Not much to say. It's a well written book about the Spanish Civil War, which is a war I can't stop reading about. Maybe it's because it's so close toNot much to say. It's a well written book about the Spanish Civil War, which is a war I can't stop reading about. Maybe it's because it's so close to us, and was such a radical attempt at a new way of living, and... even better, it worked for a very short time, and was crushed by such virulently evil forces. The forces that crushed the grand anarchist and communist experiments might as well have twirled their mustaches or worn something mengu inspired (like Darth Vader or Hannibal Lecter). I mean, fuck the fact that the comrades burned beautiful churches (hell, the Black Metal dudes did that) and that they shot anyone suspected of being a fascist (I mean, what else are you going to do with a fascist?). It's a time for all of us to dream of better worlds; more equitable; more just; no exploitation no gods no bosses no masters And on top of that endless possibilities for life and love, and I do mean love and who doesn't want that, right? Right? So that's what we have here. A bildungsroman. The story of a budding young woman; blossoming to political and sexual possibility at the same time. And unlike The Flamethrowers, the protagonist here is not some passive pretty face — she's a bad ass who, despite her bad hip, is willing to brave the bullets, brave death, brave war....more
I'm becoming a massive fan of MacDonald Harris, even though I've only read this and The Balloonist. What's amazing about both books is tWhat to say?
I'm becoming a massive fan of MacDonald Harris, even though I've only read this and The Balloonist. What's amazing about both books is that he writes "novels of ideas" which are at the same time adventure novels. Yes, novels of ideas that are also adventure novels.
This book is roughly a character drama about a bunch of odd balls who are basically part of a cult. It's fin de sicle, but oddly contemporary. The characters are beautifully drawn, but this isn't just an adventure novel, even though it is an adventure novel, and a damn good one at that. This is also a novel about the historical moment before the horrors of WWII, about the possibilities of being present and being spiritual and what exactly you can change and what exactly is accessible, and most importantly, it's about making stories; about building narratives that others can follow, including yourself, and how those narratives can give people meaning. On the one hand there's the narrative constructed around the cult, which is based in love and aspiration, but there's also the narrative that's coming up contemporaneously, which is based in Mein Kampf and will lead to one of the great world tragedies. Likewise, there's many individual narratives; stories that people tell themselves to give their lives meaning and direction.
"It all comes to this: the ludicrous, simple, and doll-like way that people seem from the outside, and the seriousness and pathos with which they see themselves from the inside; the piercing phenomenon of consciousness; the illumination of the ego, the sense of the cosmic importance of self. Each man is a god imprisoned in a clown." He then goes on to imagine someone transcending all of this "to speak the truth of the inner soul" but there is a darkness to this. Not all inner speaking; not all narratives enrich. Some corrupt. But narratives are what we build and what we are, and this is a beautiful book about how that is done....more
Wow. This thing is amazing. I just found it at MoCCA, which is an indie comic book expo here in New York City. This book was sitting amongst a bunch oWow. This thing is amazing. I just found it at MoCCA, which is an indie comic book expo here in New York City. This book was sitting amongst a bunch of great books at the Norwegian table, and after a few minutes flipping through the pages and drooling, I decided I had to have it. And I'm happy I bought it because it's amazing. Hell, just look at some of these images.
Until a few months ago, I had never heard of Selden Rodman, but now I think he may be my favorite interviewer ever, even more than Oriana Fallaci. Mr.Until a few months ago, I had never heard of Selden Rodman, but now I think he may be my favorite interviewer ever, even more than Oriana Fallaci. Mr. Feldman is smart, perceptive, fearless, and funny. I like his candor, his enthusiasm, and his insight into writing, poetry, and novels.
