The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Spotlight on … Danielle Collobert Murder (1964) *

* (restored)


‘“I’m well versed in murder. I invent several each day. I bring different people to death, old ones for the most part, I don’t know why.” — Danielle Collobert

‘Danielle Collobert committed suicide when she was thirty-eight years old. It’s amazing to think that her first novel, Murder, which she began writing in 1960 at age twenty, didn’t receive an English translation until 2013—amazing in the true sense of the word, as in, like, causing wonder. Because reading this book will make you wonder why it took so long to find its way into English; it will make you wonder how Collobert could have extracted something so deep, so haunting, while still so young.

Murder was originally published in 1964 by legendary French publisher Éditions Gallimard and championed by none other than Raymond Queneau. Collobert’s style is unique. Her sentences are often heavily segmented by chains of commas, intensely lyrical and enigmatic, effortlessly elevating personal experience to the realm of broader, more universal truths. The “chapters” in Murder, for lack of a better word, are rarely longer than two or three pages. Because the text is so fragmented, it often feels like a cross between a series of short stories and prose poems, or like fleshed-out and gaping photographic stills. There is a sense of the writing functioning both above what’s written, and below, calling to mind the charged and spooky images of Francesca Woodman or the gritty and blood-soaked snapshots from a book on the Algerian War.

‘Such an analogy isn’t meaningless, either. Collobert was a supporter of Algerian independence and she wrote Murder while in political exile in Italy. This is an important point. Because her writing is so enigmatic, it isn’t always clear what Collobert means—at least not on the surface. But there’s no doubt that the backdrop of the war heavily informs Murder.

Returning, with the brutal passage of time, in the rupture of space, toward this city, suddenly arisen, without reality—our trajectory through it—and its immense disappearance, without reason, because we are going to leave.

What happened in the city is still there, at our feet, without our having given a purpose to that death. Here, now, there is silence, above the city. But over there we can hear a siren wailing.

‘The translation by Nathanaël is done cleanly and with great nuance. Pains have clearly been taken to retain the sheer and simple quality of Collobert’s language. It’s this delicate balance between real-world horror—i.e., Algeria—and a sort of hovering omniscience that separate Collobert’s writing from lesser material covering similar themes. In an interview with HTMLGIANT, Nathanaël touched on this point, saying “[Murder] is tempered by the residues of such histories; but the work’s strength is in its ability to evoke them without resorting to explicit accounts, or naming. The generalization of historical violence is embedded in the intimate accounts presented to the reader—seemingly placeless, nameless, they nonetheless achieve historical exactitude through relentless repetition—a reiterative (mass) murder (one is tempted to say: execution), which afflicts and incriminates the gutted bodies that move painstakingly through these densely succinct pages.”

‘Nathanaël’s use of the word “incriminate” is of particular interest, considering Murder’s implication that the witness is also guilty: “If the eye looks suddenly behind itself, if it turns around on itself, then there is the rise of each edge of the aqueous and malevolent substance that clouds it, blinds it, and terrifies it, until it can once again forget everything that happened, for it, deep down, without having that great invasive fear to overcome with each degree, with each new step, scaled like the highest of mountains, the steepest of summits.”

‘Collobert left behind a handful of books, all produced in only twenty years. Like many writers who have chosen to end their own lives, her voice occasionally takes on a gravity that is, if nothing else, alarming, urgent.’ — David Peak, The Rumpus

Stop. It’s important—important—you mustn’t miss this, the last moments. But you don’t like that. You want to go quickly. You let yourself be carried, removed, killed. And me, in the world that veers behind you, only later will I have the strength to hold you back, only later, after the others—forgive me—when they will have taught me how to stop a piece of earth torn off by the wind—a finished man, a failure, a shadow, a song, a last song—a whole dumbfounded world …



Reading Danielle Collobert
‘Blake Butler on Danielle Collobert’s “Murder”‘
‘Murder’ reviewed @ The Brooklyn Paper
‘Murder’ reviewed @ Fjords
‘Danielle Collobert’s Aux environs d’un film: Poetic Writing On the Brink of Cinema’
‘Murder’ reviewed @ lost gander
‘Slammed into Walls: Violence and the Impersonalized Subject in Danielle Collobert’s “It Then”
‘Writing (at) the Limits of Genre: Danielle Collobert’s Poetics of Transgression’
‘Violence and Identity in the Poetry of Danielle Collobert’
‘Oh fuck. I didn’t know Danielle Collobert was dead.’
Danielle Collobert @ Editions POL
xcerpts from the Journals of Danielle Collobert, 1960-1961
re: ‘Danielle Collobert | Œuvres 1’
Danielle Collobert @ goodreads
‘[anthologie permanente] Danielle Collobert’
Audio: ‘Rencontres des solitudes, Danielle Collobert & François Bon’
Buy ‘Murder’



Danielle Collobert, Meurtre, Gallimard, 1964. Excerpt read by François Bon.

