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Mike Kitchell - a book that should be filed in stores under “Architecture / Bodies or Objects / Landscape,” but you could just as easily find it in “Haunted Death Sex / Sadist VHS Mystery / Wet Nightmares for Freaks"

M Kitchell, Slow Slidings, Blue Square Press, 2012.
“Kitchell is a channel for the erotic possibilities of place.” – Edward Mullany
“Take the most disconcerting moments of all the weirdest movies you ever saw, subtract from them the comforts of narrative and character, cut and paste them into weird, oblique combinations … and then realise that you are watching yourself masturbating alone, in someone else’s house. Kitchell’s weirdness is insidious and queasy, both intimate and incomprehensibly far from home. Language and architecture are the spaces we inhabit and are contained in, and whose familiarity renders them banal. With an insatiable appetite for the impossible, these writings burrow and bore their way into these spaces, exposing the festering, pullulating chambers where desire unfolds itself into limitless sentient labyrinths of raw pink experience. Kitchell uses theory to do everything that theory wanted to get away from, and forcibly prevents poetry from going where it would like to go. Both lived and abstract, his writings vibrate with their own ferocious impotence, and the infinite powers it releases.” – Robin Mackay

Masturbating Over Ghosts By Blake Butler:

Slow Slidings bills itself as a book that should be filed in stores under “Architecture / Bodies or Objects / Landscape,” but you could just as easily find it in “Haunted Death Sex / Sadist VHS Mystery / Wet Nightmares for Freaks.” Taking equal cues from messed up foreign psychological horror films, paranormal photography, and the French—the new book M. Kitchell has assembled bends both the face and ass of the American novel. If you get turned on from being weirded out about being murdered, you just might touch yourself while reading it.
VICE: This book is fucked. What the fuck is it?
M. Kitchell: It's the combination of an exercise in hyperstition with the narrative of my own desire and obsessions and desperate need for architecture and dead gods and floating and the beach and the ocean and pain and terror and desperation itself. It's my desperate need for desperation. It's my love letter to the void. I mean, everything is. It's my love letter to the impossible. It's a love letter to Georges Bataille and Alain Robbe-Grillet and every work of art that's ever made me want to die in pure white light. It's a collection of 12—initially it was 13, but I decided the 13th should be absent as a sort of conceptual move, as Nick Land says, "zero is immense"—texts that are ultimately part of the same grand narrative. The narrative of the text, in the book as a whole, never bothers itself with anything other than what I, as an obsessive human person body meat, am obsessed with. It's a book. It's my mode of rewriting eurohorror and the French eros-driven fantastique fiction of the 70s and early 80s to make it something I could personally get off to. Or something.
I can feel the influence of weird-ass cinema when I'm reading this. What films got into you when you were writing, or getting ready to write?
I was obsessed with cinema before I was ever obsessed with books. I've basically been obsessed with eurohorror since the age of 13, which led to everything that has become a part of me. I pretty quickly moved beyond the obvious greats like Argento and Bava and Fulci (though don't get me wrong, Fulci, specifically, holds a very special place in my heart) and into the weird shit like Renato Polselli and Alberto Cavallone and more experimental shit that's filled with terror like Frans Zwartjes and Paul Sharits. There's also this Alain Fleischer movie called Zoo Zero that stars Klaus Kinski and Catherine Jourdan, who is in Robbe-Grillet's Eden and After, and it's kind of perfect in the same way that Jean Rollin's Night of the Hunter is, but with a completely different iciness. It has the sort of iciness that I want present in my work.  There are all these great movies out there that are so fucked up, but thanks to the internet they are finally being rescued and people are watching them. It's this incredible absent world of fantastique terror-filled sex narratives that are better than anything else. I mean, these movies reach beyond perfect and become so impossible. Also, more recently, the films of Andrzej Zulawski and Philippe Grandrieux played a major role in inspiring the texts in my book. Trying to translate the moves of perfect fucked-up cinema into text is both impossible and necessary.
Why are so many people shitty at writing about sex and how do you go beyond that?
I think there are a lot of answers to this. And it's possible that all of the answers I have to this question will make me sound like an asshole. First of all, I think in terms of a sort of oblique obsession with realism. It seems like most people are probably having really boring and shitty sex, maybe they don't even know it, and then they try to "realistically" represent that shitty sex. This probably results in boring shitty sex writing. Up until last year, I never had bad sex. The concept was so alien to me that when it finally happened it was like passing a kidney stone. It was painful and boring and really just made me wish I was at home asleep. I think avoiding bad sex makes you a better writer. Also, writing "realistic" sex seems fucked up to me. If you want "realistic sex," you should either just have some normal and/or boring sex or just watch vanilla porn. The thing about words is that you can do whatever you want with them and there are literally no constraints. So when I end a sex scene with somebody breaking down in tears and floating into the sky and realizing that they're God, I'm not worried that most people can't actually levitate. I think to go beyond writing shitty sex you have to give yourself total freedom and just let your desire run infinitely over the edge of the precipice.
Bernard Noel was this French writer who was a fairly respected poet among the intelligentsia and shit and then he published a pseudonymous novel called Castle of the Communion, which involves getting fucked by dogs and the sun and a secret chateau on an island and weird star cults and it's completely blasphemous and far more exciting than the de facto perv of literary history (Sade), but it's also smart. Dude knew that metaphor is kind of inherently boring, but realized that symbolic sex can be stimulating on multiple planes. Sex writing that does more than show sex I think is another key.
Do you think about where you are when you are writing?
I write best when I feel like I'm outside of my body. I don't want to say that it's like some metaphysical trance-state or whatever, but it sort of is. I wrote most of Slow Slidings either in my bedroom in the small shitty town I used to live in or on the university computer at my old job in the small shitty town I used to live in. The only way to make things work, especially being as architecturally obsessed as I am, was to forget where I was, to refuse my location. 90 percent of each of the texts in the book was written in a single sitting, because it had to be. I had to fugue-out my body and come back when the text was done. Sometimes this would mean fuguing-out for half a day or other times for like 20 minutes. I have this fantasy that if I were to discover some magickal location that fits all of my obsessions, all I'll have to do is be in that space and then words will just spit. But maybe I'm completely wrong.
Do you really think you are going to die in the ocean or are you being hyperbolic? What is hyperbole?
I will either die in the ocean or the desert or I will stand alone inside of either and just let time go by. But right now, I don't believe in the future, so I can't decide what I was ever thinking. Also sometimes I think I might already be dead, so it's not hyperbole. It's just a lie. I'm making spooky ghost sounds right now. I can't wait to have sex that involves me floating in the air. I think drowning would be so terrible and romantic at the same time. Thinking about my body filling up with something, anything, it's like some endless void that's spilling into you. I'd also consider throwing my body into a volcano. That would have the same sense of sublimity without being as prolonged. But what's death amount to without an experience? I don't know what the fuck death means anymore. A lot of my friends have died. When my publishing bio used to be "one day he will die in the ocean," I thought it was so perfect. But when I found out my childhood neighbor, who was the same age as me, actually died in the ocean, I felt a little fucked up about it. Especially with my propensity to actually write reality. I guess I've sort of reneged on that phantasy.
I think hyperbole is like a post-ironic obsession with excess.
Below are eight pages from Slow Slidings’s "Cinema / Television / Passion" section:

M Kitchell, Variations on the Sun, Love Symbol Press, 2012.

M Kitchell's Variations on the Sun is successful because it is overly ambitious, tirelessly self indulgent, needlessly obscure, stylistically stilted and wildly futile.
This book of 50 disjointed explorations and accompanying photographs is neither fiction nor poetry, an exultant affirmation and defiance of its own section 16: "the thought that our bodies will stop and forget what it is that they are doing is terrifying… we sing hymns to the sun and we are sure that the light does not hear us." Variations is a rumination on the imminence of death, the absurdity of those circumstances afforded by our steady approach toward it, and a modest catalog of the small joys therein. 
Nowhere else are they more evident than in the parade of photographs, each a depiction of those quiet and fleeting moments that mean so little on their own, either in our lives or in a book, but nevertheless take on great weight over time: a patch of suburban trees, walkways surrounding a building, waves, an oil painting, an empty bus, a burst of light. Every instance is trivial until it becomes memory.  In this way, the inclusion of photography effectively complements and mirrors the text, as Variations throughout represents life as a kind of film that we watch while dying, a series of brief and intangible experiences defined by light and projection. "We remember the film," the collection opens, and later: "We are huddled around the television screen in the room, which is cold," and "We are terrified, but cannot cast our eyes down."
The thrust is  fatalistic ("There are no reasons to believe that you will be able to escape from the building.  There are no doors, no windows, no hallways") while steadfastly holding onto a perverse optimism ("We are beautiful and alone"). It is at once macabre, with the dead and dying everywhere ("The bodies are buried in the earth, but the earth does not want the bodies"), and tender, an unanchored spirit flying up repeatedly ("we are not lost / we do not need help / we are okay"). As such, Variations might easily be considered a work of Neo-Romanticism: not only does it exult in horror and anxiety—it opens with a crowded theater succumbing to fire and death, returns repeatedly to entrapments and claustrophobia, and frequently worries the relationship between our corporeal selves and the world—but it also rejects rationalism in favor of an ecstatic emotional intensity.
Yet what most definitively couches the work amongst the likes of Heinrich Schulz-Beuthen and the Brontë family (and what most sets Variations apart as a powerful work) is its reach for things just beyond our grasp. In section 20, THE ZONE OF IMMATERIAL PICTORIAL SENSIBILITY, we read that "Inside of the room there is another room, hidden.  It cannot be found behind a bookcase, it cannot be accessed through the fire place, it is not entranced via a doorway."  The sense of something else, something beyond our immediate or even obtainable experience, filtered through and conjectured via the thin film that surrounds us, gives Variations its emotional heft and its radical legitimacy. We are exhorted to achieve the impossible: "We must forget how to die," and "Our role is to disappear to make everything possible," both as readers and as people.
That is, the book's style is at once stagnant and unhinged. The simplistic language and syntax exude a childlike affectation that reads as precious, and the alternately structured and loose layout of each section can feel both arbitrary and overwrought. This is exactly the point at which we should "disappear to make everything possible." What is most challenging about M Kitchell's work is precisely that at face value it feels unpolished. The book fires almost haphazardly at the sky, failing to kill. Have you ever tried to kill the sky or the sun? It's nearly impossible. Failure in this regard is almost always a kind of success. It goes without saying that, like Variations, our lives are flawed, self indulgent, obscure, stilted and futile. It is only through these faults that we can claw at what is new, what is unreachable, what is beyond us, both in literature and life. Perfection cannot move, only suffocate.
Variations on the Sun is breathing, with all the triviality and glory of being alive. It arrives as an example of an author running wildly into the future, "building a building to build buildings in." In section 47, aptly titled THE NARRATIVE REFORMED, we read: "we jar the vomit or put it in glass aquariums and temper the rate of growth with varying filtered lights. While we have no definite proof, we feel that our experiments thus far have proven useful."   
Yes. - Dolan Morgan

M. Kitchell, Variations on the Sun, Interview with Mike Kitchell:
Jackson Nieuwland:  Yo Mike is it cool if I interview you?
Mike Kitchell:  totally
JN: Sweet I’ll just jump right in then.
Two books are coming. Are books, to you, sexual objects or architectural objects? Or neither? Or both? Or something else entirely? Or just books? Have you ever fucked a book? If not, would you? Would you fuck a building? Didn’t a woman marry the Eiffel Tower once or something? Books being architectural makes sense: we fuck in buildings and so we must also fuck in books. RIght? Or wrong? Doesn’t everything we do outside of books eventually find its way between the pages? Can the same be said for houses? What can be said for the books you have coming out?
MK: Three books, actually, if you count Land Grid, a “chapbook” that I’m self-publishing.  It’s the first thing Solar▲Luxuriance is releasing that I actually paid a printer to print & didn’t print and bind myself, so I count it.  [Jackson: Land Grid has been released since this interview took place.]
I would say that books are not quite sexual objects to me, but some of them are certainly fetish objects.  In parallel to my sexual fetishes, the object of my fascination has to be particular.  I think, if we regard a narrow definition of what ‘fetish’ actually means I would have no actual fetishes, but that’s narrow.  No one likes narrow.  Similarly, I don’t think all books are architectural objects.  Some of them, yes, in that they build, whether conceptually or literally.  Artists’ books that turn into boxes or hallways, literal architecture.  I am a snob.  I am picky.  I don’t think reading for the sake of reading is anything better than watching TV.  What counts is what you’re reading, what you’re watching, what you’re building with.  What you’re getting off to.  Of course, who am I to judge what someone’s getting off to.  I like books that hold sex.  I like books that are conduits to sex.  In this case they are sexual objects, I suppose, beyond fetish objects.
Are we using fucked in the sexual sense?  I’ve never literally stuck my dick inside of a book, no.  I’ve perhaps fisted a book.  The future is less phallocentric, so maybe, yes.  Where do you hold your libido.  I’d fuck a building.  I fuck buildings in everything I write.  I either want to fuck or suicide the world.  I’m not in control.  I think we fuck inside of everything.  Books are books are objects are books are conduits are books are zones of affect are the future are the past are nothing are irrelevant what even is a book, fucked.
There are three books.  The first, already mentioned, Land Grid, is three short stories that are somewhat thematically linked.  The longest story, which was originally the titular story of the collection (until I changed the title), is very narrative, almost straight forward, diverging from the rest of my work.  It’s still me though, it couldn’t not be.  It’s about a boy and his brother who go to stay at their Aunt & Uncle’s house one summer.  The boy discovers a secret underground world, built in the basements of suburban houses, all holding parts of a miniature golf course.  There is a lot of abject sex in here.  Another story is about a hypnotist at an abandoned carnival.  The last story was a story where I told myself I wanted to write about the materials of earth, glass bricks, and snuff films.  So I did, that’s what that story is about.  All of them hold a whole, I can’t write about anything but death.  I can hardly write a sex scene without someone breaking down crying at the end, someone discovering they’re actually god.  There are some photos too.  The second book, Variations on the Sun, is coming out from Red Lightbulb’s LOVE SYMBOL PRESS.  I think I’m technically the first book, though that’s sort of an accident.  All of my manuscripts are already laid out as books, like as pdfs that are formatted and shit, because I’m a control freak and have to do everything myself.  Someone told me it was poetry once.  I don’t think it is.  I mean, I don’t care what you call it.  It’s fragments about a group of nomadic children.  There are a lot of photographs in it.  It’s a strange whole.  There is no sex on the page, only between the pages.  Russ asked me to find people to blurb it and I suggested he get a group of 12 year olds to read it and have them blurb it.  That might not work though, it’s dark, because, yeah I don’t know how to write about anything but death.  Questions about death.  Maybe by death I mean god and maybe by god I mean the impossible.  What are you looking for?  The final book is the big one for me, because it’ll have an ISBN and everything, it’ll be the longest, the fullest.  It’s coming out on Blue Square Press, a division of Mud Lucious.  It is another book where parts add up to a whole, but the parts are not fragments, they’re arguably self-contained stories.  But wherever there is an “I” (everywhere) you can hold the same protagonist throughout.  Everything I write is basically horror.  Everything I write is basically me trying to re-appropriate 70s & early 80s euro-horror, to queer it, to fuck with it, to make it question.  Every narrative of mine is a quest.  There is always loss and sadness and the impossible. 
JN: Is Land Grid a sign of things to come for Solar▲Luxuriance? Are you renovating/expanding the publishing house? Are you knocking down walls? Are there doors to be knocked on? Do you think of it as a publishing HOUSE? Do all the books and writers living together happily inside of it, getting along like a house on fire? Or is it a broken home? When does a building die? When does a book die? What is death? What isn’t death? When will you die and how do you envision it?
MK:  Land Grid might be a sign of things to come.  I’m working SECRETLY  with a SECRET ACCOMPLICE in considering moving S▲L away from being such a micro-micro press and more into the realm of “actual” micro-press.  Some things will stay the same, some things will change.  I’ve been questioning the place that yet-another-“publishing house” has in the world.  There’s a surplus as it stands, so why do I need to add to it?  I’m trying to figure that out.  I’m also in the process of examining my own relationship to this realm of so-called “indie lit” as it stands, because I fear things that move into a hegemony, and with there being so little that has surprised me in a good way lately, I’m afraid of staying so connected.  The only way to overcome fear is to fight through it, abandon it (alternatively, one can obsess over it and use narrative to break it apart).  I am nomadic and the press is too.  I want to re-articulate the relationship between art and writing in the world.  What is the best method for this?  How can I figure that out?  The only way is to experiment.  See what fails and what doesn’t fail.  Lately I am more excited by things happening at publishing houses related to critical theory and philosophy and art.  But fiction, whatever fiction means, is important to me.  Poetry is becoming more important to me, but only poetry that moves like the sun and warms my body.  The sun that permits excess.  Of its thirteen releases, the only authors from S▲L that I have met in the flesh are me and two others.  The rest exist to me only immaterially.  That might change one day, it probably will.  Everything is decentralized.  Nothing is broken because there is no home.  Books can die.  Books are already dead.  We are already dead.  I used to insist that I will one day die in the ocean.  Now I’m not so sure.
JN: What other SECRETS can you tell us exist without revealing entirely? Why do you hold SECRETS? What power does a SECRET hold? Are there too many SECRETS or not enough? How many people must know a SECRET for it to cease being as one? Let’s move from SECRETS to secretions. Which is your favourite? Which is your least? Which do you produce the most of? What is the difference between a tear and a bead of sweat? Is hair a secretion? [18 days pass]
JN: Are you SECRETS so SECRET that this interview is over because I asked about them?
MK: uh yeah idk i guess i’m done for now lol hope dat’s enough hehe


Float by M. Kitchell

In A, Space M Kitchell & Rongrong

The Text of Death M Kitchell

Land Grid M Kitchell

14 Dreams of Death Baumann, Butler & Kitchell

I Don't Feel and it Feels G...
4.08 of 5 stars 4.08 avg rating — 12 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
Userlands: New Fiction Writ...
3.5 of 5 stars 3.50 avg rating — 14 ratings — published 2007
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
No Colony 3
4.6 of 5 stars 4.60 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 2010
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
Land Grid
4.4 of 5 stars 4.40 avg rating — 10 ratings — published 2012
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
Red Lightbulbs Issue 1
4.67 of 5 stars 4.67 avg rating — 9 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
Slow Slidings
4.62 of 5 stars 4.62 avg rating — 8 ratings — published 2012
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
4.83 of 5 stars 4.83 avg rating — 6 ratings — published 2010
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2010
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
The Dark Places of the Earth
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
Exquisite Fucking Desire
4.75 of 5 stars 4.75 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2008
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
A Contingency of Evil
4.0 of 5 stars 4.00 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
In A, Space
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2010
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
A Mike Kitchell Reader
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2010
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
4.67 of 5 stars 4.67 avg rating — 3 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
The Text of Death
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 2 ratings — published 2011
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books
14 Dreams of Death
5.0 of 5 stars 5.00 avg rating — 1 rating — published 2012
My rating:
didn't like it it was ok liked it really liked it it was amazing
add to my books

i hate people who like movies by mike kitchell
you do not ‘love’ that movie

you are a boring person who has only seen that movie

because you heard it was ‘bad ass’

or because you think the woman in it is hot

i’m going to fucking kill you

because you won’t shut the fuck up

about whatever stupid shit

you watched on netflix

i want to set your laptop on fire

because i don’t care about anything you

have to say

i don’t even want to hate-fuck you

that is how much i hate you

please shut up


please shut up

i want to die when you talk about pasolini

i want to die when you tell me how awesome jodorowsky is

i want to set myself on fire when you announce the merits of fassbinder

shut the fuck up


you’re making me hate everything

harder than normal

god damn it



Posted in Work | Leave a comment

just go around in circles

i went to an art event thing whatever yesterday where i participated in a performance which involved having my hands hog-tied behind my back, having a black hood placed over my head, being left alone in a cell, then walked down some stairs into another cell, then being presented with an option, then being instructed to have my hands raised above my head against a wall while i heard what sounded like a man next to me have his clothes forcibly removed by someone else, then i was lead back to a room and ‘released’ as they say. it wasn’t like totally fucking transcendent and as an art piece or whatever it wasn’t perfect but i certainly enjoyed the tension, it was almost calming, i felt so good after it. today i went to aquatic park and swam in the bay because it’s the solstice and by ‘swam’ i mean i waded in up to my belly-button because it was too cold and i guess i’m a pussy. the point is, i guess, both of these things made me feel significantly more than i’ve felt reading anything in a lit journal ever.
i don’t know what alt lit is any more and i don’t think i care. i am friends with and enjoy the company of a lot of people who are i guess identified as “alt lit writers” but i don’t know to be honest i probably haven’t read that much of their work. i love steve roggenbuck and think he’s brilliant but i think his performances/vlogs totally overshadow all the image macros and printed poetry stuff. i like going to art openings more than readings but i write more than i make visual art and i also find it significantly easier to talk to other people at readings than at art openings.
i almost only watch movies in theaters now because having unfettered access to THE CINEMA makes watching anything on my laptop near impossible–besides, i’m still seeing more movies per week lately than any other time in the last three years. i’m not particularly angry at anything and i hope this post doesn’t come off that way but i’m finding myself actually happy a lot lately and within this happiness i sometimes start to get frustrated with the concept of why the fuck so many people care about something that seems so disposable and self-referential and vacuous. more than becoming a part of a “lit scene” i like having friends that i can get drunk with at a bar and maybe sometimes we’ll talk about literature, maybe sometimes we’ll talk about movies, maybe sometimes we’ll just bitch about whatever, but really the point is to enjoy one another’s company and drink whiskey and smoke cigarettes and feel happy about life. insofar as any community is imagined i still find the transition from the virtual to the real far more satisfying. one thing i always remind myself is “one day you [i] will be older.” i hate nostalgia because i insist on living in the present. worrying about the future seems so unnecessary.
when you’ve taught yourself hyperstition to the degree that you can ostensibly manifest exorcist II onto a television at the oldest remaining dyke bar in the city writing fiction exclusively for the sake of writing fiction just seems so boring. i’m not a writer i’m a poet i’m not a poet i’m a shaman. when i told this to a woman inside of the house that kenneth anger used to live at in san francisco she asked me what kind of shaman, and i told her i engage in the combinatory effects of old and new methods, a melange of everything that’s available. when c. got hpv he shouted into the voided machine of futuretubes SAGE MY BHOLE. when i say i talk to the dead i mean it.
Posted in Random | Leave a comment


On Friday night my friend Jarett read as part of San Francisco’s Quiet Lightning reading series. This event in itself is not unprecedented, but what had me excited, and what had him calling me two months ahead of time to make sure I had the night off work was that the reading was held in the Westerfeld Mansion. The mansion itself has quite a history, but my primary interest (and Jarett’s as well) was that Kenneth Anger (along with Bobby Beausoleil) lived in the house when Anger was in San Francisco (four years where, apparently, Anger shot very little footage). The result of Anger’s time in San Francisco was 1969′s eleven minute Invocation of My Demon Brother.
Jarett’s prime goal (other than, you know, reading) was to hunt down a framed portrait of Bobby Beausoleil that was purported to be in the house so he could discover the photographer and finally get a decent copy of the image–the current circulating copy is apparently a shitty jpg that Jarett color-corrected in the 90s with only a moderate knowledge of photoshop. We couldn’t find it. After everything was wrapping up we attempted to ask the owner if he had any idea what had happened to it, but… let’s just say after a few minutes listening to him, it’s, uh, unlikely.
My primary goal, on the other hand, was more puerile, a desire to recreate the sort of ridiculous stop-motion scene from Invocation of My Demon Brother in which a demon statue ‘walks’ down a stairwall to deliver a crudely sprawled ZAP, YOU’RE PREGNANT, THAT’S WITCHCRAFT sign near the film’s end. I made my sign ahead of time (which, I didn’t notice until I got to the mansion and Elly pointed it out, I left out the second “T” in “that’s,” but OH WELL it still works) and made sure I had my camera. Went to the reading, drank some beer and, honestly, only half-listened to the reading (I was in the fucking Westerfeld mansion, it was hard to have any desire to pay attention to anything outside of the structure itself). Afterwards people started clearing out, and with Jarett & Dean’s assistance, we went to the stairwell (which we had located before the reading started) and took the photos.
Ultimately in my insistence I neglected to realize that since I am a human and not a small demon statue, that the angle would need to be corrected and very low to get precisely the same effect. Since we were somewhat in a hurry this didn’t happen (and I didn’t even realize it until I was compiling the above animated gif while looking at screenshots from the actual film), but I don’t think it matters that much. Also in comparison you can tell that there’s some slightly terrible wallpaper that replaced the house as it was when Anger shot the film (there were, of course, also light swirls & shit being projected over the wall in Anger’s film).
While waiting for the BART train at 1:20 AM last night I rewatched the film on my phone (wow great screening conditions M) for the first time in a while (I didn’t want to rewatch it before going to the mansion out of a desire to mete space and memory in a more organic methodology). The film is actually a lot more interesting than I remembered it being, and the soundtrack works really well (formerly I always remembered it as being a little annoying).
Posted in Art, Film, Work | Leave a comment


