alone. Really amazing stuff....more
Both Hoy and Leon write brief poems with simple language that manage to work really well. Hoy's brief snippets are aggressive and damning and sound grBoth Hoy and Leon write brief poems with simple language that manage to work really well. Hoy's brief snippets are aggressive and damning and sound great, while Leon lingers in decadence and whether or not you take the "I" of poetry serious there's much to enjoy....more
Bought on a blindshot when I saw it name-dropped in Paul Buck's French Poetry issue of CURTAINS, this has turned out to be another "ur-text" for me--tBought on a blindshot when I saw it name-dropped in Paul Buck's French Poetry issue of CURTAINS, this has turned out to be another "ur-text" for me--the early publication date (1973!) cites this as some of the first English translations of a lot of the work herein, but as such it offers translated excerpts of earlier work from many of the poets I know and love that I've never seen anywhere else. Of particular note is Jean Daive's THE CRY BRAIN which is fucking perfect. Also new-to-me poet Alain Remila, of whom there is seemingly ZERO information on the internet, but was a French poet in his early 20s (!) whose excerpt here I find fantastic. Plus so so so much more! Also, the second translation of Mathieu Bénézet I've ever been able to find is in this! Which is exciting because in many ways, it's Bénézet who sent me down this path of French poetry in the first place......more
Didion's protagonist, well, in my mind, typifies the kind of discontent, the kind of emptiness that I more than often find it easy to romanticize. A sDidion's protagonist, well, in my mind, typifies the kind of discontent, the kind of emptiness that I more than often find it easy to romanticize. A sort of existential despair that results in nothing but an understanding of what it means to be empty inside. "I stare into the void and the void stares back."
But Didion's prose is absolutely fantastic, so I know it's not just escapism that kept me under the book's spell. The words shift and turn in a way that makes you follow, you don't have a choice to not. "Oh just fuck it." ...more
This is pretty ideal. Visually, Rickheit constantly reminds me of some of the earlier animations of the Brothers Quay, in the best way possible. The nThis is pretty ideal. Visually, Rickheit constantly reminds me of some of the earlier animations of the Brothers Quay, in the best way possible. The narrative is fantastique to its core, yet still very American. Rickheit's art is what's most important here, lots of disgusting, detailed organic things, cats borne from holes in backs. There is also a delightfully perverse ~20 page sex scene that is pretty incredible, straddling the line between arousal and disgust.
The issues of Chrome Fetus are slightly better than this, if only for Cochlea & Eustachia, but I really appreciated the longer narrative arc. I'm looking forward to checking out Rickheit's latest.
Second reading: this is still great. I like how it permutes through a void of inactivity into the underbrain. The narrative is its own diegesis, which more and more I realize that's what I'm looking for....more
Dash Shaw is one of my favorite people working in comix these days, and his MOME shorts are some of my favorite stuff that he's done, so it's incredibDash Shaw is one of my favorite people working in comix these days, and his MOME shorts are some of my favorite stuff that he's done, so it's incredibly nice to have them all collected (as I don't buy copies of MOME myself, preferring instead to get them from the library). Story boards don't do much for me, but Shaw's art is everywhere and it's nice to see "stills" from the IFC.com series printed so nicely. It's also a really nice looking hardcover overall, with a clever transparent dust jacket....more
The art here is wonderful, gentle pencil lines. The story sort of reminded me of a more feminine Brothers Quay, and I meant that in a way not afflicteThe art here is wonderful, gentle pencil lines. The story sort of reminded me of a more feminine Brothers Quay, and I meant that in a way not afflicted by any sort of Gaze or negative connotation. It's not creepy, just very sad. The art is so so good. I am very excited for more French....more
I like this catalog, both as an object and as a conduit as information. The essays are short and to the point, and the extensive collection of imagesI like this catalog, both as an object and as a conduit as information. The essays are short and to the point, and the extensive collection of images really gave me a larger image of an exhibition I'll never get to see in reality. The art itself sounds totally amazing, and the interconnected nature of the three similar enviroments adds up to an idea that is glorious....more
I'd been waiting to read this beautiful catalog, with board-covers in velvet (!), as it was the last remaining catalog of Byars's I have that I hadn'tI'd been waiting to read this beautiful catalog, with board-covers in velvet (!), as it was the last remaining catalog of Byars's I have that I hadn't fully indulged in yet. But when I woke up this morning it seemed like the right thing to be looking at. And I'm glad I made that decision! Ottman is a great art writer, and after hearing his name for a while now I'm thrilled that my introduction to his lucid and engaging writing was at the behest of James Lee.
