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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Renee Gladman Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge (2013)

renee-gladman-photo

‘Over the course of Renee Gladman’s trilogy — Event Factory, The Ravickians, and Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge — the narrative focus draws increasingly inwards. The narrator of Event Factory is a foreigner, and the book describes her stay in the city, and her struggles with the language and culture around her. At times, she seems thoroughly fluent in it; at others, her interactions with Ravickans are more fraught, with gaps in understanding, moments of political tension, and brief scenes of existential dread. The Ravickians takes as its central character Luswage Amini, a Ravickan novelist alluded to in Event Factory. Here, too, a familiar literary device — following her progress across the city — is juxtaposed with thoughts on translation’s inaccuracy, the problems that plague Ravicka, and Amini’s long and complex relationship with another writer, Ana Patova.

‘Patova is at the center of the trilogy’s final novel, Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge — a title that seems quotidian until one reads Event Factory and discovers that “crossing a bridge” is a phrase abounding with resonances in Ravic. Here’s the narrator of Event Factory as she views and translates a warning sign beside a bridge.

‘Digla implied that to successfully cross the bridge (or not cross the bridge, depending on the meaning of the remaining words) we had to grasp the content of the message and integrate that content into an act or gesture made toward the bridge.

‘Here, more of the city’s history is revealed, and its place in the wider world is made more clear; still, it too exists at a distance, as much of what we’re reading is, ostensibly, a book by Ana Patova called Enclosures. The book’s cover design, in which white space frames artwork similar to the much larger art gracing the covers of the previous volumes, effectively mirrors this structure.

‘Gladman’s trilogy avoids hitting certain conventional narrative beats, even as the novels’ structures fit within larger guidelines — once again, an echo of Ravicka’s geographic and physical elusiveness. The narrator of Event Factory leaves certain details out of her story which would otherwise represent significant beats in the narrative; towards novel’s end, she notes:

‘Obviously, I cannot say what happened once I reached the street. That is, I cannot say whether or not I remembered something that I was to look for, as if it were an event that is now complete.

‘The second and third volumes in the trilogy, ostensibly translated from Ravic to English, achieve a greater stability in their narratives, but other things remain unsaid. Every once in a while, a Ravickian will make a statement that reminds us that their culture is not simply a known one with a few changes in dress or cuisine tacked on. “Everyone is leaking structure,” one character notes in The Ravickians, and throughout the trilogy, a comparison is made between the physical spaces in Ravicka and the characters who live there. In a larger sense, the way that the narrative of these three novels eludes expectations, sometimes frustratingly, mirrors how the use of space in Ravicka can defy logic.

‘As in Morris and Miéville, some aspects of Ravickian society feel fundamentally knowable. Many of the characters’ names have an Eastern European feel to them, and a reference to “buildings wandering and knocking into each other” in Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge recalls Prague’s Frank Gehry-designed Tančící dům (or “Dancing House.”) Later in the trilogy, Patova’s talk of being offered refuge in Finland during a past period of civil unrest further situates Ravicka in the real world, suggesting that, for all its eccentricities, it can still be pointed to on a map.

‘It’s also worth noting that Gladman cites Samuel R. Delany’s Dhalgren in the acknowledgements of Event Factory. That novel, and the city at its center, provide another lens through which to view Ravicka — one in which, unlike the novels of Miéville and Morris, a greater degree of surrealism in the landscape is expected. (One might also cite fellow Delany acolyte Jonathan Lethem’s Amnesia Moon.) For all that the anxieties and anguish of the Ravickians becomes increasingly more tangible over the course of the trilogy, Gladman also poses certain questions about their culture that delve into a glorious illogic.

‘The Ravic language involves gestures — but to say that undercuts the extent to which performance is ingrained in not just the language but in the very concept of Ravickian identity. At one point early in Event Factory, the narrator notes that a friend of hers, Simon, has vanished. She takes over his role at a hotel in the city; later, she notes that “I stood there and performed Simon brilliantly.” And late in Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, the narrator shares postcards she has received, ostensibly from expatriate friends, with a gathering of people that includes those same figures. “No one believed Tómas was in Delaware, but no one believed that he was in Ravicka either, as long as I was carrying around that postcard.”

