The blog of author Dennis Cooper

197 clocks




p.s. Hey. ** Marilyn Roxie, Hi, Marilyn. ‘Conker’s’ is in my top 5 or so all-time games. As are the two ‘Banjos’. Thanks about the film, and, awesome, I’ll go be in the audience of your film program very happily. Thanks a lot! ** Kyler, Hi. Yeah, it’s a funny story. Goes to show you something. The heat wave died out yesterday evening, I don’t know for how long, but it’s absolutely civilized outside today, and not a fraction of a second too soon. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. The heat died (at least temporarily) about 7 pm yesterday. It dropped ten degrees in the course of about 10 minutes. It was like magic really. Right, that Dahmer movie. You’re the only person I’ve seen say anything about it, and I have a very talkative Facebook feed. I wonder why that is. ** James Nulick, I hope you enjoy it whenever you get to it. No, ultimately, working with the editor has been a great thing. Strange that. Or strange that I was so worried about it. 20,000 words, not bad at all. It’s not about you? That’s very interesting. Wow, I like the unexpectedness that I feel when you reveal that. I haven’t read Rilke since I was a teenager, so I really don’t know. I’ve assumed that he was maybe one of those writers you either need to read when you’re young or not necessarily bother with like Herman Hesse or someone, but I have no idea. If you read it/him, give your report. ** David Ehrenstein, Yeah, I reserve not giving a fuck for viewing not for doing. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Oh, cool. Did your heatwave fade away last night? Ours did. I actually slept and stuff. I hope the heat’s death was a cross-continental phenomenon for your sake. Yes, we’re auditioning another color grader this afternoon, so fingers crossed. I’m so happy you’re working so hard and steadily on your book! That’s Guided by Voices to my ears! My day was, yes, film editing. The cool thing is that we’re extremely close to finishing the edit. We’re down to working on tiny details now, and we’re even running out of tiny problems. So I think we’ll show the film to our producer early next week and ‘pray’ with all of our might that he likes it a lot so that I, at least, don’t have to get into a fight with him because we are very happy with the film now and think it’s virtually finished apart from a lot of color and sound editing/mixing. Then Zac and I popped by to visit Michael (Kiddiepunk) and Bene (Oscar B) and their baby kiddo (Milo). Then we had a nice visit and Indian dinner with writer/d.l. Bernard Welt and visiting writer/d.l. Diarmiud Hester, during which the heatwave sank away wonderfully. That was my day, a pretty good one. More editing today then the audition and then I’ll go see the last Paris performance of Gisele’s and my theater piece ‘Jerk’ tonight. Should be okay. How did your weekend begin? ** Steevee, Hi. Theoretically I would love to see Costa talk about how much time he spent on incremental movements of the camera in pre-planning, but I’m a bit of nerd for stuff like that. Thanks about the editor. Yes, it’s been a good thing despite my fears. I think I mentioned this, but there’s a long scene near the end of the film, one take with no edits, of two characters having a conversation in a car that I think is sublime and astonishing as well as quite challenging. The editor was not on board with how challenging it was until we watched the current cut yesterday, and she finally declared that she loved it and agreed with leaving it as is, which was a great relief since it’s a thing that I am prepared to ‘fight to the death’ to keep in the film unchanged, and now hopefully we will have her support if the producer balks. Oh, not bad about the quickish resolution of the leak problem. You do your film shoot today? Wow, I forgot it was happening so quickly. Extremely great luck with that if you need it, and I’ll be waiting to hear how it went. Break every leg! I, no surprise, honestly don’t see the slightest problem with casting an Arab-American to play a Jewish character, and I only find that extremely interesting, but I know you’re hooked up to some degree with a community that prefers to go the broad-based, knee-jerk correct-or-incorrect way on things like that. I wouldn’t worry. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben! Our heat gave up the ghost! At least for now. Have an incredibly good time away at the wedding and with everything that happens around it! ** Gregory Henry, Hi, Gregory! How super sweet to see you, man! Okay, I’ll write to you. If you need me, my new email address is ‘Talk’ to you soon, and I hope you’re doing splendidly. Love, me. ** Jeff J, Thanks, Jeff. I was wondering if you knew/like Costa’s films. I think I (or someone else) did a Manoel de Oliveira post, but let me check. Miguel Gomes: no. I’ll look into that and see if a Day is doable. Thank you! That was a painful yet compelling story: the attic and the critter. Yeah, I’ve never owned a place where I lived. I think about buying some place, but, one, I don’t have the money to and, two, I’m never completely convinced that there’s an advantage to owning. Thanks, buddy. ** Misanthrope, Oh, you mean not giving a fuck about ‘the rules’ and the conventions and stuff. Well, I’m obviously on board with that kind of non-giving. Yeah, that’s why I never show others my novels until they’re completely finished and I’m confident that they are. The only exception being my friend the poet Amy Gerstler. Until I moved over here, I always asked her to be the one person who read my novels before I was definitely finished because I trust her opinion implicitly and because she knows me so incredibly well that she knows how to give me her opinion/criticism in a way that I will be receptive to. Having to show Zac’s and my film to the producer and others before we’re finished is very hard for me. I get very stressed about it. But so it goes. ** Sypha, Hi. Yay, someone else finally acknowledged the Rare post! Thank you! Bon day! ** Okay. 197 clocks. See you tomorrow.


