7/20/21

Lukáš Likavčan - The book looks at the way we envisage our planet through cultural artifacts, in order to ask questions such as “For what Earth do we design?” or “What geopolitical tendencies does our imagination of Earth endorse?”

 


Lukáš Likavčan, Introduction to Comparative

Planetology, Strelka Press, 2019.

excerpt


Different philosophical and visual imaginations of the Earth reflect different geopolitical arrangements and translate into different geophysical and biochemical realities on the planetary scale. Following in the footsteps of science fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson, the philosophical endeavor of studying and comparing these kinds of imaginations, as well as preparing their alternative articulation, might be called comparative planetology, argues philosopher Lukáš Likavčan.

His book Introduction to Comparative Planetology, published by Strelka Press, presents an intertwined analysis of visual cultures of imagining the Earth and geopolitics of climate emergency. It compares different “figures” of the planet—the Planetary, the Globe, Terrestrial, Earth-without-us and Spectral Earth—in order to assess their geopolitical implications.

These implications are then mapped on respective prospects of these figures in developing an infrastructural space for planetary coordination of our design interventions against runaway global heating, and ultimately against mass species extinction.

The book looks at the way we envisage our planet through cultural artifacts, in order to ask questions such as “For what Earth do we design?” or “What geopolitical tendencies does our imagination of Earth endorse?”

By examining existing intuitive conceptions of the planet and proposing new ones, comparative planetology contributes to the emergence of a solid theoretical conceptualization of the planet in contemporary thinking about politics, media, design, and architecture.  


Mojca Penca, “Planetary Entanglements and Entrapments (Review of LukášLikavčan’s Introduction to Comparative Planetology)“ (pdf)


 Domen Ograjenšek: Rubber Boats and Plastic Islands. On ‘Introductionto Comparative Planetology’


The Museum of Apparitions - Beneath the vaulted suspicions of all that is communicable lies this black dossier, a wraith-like codex of microbial psychiatry that dares to utter the final confession: that the greatest crime is that which appears.

 


The Museum of Apparitions, gnOme, 2020.

read it at Google Books


Throughout recorded history, various parts of the world have generated reports of crimes and assaults that are, to use the language of the police, without definable perpetrators. One such instance involves the anonymous victim and even more elusive culprits of the 2020 case related herein, whose ill-fated outcome may have been influenced in part by the abstruse subject matter and unidentifiable author of a document called The Museum of Apparitions.


“Although the examination of apparitions often tends to resist dialectical resolution, Peter J. Shelton’s discovery of Dr. John Doe’s texts points to a truly weird interplay of events that derives its power from an oxymoronic act in which the ineffable becomes the very site of post-apparitional intelligibility. Readers granted entrance to this eerie Wunderkammer will find themselves concomitantly entranced: the book curates a kind of readerly auto-possession, one which artfully signals the enactment of the unsayable, wherein the threshold between being and non-being, time and space, John Doe and John Dee, collapses, revealing the grotesque veracity of its own spectral nature, over and over, ad infinitum. Well worth the price of admission. But enter at your own risk.” – Liesl Ketum, Humbert Divinity School


“Beneath the vaulted suspicions of all that is communicable lies this black dossier, a wraith-like codex of microbial psychiatry that dares to utter the final confession: that the greatest crime is that which appears.” – Anonymous Representative, Too Tired for Suicide


Paynim - a cyberdecadent Maldoror coded among the ruins of a romantic hell, sampling aphoristic chants across the necropolitan blockchain! A mad collection of theory-poetry and parenthetic wisdom, this anti-evangelion of Zarathustrian superartificial malgorithms will haunt forever our lost necropolis of love

 


Paynim, The Anti-M3ssiah, gnOme books, 2020.

read it at Google Books


There can be no preamble to what follows. In many ways the words contained herein form the outline of a catastrophe in thought: an aberrant epistemology stolen from the future; an egg poached from the claws of demonic time.


“For centuries, scholars cloistered in the shadowy halls of archaic historiography have suspected that the mystery cults are in fact alive and well in the modern world — and that the sacred gases of geologic chasms at Delphi are in fact part of the atmosphere itself, beamed through each of us in the form of aphasic code. The strange cryptograms of Paynim provide us with further evidence of this. They are axiomatic and kataphatic, they are executable and self-annihilating.” – dòmisòsyè, author of The Book of Hallowed Annulments


“2020, and on my way home I pass an ad for Guy Ritchie’s 2005 film Revolver. By nominal/nominative association, Dennis Ritchie and his 1970s programming-language (C) spring-to-mind, along with their C++ OneUpmanship/StroustrUpmanship (another 1970s creation; my mental associations run back fifty years, it would seem). Back at the casa, I log into the old laptop only to find a little Gift—Capital-G as in German—from Gnome Books: a gnomic text with a Roman C page-count plus a bonus page, following that, upon which appears the statement that “books are never closed” (Merci Monsieur Möbius). Prior to the endlessness described on the end-page—page C+I—is an admission by the author of the text that the text itself was an οδός (or an ωδή to the οδός) and that the road taken (the οδός) has already been paved. What we have here, in book form, is a work of roads-scholarship, and just as was the case in a film released eight years prior to Ritchie’s Revolver—Lynch’s Lost Highway—the road wraps round itself, revolving in a monstrous Möbius-Loop qua collapsed Figure-Eight (∞). It occurs to me that I received this text in a manner not entirely unlike that of F·M (Fred Madison) in the A·M—mid-morning—opening-sequence of Lynch’s Lost Highway; is this, then, some kind of demonic diary or diabolical dialogue that I have been given? What price must be paid for the perusal of such a publication? Paynim, its pseudonymous author, is, after all, no thielevchinosekian paypal: rather s/he is some sort of nietzscheo·nakamotonian pagan—paynim being an Old (or rather, Middle) English translation of the Norman paienime, itself a translation of the Late-Latin/Lost-Highway paganismus (‘pagan’). The price of perusal might very well be a pseudonymous paganism or paynimity: a becoming-pagan the better to bear witness to the titular Anti-M3ssiah. With a nod to Nietzsche’s Antichrist and Prelude to a Philosophy of the Future (Beyond Good and Evil), The Anti-M3ssiah sets out in its set of six—6⁽⁶⁶⁾—poetic parts or song-sections to be a ballad of the blockchain, chanting/incanting ‘the inverted gospel’ (Paynim’s phrase) of the latter’s ‘robo-rebellion’ (Paynim’s phrase) and ‘ascetic re-definintions’ (ibidem).” – Dan Mellamphy (@youtopos)


“The Messiah comes and saves and completes, his antithesis arriving backwards to imperil and confuse and leave us unfinished. The Anti-Messiah will throw you to the wolves, to the lions, to the dogs, to the ideas of these creatures: all bite and no substance. And then you’re in bits and he’s the space between them, like nothing had a name. He is not he, is not she, is not anything, but a nothing professing to be everything, the last ghost light before the dark, in the heaven you deserve of endlessly becoming less. Open parenthesis, close parenthesis, and forget to pretend there was anything else.” – Gary J. Shipley


“All hail the Anti-M3ssiah, a cyberdecadent Maldoror coded among the ruins of a romantic hell, sampling aphoristic chants across the necropolitan blockchain! A mad collection of theory-poetry and parenthetic wisdom, this anti-evangelion of Zarathustrian superartificial malgorithms will haunt forever our lost necropolis of love.” – Germán Sierra


“A paean to this Age.” – E. Elias Merhige

7/15/21

Aleksander Wat - One of the most original, fascinating, and curious figures in 20th century Polish literature, Wat left behind an oeuvre which is salient, artistically accomplished, and influential... with its shifting narrative perspectives, wild imagination combining the trivial and the fantastic, and highly 'subjective' lyrical style,

Aleksander Wat, Lucifer Unemployed, Trans. by Lillian Vallee, Northwestern University Press, 1990.

download (pdf)

In these nine stories the Polish writer Aleksander Wat consistently turns history on its ear in comic reversals reverberating with futurist rhythms and the gently mocking humor of despair. Wat inverts the conventions of religion, politics, and culture to fantastic effect, illuminating the anarchic conditions of existence in interwar Europe.

