10/3/22

R. B. Russell - Not quite literary criticism, not quite an autobiography, it is at once a guided tour through the dusty backrooms of long vanished used bookstores, a love letter to bookshops and bookselling

 

R. B. Russell, Fifty Forgotten BooksAnd Other

Stories, 2021

http://tartaruspress.com//ray/index.html


Fifty Forgotten Books is a very special sort of book about books, by a great bibliophile and for book-lovers of all ages and levels of experience. Not quite literary criticism, not quite an autobiography, it is at once a guided tour through the dusty backrooms of long vanished used bookstores, a love letter to bookshops and bookselling, and a browser’s dream wish list of often overlooked and unloved novels, short story collections, poetry collections and works of nonfiction.

In these pages, R. B. Russell, publisher of Tartarus Press, doesn’t only discuss the books of his life, but explains what they have meant to him over time, charting his progress as a writer and publisher for over thirty years, and a bibliophile for many more. Here is living proof of how literature, books, and book collecting can be an intrinsic part of one’s personal, professional and imaginative life, and as not only a solitary act, but a social one, resulting in treasured friendships, experiences, and loves one might never, otherwise, have enjoyed.

Filled with a lively nostalgia for the era when finding strange new books meant pounding the pavement and not just searching booksellers’ websites, Fifty Forgotten Books is for anyone who wishes they could still browse the dusty bookshelves of their youth, and who can’t wait to get back out into the world in quest of the next text liable to change their life.



‘This is a book to send you scurrying to the dusty mote-filled light of the secondhand book shop, to the chilliness of the jumble sale, to late nights at the blue screen of the laptop, seeking out the books you don’t know and can’t wait to know, and to renew old acquaintances. A memoir and commonplace book as delicate, suggestive and enchanting as the books themselves.’ - Stuart Maconie


‘Mixing personal reminiscence with literary recommendation, Fifty Forgotten Books sweeps the enchanted reader along as Ray Russell celebrates the fiction and nonfiction that have shaped him as a collector, writer and publisher. I say "enchanted" because few readers will find it easy to tear themselves away from these captivating mini-essays. I certainly couldn't even when I knew they should be parceled out slowly, if only to savor each more fully. Whether Russell is remembering his discovery of Arthur Machen, chronicling his sometimes comic negotiations with the crafty bookdealer George Locke, or reflecting on his own personal library of tatty paperbacks, signed firsts and rare association copies, he makes clear that a bookish life can be an enviably rewarding one, replete with the quiet satisfactions of the study, the rowdy pleasures of the literary conference, and warm friendships with the learned, the widely read and, not least, the winningly eccentric.’ - Michael Dirda


 ‘A groovy and delicious and intimate jigsaw of memories and passions and books, and schisms and oddities and books – Ray Russell is a bibliomaniac that it is a delight to spend time with. Falling in love with books voraciously, whilst growing up ferociously, has never been so beautifully described – a memoir that is as accurate and enthralling as it is dreamlike – just like the books about which he writes with such love!’ - David Tibet


‘R. B. Russell’s beautifully told part-memoir gives us the story of a life lived alongside books, and the joyous way in which those dusty first editions often reverberate throughout our lives.’ - Ed Parnell


‘A compelling celebration of reading, writing, publishing and the unexpected treasures to be found in second hand bookshops. Ray Russell writes so eloquently about his deep love of books as things in themselves but also his joy of discovering the new, the strange – those books that act as life’s waymarkers.’ - Andrew Michael Hurley


'Absolutely wonderful. A unique and enchanting memoir like no other. A book lover’s paean to the volumes that made him, which also opens a window on his soul. Charming, vivid and singularly evocative.’ - Jeremy Dyson


‘Decadents, bohemians, cult musicians, the odd (very odd) spy, shady publishers, backstreet booksellers, writers of the weird and wayward, they’re all here. R. B. Russell’s memoir gives us literature on the edge, in all its wonderful strangeness.’ - Mark Valentine


 Fifty “often overlooked and unloved” works of literature get their time in the sun as novelist and publisher Russell (She Sleeps) presents books that influenced him in this candid outing. Taking each book in turn, Russell traces his own literary development to his Pan paperback copy of Colin Wilson’s The Outsider, bought in 1981 when he was 14. A chat with a bookseller led to him reading The Hill of Dreams by Arthur Machen, the discovery of whom “was to have a major influence” both on Russell’s career and his personal life. Russell’s list also includes Thomas Tryon’s The Other, Aleister Crowley’s Diary of a Drug Fiend, the short story collections of his partner, Rosalie Parker, and Roland Topor’s The Tenant, an object of his collecting passion (he’s still waiting on a first edition he can afford). Russell’s relationship with these books is intense and long-lasting: discussing Raymond Radiguet’s Devil in the Flesh, he recounts his reactions to the book as a teen (“I was on the side of the narrator”) and on rereading it 40 years later (“I could discern very little of the narrator’s love that was noble”). Filled with quirky observations and personal asides, this is just right for book lovers. - Publishers Weekly


 As author R.B. Russell makes clear right at the outset, Fifty Forgotten Books: "is intended to be a personal recommendation of often overlooked and unloved novels". It very much reflects Russell's own interests and preferences, including for the short-story form and supernatural fiction, and with, for example, favorites Arthur Machen and his work getting considerable attention (and featuring in four of the fifty book-chapters). As co-publisher, with his private and professional partner Rosalie Parker, of Tartarus Press, Russell also singles out several titles published by Tartarus -- not least, Parker's The Old Knowledge -- as well as, for example, a collection by frequently-mentioned colleague Mark Valentine, At Dusk.

Beside a bit of introductory material and a short concluding reprise, the book has fifty chapters, each titled with the title (and the name of the book's author, along with, in small print, information about the date of first publication and the publisher, as well as sometimes later editions and/or the first one Russell owned) around which the chapter is then framed. However, Russell does not simply devote each chapter to the book in question. He often mentions what bookshop he purchased a given title from -- and also whether or not he purchased more or different editions later on (he is a collector, and has a weak spot for first and fine editions) --, and he often digresses about the circumstances surrounding the book, edition, or author; several times the book itself is only a starting-point and doesn't even feature that prominently then. He slips in mention of many other works along the way as well, by the author in question, or simply because of some close or loose collection to that particular book -- and so, in fact, Fifty Forgotten Books points readers to many more works than the title suggests.

Proceeding chronologically, Russell leads the reader through his own growth as a reader, describing how he first came across these titles or what led him to them. Biographical detail is woven in throughout, from schoolboy-age through his university years -- studying architecture --, jobs, his activity with several literary societies, including the Friends of Arthur Machen. a fellowship of which he remains the chair, and his own literary work. The latter range from the first Tartarus Press publication -- his "guide to Arthur Machen's favourite pubs", a photocopied edition of fifty, published in 1990 -- to a successful run of editions of The Guide to First Edition Prices starting in 1997 (a time-consuming but remunerative exercise he continued until 2010) to a few mentions of his own fiction. There's also his translation of one of the books that features in his fifty, Alain-Fournier's Le Grand Meaulnes -- see the Tartarus Press publicity page --, a translation about which he admits:

I created a new text that was as much a reimagining of previous translations, and based on what I hoped Alain-Fournier had written, than on my understanding of the original.

Russell is also very much a book collector, and he often discusses the physical versions of books as well -- noting which edition he first read a book in, and which editions he later found, or still seeks. The physical condition of books is noted numerous times -- as is the hunt for a favoured version, often a first edition. He notes the collecting-hazard of accumulating too many books, but admits to having multiple editions of several -- and, for example, concludes his chapter on Roland Topor's The Tenant:

I have three copies. If I ever find a first edition that I could afford, that would mean I'd have four. It remains an ambition !

Collector's pride also comes through in the incidental mentions, as he can't help but slip in -- here in the chapter of The House of the Hidden Light by Arthur Machen and A.E.White -- that:

Apart from the authors mentioned elsewhere in this book, on our shelves (and much treasured in first editions) are W. Somerset Maugham's The Magician (1908), Evelyn Waugh's Brideshead Revisited (1945), Flannery O'Connor's Wise Blood (1952) and William March's The Bad Seed (1954), amongst older fiction. I have also enjoyed and tracked down first editions of more contemporary books such as A.S.Byatt's Possession (1990), Donna Tartt's The Secret History (1992), Louis de Bernières' Captain Corelli's Mandolin (1994) and Peter Ackroyd's Dan Leno and the Limehouse Golem (1994).

(At a later point he also notes, in yet another humble-brag-variation, that: "far dearer to me than, say, my signed Margaret Atwood and Peter Ackroyd books are the treasured association copies written by living friends that have been personally inscribed to be and Rosalie".)

It is this rambling far beyond the 'fifty forgotten books', both literary and personal, that does make for much of the volume's charm -- and makes Fifty Forgotten Books as much a bibliophile-memoir as book-guide. Immersed in the world of book-buying -- there's quite a tour of second-hand-bookshops to be found here -- as well as collecting and publishing, the actual reading sometimes takes a back seat, but that's okay; the book world and his experiences in it he describes are certainly also engaging.

As to the fifty highlighted titles -- it is a very personal selection, and even at that idiosyncratic. One of the first books covered is one by Harry Price, which he admits he never bought a copy of (he borrowed the one he read, in his teens) -- and he then even goes on to explain: "I have never seriously regretted not buying The Most Haunted House in England, because I seem to recall that it is actually a little dull and repetitious" -- hardly a recommendation. Among the other books that get a chapter of their own is A Bibliography of Arthur Machen -- rather unlikely reading-matter for most readers. These are significant books from Russell's own reading- and life-journey, and while many of the others are likely of more interest to general readers, the volume remains very true to the self, a very personal selection.

