The blog of author Dennis Cooper

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Yan Pei-Ming
Spencer Finch
Céline Condorelli
Daniel Buren
Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec
Céleste Boursier-Mougenot
Stephen Vitiello
Yan Bing
Carstein Nicolai
Isa Genzken
Žilvinas Kempinas
Ross Manning
Hans Haacke
Alice Aycock
William Pope.L
Wes Heiss
Alistair McClymont
Geoff Mullen
Tokujin Yoshioka
Patrick Gallagher & Chris Klapper
Wia Stegeman
Claudio Capelli
Heinz Mack
Kris Martin
Roman Signer
James Lomax
Arcangelo Sassolino
Fabian Bürgy
Dorette Sturm
Claire Ashley
Michael Snow


Yan Pei-Ming Landscape of Childhood (2009)
One huge landscape directly painted on the wall of UCCA’s Big Hall frames a series of painted flags representing portraits of 34 Chinese new born children. Imagined as an abounding walk trough faces and urban views, the exhibition powerfully conveys Yan Pei-Ming’s intentions and gives the audience an opportunity to discover a vision of our world in a landscape of crisis and beyond.


Spencer Finch 2 hours, 2 minutes, 2 seconds (Wind at Walden Pond) (2007)
I recorded the wind at Walden Pond using an anemometer and here re-created that wind, both its speed and direction, using a programmable dimmer. The maximum wind speed was 8 mph and the prevailing wind was from the south and southwest.


Céline Condorelli Structure for Communicating with Wind (2012)
A space blanket curtain provides presence to what passes unseen and unheard: the abstracted form carrying Wind’s news to Tiger, silently. The golden curtain’s ultra-light material produces an amplified shape and noise from the slightest sigh, and separates inside from out, near from far, dark from light and hot from cold.


Daniel Buren Le vent souffle où il veut (2009)
Daniel Buren wanted to make a work that would create the illusion of a forest. Instead of putting up trees, Buren created with Le vent souffle où il veut (The wind blows wherever it pleases) a design of a hundred flagpoles, with weathercocks in different colours. Each weathercock begins and ends in a bright colour and the coloured bands are, as always in the works of art by Buren, alternated with white.


Tao G. Vrhovec Sambolec Body Speeds (2012)
In its first version, the project involves measuring velocities of several trams in Amsterdam, streaming the data to the exhibition space in real time. There the velocities of trams are transformed into airflows recreated by several powerful fans, each blowing the air at the speed of a moving tram. The situation created is an impossible intersection of different speeds flowing through the centre of the exhibition space.


Céleste Boursier-Mougenot harmonichaos (2000)
Installation, 13 vacuum cleaners, each outfitted with one tuner, one harmonica and one lightbulb.


Stephen Vitiello Gain and Lift (2014)
Vitiello’s suspended speaker works process low frequencies of sound to create three-dimensional scores. The freed speakers are suspended by wires, which hold them gently in the air allowing them to move. The installation utilizes four channels, sixteen 6.25″ speakers and the flutter of hummingbirds recorded at Mountain Lake Biological Station, Pembroke in the Appalachian mountains. The playback features only the lowest frequencies, causing movement to the surfaces of the speakers while remaining below the threshold of human hearing.


Yan Bing Wind – Aridity (2010)
Electric Fan, Mud, 52 4/5 × 16 1/2 in


Carsten Nicolai Pionier I (2011)
Pionier I consists of a large white silk parachute, a wind machine, sound proof panels, and a timer. In regular intervals, the wind machine inflates the parachute.


Isa Genzken Wind II (Michael Jackson) (2009)
I was already attracted to the title Wind, and then, when I saw how you implemented this idea of putting wind into a sculpture—or this is at least how I read it—the combination of objects and their implications made sense to me. And then of course in relation to this, the suggestion of how to read the Michael Jackson figure. That all seemed quite clear. It’s always difficult to link a series of positions without being too forceful, and this balance is one I appreciate.


Zilvinas Kempinas Double O (2008)
Somehow, the air currents created by two industrial-strength fans turn the two loops of videotape in Double O into a living, dancing sculpture, performing tirelessly for hours.


Ross Manning Domestic Ascension (2011)
Ross Manning presses the humble electric fan into service of psychedelic kinetic sculpture. In this work the upper halves of two pedestal fans are trussed together on an axis suspended from the ceiling. To one blade of each fan is attached a long strand of rope, which, when activated by the fans’ spinning, creates a pair of parallel spirals.


