‘There’s a famous old story about a bunch of blindfolded people standing around an elephant. One person, touching the elephant skin, thinks the elephant is one thing; another person, touching the trunk, thinks the elephant is something else. This goes on and on until the people have a bunch of descriptions of an elephant.
‘To the extent that we’re all blindfolded, and to the extent that the elephant represents something analogous to life, it stands to reason that the more descriptions we have, the greater our understanding of the thing being described.
‘Benjamin Weissman, like the rest of us, has heard the elephant story. He seems to have walked around the elephant and discovered a particular cavity unexplored by his blindfolded colleagues, and not only does he reach in and feel the contours of this particular cavity, he crawls into this cavity with his whole body. Although the elephant he’s describing is not, as Magritte might say, just an elephant, it does exist. And Weissman, blindfolded or not, has seen something. Whether his characters are making sperm bank deposits or recording the travails of a doofus Der Fuhrer, he’s found a part of the elephant that the rest of the sightless rabble are trying to avoid. Maybe they don’t want to go there, but he does. And with glee. And by doing so, the inappropriate becomes, not just normal, but liberating.
‘Weissman’s story collection, Headless, leads us into a dank, squishy, sperm- and turd- and blood-filled world that may indeed be something like hell, but it’s hell with a weirdly infectious story titled “The Fecality of It All,” he writes, “the rear end is the devil’s public address system… and it will always steer us into hell.” In “Pink Slip of Wood,” his narrator fires an employee who, because of his “20-plus inches of erectile furor… (his) Salisbury steak battering ram… (his) turbo sperm log,” is causing the narrator’s once-proud member, nicknamed Kafka—as well as the other employees, mostly named Bob—to feel inferior.
‘Although Weissman’s stories eschew realism, they simultaneously revel in hyper-realistic descriptions of bodily functions in all their unseemly glory. Weissman, apparently an avid skier, litters the slopes of his stories with so many secretory shenanigans that after a while the “rude” and “dirty” and “sick” become normal modes of behavior that may, or may not, elevate and mitigate the pleasure and pain of living. His characters relate in a matter-of-fact way to their sordid goings-on because these things are matters of fact. Boys strangle their moms, the color of snow is yellow, and a quick slice into a jugular vein is part of a precious quotidian existence.
‘The narrator of “Marnie,” enjoying a moment of unusual probity, turns away from the girl he loves to let her swim, in privacy, naked in a lake. He would like to see her perfect body but he controls himself, and it’s not until she dies that he realizes his misguided striving for normalcy, his vain attempt to repress his obvious urges, was the moment he severed himself, drawing the veil between merely existing in life and actually living that life. If civilization, or whatever it is we call civilization, shields us from our basic urges by making them disgusting, Weissman cracks that shield. Which is why his explorations end up, oddly, near the heart. In a voice both erudite and childlike, he accepts the obvious violence in life because it’s the violence of the child and therefore our violence as well.’ — John Haskell
Yutaka Sone and Benjamin Weissman finalizing their exhibition “What Every Snowflake Knows in Its Heart”
Dennis Cooper, Benjamin Weisman, Amy Gerstler & Tosh Berman in conversation
_____ His art
______ Interview by Raul Deznermio
Both Headless and your previous book, Dear Dead Person, are comprised of stories, often very short ones. What draws you to writing stories rather than, say, novels? And have you ever written longer fiction pieces?
I just started writing a novel and I’m kind of out of my mind excited about it. Progressing quickly. All about hate, but it’s pretty giddy and cheerful. I always and only wanted to write stories when I started writing. Had no intention of ever writing a novel. Stories were all I wanted to write and read. I love the short form, the quick blast. First hero, Barthelme. But now I can see why people write novels, the kitchen sink project is so kick ass. Everything in my experience seems to fit. Tripping me out.
The arc of the stories in Headless seems to move from more absurd/surreal vignettes—like the opening story about Hitler’s relationhip to the sport of skiing—to more “intimate” stories in the final section, “Technically Dadless.” How did you decide the order of the stories?
Dennis Cooper came up with the order. He found cool relationships between the stories. He saw a thread. A loose thread.
Do you have a favorite story in the collection?
Probably the two ski stories and “Fecality of it All.” Not for the content, but rather the kind of sentences the content elicited.
Headless has been praised by literary heavyweights such as Alice Sebold and Bret Easton Ellis. On the cover blurb, Ellis says the stories powerfully depict “what it means to be male.” In terms of book buyers/readers, do you think the stories will appeal more to men or women—or is this irrelevant?
I think it’s irrelevant, hope it is, trust it is. Being male is weird and ridiculous, a freak show, something women occasionally have to deal with in their lives, whether they’re gay or straight. There are aggro men and girly men and manly girls and girly girls and a zillion variations inbetween, way more than two sexes. I think it’s all about whether a story is written well. Good sentences can take a person anywhere.
There appear to be some shared themes in your work with the writings of Phillip Roth—I’m thinking specifically of Portnoy’s Complaint—though stylistically the writing isn’t too similar. Do you like Roth’s work? Who have been some of your inspirations as a writer?
I just read Portnoy’s Complaint for the first time and of course was thoroughly blown away. I had no idea it was going to be that good. He’s a freak and his sentences are badass. I’ve avoided all the mainstream Jews with the exception of Kafka for a long time. Concentrated on German language writers—Bernhard, Walser, Handke, Frisch, Grass, Heiner Muller—and all the strange inspiring Americans: Charlie Baxter, George Saunders, DFW, Janet Kauffman, Joy Wms., Aimee Bender, Vollmann, Lydia Davis, Hawkes, Gass, Edson, Tate, Brodkey, Denis Johnson, Dennis Cooper.
You are one of the first writers in Dennis Cooper’s Little House on the Bowery series. How did you come to meet Dennis?
We met at a literary center in Venice, California 20 years ago called Beyond Baroque. I signed up for an open reading and he was running things. He was very cool and supportive. I also fell in love with my wife at Beyond Baroque—Amy Gerstler, the foxy librarian. Beyond Baroque rocks.
Are you working on any new writing projects?
The above mentioned novel and more stories. I guess that would be two separate manuscripts, and drawings, lots of drawings and paintings on paper (canvas bad, toothy, formal, stern).
Based on the four beautiful illustrations in the book, it seems that your talents are not limited to the written word. Do you spend more time on your visual art or your writing?
