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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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p.s. Hey. New York Magazine/Vulture just published an article by the awesome Jason McBride about the making of Zac Farley’s and my film ‘Permanent Green Light’. There are a few inaccuracies in the article, two of which I feel a need to correct. (1) Zac directed ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’; I didn’t co-direct with him. (2) The article says the main character is obsessed with killing himself, which is completely wrong. He’s obsessed with not killing himself. In the film that is a very key and important difference. Anyway, here’s the article if you want to read it. ** David Ehrenstein, Thanks, David, true. Nice Joes pic! ** Chris dankland, It is really good. I’m just finishing reading it now. William Blake: I’ve always thought he was cool. I never got wildly into his work, but I haven’t read him since I was quite young, and I think at the time it just wasn’t what I wanted to know or something. You’ve inspired me to go back to his stuff. Cool, thank you! Don’t sweat about the visuals in your work. Hey, I’m so not a visual artist and yet I feel the gumption to make gif fiction which is nothing but visuals. I think coming at visuals as a writer is nothing but a new way to use and see them. There is a giant ferris wheel near my place for certain periods of the year. It’s not there right now. It’ll be back in, I think, October. I have ridden it. It was cool, not scary at all, I think because the machine you’re sitting on/is is so big it feels rock solid beneath you? Or something. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Wow, you did your research, excellent. Well, if you’re settled on the knife option, that’s all that matters, and, obviously, I don’t see that as potentially off-putting as you do, or I see any off-putting effect as potentially productive. Glad to hear you’re gathering your works for a book manuscript. You know I think that’s an excellent idea. Good luck with the organizing and everything else. Ah, you’re close to your parents but with many secrets. I don’t know if I was close with my parents but I certainly know the secrets part. Well, are you close enough that it would emotionally derail you if they have issues with the script? If so, if I were you, I wouldn’t show them. ** Bill, Hi. That’s some delayed jet-lag you’ve got there. Strange, or … strange? Well, ‘LS’ didn’t hold up for me, but, honestly, I wasn’t all that crazy about it when it came out either. ** MANCY, Hi, S! I do think ‘AI’ is definitely one of his best vis-a-vis my personal interest in what he does. ‘SL’ is still my fave. ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. Yes, I only found out yesterday from someone here that those other Duverts are forthcoming. It kind of reminds me of way back when the only Bataille books that were translated for a long time were ‘Story of the Eye’ and ‘Literature and Evil’, and then, semi-bang, the flood arrived. Robert Benchley! Wow, I haven’t thought about him in years, What a fresh idea to read him. Huh. I’m going to try to track down something by him myself. How interesting. Thanks, Tosh! ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! I look forward to de-mystery-ing that project soon. Yeah, it’s strange to be reading all the time about the ultra-horrifying sounding heatwave named Lucifer that’s rampaging in Europe and to be bundled up in coats and things here. We seem to have gotten extremely lucky. I hope the forecasters were right and that your heat will die a painful (for it) death today. No, since Zac is away and traveling, I doubt it will be possible to choose a music before he gets back on the 21st. But ideally we’ll be ready to as soon as he arrives. It sounds like you’re going to have a blast of a few days, and I hope my prediction is true and even modest next to the force of the blast. Have huge fun! I look forward to talking with you and hearing how everything went when your time is free again! ** Sypha, I don’t remember there being any fecal in ‘Atlantic Island’ but I can’t absolutely guarantee that because I could have breezed by it. Well, maybe going to a fucked up convention as your farewell to Weird Fiction would be an appropriate send off? ** Nicholas, Hey squared, N. Oh, you were making animation. I mistakenly thought you were going to watch some. That’s better. Nothing wrong and quite the opposite re: watching animation, of course. Sounds very promising, all of that, really cool. ** Nick Toti, Hey, Nick! Yes, yes, I found it, and I have now set up the post, and it will launch a week from tomorrow, so next Saturday. It’s really great. Not surprisingly, I got all caught up in his story and the videos and audio and links. I can’t imagine that not happening. Extremely interesting thing. Thank you so incredibly much for it. I’m really grateful and proud to have the opportunity to house it. Big up to you! ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. It’s always a massive mistake to downsize an amusement park. That is the road to ruin and failure. What are they thinking? Here’s hoping your big day today is super spectacular! Tell us and me all about it, if you don’t mind. ** Jamie, Yippie-yo-tie-yay, Jamie! My day was good. Prepping, work, leisurely hanging out with my visiting buddies. Quite sweet. I think we’ll be cool with on-the-spot tickets. You can buy them at the Louvre. To get to Parc Asterix, you take a chartered bus from the parking garage of the Louvre. The park’s located out sort of roughly near CDG. 45 minutes or so bus ride. Today: I’m waiting to hear when Gisele wants me at the rehearsal. Otherwise, see my visiting friends, I think. Enjoying the fall-like weather. Working a little. Stuff like that there. What’s your Friday doing? My apartment building has a flock of bats that live somewhere in the rafters or something and who do a lengthy swooping, circling dance piece in the courtyard every evening just after dusk. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. Thanks, man. No, I haven’t seen the film. It was a made-for-TV thing (ARTE). It doesn’t look like it would be very good. I don’t think it’s on DVD or anything. Thanks about the article. I hope the doc fixed your eyesight up. Oh, I was hanging with Wolf and Marc Hulson yesterday, and we were talking about Cortazar (they’re big fans), and that reminded to say again that if you have those images for that Cortazar post you made way back, and that I no longer seem to have, and want to send them to me, I’d love to restore that post. Only if you want to and if it’s easy. ** Misanthrope, I think you might well like that Duvert novel. It was your birthday! Holy moly! Everyone, yesterday was Misanthrope’s 46th birthday! Please bang passionately on your desk or on your knees or something in honor, thank you! Aw, that party sounds very sweet. What a lovely co-worker. So it was a goodie of a b’day? You didn’t get melancholy about losing another year or anything, I hope? ** Matthew Doyle, Hi, Matt! Very good to see you! Thank you for the nice story about the studio visit. I do sometimes really miss my three year gig doing studio visits on the payroll there. I’m doing very well, thank you. Oh, wow, cool that you’re going to the NN conference! Oh, uh, I’m doing a reading at the conference with Eileen Myles, and that’s surely more than enough of me live for the SF area. Maybe in LA. I haven’t yet sorted what I’m going to do post-conference. I want to go to LA afterwards and hit as many Halloween haunted houses as possible, but I haven’t figured out if I can yet. If so, a reading, and with you, sounds pretty cool. I’ll have you let you know a bit later, though. Yucca Valley, nice, for lots of reasons. Your project looks very interesting via my quick glance via your link. I’ll look more carefully when I’m finished with this p.s. thing. I mean, I don’t know since I don’t yet know your piece, but your friend’s negative comment seems a little suspiciously agenda-inspired? Thanks again for coming and for everything else. ** Joseph, Hi, Joseph. It’s always morning when I’m here. Semiotext(e) seems to update their site at a very leisurely place. There’s a page about the book on their overlord/distributor MIT’s page. I think it was in the post. I hope you’re as well as can be too. ** H, Hi. Yes, you beat me to that book. I’m not quite finished reading it yet, but I think will be this weekend. I hear the film version is watered down and pretty meh. Those are four very good books you read there, obviously. Excellent that the social worker had helpful and productive help/advice for you. Very cool. Oh, it’s more than perfectly okay to reveal personal stuff here as you can tell. Great day to you! ** Okay. I decided to restore the post today because I like it. Whole story. See you tomorrow.

