The blog of author Dennis Cooper

4 books I read recently & loved: Meredith Alling Sing the Song, Lance Olsen Dreamlife of Debris, Jos Charles Safe Space, Roger Lewinter The Attraction of Things

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allingphoto

Many of your stories are not driven by plot, at least not in the conventional sense. They’re driven by voice and style and syntax. I’m thinking specifically of “Other Babies,” the first story in your collection and “Spaghetti.” These stories that don’t have a traditional narrator or a traditional plot—how do they begin? Do you start by having the idea for the first sentence? Or seeing a single image? Or none of the above?

Meredith Alling: Most of these types of stories — which maybe are closer to prose poems — come about when I’m just letting myself mess around. I don’t have an idea or a plan, I’m just feeling my mood. If I’m lucky, I’ll land on a sentence or two that interest me, and I’ll make a decision to see where it goes. These are the most fun for me to write. The more plot-driven stories usually start with an idea. For “The Drug,” for example, I was thinking about these Polish teenagers that used to stand on the corner when I lived in Greenpoint in Brooklyn. Whenever I walked by them, I felt old and weird. So I decided to write a story about feeling old and weird, and the things a person might do to try to counter that feeling, even if the instinct is wrong. The narrative stories are a lot more laborious for me, and I’m obsessively concerned with avoiding corniness or over-sentimentality, so I do a lot of editing and take more breathers than I do with the experimental pieces.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve not been “trained” in the “craft of writing.” You don’t have an MFA, you majored in art history in undergrad, and you don’t work in publishing. Do you consider yourself to be “self-taught?” Do you have a “writing practice?” You have such great writing instincts.

MA: I guess I’m self-taught, yeah. I took one creative writing class in college, but beyond that I’ve never taken a class or participated in a workshop. I’ve been writing for a long time though, and I started getting more serious about it about 7 years ago. I was sharing some of my writing with a friend of mine who has an MFA and is a great writer and artist, and he encouraged me to start submitting, so I did. I’m thankful for that.

As far as a writing practice, it’s pretty relaxed. For the most part, I write at least an hour a day, either in the morning or at night, but I don’t enforce it. If I don’t feel like it, I don’t do it. But I find that I usually do feel like it. I have a day job, but if I’m not writing too I feel lazy. I usually have a bunch of little things going at once —- like multiple stories or poems or right now I have the beginning of what is maybe a novel that I’m working on in really little pieces.

Future Tense describes your book as “for fans of writers like Diane Williams, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, Ben Marcus, and Amelia Gray.” Are these the authors who influenced you while you were writing? Who else, if anyone, influenced you?

MA: Definitely, I love and admire all of those writers. If I’m feeling stuck on a story or even if I want to start something new and don’t know where to start, I’ll open a book from a stack I move from my bedside table to the kitchen table to the coffee table, depending on where I’m writing, and try to catch a vibe. All of those writers are in that stack, as well as others like Mary Robison, Selah Saterstrom, xTx, Paul Beatty, Lily Hoang, Eileen Myles, Joy Williams, and Noy Holland. — Vol. 1 Brooklyn

 

Meredith Alling Site
Meredith Alling @ Twitter
Podcast: MA on Other People with Brad Listi
IF MY BOOK: MEREDITH ALLING
Buy ‘Sing the Song’

 

stscoverfinal-e1475914892591 Meredith Alling Sing the Song
Future Tense Books

‘After steadily garnering attention and gaining fans with her appearances in various magazines and websites, Meredith Alling comes out with her debut collection of stories, Sing the Song. For fans of writers like Diane Williams, Amy Hempel, Lydia Davis, Ben Marcus, and Amelia Gray, Alling’s debut will signal the arrival of a new unique voice in fiction. Featuring 27 stories in 130 pages, Alling’s collection is propulsive, dangerous, often funny, and powered by a language that wrestles with anxiety and the unexpected surrealism of modern life. With an ancient ham crawling out from a sewer to tell fortunes, a lone blonde at a party for redheads, and a mother outsmarting a masked criminal,Sing the Song bleeds and breathes with dreamlike surprise.’ — Future Tense