Lately I’ve been writing more, especially since this novel is freaking me out, making me feel like joyous eagle boy, but when I’m doing both I’m drawing more hours of the day because I can do it for long stretches of time with music blasting. Writing is so hard core exhausting on the brain (but more rewarding). For me, making art is fun and about a thousand times easier. Thanks for asking me questions.
Benjamin Weissman Headless Little House on the Bowery/Akashic Books
‘The author of the acclaimed transgressive cult classic Dear Dead Person returns with this long awaited second collection of brilliantly written, outrageously imaginative and comedic short stories. Benjamin Weissman is one of the true originals in contemporary American fiction. In Headless, he turns his daredevil wit and fearless storytelling gifts on subjects ranging from Hitler’s secret life as a skier to the philosophical musings of identical twin porn stars to the travails of the world’s most sitcom-defying family. Weissman’s dysfunctional, hilarious, and strangely moving tales of life in contemporary America are a real and unique treasure.’ — LHotB
p.s. Hey. We didn’t get the grant. Apologies in advance for any gloom that seeps into the p.s today. ** Dominik, Hi!!! Thank you a lot for your hopes, my friend. How was your long weekend? Love redirecting his persuasive powers re: our film onto persons with money to spare as yet unknown, G. ** Joe, Thanks, Joe. Really appreciate the good thoughts. ** Misanthrope, Thanks. Oh, right, jonnism! I haven’t talked with him for ages either. He was one of the thousands I stayed in touch with through Facebook until he, like almost all cool people, went full-time elsewhere on Insta or Twitter presumably. Great guy. My chin is slowly moving upwards. ** Nika Mavrody, Same boat. ** Bill, Hi, Bill. Enjoy Hong Kong and spread any news you see fit to. And thanks for the hopes. ** Kettering, Thanks for wishing us so well. Hugs right back. Mine might feel a little drab under the circumstances, but they’re not. Two of my all-time favorite songs are ‘Crossbones Style’ and ‘Nude as the News’. Ellie Bryan … not sure. I’ll use the link, thanks. ‘Gingersnaps’ is fun. I think you’ll think so? Your response wasn’t shallow whatsoever and painting is the best goal. Awesome day to you! ** tomk, Thanks, man. Best laid plans and all of that. ** ellie, Hi Ellie! Thanks, pal. I think if the decision had been on the basis of art, we would have won, but it was about a lot of other factors too, like needing to please an entire committee, and our film is too unique and challenging to do that, I think. When we presented the film to the jury, we could tell that some of them really loved it and that others were very suspicious of it. So, that was that. Yeah, I think Charley’s interviewer was way more interested in coming off clever than actually picking Charley’s brain. But it was a disaster, so he learned his lesson presumably. That’s an excellent werewolf indeed! How are you? How was your weekend? Love, me. ** _Black_Acrylic, Wow, that 16th century werewolf was very convincing. Thanks for the wishes. ** Dom Lyne, Hi, Dom. Excellent, man, so happy to hear that! And gratitude for the positive vibes. I’ll carry them through the next phase of trying to figure out what the hell we’re going to do. Love and other good stuff in full return, me. ** James Bennett, Hi, James. Thanks a lot. It was … uh … well, we did our best. Awesome you like James McCourt. I love McCourt. He’s so extremely underrated. Obviously wonderful influences you’ve got there across the board. Proud to be in there. ‘Too much colour and not enough line’: I know that one, yeah. That is an interesting, tricky balance. But you spotting the possible issue is surely all you need to get it right. It’s true, in my experience, internal cohesion is pretty key and necessary. But cohesion can come in all kinds of ways, not at all necessarily in the narrative, say. You sound really on it. You sound like you’re where you need to be. You make me want to get back into my own fiction. One of these months. You spinning your wheels was/is nothing but a pleasure. Feel free. What’s the latest? ** Nick., Hi. Oh, no problem, time runs differently here for some reason. I would definitely not want to die in an elevator. Or at least only if I had a full pack of cigarettes with me. I didn’t celebrate Thanksgiving or even remember it was happening on the day. So I didn’t even joke-celebrate it, which was a possibility at one point. I’m way into honesty. I’m having to deal with someone who has power over me who is deeply dishonest and that’s turning my insides into a werewolf’s. Helping yourself helps me. Man, that sounds like some banal New Age Yoko Ono aphorism, but I mean it. I’ll stay alive if you will. It’s a two-way street, sir. ** Steve Erickson, It didn’t work out, but thanks. I saw the first 10 minutes of one of the other entries, which was meh, and Zac saw the film that won the grant, which he said was okay. No, we’re in real trouble at the moment. The person who’s responsible for and obligated to raise funds for our film hasn’t raised a penny since May and hasn’t even tried as far as we can tell and seems to have no intention to. When we ask him to raise funds, he flips out and start berating us and telling us we’re greedy. Hopeless situation. So we’re on our own. We’re going to figure out how to move forward this week. We have to, and we will somehow. Curious about your friend’s project. No, I don’t know uloz.to, but it sounds like I should get over there pronto so I will. Thanks a lot for the tip, Steve. ** Michael Turner, Hello, Michael Turner. I think we’re meeting for the first time, yes? Nice to meet you if I’m not mistaken. I guess years ago when I made that post either I spaced out or couldn’t find something about the Quentin Collins example that I thought I could use? But, yes, worthy and missing. How are you? What’s up? ** Darbyy, Hey, hey. Yep, here I am without a grant. Grr, but, you know, onwards and upwards by default. It’s weird but I never think about people looking at the biog on their phones, and I obviously don’t format it to be phone friendly, and I guess I don’t want to think about what I’d have to do differently, but if it works on your phone, that’s great news. And, uh, hm, no, your comment seemed very you. Maybe it was slightly more vertical, but I’m not even sure. If a bat dies in my vicinity, I’ll preserve and ship it. I think the rats/mice got killed by an exterminator. They’ve vanished, for now at least. Happy you liked it! Thank you being here while on the road. Well, I guess you could have been here on your phone while you were home too, duh. xo. ** Damien Ark, Hey! Good, good. If you’d had a Genet book it might have overly influenced you? ** Keith Mayerson, Whoa, Keith! Hi, man, how awesome of you to come in here! I was just talking with someone here about HHU because they were about to read it. I knew you and Andrew are in Riverside. We should meet up next time I’m out there. I was there with my pal Zac shooting a film in Yucca Valley in April/May, which isn’t too, too far away from you. Oh, I do vaguely remember you giving me those paintings for safe keeping, yes. They must be there, probably in storage, yes, as my LA roommate Joel has been basically holding down the fort there for the past 15 or so years. I’ll check with him, and then I’ll probably put you in touch directly with him. Hugs and love and giant respect to you, my friend! I hope I can see you soon! Come to Paris! xo. ** Audrey, Hi, Audrey. That you very much for the good thoughts. I’m sure they helped. Awesome that you like Rivette so much. I love those two films a lot. Great, there are a lot of treasures for you to discover by him. Wonderful! Obviously, ‘Celine and Julie Go Boating’ is a big one. As someone who’s currently compartmentalising my feelings so as to not feel total despair at our not getting the grant, I understand and maybe even speak to the virtues of that approach, at least for the moment. Not a permanent solution though, of course, sadly or not. What you have got this week that you’re excited about? Love, Dennis. ** Charalampos, Hi. ** Right. I suppose it’s a bit odd for me to spotlight a book that I myself published (through my old Little House on the Bowery imprint), but it’s such a wonderful book, and it deserves more readers than it has had in recent years, and it’s still in print, so I hereby urge you to give it and Benjamin Weissman’s brilliant fiction in general a shot. See you tomorrow.
