Bomb magazine asked me to contribute to their look back on the year past:
Unsurprisingly, the list is heavily shadowed over by politics. I'm far from an exception. I chose a talk I saw by the effulgent Terre Thaemlitz in Athens. For Thaemlitz's writing, sound, and art, look here:
Beginning today, I'm taking a full-time position as an editor at documenta 14, working from Athens and Kassel:
Huge debt of gratitude to Quinn and Adam for inviting me over--pun very much intended.
There was a line he kept repeating to himself that had the mystery and power he'd felt nowhere else but in the shared past of people who had loved each other, who lived so close they'd memorized each other's warts and cowlicks and addled pauses, so the line was not one voice but several and it spoke a more or less nonsensical theme, it was a line for any occasion or none at all, mainly meant to be funny but useful also in grim times to remind them that words stick even as lives fly apart.
Measure your head before ordering.
It was the line that says everything. All the more appropriate and all the funnier because outsiders did not understand and all the better finally because there was nothing to understand.
As of today I'm taking up residence--for only a month, sadly--at Denniston Hill. I'm very grateful for my selection.
Everyone is a virtuoso on his own instrument, but together they add up to an intolerable cacophony. The word cacophony was incidentally a favourite of my maternal grandfather’s. And the phrase he hated more than any other was thought process.
. . . Turn off the glow of the screen.
Nobody owns anybody. You've reached
your quota for aphorisms. Lay down
each vertebra and let the steam roll
up from beneath the earth and take you
down to the dream of the gate, the house
of stones with little lanterns and a secret
yard. This house is your house. It cannot
be foreclosed. Close your mouth and take
out the dirty money. Give it away freely.
Merchard and I threw ourselves down on the bed and raised our arms in the air harmonizing our animal sounds directing them to the goddess's ears. I realized we could get back our ten dollar deposit on the giant black RCA we really wanted. We bombed down to St. Mark's Place and I showed the guy my slip and asked for our ten dollars back. He tried to throw us out of the store--five people have tried to buy the teevee but I was saving it for you so you can't get your money back--Get out of here! I pleaded, tried to reason called him a bastard and he awkwardly called me a bastard back. Somehow only males are called bastards. He was a large black guy who was really getting fed up. Get out of my store, now. No. I want my money back. I jumped in anger in this weird characteristic way I have since a child. I look like an angry frog. You can jump your ass off but you're not going to get your money back. You've got to give it to me. We're hungry. We won't have any dinner tonight. Nothing. You've got this store with all these teevees. You don't need my ten dollars. You're just doing it for spite. I didn't do it on purpose to you. I'd rather have that teevee. I love that teevee. But tonight I'm so broke I can't eat. Everytime he said get out I said no. I've never used this tactic before. Finally he peeled a wrinkly ten off a small wad of bills--Here, now get out.
Frieze week happening: launch at Printed Matter for my old friend Josephine Meckesper's new book. I contributed an essay where, among other things, I discuss Germanness without any cheap Walter Abish references.
Forming the hair into a cohesive mass was a losing task: single hairs drifted from the bundle, falling in slow motion to the carpet. . . . I wrapped the stuff around my finger until the wad was the size of a walnut, but when I pulled it off it swelled up in my hand and I understood that this was going to be difficult no matter what. I looked to B.'s face, saw her eyes dark and frightened like little gaping mouths. Then I stuffed it in. Tongue clinging to the dry fiber, gums wettening but still sticky, struggling to stay slick. There were bits hanging out, but I couldn't open my mouth or I'd risk losing the whole thing. I tilted my throat back and tried to choke it down. I put my thumb and fingers on opposite sides of the neck and stroked down, the way I used to get my dog to swallow a pill hidden in a lump of peanut butter. At the back of my throat it stuck like a wet rag at the threshold and I had to cough it up a bit, gasping around it, needing much more saliva to get it down.
I'm extremely pleased to note that Bomb magazine has chosen to publish an excerpt of my novel in its Spring 2016 issue:
The proofs against my immortality were adding up.
I have a new piece coming out in Mousse. Here's the TOC:
It's kind of a screed, or felt like one as I was writing it, anyway. And the brackets in the title were an editorial misunderstanding.
Sometimes, when no one was home, Lila went into the little room where she had hidden the shoes and touched them, looked at them, marveled to herself that for good or ill there they were and had come into being as a result of a design on a sheet of graph paper. How much wasted work.
