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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Varioso #25: Satan’s God, Marías, Bachelot/Caron, Q-Literary Museum, Mauss, Hengel , Strauss, Bonello, Superplexus, Tomita, Brainard, I cannot go to sleep, Brothers, Russell, Talkowski, Sala, Mik, Rising Sun Anger Release Bar, cotton candy, Allen/Rohmer, Nishino, Padgett, Joyland *

* (restored)

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Satan’s God

 

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‘This is a 57-page long novella about Elvis Presley shooting the film Fun in Acapulco in Mexico. A translator is hired to ensure that Elvis pronounces his few handful of Spanish lines in a proper Castillian accent. But when a drunk American and Elvis insult the local “white mafia” leader, and a translation is necessary, the protagonist soon finds himself on the hunted. The story is kind of Marías-lite, but the opening sentence is a typical sinewy sentence from one of Spain’s greatest living writers.’ — Peter McLachlin, TERITW

No one knows what it is to be hunted down without having lived it, and unless the chase was active and constant, carried out with deliberation, determination, dedication and never a break, with perseverance and fanaticism, as if the pursuers had nothing else to do in life but look for you, keep after you, follow your trail, locate you, catch up with you and then, at best, wait for the moment to settle the score. It isn’t that someone has it in for you and stands at the ready to pounce should you cross his path or give him the chance; it isn’t that someone has sworn revenge and waits, waits, does no more than wait and therefore remains passive, or schemes in preparation for his blows, which as long as they’re machinations cannot be blows, we think the blows will fall but they may not, the enemy may drop dead of a heart attack before he sets to work in earnest, before he truly applies himself to harming us, destroying us. Or he may forget, calm down, something may distract him and he may forget, and if we don’t happen to cross his path again we may be able to get away; vengeance is extremely wearying and hatred tends to evaporate, it’s a fragile, ephemeral feeling, impermanent, fleeting, so difficult to maintain that it quickly gives way to rancor or resentment which are more bearable, easier to retrieve, much less virulent and somehow less pressing, while hatred is always in a tearing hurry, always urgent: I want him now, I want him dead, bring me the son of a bitch’s head, I want to see him flayed and his body smeared with tar and feathers, a carcass, skinned and butchered, and then he will be no one and this hatred that is exhausting me will end. (cont.)

 

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Bachelot/Caron

 

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Myrian Solar’s Q-Literary Museum is a multidisciplinary webmuseum of immaterial Literature that brings together the geometric, chemical and quantum physical aspects of parallel worlds. With a literary and curatorial audio-visual programming of its contents it invites the visitor to make a trip by the space-time through texts of representation that turn their collections into unique in the present literary panorama. The museum is organized like a fractal with different nodes for the diffusion of a new literary thematic one and for the informal learning that is complemented with a bilingual educative program and an interactive platform of thematic research open to the contribution of the users, at the same time as it provides resources for the researchers in experimental Literature.’ — archimuse.com

 

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‘For his ongoing series begun in 2003 and titled “ONS” (short for one-night stand), artist Jan-Holger Mauss collects black-and-white images from post-1945 gay porn magazines. Using a special eraser, he then delicately effaces the nude model on each page while leaving the background. The result is a scene emptied of figures, with traces of an intervention detected in vaguely metamorphosing organic forms emerging from rockscapes and waterfalls, or as halations appearing among props or furniture.’ — Art in America

 

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‘Sam Hengel drew crude sketches depicting scenes of violence and warfare, but police say none of them help explain why the 15-year-old held his high school classmates hostage at gunpoint for six hours on Nov. 29 before fatally shooting himself when a SWAT team swarmed the classroom. The police report included an undated drawing with Hengel’s name on it. The sketch showed a helicopter dropping a bomb on a square labeled ‘city’ while a stick figure on the ground fires a grenade at the bomb. Bullets from the helicopter split another figure in half, and a paratrooper fires into trees. Elsewhere one stick figure pushes another off a steep hill. Skorik told AP he didn’t think there was any link between the drawing and the hostage incident.’ — Kansas City Star

 

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‘Journalist Neil Strauss, who has coauthored books with the band members of Mötley Crüe (The Dirt) and porn superstar Jenna Jameson (How to Make Love Like a Porn Star) now offers a terrific look at the dysfunctional livelihoods of stardom, a theme based on his many interviews for various publications. Strauss went back to his original interview tapes and notes in search of moments—mostly unpublished—that reveal “the truth or essence of each person, story, or experience.”‘ — PW

1. Courtney Love

The Scene: Courtney Love’s house in Los Angeles. The time is very late. The moment is when she leaps off her bed and suddenly says…

Courtney Love: Say hi to Kurt …

[She walks to a dresser, pulls open a drawer, and removes a square-shaped tin. She removes the lid, revealing a plastic bag full of white ashes. A faint smell of jasmine emanates from the tin.]