‘Werewolves don’t eat humans. They never have and I doubt they ever will. I know a few lycanthropes, perfectly nice people. I’m sure that far more cannibalistic humans have eaten their fellow beings than werewolves, who are generally immune to most insanity. The ludicrous myth that werewolves eat humans is based on the equally ludicrous myth that wolves eat humans.
‘The silver bullet thing is half-true. All werewolves are strongly allergic to silver. if it gets into the bloodstream it will kill almost instantly. An iron bullet through the heart will kill them, but a silver bullet grazing one, say, through the hand and infecting them will also kill. Skin-surface silverburn begins by burning like touching a hot stove, fading away to a tingle. The area around the burnt skin and the burn itself is temporally paralyzed, the nerves contracting. I have seen a burnt hand curl into a twisted, helpless claw for about two or three days from accidentally brushing against some jewelry. Please note that I am first aid certified.
‘Werewolves are about as far from licentious as can be. They mate for life, staying devoted to their chosen mate until both die. Widows or widowers will not re-“marry”, and will mourn their lost mate, grief-stricken. Most werewolves die within a month of their mate. There’s never been a Christian werewolf. Church ceremonies would be impossible. I’ve never seen a werewolf that could sit still for more than ten minutes at a stretch unless they were stalking something.
‘Werewolves have no aversion to running water or garlic. One of my lycanthrope friends’ great joys in life is wading through water. Something about mud between her toes, she says. She also makes great garlic-parmesan spaghetti.
‘Lycanthropy is hereditary. The child of two werewolves is a werewolf. If a werewolf bites a human, the human will bleed and most likely sue the werewolf, but lycanthropy isn’t contagious.
‘Werewolves can change from wolf to humanoid at any time, not limited by the full moon, and are undistinguishable from wolves in wolf-state. A werewolf in human-state can be distinguished by their general disgust towards most humans, and vegetables (referred to collectively as ‘plants, the things that cows eat’.)
‘I hope this has been of some help.’ — werewolf page.com
‘A gentleman is simply a patient wolf.’ — Lana Turner
‘In its blind unrestrainable passion, its werewolf hunger for surplus-labour, capital oversteps not only the moral, but even the merely physical maximum bounds of the working day. It usurps the time for growth, development, and healthy maintenance of the body.’ — Karl Marx
‘I’m hairy on the inside.’ — Angela Carter
‘The modern Little Red Riding Hood, reared on singing commercials, has no objection to being eaten by the wolf.’ — Marshall McLuhan
‘There is a beast in man that should be exercised, not exorcised.’ — Anton LaVey
The Werewolves of France
1. The Werewolves of Paris were a man-eating wolf pack that entered Paris during the winter of 1450 through breaches in the city walls, killing forty people. A wolf named Courtaud, or “Bobtail”, was the leader of the pack. Eventually the wolves were destroyed when Parisians, furious at the depredations, lured Courtaud and his pack into the heart of the city, where they were stoned and speared to death before the gates of Notre Dame Cathedral.
2. In 1521, Jean Boin, Inquisitor of Besancon, tried Philibert Montot, Pierre Bourgot, and Michel Verdun for having made a pact with the devil and for lycanthropy. These men became known as the werewolves of Poligny.
These men came under suspicion when a traveler passing through the area was attacked by a wolf. While defending himself, he was able to wound the animal, forcing it to retreat. Following the trail of the injured creature, the man came upon a hut where he found a local resident, Michel Verdun, under the care of his wife, who was washing a wound on his body. Believing Verdun’s injury to be a sympathetic wound, the man notified the authorities. Arrested and tortured, Verdun admitted that he was a shape-shifter; he also revealed the names of his two werewolf accomplices, as well as confessing to hideous crimes: diabolism, murder, and eating human flesh.
The three men were promptly executed.
3. In the sixteenth century town of Dole, a proclamation was publicly read in the town square. It’s contents gave permission for the people to track down and kill the werewolf, that had been terrorizing the village.
While walking through the forest, a group of peasants heard the screams of a small child accompanied by the howling of a wolf. When they arrived they saw a wounded child fighting off a monstrous creature whom they later identified as Gilles Garner. When a ten year old boy disappeared in the vicinity of Garrier’s home, he was arrested and confessed to being a werewolf. He was then burned at the stake.
4. The Wolf of Soissons was a man-eating wolf which terrorized the commune of Soissons northeast of Paris over a period of two days in 1765, attacking eighteen people.
The first victims of the wolf were a pregnant woman and her unborn child, attacked in the parish of Septmont on the last day of February. Diligent locals had taken the infant, a scant four or five months old, from the womb to be baptized before it died when the wolf struck again not three hundred yards from the scene of the first attack. One Madame d’Amberief and her son survived only by fighting together.