Right now I want the desert inside of me to be what I’m standing in the middle of, like the feeling I had when I woke up this morning after dreaming about getting off a bus one, two stops before it exploded in flames. I love living in an urban environment but I’m hard-wired to wide open spaces. At work I fugued out to the forest I spent endless hours biking through in the hot summer sun last year in DeKalb. I think my last midwestern summer was a good one.
I dream more awake now because I sleep only rarely. My insomnia fluctuates and my body no longer knows rest, really. It’s like I’m less exhausted when I sleep no to a few hours. Things are happening somewhere.
Summer is happening I think here in the bay. I find myself more enthused when I’m feeling the sun. I’ve been wearing shorts even though I immediately have to change back into pants once I clock in at work. It’s ok. The bay never gets that cold, but cold enough and overcast enough that the remnants of S.A.D. still peak around corners.
I’m trying to figure out who I am I think. I have a desperate urge for a bicycle, though I don’t think I could find the same satisfaction living in a city with a bicycle as I once did biking empty highways to small towns miles away from my own. Summer sun beating bleating barking down on my neck, covered in sweat, headphones that never left my ears, both cameras in my bag that I spent so much time figuring out how to attach to the bike that wasn’t even my own. I always found a renewed sense of energy when I would wake up hung over and would fight the ennui by hopping on the bike and heading to my forest, the forest that was not a forest but a forested park that I called my own even after the girl was murdered inside of it, the forest where I sat in the wind on a grassy edge of the stream and shouted all of Bataille’s THE SOLAR ANUS in the girl’s memory. I wanted to mete the insistence of death with how much pleasure that forest, my forest, had brought me.
I would bike through dirt and grass until I had to get off the bike and walk it, going under train tracks and sitting alone and feeling really terrific. It’s tough, because it makes me wonder if in those moments of stillness when I felt holes filled, it makes me wonder if I’m not for the city. If I just need to find the perfect empty space. I have constant fantasies of living in, as I always say, “an abandoned coastal hotel flooded with sand up to the eighth floor.” It’s like art because futile when the world around you is exciting.
On May 1st I move into a bedroom that might actually be mine, not a sublet but not a lease, a flexible position to be in, and I am lucky and understand that I’m doing at least something right to be able to find myself inside of homes repeatedly, over and over, even when it seems like everything is falling apart. I will feel out the room and if it feels right I will fill it with plants and rocks and marble obelisks, maybe bits of Greek statuary. I haven’t seen the room, all I can hope for is that there is a window, maybe even a big window, because I need the solar light.
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taken from Tumblr
I found out yesterday that Mark Aguhar killed herself.   I met Mark briefly while I was fucked up out of my mind at High Fantasy in San Francisco, but beyond that encounter we never talked, though I loved Mark’s  blog.
I had a dream last night in which Mark was doing a performance.  From the back of a room they walked to the front, wearing a gown with the longest train–infinitely long, continuing forever it seemed.  And so large–somehow the train, which was vertical instead of just dead being pulled on the ground, as if it were being pulled off a very long roll positioned vertically.  The fabric, which was white, engulfed the room.  But near the end of the train, which finally reached the front of the room where Mark and another were standing, there was a door; not an actual door, but the illusion of a door.
Mark walked through the door and the train collapsed to the floor.  There was such an air of gravitas.  Following this Mark began talking and soon three men were collected to sing Al Green.
I think this dream has brought me a total reconsideration of something; my consideration of performativity, which I’ve been thinking about a lot lately, has a new level here.  This addition of clothes, of fashion, I now understand, can become an element of affect themselves.  I think this important.
Thank you Mark for coming to my dream to tell me this, even though we were not in contact in the world of the possible.
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“Towards the end of the fifties, Nitsch experienced the death of language, its reduction to mere forms deprived of direct reality. His first actions in the sixties were formulated from a desire to make the spectator live directly, to make him experience immediate visual and acoustic perceptions, as well as tactility, taste and odour.”
-from HERMANN NITSCH: A MODERN RITUAL by Katia Tsiakma [Studio International, 192 (July-August 1976, pp.13-15)]
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(from Contemporary French and Francophone Studies, Vol. 9, No. 3 September 2005, pp. 265-273)
“…the psychosexual entanglement of experience with alterity”
“personal and esthetic choices: her mathematically exact point final is, after all, ultimate proof of the poet’s attention to punctuation, one of the most original aspects of her oeuvre.”
“focus on the sensorial experience of language and writing,”
“Precise visual, auditory, tactile, topographical and gestural notations generate her thinking-writing”
“All this suggests that Collobert had begun a concerted effort of recomposing her poetry around the late 1960s and early 1970s as it were on multiple tracks: text-track, image-track, and soundtrack.”
“Each of Collobert’s works seems to have its own regime of close-ups. Dire I contains extreme graphi close-ups: “Open mouth your palate, deep hollow of red earth with regular folds star-like near the edge” (150). Dire II amalgamates close-ups within a more theoretical space: “going forward among the ruins–recognizing nothing–with such horror–…–without form–without light–…which would mean that there was something not far–…–in short a possibility yet to overcome fuzziness” (223). This resembles a tracking shot in a horror or sci-fi movie pushing against the “flou [fuzziness]” of the unknown: this last term also means “out-of-focus” and recurs throughout Dire (170, 174, 223, 241, 252). Dire as a whole explores the tactile reciprocity between the eye and the intercorporeal visible world, what Merleau-Ponty calls “the flesh,” often taking the form of a tracking-shot (“to push back the limits of the visible,” Dire I 176), or a combination tracking and pan: “with this light being able to track things down–moments–sweeping through space [balayer l'espace]–going to the bottome–to the end” (Dire II 239).”
“mid-ground vs. background”
“Editing techniques include slow motion: ‘Diminishing the intensity of movement… restricted displacement of angles…’ (176); flash-backs “–in the unfolding of time–. . .–recalls–in a flash [en flash]–zones suddenly lit” (Dire II 2360; and elliptical montage, as used by Godard who clipped the beginnings and ends of shots in A Bout de souffle, to create a sense of breathlessness: “–and suddenly mobility–an unforeseen acceleration–from one word to another–without coherence–surely without an aim” (238).”
track down:
Stout, John C. “Writing (at) the Limits of Genre: Danielle Collobert’s Poetics of Transgression.” Symposium 53:4 (Winter 2000): 299-209.
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Notes from ART IN THE DARK by Thomas McEvilley

“This involves a presupposition that art is not a set of objects but an attitude toward objects, or a cognitive stance (as Oscar Wilde suggested, not a thing, but a way.) If one were to adopt such a stance to all of life, foregrounding the value of attention rather than issues of personal gain and loss, one would presumably have rendered life a seamlessly appreciative experience.”
“The idea that the artist is the work became a basic theme of the period in question. [...] As early as 1959 James Lee Byars had exhibited himself, seated alone in the center of an otherwise empty room. Such gestures are fraught with strange interplays of artistic and religious forms, as the pedestal has always been a variant of the altar.”
“It should be emphasized that category by forced designation is the basis of many magical procedures. In the Roman Catholic mass, for example, certain well-known objects–bread and wine–are ritually designated as certain other objects–flesh and blood-which, in the manifest sense of everyday experience, they clearly are not; and the initiate who accepts the semantic rotation shifts his or her affection and sensibility accordingly.”
“Rejection of the Dionysian does not serve the purpose of clear and total seeing.”
“The OM Theatre performances open into dizzyingly distant antiquities of human experience. In form they are essentially revivals of the Dionysian ritual called the sparagmos, or dismemberment, in which the initiates, in an altered state produced by alcohol, drugs, and wild dancing, tore apart and ate raw a goat that represented the god Dionysus, the god of all thrusting and wet and hot things in nature. It was, in other words, a communion rite in which the partaker abandoned his or her individual identity to enter the ego-darkened paths of the unconscious and emerged, having eaten and incorporated the god, redesignated as divine. In such rites ordinary humanity ritually appropriates the aura of godhood, through the ecstatic ability to feel the Law of Identity and its contrary at the same time.”
“Euripides, an ancient forerunner of the Viennese artists, featured this subject in several works. Like Nitsch, he did so partly because this was the subject matter hardest for his culture, as for ours, to assimilate in the light of day. In the Bacchae especially he presents the dismemberment as a terrifying instrument of simultaneous self-abandonment and self-discovery. The Apollonian tragic hero, Pentheus, like our whole rationalist culture, thought his boundaries were secure, his terrain clearly mapped, his identity established. rejecting the Dionysian rite, which represents the violent tearing apart of all categories, he became its victim. Disguising himself as a maenad, or female worshiper or Dionysus, he attempted to observe the ritual, but was himself mistaken for the sacrificial victim, torn apart, and eaten raw. In short, his ego-boundaries were violently breached, the sense of his identity exploded into fragments that were then ground down into the primal substrate of Dionysian darkness which both underlies and overrides civilization’s attempts to elevate the conscious subject above nature.”
“Not only the individual elements of these works, but their patterns of combination–specifically the combination of female imitation, self-injury, and the seeking of dishonor through the performance of taboo acts–find striking homologies in shamanic activities.”

“Simeon Stylites, an early Christian ascetic in the Syrian desert, lived for the last 37 years of his life on a small platform on top of a pole.”
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SPACECUT by Werner Nekes (1971)
KALDALON by Dore O (1970)
WORK IN PROGRESS by B. & W. Hein (1969)
T.O.U.C.H.I.N.G. by Paul Sharits (1968)
DER TOD DER MARIA MALIBRAN by Werner Schroeter (1971/72)
MACBETH by Rosa von Praunheim (1970)
SCORPIO RISING by Kenneth Anger (1962-64)
FLAMING CREATURES by Jack Smith (1963)
<—> by Michael Snow (1968/69)
SCENES FROM UNDER CHILDHOO by Stan Brakhage (1966)
WINDSTILL by Franz Winzentsen (????)
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An Update

A) I haven’t written in this blog in any substantial capacity in months. I don’t think I actually, really, have that many readers, but it’s mostly disappointing to me because the initial purpose of this blog was to be more active in my engagement with my work– both in terms of what I am devouring (reading, studying, looking at, watching, listening to) & in terms of what I’m creating. The intention was to develop a sort of reflective engagement simply to find myself thinking harder. I do think I have been trying to push myself as of late when it comes to both my Goodreads reviews & my screening log (which is not “live” online, just in a number of documents on googledocs), but ultimately I need to find myself thinking more about ideas than just reflecting. So, fingers crossed, let’s try this again.
B) I was getting something like 4 to 5 spam comments on this blog daily that I was deleting & since I was doing this so often Gmail started throwing my comment notifications into my spam folder. I had stopped actually reading them anyway, so if you’ve tried to comment and your comment never shows up here, that’s why. I need to figure out some better way to handle that if I want the comments section to serve any purpose. If you need to contact me for any reason my email address is listed on the “ABOUT” page of the “SILENCE” section on my website.
C) Since my last update, the following things have happened regarding my “work” getting out into the world:
1. A queer noise compilation was released that I have a track on– the name I record drone music under is IN MANY ROOMS MURDERS ARE DECIDED, which is an homage to Ettore Sottsass.
2. A poem entitled POEM NOT ABOUT FUCKING has been published at New Wave Vomit.
3. A small series of tableau, MY LIFE IS PERFECT, has been published at Metazen.
4. A story, ANTECHAMBER FOR OBSERVING AND MEASURING HYDROLOGY has been published at the new journal Red Lightbulbs.
D) Also since the beginning of February, I’ve had 3 readings. In February I read at the Ear Eater reading series, and you can find an audio recording of the reading for download. I also made an mp3 of just my part, which you can find here. In March I read at Invasion :: Response at the Underbar in Chicago with a million other awesome people. Also, the last week of March, I threw a reading at my own apartment featuring myself along with the following people: Cassandra Troyan, Meghan Lamb, Steve Roggenbuck, Stephen Tully Dierks, Sean Rafferty, & Shaun Gannon. Russ Woods shot a video of my reading:
And then this month, just last week actually, I read at Artifice Magazine’s Dirty South Dance Party. Next month I’ll be reading at Quickies in Chicago.
E) I have 4 (!) releases for Solar▲Luxuriance lined up right now: Chris Moran’s POISON VAPORS, a chapbook from Shane Anderson, a chapbook from Leif Haven, and a tape release from WASTELANDERS, which is Dean Costello (of HARPOON fame). POISON VAPORS will be an edition of 15, with five copies being full-color & Japanese stab-binding, while the other 10 copies will be color covers w/ black & white insides & staple bound. The color copies & the covers are all printed & trimmed, I just need to print the insides ofthe b&w copies & then bind everything. Also: will make a video trailer. I think I’ll probably be making video ‘teasers’ for all the releases from now on.
F) I think I had a lot more things to mention but then I got distracted by THE INTERNET so now I don’t remember. Anyway, I’ve been reading Robin Mackay’s introduction to Nick Land’s Fanged Noumena, and I’m excited to read more Nick Land. I read his book on Bataille a year or so ago and while most of it went over my head, the impression the book left on me was strong & very impressive. I will, I am telling myself this now, try to actually write up some sort of reflection here, in this blog, after each article/essay. Philosophy & Critical Theory is stuff that I try to read without much reaction, so that’s something I need to force myself to do, as I think it’ll make me “better” at reading it. Yes, so that is the plan for now.
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Art Party 2: The One With the Books

A) Pierre Huyghes Aquarium Project for DIS Magazine sets out to establish fish tanks as environmental narratives, using color, tone, and life-as-character. It’s just a sort of ‘sketch,’ basically, but it’s pretty astounding. I like the idea of narrative interior design (in fact, I personally set out to make my bedroom a “gothic aquarium” at the beginning of last summer).
B) At A Journey Round My Skull, we are treated to an introduction of Belgian supernatural-horror author Thomas Owen, accompanied by illustrations by Justinus Kerner. The illustrations are nightmarish Rorschach inkblots, and Owens is an author who apparently has only a single collection published in English that has been name-dropped by the ultimate-in-feeling-bad horror author, Thomas Ligotti.
C) Over at Airform Archives, we are introduced to Bernard Shaw’s “shaw alphabet,” an alphabet proposed “to be written without indicating single sounds by groups of letters or diacritical marks”.

D) Maria Fischer has created a beautiful looking book that attempts to include “hyperlinks” via pure materiality. It doesn’t look like it’d end up very utilitarian, but it sure is beautiful.
E) A new book on architectural magazines of the 60s & 70s looks like basically the best thing in the world, and I’m pretty fucking pissed that I can’t get it from inter-library loan yet because I can’t afford it right now. Definitely one to pick up in the future.
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I am only on page 97 of 134 of Kathy Acker’s Rip-Off Red, Girl Detective (that’s the beginning of part 4), but I kind of want to talk about certain things already. Kathy Acker is an author who, as much as I can love (like really love) the things she does with text, I have historically preferred reading her essays & criticism of her fiction by others than I’ve enjoyed actually reading her fiction. This has changed, I think, despite the fact that I’m still taking my sweet time actually getting through this (it’s not a boring read at all, I’m just weird).
But really, there’s mostly one passage that I’ve encountered and dog-eared so far that made me flip out and jump up and down:
So the family goes broke, or whatever the rich call “broke” which isn’t by my rip-off standards today Broke, and when I’m 8 1/2 years old, we move to Queens. etc. etc. Narratives you know are purely for shit. Here’s the information go fuck yourself. I enter some miserable P.S. 69 School, meet males my own age; most important, I get my own real New York gang, The Banana Followers, and finally, I come. This is the beginning:
Continue reading
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“it’s not the kind of thing i remember because basically nothing is the kind of thing i remember”

Jon Leon’s ATELIER SERIES has released a double-sided cassette import from me titled EYES OF LAURA MARS. Above is a video trailer I put together for the tape. Order it here:, it’s limited to only 4 copies.

No Colony, a journal put together by the inimitable Blake Butler & Ken Baumann, is also putting out their 3rd issue soon (I think they’ll have it at AWP?). The cover, pictured above (totally screencapped it from your flickr Ken), features photos by me mixed up & laid out by Ken in a totally sweet manner. I’m so pumped. The issue itself also features my ‘novella’ with a really long title, a title so long that I actually forget it most of the time, PAUL GARRIOR IN JACQUES RIVERRUN’S “THE ABYSS IS THE FOUNDATION OF THE POSSIBLE.” It is a story with pictures about film and what film can do and secrets and loss and sex and everything I always write about. But in a pretty special way. I am so super pumped this is coming out. I’m also super-pumped to read the rest of the swag inside the issue. Also, on February 9th, I’ll have 2 videos showing at Dynamic Formulations, an art show here in DeKalb. A facebook event for the show can be found here. Here’s the copy:
The House Cafe will present a film fest and photography exhibition entitled Dynamic Formulations. The film fest and exhibition will open on February 9th, 2011 at 7:00pm. The film fest will only be shown twice that night at 7:00pm and again at around 8:30pm so do not miss your chance to see it. Some of the videos shown will include …content regarding gender, video recycling, environments, and a self help video, as well as other interesting topics. There will be photography displaying bikes in unusual places and unique perspectives of fruit. Time Arts professor, Bart Woodstrup, will also be premiering his animation about an inter-species fairytale. Come in from the cold, take a break from your studies, and enjoy some art. You do not want to miss this show.
The artists exhibiting their work are:
Billy Baron
Vicky Boland
Chris Cowley
Adam Cox
Julie Dobrinski
Jason Judd
M Kitchell
Brian Montana
Iga Puchalska
Darrien Sommer
Craig Tompkins
Charles Veasey
Elizabeth Walker
Bart Woodstrup
I’ll think I’ll be showing TO LIVE YOUR WHOLE LIFE WITHOUT SOMEONE and PIN-UP STAKES: 3 COMMERCIALS. I guess I don’t know for sure, but that’s what I’m giving to Vicky for the reel.

I may or may not have had 2 pages in the zine for Nayland Blake’s UNPUNISHED. I sent some stuff in but it was unsolicited so I guess i’ll find out if I ever get a copy? Haha. Or if you saw the show lemme know. SO
last thing to say I guess:
Unless my flight is canceled due to the MIDWEST BLIZZARD OF 2011, I will be at AWP this weekend. Let’s hang out? I’ll be at Literature Party friday night and the HTMLGiant table periodically during the day on Saturday. That’s all I will tell you.
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Today I read the Weisse Folter catalog for Gregor Schneider’s show at K21 in 2007. I’ve been a fan of Schneider since I found out about him my freshman year of college, and it’s been kind of amazing to follow his work since then. Wiesse Folter translates to “white torture,” which is another installation/environment designed by Schneider. It’s evocative, perhaps, of Guantanamo Bay, and other various institutions of either torture or aide. It’s, as to be expected with Schneider, totally amazing.
But what I found most impressive was a particular essay included in the catalog, The Challenge by Brigitte Kölle. Not to sound bourgeois or imply that I was looking for myself in another artist or artwork (lol), but what Kölle says in relation to Schneider is basically everything that I want to do in art, life, etc. I scanned the article, it’s not the best scan but whatever. Here are two excerpts, followed by a link to the pdf.

and further, about Schneider himself:
Click to download The Challenge by Brigitte Kölle
Beyond the entire article that I was geeking out over, I grabbed some other quotes from other essays in the catalog and transcribed them below, mostly for my own reference:
“Whatever the case, it must be a place of utter disorientation, a non-place that does not serve as a counterpart or an extension to the human body, a place where everything is reduced to self-perception devoid of all references. A place that has no room for life in the usual sense, but that, by the same token, may be the most concentrated metaphorical space.”
(13, from the essay Reversing and Advancing by Julian Heynen)
“A formal expression of the Situationist city, New Babylon, which the Dutch artist Constant started to draw in the 1960s, is a universe where all climatic conditions (lighting temperature, hygrometry, ventilation, olfactory and sound atmospheres) are under control, modifiable at will, where everyone can create situations that can relate to the sexual as well as to fear emotions, in a permanent game, endlessly renewed.”
(98, from an excerpt of Worrying Conditioning of Space by Philippe Rahm)
“A strange topology is hidden in the obviousness of televised images. Architectural plans are displaced by the sequence places of an invisible montage.”
(102, from an excerpt of The Overexposed City by Paul Virilio)
“In structural terms what is called the end of the world is actually the death of a sphere.”
(103, from an excerpt of Spheres by Peter Sloterdijk [this shit is insane?])
Posted in Art, Other's Words | Tagged , , | 3 Comments

Notes from THE QUICK AND THE DEAD Catalog

‘As Gino De Dominicis summarized, “invisibility is a form of immortality.”‘ (35)
(About Lygia Clark) ‘She dreamed of being inside a house, looking out, and having that inside become the outside; coupled with her sense that “the house is the body,” these dreams mirrored her efforts to come to terms with the objecthood of her own body, and the difficulty, experienced and incorporated spatially in her foldable metal sculptures, of imagining death.’ (41)
‘Pol Bury, the Belgian artist whose pieces from the early 1960s might suddenly quiver with the help of a hidden motor, saw a kind of liberation in this confusion: “Between the immobile and mobility, a certain quality of slowness reveals to us a field of ‘actions’ in which the eye is no longer able to trace an object’s journeys. . . . Only the quality of slowness allows [an object] to obliterate its own tracks, to be an eraser of memory, to make us forget its past . . . finally achiev[ing] a real or fictional liberty.’ (n54, p54)
Perfect is my death word
‘. . . Perfect is my death word is an hourlong audio piece that is completely silent, save for the brief interruption of the artist’s quiet announcement: “perfect is my death word.”‘
look into her
Suspense is an empty corridor with one large speaker at its end. Upon entering the room, the viewer hears a sound familiar to moviegoers, the music accompanying those scenes that drive us to the edge of our seats in anticipation of a terrifying event. Even without a visual narrative, the crescendo still evokes that special anxiety of the Hollywood thriller, the sense of impending danger. But just as it reaches its climax, the sound gets stuck and consumes the vacant room. At the exit the music completes itself without drama, its conclusion triggered by hidden sensors that we activate upon leaving. Discovering that our very presence in the room dictated the flow of the music, we find ourselves in a trap of our own making. Like an auditory analog to Bruce Nauman’s Live-Taped Video Corridor, Suspense orchestrates a collision between expectation and real experience and, in doing so, reveals a gap. In those confusing moments while we wait for the music to resolve itself, we anticipate nothing more than anticipation itself.’
“. . . text and photo works imbue the arbitrary with seemingly rational attributes, overlaying structures and sequences by turns lyrical, serial, documentary, and humorous. The elusive origin of the arbitrary impulse or judgment remains hidden–or at least scattered–in his photo/text descriptions.”
(Towards the multiplicities of translation) “explores the relationship between natural phenomena and our experience of them, often through a process of translation in which acts of nature are rendered into sounds, texts, and installations. To make Thunder, Rickards recorded the sound of a single clap of thunder and digitally slowed it down from eight seconds to seven minutes. Composer David Murphy transcribed the resulting noise into a musical arrangement for six instruments, which was subsequently performed and recorded by a sextet that included a flute, trumpet, trombone, cello, viola, and violin. Rickards then compressed the elongated clamor of the instruments to match the actual duration of the original thunderclap.”
Posted in Other's Words | 2 Comments


It is the 11th day of 2011 and, so far, I haven’t made a single 2k11 post here. I will blame part of this on being depressed because central Illinois’s winters are fucking dismal and lead to rampant alcoholism, but mostly I have to admit that my lack of engagement has been due to the fact that I’ve been completely incapable, basically, of reading anything but art books & occasionally a couple pages of Danielle Collobert. I’ve been kicking around with the Fall/Winter 2010 issue of Black Warrior Review at work, too, because lit mags are the best bathroom reading material.
When I get tired of staring at a computer screen I’ve been cutting photocopies into pieces, gluing them back together, and then painting neon paint on top of them. I am refusing to acknowledge this as anything other than “productivity.” But that’s not the point. I wasn’t quite sure what the point was when I started writing this post, but I think the point is going to be “here are some artists I’ve been obsessed with lately, check them out.” And by artists I mean “artists & things tangential to art” (because didn’t you hear? curators are the new artists are the new whatevers, etc).


At 2TheWalls, our blog author couples an article on socialite art dealer Andrew Crispo being cleared of “kidnapping and sex-torture,” images of Crispo’s interiors from Architectural Digest, and soundtracks it to Hole’s “Asking For It.” I just discovered this blog via a facebook friend, but I am very interested in what’s going on here.
Continue reading
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Then I smash and tear everything up and burn it all.

00. Via Ubu Web’s twitter’d twat: the books of conceptual artists, scanned in whole, really fucking lovely & ultimately inspiring at all levels; these books, the design, the words, the images, the way they work, completely different from everything; really; Lawrence Weiner’s large yellow-orange X’s, THE WORK MAY BE FABRICATED, could vibe in this current forever, really, let’s all buy mimeograph machines & create the New Dark Age.
01. Via Derek White’s blagged blog blug: Mimeo Mimeo, “Artist’s Books, Typography & The Mimeo Revolution,” Piero Haliczer (who before I only knew by film, Dirt a minor masterpiece I would reckon (Planned as three hour epic, but when finished was only 12 minutes: also known as BATH SEQUENCE.)) shows some word magic, I ordered the third issue of their magazine based exclusively on the cover, it hasn’t arrived yet but I’m excited.
01. Via my 4-years-ago roommate about a year or two ago: Public Collectors’s PDF Scans, more swagger than haggard, I have read Jean Toche’s I ACCUSE at least ten times, it is like my favorite parts of Artaud’s Theater and Its Double but even more aggressive and absurdly beautiful, I think, I am stealing the installation and installing it inside of a labyrinth on the 42nd floor of the hotel that I’m in the process of writing, as Artaud says, ‘Even light can have a precise intellectual meaning.’
02. Via total luckmagick google-image-searching the work of Jannis Kounellis while sleeping little and imaging the world other places: a blog, History of Our World, which is literally the most exciting art blog I have ever seen, dude or dudette who runs it scans beautiful images very large, shit that is not other places, lovely shit, I have not closed the blog since I discovered it three weeks ago, finding more and more and using this foundfought to heavy my backpack with so many fucking art books from the library, never want to leave this fucking UNIMAGINABLE BEAUTY???? righT?
03. Via Real Life, my friend Gary who used to live in my hellmouth of DeKalb but now lives in Portland: Dead Idea Valhalla, a new podcast that is unthemed & short, but is so far kind of hilarious because Gary is nerdy in the most amiable kind of way and he spits some bile on stupid shit and also has a conversation with Macy Gray who tries to walk away but she strumbos.
05. Title quote is from Klaus Kinski who wrote an autobiography called ALL I NEED IS LOVE that is out of print but in plenty of libraries, and it’s fucking new life, Kinski is impeccably emotional without ever being weak weekly, Kinski is a real life version of a character in a Zulawski film, Kinski is maybe a terrible person but he is beautiful and he feels things really fucking intensely.
08. Time shows that via the world of the interspace and aesthetics we can stumble upon the Satanic Clip Art Repository, a great reference when you (you being me) are putting together dumb net art shit like this depository of terror.
13. GERM Magazine from 2005 or something, French poetry, most of it is online, all of it kills, Pierre Alferi writers about rooms and I got excited, I really want to buy a print copy of this to see what I missed but the editors do not respond to my facebook messages or my email.
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Kind of just want to type out the lyrics to Ke$ha’s TIK TOK here, even though I have listened to her new EP a lot more than I’ve listened to any of ANIMAL, and I definitely like the new EP better than ANIMAL, even though TIK TOK & PARTY AT A RICH DUDE’S HOUSE are definitely amazing songs. Whatever.
I am trying to avoid the dregs of winter depression/S.A.D. by focusing on the fact that in 19 days I will be in San Francisco spending a week with a completely fucking amazing dude. The only problem with this is that within those 19 days includes probably 3 or 4 days spent at my parents’s terrible house & “the Christmas holiday” and I hate Christmas music because I worked in retail for something like 8 years. WordPress why are you telling me that “parents’s” is grammatically incorrect I am pretty sure you are wrong how else will I show that my 2x parents possess the house that I am uncomfortable in.
The other day I start looking at boots online because I was restless and I want new boots but the only boots I found in the limited time I spent looking were Rick Owens boots that are retardedly expensive because they are High Fashion or whatever. I then stopped because actually trying to throw myself into ideas of fashion is both boring and depressing, augh.
I am currently reading Klaus Kinski’s autobiography All I Need Is Love and it is glorious, fully entertaining and oddly stylistically captivating as well. Kinski jumps from event to event to banal memory in the text without any desire to actually transition in a developed way, it is refreshing, it is kind of just like a list. I don’t even care if half the shit is made up, who knows, it is definitely something worth reading.