Un extrait de “Il donc”, de Danielle Collobert, lu par François Bon.

Un extrait de “Meurtre” de Danielle Collobert, lu par François Bon.


Interview with Nathanaël
translator of ‘Murder’
from HTMLGiant


Kit Schluter: To begin, what drew you to Danielle Collobert’s work? How did you discover it?

Nathanaël: I want to say that it was accidental, but I’m quite sure it wasn’t. Unless one understands friendship as accident. I entered, as did many, into Il donc, and Collobert’s Carnets, though with an eye turned away – perhaps out of a desire not to seek the life in the work, however much it is written there, and with such determinacy; the ‘twenty years of writing’ set against the impending suicide. Still, it is a hazard of hindsight to be able to set the life against the work, though this is so obviously a deformation of the reader, and so I resist as much as I can the tidy narrative of a life fallen from letters. The short answer to your first question is: Collobert’s language. But if the virtuosic remnants of Il donc are almost a perfect epitaph to the twenty years, I was much more viscerally and immediately impelled by Meurtre; I even borrowed an epigraph from this work into We Press Ourlseves Plainly much before the idea even of translating it had presented itself to me. Perhaps most immediately because of a shared concern, or conviction, that the distinction between murder and death is unconvincing and too readily upheld.

KS: What were the circumstances surrounding Danielle Collobert while she was composing Murder? Do you find that the book draws material or imagery from her experience?

N: My knowledge of Collobert’s biography is quite limited. Not unlike her parents and her aunt, who were all actively engaged in the Résistance during WWII, Collobert, a supporter of Algerian independence, was a member of the FLN (Algeria’s Front de libération national) at the time of Meurtre. She chose exile in Italy, where she completed work on the manuscript. It may be worth underscoring the importance of 1961, for the outcome of the war, which, in French contemporary society was never acknowledged under the name of anything other than the euphemistic “les évènements” (“the events” – to do otherwise would have been, not only to have acknowledged, if only semantically, Algeria’s nationhood, but the repressive force employed by France to resist – and as it happened, to defer – decolonization and independence). On October 17, 1961, a peaceful demonstration of many thousands of Algerians living in Paris, protesting the curfew imposed exclusively upon them, and the acts of police violence to which they were systematically subjected, was violently suppressed by Vichyist Maurice Papon’s police force, resulting in the arbitrary deportation of large numbers of Algerian demonstrators, and the summary execution of up to two hundred Algerians, many of whose bodies were pulled out of the Seine in the following days; several thousand Algerians were rounded up during the demonstration and distributed among prisons, the Palais des Sports and area hospitals. Several months later, on February 8th, 1962, what has come to be known as the Charonne Massacre took place at the eponymous Paris métro station; this demonstration, organized by the Left against the paramilitary OAS (the reactionary Organisation de l’armée secrète, which violently opposed Algerian independence), and often conflated in people’s memories (and in historical accounts) with the October massacre, resulted in the death of eight demonstrators at the Charonne métro station. It is not insignificant that French FLN supporter Jacques Panijel’s 1961 film, Octobre à Paris, which documents the moments before, during, and after the October demonstration, was censured by the French government and only shown for the first time in a French cinema in 2011 – half a century after it was made.

The photograph on the cover of Murder accounts, obliquely, and somewhat prochronistically, for these activities – it is a photograph of a bombed out building in Madrid, taken in 1937 by Robert Capa, during the Spanish Civil War.

Meurtre is tempered by the residues of such histories; but the work’s strength is in its ability to evoke them without resorting to explicit accounts, or naming. The generalization of historical violence is embedded in the intimate accounts presented to the reader – seemingly placeless, nameless, they nonetheless achieve historical exactitude through relentless repetition – a reiterative (mass) murder (one is tempted to say: execution), which afflicts and incriminates the gutted bodies that move painstakingly through these densely succinct pages.

KS: The language of Murder‘s passages is slippery, but in a productive kind of way. Although Collobert’s later work seems almost entirely irreverent of traditional genres and forms, the language of this early work, written around the age of twenty, seems to skirt the boundaries between the short story and the prose poem. Nobody is named, no locations are specified, no motives for actions are explained. And yet these prose pieces seem to function toward the development of short narratives that retain these traditional tools of the “short story,” however non-traditionally they might be getting used.

How would you address the issue of genre in this book? What are we dealing with here? Do you sense any influences informing the form of the pieces in Murder, or does this seem to be a mode of writing that Collobert can call entirely her own?