On the first of March near the hamlet of Courcelles a man was attacked by the wolf and survived with head wounds. The next victims were two young boys, named Boucher and Maréchal, who were savaged on the road to Paris, both badly wounded. A farmer on horseback lost part of his face to the wolf before escaping to a local mill, where a boy of seventeen was caught unawares and slain. After these atrocities the wolf fled to Bazoches, where it partially decapitated a woman and severely wounded a girl, who ran screaming to the village for help.
Four citizens of Bazoches set an ambush at the body of the latest victim, but when the wolf returned it proved too much for them and the villagers soon found themselves fighting for their lives. The arrival of more peasants from the village finally put the wolf to flight, chasing it into a courtyard where it fought with a chained dog. When the chain broke the wolf was pursued through a pasture, where it killed a number of sheep, and into a stable, where a servant and cattle were mutilated.
The episode ended when one Antoine Saverelle, former member of the local militia, tracked the wolf to small lane armed with a pitchfork. The wolf sprang at him but he managed to pin its head to the ground with the instrument, holding it down for roughly fifteen minutes before an armed peasant came to his aid and killed the animal. Saverelle received a reward of three-hundred livres from Louis XV of France for his bravery.
5. Dark times lived in Gascony, France in 1603. Innocent children were plucked from their beds to suffer a hideous fate. Mass hysteria descended on the village when 13-year-old Marguerite Poirer swore before the magistrate that on the night of the full moon she was savagely attacked by a wolf-like beast while tending her cattle. Luckily she was able to drive the creature off with her sturdy, iron pointed staff.
Jeanne Gaboriaut, 18-years-old, told the judge that 14-year-old Jean Grenier had made advances on her and when she denied him because of his yellow complexion and dirty appearance he told her “That is because of the wolf’s skin I wear.” The creepy jerk told shepherdess that his wealthy employer gave him a pelt to put on that he might go “haunting” the woods and fields. There where nine other like himself, who roamed the forest between dusk and dawn. Grenier immediately was arrested.
6. One of the worst-ever lycanthropes was the Werewolf of Chalons, otherwise known as the Demon Tailor. He was arraigned in Paris on 14 December 1598 on murder charges which were so appalling that the court ordered all documents of the hearing to be destroyed. Even his real name has become lost in history.
Burnt to death for his crimes, he was believed to decoy children of both sexes into his shop, and having abused them he would slice their throats and then powder and dress their bodies, jointing them as a butcher cuts up meat. In the twilight, under the shape of a wolf, he roamed the woods to leap out on stray passers-by and tear their throats to shreds. Barrels of bleached bones were found concealed in his cellars as well as other foul and hideous things. He died (it was said) unrepentant and blaspheming.
Cat Power ‘Werewolf’
The Ginger Snaps Trilogy
‘Try to imagine what Buffy the Vampire Slayer would look like if it had been written by Angela Carter and you might get close to the heady cocktail of high-school pubescence and feminist folklore that is Ginger Snaps. This is the story of 16-year-old Ginger (Katharine Isabelle) and 15-year-old Brigitte (Emily Perkins), two repressed, weird, goth-styled sisters whose bland Canadian suburb happens to be plagued by a werewolf. Ginger Snaps is a sparky, sharp film marked by intelligent dialogue and a complex view of that moment when girls hover on the brink of womanhood but would rather not take the next step.
‘Ginger Snaps is a radical film in a number of ways, not least in its twist on the economies of punishment that haunt the horror genre. Ginger Snaps‘ sister heroines are essentially female Peter Pans who have contrived to delay the onset of menstruation for years, masking their terror of adulthood with a performance of supreme adolescent alienation. And who can blame them for not wanting to join the ranks of women? Ginger Snaps glories in the notion that being a woman is in itself such a crime, one might as well be hanged for a sheep as for a lamb.
‘Ginger Snaps is haunted by stories of high-school massacres (notably Taber and from across the border Columbine) which makes its glorious take on a schoolgirl gone (literally) wild a sensitive subject. The film also nods to contemporary notions of sexual morality in its casting of werewolfism as a blood-borne disease that can be caught through the ‘consumption’ of carnality. Where the early-90s spate of vampirism-as-Aids narratives figured ‘haemosexuality’ as a metaphor for STDs (mirroring Bram Stoker’s syphilis in the 1890s), here it’s werewolfism that’s sexually transmitted.’ — Linda Ruth Williams, Sight & Sound
Trailer: ‘Ginger Snaps’ (2000)
Trailer: ‘Ginger Snaps 2: Unleashed’ (2003)
Trailer: ‘Ginger Snaps Back: The Beginning’ (2004)
Meet the Therians
‘A therian identifies as a species of non-human animal on every level except physical. They often engage in their animal identity’s behaviors. You may be a therian if you notice yourself shifting (getting impulses to behave as a non-human animal) or if you remember a past life as a specific animal. There are other unique types of therians, such as polytherians (who identify as multiple species) and paleotherians (who identify as extinct animals).’
Guided by Voices ‘Bright Paper Werewolves’
was the werewolf
in his evil forest.
We took him
to the carnival
and he started
when he saw
the Ferris wheel.
green and red tears
his furry cheeks.
like a boat
out on the dark
— Richard Brautigan
RIP: Deikitsen Wolfram Lupus
‘Adrian Baine Manley, also known as Deikitsen Wolfram Lupus, leader of the San Antonio Crimson Wolf Pack, age 16, passed away September 29, 2010. The boy’s mother said her son, who wore long hair, chains and a tail, was bullied at school before he killed himself. She found him wearing a collar and hanging in his closet by a leash. “He stuck out because he chose to wear the tail, and they made a spectacle of him,” she said. “Because he was different, he’d get teased.” The boy had recently been expelled from Brandeis High School for bringing a knife to campus and was attending Bexar County’s Juvenile Justice Academy, Northside Independent School District spokesman Pascual Gonzalez said. The mother of the 16-year-old boy Friday night organized a candlelight vigil at her home that was attended by about 75 friends, some members of the wolf pack. Packmates at the vigil described the boy as “sweet” and “kindhearted.” Steven Suwanasung, 17, who sports fangs and a tail, described the wolf pack as a support group. “It’s a big family, all of us,” he said. “We care for each other.” The pack’s “alpha” leader, Sarah Rodriguez, is known as Wolfie Blackheart. She said Friday that the boy who killed himself recently asked her if he could start his own wolf pack at Brandeis. She told him he could. “He’s one of my submissives, but he leads a group of others,” Blackheart said.’ — mySA
Werewolf heads appear again and again in your work. I’m not sure if this has a specific meaning for you or not.