I have spent most of today looking at graphic design online, which was following by requesting too many books from Inter-Library Loan, which was following by checking out too many books from the library I work at. I am apparently thinking in form/structure even more than normal. I should make a new website or something this weekend, who knows. Need to write, really. The two text-based project I’m in the midst of right now are HOTEL & my much neglected collaboration with Mitch Patrick. Should theoretically be reading the slush pile for the next LIES/ISLE too, but we don’t have that many submissions at the moment so I will save that for next month. Secret project too, but we’re early enough into it that I don’t have to dedicate much thought (yet).
In other news, I do a daily video diary on facebook. It’s fun. 
In case you noticed, or not, whatever, I moved myself from to here, mostly because I was getting really pissed off that I couldn’t customize my blog enough over on the wordpress server.  I’m not kidding.  I woke up and had this thought in my head that the only way I would start publicly blogging more would be if I had a layout that I was totally cool with.  Because of this, I ended up spending something like five hours at work installing wordpress on my server and then fucking with it to get to some design that I was mostly ok with.  I am now mostly ok with this, it could probably use some minor changes, but I got tired of staring at code.  This happened last week.

I finished writing a book that I am refusing to call anything other than a book, even though it’s only something like 6,500 words, which, really, is not even long enough to be a novella by “official standards.”  While it might only have that many words, the PDF I mocked up is 82 pages.  It is also not poetry.  It is “basically prose.”  I don’t know, I refuse to call it either of those, it’s a text.  That’s what I do I WRITE TEXTS.  While I was re-reading the text and looking at the book and editing, I guess, more accurately I was just making sure that everything was “working” I realized that, as obsessed as I can say I am with narrative, the truth is when I put things together it has little to do with narrative in a traditional sense, with plot.  My interest is more of that of a curator.  Specifically, I guess, I am interested in compiling books or texts or bodies in the way that Jannis Kounellis (whom I mentioned in the former entry) compiles his installations, or whatever, his shows I guess.  He takes works that have existed forever, but he recontextualizes them into a new space, occasionally adding new work, and then he has a room or an entire gallery and there are new feelings, even though the objects, perhaps, are the same.  But that is the thing:  experience, tone, affect.  I am far more interested in the creation of said things than I am in telling a story.  It was a weird thing to like consciously realize, even though I’m pretty sure I’ve known it all along.  The book, for the record, is titled VARIATIONS ON THE SUN.  I came up with the title before I started writing any of the words or taking any of the photos or arranging anything.  This is often how I work.  Outside in.  I guess.  If somebody asked me what it was about I would tell them it was about a group of autonomous child-nomads.  I think that statement is mostly accurate.
Anyway, also while I was editing, re-reading, whatever, I realized that I was basically totally cool with the text itself.  What I was having problems with was the photographs.  I got a digital SLR about a year ago after using (almost) exclusively film throughout my time in my BFA program and beyond.  I wanted one because I thought it would let me be lazier, in the sense that I would not have to buy film or process film.  However, I still don’t really know how to use it, I guess, because I hate most of the photos that come out of it?  I don’t know.  The weird thing is that they don’t look that terrible once they’re printed out, but I mostly hate looking at them on a screen.  They are so utterly boring in comparison to the film I used to shoot, which I would always push process and then scan in weird ways I invented and then fuck with levels and there would always be so much visible grain and it would look, ostensibly, “shitty,” but it was the exact aesthetic I was going for and I was constantly amazed that I was achieving it.  Now I don’t know how to do that.  I think it’ll probably be easier for me to just get better at photoshop, but I should learn the camera better too.
I am hesitant to go back to film because I do not have the money, really, well I mean I guess I would if I like re-prioritized and adjusted my spending habits, but more to the point, I couldn’t be developing my own film without a severe initial investment that I definitely couldn’t afford right now, and since I don’t even know where I’ll be as of August, something that big seems dumb to invest in at the moment.  I’ll experiment, I guess.

I have an obsession with record keeping. Since 2003 I’ve been keeping track of every movie that I’ve watched, and since like 2006 or something I’ve been writing “notes” (kind of mini-reviews, commentary at least). I have like 4 documents in GoogleDocs with these texts, and it’s something like 600 pages of text, or something. They are mostly just super-subjective not-very-thought-out notes, but I like that I have them. It makes me more organized, or something. You can read some of them by clicking this. Keep in mind, nothing mind-blowing, really.
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Fly Into Deserts

I hit a streak where writing felt good and easy again and then I finished the text that was consuming my time and now I’m like “What am I doing.” Also sending out some stuff for the first time in like a year and getting lots of quick rejections. I like quick rejections better than prolonged rejections. I don’t mind either way, all that much.
But I guess I haven’t updated that most of the stuff I had forthcoming is now available:
LOOP, in the Queer Issue,
and an interview with me about the text.
At Lamination Colony:
Drawers, a story that moves from image to image that I wrote thinking about comix by CF & Hans Rickheit and also the movie Death Bed: The Bed That Eats.
In Artifice Issue 02:
Architecture, Anamnesis, a story that I actually didn’t end up reading at all during the 5 stops of the Artifice Mag MADNESS MUCH Tour I was on with awesome dudes. But I will tell you that it is a story I wrote after drawing a building after becoming obsessed with the architect Emilio Ambasz.
Also I am a participant in the MLP Stamp Stories project, which is cool. It’ll be included in a book too, which is awesome. The sentence is a modification of a sentence from a collaboration I did with the painter Christian Campos. I sent the collab to a chapbook contest with a $15 entrance fee, maybe ill-advised, who knows.
I guess I could have just saved some space and been like “here I updated my C.V.” but whatever.
Here is a link to all my HTMLGIANT posts so far.
Currently, I am pretty obsessed with Jannis Kounellis.

Particularly, I think I am obsessed with intentionally mis-reading Jannis Kounellis. He was a Greek dude who left Greece and moved to Italy where he became “part” of Arte Povera, which is the former obsession that lead directly here. He posits himself halfway between Klein & Manzoni, but Klein is more interesting to me because Klein was batshit insane and loved the noun “void” as much as I do. The point is I like to pretend Kounellis’s works are weird metaphysical environments for crazy shit to happen. They’re still really cool. Whatever.
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That reminds me of a hot summer night in New York during those years. I was on the twelfth floor with a young film actress, brunette and extremely attractive. The window was open, we’d smoked quite a lot of hash, we started to kiss–and she suddenly said to me, her eyes burning and empty, “Throw yourself out and see if it makes me come.” It wasn’t aggressive, it was more tender. To her disappointment, I led her back inside. She must have realised that I wasn’t attracted to her. Of course we didn’t see each other again. Such events are both serious and trivial, except when they become tragic, which can happen from time to time. Some of my friends “gave” themselves in such a way. Wrongly, it seems to me, since there is no reason to take such a dive in the name of a problematic female orgasm. Why imagine you need to be, so to speak, the plunging burden of love, or the one who comes to interrupt a bloodlust for the infinite? It’s better just to laugh.
–Philippe Sollers, in an essay on Francesca Woodman
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Reason to Revisit Kafka

“I believe that you should only read books that bite and sting. If the book we are reading doesn’t hit us like a fist on the head, why are we reading the book? For it to make us happy, you write? My God, happy we would also be if we had no books, and such books that make us unhappy we can write ourselves if need be. We need books that affect us like a misfortune, that hurt us a great deal, like the death of someone whom we loved more than ourselves, like a suicide, a book must be an ax in a frozen sea inside us.”
– Kafka writing to Ernst Pollak
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An Issue of Desire in its Relation to the Textual Subject/Object

This is a dude who would not be an object of desire in any of the books mentioned in this post

I was debating whether or not posting about this topic, that will be revealed shortly, was something that should be done in what is ultimately a very public forum, or if it was something better suited for one of my more personal blogs. Ultimately I have decided, I think, that posting here is the best idea, mainly because I am actually more interested in what other people have to say about it than what I have to say about it. I will preface this by stating that, generally, I cannot fully mesh entirely with a narrative that is intended to be read entirely on a level of empathy. I prefer there to be a constant awareness that what is being read (or written) is a text, a book, a narrative, etc. I hate the idea of liking a book because you can “relate to a character,” in fact a lot of the time I don’t like characters, realistic ones at least. I like characters more as ideas, completely flat, lacking depth. Events over an over-wrought psychology, etc. But that’s not my point, nor is it what I want to talk about.
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Paul Sharits & The Metaphysics of Material Film

“I wish to abandon imitation and illusion and enter directly into the higher drama of: celluloid, two dimensional strips; individual rectangular frames; the nature of sprockets and emulsion; projector operations; the three dimensional reflective screen surface; the retinal screen; optic nerve and individual psycho-physical subjectivities of consciousness. In this cinematic drama, light is energy rather than a tool for the representation of non-filmic objects; light as energy is released to create its own objects , shapes and textures. Given the fact of retinal inertia and the flickering shutter mechanism of film projection, one may generate virtual forms, create actual motion (rather than illustrate it), build actual color-space (rather than picture it), and be involved in actual time (immediate presence).”
-Paul Sharits
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In list form.
  • I have spent most of this morning reading my Google Reader feed. I am “sort of” caught up on most of the 50+ blogs that I “follow.” I feel weird, like I should have maybe been reading one of the six books in my backpack instead.
  • My desk is freezing. I drank a “venti” iced-americano from Starbucks and now I’m really jittery. But still cold.
  • Araina Reines’s blog reminded me that After Dark is a completely terrific magazine and I made the periodicals people go grab me all the volumes we have (which is just 4 years worth, three volumes). This magazine is wonderful but it’s also maybe making me lonely.
  • I think I just can’t must enough to care about current pop culture, which is why that sort of ‘brand’ of contemporary theory, that is probably actually really great and engaging and intelligent, falls on completely deaf ears. It’s also possibly why I haven’t bothered reading Zizek. I’m not sure, I just have this idea that that’s alot of Zizek’s praxis. I could be wrong, because like I said, I haven’t read Zizek. I have a book by him about Lacanian Theory through Hitchcock’s films, or something. I could probably read that.
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Until August 18th you can buy a copy of A MIKE KITCHELL READER from Legacy Pictures. It is a piece of conceptual writing. Here is the “press release”:
For a limited time A MIKE KITCHELL READER is available from Legacy Pictures.
Legacy Pictures is a new boutique house specializing in custom-run editions of fine writing.
Please enjoy this release that relates to Niagara, Denton Welch, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, Joan Didion, Todd Hido, and will find its way out of print and into the secondary market very soon.
Also, this Saturday I’m doing a reading for the UNCALLED FOR READINGS series at the Rough House Theater in Chicago. Click this link for some details. This will be the first reading I have done outside of DeKalb. I have no idea what I will be reading at it yet, but I will be figuring that out soon enough.
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I requested this article through interlibrary loan, and the PDF they sent me was almost impossible to read, so I retyped the whole thing for posterity. I thought I would post it here. From ARTLINK, Volume 10 No 4 Summer 1990-91, p. 60-61

“The slide from film to video may perhaps one day be compared to the move away from the alexandrine and toward free verse poetry- out of this there emerged a reflection of the literary fate of language, and the same is happening today for the image”.
–Raymond Bellour
Bellour’s words were written nine years ago. Today they resonate with tremendous force. Anyone who has been aware of the recent renaissance in the electronic arts, particularly video, will appreciate Bellour’s prophetic voice. Video has been, during the last two decades, expanding at a phenomenal rate in Europe and America. Locally video has been developing with a similar sense of experimental excitement-but only more recently-say during the last decade. Today our local funding and educational institutions are prepared to support the new dynamic forms and styles of electronic image-making
Bellour’s words are more prophetic when we consider that they were written in reference to one of video’s truly poetic and inventive originators, Thierry Kuntzel. Kuntzel’s videography has been criminally overlooked by Anglo-American commentators till today. Unless I am mistaken, aside from Bellour’s excellent essay, I can’t think of one article that has been written in English on this important voyager of electronic image-making.
You may ask why is Kuntzel’s art so central to today’s electronic arts? Why do his entrancing wordless tapes with their fluid dream-like abstractions of perception and hallucination, appearance and disappearance, remembering and forgetting and the impossibility of, to use Bellour’s helpful expression, “representing the unrepresentable” matter? Briefly put, Kuntzel’s extremely precise and delicately orchestrated videos constitute, in my mind, one of the most relentlessly inventive and sublime oeuvres of the artform today. This is not the place to spell out why I think this is so. Let us say that the following brief interview (perhaps the first in English?) should be seen as a useful introductory point of entry into his revolutionary thinking about images and what lies between them.
What interests me about Kuntzel’s work is his uncompromising search to find a singularly expressive and mobile form of electronic writing. His contemplative minimalist videos represent in their introspective authorial fluidity a “video-stylo” writing (to borrow Alexandre Astrud’s term of ‘camera-stylo’) in that they are concerned with the aesthetic and epistemological exploration of “the time time takes to pass” (Kuntzel). Primarily his videos manifest an exquisitely delicate unfolding of colour, time, form and light that denote a highly suggestive (almost painterly) calligraphy searching for new ideas and forms illustrating Kuntzel’s precarious quest to ‘make light visible’. In other words, what we are witnessing here is the creation of video as ‘fiction-reflection’ (Bellour), video as writing, video as a necessary reply to the artist’s previous significant work in film theory. Kuntzel’s videography can be read as a path-blazing aesthetic and theoretical adventure that was initiated by and went beyond his research interests in the filmic apparatus, the idea of ‘another film’ lurking inside the classical film text.
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Midnight in the Garden of My Bedroom Awake Not Sleeping Staring At My Computer

I have only slept, maybe, 10 hours total in the last three days. I just drank a can of Coke which is like making a promise to my body to not go to sleep until 4am for no reason. I took the day off work tomorrow because having longer weekends than work-weeks makes living easier.
My plan was to watch movies until my eyes Would Not Stay Open but I can’t figure out what to watch. This is the problem I have, I always know what I want a movie to make me feel like but you can’t type feelings into search engines and expect results. I have seen or heard of everything probably, I wish this weren’t true honestly come on 1978-1983 give me something new.
Instead of looking through movies I have that I haven’t watched I have kind of been staring at my computer screen, a blank browser window, hoping that maybe something will happen, while listening to the 1982 Alan Parsons Project album Eye in the Sky. The first four tracks are pretty much perfect. I’m up to track six now, and tracks five and six have not been as good, I’m a little sad about that.
Before I listened to this I listened to Meredith Monk’s Turtle Dreams which was actually completely perfect and I don’t really know why I’m not just listening to that again right now. There is a 3 minute or so sample from the titular track on UBU web from some comp, and I have listened to that probably 200 times without ever considering that the entire song (yet alone album) that the track is from would be something easily accessible. just inadvertently pointed out to me that, probably, my favorite mood in music is “dramatic.” I wish there were a way to do some sort of search on Allmusic where you could combine “moods,” I would type in “dramatic,” “evil,” “completely fucking terrifying,” and “dear fucking god let me drone the fuck out.” Maybe, I don’t know. I try not to think about music that often because it is difficult.
In an interview Liliane Giraudon says that intellectuals read more than three hours a day. I don’t feel any necessity to attain the title of “intellectual,” but I would like to be able to spend at least four hours a day reading. And yet right now I am still listening to Alan Parsons Project and staring at a screen, but at least the screen is not currently blank.
I will stop for now.
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Impossible Mike
refuse reality, live forever.


June 13th, 2013 / 1:14 am

Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972

458 Sun Ra + Ayé Aton: Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972
By John Corbett
PictureBox Inc, April 2013
112 Pages, $27.50 | Buy from PictureBox
Opening with several candid shots of Sun Ra donning full afro-futurist regalia in Oakland, filming the quintessential Space is the Place, Space, Interiors and Exteriors, 1972 finds Sun Ra himself in the foreground. An interesting choice, really, due to the fact that a large majority of the book focuses on Ayé Aton’s murals, painted primarily on the walls of Chicago’s south-side in the early 70s. But this choice makes sense, as the brief essay included in the book lets us know, as it was the overpowering figure of Sun Ra that brought a focus to Aton’s work.
Aton, who became a correspondent of Sun Ra in the early 60s (shortly after Ra moved to New York City), eventually joined the Arkestra, touring and recording with Ra during the Ra’s most significant span of recording, the years 1972-1974, when his most well-known album records was recorded, Space is the Place. Aton & Ra’s correspondence, in the beginning, was a mentorship. Aton’s curiosity towards many afrocentric esotericisms finding, if not answers, at least a response in Sun Ra (to see the breadth of the information that Ra poured into his philosophy, take note of this syllabus from a class Ra taught at UC Berkeley in the early 70s [as an aside: the environment of Berkeley where Sun Ra could teach a class like this is so far distanced from the current reality of UC Berkeley that it's astounding], as recounted “by Arkestra drummer, Samurai Celestial, and others.”
Two brief essays in the book present this biographical (this mythical) information before treating the reader to a gallery of Aton’s murals, photographed, often obliquely, on Polaroid film in Instant film has never been the most archival film available; in these Polaroids it’s clear that colors have faded, that the precision of the film’s chemical reactions, etc, is far from precise. The material degradation adds a level of entropy to the aura the images create. While the introduction asks us to imagine rooms where entire walls are painted with fluorescent paint, the Polaroids reveal rough gestures in muted colors. With time everything fades.
But the suggestion, the consideration, is a fascinating one. As another essay points out, none of the photographs of Aton’s murals depict people in front of them, they are isolated in space, often even destabilized away from their position on walls, embedded in the flatness of the picture plane. In the late 1950s Sun Ra started calling his music “space music” because ” the music allowed him to translate his experience of the void of space into a language people could enjoy and understand” (Wikipedia). With these photos, the viewer is floating in a void of colors long faded. The dream is dead, and I wouldn’t be surprised to find most of these murals either painted over or felled with buildings during destruction.
My favorite mural, documented by a square Polaroid stamped with the month of “January” but bearing no year, finds a ram’s head above four staggering lines of grey, set within a large silver/white star-burst, across a field of pinks and oranges with black accents carrying through the field. The nothingness of the image plane is violated by a minor intrusion: that of a golden chandelier, hanging from a white ceiling. The reality of the murals becomes uncanny. This is a step towards a necessary mysticism, used by Ra and others to strive towards freedom, borrowing Egyptian symbols and steeping them in Biblical revisionism, a reality that allows the oppressed a sense of revolution. Space is the place, space is the place. The field turns into colors and every man and woman is wearing a costume that disorients. It’s after the end of the world–don’t you know that yet?
In 1968, Kenneth Anger visited the great pyramids of Egypt with a cavalcade of junkies, musicians, artists, and magicians. Costumes were brought. Anger’s greatest film, Lucifer Rising was filmed. Problems followed. The film eventually was released and has been recognized for its brilliance. Sun Ra, on the other hand, refuses to just make his film. The costumes were part of life. Life was revolutionary and within this revolt there was a refined aesthetic insistence. Aton’s murals carry this aesthetic insistence further, into the banalized reality of those who don’t have the freedom to live in Sun Ra’s world permanently. The murals serve as a reminded.
June 11th, 2013 / 11:27 am


I like giving readings. I like going to readings if I’m familiar with the reading series and know that it will consist of something other than someone monotonously droning on for 20 minutes while I desperately consider what the best time to slip out of the room for a piss is. I like when readings, whether they’re poetry or prose or whatever, have some sort of performative element. When I give a reading, most of the time I like to introduce a performative element. There’s a dual purpose to this: 1) When I’m an audience member, I generally prefer a reading include a performative element. It’s more exciting. I don’t think this is inherently a method used to “cover up” a text–because a text is just that, it’s a text. The experience of reading something & hearing something read out loud is a totally different experience. 2) When I’m a reader, it’s more exciting for me to do something performative than to just simply read, though occasionally circumstances dictate this. Though I’ve discovered there are multiple ways to be performative at a reading, and I feel like I’m discovering new techniques all the time.
Anyway, here are some of my favorite readings I’ve done recently in various environs:

Craft Notes / 5 Comments
June 9th, 2013 / 4:17 am

LIES/ISLE PRESENTS: Morning by Lara Mimosa Montes

In the morning she ties her robe
so now the morning is
a mélange of peachy pinks to me

If this mélange could only be poured into her demitasse
                    all your peach-noir-pink
                pouring it into me

If it’s dark enough
                    dream time dawn colored enough

Yes, looking at you now is like waking up from the dream
with the bottle of crème de menthe still in my hand

But a bad morning is a bitter morning
in your mouth is the taste of chickory to me

If before you go
would you wake up again?
Wake up like a Will Cotton
framed in gold, yawning

                    but when I call you a Will Cotton
          try not to open your mouth please

When I call you a Will Cotton
I am telling you that in the morning
around half-past ten
you look like a 17th century Dutch still-life to me

with your peach languor perversely
idling without end
or if at the end

you and your eggs Florentine
or if at the end
only a bunch of silly papers

. . . . and the glass of orange juice next to the eggs Florentine . . . .

If you are a white elephant, they say, then you are actually naturally pink

. . . . . . . . . But if you are a glass rinsed with bitters, then filled with gin . . .

Will Cotton, Cotton Candy Sky (2006)
Will Cotton, Cotton Candy Sky (2006)
Massive People / 2 Comments
June 3rd, 2013 / 9:00 am

The weight of Nicole Brossard’s White Piano

white pianoWhite Piano
by Nicole Brossard
translated by Robert Majzels and Erin Moure
Coach House Books, March 2013
112 pages / $15.95 Buy from Coach House Press
I first read Nicole Brossard’s White Piano almost two months ago. Without a doubt I was struck by it, it carried a heavy feeling, a sort of pleasure in its musicality, its language, the space that the pages throughout the book suggest. As such, I was struck with only this feeling, without much to come to in terms of words with which I could discuss it. It’s lingered, this feeling, in my head, through my body, and its created a desire to attempt to express, in some capacity, what it is within the book that I find notable, powerful, pleasurable.
This is not a new feeling to me when it comes to poetry. Despite my incessant readings on poetics, despite the fact that I devour huge amounts of poetry, I can barely ever articulate what it is that’s moving me. The feeling I get after reading good poetry is similar to a sort of visceral reaction that can be present after really good sex, or maybe a really intense roller coaster; the way the water of the ocean feels washing over you when the sun is out and there’s a warmth in the air, this reality of being overcome–almost a sort of satisfaction. This bodily response is inherently against language, of course, and when Blanchot writes over and over again that the writing of the disaster, that “[neither] the sun, nor the universe helps us, except through images, to conceive of a system of exchanges so marked by loss that nothing therein would hold together and that the inexchangeable would no longer be caught and defined in symbolic terms.” There is a futility in the desire to re-create a language based experience in language.
I find it also near impossible to write about music. Poetry isn’t music, though there are certain similarities, and these similarities shine through a level of affect, this bodily heaviness, this feeling that refuses semantic indulgence.
May 30th, 2013 / 6:44 pm


and how to eclipse the object


like the spatial configuration of what it means to be in love

do you want to learn how to float

Such–such fiasco that folly takes a hand. Such bits and scraps. Seen no matter how and said as seen. Dread of black. Of white. Of void. Let her vanish. And the rest. For good. And the sun. Last rays. And the moon. And Venus. Nothing left by black sky. White earth. Or inversely. No more sky or earth. Finished high and low. Nothing but black and white. Everywhere no matter where. But black. Void. Nothing else. contemplate that. Not another word. Home at last. Gently gently.
[Samuel Beckett // Ill Seen Ill Said // Nohow On]
Word Spaces / 3 Comments
May 24th, 2013 / 4:16 am


gooddayGOOD DAY TODAY: David Lynch Destabilises the Spectator
By Daniel Neofetou
Zero Books, 2012
93 Pages, $14.95 (buy it at Amazon)
The initial conceit of Neofetou’s Good Day Today is one that I inherently agree with, and one that I think should be considered in larger terms of not only film studies, but an understanding of how to watch movies in general. As a theoretical construct it was first introduced to me in Cinema and Sensation: French Film and the Art of Transgression by Martine Beugnet, a brilliant study of affect found in the mileu of the “new french extremity,” the art house mavericks Bruno Dumont, Philippe Grandrieux, Catherine Breillet, and so on. While Beugnet’s book does lose itself to a final chapter devoted to a Deleuzean study of film & embodiment that, in my opinion, adds nothing to the first two-thirds of the study, overall the book presents and articulates, with careful, pointed examples, what cinema can do for the spectator.
Neofetou’s book, while seemingly not indebted to Beugnet’s book at all (something that I would argue is, in a sense, unfortunate) takes certain theories that have formerly been applied only to experimental (non-narrative) cinema, and looks at David Lynch’s films within this context. His thesis is that these modes of cinema, particularly within the diegetic sway of a narrative & representational film, serve to–as the title would suggest– destabilise, disorient the spectator, the viewer of the film. As such, the book offers a very close reading of a number of Lynch’s films–though the titles of note are, of course, Inland Empire, Lost Highway & Mulholland Drive–& the scenes therein, showing the reader just exactly how Lynch manages to simultaneously play with affect while still insisting upon the “rules” of narrative/figurative/”realist” cinema to the point where when the rules are broken, we are destabilised not because said scene doesn’t make “sense,” but because the scene violates the inherent logic of the film & undermines the authority of an omniscient narrative position.
And the book does this well. Neofetou, throughout the book, takes examples from a number of canonical experimental films (Meshes of the Afternoon, Flaming Creatures, Gidal’s Epilogue) and compares their techniques to the techniques of certain scenes found in Lynch’s films, highlighting both the similarities between the scenes & the differences that arise out of the context of the films as a whole. There’s also a brilliant chapter near the end of the book dedicated to the idea of Lynch’s use of pop-music, absent dialog, and sound, that is a great chapter in its own capacity in looking at the way audio works toward the viewer in a cinematic exegesis.
Another strong point of the book is that within his examination of Lynch as a filmmaker who works with affect more than representation, Neofetou does an excellent job of both rejecting and explaining this rejection of the idea that Lynch’s films are “puzzles” to be solved–closed films where there is a literal solution. This, of course, is ridiculous, and a repeated mode of viewing that I personally find insufferable because, as Neofetou points out that Sontag mentions in her essay Against Interpretation, this mode of viewing “blinds [the spectator] to the work’s sensual facets”.
The book is not perfect, however, and there are two major faults that certainly don’t kill the book, but strike me as perhaps frustrating. The first being a short 7 page look at Lynch’s films through the eyes of the ‘Bechdel Test,’ ultimately considering accusations of Lynch’s films as misogynistic. Unfortunately the chapter ends up sounding apologetic instead of actually engaging with the idea, as its idea loses itself in a self-aware politically correct feedback loop that undermines any sort of look, thus rendering the chapter as blank space in terms of critical thought. I’m curious as to its place in the book, as there are repeated comments regarding Lynch’s ostensible a-political stance.
Which, in a way, leads to my other complaints–the subtitle of the book, the copy on the back, leads one to believe that after introducing (& proving) the idea that Lynch destabilises the spectator, there is little suggested beyond this in the text itself. There are a lot of directions that this could be taken, and the copy suggests that the book will take this idea in the direction that it helps to shake the politically hegemonic mode of representation, which helps to destabilise the idea of binary, simplicity, homogeneity.
April 30th, 2013 / 3:58 pm

Pataphysical Essays by René Daumal

daumalcover4Pataphysical Essays
By René Daumal
Wakefield Press, April 2012
136 pages, $12.95 (buy it at Wakefield Press)
Rene Daumal is known primarily for his unfinished novel Mount Analogue (which, in ways, was the point of inspiration for Jodorowsky’s Holy Mountain) & his novel A Night of Serious Drinking, a narrative examination of issues of reality and spiritualism, set within the never ending halls and floors of a seemingly infinite pub. To others he’s known as a mystic, studying Eastern currents throughout his life; to others he is simply an ex-surrealist, a primo member of le grand jeu; others know him as the rambunctious teenager of A Fundamental Experiment, taking after Rimbaud in a youthful attempt to escape the banality of reality. He was, of course, all of these things. But what seems to most often, perhaps, get overlooked, is Daumal’s position as a ‘pataphysician.
‘Pataphysics, often simply called “the science of imaginary solutions” is a, shall we say, philosophy created (popularized?) by Alfred Jarry at the end of the 19th century. It’s torch has been carried on through the 20th century and into the 21st–publishers Atlas Press being primarily responsible for the publication of the documents of the College of ‘Pataphysics. There is much playfulness present.
Wakefield Press has recently published a collection of Daumal’s essays on ‘pataphysics, and it’s a wonderfully head-scratching collection that perfect sums up the mood of ‘pataphysics.
April 9th, 2013 / 1:10 am

RIP JESS FRANCO (1930-2013)

You’re one of my favorite directors. You made over 200 films, of which I’ve seen at least 50. Within those fifty films I count some of the most inspiring and entertaining moments of cinema ever, elements of narrative and visual ideas that have crept into my own praxis. I want to celebrate your life for as long as possible.