Too bad you don’t do coke. Otherwise I’d suggest taking a metal straw to it.

2. Snoop Dogg

The Scene: Snoop Dogg’s home outside Los Angeles, shortly after the murders of Tupac and Biggie Smalls—and just after Snoop left Death Row Records.

Snoop Dogg: I want you to hear a few songs first.

[Presses PLAY on a DAT machine, and leaves the room while 13 songs he’s just finished recording blare from the studio speakers. As soon as the last song ends, he bursts back through the door.]

Well, did you tape some of it?

Of course not.

You should have.

What?!

Didn’t we talk yesterday about taping pieces of the album and leaking them on the Internet?

Yeah, but most rappers try to avoid leaking their music, because then no one will buy it when it comes out.

Fuck it, just bootleg that motherfucker. Come on, man. I’ll give you the ones you want.

[He plays three songs, and watches diligently to make sure I record them.]

Cool. Can we use your wheels? I gotta go get Pampers.

3. Chuck Berry

The Scene: Sitting in the St. Louis restaurant and club Blueberry Hill, Berry, known for avoiding reporters, has his longest interview in decades. At the end, he suggests staying in touch via telephone and fax, then suddenly grows concerned.

Berry: Yeah, let me ask one question. Don’t laugh at this because it’s not laughable, and I’m not . . . Yes, I am serious. You’re not funny, are you?

No, I’m not.

Well, that’s what I want to hear. I mean, I’ve talked to funny guys. Like do you know Little Richard?

Not personally.

Anyway, he’s for real. I know because I’ve been asked for . . . He came on to me once, you know. And it just doesn’t make sense. I couldn’t believe it! And he believes it. By that, I mean he doesn’t deny it. Anyway, when I ask you that, it’s only because you said, “We’ll talk,” you know …

Everyone Loves You When You’re Dead

 

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‘Filmmaker Bertrand Bonello crafted something extraordinary with his short Cindy: The Doll Is Mine, an ode to three of my favorite things: Asia Argento, Blonde Redhead and, especially, Cindy Sherman. As Sherman, Argento plays the dual role of the artist and the model. As the artist, her hair’s cropped short, and she wears a loose, button-down shirt; as the model, she dons a blonde wig and a dress better suited for a poupée. As Cindy the artist arranges Cindy the model around the room, nowhere seems appropriate for what she’s looking for. At one point Cindy the artist asks Cindy the model to stand more feminine, more curvy and seductive. However, it turns out that what’s missing are tears, which Cindy the artist asks, very reluctantly, of her model. Aside from the specifics of the artist though, Cindy: The Doll Is Mine is like an abridged version of Catherine Breillat’s Sex Is Comedy, both fascinating looks into the strife in the process of creating art.’ — Fin de Cinema

 

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‘A lifelong fisherman who studied ichthyology as an undergrad, the Japanese artist Iori Tomita uses marine life he receives from fellow fishermen to create what he calls New World Transparent Specimens—sea creatures that have been transformed into DayGlo shells of their former selves. He first saw a sample of a fish that had been turned transparent at a university lecture six years ago, and since then he has used the same preservation technique to make thousands of hypercolored cadavers, which he sells at the Tokyu Hands department store.

‘To produce the specimens, Tomita first removes the scales and skin of fish that have been preserved in formaldehyde. Next he soaks the creatures in a stain that dyes the cartilage blue. Tomita uses a digestive enzyme called trypsin, along with a host of other chemicals, to break down the proteins and muscles, halting the process just at the moment they become transparent but before they lose their form. The bones are then stained with red dye, and the brilliant beast is preserved in a jar of glycerin. The extensive production takes five months to a year.’ — Wired

 

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Art

Looking through a book of drawings by Holbein I realize several moments of truth. A nose (a line) so nose-like. So line-like. And then I think to myself ‘so what?’ It’s not going to solve any of my problems. And then I realize that at the very moment of appreciation I had no problems. Then I decide this is a pretty profound thought. And that I ought to write it down. This is what I have just done. But it doesn’t sound so profound anymore. That’s art for you.