N: I would resist attempting to attribute a generic definition to Meurtre; I would not seek to inscribe it in a lineage, either. Which is not a rejection of eventual antecedents – often Collobert’s work is read against Beckett, for example. But a habitual reliance on lineage as a way of reading seems limiting to me, and a decidedly academic concern. Before even beginning to attempt to make this kind of attribution, one would need to recognize the distances the text has had to travel between French and English, and then acknowledge the divergences between generic constructs in those two (much more than two) literary cultures (though there is increasing adherence to English language delineations in French, which is indicative, perhaps, of a desire for change, but more cynically, of the global influence of specifically American industry, since this direction is distrustful of the generic fluidity for which French literature of the twentieth century came to be known), and take some note of the development of those movements over time, because, like anywhere else, they are not static, whatever limits are imposed to prevent alterations from loosening them from their categori
cal holds. Which is to say that the bolstering of the boundaries governing generic territories, such as they are defended, is in large part contextual. I would argue that it is no less accurate to categorise Meurtre as prose than it is to categorise Il donc as poetry; Meurtre has a strong poetics, as is Il donc continuing to grapple with the sentence. But one might suggest just as convincingly that all of her work has something of the film script (her language is at times much more succinct than passages in some of Antonioni’s film scripts, for example, which read like prose). I might offer these lines of Derrida’s as more eloquent provocation: “ ‘What / is…?’ laments the disappearance of the poem – / another catastrophe. By announcing that which is /just as it is, a question salutes the birth of prose.” (Tr. Peggy Kamuf)

KS: Collobert, in the final passage of the book, defines the book’s namesake, murder, as follows: “One does not die alone, one is killed, by routine, by impossibility, following their inspiration. If all this time, I have spoken of murder, sometimes half camouflaged, it’s because of that, that way of killing” (96). This, for me, is provocative and explosive language. And, I should say, that goes for the whole book: this isn’t a neutral work, but one that digs in its heels and takes a firm political stance. What political urges do you find central to Murder?

N: You have identified what is for me perhaps the most powerful passage from the work (these are the same lines I borrowed into the afore-mentioned epigraph). Out of this passage, I would signal the unlikely conjunction of routine and inspiration. There is here the suggestion of the sublimation of emotion into bureaucratisation. “That way of killing” is not distinct from the way of language, from a poetics or an aesthetic impulse; ‘inspiration’ is the incipit of murder – the very breath of it. This admission walls the text off from anything resembling hope. And yet it is also anything but nihilistic. It is snared by its own realisations – with emphasis on the real.

KS: It seems [to me] that [Collobert] is arguing that to embrace life one must embrace mortality; that to embrace mortality one must embrace the absolute solitude of living; that to embrace this solitude one must confront the fear of what she calls “losing oneself,” even if that lostness be irremediable.

However, something about her understanding of the relationship of life and death reminds me of Rilke’s concept of Das Große, or “The Big Thing,” which he develops in The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge: the inexpressible fear of the death that is, to paraphrase, growing within us from our birth as a ripening fruit. And yet, there is perhaps a crucial difference between Collobert’s “getting lost” and Rilke’s “The Big Thing”. While Rilke’s term figures death as an existential inevitability of life, Collobert’s term is more politicized and argues that our deaths are imposed on us by social forces over which we have no control. Rilke’s death grows from within and thus one must die alone, while Collobert’s is imposed and thus one is forced in death into the company of an enemy. That is the sort of solitude she is discussing—the solitude we are forced to find when in company we cannot allow ourselves to tolerate, company that is expressly against the freedom of our wills.

N: Your question seems to be calling up an irrevocable rift in the apprehension of death; some would argue that the boundary lies at Auschwitz, others, that it is endemic to modernity. Certainly, Benjamin writes of the loss of an important function of the house once people cease to die within their own walls; Rilke distinguished between ‘serial’ and ‘proper’ death; in the same Notebooks you quote from, he writes: “Now there are 559 beds to die in. Like a factory [fabrikmässig] of course. With production so enormous, each individual death is not made very carefully; but that isn’t important. It’s the quantity that counts.” I am quoting Rilke as quoted by Agamben in Remnants of Auschwitz, in which he writes: “In Auschwitz, people did not die; rather, corpses were produced.” (tr. Daniel Heller-Roazen) In my own stubborn misremembrance, Vladimir Jankélévitch writes (my translation), “Death died in the death camps”. (His actual claim is that forgiveness [le pardon] died in the death camps). The mortality Collobert is grappling with in her work is post-mortal, I would say, in that it is stripped of its ontology, and offered to cold scrutiny (the so-called empiric scalpel); whatever intimations exist in Rilke, and may be fastened to an understanding of modernity, Collobert’s language comes after WWII. It is imprinted by it. But the political dimension of this morbid actuality is not, I would argue, unilateral: the enemy is also oneself. The figures moving through Meurtre are murdered and murderers, they are both executioner and victim; the force driving them to deaths sustained or committed is never made explicit or specific; one might go so far as to say that the vital impulse of this work is stifled by the permanent recognition that one stands ever before a firing squad (a perhaps more temporally torqued version of the vital corpse is Ortega y Gasset’s man who enters into battle with a wound in his temple). I am not convinced however that Collobert’s ‘we’ ever designates a collectivity; there is no indication of a shared plight of solitude; when she writes ‘we’, the we is inhuman in that the individual elements that comprise it have no individuation, they are hulls of selves, like the scraped crab on the beach; they have abandoned themselves to a cadaveric assembly line cum funeral procession.