Film / 3 Comments
April 2nd, 2013 / 2:29 pm

The Revolution is Never Televised: Robbe-Grillet’s PROJECT FOR A REVOLUTION IN NEW YORK

projectProject for a Revolution in New York
by Alain Robbe-Grillet
Dalkey Archive, September 2012
183 Pages / $14 (buy it on Amazon)
1. I’ve read all of the fictional novels that Robbe-Grillet published in France between 1955 & 1981, albeit in English, some multiple times, others not. This leaves out only 4 novels proper–the first two (Un Regicide & The Erasers) and the last two (Repetition & A Sentimental Novel). Half of those remaining have yet to receive English translations. This was my second reading of Project for a Revolution in New York.
2. This quantifying, of course, does not include everything else that Robbe-Grillet wrote: a short story collection–Snapshots in English, of interest perhaps only as spelled out examples of the theory set forth in For a New Novel; three “romanesques”, being, for want of a better term, “creative non-fictional” memoirs (only the first of which, Ghosts in the Mirror, has been translated into English–which, admittedly, is a bit of a snooze-fest when compared to the purely fictional novels); thee essay collections, with, once again, only the earliest, For a New Novel, available in English (a really valid collection if one is tired of a standardized canonical/literary fiction); a handful of cine-novels–the earliest (Last Year at Marienbad & The Immortal One) once again being the only ones translated into English; and perhaps the most interesting part of Robbe-Grillet’s oeuvre, the ‘collaborative’ works that ultimately feed, intertextually, into my favorite of his novels, collaborative works with artists (Magritte, Rauschenberg, Johns) & photographers (Irina Ionesco, David Hamilton). And one must not forget his films, a necessary contingency of his body of work.
3. Due to my engagement–perhaps even, one could say, obsession– with Robbe-Grillet’s work, I’ve found it easier to split his published novels into a number of categories, guided by this website, which was one of the earliest strongholds of info on Robbe-Gillet on the internet when I began my obsession in 2004.
March 13th, 2013 / 5:34 pm

I Can’t Believe 2012 Is Over // I Can’t Believe I’ve Lived In California for a Calendar Year // The Critical Nature of Commentary vs Experience PART TWO

Sorry that it’s now a week into February of 2013 and I’ve just now finally finished my 2012 round-up, kinda takes a lot. Some books get more attention than others, but hey that’s the way the cookie crumbles. Please enjoy.
66 – If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? – Jarett Kobek
The repeated insistence that find me tampering my potentiality of reviewing Jarett’s books in any real capacity are always tempered by him being my “bestie” or whatever. I mean, though really, this book had me thinking a lot, and most of that “thinking a lot” comes out in the interview I did with Jarett.
67 – Dodecahedron – Tom Mallin
This is one of those weird 70s novels with a weird & awesome covers that I almost always love that I discovered via GoodReads one night and immediately requested from Link+ (SFPL’s version of “inter-library loan”). It’s… good, and I feel like (though this feeling comes mostly from the intensive aka “long” reviews of said book on goodreads…) there is probably more to it than I got on my initial surface reading, but there wasn’t enough to make me really excited. It’s a short book, and it’s almost literally a nunsploitation film for the first two chapters but then it takes some weird turns into a static martyrdom and one can’t figure out why, because the mystical nature of the protagonist as expressed in the introduction (first chapter? I don’t remember) placates the characterization more as symbol than “psychological figurehead.” Still, much more exciting than anything that’s come out in contemporary times, so I shouldn’t complain too much. Libraries rule, and this is an example of why.
68 – The Thirst for Annihilation – Nick Land
I decided that I urgently needed to re-read this book after finishing the essay collection Fanged Noumena. I had read this before, three years ago probably, and all I remembered was that the book completely blew my fucking mind and that it took me almost 4 months to get through the second chapter, which gets heavy into hard sciences and thermodynamics and was basically impenetrable. This time through I found the text as a whole far more accessible (I think I was far more ‘primed’ for this kind of reading at this point), and–barring the catastrophe of having to dry the book out and praying it wasn’t water damaged (refer to my Two by Duras commentary in the first part of this list)–I tore through the book in something like 5 days. Having read an excessive amount of both Bataille & secondary readings of Bataille, I say without qualifying the statement that Land understands Bataille more than any one else who has ever written about him, he understands that to actually write about Bataille is to inherently embrace failure, that to adapt Bataille to one’s own driving goal is to reduce Bataille to something disposable, and to try to form into Bataille is to refuse the idea that Bataille took so much time to develop, the idea of an entirely heterogeneous oeuvre. Beyond that, Land himself is a compulsively readable genius who is, as I’ve mentioned before, probably the only critical thinker other than Bataille himself that I want to read over and over again. The ideas in here are mind-blowing and amazing.
69 – Great Expectations – Kathy Acker
I’ve basically tried to read one or two Acker books a year since I started reading her. At first, when I discovered Acker, I really found her theory more enjoyable than her fiction, but the more I continue to read her fiction, the more I realize how fantastic it is, despite the fact that in certain ways each novel is a specific failed experiment. That doesn’t matter though, what matters is that Acker is a genius and sometimes the best way to demonstrate genius is to prove you’re not perfect, because if you’re perfect you’re not a genius, you’re just artificial. Acker’s fragmented narrative style works perfectly here, and there’s so much beautiful language that haunts the story of the DESIRE IS MASTER AND LORD, timelessness versus time. I am only an obsession.
70 – Purgatorio – Raul Zurita
Second reading of this, though really I had forgotten so much of it I was convinced that the version I was reading (the older edition than the more recent printing) was actually different from the recent one. Still totally devastating, still totally amazing and heavy. Seems like Zurita is one of those poets who should be far more lauded than he actually is. But then again, poetry is a hardly lauded genre in any capacity, isn’t it. Regardless, this is an amazingly moving book, & the heterogeneity of forms is a great way to move through a poetic space, really.
Roundup / 9 Comments
February 7th, 2013 / 3:26 pm

Cabbies, Tarot, Women, New Orleans, Confidence Man, Murder, Crocodiles, Dirt

by Michael Allen Zell
Lavender Ink, August 2012
112 Pages / $15.00 Buy from Amazon
It seems that Michael Allen Zell took a page from Joyce in constructing his novel, following the idea of writing a simple story in a complex matter. Though instead of burying a narrative in puns, homonyms, invented words, syntactical buggery, and so on, Zell let’s the narrative of his novel Errata wind and turn much in the same fashion that the books protagonist, Raymond Russel (an homage to Roussel for sure), drives his taxi through the city of New Orleans: never from point A to point B, as most fare would expect, but rather in methods that involve spelling out his own name by looping through streets, taking roads that are less visited and more lonely, deviations upon deviations, until finally arriving at his point. And it is in this construction, the simple narrative interrupted by diversion, that the book holds its strength.
Errata‘s narrative is casually described as neo-noir on the back of the book, and to summarize the book rapidly this would, indeed, suffice, but to reduce the book to this cliché–clichés existing only in language, not in the narrative of life, as our narrator remarks on the last page of the book–takes away what it is that makes the short book so pleasurable. It’s filled with asides, asides on literature, mostly on Melville’s Confidence Man, Schulz’s “Street of Crocodiles,” Infante’s Three Trapped Tigers, and of course, oh yes of course, the ever present Borges. Aside from literature there is much discussion of beards, of a life being lived casually and hermit-like, to the enjoyment of simplicity; all outside of systematic structures that dominate the 20th century. Though it’s set in the mid-1980s there’s little to indicate that outside of a few passing phrases, there is no cultural nostalgia here, and similarly the location of New Orleans seems but a moot point to what’s happening: there is a girl, there is a man, there is a life lived to only a certain degree, there is a climax: Call the burial, dirt rest.
Zell’s book approaches the text as a reader more than a writer, aware of what brings the author pleasure in reading, this pleasure is in turn passed on to the reader, “Raymond, do you want to look back on your life and think at least I watched a lot of television??” There’s a three page rant about how printed dialog is a futility; there are cues that make me think of what a friend said about writing, how most readers simply confuse the idea of “character development” with authorial intent, a terrible habit picked up in reductive literature classes offered in primary education, these early moldings of the head when we learn to be taught what exactly makes “good literature.”
But the story, buried beneath everything else, is simple and solid. There is a plot that the narrator becomes involved in. There is an excessive amount of insomnia, which leads, in turn, to the writing of the notebook that we, outside of this textual diegesis, are reading, Errata; there’s a meta-text that doesn’t wink at the reader, rather actually probes & functions on the level of affect. This is, perhaps, one of the smartest contemporary novels that I’ve encountered, and because of that, I ultimately appreciate it being written. As a nod to the novel’s protagonist, I consider it the highest honor to now be using the book, which I’ve finished, to prop up my crooked desk, which formerly would shift back and forth, rocking like a boat on the gentle sea as I typed letters and words and numbers into this machine. A book as infrastructure, something solid.
January 28th, 2013 / 1:01 pm


Pyramids. The only desirable tombs. Monoliths, obelisks, this ancient geometry of form. The way energy floats, fuck the new age bullshit sometimes you cannot deny that this is reality. The scent of immortality. Endless lust buried in this cold earth. Aesthetics as holy gods. No competition, only artifice. Beautiful, beautiful artifice. Something to look forward to. Something accountable. My own private structural system. Cold night howls. The expulsive glossolalia’d voice; I AM GOD.1
It’s time we cut out the bullshit. It’s time we start making something that either lifts us into the air or at least moves us forward. Accelerate through fiction and into a new reality. Nothing is perfect but it can always be new.
1#45, excerpted from Errors; or Dreams I’ve Never Had
Power Quote / 17 Comments
January 19th, 2013 / 3:01 pm

I Can’t Believe 2012 Is Over // I Can’t Believe I’ve Lived In California for a Calendar Year // The Critical Nature of Commentary vs Experience PART ONE

I read some books last year. I’d like to tell you about them. Here’s everything I read in 2012, part one.
01 – The Wild Boys – William Burroughs
I’ve been reading Burroughs on and off since I was a Freshman in High School–& now, after all these years, I’ve finally read this one, and it’s firmly secured itself in the place of “second personal-fave of Burroughs.” (second only to Cities of the Red Night). Sontag considers the techniques in this extensively throughout her notebooks, and that’s one of the more interesting things; it’s formally very interesting and doesn’t go on&on&on like, for instance, Place of Dead Roads.
02 – Architecture & Disjunction – Bernard Tschumi
I encountered this through an essay in the book Surrealism and Architecture (ed. Thomas Mical)–and then immediately requested it from the library and devoured it. It borrows extensively from Bataille in its dissident conception of architecture, how architecture works, it’s affect, and more. It’s fucking perfect.
03 – If I Falter at the Gallows – Edward Mullany
I bought a copy of this from Edward after doing a reading with him. I love his poetry; his twitter has always struck me as this bizarre between space of humor and despair, a truly abject horror at times, and the poetry, of course, is even beyond the tweets in its progression. There’s something very dark and special about this book, and Mullany’s readings are also very intense.
04 – Artaud Anthology – Antonin Artaud
Being in San Francisco without the bulk of my book collection I was craving Artaud, and this was the only thing immediately available from the local library branch, and I actually hadn’t read this volume before (I’ve mostly worked through full books & the Calder anthologies) so voila. It’s great, of course, and I think it makes sense that this volume would be enough to entice a generation of Artaud readers when nothing else was available.
05 – Atta – Jarett Kobek
One of my goals I made around the new year was to attend more culture event things, readings included, since that was the reason I had moved to California in the first place. So, I hadn’t read Atta, but I knew I liked Semiotext(e) as a press & had enjoyed the event at City Lights for William E. Jones, so I went to Jarett’s event. I enjoyed how sort of crazy his presentation was, so I freinded & messaged him on facebook & we became drinking buddies (we live in the same neighborhood). So what’s weird about this book is that I became really good friends with the author about half way through reading it. So I feel like it perhaps shades my involvement with the book proper; which is not necessarily a bad thing since the one thing I do know is that it’s a great book. It does some amazing things & it’s simultaneously funny & solemn–as the subject matter would generally, of course, insist.
Roundup / 12 Comments
January 15th, 2013 / 3:56 pm

Hyper-purple Theory-porn

oom-front-cover1ObliviOnanisM, I: Dissolving
by M.O.N.
gnOme Books, 2012
85 pages, $9.99
Buy from Amazon
Sometimes I dont’ trust copy. I feel like, if I read a book and then encounter copy written for it, most of the time I scowl to myself and think things like “holy shit that is so incredibly reductive.” However, in the case of ObliviOnanisM, the copy rings remarkably true:
A profanely mystical work of hyperpurple theory-porn, ObliviOnanisM is an auto-erotic intellectual fiction envisioning the phantastical unending odysses of a young woman, Gemma, whom you will never know.
It might only be a sentence long & it promises a lot, but really there’s nothing false about this description, drawn from the book’s back cover.
To get it out of the way, I’ll approach a plot description; Chapter 1:Gemma finds a semi-ovoid object and sticks it into her ass. Chapter 2-4: Gemma experiences immense pleasure from the object, from refusing to physically interact from her own body, and from her immense mental acrobatics that circle around not touching her own body. Chapter 5: Gemma doubles into another non( )being and within this phantasmatic double achieves infinitely echoed orgasms into oblivion. So, yes, the entire novella, in terms of literal action, consists of nothing beyond Gemma getting off. There are no characters other than Gemma, the action takes place in no physical location other than Gemma’s bedroom. There is no dialog. There is no character development. Arguably, this is just an 85 page masturbation scene.
So does it work? Surprisingly, yes. The “hyperpurple” prose recalls the anonymous French erotica that was so ripe to pop up in the 50s, 60s, and 70s, approaching metaphysical plateaus of the phantastique that I personally am more than prone to enjoying. The idea of “theory-porn” pitched on the back has less to do with a direct exigesis into theory & rather adapts the syntactical structure of theory and applies it to porn-writing, occasionally referencing those beacons of theory in their BwOs, their infinite becomings, their Irigaray-ian loops, their object-ness, their speculative solutions. From a subjective perspective there’s really no erotic stake I share in female-onanism (being a queer male), but there’s an interesting insistance taking place.
The phallic structure is entirely absent. The semi-ovoid (egg) shape that violates Gemma violates her ass, but not in a phallocentric plugging, there is none of the old “in-out” here, only a girl and an object and, later, her own hands, fingues, tongue. This body has organs but they dissolve into a gushy pool of sweat, spit, and come, but this doesn’t form an abject pile of abasement, rather it launches Gemma into the ethereal fluidity of the float.
Thus, to conclude, I offer a fragment taken from page 50 of the book. Your response to this excerpt is likely to determine your response to the entire book, so away we go:
The thought-spheres refractively projected illimitable prismatic images from all directions into her imagination, images her heart tirellessly distilled into licorous milky drops that were imbibed by every cell of her clean body. The self-penetrating pneumophantasmological cascade of meta-sexual soul-dew was overwhelming. And the flow, however slowed by the universal waterfall of ontic translation, was still too much.
1 Comment
January 11th, 2013 / 2:52 am

Black God by Ben Spivey is out from Blue Square Press. It’s a beast, a fantastic beast of regret and the ocean and houses and a wife whose life is failing and confusion and voyeurism and/or surveillance and displacement.
“Ben Spivey’s Black God is a surreal dreamscape of a book. To borrow from the book itself, “There’s something black in that place like it was untouched by God himself… Or herself.” At its claustrophobic core, this book is a love story about time and memory, fear and death. At its dreamlike fringes, it is a book that might have been written by the son of Kafka and Braque. Like our best books, it is a love story in love with its own death.” – Peter Markus
“In Black God there is a dream architecture that draws the aging narrator Cooper from his dying wife like a moth to its hard and gateless outer shell. With him we explore the received forms of daily life mingling with fluctuating dreams of the interior of eternity. Here, Spivey accomplishes the rare feat of investing Cooper’s efforts with resonance though his motives obscure even to himself and the theater in which he operates is a dreamscape of mechanical islands, a wife retreating into silhouettes, and beaches of washed up clocks: ‘I looked up and could see where I fell from—a house hanging in the sky like a new moon—the actual moon cast shadow on the home giving it celestial shape. I could even see the stairs I must have tumbled from hanging there like a limp wrist.’ This is a visionary book, a genuine terror and awe.” – Joe Hall
I Like __ A Lot & Web Hype / 0 Comments
December 22nd, 2012 / 10:22 pm

The Obsolescence of Publish or Perish: How To Get (& Keep) Attention

I found this article on Dalkey Archive & the Best Translated Book Award over at Writers No One Reads really interesting. While it’s an interesting case study in its own capacity, it really had me thinking about the issue of how so many books are published, yet, from what it seems, not that many books are being read.
The fact that even a “major” publisher of “smaller” works, such as Dalkey, doesn’t seem to have any idea how to advertise, has me really concerned– almost 13 years into the 21st century, where advertising has almost literally been the singular thing every human being has been and is repeatedly exposed to, why are we–as writers, publishers–so bad at it?
At one point in life it seemed a huge thing to get work published; it was certainly more difficult in the past, yet every day, with more and more journals & presses popping up almost daily, as well as the new affordable modes of large-scale self-publishing, being published seems to be incredibly easy–if you can write a book, you can probably publish it. But, if you can publish a book, that doesn’t mean that anybody is going to read it.
A little while ago, Mike posted that “social media isn’t a very good way to promote your book”. I don’t necessarily agree with him in any capacity, but it’s interesting to consider, because, really, what else do we have? I’m convinced that even when books are reviewed, very few people read the reviews. I know that often I won’t read a review of a book I haven’t read unless one of three things occurs: 1) I’ve heard of the book already and am interested in it, 2) The title or the cover is appealing & 3) I’ve heard the author mentioned somewhere else. So, I guess book reviews at least, to support an authors egotism, support the idea that their book has actually been read, but unless it’s a review that pops up in a very large venue, I can’t imagine they’re helping to sell books much. It’d be pretty awesome if someone were to prove me wrong.
But I’m just wondering, what the hell is the best way to sustainably advertise books? Reading tours? Book trailers? Posting your shit on Tumblr? Linking your books to your friends and family? I don’t know.
All of this seems related to another thing that I’ve been thinking about: How many small press books have staying power? We post links to shit that’s new, we review books right when they come out, but three years, one year, hell even six months later, do we think about these books at all? What can we do, in small press world (and I think there’s some sort of development happening in the world, thanks to the decentralizing nature of the internet [cough-the literary establishment no longer has any reason to remain in NYC-cough], that small press can eclipse big press, at least it should be able to, in terms of generating interest; with the internet we can and should be able to push our words past the realm of small press book readers; we should be able to appeal to any number of individuals of–fuck it, i’ll say it–markets, and demonstrate that we have something people are looking for. Whether or not any of this is true, well, I guess we’ll find out in years to come.
Behind the Scenes / 40 Comments
November 28th, 2012 / 1:39 am


Hey guys! There’s this thing happening, it’s an awesome event, it’s in New York, everybody who reads this blog lives in New York, right? Thought so, since that’s the only place any literary events of note happen lol! So, you’ll come to this event in New York, right? It’ll be sooooo great! I mean, I also wanted to post to let you know that this New York event that was going to happen, a different one, isn’t happening now! But don’t worry New York, it’ll be rescheduled and happen again soon!
God, isn’t living in New York great????
Mean / 19 Comments
November 17th, 2012 / 9:47 pm

Bourbakists for memory, unite! Jacques Roubaud’s MATHEMATICS: (a novel)

Mathematics: (a novel)
by Jacques Roubaud
Dalkey Archive, 2012
312 Pages, $14.95
Buy from Dalkey Archive or Amazon
Jacques Roubaud, a premiere intellectual force throughout the history, to some extent, of French letters, as they say, is primarily known to American readers as a member of the OuLiPo and a poet. Roubaud’s reach, however, spans far beyond these simple categorical realms, throughout his massive ouevre of work, much of which has actually be translated into English.
Mathematics:, while recalling ideas, perhaps, that come up in specific OuLiPian exercises, is not inherently an OuLiPian work, nor is it a work of poetry. The cover of the book, in Dalkey’s translation, presents the work as “a novel,” and to an extent, within the heterodoxical forms that a novel can take, it is indeed a novel, but in the bookstore-culture of American publishing, it would find a place more comfortable within that loose genre of the memoir, the autobiography, the academic term of ‘creative non-fiction.’
The book at hand is the third “branch,” as Roubaud himself calls them, of a larger project dealing with the issue of memory and also, really, Roubaud’s life. And Roubaud has had a full intellectual life, in his work and his academic career, his interactions with the French literati, his presence in the OuLiPo, his poetry and, as it turns out, his career in mathematics.
Copy on the back cover of the book presents the idea that Roubaud is one of the few writers who has successfully bridged the gap between left brain and right brain thinking, hyperbole to an extent because I would insist that there is not such a clear divide in the generation of texts, but there’s a literal application in Roubaud’s mathematics career, and how it’s affected his interactions with the OuLiPo. But, regardless, despite exploring the branch of his own life that is in tangent with his career in mathematics, this insistence is no more than a structural system for Roubaud to explore memory within this specific realm of his own personal history.
There’s nothing too exciting about the literal events that occur within this branch of Roubaud’s life if you’re not connected to a historical exploration of the development of mathematics, specifically in France, from the early 1950s to the mid-1960s. It is interesting to read about, but there’s nothing specific to launch onto–so really, the question is, what’s the draw to read 300 pages of Roubaud’s life as it connects with mathematics?
The answer is simple, and beyond any sort of right brain articulation–Roubaud writes with a pleasantry that moves swiftly, a story-teller of diversions, splitting his own history into the rhizome of existence, a refusal of a straight narrative, an abundance of (as Roubaud himself points out) non-essential details, simply the creation of a narrative space.
There is no explicitly beautiful language present, as it seems that Roubaud saves that for his more highly emotional works (the incredible beauty that’s present in some thing black, Roubaud’s book of poetry written after the death of his wife Alix Cleo Roubaud, is nowhere to be found here). Instead we move through the maze of memory, constructed within a labyrinthine Proustian totality. Roubaud addresses the reader throughout the work, explaining the project, offering his insistence on the work both as exercise and project, aiming towards, perhaps, an unspoken totality, but this is not the totality that Mallarmé was after with his notes toward le livre, rather this is just a re-articulation of a full life in the form of the book.
Roubaud himself being an interestingly detached character, the scenes that occur are both instantly understandable and curiously casual–in fact, Roubaud’s decision to arbitrarily move from poetry and language into mathematics is an understandable one: there’s this thought, perhaps, a thought that I share at least, that in some way mathematics offers an answer to all the questions we as writers have; mathematics offers a totality to these great ideas of life. None of us could say how, and even if we were to attain the level of higher mathematics required to understand the really heavy and earth-shattering proofs that have arose within mathematics throughout its continued development, the lever of pure abstraction wouldn’t offer any solace. But it’s a quantifiable goal, an idea that while maybe we won’t understand the answer, we’ll at least have it.
And through this there is hardly nothing present outside of Roubaud’s interactions with mathematics–there are tangents that arise, tangents of humanity, but only when they’re linked to the mathematical narrative, through people and places met and involved through classes, other professors, drinking soda in the army, reading treatises on algebra in the desert during the war, watching a woman always wait for the train at the same time; all of these things don’t add up to a point, they simple contribute to a life, life as a whole, as something imperfect and incomplete, as something that can be interesting exclusively in the way it’s told to someone else.
November 1st, 2012 / 8:55 pm


The Memoirs of JonBenet by Kathy Acker
by Michael du Plessis
Les Figues Press, 2012
103 pages / $15.00 buy from Les Figues Press

1. I have only read one true-crime novel or account or whatever they’re called within the genre–if you count Peter Sotos as a true crime author (why would you?) I guess this is a false statement–a book on JonBenet, and it was sort of astounding and blew my mind. I know most of these true crime books are about two steps away from conspiracy theorists & 9/11 truthers, but ultimately the way evidence is presented, if not actual evidence, creates a new world of fiction that is both troubling and astounding.
2. And as such I’ve had a JonBenet obsession ever since. There’s a gross collaboration going on within the recounting of the JonBenet narrative: the young white princess of middle america challenged by a vicious S/M monster snuff ring kiddie porn mystery. And perhaps the perpetrator was her parents? It’s like the pool party at the Hard Rock Casino in Vegas; this is the true avant-garde of American letters, the fuckTness of the popular zeitgeist.
3. Then there’s Kathy Acker, who I want to haunt me like the sun does, and she does sometimes, and she surrounds the air of the people I eat dinner with here in San Francisco.
4. Kathy Acker is a force invented by both fiction and second-hand statements that act as a guide when the bullshit becomes too much.
5. Have I mentioned there is also a chapter where JonBenet as Kathy Acker (or the other way around) is O from Story of O (which retains such a more beautiful sounding title en francais, Histoire D’O) and Rene is nowhere to be found and certainly NOT Little Lord Fauntelroy but rather Boulder is Roissy somehow and the carpet is all similar and the entire facade crumbles under the watchful eyes of O I mean JonBenet I mean Kathy Acker I mean Michael Du Plessis.
6. Right now, while writing this, I am hungry and want to go make myself a sandwich but I’m trying to stave off the hunger until this is finished because JonBenet is a doll and a doll is not real and dolls do not have to eat to sustain themselves and TO BE REAL IS THE WORST.
7. Nothing in this novel moves in a linear fashion. Events happen and then other events happen but there is certainly not any discernible narrative arc unless you literally construct one out of “your ass” which, I suppose, is possible, but ultimately not within the diegesis of the novel itself.
8. Of course what I mean by the above point is that within this realm of circumstantial ‘realism’ that may or may not be what the point of contention on this blog even is lately, it’s ultimately futile when you realize that modernity is over (jesus christ get over it) and we are all so post-grand-narrative that the way things move is LIKE THIS, okay? Yesterday I went to work I ate a pretzel I took like three shits I sat on some stairs I read a Franck André Jammes book I took the BART to my boyfriend’s house and then I passed out without having sex because I was feeling exhausted HI THIS IS HOW NARRATIVE WORKS IN REAL LIFE, WHAT THE HELL IS THIS REALISM SHIT.
9. It’s like the way narrative works in this book is how Kathy Acker understood narrative which means, both, that Du Plessis understands Acker and that both Acker and Du Plessis understand narrative.
10. What I mean by this is the movement in this book is gorgeous but stilted which makes it even more beautiful. Why are we reading? READ MORE >
October 18th, 2012 / 2:40 pm