David Altmejd: I started using that three years ago. At the beginning it was just an alternative to the human body. I made a chopped-up werewolf. Body art is so familiar, in terms of experience. By making a monster leg, it has something of the familiar feeling but there is an added level of weirdness. Then I was very interested in the werewolf because of its complexity, its symbolic potential. It represents both good
and evil, human and animal, Dr Jekyll and Mr. Hyde – extremes on both sides.
Every time I talk about my work I use the word “energy” a lot, not in a new age kind of way. The werewolf head with crystals on it is an energy-generating object. A man transforms into the werewolf, which is the most intense transformation, physically and mentally. The werewolf goes from one state, man, to a totally opposite state, animal, in the matter of minutes or even seconds. In movies it always happens in, like, thirty seconds. It even looks painful.
Were you thinking of pop movies like Michael J. Fox in Teen Wolf or Michael Jackson in Thriller? Do you deal with Pop issues?
David Altmejd: I do deal with Pop, but that’s not where the werewolf comes from. For me, it is more of a Romantic notion from the end of the 19th century. In a story I made up about the werewolf, in the seconds right after the super-intense transformation from man into werewolf, the head is chopped off. It is put on a table, and instead of rotting the head crystallizes. The energy related to the transformation is kept inside the head and it crystallizes and becomes an energy-generating object. The architectural structure I use in the installation presents the object in such a way that triggers this energy and circulates or channels it throughout the piece.
So even where there is a decapitated werewolf you are being optimistic?
David Altmejd: Yes, totally. It is intended to be alive. Maybe weird and dark, but certainly alive.
The Cramps ‘I Was a Teenage Werewolf’
A History of Little Red Riding Hood from reconstruction.eserver.org
The story most commonly known today as Little Red Riding Hood has a far-reaching and controversial history. One of the most studied and interpreted fairy tales, this story has many variants, problematizing interpretation, namely, which version is considered by folklorists as the “authoritative” version of the tale. LRRH is a multi-voiced, multi-cultural tale that has been told and retold, suffering endless plot and character morphing and reinterpretation.
As many readers are unfamiliar with any oral variant of LRRH it seems prudent to reproduce one here (the version which, according to Paul Delarue, was the source material for the Perrault tale). The translation here is from Delarue via Jack Zipes from his Trials and Tribulations of Little Red Riding Hood:
The Story of Grandmother
There was a woman who had made some bread. She said to her daughter: “Go carry this hot loaf and bottle of milk to your granny.” —-So the little girl departed. At the crossway she met bzou, the werewolf, who said to her: “Where are you going?” —-“I’m taking this hot loaf and bottle of milk to my granny.” —-“What path are you taking.” said the werewolf, “the path of needles or the path of pins?” —-“The path of needles,” the little girl said. —-“All right, then I’ll take the path of pins.” —-The little girl entertained herself by gathering needles. Meanwhile the werewolf arrived at the grandmother’s house, killed her, and put some of her meat in the cupboard and a bottle of her blood on the shelf. The little girl arrived and knocked at the door. —
–“Push the door,” said the werewolf, “It’s barred by a piece of wet straw.” —-“Good day, granny. I’ve brought you a hot loaf of bread and a bottle of milk.” —-“Put it in the cupboard, my child. Take some of the meat which is inside and the bottle of wine on the shelf.” —-After she had eaten, there was a little cat which said: “Phooey!… A slut is she who eats the flesh and drinks the blood of her granny.” —-“Undress yourself, my child,” the werewolf said, “And come lie down beside me.” —-“Where should I put my apron?” —-“Throw it into the fire, my child, you won’t be needing it any more.” —-And each time she asked where she should put all her other Clothes, the bodice, the dress, the petticoat, the long stockings,
the wolf responded: “Throw them into the fire, my child, you won’t be needing
them anymore.” —-When she laid herself down in the bed, the little girl said: “Oh granny, how hairy you are!” —-“The better to keep myself warm, my child!” —-“Oh granny, what big nails you have!” —-“The better to scratch me with, my child!” —-“Oh granny, what big shoulders you have!” —-“The better to carry the firewood, my child!” —-“Oh granny, what big ears you have!” —-“The better to hear you with, my child!” —-“Oh granny, what big nostrils you have!” —-“The better to snuff my tobacco with, my child!” —-“Oh granny, what a big mouth you have!” —-“The better to eat you with, my child!” —-“Oh granny, I have to go badly. Let me go outside.” —-“Do it in the bed, my child!” —-“Oh no, granny, I want to go outside.” —-“All right, but make it quick.” —-The werewolf attached a woolen rope to her foot and let her go outside. When the little girl was outside, she tied the end of the rope to a plum tree in the courtyard. The werewolf became impatient and said: “Are you making a load out there? Are you making a load?” —-When he realized that nobody was answering him, he jumped out of bed and saw that the little girl had escaped. He followed her but arrived at her house just at the moment she entered.
The wolf asking her to remove her clothing, while seen as a moment of seduction for some, also signifies a return to the infantile status. Naked as a babe she enters the primitive bed, is asked to defecate there and is threatened with incorporation by the maternal stand- in. The child’s challenge then, is to realize the dangers inherent in such an endeavor and to refuse such a movement back into the primitive; refuse to confuse her borders and boundaries. When the “correct” choice is made by the girl, she escapes from the wolf.
In the first written version of the oral tale, Perrault’s, several major changes occur. The first and most obvious is the title which becomes Little Red Riding Hood. Much has been made of the famous red cloak, but few address the fact that this detail was fabricated by Perrault himself and was not, apparently part of the oral source. The written tale is longer and more detailed. The “girl” in the oral tale becomes “the prettiest creature that ever was seen.” Her mother is mentioned explicitly in Perrault’s version, where only a “woman” existed in the oral tale. It begins:
Once upon a time there lived in a certain village a little country girl, the prettiest creature that ever was seen. Her mother was very fond of her, and her grandmother loved her still more. This good woman made for her a little red riding-hood, which became the girl so well that everyone called her Little Red Riding Hood.