15 Comments

  1. Hey Dennis!
    Nice stack. I used to love looking at stages when I was a kid. I used to draw pictures of them. I like the idea of looking at the perceived frame of something as opposed to the things that it is supposed to highlight and show off.
    Loved the Duvert day yesterday as well.
    I’ve got a few weeks off work so I’m catching up on the blog, working on writing, seeing art, and looking forward to Paris!
    Gonna go check out that piece about yours and Zac’s new film now.
    Happy Friday!

    Thomas xoxo

  2. Cool post. Theres definetley something magical about a stage. Pretty picture of the cast for the New York magazine. What will you be up to over the weekend Dennis? Im going to be off to the movies with my partner, from the limited selection of whats showing in South Africa Im probably going to watch something big budget and dramatic, maybe The lost city of Z. Im hoping to also finish The heart is a loneley hunter, which i heard, as I happened to be reading it, is a book that has kind of stuck with you. After finishing it Im going to read the Season in hell biography of Rimbaud. Im planning a trip to Zanzibar and hopefully seeing a few other towns on the North Tanzanian coast in September. Im hoping it might help me disconnect more from want.

  3. “All the world’s a stage”

    Back in the day the “Thalia” (New York’s smallest movie house) used to book an entire program of Robert Benchley shorts (eg. “How To Sleep”). Benchley was an Algonquin Round Table wit who turned himself into a “character” in life and an actor on the screen eg. “I Married a Witch” He was quite something

  4. Wow, I remember this day. Empty stages are strange in a good way. Thank you for having restored it today.

    Oh, the social worker I work with is a queer man from NY areas, and speaks with a beautiful voice. I feel comfortable to be around him for that too. And he understands I don’t want to be socially dramatic with the transition by any means, so I like that too.

    I’m glad you have time for the Tony Duvert this weekend. I’m going to watch Zulawski’s ‘on the silver globe’ in a theater here by hopping there in the middle of moving errands, so I think it’s going to be fun. And reading at a bookstore for a few hours again. And writing a little.

    Oh I started reading Clark Coolidge (selected poems) and I like some of it, but I might need guide to understand it better. Do you know who was/is a good reader of his poetry? Thanks again for the recommendation of the book through the 2017 favorite list of yours the other day.

  5. Yes, I do tend to get upset when my parents have issues with me. I don’t know if I talked about this here at the time, but I eventually learned that my parents have a reason in their life to feel bitter towards Jews (although my mom was born Jewish), but the fact that some Jewish people treated them very cruelly has nothing to do with my identity or the fact that I’m attracted to that part of my heritage.

    Americans, in general, seem to have a high tolerance for violence, and what I want to direct is probably no big deal. However, if I’m able to work with the actor of my choosing (a “name actor” I haven’t mentioned here yet, but have made steps towards trying to contact), I think it would be totally surreal to direct him in that scene, although I’ve realized the practicalities – I could only direct about three takes, because it’s inevitable that fake blood would get on his shirt, and I might have to buy three copies of the identical shirt. What I want to do is probably pretty simple, but it would probably be a good idea to have a makeup/special FX artist on set to tell the actor how to do this convincingly so we don’t waste half a bottle of fake blood and spill it all over the place.

    You probably haven’t read Richard Brody’s review of DETROIT, but he ended by saying something along the lines of the only way Kathryn Bigelow could have salvaged the film would be making a documentary about how the actors felt while reenacting torture and murder again. He pointed to two documentaries, S21 and THE ACT OF KILLING, as the only films about this subject, but both are about actual killers reenacting their crimes. (THE ACT OF KILLING is one of the best docs I’ve ever seen, but it’s so disturbing that I never want to see it again, although no real violence takes place in it.) I am not announcing this as a project I actually plan to pursue, at least not in the immediate future, but I think it would be very interesting to make a documentary in which I interview directors of violent films and talk about their attitudes on the subject, their motivations behind it. I would also like to talk to actors about how it feels to play a torture victim or pretend to shoot someone for 12 takes in a row. I’ve written about some of these issues in my reviews, but if I direct the script I’m writing now, I will be jumping into the fray for the first time and can no longer claim I’m completely innocent regarding this stuff. When I was auditioning Arab-American actors for a short I never was able to produce a few years ago, I looked at a lot of their reels, and it seemed like all of them contained clips from a film in which they played an Iraqi being tortured by American soldiers. As far as I can tell from clips taken out of context, these were all anti-Iraq War statements, but the torture victims they were playing were just noble victims with no personalities. And the flipside of this was that their reels also included lots of scenes of them playing terrorists. After a while, I started cringing at this stuff and thinking “If I were an Arab-American, acting is the last profession I would pursue.” (I do have a close Arab-American friend who is a filmmaker and acted in a recent NYC-shot indie film, but he didn’t play an Arab character, although the director made a bunch of weird statements in interviews about why he cast him.) Money was the main reason I wasn’t able to make my short, but it would have depicted Arabs in a way that had absolutely nothing to do with this stuff (and in fact, the auditions for that film were the place where I met the actor who stars in my short that’s now in post-production.)