As in Selden's Conversations with Artists, the author seems to know most of the writers he interviews on a personal level, and he deeply loves (with reservations) the work of every author he interviews. And he has no problem calling out Jorge Luis Borges on his hermeticism, or telling Norman Mailer that he agrees with the feminist critiques of Mailer's books by Kate Millet and Germaine Greere. He tells Hemingway that he should down play, or at least parody, his macho image, and calls Pablo Neruda out on his prior stance for Stalin. He has a great and fearless conversation with Derek Walcott about race, and chides everyone for not reading A Hundred Years of Solitude. On top of all of that, his book is filled with poetry; usually poetry that Selden has translated himself, and he LOVES poetry. His love is infectious, and after reading this, I guarantee you'll want to read every author mentioned in this book (and although there are only a handful of interviews, hundreds of writers are mentioned)....more
When I was young, I loved Mad Magazine, but I also knew that I was missing half of the references. I knew that despite the great drawings, a lot of whWhen I was young, I loved Mad Magazine, but I also knew that I was missing half of the references. I knew that despite the great drawings, a lot of what I was reading referenced contemporary adult-stuff, especially politics. But I still loved it.
A similar thing happens when I read Vittorini, who was writing pointed political allegory against and under the Fascists. As I read, I realize I'm reading some allegory about dark politics, and I catch that I'm not fully comprehending the satire. (Actually, I get that feeling whenever I read any rebellious author who is writing under an oppressive regime.) But I read on because the writing is good and the story is good, even if lots of things don't make much sense, even though the story veers off in odd satirical territories.
This book is composed of three of Vittorini's stories. At first, I thought he was a Hemingway-esque social realist, but he soon took me by surprise. These three stories softly shifted from neo-realism to exaggerated parody to outright Beckett and Lynch kissing in a tree. And as I read Vittorini (or Bulgakov, or Marquez, or Zamyatin, or even Mad Magazine when I was younger) I always think that I should read about the culture, about the history, so I could know the secret story being whispered behind what I read, and if I knew that secret story, I could laugh louder, or enjoy it more. But instead, I do the equivalent of stare at the pictures and enjoy what I can.
On In Sicily I just finished In Sicily and vacillated between boredom and love. Vittorini's writing is stripped down, and the fingerprints of Hemingway are apparent, but Beckett and Kafka's are also apparent. What starts off as travelogue to visit the author's mother (whose husband has left her for a younger woman) quickly skirts into farce with caricatures of Sicilians shouting "Eh!" at each other and responding to constant exclamations of "Ah!" with more shouts of "Hm? Eh!" and then with absurdities and non-sequitors.
But before veering into farce, Vittorini captures the circular confusion of senility and then grounds his mother's senility to Italy in general. The dark buffoonishness of the story grows until the story is an outlandish parody that would have been illustrated by Mort Drucker in Mad magazine. At this point, I started to lose interest. I loved the dialog with the senile mother about infidelity, and the way the mother can't keep stories about her husband and her father separate or straight. "The Great Lombard men," says the author. "Eh?" says the mother. But the endless wandering through town while running into "zany" characters started to grate on my nerves. It was like reading a transcript for Spinal Tap but replace metal with Italy, so not so funny, "Eh?"
And then suddenly the story went insane. Like ghost story level insane. Like Beckett level insane. And suddenly time and story all collapsed and I was suddenly reading something completely different. There's a soldier/boy/ghost? who experiences past present and future all at once and is both there and not there, and then the author and the mother shoot at crows, and the author wanders through town, crying, as people gather around him, and, and, and
And it slowly unravels from poignant Hemingway slice-of-life to wild parable. And although I'm not Italian and I'm not Sicilian and I'm not surrounded by Fascists, I get the sadness, the anger, the despair; and the writing, the writing? She is good. Even through tears shed by bronze statues, she is good. Eh?
On The Twilight of the Elephant Another strange story. Really, nothing happens. The whole story follows a poor, starving family. But the whole country is starving, so they're no worse off then their peers. The Elephant of the story is the grandfather of the family, a huge and ancient man who is sits quietly at his chair and is both adored and resented by his daughter, the matriarch of the family. A stranger shows up, covered in soot from working on the railroad, and he, and the family, start to talk about the grandfather/elephant. That's about it. But it's remarkably tense, and again, obviously a political allegory that flew right over my head. Still, as a story, it's damn great. Somewhere between Bruno Schulz and Hemingway. ...more
You may have heard of B. Traven 1) because of his amazing and mysterious life story, of which no one knows much of anything, 2) his book The Treasures of the Sierra Madre which was made into a great movie by John Huston, or 3) that the author is the model for Benno von Archimboldi, the mysterious writer from Roberto Bolaño's 2666 (no one knows who B. Traven is, he has committed scholars dedicated to his work, he is most likely German, he contacts the world through his publisher, etc).