Everything might still be “fucked” but I had simply forgotten why we bother

So a little over a month ago I posted a short polemic entitled “Everything is fucked and why do we bother.” Two days later the internet service at my apartment went out and I was sans computer-internet for almost a month. Within this month of being internetless, I read this book and remembered why we bother.
Both Rachel Hyman & Roxane Gay wrote what I took to be either direct or oblique responses to my post. Because I wrote my post while I was angry and broke and frustrated I failed to actually articulate what it was that I was actually driving at, which is often the case with blog writing & my incapacity to see beyond the short-sighted desire to bring up a point.
One thing that’s important, I think, is that at this point, specifically within the micro-realms of “Alt-Lit” (which is even more enclosed than the containing category of “Indie Lit” (and yeah, this sort of insistence upon naming this shit while we’re in the midst of it is both historicizing and annoying, really, but at this point it’s an easy short-cut to meaning)), starting a lit journal or publishing in a lit journal is not inherently ‘exposing your work to more people.’ It might be, I mean I suppose there’s truth to the, but the inclusive nature of this sort of environment almost presupposes that–and this is perhaps more specific to Alt Lit than Indie Lit–you couldn’t just put the work up on your own blog or tumblr & link it on facebook and have any more or fewer readers than having it published on a small tumblr or blogspot based lit journal. Functionally, this is the same. And if the rallying cry behind all of this is “we’re tired of gatekeepers!” then why deal with gatekeepers in any capacity?
I think the idea of the potentiality offered by our current technology should go beyond that. This quote from the aforementioned book really blew my mind:

This is beautiful. The idea of self-publishing not as a vanity, but as a freedom, is really, I think, the key to understanding what’s been happening, and I think, potentially, an awareness of this can lead us forward. But then again, one might ask, if you’re putting your own work out into a void, what’s the utility in that?
Sometimes it’s hard for me to remember what’s important because I’m constantly racked by poverty, constantly struggling to figure out a way to pay my rent, buy my bus pass, pay for food–because I spend an excessive amount of time working on writing, design, photography, art shit. I like to read. I don’t want to pour my life into a job I hate so I can stop worrying about money. I’ve more or less come to terms with the fact that I will most likely remain poor for my entire life, but this doesn’t stop me from really wondering if it would ever be possible to make money writing and making the things I write and make.
But, that’s a detour: I think the important thing that comes from lit journals, group blogs, commenting on one another’s work–when it works out like it should and could–is the development of community. We’re so far past the point of viewing the internet as an imagined community (at least, most people are, thank god), that the community one builds virtually can be just as helpful and reassuring and comforting and enlivening as a community built in the flesh. I, personally, like to maintain both, and find myself most satisfied with my life when I can commune in and out of both, but I know–because I used to live in the middle of nowhere–that sometimes the virtual communities are the only communities we have.
The idea of the lit journal as a community builder is, I think, a far more utilitarian one than anything else. We are writers and artists and readers and lovers and we want to share what we have to offer and take in what others have to offer. Instead of offering advice to writers to only submit to magazines that they’re familiar with and think their work would fit, perhaps it’d be better to offer the advice in a re-contextualized manner: find a writing community that you’d like to be a part of and see if you can make it work.
The community I’ve found myself in both via the internet and the flesh-world over the last few years has repeatedly astounding me with how warm it is.
I’m still concerned with art meaning something, with my own art meaning something, because art, as I’ve said before, means more to me than anything else does. Life without art is fucking nihilistic. So do we need to ascribe meaning to art? Yes. I think we do. Art doesn’t have to mean the same thing to everyone, but it should mean something. If we refuse to admit that art has meaning, we risk reducing it to something unnecessary, which is what’s leading to the abolishment of arts funding in public schools at an elementary & secondary level. The way literature is taught, often, is that a work of writing has a specific meaning, and this is how we read this meaning, and this is specifically what this allegory or metaphor means, etc. This is a closed system of reading. It establishes art as a code that needs to be deciphered. It leads to a passive mode of critique when it comes to all forms of art throughout all popular culture.
In a brilliantly expansive article on the documentary film Room 237, Jonathan Rosenbaum says the following:
“One way of removing the threat and challenge of art is reducing it to a form of problem-solving that believes in single, Eureka-style solutions. If works of art are perceived as safes to be cracked or as locks that open only to skeleton keys, their expressive powers are virtually limited to banal pronouncements of overt or covert meanings -– the notion that art is supposed to say something as opposed to do something.”
The idea that art is supposed to say something as opposed to do something is sort of the cornerstone of my approach to art, though I often address this using terms like “affect” and “experiential”. There are many words that can aim toward the same ideas. This is what’s often great about language, and how after years and years of communication, we haven’t run out of things to say. Building a community is something that art can do, and it verifies a noble cause. It belies anti-meaning. Art is and can be and should be everything. Communication is a cornerstone of art.
If you are not actively working to make the world a more beautiful place in some capacity, then you have no room in my reality.
Behind the Scenes / 12 Comments
October 17th, 2012 / 5:14 pm


by Jean-Philippe Toussaint
Dalkey Archive, Reprint 2012
104 pages / $12.95  Buy from Dalkey Archive or Amazon

Jean-Philippe Toussaint is a novelist who, in his initial success with publication, was often grouped alongside other novelists which many critics were considering the “post-nouveau roman writers,” writers who had, persumably, grown up reading the New Novel authors during their formative years while the New Novels were the pinnacle of literature in France. They were often marked by a return to a more, shall we say, straight-forward narrative, a return to character, but still displayed a marked attention to everything that the New Novel broke down.
It is, perhaps, not surprising then, that upon reading Toussaint’s short novel Reticence, I couldn’t help but think of Alain Robbe-Grillet’s seminal The Voyeur, published over 40 years before Toussaint’s novel (released in France in 1991, though just seeing English translation in 2012). While Toussaint’s novel avoids the fetishization & perversion that’s present “between the lines” of Robbe-Grillet’s novel (something that was seemingly never remarked upon by the author whom Barthes’ claimed wrote purely objectively), Toussaint’s novel also seems to be a detective novel which, similar to Robbe-Grillet’s novel, may or may not be missing the crime in its entirety, recalled only obliquely–recalled? or invented out of a reticence?
October 11th, 2012 / 12:00 pm


by Tan Lin
Counterpath Press, 2011
120 pages / $17.95  Buy from SPD or Amazon

In HEATH COURSE PAK Tan Lin continues his exploration of the ambient novel, focusing on the idea of how a book works and how a reader reacts to a book (literally a printed object) when its content bears no direct progression from A to B and instead offers tangential and obliquely-linked plagiarisms, outsourced ephemera, and meta-content.
Without a vague curiousity towards the book as an object, and how the book as an object works, there is little of interest here–this is a mass-produced artists’ book, battling with the world of conceptualism, occasionally tittering into poetry via the banality of its content (this is not surprisingly as Lin himself ‘began,’ shall we say, as a slightly-more straight-forward poet). It’s certainly interesting in theory, but in practice there’s no way to avoid the fact that reading the book, in the way one reads a traditional novel, is boring.
But, perhaps that’s a moot point. Lin’s intent seems to be related to, as he explains in an interview both in the book and in interviews various places over the internet, an interest in developing an ambient novel, in the way that Eno accidentally created an entire genre of music by releasing Music for Airports (though this in itself is also an arguable point, it draws an interesting point of comparison– Eno’s ambience still carried a significantly melodic mode, perhaps we could insist that ‘melody’ in music is ‘narrative’ in The Book–there is no melody in Tan Lin’s work, unless we stretch the metaphor to extend towards serial music, perhaps we can find something).
The book is interesting in that it’s specifically not interesting, it’s successful because of the way it fails, it succeeds so adequetely at what it sets out to do that as a book it becomes a mere chore, an exercise. But the stamina required is beautiful, and Lin’s trajectory through the world of literature, as an outlier questioning things completely different than anybody else, is entirely necessary.
October 9th, 2012 / 12:00 pm

Slime Dynamics

Slime Dynamics
by Ben Woodard
Zero Books, September 2012
84 pages / $14.95  Buy from Amazon

Ben Woodard’s SLIME DYNAMICS, recently released by Zero Books, offers a continuing exploration of subjects and modes of thinking developed over the last few years within the realm of philosophy that has donned the title of “speculative realism.” Woodard concerns himself primarily, both in this book and in his academic engagements, with the ideas of Dark Vitalism, which, as the book posits is
…the sickening realization of an inhospitable universe, stating that the production of life as an accidental event in time which is then contorted and bent by the banality of space, of our particular (and just as accidental) universal geometry and then further ravaged by accident, context, feedback and the degradation of wear and age.
Taking Dark Vitalism as its launching point Woodard continues to trace the idea of slime as “a viable physical and metaphysical object necessary to produce a eralist bio-philosophy void of anthrocentricity.” A turn away from anthromorphism, away from humanism perhaps, is another trade mark of developing thought, as it recenters the organicism of the world, the infinitude (outside of the phenomenological existence of human-beings–aka what came before Beings, what can come after, what this means). These continuing strands are carried throughout the short study in true continental style, vis a vis literary horror fiction, horror movies, video games and comics. This presents a fun context, at least for someone as genre obsessed as I am, to explore larger concepts.
While ultimately not utterly convincing in its case-studies, Woodard’s book does prove to be a fully engaging read and an interesting footnote on the development of speculative realism, specifically that of dark vitalism and the uncanny terror of the world carrying on without us.
October 4th, 2012 / 12:00 pm

Everything is fucked and why do we bother

I was talking to poet Zack Haber last night about lit journals and shit, and how I really fail to see the purpose of them any more, how entirely arbitrary the process is, etc. I offered the idea that lit journals are futile as literally nobody reads them except for writers, and generally writers who are interested in being published by said magazine. There are, of course, exceptions, there are a handful of lit journals that end up on the shelves of Barnes & Noble and Borders (hell, I casually picked up a copy of The Chicago Review there and that’s how I discovered Barbara Guest) that I presume people pick up & read, whatever.
There’s a difference in the economic approach to the world of literature and that of art– the systemic structure of art dictates that there is inherently a buyers market, that part of the 1% that is ever-so-slightly less evil and uses their immense and unbelievable riches to purchase art, thereby creating a somewhat sustainable market for artists. The difference in the art world and the lit world, of course, is that in the art world the unique vision/experimentation/cutting edge realness (whatever) is privileged, becomes famous, makes hella money, whereas in the lit world you have to basically be or imitate some permutation of a voice of New Yorker fiction slash Dave Eggers to make money. This is fucked.
Anyway the initial point of this is that I actually no longer understand why 95% of lit journals exist. Editors publish to their taste, and if they make any other claims they’re fucking lying. I have an online lit journal because I enjoy web design and I like coming up with themes that I’d like to read. It’s entirely myopic, to an extent. I run a small press because I like designing and making books. As to why I write, well, I’ve written an actually thought-out post about that before, and I forget sometimes, but ultimately it’s because I enjoy it, I like to put things in the world that I wish existed. I also think literature can be communication. Zack said he didn’t care if only other writers read his work. I think I do, but I’m not sure.
Anyway that’s the end, no moral.
Random / 52 Comments
September 10th, 2012 / 4:11 pm

Hanging Out vs. Being Hanged: An Interview with Jarett Kobek

Jarett Kobek is the author of ATTA, from Semiotext(e), and the forthcoming If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? on Penny-Ante Editions.
If You Won’t Read…, often referred to by Kobek as “The Sex Tapes Book,” is a collection of the coincidental dialog from celebrity sex tapes (and some other hyper-media-based ‘tapes’) transcribed and presented as a text. Included alongside these transcriptions is the criminal records of the celebrity whose dialog is on display. Riding a fine line between conceptual writing, humor, gossip, and ‘alt-lit,’ the book ends up being hilariously funny while resonating with an intense cultural relevance.
I sat down with Jarett one afternoon at a café in San Francisco’s Mission District to talk about his new book. The hour-long conversation, covering everything from Normal Mailer to Jennifer Lopez to Miley Cyrus’s shamanic trip, is available to listen to below:
Interview with Jarett Kobek, Part 1
Interview with Jarett Kobek, Part 2
Pre-order If You Won’t Read, Then Why Should I Write? at Penny-Ante Editions.
Author Spotlight / 2 Comments
August 27th, 2012 / 6:41 pm


My flight back to SF got canceled so I’m in a hotel in Savannah, Georgia, drinking tall-boys of Miller High Life and I am going to “Liveblog” Hellraiser: Revelations, which, according to Jarett Kobek who has encouraged me to do this, was shot for $500k, and very quickly, simply out of a desire to renew the license.
Random / 6 Comments
August 10th, 2012 / 11:43 pm


Events / 4 Comments
July 10th, 2012 / 4:03 pm


Random / 6 Comments
June 14th, 2012 / 3:20 pm

Hans Rickheit & the Incurable Souls Lost to the Rest of Society

by Hans Rickheit
Fantagraphic Books, April 2012
144 / $18.99 Buy from Fantagraphics

The common exclusion of the worst (folly, vice, indolence . . .) seems to me to denote servility. The servile intelligence serves folly, but folly is sovereign: I can change nothing with it.”
—Georges Bataille, Method of Meditation
The folly is my favorite architectural conceit. A building divorced from any sort of purpose, often considered mere decoration; there are architects that have turned the idea of the folly into a sort of space of affect. It seems that the folly gave way to paper architecture, to a developed insistence upon the way space can make someone feel, whether or not the space is constructed out of any sort of desire for utility.
Hans Rickheit’s book, Folly, also serves no utility. Most of the miniature narratives (if you could call them as such), find voided figures wandered through bizarre architectural constructions that seem somewhere between abandoned factory and mad-scientist laboratory, infinite labyrinthine hallways that lead to abject bio-mechanical ‘machines’ that spit out effluvia and viscera. Often, these masses of flesh and organ are alive, they produce sounds, sometimes they serve their own function (often more as that of “sustenance” or offering, battery power), always useless. They are poked and prodded, they squeak and pus.
May 29th, 2012 / 6:37 pm


The Number and the Siren
by Quentin Meillassoux
Urbanomic/Sequence Press, May 2012
306pp. / £16.99/$25.95
Buy from Urbanomic or Sequence
Meillassoux made a major splash in the world of contemporary philosophy with the publication (and more specifically, the English language translation) of his pivotal work, After Finitude: An Essay on the Necessity of Contingency. Ostensibly launching a new realm of thought organized between the titles of “speculative realism” and beyond, the book posited the idea that, despite what the last few centuries of philosophy has decided, there is a world that can and indeed has existed outside of any phenomenological experience of it; to assume that the world is dependent upon the humans who inhabit it ignores the idea that the world turns whether or not we, as humans, exist on it. And to do so it meticulously examines how this is possible with what have been traditionally described as the hard sciences; math, physical science, geology, etc.
The Number and the Siren, on the other hand, turns away from the world and instead focuses on a singular work of poetry that already has a hold over the 20th and 21st centuries—that of Mallarmé’s game changing Un Coup de Dés jamais n’abolira le Hasard. Mallarmé’s poem has been an insistent staple in the development of poetry since its publication, but Meillassoux’s approach to the work is both unique and, truly, astounding. When considering the diegesis of a work of literature, we look at a book as its own internal world, in some modes of thought as a self-contained entity oblivious to the outside. This is both an often short-sighted AND revelatory method of reading a text.
May 24th, 2012 / 3:53 pm

ToBS3: Alcoholism vs the guy who goes 20 minutes over suggested reading time

[matchup #49 in Tournament of Bookshit]
The year was 2012 and we were all under the assumption that, in some way or another, the world would end soon. We knew that the Mayans had nothing to do with it because, as we all know, when one calendar ends we just buy a new one, we don’t assume the worst. Capitalism might collapse, geotraumatic insistence might just find us no longer rooted on the earth, it’s too bad NASA itself is gone. All that’s left to feel is our own collective solar body moving through time and space.
We find our bodies in bars, we find our bodies consuming alcohol, we find our bodies consuming more alcohol, we find ourselves going outside for a cigarette, we watch stars plummet and all make the same wish; that we can sustain, that the world won’t end, that our accelerated reality stops, calms down, pauses for a second. READ MORE >
Contests / 2 Comments
May 17th, 2012 / 12:03 pm

Nothing is True, Everything is Permitted

But these operations do not occur in neutral territory, Kaye was quick to point out. Burroughs treats all conditions of existence as results of cosmic conflicts between competing intelligence agencies. In making themselves real, entities (must) also manufacture realities for themselves: realities whose potency often depends upon the stupefaction, subjugation and enslavement of populations, and whose existence is in conflict with other ‘reality programs’. Burroughs’s fiction deliberately renounces the status of plausible representation in order to operate directly upon this plane of magical war. Where realism merely reproduces the currently dominant reality program from inside, never identifying the existence of the program as such, Burroughs seeks to get outside the control codes in order to dismantle and rearrange them. Every act of writing is a sorcerous operation, a partisan action in a war where multitudes of factual events are guided by the powers of illusion … (WV 253-4). Even representative realism participates – albeit unknowingly – in magical war, collaborating with the dominant control system by implicitly endorsing its claim to be the only possible reality.
From the controllers’ point of view, Kaye said, ‘it is of course imperative that Burroughs is thought of as merely a writer of fiction. That’s why they have gone to such lengths to sideline him into a ghetto of literary experimentation.’
Power Quote / 12 Comments
May 12th, 2012 / 12:10 pm


White Horse
Multi-authored chapbook (Including work by writers: Harold Abramowitz, Saehee Cho, John Cleary, Traci O Connor, Jennifer Denrow, Andrew Farkas, Sandy Florian, Paul Gacioch, Evelyn Hampton, Paul Hardacre, HL Hazuka, Kristen Jorgenson, Carrie-Sinclair Katz, Bob Marcacci, rob mclennan, Shane Michalik, Megan Milks, Cathi Murphy, Eireene Nealand, Kristen Orser, Kristin Prevallet, Zach Savich, Michael Sikkema, Jason Snyder, & James Wagner)
Sidebrow, March 2012
78 pages / $12  Buy from Sidebrow

Being a combinatory effort from a number of authors, it should strike one as no surprise that White Horse seems to be a dialogic narrative. The title remaining somewhat obtuse, save for a specific reference near the end (and tho how can we assume a meaning over all), haunts the work as a whole. In consideration of a multi-authored novel there are two routes one can take—the first being to consider the book as a book, authorless, the second being to consider the book a work of collaboration.
While I had a hope that the book would read authorless, it’s unfortunate that this is not the case. The authors are given attribution at the end of the book, and there are striking divides within the stylistic approaches each few pages take. One can feel the authors who repeat. This posits the book ultimately within the realm of collaboration, and ultimately more of a multi-person dialog than anything else. A novel experiment, it ends up seeming more of an exercise in curation rather than a coherent whole.
April 20th, 2012 / 12:00 pm

I Have A Story For You.

The story goes like this: Earth is captured by a technocapital singularity as renaissance rationalitization and oceanic navigation lock into commoditization take-off. Logistically accelerating techno-economic interactivity crumbles social order in auto-sophisticating machine runaway. As markets learn to manufacture intelligence, politics modernizes, upgrades paranoia, and tries to get a grip.
The body count climbs through a series of globewars. Emergent Planetary Commercium trashes the Holy Roman Empire, the Napoleonic Continental System, the Second and Third Reich, and the Soviet International, cranking-up world disorder through compressing phases. Deregulation and the state arms-race each other into cyberspace.By the time soft-engineering slithers out of its box into yours, human security is lurching into crisis. Cloning, lateral genodata transfer, transversal replication, and cyberotics, flood in amongst a relapse onto bacterial sex.Neo-China arrives from the future.
Hypersynthetic drugs click into digital voodoo.

Word Spaces / 3 Comments
April 20th, 2012 / 3:15 am


I just emptied my checking account to pay my taxes and was considering drowning myself in the ocean, but then my friend sent me a link to this video and life seemed worth living again

Music / 21 Comments
April 17th, 2012 / 5:24 pm


By Jon Leon
Futurepoem Books, May 2012
88 Pages / $16.00 Buy from SPD

In consideration of the work of Jon Leon, it is necessary to consider Jon Leon, the poet, simultaneously as an apostle and a construction. Anna Kaven (nee Helen Emily Woods) ended up, at a particular point in her career as a novelist, changing her name from that which she was born with to a name she had invented for a character in one her own books—Jon Leon has always simply insisted on living as a character in his work, as the character in his works.
His poetry.
There is a level of both the inter-textual and the extra-textual interaction present throughout his entire oeuvré; something that becomes apparent throughout his career. As Dan Hoy points out in his case-study of Leon, there’s a particular overlap of reality with a poetic construction of reality:
“We mixed agitprop, erotic dance, and horror to construct a total environment of focused bliss.” Jon Leon, Hit Wave
I’ll risk substituting tropes here and suggest the above sentence from Jon Leon’s Hit Wave could be taken somewhat literally as a nod to his overall objective (construct a total environment of focused bliss = enable and induce the experience of the impossible) and strategy (mixing agitprop, erotic dance, and horror = forming a triangulation of world, life, and nothingness).
April 17th, 2012 / 11:17 am

“A little dispirited”: a eulogy for 2011

Author Spotlight / 18 Comments
April 6th, 2012 / 10:06 pm


These samples are from an ongoing series of Internet based digital videos. These seemingly infinite looping videos articulate the Internet as space of viewership that is increasingly becoming a platform to represent, archive, and reproduce the real. The content within these digital tableaus are based from the contents within drawings I create before documenting/repurposing them into the aforesaid videos. There is no physical (institutionalized) space that is designated for exhibition exclusivity for this body of work, as they may be viewed anywhere the Internet or a computer is available.
[Click images to view]

*Finite_Skin uses a zoom user interface which allows a viewer to explore the details of the drawing.
Author Spotlight / 9 Comments
April 6th, 2012 / 7:56 pm

Two from PictureBox, Inc

by CF
PictureBox, 2011
62 Pages / $30 Buy from PictureBox
CF is one of the few people—successfully, in my opinion—working in comics today with a distinct style that is simultaneously distinctly his (though often copied), while also reminiscent of the historical narrative of comics that came before him; recalling specifically Windsor McCay’s work from the beginning of the 20th century, and the multitude of Euro-comics in the 70s and early 80s (think Guido Crepax, Milo Manera or even a primitive Moebius). There’s a hint of what could be considered a naïve sense of character proportion, an acute attention to architectural shapes, and an abject (“melting”) sort of representation.
April 5th, 2012 / 5:00 pm

An Arab Melancholia

An Arab Melancholia
by Abdellah Taïa
Semiotext(e), March 2012
141 Pages / $14.95 Buy from MIT Press or Amazon
In consideration of the memoir, or autobiographical non-fiction, It could be said that I take issue with the genre. Generally. As a mode of writing, the market tends to be overrun by a multitude of examples of the dominant narrative—that of the straight white man—and when the Other breaks into the limelight of that best-sellers table at your local Barnes & Noble, it’s generally within the context of a very approachable, almost white-washed context. Books for the middle-class to buy and read and convince themselves that they know about the world. I realize this might sound unduly harsh, but my experience has lead to the building of this experience, whether it’s fair to the publishing world as a whole or not.
I think that Semiotext(e) demonstrates an awareness of the shortcomings associated with the overarching title of “memoir”—instead of using the term in any of their press materials for Taïa’s book, the term “autobiographical novel” is used. This is an important semantic justification, in that it removes the book from the context of the zeitgeist that it would immediately find itself outside of.
But perhaps form follows function, as Taïa himself is a gay Morrocan writing explicitly about his experiences. Not only is he doing this, he also seems to be the first “openly gay autobiographical writer published in Morroco.” This is honest writing from a marginalized position.
In her article, “Experimentalism, Why?,” Camille Roy offers the suggestion that ‘experimental’ writing, being inherently marginalized, is a perfect mode of writing for the marginalized writer to explore. Taïa’s prose is ostensibly straight-forward—he eschews linearity, sure, piecing his narrative together by presenting fragments of the past out of order—but the language itself displays characters (people) in conflict, events, dialog, psychological insight. And there is, in this case, nothing problematic about that.
The novel begins by invoking Taïa’s childhood, and importantly, offers an incident which immediately removes Taïa, as the first-person narrator, from the conext of the ‘victim,’ particularly vis-a-vis his homosexuality. Considering that the rest of the book addresses, ostensibly, a break-up that marks Taïa far more than he’d like, this is a wise textual move. It refuses the reader the opportunity to develop a sentimental empathy; we cannot pity Taïa because we know he is strong—his sadness is a considered sadness, a larger issue than simply the immediate frustration encountered when facing the reality that YOU love someone who does not love YOU back. This is a symptomatic melancholia, the vague opportunism of the world when it encounters someone (our narrator, Taïa), who stays stubbornly romantic.
The tableau offered to launch the book offers an almost ecstastic holiness, a self-considered realization, a contra-monde mode of being decided early-on in youth—an ecstasy interrupted only by death. A death of the self, both literally and metaphorically.
Death haunts the book, or perhaps just that unknown that we call death when no other language seems adequate. An accidental electrocution, a wavering plane, the crushed spirit. Taïa pulls through all of these paroxysms with a renewed will, a hope, a decisive intent. Perhaps this is not the best narrative to inject into middle-America’s current “It Gets Better” campaign/obsession (problematic in its own right). But this reality is what the book leaves with its readers; an insistence that through everything there is always something else that follows. It’s neither a hesitant optimism nor a beaten-down acceptance, a nihilism; it’s something else, something more human. The weight of the world cannot be taken on as the Sisyphean boulder, but rather we have to just forget about the world and make sure we’re moving forward.
March 29th, 2012 / 6:59 pm