‘You don’t go to the trouble of constructing a metaphorically rich fictional city without having some larger point to impart on your readers. In Gladman’s case, that seems to be about fear and anxiety and the way each of us splinter ourselves. As her narrative defies expectations, her use of space occasionally defies logic — which is every bit as disorienting as you might expect. There are no maps that can take you to the places Gladman and her colleagues describe, but that might be the point: their geography is already etched into our minds, and we travel there whenever we are reminded of our ever-present anxieties.’ — Tobias Carroll

 

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Further

Renee Gladman and the New Narrative
READING RAVICKA: TWO NOVELS IN A TRILOGY BY RENEE GLADMAN
RENEE GLADMAN’S RAVICKA NOVELS
The Company That Never Comes
‘Five Things’, by Renee Gladman
‘Proportion Surviving’, by Renee Gladman
‘Calamity’, by Renee Gladman
‘I Began the Day’, by Renee Gladman
An interview with Renee Gladman by Joshua Marie Wilkinson
A Voice of Leaving: Renee Gladman’s The Ravickians
Beginning the Day with Renee Gladman’s Calamities
Renee Gladman @ PennSound
Renee Gladman @ goodreads
Buy ‘Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge’

 

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Extras


Renee Gladman at Georgetown University


Renee Gladman reads at Small Press Traffic


Renee Gladman reads at Eastern Michigan University

 

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Interview
from BOMB

pic-rgladman

Renee Gladman I want to begin by asking you about slowness. Very general, I know. But it’s something I think about when I read your narratives: the duration of a moment of perception. Or perhaps, the sense has more to do with a certain silence around perception, which I’m reading as speed, but which might have more to do with space. Where do words like “slowness” or “silence” land when you think about the nature of experience or subjectivity?

Amina Cain I do often see “duration” within perception as a kind of spaciousness (something I am always trying to find, both in my stories and in my life), but, interestingly, I just finished an essay on my relationship to writing and it’s called Slowness. In it, I talk about how drawn I am to films (like Chantal Akerman’s Jeanne Dielman) and books (like Clarice Lispector’s The Apple in the Dark) that seem to move slowly, or that when they do build up to something with some kind of energy, do so without the promise of “real” drama, not unlike what it is to prepare to meditate. In the Soto Zen tradition, which is the only one I really know, you go through a fairly momentous ceremony to simply stare at a blank wall, to arrive at something like spaciousness or slowness. On that blank wall is projected everything (after all, you can see your mind there) and also nothing. I like that relationship between drama and quiet, between moving towards something and then just sitting down upon arrival to experience what it’s like to be there. I like it in life and in writing.

I wrote another essay that thinks about the similarities between fiction and landscape painting (as well as character and landscape) because I’ve been realizing more and more how important image and setting are to me as a writer—in a way, even more so than language, and certainly more than plot or story. The question I am now asking myself, that I think I have always asked myself, perhaps without knowing it at first, is: can a story be like a painting, or a video or film, or can it allow for lapses into the space of one of these things for a little while? What happens when a narrative allows us to spend time with an image longer than we are “supposed” to, when it is just as arresting as the story being told?

But, in that second essay, I also talk a bit about Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge, about how the narrator “softens” (and what I mean by this word is that some kind of boundary breaks down) with not only the “architectured” landscape, but also with sentences, and with the physical act of writing. It feels to me as though everything in the book is passing through the narrator’s body or that the narrator’s body passes through everything. I wonder if these impressions mean anything in terms of the way you yourself see the book, if you thought at all about porousness or exchange.

RG Sometimes it’s difficult to separate a narrator from language or the idea of the body and text. I often think they are inextricable, but lately I think it’s more that the narrator (of most of my fictions) and the body (which people ask me about a lot) are sublimated figures. They belong to language; they are problems of language. The only reason there is a body is because there is a text, in this case a “bridge,” to make its form possible. I like when people talk about membranes in regard to writing, because it allows you to visualize a layer that potentially sits on top of language. Because, you see, I think the language of the book is passing through something as well, and it’s not the narrator’s body, rather some abstraction of itself. Language has a dream of itself and the book passes through the dream. The first part of the sentence forms the membrane and the second part of the sentence moves through it. In my mind, it looks like ribboning, but is colorless. Someone writes about language as a skin, which perhaps corresponds with your thoughts on porosity. I am interested in the idea that the skin is an organ, because skin is flat like landscape, like language. If we allow language to be skin in our imaginings then we can move immediately to all the processes happening below that level—so many systems at work with the skin (language) acting as protection, as boundary and container. I think about things entering that membrane and moving through the body beneath and try to imagine what that looks like, sounds like at the reading level. I want the language you see, particularly in Ana Patova, to be alive and in process.

Earlier, in talking about meditation, you mentioned going through “a fairly momentous ceremony to simply stare at a blank wall,” as a way to describe your relationship to narrative. This is really exciting to me, a series of elaborate acts to prepare for one prolonged gesture. (Though I have a problem with the word “one” there. I’m not sure it’s countable.) How does this translate in writing? You talked about the wall, but I’m interested in the ceremony. Where does it take place? Is it outside of the frame of the narrative?

