DC's

The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Christine Brooke-Rose Life, End Of (2006)

 

‘With Christine Brooke-Rose’s last novel, with the nouveau novelist reflecting the old, and vice versa, Brooke-Rose has found her paradoxical form. The death of the author is proof of the life. “La representation est la morte.” Brooke-Rose quotes Derrida in her essay “Id is, is id?”. Of course, Life, End of begins its final “representation” in an intimate impersonality, a tonal state of oxymoron, an absence of presence. Someone is not looking in a mirror. Or rather, a mirror is not being looked in. Instead, “the head top leans against the bathroom mirror so that the looking glass becomes the feeling glass. But what does it feel? The position is for body balance during the brushing of teeth and the washing of face neck arms and torso”. A stream of consciousness at once acute and numbed tells us what it means to get up and get dressed with great difficulty. A page later in the flow of it, the question about feeling returns: “but who feels what?”. Another page on, “does steel or glass or napkin or ground or earth or universe feel? Humans invent gods of various kinds to think so”. A meditative mind, connected and disparate, ponders and enacts what it means to feel in the light of an absence of feeling, to see the self in the light of an absence of self.

‘The story is very simple. A woman (a “doctor in mere Language and Literature” – a character? a narrator? the author? all three?) is getting older. Friends visit, people care, or don’t. Things worsen. She has a couple of falls; “the author collapses, into the character again”. A table with wheels is bought, to make things easier, and it causes a raft of new difficulties. She likes to write, “just for fun, for therapy, for the happiness of wordplay, the deep joy of sentences creating other sentences”, but writing is getting more and more difficult as time passes.

‘A play of light and shadow, depending on the time of day, projects the protean faces of the great artists, thinkers and mythical characters who have been part of the woman’s life on to a stone wall outside. Mozart, Beethoven, Athena and Christ are nothing but shadow and light on stone. Nothing much happens, other than “the swift dismantling of a lifetime’s independence”. It feels epic. In a flurry of hilarious and crushing selfishnesses and unlooked-for generosities, the world closes in – “the armchair, the world” – and the old person fluctuates between being just another dismissible and invisible old person and a crucial centre of consciousness.

‘A “hip-bone” used to balance a body carrying a tray across a room becomes a vital means of “articulation”. But articulation is going, the way of all flesh “‘even languages die, like species, thousands per century” – and nothing is simply personal in this helpless leave-taking, because at all points the meditative narrator/non-narrator comments on a mirrored set of goodbyes and hierarchies in the larger world. A bigger dying is happening: “so the world doffs its ozone hat and says goodbye”. The import is much wider, the personal is always political: “modern powers, like old monarchies, don’t hear the people till they flood the streets of the whole world like blood in blocked arteries. Can we marginalise three-quarters of the world population and get away with it? Can we imagine the other?”.

‘The narratorial consciousness, daunted, sharp and utterly contemporary, comments on its own fading progress, on the rhetorical closedness of contemporary rhetoric, and then on the empire-building acts of the “Unilateral States of America”. Life, End of is about all sorts of critical reductions. In a discussion about what creates an “. . .” and a “you”, and what it means to write anything for publication in an era when no one is much interested in anything other than “the author’s tooth-ache, sex-life, quarter-hour of glory” at the expense of being interested in “the writing of fiction and its problems”, it critiques its own readers, in all their possible generosities and closednesses. Or is this, after all, only a story of social graces? Its increasingly likeable, grumpy old lady holds forth.

‘Good manners are timeless, spaceless, classless: simply the ability to imagine the other. As an intelligence officer learns to do, if efficiently backed and not corrupted, experiencing a whole war from the enemy viewpoint. And as a novelist does all the time, creating characters. And actors.

‘In a fusion of weariness and sprightliness, Life, End of becomes its own thesis on creativity in action. It suggests at all points that really, creativity lies in imaginative selflessness, in an openness to connectivity and empathy or “the ability to imagine the other”. The “performance” here, given with a formal distance reminiscent of Greek tragedy, is one of voice and inferred response to voice. It is a question of dialogue. “Who’s talking to whom?” The narratorial voice is a fine creation, funny and “intelligentle”, bolshy and consumed by a fetish for identification and categorization, which it knows is its own doom.