Great reproductions throughout, including some old favorites (The Path of Luck sculptures, the question stelae, and more), in a large format makes this more than worth it....more
My relationship with Mallarmé has been somewhat strained, within the context of my experience as a reader. When I first tried to read him, several yeaMy relationship with Mallarmé has been somewhat strained, within the context of my experience as a reader. When I first tried to read him, several years ago, I was pretty immediately bored. Couldn't figure out why so many writers/poets that I'm obsessed with were so into him. Made it about half-way through a (different) collected poetry collection before calling it quits. Two years later I read Meillassoux's The Number & The Siren (refer to part 1) and became, certainly, more intrigued by Mallarmé. The English translations of "A Throw of Dice..." in the Meillassoux book is far superior to most translations I've seen. Also, this idea of THE BOOK that I'd encountered circling around Mallarmé seemed outside of my realm of experience with the man, but certainly intriguing. So, despite all that, finally reading this collection in 2012 officially piqued my interest and found me a devotee. I'm particularly fond of the letters, as that seems to be where all the magic outside of Igitur & Throw of Dice... resides....more
This book is an amazing joy to read, as I did, as a sort of morning devotional to this symbolist artist who was trapped in life but still managed to mThis book is an amazing joy to read, as I did, as a sort of morning devotional to this symbolist artist who was trapped in life but still managed to make his art touch the precipice. I found overwhelming comfort in the familiarity that became reading this book. I looked forward to it. Upon finishing it, I felt both that I had a much more complete understanding of Mallarmé's life, but also frustrated--there's merely a single mention of Un Coup de dés, and that's just in response to Gide's impression of the first printing? There's not a single mention of le livre? The most interesting WORK of Mallarmé seems to go unmentioned--though I'm not positive if it's an editorial decision that lead to this, i'd almost doubt it--It just seems so strange that Mallarmé would be able to refrain from mentioning anything when it was he who so loved to talk about poetry. Regardless, there's still so much in here, such a joy to read, I feel like it is something that can be dipped back into, Mallarmé is such an utter inspiration....more
This book absolutely slays. The language completely destroyed me in the best way possible, and I considering immediately starting the book over upon fThis book absolutely slays. The language completely destroyed me in the best way possible, and I considering immediately starting the book over upon finishing it. The narrative that moves through here is terrifying, but there is abject humor that serves to heighten the intensity of narrative even more. yes yes yes....more
I wrote about this at HTMLGiant, I will copy and paste to here:
1. China—poetry. 2. Mass media and language. 3. Wives—family relationships. 4. Literary
I wrote about this at HTMLGiant, I will copy and paste to here:
1. China—poetry. 2. Mass media and language. 3. Wives—family relationships. 4. Literary form—data processing. 5. Poetry—therapeutic use. 6. Literary criticism and the computer. 7. Metadata—standards.
The above text comes from the front cover—which coincidentally serves as the backcover—of Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking. The text is only half of the metadata supplied, an excerpt from the Library of Congress “tags” that establish the content of the book officially. Lin’s book is a rhizome, a network, it is a book as a book, it is a book as a network as a book, it is a book as a book as a book.
Okay, let me start over. There are two ways one can approach Lin’s book. Of course, there are actually an infinitude of entrances to Lin’s book, but for the sake of this blog post, to ensure that it does come to an end, I will discuss two: the way I expected to enter the book and the way I actually entered the book.
Hollis Frampton's (nostalgia)
How I expected to enter the book: There are two prominent (ish) reviews of Lin’s book on the internet right now: Dan Visel’s review on his blog and Maureen Thorsen’s review, which has been linked from here before. Of course, when I say these are the two prominent reviews on the internet I should note that I have not actually bothered to look for any others. I guess I might after I finish writing this post. The point is, there are some really smart reviews of this book available on the internet. I read the Visel review a month before I read Lin’s book, and I read the Thorsen review the day after.
Lin’s book is conceptual writing, a conceptual book. Like I said, it is a book as a book. The idea of the book is very important to Lin’s book. If I had any forethought, I would have brought Fitterman & Place’s Notes on Conceptualisms for reference here, because it’s a pretty amazing & oblique guide that makes more sense the more conceptual writing you read. Regardless, the fact that Lin’s book is a conceptual book, and the fact that I knew this, gave me the expectation that the experience of reading Lin’s book would be mostly guided by this tangential outside information that Visel’s review had provided.