AC I like so much of what you say here, especially about language—what belongs to it (not possessively); what’s just underneath, moving; its dream of itself; the second part of a sentence moving through the first. I often want to ignore language, but of course I owe it everything because I don’t ignore it when I write and, thought about in the ways you describe, how could I? Here (and in Ana Patova) it’s as alive as a character (is character alive?), but it’s not character. It doesn’t want or need to be alive like that. It makes me think of language as a stage, the thing we all show up to see. A character may walk across it, but that is not the important part. Not that I think the two are pitted against each other, or ranked. It’s more about possibility (and I think there’s possibility everywhere in fiction). And the language in Ana Patova is always in process, yes. If a house has burned down in the first part of a sentence it is not necessarily so in the second part, and yet it’s not as if the first part doesn’t still exist. Nothing is reversed. This is something I love about the book. Sometimes an event that seems final happens again. The ribboning, colorless, makes sense to me. I also think of the sentence here as a kind of animal, drawn lightly. Maybe it’s my image-driven mind, but I sometimes felt in reading Ana Patova as if I were seeing drawings that flickered in and out of visibility.

The ceremony takes place in the narrative. Maybe the narrative is the ceremony, there to usher in a setting or moment that can then be stayed with for a while. Sometimes I feel as if I am a selfish writer (though I also think it might be okay), and that I write stories to get to something else, not the actual story. I don’t think that I “use” narrative or story in a negative sense, just that it’s a medium that allows me to get to these places, these moments. I don’t think I could get to them through poetry, for instance (or even through another kind of story with its other concerns). I’ll probably fumble a bit in expressing this, because maybe I won’t quite get to it, but it’s interesting to me looking here at how we both talk about our books, our writing. I have already brought into the conversation words like “character,” “setting,” and “story,” these classic elements of fiction. You and I both do and don’t seem to come to narrative in very different ways, and these differences in how writers arrive at and to their texts is endlessly fascinating to me.

RG I’m drawn to this idea of language as a stage that we all show up to see. First of all, it’s exciting to think there are objects in the field of language, that there are actually things to see, because often I find we leave the object world behind when we speak or write. Language is so abstract and goes on about its business of deducing, connecting, naming, expressing, etc. with nothing tangibly in play. You know what I mean? Language uses our memory of objects and our desire for meaning to world-build. So, if I’m inside your metaphor, and I’ve arrived at this stage upon which I will see language, I’m giddy, because I think I’m looking at nothing. Nothing is happening in my eyes. Though, somewhere else (perhaps through some other kind of seeing) shapes emerge. Signals go off and meaning parades through our brains. How fantastic is that? When I teach poetry, I like to ask my students where does the poem exist? Is it that thing on the page? Is it the words lingering in our brain, some feeling in the body? Where is it? The nothing that happens when one writes “Danielle is sitting in that chair” is incredibly compelling to me. And I think this is something you’ve mastered beautifully in your work—a surface that acts as if it’s devoid of objects, so that it’s less what the words say than how they behave. In “Attached to a Self” you write, “Sometimes there is a great emptiness, like shaking a box nothing is inside of; sometimes the box becomes warm.” I get caught up in the mystery; it’s a sort of displacement of consequence. Things take on surprising qualities in your work. And even though it’s the language that relays these effects, I find it’s more what is absent, what is pulled into an invisible but no-less-felt tautness that I’m waiting to see.

I wonder if you can talk about recent evolutions in your thinking about narrative—what you want it to do, what it actually does—and how the narratives you create correspond to those you experience in the world.

AC That’s really nice—waiting to see what won’t show up alongside of what does, and then, through that absence, being able to see a shape. A seeing without eyes. This might be true for many writers, but the way I’m able to tell if a text is finished is when I’ve cleared out enough space. If it’s too cluttered, certain relationships won’t be able to exist or make themselves known. It’s like a table with too many things on it. In a situation like that even the table is unable to be seen. Something about abstraction is hard for me, at least within a text, partly because it seems there is very little space in it. My feeling is that it gathers too many things around itself without clearing any of it out. Maybe that’s why I am always trying to use this thing that can be so abstract—language—to get to something else.

I don’t know if my thinking about narrative has changed necessarily, but definitely my understanding of what I do through narrative has evolved and become more visible. Mostly I feel I operate in the dark (while actually in the act of writing) and that my subconscious mind knows much more than the conscious one. But I do know that I want narrative to reveal, to let certain things sit next to each other; to catch abjectness and transcendence; and closeness and distance. In many ways, the narratives I write reflect what my experience has been in the world, or what I have been drawn toward, or repelled from, or what I find funny or sad. And, self-indulgently perhaps, as a writer I tend to plunk myself down in a narrative or setting or situation I want to spend time in, either because there’s something in it I want to imagine my way through or recreate. In my life, place has always been really important. This might sound bratty, but there are certain towns or cities that can crush me even if I’m just passing through for a couple of days, and these are not necessarily unliked towns/cities I’m talking about. Los Angeles is a place many people dislike (of course there are people who love it too), and yet for me it is almost therapeutic to be here. In the same way, place (and I might extend this to atmosphere, which brings in psychic as well as physical qualities) often drives my narratives. I take a long time to set things next to each other in a way that will hopefully make them alive and reveal something about their relationships to each other and create the space of the narrative.

