Tentatively, Convenience's Reviews > L=I=N=G=L=A=G=E

Rate this book
Clear rating

's review

liked it
bookshelves: poetry

Xexoxial Editions was (still is?) one of the most prolific small press publishers of experimental writing that I've known of. Substantial care was often given to making the bks unique as objects in & of themselves. This one doesn't fall into that category but others that I'll review here will. "L=I=N=K=L=A=G=E" is "for Bernstein & Andrews" - meaning the editors of "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E" magazine (from wch the title is obviously derived) - an early critical magazine central to the discussion of "language writing". The longest section of this bk is called "THE CAVE CHILDREN OF NEW YORK ARE NEVER FREE" wch I find particularly funny given that "L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E" was a NYC-based publication.

Sign into Goodreads to see if any of your friends have read L=I=N=G=L=A=G=E.
Sign In »

Reading Progress

Finished Reading
March 28, 2008 – Shelved as: poetry
March 28, 2008 – Shelved

Comments Showing 1-4 of 4 (4 new)

dateDown arrow    newest »

message 1: by [deleted user] (new)

Hmmm... I don't know this particular book. I did once attempt to make contact with Xexoxial Editions, however. I had heard that they published "difficult books" & as you put it "bks unique as objects in & of themselves." So, toward the end of getting it published, Lori & I sent them some sort of e-format version of pithos-- I believe with a brief explanation of how the piece is to be constructed.

This is the response we received:

"Dear Bruce and Lori,

Thanks very much for Pithos, the work you sent to Xexoxial Editions. Unfortunately, we will not be able to publish this work. While it promises to be an engaging narrative and surely employs an unconventional spacing scheme that manifests as "concrete", we don't feel that the narrative content is saturated in the visual form, and in this way doesn't channel the intensity of cutting-edge verbo-visual experimentation that we at Xexoxial strive to publish."

Okay, I can certainly take publisher's rejections as well as the next drube, but c'mon-- you know this piece quite well, tENT-- would you say that its "narrative content is [NOT:] saturated in the visual form" & hence does NOT "channel the intensity of cutting-edge verbo-visual experimentation"??????????

I mean, c'mon. I mean, are they kidding or what?
You can't even really call this piece a "book" at all.. exactly how unique would it have had to be to consider publishing?

In fact, the narrative content is SO INTRICATELY saturated in visual & spatial form that I don't even think they got it-- not a bit of it!

No wonder we called our home publication outfit "The Overhead Press."

Tentatively, Convenience Yes, of course, "Pithos" is one of THE MOST "saturated in the visual form" pieces I've ever seen, so, yes, very bad call on And's part. I reckon the question I have to ask is whether you think the e-format conveyed that well or not? Since I've seen it in its more sculptural manifestation, I can safely say that it's more "unique as an object in & of itself" than anything I've ever seen Xexoxial do. BUT, that sd, it's b/c you set an amazingly high standard w/ that one! &, let's not forget, that you set the standard SO HIGH that you didn't actually assemble them all into blocks - just a few samples. Still, yes, it's a disappointment that Miekal didn't publish it, but, HEY!, etta cetera did! Wch is even better!!

message 3: by [deleted user] (last edited Mar 29, 2008 09:26AM) (new)

I don't think it was actually AND's call because the response I received was from a Xexoxial intern.

You ask a very good question though-- & no, I don't think the e-format conveyed some of the more obvious content/form interactions very effectively-- it couldn't really, because beyond the formal design of the "box"-- related to the narrative traced of the mistranslation of pithos-- which results from its origamic construction-- you have the performance aspect involving the reader/owner's decision to construct & reopen that box in order to read its secrets (potentially destroying the container itslf in the process of its unfolding)-- as pandora does-- or to preserve the object but leave the entire text unread-- & none of that really comes out in the e-format.

But still, a lot does come out. For example the text inscribed within the letter "P" for pithos on the first page-- it's repeated twice-- once upright & once upside down-- hence also forming a "d"-- & of course, this is the section that relates those two letters to one another by means of a series of intertextual puns--the p in pandora & the d in (Freud's) dora, playing also, as it does with such name meanings-- "gift" & "everything." So that sort of thing is still there.

You're right of course, because pithos found such a happy home in etta's pandora's box mail art piece-- for which it was designed in the first place-- that any other means of distribution would have been a mere afterthought (epimethean) & much less essentially promethean.

Still, I found the intellectual pretentiousness of the rejection letter somewhat disheartening-- I think it ASSUMED most of what it stated-- such absences-- because it didn't look closely enough to discover exactly how pithos is organized & constructed.

Would the same "error" have been made if its authors possessed more familiar & "significant" names within this community of experimental writers? I very much doubt it. Perhaps also somewhat ironic in terms of this piece-- which plays so intricately with the significance of names.

Tentatively, Convenience "Would the same "error" have been made if its authors possessed more familiar & "significant" names within this community of experimental writers?"

Probably not. Or DEFINITELY not? Truthfully, though, I have very little familiarity w/ who Xexoxial publishes other than Miekal - who's one of its cofounders (the other being Liz Was - who is, unfortunately, deceased). I do have a bk published by XE that's a collaboration between John Eberly & Jake Berry. As far as I know these 2 have no 'prominence' outside the more mail art end of the small press poetry scene. In other words, they aren't 'significant' names in the much more widely published academic "community of experimental writers" that wd include Bruce Andrews, eg.

Xexoxial is probably geared more toward innovative fonts & other computer-generated possibilities of lay-out & general presentation. I saw Miekal at an e-poetry fest in West Virginia, eg, where short animated Concrete Poems were being presented. I was a bit moved to sarcasm at the fest b/c it was so laptop-heavy. I made a comment to the effect that everyone shd have a paper bag over their head large enuf to accomodate their laptop & that they shd only communicate w/ each other via the internet - despite their physical presence. That was pretty unfair of me & I suspect that it made my name shit in those circles.

At any rate, yr work is more 'traditional' in the sense that much of its meaning comes from scholarly reference rather than more exclusively from modes of presentation. W/ that sd, though, for me the most interesting work always falls outside categories & I think you're safely outside the easily pigeon-holed. It might've been precisely b/c of this that yr work was rejected. Much of what Xexoxial publishes is probably created by people clearly in a certain subculture.

This presence of yrs (& mine too, I think) as a lone wolf (of sorts) makes you an easier target for rejection. As I vaguely touch on in my review of Batworth's poetry bk, reviews (& rewards, etc) are often framed by invisible elements of greater importance than the substance of the work. An academic seeking kudos w/in the larger academic community is not going to criticize the poetry of, eg, Charles Bernstein (that, of course, is a gross oversimplification used here for cONVENIENCE's sake). On the other hand, someone not likely to ever have a position of respected authority w/in the academic community wd be an easy target as an example of a 'bad' poet. That target isn't likely to ever cross paths w/ the critic, etc, etc..

Conclusion? Don't take the rejection too hard. Most likely whoever looked at yr work didn't understand it b/c they were more accustomed to looking for bells & whistles - ie: for obvious signs of what passes for innovation w/o necessarily being so. "Pithos" is a profoundly complex work but it doesn't jump out & bite you screaming: LOOK AT HOW NEW & FLASHY I AM!

back to top