Readers might find fewer 'lost gems' here than hoped for, with Russell noting some of the limitations of what he presents here (wondering, near the end also, for example: "why so few books by writers from non-white cultures had impinged on my reading experience over almost fifty years"), but it's an insightful overview of one reader's life in books, and certainly interesting as such -- not least, perhaps for readers with different interests and attitudes (such as myself, who doesn't care much for anything dealing with the supernatural and who would rather have a book in a mass-market paperback edition than a pristine hardcover first ...).

Fifty Forgotten Books may not lead readers to all too many books -- though most should find some that are of likely interest to them -- but offers more than enough otherwise for any book-lover -- because, also, it is so clearly written by one --, and is certainly an appealing little read.- M.A.Orthofer

https://www.complete-review.com/reviews/reading/russellrb.htm


R. B. Russell, Heaven's Hill, Zagava, 2021


Ruth Pritchard’s childhood friend, Oliver Dacey, works for GCHQ. He claims that after receiving strange messages broadcast on an outdated Cold War radio station he is able to travel in time. He involves Ruth and, inevitably, the authorities take an interest in both of them. At the heart of the mystery is Oliver’s mother, Dee, who directed them in games when they were children--games that bear an uncanny resemblance to the broadcast messages.

Ruth and Oliver travel back to 1965 together, and find that Dee is still directing them. It is a glamorous, but often confusing and frightening world …


"Russell’s writing is effortlessly smooth and the flow of the story consistent, catching the reader’s attention from the first chapter. Scenes and interactions have impeccable and descriptive detail, and the trips back in time are an engrossing read. Heaven’s Hill is a wonderfully-fun read full of drama, mystery and time travel and one that any fan of these genres will proudly add to their collection." - Belinda Brady, Aurealis


"...a rollicking mash-up of all your favourite ITC shows such as 'The Champions', 'Jason King' and 'The Prisoner' alongside 'The Avengers' and a very healthy serving of 'Sapphire and Steel' through which Russell launches his characters on a mind bending journey through time . . . Don't be fooled though this is no mere pastiche but a love letter to a genre now pretty much consigned to history (and blogs like this one) but one written with an awareness of both it's absurdities and it's joie de vivre." - Ian Holloway, Wyrd Britain


"Russell's novel is a crazy rollercoaster ride about belief and doubt, science and the inexplicable, at the same time a wicked satire on the conspiracy theory nonsense of our time, part family history, part spy thriller and last but not least the question of how we are shaped by our own history and our parents, and why nostalgic attracts us so magically. One unpredictable twist follows the next. Once again, Russel has succeeded in creating a page turner." - Gerrit Wustmann, Rocks


Andrew Komarnyckyj has a fictional biographer break into a fictional writer’s home to be thrown out and told ‘you can write about anything as long as I am not involved.’ The biographer takes this as a massive green light and K. presents it all to us deadpan like a new Confederacy of Dunces for a contemporary neo-Grub Street.

Andrew Komarnyckyj, Ezra Slef: The Next

Nobel Laureate in Literature, Tartarus Press,

2021

Excerpt


The pioneering writings of celebrated Russian novelist Ezra Slef have made him a titan of contemporary Postmodernism, with a worldwide following keen to know more about the man behind the books. Enter Humbert Botekin, a disgraced former professor of literature, and Slef's biggest admirer. He writes the definitive biography of Slef, with compendious notes, an introduction, a list of plates, and a glossary.

But Botekin's narrative soon spirals dangerously out of control. A supreme egotist, Botekin cannot resist assuming the foreground, so that his ostensible biography of Slef gradually changes into a personal memoir in which we learn far more about the biographer than about his subject. The narrative is both sinister and darkly comic.

Botekin's secrets include making a Faustian pact with a well-travelled gentleman who bears an uncanny resemblance to the Devil--a likeness the self-absorbed Botekin fails to notice, even as his world collapses around him.



Ezra Slef is a contemporary Russian writer, “a titan of contemporary Postmodernism”, who bears more than a passing resemblance to Will Self. The text we’re reading is apparently a biography of Slef, written by one Humbert Botekin, an academic and self-styled literary genius. The problem is that Slef wants nothing to do with him, so Botekin ends up writing mostly about himself instead.

Oh, but this book is such a joy to read! Botekin is a splendidly pompous narrator, and his life goes through so many ups and downs. He accepts the help of a certain individual calling himself Rensip De Narsckof (I could tell this was an anagram, but I have to thank a Washington Post article for the solution: ‘Prince of Darkness’) to deal with a Twitter troll, and things are never quite the same again…

Komarnyckyj includes little riffs on writers such as Borges and B.S. Johnson, and plenty more that I didn’t spot (there’s a list at the back). It’s just great fun. If Ezra Slef sounds like your kind of book, I’d say go for it.

http://www.davidsbookworld.com/2021/06/25/tartarus-press-ezra-slef-the-next-nobel-laureate-in-literature-by-andrew-komarnyckyj/



What is better than a biography about one of the greatest fictitious writers of all time? An autobiography, of sorts, about the author of the biography in the guise of writing the biography. It’s not as confusing as I make it sound. Because how does Humbert Botekin write a biography about Ezra Slef when he won’t consent to the interview? Botekin must then rely on public records, interviews, and the like. When that’s not enough, he must comically rely on his own history, which is surely comparable to the great Ezra Slef, to tell the complete story.

While I am versed in some of the influences for this book, some are unknown to me, and it didn’t dampen my enjoyment in the slightest. I thoroughly enjoyed watching Humbert Botekin delve more into Slef, and his obsessive switch from fan to stalker, and worse, which I’m going to term “Slefsessive”™, because it’s fun, and I can.

Botekin has fashioned the footnotes after Slef’s book, which makes the footnotes even more essential, and a bit of magical fairy dust on an already spectacular read. I’ve read Komarnyckyj before and am a fan of his work. His writing is clever, witty, and absolutely enthralling. The more I got into ESTNNLIL, the harder it was to put it down (in much the same vein as Humbert reading Slef’s great work). The irony, jabs, nods, and humor leaped off the page and tickled me delighted. An outstanding read.

https://energyrae.com/2021/01/27/ezra-slef-the-next-nobel-laureate-in-literature-andrew-komarnyckyj/



I started this novel in January thinking it was serendipitous that I had hoovered up Roger Lewis’s biography of Anthony Burgess over Christmastime. I found the Roger Lewis biography in the organic food co-op (Chorlton of course) on the book swap. I opened and finished it in a few days. It’ll be going back there at some point.

The idea of the biographer going a bit mad, or rogue, or both, and talking more about himself, is the basic premise of this novel. What pulled me through Roger Lewis’s biography was the sheer rush of egotism. The asides about a prediliction for nipples as big as tractor buttons. Yet another scything remark about liver failure. One could conclude that Lewis’s biography of Burgess is simply scandalous. But it is, in its unreliability, in its scaffolding with nothing more than amplified hearsay and plain untruth, in its rudeness, quite ‘of Burgess’.

Komarnyckyj, then, has a fictional biographer break into a fictional writer’s home to be thrown out and told ‘you can write about anything as long as I am not involved.’ The biographer takes this as a massive green light and Komarnyckyj presents it all to us deadpan like a new Confederacy of Dunces for a contemporary neo-Grub Street.

The other subject of the book is postmodernism. Ezra Slef, the fictional writer, is a postmodern author. Him being called Ezra is always already a nod to Pound. In a mediated world – on a planet of representations – meaning’s endgame has always already been played out.

Komarnyckyj claims a love-hate relation with postmodernism. I agree. But then I read Pynchon and realise that the problem is often not with postmodern literary landmarks. It lies in the absolutely thumb-sucking languagescape I try to stay out of. But it’s everywhere, ironic take-downs of next-to-nothing, pouty-faced styles that entertain in order to disguise there is little or no content beneath the tonal posturing.

This novel gets at that uncomfortable truth by presenting the fictional biographer’s material during its in-progress state. It’s often dreadful crap, the disturbing dimension being that it will only take a little buffing for the material to be publishable.

So what marks Komarnyckyj’s take on literary postmodernism out – because that’s what I think this book is – is an understanding that on this litscape where meaning’s endgame is already lost, all that’s left to do is make a satire out of its fundamental literary-philosophical stuffs. And that’s why I think this is a great novel, not a lightweight one.

For example ‘Ezra’ and ‘Senor Humbert’ appear as themselves, but frosted with a little of the literary sugar of Pound and Humbert Humbert. Komarnyckyj then puts them in positions where that light dusting of connotation will do a lot of work. But you need to know your literature for that to happen, and so this is literary fiction, for all its cheeky re-arrangement of museum furniture. There’s a lot of this in the book and to over-discuss it here would ruin the reader’s fun.

When I got to the end of this book I realised its author had actually listed Lewis’s biography of Anthony Burgess as one of his source documents. Burgess’s Enderby is in there too: Perhaps I was more than accidentally on the right track with my coincidental reading.

Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry by B.S. Johnson is also listed at the end. As the novel gets crazier and Ezra Slef becomes more a target than a subject, the influence becomes clear. Johnson’s Albert Angelo must be an influence too, as the author of the book, Andrew Komarnyckyj, is clearly in the text to a greater or lesser degree (how could he not be? Andrew Komarnyckyj invented the whole thing).

Stern’s Tristam Shandy is also listed, and I wonder if we might add Voltaire’s Candide as well. There’s a kind of nutcase, duo of journeymen quality to the book, which is very entertaining and a little bit brutal in places. The biographer blags his way into Oxford and then bribes his way into a job with an early folio of Joyce (as a professor of postmodernism, of course). In this there’s Hogarth too, I think, and so of course Smollett and Fielding. This is the very British – actually English – aspect of the book, for all its Pynchonism.