Hans Haacke Wide White Flow (1967-2017)
Wide White Flow consists of a large piece of white fabric, secured at the corners and blown from underneath by fans at one end. It occupied pretty much the whole of the space it was shown in. The fabric moves beautifully and I was held there for quite a while watching it billow and flow, almost like water.


Alice Aycock Sand/Fans (1971)
I wanted a lot of people to see it, but the piece is really best when there are just one or two people watching it happen. Everybody was standing around it, waiting for some huge dust storm. But it’s far more Zen, it happens over time: Little piles of sand make ripples and waves and little dunes. It takes hours. It’s not a crowd-pleaser, not like a football game.


William Pope.L Trinket (2016)
“Trinket” by artist William Pope.L is a custom-made 16-by-54-foot American flag blown continuously during museum hours by four industrial-grade fans typically used on film sets to simulate rainstorms. Over time, the forced air will cause the flag to tear and fray. “The American flag is not a toy. It’s not tame. It’s bright, loud, bristling and alive.” — William Pope.L


Wes Heiss Dustbowl (2011)
33RPM record, acrylic, glass, electronics, sugar. Recordings of the wind in Roswell opposite a silent dust storm trapped within a glass dome.


Alistair McClymont The Limitations of Logic and the Absence of Absolute Certainty (2009)
The work is comprised of a mister, two fans, and lights and creates an ever-changing, realistic inside tornado.


Geoff Mullen Wind Chimes (2013)
I recorded myself taking a walk with some bamboo wind chimes, early in the morning–in the summer–during the 17-year “magic” cicada brood. Then I played this recording, along with simple tape manipulations, back into a new space– using portable amplifiers, transducers, objects, MP3 players, cassette players, a phone, etc. I let myself get distracted, following the sounds of nearby streams or giant HVAC generators. I took these recordings and repeated the process again and again. The audio can be streamed or purchased here. You can play the mp3 from your phone — or wherever you have handy — and walk around while the record is playing. Or you can set up impromptu audio stations, costuming a spatialized version of this piece for your listening pleasure.


Tokujin Yoshioka Snow (2010)
The Snow is a 15-meter-wide dynamic installation. Seeing the hundreds kilograms of light feather blown all over and falling down slowly, the memory of the snowscape would lie within people’s heart would be bubbled up.


Patrick Gallagher and Chris Klapper Symphony in D Minor (2012)
Symphony in D Minor is a set of interactive hanging sculptures by Patrick Gallagher and Chris Klapper. Using video and sound, the hanging cylinders respond to air pressure caused by movement, intensifying effects of heavy rain, lightning, and thunder as the audience leaps and flails beneath.


Wia Stegeman Handkerchiefs drying in the Wind (2012)
The installation has the size of one of the caissons that closed the last hole in the dykes after the Netherlands flood disaster in 1953. The 1200 handkerchiefs are the size of a farmer handkerchief and are all sewn by women from Zeeland who survived the flood. The handkerchiefs refer to the immense grief that the flood has caused. The tears in the handkerchiefs dry here in the wind.


Claudio Capelli Cherub (2006)
Designed by Claudio Capelli. Claudio’s attention to detail results in a fascinating and precise design. The kite flys at a high angle without a Pilot. It has many interesting ‘details’ including an internal air chamber where building pressure sometimes causes the cherub to burp and fart realistically and at such volume that they can be heard far below on the ground.


Heinz Mack Telemack (1969)
In 1959 Mack drafted the so called “Sahara-Project”, which he started realizing in the African desert from 1962/63 on. Several times, he installed an “artificial garden” in the desert, consisting of sand- and wing-reliefs, cubes, mirrors, sails, banners and monumental light-stelae. This experimental practice with the force of light is shown in the highly respected and awarded film “Tele-Mack”, which was made in 1969.


Kris Martin KM_TYFFSH (2009)
Belgian artist Kris Martin has installed a hot air balloon in the gallery, entirely dissolving the architecture. As if ready for launching, the balloon and basket are lying on the floor. In the main space ventilators blow up the balloon until the subtly flittering fabric touches the walls. A surreal effect takes place as the visitors walk into the room through the balloon’s opening, as if entering a whale’s stomach.


Roman Signer Zwei Ventilatoren (1998)
In this piece Signer shows, at first, a single metal fan which is unplugged but still running. Then another fan appears next to it facing the first, both running. We see rhythm in the movement of the fan blades beneath the metal cages in addition to the repetition of the fans. The piece is also balanced by the two fans being equally spaced within the small room with white walls. You could also argue that the piece shows economy by the minimalist set.