KS: One of the distinctive traits of Collobert’s work is her play with the grammatical gender of French. There’s a nice story, told by Jean-Pierre Faye, in the foreword to first volume of her Oeuvres (P.O.L.), in which he, upon receiving a copy of Collobert’s Dire, begins editing the text by circling inconsistencies in the narrator’s gender. In one sentence the narrator is referred to with male adjectives; in the next, female; in some, the narrator is referred to with both, by turns male and female. It is only after reading further in the text that he realizes that, in fact, this is a very deliberate part of Collobert’s language, perhaps its singularizing trait. Do you see Collobert as part of a larger tradition of Francophone writers experimenting with gender in their texts? What distinguishes her play from the others’?

N: One might see continuities between Collobert’s refusal to settle on a single gender – a way, perhaps, within the confines nonetheless of French grammar, to unsettle the ‘I’, pluralize and fragment it, and resist the facile habit in the reader to conflate the narrative ‘self’ with that of the writer – and Nathalie Sarraute’s neutral ‘il’. Collobert’s ‘il’ becomes depersonalized (it), while the intent of Sarraute’s ‘il’ (he) is to generalize away from gender specificity, and away from the French grammatical intention which determines that ‘il’ stands in for (erases) ‘elle’ (even when bias indicates otherwise). In an interview with Simone Benmussa, in which Benmussa asks Sarraute to qualify her thinking about ‘le neutre’, Sarraute replies: “For me, the neuter [le neutre] is the human being. There is a word for that in Russian, it’s tcheloviek and in German Der Mensch, the human being, male or female, regardless of age, regardless of sex. In French ‘être humain’ is ridiculous. In fact, in Elle est là, I say: ‘It’s a human being, it’s ridiculous but it must be said.’” Sarraute is adamant her concern is not androgeneity, nor, do I think it is a concern of Collobert’s. Away from the syntactical injunctions of Romance languages – for monolinguistic English speakers, for example – it is nea
rly impossible to appreciate the grammatical dictatorship under which one lives in such linguistic regimes (Sarraute’s further discussion of Russian indicates the impossibility of avoiding gender altogether in language; and as Benmussa points out, Der Mensch too is gendered masculine). To misapprehend the specific violence done to the mind, and by extension, to thought, under such a regime is to misapprehend much of what has taken place in French thought over the course of the twentieth century, whether Sarraute’s neutre, Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style, Glissant’s Antillanité, Derrida’s Monolinguisme or Jeanne Hyvrard’s Pensée corps, to name but these. To return for a moment to the brief passage quoted from Sarraute, it is utterly telling that these problems become most evident in translation; it is through recourse to other languages (Russian was Sarraute’s first language) that she is able to articulate her concern. A grammar wishes itself to be hermetic; but is rendered porous (or revealed to be thus) precisely through the work of translation.

KS: In your own text, “(Self-)translation: an expropriation of intimacies,” you write, “Syntactically speaking, the sex of the sentence is not (necessarily) transferrable. A body thus destabilised loses sight of its referent when transversing into another language. English’s pronominal preoccupation, for example, singles out the subject’s gender as part of speech, which in French, again for example, is severally located in the sentence. Where one benefits from the ambiguity the other falls into normality. To dislocate gender’s stranglehold in French, one must strive for discord, grammatical disagreement in the place of English’s mis-fitted neutering.”

Did you find these grammatical differences between French and English coming into play in your translation work on Murder? Did you have to bend the rules or experiment with English grammar to make it speak the sense of Collobert’s prose?