I understand the necessity of addressing the issue of gender imbalance in the publishing industry–I understand that this is something that isn’t being talked about enough and needs to be talked about more, but part of me always wants to insist that the entire program that is feeding this dichotomy is where the real problem is. Positing the issue of statistical counts of biological Male vs. Female bodies in the publishing industry is excluding any outliers to this constructed binary, the opposition of Male to Female bodies inherently erasing any room for discussion of the gray area. That which lies between, or somewhere on a spectrum outside of this opposition, is completely eradicated.
Of course, statistical analysis of anything, where numbers reduce actualities and items must be rounded down or up because we as humans understand that .4 of a person doesn’t mean anything–this is a structural analysis that always seems to miss the forest for the trees. Even within the realm of women-bodied authored writing, there is (often) an insistent phallocentric pathos that leads the narrative, generally within the construct of heterosexual relationships (the penetrative function of the penis is ostensibly what we all actually mean when we use the term “patriarchy”). If we want this overwrought homogeneity of patriarchal rule to end we cannot simply count on the binary of female-bodied versus male-bodied authors divorced from their content to be the deciding factor that we focus on. This changes nothing. The function of phallocentrism immediately ignores any sort of feminist thought, immediately assuming the role of the prick as presence and the vagina as void/absence (though we must consider the fact that Kathy Acker is one of the few people I am aware of who was able to subvert the dominant paradigm while writing what is arguably phallocentric sex).
Word Spaces / 56 Comments
March 15th, 2012 / 4:07 am

Happy Valentines Day

4 years ago today, while I was sitting in a video-art class watching Ryan Trecartin videos on youtube, 26 students were shot at the university I was attending.
It’s strange, because it’s not something I really keep at the front of my memory. I had forgotten until I was scrolling through my facebook feed & noticed that a lot of my college friends had changed their profile picture to a black ribbon thing with the NIU logo on it. Then, of course, I remembered. “Oh yeah,” I paused, “school shooting.”
Even shortly after it happened it became a weird dematerialized fever-dream of a memory. My relatives whom I don’t regularly see would greet me with reverence 5 months later at my brother’s graduation party; at first I would be confused, and then I would remember. It seemed so distant.
I lived in a sort of art-kid “party house” in 2008. Our house was filthy, and we threw parties every single friday. The shooting happened on a thursday, but for some reason (perhaps the fact that it was Valentine’s Day & all of us had no class the next day) we had planned to have a party that night. We had the party anyway. In the shock of the event none of us had any idea of what we should do, what we even could do, other than drink. The night before my roommate and her other best friend had spent the evening drinking Old Style and cutting out paper hearts to tape to our walls. The party was over-run by a disjunctive zone of affect, obviously, heightened all the more by the fact that there were hundreds of paper hearts all over our walls.
I don’t remember the party being of note at all, outside of the fact that I actually have some video footage from the party because I had to shoot it for a project I was working on at the time. It’s weird to think about when I watch the video that it ended up in.
My social circle really only were close with a single person who was in the lecture hall that the shooting occurred. The young man was neither shot nor injured, but not surprisingly he was pretty fucked up after the fact. We rarely saw him again afterwards; I’m not sure what ended up happening to him.
I’m in a hammock in New Mexico right now, and I couldn’t feel any further away from DeKalb, Illinois as it existed four years ago. Jarett Kobek, in a talk given at City Lights Books in San Francisco about his brilliant book ATTA, said about nine-eleven (sort of paraphrasing here): [it] was not an epoch-changing event, it was just a crime undertaken by a few foreigners, … a massive security failure. I feel similar to the experience of a school-shooting, my experience of it somewhere between the realm of the private and the zone of the public. I was not in the classroom but I was there, and it’d be hard to deny that a vague paranoia overcame all of the school’s students in the weeks to follow.
Two days after the school shooting, in my bedroom at five am, I made an animated gif to sort of ‘deal’ with the entire circumstance.
Random / 19 Comments
February 14th, 2012 / 9:58 pm

Don’t Write a Novel

You can always take notes, Houellebecq had told him when talking about his career as a novelist, and try to string together sentences; but to launch yourself into the writing of a novel you have to wait for all of that to become compact and irrefutable. You have to wait for the appearance of an authentic core of necessity. You never decide to write a novel, he had added; a book, according to him, was like a block of concrete that had decided to set, and the author’s freedom to act was limited to the fact of being there, and of waiting in frightening inaction, for the process to start by itself.
–Michel Houellebecq, The Map and the Territory
Power Quote / 21 Comments
February 10th, 2012 / 5:18 pm
“Poetry is nothing but a certain astonishment before the world and the means for this astonishment.”
Andre du Bouchet, 1954


Have you ever been hypnotized? Tell me about it. I was hypnotized at my highschool “after-prom” party thing and it was amazing. The best way I would describe is that the while you are hypnotized the man who is telling you to do things has very good ideas. Werner Herzog hypnotized his entire cast to film Heart of Glass, which (despite my predisposition towards Klaus Kinski) is one of my favorite of Herzog’s films. In H.G. Lewis’s The Wizard of Gore, Montag the Magnificient hypnotizes all who watch him, even those watching him through a television, so he can kill people on stage under the guise of magic. I am interested in magic mediated by technology. There are so many books about “the language of power,” etc, and it all seems aimed at becoming a CEO or like how to seduce someone. I like the idea of mastering language to the point where it can be manipulated into the creation of an experience that transcends the page. I think it would be amazing to read a book that literally held power, could hypnotize a reader with no external control other than language. Is my desire for this book, this book that can hypnotize, fascistic? What if a book masquerading as narrative fiction held an ulterior narrative that hypnotized you into quitting smoking, overcoming trauma, controlling binge eating, etc? Is the moral operative of hypnosis what excuses it? I believe there’d be merit in the use of text-based hypnosis to create experience.
I Like __ A Lot / 21 Comments
February 3rd, 2012 / 2:56 pm

destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy destroy

Why is empathy more important than affect to most readers (/film viewers)? Why would you want to vicariously experience something through a character rather than experiencing [the thing] yourself? When someone says, “I like this because I can relate to it,” doesn’t that just insist upon a passivity, a refusal to actively do? In 2012 we launch our quest to destroy representation that aims at empathy. It doesn’t matter what something means, all that matters is that we are feeling things at the zero-degree. Fuck the distance, the gap.
Technology / 43 Comments
February 2nd, 2012 / 8:45 pm


the stupid squirrel collective
001:time for a bed time
I saw my father the other day, and he told me he had a bedtime now. Together we laughed and began to talk about how our lives have changed since time has passed. We decided that time was a good thing and that bedtimes were good things as well. He told me his bedtime was the only thing he looked forward to now since he retired and lost most of his sight. When I questioned him on this statement he simply looked at me and smiled. Today I lost my vision, henceforth I lost my job. I am tired now. I want a bedtime.
002:atari and the rise of the video game empire
once there was an imaginary man named atari and he liked to count and he counted to the number one-hundred and eighty-two and he decided he liked this number so much that he would invent a game around it. he called the game pong. he put pong on a big piece of cardboard and he called out one-hundred and eighty-two different places that you could put that piece of cardboard while his brother whose name was nintendo wrote them all down. atari invented a computer to play his pong on, and he named it after himself, calling it the atari 2600 because the number 2600 has nothing to do with one-hundred and eighty-two. nintendo decided that his wonderful brother named atari needed to invent the atari 5600 so nintendo invented the nintendo then he invented mario brother and then he invented mario brothers two and then he invented mario brothers three but then he died because the brothers cousin sega invented sonic the hedgehog and sonic ate the two brothers killing the atari and nintendo and now sony which is sonics nickname rules all the empire known as earth.
003:when I stuck my finger in the power outlet that I plug my fan into
when I stuck my finger in the power outlet that I plug my fan into nothing happened. I was expecting a shock or at least some minor pain, but I found out the reason the fan didn’t work was that the outlet was dead.
004:oops I ate you
once upon a time I decided to write a book and it was really horrible and nobody liked it so I decided to make a movie and nobody liked it so I decided to write a poem and nobody liked it so I decided to write a song and nobody liked it so I decided to make dinner and I accidentally ate you.
005:ouch my hand itches and my head hurts
I like cheese, and I like starch a lot. one time I ate a whole lot of cheese then I ate some bread and some pasta and lots of other starchy thingys and my hand started to itch, so I started to scratch it and then my foot began to itch so I used a staple gun and staple my foot to the ground ouch my head hurts.
I saw this movie the other night, I believe it was titled, oh wait, it didn’t have a title yet, because it wasn’t real yet, it was a movie I saw in my head. I liked it a lot, and I clicked my heals together three times and said I wish I had blue pants I wish I had blue pants I wish I had blue pants! and I was still wearing the same pair of blue jeans I had always been wearing. anyway, the movie was really good, it was beautiful and I started to cry when I saw it, and the crying turned into paint and I used the paint to make a picture of god and it was a blank sheet of paper and it was an empty canvas and I woke up this morning depressed.
007:when you wish upon a star
when I wished upon a star this giant cricket came flying out of the sky and I was like, “Jiminy Cricket!” and everybody laughed and called me queer. then I said look it’s a giant cricket and hehehehehahahah I laughed out loud at my wonderful joke and then the giant cricket started to eat my friends and I got really mad and then I walked out under the giant cricket and he jumped on me and it hurt a lot then I saw snow white performing dirty deeds on the prince and she was smiling when she did it I wanted to take her to court for inaccurate portrayal of character but she said no so I said ok and laughed a lot louder than I usually do HAHAHAHEHEHEHEHAHAHAHEHE
008:the second time I stuck my finger in the outlet I plug my fan into
the second time I stuck my finger into the outlet that I plug my fan into nothing happened again. so I did it a third time and still nothing happened. I continued doing this for several hours until I got bored so I went and got a fork and stuck it into another outlet and now I have sinuses.
Author Spotlight / 3 Comments
January 21st, 2012 / 6:47 am

nothin’ but a

Random / 1 Comment
January 18th, 2012 / 2:28 pm

The Feeling of Floating, Like the Body is Absent: My Favorite Books of 2011

Reality meant that I could neither afford nor have time to read every book that came out this year that I wanted to read, but out of what I did read (which was, coincidentally, a lot more books than I normally read that are released/realized in the year I currently exist in), the following were my favorites.

The first book on this list I haven’t even finished reading, an immense 560 page tome collecting virtually all of Nick Land’s writings from 1987-2007–excepting only the full-length text The Thirst for Annihilation: Georges Bataille and Virulent Nihilism–is a massively important text, because Nick Land is, in my opinion, one of the most important thinkers of our present. Land takes apart the world and rebuilds it, offering particularly apt readings of Kant, Nietzsche, Bataille, Heidegger, and more that really flows new light into the dusty thoughts of many often-over-valued thinkers (can a known philosopher be over-valued? maybe not, but often the most known/taught readings of said thinkers certainly can be). Land pioneered the idea of the theory-fiction, using fiction as a tool to explore critical theory, a technique now practice by many affiliated with the book’s press, Urbanomic. This book is a map towards the next level, and as the jacket copy proposes: “Can what is playing you make it to Level 2?”
Buy from Urbanomic (in the UK) or Sequence Press (in the US)

Jeff Griffin is a poet who is, sometimes, from Iowa, who writes some of the most amazing contemporary poetry I’ve encountered. THERE’S NEVER BEEN A DAY… is, as the Human500 website describes, “A book composed of transcriptions of found papers from the desert and original poems by Jeff Griffin.” It’s a hazy mess of desperation and excitement, the desert being a place of secrets, magic, and despair. I read this hung-over in a train-station after I missed my train and had two hours to kill, and upon finishing it I relished my hang-over, smiled to myself, shut my eyes, and blissed out until it was finally time for me to board my train.
Out of print from Human 500
I Like __ A Lot / 25 Comments
January 11th, 2012 / 2:34 am


Lectio I-IV
Lectio V-VIII
Systemic limits to growth require that the inevitable recommencement of the solar trajectory scorches jagged perforations through such civilisations. The resultant ruptures cannot be securely assimilated to a metasocial homeostatic mechanism, because they have an immoderate, epidemic tendency. Bataille writes of ‘the virulence of death’. Expenditure is irreducibly ruinous because it is not merely useless but also contagious. Nothing is more infectious than the passion for collapse.
-Nick Land, “After the Law”

LECTIO IX: Beyond Novelty, Into The Uncanny
LECTIO X: Shame and the Texture of the Flesh
LECTIO XI: Artaud as Arrogance Without Ego
LECTIO XII: When Nothing is Real

Word Spaces / 18 Comments
December 14th, 2011 / 4:44 am

ToBS R1: the Georgia Review vs dinner at Chili’s

[Matchup #30 in Tournament of Bookshit]
I’ve never read the Georgia Review.  I have eaten dinner at Chili’s probably 50 times throughout my life.  My favorite dish to get at Chili’s, the dish that has remained my favorite transitioning through all of the various eating habits I’ve had (being no-restriction to vegetarian to pesceterian to vegan), is the fajitas.  The fajitas at Chili’s are exciting because they are a spectacle.  Looking at the website for the Georgia Review, I see a complete lack of spectacle.  Chili’s was my favorite restaurant growing up because it took me a while to develop any sort of palate for foods that are not ultimately mediocre.  While it would seem that both the Georgia Review and Chili’s are ostensibly mediocre, Chili’s maintains a specific midwestern magic.  Chili’s is, I guess, supposed to be “Tex-Mex” food, though that term really has no meaning whatsoever.  READ MORE >
Contests / 41 Comments
December 9th, 2011 / 10:39 am


The new issue of LIES/ISLE, which I’d been working on since like February or March or something, finally came out last month. It’s my favorite issue I’ve ever done, so I want everybody to see it. It features killer work from Ken Baumann, Helen Vitoria, Mitch Patrick, David Peak, James Tadd Adcox, Mike Buffalo, Erik Wennermark, Ben Segal, Tyann Prentice, Nate Dorr, Elizabeth Witte, William VanDenBerg, and Clayton T. Michaels. Halloween might be over but horror lives forever. This is also possibly the second to last issue of LIES/ISLE that will ever exist.
Check it out?
Web Hype / 50 Comments
December 6th, 2011 / 8:00 pm


(Text taken from I’m Full of Byars: James Lee Byars – A Homage, p. 144)
Word Spaces / 15 Comments
December 4th, 2011 / 5:35 pm

Unread Books

It’s 9pm on a Friday night and I’m at home freaking out about how awesome this article about Bernard Tschumi’s ADVERTISEMENTS FOR ARCHITECTURE by Kari Jormakka is and simultaneously tweeting constantly while uploading Tschumi’s images to Tumblr because I drank an organic “energy drink” that has lots of yerba maté in it and I think at some point I’m going to go “out” and I’m broke so I’m going to try to do it without “drinking” but until that actually happens, while I was reading this essay, I was also thinking about how there is a significant list of books and articles and short stories that is a lot of “holy shit how is it even possible, with my specific interests and praxis, that I haven’t read yet???” Because I was thinking this, I decided to actually make the list because I am a man of action. Here’s my list, it’s very personal and mostly based on a “personal canon” (please refer to my earlier post on canons if you take issue with the word “canons” as I basiaclly do) but more realistically it’s based on things that I know will totally cement a lot of things that I should really just fucking read but clearly I am scattered and fragmented and oh my god so 21st century. Also, it’s worth noting that I own all of these books and still haven’t read them. Anyway, here’s my list. I’m curious to see your list in the comments humble reader. Sometimes I feel like what I feel guilty about having not read is just as revealing about me as what I have read and gush over.


-Any of De Sade’s longer works
-Bataille’s EROTISM (in fact I can’t believe I still haven’t finished his entire English language oeuvre by this point, but as TJY pointed out to me I have stated that once I’m finished I basically don’t need to be alive so I guess I can still take it slow)
-Borges’s short stories (I’ve only read like 6)
-Ballard’s complete short stories
-The Atlas Archive on The Vienna Actionists
-Collapse Vol 4: Concept Horror
-All of Thierry Kuntzel’s articles
-The issue of Film Comment dedicated to Paul Sharits
-Philippe Sollers’s EVENT
-Deleuze’s CINEMA 1 and CINEMA 2
-Hardt & Negri’s EMPIRE
-Michel Surya’s massive “Intellectual Biography” of Bataille
-Robert Smithson: The Collected writings
-Jean Genet’s QUERELLE
-Anything by Klossowski
Random / 65 Comments
December 3rd, 2011 / 1:06 am

LIES/ISLE PRESENTS: Unrepairable by Russ Woods

Since it’s the terrible day of capital-death known as BLACK FRIDAY, I’ve decided that a more positive gesture, to assuage all the guilt of those who are pimp their souls to save a buck (we’ve all been there in some regard), is needed. Thus, I’d like to publish a brilliant work of literature that specifically makes use of the medium it’s being published on; namely THE INTERNET. Russ’s work takes a note from old text-based RPGs (MUDs to be more specific) on telnet, an entirely antiquated form that, as Russ’s work proves, is ripe for exploration.
Russ Woods lives in Chicago and edits Red Lightbulbs with his wife Meghan Lamb.
Click “more” to read Russ Woods’s brilliant Unrepairable.
Author Spotlight / 40 Comments
November 25th, 2011 / 4:38 pm

To Afford Polyvalence

You use the heading “Dialectic of Modernization” to describe how society’s empty center is filled with illusionary images of a center.
In Spheres III, I attempt to explain why we should not only purge the two portentous words revolution and mass from our vocabulary, but also the concept of “society.” It suggests a coherence that could only be achieved by violent asserting conformism. The conglomerate of humans that has, since the 18th century, called itself “society” is precisely not based on the atomic dots that we tend to call individuals. Instead, it is a patchwork of milieus that are structured as subcultures. Just think of the world of horse lovers—a huge subculture in which you could lose yourself for the duration of your life but which is as good as invisible if you are not a member of it. There are hundreds if not thousands of milieus in the current social terrain that all have the tendency from their own viewpoint to form the center of the world and yet are as good as nonexistent for the others. I term them inter-ignorant systems. And, among other things, they exist by virtue of a blindness rule. They may not know of one another, since otherwise their members would be robbed of the enjoyment of being specialized members of a select few. In terms of their profession, there are only two or three types of humans who can afford polyvalence in dealing with milieus. The first are architects who (at least virtually) build containers for all; the second are the novelists, who insert persons from all walks of life into their novels; finally come the priests who speak at the burials of all possible classes of the dead. But that is probably the entire list. Although, no, I forgot the new sociologists à la Latour.
In other words, the multiple personality on the one hand and the single networker on the other— those are the two options I see open to individualized populations. The way homo sapiens is influenced by the dowry from the days of hording is no doubt insurmountable, but because the explication of that old heritage continues simultaneously in various directions, the proto-social elements of the life of sapiens can be reworked. They lead to an electronic tribalism. In the dyadic motifs, by contrast, the intimate relationships are explicated to such a degree that intimacy can quite literally be played through with the technical media of self-supplementation. In the long run, human types arise that are fairly unlike what we have known to date.
Power Quote / 4 Comments
November 20th, 2011 / 8:23 pm
What are your favorite short (120 pages or less) novels?


(hat tip to “kashi butterfield”)
Craft Notes / 10 Comments
November 14th, 2011 / 1:59 am


“Kafka Writes to Romeo / Romeo Writes Back,” by Catherine Gammon; video by Meghan Lamb
Artifice Magazine is releasing its fourth issue in Chicago this weekend
There will be readings and short films and disembodied voices
If you are in or nearby Chicago we would love to see you there
Here are the details:
Elegant Mr. Gallery
1355 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago
November 12
8 to midnight
Here is where you can find our fourth issue, otherwise
Events / 5 Comments
November 7th, 2011 / 11:40 pm



Power Quote / 3 Comments
November 6th, 2011 / 1:30 pm



Technology & Word Spaces / 44 Comments
November 5th, 2011 / 8:46 pm

i think i fell in love last night

Last night I went to a, well, artist talk I suppose, featuring my good friend D-L Alvarez, and an artist I wasn’t formerly familiar with, Colter Jacobsen. The event, as a whole, was terrific. But this is perhaps because I like when I encounter new things to think about.
Darrell’s talk was fantastic, of course, a personal narrative lauding his relationship with books, with art, how these things are working, with people. The distance between D-L’s performative aura and his mode-of-everyday-being always catches me off guard, but it’s good, it’s professional. Darrell’s story was lovely, of course. Stories I had heard part of before, stories that featured the artist Jennifer Locke who I was sitting next to, who hugs me every time she sees me, stories about Raymond Carver, stories about Stockton, CA. Well, one story, really, with all of these.
Colter was second, and there was a sort of beautiful disorientation to it. There was no performative aspect here, there was basically only stuttering and a power-point presentation of some of his own work. However there was a winding sense of thought that, due perhaps to how much more space was left open, found me thinking more about ideas that are, perhaps, tangential to the work. The space also left my wanting the talk to be a discussion, but I kept my mouth shut.
At one point a work was presented that was a drawing of a cell-phone photo that Colter’s boyfriend had sent him of a snapshot from Bas Jan Ader’s “I’m Searchin’,” part of Ader’s In Search of the Miraculous. At the specific revelatory moment of sentimentality, I fell completely in love and fugued into the daydream of a conceptual artist boyfriend who couldn’t watch I’m Too Sad To Tell You without crying himself. How it would be a perfect combination of his praxis to my theory. A fit. My day dream ended, of course, and I remembered how mostly I actually think relationships are terrible and how nothing in the world can ever fit into my headland. But, then, just as I was returning to earth, Felix Gonzales-Torres’s words arrived:
The theory in the books is to make you live better and that’s what, I think, all theory should do. It’s about trying to show you certain ways of constructing reality. I’m not even saying finding (I’m using my words very carefully), but there are certain ways of constructing reality that helps you live better, there’s no doubt about it. When I teach, that’s what I show my students – to read all this stuff without a critical attitude. Theory is not the endpoint of work; it is work along the way to the work. To read it actively is just a process that will hopefully bring us to a less shadowed place.
Word Spaces / 5 Comments
October 29th, 2011 / 6:26 pm

an excessive pointlessness beyond terror and despair: why do i write

today i was thinking, ‘why do i write things.’
i don’t know what the answer is. i mean, at least in general. i write things on this blog because i feel like it’s an outlet that forces me to concretize, to some extent, theoretical implications of things in life like experiences and books and movies instead of just letting the ideas float around in my head where they eventually either fizzle out or find their way on twitter or end up via some twinned form in poetry or fiction or whatever it is that i’m calling my own ‘writing’ at the moment. i could write things for my own personal blog but the fact that htmlgiant has a built-in audience (whereas any attempt at a personal blog i make doesn’t), sort of, i don’t know, provides the motivation to make myself deal with my own thoughts.
like does that make sense? i don’t get paid to write here, as far as i know none of the contributors do. i’ve basically stopped submitting stories and poems to journals in the last year, yet i still post here. i’m sort of wondering why that is. i mean, the idea of someone else reading your own words makes it feel like more of a utile activity, writing that is, i guess. it’s a particular kind of egotism, or narcissism. but really i often feel more of an obligation. i don’t mean to a public, or to an audience, rather, like i said above, the idea of ‘people’ actually reading my hazily constructed ideas on art and literature and whatever-the-fuck i end up posting about here, i think, makes me actually try to think harder about what it is that i’m writing. obligation in that sense. like: don’t be totally fucking stupid and absent here, otherwise someone will call you out on your bullshit.
the obtusity of that sentiment is bullshit in its own right; no one in the entire world is obligated to pay any attention to me or to call me out on my bullshit. i’m tired of ideas of fame because i don’t think they make any sense.
Random / 31 Comments
October 24th, 2011 / 1:42 am

Unresolved Latency

One important aspect of resolving the background in the cultural field is the attempt to destroy the art-industry consensus between producers and receivers in order to free events of “showing” in their radical specificity. It explicates the absoluteness of the act of production as well as the proper value of the act of reception. Such interventions have a combat value as acts of enlightenment against provincialism and cultural narcissism. It was not for nothing that the surrealists, in the early waves of their offensive, defined the art of baffling the bourgeois as a sui generis form of action: on the one hand, because it helped its innovators to distinguish between the ingroup and the outgroup; and, on the other, because it permitted protests from the public to be interpreted as a sign of success in dismantling the established system. Whoever scandalizes the bourgeois professes his progressive iconoclasm; he wields terror against symbols to explode positions of mystified latency and uses ever explicit techniques to force breakthroughs. The premise of symbolic aggression lies in the legitimate assumption that the cultural closets are overly filled with corpses and that it is high time that the latency-protected links between armament and edification be ruptured. If the early avant-garde fell into fallacy, however, this is because the bourgeoisie they set out to horrify always learned its lesson much faster than any of the aesthetic bogeymen had predicted. After only a few rounds of the match between the provokers and the provoked, it was almost inevitable that the bourgeoisie, loosened up by mass culture, would take the lead role in matters of explicating art, culture and signification through the activities of marketing, design and autohypnosis; meanwhile some artists continued on playing the public bogeymen, failing to notice that their methods were past their use-by date, while other artists negotiated a shift to neo-romanticism, renewing their pact with depth. Before long many moderns appeared to have forgotten Hegel’s fundamental principle of modern philosophy, whose analogue in aesthetic production would be: that the depth of a thought can be measured only by its power of elaboration–otherwise depth is no more than an empty symbol of unresolved latency.
–Peter Sloterdijk, Terror from the Air p 74-75
Power Quote / 23 Comments
October 19th, 2011 / 12:10 pm

Portrait of the Artist as the Books He’s Loved

This is an experimental blog post. The experiment is over when I hit “post.” The success of my attempt is undetermined, but as the history of our world goes, success cannot be achieved until it is attempted.

I’ve railed here & other places against the idea of the established & (fairly-)homogenized literary canon that dominates, in the West at least, our culture of the written world as a whole. The Canon, with a capital “C” here in order to demonstrably placate that hierarchy that the hegemony tends to assume a Solid Reality, is, of course, often considered a collection of works that can be held up as benchmarks of what exactly it means to be great literature. But, of course, as we know, meaning is differential, and the greatness of a work of art, whether it be found inside of the realm of the text or the painted image, is an entirely subjective experience. Even the Canon, held up as a standard, has essentially grown and been developed throughout the 20th & 21st century by (undoubtedly) men in High Places, arguing for the prevalence of a work.
The necessity of a canon, in my opinion, is a moot point. Jonathan Rosenbaum, an American film-critic than many people who write & think about cinema often hold up as a pinnacle of contemporary (American) film-criticism (one who I only find interesting at best, but that’s better than not being interesting at all, right?), has a book called Essential Cinema: On the Necessity of Film Canons, which posits the idea that “canons of great films are more necessary than ever, given that film culture today is dominated by advertising executives, sixty-second film reviewers, and other players in the Hollywood publicity machine who champion mediocre films at the expense of genuinely imaginative and challenging works.” The sentiment here is fine, and I’ll be honest, I haven’t read the book, most in art and in life I am far more interested in a heterogeneous existence than a homogenized one– I don’t want to live in a world where everyone is obligated to acknowledge that Citizen Kane is “the greatest film of all time” (wrong), or even a world where everyone is institutionally obligated to at least admit that it’s a great film, whether one likes it or not.
Frankly, we all still live in Plato’s cave, there are no absolutes: all we have, personally, is experience and subjectivity. For a second let’s forget this idea that there are objective standards in art (the principles & elements of design, for instance). Yesterday (and tomorrow) on Dennis Cooper’s blog, fans & regulars in the blog’s comment section are having lists of their favorite books posted. I love lists. I was immediately sad that I neglected that send a list in to Dennis to have posted. Then I thought, “oh, I’ll just do it on HTMLGiant and link to the posts at Dennis’s,” which is more or less what I’m doing.
Word Spaces / 32 Comments
October 11th, 2011 / 8:05 pm

1990 Was 40 Years Ago

Random / 9 Comments
October 4th, 2011 / 3:41 am
Is there anybody writing literary sex & violence that isn’t some fanboy/douche-bro/jackass/shockrockdick who ends up either moralizing everything in the most banal manner or acts all ennui-tic and detached / Why isn’t there anybody writing literary sex & violence that isn’t some fanboy/douche-bro/jackass/shockrockdick who ends up either moralizing everything in the most banal manner or acts all ennui-tic and detached.
The 1970s were not that long ago and there’s so much more that can be done.
*Edit* I guess what I mean is “whatever happened to sex & violence/sex & death tinged by the fantastique?”