Judy, when I saw you having sex with that insect in Naked Lunch I said to myself, "Here's a woman who thinks as I do."
Another project I'm lucky enough to be involved in:
South as a State of Mind is hosting documenta 14 for its next four issues. I'll be serving as the magazine's associate editor. It's great to be working again with Quinn Latimer, who graciously brought me on board.
I'm very pleased to be among the contributors to the exhibition catalogue.
VINCENT: No, seriously, we were talking about Fitzgerald.
EMILY: Right--Fitzgerald says to Laurette Taylor: "My God, you beautiful egg, you beautiful egg, you beautiful, beautiful egg." And Laurette Taylor turns to her husband and says, "Oh Hartley, I've just seen the doom of youth. Do you understand? The doom of youth itself, a walking doom."
VINCENT: Now that's gorgeous. And do you know what made that gorgeous which the other thing you read didn't have? A beginning and an end.
Every now & again he'll interrupt his keeping of yes & no unsplit to mention something from the realm of wishes or cool feelings like the babe from Wayne's World or something about Thurston Moore, you know, like gesture toward a time-tested entity from popular culture about which it is possible to have only positive feelings, then proceed to cite a family memory that never fails to cause me surgical pain.
So when I say to you you [sic] can either sleep with me or have your own bed in my apartment, etc,. I mean that. I mean, I want to be with you and so you set the terms 'cause that's how the relation so far has been arranged. I'm not fucking playing games. I'm just being straight-forward and trying to be, like good-mannered. Of course, I want to hang with you. My apartment isn't a hotel. I'm trying to be gracious, fuck you. Now if you want me to make the decisions, you have to say so. You see, I'm really not into these out-of-bed games. Fucking just tell me what you want and I'll go with it.
What are men to rocks and mountains? Oh! what hours of transport we shall spend! And when we do return, it shall not be like other travellers, without being able to give one accurate idea of anything. We will know where we have gone--we will recollect what we have seen.
The Supreme Court is where the country takes out its dick and tits and decides who's going to get fucked and who's getting a taste of mother's milk. It's constitutional pornography in there.
Friday, May 8, at 7 pm, I'm doing my first reading in NYC this millennium:
Too little reading these days. But some writing:
Finally, it's out. And it's actually not bad:
Viz., my opus on the absorption of "French theory" by the art world in the '80s and postmodern's recent slight return. Big thanks to Dis.
In the same Time article in which she declared Oldenburg's readiness to "kill" her, Sturtevant, "with a faraway look in her eye," and non-nonplussed by artistic death threats, delivered one of the acutest statements about her pursuit and its consequences:
I have no place at all except in relation to the total structure. What interests me is not communicating but creating change. Some people feel that a great change in esthetics in general is happening, though few understand exactly why. Mainly, there is a great deal of anxiety.
The artist puts herself and her work, whatever it is, in relation to the total structure, whose center was not holding, but she never clarifies the parameters of the no-place from which she operated or the extent of the totality of the "total structure" she articulates. Does the no-place have a climate? Is it wind-whipped or sultry? . . . Contrefaction is her métier, and "creating change" results, in part, from her making work that, hiding in plain sight, appears as the donée of what operates freshly as art--Oldenburg's or someone else's.
The wife is reading Civilization and Its Discontents, but she keeps getting lost in the index.
bare leg on a cold night, 40
cautious businessman, 34
guest who becomes a permanent lodger, 53
Polar expedition, ill equipped, 98
When she tells people she might move to the country, they say, "But aren't you afraid you're going to get lonely?"
Imaging studies have found that the pain in romantic breakups is not just emotional. Similar areas to the ones that process physical assault light up in the brains of the recently jilted.
What John Berryman said: I'm too alone. I see no end. If we could all run, even that would be better.
At night, they lie in bed holding hands. It is possible if she is stealthy enough that the wife can do this while secretly giving the husband the finger.
I decided to update the publications section, at left, adding my most recent piece of nonfiction, on Darren Bader from the October issue of Frieze, and an excerpt from the beginning of my novel, published in the journal Tammy last fall.