    • I would really love to interview rapper El-P, about the video he made, way before Run the Jewels, in which he gets tortured for 4 minutes at a setting obviously based on Gitmo. I thought this was a great political statement against the “war on terror,” but I wondered if he was trying to make a point by having all this happen to a white guy rather than an Afghan or Arab. Errol Morris obviously saw the video because he copied images from it in STANDARD OPERATING PROCEDURE, and while none of the music video channels that existed at the time would show it for obvious reasons, it premiered on the New York Times’ website!

  6. Lovely stages today, Dennis. There’s something about B&W that makes stages seem, well, more stagey.

    Great to see the article about PGL! I have a horrendous connection at the moment, so we’ll see how long it takes to load.

    (I actually just got to the mysterious orient, hence the jetlag.)

    Bill

  7. Robert Benchley has become an important writer for me, or may be even a role model! The writing I did for my evening and Sunday series (as well as the “365” 2014 work) is very much under the influence of Benchley. Not in content, but his ability to write I think under a deadline, and coming up with these highly surreal, almost Tati like narratives. His take is that’s he’s a ‘normal’ citizen I presume of Manhattan during the 30s through the late 40s and deals with the absurdity of life in all its forms. To be honest, I’m not sure how modern readers will take him – but I like him because of his sentences, writing style, and humor. He encouraged me when I’m facing a blank wall, to cover that wall with something (writing wise).

    Duvert’s titles (besides Semiotext(e) are being published by Wakefield Press, which is an odd choice for them. A good one, but odd! Only wrote that because they specialize in Surrealist/DADA literature, and usually figures who somehow fell through the literary history – so wait, second thought, perhaps Duvert is a perfect author for their publishing. Like Semiotext(e), they’re great publishers.

    Stages! That contained space that goes out to the audience or the world. Restricted space. There is something beautiful about the ‘thought’ of the stage.

  8. Hi Dennis and everyone–

    The NY Mag/Vulture story has been corrected/updated online (sorry, too late for the print edition). Apologies again for the inaccuracies!

  9. Dennis,

    Got it. A week from tomorrow. I’m glad you like it. Thanks again for running it! I’ve done so much research on Warnke that I’d have gone crazy without some kind of outlet for it.

  10. Hey DC,

    Bear hugs back to you. A catch up: I don’t know what is going on. I’m still in a sort of funk. I don’t feel like an artist these days and it’s deeply unsettling. My crazy job is definitely a factor. I feel like I’m not able to really concentrate for any length of time and so never really get anywhere beyond the superficialities. But I need to work for the money and health insurance. So I’m fucked. It’s always been like this but right now it seems worse. Can’t tell if it’s a passing thing or if I’ve become soft in my middle age.

    I have been going out at night all around downtown and taking spooky night urban loneliness photos. But to no real end, just to do it. But I’m kind of enjoying that. Feels like I’m searching for something new. A new language or approach. But otherwise I’m just a middle aged white guy who works in advertising. What has become of me??? 25 year old me hates 41 year old me right now.

    I’m super excited to see your movie, though. I trust it will screen in LA? Maybe you’ve said that and I missed it.

    And fuck me, your Dodgers are having a seriously historic season. Have you been able to follow? It’s like my worst nightmare but all my Team Blue friends are ecstatic. So I guess I’m happy for them. The Giants are also having an historic season, but in the opposite way. But I guess that’s just the universe evening itself out.

