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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Flags

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“If I fall, pick up the flag, kiss it, and keep on going.”

 


“I’m in love with red. I think it’s such a passionate color. Every flag of every country pretty much has red it it. It’s power, there’s no fence sitting with red. Either you love it or you don’t. I think its blood and strength and life. I do love red.”

 


“Every normal man must be tempted, at times, to spit on his hands, hoist the black flag, and begin slitting throats.”

 


“I used to look like an American flag.”

 


“Without a musket to raise, a barricade to storm, a flag to wave, the question hit me in the face like the cold air: ‘Who am I?'”

 


“Let’s face it: There are people who are extremists in every corner of society, and whatever flag they’re waving is something Bad Religion has stood against.”

 


“For you are the makers of the flag and it is well that you glory in the making.”

 


“Within him, as he hurled himself forward, was born a love, a despairing fondness for this flag which was near him. It was a creation of beauty and invulnerability. It was a goddess, radiant, that bended its form with an imperious gesture to him. It was a woman, hating and loving, that called him with the voice of his hopes. Because no harm could come to it he endowed it with power. He kept near, as if it could be a saver of lives, and an imploring cry went from his mind.”

 


“There is hopeful symbolism in the fact that flags do not wave in a vacuum.”

 


“Breakfast was an hour later than usual, and after breakfast there was a ceremony which was observed every week without fail. First came the hoisting of the flag.”

 


“It is not the fear of madness which will oblige us to leave the flag of imagination furled.”

 


“Upon the cornice of the tower a tall staff was fixed. Their eyes were riveted on it. A few minutes after the hour had struck something moved slowly up the staff, and extended itself upon the breeze. It was a black flag. It was with this blot, and not with the beauty, that the two gazers were concerned.”

 


“It is the Soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag, and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protester to burn the flag.”

 


“The sun has fallen down, and the billboards are all leering, and the flags are all dead at the top of their poles.”

 


“What can I say to you Old Flag, you are so great in every fold. So linked to mighty deeds of old, so calm, so firm, so still, so true, my heart swells at the very sight of you, Old Flag.”

 


“Two monks were arguing about the flag waving in the wind. One said, “The flag moves.” The other said, “The wind moves.” They argued back and forth but could not agree. Hui-neng, the sixth Patriarch, said: “Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves.” The two monks were struck with awe.”

 


“I cannot look down to this floor, but her features are shaped on the flags!”

 


“It resembles the communist Russian flag, except the background is green.”

 


“If you want a symbolic gesture, don’t burn the flag wash it.”

 


“You’re a white flag, throw that towel boy. I’m a jump right in that crowd boy. I don’t give a Shhh…keep it down boy and I’m a fuck you blow that loud boy.”

 


“And we knew the flag was a friend / forgotten ceremony, nailed to the floor, / climbing tooth by tooth.”

 


“Dry fields of lightning rise to receive the observer, the mincing flag. An unendurable age.”

 


“Ever since I was little I’ve had a secret attraction to the flag of Finland, secret only because there never seemed to be right moment to go up to someone and say, “Excuse me, I’ve always loved the flag of Finland. I loved it the first time I saw it, in a dictionary with a colorplate showing Flags of All Nations. Finland’s was special. It was free of the symbolism that makes some flags so fussy and editorial. The flag of Finland looked like cool, clean air in a blue sky, the essence of a zero that had just disappeared.”

 


“How much more easily the leave-taker is loved! For the flame burns more purely for those vanishing in the distance, fueled by the fleeting scrap of material waving from the ship or railway window. Separation penetrates the disappearing person like a pigment and steeps him in gentle radiance.”

 


“i have to make a school flag and i need help with a quote. my flag is gonna have a rainbow. and i wanna put a quote on the flag. what are some great quotes that have the word rainbow in it? reply ASAP!!!!!”

 


“The flag is symbol of the nation where a sensible object is posited as an incarnation of an object of thought.”

 


“He raised his hand the way someone might raise a tattered flag. He moved his fingers, each finger, as if his fingers were a flag in flames.”

 


“Everybody has flags out. Homes, businesses. It’s odd: You never see anybody putting out a flag, but by Wednesday morning there they all are. Big flags, small flags, regular flag-size flags. A lot of home-owners here have those special angled flag-holders by their front door, the kind whose brace takes four Phillips screws. And thousands of those little hand-held flags-on-a-stick you normally see at parades – some yards have dozens all over as if they’d somehow sprouted overnight. Rural-road people attach the little flags to their mailboxes out by the street. Some cars have them wedged in their grille or duct-taped to the antenna. Some upscale people have actual poles; their flags are at half-mast. More than a few large homes around Franklin Park or out on the east side even have enormous multistory flags hanging gonfalon-style down over their facades. It’s a total mystery where people get flags this big or how they got them up there.”