‘It divides people into T. F.s (True Friends) or O. P.s (Other People, or “Old People, Over-sensitive People, Otiose, Obdurate, Obsolete people . . . Omega people. Omega. The end of the alphabet. The end of life”). In this last fictional Brooke-Rose opposition, “other” becomes the opposite of “true”, and anyone un-able to be empathetic is inviting a falseness. This “ability to imagine” is pressed formally even further, when the reader is asked, politely of course, to enter (and therefore create) a lived text -via writing which is as fluid and closed/ open as another’s thought process. In fact, the reader of Life, End of is always being conjured up and interrogated, simply because this novel’s narratorial self is such a measured avoidance of the first-person. Its mode is stubbornly, ingeniously immersed in the difficulties of grammatical and real-life passivity.

‘It never simply says, “I can’t pick up an object”, but instead up-ends such a structure: “objects also have trouble being picked up”.

‘This asks the reader both to accept this passivity and to be active, to make the personal (and by inference larger-than-personal) connection, to allow for all that goes on slalom-like between intelligent people, all that is written, read, sung, pictured, thought. A discourse that zigzags like blood pressure, changing registers, personal one moment, metaphysical the next, philosophical, catty, humourous (sic), technical on the disciplines shared, frivolous, rhetorical, witty, political, historical, personal again.

‘It is up to its reader to notice how words and images accrue meaning in context, and how the recurring image of a mirror, or “mouroir” might reflect into and out of the text, with “old age a mirror of childhood . . . the child trips towards its mother, the old towards Mother Nature, looking into a glass darkly”.

Life, End of is rarely dark. As you might expect with Brooke-Rose, it is gravely playful and connective, so that even at its most hopeless, even when it most closely courts an end, it refuses its own darkness. Its end is plain and lyrical. “The time, the time for everything is gone.” But the synapse connections, from word to word, word to book, book to reader, person to person, never actually stop. How can a discussion of the removal of the self – which is what this novel is, formally and substantively – be so full of the evocation of self? How can a novel about ends be so full of overtures, so that almost every unexpected connection between a word or a thought, a phrase or a sentence, becomes a possible new start? Is it possible to outface meaninglessness with so much determined meaning? And who dies first, the character or the author? “Ah, identity again”, the narratorial voice sighs, caught up in the dialogue between life force and death force, exhausted and relieved. In the play of the mind regardless, in the very recording of the process of dying, through this lovely, playful, heartbreaking, wise, angry and endlessly moving novel which even in its last line is still punning on language, literature and ends, there is, of course, an ending, and yet there is no such thing as death.’ — Ali Smith

 

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Further

‘Christine Brooke-Rose: the great British experimentalist you’ve never heard of’
‘On Christine Brooke-Rose’ @ Bookforum
The Christine Broke-Rose Papers
CB-R @ goodreads
‘Flinch Wince Jerk Shirk’
‘The life and work of the late, great experimental writer, Christine Brooke-Rose’
‘Where Do We Go from Here?’
‘THE CHRISTINE BROOKE-ROSE SOCIETY SYMPOSIUM’
‘WHOSE AFRAYED OF CHRISTINE BROOKE-ROSE?’
‘The Criticism of Christine Brooke-Rose’
‘The Lunatic Fringe’, by Christine Brooke-Rose
‘R.I.P. Christine Brooke-Rose’
‘Christine Brooke-Rose, for whom Cooking Metaphors Don’t Fry’
‘Literature’s Ghosts: Realism and Innovation in the Novels of Christine Brooke-Rose’
Audio: ‘Red Rubber Gloves’, by Christine Brooke-Rose
‘The Secret Code Language of Bright Kids’
‘Place and Space in Christine Brooke-Rose’s “Life, End of”‘
Buy ‘Life, End Of’

 

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Extras


Manuscript for Christine Brooke-Rose’s ‘Xorandor’

 


Pages from Christine Brooke-Rose’s ‘Thru’

 

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Interview
from The Review of Contemporary Fiction

 

Q: 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.