What about you? Earlier you talked about language (and sentences) in a way that turned my head around and I really appreciated that. How does narrative fit in? What is the relationship between language and narrative?

And before I forget, I want to set this passage from Ana Patova here, because I want it to be in the space of our conversation and because it struck me so much when I read it:

“I wrote sentences about space so that I could stand up and walk down that hill. I wrote them, because the hill was too steep to descend gracefully with your body upright and steady. Spaces moaned when you crossed them; they didn’t know how to hold you.”

It makes me think more about what language can do, in a text and otherwise.

RG In Ana Patova the city becomes a three-dimensional embodiment of writing, a world propelled by sentences. Sentences, thus, become both propellants and consequences of the events of Ravicka. Ana Patova writes so that she can act in the world. The writing is the site of that action. What happens in between, where she’s actually walking down the hill, is unmappable. I don’t believe that there is any language without narrative, but there seems to be (in Ravicka and in Providence, RI) plenty of language without events. In Ana Patova, I’m trying to follow the line of thinking, letting it pass through these sentence-corridors that are bridges, and I’m doing this because something is being produced through this particular shape. A crossing reverberates, something being crossed. One consciousness crossing another. One’s books crossing others’ books. One’s walking with another’s walking. One attempt to see the crisis with every other attempt, and not only by the one person but also every other person in the city. I think of narrative as the story of our thinking and of language as that material.

So, I’m in the process of writing a long statement on my poetics called The Eleven Calamities. This will be a series of eleven mini-essays on my eleven favorite words or compounds that organize my thinking about writing. The first six on that list are world-building, novel space, sentence, architecture, line, and time.

 

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Book

ana-patova-cover-front-nostroke-234x299 Renee Gladman Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge
Dorothy, a Publishing Project

Ana Patova Crosses a Bridge is the third volume of Renee Gladman’s magnificent, melancholy series about the city-state of Ravicka, or about the architectures of its absence. It is tempting to read the Ravickian books as an extended allegory—of architecture itself, perhaps, except that architecture is already half-allegorical, its every element raised to prefigure whatever meanings can make their way to them. If any can. In Ravicka, meanings—indeed most contact of any kind—remain in abeyance, building, in absentia, the constitutive negative spaces of the narrative. There is a plot; it lays out zones of sheer ambience. Experiences, of which there are many, unfold as a redolent lingering in the structures of immateriality, the radical realities of the insubstantial. Gladman is a philosopher of architecture, though not that of buildings. Rather, she thinks (and writes) the drifts, partitions, and immobilities of identity, affect, communication, the very possibility of being human. Profound, compelling—haunting, even—the story of Ravicka is astonishingly ours.’ — Lyn Hejinian

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Excerpts
from The Brooklyn Rail & FCA

The object world bowed and slept and
grew enormous as something completely
without space, as a container without
volume, lightless, soundless, and did
this inside a world even larger and more
obscure than itself, a world we were
walking through, which no one knew
what to call (other than “old”) and no
one understood the dimensions of but which
was ours, this grid that had been touched
by a circle, these noisy, impenetrable
doors. We had been walking for hours,
looking for a happening, a boundary
event that would put an end to the crisis,
not an extraordinary occurrence—some
magical intervention—but a small act out
of a cabinet of everyday acts that we’d
witnessed numerous times and never
noticed and never saw the way through.
We thought it would be a speech act, so
began to look for instances where we
might chance upon bodies in unconscious
speech: we looked through people’s
windows. But windows looked into houses
whose structures were no longer reliable.
It had become impossible to say that you
were contained, to say “hello, the house,”
as you once had. The object world, we
noted, was drawn on by shadows.