The player at the machine had his face turned away, and Doc at first noticed only the fine careful attention to how he was pulling the lever, another customer intent not so much on Fun as paying down a grocery tab somewhere in the neighborhood, until, quickly scanning the other slots nearby, Doc recognized the swastikaed head of Puck Beverton, who was busy pretending to play a nickel machine. That would make the "genius" working the other machine Puck's running mate Einar. . . .
Doc, shifting into a word-with-you-my-man mode, was just about to step forward when several kinds of hell broke loose. To a military fanfare heavy on the bass horns, plus train whistles, fire sirens, and canned athletic-stadium cheering, a quantity of JFK half-dollars began to vomit out of the machine in a huge parabolic torrent, falling onto the carpeting in a growing heap. Einar nodded and stepped away and--had Doc blinked or something?--just like that disappeared. Puck gave one last yank to the handle on his nickel machine and got up and headed over to claim the jackpot, when suddenly the laws of chance, deciding on a classic fuck-you, instructed Puck's nickel machine also to hit, with even more noise than the first, and there stood Puck, paralyzed between the two winning machines, and here on the run came a delegation of casino personnel to confirm and certify the two happy jackpot winners, already one short. At which point Puck, as if allergic to dilemmas, broke for the nearest exit, screaming.
She had been having a rough time of it and thought about suicide sometimes, but suicide was so corny and you had to be careful in this milieu which was eleventh grade because two of her classmates had committed suicide the year before and between them they left twenty-four suicide notes and had become just a joke. They had left the notes everywhere and they were full of misspellings and pretensions. Theirs had been a false show.
Your twin sister carried your soul in her little box, it came down to that.
My third publication of fiction in approximately ten years, an excerpt from my novel. It's a very nice journal put out by some alums of the prestigious UMass MFA. Contribs include Kate Schapira, Paige Taggart, Clara Sabater, Anthony Madrid, Francesca Capone (some great compressed-text works), and Liza Birnbaum.
Available by mail order and in extremely selective bookshops. Plus I have one extra copy that I'll let you borrow if you promise to read it with gloves on.
Their hearts gave out. Alas, the heart is not a metaphor--or not only a metaphor.
[I don't usually editorialize, but mere minutes after I had selected the above, I saw it in a subway ad for Robert Gober at MoMA. He offers a strangely backhanded appreciation:
I wrote this piece on Darren Bader recently:
Some day I hope to make it from behind the paywall. In this case I think if you're a free registered user you can access it as well.
If you're in London:
. . . the dustcloud in which the buggy moved not blowing away because it had been raised by no wind and was supported by no air but evoked, materialised about, instantaneous and eternal, cubic foot for cubic foot of dust to cubic foot for cubic foot of horse and buggy, peripatetic beneath the branch-shredded vistas of flat black fiercely and heavily starred sky, the dustcloud moving on, enclosing them with not threat exactly but maybe warning, bland, almost friendly, warning, as if to say, Come on if you like. But I will get there first; accumulating ahead of you I will arrive first, lifting, sloping gently upward under hooves and wheels so that you will find no destination but merely abrupt gently onto a plateau and a panorama of harmless and inscrutable night and there will be nothing for you to do but return and so I would advise you not to go, to turn back now and let what is, be.
Anyone who bar-codes their employees isn't likely to be the forgiving type.
One can hardly imagine that lions would be more efficient predators if they lavished large amounts of their time and energy on placating nonexistent beings from other worlds. And what about the gazelles? Would they have any chance of escaping the cheetahs if they kept being diverted by parades of spirits, elves, or angels?
With one week left in my term at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown, it seems a good time to update the selections from my novel in progress:
The newly added sections include two people joking tastelessly about a death, a reflection on meaning and loss, and a reflection on a pop song.
I went on into the dreadful rocks. There were hundreds and hundreds of them. Some were like horrid-grinning men; I could see their faces as if they would jump at me out of the stone, and catch hold of me, and drag me with them back into the rock, so that I should always be there. And there were other rocks that were like animals, creeping, horrible animals, putting out their tongues, and others were like words that I could not say, and others like dead people lying on the grass. I went on among them, though they frightened me, and my heart was full of wicked songs that they put into it; and I wanted to make faces and twist myself about in the way they did, and I went on and on a long way till at last I liked the rocks, and they didn't frighten me any more. I sang the songs I thought of; songs full of words that must not be spoken or written down. Then I made faces like the fa