  1. Amphibiouspeter

    Hi DC,

    Sorry for the radio silence, been travelling around a bit for the last week or so and it’s been pretty hectic. I actually stopped off in Paris a few nights ago. Having completely underestimated the price of a taxi to the hostel I was looking in my bag in the boot for some extra Euros, and a lady got in the car. We had to drive around the corner to find a cashpoint and this lady (who had commandeered MY taxi) got so frustrated that she paid for me. “You seriously travelled without money? I cannot wait all day.”

    What you said about editing in writing/film makes a lot of sense, guess I hadn’t thought of it like that before. I guess there’s also something about frustration as a creative motivator.

    Have you come across Growing Zero by Torsten Lauschmann? It’s a 24hr video work where hands rearrange wooden blocks to form a working digital clock. I suppose it’s something about digital/anaglogue, art object/functional object. It’s pretty nice.

    Hope you’re well,


  2. h

    Hello Dennis:

    At the moment, that cookie jar clock looks particularly intriguing. (Well, early morning hunger here, obviously. Might get some soon once a cafe opens here. ) Enigmatic, lovely post as usual.

    How is the film editing going? It sounded like it has gotten better. Are you on finer terms with that editor now? How do you feel about the edited material thus far?

    Ugh, I should send my Akerman piece as a day for you. But I’m still revising it. It was initially written for a seminar, so the construction and materials are, in part, for intellectual pleasure of the instructor with whom I didn’t really get along work-wise. Here film people in general don’t really appreciate writing/poetry/prose craft/etc. and their own forms and aesthetic affect, while they keep referring to poetic cinema and poetry more or less vaguely. The idea/practice of direct provocation for social justice & change through film writing seems to absorb them lately.

    Also, I have a question. I’m developing my dissertation chapter on your poetry for a longer and critically denser article to officially publish it. I encountered a video where you read something about Amsterdam in New Museum back in 2011. What was that piece? Was it a prose poem? I’m sorry if it’s something I should’ve known given my studies of your work. Went through a lot since the graduation/relocation. So quite oblivious, regrettably…

    • h

      197 clocks…that’s a collection.

      (Yikes. New Museum, 2010, not 2011.)

  3. steevee

    I will be starting the film shoot at 11 AM today. Although I haven’t made a film in 8 years, I would really like to write a script about the past year’s struggles with addiction and mental health later this year and shoot it next year. I’ve been thinking about ways to address this in some form, since it’s occupied much of my mental space for the past year, and for a long time, I wanted to write an essay. However, I’m uneasy laying my life out there as bluntly as I think I should, artistically. It would be presented as fiction, but I’ve had creepy reactions where people jump to the conclusion that the completely non-autobiographical films I’ve made in the past are basically staged diary entries. I think people could probably guess the truth with this one, even if I introduced distancing devices like having an actress undergo my experiences, and I know that there’s still a social cost to admitting some of the things I’ve gone through and the conditions I suffer from. I don’t want future employers watching this, but if I put it on YouTube, there’s no way to control that.

    • Misanthrope

      steevee, Just saw your comment from yesterday. Of course, I’m with Dennis as far as your casting that guy. It makes it really extra interesting to me. But that’s me. I don’t know, I don’t think you can worry about that stuff. Is he the right guy for the part? If so, fuck it.

      As far as your potential film about addiction, I say go for it. I wouldn’t worry about it. Or put it another way: make a great film and you shouldn’t have any of those worries re: employment and other stuff.

      But hey, what the hell do I know?

      • steevee

        I’m happy with his performance in THIS WEEK TONIGHT. After spending all day with him, I don’t have a clue at this point whether he “looks Arabic” (which is a bullshit concept anyway.) I’m pretty sure no one will care, although the film includes some discussion of anti-Semitism. It’s more important to me that he looks and feels convincing as my character.

        I do want to go ahead with the film about addiction and mental health, but I have a lot of time to think about it. I’m not even going to begin writing the script till my current film is finished. I know that I should have the idea that I should be as honest as possible and not care what people think of me. But there are real consequences to, say, the Village Voice’s film editor learning that I was in a manic state when I wrote some reviews for him a few months ago. Some of the editors I work with know that I’ve been dealing with these issues, but none of them know the entire story that I want to detail in the film. I don’t think it’s a smart idea to tell them. Also, while my parents know I’ve been struggling with these problems, I think they’d be completely appalled by the idea of me making a film about them – as I think I told you, I was toying with the idea of writing an essay about drugs, and my dad urged me to write it under a pseudonym. I shouldn’t care, but I do. I’m going to change the main character’s job, although it will have to be something else freelance, because he probably couldn’t have held an office job and gone through my experiences of the past year, especially the repeated withdrawals.