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Excerpt

Some babies drink soda the second they are born. They glug it down. The sugar courses through their body you can see the brown humming through their spiderweb skin. It shoots straight up to the brain, the hub. It clocks in at five past and gets to work. So that’s certain babies. Other babies determine the cheese level of their surroundings within seconds of inhalation. Then their fingers form into little paws and they claw, claw at the air. This goes on and on to the point of burnout. Then some kind pillowy nurse brings a cheese cube and pops it into their mouth just to balance things out. Other babies are vibrating piglets. They have fleshy hooves. They have regular faces. It’ll be a tough life for that baby, so decisions must be made. Go pig? Some babies go pig. Other babies don’t. Other babies suck the life force from any adult human that looks into their clean glass baby eyes. The adult humans are powerless. They melt, get like a candle, dripping and lopsided. Their mouths stretch out against their bodies like wax. A lip starting at the shoulder and ending near the thigh. They try to lift an everyday object — a pencil. They can’t. Their fingers are useless. They look at the baby and something strong happens inside of them. Other babies have the ability to chew gum. They find a way to move it around in their soft pink mouths. Gum on gum. Any baby who can chew gum is known in their circle as a riot. Other babies do not care to move. They lie like rocks from the moment of the birth. They lie like bricks. They stare up at the clouds and watch them slip across the sky. The clouds move like liquid, like milk. Other babies have four television screens positioned around their heads for total saturation. The outside world ceases to exist. These babies make friends with the pink cat. They think of stumps as seats. They aren’t curious about anything. They don’t ask any questions at all. Other babies are leaf dwellers. They prefer the dirt and they cocoon themselves in leaves. They bite a breathing hole through their leaf wrap. The darkness is welcome; no eye holes. Their bodies turn cold and tight, and then they bloom. Other babies hang on the rear windshield wipers until a member of a driving family says, “There’s a baby back there, on the wipers.” They pull over and pry the baby’s fingers from the wipers; a surprisingly tight grip. Then they brush the flies and the grime from its body and decide to love it. Other babies can smell when meat is perfectly cooked. They let out a violent bark, like a seizure-sensing dog sensing a seizure. Ready the fork and the spoon. These babies end up kitchen companions, propped on the counter, maybe strapped to a cupboard with a bungee cord. Other babies look groovy in tiny jean jackets and tiny leather jackets and tiny leather pants. They wear groovy little sunglasses with an elastic strap. The plastic smashes their eyelashes. Their onesies are decorated with bones. Other babies pinch themselves and cause injury. Puffy arms and legs covered in sharp red pops. This condition is handled with heavy sedatives that cause a baby’s eyes to roll back in their head and their mouth to go slack and they can’t listen or learn or even eat, but they also can’t pinch. Other babies are stubborn jackasses. They cross their arms and roll out their bottom lips and just refuse. Other babies carry small baskets everywhere. They come out of it with a basket on their arm. Then it’s time to fill up the basket. Gauze or whatever at the hospital, then moving forward anything else that is around. Packs of Chiclets, earrings, coins, diaper cream, eggs, crackers, tape. They carry the basket around and people peek inside the basket and say, “Oh what have you got there?” And the baby holds it up all proud. Other babies prefer cows over any other animal. They admire their tall bodies and large heads. They admire their twitching legs and the flies gathered around their eyes. They want to hug a cow’s neck, pull the loose skin, have the cow not react. Or have the cow lick their chins very hard. Other babies read at a high level right away. They hold a newspaper out in front of them and shake it to flatten the pages. They lick their thumb and turn to World News. They get a serious look on their bald faces. They look out the window and think something then turn back to the text. Other babies do not make it very long as babies. It would have been better if they were born a bit older. They can’t be handled. They make someone scream and want to crash the truck. Sometimes they are poisoned. Sometimes people have to live with having poisoned a baby. Other babies are very alive. They are in every room and every muscle and every eyeball. They are loud rushing blood. They are the arm or the leg of someone and that person can never shake that arm or leg, they just stare at it, wonder if it is really a part of them, or if it’s not a part of them. They can’t figure it out. Is that baby me? Am I that baby? It’s all very confusing. They really want to grab and find out. They try to hold their own hand, their own leg. They feel their skin on their skin and they cry.

 

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lance-olsen1andi-olsen-web

‘I’ve been tremendously interested over the past few years in how form — and not only content — carries meaning. That is, in how the structure of a piece of writing asks us to engage that piece of writing in unique ways that inflect the event of reading.

‘So, for instance, my novel Theories of Forgetting arrives with two back covers (each upside down with respect to the other) and no front one. How a reader initially happens to pick it up pressures which narrative she enters first, thereby pressuring the meaning-making strategies. Each page of Theories is divided in half. One protagonist’s narrative (she’s a filmmaker working on a short documentary about Robert Smithson’s famous earthwork, The Spiral Jetty) runs across the “top” of each page, from “back” to “front,” while the other protagonist’s narrative (her husband scattering across Europe and Jordan in the aftermath of her death) runs “upside down” across the “bottom” of each page, from “front” to “back.” The shape of the layout connotes a spiral, a super important structure for Smithson, for whom its suggests labyrinth, journey from this world to other, meditative space, space of transformation, and more. …

‘In the foreword to his short story collection Slow Learner, Thomas Pynchon writes: “When we speak of seriousness in art, ultimately we are talking about an attitude toward death — how characters act in its presence, for example, or how they handle it when it isn’t so immediate.”

‘That strikes me as precisely the case, both inside and outside art. Living doesn’t get serious, which is to say seriously rich, until one understands entropy is a process that is always-already happening, not just in, say, the galaxies, but also in your mitochondria. Understanding (not just knowing) that changes everything. It’s the most beautiful and alarming and revitalizing and hideous and liberating and imprisoning thought a human being can have, and so she or he should have it at least two or three times a minute. When talking at length about travel and curiosity, it’s a foregone conclusion I also have to talk at length about the hole-in-the-heart realization that — echoing Beckett — birth is the death of us. Otherwise, the ideas of travel and curiosity would have no immediacy, no currently.’ — Lance Olsen Bookslut

 

Lance Olsen Site
Lance Olsen interviewed
10:01: Lance Olsen and Tim Guthrie
THE COMPLEXITIES OF A MOMENT FELT
Preorder ‘Dreamlives of Debris’

 

516dmkomntl-_sx258_bo1204203200_ Lance Olsen Dreamlives of Debris
Dzanc Books

Dreamlives of Debris is a stunning song cycle on the pixelation of memory in a hyperdigitalized universe, opening out into an extraordinarily beautiful and powerful meditation on nothing less than the erasure of time itself.’ —David Shields

‘Lance Olsen opens up an astonishing world of thought and emotion–a place distant but familiar that hangs almost out of the reach of our daily perception…. A beautiful and moving reading experience, Dreamlives of Debris is a unique and impressive achievement.’ —Carole Maso

‘Breaking boundaries of horror, science fiction, nonfiction, love story, and myth, this rare and brilliant novel reinvents the female ‘monster’ in the form of a disfigured girl. Subverting the hero’s journey, Debris goes on a quest to find her self within an impossible labyrinth where architecture mirrors the disfigured female body, imprisoning and revealing a girl monster who stands between humanity and the darkness. In this world where what seems to be monstrous is more human than human, the stories most difficult to tell are the ones we most need to be told.’ — Aimee Parkison

 

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Excerpt

:::: debris
There are the stories that make sense. These are called lies. There are the stories that maze you. These are called the world.
I should mention your body is a haunted house you can’t escape.

:::: debris
Which is to say the worst is still to come, was still to come, will still be to come, has come, had come, is coming, has been coming, might come, is going to come, will have come, would have come, but not yet, and already.

:::: j. g. ballard song
Because all clocks are labyrinths.