Q: What does the phrase “utterly other discourse” from “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 differen
t. 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.

Q: 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 . . .

Q: 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.

Q: 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.

Q: 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. In Between, for example, a sentence can continue correctly, but by the end of it we are elsewhere in time and space. And I chose an imposed constraint, not using the verb “to be,” just as in Amalgamemnon I decided to use only non-realizing tenses and moods like the future, the conditional, the imperative.

Q: Your work, for many readers, is extremely demanding. Although novels like Amalgamemnon provide realistic details as a frame for the abstract elements, it’s often difficult to separate them. In fact, the text seems quite porous as the abstract and realistic commingle. One must read in a new way, so to speak.

CBR: I don’t apologize for that at all. One of my aims in writing the way I do is to teach people to read. They have forgotten how to read. I want what Barthes calls the writerly text as opposed to the readerly text—the readerly text is the consumer product, which can be flicked through. I’m not against that—to read on the train or in the bath. But where is the pleasure of reading if, in fact, you’re just going to skip through description? The very word “redundancy” comes back here because, as you know, structuralists did a lot of work on this—what is the description, what is the effect of the real, how is the effect of the real provoked, and so on. There is a vast amount of redundancy in the realistic novel which the reader skips. That was the point, swelling the detail to fantasy pitch, the fetish object. But today people get that from other media and read just for the plot, for the event, and they don’t really want to know what the writer is doing. I think this is a tremendous loss. So what Barthes calls the writerly text is the text which the reader is writing with the writer—I want to share my writing with the reader. Of course, that means the reader has to wake up and see what I’m doing. All the writers of the postmodern movement are doing this; I’m not the only one. Many people say that my novels are difficult; indeed, a lot of people complain about it, but when my fans say that, it’s a compliment. They go back and see that I’ve done this, or that. They say my books are slow reading, and consider this a pleasure. If I achieve that, then I am very pleased.

Q: Your two most recent works, Amalgamemnon and Xorandor, seem, in many ways, more readable than some of the earlier works—also innovative, but more accessible. Are you doing this intentionally?

CBR: Probably, yes. It’s a little exasperating to be told all the time that one is difficult and unreadable, but also don’t forget that my path had to go through Thru, which is a very special sort of unreadable book. I had to write it because—there I was teaching narratology and being a writer. The contradiction, the tension, was such that I had to write Thru, which is a novel about the theory of the novel. It’s the most self-reflexive novel that it’s possible to write. It’s a text about intertextuality, a fiction about fictionality. But it is very difficult and I knew that I would be rapped on the knuckles. Still, I needed to write it, I needed to send up the structuralist jargon, also to use it as poetry, to use the very jargon on narratology as metaphor, in a way, to deconstruct it. It’s a very Derridean book. In fact, all the things it spelled downwards in the beginning, announcing certain themes acrostically, are straight out of Derrida. I was influenced by Derrida at the time, but I didn’t want to do just a deconstruction of realism. . . . Yes, that really is a very difficult novel. It was almost written tongue-in-check for a few narratologist friends. I never thought it would be accepted. It was something I had to do. My publisher loved it; at least my editor loved it, the publisher was perhaps not quite so pleased, and of course, it didn’t sell. And after that I did realize that I had probably, career-wise as they say, done myself a lot of harm because I was really dismissed as completely potty, doing surrealistic tricks and typography, and so on. It’s written for people who understand narratology and the crisis of representation. If you like, it’s a little bit as though I wrote a book entirely on engineering that only engineers could understand.

Q: However, many readers, particularly American readers, know narratology in fairly superficial ways, and they probably could follow much of Thru—more than you might think.