The title story finds a superbly ironic Lucifer wandering the Europe of the late 1920s in search of a mission: what impact can a devil have in a godless time? What is his sorcery in a society far more diablical than the devil himself? Too idealistic for a world full of modern cruelties, the unemployable Lucifer finally finds the only means of guaranteed immortality. In "The Eternally Wandering Jew," steady Jewish conversion to Christianity results in Nathan the Talmudist reigning as Pope Urban IX. The hilarious satire on power, "Kings in Exile," unfolds with the dethroned monarchs of Europe meeting to found their own republic in an uninhabited island in the Indian Ocean.


"Wat... was a central figure in Polish modernism and this—his 1927 book of speculative stories—comes as a revelation... The style is quick, syncopated, and piquant (excellently rendered by Vallee), with Wat capable of richer tones as well... Wat's stories [indicate] the special nature of the Mitteleuropisch Expressionism that flourished—however briefly—in a literature we still know so little about."—Kirkus Reviews


These nine stories, originally published in Poland in 1927, will introduce American readers to the fresh, biting political and social fictive manipulations of Wat, who died in 1967. Marked by prose that is dense, even labyrinthine, as well as somewhat overblown in its archness, the collection serves as a crucible where the line between reality and fantasy is repeatedly obliterated. Wat fancies a Catholic Church whose priests and pope of Jewish descent persecute the anti-Semites/anti-Catholics; the latter group, headed by John Ford of the automobile dynasty, have converted to Judaism. Elsewhere, in the wake of WW I, a new island surfaces in the Indian Ocean and becomes a home for dethroned monarchs; these rulers of civilization degenerate into barbarians. A man searches for a street that never existed, and a member of a theater audience impulsively joins the play. An unemployed devil, who finds he is superfluous in the inferno of atheistic modern times, becomes a film artist: Charlie Chaplin. - Pubishers Wekly


"One of the most original, fascinating, and curious figures in twentieth-century Polish literature, Wat left behind an oeuvre which is salient, artistically accomplished, and influential... with its shifting narrative perspectives, wild imagination combining the trivial and the fantastic, and highly 'subjective' lyrical style, [Lucifer Unemployed] is a unique and important contribution to the twentieth-century evolution of the short story and fiction and general."—Stanislaw Baranczak


Aleksander Wat, Against the Devil in History:

Poems, Short Stories, Essays, Fragments, Trans.

by Frank L. Vigoda, Slavica Pub, 2018.


This extraordinary poet can be seen against the background of three periods of the 20th century. Born in 1900 to a Jewish merchant family in Warsaw, he became an anarchist and futurist, edited a communist journal, and was imprisoned by the Polish police. At the beginning of WWII he was arrested by the Soviets and spent several years in Soviet prisons. He returned to Poland an anticommunist in 1946, established an important publishing house (PIW), in the 1950s suffered a stroke that resulted in severe recurring pain, and started to write poetry again. He emigrated to Italy and France, and in 1967, after years of struggling with pain, he committed suicide. The third part of the century saw the efforts of his widow Ola Wat (herself an interesting writer) and a group of admirers to publish and promote his works, of which a large part remained unfinished: My Century (conversations with Czes aw Mi osz), collected poems, letters, miscellaneous papers, and notebooks. The uniqueness of Wat's oeuvre lies in the seamless blending of several seemingly heterogeneous components. He draws from numerous sources, including the Old and New Testaments, mythology, Oriental traditions, history, sociology, politics, biology, and mineralogy, to name only a few. Yet at the same time his poems are extremely sensual and somatic. Ideas, images, and dreams meld with important existential and theological questions, oscillating between hilarious affirmation and complete skepticism and negation, and undermined by suffering and pain.



Aleksander Wat, My Century, Trans. by Richard

Lourie, New York Review Books Classics, 2003.


In My Century the great Polish poet Aleksander Wat provides a spellbinding account of life in Eastern Europe in the midst of the terrible twentieth century. Based on interviews with Nobel Prize winner Czeslaw Milosz, My Century describes the artistic, sexual, and political experimentation --in which Wat was a major participant-- that followed the end of World War I: an explosion of talent and ideas which, he argues, in some ways helped to open the door to the destruction that the Nazis and Bolsheviks soon visited upon the world. But Wat's book is at heart a story of spiritual struggle and conversion. He tells of his separation during World War II from his wife and young son, of his confinement in the Soviet prison system, of the night when the sound of far-off laughter brought on a vision of "the devil in history." "It was then," Wat writes,


 As a document of historical witness, My Century is an extraordinary work. But more than that, it is a masterpiece of autobiography. Wat’s voice is irresistible, and he tells his story with such rigor and intelligence, such overpowering human warmth, that one is permanently altered by his words....It would be impossible for me to overstate my admiration for this book. It is a magnificent achievement, one of the most moving and powerful books I have ever read.— Paul Auster


Illuminating....What Solzhenitsyn did for the camps, Wat has done for the prisons.— J.M. Cameron, New York Review of Books


I couldn’t put it down... one reads it with an excitement only a great novel can elicit....No one has written so well on prison life, to my knowledge, since Dostoevsky.— Irving Howe


A very remarkable book indeed....There is, at every stage, Aleksander Wat himself, with his keen intelligence, his powerful descriptive gifts and his moral insight....The whole book is an impressive act of witness. It deepens the reader’s response to life and lays bare a major tract of history...

Such a fascinating book to read, this spoken memoir by Aleksander Wat!....Aleksander Wat was a poet, and My Century is a work of art....[It] may be read as a spiritual biography of a generation of European intellectuals....I would put it on a shelf in the vicinity of Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s Gulag, so compelling is its testimony and analysis.— Jan T. Gross, New York Times Book Review



With the Skin: Poems of Aleksander Wat


Aleksander Wat (1900–1967), the nom de plume of Aleksander Chwat, was born in Warsaw, the descendant of an old and distinguished Jewish family which counted among its members the great sixteenth-century cabalist Isaac Luria. He attended Warsaw University, where he studied philosophy, psychology, and logic, and formed strong ties with the literary avant-garde, publishing a first book of poems, Me from One Side and Me from the Other Side of My Pug Iron Stove, in 1920 and, some years later, a collection of stories entitled Lucifer Unemployed. Wat edited a variety of influential journals and helped to disseminate the work of Mayakovsky and the futurists in Poland, before forming an allegiance with the Communist Party and confining his writing to journalism. In 1939 he fled east before the advancing German army and was separated from his wife and young son. The family reunited in Lwów, then under Soviet control, where Wat found work on a newspaper, only to be placed under arrest. Imprisoned in the Soviet Union for the better part of two years, during which time he converted from Judaism to Christianity, Wat again rejoined his family, who had been exiled to Kazakhstan, in 1942. They returned after the war to Poland, where Wat began to write poetry again while serving as editor of the state publishing house. In 1963, he left his native country for France. Wat was invited in 1964 to the University of California, Berkeley, where he taped a series of conversations about his life and times with his countryman the poet Czeslaw Milosz. Edited by Milosz, these were published posthumously as My Century.



6/11/21

Curt Corrinth - his first novel to employ an Expressionist, frenetic prose and presented his excessive vision of free love, the sexual orgy as a means to salvation and universal copulation as a new world religion

 


Curt Corrinth, Potsdamer Platz, Or, the Nights of

the New Messiah: Ecstatic Visions, Illustrated by

Paul Klee, Trans by W. C. Bamberger, Wakefield

Press, 2021. [1919.]


First published in German in 1919, Potsdamer Platz was Curt Corrinth’s first novel to employ an Expressionist, frenetic prose and presented his excessive vision of free love. Inspired by Freud’s controversial disciple, Otto Gross, and his theory on sexual relations, Corrinth took this outlook to new extremes to preach the sexual orgy as a means to salvation and universal copulation as a new world religion.

The book’s provincial protagonist, Hans Termaden, arrives in Berlin, where he quickly evolves from city rube to sexual messiah as he converts prostitutes and virgins into sensual warriors and frees men of sexual inhibitions. As word of his exploits spreads, people throughout the city flock to his headquarters in Potsdamer Platz, turning all buildings into brothels as Berlin itself swells with an influx of population from England, France, and Mexico. Police and army attempt to bring order but themselves defect to take part in the spreading copulation as Corrinth’s prose itself begins to fragment and melt on the page.