:::: lady tiresias chorus
When I die, it will have been inside the stomach of a bull. When I die, it will have been inside the courtyard of a doomed palace. When I die, it will have been with the understanding that the descent into Hades is the same from every point, every race, every gender, every class, every ancestry. With the recognition I will soon meet Odysseus in the infinite gray desert of the afterness and, skin ashen, eyes cloudy and blank from too much seeing, violet mouth sewn shut with black catgut, he will ask me sans voice to recollect for him what the best path of life is. Standing alone with the sacker of cities, I will advise him to forget the philosophers, ignore their metaphysics, for in the end there exists nothing save atoms and empty space—that is it, that is all, that is us, that is this. No one will arrive to save us from ourselves. When I die, it will have been wondering whether I am actually thinking these thoughts I think I am thinking or only dreaming I am thinking them as I study the glowing blue flame float out from my chest and across a black ocean, how it must at some point have ceased to be part of me and become part of something else, for it is so far away, and then farther, and th

:::: jorge luis borges song
Because time is a river that sweeps me along, but I am the river; it is a tiger that destroys me, but I am the tiger; it is a fire that consumes me, but I am the fire.

:::: debris
Because the historians chronicle how, when my brother, Androgeos, began to collect all the prizes at the Panathenaic games, King Aegeus commanded him to fight his most fearsome bull.
How brave, bewildered Androgeos was gored and died on the stadium floor within minutes of entering.

:::: bradley manning song
Because it was not until I was in Iraq and reading secret military reports on a daily basis that I started to question the morality of what we were doing. This is why I turned over the files to which I had access to WikiLeaks, which made them public. I understand that my actions violated the law. I regret that my actions hurt anyone or harmed the United States. It was never my intent to hurt anyone. I only wanted to help people.

:::: debris
Because, outraged, Daddy set off to Athens. Revenge seared his veins. On the way he invaded Megara, whose King Nisos’s power derived from a single magic lock of purple hair. Nisos’s daughter, Scylla, saw Daddy from the battlements, tumbled into love with him in the beat of a hurt, and that very night sheared her own sleeping father like some feeble- minded sheep.

:::: debris
Networks. Weaves. Plaits. How each of us becomes hole.

:::: debris
Because, appalled by Scylla’s lack of filial devotion, Daddy departed at once, leaving Nisos’s daughter keening on the dock.
Each star in the sky a pinprick upon her skin.

:::: debris
Because every labyrinth is both plan and tangle.

:::: debris
Method and mess.

:::: debris
Wait. I believe I have just had a dream.


Author Lance Olsen on writing, literature and his novel Nietzsche’s Kisses.


Head in Flames: Andi & Lance Olsen : Part One


burnt : lance olsen and tim guthrie

 

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jos

‘To talk of being trans*, for me, is to talk of betrayal. Both in terms of being betrayed and to be assumed in a position of betrayal. I betray wholeness, body, to you, and to myself. I become definable as parts—the hip, the shoulders, the nose, the breast—and space becomes crisis—the bathroom crisis (which do I use today? do I feel like getting yelled at or risk being beaten?), the drive-by crisis (are they going to throw something or just yell?), the ‘coming out’ crisis (do they know? will they leave me? will they assault me? or, god please, at least will they fetishise me?) and so on.

‘To exist as trans* is to exist in a state of emergency. When I say gender has betrayed me what I mean is writing has betrayed me. It’s grammar working, as it was meant, to undo what it means for this body to be.

‘There were not words for my experiences or parts. There were never people like me, at least positively, in stories and shows. So I undid. I asked what is left and scavenged. I was committed to language that undid me without considering what it meant to speak.

‘Fancy men in fancy clothes will tell you writing isn’t safe or to face our ugliness one must risk or any number of fancy things. I don’t know if writing can ever be safe but I do know there is nothing risky in telling the old stories about gender. The old stories I read and read that denied me access and made jokes at my expense. If I was lucky I would see a trans person (almost always a trans woman) be inspirational, Wow so uplifting, they say, but, more often, I saw them dead. Trans* folks’ narrative legacy is almost always, at best, a warning sign.’ — Jos Charles

 

Jos Charles Site
4 poems on Action Yes
Jos Charles @ Twitter
2 poems @ The Feminist Wire
Buy ‘Safe Space’

 

safespacecov-350x467 Jos Charles Safe Space
Ahsahta Press

Safe Space takes back its title from the term’s intentional misuse within the neo-liberal/conservative imaginary, but this action can offer a reader only the slightest indication of the nervy energy pulsing within this first full-length collection by Jos Charles. Throughout the poems in Safe Space, Charles defiantly articulates the terms of a radicalized vulnerability––unashamed to feel and never feeling ashamed, reclaiming agency over both poetry and politics, refusing to placate any authority attempting to control bodies with violence. The poet’s agile lyricism rips apart and reimagines theoretical discourses as confessional texts and vice versa, with severe lines and staccato rhythms. As a hyperkinetic interrogation of contexts that give rise to its disruptions of, and interventions on, youth, sexual trauma, and transness, Safe Space is critical reading in both senses of the term. The collection dazzles and devastates, confronting a world whose ruin is long overdue with equal parts glee and sadness, compassion and power.’ — Ahsahta Press
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Excerpts

HOME STATE

.

u may not know this about me

but i grew up a gay baby

.

in the united states of america

The united states was then a briefly lived

.

conceptual project performed by pop artist

john baldessari Children

.

were a primary form of currency and u

would often see them

.

on beaches or in strip malls

advertising diet books and drinking espresso

.