N: In translating the Collobert, I resisted such acrobatics, which I tend to resort to far more sparingly in the translations of other authors’ works than I do of my own. To try to reproduce the movement between genders in Collobert’s text would have been to falsify it in English (largely in light of the fact that they are marked adjectivally with the first person pronoun as referent). Because the larger questions of the work remain otherwise transmittable. This may appear as something of a conservative decision, but to have done otherwise would have been to have submitted Meurtre to contortions it itself doesn’t resort to; it would also have been to treat English grammar as though it were interchangeable with French grammatical concerns. It is also worth underscoring the degree to which this tendency is much more prevalent in Collobert’s later works. If I may speak for a moment of Je Nathanaël, a work I published in both French and English versions, the very impetus of the French work, which was to hermaphrodise French (an impossible project, and one which necessitated enormous constraint, such as limiting myself to invariable adjectives, the imperative and the second person singular in the present tense), all but disappears in English in which gender is differently marked – and often suffers from (and is at times priviledged by) being unmarked (the so-called neutral). Rather than try to force the English into a discourse and grammar that weren’t its own, I allowed the text to become something else – at the risk of introducing a possibly (false) universalising strain in the work. In the case of a work like Collobert’s Il donc, Norma Cole’s decision to translate “il” as “it” is a perfect rejoinder to Collobert’s French impersonal pronoun. In Meurtre, there is only one instance in which, mid-passage, I let the sea’s pronoun slide from the more habitual “it” in English, to “she” as it becomes increasingly anthropomorphized in the text.

KS: Françoise Morvan, in her introduction to Oeuvres I (P.O.L.), speaks of a community of French poets who have, since Collobert’s passing, kept her memory alive: François Bon, Jean Daive, Ludovic Janvier, Bernard Pingaud, Jacques Roubaud, Claude Royet-Journoud, Alain Veinstein. Now, Collobert passed away in 1978, and it wasn’t until twenty-six year later, in 2004, that the first edition of her complete works was published in French. In this light, it seems that though her memory has not been dead, it has existed more in the underground. How do you understand Collobert’s influence, in France and abroad? Are there any key figures who have especially helped to keep this influence alive?

N: I’m not in a good position to answer this question, though I am suspicious of the homogeneity of the list of writers such as it is presented. Norma Cole, for example, might have been included among the keepers of Collobert’s memory – her translations have been tremendously influential on poetics and textualities specific to the United States, much as Paul Celan’s have been – producing departures from their initial languages, and localised styles. Collobert’s work was very marginal when she was alive; though Meurtre was originally published by Gallimard with the support of Raymond Queneau, after having been first rejected by Éditions de Minuit, her subsequent works did not meet with such favour; and in fact, Survie was first published in Italian translation before it was published in French. This is indicative of nothing, except that the vagaries a work can be subjected to are legion. One need only sample other near buried works that have met with subsequent irrefutability (Kafka, Benjamin, Robert Walser, etc.)

KS: It seems though that now this work is getting attention from the younger generation of French writers. For example, I first found out about Collobert from two young poets, who live in Marseille and run a wonderful journal of poetry, politics, and aesthetics, La Vie manifeste. One of these poets has actually dedicated much of her personal studies to Collobert’s work, recently writing both her undergraduate and masters theses on her works.

Given this sort of attention from certain contemporary poets and publishers, do you sense that Collobert’s work is experiencing an increase in readership or influence? If so, what about her work do you see as keeping her a vital figure for poets at work today? What alternatives does her work offer that can’t already be found in someone else’s poems? What can we learn from her that we can’t find elsewhere?

N: I would hope that Collobert’s reach would exceed that of so-called poetries, and circulate unencumbered through and outside of prescribed genres (even those which wish themselves to be encompassing – even these end up inventing asphyxiating constraints). I do think, however, that the demands of the text are not consistent with the consumptive speeds our worlds are submitted to today. This may account for some of the time it has taken for Collobert’s work to reach this far. It is quiet, and committed to a degree of precision that language seems nearly incapable of at this time of bulimic production. It may not even be useful to resort to comparatives in search of its specificity. Because this is something it claims without invention; and in my reading it is in time, in the time of (her) writing, and all that it has subsumed into it.



Danielle Collobert Murder
Litmus Press

‘A haunting and dense text that occupies a liminal space between short story and prose poem, Collobert’s first novel, originally published in 1964, is presented here in a stunning and precise translation by Nathanaël. Though the scenes created by Collobert are seemingly placeless, the characters nameless, the action mundane and without motive, the legacy of World War II and the reality of the Algerian War loom heavily over her prose. In one section, the narrator stalks her doppelganger, an old Holocaust survivor. Elsewhere, the reader is witness to a murder of crabs, men petrified by quarry dust, and a woman who compulsively carves her name into walls with her fingernails. Through her depictions of habitual and indifferent violence, Collobert has crafted a uniquely political work, writing towards the end of the book, “One does not die alone, one is killed, by routine, by impossibility, following their inspiration. If all this time, I have spoken of murder, sometimes half camouflaged, it’s because of that, that way of killing.” While Collobert may baffle or frustrate those who expect a traditional novel, any reader interested in experimental fiction and poetry will find this a challenging but captivating text.’ — Publishers Weekly