Decried in its time as tastelessly over the top and more erotomaniacally obsessed than ecstatic in its vision, Potsdamer Platz today reflects its turbulent era and can be read as a portal into the cultural excesses of Weimar Berlin. This first English translation includes the original illustrations done by Paul Klee for the book’s 1920 deluxe edition.



Potsdamer Platz promises Ecstatic Visions, and it certainly delivers. Curt Corrinth's short novel is one of almost comic expressionistic excess

The story is simple: Hans Termaden comes to Berlin from the provinces, gets a taste of (and for) the big city, its freedoms, and, in particular, sex -- and he runs with it. He becomes a Messiah, his guiding principle sexual gratification -- not just above all else, but simply as all. It's not a hard sell: "he created more happiness than any human law was previously able to do".

His message quickly catches on:

all, all, all: praising the new covenant of the new messianic world: they blossomed, ardent, toward the higher purpose.

Everyone flocks to Berlin -- "Express trains thundered, incessantly, the awaking ones to paradise"" --, eager to follow the new true way:

Paris was depopulated, deserted; London mourned the Queen's abandonment; harems in the Turkish capital crumbled and emptied before sobbing eunuchs [...]

Berlin, on the other hand, our beautiful stronghold, registered a tenfold increase in population.

Of course, there are those who can't get with the programme -- and who come to threaten its happy success:

I name for you the weak-spined, sapless, aged, bloodless, marrow-less, dead to desire. They poisoned, slandered, practiced their antique morality, went on and on, panted, whispered, undermined, raged, swore, bore false witness, stormed about with buckling legs opposing lawful brazen events.

These were the danger.

And so, indeed, comes the counter-revolution.... Can the Messiah triumph over the: "old order, surviving in a corrupted state" ?

Yes, it's all very over-heated. The initial sexual release leads to a gush and then a torrent -- so also the narrative itself, reflected also in Corrinth's language, the account often a frenzy of words. It's all a bit -- and then much -- too much, but some of this does work well -- not least that first dawning of what sex can be and hold in Termaden's first experiences:

"I dare ! I want !

"Berlin, city of my dreams — Europe — the world —: wait, I am coming !! ——

Corrinth tries to drown the reader in this ecstatic excess, his writing a breathless rapid-fire flood of language twisted solely to these higher, baser purposes:

Hymnic new will boldly set out lived and living truths before the squealing ones, openly giggling and blushing, secretly triggering whirling carnal excitement and lechery-soaked visions.

Grammar itself is too conventional and rigid for what Corrinth wants to express and convey, and so he constantly pushes against its boundaries and even breaks some of the rules -- an effective technique (ably reproduced in W.C. Bamberger's translation), helped by the fact that Corrinth doesn't take things too far.

It is all quite ridiculous, too, and, honestly, not really good, even (though it certainly has its moments). But seen in its historical context it is certainly intriguing: Bamberger quotes Otto Karl Werckmeister's observations on the novel in his Introduction, specifically on the (potential) publication-date, and how the book can be seen differently depending on when it is placed: wartime Germany in early 1918 (when it could be seen as: "an act of cautious subversion under the threat of censorship"); the fall of 1919 (when it might be seen as: "a convenient mockery of political failure"); or in between, during the German November Revolution, when it might be seen as a commentary on those events.

Corrinth's vision of an ultra-decadent Berlin prefigures the Weimar image of the city, suggesting just how much was already bubbling under the surface even in that exhausted, impoverished time immediately after the war; it would seem much more a text from well into the 1920s than 1919.

Paul Klee's accompanying drawings are the main reason the work is still remembered, and it's good to see these here as well, a neat complement to the story -- capturing much of the unbridled wildness to it (if not so much the sex).

Potsdamer Platz is a curious work, and it does have the appeal of something taken to absurd extremes, in its language, philosophy, and basic plot. Short and brisk, it doesn't get mired in its own excess (though it can at times seem that excess is all there is to it ...); it does perhaps suffer some from its story being a bit underdeveloped. Still, Corrinth seems very much to have managed what he was going after -- blindingly bright ecstatic visions of a world in which sexual indulgence is the highest and overwhelming guiding principle. - M.A.Orthofer

https://www.complete-review.com/reviews/deutsch/corrinth.htm



Curt Corrinth (1894–1960) studied law until serving in the military in World War I, which resulted in his embracing an antiwar and anti-bourgeois stance through his poetry and then through a series of frenetically composed novels. Influenced by Freud’s maverick disciple, Otto Gross, Corrinth took Gross’s doctrine of free love to further, near parodic extremes in these novels, three of which would be banned by the Nazis in 1933. In 1955, he moved to the GDR in East Berlin, where he died five years later, his work all but forgotten in the western world.


6/9/21

Ivan Boris - a hallucinogenic detective mystery involving demonic Kantian philosophy, identity politics, the history of Surrealism, secret societies and mind control. Both a scathing satire and a sincere romance

 


Ivan Boris, My Week Without Gérard, Morbid

Books, 2021.


‘A surreal, slapstick nightmare set in the end-times of countercultural journalism.

‘In search of France’s superstar philosopher who has mysteriously vanished, Lester Langway, a young, bedraggled freelance reporter for the failing London style bible Down N Out! magazine, is sent to Paris to solve a hallucinogenic detective mystery involving demonic Kantian philosophy, identity politics, the history of Surrealism, secret societies and mind control. Both a scathing satire and a sincere romance, My Week Without Gérard is so squarely at odds with the culture it mercilessly lampoons, it’s little surprise the author writes under a pseudonym.’


“Any book with bathroom drugs, coffin sex, awkward romance, conspiracy theories, thinly veiled characters based on people I know in contemporary euro society, and my bloody death scene, has a spot on my bookshelf.” — Rick Owens


“It is rare to encounter people who not play a role, even when they are alone.”


‘A great piece of fictional journalism that drags you down the twisted road of drug and occult mania, stuffing you full of satirical philosophies and dadaistic nightmares along the way. Boris’ cultural references are as far-ranging and eclectic as they come, but even the artists and intellectuals that are usually placed on pedestals are not safe from his scathing criticism of middle-class self-flagellation. This truly was a fun piece of work to read and try to decode; very digestible and with no shortage of humour, it makes for an impressive debut novel.’ — Elliot Carter


‘Hilarious, compelling, a countercultural classic. A work of sublime order. Fear and loathing in occult Paris. The author has created a world that is profoundly humorous, while managing a deep sincerity throughout. Join Lester Langway, a British Journo, for an odyssey into the bowels of the Parisian occult-underground. Walk deep into an eclectic textual-tapestry; one that is both hallucinogenic and fulfilling. As a reader, My Week Without Gérard is an extremely pleasurable experience.


‘It is a fine novel, one that deserves much more contemporary attention. I mean, where else can we go and see Breton, Uri Geller, and Arsène Wenger all in one place. If you have sense, all Morbid Books releases should be on your radar.’ — Callum Berry


‘Darkly comedic, absurd and disorientating My week without Gerard weaves surrealism and the occult into a journalists bizarre investigation throughout Paris. Reminds me of Inherent Vice if it took place in the modern day, but centered round a deplorable human being.’ — Laurence

Like the greatest mystery stories, the pseudonymous writer Ivan Boris’ excellent new novel, My Week Without Gérard, is a labyrinth without a center. There is nothing to unravel here. There is no secret knowledge to be unearthed. No, instead, the mystery’s essential unknowability IS its only revelation; its ineffable enigma, its fluid arrangements of scenarios, characters, and even timelines, is its mesmeric allure. And not unlike other mystery or detective novels that similarly experiment with form and generic style, My Week Without Gérard demonstrates a stunning clarity about the culture and political economy that it was written in. The empty mystery that holds the novel together, is the same mystery that perplexes us all in liquid modernity. None of it makes sense. None of it seems real. If so much is happening, then why are we in stasis? While it skirts neatly tied up narrative implications, there is a profound – even disturbing, perhaps – philosophical insight here,

Similarly to Thomas Pynchon in Inherent Vice, Boris utilizes the generic structure of detective pulp fiction as raw material that he can deconstruct, fragment, and imbue with a freewheeling experimental sensibility. Inherent Vice has been written off by some critics as Pynchon’s detour into light reading, and that criticism isn’t exactly false. But Pynchon also managed to subvert the well-worn genre tropes of the detective novel in a way that materialized his pseudo-philosophical cultural critiques more legibly than any of his masterpieces had prior: paranoia, conspiracy, social change, drugs, and more. Boris employs the structure to similar ends, and the mystery “plot” becomes a thread that he uses to tie together a hallucinatory and temporally fractured literary space. The novel is hilarious at times, and transgressive throughout. But unquestionably its greatest strength is in its conception of the world we live, or at least, the phantasmagoric simulation of a world that we live in. And the anxiety we feel in it. And the desire we have to escape it.