On a typical day in the united states

people would send each other text messages

.

like what chemicals are in ur body

today In the united states

.

u could always say sexualize my crisis

in the right poem It’s hard

.

to believe but to this day they still hi five

each other in the united states Once

.

when exchanging my brother’s favorite pathology

for a pair of cirque du solieil tickets

.

i saw a t shirt that said a hole

is a hole is a hole in fort myers, florida

 

TRIGGER WARNING

when i was 3, i could sing
the batman theme.

the family was impressed.
uncle would request

batman tapes from
that guy mom

knew across the way
from grandfather’s place.

i was told i had ‘speech issues.’
i would often misuse

‘a’s. warm became worm.
harm became home.

i’ve mostly figured words out,
except with a cock in my mouth.

u swallow and take a body
out a body. later u shit a body.

i won’t get into why,
but when i was five

i thought a gay man
was a stay at home dad.

when i told dad’s friend
he was the first gay man

i met, he kicked
my ass. when i said shit

shit and got scared
and came in ur hair,
it’s cause i remembered.

 

DONT SWALLOW

fell asleep in text
of lover. an other
presumed tongue.

book want undone. book
wanna have fun. too steamy headlight
pressing on toward night.

father-book on mantle of
elm eaves. me easy lay, book say.

word to a fault. me like home.
like woman.
a spine to it.
ashen n smoke.

no getting round
afternoon of ur
reality cult /
engender weight of /
color as sign as taste of.

book say, script the new
synecdoche.

book say, sure boy can read,
but cant have both ways.

u choose too
late. space
the new moon

 


Assignment #4


LOV POEM


Her Postures Thawed in the Night

 

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lewinter

‘Roger Lewinter’s The Attraction of Things is about things and a person’s attraction to them. But after finishing the book I keep misremembering the title as The Attraction of Things Past. In my mind that “past” aspect is inseparable from the other elements of the narrative and plays a key role in the book because the narrator is as much obsessed with the past as with the matter. He chases objects that once upon a time belonged to people who had to let them go, due to death or financial or emotional necessity. The things survive and find their way to flea markets.

‘The narrator spends a lot of time in flea markets, searching. Records, cashmere shawls, and porcelain cups are some of the objects we get to know in detail. Lewinter dedicates long passages to their descriptions, to why the narrator wants them, how he finds them, and what he sees in them:

“… when for the second time I unfolded it, its serene luminosity deceived me; and it wasn’t until after dinner, at home, the third time I unfolded it, that there appeared to me, in its all-encompassing motion, the thread whose molecules, in equal parts solid, liquid, ethereal, according to the interplay of the colors, constructed, through a network of veins, ponds, ferns, a system of gray stills saturated with a reddish glow in which, like a rainbow, …, suddenly appeared the Angel.”

‘Through his strolls, the narrator also tells us about translating, reading Rilke’s poetry, doing yoga, acting in a play, even if, in comparison to the time he spends on objects, these are passing interests. Even more briefly, he glides over past relationships, loss, and death. We learn of his engagement coming to an end in less than half a page: “toward the end of the meal, officially that of an engagement, she announced to me that she had a new boyfriend; giving me formal notice, by this fail accompli, if I wanted to proceed to make my own choice”. He mentions the loss of his mother here and there, and actually speaks more directly and in detail about his father’s loss—his declining health, the hospitalization, the move to a nursing home, and finally, his death. This story of loss, however, comes to light through the story of scratched records and broken porcelain cups and flea markets. He weaves these two aspects of his life so tightly together that they seem inseparable, and of the same weight. Yet there is a moment when he begins to reveal that perhaps his passion for objects is his way of connecting to people and the past.

‘In telling this character’s story, Lewinter’s writing takes us on a stroll through a flea market of its own. His sentences are long and winding, full of phrases and clauses, moving in and out, back and forth, between stalls and spreads, from past to present. (The complexity of these chains of words makes one wonder how translator Rachel Careau found her way around, aiming for the same style in the target language.) It takes some patience to walk with Lewinter through these passages, but if you do stay with him, you might arrive at that gem you have been looking for, or one that you weren’t even aware you needed.’ — Poupeh Missaghi

 

Roger Lewinter @ New Directions
Roger Lewinter | heros-limite
Rediscovering Roger Lewinter
Roger Lewinter @ goodreads
Buy ‘The Attraction of Things’

 

unnamed Roger Lewinter The Attraction of Things
New Directions

‘Roger Lewinter’s works, both humanly touching and artistically innovative, are spectacularly individual. Obsessively, and in the most incisive detail, they portray some of the crucial events and ideas of his life in prose at once headlong and passionate in its pacing, and tight and cerebral in its articulation. In this volume, Lewinter’s highly intricate syntax, which necessarily so closely reflects and reproduces his complexly layered thinking, has been meticulously and eloquently recreated by Rachel Careau in her masterful translation.’ — Lydia Davis

 

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Excerpt

It had been a year now since, in breaking things off, I had declined the choice made for me by my mother before her death; as she had been doing every two months, however, Michèle had called, and we were supposed to see each other that Wednesday, December 17: to begin with, I wanted to show her the second Kashmir shawl that, just at the end of Le pasteur, I had found at the flea market—a Marseille jacquard square that had nevertheless fascinated me at once, since it constituted the necessary counterpart to the Rose Garden, setting against its sixteen dispersive swirls on the outside a concentrated sphere on the inside, of red tracery, floating in a diamond of metallic-gray ether itself set in a green-and-black square that incorporated into its corners sections of the central globe—; turning away from it, Michèle observed, “I don’t get the radiance of your Kashmir shawl”; and we went to the station buffet where, toward the end of the meal, officially in our engagement period, she announced to me that she had a new boyfriend; giving me, by this fait accompli, formal notice, if I wanted to proceed, to make my own choice; and so when we parted at midnight, I returned home full of a feverishness that the sleeping pills increased, so that, around one thirty, I got up and went out, to go to the public toilets, on place Saint-Gervais, in the basement, where for years I persisted in looking for what, already stunning me in the stench of the public urinals in Paris, at age twelve, evading my grasp, captivated me—before Pentecost, returning home from the classes in Zurich, around one in the morning, I had encountered someone there who didn’t appeal to me but whose waiting affected me, not realizing that he was drunk and that, in this state, I was intruding upon him with my aimless concentration, whose misbehavior, the next evening, when I saw him again, in the guise of sudden passion at first moved me deeply, when, without segue, he called out to me in German, “Why are you so stupid?” then made me freeze when he continued in French, “You belong to me, I want your body, I want your soul”; and I had driven him away, only to attempt, several days later, to find him again, in vain, a hallucination to which I refused access in reality—; while now, a reeling lout suddenly looming up, seeing me, fell to his knees at my feet.