CBR: That’s good, because I had so accepted the fact that people found it unreadable that, I suppose, with Amalgamemnon I really did make a big effort. There were many versions of that. It took nearly nine years to get it right, although I did produce a critical book as well. It took me so long to get it right, partly because of this question of tone, because the future tense can sound very portentous, and I didn’t want that, but also because I wanted it to be readable, and the first versions were not. They were kind of thick and dense. So yes, there has been a conscious effort. I don’t know. Perhaps it’s also come naturally. I’m more at ease, and I’m happier in my writing, as you pointed out yourself. Perhaps I communicate better and have simply learned my trade. It’s taken me a long time! But it’s true that in Xorandor I went back to telling a story, though I still had to do it in this way, with the kids quarreling about how to tell it themselves. Yes, I quite agree. The two novels I have in my head that are to follow will probably be easier to read. But I still think that people should take pleasure in reading, that it is up to the writer to write in such a way as to direct the attention of the reader to the richness of the possibilities of language. Because otherwise we’re just going to lose language, this sloppy, almost un-English English that everyone is talking. People are just not aware of the solidity of their language. It’s sliding away. Of course, something always comes to replace it, but I still think that unless we do something the whole reading and writing capacity is going to just disappear. Do what? Well, all one solitary writer can do is to fight against this consumer-product attitude, to make people enjoy working with you.

Q: Then 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.

 

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Book

Christine Brooke-Rose Life, End Of
Carcanet Press

‘She is eighty. Facing death, she becomes ‘a cruising mind’, lost in sequences of unabstract comic detail, in – as the title implies – a kind of index, rigid, arbitrary, pointing backwards into the lived text. The head top leans against the bathroom mirror so that the looking glass becomes a feeling glass. She is getting worse day by day, and yet she goes on, deeper into meaning, into non-meaning, with a kind of wry eagerness. She is not disappointed with her life. In order to distract herself, to place herself, she attends to what the media say about the world as if what they say was actually the world. She reflects on her own career, on her experiments with narrative, and on the narrative she is writing here: therapy, fun, but anything else, anything more? What is its purpose, and what the purpose of the life that lives it in the writing? She discovers how, as in fiction, as in any form of experiment, the difficulty for the handicapped is less the handicap than other people, and they too have their lives and handicaps. She becomes like them, she becomes one of them, an other person. Reasserting herself, at the centre of the book, in a mock-technical lecture from a character to an author who is not interested, she comes to accept that her experiments in narrative are like pain-killers, and that they no longer matter, like life.’ — Carcanet Press

 

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Excerpt

 

 