There’s been a lot of talk about exiting postmodernism. But I haven’t seen any convincing examples of form that can claim to be ‘out the other side’. All I see is drably worthy reheated humanism and modernism. A lot of it. I’m so fucking bored of it I can’t tell you. It reflects the last few years of batshit crazy times in no ways whatsoever. It’s just the dour underside of the contemporary cultural coinage. The bright upside is the chattering, giddy childscape of listicles about celebrity pets.

If you’re sick of that, and I am, then this is a damn fine novel to take in while we’re waiting for either The End or Something New. - Steve Hanson

https://manchestereviewofbooks.wordpress.com/2021/01/18/a-paean-to-pomo/



Ezra Slef: The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature (Ezra Slef from here on in) is a wonderful, quirky read. I bought it on something of a whim – I’m a sucker for a Faustian pact! – and found it to be a thoroughly engaging read and something quite different to much of what I’ve read this year.

In Ezra Slef, we meet Humbert Botekin, Regius Professor of Postmodern Literature at Balliol College, Oxford. His title is one that he is extremely proud of, so much so that he often introduces himself by name and title given the slightest opportunity to do so, even when chatting up an attractive lady in the pub. Humbert isn’t an especially likeable character, largely due to the tremendous ego he exhibits throughout. His is a fascinating journey, however, with several high points, but some absolutely spectacular lows as well. Even from his university days, we see an individual who is intelligent – they don’t just let anyone into Oxford now, do they? – and yet not above seeking an advantage via other means where necessary. He quickly cottons on to the influence that one particular professor holds, and begins sending gifts in his direction, his masters and post-graduate courses no doubt rendered a little easier as a result. This same strategy also helps him to secure a position on the teaching staff upon finishing his studies, and later sees him promoted ahead of colleagues with more experience. He’s not afraid of hard work, and yet clearly doesn’t mind greasing a few palms if it makes his life easier. It sets up the narrative well for what is to follow.

Humbert sets out to write a biography of Ezra Slef – a Russian Postmodernist author that Humbert seems to be more than a little infatuated with. This sounds great in theory, except that Humbert is not provided with access to any papers etc. nor does Slef grant him any interviews. Rather, Humbert must use his own knowledge alongside the material that is already available in the public domain. And to fill in the remaining gaps? Well, Humbert assumes that his hero’s life is much as his own, and so he uses his own experiences to fill in the blanks, and we learn much more about Humbert than we do about Slef as the biographical work becomes more autobiographical in nature.

Ezra Slef himself remains a relatively distant character throughout, although we are treated to examples of his work and passages that Humbert is particularly impressed with. It comes across – deliberately, I think – as being quite niche in terms of its appeal, and yet Humbert will hear no word against him and his work. I did wonder if the author was perhaps having a little dig at the way in which some novels are raved about and yet hold very little appeal for the average reader – Slef’s work and Humbert’s admiration for it comes across as being a bit “emperor’s new clothes” to me.

Ezra Slef is about one man’s hubris – Humbert believes himself untouchable, particularly after taking advice from the rather mixed up (hoping you’re all cryptic crossword fans ūüėČ) Rensip De Narsckof. Written in retrospect, Humbert makes several references to his eventual downfall and while we don’t know what will cause his demise, we do know it’s coming, and there are several elements along the way that could contribute to this. This makes Ezra Slef an extremely engaging read – I was fascinated with Humbert’s life which does seem charmed at times, and I wanted to know how and why it would start to fall apart. What is clear is that Humbert is the engineer of his own downfall, and I don’t mind admitting that there’s an element of schadenfreude in seeing him brought low.

Ezra Slef is an absolutely brilliant novel – I found it to be original and gripping throughout. And what a pleasure the book itself is. This is my first from Tartarus Press, but I love the quality of it. I feel a new collection coming on!

https://josbookblog.co.uk/2021/10/10/ezra-slef-the-next-nobel-laureate-in-literature-by-andrew-komarnyckyj/


At first, the protagonist of Andrew Komarnyckyj’s “Ezra Slef: The Next Nobel Laureate in Literature” (Tartarus Press) might seem to be an actual madman. In fact, Humbert Botekin, Regius professor of postmodern literature at Balliol College at Oxford, is simply a ruthlessly ambitious, self-centered academic operator who bribes one senior professor with Joyce rarities, callously destroys the literary career of a former student, steals an unpublished manuscript from the great Russian writer Ezra Slef and swindles a former classmate out of nearly a million pounds. Botekin, we learn, regularly takes advice about his career and love life from a rather louche “man of the world” who calls himself Rensip De Narsckof. Squint a little at that peculiar name and, lo, the Prince of Darkness rises from the shadows.

Besides being a deliciously sardonic tale of reversals and comeuppance, “Ezra Slef” pays deft homage to Nabokov, Borges, Flann O’Brien and numerous other tricksy writers. It’s a joyful book, packed with surprises. - Michael Dirda

https://www.washingtonpost.com/entertainment/books/what-to-read-in-april-a-critics-pick-of-books-that-arent-on-the-bestseller-list/2021/04/06/eef017c6-962d-11eb-b28d-bfa7bb5cb2a5_story.html


9/26/22

Lucie Paye - the story of a painter fixated with a ghostly female figure becomes entwined with the story of a woman seeking to connect with a long-lost son. A delicate tale of artistic obsession and creation

 

Lucie Paye, Absence, Trans. by Natasha Lehrer,

Les Fugitives, 2022


A mysterious female figure keeps on appearing under a landscape painter’s brush. A woman addresses letters to an absent loved one. Directing her reader and characters with the deftness of the Master of Suspense, Lucie Paye dramatises the power of unconditional love and the role of the unconscious in artistic creation.


‘In this remarkable debut, the story of a painter fixated with a ghostly female figure becomes entwined with the story of a woman seeking to connect with a long-lost son. A delicate tale of artistic obsession and creation, and a moving meditation on longing and loss.’ — √Āngel Gurr√≠a-Quintana

9/23/22

Jessica Baer - Here the linear lives within the subliminal sequencing of itself, breaking out a kind of disco of sorrow, hypervigilant texts that hope to dance into bijections by abandoning itself to lexical chance. Here the abyss of Baer’s prosaic, cryogenic world does not thaw, but hyperventilates from insularity and significant enigma.

 


Ulrich Jesse K Baer/ Jessica Baer, Midwestern

Infinity Doctrine, Apocalypse Party, 2021


http://ulrich-baer.space/


Midwestern Infinity Doctrine is about the diabolical pact with analogies within language as an endlessly proliferating series of artificially derived re-semblances, halving & splitting and re-joining themselves. The affective currency of disastered bodies where the brain’s automatic hyper-completions run crunching errant timelines together into singularities that transgress homogenized social time in the neurodivergent cptsd text embodied. It’s about the (im)possibility of intimacy after violence and its fulfillment within my relationship to my 2005 maroon Ford Taurus. In a Super Walmart parking lot where I met myself in an identical car; the sinuous-duplicitous doubling that powers drives through the immaterial of language textures. A paean to Ivan Ooze, it’s about my decision to reunify my abusers out of the world of my life and into the cosmic everything-nothing faraway. It’s about the specters that stay behind anyway. It’s about the paranoia-machine of alienated desire; the perpetual inauguration of the uncanny-familiar in time as indexicality. It’s about the line in The Who’s “teenage waste/land” where he sings “I don’t need / to be forgiven.”


"Jessica Baer’s philosophical and entropic Midwestern Infinity Doctrine is more of a backward sermon than a doctrine, a sermon that sits on the edge of science and time, giving quenched counsels on existence, on survival, on livelihood, on the search within the JessicaBaerself: where the birth of the protagonist meets the birth of the author. Here language battlecrawls as a paranormal dual citizen of reality and lexical electrostatics. Everything in Baer’s penultimate world is comodulated for depth of chaos and for depth of furtive estrangements between logic and beauty. A place where language could experience post-traumatic disorder in science with some order and some chaos. Here the linear lives within the subliminal sequencing of itself, breaking out a kind of disco of sorrow, hypervigilant texts that hope to dance into bijections by abandoning itself to lexical chance. Here the abyss of Baer’s prosaic, cryogenic world does not thaw, but hyperventilate from insularity and significant enigma. The speaker is a surgeon of the nascent. A machine or an aperture that ejects snowclouds of lucid ambivalence. Of course, in the rhetorical exploration of the self, there is the reader, the cyborg, the villain, Ivan Ooze, then Paul Newman, and then Clarice Inspector who show up for Baer’s inexact mathematical party dressed like bullets out of an experimental pistol, all hoping to miss us softly, a few inches, from our true literary artery. Be colossal and enter with cosmic form." — Vi Khi Nao



The haunted speaker of Midwestern Infinity Doctrine, self-reflexively invoked on the page as “Jessica Baer,” offers a philosophical-poetical treatise on the liminality of life, death, and memory—where the in-betweenness of living becomes rupture from which other, alternate timelines emerge. Like science fiction/fantasy author Gene Wolfe’s seminal Peace (1975), a highly poetic and unsettling novel which recalls scenes from the life of the possibly deceased Alden Dennis Weer, Midwestern Infinity Doctrine enigmatically traces how “[s]pace is haunted” in the post-pastoral Midwest. Here, lost dreams of a peaceful landscape belie a reality wherein “[t]he difference between living and dying is fuzzy logic” (Baer). Consciousness spreads across pages, spilling forth maladies, quandaries, and contradictions—such that life is—and it is within the life of the imagination that the reader finds themselves on a journey into and beyond the self in ways that breach the unknown.