James Lomax Untitled [Me and My Friend] (2011)
Latex and computer- controlled pumps. Two latex casts of the artist’s body. The perpetually distorted figures inflate and deflate at random intervals, giving them an unpredictable life and death cycle. Created as a tribute to a friend who passed away in tragic circumstances.


Arcangelo Sassolino Piccolo animiamo (2011)
Piccolo animiamo is presented as a large rectangular box composed of stainless steel plates welded together, a monolith that is only apparently static. The initial state of quietness of the forms is called into question by a cyclic movement of blowing intake and sucking subtraction of pressurized air, which creates an evident alteration of the volume of the metal structure, until reaching the maximum tension, which manifests itself with a strong sound impact, a sort of artificially induced thunder.


Fabian Bürgy Smoke (2013)
Funnels of black smoke coming out of a hole.


Dorette Sturm Breathing Cloud (2012)
“The Breathing Cloud” is a monumental floating organism. The work transforms a space by its motion, light, and rhythmic breathing. The technology is designed so that the strong LED modules and the mechanism support the pervasive breathing. It gets physically bigger and smaller and embraces with its bright light space.


Claire Ashley peepdyedcrevicehotpinkridge (2013)
Ashley spray-paints the sewn plastic material both when deflated and inflated. By spraying across the forms and folds, she creates synthetic folds and wrinkles, as well as spray-painted zigzags, color gradations, and geometric shapes that create visual complexity and allow painted compositions to exist. When one focuses on the paint, the form flattens into an odd-shaped painted surface or silhouette, which then transforms with each step around the object. When one focuses on the forms, the paint becomes part of their skin, which includes patches, sewn seams, and attached electric fans that keep these things alive.


Michael Snow Solar Breath (2002)
Solar Breath consists of a sixty-two minute shot of the window of Snow’s cabin in Northern Canada. As the curtain gently flaps with the breeze and we periodically glimpse the view outside, nature and chance choose the precise nature of the composition at any given moment.