 


“He would think of the Middle East, of strife and mortar, then suddenly of Australia, and then New Zealand, giant squid, tunafish, and then of Japan, all the millions of people in Japan; and he’d get stuck there, on Japan—trying to imagine the life of one Japanese person, unable to, conjuring only an image of wasabi, minty and mounded, against a flag-white background.”

 


“From a point 10m from the base of a flag pole, its top has an angle of elevation of 50º. From the foot of a tower 20m high, the top of a flagpole has an angle of elevation of 30º. From the top of the tower, it has an angle of depression of 25º. From a certain spot, the top of a flagpole has an angle of elevation of 30º. Move 10m in a straight line towards the flagpole. Now the top has an angle of elevation of 50º.”

 


“These red flags are the warning signs that a person may be planning suicide.”

 


“I saw our first Confederate flag at 9:35 AM, wrapped around a man’s head, as neither a hat nor a bandanna, but more just a thing that hugged his hair.”

 


“What not yet above could not be crushed, this was the fifteenth iteration and would replicate again, though this still not be any new beginning and when it ended it would not end, the houses laced with blue night risen in the toning of the crystalmind, a corridor of small flags each pyramidal and seated with a center made of cream, each hiding where inside them another instance of this lock, the speaking humming through the speakerbodies magicked and lumped with lanterns down the longest corridors.”

 


“The black flag represents the absence of a flag, and thus stands in opposition to the very notion of nation-states. In that light, the flag can be seen as a rejection of the concept of representation, or the idea that any person or institution can adequately represent a group of individuals.”

 


“And the ship / The Black Freighter / Runs a flag up its masthead / And a cheer rings the air.”

 


“In the pirate flag of skull and crossbones, loved by children of all ages and many nations, it is the idea that is paramount, the actual execution of the design often woefully imperfect — but who cares so long as the wind is up and the flag flutters, bringing the animating force of nature into play. There is another reason for not caring; this pirate flag is also an anti flag — not merely a sign of belonging to no nation but a refusal of all signs and hence of representation, to, belonging to no nation but a sign of refusal of all signs and hence of representations, too, as nature unfurls its own nation.”

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** Chaim Hender, Hi. Cool, always so happy when a post takes hold. Well, the project is, yeah, my ‘art’, but it’s also a big assignment, so … it’ll probably make at least a tiny bit more sense when I can finally talk about it. Mm, yes, I think so about where I am influencing how I receive art. I did notice when I was in LA recently that there were other external factors commingling with the art, but I’m not sure how that worked. It might have been as simple as the context making me think about an ‘American perspective’ in the curating. And I do always think about being in Paris when I look at art here even though looking at art here has also become the norm. Hm, interesting observation there, my friend. How did Wednesday treat you? ** John Fram, Well, hey there, John! Very nice to see you, old pal. What you say about ‘CMBYN’ is certainly what I suspect about it. Including ‘ultimately its success is probably progress’, etc. It’s just … The kind of film it appears to be doesn’t interest me across the board, and just because this one has queer content doesn’t sell it to me. I don’t feel a need to have something validate anything. Exciting, movies? Nothing brand new, mostly things I’ve seen online re: making posts about filmmakers. I discovered and really liked the films of Paul Clipson lately. Yony Leyser’s queer punk documentary is okay and inspiring although I have a lot of issues with its interpretation of queerpunk’s history. I’m very due a trip to the movie theater. Again, good to see you. What’s up with you? ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Adjani has gone pretty quiet. First there was the scary cosmetic surgery, and now she’s stopping doing that, and a heavily revised face that is then left to age is not a pretty sight either. The ‘waiting for something to happen’ thing will likely be as simple as a friend saying, ‘I’m going to see CMBYN, want to go?’ Johnny Hallyday died! For France, it’s like a piece of itself has died. Huge thing. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Yeah, like I said above, the mysterious gig is partly an assignment, or what it will be is owned by a big company here, so they want to call as many shots as they can. Interesting what you say about ‘I, Tonya’. The three people I know who’ve seen it, all women and feminists, thought it was a riot. Oh, you hating on films I like is part of life. Well, unless you insist on foisting your bizarro misinterpretation of recent Malick on the public again. Ha ha, kidding. I plan to stay away fro  ‘worst’ lists this year anyway. I’m just sick to death of all the negativity chasing going on in culture at the moment. That said, it’s woeful to see ‘Good Time’ on a number of best lists. Stephen Cone … sounds vaguely familiar. Sounds just curious enough to taste a little, so I’ll try. Thanks. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Glad you dug it. Yes, the contract thing is annoying. I haven’t written something with so much business involved before, and I don’t like it. Zac and I delayed our big film script talk until this morning because he wanted another day to get his thoughts and ideas into sharper focus. Paris at Xmas is even far more beautiful than the pictures, believe it or not. It’s sad when peacefulness lasts so long it gets boring. But peacefulness is also kind of overrated maybe, and that’s good to know? My yesterday was taken up by work I’m trying to get in before the ‘big assignment’ swallows me, some writing, blog post making. The heater in my apartment got fixed, thank goodness, ‘cos I’ve been doing the p.s. at my desk in a winter coat and scarf for the past four days. I hope your today is the perfect combination of peace and brain food. Was it? ** Jeff J, Hi. Oh, it was/is excellent! Yes, one of Gisele’s dolls plays the child version of the main character (Paul). There’s a scene in the film that reenacts a famous trial here in France where Jean-Marie Le Pen sued one of POL’s authors for defamation due to something in one of the author’s books. This also partly answers your Lindon question because it was a book by Mathieu Lindon. Paul had POL authors play the audience at the trial, and I’m one of them. Spoiler: Le Pen lost the lawsuit. The Lindon book is mostly a memoir, yes. He’s a very revered author here, but I believe that this is first book translated into English. He’s also had an extremely interesting life. He is the son of the man who founded the great French publishing house Editions de Minuit, so he grew up around many great writers — Minuit was the publisher of almost all the Nouveau Roman writers, for example. The memoir is about that life and has an emphasis on his very close relationship with Michel Foucault, who was kind of a surrogate father to him. An excellent book. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hey, B. A big storm? Oh, I hope we get it too. Enjoy being with your dad, and of course enjoy ticking off another last day of banking. ** Misanthrope, Still, it took its sweet time to decay relatively speaking. I’m one of those weird people whose wisdom teeth grew in just fine, and they’re still in my mouth doing whatever it is they do. You’re getting all the luck on the doctors front. I have seen the title ‘This Is Us’ bandied about, yes, but I have no clue what it’s the title of. But, thanks to you, I will never find out, and my brain will retain just that much extra room for something genius. ** Bill, Hi, hi, Bill! If you like ‘The Shape of Water’ tell me because, as I said the other day, I found its trailer as off-putting as trailer can be. ** Okay. Flags! See you tomorrow.