    Thanks for asking. I need to vent once in a while to someone who gets me. You’re the best.

    B

  11. Beautiful post, Dennis! Thanks for that. Sad, spooky, exciting, ominous, feelings that I don’t know how to express, amazing – what more could one ask for? Made me wish that I’d taken a pic of every stage that I’ve played upon. Shoot the Freak is in Coney Island, right? What was your thinking in making it, if you can remember or wish to say? I once saw a puppet-show/musical performance of the Tempest in a proper old-time music hall in London, which looked like some of the photos up above, and I spent as much time enjoying the venue as I did the show.
    How was your day? Did you work on Crowd? Hope it was a good one.
    I loved the article on PGL. Made me even more excited about. Really nice photos too.
    My old flat always had bats looping around after dark and I loved seeing their ‘swooping, circling dance piece’ – nice phrase! The big moth has disappeared but something tells me it’s not gone outside. I hope it’s away before Hannah gets back or else she’ll freak.
    My Friday involved some cleaning and some lazing. I’ve to come up with three potential outlines for animation episodes for Monday, so I’ve been idly letting them run around my head. Tomorrow will involve sitting down and putting them into some kind of shape.
    You got any weekend plans? Hope it’s a lovely one.
    Rhubarb and custard love,
    Jamie

  12. I have a couple of former artist friends who now design theatre stage sets for a living – one in England, the other in Holland. It seems a very honourable profession.

    Myself and Alex met with Donna from Fleet Collective today and she’s keen to support us in formalising Yuck ‘n Yum as a company. She’s also offered us free desk space at the local Vision building and we’re meeting her there on Tuesday next week. There’ll be another AGK later this year, which will be a nice way of reminding the world that we exist via the medium of karaoke, and we also hope to commission a few new videos for this one too. The rest of the team are all on board and it looks like the reanimated YNY is most definitely on!

    • I’ll still work the remainder of my contract at the bank til December, but meanwhile the website is relaunched and social media accounts updated. Looking further ahead, the SOIL exhibition in Seattle is still on for April 2018 and we hope to synchronise that with the launch of the Generator’s compendium of YNY back issues. After that we can go global and YNY can be an online gallery where we sell work by emerging artists.

  13. I feel like I am monopolizing this comments section to talk about myself and my work. Nevertheless, here goes: I finally saw a second, color-corrected cut of THIS WEEK TONIGHT. The lighting has just been adjusted enough that the actor still seems to be speaking from a void, but the effect of the light getting darker for the final line now works. Unfortunately, the sound on one shot is completely impossible to repair and we may have to re-shoot it or at least re-record the sound. I’ve E-mailed both the cinematographer and actor to discuss our options about this. There’s also a really jarring change of camera angles near the end of the film. I’m not sure if anything can be done about this. (More re-shoots?) I don’t think there’s any coverage of the same shot from another angle. Beyond this, I have no clue whether the film is any good. I’ve read and heard my monologue so often I could recite it in my sleep. (This often happens to me during filmmaking, and I hate it. Does this happen to you? I don’t like inadvertently memorizing my scripts.) When I try to judge the performance now, I mostly think about sitting there and my work directing the actor during the shoot. I think maybe the film’s extreme minimalism just looks like I don’t know how to move the camera and the monologue is very heavy-handed politically, although it also is very realistic that a cable TV news pundit would talk like this. (Readers kept comparing it to NETWORK, so that’s something.) I wonder what other people will think. (In fact, I wonder what my editor honestly thinks.)

    My idea of making a documentary about why people make and act in violent films has changed to the much more reasonable idea of writing a lengthy article on the subject. I was disappointed that no one reacted when I posted a link to that El-P video on Facebook, but it’s almost 10 years old now, and I think my reasons for posting it make much more sense if you know I’m planning to write this article. I also googled “playing a fictional torture victim” to see if any interesting “research” would pop up. Ugh. I should have known in advance what kind of links I would get, but apart from a few interesting articles on the TV show 24, I wanted to stay far away from most of what Google offered up, as the “fictional” part seemed to be missing.

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