The novel follows an ambitious and unusually art historically sophisticated – if generically narcissistic and drug-numbed – journalist named Lester Langway, who works for a failing, formerly hip style magazine (similar to Dazed or The Face). Lester heads to Paris to locate a Foucaut-level famous philosopher named Gérard Derenne, who has gone missing. Lester encounters problems in his search for the philosopher almost immediately. First, it appears that his editor from Down N’ Out! magazine has no recollection of assigning Lester the project, and has ceded control of his publication to his authoritarian, clout chasing assistant. His interview with fellow philosopher and Derenne’s best friend “Jacques Dutronc” (cleverly named after the French pop star of the same name, emphasizing the fluidity between intellectual life and fame in post-digital capitalism) goes disastrously. And finally, Lester finds himself at the center of a Me Too! Scandal when a female associate of Derenne’s goes to the press and describes the prank phone calls that Lester has been sending her way as “abuse,” and – in a brilliant satire of the cowardice displayed by bourgeois creative institutions’ failures to protect their artists from unfair smears (Jon Rafman, anyone?) – Lester’s union doesn’t even attempt to protect him from the character assassination or the media distortions around the accusations. All through this, there is a femme fatale of sorts, Anaïs, who signs on to Lester’s project as his photographer, and the two embark on a very bizarre, but rather erotic, romantic journey together, that keeps the deeply bizarre story grounded in mercifully familiar images.

The more calamities that befall Lester throughout the story, is the further that Boris drags us down into an abyss of surrealism, temporal slippages, and the depths of a drug and literature-soaked mind. At a certain point, the book becomes less of a tale of mystery and investigation and more of a psychedelic and opioid-spiked fever dream residing within the subconscious of the artist who feels like he was born in the wrong era. The second half of the novel is to the first what Twin Peaks: The Return was to Twin Peaks: the warped, mirror-image phantasmagoria of it. It becomes a poem of nostalgia, and a mourning for the radical avant-garde of early modernism that has further collapsed in the 21st Century.

My Week Without Gérard is a French modernism bibliophile’s wet dream. Throughout, there are bountiful references to Bréton and other surrealists like Artaud and Bataille (both of whom were eventually ousted from the group, but whatever). The Bureau of Surrealist Research, which was historically opened by Artaud in 1924, is reimagined as a kind of museum, or is possibly still in existence somehow (in the context of the novel), as an echo of time, or a murmur of Lester’s vivid imagination (but more on that later); it appears throughout the novel that in this Bureau of Surrealist Research, a Pandora’s Box is waiting for Lester to come and open it. The Bureau becomes centered as the portal between our world, strange as it already is, and the one that Lester enters, which seems to follow a slippery logic similar to the Polish town depicted in Bruno Schulz’s The Streets of Crocodiles. A fog of uncanny emerges from the Bureau that renders all the events and locations that follow it strange… There are references to psychologists, from R.D. Laing to Jung to Wilhelm Reich. And then, there’s the magic. The occult. Colin Wilson’s The Occult. Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Psychomagic. Peter Haining’s The Necromancers. The literary references allude to a rich interiority attempting to escape outwards. The mind. The imagination. Magic. And that’s where Boris forces us to ask: “What is really happening here?” Is this an occult voyage into the heart of a mysticism-saturated, modernism-haunted Paris? Or is it the psychological landscape of an alienated, drugged out, tragically nostalgic, and literature obsessed psyche? The joyful psychosis of the novel is in making no such distinctions between these two notions of its content. Just accept its unlogic. “In the 21st Century, a schizoid personality can be an asset,” says Lester to Anaïs at one point in the novel. Too true. In fact, it might not just be an asset, but a necessity, suggests Ivan.

There is a deliriously reactionary sensibility that courses through the novel. Lester longs for the poets and writers of Surrealism and of early modernism. He drifts through a Paris that only exists in the recesses of his imagination, a Paris that he has embedded into his interiority through his reading and made his inner world. I identify with Lester’s condition. He’s out of time. He wants to be a kind of artist that simply isn’t allowed to exist anymore. He missed modernism by decades, and even the cheap postmodern imitation of it found in “radical” British style magazines is on its last legs. He came in at the end of art’s dilution and just before there was no more art to dilute at all, just “visual culture” to dispose of and ignore. Where do you go from there? He has no choice but to retreat inward. This is, quite often, a book about the collapse of art itself. Boris unearths black comedy in the digital graveyard of post-postmodern art and literature. Derenne in the novel is a philosopher, sure, but he’s even more so a celebrity and a vulgar, neoliberal elite. Boris suggests that the only artists that are gifted with any kind of cultural presence or platform are those that metaphorically (or physically) fellate the encrypted forces of power that dominate beneath the shadows of conspiracy.

In one of the most unforgettable sequences of the novel, there is a peculiar tragedy in Lester’s attempt to hex three unnamed conspirators that have plagued his project and his quest (Derenne, perhaps? Dutronc?). In a nothing short of ecstatically fucked up sequence, Lester performs an erotic blood rite with Anaïs and an occult knowledgeable supervisor, who guides the couple through the process. “Lester entered Anaïs smoothly and held himself inside her, blood squelching,” writes Boris. “Mike lay his hands on her head and instructed her to suck the light from Lester. Lodged inside her with his eyes closed, it took a great deal of Will to keep from releasing his power. ‘I’m going to cum,’ he said more than once.”

And yet, despite all that “power” flowing through Lester, the ritual gets him no closer to his goal, no closer to Derenne, and no closer to understanding the world or rationalizing his own place within it. But Lester isn’t just lost in his own interiority. His fantasies of early modernism aren’t even built on anything resembling historical reality. At a later point in the novel, for instance, time starts to collapse and come undone. Worried about Anaïs’ psychological state after the ritual and a bad psilocybin trip, Lester brings her to a mental health facility, that we learn is Wilhelm Reich’s Orgone Institute. Lester’s encounter with the famed psychoanalyst and Marxist “free love” theorist is presented as neutral, as if Wilhelm is exactly where he ought to be; like it’s not strange at all that a man who died decades ago is taking patients into his hospital in the 2010s. And while Lester is excited to meet him at first (who wouldn’t be?), Reich quickly reveals himself as a quack doctor who imparts his untested theories onto vulnerable patients, sometimes irreparably fucking them up. It turns out that the radical ideas that make The Orgone Energy Accumulator, Its Scientific and Medical Use such wonderfully weird reading are also what make him functionally terrible as an actual physician. So not only does Lester long for something that has already long since passed, he longs for something that maybe never was. His contempt for his own epoch has made him uncritical towards the history that he has imbued with a near supernatural importance. He’s so alienated from his own reality that he has to imbue his own aesthetic and ideological biases onto a former era that he fetishizes. Is that not the very definition of reactionary?

But Lester is, nevertheless, empathetic, and his reactionary tendencies are presented as perfectly logical in the context of the novel. Does Lester eventually find Derenne? He sure does, but it’s so besides the point by the end of the novel that it feels like it barely happens at all. Lester gives new meaning to the term “unreliable narrator,” because he is too lost within his own fascinations, perversions and fantasies to give an accurate account of anything. But given the world he lives in – cancel culture, shadowy elites, the collapse of meaning, a decadent empire in steep decline, abject cynicism masquerading as coherent politics – can we blame him?