He had spoken to me about withdrawal, about an empty bottle of whiskey on the ground there, and about a brawl in which he had torn the sleeve of his anorak; and when we arrived at my apartment—outside, we had had to wait a quarter hour for a taxi, during which, in fits, in order not to fall, he had hung on to me—, he had flopped down on the bed, asking me, before sinking under, not to forget to wake him at five o’clock: when the telephone rang, I wasn’t sleeping, but he was unconscious; rubbing his face with a towel moistened with cold water, I finally managed to pull him from sleep: he looked at me; then, slowly putting together what had happened, he came around, suddenly ecstatic, in a trance enveloping me in a worshipful embrace within which I remained, stunned: it was seven thirty when he recalled that he was supposed, at six o’clock, to have opened the bistro where he had been working for only three days, and telephoned his boss to ask him to find someone to fill in, saying that he would be there as soon as he had found a taxi—outside, it was snowing—; but, now, he couldn’t manage to unknot the laces of his putrefied Clarks, which I had pulled off him to put him to bed: I took them in my hands then, and at the moment when, detecting their odor, which at its most extreme—unbearable—was an invading force that suddenly made me hyperventilate, I knelt down at his feet, he released in one breath, “I will marry you, you have only to say the word, wherever you want, whenever you want”; and when, at quarter past eight, having finally gotten a taxi, a rendezvous having been set for that evening at nine at the Colibri, a bistro downstairs from his place, unable in the entryway to pull himself away, he kissed me, beside himself—“I love you and I worship you, and I am very jealous, and if you betray me, I will kill you”—, I discovered to my elation that, while this was what I had wanted to experience, convinced that there had to be a difference, there was none, between man and woman, none whatsoever, since it is negated for the body that in its fulfillment is escaped.

During the month that followed, I saw him only when he was drunk: he would telephone then without warning, in the middle of the night—every time, whatever the hour, that he called, he pulled me from the unconsciousness of the most profound sleep, even though I otherwise remained, as usual, awake—, and, from the bistro he hung around at, taking a taxi, he would suddenly appear ten minutes later at the door, a genie released from his bottle, gaze piercing, body luminous; without my seeking—even though he insisted, at first, that I intrude— ever to have a hold on him, making me realize, and this filled me with an acute exultation—which, three weeks earlier, as I was throwing myself into Le chercheur, had finally made me buy the Psalms of David, by Schütz, the joyous intensity of which, at first hearing, years earlier, had enthralled me, without my having, until now, dared to listen to them—, that, for him, I didn’t exist in reality outside of drunkenness; the asceticism consisting in being only this, which made of two bodies brought together the mere stopping-off point in an impersonal connection that, through the necessary surrender to his arbitrariness ravishing my body, was draining me completely through this dissipation, about which, by telephone, at the end of January, in response to a remark I made to him about his increasing discontinuity, he stated abruptly, “Hollywood, it’s over.”

At the end of January, when the draft of Le chercheur was advancing rapidly, I went to the Théâtre du Caveau to see Moriaud, with whom I had remained in contact, although the relationship had soured when, after the Musset, Moriaud having asked me what exactly I wanted, disconcerted, I hadn’t known what to answer, while he pressed me to finally choose, whoever it be, a body, at which I expressed my reluctance, claiming, dishonestly, to have already done so besides; and, backstage, after the performance of Point d’eau—in which he played the guru of a group of survivors of some cataclysm—, I was recounting to him my news when Sandra, a Romanian refugee, who had staged the play, her curiosity obviously aroused, invited me to have a drink with the troupe, so as to offer me out of the blue—we hadn’t exchanged three words—the part, in February, in her next production, initially conceived as a montage on the theme of Antigone, of the announcer, then, should the need arise, in the play by Sophocles, which was being staged in May, that of the leader of the chorus.

At the thought of working again with Moriaud, who was playing Tiresias, but, still more, struck that, when I had known her, eight years earlier, Svetlana, giving up ballet, had rightly tried her hand at theater in a montage of the trilogy by Sophocles in which she played, in addition to the Sphinx and Jocasta, Antigone, I accepted, fascinated by the logic of the proposition: for if I had, initially, given up the theater, it was with the awareness that it would be impossible for me to act without consenting to homosexuality, which would have overwhelmed me, whereas I was aiming for control over it; for which the Fränger had supplied me with a technique whose significance I had long failed to see, similar to the disruption of sleep that, systematically, I had brought on by taking sleeping pills, with an obviousness I didn’t wonder about, as soon as I undertook the Diderot—culminating, when I met Moriaud, in three months of total insomnia, which was losing its agonizing nature only now, with the sudden appearance of the lotus—: the Adamite heresy, as re-created in The Millennial Kingdom, elaborated, in actual practice, tantrically, by the man who, indefinitely postponing his ejaculation in orgasm, with his mind sent it back like a fire into his own body, thus sublimated.