You might not have heard of B. Traven's "Jungle novels," six books which document the oppression of a people and their eventual uprising. Government is the first book of the series. And it is a fine book. B. Traven uses a simple and direct style, punctuated by violence and an ironic cynicism towards the ways of modern men. He is especially good at laying out individual self-interest and how individuals self-justify, and he is great at showing how a corrupt regime can spread corruption throughout every area it touches.
This novel is set in the jungle of Mexico (Chiapas, according to Wikipedia) and it follows Don Gabriel, a boring, weak man who has lost everything, but who slowly rises to power. First, he becomes a secretario to a small and fiercely independent "Indian" village. He ekes out a living immorally fining and taxing the locals, and eventually gets into slave trading. Of course, slave trading and slavery is illegal, so this system is based on penury and debt. Not honoring your debt, of course, is punishable by death.
It's a brutal story and it reminds me of the first season of The Wire in that it seems to be setting up the groundwork for an entire world, and it seems to be setting up awfulness to come. I think Traven is sketching characters that we will see again. Like The Wire, this is a piece of art about the complications of evil. It is about mundane decisions and bureaucracy and systems, and how all of those things can have pernicious effects on the lives of people. It is about power and exploitation that comes with power by necessity. Lastly, it is about how regular people ignore their responsibility and culpability in the systems and evils around them, and worse, partake in actions that make things worse.
Yevgeny Zamyatin's tales are the written equivalent of the tortured grotesques of Hieronymus Bosch. These tales are dark and brutal; picturing mankindYevgeny Zamyatin's tales are the written equivalent of the tortured grotesques of Hieronymus Bosch. These tales are dark and brutal; picturing mankind an over-ripe, warped and twisted thing, base and prone to lying, torturing, cheating, and killing. Even when the stories are stunning and beautiful, there is something dark and twisted lurking in the shadows - not an otherworldly monster as in a horror tale, but worse, the dark predilections that wait in our nature.
Notes for Individual Reviews:
"A Provincial Tale": This is a novella, not really a short story, and it is ugly stuff. It's like a Bosch painting in words, full of twisted, grotesque, and evil people laughing and drunk and doing vile things to each other. It's barbaric. For fun they beat each other, smash a cat into a boot and kick the boot around until the cat screams in agony, laughing all the time, use and abuse others, steal from friends, ruin people's lives with lies, brutishly fuck, live a life with no honor, ethics, or morality, condemn other friends to death, and ruin what little joy exists in other people's lives. Repugnant. Beautifully written, much like Bosch's paintings are beautifully made, but reading this is engaging in a stunning portrayal of the worst of mankind. And according to this story, the worst of mankind is in Russia.
"The Dragon": I'm not really sure what I just read.
"The Protectress of Sinners": A few assholes bungle a robbery of a convent, after killing a guard and a dog, of course.
"Two Tales for Grown-Up Children": "The Church of God": A nasty little parable about building a church on rotting corpses. "The Ivans": A very odd story about a bunch of lay-abouts who dig to the center of the earth
"The North": Was probably my favorite story in this collection; beautiful, but deeply sad. About a love affair between a simple giant and a ravenous redhead. Of course, the wealthy playa fucks everything up, but with the woman's help, and with the help of the giant whose obsession with illuminating his town overcomes his wife's needs (the simple giant wants his town to have the night-daylight of the city (the wealthy playa told him the city was illuminated at night)). A complicated tale, but typical of Zamyatin, deeply disturbing despite its immense beauty.