p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi, D. Oh, my great pleasure, of course. ** Steve Erickson, I had not heard of ASMR until now, but of course that is mightily intriguing not to mention potential post fodder. Thanks a lot for sharing the discovery. I’ve read/heard about ’12 Days’, but I have not seen it, no. It has come and gone here, but I’ll find a way to watch it. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Mm, well, we have to finish it by the deadline, so I assume we will, although at the moment I’m a little skeptical that we can, unless we work non-stop, which I guess is what will happen. Yes, in a perfect world, we’ll finally sign the contracts, and I can finally lift the silly public veil of mystery from the project. I’m not surprised you were still too buzzy from your trip to focus entirely on your work. Enjoy the intaking time. That’s important time too, obviously. Yeah, I worked yesterday, not enough, but I’ll have really buckle down this weekend. I saw an amazing concert — the great electronic music pioneer/composer Morton Subotnick performing his big 1967 masterwork ‘Silver Apples of the Moon’ with Alec Empire (Atari Teenage Riot). It was truly incredible, the best music gig I’ve seen in ages. So that was fantastic. This weekend I’m going to the Paris Ass Book Fair, a big annual queer zine convention/showcase at Palais de Tokyo that’s always really cool and fun. This. And working. How was your weekend, and what did it consist of? ** Tosh Berman, Thank you for the email! C-BR seems to be very unknown on your side of the pond. I didn’t discover her work until maybe 6 or so years ago, and only thanks to the great Dalkey Press bringing her work back into print. As always, thank you so much for the kind words. Being able to share possible under-known and amazing work through this blog is one of the great life pleasures for me. ** Jamie, Hi, Ju ju bee. Hannah’s writing about C-BR? Wow, I really have to meet this Hannah one of these days. And, well, you, it goes without saying. The concerts I saw are part of an annual music festival here, Sonic Protest. The one on Thursday was Arto Lindsay, Thomas Brinkmann, and Masami Kawaguchi. There’s a Thomas Brinkmann track in ‘Permanent Green Light’, and, in fact, if you’ve watched the ‘PGL’ trailer, you’ve heard part of it. Excellent gig. Last night, as I just told Dora, I saw the great electronic composer Morton Subotnick perform his 1967 work ‘Sliver Apples of the Moon’. It was mind-bogglingly amazing. In itself, but also, hearing it now, it’s astonishing how decades ahead of its time it was. I used to listen to that composition/ record on acid in my teens. And in addition to the show itself being incredible, the gig was in this beautiful old Catholic church, and the place was completely packed, and the crowd went completely insane, and it was very moving to see Subotnick, who’s quite old, receive such a huge ovation for his work. So, yeah, super memorable gig. It’s more that I can feel that I can get really in the groove more than being in it, although I have to get very into the groove this weekend because time is running shorter and shorter. I hope you find your groove this weekend, and that we can celebrate how brain-dead and exhilarated we both are come Monday. Yeah, the d’Orsay’s a biggie. Incredible building: a reinvented train station. I’m not a big Impressionism fan, and that’s mostly its thing, but it’s a great museum. My weekend has to be a ton of hard work. Also going to a queer zine fair (see: link in my talk to Dora), meeting with a curator who wants to talk about having something of mine in an upcoming exhibition in Prague, and … more work. Ooh. May your weekend buy the only winning ticket for the this coming Tuesday’s Mega Millions Lottery whose jackpot is currently $450 million. Bamboo Cannon love, Dennis. ** Jeff J, Hi. Really? Hm, nothing in my archives. Maybe I did a post on another of her books? Or I did and it’s in the inaccessible, non-uploaded part of the archive. How early is early? The earliest novel of hers I’ve read is ‘Such’ (1966). It’s very good. The ‘secret’ project’s finish line is dated mid-April, and we are uncomfortably far from getting the work done to be able to cross it, but we have to, so … I saw an email from you, but I haven’t opened it yet. I’ll do that. ** Statictick, Hi, man. Dusty was one amazing person, more impressive every time you reveal new things about her. My email hasn’t changed in a while, but it’s denniscooper72@outlook.com. The new place sounds really good, N! Very happy for you, and you sound much more vibrant and simultaneously at peace. I’ll be in and out of LA pretty quick, unfortunately, due to intense necessary work over here, but, yeah, t’would be cool. ** JM, Hi. Uh, I say be? I’m actually pretty good at coffee meet-ups, even with people I don’t know, but I think the coffee gets the credit, or the coffee-meets-my-biology combo’s effect does. I’m doing one today. I have read ‘JR’. Long time ago. It’s really great. Wow, excellent news about the show success! Pass along a link to the review if you like. And, yeah, fantastic, hooray! I’ve been good but having to write too hard and too much and so kind of burnt out a little, but good. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, B. Very best of luck with BookSource. We’re on the same kind of hunt for distribution outlets for our film, so high five and hugs and commiserations and all that stuff. ** KEatON, Huh. I’ve had a fair number of friends and at least one boyfriend who were escorts. They either seemed to think it was amusing or hot and forgettable to do that. I don’t like alcohol, so it practically takes a gun to my head to get me enter bars or pubs, which I pretty much consider the most boring contexts in the world. Dans la noir? Never eaten there (not vegetarian friendly). I don’t know anyone who has. Seems kind of silly/annoying/trying too hard to me. My impression is that it’s mostly a tourist thing at this point, but I don’t know. ** Bill, Hey, Bill! She’s good. Tunnel at your back, at least for now, excellent. Ada/Ava looks really good in that little video, wow. I’ll look for a chance. Is John Kelly doing that new autobiographical, career-revisiting show he just did in NYC? I heard it was very good. And Chrome! Holy moly. i want to hear how that was. Enjoy the weekend’s very millisecond! ** Okay. I made you guys a post of wind-related things this weekend. There are some very cool things in there, so please sit back and let it be your cyber-breeze for the weekend. See you on Monday.

Spotlight on … Christine Brooke-Rose Textermination (1991)


‘The marvellously playful and difficult novelist Christine Brooke-Rose, who has died aged 88, was fond of the device of omission. In her 1968 novel Between, she left out the verb “to be” throughout, to stress the narrator’s disoriented sense of personal identity – the year before George Perec’s novel La Disparition omitted the letter “e”. She left out the word “I” from her autobiographical novels Remake (1996) and Life, End Of (2006), instead describing the narrator as “the old lady”. In her 1998 novel Next, which had 26 narrators, each of whose names began with a different letter of the alphabet, she omitted the verb “to have” to emphasise the deprivation of the homeless Londoners in the book.

‘As if to continue the theme of erasure, Britain has all but airbrushed one of its most radical exponents of experimental fiction. When Brooke-Rose published a volume of criticism in 2002, it was not, perhaps, entirely devotion to Roland Barthes’ death of the author thesis that led to her to call it Invisible Author.