 

A Sign of the Times

‘A sign of the times’ are posters plastered up all over West Broadway announcing a new magazine called ‘No Magazine’. (Can hardly wait for the first issue!) Seriously though — and aside from finding it all a bit silly — it’s kind of sweet too — don’t you think? — that we can care so much, as to try so hard, irregardless of…but then why bother?

 

Poem

Sometimes

everything

seems

so

oh, I don’t know.

 

Imaginary Still Life No. 5

I close my eyes. I see a charming nosegay of violets in an ordinary drinking glass. That’s all.

 

1970

1970

is a good year

if for no other reason

than just because

I’m tired of complaining.

 

Joe Brainard

 

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I can’t go to sleep

 

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‘Laura Brothers (b. 1982) resides in the forested portion of New York State. Her work is born-on and bound-to the computer. Its primary venue is the internet, a space where one may wade through a sea of cultural referents to ultimately reach a false sense of nostalgia. Although her work has been referred to as “digital hallucinations,” she parallels her imagery to re-polished pop songs under the guise of ephemeral landscapes.’ — transmodernfestival.org

Laura Brothers

 

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‘Ken Russell’s In Search of the English Folksong, was actually made in 1997, making Ken bizarrely ahead of the pack — just him and the dude in Current 93 at that point, eh? No ancient footage from mid-Sixties folk cellars like Les Cousins and Bunjie’s, or Communist Party singalongs from the Fifties… instead it’s the performers as they are now (well, ’97, but you catch my drift) … June Tabor doing a wonderfully haunting unaccompanied story-song “The King of Rome” in the grounds of a stately home, the Albion Band marred a bit by some nasty modern keyboards, Carthy/Waterson harmonising in a graveyard, Donovan singing “Nirvana”, Fairport Convention doing a sort of video I guess and cavorting around a thatched cottage, the Cropedy Festival (including Osibisa!)…. and then lots of stuff that doesn’t fit at all (this being a wonderfully eccentric take on what constitutes folk song, goofily presented by the ruddy-faced Russell).’ — Simon Reynolds

 

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Steve Talkowski

 

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A History of White People

white people were paid well

not to witness

the fact that they were white

you know the theory

white isn’t a color

but color’s unlimited absence

white goes with anything

that’s why it seemed fair that white people

conquered the world

they were the real invisible men

cause they could perch on top of a country

and say they weren’t there

they could move through its neighborhoods

like mysterious aliens

with this difference:

in ufological lore

aliens often infiltrate a world

without its inhabitants knowing about it

but when white people invaded

everyone could see them

but themselves

 

The Martyrs

last night we rented a documentary

on the life of Jean Seberg

that pointed out the parallels

in her artistic career

with Vanessa Redgrave and Jane Fonda

later

a PBS special

on the life of Liz Taylor

followed by an episode of Biography

on the career of Jack Lemmon

unseen narrators

told the tales of these lives

in the form of voice-overs

behind stills and film clips

we were led to believe these stars

were representative

that they ventriloquized

our own concerns

that they were stand-ins

for democracy

each

we were told

suffered greatly

 

Jerome Sala

 

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Aernout Mik

 

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‘If using restaurant staff as punching bags sounds like a good anger management tactic to you, check out the Rising Sun Anger Release Bar and Restaurant in Nanjing City, China where customers pay a fee to beat up staff, scream and break glasses. The staff, which dons protective gear, will dress up to resemble the person you’d really like to physically assault. The bar is said to be especially popular with Chinese women who work in the service industry.’ — Sydney Morning Herald

 

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‘Cotton candy was first recorded around the 1900’s. At that time, spun sugar was an expensive, labor-intensive endeavor and was not generally available to the average person. Machine-spun cotton candy was invented in 1897 by William Morrison and John C. Wharton and first introduced to a wide audience at the 1904 World’s Fair as “Fairy Floss” with great success, selling 68,655 boxes at the then-high 25¢, half the cost of admission to the fair. Fairy floss was renamed to “cotton candy” in the 1920s. Typical machines used to make cotton candy include a spinning head enclosing a small “sugar reserve” bowl into which a charge of granulated, colored sugar (or separate sugar and food coloring) is poured. Heaters near the rim of the head melt the sugar, which is squeezed out through tiny holes by centrifugal force. Precolored sugar packaged specially for the process is milled with melting characteristics and a crystal size optimized for the head and heated holes. The molten sugar solidifies in the air and is caught in a larger bowl which totally surrounds the spinning head. Left to operate for a period, the cottonlike product builds up on the inside walls of the larger bowl, at which point the machine operator twirls a stick, cone, or their hands around the rim of the large catching bowl, gathering the sugar strands into portions which are served on stick or cone, or in plastic bags.’ — rainbowcottoncandy.com

 

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‘comme on le sait pas de cheval, pas de chevalier. mais ce qui passe quand le chevalier n’a pas de château? il simplement chevauche.’