The child is to bring custards and butter to the grandmother who is believed to be ill. On the way she meets the wolf, who wants to eat her right there, but fears the wood cutters near by. She answers, “not knowing that it was dangerous to stay and hear a wolf talk”. Here the story returns to the oral format except that the paths of needles and pins are omitted. Instead, the wolf chooses the fastest path while the child dallies picking flowers. The wolf eats the grandmother and dons her clothing. When LRRH enters, she is told to leave her clothes and come to bed with the wolf. At this point there is much talk of hair, claws and the like, and then the story takes an entirely new twist. Missing in the written variant is the girl child’s pressing need “to go,” and she is not allowed to trick the wolf and escape. Instead, she is simply eaten by the “wicked” wolf.
The “final” major reworking of the tale is performed by the brothers Grimm in their Kinder-und Hausmarchen. Once again, in the re-telling of the tale there are some changes. These changes are not only of details (the Grimm version is a longer version with many added specifics), but also serious alterations in the plot. The tale opens:
Once upon a time there was a sweet little maiden. Whoever laid eyes upon her could not help but love her. But it was her grand-mother who loved her most. She could never give the child enough.One time she made her a present, a small, red velvet cap, and since it was so becoming and the maiden insisted on always wearing it, she was called Little Red Cap.
Grimm’s major change in the story is the addition of a male character who comes in, divines the problem, and rescues the two women from the wolf’s belly. With a pair of scissors, the hunter cuts the belly open and out pop Red Ridinghood and Grandmother in a male-effected birth. The Grimms here illustrate a movement from a primarily female identified (oral) story to a tale ending with two insertions of male power: first in the rescue and then in the male birth. The hunter then kills the wolf by stuffing his open cavity with stones which causes him to fall down dead. The hunter gets the wolf pelt for his troubles and the women go home happy. Perrault’s moral is summed up in the Grimm version as Red’s last thought to herself ” Never again will you stray from the path by yourself and go into the forest when your mother has forbidden it”.
Red Sword (2012)
‘Long, long ago, there was a wolf-man tribe who had no women. All through history these desperate wolf men have attacked and raped female humans as a way to continue their species. But the wolf men have a terrible legend where every hundred years, on the night of a red moon, a little girl is born and she is destined to destroy the wolf-man tribe. The lecherous wolf men are so afraid of females that they have developed a code which requires they kill baby girls soon after they are born. But only the lovely Beniko Akatsuki survives this terrible fate.
‘These days, Beniko fights endless battles against the wolf men. Poor Beniko’s mother was ruthlessly raped by a wolf man and gave birth to Beniko. To save her baby girl, Beniko’s mother had to sacrifice her own life. Now, Beniko wears a memento of her beloved mother, a red riding hood, and she has dedicated her life to killing all the wolf men. One day, Beniko senses that the evil wolf men are sneaking into a high school. The clever Beniko pretends she is a school girl and starts attending school, only to find vicious, horny pack of female-deprived wolf men. Beniko protects her fellow school girls as she fights them off with her sword and her red riding hood.
‘Will the brave, sexy Beniko Red Riding Hood be able to finally kill the vicious pack of sex-starved wolf-men?’ — Director Naoyuki “Erotibot” Tomomatsu
My teacher is a werewolf
i hear her howling on the roof
And sometimes when she’s really mad
Her bloodshot eyes look really bad
and once she had a yelling attack
and thats when i saw her hairy werewolf back
my teacher is a werewolf and that is scary
Like the time she ate mean girl mary
For hitting me not once but twice
so i suppose she can be very nice
yes my teacher is a werewolf
at least i know i’m taken care of
and her secret she knows is safe with me
because the werewolf in her only i can see
— Erin Daniele, Grade 6
_________________ The Last Werewolf
‘ … Adrenaline isn’t interested in ennui. Adrenaline floods, regardless, in my state not just the human fibres but lupine leftovers too, those creature dregs that hadn’t fully conceded transformation. Phantom wolf energies and their Homo sapiens correlates wriggled and belched in my scalp, shoulders, wrists, knees. My bladder tingled as in the too fast pitch down from a Ferris wheel’s summit. The absurdity was being unable, shin-deep in snow, to quicken my pace. Harley had tried to press a Smith & Wesson automatic on me before I’d left but I’d laughed it away. Stop being a granny. I imagined him watching now on CCTV saying, Yes, Harley the granny. I hope you’re happy, Marlowe, you [expletive] idiot. …
‘If, then . . . If, then . . . This, aside from the business of monthly transformation, the inestimable drag of Being a Werewolf, is what I’m sick of, the endless logistics. There’s a reason humans peg-out around eighty: prose fatigue. It looks like organ failure or cancer or stroke but it’s really just the inability to carry on clambering through the assault course of mundane cause and effect. If we ask Sheila then we can’t ask Ron. If I have the kippers now then it’s quiche for tea. Four score years is about all the ifs and thens you can take. Dementia’s the sane realisation you just can’t be doing with all that anymore. …
‘My face was hot and tender. The snow’s recording studio hush made small sounds distinct: someone opening a can of beer; a burp; a purse snapping shut. Across the road three drunk young men hysterically scuffled with one another. A cabbie wrapped in a tartan blanket stood by his vehicle’s open door complaining into a mobile. Outside Flamingo two hotdog-eating bouncers in Cossack hats presided over a line of shivering clubbers. Nothing like the blood and meat of the young. You can taste the audacity of hope. Post-Curse these thoughts still shoot up like the inappropriate erections of adolescence. …
‘These, you’ll say, were not the calculations of a being worn out by history, too full of content, emptily replete. Granted. But it’s one thing to know death’s twenty-seven days away, quite another to know it might be making your acquaintance any second now. To be murdered here, in human shape, would be gross, precipitate and — despite there being no such thing as justice — unjust. Besides, the person tracking me couldn’t be Grainer. As Harley said, his lordship prized the wulf not the wer, and the thought of being despatched by anyone less than the Hunt’s finest was repugnant. And this was to say nothing of my one diarist’s duty still undischarged: If I was snuffed out here and now who would tell the untellable tale? The whole disease of your life written but for that last lesion of the heart, its malignancy and muse. God’s gone, Meaning too, and yet aesthetic fraudulence still has the power to shame. …
‘At which point a silenced bullet hit the street lamp’s concrete three inches above my head.’