  4. David Ehrenstein

    All the best for your movies, Dennis and steevee

  5. Sypha

    Heh, Dennis, well, you know me, when the subject is related to video games, I almost always comment. Though a lot of the Rare games you most adore are the ones that I’ve never even played, sadly.

    Well, tomorrow my family and I will be leaving for our annual vacation up in Maine, so I probably won’t be posting here during that time. I’ll be back around July 1st or so.

  6. Dóra Grőber


    The heatwave seemed to die down by morning, we had a nice little storm and some fresh air afterwards but now we’re back with the heat and it’s only supposed to cool off by Monday… I’m glad it lost its power there, though!
    This is so wonderful! Congratulations! I do hope your producer will love it! And it sounds like you had a really lovely day!
    Thank you! I finished the first round of editing today! So far I focused mostly on the style and structure, etc. of the text, now comes a proofreading round. And it’s a bit stupid but I have a grammatical question. Since I’m not a native English speaker but I write my book in English. Is it correct to say “what if this or that will happen”? So can “what if” and “will” go together like this? It sounds a bit weird. Thank you, haha.

    How was the meeting with the new color grader? And ‘Jerk’? I hope both met your expectations!

  7. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – Catching up with the blog, I enjoyed the Rare Ltd. day yesterday. And this is a nice collection of clocks. The first candle clock, the golden owl with the time-telling eyes, the wooden pig with the drawer in its side, and the blue circle with what looks like a Q-tip bulging underneath were the ones that immediately caught my fancy. Which reminds me, time-telling wise, I am in the market for a new watch.

    Have you read much Christa Wolf? A friend recommended ‘Cassandra’ which looked interesting. You have any insights or suggestions?

  8. steevee

    Thanks, David.

    The shoot started off slowly, as the actor proved to have trouble memorizing his lines. However, he was very good when he did remember them, and his memory gradually improved as the shoot wore on. But this necessitated a change in my plans for the film’s style: it now consists of 8 relatively short shots from 4 camera angles. (The whole film will probably run 7 minutes.) The cinematographer did an amazing job: for one take, she pressed record on the sound recorder, then the camera and ran to the back of the space where we were filming so she could adjust the lighting in the middle of the scene. I wish I could’ve afforded a bigger crew, and one person who promised to work with me completely blew me off with no explanation. Anyway, she’s also editing the film and kept a log of my favorite takes. She’s teaching a class in July, but in her spare time, she will be working on a rough cut. When she finishes it, we will meet up so I can watch it and then we will take things from there. I’m confident the film will be finished by summer’s end.

    How did your day of work on the film go? I feel really energized by today and definitely want to make another film next year, despite the misgivings I outlined above. It’s too bad this is so expensive and can be so difficult.

  9. Bill

    A umm timely collection today, Dennis. That spider clock is so fine.

    I’m quite fond of this timepiece:

    Good to hear the heat broke.


  10. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Clocks! Here’s one that I had as a wee misanthrope that didn’t get caught up in your glorious web today:

    The funny part is that my mom set it wrong and it woke us up at 9 p.m. instead of 9 a.m.

    I had a Wonder Woman lamp until about 10 years ago. No shit. Had it since the 70s. I could only find one image of it and that was on Pinterest, but I don’t have an account so I can’t link to it. Ugh.

    Yes, that’s gotta be stressful. I guess the “I’m Dennis Motherfucking Cooper” line won’t work, eh? 😛

    Seriously, though, what a pain in the ass. I suspect in the back of their minds is “bottom line.” Or something like that. I always find it odd that the powers that be in such cases just can’t seem to let the artist have complete control. I understand why they don’t, but I still find it odd. Why’d you sign on in the first place? I don’t know, weird to me.

    But good luck with it. Remember to walk in with a smile. So disarming, that. And especially yours. 😀

  11. chris dankland

    oh my god these clocks are so cool — i had a lot of fun looking through them, u do such an impressive job of finding and organizing things like this. that first clock is especially brilliant in how simple it is. the one with the ball that goes in a spiral is also really neat. but if i had to choose one to live with i’d pick the five dancing chorus girls dressed as clocks who gong themselves in the head when it’s time to get up. do u or did u ever have any interesting clocks like this at your place?

    in high school i was reading some french philosopher like barthes or sartre or something and they had some side observation about how clocks are “time producing machines” which truly blew my mind at the time, i kept thinking about that as i was going through today’s post. humans can be pretty ingenious sometimes, that’s a thought i frequently come away with after reading your blog. and of course you’re like the top prime example of that, thanks for being so interesting.

    peace !! ttyl

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