Michael S. Judge - Every so often a new voice disrupts the silence of sameness, evoking old ghosts and new phantoms with equal surety.In America, history and myth are forced to share the same land. America isn't the answer to impossible questions, just the result of their friction






Michael S. Judge, Lyrics of the Crossing, Fugue State Press, 2014.
read an excerpt
michaelsjudge.wordpress.com


In America, history and myth are forced to share the same land. America isn't the answer to impossible questions, just the result of their friction. We live on terrain permanently ripped between historical malpractice and millennial ambition. We're a myth constantly collapsing into actual atrocities--a dream with the power to kill.
As we export our dreams for the world to consume, the world finds American sleep a hazmat, its half-life apparently eternal. "And even in our sleep, pain which cannot forget / falls drop by drop upon the heart / until, in our own despair, against our will, / comes wisdom through the awful grace of God." Thus Robert Kennedy, misquoting Aeschylus onto the murder of Martin Luther King, two months before his own assassination.
This astonishing novel, vast, visionary, and grieving, is ambitious beyond any we've ever published. It aspires to tapestry the inner life of our American experiment in its three threads: despair, wisdom, and grace. Despair: each individual trauma as a local case of our national pathology. Wisdom: the ineradicable record of our wrongs. Grace, the awful grace of god: a mythic disclosure that cannot lie, though it can destroy. These three strands, and their mangled topology, are Michael S. Judge's "Lyrics of the Crossing."


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Michael S. Judge, ...and Egypt Is the River, Skylight Press, 2013.


...And Egypt Is the River is a collection of mystical prose-poems which the author describes as an attempt, based on the linguistic theories of R.W. Emerson, Ernest Fenollosa, and Hugh Kenner, among others, to trace the evolution of cosmology and myth as derived from a people's immediate sensory experience. In one sense it is an exploration of the genesis of language, the primal utterances that transcend from the physical world of sound denoting object to how images come to bring about self-awareness and fuse shared mythologies; or as the poet would say - "impact that compels words, that collect in fossil tidepools of the skull." Explore the world of Hibou, the experiential, Klang, the experienced, and the 3rd, who oscillates somewhere in between. "Riffs of heightened prose pleasure the senses, with auditory, tactile, and hallucinatory provocations. To endure such a rigorous and sustained assault on the essential poetic metaphors is a fierce initiation. This Egypt of the Mental Traveller is a dream of the true path, subtle and dangerous and undeceived." - Iain Sinclair


Every so often a new voice disrupts the silence of sameness, evoking old ghosts and new phantoms with equal surety. …And Egypt Is the River is a collection of mystical prose-poems which the author describes as an attempt, based on the linguistic theories of R.W. Emerson, Ernest Fenollosa, and Hugh Kenner, among others, to trace the evolution of cosmology and myth as derived from a people’s immediate sensory experience. In one sense it is an exploration of the genesis of language, the primal utterances that transcend from the physical world of sound denoting object to how images come to bring about self-awareness and fuse shared mythologies; or as the poet would say – “impact that compels words, that collect in fossil tidepools of the skull.” Fenollosa’s exploration of Chinese characters and Kenner’s fascination in modernist mechanisms were a big influence on the developing Ezra Pound – and that sort of inspiration is evident in this exciting collection by a new name in contemporary poetry, Michael S. Judge.
Of course, the prose poem goes as far back as ancient Greece and had quite a heyday in 19th Century France and Germany when championed by the likes of Baudelaire, Novalis, Hölderlin and Heine. A relative newcomer to the scene but no stranger to such writerly inspirations, Judge has dabbled in translations of Baudelaire (among others) as well as exploring avant gardist’s lives and perspectives in his upcoming novel, The Scenarists of Europe (forthcoming from Dalkey Archive). But more than just collating a few meaningful prosodies, Judge works a an elaborate theme across his poetic patchwork to the point that …And Egypt is the River could be said to be an experimental novel of sorts, similar to fellow Skylight offerings such as Martin Anderson’s Interlocutors of Paradise, Rikki Ducornet’s The Cult of Seizure, Richard Froude’s The Passenger or Daniel Staniforth’s The Groundlings of Divine Will.  But perhaps the best recent examples of such a literary phenomenon come from Iain Sinclair, author of the recently reissued Lud Heat and Suicide Bridge, whom the author willingly cites as a major influence on his work.  Indeed, Sinclair has offered the following assessment of …And Egypt is the River:
 “Riffs of heightened prose pleasure the senses, with auditory, tactile, and hallucinatory provocations. To endure such a rigorous and sustained assault on the essential poetic metaphors is a fierce initiation. This Egypt of the Mental Traveller is a dream of the true path, subtle and dangerous and undeceived.”
Another visionary British writer and artist, Brian Catling, had this to say:
“If Egypt was a river, then it would eddy and flux, and sinuously expand like MSJ’s hypnotic language. This is something rare and dangerous. Rich, sensuous and edgy, an unfurling scroll or a besotted map, powering Conrad up inside a post colonial Kubla Khan. Let it read you and be transformed.”?
The book invites us to explore the world of Hibou, the experiential, Klang, the experienced, and the 3rd, who oscillates somewhere in between. The reader will embark upon a brave and exploratory work in which he or she will have to embrace a new language, one that evolves as a physiological outgrowth of such a world. In good literary company, Judge deftly manages to dispense with the cloying parameters of time and place and send the reader into a world of strange amalgamated scopes and scapes. Of his work he says coyly – “you could say it takes place in the pharaohs’ Egypt, though it doesn’t; or in Pisistratian Greece, though it doesn’t; or for that matter in Missouri, say around 2666, which it might.”  In a similar fashion to which Iain Sinclair weaves his ‘psychogeography’ Egypt becomes a sand-shifting ideal or a state of being rather than a concrete and historic locale.  Rather like Durrell’s Alexandria, Kerouac’s Road, Barth’s Funhouse, it hints at a potential spirit-state rather than any fixed point – and one well worth co-habiting.
Skylight Press is thrilled to publish And Egypt is the River, the first work of a dynamic young writer that promises much in years to come. - www.iainsinclair.org.uk/2013/09/24/new-book-and-egypt-is-the-river-by-michael-s-judge/