13 Comments

  1. David Ehrenstein

    December 6, 2017 at 3:25 pm

    Love the big American flag behind Rod Taylor in “Zabriskie Point” (Unfortunately the only image I could find isn’t in color.

  2. Well, the worst films list will be a small part of a piece running around 1,200 words, so it will be easy to ignore a list of 6 films.

    I was thinking of doing a Facebook post on artists who use Christian imagery to their own, non-religious ends, like Darren Aronofsky’s pick-and-choose Biblical references in mother!, which don’t ultimately add up to anything coherent and I think just illustrate a simpler story about the difficulties of being married to an ego-driven artist, R&B singer Daniel Caesar’s album FREUDIAN, which is filled with musical influences from gospel but whose final line is “I lost my faith” and lesbian country singer H. E. McEntire, who has an album coming out next month which I hope to review for Gay City News. I’ve only heard one song from it, the first single “A Lamb, A Dove.” As you can tell from the title, it’s filled with Biblical imagery but takes it into an explicitly gay area – one line says “I found heaven in a woman’s arms.”

  3. The pairings of text and images are very interesting. Curious how you made the decisions.

    I love Paul Clipson’s work too; he’s a local, so I try to catch his live events often.

    Bill

  4. Hi!

    Today’s post was really interesting. This quote is from John Ashbery, right? “And we knew the flag was a friend / forgotten ceremony, nailed to the floor, / climbing tooth by tooth.”

    Pretty understandable – I mean that Zac wanted to collect his thoughts as clearly as possible before the for-a-little-while-final script meeting. How did it go?
    I totally believe that!
    Yes. Like… I’m all for lying in bed all day, doing nothing, but it’s different when I’m not home, haha. But I’m not complaining, of course. I’d choose this over 8 hours of madness any time!
    God… I’m glad your heater got fixed; it must’ve been awful without it! And I guess it might not have been the best for your back, either, right? How are you today?
    I had a pretty calm day today too. I prepared this time, though, I took my laptop with me and could work on SCAB a little.
    How was your day? What happened?

  5. I think of people selling kitschy crap at New York’s pride parade when I see the rainbow flag, not Tom of Finland, but I assume that’s what you were getting at, right?