Lester presents himself as something of a surrealist journalist, or at least that is his goal at the beginning of the novel, and the world no longer has any tolerance for an artist with that kind of ambition. The only publisher that will work with him is a failing style bible, and even they are losing patience with the ideas that he brings to the table (“We don’t do philosophy!” says his editor, at one point). Humorously, Rick Owens is depicted throughout the novel as a pillar to the kind of artist that Lester on some level wishes he knew how to be. Owens – a fashion designer with a ruthlessly specific viewpoint, a sculptor of brutal forms with a seemingly limitless imagination – simultaneously embodies the unhinged creative id of an earlier modernism while also still maintaining a massive cultural presence and the material riches that fame coincides with in post-digital neoliberalism. Rick is both a “sexual personae,” and a pop media superstar. To maintain that level of artistic integrity AND world wide recognizability is nothing short of astonishing. Rick Owens is an artist that belongs in the here and now. Lester doesn’t. Lester envies him. I envy him. I am Lester Langway, and like Lester, I retreat into my interiority to escape the alienation that subsumes me. Like Lester, I would rather waste away forever in my own “Library of Babel'' than slowly go insane in the schizoid landscape of a broken culture that no longer places any value on creativity, iconoclasm, or freedom. The world within. The world I’ve built. The material world around me is just too cold, and too ugly. - Adam Lehrer

https://safetypropaganda.substack.com/p/i-am-lester-langway



6/8/21

Zak Ferguson - Manic images somehow increasingly specific, like intimate sea-divers setting off a light-pulse from within a leviathan, merging with genres like science fiction or metaphysics and rant. It is writing that burns itself

 


Zak Ferguson, The System Compendium, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2021.


T H I S I S N O T A B O O K

I T I S A S T A T E M E N T I T I S

A N anti - A N T I - A N T I - N O V E L.

I T I S A M A N I F E S T O.

A P A R O D Y.

A S A T I R E .

A C U T - U P – C O N S C I O U S N E S S - n o v e l.

????¬¬¬¬¬¬``````?????????/???????//////////\\\\\\\\\\\\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/I T I S P E T U L A N T. `/`/`/`/`/`/`/`/`/`/`/IT IS RAW. IT IS UNDEFINABLE. IT IS PURE EXPERIMENTAL-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism AUTISTI-CLITERATU\\R\E -ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism-ism...for better or for worst.


Zak Ferguson’s debut novel Eat Your Keyboard was released at the beginning of 2017, and before, during and after its release he was working furiously at writing the final two books of what Zak fully envisioned as a trilogy of books. The writing process was hard going – the book continually evolving – warping. The whole experience has been hard. Heart-wrenching. Zak wasn’t happy with it, nor felt much confidence as to the future books’ safety and the works integrity with the Press it was with initially.

Eat Your Keyboard was and continues to be a novel that has infected those of whom have read it. Many have enquired as to whether there are follow ups. Zak has reassured many, for the last two to three years, that the book was forthcoming. Alas, it wasn’t. So much had gone on between the first book and the ever changing two books that were bristling in anticipation, to mess up the readers it knew it could corrupt – Zak was undecided about the books fate.

After much turmoil and strife, both professionally and personally, Zak burnt out. The only thing that kept him going was the notion that he could now set up shop and continue on his career as a writer – but, wishing to add Publisher to his resume. And the Eat Your Keyboard cycle was not going to fade, it was going to be at the epicentre as to why he wanted to publish his own works.

Since then, starting his own Press, Zak has released 7 novels – though, no signs of the EYK follow ups/re-issues were made clear – to anyone, nor himself.

Over the past few years Zak has worked almost every single day on his 600-page experimental novel – that collects all three books of the EYK trilogy.

The difference is, the book is one big compendium, with new art exclusively made for this books release by Carlos Davila, and special adverts shoved in by DB Spitzer – to lend this book a whole new identity. And a few crappy pieces of artwork from Zak’s end, but, lets see if you can spot them?

If you have read EYK, not only do you get a new, expanded, re-written (like the best re-released experimental cut-up novels) novel, you get both of the follows up, DESTROY YOUR KEYBOARD and DISGORGE YOUR KEYBOARD - a wholly NEW huge beast of a book to weigh down your children when they won’t keep still, or to hold open a bank vaults door as you steal its contents – that, or it just makes your already heaving bookshelves bow under its madness.

As a person with a diagnosis of Autism, Zak strived to create a book that gives the reader the closest thing to an autistic experience, as possible, a roller-coaster ride that Zak experiences on a daily basis, a psychological and mental challenge that has been shaped into a physical form. The reader will feel most things associated with Autism by immersing themselves into Zak’s world and writing.



"Zak Ferguson's writing is like letting an electric virus invade your central nervous system. Nothing is left intact. You are left wiped out and ready to reboot. It's wonderful." – Seb Doubinsky 


“The System Compendium is far and away the most ambitious thing I can remember reading for some time, and certainly one of the most ambitious contemporary books I’ve read in a number of years. Maximalist to the hilt and as expressive as a gob of milky spit in the face of a court-ordered psychiatrist, this is a book to live within and with, an author to keep close.” - Grant Maierhofer


“Not often does new fiction come to this world so fully formed and peculiar in its execution. Zak Ferguson’s work confuses me on the deepest levels- and I would not have it any other way- as it twists a thread of visceral narrative layers only to break it and start anew. Ferguson dredges the most specific and proscribed shapes and images to page, stilting and rendered through oblique and haunting vantage, riddled through to the baser aspects of the conscious and condensing as something more. Writers like this are born to it, when one might suspect a heritage - Bataille, Lautréamont, Bulgakov, or Burroughs -  but also with a surprisingly delicate touch. Manic images somehow increasingly specific, like intimate sea-divers setting off a light-pulse from within a leviathan, merging with genres like science fiction or metaphysics and rant. It is writing that burns itself”. – Jared Pappas Kelley


Zak Ferguson, T E X T U R E Ss

Sweat Drenched Press, 2021.


 "So it begins, book-objects emerging from the Covid-19 UK lockdown and beyond. Artbook. Yes. That word.

I pause. I like it. Gordon Lish famously said literature is retrograde. Why are we not trying harder? Zak Ferguson is.

[Text] in TEXTURESs is immanent… already there. Bugger all images. Even the text is an image. Hieroglyphics of HTML. The negative space of text. Negentropic text. Keywords emerge: auto-fact, auto-fiction, IKEA meatballs, channel 3, channel 4, loneliness, boredom, vacant lots, tin-foil cocks, bubble-gum girls, ruins. Yes, ruins.

Lish also said: You don’t even have to make it up!

The opening & closing of a laptop computer… like a giant clam! This is Brighton, after all. And Eastbourne. The grunt-groans of existence are here. Existence as a cut-up experience. This book claims to be an accident.

It is. A big, beautiful fucking accident. Like the Universe itself.


Electronic waste. E-waste. TEXTURESs reminds us everything is made of particles. Box text. Text in boxes. Language prisons. Good luck, pal.


A writer reading a writer is something, eh? A writer reading a writer reading a writer… probably what you are doing right now. Am I right, pal? John Trefry famously said he is okay with Inside the Castle books only being read by other writers. That is what you have here. Zak Ferguson makes me want to write. TEXTURESs makes me want to write. Makes me want to “fuck around” with text. Echo chambers. Chambers without echoes. The anechoic chamber in Minneapolis is purportedly the “quietest place on the planet.” TEXTURESs is screaming. Zak Ferguson is screaming. Hear my tell-tale heart, indeed.

Life is a rough draft. I still don’t know what the fuck Nietzsche means by eternal return. What I do know: TEXTURESs by Zak Ferguson makes me feel alive." -R.G. Vasicek, author of THE DEFECTORS


TEXTURESs

{Or}

{The Autistic Experience} didn't start out as a book, it started out as a collage piece.

This is just the end result.


A book reflecting on Zak's ever evolving relationship with various artistic mediums; and the artistry even the most minor of details.

This is both a collection of prose, fiction, poems, essays and a novel length manifesto that relates to Zak's neurological condition and the condition of the interiority of a book. It is also about sweet fuck all.




Zak Ferguson, Dimension Whores, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2019.