Baer’s world is the world of the “wobbling putrescent,” where the flesh has gone immaterial and is revived again, shocked out of the grave in an endless circuitry. It is the body trying to make sense of the world through a kind of private language that often eludes sense: “I go backwards in time and find myself in bed with you, suddenly, we’re floating inside the open air, begin to drop Contemporary Me throws their arms around the pastmyself as we’re falling and I murmur, in a steady voice, into my own hair, ‘it made sense. It made sense it made sense.’” The “you,” that threshold between selves, is an alluring space that can also be painful. At times the speaker is pained by the intimacies of being surrounded by other bodies in the wherewithal, this whelm world. As Baer writes, “you try to tell me what you’ve done, gone & died again, in your head . . . I hesitate to speak, a threshold where your heart should be / learning to cross itself.” The heart crosses itself with the knowledge that we are here, right now, and now is kind of like forever when one lives in a moment for so long they never leave—(“He leaves the room and I do not move. I have always been here). We remain in multiple places and memories at once.

Baer’s world also conscripts the reader into its building, performing the page as a portal and simultaneous a zone of revelation where sharp and brilliant insights come to surface—“Time is in a sense only affective investment which serves as the delineating force (cosmic law) between the bios and the dead/undead of object-matter, where we live at this ledge of spilling cascade-time.” Timelines are broken apart and reconstituted through intuitive logic, and intuition leads the reader toward an infinity as much illusory as real—if we could only reach beyond ourselves so far to see it, we might have some knowledge to share. Baer’s speaker is filled with wisdom emptying from pockets of time, the hard-won wisdom of a speaker contemplating living and dying alongside joyrides through intersecting texts and philosophies, what it means to live out our words and the worlds they spin. This threaded text bears significance in relation to stars and sky and cosmos which continually loop back to remind us of the point of puncture/rupture. What pains one is the prick of time. But it is also revelation. It helps us “carve back to the core, if you can find it,” as when the speaker says, “Jessica Baer, the pain is as bad as it is recalibrating.” Baer is not only interested in scar tissue but goes deep into bone to realize the why and what for.


There are other why’s and what for’s that concern me in this text, for instance when Baer writes, “[w]hen you crossover thresholds to pass between universes, rounding the arch of the portal to the midwestern heart, a bell rings—its an apex.” I find myself taken back to a fantastical, almost supernatural Midwest, where I come to know the landscape as a universe once spoken and so twice lived by myself and the speaker—it is a Midwest embedded at the heart of a vortex, and I ask why I am here and if “I” even exist. The Midwest becomes a pause, a “caesura of sense” where we ask ourselves “did what you find what you were a searching for and/or are you actually not there, at all?” Baer writes, “[y]r mouth collapse into a tractor beam as tachyons filterback from the future past through the voices, singing in the dusky bar, smoke crags, and the melody repeats because the needle is broken can’t find its groove.” These fleeting impressions provide solace amidst, amongst, and against the troubling vortex of experience.

Midwestern Infinity Doctrine will make one want to transgress the boundaries of themselves, staying up late on a journey past the edge of day and into something more beyond than beyond. - Julia Madsen

https://annuletpoeticsjournal.com/Julia-Madsen-Time-Transgression-and-the-Vortex-of-Experience



Jesse Baer’s Midwestern Infinity Doctrine is a novel undoing the genre by unstitching time in both its form and content. Structurally, the book begins with “Final New Jersey Transcript” and “The Cosmic Dirge: Finale,” which sound more like titles for endings, and ends with “*Addendum: Subducted Time” and “Epilogue: Reversing Time,” seemingly flipping conventional order around. The reader enters the text as a detective embarks on a case, starting from sparse and ex post facto evidence and culminating in a fuller, though still incomplete, backstory. Suggesting a narrative reluctance to accept an(y) ending as conclusive due to time’s actual slippery dimensions, the chapter titles buck linearity. Within these nonlinear units, dominant concepts emerge around time, violence, and definition of the self. Baer’s approach to form ruffles those concepts, pets their fur backward, and recreates the experience of losing time, which can be one manifestation of trauma.

The Midwest gets a bad reputation sometimes, and I am from a part of it in between recognizable places. I can attest to the landscape’s potential for an outside-of-timeness, to how driving its highways feels a bit apocalyptic, particularly in the winter, particularly when it seems you’re the only one who sees anything out of the ordinary. Walk into a rest area and observe the families eating fast food or whatever and squabbling as if the landscape outside isn’t devoid of even rudimentary signs of life, lacking a color palette beyond shades of gray. The twilight zone. It is alien and alienating, a plausible setting for a novel imbued with UFO sightings and abduction reports.

On the road, Baer invokes the seasonally omnipresent deer in the woods and alongside highways, which brings with it a sense of unease. Baer writes, “A deer skins itself, because you were the math, inside velocity.” Hitting a deer, or any animal, with a car is unpleasant and dangerous. Deer are large and innocent. We empathize with them when we see them killed, perhaps because as roadkill they can look a little bit human. If a deer skins itself, that suggests you’re not at fault. Outside of hunting you really can’t control deer, which is itself a humbling reminder of individual frailty.

In the chapter “The Cesarean Scar,” time seems to run backward through two threads alternating in short sections. First, in a dreamlike scene a cesarean scar is untaped and the wound opened up. The last line: “Then, I break into my car.” And in between, a variety of quick scenes of confrontation take place, some with the narrator speaking from inside their car, contributing to the sense of reversed time. Amid the same chapter, the deer reappears in a new form. Baer writes: “My mother is weeping on the floor, a deer collapsed into its soft hind legs, an accordion cataracting within its mythological song, it won’t play, now.” Like the first scene of the chapter, this follows dream-like logic in which disparate common elements mash together. But it’s also true that trauma can cause fracturing of narrative, as we see frequently in film storytelling. When the accordion of your mother’s body no longer plays, breaking into your own car might be the most reasonable decision you can make.

The narrator tries on many different roles, often signaled by formal changes from one chapter to another, as they attempt to break time with language to access hidden truths from their own experience. Formal variations include radio transmission, abduction report, transcript. Most chapters bear titles or subtitles with familiar language that belies complex unexplained phenomena; just now, entering “time halos” into an online search engine, I find some video game instructions that tell me to “jump through the wall.” Irrelevant but apt. Like light halos that people with low vision see when driving at night, time halos would be experienced as pinches or radials of time. Variations in speed of time are impossible to prove since felt time is relative anyway.

These attempts succeed in breaking time. Baer writes: “this gesture expulsed what we were, waves attenuated. Slower than that. Carve back to the core, if you can find it.” Here we are, subject to time fluctuations. “In the spaceship, we just kinda float around.” No one knows how long it’s been and we are powerless. Further, in the chapter “Interlude: Time Mirages,” the narrator shapeshifts and “become[s] a paranormal investigator to save you from the human parameters.” In this role they perform competence amidst chaos and disrupt otherwise-inevitable harmful events. Human parameters might be self-destructive instincts, like the horror film lead who runs to the basement to hide. Suggesting that time manipulation is not uncommon, Baer writes: “Beneath the surface of the midwestern plains, thousands of women are burrowing wormholes in time. Their bodies crush through geological history.”

There’s a laundromat in my neighborhood with floodlights as bright as the World Trade Center memorial. I imagine mischief took place in this parking lot and the owners increased the wattage until it was no longer a fun place to be. How would you explain the vibe of a laundromat to an alien? “After solemnity enmeshed you within the liminal space of empty laundromats,” Baer writes: “you pursue yr precision in its opposite.” The laundromat is a difficult, even vulnerable, place, a place to get caught up in grim emotions. The scene quietly depicts a breakthrough: to “pursue yr precision” is a liberatory venture, and if one can turn toward it from a rock-bottom moment, then perhaps the laundromat is a site of great potential.

Midwestern Infinity Doctrine requires deep engagement as an intellectual exercise; it is a challenging read and an interdimensional adventure. To read a book like this one, the reader must slow down, stop reading for information and read instead for mood, atmosphere. Baer has crafted an homage to science fiction literature and media through this novel’s amalgamation of forms. The X-Files mantra “the truth is out there” is not just a TV catchphrase, but a resonant touchstone for the narrator, for abductees, and for anyone estranged from their own past. The same can be said of this novel. - Krystal Languell

https://bigother.com/2022/03/14/review-of-jesse-baers-midwestern-infinity-doctrine/


Excerpts:

My abilities were bleeding


This gearshift linguistics as Blanche Dubois spins her web and Telemachus eyes the suitors all things come to suspension. I reside here with my ambivalence as the propulsive force of the sumptuary absence which animates my line, dangled to catch what? Until we catch the light, her haunted music, and I want magic—to be revisited by the language of the sphere’s harmonies. The felt revolution which unties the thread to perforate my speaking throughout-time.


I will myself forwards into the slipstream rendering a chasm between my feeling self and the desire to say it is texture. This antinomy does not resolve it does provide decoys in the form of internal tensions perceived as absolute ends I refuse my own promises. Once one was to love to love dearly and truly and absolutely, my own polestar and to guide be guided by light I lay down my instrument having woven the tune from which I can imagine no escape. This lingering marrow leaks out fulfilling my absence in the root of my being, to be weeded interminably struck out and erased radically from the ledger of all botany. I dismember myself because forgetting is a caesura. The mythics of an endless sentence and its intervals deployed ludically, without remorse. If it was an imposture to supersede myself in secession to the chase itself, then I am a counterfeit symbol, lay it to rest.


He hides in the orchard, removing his face from my vision like sloughing a mask. I find the porcelain artifice of his betrayal strung against the tree bark, where all masks cast down light and I castigated beneath its unseeing vision. It replicates interminably.


Eye holes.