p.s. Hey. ** Steve Erickson, Hi. Thanks about the festival. Yes, many positive signs, but we will see. That new Titus Andronicus sounds kind of nuts. Think I’ll test that ‘Like a Rolling Stone’ cover at least. Didn’t David Crosby also say that Hip Hop isn’t music or something? Fuddy-duddy. I think most of the directors I greatly admire have uncompromising opinions about cinema that I don’t necessarily agree with. Ah, a two-fer. Look forward to reading your takes. Everyone, Steve Erickson has reviewed two new films, one seemingly not so positively and one seemingly quite positively. They are the documentary IN THE INTENSE NOW, and the great Abbas Kiarostami’s final film 24 FRAMES. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Oh, see, I’ve always been obsessed with Invisible Cinema. I dreamt of having had the opportunity to go. ** Dóra Grőber, Hi! Thanks, pal. Fingers crossed into an entangled mess that she green lights your translation. I bet she will. Just a gut feeling. Oh, cool, free-styling and the restart of the trans group. Do you look forward to the latter? Have any new thoughts about it come up during the break? Have you been able to write or work on the magazine? The big meeting went okay. Basically it was a big meeting for us to get ready for the really big meeting today where Zac and I won’t be there but Gisele and her lawyer will negotiate with the problematic person and her lawyer. I fear it will be messy. It’s just kind of unbelievable how difficult it has been to get the contracts for this project. And what’s so obnoxious is that we’ve had to work on it very hard for months for no money or absolute guarantee it’ll happen because of the deadline. We’ve done about 3/4 of the work, and we shouldn’t have even had to work on it at all until we knew it was an official, set-up deal. Anyway, that. Otherwise the day was okay. Tomorrow is the cast and crew and invited guests’ screening of PGL, so Zac and I were doing the last invitations and arrangements for that. How was your day? Highlights, lowlights? ** Tosh Berman, Thank you, Tosh. Ha, how nice that he was your first European. Yeah, his films are great, I agree. ** Scunnard, Whoa, hey there, JPK! How great to get to see you, my friend! I’m good, super busy with the new film and projects, and all is very well. So awesome that your book is a done deal. Man, I can’t wait. I would love to fo a ‘welcome to the world’ post about it when the time comes if you’re into that. Thanks for the link to the funding project. I’ll go check that out post-haste. I’ll try to chip in as soon as I get some money. Take care, pal, and ultra-best wishes re: everything! ** Brendan, Hi, B-ster! Awesome that you love Kubelka. And, yeah, knowing your work and all, I can totally see that. Huh. I hope everything is amazing on your end. ** _Black_Acrylic, Thanks, Ben. Yeah, well, let’s just say that if ‘PGL’ had won the audience award, I think my main reaction would have been ‘what did we do wrong?’, ha ha. Good, good, good about the ball rolling well re: the callout. Universal Credit might be kind of a nice title for an experimental film, but … Fingers galore crossed, obviously. ** MANCY, Hey, S! Awesome! I’m so happy to hear that and also very interested to hear that. It’s interesting how an artist’s particular interest in particular other artists’ work is very … I was going to instructive, but it’s a more poetic effect than that. How is everything? ** H, Hi. Thanks you so much! Yeah, it went well, and we’re happy and hopeful and trying not to get too hopeful, and we’ll see. Bon day! ** Okay. Jeff Jackson kind of suggested either directly or indirectly a while back that my reconstituting of this until-recently dead post about Collobert’s wonderful novel ‘Murder’ was a fruitful idea. And so I did. And today is its day. Check it out. Really good stuff. See you tomorrow.


  1. David Ehrenstein

    One might well say that Collobert is part of the French tradition of untraditional writing. Fascinating stuff.

  2. Dóra Grőber


    Indeed fascinating! Thank you for this post/recommendation!

    Thank you!! I’ll let you know as soon as I talk to her!
    I’m actually looking forward to the trans group now, yes. My interest in the topic is in its very active stage again. We’re planning to talk about “self-representation” (both in “real life” and on the internet for example) and it looks like we’re gonna have a family member too, the wife of a trans person, who’s seeking some advice and help. If all goes well, it will be an exciting meeting! And yes, oh yes! I’ve been working on SCAB lately – it’s coming along nicely, my plan is to release the second issue at the very beginning of March! I’m really excited and proud already, I love every single piece so much!
    God, this whole situation sounds awful and just very unfair. I really hope it doesn’t get any messier and you can finally let this go. Fingers extremely crossed, Dennis!!

    My day is a little bit busy but okay. I had yet another round to make sure our internet works, some guys were here from a moving company to take away a bed and they were pretty rude and now I’m waiting for one of my friends who hasn’t yet seen my new place to drop by. Yesterday evening I had this amazing Skype (well. google hangouts) conversation with Christin (Pietzko) and I’m still high on it, haha.
    How was the day on your end? Did Gisele report on how the big, big meeting went? I hope yes and you got good news!