* *

People kept saying other people were
fleeing the city and pointed to themselves.
We became third persons, but not arrogantly
so. I referred to myself as “Ana Patova,”
and said, “Ana Patova must have left.” For
a moment I thought I would sell my home
and wrote in our newspaper, “Ana Patova
wishes to sell her home; she is leaving.” I
read what I wrote and couldn’t believe
my words and couldn’t respond to inquiries.
“I am not leaving,” I said to friends who’d
read my ad. At the same time that they
were convincing me to stay they themselves
began to pronounce strange lines. “Hi, from
Delaware,” Duder Bello said on occasion. “I
am still in France” (Luswage Amini). We
were making chaos with our goodbye notes,
and it wasn’t as though leaving wasn’t
happening but that it just wasn’t ourselves
who were doing it. No one could name names.
We all knew that Hausen wanted to go, and
when he finally vanished, many of us felt
relief. We missed him, though we didn’t
know him (we knew his confinement), but
we celebrated his departure as a threshold
crossing. “Hausen finally made it,” we’d say
and clink our glasses. So, we knew that leaving
was possible and that in many corners of
our neighborhoods people were preparing
to depart, and did depart. But, we couldn’t
call out to them, even when the time came
and the deserter was someone we loved or
someone with whom we worked and drank.
Our mouths would empty, for a long time,
would be dry, and when saliva came back
to us, it was only to ourselves that we could
point. “I’m leaving,” I would misspeak
without knowing. “I’ve left too,” would say
Luswage.

* *

I sat in one of the galleries of the Museum
of Science and Anatomy, recovering from
a story someone had told me, a story I
would never write, but which would
dictate my behavior for the next several
years, everything from how I dressed and
what I read to whom I saluted in the
street and what scared me. The story
wasn’t given to me as most are, as some
kind of choreography beaten against
the body rather it was laid on top of my
voice. I told the story, over the course
of many days, to hundreds of people, or
perhaps to only one person, again and
again. It didn’t seem to matter who heard
it, only that I went on telling it. It was a
story of moments, the moments of
bewilderment that had begun to visit
all of us, of which my time in this museum
now was. You were bewildered by a
certain sharp awareness that made you
stop and sit down, usually to write a book,
but the book that was this story could not
be written. It had become an intruder in
my mouth, when I wanted to be silent, and
sent me running out my door and, for
many days, sitting in that gallery, staring
at walls that had not yet been dressed but
observing lines that were beautiful and
could not be authenticated and were
drawn by no one.

* *

Winds shook the walls of the city, they
did not. Waters from unknown valves
flooded the streets, our streets were dry.
My neighbors leaped from buildings,
slammed their loneliness into the ground,
no one leaped. I set my house on fire: I
burned my first house down; I burned my
second house. Luswage Amini burned her
house. Zàoter Limici burned his house.
Duder Bello destroyed his neighborhood
with fire. Bresia burned the maps in her
house, then burned her house down. My
mother burned her house, even Vlati
burned his—the Governor’s palace. For
weeks, dark smoke bruised the sky, yet
the sky was clear; the sky was always
clear. Someone flew over Ravicka and
drew it and failed. Houses burned. They
did not burn. The phone rang as I wrote
that. I answered five years ago. “The city
is on fire,” the caller shouted. “We are
destroyed.” Luswage went to her summer
home and put fire to it. She called someone,
me, someone else. We all had to let others
know what we were doing. “I burned it,
Luswage,” I told her. “Why is it still
here?” She arched her back climbing out
of the tub, then burned her building down:
“I stood in the ashes. I swear to you.”
“Goddamn,” she said, looking up at the
plane. We knew he was dropping matches
to the earth, though they didn’t land near
us. The plane was supposed to crash.
“Our houses were supposed to burn,” I
said about the crisis destroying our city.

* *

Hausen wrote a book that everyone
was reading. It went that way with men,
and yet this was a book that meant a lot
to me and led to a book of my own.
Hausen wrote a book in the time before
the crisis and people carried it around
in their back pockets; it was mass
produced. In the book, a man walked
over a bridge and entered a building,
where he jumped into a pool with a
mineral-green bottom. He swam back
and forth. He did a breast stroke, he
worked from his back, he banged his
body against the water, he sang, he
shouted. He climbed out and exited
the building, leaving a trail of water. The
book described the water as text; the
drops were signs. They doubled the story
of Hausen’s character. He was a man
who swam at night in empty buildings.
The man went home to someone who
did not seem quite like a woman, but who
also was not identified as a “man.” The
man coming home lay on top of this
person and swam and told a story, which
was a confession, and the body gasped,
but we did not know if the man’s story
was causing this gasping or whether the
cause was his writhing. The reader couldn’t
hear the story, but Hausen had the language
around the story crack and drop heat on us.
And the body writhed on top of the other
body and whispered to it about something
done and undone in the city, something
sitting under water, something terrible.

* *

The city that existed ran like a film
playing in a small movie house on a
forgotten street in the blown out part
of the city we swore never to enter,
never to grace, because of some tragedy
no one remembered but which haunted
our movements in the “safe” parts of
the city, which counted for most of
Ravicka. It was too imbalanced: that
there was this block of streets, off limits
to our living, and within this block
breathed the real body of our city, the
one that existed rather than painted itself
to exist, the living one, at least as I came
to think of it, though I had never seen
that film. I tried to arrive at the movie
house, but got turned away each time.
It was the film of the decade and would
tell me how to live and would open into
new streets, where bodies were possible,
where architecture exceeded itself and
took care of the environment, brought
the park into itself, danced around the
canal, where water ran next to and
summer bodies floated by. It wasn’t a
utopia playing there but the real built
environment, the one that went with the
language you spoke, that could handle
the verbs of your language. It was the city,
but was unreachable, was violent, without
victims and without perpetrators, and
violent, though there were no crimes.