Here is the architecture for the artifice you were sewing and molding, kneaded with hands, the pressure lingers in the material: a dull heat throbs. As necromantics refrain from the living we cascade like water simply dazzling and without recourse to scission I carry my wound at my side, its hemorrhage makes the stakes made of our passing through each other, relinquished its autumn which dawn wound began. Dehiscence splinters the parcels where you packaged your fruiting, effloresce, its nimble occupation to fulfill the destiny of all plant’s nature, raggedly divulging the seeds of its wreckage to the impartial observer who held heaven with his shoulder. Staggering dust stirred throughout the vista. Did I summon him here? To look down.


All masks are their own desideratum to look out, and this contracts with infinity whose hilt I applied to your sign and the contours forgiven with my fingers parsing silences that rounded the gate, to chase quixotically from the crushed music of pastures. Its wreckage surmounted me where I watched the passing of light upon the ruins of a world that forgot me before I began to molder.


I came here to rust, I tell you with my gesture. It’s slower than patina, slower than the creeps of our own gardened delirium. How do I honor the dead who speak through my hearing them.


It was never yours? This injunction to compose it is music.


& we were dawn’s last word.


The radiation turns inwards toward the core dragged bed sky tug your claws out from me. Ousted in time’s jostling tracks. Shunted with Triassic chronology between us, escapes. Granular knowing your exit exit reason. Strategic deployments of mythology to luster through time. Scoured in the interior surfaces without losing reception. The cloud buzzed with cloud thoughts, overdrawn at the memory banks.


I wake up in the stall between times, in another ether body. On the table looking up eyes could not escape from mine. My mother says no, fractals. You were untethered when you spread your legs beneath space. The thermal pressure encodes when the crust reveals your secret weather. Its secret brain


You drag your memory out of me like an enclosed space for time capsules buried in the ground. We built a genital monstrosity out of earth. Shaft of dark antimatter and the revolving's soundless.


It’s so hard to keep going once you’ve left the continental shelves behind you must speak from the top of your head, cortices scramble for it, and click your heels once not again. You’re trying to freeze time and this doesn’t make you prehistoric, molasses, the screamcrushed insect means what? Your segments—busted.


Cleave to god cleave to rage cleave to rhythms in yr body Kristeva says I wreck ostracized death by turning. Swerves inside the body, dendrites bang to. The living around persona, in absentia, in a cigarette. You mashed your hand trying to.


I know you love me you sonofabitch just look at all these circles on your arm terminate in mud you burned holes through to dig your way out back in dirt. I ask you another question.


How long have I been waiting. To hear it ricochets echoes disclose nothingofthemselves. I have to creak, floor boards be reburied in earth, the tremors were subsiding mountains between you.


You came once if you ever came, come again and we all fall away.


The ladder stretches into in visibility, octaves lapse in the root, of what you were when vanishing.

http://www.americanmicroreviews.com/jessica-baer-interview

+

Purple hinges the sky together. When electrical towers volt, we park our cars beside the end the end of time.


I.

In the midwest, bodies are guided by a preternatural internal magnet. At the center of the vanishing point of the horizon we converge: the Super Walmart. In the dream, you disclothed beneath the fluorescent lights, on the talkshow yr culpabilities were revealing.

“Do you have an individual reading light like, uh, a clip? For a book.”

I frame the employee’s face between thumb and index finger, at the crux of an alright angle. See, a square. Where’s its edges

Lately I’ve noticed myself making theatrical gestures that borrowed motifs from the movies. I like to wiggle my fingers into the itch after triggers, raising my hand towards You. You can lift mostlyanything.

Behind the supercenter, its immortal gloaming a refinery pumps slowmagma against the purple-contour ripped sky. Outloud, colors I cry My God, My God.

No one has the one product I need. So flatten space, you try again and mists strangle the possibility of depth the light contained. I hesitate before the solid blooming blocks of Indiana industrialnight. My Ford Taurus is parked across from another ford taurus they both smell like a fire hazard. When you have to magnify everything to get to the truth, shifting scales, I turn my head back, lower my body into its center, rocked away and carried forward, running at that improbable night

II. Indiana Abandoned

My weeds my weeds my weeds my weeds, my weeds rapture the air and hunk the concrete.

Pacing nurseshoewhite, and terminal. The abandoned hospital ahead of us finds the wedge in yr heart and finality dislodges it. What did you need this for

A red brick facade.

We enter through an improbable door.   https://tskymag.com/2019/06/jessica-k-baer/



VKN: I have never interviewed someone semi-rum(my)? before so thank you for giving me an opportunity to be a little bit buzzed. Speaking of buzzness (is that even a word?), your prose reads to me like a motorcycle swerving in and out of European cities indeterminately. How do you describe how words exit your consciousness onto the page? Do they move like a motorbike? Or something else entirely?

JB: Haha. Thank you so much for that beautiful image. Sometimes when I feel dislocated in spacetime, I find myself running up alley stairways in the Balkans but I never realized I was on a motorcycle until now. When I write I think of fluid dynamics, so like the eddies and suspensions of silt in a river and the breathless vertigo of the grace of being able to speak with myself fluently. I also definitely try to remain in proximity to death, like a stunt worker driving a motor bike.

VKN: Should your readers wear protective helmets or latex gloves when they read your work? What clothes should they wear when they open your prose?

JB: A hazmat suit would be sufficient, but better yet, an antique cosmonaut suit with an old diving helmet. Sometimes the air gets sucked out of the room of my body, is given to the movement of the piece and I want my reader and me to have a cosmic tether while we submerse and cyclically resurface. I wonder if the cosmonaut tether is tied to anything at all.

VKN: Cyclically resurface? Cyclically resurface makes me think of bicycle wheels drowning in ice, thawing out by spring, and then resurfacing for the summer seasons. Partly deflated, but ready to spin again if someone has the courage to re-pump.

JB: I like the quirkiness of this indomitable bicycle. If consciousness spins like a wheel then sometimes when you're moving fast, skids must be inevitable. I wonder if the bicycle ever changes positions or if it’s spinning in place, posthumous and subject to the mediation of the seasons. By cyclical resurfacing I think I’m describing sublimation, like the spaces where everything coheres and cocontaminates together so that it can be transformed. I think this piece passes through turbulence but is wrought into something that exceeds it.

VKN: How long did it take you to write the experimental piece “Mother Issues”? And where did you write it? Was it in sea-induced Providence or pre-slushy Chicago?

JB: That piece was written in feverish bursts of painful energy across about eight months in Chicago. I was intermittently soft homeless, so falling through space, so perpetually redefining and then losing the possibility of domesticity. For much of the time I was living in a diy space in Chicago converted from a gutted grocery store into a sort of curioso type open floor plan filled with Hammond organs, skeletons, and music equipment. It was also written in the vacillating sometimes painful interference zones of interpersonal intimacy.

VKN: I am sorry to hear the pain you endured. Livelihood hardship is one of the most terrifying conditions to exist in psychologically and physically. It’s a kind of unspoken torture and it seems endless. It warps our relationship to humanity and makes survival a perversity and not an adversity worthy of conquering. I understand and know what you mean. How were you able to shift out of it? What changed? What is your recent residence like now? Are you happy with your roof?

JB: Thank you for your very kind response; this is why I have so much difficulty with Bachelard’s poetics of space—it posits, like, a universalized unconsciousness of space defined without dispossession. I’ve spent my entire life rapidly transitioning between locations and I think this informs my work. Dislocation is a major issue for so many people and it’s important not to stigmatize the person who experiences its effects. I have privilege still in the spaces I’ve been given that might be wrested from others. I’m certainly still tempering my resultantly engrained wanderlust but for the next few months, am settled in a brick house in north Chicago. I think that my sense of temporality in my writing is reciprocally shaped by the velocity of my personal movements.

VKN: Would you like to accelerate the force of your velocity? What kind of temporality would you most desire for your work? What is the perfect piece of writing that doesn’t hope to take the shape of a tornado? Your thesis adviser, Carole Maso, talks about vortices in her classes a lot. Do you share her vision of vortices? And, what is your relationship to them, if any?

JB: I’m actually trying to paradoxically dilate and crystallize time because I am afraid of it, so I want to collect it in the ground and slow it down like amber. I think of pain as magnetic remanence that might shape a durable pattern in the materials we have. Often I feel a piece is finished only once I’ve reached the resonant frequency of my own body. If I set a vortex into motion, I would sound its eye.

VKN: What are you working on now, Jessica? Can you describe your project to us a little? Are you working on a novel? A poetry collection?

JB: I’m working on a piece called “Midwestern Infinity Doctrine” which is a psychogeographical study of the relationship between the flatness of the Midwest and different articulations of infinity, shifting between macro and microcosmic infinities. It’s about time and UFOs and conspiracy theories, sanctioned and unsanctioned knowledge, rhetorical paradigms, interpersonal violence, and what constitutes a “plausible” self. It shifts between numbers station broadcasts, manifestos, and auto fiction. I want it to be like a haunted radio for the drowning.

VKN: Your MID sounds majestic and scientifically enigmatic. We are in different geographical radio stations, transmitting rhetorical materials that look like an interview. Speaking of the Midwest—I am in Brooklyn right now and you are in the Windy City. I hope by conversing with a soul sitting in a red-curtained bedroom in Brooklyn doesn’t deform or skew your infinity doctrine. What was your experience in Providence like? Did you love it? I love its easy access to the ocean.

JB: What’s it like in Brooklyn right now? How does the weather feel inside you? When we met, we all talked about visiting the coastline. I like to pause before impossibly large elements. I constantly drove to Beavertail beach to find an immensity capable of more-than holding my feelings. I thought pvd was like the movie The Fog and I was Adrienne Barbeau in the lighthouse watching out for the flash of an ice pick through the mist. So, complicated impressions, haha.

I love this interview because right now I get to interact with you like a phantom typewriter. Infinity is definitely lurking behind the red curtain; you can find it mostly anywhere, I like to think.