Dimension Whores is a non-novel. A non-linear-experimental book. An ode to the works of William S. Burroughs and all the great literary masters who gained notoriety in death...rather than in life...a legacy Zak Ferguson won't even have a chance at even following in his own demise. Praise for Zak Ferguson, “Not often does new fiction come to this world so fully formed and peculiar in its execution. Zak Ferguson’s work confuses me on the deepest levels- and I would not have it any other way- as it twists a thread of visceral narrative layers only to break it and start anew. Ferguson dredges the most specific and proscribed shapes and images to page, stilting and rendered through oblique and haunting vantage, riddled through to the baser aspects of the conscious and condensing as something more. Writers like this are born to it, when one might suspect a heritage- Bataille, Lautréamont, Bulgakov, or Burroughs- but also with a surprisingly delicate touch. Manic images somehow increasingly specific, like intimate sea-divers setting off a light-pulse from within a leviathan, merging with genres like science fiction or metaphysics and rant. It is writing that burns itself”. – Jared Pappas Kelley (Author of SOLVENT FORM) "I don't get it, I truly do not understand how this is even allowed to hit the presses...he didn't even pass English Literature in his GCSE's"- Zak's English Teacher (year 9/10/11) "Anyone know of Zak's whereabouts, please get hold of your local Police"- Zak's Probation Officer



Zak Ferguson, Interiors for ?, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2020.


Interiors for ? is an experiment. Nothing else.



Zak Ferguson, Interiors for ? mark ii, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2020.


This book is about experimental literature, and its inter-inter-inter-inter--relationship with images, spaces, interiors and the ontology of not just words but their relation to the physical book and its form. pART 2 OF THE foUR-bOOK SERIES- iNTERIORS fOR ? Praise for Interiors for ? mark ii: "Interiors for ? Mark ii is a passionate experiment of form / structure / narrative. Navigating the interiority of the text, investigating the semiotics of the white-page and black-ink.Ferguson builds this machine with a steady hand. He converts the interiors of the head into the interiors of the text. Mapping this newly-formed space with the energy of a dadaist manifesto--employing the techniques of collage and cut-up to create simultaneously entrancing and enigmatic images. All of this revealing the fragility of the book-object. The inclinations of language to break down and distort / the limitations and potentialities of its construction.Interiors for ? Mark ii is an exciting exploration of what can be planted within text, what can be grown, seeded, destroyed." - Mike Corrao, author of Gut Text and Man, Oh Man


Zak Ferguson, Interiors for ? mark iii, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2020.


The third part in the (Experimental, Pseudo-Non-Fiction, Innovative, Essay-Critique, Fictionally-F*cked-Up-) INTERIORS FOR ?Quadrilogy, where Zak Ferguson reaffirms, redesigns, alters, surveys, waffles on about the relationship of text, interior design and formation of a book, rediscovering the alternate dimensions of the book-space and all those great avenues of thought, interpretation, philosophy of the book and its overall dimensionality. It is full of meta-critical-evaluation, meta-fiction, born from such a construction- such as a place of de-con-struct-ion, ION-/i/o/n-contained, offered, delivered, via the physical form of a paperback novel. |Full| of| T/Y/P/O/S and error error errors-full of mess and mess and mess and mess and mess and mess and mess and mess.



Zak Ferguson, Interiors for ? mark IV, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2020.


The final book in the Interiors book series. Where Metaphysics, Philosophy, the inter-inter-inter-inter-interior-expansive-overt-expansive-cosmic-inter-I/N/T/E/Riorssssssssssssssssssss-inter-RIORs-Equations-56666888888=========-Satire-Non-Fiction-Essays-Cut-Up-Collage-Semiotics-Ontological-Phenomenological-Illogical-ill/i/L/l-are offered-break down, mind, no mind, all mind. Art is the future. Expression=Expansion of avenues of pathways of opening ups of a variant and varietal osmosis of genetics where words make up known connotations where. . .this book is all up for interpretation.



Zak Ferguson, One of Them Days, Sweat

Drenched Press, 2020.


One of them days we all have, whether young, old, racist, all-inclusive, tolerant, intolerant, gay, straight, bi, human, alien, we all have one of them days. So, here is a book of them, from many different people, having one of them days.



Zak Ferguson, Soft Tissues, Sweat Drenched

Press, 2021.


Soft Tissues is for all the current generation of whom have had issues and need a tissue.


"Exact— investigational retching— reminiscent of Apollinaire— or Saint-John Perse. There is spiralling flight— redolent imagery within Zak Ferguson’s writing— poetries constructed in lifeblood—assembled fibres and entangled bear hair— online apps and old static radios— social media and skid marks— slang terminology inside high rise blocks— fashioned overall debris and dormant wood rot— erected tequila slime within antisocial attitudes— taken apart and pieced together by fag ash and slow motion— structured infection combining— composed and created by milky forms— put up and knocked down. Zak Ferguson has written verses full of the shrill cries— the secret codes— and tricks of spit spray and skeletal frames— material worth reading. Poetry as pleasure buttons— the soft tissues— the synthesis of Alcools and Anabasis— muscle." Shane Jesse Christmass  




Zak Ferguson, Volatile Voice's, Volatile

Universe, Sweat Drenched Press, 2019.


We live in a reality that is supposed to be our own. Voices break through, in textural compositions. A reality crafted by our own hand. Our own, their own, a sum of many, many parts of this slop of material. We are existing on multiple plains of existence. Layered. Tiered. Dormant. Existing. Birthing. Dying. Fizzling out. Our decisions are not our own, it is dictated by a melange of our other selves. Our parallel selves. Our truer selves. And if that isn’t comfortable enough for you to accept, to compute, to define as a narrative streak, there is a billion others in the wings to be hung up for contemplation- {not entertainment}...then faith, objectification and all great emotions are greater served and rationalized, and made acceptable, by putting it to our greatest deities; to make our most basic of decisions somebody else’s fault. The Narrators? {who do you trust?} What if you got a TASTE of your own reality? What if every minute thing has cause and effect, rippling through the linearity of your(multiple-selves) LIFE-LINE(s)? What if every possibility of all potentialities submerge into "your" cohesive narrative life? What if you got a TASTE of a broader Cosmos?What IF… those voices, those rippling, bending, curvature-noise-made-material-ectoplasmic-events altered not one singular variation of yourself, but all of your selves..these phantom images, these intrusive thoughts, these Déjà vu-moments are our own extremely tempered voices...ever so V O L A T I L E Breaching...reaching out...Part of an even greater web-work and mapping, making its own sub-pocket in space and time, where, out there, in there {indicate to your own head, thus meaning your mind} personified within itself as a multi-layered Universe, itself ever so,V O L A T I L E...Meet a whole host of characters, whose singular, epic, contained stories all interweave to culminate into a broader far more {"pretentious} cosmic whole, where there is a sexually perverse demented youth Dimension-hopping, searching for his sick obsession, a young girl, of pig-tail innocence, a council-block dwelling witch with a penchant for pushing carers to their mushy-deaths, meet That Man who exists on the fringes of a young girls reality, a girl, who in question is the focal point to all of these characters, whose realities are splayed out, who is a key component to this fractured,



Zak Ferguson, What Mr. Wants Mr. Gets, Sweat Drenched Press, 2019.


What Mr. Wants Mr. Gets. It's as simple as that....Or is it?He has a method. He has no plan. He has a vision. He has no qualms with being caught. He needs people. He has no friends. He has puppets. He has pray. His thoughts run like a whippet...they strike like mercury to flesh. He is damaged. He will damage. The art of killing has lost its obliqueness and contrarily its definition. Killing isn't art. Art is killing. Killing is enlightening. Not to sole perpetrator. But to society as a whole.Kill. Manipulate. Games. Mind. Bodily. Eruptions of instinctual possessiveness garnered by fear. Not of blade. Not of death. But of the loss of one's legacy.Impromptu imprints impromptu actions impromptu impromptu impromptu........pointlessness.The greatest thing isn't the whys and the hows of a serial killer. It's the internal coalescence of lust, greed, insecurities, control. It's not the making of that's interesting...it's the subconscious splay out played in real time that is the main and real focus one needs to truly understand and experience to comprehend a killers actual pure unadulterated motives and reasoning's.Experimental fiction hasn't been this outright f*cking audacious.What Mr. Wants Mr. Gets is an extremely experimental piece. Transgressive. Surreal. Disjointed. This book is petulance personified. This novel is a harsh critique on society, expectations, media-consumption, how expectations of self border beyond deity levels of narcissism and modern humans want to leave an imprint on this f*cked up Universe. Its a satire, a meta-commentary on experimentalism used in modern day fiction. But, be warned...