 


Diderot et sa pensée politique. Avec Yves Benot, Roger Kempf, Roger Lewinter, et Patrick Guinand

012

citation-roger-lewinter-011215

 

*

p.s. Hey. John Waters picked Zac Farley’s and my ‘Like Cattle Towards Glow’ as one of his top ten movies of the year in Artforum. Check it out. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Thanks, man. I just wish I was in SF to see all of that stuff in the flesh. I looked up cacio e pepe. Oh my God, want. And it’s so seemingly have-able. First indeed! Like old times. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Oh, sure, yeah. I think this work definitely originates in the work Smith and others were doing in the 60s and 70s. And then the follow through music/visual work practiced by, say, Throbbing Gristle and Cabaret Voltaire as well as a similar kind of work I saw a fair amount in the performance art scene in the East Village in the ’80s. ** Sypha, Hi, James. I got the post. Thank you a ton, it’s fantastic, of course! I’m going to launch it here on Saturday, the 10th if that works for you. So the enormous horror novel fetish is mostly a thing of the past? That’s interesting. Is it the same with the sci-fi genre? Because that’s another area where I feel from very limited experience like length is considered a real virtue. Although I do remember someone telling me at some point that the rise of cyber-punk gave shorter sci-fi novels a new legitimacy? ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Yeah, I liked the apartment, although my roommate checked it out this morning and he was much less enthusiastic about it, so I’m not sure if it’s the one now. I might look a little further before committing or trying to commit, I mean. Ha ha, yeah, I guess having the paper just gives you the proof or something. Which is good to have since people like proof. Anyway the exam doesn’t sound too scary, so that’s very good. So you can any least partly relax for the holidays. The meeting with the student was really good. He’s super smart and asked very interesting questions, so it was a pleasure and I hope I gave out information that will help him. I believe his studies are in cinema and video, and his general or personal concentration is on ‘queercore’. I’ll look up ‘The November Criminals’. I don’t know it at all. Cool. Yesterday ended up being another work-y one mostly. Today I’ll finally see Zac, who arrived back from his travels with a flu or bad cold, and he and I and Gisele are going to see Crystal Castles tonight, and that seems like it will be guaranteed fun. And I guess I’ll get on the apartment hunt. Stuff like that. And your Friday? Tell me if you don’t mind. ** Steevee, Hi. Yeah, I haven’t seen ‘Moonlight’. From how it’s been described to me, it seems like something that might be more up your alley than mine, but I’ll try to watch it at some point to see what it is. I’m imaging ‘Neruda’ is about the poet, no? I’ll look for a trailer or something. I’m curious about ‘Things to Come’, so I’m happy to have your review to help partly sate that curiosity. Everyone, If you go here you’ll get to read Steevee’s review of Mia Hansen-Løve’s film ‘Things to Come’ starring the one/only Isabelle Huppert. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Me too, obviously. About the work and about getting lost in artworks. I’m now keeping my eyes peeled for opportunities to see work like that here. Yeah, I thought of clubbing too, and specifically of some of the totally mindblowing raves I went to back in the early 90s. ** Jamie, Ha ha, Denzig. My apartment in LA is just a few blocks from Glenn Danzig’s house. I’ve seen him skulking and moping around at the local supermarket many, many times. I’m so happy that you got so into the post. Yeah, I’m kind of really into the performance cinema work in general now suddenly. I’m finding it very inspiring. Wanting to experience it and looking for what I can learn from it aesthetically and so on. Awesome! Oh, I can always find time in my schedule even at the most smashed of times for amusement parks, and, needless to say, for hanging out with you whether in them or not. I don’t think Bas Normandie is particularly notable as a piece of scenery. I’ve only dipped in so far, but it looks just very familarly French to me. Rohmer could very well have a film set there. Hm, I’ll check. I love Rohmer. John Waters just picked ‘LCTG’ as one of his top ten films of this year and he did a funny comparison to Rohmer in his little written squib about it, and that made me very happy. Oh, I’ve started making a post about scissors. It turns not to be so easy, or easy to do something actually cool post-wise about them, but I’m maxxing out the topic, and we’ll see. Yes, I looked up cacio e pepe. Oh my God, as I said to Bill. Reading about it made my mouth cinematic. I’m on the hunt. I mean, pepper! I mean just that in and of itself. If someone told me that pepper is made by Tinkerbell shaking her magic wand, I would believe them. My weekend? Work, duh. Apartment searching, duh. Crystal Castles tonight. I think making the rounds of art galleries tomorrow. Movie maybe? And hopefully instances of the unexpected and wonderful. You went swimming! Indoors, I guess? I’m guessing you’re not a member of the polar bear society or whatever they’re called. The animation job starts on Monday? What will that involve in terms of time and actual tasks and stuff? How are you going to do up your Xmas tree? Do you have pre-existing ornaments and stuff? I hope your Friday puts your week into mothballs in high style. Lots o’ love in return, Dennis. ** Jeff Jackson, Hi, Jeff. Yes, the series at the SF Cinematheque was an eye-opener for me, and the post resulted. Mm, I think I’m still at the stage where I feel wide-eyed and absorbent re: that work. There were things about all of those works that interest me, but I don’t think any of them stuck out as especially great relative to the others yet. Thanks about the Dazed interview. I hope you like ‘ZFE’, of course. And, yeah, very chuffed about John Waters putting ‘LCTG’ in his top ten. A new fiction project? A novel or something else or you don’t know yet? That’s exciting! Here’s hoping that what feels like it’s starting to give gives. ** Chris dankland, Hi, Chris! Cool, thanks, I’m really glad the post and work fed you something. I’m into it too. Well, at the New Museum event, that’s essentially what happened re: projecting the gif work. They projected the gif works on a large screen, and the artists interracted with them live, for the most part. And three of the performances involved live music being performed while the gif works were being scrolled. And it worked really well. The gif works looked kind of amazing blown up like that. It went so well that the New Museum is thinking about doing more events like that around my gif works, maybe a touring event or something. So, yeah, that idea is something I’m thinking about. Ooh, I hadn’t thought about using the projections to create a walkthrough haunted house environment. Obviously, that’s an exciting idea to me. Or maybe a haunted elevator environment since they’re vertical. Hm, okay, I’m going to dwell on that idea for a while. Thanks a bunch for the great idea and for everything else, man. ** Right. Up there are four books I read and ended up loving. Needless to say, they’re recommended. See you tomorrow.

17 Comments

  1. h

    Hi Dennis, great book day! Hm, in particular, Dreamlives of Debris looks fascinating to me. Will look into it soon, thank you!