VKN: Brooklyn is chilly, and so un-rumlike. I took three train stops and the weather inside me is tropical. I am a pineapple that has been roasting too long on a space heater, so to speak, though there is no space heater in this room. There is St. Germain inside me too, not the sofa but the elderflowers. What is inside you? I hope a bookcase or two and a fancy, silver wastebasket. I love wastebaskets. I am addicted to them the way one gets addicted to lollipops.

JB: My wastebasket is certainly unlined and small objects pass easily through. Thank you so much for transmitting your rich vitamin c to Chicago! In Mississippi, as a child, I would receive lollipops through what I called a spacetube at the bank, that peristaltic plastic tube that sucks up ur personal checks and delivers candy. How do you feel about banks with tubes? Did you ever go to the dive bar on Jewel Street in Providence with the juke boxes?

VKN: I love taking large and small bills to outer space. I think money is a better time and space traveler than Doritos. I think I may have given the bank tellers some by accident. I think so, yes. I didn’t dive very much and I didn’t bring any gold bars to the bar. I am not very good at listening to American music, Jessica. You must miss Providence very much? Did you ever walk on Wickenden? I used to live on that street.

JB: I used to chainsmoke in an alley off Wickenden and read Bataille a lot. I am so self-similar despite (because of) my viscousness. Oh wait! Also I was obsessed with the neon sign for the aquarium supply store on Wickendon which perfectly evokes slushiness. I took pictures of it everyeveryday. Have you ever taken a photograph of the same object repetitively and systematically over the course of time?

You really have to keep multiple denominations with you when you’re performing space travel. I miss everywhere; I’m a nostalgia machine, woof. Let me know if you need me to go get those Doritos back for you.

VKN: How many umbrellas do you own?

JB: 0. I have to borrow them. My car possesses two but it’s practically its own autonomous entity now, maybe my most enduring relationship. How many do you own and what color?

VKN: I own 1 beautiful armpit-held canopy, gifted to me by fiction writer Ali Raz. It is yellow and egg-colored and slightly psychedelic. Like most umbrellas, it’s inefficient—like it was designed for humans to frighten the rain or entertain the clouds or something and not to clothe our clothes from the rain, but I love it because it was gifted with thoughtfulness. This leads me to ask: what is your favorite piece of writing you’ve written? What do you love about it? And, has your writing ever clothed you from snow? From slushiness? From infrared light? From solar radiation? From indeterminate discourse with Foucault?

JB: That sounds like a beautiful gift and I hope that you have spooked the rain consummately. I want the record to show that I lol’d at being clothed from indeterminate Foucault discourses—what force could possibly protect us from him. Can I ask if you have a favorite book you’ve written? My favorite thing I’ve ever written is a poem called “Foreclosure Rodeo” which features many repressions which are done and undone by volcanic lava horses. Do you think writing can be protective or that it’s a conceit like an umbrella, or that the answer is both/and? I work through antiphasis a lot now so it’s hard to see writing as a stabilizing structure because I think as soon as I build something I unbuild it again? However I want as much infrared light to come in as possible.

VKN: My favorite is the one on its way to being born. I don’t think writing can protect anyone from anything. I used to think it could—that its gravitational center leaps outward and places you inside of a period, for X amount of time, and when the paragraphs walk away to take a shower or use the bathroom to leak, it sneaks back out to end a run-on sentence or two. I think writing, in this sense, is really lame. But practical. How do I stop my students from being writers, Jessica? What did you love about “Foreclosure rodeo?”—love those two words as a couple that shouldn’t ever get divorced. Please don’t divorce them even if you find excellent lawyers for them. All of those “e’s” and “o’s” in such tight vowel-inducing space and the “r’s” to disrupt them. Where did you write it? And, when? Were you young?

JB: I just saw Kim Hyesoon read in Chicago, which was a devastating eviscerating ecstasy, and I asked her about the sort of impossible geometries I think she animates in her work, where infinity hides in the corners (Derrida is digging it out) and the contamination between inside and outside, and she mentioned the eye as I think an interface that problematizes the in/out determination in a beautiful way, as well as her hope that the field of vision women are trapped in by reciprocating eyes will open and expand through her poetry. Like Alice in Wonderland style but much better than Carroll, I hope that writing will cause us to fall through portals that never cease opening out, which is not safe but unsafe and trans-safe. I want all bb students to be writers because I am gauche and sentimental. I want the erotics of confused diary entries and excessive revelation. I wrote it when I was a dreamy 20-something swimming in a pool of soupy infatuation. I like the idea of writing inserting pauses where you can rest from the world—a caesura to end time.

VKN: Your description of Hyesoon makes me want to read her—“eviscerating ecstasy.” How gauche are you?

JB: I know you’re not finished writing this question but omg South Bend. Gauche enough that I spend a lot of time in Hammond IN. (You can even dock your boat at the Hammond Horseshoe Casino on the lake). - Vi Khi Nao

http://www.americanmicroreviews.com/jessica-baer-interview



Jessica Baer’s new book Midwestern Infinity Doctrine, out from Apocalypse Party, might fuck you up. A revelatory cosmic kick from punk Chicago, with breakneck quantum leaps and time collapses. Dense, grief-ridden, but also loving: maybe you didn’t think a book could hold this much, but turns out MID is a portal.

Writes Vi Khi Nao, “Here the linear lives within the subliminal sequencing of itself, breaking out a kind of disco of sorrow, hypervigilant texts that hope to dance into bijections by abandoning itself to lexical chance. Here the abyss of Baer’s prosaic, cryogenic world does not thaw, but hyperventilates from insularity and significant enigma.”

I chatted through the virtual ether with Baer about the midwest, aliens, dreams, and time.~ ~ ~

Noah Fields: How did Midwestern Infinity Doctrine begin as a project?

Jessica Baer: It began because I emailed a friend of mine and asked them if they had ever had the experience of being in multiple places in time simultaneously, and they asked me to elaborate on that sensation. And then they said that I should write a project about it.

NF: If you had to summarize it, how would you describe your “midwestern infinity doctrine” as a thesis?

JB: I have been continually trying to summarize Midwestern Infinity Doctrine. The work lives on in my own attempts to understand what that work is for me personally as it’s continuously redefined. But if I had to give a doctrine for what it’s about, there’s like two dimensions that are interlocked.

On one dimension is what we could conceive of as the political real. So in that dimension I am trying to talk about conspiracy theories, social paranoia, alienation from desire, toxic masculinity and how that relates to those things. So like, depictions of violence in masculinity and violence perpetuated through toxic masculinity — where does it come from? how does it relate to alienated desire? and how do we disrupt what is perceived as the linear flow of time? It’s partially to make a new space, like an anomalous or autonomous space for — thinking about [Michel] Foucault too, some sort of like heterotopic space — for time to exist in a different way, so that people who don’t relate to time in the way that it’s presented to us by capitalism have a space to perceive time how they experience it.

So that’s the top dimension. The bottom dimension, underlying that is a comment on literature and feeling trapped by literature, and wanting to create some kind of writing that does something else or that escapes the expectations of literature and trying to figure out if the literary project itself can be a transgressive act or is more like a trap.

NF: I’m curious about where the Midwest specifically enters into that. Or maybe more broadly, what the Midwest means for you?

JB: One of the important aspects of this work is thinking about infinity. I am not a mathematician or physicist, and so I probably have a poor mathematical conception of infinity, but I do know that there are multiple infinities. And there’s different proofs for that, but there are uncountable sets that show that there’s more than one infinity.

When I think about the Midwest, I think of this optical illusion of endlessness — because the Midwest is so flat, that you can see for miles in any direction. Like Lake Michigan: Lake Michigan seems like a massive ocean-like presence, because it’s so flattened and endless looking. That sort of horizon of perspective draws you to the idea of infinity as something that I think you experience in the Midwest because of the landscape.

But I also have a lot of nostalgia about Chicago because it’s a place that I love. Because I feel like it’s an incubation chamber for weirdness, in a very warm way. But also post-industrial America? That is the Midwest — like these decaying, rusting cities, super Walmarts, just stereotypical American culture that is sold to you in terms of ideologies and American narratives.

NF: Sure, a place becomes more than a place. It’s like a vacuum sucking in all these ideological underpinnings. Let’s talk about those dreams! How do dreams play out in MID?

JB: I mean, the Midwest is sort of a dreamy space. Chicago, for example, has a veneer of nostalgia and sentimentality. Have you felt that? Like the personality of Chicago, how it’s spread all over the architecture and the neighborhoods, and this idea of what it means for a place to be Midwestern in the United States. So it’s sort of like a dream space of this nation that we partake in producing and reproducing together, because of course Chicago doesn’t exist — it’s occupied land. The United States doesn’t exist. The Midwest kind of exists, it’s kind of in the Midwest of the country, but relative to what?

NF: In your book, you write about becoming a “paranormal investigator to save you from the human parameters.” Can you tell me about what it means to be a paranormal investigator?

JB: Paranormal investigator for me is a useful way of conceptualizing the fact of being a poet. So it’s this sense of investigating the zones that exceed the normal or the accepted as empirically or ontologically given. So, existing in and putting a stethoscope to these fringe realms outside of what is accepted social reality.

For me personally, I feel that writing poetry is like being a person on the beach with a metal detector. Paranormal investigation is a similar thing — like if you imagine someone investigating a haunted house and moving through the rooms, knocking on walls listening for ghosts. It’s not that different from the way Jack Spicer conceives of it, I think when he talks about his poetry as coming from martian voices on the radio. It doesn’t matter if he believes in the martians or not, it’s that he believes in the idea of receptivity to something that exceeds what he knows.

NF: Hm. I’m interested in what you said about the writer’s receptive role, and in particular, I’m curious about the way your writing is maybe receptive to time’s multiplicities? How do you receive time in your writing practice?