Zak Ferguson,  A Taste of

Feeling, Sweat Drenched Press, 2018.


We live in a reality that is supposed to be our own. A reality crafted by our own hand. We are existing on multiple plains of existence. Our decisions are not our own by a melange of our other selves.And if that isn’t comfortable enough for you to accept, then faith, objectification and all great emotions are greater served and rationalized, and made acceptable, by putting it to our greatest deities; to make our most basic of decisions somebody else’s fault.What if you got a TASTE of your own reality? What if every minute thing has cause and effect, rippling through the linearity of your LIFE-LINE? What if every possibility of all potentialities submerge into your cohesive narrative life? What if you got a TASTE of a broader Cosmos?What IF…



Zak Ferguson,  Eat Your

Keyboard, Sweat Drenched Press, 2017.


Have you felt the lure of T H E P R O G R A M M E Has T H E S Y S T E M worked its way through to your greatest most secreted depths? Or is it still massaging, kneading, soaking into your subconscious, into your extended being. Into your key-eat- boarD...Your.... THE BOOK YOU HOLD IS SOMETHING ONE COULD MISCONSTRUE AS A LIE. IT IS THE TRUTH. THIS IS LIVING PROOF OF A HIGHER CALLING, OF A BETTER WAY OF LIVING. ONE COULD ANTICIPATE AN ANSWER TO THE ULTIMATE QUESTIONS. WE DON'T ANSWER...WE HELP YOU GAIN A TRUTH. HERE, DEAR READER YOU'RE GIVEN...snippets of experiences, one right after the next, all piling in a heap. Slowly, as they all decompose together, they will begin to form something. Again, not so much a story, but events that are all related by something, united to "shine a light" on something greater than the individual events. What are WE as a species shining a light on by our actions? Like scattering bones and the casting of entrails to seek some truth out of the random, through its "chaos" , its telling YOU something, telling truths about ourselves and what we, you, they, them- collectively create. Writer Zak A. Ferguson takes his readers on a rip-roaring rampage through the madness of one's mind. With this debut novella we, the audience, are subjected to literary experiments that take us from one existence to another, in flashes, explosions that tear the brain apart, leaving each piece to grow into its own character - one after another, they grow into agents of pure chaos. Their existence - a manic slideshow shown at 100mph. Sit back, open your mind and EAT YOUR KEYBOARD!



Zak Ferguson, Mr. Nick, Sweat Drenched Press, 
2018.


Mr. Nick. He’s the Devil. Or just good ol’ Nicky-Boy. Any who, Nick is suffering from a case of the mid-Millennium blues. What is his life? To serve others, and more? At the end of the day, it’s not like he’s got horns and breathes fire… …that, and he’s not the actual epitome of Evil. He’s an old boy wanting to live out the remainder of his (im)mortal life. After a few bevvies, and World Record for MOST CIGARETTES SMOKED IN HALF AN HOUR, Nick comes to the conclusion that it’s high-time to call it quits. To pass the baton. Heavy lies the crown upon the head of he who is: RULER OF THE WORLD. Of whom, you ask, would be the worthy heir to The Devil’s throne? Well, none other than Nick’s son himself – a simpleton with a devout passion for pushing papers, and sorting pencils. The REAL question is: Can this desk-dweller do what is necessary to keep Earth neat and tidy? That question is put to the test when Cupid is bequeathed his utmost desires… …desires full of beautiful benevolence – a fire too HOT for any level of Hell to contain, or control. From one fiasco to another, Nick’s spur-of-the-moment decision to quit his job couldn’t have come at a more hellacious time. Mr. Nick offers laffs (laughs, for the spelling police), gonzo-bonker characters (like a mallet to the head, and that soppy cartoon laugh), and moments that’ll most likely have critics throwing this book at their least favourite child.



THE RUMPUS MINI-INTERVIEW PROJECT #219: ZAK FERGUSON

BY JARED PAPPAS-KELLEY

Zak Ferguson’s work is mental in the best possible sense of the word. His work is unsettling. He is a self-professed experimental writer (I am an experimentalist!) and you can see how he approaches each aleatory novel or book with its own rules, lucidity, and structures as with this new series of “interiors” that are underway. The logic of Ferguson’s work is one of expansion and collapse, putting forward a thread only to subtlety fold in or snap under, yet still felt in body and under skin.

I spoke with Zak about his new book, Interiors for ?, and the second installment Interiors for ? Mark ii, which was published only two weeks later. We also talked about wandering burnt-out buildings in the UK, the legacy of underground or zine culture, vaporwave, his autism, and his awakening as a writer.

***

The Rumpus: I stumbled across your newest writing project Interiors for ?, and wasn’t really aware of the concept or idea of it. Can you talk a bit about this project, and the thinking behind it?


Zak Ferguson: Interiors for ? began as a whole other endeavor. To take images for a project. Maybe THE SYSTEM COMPENDIUM, or something else. So after and during photographing, I had this image percolating, not so much an image as an idea, that burned into that idea, where I needed to name a folder, to create one, where to place these images, to pick from—like a goodie box of images to use in experiments and to apply to certain pieces I am working on. Then this philosophy and appreciation for interiors, spaces, my relationship with the metaphysics, meta-contextual-textural-integrated notion—warped and took me over, wholly.

I needed a name, so I titled the folder Interiors for ? because that had been percolating inside my mind as I was taking the photos, too, and then this whole other plane of contemplation opened. Already spurred and accessed by having initially started upon this path of productivity, the images I had taken were taking on different resonances. The husk of a recently burned-down hotel in Eastbourne all of a sudden evolved, and was dislocated from this thing called reality, and took on a new meaning, relating to my art, relating to my procession of creativity.

The whole thing (the hotel) had fallen into itself, and only the outside, the walls, the façade, the foundations, the sides were remaining—it was wholly aesthetically and physically there in its exterior standings, its own physically embodied thing, but there was something supernal about it, too.

For me it was and still is about the spaces, the new being of this fucking burnt down building, and in segments, framed by its falling down, its eventual disintegration—the boring parts turned into anarchy-parts, the beautiful parts turned into textural-parts.


Rumpus: So, what are your plans for this project, and what is it about exactly?


Ferguson: I am planning on releasing four Interior books, from here on at the end of every week; whether it may be later, may be sooner, I have no clue, but I am enjoying myself because it is testing my skills as an artist, metaphysically, with pathways of contemplation and reflection and also my interrelationship with image-mockery, image-manipulation, my need to explore, embrace, extend, engorge my overall intentions, but in newer, for me, and far more innovative and puzzle-piece-experimental ways. My intention is to build on this work, because it has evolved, taken upon itself a whole new meaning. It is the first official release from my press, and it is an itch that needs to be scratched. To test. To push. To prove to myself.

What is it, exactly? I don’t fucking know, and I love that energy; it’s almost a synergy and cyclical thing that is issued forth from the ripples coming off my other works. Inside, outside of me, there is something cosmic happening here…


Rumpus: I was talking the other day about all this and about how it reminds me a bit of the glory days of zines and zine-making, but sort of like the next evolution of that sort of process. I grew up in places like Olympia and Seattle where a lot of that was going on and sort of in the air. What do you think of this?


Ferguson: That is very fucking cool. I have never been part of any zine, or publication that is circulated in a cool, underground, DIY way. I think that this can be bettered, considering how things are going, on a sadly commercial and capitalist level, by the accessibility of POD (print-on-demand) platform, if used well. But then as I think about this, I get agitated and the reality dawns, and that is—that it takes something away from what makes zines, well, zines… they’re printed, stapled, clustered, with art not approved but shoved in, because they need as much content as they could scurry together, collage, prose-poetry, rants, terrible advertisements for local businesses, where the time is nearly running out on the publication date they had set for themselves and told a fair few mates (greasy-haired, mascara-clad, with a few terribly ill-thought-out and self-applied tattoos)—who are willingly standing on the street corner from the “press” contemplating the jump from curb to road.