...and Egypt is the River is quite like a series of cave paintings. It can be imagined that it was created in the shifting light that traces the turns of the walls. Therefore, it should be read in such a dancing half-light and observed from the perspective of its ongoing formation. It would help to let your eyes bounce amongst the structures for the creation of new silhouettes. It would not be helpful with this book to go back and read any sentence twice to make sure that you understood it. In fact, if you accidentally skip a line, it may be imperative that you never read those words and assume that the structure of the book is just as you read it. If you find that you come to your wits at the end of a paragraph, realizing that you have only been thinking about a newly formed freckle on your arm or the neighbors fighting, you have likely realized an important aspect of the work. You will never find meaning if you are so concrete in being. But, finding this book by Michael S. Judge enjoyable, I like to let myself run a little wild and see where I end up. ...and Egypt is the River is a well written and original work of literature. - matthew long 


Interview here


… And Egypt is the River, 2011. Published 2013, Skylight Press.
Lyrics of the Crossing, 2012. Published 2014, Fugue State Press.
The Scenarists of Europe, 2011. Published 2015, Dalkey Archive.
Index, 2012.
Heaven 1945, 2012.
Fracture Maps, Citizen, Hieroglyphs of Witness (triptych), 2013.
Ubixic, 2013. First chapter, posted by Mutable Sound.
Anubis in Jerusalem, 2013-14.
Corporum, 2014.
Pleiades, 2014.
Tehom, 2014.
Denominator’s Hive, 2015.
Larvae, 2015.
Oedipus the King, work in progress.


3 poems


Michael S. Judge was born in 1987 in Kansas City, MO.  He grew up in an Irish Catholic enclave in Kansas City, MO and was taught and terrified by Jesuits, much as per Joyce’s Portrait of an Artist as a Young Man.  He spent his adolescence in a basement making records, some of which still exist, and then went to Texas to study music.  Blake, Eliot, Joyce, and Pynchon made him want to write; Ezra Pound, Djuna Barnes and Iain Sinclair showed him that it was possible.  He was very briefly employed by Purdue University, after which he says he spent about a year “in disintegration.” He’s been in Texas since 2011 writing.
Judge has written several novels as well as translating Charles Baudelaire and Dante, among others.  Skylight Press will soon publish …And Egypt is the River, which will be followed by The Scenarists of Europe (due out from Dalkey Archive in 2014). His version of Baudelaire’s Fleurs du Mal will be published by Fugue State sometime in the next year or so, and he’s just finished a new translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy, which he says “will probably be published in 2099 by a group of blind animals who’ll print it on the side of a plastic replica mountain in Utah.”
Not confined to pen and ink Judge is also a multi-instrumentalist and generator of various interesting indie music projects, including The Wolf Tickets, Jerusalem, Sinthome and most recently, The Nerve Institute. In a 2012 review on prog-sphere the latter was described as “a project that makes surreal and dense, yet quaint, charming music.”  Similar praise could be made of his imaginative and unique poetry and Skylight Press is thrilled to introduce it to the world.