* *

Every time I wrote a sentence something
disappeared, and after many thousands
of sentences, some of which I didn’t keep
or didn’t like, I began to look for those
vanished things. I also wondered whether
it was more that they were invisible than
vanished. I thought writing had something
to do with invisibility and the world tried
to show you this as often as it could, but
disappearances seemed to have more to
do with not writing, from the way things
looked in the city, among my friends and
acquaintances. You were losing hope if
you weren’t writing, which isn’t the same
as things going invisible. You were losing
hope, too, if you were writing, but it was
a different kind of loss, because there was
always something you had more of when
you were done writing, even if it was
sentences that you hated. I wrote
sentences about how men sleep and my
wooden spoons vanished, or perhaps
were no longer visible to the eye. Most
of the sentences I wrote I did so without
thinking of the consequences of objects
going missing. I was often trying to write
about the crisis, which was hard and
took everything you had, which was
almost all your language for that day.
One day I stopped writing and asked
after the vanished things; I wanted to
know where they were. It was strange to
have had them go away so silently. I
asked into the room where they were
and wondered about the thing and all
the things that replaced it. Would they
all come back at once?

 

*

p.s. Hey. If it’s of interest, there’s a new interview with me about the Google battle and my GIF fiction and the New Museum’s ‘Violations’ event up on the Filthy Dreams site. It was supposed to be on a big, well-known website, but they rejected it at the last minute for weird reasons that you can read about in the piece itself if you want to. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Thank you again so very much for the amazing post. I hope you’re happy with the experience. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Welcome back to you too. The New Museum documented the event on video, and all of the participants had to sign release forms regarding that, so I guess they’re going to put the footage up somewhere. I’ll let you know when and where they do. I hope you get to see it. Like I said, it was really cool. Thanks a lot about ‘ZFE’! Awesome that the Placebo show was everything you hoped it would be. Nothing like a great gig to get yourself into highly working order. The jet lag doesn’t seem to be so horrible so far. I hope the weekend took care of it. I’m busy right away again, of course. ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’ showed last night in a film festival here in Paris, and I was there to talk about it with our co-producer Christophe Honore, and it went really, really well. The place was packed. So I’m happy. We should know for sure whether the TV series is happening this week, so we’re anxiously awaiting that verdict. If it’s a yes, work on that will start up again. And we have to start working on our new film too. All is well. Did your weekend and your Monday hold cool stuff? ** David Ehrenstein, Morning, David. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn! Oh, wonderful, thank you so much! I’m very excited! Hugs. ** Steevee, Hi. Ah, understandable. My live events and you are star-crossed, it seems. Look forward to your review, of course. Everyone, here’s Steevee. Follow up please. ‘Here’s my review of the intriguing documentary OFF THE RAILS, about a man who has spent years in jail for impersonating a NYC subway/bus employee, although he’s never harmed anyone.’ ** Tosh, Hi, Tosh. Thank you kindly for thanking Ben. I’m curious to hear how the Alan Bernheimer event went, if you feel like saying. ** H, Hi. I get bad pre-event nerves. But when the event is actually happening, I’m usually fine. It’s weird. You X-ed Facebook out of your life. Totally understandable. Looking for things I like to look at there is a real ‘needle in the haystack’ kind of thing right now. No, I haven’t read the Bresson yet. The trip turned out to be a no reading books trip for busyness and distraction reason. But of course I’m very excited to now that I’m home. ** Sypha, Hi, James. Very awesome that the guest-post in motion. Thank you so much! I’ll peel my eyes come the turning over of the months. Ha, wow, I forgot about my Scribd account. Yeah, I made that to house things I wanted to share on the blog. I think everything there ended up here. Good to know it’s still there if I need it. Obviously very glad that it saved your newsletter volume. ** Ferdinand, Hey, F. Good to see you. Yeah, let’s catch up. ** Jamie, Hi! Oh, cool, I’m really glad my book tips found favor with you. That’s always really heartening, and, yes, they’re both total keepers, right? The jet lag doesn’t seem like it’s so bad. I always wait until the third night to make sure, so after tonight I, and presumably all of you guys, ha ha, will know for sure. Plane movies … let me see if I can remember. Oh, I saw that recent-ish ‘Godzilla’, which I thought was pretty fun. And ‘A Hologram for the King’, which was meh. And a James Bond movie I hadn’t seen, ‘Casino Royale’, which did its trick. And some documentary, but I’m blanking on what it was, so it must not have been that exciting. This week? Mm, some pre-new movie figuring out stuff so that when Zac gets back from his current Thanksgiving visit with his folks in California, we can hit our duties running. And see some friends, catch up, see some art or something. Make blog posts since I got behind as I usually do when I’m away. Should be okay. What is your week like? What’s your very latest? Lots of love back to you! ** New Juche, Hi, man. Great, do let me know! My breath is all bated and everything. ** Misanthrope, Hi, G. You should teach that Georgian methodology, although my lag seems to be being strangely nice to me, knock on wood. Yeah, gotcha, but someone breaking habits or the appearance of doing so doesn’t mean they’re horny to fuck everyone. Or not necessarily. Someone who wants to fuck everyone would make a good premise for a novel maybe. No, it definitely would, unless it has been done. If not, maybe you’re the guy to nail that. You had some irksome technical problems there for sure. Dead turkeys seem like very demanding bottoms. Kayla’s coming back. Good, there you go. A not very walking-heavy NYC visit should be a tricky thing to figure out. Do they still have those horse drawn carriages in/near Central Park. Maybe they’ll go further afield if you flutter your eyelids at them? No, I haven’t seen ‘Closet Monster’. I’ve heard about it. People seem kind of excited about it. Why, have you? ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Thank you, sir. Yeah, the US trip was pretty all right apart from, you know, Trump. I still need to see ‘The Lobster’. Damn. Netflix probably at this point. You have a week off? Oh, right, Thanksgiving’s one saving grace. What’ll you do with it? Your art, I hope. ** Right. I was thinking back recently about this terrific Renee Gladman novel and the trilogy that it’s part of, so I thought I’d share that fruitful digression with you today. See you tomorrow.