  6. I don’t know if you saw the Facebook post where I said I wanted to make a short film in which Jeff Sessions and Mike Pence got dosed with psilocybin, but I seriously think this would be a good idea, although I don’t think I would have time to write and direct it till 2019 and I hope Sessions has much less power by then. Also, I’ve never really made a film or even written an unproduced screenplay about protagonists I want to treat cruelly – the one exception might be the unfinished script I wrote last year about the 2 brothers, one of whom is a neo-Nazi, which I hope to revamp next year into a one-act science-fiction play – but I really feel that way towards Sessions and Pence, and given Sessions’ attitude towards marijuana and the power he holds over drug users, drugs seem like the way to punish him. I haven’t even really thought about what would happen on their trip, but I was also inspired by film critic Emily Yoshida’s recent short film in which singer Mitski plays a sitter for people taking a powerful new psychedelic drug. (In the middle, it sort of turns into a music video, as she suddenly starts singing.) The man she’s watching over is a middle-aged white guy who appears to be some kind of secretive politician. If you google “Emily Yoshida Mitski,” a link to watch it for free on Vimeo should pop up.

  7. Thursday’s my last day of working at the bank after 15 years so it’s feeling pretty good right now. And as if to lay on the symbolism super thick, on Friday I’ll be meeting Alex and the Fleet collective’s Donna to discuss Yuck ‘n Yum and what 2018 will hold.

    This morning I got another nice Xmas present for my brother – this Jeremy Deller Fuck Brexit Oversized Mug that really should make his coffee taste all the better.

  8. I enjoyed the flag that’s made out of smoke. It’s very mysterious and feels like it could go with anything.

    My Wednesday was a quiet milestone. Going through the motions of the day felt routine enough that for the first time I got a sense of this being my life rather than a brief adventure or transition period.

    I came up with an idea for a family drama screenplay that at first I thought of as a joke with an attitude of “here’s an idea for a vanilla movie that would be perfect festival bait” and I’ve gradually been realizing is something I might actually want to do. I like how the research involves careful observation both of the area I live in and the area I hope to move to, and probably watching a lot of Ozu. Those things alone feel deeply worthwhile.

    With moviemaking that requires any kind of a budget or collaboration it must always be difficult to figure out which ideas are worth trying to bring to light and which should be trashed or recycled.

    I just watched this video rendition of your poem “3:45 AM”:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PXCRddJuK00

    What was it like to make? In my humble opinion as a recovering English major I think the tension and tedium play well on screen but the last line, “We turned and walked home to our darkness” isn’t fully filmmable. Walking away together but apart into the smoke allows the video’s melancholy to land but I think it misses out on the metaphysical mystery of feeling a shared darkness, with or without the physical presence of another person.

  9. Dennis, I can’t remember what I was watching on TV, but I was sitting there eating my dinner my little haunted recliner, and whatever I was watching -it may have been The Voice, my mom watches that religiously and I’ll just sit there and eat while it’s on and use it as background noise- we just left the channel on…and then “This Is Us” comes on. I made it through about 10 minutes. Trite. Quaint. Cliche. Phony. And all of those in the worst possible ways. Just really bad dialogue, story arcs, and overacting. I could’ve thrown up. None of this, btw, is exaggeration. It was that bad.

    Yes, I’ve had fine doctors the past week. Very lucky. I like ones who will engage with you and humor you a bit.

    Add me to the weird people list. My wisdom teeth came in fully and without a speck of pain. They’re just there. Well, except for the one that abscessed…I somehow cracked it chewing something and it slowly died. Otherwise, I’d still have the little fucker. I’m glad I have them, if only because so many other people don’t. We’re a rare toothy breed, you and I. 😛

    Kayla and LPS went to see Lil Pump last night. Made it there and back safely, and LPS even got up and went to school as he’d promised. I’m glad that’s over with, hahaha.

  10. Heyo Dennis, it’s great to see you too! Things have been wildly busy, just as I hoped NYC would be. I’m going back to school in the spring, working and in the midst of pitching my agent on a novel. The market has grown so cramped for new authors I’m trying to pin down a larger outline of a story with him and get it shaped into a viable prospect before I start writing it. I actually am surprised by how quickly I came to enjoy the process of working in an outline–it’s really allowed me to take risks with things like plot and complexity I would never have the courage to do if I were flying blind, so to speak. I need to check out that director. I just started watching The Jinx, which is good, and Vanderpump Rules (at my agent’s behest) which is, in its way, a much better piece of work, if that makes sense. Do you know who has finally won me over? Stephen King. I’ve read a couple of books in quick succession and for all his faults I think he’s really fucking good at what he does. What about you–any one get you amped lately? And how’s the movie life? I’ve been playing with some script ideas–do you find the screenplay a more liberating format? Some writers seem to while others seem to find it absolutely claustrophobic.

    Talk soon, always a pleasure
    J

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