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p.s. Hey. ** JM, Too true. Awesome, I look forward to seeing and maybe even meeting Adam. I don’t know ‘Calendar Girls’. I’ll check. My mom used to take me to see musicals sometimes, but not that one. I saw ‘The Music Man’ with Dick Van Dyke, and I liked it! Best of all luck with that. Big lush day! ** David Ehrenstein, Christophe’s play involves the ghosts of a number of French artists of different stripes who died of AIDS meeting up and talking about, well, AIDS and dying mostly: Demy, Guibert, Serge Daney, and others. And its mostly a comedy. ** kier, Hey, hey! Ha ha, you caught that. Well, there’s always a very small chance they’ll renig at the last monent, but the huge chances are that, yes, PGL’s French poster will be a drawing (maybe two) of yours, maestro! We’re supposed to finish it before we leave for the US on Thursday, and, if we do, I’ll send you a jpeg. And of course grab you an actual poster. Well, the first poster was in English, and also the French distributor didn’t really like it. We like it okay, but it was far from our decision or first choice. So we don’t mind, obviously. We’d actual proposed a poster with your art originally back then to our international distributor, but they said no because they thought people would think it was an animated film, ha ha. Fabeldyrene was actually there for quite a long time, but it was near death when we visited Kongeparken. I got in touch with the guy who designed it, and he says it’s safely in storage. No, no Norway news yet. We’re nervously watching our email. I don’t think there’s a problem, but I do hope we get firm positive news soon. I’m pretty sure I can get you into ‘Crowd’ if it sells out. I’m good. Just in pre-trip mode, and trying to get things done, meaning a bit stressed and out of sorts. Hooray about the nearly finis MFA! Snowy, sigh. We might get some snow today or tomorrow, but all that’ll mean is it will be more of hassle to go to the airport, so meh. So good to see you, pal! Hopefully Oslo news and poster very soon! ** Grant Maierhofer, Hi, Grant. Ooh, that video looks tasty. I’ll hit when I’m done here. Thank you! ** Dominik, Hi! Yep, it was sweet: London. Mm, to be honest, I wasn’t so into ‘Sorry Angel’, although I do like Christophe’s films. People liked it, or some did. Personally, I think there are other films of his that I’d recommend watching first. The play was a bit mixed for me. It’s part of a trilogy of projects about AIDS that he just completed. There are things I liked about it, but it was also really conventional theater-like and sentimental in a way that didn’t get to me so much. Cool that the Schroeder left a mark. I leave for the West Coast very early on Thursday morning. I’ll be doing the p.s. off and on while I’m away. I’ll explain how that’ll work tomorrow. You have an amazing week … well, I was going to say ‘too’, but mine will likely be a bit stressy and then swamped by jet lag. See you soon! ** Steve Erickson, The only thing I can suggest, which I’m sure I’ve suggested before, if what my host suggests to those having issues: Either clear your cache or trying accessing the blog in a private browser window. I’m sorry. Oh, shit. I hope the arm thing turns out to be something easily solveable. They don’t have any clue what’s causing it? ** _Black_Acrylic, I don’t think I knew about Flamingo Land, which is odd since I’m such a wannabe expert. Cool. Wow, you send your zine to the printer so soon? I didn’t realise it was that close to reality. Excitement central! ** Nik, Hi. Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride is truly one of the most genius things to exist on this plant we call Earth. I like thrill junkie parks. Six Flags Magic Mountain is one, and it’s a heaven on earth candidate. I’ll look up Houdini’s Great Escape. Promising moniker. That definitely helped, thanks, man. Six Flags Great Adventure is firmly on my to-do list. Great about the first day! That Rimbaud line is interesting because every translator seems to totally reinvent how it works, sign of a great original sentence, I guess. I’ve never been to Joe’s Pub. It’s pretty legendary. No, sorry, I haven’t gotten to the email yet. I’m scrambling to finish stuff before I leave. I’ll try to get to it before I fly away on Thursday morning if I can. If not, I will as soon as my jet lag dies. You have a great day, and great second day too! ** Misanthrope, Kings Dominion has Twisted Timbers which is highly rated among roller coaster rankers. Tomorrow … means today? If so, I reroute my best wishes to the here and now. Fuck, man, yeah, let the doctor have at you. Enough of that shit. ** Jay, Hi there! Great to see you! Oh, that’s interesting about the evolution (devolution?) of your relationship with coasters. Yikes. Well, me, personally, my great love is dark rides, so hopefully you still have those to indulge in. No souring whatsoever. All things park-related are manna on my front. Take care. ** Corey Heiferman, Hi, Corey. I like kiddie lands and rides too. it’s frustrating to be told one is too old, i.e,. large to ride them, although kiddie rides are often better from relatively afar, except, well, if you’re a kid. Oh, never mind. I want to go to Shanghai Disney bad! You guys should go. You really should. ** Okay. Today … oh, yeah, I decided to throw some more light on the work of the great Christine Brooke-Rose. One of those ‘doesn’t get enough due’ greats, in my opinion. Check it out. See you tomorrow.

13 Comments

  1. Hi D., bit of a frustrating request from me today – are you able to drop a quick line to Nik in the P.S. to let them know I’ve just dropped a response to their comment from the other day asking about NZ theatre? Or Nik, if you see this, hi! That response is there.

    I don’t know a thing about today’s subject, as is par for the course with these things, but this one is *for sure* joining the TBR pile.