‘Many critics hailed her fiction, for all that it was sometimes scarcely comprehensible or pleasurable to those ignorant of the underpinning theory. Ellen G Friedman put Brooke-Rose among those 20th-century experimental female writers – Dorothy Richardson, Virginia Woolf and Gertrude Stein – whose novels “explode the fixed architecture of the master narrative”. Brooke-Rose wrote 16 novels, five collections of criticism and several collections of short stories and poems. Frank Kermode considered that her originality and skills deserved “a greater measure of admiration and respect than we have so far chosen to accord them”.

‘In 1974, Brooke-Rose began writing her first novel, The Languages of Love, much of which was set in the Reading Room of the British Museum. The Sycamore Tree (1958) similarly involved London intellectuals, but her third novel, The Dear Deceit (1960), saw the first stirrings of narrative experiment. In it, a man traces the life of his deceased father backwards from death to birth. Throughout this period, she worked as a reviewer and freelance journalist for the New Statesman, Observer, Sunday Times and Times Literary Supplement.

‘In 1962 she underwent kidney surgery. One result of this was her first truly experimental novel, Out (1964), which was compared to Alain Robbe-Grillet’s formally adventurous La Jalousie (1957). Brooke-Rose was becoming a nouveau romancier: later she scorned that description while conceding the influence of Robbe-Grillet, whose novels she translated, on her reinvention as a writer. Out was narrated by a white character facing racial discrimination in the aftermath of a nuclear war, with pale skin now indicating radiation poisoning and dark skin health.

‘Increasingly invisible in Britain, Brooke-Rose crossed the Channel in 1968 and flourished. She had already that year separated from her second husband; a third marriage, to Claude Brooke, was to be brief. She taught linguistics and English literature at the newly founded University of Paris (Vincennes), a bastion of counter-cultural thought where, in 1975, she became professor of English and American literature and literary theory. After retiring from teaching in 1988, she settled in a village near Avignon on the grounds that French public healthcare is superior to Britain’s.

‘Her critical works included A Structural Analysis of Pound’s Usura Canto: Jakobson’s Method Extended and Applied to Free Verse (1976), A Rhetoric of the Unreal: Studies in Narrative and Structure, Especially of the Fantastic (1981) and the relatively jaunty A ZBC of Ezra Pound (1971), produced alongside wildly inventive fiction.

‘It was the conceit of Thru (1975) that the students on a university creative writing course collectively construct the narrative. The resulting text included student essays with handwritten changes to typed text, musical notations, mathematical formulas, diagrams, and CVs. In an interview she conceded that this self-conscious deconstruction of narrativity was written tongue in cheek “for a few narratologist friends”. Textermination (1991) was set at a conference in San Francisco, attended by characters from Austen, Flaubert, Eliot, Pynchon, Roth and Rushdie, who petition potential readers with the help of literary critics who “interpret” them for the masses.

‘In Life, End Of, her final novel, the 80-something narrator finds that the world has grown dull, even those parts of it that were supposed to be ring-fenced from stupefaction. As the narrator writes: “Montaigne says life’s purpose is to teach us to die. However, the standard of teaching is now so low that the task is getting tougher and tougher …” The pleasures of writing now become mere palliatives: in a mock-technical lecture from a character to an uninterested author, the author comes to accept that her experiments in narrative are like pain-killers, and that, like life, they no longer matter.

‘Decay is ubiquitous: the old lady disintegrates physically as meaning, too, falls apart. Her legs “flinch wince jerk shirk lapse collapse give way stagger like language when it can’t present the exact word needed, the exact spot where to put the foot”. Never mind: she has Samuel Beckett’s gallows humour and can still pun bilingually. She recalls that Descartes thought the pineal gland to be the seat of the soul, “thus putting de cart before dehors”.

‘Questions remain. Was this last book written to fill a spiritual gap, and to teach us to die? Was the old lady’s life story, ultimately, the author’s? Did the author see her fictional experiments as finally unimportant? Brooke-Rose omitted, surely programmatically, to give us answers.’ — collaged





Christine Brooke-Rose @ Wikipedia
‘Christine Brooke-Rose: the great British experimentalist you’ve never heard of’
Christine Brooke-Rose: An Inventory of Her Papers
‘Celebrating Christine Brooke-Rose’ @ TLS
‘R.I.P. Christine Brooke-Rose’ @ HTMLGIANT
‘The life and work of the late, great experimental writer, Christine Brooke-Rose’
Christine Brooke-Rose © Orlando Project
Christine Brooke-Rose’s ‘The Lunatic Fringe’
‘The Criticism of Christine Brooke-Rose’ @ Waggish
‘Hello Christine Brooke-Rose, R.I.P.’
Podcast: Christine Brooke-Rose and A. S. Byatt, in conversation
Excerpts from CB-R’s ‘Amalgamemnon’
Interview with Christine Brooke-Rose
Anna Aslanyan on the Christine Brooke-Rose symposium
Buy Textermination




from The Review of Contemporary Fiction


In your essay “Ill Iterations,” which you wrote for “Breaking the Sequence: Women’s Experimental Fiction,” you mention the difficulties experimental writers face when they are male, but you say also that the differences are compounded when the experimental writer happens to be a female. Will you talk about those difficulties for the woman writer?