Much like Toby Driver’s maudlin of the Well, The Nerve Institute is a project that makes surreal and dense, yet quaint, charming music. A one man ordeal from Mike Judge (presumably not the one of Beavis And Butthead fame), I am glad to have come across an album from a new artist that doesn’t give itself all up at once. As the name may suggest, ‘Architects Of Flesh Density’ is a strange album with unexpected turns, verging on the avant- garde, yet drawing enough conventional flair to keep people from losing their minds. The album may be difficult to explain all in one review, but I’ll try.
To set up a foundation of this project’s sound, this is a largely keyboards driven album, although everything from guitars to violins and saxophones pop in at one point or another. Also prevalent is the voice of Judge himself, sounding alot like Neal Morse, formerly of Spock’s Beard. With this baseline binding the songs together, the songs each have their own twists to make them distinct. A fair example of this would be on the album’s second song, ‘Prussian Blue Persuasion’, in which an exotic violin is used to give the music an extra spice. Instrumentally, Judge’s forte is with the keyboards, and I may be inclined to say it sounds like he has a background in jazz music from the way he plays.
The music could be well labelled as eclectic avant-rock, although Judge’s vocals lend a much more accessible vibe to the music. As I have said, his voice is very similar to that of Neal Morse; warm, not technically accomplished yet melodic and personable. In a way, this contrasts the instrumentation, which is not all that melodic, and would be called ‘weird’ any day before being melodic and intimate. The album does take several listens to digest, and if anything can be said for The Nerve Institute, it’s that Mike Judge put in much time and effort into making the album as good as it could be. This is highly inventive music, although I do get the impression that The Nerve Institute’s music gets a little too detached for its own good, wandering off into space without much regard for the listener. Of course, this meandering feeling (that gets emphasized towards the second half of the album) offers a surreal vibe to the album that compliments it, as far as its atmosphere is concerned.
Details aside, ‘Architects Of Flesh Density’ is a strange album from a strange project.
- www.prog-sphere.com/reviews/the-nerve-institute-architects-of-flesh-density/



Michael S. Judge, Scenarists of Europe, Dalkey Archive Press, 2016.


Between World Wars I and II, three expatriate Americans attempt to reconstruct a vision of the fractured Europe they’ve been forced to occupy; meanwhile, in the near future, a nameless narrator wanders the desolation of the United States, looking for (and dreading to find) any sign of life. But where the normal historical novel treats the past like the present, The Scenarists of Europe deals in the actual form of the past – corrupted files and incomplete documents, static tableaux and broken images, between which we must imagine the connections – and, in the process, constructs a dreamlike critique of the transmission of history, the empire-building ambitions of modernism, and the ahistorical wilderness of the world’s last superpower.
This experimental novel’s torrent of language creates a dark and unsettling apocalyptic world.
An epigraph from Djuna Barnes’ verse play, The Antiphon, sets the stage for this unusual and subversive third novel from Judge (Lyrics of the Crossing, 2014, etc.): “Say I was of home so utterly bereft, / I dug me one, and pushed my terror in.” The novel bears some resemblance to William T. Vollmann’s Europe Central with its j’accuse intensity but without the historical grounding, and stylistically, it’s something else altogether. We are confronted with decadent, lavishly descriptive prose and poetry hurled at us, portraying something out of a Brothers Quay film. This inferno of a book is set between World War I and II—its three sections are called Before Europe, During America, and After Europe. It’s a road trip of cities and states (London, Florida, Hammondsport, Fargo, St. Louis, etc.) as seen by the “scenarists,” three expatriate Americans, Djuna, Tom, and Ezra, and an “I” called “Patient.” A devastating conflagration has taken place. Functioning as journalist watchers confronting a damaged humanity, they record an unending tableau of grotesque images reminiscent of Joel-Peter Witkin photographs: “piles of worn vultures” are mountains; a dwarf’s leg is a “twist of rotted wood”; and Beckett-ian “figures” that hide, lay “folded or at length in canisters under the street like tanks of obsolete poison.” The trip seems to owe something to the psychogeography school of fiction inhabited by Will Self and Iain Sinclair, where the abstract is conveyed via accumulated, concrete images. Imagine Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities—with its cities dead, hidden, continuous—on steroids, where “words weld to words along a seam of amputated meaning.” Describing the book is problematic and ultimately probably useless. Judicious editing would have helped and yet it seemingly revels in its excess, steadfastly refusing to bow down to any conventional fictional tropes.
It’s not for everyone, but for those willing to take the hyperbolic, meditative trip, it will stimulate, confuse, and exhaust. - Kirkus Reviews












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