13 Comments

  1. The Alan Bernheimer/Philippe Soupault at ARTBOOK event was great. My contribution was very small to the show – basically Alan read two profiles/chapters in the book. One on Blaise Cendrars, and the other on the shadowly world of Rene Crevel. Both friends of Soupault, and the book is light in tone, but actually quite profound – especially for those who have an interest in the Surrealists of the 1920s as well as the avant-garde scene at the time For me, the Crevel chapter was the most interesting, because one, I like his writings (as well as Cendrars) but there is very little bio information on him in English. We know he committed suicide and was either gay or bi-sexual, but also I suspect he was into hard drugs at the time – so his world was probably involved with the gay underworld as well as fellow members of the narcotic team. Breton was a very well-known personality who feared homosexuality. Yet, reports are that he was very close to Crevel. I think Crevel had a very strong personality, and people around him loved him. Soupault clearly had a great admiration for him. The book itself, “LOST PROFILES” is a collection of essays/bios on various friends of Soupault, who was the co-founder of Surrealism. The two surprises here are the chapters on Marcel Proust and James Joyce. Soupault knew both men. I’m a long-term fan of Soupault – or of the writings that are translated into English. Alan did a great job translating the text, as well as editing the book. I strongly recommend it – especially for those who love the Paris avant-garde – and there is also a profound appreciation/critique on Baudelaire as well as on Henri Rousseau.

    My contribution to the event was that I brought up the idea that a lot of great artistic movements (especially from France) came with disasters of its time. World War 1 gave birth to DADA / Surrealism – and then the post World War II brought Letterists/Situationists – and so on. I also was curious to know if the current politics of the world will bring on another art movement/grouping into the world. And now back to today’s blog.

    • I think you’d be really interested by the liner notes, if not the actual music, of a new compilation of French punk singles in the PUNK 45 series released by the Soul Jazz label. They do a great job of tracing French punk’s roots in the Dada and Situationist movements, as well as writers like Rimbaud and Jarry (who also influenced American artists like Patti Smith and, obviously, Pere Ubu) and earlier musical provocateurs like Serge Gainsbourg.

  2. Hey Dennis!
    Today’s book looks interesting also. I’m close to finishing The Goalie’s Anxiety…and I’m really finding it close to perfection. And what a great size of a book.
    I’m glad that the jet-lag seems to be not too bad. I hope that by the time you read this you’ll be well over it and feeling tiptop.
    My latest, thanks for asking, is all systems go on the ‘making a cartoon’ project – have a meeting with an animation company on Friday and am really really excited about it all. Also, on Thursday I have a meeting with a literary agent, where I have to pitch a novel idea to them. It’s kind of my idea of hell, which is partly why I’m doing it, to hopefully get over the fear. I was actually wondering if you, or any of the talented folks that visit this blog have any advice on such a thing? Any and all tips will be gratefully received.
    So, that’s my exciting week. I see that you’re hopefully finding out about the TV show this week. How exciting!? Fingers, toes and everything crossable crossed! Hope that it’s nice doing whatever you’re up to and seeing friends etc.
    Lots of love to you,
    Jamie