Visel’s review offers occasional explanations towards the books various sections, contextualizing the book within the context of a larger set of books written (or at least compiled) by Lin, pointing out a connection between the book’s second section (A Field Guide to The American Landscape) & Hollis Frampton’s equally oblique, though conceptually more transparent, (nostalgia). Really, Visel’s review itself serves as information that furthers the book after a reading, similar to the way that documents created by Lin himself in the form of POD books stretch the book into an expanded experience.
By the time I got a copy of the book and read it, I had completely forgotten Visel’s review.
A fragment of the book's back cover, obscured via digital artifacting from enlarging a small .png
How I actually ended up entering the book: The book arrived in a padded envelope, I opened the package, I opened the book, I began reading. Ultimately, the experience of the book became what I was concerned about. The joy of the words on the page targeted a fairly niche interest I have in theoretical & technical language (specifically of the hard sciences) in relationship to abstracted ideas and, often, meaninglessness. Allow me to provide some examples:
[As anyone] [who has spent time on the Las Vegas strip] can tell you,
there is minimal enclosure and negligent direction.
This comes from a section entitled “BOOKS That Function As BUILDINGS”. The opposite page features four tiny images of what seems to be the back of art books, the text mostly obscured. Ultimately, what any of this specifically means is lost to me, as it is, perhaps, lost to most readers of the book. I can safely make the assumption that Lin knows what this means, all of it, together. This is not problematic, from my perspective.
Lin’s book is a highly heterogeneous in form. The obtuseness may prevent the reader from achieving any direct meaning, and all but specific (potentially) autobiographical fragments related to cooking refuse any sort of character-driven empathy (for this is, largely, a narrative without characters), but ultimately the reading experience is what counts. Lin’s book is a book that privileges experience above all else. The form of the book, the variations, the ideas, all insist upon it.
Perhaps my favorite section of the book is the third section, “American Architecture Meta Data Containers.” Its use-value can be found in the presentation of ideas on the book, language, literature, the text. But if we are reading this book as a philosophical text it fails to do anything beyond suggest. There are ideas, but they are not developed, or even explored. They are simply presented. Within the landscape, the architecture of the book, these ideas serve as guides to the exploration of the text.
“Architecture as Shelter with Decoration on It”
“Literature as Space with Language Attached to It.”
Refusing to accept the architecture/book comparison as purely metaphorical, textual markings that recall concrete poetry decorate the book like ornamentation. Letters left alone, rare punctuations float in white space: the page is not performative, it is literally space that holds something inside of it.
There are also a lot of pictures throughout the book. Black and white, mostly small, often impenetrable in their details. I don’t really know what the images do, but I’m glad they’re in the book. Often the inclusion of extra-textual elements in a book, particularly when there can be no direct necessity for these elements found, is referred to as gimmicky. Lin’s extra-textual elements can in no way be described as gimmicky, as, if anything, they obscure meaning more than they reveal it, and as a gimmick is intrinsically present to “increase appeal,” well, it seems like the general audience of Books doesn’t specifically find obliqueness appealing. What these elements do is refuse to let the book exist as any book exists. They insist upon an examination of the book while the book continues to exist as a book.
Ultimately, I think, this is why the book is successful. It insists upon it’s place in the world as a book, yet it exists more as a unique & heterogenous experience than as anything mimetic or representational (which is how fiction is generally expected to act). This contrast heightens Lin’s book to the level that it exists at, and while I’m not sure exactly how to describe that level autonomously, it is a future for the book that I hope more books take a cue from.
Of course, within this blog post I have not reached any conclusions that I give that much support to. Rather, I hop around from idea to idea mentioning things that have excited me about Lin’s book. It makes more sense to me, really, to write about Seven Controlled Vocabularies… this way, because trying to approach this book from a homogeneous, organized point would violate what the book itself achieves.
My girlfriend thinks the world is constantly taking its own picture and walking away from it.
This is getting another reading in the next week, but I think this is honestly a more "advanced" work than HOL, though the plot of HOL is "better" thaThis is getting another reading in the next week, but I think this is honestly a more "advanced" work than HOL, though the plot of HOL is "better" than this. This is almost narrative poetry, and the experimentation is different. More on the second reading.
Second reading, 08/30/09 Beginning is far "cleared" second time around. There's something about this that I really like, in it's entire simplicity. The language is used in a way that I think in a different context would annoy me, but within here it works. The story itself is kind of beautiful and horrifying, it's affects are actually really subtle. Wish I had my own copy, it's a nice thing to read. Bumped rating up to five stars....more