"The Cave": Another nasty story, this one comparing Neolithic life in a cave to life in Russia. An old man steals some wood to keep warm for his invalid wife's birthday, then goes out to die in the snow before the authorities throw him in jail. The wife, of course, will die shortly now that he's not around.
"The Healing of the Novice Erasmus": The Holy Student and the dangers of repressed sexuality.
"In Old Russia": A girl, two rich (older) men; who will win her affections? Ok, now we know. And now will someone else (who isn't old) win her affections?
"A Story About the Most Important Thing": Sci-fi? Parable? What the hell is this?
"The Miracle of Ash Wednesday": Basically, one of the funniest practical jokes ever. A man, uh, gets pregnant, and, uh, has a kid. Yeah. The ending is great.
"X": After the revolution, all are promised a lot of stuff. They don't exactly get what they want. And an ex-priest gets his comeuppance; that is supposedly the moral of the story, even though it obviously isn't; Zamyatin, just can't help twist that ironic "fuck you" knife. How the hell did this guy not get murdered by Stalin? What the fuck? The balls on this guy are bigger than a Yugo.
"Comrade Churygin Has the Floor": an ex-soldier with no legs, a bunch of pissed off peasants, weapons, violence, a sleazy bourgeois, more violence.
"The Flood" is a flood of repressed anger and emotions because of a woman who can't have kids, and whose adopted daughter has a love affair with her husband. An actual flood sets everything off. Bloody, violent, over-ripe: Zamyatin. One of my favorite stories in this collection.
"The Lion": a quick little parable about a worker who get a plum acting job as a lion in order to impress a woman. It ends. Badly. Which makes for good humor....more
I hate the five-star rating system. This book is somewhere between 3 and 5 stars. I'd like to give it a 3 and a half.
Anyway, this is a fantastic dystoI hate the five-star rating system. This book is somewhere between 3 and 5 stars. I'd like to give it a 3 and a half.
Anyway, this is a fantastic dystopia set in Brazil. We follow the middle-aged Souza, stuck in his ways, barely alive (metaphorically). He lives in a hyper-Panopticon; is a minor functionary; used to be a history professor; now lives in a stifling apt. in a stifling city under stifling surveillance, rules, and bureaucracy. Of course, everything goes to shit, but our protagonist, who is the constantly plodding sort, is always stuck in his head, always ruminating over the past and considering abstractions.
The world, as usual in a dystopia, has gone to shit. What is surprising is that this book, which was written in the early '80s, imagines a total environmental collapse. Brazil has cut down it's rain forest and now has "one of the wonders of the world," The Great Amazon Desert. Heat pockets are so intense that people burn to ashes if caught in one. Pharmaceuticals and multinationals have poisoned generations, and The System (and governments that proceeded it) have created blunder upon blunder. The Rich hide in massively walled cities, while everyone literally dies of lack of water and food.
Meanwhile, our "hero" does nothing but passively meander and ruminate on all that happens, occasionally bringing up suppressed memories of dead children, dead voyages, dead dreams, dead grandparents, dead occupations, dead forests, and a dead planet. His world goes from awful to repugnant to 23rd level of Dante's Inferno. Despite the horror he experiences, he sort of, kind of, "wakes up" and becomes slightly more alive - but only slightly - and only as he nears death. This is even bleaker than The Road but it's somehow a lot more fun....more
I've never heard of Selden Rodman, but he knew everyone in the 1950s art world, and he interviewed everyone in the 1950s art world. Even better, he'sI've never heard of Selden Rodman, but he knew everyone in the 1950s art world, and he interviewed everyone in the 1950s art world. Even better, he's smart, perceptive, well-read, and deviously gossipy. This is the art world version of US magazine, but with the intellectual rigor of October magazine. The artists are all perceptive and insightful, but what is surprising is that the more well-known artists also tend to be the most interesting.
This book was written in 1957, right in the middle of the rise and dominance of abstract expressionism, which, at the time, was still loathed by the dominant culture. Endlessly, the ab-exers talk about their disdain and disgust with the larger culture. On the flip side, Rodman talks with several realists, most of whom are now forgotten, and their concerns seem quaint and ancient (except for Ben Shahn, Saul Steinberg, and Jacob Lawrence, who aren't beholden to realism, but use it for their own purposes).