  3. Steve Erickson

    Yes, David Crosby has a big mouth and is not shy about sharing his opinions on Twitter. Unfortunately, he comes off as a closed-minded old hippie who hates all music made by people under 50. Which is probably exactly what he is. I don’t think he’s made any good music since IF I COULD ONLY REMEMBER MY NAME, but I am not going to tweet him and tell him that.

    I am going to start an article about the Film Society of Lincoln Center’s series of new Latin American films, which starts at the end of this month, tonight. I have Vimeo links to a dozen of the films they’re showing (including shorts.) Refreshingly, they’re venturing beyond straightforward narrative films and including a number of films that seem to rest on the boundary of avant-garde and documentary, including one the program notes compared to Peter Hutton.

    I am going to try PopMatters for the Titus Andronicus review, rather than Medium. My CALL ME BY YOUR NAME review was fairly popular there (50 people read it in the last week), but no one read anything else I’ve written, even though I, TONYA and THE SHAPE OF WATER have outgrossed CMBYM. PopMatters doesn’t pay either, but I think I will get a broader readership.

  4. Jeff J

    Hey Dennis – The blog ate my comments – twice! – so I’m gonna make this one quick and hope it gets through.

    So glad to read about PGL’s reception and hope more festivals and distribution fall into place soon. Have there been any reviews yet?

    I’ve been swamped with lots of small work and book things. Sent off the grant to visit Paris we discussed over Skype so keep your fingers crossed for me. I’ll find out in 2 months.

    Thanks for reupping this post! So much great info. Got ‘Murder’ a few weeks ago and eager to read it. Hopefully the rest of her work gets translated soon. I believe only ‘It Then’ is available.

    Are you a fan of the Dardennes Bros? Did you see their latest film?

  5. Bernard

    Listened to this thing on the radio about the deferral of a Chuck Close show here and how museums were responding to sexual-misconduct stories, and a museum director said, That’s the great thing, though–that’s what museums are for, to provoke discussion. That’s what art is for, it’s there for you to talk about.
    What I think is that art is there for you to shut the fuck up about once in a while. When I hear an arts administrator say that art is there to talk about, I translate to: Art is there for me to achieve a higher rank by using mystifying jargon that demonstrates my superiority not only to the audience but to the artist. Art is there to serve as the objective ground to an elaborate system that ensures a good living for me but not for working artists, demonstrating that I am not only smarter and more vital than them, but more politically astute, because while they make a variety of popular causes the subject matter of their work, they do very little to actually counteract the mechanisms of their own economic exploitation.
    (It’s great to talk about art. It’s fun, and can enhance enjoyment. But jeez, if you really think that, say, sex or food are *to talk about*, you have bought into an approach to experience that isn’t a theory so much as a pathology, and art is no different. Plus you are probably making money or social esteem off of maintaining that position.)
    Having fun these days. Sorry I have not followed every day, but big felicitations on the response in Rotterdam to you both, and I see other signs that the world eagerly awaits release of the film. And have you talked about Phantom Thread here? I would like to know because I think it’s fucking genius.

  6. Jamie

    Howdy Dennis, how are you?
    Today’s book has gone on my wish-list, but I’m wondering if it might make a good gift for Hannah. She like slippery, hard to define books, which I think this looks like.
    I’m so happy about PGL’s good reception! That must feel great and maybe vindicating, maybe that’s the wrong word?
    How’s life back in Paris? I thought of you the other day when out my window in the space of half an hour I witnessed snow falling then thunder and lightning. It was just a teensy wee bit of t&l, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen/heard that alongside snow before.
    Guess what? I’m writing a screenplay. I don’t know if you remember the idea I entered for a horror movie competition last year, with the story about the boys strolling into a town carrying a plastic bag containing another boy’s head? Well, I’ve got a little bit of free time in February and I’ve found a studio who are accepting submissions, so I’m going to go for it. I’m excited, but unsure if it’s possible in such a short time.
    Hannah and I went to see Ali Smith talking about Muriel Spark last night. It was pretty great. I was so happy I’d recently read A Far Cry From Kensington as much of her chat concerned that novel.
    What’s your weekend plans? Hannah and I are planning on visiting all the art galleries we can.
    May your weekend be like that blissful bit in Stereo Sanctity, towards the end, where Steve Shelley brings the cymbals in.
    Jiggly love,

    • Jamie

      p.s. did you got to that Doom Room thing? Was it rubbish?

    • _Black_Acrylic

      Ali Smith wrote a great Muriel Spark article in the Guardian this week too.