    If you ask, things are very good here. Watching films (mostly queer films, and some experimental films), reading books and writing some about it. Very exciting, though exhausting. Oh, congratulations on John Waters’ listing of your LCTG. No surprise. But still excellent news. And best of luck with your apartment search.

  2. New Juche

    Hey Dennis

    How’s it going? That’s great about John Waters, just read his short description of LCTG, he makes it sound pretty terrifying to me! Haha I still haven’t seen the film, but definitely mean to while I’m still in the UK.

    I have however read through ZFE twice in the last few days, second time last night in the dark, and rendered alert and susceptible by gin. It stands out as my favourite of the three I think, but I figure to go back and reread the first two now. I’d like to respond to it in greater detail at some point. The way the visual phrases linger on after viewing, and further associate in the mind, is very much like memories of disturbing dreams to me. I like that a lot. The rhythm and movement is a very active component in that operation, the repetition. Still images don’t have that affect on me. I think of this in relation to my own new piece which is wordless, and also a sort of narrative related through images. The affect each visual unit has on the one after it and so on, and then the backward tunnel they form together. On that note, thanks for introducing Lewinter who is my first pick from these four today. Do you type out these excerpts yourself?? Check out my new thing at your leisure, at the usual place, as of yesterday.

    How is the house-hunting going?

    Bestest

    Joe

  3. Tomk

    Wow, these all look great…the first two especially. One thing that isn’t so great about living in South America is the lack of access to new books. Also, the post here is…unreliable to say the least.

    Did I mention I was working on a kind of sci-if novel before? I’m no expert in the genre, though I like William Gibson a lot, but I wanted to see if I could write or at least collide my style with the genre + I think, after reading Katherine hayles how we became post human and thinking about harun faroki and object oriented ontology…it’s the only way into the themes I want to explore…but really I don’t know what I’m doing and it’s so far removed from how I usually work that I oscillate between excitement and terror (different forms of excitement, different forms of terror) …anyway.
    Hope crystal castles are ace! Missed them when they played here a few months back

  4. David Ehrenstein

    It’s World AIDS Day

  5. Dóra Grőber

    Hi!

    Thank you for today’s books! I especially liked the excerpts from Jos Charles and Roger Lewinter. The whole post just gave me this rush of inspiration and motivation to write. I feel like maybe I’m getting to a point with my own writing where I start considering publication. It’s something strange and huge and very thrilling to me.

    Oh, I didn’t know you had a roommate! It makes it a little more difficult, then, I guess. Well I still hope you find a place you both like a lot and is available, too. As soon as possible.
    Exactly. We never know when it might come in handy! And yes, I can’t even remember the last time I didn’t have exams around the holidays! It’s gonna be really strange and refreshing now!
    Ah I’m glad the meeting was so great! It’s a big cliché but it’s always so very inspiring to talk to smart and intelligent people who are interested in the same things we are. And his concentration on ‘queercore’ makes it all the more exciting to me. I hope you get to read his thesis when it’s finished!
    Oh, I hope Zac is alright now! And please do tell me about the Crystal Castles gig!!
    I woke up with this migraine-like headache today and it seems to resist pills so I’ve been in a bit of a lazy haze all day. Now it’s getting a bit better maybe so I’ll see if I can write something okay-ish. I hope it goes away by tomorrow!
    And I also hope you had a lovely day and evening!!

  6. David Ehrenstein

    Boredom is Cool!

  7. Sypha

    In terms of my own reading, last night I finished off Leon Bloy’s “The Tarantulas’ Parlor and Other Unkind Tales” collection, and am currently reading “The Magickal Record of Nema: 1975-1977.” The latter is the “magical diary” that Nema (real name Maggie Cook) had to submit to join Kenneth Grant’s O.T.O. back in the 1970’s (now known as the Typhonian Order). Nema is one of the more interesting occultists on the Thelemic scene: aside from her poetry and painting her big contribution to the field was a short book she “channeled” in 1974 known as Liber Pennae Praenumbra, which put forth the theory that the Aeon of Ma’at was running concurrently with Aleister Crowley’s Aeon of Horus: a double current, as it were. Kenneth Grant himself had an obsession with the Egyptian Goddess Ma’at, and as a result the work of Nema often cropped up in his own books. In any event, I’ve long had a fascination with some of the very strange occult experiences that were happening in the Cincinnati, Ohio area back in the 1970’s, so this diary is a very interesting glimpse into that time period.

    Glad you got the day just fine Dennis! Yeah, the 10th works.

    Most of the sci-fi novels being put out today don’t seem that long to me. Fantasy novels, on the other hand, remain very long (with some exceptions).

  8. steevee

    Have fun with Crystal Castles!

    Yes, NERUDA is a sort of unconventional biopic about Pablo Neruda. It follows him in the ’40s while he was on the run from Chile’s police, particularly an invented character played by Gael Garcia Bernal. To get totally shallow, I have to say that Garcia Bernal looks better in film noir garb than any actor since Guy Pearce in L.A. CONFIDENTIAL. But the film is a bit too self-consciously literary for its own good.

  9. Jamie

    Denton! That’s so sweet about John Waters! Completely cool.
    I’m still excited about the Performance Cinema post today, man! I’ve been blabbing on about it. I think Hannah wanted me to shhh this morning as it was too early for that kind of chat haha. Thanks for today’s tips. I’ve got Meredith Alling’s book already in my cyber-basket and I love that Jos Charles excerpt.
    To answer your questions – swimming was indoors, in a quite swanky health place (Hannah gets free passes). We mostly sat in the hot-tubs to be honest. And I think we have plenty of Xmas stuff for the tree, but better check – we ended up not having time to get it today, so are getting it tomorrow. The first day of the job on Monday is, I think, going to be a little dry, mostly focusing on apps and the more educational side of things. On Tuesday we’re hopefully going to meet an illustrator who’s pretty great and seems to be into the project. It’s making me pretty excited, the whole thing.
    How was Crystal Castles (although I’m sure you’ll have answered that by now)?
    When I made cacio e pepe I dry-fried some peppercorns then crushed them and the released fragrance was divine. I think maybe I used too many, though, as we were both coughing a lot.
    Got to go – we’re having a virtual writing gang. Our friend Kate moved to London, so we’re doing it by Skype.
    So! Hope you have a lovely weekend. You have any idea what movie you may see?
    Lots and lots of love to you!
    Jamie

  10. _Black_Acrylic

    Dreamlives of Debris is the one that piques my interest. Olsen’s Ballard song reminds me, if you fancy moving to Shepperton to write dystopian sci-fi then his house is up for sale.