    • Hey JM, I just saw your post! Thanks for giving such a thoughtful reply. I read Mountainhead by New Juche, which lead me to the nine-banded books roster of stuff like Peter Sotos and James Nulick, so obviously I’d love to go down that same rabbit-hole with this press. Ugh, I’ve been neglecting Grotowski foolishly, I’ll get that out of the library today. I Iooked up some of the other shows you mentioned and they look really interesting, especially Betroffenheit. Yeah, I found Philadelphia was the same way with theater… there was some incredible work being done by Pig Iron Theater Company and Lightning Rod Special, but mostly it’s just a musical theater scene, and not even a particularly functional one. I’ll keep my eyes peeled for if any of these companies stop by the states.

      • Hi again. I just picked up 9BB’s Mountainhead myself. I’m reading Stephen King’s The Shining right now (for the second time, I’m planning to chronologically read all of his books over, oh, however long it takes for, uh, no good reason, really? I own them all, so why not?) so that & DC’s God. Jr are on the cards for after. As for the ASulphate rabbit hole: my favourites are the three Simon Morris books, Josh Peterson’s two & Talisman Angelica’s by the Skullflower team. And I suppose my own but modesty, modesty! Most AS stuff stays in print indefinitely or thereabouts but Simon Morris’ Civil War has sold out and Thomas Moore/Steven-Purtill’s Small Talk at The Clinic is ltd. to 150 copies so they may be the best two to pick up first. If you’re interested, that is — Civil War is still available I believe from UK distributor Cargo Records but when it’s gone it’s gone. One of the greatest texts of the 21st century so certainly a gift. Sorry for the weird and overlong response there.

        I don’t think I like any of Grotowski’s work that I’ve actually SEEN but the book is great. I also love Peter Brook’s Empty Space, but; well, who doesn’t! Ditto on Brecht. My work quite deliberately plays with and attempts to elaborate on Brecht. I think I’ve maybe heard a bit about Pig Iron. Ah; Philadelphia! The Great M. Night Shyamalan hails from thereabouts.

        Hey, sorry to be an inconvenience — if you see this, do you mind responding in an email? Just an easier place to keep track of than back&forth over old blog posts – assuming you have more to say, of course! You can get in touch at josiahmorgan11 [at] gmail [dot] com

        j

  2. In the immortal words of Eve Babitz “Death is the last word in other people having fun without you.”

    “Sorry Angel” is opening stateside shortly.Doeshristophe’s play include Michel Foucault? I hope it does, especially in light of Foucault’s adventures in fist-fucking. “A new sexual act!” he enthused.

  3. I’ll try opening the site in an incognito window ( clearing my cache messes other things up.) As an example of the current weirdness, when I was able to see today’s entry, it said “2 comments,” but when I clicked on the comments, only 1 is visible.

    So the specialist says I either have a pinched nerve or calcium deposit. I have an appointment for an X-ray tomorrow afternoon to help determine what’s going on. I don’t have the feeling that this can be cleared up quickly, and I really wish it could both because I’m sick of the pain and my inability to write now is starting to hurt me financially.

  4. RIP Susan Hiller, truly one of the greats. I’ve only ever seen Psi Girls in reproduction but it still remains among my favourite artworks.

  5. Dennis, That’s right, you’re coming to the U.S. I’m so oblivious sometimes and that totally went over my head. I hope you have a safe and comfortable flight(s) to and fro.

    Yes, today. Tuesday. I understand the mix-up, though, with the weekend being weird because there’s no post on Sunday and then me, I’m always thinking it’s the wrong half the time anyway.

    Sooooo…the guy let LPS off again. I’ll paraphrase what he said, “You’ve been coming here for 6 years, I’ve been talking to you for 6 years, it hasn’t changed a thing, I’m done talking to you, you’re 18 now, you’ve done this stuff for the school, I hope you turn it around and have a good life and I wish you the best, but I’m done here.” And that was that. We may have been in there 5 minutes. Seriously.