CBR: Yes, although it took a long time to become aware of them. Once in Paris, quite a long time ago, Helene Cixous rang me up and asked me to write something about the difficulties I’ve had as a woman writer. Naively, I said, “Well, I haven’t had any difficulties as a I “woman” writer. I’ve had difficulties that “any” writer would have; can I write about that?” And she said, “Oh, no.” She wanted something feminist. I was a bit antifeminist in those days, in the early 1970s. I didn’t consciously feel that I had had any difficulties. My later revision of that feeling came from genuine experience. As I look back over my career I realize that, in fact, I did have difficulties, but I took them for granted, as part of the nature of things. From the moment I went experimental, however, when I wrote “Out,” and my then-publishers couldn’t understand it and turned it down, I did actually start having difficulties. And when I wrote that essay for you, I started looking back and thinking about it, trying to fathom it out, and I became aware that the woman experimental writer has more difficulties than the man experimental writer, in the sense that, however much men have accepted women’s writing, there is still this basic assumption, which is unconscious, that women cannot create new forms. They can imitate others, they can imitate their little lives, tell their love stories and their difficulties and so on, and they do it extremely well. I’m not downgrading that kind of writing. But if by any chance they dare to experiment, then they are imitating a male movement, and usually one that’s already dead. In my case, I always get the label “nouveau roman” in English because “nouveau roman” is, from the English point of view, safely dead and no one talks about it anymore. In other words, all one is capable of as a woman is to do what the men do, and not so well. There is an unconscious refusal, really, to look at what I’m doing in any kind of detail. Whereas men experimenters or innovators of any kind do get that sort of attention.

What does the phrase “utterly other discourse” from your novel Amalgamemnon mean for you? Do you feel that you are writing “utterly other discourses”?

CBR: In Amalgamemnon, it doesn’t actually mean that. It doesn’t refer to the writing, it refers to the woman reading and thinking quite other things until she has to switch back to talking to the man. In fact, though, I do feel that my writing is different. I haven’t actually seen other writing quite like mine, but it is very difficult for me to say how “other” it is, or even whether it’s any good. I can’t really judge it, so I can’t really answer that questions. I do what I want to do.

But you did make a conscious decision at one point in your career to write the indeterminate novel, rather than something realistic?

CBR: What a strange opposition. The realistic novel has its own indeterminacies. But anyway, it didn’t happen that way at all. It was much more negative than that. I was simply dissatisfied with what I was doing. I had written four novels, which are really quite traditional, satirical, comic novels. I did experiment with time in one of them, which was written backwards, for instance, so that in each chapter the hero gets younger and younger. But that was still classical irony. They were basically traditional modern novels, if I can use such a phrase, in that the main concern was, like most novels, epistemological, concerned with reality and illusion. But I felt it was too easy. It was great fun, but it wasn’t what I wanted. Originally, when I was very young, I used to write poetry every day, but I soon discovered that I was not a poet; but that urge to write poetry . . .

But you are a poet.

CBR: Perhaps, but I had to get around to it in a very different way. I then thought I had found myself as a novelist, but after those four early novels I realized it still wasn’t what I wanted. So eventually—yes, I do now write very poetic novels, more deeply poetic at any rate than the poems I was writing every day. At the time of this dissatisfaction, I suppose it was Nathalie Sarraute’s The Age of Suspicion, and her putting the modern novel in question, which was the first turning point for me, much more so than her novels, for although I like them very much, I can’t say there’s a direct influence of Nathalie Sarraute on what I write. Whereas Robbe-Grillet did have a direct influence, at least on Out. But I soon got out of it. So it wasn’t a decision to write indeterminate novels as such. It was simply a decision not to go on writing as I used to write. But the other thing that happened was much more important. I had a very serious illness, lost a kidney and had a very long convalescence. I fell into a semi-trancelike state for a long time. I was very much thinking of death as the meaning of life. And I began to write Out, which is a very “sick” novel. I think one can feel that. I imagine a time when the whites are discriminated against; the whole color bar is reversed. But the reason the whites are discriminated against is because they are sick, dying from this mysterious radiation disease to which the colored people are more immune. My protagonist is a sick old man who cannot get a job and cannot remember his previous status. This exactly reproduced the state of illness that I was in, so in that sense of protection it was still a very mimetic novel. But I wasn’t consciously trying to do anything different. I started writing a sentence and fell back on the pillow exhausted. I didn’t really know where I was going, and it took me a long time to write it. I was groping. So I don’t think it was a conscious decision. But then with Such I really took off on my own. I don’t think there’s any more influence of Robbe-Grillet on Such. I would say that Such is my first really “Me” novel, where I don’t owe anything to anyone else.