The best interview is easily with Jackson Pollock. He is impulsive, brilliant, wild, and drunk. The first interview ends with him drunkenly hugging a tree and exclaiming its beauty. The second interview starts with Pollock locked out of his studio - so Pollock knocks out the window panes in order to get inside.
The second best interviews are a months-long exchange between Frank Lloyd Wright and Philip Johnson, who are both cutting, bitchy, pompous, and whip-smart. At one point, for example, Wright says Johnson, "is a highbrow. A highbrow is a man educated beyond his capacity. His house is a box of glass - not shelter. The meaning of the word shelter includes privacy." And there's much more. Their exchange is hilarious....more
Lately, I've been obsessed with 1913. It was an amazing year, and this strike in Paterson was an amazing strike. The Paterson Silk Strike was a rare mLately, I've been obsessed with 1913. It was an amazing year, and this strike in Paterson was an amazing strike. The Paterson Silk Strike was a rare moment in history when the invisible social barriers that keep people disparate were erased, and people worked collectively towards changing their local situation, and hopefully, the world. In the end, they were crushed, and the ramification of that was long and vast and deeply sad.
Anyway, the International Workers of the World (the I.W.W. also known as "The Wobblies") were mainly based in the west. They were a labor group who were committed to organizers all workers, black or white, man or woman, immigrant or native. They believed in a bottom-up organizational structure - that is, the workers controlled their destiny and there were no official leaders. The public speakers were public simply so that they could give speeches and help organize and could NOT be black-listed if the strike failed. The I.W.W. was originally very violent, but by 1913, had taken up an extreme non-violence stance to the chagrin of the extreme left (esp. the anarchists). In 1912, they led a successful, but brutal, strike in Lawrence, Massachusetts. In 1913, in Paterson, N.J., silk workers decided to strike. They called in the I.W.W. to act as their public voice and to help organize the strike. The workers and the I.W.W. managed to get all of the silk workers to strike together, both the skilled workers (who were not easily replaceable) and the non-skilled workers (who were utterly replaceable).
Despite a hell of a fight, the business owners had more money, and had wisely de-centralized their business operations and had many smaller factories centered in Pennsylvania, so they were able to hold out longer than the strikers. On top of that, there was a general glut of silk products on the market, so the business owners realized that after the strike, they would able to take over the marketplace from the middlemen. Eventually, the strikers starved, despite the money that came in.
And money did come in. Despite the negative press (The New York Times, in particular, was really bad at reporting false stories that came from the business owners and, worse, weren't true) the I.W.W. managed to get the message out, esp. by sending it's talking heads to NYC. The leaders managed to form bridges to the intellectuals, artists and radicals of Greenwich Village. For a brief moment, workers, radicals, intellectuals, artists, writers, poets, schoolteachers, and the whole wild crew all worked as one.
The strikers were amazingly progressive. No violence; equality for women; equality for immigrants; collective action; bottom-up organization. The Greenwich Village radicals held the same ideals, except for a complete lack of interaction with the working classes. The same people who interacted with the Paterson Silk Strike were the same people who organized The Armory Show, which largely introduced modern art (Picasso, Duchamp, Matisse, etc.) to the U.S.
The striker/Bohemian connection culminated with a massive play/pageant/parade. The mainstream news was spreading lies or ignoring what was happening, so the artists suggested turning the last few months of striking into a massive artistic spectacle (even The NYTimes agreed, even though they said it spouted dangerous radical ideology). It worked beautifully as a play, but the newspapers claimed that it was going to generate massive cash, which the organizers knew it wouldn't.
The strike failed despite the best efforts of all around, and then the blame started. Eventually, the in-fighting destroyed them, and they were completely finished with the advent of WWI, which resulted in a conservative backlash.