  7. Sypha

    Hey Dennis, sorry I’ve been aloof… been reading the blog every day (I liked some of the pretty pictures for the recent slaves post), just haven’t been commenting. I’ve actually been busy trying to finish my 3rd short story collection (which I think will be called LAST DARK RIDE) once and for all. I’ve got about ten stories done (though one I have to finish typing from the handwritten draft, which is tedious busywork), with the idea I might add one or two more (including possibly a story that I cut from “Grimoire” way back in 2009, though I’d have to retype that one as well as the original Word document for it got corrupted, I think). I want to finish it by spring and maybe start looking for a publisher for it this summer… you know, the “fun” part (rolls eyes).

    Yesterday I also started work on the Neo-Decadence day I’m doing for this blog (though some of my friends will be contributing to it as well). The anthology won’t be out until April, though, so there’s still plenty of time to finish it before publication day. I think you’ll dig it, a lot of super-talented writers are appearing in this book… I can’t wait till it’s out!

  8. _Black_Acrylic

    This reminds me I still have a copy of Murder on my bookshelf, having sprung for it on the original post’s recommendation. I’ll take this as my cue to finally open it up and feast on the contents.

    Right now I’m reading Gordon Burn – Pocket Money, all about the 80s UK celebrity snooker scene. I’m a fan of Burn’s writing but the book only really comes to life when Alex Higgins shows up. Damn, now there was a real life actual genius whose presence burns through the pages.

    Had another driving lesson today that went well, and saw the annual Generator Members show. My fave things there were Donna Alexander – Untitled vanitas painting and Carol Armstrong – Fuckoff I’m having a bath soft sculpture.

  9. Steve Erickson

    I have great news! The AV Club’s music editor liked the clips I sent her – the black psychedelia primer was one she specifically mentioned – and wants me to write for the site. I have the feeling it may hard to find music to review for them, because the 2 initial pitches I sent have already been taken, but I made 2 more that I think are more obscure. They’re having a meeting Monday about March reviews, so I hope I reached her about possible assignments for that month in time. I would really love to write about some of the reissues Cherry Red’s various labels are doing, like the Spirit box set, since the US press so rarely writes about them or reissues in general, unless they’re as obvious as AUTOMATIC FOR THE PEOPLE last year. I have no idea if she’d be up for that, but we shall see.

  10. Joshua Freeman

    Hey Dennis. Been a fan of your work for a long time. Actually posted here once years back and got a positive response from you re: my blog and it really hastened my resolve to become a writer professionally.

    I come here today with a really weird, fucked-up set of people and circumstances on my mind.

    I regularly dig deep into conspiracy shit because, to me, it’s largely (as Alice Walker once remarked on David Icke) a ‘feast for the imagination’.

    I came across a series of first-hand witness reports in regards to satanism and pedophilia the other day. Without going into detail —skeptic that I am —I’ve almost sort of become convinced that there’s a network of very high-level pedo-sadists that are in charge of this country (USA). I encourage you to read this ‘Two is Too Young to Die’ manifesto (although you may already be familiar with it):

    Forget the Donald Trump label….this isn’t political conspiracy fodder. There are a select few ‘investigative journalists’ and victims that have been mounting a futile effort to try and bring attention to the workings of several national pedo-abduction rings for the better side of a decade now. Reading the above manifesto, and being shocked by it, I did some googling and am seeing it being dismissed many places as ‘internet kids trying to be edgy’…..I do not believe these are the writings of an ‘edgy fiction author’ (you probably being the Gold Standard for this label — though you’re so much more than that). To me, they are reminiscent of the letters written by Albert Fish to his victims; the ‘duper’s delight’, the thoughts of a, intelligent, cunning, high-functioning psychopath.

    When I was reading about all this, it made me think of you, because your work deals with such similar themes, yet obviously through the guise of fiction. I think here I’ve encountered the real thing.

    I guess my question to you is: am I on the right track with my thinking here? If so, how much do you know, and how much are you willing to divulge to a stranger like me? The Harvey Weinstein fiasco has taught me that ‘where there’s smoke there’s fire’.

    I feel like I’ve just uncovered something enormous that totally shifts my view-points of how the world actually works. If you have deeper knowledge you’d be willing to share with me, I am working on an artistic project that deals with all this, and the more info I have to make it authentic as possible, the better. Really just looking for your expertise in regards to what’s real here and what’s not.

    Love your work, respect the fuck out of you as an artist….as someone on the same path I feel like you set out on so many years ago, would love your thoughts on this.

    I completely understand if you’d like to dismiss me as batshit crazy. I feel batshit crazy rn after reading some of this stuff. Regardless, I feel comfortable soliciting you for this info.

    All the best,


    PS. 1000 Gusts is a fucking masterpiece. Historians of the future will point to you as one of the pioneers of a new form of visual story-telling.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

© 2023 DC's

Theme by Anders NorénUp ↑