UN RÉDUCTION DE PERCEVAL LE GALLOIS

 

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Sohei Nishino’s extraordinary photographic dioramas, monumental in size, map out the artist’s personal impressions of the world’s major cities in several thousand intimate details. Nishino’s collages are not precise geographic recreations, but an imperfect mix of landmarks and iconic features conceived from his personal ‘re-experiencing’ of a city.

‘When photographing a city, Nishino walks the entire city on foot for a month, wandering the streets and recording from every possible angle. In total he uses over 300 rolls of black and white film and took over 10,000 pictures. In the following three months Nishino selects some 4,000 of these photographs, hand printed in his own dark room, which he then meticulously pieces together with scissors and glue in his Tokyo studio. The result was an aerial view of the city, which was then reshot as a completed collage to produce a final image in photographic form.

‘This lengthy and painstaking process, all done by hand, only allows for the creation of three maps per year. Nishino’s re-imagination of a city presents a convincing record despite its geographical inaccuracies, a map embodying the intricacies of a city through the eyes and recollection of an outsider.’ — Art Daily


San Francisco


Amsterdam


Berlin


London


Paris

 

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Bargain Hunt

Suppose you found a bargain so incredible
you stood there stunned for a moment
unable to believe that this thing could be
for sale at such a low price: that is what happens
when you are born, and as the years go by
the price goes up and up until, near the end
of your life, it is so high that you lie there
stunned forever.

 

Bluebird

You can’t expect
the milk to be delivered
to your house
by a bluebird
from the picture book
you looked at
at the age of four:
he’s much older
now, can’t carry those
bottles ‘neath his wing,
can hardly even carry a tune
with his faded beak
that opens some nights
to leak out a cry
to the horrible god
that created him.

Don’t think I’m
the bluebird, or that
you are. Let him get
old on his own and
die like a real bluebird
that sat on a branch
in a book, turned his head
toward you, and radiated.

 

Ron Padgett

 

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*

p.s. Hey. ** David Ehrenstein, Yes, indeed. I believe your book is how I originally discovered his films if I’m not mistaken. ** Keaton, Whoa, Mr. K! Wait, you’re coming to Paris? Should we not shatter the glass wall and have a coffee at the very least? How about it? Give me a poke or shout or something if you’d like to. No protests of late, but we’re always on the cusp. Some art around, yeah, it’s true. Hit me up. Ha ha, thank you for the gift. That’s so obviously ripped off from PGL. I think we have a case. I’ll get out lawyers on it stat. ** Corey Heiferman, Seems possible they’d have Owen Land over there on VHS, if his stuff was ever on VHS. Okay, sorry, I clearly was cloudy and jumping to the wrong conclusions, but I think I understand now. Ah, well, my half-kidding about interns was tonally off. Nice. That there are recruitables. Uh, I’m not classically a note taker. I keep a calendar/agenda to remind me what I’m locked into doing and when and remember what I did and when. And I carry a little notebook and pen everywhere in case I get a good idea or see or hear something I want to coopt. But not, like, notes on what I’ve read or seen anything. My memory’s pretty good and detailed for some weird reason. So far. ** Steve Erickson, You’re probably right. I keep waiting for the France outbreak since it’s tearing around in northern Italy, but so far we just have scattered sickos. ** _Black_Acrylic, Yeah, he seems like he was very enigmatic. Which, as you said, is a good thing. At least from this afar. Your friend’s MRI things are very cool. If I wore extras, I’d order something. ** Jeff J, Hi, Jeff. I saw I guess on FB that you’re showing a Land film the other day, but the timing was coincidental since that post has been locked in place for weeks. What an amazing line-up there, needless to say. Land/Brakhage/Sharits = wow. If I were at all nearby, I would be there lickety-split. How amazing if the crowd gets into your program. That would be so heartening and inspiring to hear. Let me know. Me? Sending off the materials and instructions for my new GIF novel to Kiddiepunk today, so I’ve been finishing that. New film grant applying and fundraising and trying to figure out wealthy people to hit up for donations. The TV series is on serious life support. Extremely long story very short, the powers that be really like Episodes 1 and 3, which are the ones we went furthest re: normalising, and they hate Episode 2, which is our favorite and the one we’ve doggedly tried to protect. So a big meeting soon to find out if we’re willing to normalise it, and to what extent we would need to normalise it, or not. If we don’t, the series is dead. It’s very fucked. So we’re in this dilemma re: do we surrender? And they have over a barrel since we’ve been working on this for five years and really don’t want to have wasted all that work and time — the next option would be turning it into a feature film which would mean hugely more work, again totally on spec, which Zac and I really, really don’t want to do — while really not wanting to give up. It’s just misery central 24/7/365 with that fucking project. Otherwise, all is okay. Dying to get my new novel a US home and hoping that’ll be decided and over ASAP. How are you? New novel work? Or other things? ** Okay. Today I resurrect another one of the old Varioso posts consisting of things that interested me but not enough to devote an entire post to them, and there’s a lot of cool stuff up there if you’re willing to scroll around and dig in. I hope you will. See you tomorrow.