It's a great book if that sounds interesting to you. It's not beautifully written, but it's written well for an academic text. What it is, is a hell of a story....more
Taking a heavy cue from Against Nature, this book rambles along without much of a plot, loosely documenting the author's random encounters with PeteTaking a heavy cue from Against Nature, this book rambles along without much of a plot, loosely documenting the author's random encounters with Peter Whiffle, the ultimate free-spirit, a man forever changing and moving with the zeitgeist, and a man unable to make decisions. Peter Whiffle is a cypher, but his changes are amazingly inventive and capture the obsessions of the time. Even though Whiffle is a flighty dilettante, he's an interesting guy, and his "causes" are interesting as well.
We first meet Peter Whiffle in Paris and he is only interested in form. He has stacks of every type of non-literary writing, science books, catalogs, encyclopedias, etc. He wants to write a book that is pure form; merely a list of things neither connected nor unconnected. To do that, he is going to turn the written "junk" (like catalogs and dry academic writing) into a new form literature.
Later, the author, Carl van Vechten, meets Peter Whiffle in NYC. Whiffle is now a realist writer obsessed with class consciousness. He brazenly romanticizes the poor and unfortunate, and lives in a shithole in the worst part of NYC. His new novel stars a real life Jewish hunchback girl whose life is abject misery.
On and on it goes, with Whiffle pre-figuring a novel of the self, ala Woolf/Joyce/Proust, and later a horror/mystical novel ala Poe, Lovecraft's progenitors, or early Aleister Crowley.
All and all, it's worth a read. I loved it and was bored by it in equal measures. It works as fictional biography, yet it works as a memoir of Carl Van Vechten, and a close sketch of the fin de siecle time period and the concurrent obsessions of the "artistic class." ...more
I should be working on my comic, but instead I'm reading this book, Tranquility, by Attila Bartis, a Romanian, and as I'm writing this I'm wondering wI should be working on my comic, but instead I'm reading this book, Tranquility, by Attila Bartis, a Romanian, and as I'm writing this I'm wondering why so much interesting art is coming out of Romania? Or wait, is Attila Bartis Hungarian? My Eastern European history is pretty vague, as is my geography, but I do know Ceausescu ran Romania, which is were this novel is set, so Bartis must be Hungarian, or at least a Romanian writing about Hungary. I try to remember if I know anyone from Romania or Hungary. I know a couple of Bulgarian girls, and they're crazy, and I've had crazy times with them, and one is an actress, but that really has nothing to do with Romania or Hungary; only that I am a typical American who probably couldn't distinguish Hungary, Romania and Bulgaria on a map, which is sad, since I really like geography.
But the book. The book is a dark dank scurrying rodent in a dark dank sub-basement. Or it felt like that to me, even if it never grew legs and scurried into my building's basement. And unlike a scurrying rodent, it's almost funny, like an inappropriate cancer joke told at a hospital. The book is about a man-child writer and his relationship with three women who are as fucked up as he is - if not more: his mother, his sister, and his lover. The book seems to decay as you read it; Bartis' language decays, his story decays, everything decays around his words. In my mind, I pictured 4 Months, 3 Weeks and 2 Days, a recent Romanian film (or was it Hungarian?). Anyway, I pictured the book in similar colors: an odd post-modern drama-tragedy framed by the sickly colors of Communist industrial decay and framed like a horror movie. But the book is set in Hungary, in Budapest, actually, and maybe the author is Hungarian? I don't remember.
So maybe he's not connected to the recent Romanian New Wave? Maybe he's connected to the not-really-existent Hungarian New Wave (or as Bartis would write it "notreallyexistent")? Right now I'm thinking in terms of films, even though I've been reading a lot lately and not watching films, yet I think of Bela Tarr, a Hungarian filmmaker whose film Werckmeister Harmonies is overpowering and whose sickly death-obsessed tone reminds me of Tranquility, but I still picture Tranquility in the lurid (but desaturated) color of the other film, and not in Tarr's stately black and white.
But this book is good. Maybe even great. It's disturbing, sure, but worth your time.