Writing Outside of an MFA Program

Hello everybody, my name is M. Kitchell and I don’t have an MFA. In the height of all of the recent posts about MFA programs, teaching creative writing, etc (all very valuable posts), I thought it might be worthwhile to offer a dissenting voice, if only in the sense that I neither have an MFA nor do I have any interest in getting an MFA.1
My interest in making this post is not out of any sort of bitterness or idea that MFA programs are “stupid” or whatever, but rather an exploration of the alternative. While I was an undergrad student at a state college working towards a BFA in Photography, I was convinced that I wanted to attend an MFA program in creative writing. I was already writing, both on my own and in the limited number of creative writing workshops that my university offered, but I had no idea where to go from there: asking some professors I had a vague idea of how to submit to journals, but I had virtually no idea how the “industry” of publishing in general functioned.
My thought, being someone who wrote & wanted to eventually be writing things that people other than my peers were reading, was, at first, that it was necessary to attend an MFA program. I knew that whether I was in school or not I would keep writing, but the problem was I had no idea how to function as a writer. I don’t mean this in any sort of romanticized notion of “the writer,” clearly that pretense is dead. What I mean by this is that, rather than enrolling in an MFA program to “learn how to write,” I wanted to enroll in an MFA program to learn how to navigate the contemporary world of letters.
I thought that the inherent networking of an MFA program would be a necessary step towards publishing a book, that learning the ins-and-outs of submitting stories to various journals would result in more publications (and at this point I literally had not even tried to submit a story to a journal yet). I liked the idea of going to school for writing because I like writing, I like forced deadlines, I like having to produce work.
Craft Notes / 73 Comments
September 15th, 2011 / 6:30 pm


Lectio I-IV
What if “horror” has less to do with a fear of death, and more to do with the dread of life? Not a very uplifting thought, that. Nevertheless, death is simply the non-existence after my life, in a sense akin to the non-existence before my life. These two types of non-existence (a parte post or after my life, and a parte ante or before my life) are mirrors of each other. This is a sentiment repeatedly voiced by Schopenhauer: “For the infinity a parte post without me cannot be any more fearful than the infinite a parte ante without me, since the two are not distinguished by anything except the intervention of an ephemeral life-dream.”
–Eugene Thacker, In the Dust of This Planet

LECTIO V: Forget This Memory–Édouard Levé’s Suicide

LECTIO VI: Torture Porn is Capital– Reality & “Solitary”

LECTIO VII: Guy Bourdin’s Spread Legs

LECTIO VIII: The Cinematic Space of Lust

Word Spaces / 11 Comments
September 9th, 2011 / 11:00 pm

Comics in Cambodia

With only seven days left to get the donations, Sara Drake has almost reached her kickstarter goal which will enable her to “In collaboration with Arts Network Asia (ANA) and Anne Elizabeth Moore,” to travel “to Phnom Phen, Cambodia to teach an introductory comics and self-publishing class to young women.”
Here’s what Sara has to say about her project:
I was recently selected by Anne Elizabeth Moore’s initiative Independent Youth-Driven Cultural Production in Cambodia (IYDCPC) to teach and promote media production to young ladies in Cambodia. IYDCPC is an international institute based in Phnom Penh that encourages multidisciplinary creative responses to issues related to popular culture, with a particular focus on media, advertising, marketing, youth, gender, democracy, human rights, and globalization in Southeast Asia. Primary partners work in institutions and organizations in Phnom Penh, and affiliate organizations are brought in on a project-by-project basis. Programming hinges around an international residency program with a cultural producer who comes to the region to work with groups of young people on projects that allow them to creatively reinvision public space, global media, and their society. Projects are collaborative and emerge from Phnom Penh and thus primarily address the needs of Cambodian youth, but also respond to the needs of youth and adults throughout Southeast Asia.
The class itself, will help equip young women with the skills needed to cultivate their own personal narratives and encourage them to share their stories.
To do this, I will be teaching daily over the course of two months, beginning this November.
Your contributions will help me with traveling expenses, classroom supplies, and publishing costs.
I met Sara while I was living in Chicago at one of the Ear Eater readings which she has co-curated with Cassandra Troyan for a little over a year. He comics are absolutely fantastic and so is she.
In August, Sara did an interview with the Chicago art blog Bad At Sports with deals both with her praxis and the Cambodia project itself: click here to read it.
Also, here is a link to Anne Elizabeth Moore’s (whose project Sarah hopes to continue) book, which was just released: voila.
So if the project is exciting to you, donate if you can!
Author News / 0 Comments
September 6th, 2011 / 1:37 am


Speech may be a function of Logos, where rational compositions serve as cultural appropriation, or speech may serve a revolutionary, contestatory role by internally rupturing the structures of Logos at the very points of its own contradictions; screams and laughter may be reactive phenomena, resulting from the neurotic exigencies of life, or they may serve serve as rebellious eruptions of corporeal energy, heterogeneous outbursts of expropriation, where Logos is disrupted by the libido; silence may be the zero-degree noiselessness of death, where life itself is betrayed, or silence may be that moment where sovereignty is elliptically expressed as incommunicable inner experience.
-”Impossible Sovereignty,” Allen S. Weiss
In Medieval philosophy and theology, a lectio (literally, a “reading”) is a meditation on a particular text that can serve as a jumping-off point for further ideas. Traditionally the texts were scriptural, and the lectio would be delivered orally akin to a modern-day lecture; the lectio could also vary in form from shorter more informal meditations (lectio brevior) to more elaborate textual exegeses (lectio difficilior).
-In the Dust of This Plane: Horror of Philosophy Vol. 1, Eugene Thacker

LECTIO I: Kate Zambreno’s Green Girl
LECTIO II: Horror vs. The Patriarchy
LECTIO III: Joe Wenderoth pushes the surface
LECTIO IV: The Dionysian Excess of Living

Word Spaces / 12 Comments
August 25th, 2011 / 4:53 pm

Heterosexual Desire is Boring

Somebody tell me some queer (regardless of preferred gender pronoun) contemporary indie-fiction writers, preferably that are writing outside of the realm of what we all understand to be “realism.” I mean, I have to just be not aware of most of this shit, I honestly can’t believe that as a “scene” indie lit is legitimately dominated by heterosexuality, that doesn’t make any sense.
Random / 64 Comments
August 17th, 2011 / 3:47 am

I haven’t posted in like a really long time so I’m just going to bite on something that’s already been done but anyway here are all the books I’ve read so far in 2k11 with notes on each and yeah this is basically just my goodreads account aggregated

01/03/11 – The Birdwish - Anna Joy Springer
The story here is interesting, ostensibly borrowing from the genre of YA, casting a pigeon who can speak to a young girl and who is a detective in the lead role. The opening is intense, lovely, and the drawings fit the aesthetic it seems, but honestly aren’t my “cup of tea” so to speak. This are dissolved at the end but it’s kind of quietly explosive in a way that’s nice
01/03/11 – The Book of Frank - CA Conrad
Everyone on the internet is right, this is perfect. It’s incredible, it seems so easy while it does amazing things. To be read again and again.
01/04/11 – Robert Morris & Angst - Nena Tsouti-Schillinger
I’m not sure I quite managed to pay attention to some underlying thesis running inside of this book tying Morris’s work to the ideas of angst, but I did enjoy it (it being the book) as an overview of Morris’s career, and a more in-depth look at it than anything I’d read on Morris before.
01/05/11 – Frowns Need Friends Too - Sam Pink
So, while reading this I enjoyed the non-sequitors, the desolation present in the humor, the sort of throwing together of disparate concepts into events. After reading this, I had a weird consideration: I had been reading the entire book with the “I” being Sam Pink himself, I was considering that based on a sort of position I assume regarding a particular brand of contemporary indie-lit that I feel like Pink fits in with. But, I thought, what if reading the “I” as Sam Pink was actually dumb, and that the “I” was an entirely fictional character, and Pink’s book was crafting a catalog of said character’s thoughts, and that this was, perhaps, this invented characters journal. There’s an utter cohesion about it that makes me think the latter idea is far more exciting, but I guess, ultimately, it wouldn’t change the text itself, huh.
01/17/11 – A Drifting Life - Yoshihiro Tatsumi
I had been hesitant to read this, mostly only because it’s really fucking long, but it turns out that the art is great & the story, despite being, basically, banal biography, is actually really engaging (like, to the point where I ended up reading the entire book in only two sittings). Tatsumi’s narrative covers a realm of manga that I have to admit to being neither that aware of nor that interested in, but what was here was fascinating.

90 more books or something after the cut
Roundup / 51 Comments
August 11th, 2011 / 8:12 pm

Today Is My Last Day At My JOB

So far I’ve watched this video 5 times:
& printed a zine of photos I’ve taken on my cell-phone. Seems like it’ll be an OK day.
About seven months ago I started playing Spider Solitaire to pass the time. Slowly working my way up in difficulty from one suit to two suit to, finally, this week, four suit. I’ve won a four suit game twice this week, and it feels amazing.

What should I get for lunch?  What would a great celebratory final lunch be?  What have you guys done on the last day of your jobs?
Random / 17 Comments
July 21st, 2011 / 10:35 am

On Lost Films

I formerly suffered an unhealthy obsession (if I’m honest it’s still around, but it’s certainly depleted) with the conceptual implications of lost films.  As a self-termed “archaeologist” of obscure media, discovering the possible existence of an artifact (mostly, for me, films/books/zines, photographs of art-events, etc), researching everything about it, and then possibly unearthing details to add to a collective knowledge base on said artifact is, well to be blunt, a really fucking awesome feeling.
A couple of days ago at Big Other, Amber Sparks posed the question “What lost film would you love to see?” The question found me immediately excited, because it was something that had managed to escape my head-space for a while. There’s any number of reasons why a film might be lost; if it was shot in the early days of cinema, the chemicals used to process the film itself could have deteriorated the celluloid, leaving nothing. It’s possible that the film was never completed, but screened to producers in an incomplete state, leaving a mark on an individual. The only copy of a film (smaller budget films) could have burnt in a fire, destroyed in some sort of natural disaster, or literally just misplaced.
Film / 31 Comments
July 10th, 2011 / 10:24 pm
“[...] The outcry was shrillest from those who confuse art, which exists to make people uncomfortable and to spur them to new thinking, with entertainment, which is meant to gratify, relax and confirm preconceptions of decorum, prettiness, or good citizenship.  No art is great if it makes its consumers feel comfortable.”
–Richard Davenport-Hines, “Gothic: Four Hundred Years of Excess, Horror, Evil and Ruin”


So I’m sure everybody saw Jordon Castro’s dick.  Here’re some dicks we three indie-lit homosexuals would prefer to see.  It’s a group effort, so some of us like some of these dudes more than others.  We’re probably all DTF.
Haut or not / 113 Comments
July 7th, 2011 / 6:30 pm

5 Micro Reviews

I have been reading significantly less than usual, mostly because I’m moving literally across the country in 2 1/2 weeks and I’ve been focusing on freaking out about that. But, despite reading less stuff than normal, I’ve read some fantastic stuff, so I thought I’d talk about a few books briefly.
Notebooks 1967-70 by Lee Lozano This is ostensibly an “art book” published by Primary Information, an absolutely fantastic publishing house who has been putting out the kind of shit that makes me drool (I would literally kill for a copy of the Avalanche facsimile but unfortunately do not have $200 or weapons). Lozano shuffled the line between painter and conceptual artist before she quit the art world in 1969 after making the statement, GRADUALLY BUT DETERMINEDLY AVOID BEING PRESENT AT OFFICIAL OR PUBLIC “UPTOWN” FUNCTIONS OR GATHERINGS RELATED TO THE “ART WORLD” IN ORDER TO PURSUE INVESTIGATIONS OF TOTAL PERSONAL AND PUBLIC REVOLUTION. EXHIBIT IN PUBLIC ONLY PIECES WHICH FURTHER SHARING OF IDEAS & INFORMATION RELATED TO TOTAL PERSONAL AND PUBLIC REVOLUTION. She continued to work on art, albeit privately, engaging in a lot of ideas that are on display within this book, which is basically a facsimile of Lozano’s actual notebooks. I like conceptual art, so reading documentation & planning of conceptual performances is something that gets me off. Lozano is a fantastic artist & these notebooks are essential if you’re into what she does.
Tongue Party by Sarah Rose Etter I met Sarah Rose Etter at a reading in Chicago that she flew in for ALL THE WAY from Pennsylvania. I had a lot of fun drinking with her and started following her twitter. We communicate on twitter & facebook and I feel comfortable saying we are “friends.” However, one of the unfortunate side-effects of meeting a writer when you’re drinking (or: drunk), is that it is likely you will not remember the story the author read at all. In my drunken haze I recognized what she read as “good,” so when I found out she was releasing a book (and when her announcement came at one of those rare times in which I actually had money), I immediately ordered it. I was very pleased to find out, when the book arrived in the mail, that in addition to being a terrific human being, Etter is also a fantastic writer. Tongue Party consists of a series of short stories that are unconnected in narrative but bear similarities in theme, a theme that I would characterize as occasional absurd while maintaining a serious darkness & emotional core. Chicken Father is my favorite story from the collection, but the whole thing is fantastic. Sean Lovelace wrote more about Tongue Party here.
July 7th, 2011 / 11:50 am

POP: A Polemic on a Contemporary Language-Based “Objectivity”

I do not like metaphor. My personal education pertaining to literature takes a very French bent, and it is here that Robbe-Grillet himself, king of the nouveau roman one could say, has denounced metaphor, preferring, I suppose, some sort of metonymy, but–if anything–participating in the creation of a style of fiction in which the surface is more important than a subtext.
I think that this adherence to the surface, at least in terms of language, is good, positive, because it removes an additional level of signification, which brings us, as a reader, closer to the experience the language itself is hiding, carrying, revealing. Though often, in the creation of atmosphere, metaphor can be adequately used to help evoke a mood, I feel like there are often more interesting ways to do this (and I suppose that here, by “interesting,” I mean “heterogeneous, diverse, wildly more creative”).
Word Spaces / 233 Comments
July 5th, 2011 / 11:53 am

I Will Judge Your Book By Its Cover

Do you know what I’m tired of? Really bad cover art. I understand that when you run a small press you have limited funds and can’t pay some brilliant designer, but IDK, if you can’t create something new at least copy something good. I’m an aesthete and have no problem admitting that if a book has an awesome cover & i’ve never heard of it, I will be more likely to pick it up. Hell, if a book has an awesome cover and is some weird mathematical exploration of space I will pick it up and read it even though I formerly had no interest in mathematical explorations of space, etc. Here are 35 book/magazine/pamphlet covers that (I think) are better than most things in the world:

Haut or not / 29 Comments
June 23rd, 2011 / 10:20 am

Why I Will Love David Lynch Forever

‎"Coop, I may be wearing a dress, but I still pull my panties on one leg at a time if you know what I mean."

I have been re-watching Twin Peaks for, literally, the first time in a decade. I first saw the series when the Season 1 DVD was released, unfortunately long before Season 2 ever saw a DVD release, on December 18th, 2001. I got the box-set for Christmas. I had never seen the series before, but in the midst of my Lynch obsession at age 15, I was pumped.
Since I’ve been re-watching it, I’ve been thinking a lot more about David Lynch than I have for years– at least since Inland Empire was released. While I know that Twin Peaks is specifically not exclusively the work of Lynch, in any sort of auteur sense, it certainly maintains a lot of elements that are specific to his aesthetics, and the episodes he himself directed are certainly the best of the series. The point is, I’ve been thinking about how awesome David Lynch is, and how really he is sort of the only ‘dark cult figure’ that I can still deal with after decades of obsession & attempting to navigate ‘fanboy’ culture (which, for the record, any sort of genre-based fanboy culture–actually just make that any sort of fanboy culture in general–is pretty much the most annoying thing in the world; I can no longer deal with the cult of Werner Herzog due to his incessant pandering & the caricature of himself that he’s fallen into (and the fact that Klaus Kinski is 100x more awesome than Herzog while Herzog gets all the credit majorly pisses me off)). Anyway, the point is I’ve made a list of why I will love David Lynch forever.
1. David Lynch understands the idea that films are more than just a representational narrative, rather, they are experiences in their own right.
2. David Lynch is not afraid of unwavering intensity. In fact, he loves it, and uses it to a very strong degree. Within the first season of Twin Peaks, made for prime-time network television, after establish a jovial tone filled with the lower-middle class & hat-tips to coffee and pie (“americana”), there are strobe lights, sexual perversions, and intense screaming & crying. This is not Lynch pandering towards “revealing the dark underbelly of suburbia”– maybe that is what Blue Velvet did, but I’d argue it’s more likely that Lynch is just prone to exploring this intensity in various environments (which if you ask me, the rest of his filmography seems to prove).
Film & I Like __ A Lot / 70 Comments
June 22nd, 2011 / 4:45 pm

Edge of Vision: An Exchange with John Duncan

John Duncan is an artist that has been working in the realm of art-as-experience since the mid-1970s when he lived in LA. His work has gone through many different forms and mediums as time has progressed, moving from direct actions at the start of his career to carefully articulated audio work as a primary outlet currently. Early on in his career Duncan found himself exiled from LA after performing a specifically transgressive performance piece, BLIND DATE. I find Duncan interesting due specifically to his insistence on art being affective, and how he has moved through and explored this idea throughout his career. The idea of affect is a powerful force no matter what medium it’s applied to, and Duncan is a master of transcendence, of reaching new feelings.
A couple weeks ago I emailed John Duncan with the request to ask him a few questions, and he was kind enough to comply and provide fantastic answers:
M. Kitchell:I have an interest in the consideration of “the artist” as a shaman, or the artistic practice as a shamanistic practice. What I specifically mean by this refers to “the belief that shamans are intermediaries or messengers between the human world and the spirit worlds,” and the idea that “the shaman also enters supernatural realms or dimensions to obtain solutions to problems afflicting the community” (wikipedia). You have specifically expressed the idea that much of your praxis is geared towards learning, in a sense a self-education. It seems that an extension of this, in the presentation of the work itself, is the interest in a mode of communication, a way to share the experience and the knowledge learned. In some of your performance & installation work, it could be said that you are subjecting the audience to as much stress, or, perhaps, negativity, as you have submitted yourself to. There seems to be the intent of arriving at, say, a new consciousness, a discovery, an advancement. I think there’s generally an expectation of a distance between the audience and the work of art, but much of your work seems to deny that distance, it seems to specifically violate it. This denial of distance is not specifically something unique to your work, but much of your early work (SCARE, MOVE FORWARD, MAZE) seems to aggressively challenge this distance. Can you talk a little about this, how important the communication of an experience is to your work?
John Duncan:The essence, especially now, is not so much the communication of an experience as it is the experience itself. In all the works you mention, the point is to somehow get spectators to at least meet me halfway as participants. To make it clear that the extent the work reveals itself to a participant depends on whether or not the participant allows it to do so, on each person’s attitudes and character.
The difference between my earlier and more recent events is that in the past participants were usually trapped and forced to deal with a unique situation that they weren’t at all prepared for, which was essential to the event. Once trapped, it was up to the individual to interpret the situation as a threat or as a chance. Now, participants are free to leave at any time. They are given a condition to accept or not. For the person who does accept, decides to follow their curiosity, the work continues to open and develop. If the person refuses, everything stops there for them, the knowledge that they couldn’t let go is what they take home.
Craft Notes / 5 Comments
June 15th, 2011 / 10:36 am
A recent (June 3rd) U.N. Report Declares Internet Access A Human Right. This is god-damn wonderful.

Twilight of the American Idols

I’ve been having problems sleeping lately. When I have problems sleeping, I become restless. It’s hard for me to get much reading done, especially anything heavy, because when I’m at my apartment I prefer to read in my bed, and if I’m tired and distracted what generally happens is that I fall asleep mid-sentence (and bend my glasses). It’s hot out. It’s really hot out. I have no A/C in my apartment. This is perhaps the reason I’ve been restless, and hopefully that’s true, because the heat is something I can adjust to.
Because I live across the street from my favorite bar, when I get restless I head to the bar and have a few drinks, generally with the intention of facilitating sleep. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Sometimes I end up at the bar and there’s nobody I know there except the bartenders and it’s awkward. Usually I can count on familiar enough faces to at least guarantee conversation.
Last night I couldn’t sleep, found myself restless, had already watched two movies and an episode of Twin Peaks (which I’m revisiting for the first time in the decade since I originally saw it), so I said fuck it and headed to the bar. I ordered a vodka gimlet first. Then I ordered a whiskey & soda. I was out of cash by this point, because I don’t carry that much cash on me regularly, and I knew that after mixing vodka and whiskey it would be unwise to drink that much more anyway, so I went home. I had a bit of a buzz going on. I got on my computer.
Random / 17 Comments
June 6th, 2011 / 3:08 pm


Got this email from Urbanomic in my mailbox this morning. There’s some nice stuff available. If you’re feeling philanthropic, place some bids! Collapse is a great journal.

We are pleased to announce the opening of Urbanomic's Summer Auction, which will run from 26 May - 24 June.

All proceeds of the auction go to support Urbanomic's journal Collapse. The lots – including original work and exclusive signed editions – have been generously donated by artists, musicians and writers who have contributed to Collapse or been otherwise involved in Urbanomic projects over the past few years, including:
Kristen Alvanson, Amanda Beech, Jake and Dinos Chapman, Cut Hands, Detanico and Lain, FIELDCLUB, Renée Green, Florian Hecker, Kröõt Juurak & Mårten Spångberg, Nick Land, Sam Lewitt, China Miéville, Pamela Rosenkranz, Conrad Shawcross, Keith Tilford

The PDF catalogue, which contains images and details of all works, with links to higher resolution images, and details of how to bid can be found online at
Web Hype / 3 Comments
May 26th, 2011 / 10:50 am

In the Middle of the Event

Pierre Menard, Author of the Quixote is a very short story by Borges, where he tells the story of the life of a French writer called Pierre Menard, in the early twentieth century, who has spent the last 20 years of his life writing two chapters of Cervantes’s Don Quixote, writing them word by word. It’s weird, because you tend to think, well, you’re just copying them . . . But no, if you read Borges’s story, you can trust Borges to convince you that, actually, Pierre Menard has done something original. When you read the story, you are actually convinced that he is producing an original work, the work of a creator, even, of an artist — yet he knows what he is doing. IT’s not even that he didn’t know that Cervantes had already written Don Quixote — he knew that. He wanted, on purpose, to write Don Quixote. So he is creating, he’s producing something new, something contingent, let’s say, something that could have been otherwise. After all, there is no creation, if you’re just copying Don Quixote. Yet the set of possibilities is limited to only one, because he knows beforehand that he is going to actually write Don Quixote. So my question is, where do you place the creativity of Pierre Menard?
To my mind, it lies in that blank residuum that I’m pursuing; and that must be beyond possibilities, because in the space of possibilities, Pierre Menard is doing nothing. He is doing totally zero, because in the space of possibilities the work exists, it’s Don Quixote, and he’s just copying it. If you believe in the metaphysics of possibility and probability, where everything is framed in identified states of the world, and so on, then Pierre Menard is doing nothing, totally nothing. Yet by reading Borges, you are really led to believe it possible that Pierre Menard has done something original; and the key thing to me is that what Pierre Menard has done is to write two chapters. He didn’t read them, he did’t just think of them. So, he really needed the material medium, the writing itself, in order to produce something that, when you read it, you say, well, although it’s the same — it has the same identity as Cervantes’ novel — it is materially a new work. And although my main object is the markets and finance, although that’s important and I identify the medium of contingency as the market in my specific case, in the end its generalization is also writing.
I also happen to be a writer, so I also speak for myself: writing, to me, is something that is beyond probability and ‘states of the world’. It’s something where the writer can really throw himself into a process of writing, blindly so to speak — and one of my favourite expressions is that he is then traversed by contingency, so he almost surprises himself with what he is writing. To me, that’s writing: even though you may have thought about it, and you had planned it, there are thoughts that you can only have through writing. I’m sure everyone has found that: there is no use really in planning in advance what you are going to write. Even if you do that, chances are that you’ll end up writing something completely different. I think that the true spark of writing comes when you find yourself surprised by what you have written; and I would even claim that there are thoughts that you can only have through the material process of writing.
So, writing to me is an attempt to get to that extraordinary or residual thing that surpasses probability and the states of the usual metaphysical conception; and which would allow us to twist chronology in such a way that, even though the event happens and it is only after the event that we can think it, somehow we establish communication with it outside time. Remember, I need to twist time itself in order to be able to predict the event ‘beforehand’, even though it has happened.
–Elie Ayache, “In the Middle of the Event” in The Medium of Contingency

Power Quote / 6 Comments
May 25th, 2011 / 6:57 pm

The Nazis & Our Critical Consciousness

I just got done reading Piotr Uklanski’s monograph, The Nazis. Reading here, of course, simply refers to the act of looking, as there are no words in the book (until an index at the end). Uklanski is an artist, a Polish photographer. Although, similar to my own approach to photography, Uklanski doesn’t take photos per se. Rather, he’s sort of a curator, a collector, highlighting, as the New York Times says, “Conceptual attitudes” (the superfluous capital letter on conceptual is NYT, btw).
The Nazis is a book that bears 247 pages of appropriated images of Hollywood, and prevalent European, actors decked out in Nazi regalia. What I’m interested in probing here are the following things: 1) why are there enough stills for this collection to be possible? and 2) why was I interested enough in this book to go through the process of requesting it from WorldCat?
Word Spaces / 24 Comments
May 23rd, 2011 / 4:58 pm

Expanded Literature Part 1: Internet Literature

While eating breakfast the other day, I thought it might be funny to go to and pose the question, “What is internet literature?” I thought it’d cause a few giggles, and I thought that perhaps it would result in something I could screen-cap to submit for Internet Poetry. I mean, the fact that I typed “” into my browser alone I found to be ironic, because when I think of AskJeeves, I think of 2002.
Well, AskJeeves is now just, I guess, and it turns out that the first search result actually proved relevant. The page is from February 18th, 2004–by now this should read as antiquated, right? The speed of technology arguably renders us far further into the future; between 2004 and now–than any time before. But despite a few caveats, the definition here seems to me far more interesting in consideration of capabilities than anything that would seem to actually define “internet literature.”
The page suggests the following list as a definition of hypertext literature:

Craft Notes & Word Spaces / 18 Comments
May 15th, 2011 / 3:18 pm

The Cult of the Bookstore

Against, perhaps, better judgment, I’m going to go ahead and say some words on the fly here. They will be perhaps less coherent even than most of my posts, but whatever. It’s friday and almost the end of the work day so I doubt many people will read this. This is really scattered. I mean I guess the point of this post is that I like the internet more than bookstores.
I love books. I will honestly, undoubtedly, be one of the last people who own an eReader. I was basically the last one of my friends to own an mp3 player, so this is probably not surprisingly to anyone who knows me. I’m not against technological advantages, not at all– rather, I hate spending large amounts of money on things. Right now, I could buy 20+ books for the price of an eReader, so because I have little patience and have more interest in the books themselves than keeping up with technology (or even the convenience, or whatever), I would actually rather have 20 new books than an eReader. But, really, this isn’t a post about eReaders.
I want to talk about bookstores. READ MORE >
Random / 74 Comments
April 29th, 2011 / 5:06 pm


CF is a comic artist whose work, according to his blurb on PictureBox, “is marked by a precise, electric line and unique visions of parallel modes of being.” A fairly apt description. CF has been “blowing up” in the comix world lately, primarily, perhaps, as an artist working within the realm of “art comics,” a departure from the overly-stale “indie comics” zeitgeist that has peppered the cultural consciousness of the literate for the last two decades, slowly permeating the mainstream via film adaptations of Daniel Clowes and the McSweeney’s/New Yorker “reign of terror” brought about by Chris Ware and the ever-present Jimmy Corrigan.
CF’s major work has been his currently in progress Powr Mastrs, of which the first three (of a projected six, though I’m hoping it ends up being far more than six) have been published to major acclaim. I definitely recommend picking them up, as they’re beautiful books with insane stories that come from space, holding a sort of parallel early-80s Heavy Metal euro-comics narrative attitude with a specifically unique art style that CF himself pioneered (and is now aped to varying degrees, but as someone who likes the style, I’m mostly ok with that).