7 Comments

  1. Thanks for the Ken Russell.

    My inability to get Joe Brainard to notice me when I was cruising him at West Village bars in the early 70’s is one of the great minor tragedies of my life.

  2. Really like some of those “digital hallucinations” of Laura Brothers, pretty trippy…

    Sorry I’ve been a stranger, have just been very preoccupied recently (have also been spending a lot of time reading up on the coronavirus, which as you can imagine is making me very paranoid, being someone who tends to get over-anxious re: health). Kind of been inundated with reading recently, as both the recent Snuggly Books bundle and the new Amphetamine Sulphate bundle arrived where I live within days of each other (right now I’m reading Christopher Zeischegg’s THE MAGICIAN and Audrey Szasz’ INVISIBILITY, both of whim I’m digging). I also started up my 4th short story collection, which will be in the Pleasant vein as pioneered by Brendan Connell and Justin Isis: this month along I’ve finished two stories from it, which is the first new things I’ve written since June of last year. I expect it won’t be a super-long book, and the main reason I’m writing it is to prepare myself for when I start my Egypt novel later this year… oh, been listening to a lot of King Crimson albums recently as well.

  3. That Ken Russell folk doc looks essential, and I’ll be taking an hour out of my Thursday to watch that tomorrow. Pretty sure there must be a few undiscovered gems to be found there.

    • Just got exciting news, my short story Jake’s Détournement will be in X–R-A-Y soon so watch this space! They say publication date can be anywhere from 4-8 weeks from now but still, I’m fairly psyched about it.

  4. This is an obvious conclusion, but Bachelet and Caron should direct a horror movie.

    Today, I went to a sandwich shop where the guy at the counter wouldn’t touch any customers’ hands. It feels like we are creeping closer to the 40-minute mark of an apocalyptic epic about coronavirus.

    Satan’s God reminded me of the many “bad music” videos on the Instagram page catatonicyouths. The last one they updated was Christian crunkcore. Do you follow it?

    I saw my doctor today about problems I’ve had recently with dizziness and lightheadedness. He thinks they’re a product of Klonopin withdrawal. I’ve been trying to quit it for almost two years, but the difficulty and the enormous amount of time it takes to do so with benzos is really insidious. I feel a certain amount of bitterness that I wasn’t informed about this when I was first prescribed them, although I know they’re addictive.

  5. Geez, I haven’t had cotton candy in years. I’m feeling a bit under the weather and shouldn’t be indulging, but maybe I’ll be ready by the weekend. Those are cute photos of Joe Brainard and Ron Padgett, haha. And I’m sure you’re not surprised that I’m a big fan of those transparent stained creatures, and own a tiny specimen (not by Mr. Tomita though).

    Sorry to hear about the continuing TV saga. I’m grumbling about a few event logistics type annoyances, but it’s all clear sailing compared to your obstacles.

    I’m not often in the mood to read poetry these days, but I must say I’m enjoying quite a few of Steve Abbott’s poems.

    Bill

  6. Hey, man;

    How’re you doing?

    R.I.P. David Roback. So, so sad. I can’t believe it.

    Hany any specific plans for today?

    Good day, good luck,

    Hugs,

    a.

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