Can you characterize that “Me-ness”?

CBR: I think Such is more imaginative, for one thing. It’s still, of course, concerned with death since the man dies and is brought back to life. Again, I don’t explain why. I get much more interested, in fact, in the impact of language on the imagination. I suppose it’s really with Between that I discovered what I could do with language. With Such it’s still a fairly straightforward use of language, but very much in another world with this slow return to reality as the man comes back to life, but he then sees the stars as radiation. And having hit on that idea but not really knowing where I was going, I then had to do a lot of work, learn something about astrophysics, for example, since I was using it as a metaphor for the world. It’s in Such that I discovered that jargon, of whatever kind, has great poetry. For instance if you take a scientific law and use it literally, it becomes a metaphor. Of course, this is a schoolboy joke. If the teacher says, “Weight consists of the attraction between two bodies, ” everybody giggles. But if you take it further and use more complicated astrophysical laws about bouncing signals on the moon, for instance, to express the distance between people, then it becomes a very active metaphor. Yet it’s treated as ontological in the world of the fiction, like a sunset or a tree. So this sort of thing, you see, isn’t a conscious decision, it’s a discovery.

Is that how you would define the experimental novel?

CBR: Yes, in a way. People often use the term “experimental novel” to mean just something peculiar, or as a genre in itself (on the same level as “realistic” or “fantastic” or “romantic” or “science” fiction). But to experiment is really not knowing where you’re going and discovering. Experimenting with language, experimenting with form and discovering things, and sometimes you might get it wrong and it just doesn’t come off. When I discovered that there is great beauty in technical language (and this comes into its own in Thru where I actually use critical jargon as poetry), I also discovered that there’s beauty and humor in confronting different discourses, jostling them together, including, for instance, computer language. In Such it’s astrophysics and in Between it’s all the languages, the lunatic, empty speech-making of different congresses, political, sociological, literary and so on, and of course, actual languages, different languages, all jostled together, since my protagonist, who’s a simultaneous interpreter, is always in different countries. Discourse became my subject matter. So discovery is one meaning of “experimental,” and this would be, to answer your earlier question, my “utterly other discourse,” where the actual language is different from the language you and I are using now, or that I find in other books. The second meaning is to see how far I can go with language, with vocabulary and syntax, and this is much more conscious.

Can we assume that we do not need to worry that you’re moving towards realism?

CBR: Were you worrying? Well, I might be, you know. I have nothing against realism. Why not? I think I say somewhere in “A Rhetoric of the Unreal” that realism may come back, but in a new form, refreshed by all this. We already have magic realism and hyper-realism after all. Fantastic realism. The real made unreal and vice versa. Sometimes there is a period of tremendous experiment, and then somehow the old thing comes back again, renewed by all the experimenting that’s been going on. That may be the only useful purpose of such an experiment, I just don’t know. But that doesn’t concern me too much. I also think that the way “experiment” is set against “realism,” the way I and others are said to be working against the “realistic” novel, is a great oversimplification. Even the most experimental, most postmodern writer is still basically realistic. They may not be “imitating” reality, in the sense of reproducing a familiar situation, but ultimately they’re representing something. There’s always a representative function simply because language is representative. There have been very naive attitudes towards representation, and we’ve all become much more self-conscious about it, but I don’t think we can actually get out of representation.