However, what I’m interested in today is a close-reading of a zine that CF created, CITY-HUNTER. Frank Santoro, another fantastic comics guy, describes the “zine” as follows:
Lots of backgrounds with “Main Dice” the main character swinging down the street. Lots of “straight talk” from the editor of the Fantasy Empire Magazine company. It’s like CF made his own b&w action comic and worried more about how the indicia and logo would look than the story – so it’s kind of perfect.
April 22nd, 2011 / 1:43 pm

THERE IS NO YEAR by Blake Butler

There is no way I am not talking about this here. I don’t know how to start, actually. I feel like if I had the book in front of me I’d have some context, maybe. I don’t know. I’m going to take the “book & feelings” approach. It’s been 19 days since I finished the book, but whatever:
First, the shape of the book, its size, the paper, the texture; from a material design perspective, this book is ideal. I’m not kidding. This is probably ultimately my favorite size of a book for fiction. There is something ridiculously pleasant about it. This is purely subjective of course. If I ever write a novel this is the size I want it to be. I think its width to height ratio is similar to that of a half-sheet of Legal paper, which is a good ratio. Not square, but not as rectangular (well it is of course literally rectangular but you get the idea) as a normal paperback. It is a good ratio. The book has French flaps too, or whatever they’re actually called. It’s nice.
But a book can look nice and be shitty, we all know this. This book is not shitty.
April 19th, 2011 / 1:38 pm


Item A:
The inimitable “power couple” (lol) Meghan Lamb & Russ Woods (who also have a fun new band Pretty Swans) have started a new online journal, Red Lightbulbs & they’re looking for submissions. I like their “about” section a lot:
Red Lightbulbs was inspired by the words of a young man with autism. He lived in one of the group homes I used to work for. Every morning, he would bend down to inspect my hair, and every morning he came to the same conclusion.
“You smell like red lightbulbs,” he told me.
“Is that good or bad?” I asked.
“It isn’t good or bad,” he said. “It’s like red lightbulbs.”
Item B:
In vaguely related news, LIES/ISLE, the online web journal I edit with J. Tian, is currently looking for HORROR themed submissions. LIES/ISLE is a web-journal of “experimental” writing but we’re pretty open to whatever you want “experimental” to mean. The point is I’m excited to read some spooky and/or terrifying and/or trope-ridden words, so if you’ve got any, send them in.
Item C:
To carry on with a tertiary connection, I’ll be doing a live reading via UStream tonight at 8PM CST over here, a show tentatively entitled “BRUTAL FUCKING MURDER,” which also the name of my blog & also my favorite line from my favorite David Lynch movie. My plan is to read horror/terror/violent/beauty shit until my voice is gone. We’ll see how far it goes. My list of things to read includes: Antonin Artaud, Georges Bataille, Blake Butler, Jesus Ignacio Aldapuerta, Liliane Giraudon, Laura Glenum, Ariana Reines, Peter Sotos, Dennis Cooper, some of my own work, and a collaboration I’ve been working on with giants Blake Butler & Ken Baumann.
Random / 6 Comments
April 8th, 2011 / 4:12 pm

On Esoteric Interests & The Pain That Follows*

I’ve spent a good portion of my life listening to people tell me that my tastes are pretentious, or that I only like the “stuff” that I like because nobody else likes it, or the I intentionally look for the most obscure shit possible to obsess over, etc. etc. etc. This is bullshit, of course. And I mean, whatever, I don’t have anything to prove and that’s not exactly the point of this post.
Film / 4 Comments
April 4th, 2011 / 12:44 pm


I am going to have a contest. The deadline for the contest is 4:30 PM CST. The winner of the contest will be announced at ~5:10 PM CST. The winner will win 3 books from my personal collection. I will also draw you a picture of a cool dog. Here is the contest: write me a story about a dog or some dogs. It doesn’t have to literally be a story it should just be text on a page. I will be the only judge. Here is a hint: I like narrative but I don’t like boring & archetypal narrative. Post your entries in the comments section here. I HOPE YOU ENTER.

Contests / 36 Comments
April 1st, 2011 / 1:46 pm

Our Atrocity Exhibition: A Theory of the Spectacle of the Banal: Within the Spectacle, A System Within A System Within A System Within A System Within A System

I lived in the desert and in the desert I had cable TV and an internet connection and the local CSA gave me basically all the food I need because I won a lifetime supply of it from some contest, I don’t know, and my great great grandfather or whatever owned the land I lived on so I didn’t have to pay rent and uh I had electricity and water by stealing it from my neighbor.  My neighbor lived far away but I was creative.  I didn’t pay for the internet or cable TV but I had them and I didn’t ask questions.  Maybe somebody loved me and paid for them.  The point is:  I didn’t have anything to spend money on.
Miles away from my home in the desert there was a tent in the desert and in the tent there was a preacher, and the preacher encouraged all to stay within all that which was holy, because everything outside was sin. Sometimes I went to the tent and watch the men and women climb in the glass tank that held rattle snakes. The snakes would bite people sometimes but nobody screamed and no one collapsed in pain and I reckon they were de-poisoned, I’m not sure how snakes work, the adders in the desert leave slithers at at night my baby rattle shakes like death breeze.
Inside of my disconnection from the world at large I was exposed only to one thing: I saw the banalization of culture, I let it float over my head and wash my body, I refused to know of the existence of anything that was special, because here in this world everything to me was free and the machine of capitalism were the only gears still turning.
Behind the Scenes / 28 Comments
March 30th, 2011 / 3:25 pm

Approaching an Ideology of Art

In order to sit down and establish any sort of ideology1 that guides my life, I really have only a single point to consider: art2 is, without a doubt, what is most important to me. Out of everything. I say this without a hint of irony, with a complete presence of sincerity: everything that has ever been important to me has been mediated by art, to some degree.
Perhaps this is easy for me to say because I equate art with pleasure. Or the idea that art is beauty (as a definition from would like to suggest). If this were true then I wouldn’t have anything to say here. But, the unfortunate thing is that there is a lot of bad art that makes me furrow my brow and launch into hyperbolic rhetoric or a complete insincerity (read: irony). The other negation to the aforementioned declarations heeds itself to my own ideas in an appreciation of affect over visual aesthetic: i.e., something ugly, terrifying, and evil can bring pleasure.
I am not an overly-depressed person. I am (fairly) high functioning in a pretty normal way. I have no desire to be constantly escaping from reality. Kneeling at the temple of Art is not about escapism for me, and I think that’s why I inherently hate the idea of mediating an experience of art (exclusively) through empathy (this is why I will always champion modes of art that lie outside of representation3).
I occasionally feel like when I make this declaration, I am widening a divide between myself & the general public. I say this without elitism. The problem is making a statement like this seems to establish binary opposition: if I don’t like representation, I must like crazy non-narrative abstract shit. Right? I mean, that binary presupposes the person who is contrasting her or his own approach to art with mine is able to conceive of an approach to art that is outside of representation (and this is part of why my mother has no idea in regards to what I am interested in and what I am doing when it comes to “art”).
But here’s the thing: I love narrative. I have no desire to escape narrative. Of course, throughout my experiences with art I have grown mostly tired of archetypal narrative arcs, neatly wrapped up stories, etc etc. But that’s not the point. What I look for in art, what I aim for in art, ultimately, as I’ve said many noted many times in comment threads, is affect.
Behind the Scenes / 50 Comments
March 24th, 2011 / 3:53 pm

On Blanchot’s AMINADAB

My only former point of reference for Blanchot’s fiction has been The Last Man, which, while stunning, was incredibly dense, and at times a real chore to get through (which is ultimately a positive quality for a book to have, far more affective in this case). Aminadab, however, has more of a narrative to its core which allows a reader to actually get through it rather quickly, and the narrative progression provides something to hold on to (I mention these things not to presuppose that Aminadab is better than The Last Man, rather to just differentiate). This is an entirely different experience than The Last Man.
There is still, I think, just as much thought present here. Though Aminadab is earlier in Blanchot’s career, before things had become as articulated perhaps, but certainly after he had already set out his task in approaching literature.
March 22nd, 2011 / 12:29 pm

On Criticism

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately thinking about the position of criticism. At least, specifically in the online sphere. Clearly, the culture of criticism is something that helps perpetuate discussion about this stuff we like, which is always a good thing. Namely, this stuff we like, here at HTMLGIANT, is literature. Criticism can be great because it can carry on a conversation about a piece of work which helps to maintain the lifespan of the work. This is stuff that needs to happen– literature should not be read and forgotten, it should live on in other words I think.
The first public writing I ever did on the internet was film reviews. I started doing it because I was watching a lot of movies that had me really fucking excited, but nobody else on the internet was writing about them. Or, if they were mentioned at all, it was either in dismissive brevity or a simple exclamatory remark like “THIS SHIT IS DOPE!” Empty hyperbole is fine, and sometimes that’s all you have the energy to say, but I didn’t want to leave the space of these films. I wanted to engage with them and keep them going, because I knew they were powerful and needed some more recognition.
The first problem I ran into would be when I would watch something & end up not liking it at all. At the time, when I was basically just “developing content” in addition to gaining experience with what it was that I was doing, anything I had in my mind that I was going to review before watching it, I was stubborn enough to actually write about. If I found a film mediocre, the writing became a chore. If I hated a film, it was easy to spit vitriol, but I knew I wasn’t engaging with the film & that my commentary was useless. So, to put it simply, I stopped reviewing anything I didn’t like.
Random / 77 Comments
March 17th, 2011 / 11:03 pm

(what is experimental ______ )

“The only way to atone for the sin of writing is to annihilate what is written. But the author can only do that; destruction leaves that which is essential intact. I can, however, tie negation so closely to affirmation that my pen gradually effaces what it has written. In doing so it accomplishes, in a word, what is generally accomplished by ‘time’ — which, from among its multifarious edifices, allows only the traces of death to subsist. I believe that the secret of literature is there, and a book is not a thing of beauty unless it is skillfully adorned with the indifference of ruins.” (Georges Bataille, Abbe C)

Jobe is resuscitated by Jonathan Walker. He wants Jobe to create a special computer chip that would connect all the computers in the world into one network, which Walker would control and use. But what Walker doesn’t realize is a group of teenage hackers are on to him and out to stop his plan.

            The nothing [the void] names that undecidable of presentation which is its 
unpresentable, distributed between the pure inertia of the domain of the multiple, and 
the pure transparency of the operation thanks to which there is oneness [d’où procède 
qu’il y ait de l’un]. The nothing is as much that of structure, thus of consistency, as 
that of the pure multiple, thus of inconsistency. (BE 55; emphasis added)

Random / 3 Comments
March 14th, 2011 / 5:03 pm


Internet Freedom Reading

My friend Joey Miraculypso and I arbitrarily decided, sometime in January, that we would put together a poetry zine grouping poems that fell under the theme of “freedom.” We made a facebook event and invited people we were friends with on facebook that we thought might have any interest.
Cut to a month later: we had 30 poems for a zine. We accepted everything anybody sent us, there were no editorial decisions involved, other than the decision to make the zine in the first place. I printed them off and bound them. Cut to another month later (i.e. today) and I decided that I would throw a “release” party on the internet that consists of me reading the content of the zine, along with some related stuff, on UStream.
If you’d like to watch, go here at 9PM Central:
I’ll probably read the zine twice, as I don’t think it’ll take longer than ~20-25 minutes to read (it’s 40 pages).
Events / 4 Comments
March 11th, 2011 / 6:01 pm

Good Mourning

November 10
Struck by the abstract nature of absence; yet it’s so painful, lacerating. Which allows me to understand abstraction somewhat better: it is absence and pain, the pain of absence–perhaps therefore love?
I always get an innate pleasure out of reading Roland Barthes. To be fair, I haven’t read much of his early work in which he lays out his ideas on structuralism, but I did read & briefly obsess over Writing Degree Zero. However, I think it’s the later works, where some sort of self is revealed, that I find most pleasurable. Take the ubiquitous Camera Lucida, a text that, surely, enraptures a large number of readers: Barthes centers his ideas on a photograph of his mother in her youth, the entire text, the ideas, arrive at the reader from this starting point.
There’s an intellectually rigorous, yet somehow still very casual, sense of thought present in the work of Barthes. As a thinker, especially a thinker involved with the Tel Quel group & (eventually) post-structuralism, his writing is also remarkably lucid, simple even. Where Derrida, Deleuze & Guattari, Sollers himself can accurately be described as dense in their thoughts, the words on the page, with Barthes there’s a sense of breathing. Many of his books are also often less than 120 pages.
But this is not a trick– Barthes is not post-structuralism lite, and I don’t think anybody would imply this. But I guess that’s not the point here. A friend sent me a copy of the most recent of Barthes’s work to be translated, Mourning Diary. The book is a series of notes left almost daily by Barthes on note cards after the death of his mother. Barthes was remarkably close to his mother, and the death struck a very heavy blow.
March 10th, 2011 / 6:49 pm

An Interview with Cassandra Troyan about the EAR EATER Reading Series

Cassandra Troyan & Sara Drake run a (somewhat) monthly reading series out of their apartment in Chicago. Having attended a few of the readings myself, I found myself particularly interested in what Troyan & Drake have accomplished: each reading series brings together (mostly young) people from various backgrounds (though mostly related to the arts/humanities) into an enclosed space to hear 4 or 5 readers. The events straddle the line between house party & art opening (and indeed, at one event there was art displayed on the walls), but it’s the words that get center stage here. I sent Cassandra a few questions through Facebook about the reading series, and hey here they are:
M: I am always interested in the way that people who take a D-I-Y approach to life manage to turn private spaces (the home, for instance) into public, communal spaces. Living in a “college town,” as I’ve spent my entire life doing, it seems more likely to find people at a huge house party than a bar or “club.” When it comes to event spaces, I also often find the non-affiliated to be more comfortable, even more rewarding. People have art shows in their apartment to escape the realm of an institutionalized sense of curation, people have bands play in basements to crowds of many to avoid booking agents and dealing with venue crap, and now you & Sara Drake have opened up your apartment as an area for readings, something that seems to happen most often at bars or academic spaces. What circumstances found you guys deciding to start the Ear Eater reading series?
Cassandra: Much of the circumstances you mention are similar to the experiences and situations shared by Sara and I, which all influenced the desire to create EAR EATER. I went to undergrad at the behemoth institution, Ohio State University, in the notoriously college-run town of Columbus, Ohio. I think precisely because of this, most of my social interactions turned more traditionally private spaces into sites of collectivity.
Events / 50 Comments
February 24th, 2011 / 1:01 pm
“Passion in writing or art–or in a lover–can make you overlook a lot of flaws. Passion is underrated. I think we should all produce work with the urgency of outsider artists, painting and jerking off to our kinky private obsessions. Sophistication is conformist, deadening. Let’s get rid of it.”
–Dodie Bellamy in Barf Manifesto

Considering Fiction as a Chain of Tone

an audio-visual tour of what I look for, aim for, build towards, in fictional narratives.
Craft Notes / 14 Comments
January 24th, 2011 / 11:51 pm

“Why would people sell themselves short and not just live the life of pure creative glamour.”

On Friday night I read Dan Hoy’s post over at Montevidayo entitled THE PIN-UP STAKES: Poetry & The Marketing of Poetry. Approximately 2 hours later I was wasted in a bar across the street from my apartment, yelling at my roommate (who doesn’t really read poetry) that it was the best thing ever, insisting that she read it on her smart phone. About two hours after that I tweeted the phrase “If you take the lyrics to pop musick seriously they become the map of utopian society” (the “k” at the end of “musick” is my own superfluous nomenclature that surfaces mostly while “under the influence,” tying music to “magick” of course).
What was in my head, still, other than Hoy’s essay itself, was the video above, and more particularly, the song within the video.
Craft Notes / 24 Comments
January 19th, 2011 / 6:24 pm


I read a lot of books in 2010 and here I am briefly going to say things about my favorites. I don’t think any of these came out in 2010, sorry? I will include the titles, my notes upon initially reading the book, and some brief notes made fresh.
SpoilAr alert: I say things are “fucking amazing” a lot. There are a lot of books briefly mentioned in here. It is overwhelming. It is also Christmas today.
I Like __ A Lot / 10 Comments
December 26th, 2010 / 1:48 am

Random / 4 Comments
December 24th, 2010 / 10:12 pm
As a follow up to my earlier post on the censorship of Fire in my Belly, someone has gotten a hold of the entire 20 minute Wojnarowicz Super8 film & uploaded it to Vimeo:
A Fire in My Belly from ppow_gallery on Vimeo.


“When, in order to adapt to his destiny as an artist, Anselm Kiefer attempts to throw himself open to a dimension larger than himself, he does not retreat in the face of a force that may overwhelm and daunt him. He allows himself to be possessed and swept away by it, to become the arbiter of a challenge which ultimately implies the construction of the formal energy of art. To let ourselves be overwhelmed means to agree to be impregnated and to mediate that which submerges and overtakes us: to discover ourselves in order to discover. The artist, like the poet, eludes any system, whether good or bad, religious or moral: he negates himself, dies in favour of an unknown and indefinable force, and aspires to establish the right relationship with forms and their origins. He wants to succumb to their primacy and lets himself be shattered and overwhelmed not for any banal or general reason, whether it be ideological or sociological, anonymous or impersonal, but only for one exceptional reason: the survival of the language of art.”
The Destiny of Art: Anselm Kiefer by Germano Celant.
Power Quote / 1 Comment
December 9th, 2010 / 3:34 pm


I wanted to write about this, or at least mention it here, because it’s occupying my mind to the point where I feel guilty for spending two hours recording videos of myself singing songs by Ke$ha , watching a shitty horror movie, or even listening to stoner metal last night. Hell, basically the fact that I did anything other than “be angry” is making me feel guilty. But on the other hand I know that’s ridiculous, and that the unfortunate fact of the matter is being angry wouldn’t have accomplished anything. To be fair nothing I actually did accomplished anything either. I don’t know what I could have done that would have been helpful, so I guess getting the information out to people who don’t know is something I can do at least.

The above video is a 4 minute and 11 second excerpt from David Wojnarowicz’s experimental film Fire in My Belly. This is all I’ve seen of the film (in fact I didn’t even know that this was only an excerpt, as opposed to the entire film, until yesterday), but I’ve watched it a lot. Wojnarowicz is an artist that I find really powerful, both from the entire scope of his life story and in the art he produced itself.
By 16, Wojnarowicz had dropped out of high school and was living on the streets, due to a shitty home life and the terror he faced due to his own homosexuality. Homeless, he hustled for a living, eventually hitchhiking cross-country a few times before settling in NYC in the late 70s. In the 1980s he was diagnosed with AIDS.
Not to pull attention away from his earlier works–virtually everything he made throughout his visible life as an artist is amazing–but the work he started to make after being diagnosed, well, the work was angry. David Wojnarowicz was angry because he was invisible–because queers were invisible. Something that he said, that I think is really fucking just so to the point, is what follows:
‎”I want to throw up because we’re supposed to quietly and politely make house in this killing machine called America and pay taxes to support our own slow murder and I’m amazed we’re not running amok in the streets, and that we can still be capable of gestures of loving after lifetimes of all this.”
Random / 27 Comments
December 2nd, 2010 / 12:00 pm

Mute Prophecies

“In traditional cultures art offered visual and other types of definitions or embodiments of the prevailing cultural and philosophical measure. In times when the measure is broken into contradictory fragments, the role of the artist, in Kounellis’s view, is also shaped by contradiction. The artist must be at the same time social and political on the one hand, individually creative and self-expressive on the other. When the measure is changing, art can function either adversarily to destroy lingering credulity about the past measure or positively to fashion or define a new one. This is the great power of art and the great and serious role of the artist. The artist performs an interruption in the stream of measure, or of false measure as in our time; this interruption is the creative/destructive act through which the lingering appeal of the old measure may be destroyed and a new measure found. In Kounellis’s view, an artist who attempts something else in his or her work does not understand the solemnity of truly belonging to history. His or her art does no real work. It enters the world of the market or of entertainment or of the mass media but it does no real work with the roots of culture and the problem of human nature.”
Thomas McEvilley on Jannis Kounellis
Power Quote / 0 Comments
November 22nd, 2010 / 12:15 am

if some thing black: On Alix & Jacques Roubaud

Last week I read Dalkey Archive’s somewhat recent release, Alix’s Journal. It was written by Alix Cleo Roubaud, husband of the far-more-visible Jacques Roubaud. Immediately upon finishing Alix’s Journal, I read Jacques’s some thing black. Jacques was a poet, a mathematician, an eventual novelist, and a key player in the OuLiPo. Alix was never sure exactly what she was, other than Jacques wife–which she insisted on her role as with intensity. After Alix died, suddenly, in 1983 of a pulmonary embolism, Jacques began working on some thing black, which took its name from Alix’s series of photographic prints, if some thing black.
Both books, independently and intertextually, are fantastic works. But what becomes most interesting for me, perhaps, is the way in which the book interact. There seems to be a similar relationship between the books (the texts, the written words) as that between Jacques and Alix during their marriage. Alix’s Journal reveals a woman in a primarily male-dominated intellectual world. This is not academia, this is a realm of existence that I doubt still exists in the same way (though to be fair I live in a small town in Northern Illinois)– people, individuals, that care deeply about their own art and the art of others, with no specific ties to a University funding anybody’s motivations. A similar world is exposed in the first volume of Susan Sontag’s journals, and to be fair I can’t help but find it somewhat Utopian.
But this world is not at interest for the time being, because the world of the text that each book carries is one of sadness and desperation.
November 9th, 2010 / 2:38 pm


[Another not-mean post for mean-week. Sorry. I had part of this done before I realized it was mean week (duh) & wanna write about these books while they're fresh in my head. Also, I might do this regularly because I am a major proponent of out of print books, who knows.]
I end up reading a lot of books that are out of print. Part of me feels like I do this to compensate for the fact that I no longer dedicate an excessive amount of energy to digging up & talking about lost films. Another part of me just always insists that the best shit is found by digging as deep as possible. I like looking for things, reading about lost things, and finding things that there’s not an abundance of discussion about. It makes me feel like I’m solving a mystery, and I get a major rush out of it.
I spend a lot of time combing through World Cat listings & requesting books & articles from inter-library loan networks. I also obsess over used-book meta-search engines. I also feel like, perhaps, that a lot of marginalized Other’s books end up out of print, so I sometimes tell myself that I can feel slightly empowered. This may or may not be ridiculous. Regardless, I’d like to talk about three out of print books that I recently read and enjoyed.
I Like __ A Lot / 12 Comments
October 26th, 2010 / 5:44 pm


Wrath of Dynasty is a boutique imprint of fine art objects that was established by Jon Leon halfway through 2010. If you’re not familiar with Leon, the best thing to do is check out his poetry, some of which is available online here. If you want to check out any of his many chapbooks, well, you’re pretty much out of luck, because they’re all out of print. In three days the final title from this season of Wrath of Dynasty, formerly Legacy Pictures, will also be out of print. In fact, in three days, everything Wrath of Dynasty has ever released will be out of print, at least until the next season starts and a new series of unique print objects are brought to light. I have been consistently impressed with Wrath of Dynasty, which has brought to light a lot of exciting and unique work that would undoubtedly be inappropriate for other venues, so I thought I’d send Jon an email and ask him more about it. Check out the interview behind the cut.
Presses / 3 Comments
October 19th, 2010 / 2:21 pm


1. China—poetry. 2. Mass media and language. 3. Wives—family relationships. 4. Literary form—data processing. 5. Poetry—therapeutic use. 6. Literary criticism and the computer. 7. Metadata—standards.

The above text comes from the front cover—which coincidentally serves as the backcover—of Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking. The text is only half of the metadata supplied, an excerpt from the Library of Congress “tags” that establish the content of the book officially. Lin’s book is a rhizome, a network, it is a book as a book, it is a book as a network as a book, it is a book as a book as a book.
Okay, let me start over. There are two ways one can approach Lin’s book. Of course, there are actually an infinitude of entrances to Lin’s book, but for the sake of this blog post, to ensure that it does come to an end, I will discuss two: the way I expected to enter the book and the way I actually entered the book.
September 24th, 2010 / 2:06 pm

All Context, No Content

Here is an image of a small boy walking along the precipice between a zone of water and a monolithic structure.
Hi. My name’s Mike. I will be posting here periodically (thanks Blake). I had planned for my first post to be about Tan Lin’s Seven Controlled Vocabularies and Obituary 2004. The Joy of Cooking (Airport Novel Musical Poem Painting Film Photo Hallucination Landscape), which Adam Robinson mentioned last week, because I finished it yesterday and wanted to say something about it because it’s amazing, but I left my copy at home. I don’t like writing about books in detail if I don’t have them in front of me.
Instead of telling you about Tan Lin’s book, I will tell you about myself. Sometimes I really like talking about myself, and sometimes it makes me really uncomfortable. Most of my “author bios” are really brief and include a statement about how I am going to kill myself in the ocean. I also generally point out that this may or may not be true.
Random / 30 Comments
September 21st, 2010 / 4:03 pm


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