JB: I’m glad you asked that question because I would love to assert right now that Midwestern Infinity Doctrine is a failed project because I failed to understand how to discursively reproduce nonlinear time. It’s built so thoroughly into the trappings of prose fiction especially to experience things in accordance to a linear conception of time that I still don’t even understand how to break that.

In terms of how I would ideally ideologically conceive of time? In this work I’m resistant to positivism. Any conception of linear time seems to depend upon a positivism like that things are building upon each other, and usually that is premised in a Christian conception of time or a capitalist conception of time, where everything is working towards some good end. In this book I wanted to disrupt that idea and argue that things aren’t moving towards some good end. And in many ways, things are just trapped in like an ongoingness where they’re not progressing at all.

NF: IDK, when I was reading your book, I didn’t get a sense of linear time. I guess I’m pushing back a little bit on this idea of your book being a failed project. I mean, I acknowledge failure can be a goal, like in Bhanu Kapil’s project [Ban en Banlieue]. I totally respect if failure is part of how you want to frame your project, but I also think that there is something that you are articulating that feels anti-positivist and offers a different way of orienting to time and poetry that feels vastly original and mind-boggling.

JB: That is the most flattering thing you could say that you felt that my book did reproduce a nonlinear time. Yeah, that is exactly what I wanted to do. Bhanu Kapil is so exemplary in terms of thinking about this beautiful carving of fragmentarity not really coalescing into some monumental project or a project of like a “major language” (in the Deleuzian sense) but like creating the minor works that are the actually significant works because they transgress those expectations.

NF: Who are your interlocutors that you bring your discursive universe?

JB: So maybe the most important interlocutor that I bring into it is Alvin Lucier because of his album I Am Sitting In A Room, which is an album where, because he has a stutter, he is trying to perfect the tone of his voice by recording himself saying this whole speech, and then playing it in the room and then recording it again, until his voice is lost in the resonant frequency of the room. For me, I think of that as a sort of creative praxis of the zone of art existing in this almost impossible space between the idiosyncratic stutter of the individual voice, and the universal — or supposedly universal — space of the overall artistic practice and its given expectations. And so it’s that interference zone when you’re moving between being Alvin Lucier’s unique stuttering voice to being just the resonant frequency of the room, and in my opinion that’s like a really good allegory for their process of making art.

And then there’s [Julia] Kristeva, the “Queen of Space” — so one thing that’s happening in the book is that it’s also a space opera. [Laughter] I’m like a cosmonaut, and I’m continually addressing this figure of Kristeva who’s like this matriarchal, but then this matrixial space, like a generative space — thinking about literature thinking about building universes. As a cosmonaut, I’m constantly refining her and trying to deliver some sort of message to her, which continuously fails.

NF: Among these semiotics and messages, perhaps: “alien hand prints.” You write,

“There’s a parenthesis for what’s inside me. if you fillspace, it’s an infinity

symbol.” I’m glowing with the alien hand prints fanning across my chest, patteddown from a fire. Who sets it, renews?

Can you tell me about these alien hand prints?

JB: Oh, yeah, alien hand prints. This is about interpersonal violence. And it is about the experience of having a UFO visitation. This is something that I’ve researched a lot and that I’m working on a project right now about and planning to do more with in the future.

To conduct the research for this book, I visited the Center for UFO Studies in Chicago: one of the most important UFO research organizations, which was run by this ultimately disgraced astrophysicist Dr. Hynek, who because of his relationship to UFOs became a persona non grata in his field. And so now, all of their records — which are first person accounts from people who have seen or have been visited by aliens etc. — are just housed in this person’s basement. And when I interviewed the person who’s responsible for the archive now, he said that the vast majority of the people that he was interviewing or who wanted to make a report wanted to remain anonymous, because they had so much shame about this experience of seeing something that exceeds the space of the socially given real.

That is one of the major themes of the book. Because we live in an incredibly gaslit society where the real is very much calibrated by authoritative forces. Like gender violence or even just the experience of alternative genders. These are things that we are gaslit about individually and locally, as well as more globally. So I was using this idea of “alien hand prints” — people who’ve been visited by aliens, people who experienced that or feel that they’ve experienced that — to think about the hand prints that are left on people who experienced violence. That violence leaves a hand print that may be visible to you or that may be pertinent to your life that may stay with you until you die, that other people may attempt to convince you does not exist, could not exist.

NF: For me the violence of gender as this orienting (or disorienting?) force or bottomless gravity field hooks up with your description of how “space is haunted.” And it makes me wonder, where in the hauntology of violent space-time can you sort of just be in a non-threatening way?

JB: Yeah, and I think that’s one of the primary tensions of the work, that inter-relationality is what prevents that being, and also accommodates or creates the possibility for that being. And so it’s so difficult to find those interrelational or interpersonal spaces where one can just be themselves, or become themselves, as a changing singular selfhood in relationship with the selves around you.

In this work I mostly focus on relationships that fail to accommodate that space or, like, are incredibly antagonistic to that space, but I have a few moments where I bring in those holding spaces, like people in your life who radiate that sense of safety that allows one to finally come to a sort of resting place, briefly.

NF: Absolutely. Do you think that Midwest Infinity Doctrine in some ways a love poem?

JB: Yeah, I mean this book is in many ways inspired by the aftermath of an abusive relationship in which I was in love with the antagonist! And that is a space that I also wanted to create in my literary work, because that space is so fucking stereotyped and codified in all of these very ridiculous and reductive ways that says you’re a bad subject if you fall in love with someone who hurts you; you become a good subject, if you leave them. And so this book is all about how you can leave and your life is still fucked up; you can stay and experience real meaningful happiness with them, even if it’s ephemeral. It’s just so much more complex than that. But what I think is a shared experience is the way that I felt frustrated by the fact that I wanted to love this person and their orientation was so anti-relational and destructive and violent and underscored by things like toxic masculinity and paranoia that I couldn’t, even though I desperately wanted to. And, as a result, they were able to inflict an incredible amount of damage onto me which I still live with.

But it’s definitely a love poem to the Midwest. It’s a love poem to friendships, relationships, queer friendships. It’s a love poem to science, which I think is also ambivalent.

But also, for me personally, this work was really terrifying, because in this book, I accidentally predicted my mother’s death a few months before it happened. Which, I don’t want to sound ridiculous but I think that when you write, you’re open to intuition and perception, like you’re especially open and receptive. And so it makes sense to me actually that in this book, I was able to pick that up. But I guess I’m grateful for that because it also means that in some ways this work allowed me to start processing my mother’s death before it occurred, you know? And if we’re thinking about mobius strip time, my mother is like alive and dead simultaneously; she’s gonna die again, she’s already died in the past, and she’s alive in the future and dead in the past; and the same thing will happen to all of us. And yeah, I like the idea of being able to experience that relationship in this less linear way. - Noa/h Fields

https://medium.com/anomalyblog/paranormal-investigations-with-jessica-baer-d5a454c61466



Jessica K. Baer, At One End, Essay Press, 2020


AT ONE END collects excerpts from a longer science fiction epic composed in a hybrid autofiction style, a mediation or recuperation of traumatic memory: the trans body, here, my trans body represents an attempted topography, mouthing around shape-hood, which fails to resolve into any ideal epistemological dimensions but, instead, like the syntax, mutates within your looking at me.



At One End and Midwestern Infinity Doctrine are two stunning new works by Jessica Baer that explore mergings and transformations of yous and Is, pasts and futures, trauma and its aftermaths. In the interstices of sound, where words merge, the living world in Baer’s writing bursts outward — an island ascending as foiled tectonic shift. This linguistic merging is also a thaw evoking an apparition of identity, haunted luminescence of self-in-mutation.

The writer characterizes At One End as “excerpts from a long science fiction epic.” In this collection of five titled segments, an unnamed time traveler is the only narrative constant as they move through time, affective spaces, and alternative endings. Through the sporing of time, in the metamorphoses of living, the present has been rewound, “No singularity, but repetition.” Assemblages of sense are made and unmade; narrative arches drawn then demurred; and references to characters (a mother, a lover) renewed across geographic signposts — New Jersey, Providence, the Moon.

Baer’s genre-bending text is an extended exploration of metaphors, such as of overheated and melting bodies standing for psychic instability, that survey the experience of being alive at a point in time inhabiting a body-in-formation. It explores these metaphors to convey the dissociative experience of the trans-body or the liquifying logic of recombining embodiment. In the introduction, Baer writes “The trans-body here, my trans body represents an attempted topography, mouthing around shapehood, which fails to resolve into any ideal epistemological dimensions but, instead, like the syntax, mutates within your looking at me.”

Selfhood in Baer’s universe does not parallel self-awareness or the ability to name one’s affective states. It is rather a relational tension between the speaking subject (which is multiple, engrained in oceanic resilience) and what lurks adjacent to breath. The “I” is ever dissolving itself so as to reemerge. And the “you” is an “I” looking at itself, but never fully distinct from it. Baer’s writing rips through the “you,” a redacted self, a grounded observational fissure. It remakes the “you” in myriad guises: the fecund image of a lover, a mother. The desiring and regretful “I” moves in the shadow of interrupted speech and averted gaze, a disappearing and estranged observer of one’s observing, whose “gendersmelt” holds the slippery wave of its escaping.

Images of self keep transforming and replicating. In the folds of time, phases ellipse into phases, so “you phase transitioned, shifting between states of solidity and fluency, slagging your neon green across the red sheets.” The body melting into steel or elsewhere built “from spare parts” beams with affective vibrations and object-knowledge. It absorbs and emits a history of sensations. It has been inducted by the implications of unilateral desire. At times, the body becomes heat, a tungsten connectivity turned telepathic hotspot: “see my body is burning all the time but no one else can see it so they can’t avoid the flickering halo of flames and I never wanted to hurt anybody.” Temperature unleashes the body’s travels thru misunderstood connections between body and brain. The burning sways in general invisibility.