I should get back to my comic. And I suddenly want to get a hold of my Bulgarian girls, even though it's been a few months, and even though they're neither Hungarian nor Romanian, and even though they're crazy, they're crazyfun and not crazy like thedarkcrazyinthisbook. But I should get back to my comic.
This is one of my favorite architecture books of all time. Some of the buildings seem like they're from science fiction or fantasy and many of them arThis is one of my favorite architecture books of all time. Some of the buildings seem like they're from science fiction or fantasy and many of them are more beautiful and more alien than anything I ever imagined. Every time I open this book, which is often, I see something that I love and that fills me with joy. If you like architecture, get this book....more
If you're reading this, then you are interested in the artistic, cultural and political revolution that was happening in NYC at the turn of the centurIf you're reading this, then you are interested in the artistic, cultural and political revolution that was happening in NYC at the turn of the century, and this book does not disappoint.
In NYC in 1913 there were two important and far-effecting events. The first was the Armory Show, the art show that introduced modern art the U.S. It was the first general public appearance of Impressionism, Fauvsit, Cubist, Futurist, and other avant-garde works. It was the first time the majority in the U.S. had ever seen anything from Duchamp, Picasso, Cezanne, etc., and it changed art history.
The second event was the Paterson Silk Strike Pageant. Early in 1913 there was a massive strike at the silk mills in Paterson, NJ. The workers, largely immigrants, were fighting for 8 hour days, 5 day work weeks, and improved working conditions. Despite tens of thousands of strikers and thousands of arrests, the NYC press (such as the NYTimes) wasn't covering the struggle, so the leaders of the Strike got together with several intellectuals and organizers of the Armory Show, and recreated the dramatic moments of the strike as a parade and a pageant.
What is remarkable is that a small group of organizers were part of the creation of the Armory Show AND the Paterson Silk Strike Pageant. What is amazing is the level of radical HOPE that was endemic in Greenwich Village in NYC and amongst the strikers in Paterson.
I'm amazed that most of the radical ideas of the 60s (and radicalism itself) came out of these few decades, and few isolated pockets of culture in NYC, Paris, London, etc. Anarchism, Communism, Socialism, racial equality, women's rights, gay rights, free love, anti-patriarchy, etc., all had their origins in this time period, and at the time, their adherents were convinced that they would persevere. Likewise, culturally radical ideas were also billowing: not just the avant-garde art mentioned above, but also in both the avant-garde art music of Stravinsky, Satie, Debussy, Varese and others, and in ragtime, which was the first American music, and which was (like hip hop today) considered lewd, dangerous and full of sex. Likewise, science and technology was experiencing a Renaissance, both through Einstein, Bohr, and others in the theoretical realm, and through Tesla, Wright, Edison and others in the engineering realm.
It was a heady time, but it was also a time that ended with WWI. Most countries went to the right after the war; the few countries that didn't spiraled into decadence, much like the radical scene itself, which was no longer interest in popular engagement, but was now interested in isolation, hedonism, decadence, or nihilism. (Think of the move from the radical optimism and push for change of this period with the pessimistic isolation of the Jazz Age, T.S. Eliot, Dada, Duchamp, and Hemingway's early shorts.)
This book locates the cusp of these radical movements in 1913, and focuses on the Armory Show and the Paterson Strike Silk Pageant in order to look at the various forces in America and elsewhere.
Ultimately, the strike failed, as well as most of the ideals. The art was a massive success that had long lasting ramifications in art and culture, but which also became less and less engaged with the masses. Most of the ideals and ideas of the era went underground until the 60s, which seem to me to be a direct continuation. But that radical time also fell, and largely to the same forces....more
An giant oversize book of full page reproductions from Pulitzer's turn of the century newspapers. The reproduced pages are full color, and all from thAn giant oversize book of full page reproductions from Pulitzer's turn of the century newspapers. The reproduced pages are full color, and all from the Sunday supplement, so are rife with comics, models, to scale diagrams (including one of various gun diameters used on ships), and illustrated sensational and lurid stories. If any of this sounds interesting, go buy the book asap. You won't be disappointed....more