  3. Hi!

    Thank you, this sounds awesome! I really do hope, too, that I can watch it! I’m very interested! I also read the interview on Filthy Dreams, congrats!!
    I’m glad the Like Cattle Towards Glow screening went well in Paris! Sounds like there’s no stopping there! Fingers very much crossed for the TV show! Have you already heard anything about the ‘verdict’? I’m really curious about everything and anything you’ve got to share about the whole thing! I’m thinking about trying myself out as an actor, it’s kind of an obsession I have now but I have no idea where to start as I have zero connection to the scene.
    My weekend was great, I spent most of it with my writer friend. I also watch this kind of new series, Eyewitness (have you heard about it?) which gets me all kinds of inspired every time I watch a new episode – which is on every Monday here. So yeah, all’s well.
    I hope your jet lag has disappeared completely by now and you have a lovely day!

  4. It must be that time of year again, when people start complaining about terrible UK Christmas theme parks. Bakewell Winter Wonderland is the latest in line to underwhelm its visitors.

  5. And in other news, the Yuck ‘n Yum proposal for Seattle’s SOIL gallery was accepted! The show is a while away in the future = May 3rd ­- June 2nd 2018, but we’ll be meeting very soon for a video chat to start working it all out.

  6. Catching up with this year’s release on DVD (as I’m deluged with the as the LAFCA vote approaches) Jackie with Natalie Portman is a hagiographic mosh pit. It’s allabout the assassination and its immediate aftermath. Nothing about her becoming Jackie O. Met he twice and despised her both times. Natalie Portman does a good impersonation.

    Café Society is so bad as to make one wonder if Wood Allen was ever good.

    With <i.Love and Friendship White Stillman finally takes the bull by the horns and adapts Jane Austen (a story called “Lady Susan”) It’s pretty but lifeless

    • I’m reviewing JACKIE for the Nashville Scene, and seeing it on the 30th. I didn’t like the other 2 Pablo Larrain films released in the U.S. in 2016.

      On the other hand, I thought LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP was really charming. I praised one of the actors on Twitter and was astonished when he thanked me out of the blue several weeks later.

  7. I think Renee Gladman is a great writer. It’s time to revisit this book. I think interior of her prose is coming along well with her peculiar thoughts about writing. Thank you for the post.

    Can’t say anything about corporate social media. It’s been uninteresting to me, but I’m not a media scholar, so I just don’t use it. I miss some literary and art magazine news there, but I guess I can be a little more disciplined to keep up with them individually when I can.

  8. Dennis, Very good pick here. I like the excerpts.

    Hahaha, this whole thing with child porn and your blog. Fucking ridiculous. I’ve seen every post for the last 8 or 9 years and have never seen such a thing. But I guess it’s like people who’ve said to me, “I’ve met Dennis…and he ISN’T a serial killer.” What are you gonna do, you know?

    Well, you know me, I like to generalize. 😛 I do think there are people who think all babies are cute. I know some. Problem is, not all babies are cute. I remember my niece’s mom talking about her third girl (not my niece) to my mom: “She isn’t very cute, is she?” That cracked me up.

    Fucking babies, what can you do, you know? 😉

    But yes, a good idea for a novel indeed. It’s probably been done. Hasn’t everything? I mean, I was gonna write a novel about this French kid whose swarm was all marble-y, but whaddaya know, some dude had already done it. 😮

    I’m emoji crazy today.

    Yeah, just little peevish, nitpicking things going on here. Ugh. Ovens, routers, extension cords, chargers, my mom finding a box for a morning-after pill, etc. Bleh.

    Things could always be worse.

    Well, the NYC trip will be done in such a way that we hit certain areas all at once. Maybe cab it a bit if we have to. In other words, more $$$ = less walking. Probably. We’ll see. I think I can work it out.

    I haven’t seen “Closet Monster,” but I saw the trailer a few months ago on OnDemand and it looked good. Some friends have seen it and say it’s really good. I’ll take their word for it. I really want to see this sci-fi movie called “Valerian” that comes out next year. That looks at least visually stunning. In more ways than one.

    I’m still wanting to see “Manchester by the Sea.” I just feel I need it. I don’t know. Besides, Casey Affleck’s in it and I love him as an actor. He’s just so fucking awesome to me. It should be out somewhere around my area next week, I’m thinking.

  9. “Manchester By the Sea” was financed by a major Trump contributor. NOTHING would bring me to see it.

    Latest FaBlog: The Trump Solution to The Jewish Problem

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