— Glen Duncan
Werewolf Songs – Inspired by Swedish Folklore
The Boy Who Cried Werewolf (1973)
‘The movie opens with Robert Bridgestone (Kerwin Mathews), a divorced father, taking his son Richie (Scott Sealey) to the family mountain cabin where during a moonlit hike through the woods they are attacked by a werewolf and during the struggle, Robert is bitten, but the monster falls backwards into a ravine and is impaled on a wooden fence, causing him to revert back to his human form, this allows Robert to go into full-on denial as to what he had encountered and this attitude is the basic thrust for the rest of the film. Poor Richie will exclaim to anyone within earshot that his father is a werewolf – though it does take him a surprisingly long time to figure out the werewolf in his dad’s clothes is actually his father – and of course, no one believes him, but what is really odd is that upon returning home to his mother, Sandy Bridgestone (Elaine Devry), she not only blows off his accusations she sends Robert to see Richie’s psychiatrist, Doctor Marderosian (George Gaynes), who is the one who suggests that Robert should take his son back to the cabin, predicting that when Richie returned to the scene of the crime, claiming this will cause Richie to lose interest in werewolves. In fact, it almost causes the kid to become a midnight snack.’ — manapop
Question: Hi, I’m a werewolf and I wonder if my howling considered “music”? I understand it is not uncommon for a dog to howl along when hearing music or singing. I suppose this could apply to any animal (other than humans) for that matter. I’ve heard terms like “bird song” and “whale singing”, but I’ve never equated them to performing music. For me my howling is more like my way of making noise and communicating with another werewolf, not that I know any.
Answer: I believe that no, it is not considered some kind of music. I’d say that this is something really personal. It really depends on what you consider music. Music is not the same for everyone. John Cage used to say “Everything we do is music”, and he was the composer of 4’33” or Silence, which was a piece with no music for 4 minutes and 33 seconds. His thoughts on the piece was that every noise that is being made while the performer is performing the piece is considered music; so in a case like this, your howling might be considered music.
On the other hand, it was Stravinsky in Poetics of Music that didn’t consider animal sounds as ‘music’, because they lack structure. He considers music as something human-made: “I shall take the most banal example: that of the pleasure we experience on hearing the murmur of the breeze in the trees, the rippling of a brook, the song of a bird. All this pleases us, diverts us, delights us. We may even say: “What lovely music!” Naturally, we are speaking only in terms of comparison. But then, comparison is not reason. These natural sounds suggest music to us, but are not yet themselves music. If we take pleasure in these sounds by imagining that on being exposed to them we become musicians and even, momentarily, creative musicians, we must admit that we are fooling ourselves. They are promises of music; it takes a human being to keep them: a human being who is sensitive to nature’s many voices, of course, but who in addition feels the need of putting them in order and who is gifted for that task with a very special aptitude. In his hands all that I have considered as not being music will become music. From this I conclude that tonal elements become music only by virtue of their being organized, and that such organization presupposes a human act.
_______________ Evolution of Werewolf Games (1987-2021) by Zet GameZ
@AlbertAdi4669 You forget Bloody Roar
@adamvancleave9200 And where’s that Castlevania 64 spinoff? Oh or GBA Altered Beast?
@zetgamez There are many werewolf games. I just used a series of items for graphic evolution.
_______________ A Motherfucker is a Werewolf
‘In 1966, a small group of New York City artists informed by the avant-garde maxim of turning art into life came together as a performative, militant organi- zation with a sharp, yet unattainable demand: total revolution. Black Mask, as the group called itself, published a magazine in which they outlined the elements of this demand as part of a wider art historical process that could be traced back, through Surrealism and Dada, to Futurism and its radical amalgamation of poli- tics and aesthetics. With a view towards collective practice, the group evolved into what one of its members called a ‘street gang with analysis’, changing its name to Up Against the Wall Motherfucker and embracing the more violent aspects of the avant-garde’s politicization of aesthetics. As their struggle devel- oped, so did their understanding of art’s function as antithesis to the conven- tionally political, and in the course of yet another transformation (this time into what they called the International Werewolf Conspiracy), the collective found new ways to deploy modernist, Romantic, and pop-cultural referents. Through analysis of a few select texts and images, this article gives an overview of how the group perceived the intersection of aesthetics and politics.
‘Against the backdrop of the post-war economic boom, various avant-gardes sprung to action in Western countries in a bid to change not only art, but everything. Following a historical line that the 1960s French collective Situationist International (SI) drew from Futurism, Dada, and Surrealism all the way through to the 1950s and 1960s, many of these groups were deeply concerned with the modernist life/art divide. They saw it as coming to grips with the fact that every possible better world contained in art was being held back, even actively combated by all social orders. The SI, which continually engaged with libertarian political philosophy in an attempt to create a different world, is a good example of the disenchantment with both politics and the art world as experienced by avant-garde at large. As Futurists had done with fascism, and Berlin Dadaists and Surrealism with communism, several collectives from the 1960s which positioned themselves against the same historical background developed heterogeneous approaches to aesthetics and politics, dialectically bridging the gap between life and art by using unconventional methods. They envisioned themselves as fiercely committed to vanguardist principles, not as new avant-gardes but as the resulting synthesis of artistic and political theories put into practice by their predecessors. Groups like the SI and its affiliates, such as King Mob in the UK, Black Mask in the US, Drakabygget in Scandinavia, Gruppe SPUR in Germany, and others, located themselves within this art-political praxis as the next logical step in the Hegelian dialectic of history, developing a wide variety of texts and images that constitute what Stewart Home has called an ‘assault on culture’. This generalized assault took different forms depending on the context, but what all of these collectives share in common is a re-evaluation of the history of the avant-garde and a reflection on their own position within it, thus defining their own place directly within the milieu of art as radical politics, whether on the left (Constructivism, Berlin Dada, Surrealism) or on the right (Futurism). The continuation and further evolution of the concept of the life/art divide by these vanguards and its application to specific forms of artistic and political activity led the philosopher Mario Perniola to call the SI ‘the last avant-garde’, which reveals a set of historical assumptions shared not only with Peter Bürger’s theory of the vanguard but also with the artists themselves, in terms of a fundamental revolutionary conceptual core that anchors politics and aesthetics together in the interest of destroying the established order. In other words, what these writers and groups attribute to the avant-garde is a philosophical refusal that is not limited to the conventional field of artistic endeavours, but rather sees this field as opening a horizon of possibilities that overflow into the social, the economic, and the political. — David A. J. Murrieta Flores