Rumpus: You mention this idea of underground, which makes me think of Baudrillard, who says: “You must create your underground, because now there’s no more underground, no more avant-garde, no more marginality. You can create your personal underground, your own black hole…”

What do you think of that?


Ferguson: Yes, we all must make our own underground, because there really is no avant-garde, no more room or spaces allowed for the people with the real rushing of blood keeping the actual heart of these creative movements alive any longer. But people creating zines, or chapbooks, or macro pamphlets, this reality, this place, that will never die, oh I so fucking hope it doesn’t, and telling those whose supposed positioning with these supposed wants to be DIY and so underground is truly all faux and disingenuous. But if it can be attenuated and captured in some minor way, that intent and well-intended motion is more than what most presses try to express and sell themselves off as.

Nothing will live up to the underground nature of pamphlets, and the only person I know of successfully doing this, using the POD platform, is Christopher Nosnibor at Clinicality Press. I love Christopher as a publisher, reviewer, and writer himself. His nonfiction really shaped my want to start writing, and is not as veined into experimental fiction, but perhaps into spreading experimental nonfiction.

Even though I may have been part of faux literary movements, all online, and only in existence in words, in boasting, and on the social media platforms these projects always live and ultimately die by—that try to capture that punk-rock-underground aesthetic, and in all honesty, in their failure, make it known that you just cannot capture that type of thing without experiencing it. So, no, I have never been part of it.


Rumpus: You talk about the idea of these small communities that exist online or these faux literary movements. That makes me think of some of the early intentions of vaporwave in music and its decentralized locale (online), the first entirely online music genre. Scott Beauchamp proposed that “vaporwave was the first musical genre to live its entire life from birth to death completely online.” So what is this shift?


Ferguson: Things are so gentrified, but it’s evolved beyond its originally assigned and processed meaning, the process of renovating and improving housing or district, yadder, yadder, yadder; its about labels, about being this thing, in name, but not in execution. And with this motion of application it is just a knock-off. Being this thing, so people gravitate, towards it. To try adding to it, but if it’s not truly the encapsulation to begin with, it’s just assigning its own fizzle/burn out.


Rumpus: I sort of think, what would’ve happened back then if we’d had access to this sort of immediacy with POD with zines or for similar projects. But as you’ve said, there’s now this desire for the physicality of the printed object as well or the sort of irony, if we want to think about vaporwave as an example again—all of this digital music that was produced and released online is now being rereleased on vinyl, the sort of uber-analogue holy grail. But is this POD also kind of brilliant in its potential?


Ferguson: Oh, it is brilliant. Really brilliant. For creative endeavors, to circulate art that usually, in the past, needed to be approved and were then made to wait. The POD platform has given freedom to people of great intentions, to get other artists, other experimentalists, innovators together and out there, to have their work out in the open, without a committee board judging it, editing it, breaking it down, and stating it is this, labelling it as that. I do not know of what platforms they use, but publication houses like Inside the Castle, headed by the genius John Trefrey, Dostoyevsky Wannabe by Richard Brammer and Victoria Brown, are doing things in literature that I wish to achieve. For the art. For the artist. For the love of making and creating books and content.

Though POD encourages a lot of amateurism and bad books by some people of whom shouldn’t write, there is no stopping that and nor should those people be stopped. POD is a great place to create careers, but also a great freedom to make presses, and through that and the books, fuck yeah, POD is a masterful ingenious and necessary platform and maybe a future scape where the best of artists end up creating—because you can either learn, grow from it, or be stuck in the same old rut from the beginning. You can put out there whatever the fuck you want as an artist.

But, it needs to be learned, not taught; it needs to be felt out. It needs to have a person with a mind to think outside the box, because those who think inside the box are dictated by the rules of Amazon, marketing on Facebook, which is an echo chamber, and so forth—those people are lost.


Rumpus: You mentioned it in passing a bit, but maybe you could mention your ideas about experimentalism or experimentalists briefly? What is its significance or what might it entail?


Ferguson: Being me. I feel everything I have spoken about is the encapsulation of what it means to be an experimentalist, such as my methods, my attitudes, also when paired with the reality of having autism. Autism allows one to be an experimentalist, whether they know it or not, to be a discoverer, whether they want it to or not. It’s a continual struggle—social niceties, social rules, and supposed law-governed rules of how to behave or come across—that is an experience born from an altered angle and perspective and a consciousness. That is something one tries to attain with their art: the experience, the mechanisms running the mind, the cerebral nature of those with autism. Autistic people are born creators and born experimentalists; it is how the “condition” dictates and such. Just pair with it and become one. It then will be a benefit and not a detriment.


Rumpus: Something else you’ve spoken a bit about in the past was how your autism relates to your process and viewpoint in your work. Does that relate to what you are doing with this new project?


Ferguson: It is my art. Autism is the product of my mind. My emotions. My personality. These are wholly dictated, controlled, steered, corrupted by my non-typical brain. Thus, it is heavily tied to me. Everything you read, experience, process, read, enjoy, hate, loathe, don’t quite get, appreciate, is part of my autism. Having autism is now a piece of Art itself. It is a hurt, an ache, as it affects my living situation societally, housing-wise, my processing and survival.

My work is a total obliteration of those emotions, a capturing of those odd moments, odd traits, odd-angled vistas from the way I look at the world, that gets the creative mind and accompanying imagination boiling over, and the autistic episodes and frustrations to my existence with this alternate way of thinking and feeling and living—sees me process, molecularly break it down, via experimentation, of prose, prose-imagery, imagery, short films. It is me. The full me.


Rumpus: I also know that you have been working on a new book, Art Is Autism. can you speak a bit about that?


Ferguson: It is a manifesto. A pseudo-memoir. Talking about my life with autism, and my coming into myself as both writer and reader. It is almost an experimentalist autistic (passionate) meltdown, full of rants, critiques, studies, emotional pleas. A wholly intimate portrayal of what writing and experimental and innovative fiction means to me.

https://therumpus.net/2020/05/the-rumpus-mini-interview-project-219-zak-ferguson/


Zak Ferguson’s work is mental in an unsettling and best possible sense of the word. He is a self-professed experimental writer (I am an experimentalist!) and you can see how he approaches each aleatory novel or book with its own rules, lucidity, and structures as with this new series of “interiors” that are underway. The logic of Ferguson’s work is one of expansion and collapse, putting forward a thread only to subtlety fold in or snap under, yet felt in body and under skin. Some books are pulpy in their page turning and others are a task, but one never doubts there is something at stake or a very real risk, taking place in their execution.

I spoke with Zak about his new books Interiors for ? and the next instalment Interiors for ? Mark ii, as well roaming through burnt or torn down buildings in the UK, the legacy of underground or zine culture, vaporwave, discussing both his autism and awakening as a writer and an opening up of a literary world, as well as the launch of his recent publishing venture Sweat Drenched Press.

Read it here: https://www.invertextant.com/post/interview-zak-ferguson-s-sweat-drenched-interiors




Zak Ferguson is an Autistic, mental health-suffering much despised entity, barely a person, just an irritable itch, on the ear- lobe, on the fringes of your conscious-self; whose reality consists of words, literature and the pretensions garnered from art.

If you like literature that tests your perceptions of literature, that tests your patience, that entices, arouses, annoys, irritates, breaks into you machinations of consuming literature, literature that confounds, upsets, and semi-forms itself as entertainment and all such and sundry as accepted and marketed in the full fledged market place of book-building and publication… then Zak is probably somebody you’d like to beat around the head with, said book, and tell him what a waste of time it was…

If, and this is a BIG if, this is an experience you wish to partake in, if only to get a chance to beat him publicly/privately…read his stuff.

He exists online in some vague form. On INSTAGRAM under some name or other…and TWITTER…under another name based around his issue with sweating…

Zak lives in the seaside town of Brighton.





Lukáš Likavčan - The book looks at the way we envisage our planet through cultural artifacts, in order to ask questions such as “For what Earth do we design?” or “What geopolitical tendencies does our imagination of Earth endorse?”

  Lukáš Likavčan, Introduction to Comparative Planetology , Strelka Press, 2019. excerpt Different philosophical and visual imaginations ...