  11. steevee

    2016 music top 10 list:
    1. David Bowie-BLACKSTAR (ISO/Columbia)
    2. Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds-SKELETON TREE (Bad Seed)
    3. Heron Oblivion-s/t (Sub Pop)
    4. Brian Eno-THE SHIP (Warp)
    5. Beyoncé-LEMONADE (Columbia)
    6. A Tribe Called Quest-WE GOT IT FROM HERE…THANK YOU 4 YOUR SERVICE (Epic)
    7. Danny Brown-ATROCITY EXHIBITION (Warp)
    8. YG-STILL BRAZY (Def Jam)
    9. Bon Iver-22, A MILLION (JagJaguwar)
    10. Swet Shop Boys-CASHMERE (Casual)

    Hip-hop – and R&B, to a lesser extent – continues to grow in strength as it’s re-found its political conscience. Rock music, at least as played by musicians under 35, putters on like a zombie, staggering under the weight of decades of influence on influence. There are many talented musicians who can sound exactly like the first Pink Floyd album or Ramones album, but who gives a fuck? I would much rather hear an album that delivers the shock of the new those albums offered. At this point, punk only matters to me if it can offer something fresh lyrically (see Against Me!, G.L.O.S.S.) Against all odds, Heron Oblivion and Bon Iver put together sets of cool folk/rock influences and managed to come up with something I’d never heard before. Mike McGonigal started a thread about Heron Oblivion, querying whether there were any ’60s bands who actually sounded just like them despite the fact that their album sounds like it was recorded in 1969. No one could come up with one.

    • joseph

      Hey Dennis,

      Jos Charles’s work is a appropriate for one the reasons that reminded me to stop by here… a former professor-now friend of mine recently asked me for any recommendations /input on a class he’s wanting to put together tentatively titled Trigger Warning: Sex & Death (that way he can simultaneously mock the idea and can’t be blamed by anyone that might seriously want a warning) Naturally you were a part of the recommendations, since it will be a summer class time was a consideration so I thought maybe Jerk would be best… added that maybe he could convince a couple kids from the drama department to put on a production which is highly unlikely but highly unlikely world events have been happening lately so I’ll let you know if that ever becomes something in the works. Of course, he might end up on the list of professors a bunch of kids in the US who seem to be obsessed with The Fountainhead are putting together, but that’s a risk worth taking/not really a risk at all. If you don’t know about those kids, they’re not worth knowing about, but if you want to know, O, do ask me about it. Wonderful re: the John Waters pick, just this week I was going through some of his past year picks and watched Tom At The Farm or rather I turned on Tom At The Farm extremely and passed out midway and need to return to it…

      I’ve gone on beyond my meaning. Hope all’s well despite not all being well.

    • Jeff Jackson

      Always enjoy seeing your lists, Steevee!

      • steevee

        Thanks, Jeff. I hope the rant isn’t too bitter.

  12. Misanthrope

    Dennis, Yeah, I’m lucky, no bad trips at all. Not that there were that many or anything, of course.

    With the wooden roller coasters, I find myself spending so much effort and time bracing myself against the herky-jerkiness that I completely don’t get to enjoy the thrill of the ride. Fucking things tear my neck up for some reason.

    That dude I follow, David Laid, he said something pretty funny the other day. He said that he’d had an “unethical pump.” I don’t know why, I just found that funny. I like it when people use words in ways that you don’t normally hear them.

    Good selection today. I think I’m a hit the B&N in Union Square when I’m in NYC on the weekend of the 16th. Haven’t bought a book in a long time. Mark Doten’s book was the last one I bought, actually.

  13. Jeff Jackson

    Hey Dennis,

    I always love these book days. All look super intriguing – the Olson and Lewinter in particular. Have you already done one of these posts that included D. Foy’s ‘Patricide’? (Or have you checked it out yet?) That’s one of my faves of the year.

    I was thrilled to see ‘Novi Sad’ made Entropy’s 2016 Best Books list. Michael’s remarkable design and artwork share a big chunk of that honor.

    The fiction project is a sort of novella, related to the new novel in an odd way– I can tell you more later, maybe over Skype some time. I’m assuming it all comes together, of course. Still sorting through possibilities for getting past this troubled section.

    And randomly – are you a fan of Terry Allen’s artwork? I only knew him from his music (“Lubbock [On Everything]”) and recently found out he made installations, environments, sculptures, etc.

  14. Kyler

    Dennis, wow, so busy today, forgot to check the blog until now. Very interesting authors, especially enjoyed the Nietzsche’s Kisses guy – I like what he said about fiction being the only medium to truly explore a person’s consciousness. And congrats about the John Waters list! I love the way he described the film. (I’ve always been a Rohmer fan myself.)

    Looks like things are set for a Saturday publication of my article, renamed by the editor, “Adventures on the Magical Path.” I like the new title. I actually wrote this years ago as the first chapter of my nonfiction book – got my first agent with it. You know, it’s cool that she never sold it, because if she did, I don’t know if I ever would have written my novels. Do you ever think about stuff like that? Like if my older brother hadn’t died the day he was born 2 years before me, would I have ever been born or would my sister ever have? If I had been a nonfiction author, and successful with that, I don’t know that I would have gone the fiction route. Anyway, it’ll be good to have this article/chapter out there…very revealing about me, but I think I’m ready to handle that in public. (I think.)

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