At the end of this text, an exchange occurs between two entities, a reconciliation between the “I” and “NJMother.” Yet, the undergirding conflict is not specified. The NJMother assuages the “I” of an unspecified guilt: “It’s not your fault.” In this reconciliation, things of the past are exchanged and shed — a transaction that decides a future: “I just wanted to pick my things and leave theirs in exchange.” Many questions remain. Do the things of “theirs” belong to the lover in the first section? Or is the “theirs” referring to an abandoned iteration of the self? Why does NJMother appear here forming a kind of triangulation? The indeterminacy here is perhaps the point. Which object or being is so singular as to detach itself from its own mirror image? What is so distant as to have no parallel or precedent? This hyperbolic quest to fully inhabit one’s singularity lies at the heart of At One End. The title itself indicates that the one is only one. Nothing exists besides what is manifest in this iteration. Yet, the world repeats. Repetition is everywhere and the alienation pleating Baer’s writing dwells within a paradoxical tension. The pain (and forgiveness) the you/I needs emits from the one end, one exit, one premise jutting awkwardly against the “yet again.” Baer says it all distinctively:

Back on the moon, I remember my anti-quark, and wonder where it’s waiting for me. Maybe it’s stuck in the charged vistoelasticity of the lunar dust. Perhaps I was brought here to disturb the dust so that it plumes in dense flurries of soft white. If I could loosen my disremembered anti-quark from the lunar surface soil, which disintegrates to itself, I could break this chirality. I would disengender the spin that drives me away from you.

“To break this chirality” is to create a new equation, to reestablish novel relations of mass and perhaps also to recalibrate the psyche toward a fresh order, but also to “disengender” the motions that frame dialogical understandings within consciousness. Let me state the obvious: there are many possible readings of the above passage. This hermeneutical richness and density epitomizes the experience of reading Baer’s work — the very reason it requires an almost Weilian attention to unfurl its vibrant signifying range.

Midwestern Infinity Doctrine is a cosmological interpretation of the posttraumatic condition.

Here, Baer continues to blend autofiction and science fiction to explore a repository of personal history. Vampirism and alien abduction exist alongside the distillation of quotidian life and memory. In this longer manuscript, time travel becomes a state of consciousness, which represents the experience of trauma and abuse; the narrative unravels in fractured chrono-nuggets, from the future into an uncovered past back to some uncategorizable time-spindle. The world moves backward into the sight of grief and loss, into the autobiographical pressure of meta-commentary:

The auditory hallucination I’ve been experiencing since I left an

abusive person in 2016 is my brain’s attempt at a

hypercompletion of ambient sounds it’s a PTSD-related

phenomenon in the complicatedly intertwining zone between the

body and the mind where my dysregulated autonomic nervous

system and my hypervigilance device eachother together to

gather me away from

what is ruptured-time

and you’re not here in the pause but the wreck in my body

keeps gathering

Time is a socio-political relationship that permits the funnel tension of desire — which in Baer’s text is the driving force of time travel. Desire propels the time traveler who seeks to escape traumatic pasts but yearns for different endings, for the elusive variation of life. The past endures in the entanglement through which mechanisms of surveillance turn biological life into a late capitalist laboratory of institutional experimentation. So, Baer writes, “To situate ourselves within the polis is to situate our dreamful proximity to the idealism of linear time and it is in this sense that time becomes the privileged site where bare life is transformed into politicized life, reflexive with the coefficients of slowness and speed accounted for in a normativizing gesture towards homogenized time.” If norms spur forces of compliance and categorization, Baer’s text instills a total disruption of expectation through virtuosic linguistic and narrative inventiveness. Notice, for example, how the analytic mode of the previous passage shifts elsewhere toward an incomparable lyric register, one that recreates the negative space between words to rephrase their conceptual meanings:

We were cryogenically frozen into the hillside, for a trilliontrillion years, devoured by plantmatter. Here, We lose four hands making the shape of what is only between them. The earth ruptures its belt and the mountain buckled, drawing everything into the void pause before matter evolves, a chemically evoked litany. Yr body is the wet shell of a naked fetus this life feeds there, vibratile plasma. And the stars run hyperchromatic scales furling the night further away, a helix magnetizes: two ends that never meet. Repulsed because they were the self-identical.

What destroys us is also what releases an expansive perception of the pulsating chains of connection between events, people, and the tiny links driving the unimaginable. Yet, an inability to break with the re-experiencing of traumatic memory undergirds the notion of infinity that grips the attention of the subject. In the fold of an eye, the refracted light revels in endlessness. Looking itself mimics the experience of infinitude, and the multiple ruptures in the act of seeing mold the possible iterations of becoming. In the chapter “Earth In Memoriam,” we learn that “Jessica Baer,” the persona through which we experience the text, has been admitted into a hospital ward. The details of Baer’s life unfold under a scene of institutional surveillance:

Your patient file mentions that you’re from the south.”

Why don’t you spend more time in the recreational hall? The nurses mentioned that they never see you socializing with the other patients.”

We need you to provide an emergency contact. If we could just contact your family, we could make arrangements to keep you here. Without insurance, you’re likely to be transferred to the state hospital. I think you will find our facilities significantly more comfortable.”

Under such institutional scrutiny, Baer introduces the idea of infinity, here inspired by Emmanuel Levinas. For Levinas, we encounter the idea of infinity through our finite thought and the overwhelming sense of an infinite content that can fill it. In looking at another, one finds the plural singularity that each gaze returns — the Other is a face looking at our unseen face. The “I” is a face shielded from itself, that approaches itself only through what it mirrors for the eyes of another: “He jots a few notes, in a jerky authoritative hand. One last look through glass lenses, the light slips across, blotting out his eyes: infinity. Levinas annotated this division holding me closed.” The posttraumatic condition holds the subject captive in a loop that the awareness of infinity alone may interrupt. Infinity recognizes the irreplaceable singularity of each finite being, a relation that precludes the possibility of repetition. - Isabel Sobral Campos

https://www.full-stop.net/2021/05/13/reviews/isabel-sobral-campos/at-one-end-midwestern-infinity-doctrine-jessica-baer/



Jessica Baer, Holodeck OneMagic Helicopter,

2017


“Jessica Baer’s devastatingly imaginative poems feel closer than any other contemporary poetry written in English to neo-Baroque writing from more southern regions of the hemisphere. IMHO at least. The norms limiting the sayable are as pulverized in Baer’s hands as in the poetry of Perlongher, Sarduy, Lezama Lima, Haroldo de Campos.

Witness language acquiring a propulsive force shattering the time and space divide: “we wind up / in two timezones of experiential / holodeck, I’m ignition / here?” None of these cosmo-terrestrial phenomenologists are part of the North American canon and yet it’d seem Baer has absorbed them all.


Horses and holographs. Identity as orbit. A bricolage of psychocartography, a prism in love, poems for when the aliens finally come but only want to talk to the rocks. Holodeck One is Jessica Baer's debut chapbook, and it's a mysterious new technology. One that deweaponizes the language of self-constriction, one for all the noises that noise leaves out.


“Aleatory alterity” or astral projection? “Reentranced echolalia”? Sheer verbal articulations at the limits of desire and expression, “full of trans / verse wavenoise.”. - M√≥nica de la Torre


 POEMS BY JESSICA BAER 

"Earth Wedging Light" in Pinwheel
"Deer Black Out" in Prelude
Two poems in Fruita Pulpa
Three poems in Horse Less Review (with audio!)


JOURNALS

• Gazing for yr heart, if we blew, Go by stars, and very august [The Tiny Mag]
• Harbor Lines [Baest Journal]
• Perception's Toxic [BathHouse Journal]
• Griefmouth and The Powers of Horror ​[Black Sun Lit] (Print)
• ​Kill/Switch and "Working Title" [The Boiler Journal]
• ​Mask Generators / Weather Machines [Bone Bouquet] (Print)
• Kintsugi Variations and After Mareshiver [Deluge Journal]
• Crystalmine [Dream Pop Journal]
• In Pilsen and We Crammed [Fog Machine]
• Deleuze Fucked My Mother and The Church of Cattle Entrails [Fruita Pulp]
• Pegasus My Mother and 'Mareshiver' and Foreclosure Rodeo [Horse Less Review]
• Mineral Mnemonics [Leveler]
• Earth Wedging Light and Mineralremitting::radioact [Pinwheel Journal]
• a lovely chord / it ends [Potluck Mag]
• Deer Black Out [Prelude Mag]
• The Cretaceous Periods [Pulpmouth]
• I was never more and misconstructed you and The angels the angels and & Don't You Miss the Dancehall [Reality Beach]
• My Quora and Desynch [Queen Mob's Teahouse]
• Antler Axile [Sugar Mule]
• Excerpt from shortlisted finalist manuscript Midwestern Infinity Doctrine ​[Tarpaulin Sky Magazine]
• We Begin To Tessellate [Voicemail Poems]

ART CRITICISM

• Time filling a room like water [The Collaborative Center for Storm, Space, & Seismic Research]

Jessica Baer received their MFA from Brown University in 2017. They have published a chapbook, Holodeck One (Magic Helicopter Press, 2017), and their work has been featured in journals such as Pinwheel, Prelude Mag, Horse Less Press, and Bone Bouquet. They live anywhere and they love horses.

R. B. Russell - Not quite literary criticism, not quite an autobiography, it is at once a guided tour through the dusty backrooms of long vanished used bookstores, a love letter to bookshops and bookselling

  R. B. Russell, Fifty Forgotten  Books ,  And Other Stories, 2021 http://tartaruspress.com//ray/index.html Fifty Forgotten Books is a very...