Christine Brooke-Rose Textermination
New Directions

‘In Textermination, the eminent British novelist/critic Christine Brooke-Rose pulls a wide array of characters out of the great works of literature and drops them into the middle of the San Francisco Hilton. Emma Bovary, Emma Woodhouse, Captain Ahab, Odysseus, Huck Finn… all are gathered to meet, to discuss, to pray for their continued existence in the mind of the modern reader. But what begins as a grand enterprise erupts into total pandemonium: with characters from different times, places, and genres all battling for respect and asserting their own hard-won fame and reputations. Dealing with such topical literary issues as deconstruction, multiculturalism, and the Salman Rushdie affair, this wild and humorous satire pokes fun at the academy and ultimately brings into question the value of determining a literary canon at all.’ — New Directions






p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Well, not picky, actually. ‘Woke’ is awful, to be used tinged with sarcasm only. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Well, our sales agency is strangely positive about an eventual if no doubt tiny US release for ‘PGL’, but I feel pretty skeptical.  I think the vast, vast majority of what I consider great films made in the 80s and earlier would be almost implausibly lucky to even get made now. ** Bernard, Hi, B. They were escorts, not slaves, if that makes a difference. See, I thought that lad’s ‘same inside’ thing, especially in its nervous CAPs-mixed form, was very vulnerable and appealing thereby, as if to say that by choosing him, one would get more than just another asshole, which made him more chooseable, but I am rather romantic, and I am obviously interested in the escort ad form and drawn to those who try a novel approach. That’s dire prediction you’re making there. Can I ask what it is of late that makes this particular phase of the endlessly scary hell up top feel more imminently destructive? In any case, I am continually so glad I’m not there. ** Jamie, Hey J-J Binks. Up? You know the drill. Work work. Saw a good music gig last night. Got to take a VIP tour of the Musee d’Orsay yesterday ‘cos an acquaintance is now the museum’s contemporary art director. I think maybe it takes a while to realise that escorts and slaves posts are not what they’re presented as being but rather sex-themed and illustrated collections of experimental poetry and prose? That would be one of my guesses. Mm, cocaine hangovers, yes. I hear you, bro. Gisele is on tour with our piece ‘Jerk’ right now, so we won’t get her feedback until next Wednesday, and we’ll just keep working ahead in the direction we’ve been going with fingers crossed that she won’t have red-penned the whole thing. Best of the best of luck locking into that writing groove. As someone fairly grooved, I am teleporting and astral projecting to you whatever it is that is keeping me concentrated. My Friday will involve script work followed by another music gig this evening. That’s the plan. May your today slide magic gloves over your hands that pound out writing the way Jerry Lee Lewis’s ungloved hands pound out rock ‘n’ roll. Fancy pants but revolutionary love, Dennis. ** Dóra Grőber, Dóra, hi, you’re back! Cool, I had this gut feeling that flying would end up being your friend. Now you can jet off to Amsterdam, Paris, Tokyo, and who knows where. Your trip sounds totally heavenly! Great, great! And it’s awesome to have you back too! Me, I’ve mostly been working, yeah, but I think it’s going okay. Mid-April deadline, but that’s not as lengthy as it seems because I have to go to LA in early April to do a ‘lecture’ at an art school there. So it’s more like we need to get as much finished as possible by the end of this month, which is an eek. I am told with more confidence than usual that we will sign the contracts next week, but we will see. I just got my new ATM card literally not 8 minutes ago. Yeah, a very hearty welcome home! How was your today, is there a trip hangover? ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi. that makes sense. I mean, obviously, I’ve been extremely interested in how people use language to re-identify themselves as sex objects since I was young, and my books are frequently presentations/studies of that. I could title the posts to suggest that’s what I think is going on in them, but I’m interested in the challenge of presenting guys who, upon seeing their photos, one might want to use as sex objects and then complicating that by also presenting who they really are to some degree — how they think, feel, how complicated or fucked up they are inside their looks, etc., and letting the post’s viewers absorb the often contradiction. Or, on the other hand, it interests me when viewers are so determined to see them as sex objects this they just ignore what the ‘sex objects’ write and express. Anyway, blah blah. I would love it greatly if you did a Threads post. That would be fantastic! Interesting because I guess that fuss is effecting me since I just found myself putting together a day about bomb shelters. Anyway, yeah, Ben, that would be great, and thank you for offering! ** Tosh Berman, Hi, Tosh. my email address is: denniscooper72@outlook.com. Of course, write to me, yes! And thanks about the post. ** Misanthrope, Your friend sounds likeable. Oh, man, dare I hope against hope that it won’t go to court? I mean, yeah, it doesn’t sound good. But I will nonetheless utilise some of my brain cells as pixie dust and explode handfuls across the Atlantic to you. ** Right. I’m spotlighting this truly wonderful novel by the truly wonderful Christine-Brooke Rose today, and I naturally ask you to give it your shots. See you tomorrow.

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