    On the one hand, there’s no consequence yet again. On the other, thank God there’s not another court date and this shit is out of my hair. I don’t blame the guy. It must be frustrating for him when he sees kids who really don’t have anyone at home fucking up and then this kid whose family dotes on him comes in and keeps fucking up.

    The doctor. Okay, this is strange. She, too, said that my lungs didn’t sound bad at all. No wheezing or anything. She thinks the cough may be a result of the high blood pressure med I take, which can cause such a cough. She’s switched me to another one. Also, she does think I have an infection because my uvula is swollen and my throat’s a touch red. Soooo…antibiotics, a syrup for head congestion, prednisone, and the new bp med. I go back next Tuesday. Oh, and I had a chest X-ray too, and have to get more blood work – my regular doc didn’t do a CBC to check white blood cell counts to see if there’s infection.

    I do all this stuff now and we’ll see.

    Man, you should hear my voice. I sound, at times, like Froggy from The Little Rascals.

    You ever like that show, btw?

  6. Hey Dennis,

    Oh, awesome, I’m glad you like the thrill junkie parks. Six Flags would certainly be a candidate for an earth heaven, in that case.
    I’ve never heard of this author, but seems like the kind of experimentalist that I will have to check out. My self-selected reading is gonna slow down cuz of school, although given the classes and the content it doesn’t stray too far from what I want to read anyway, which is entirely good luck.
    Speaking of class, I had my first with Ann Lauterbach today, which was strangely frightening. She’s the first teacher I’ve ever had who I’m genuinely a huge fan of, and the way she talks about writing and literature is totally genius, so I got pretty shy and nervous. The class is all about description, which is something I definitely have trouble employing in my work, in more than just a couple of ways that I don’t think would hold up outside of short stories, if that makes any sense. So, obviously it’s a good class and overall good thing that’s happening, I was just surprised by my reaction cuz I’ve never been anywhere close to nervous around teachers before, haha.
    Yeah, of course dude, no rush with the email. Do you have any LA plans? What stuff are you working on this week? Whatever it is I’m sending luck and joy and quick jet lag recovery at you in a drove.

  7. Dennis,

    This looks like an interesting book, thank you for introducing it to me. And this one is actually available on Amazon! And it doesn’t cost $800, which is a plus!

    Have you started reading the Kathryn Davis book yet, the Silk Road? If you have, I was wondering what you think of it, so far?

    I’ll be seeing you and Zac in less than a week! The last time (and the first time) we saw each other was back in 2012 in Los Angeles — does’t that seem like forever ago?!! Time goes by so incredibly fast, one minute you’re sixteen and reading Dean Koontz , the next minute you wake up and you’re 49… agggghhhhhhhh!

    I’m editing my novel now, it’s been fun reconnecting with passages I wrote almost two years ago. I hope to have it self-edited by March or April, then I’ll send it off to the real editor. She’ll probably get it done in 6 weeks or so. She’s a brilliant editor. I feel like the editing is where the real work happens!

    Much love, and very much looking forward to PGL on the big screen!

    Xoxo,
    James

  8. Hi Dennis! Emailed you. Sometimes it goes to spam. No hurry on the response ! x

  9. hey. cant understand what day it is. not know if posted or not. my circadian rhythms are messed up. anyway eating chicken wings and thinking about this post. i think of the question of suicide. at what point is life not worth living? are there times it is ok to check out? i mean like for old people and euthanasia kind of stuff. suicide for the young is insane. ive seen it too many times. seen too many young people die of crazy stuff. i wish there were a guide. like hey this is the truth. recently i was living with a bunch of people in their 80s. as long as your not sick life is a fucking joy no matter how old or young. funny thinking life and language. i dont know if they mix i think they do and i think they dont. as a person whos deals with dead people constantly, trust me life is preferred. death is for some a very demonic thing, for others a paradise. my dad says you cant think about it. death is a bad guy but in the big picture maybe life is alright. i always think of eileen wouros. really hate executioners. like she said, “im sailing with the rock and ill be back like independence day.” rip working on some blog posts and writing away. all my love like Jeff Beck playing the Immigrant Song

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