p.s. Hey. So, early tomorrow morning Zac and I are traveling to the small French town of Belfort where we will plead our case to get a post-production grant for our new film that we really desperately need. It’s a weekend-long process, so the blog will be on a short vacation from now until Monday. That’s to say, if we don’t get the grant, the blog will return live on Monday, but if we do get the grant, the blog might be vacationing until Tuesday morning since the results are announced on Sunday, and we will need to be there for that. If you believe in the silly idea that finger crossing helps, please cross a couple of your fingers for us please because, yeah, we really need this grant. Gulp. Thanks! ** James Bennett, Hi, James. I only really despise Von Trier’s films from ‘Dancer in the Dark’ forwards. I think his films starting with ‘DitD’ are sadistic and insultingly obvious in their manipulativeness and an infuriating combination of totally dumb ass and ridiculously condescending. So, that’s why, in a nutshell, ha ha. I love ‘Nightwood’. Sure, I think a number of the writers I admire most would be considered modernist. What about you and your influences? Any luck figuring out the problem with your novel at the library? I’m interested to hear, both because I’ve been there myself and because I’m a big process junkie. Only a handful of Altmejds today, but I hope they fixed your need up a little. How was the Saatchi show? Hope you had an excellent weekend in toto. ** Dominik, Hi!!! God, I hope so. We’re in the finals, in competition with four other films. Three of the four are political/relevant documentaries and, thus, very stiff competition for a weird American film about a family building a haunted house. Eek, thank you. Happy you liked the post/photos. Beautiful, right? Love forced by my worries about the grant thing to infect the judges with love of a generous nature for our film, G. ** Misanthrope, A virtual boulevard of them. Hm, well, my brains have been wracked and I’m not remembering who this former commenter could be. You don’t have to spill the beans though. Oh, wait, was he a friend of Ariana Reines? Wait again, Happy Thanksgiving, right? It’s today, right? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. Yeah, that Boas book is terrific. Don’t sell, no. It’ll only go for more if you’re patient and ever want to cut ties. ** Charalampos, I’m curious what films I’ll see too. No specific plans yet. Thanks about the grant. I’ll try to catch that Louis Janmot show. I didn’t know about it. Thanks! Lengthy vibes from Paris. ** Steve Erickson, Ah, I see. Yeah, infuriating indeed. I think there’s been one or two of those blacklisting incidents here in France too. Really shocking. I haven’t heard the André 3000 album yet. I’m not sure if I’m in the mood for it. But I do really like him, so I will. Maybe it would be a nice accompaniment to my three hour train ride tomorrow. ** Julia, Hi, Julia! It’s great to meet you. Thank so, so much for your extremely kind words. I’m really fond of ‘HHU’, and I’m happy you have it. Keith Mayerson’s art in that is just amazing. If you feel like coming back, I’d be really interested to know more about you. Only if you want to. Take good care of yourself in any case. ** Corey Heiferman, Really? All it takes is a phone’s appearance? Interesting. Ellie said hi and thanks to you in her comment if you didn’t see it. ** Damien Ark, Well, you made it. You got snuffed and lived to tell the tale! That’s something. Plus the new perspective. So do you recommend being sort of fakely imprisoned? ** Dom Lyne, Hey, Dom, good to see you. I’m good. This year did seem to kind of really scoot by. Oh, wow, you have been busy and productive and making thorough use of that awesome brain of yours on multiple fronts. That’s inspiring. And a little intimidating, ha ha. It makes me want to get even busier. Love and hugs right back! ** Bill, Hi, B. Ha ha, Gagosian should snap Unknown right up. Uh, Street Hustlers 1 was about, mm, I would say about five years ago. I didn’t check the archives for the exact date. Thanks re: the grant. I think we need all the luck possible. You doing anything at all for Thanksgiving? ** 🤹♂️darbz, I’m happy that living in France means my Thanksgiving is long over and will never begin. Huh, I don’t know if we have Black Friday here. I guess we must. I’ll be on a train. Maybe the snack bar will have a big sale. There’s a funny Iggy Pop song called ‘5 foot 1’. Or I used to think it was funny. That’s a lot for top surgery. I guess it does last a lifetime, but still. Oh, yeah, Eileen Myles is great. She’s a really, really old friend of mine. How to describe her work … hm, straight talking but very smart and clever and unexpectedly beautiful? I guess I’d say get her Selected Poems book, ‘I Must Be Living Twice. If you’d rather read her fiction, her novel ‘Inferno’ is really good. I published one her first poetry books, ‘Sappho’s Boat’, with my Little Caesar Press in the early 80s, but it’s extremely o.o.p. and expensive now. I think I’d rather have my day set in a jazzy 1960s art noir movie just because the Hopper painting looks really lonely. Thank you! I’ll try. As for you, do you want to be werewolf? There’s all kinds of possibilities up there if you do. See you very soon! ** Audrey, Hi, Audrey. Thank you. Strongly hoping your today ends without any misery afterburn. Oh, well, then I will definitely seek out the Hong Sang-Soo film. I agree about Pynchon, for sure. I think maybe my faves of his are ‘Against the Day’ and ‘Mason & Dixon’. Have you read those? I love difficult books. I love feeling my brain change. You do probably want to be awake when you watch ‘PGL’ because it’s pretty quiet. Thank you for wanting to see it. Which Rivette are you going to try first? Thank you a lot about the grant. It’s a bit stressful, but hopefully between the film itself and Zac and me doing our best to seem serious but charming, it’ll work. Great day, or, rather, next few days to you, my pal. Love, Dennis. ** ellie, Hi. Oh, cool, I’ll read the Pinault interview. Charley’s retrospective was here recently at Pinault and the Pompidou, and he did a little interview event, but the host kind of ruined the possibility by thinking it would be funny to just play songs for Charley and having him talk about them. Charley isn’t interested in music. It’s one of his odd quirks. So the event was just the host playing songs he liked and then Charley saying over and over in so many word ‘I don’t know’. Yeah, DA is all werewolf heads on this occasion. I completely agree about Cornell. You too have the most spectacular morning and beyond that your circumstances can possibly allow. xo, Dennis. ** Okay. For the next few days you will be looking at the restored and expanded version of an old blog post from years ago entitled … well, you already know. Have very fine long weekends, and I will see you on Monday. (Or, if it’s going to be Tuesday, I’ll pop into the comments and let you know.)