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The blog of author Dennis Cooper

Varioso #27: Askevold, Obarzanek, Gorin, Bruni, MM, СТЕКЛОVАТА, Black Bile, Punt Pl, Binder, Eiffelturm, Sokolsky, Samu l’Italiano, banks, Feola, Armstrong, Boyd, Henson, Berrigan, Michaux, Claire Fontaine, Kosztolányi, fisticuffs, Mad River *

* (restored)

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David Askevold

‘Holding a rubber band between my thumbs and forefingers, I strum it as fast as I can close to the microphone. The camera is static and runs until the S8 cartridge runs out. The sound is recorded on tape separate from the film, so the audio which sounds like a drum, slowly moves out of synch with the image.’ — David Askevold

 

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Simon Obarzanek

 

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Jean-Pierre Gorin

‘Poto and Cabengo are identical twins (real names Grace and Virginia Kennedy, respectively), who used a language unknown to other people until the age of about eight. They were apparently of normal intelligence. They developed their own communication because they had little exposure to spoken language in their early years. Poto and Cabengo were the names they called each other.

‘Their father later stated in interviews that he realized the girls had invented a language of their own, but since their use of English remained extremely rudimentary, he had decided that they were in fact mentally retarded and that it would do no good to send them to school. When he lost his job, he told a caseworker at the unemployment office about his family, and the caseworker advised him to put the girls in speech therapy. At the Children’s Hospital of San Diego, speech therapists Ann Koeneke and Alexa Kratze quickly discovered that Virginia and Grace, far from being retarded, had at least normal intelligence, and had invented a complex idioglossia.

‘The language of the twins was spoken extremely quickly and had a staccato rhythm. These characteristics transferred themselves to the girls’ English, which they began to speak following speech therapy. Linguistic analysis of their language revealed that it was a mixture of English and German (their mother and grandmother were German-born), with some neologisms and several idiosyncratic grammatical features.

‘Once it was established that the girls could be educated, their father apparently forbade them to speak their personal language. Asked if they remembered their language, the girls confirmed that they did, but their father quickly stepped in to chide them for “lying”. They were mainstreamed and placed in separate classes in elementary school. However, they were still affected by their family’s emotional neglect. A follow-up in 2007 revealed that Virginia works on an assembly line in a supervised job training center, while Grace mops floors at a fast-food restaurant.’ — Time Magazine

 

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Carla Bruni

 

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Modern Mechanix

 

 

 

 

 

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СТЕКЛОVАТА

‘There are two main soloists -Denis Belikin and Arthur Yeremeyev. The lyrics of the group are written by the composer of the music who is also a producer of Steklovata — Sergey Kuznechov. Thanks to his studio we all have the chance to experience the truly touching and moving Russian music. You may think – sounds nice – but what did you say – a Russian band – and I do not know Russian. Well I am not very well at it either (which is shame since I have studied it for 3 years) – and still enjoy the music of Steklovata.’ — The Sky Kid

 

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Black Bile

 

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Alexander Binder

‘I have very strong memories from my childhood. As a kid I have spent a lot of time in the dark hill moors of the Black Forest and many of my photos reflect the eerie and diffuse atmosphere of these enchanted places. But imagination plays also a big role: I am completely obsessed with any kind of fairy-tales, spiritual and occult stuff. And my photos bring these ideas and imaginations to life.

‘Since I can remember, I have been obsessed with occult theories and all sorts of paganism. So I guess it’s only a logical consequence that the symbols of these religious traditions got part of my ‘visual vocabulary’. The symbols help me to convey my perception of reality and they also help me to enhance the atmosphere of a photo. I love the idea of combining universal and secret symbols. It’s like talking two different languages at the same time.

‘My whole process is very amateurish and it has absolutely nothing to do with a professionally planned photo shooting. Most of the time I take some of my friends or even my 66-year-old dad (he is one of my best models!) with me on a spontaneous photo trip and we carry only those things with us, which are absolutely necessary. For example: my camera, a collection of self-made lenses, a few masks or costumes. These trips normally last from a few hours to a few days and I have only a very vague concept for the whole process at the beginning – so I never know how things end.’ — Alexander Binder

 

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Tutorial Eiffelturm

 

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Melvin Sokolsky

‘This iconic “Bubble” series was created by fashion photographer Melvin Sokolsky for the Harper’s Bazaar 1963 Spring Collection. The series, inspired by The Garden of Earthly Delights and Surrealism, depicts model Simone D’Aillencourt in large bubbles floating through the Paris cityscape. These innovative images were created before Photoshop! The plexiglass bubbles were hung from a crane in various locations throughout Paris. Sokolsky’s Bubble photographs were the sensation of the Paris spring haute couture collections in 1963.’ — The Aubergine Notebook

 

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Samu l’Italiano

 

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Japanese toy banks

 

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100 Flowers: The genesis of underground Chinese music, 1986-1999
by Josh Feola

This is the beginning. The man in the video above is Cui Jian (pr. tsway jyen), ‘Old Cui,’ the axeman said to have single-handedly created Chinese rock ‘n’ roll. As China’s political climate thawed in the economic opening of the post-Mao 1980s, its government slowly warmed to the possibility of adapting homegrown pop music to the task of normalizing Chinese culture internationally. Old Cui, with a background in State orchestral ensembles and the fledgling mainland Chinese pop tradition, was one of over 100 stars called on in May 1986 to participate in a “We Are the World”-style charity jam to be broadcast from Beijing’s Worker’s Stadium. Cui had a few token lines in the main track, but begged the producers for the opportunity to perform a solo song. The result was “一无所有” (a Chinese idiom meaning ‘owning nothing at all,’ translated in the Cui Jian context as “Nothing To My Name”). Cui’s performance that night reached countless impressionable Chinese kids and punched their brains the way Elvis did when he swung his pelvis toward America’s collective boob-tube-facing youth 30 years prior. It was China’s Beatles-on-Ed-Sullivan moment, and it instantaneously catapulted the nation’s musical history into the 20th century.

Or so the legend goes. Moving beyond the hyperbole that attends such foundation myths, it’s true that before Cui Jian there was practically nothing coming out of mainland China besides (Communist) Party anthe
ms and syrupy, censored pop mimicking contemporaneous radio jams from the more outward-facing satellites of Taiwan and Hong Kong. In the late 1980s and early 90s, there was a dire scarcity of ‘alternative’ music of any kind and virtually no record store infrastructure to peddle foreign music. So for a while there, Old Cui was the underground.

(continued)

 

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David Armstrong

Boyd Holbrook

 

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Bill Henson

 

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Red Shift

Here I am at 8:08 p.m. indefinable ample rhythmic frame
The air is biting, February, fierce arabesques
—-on the way to tree in winter streetscape
I drink some American poison liquid air which bubbles
—-and smoke to have character and to lean
In. The streets look for Allen, Frank, or me, Allen
—-is a movie, Frank disappearing in the air, it’s
Heavy with that lightness, heavy on me, I heave
—-through it, them, as
The Calvados is being sipped on Long Island now
—-twenty years almost ago, and the man smoking
Is looking at the smilingly attentive woman, & telling.
Who would have thought that I’d be here, nothing
—-wrapped up, nothing buried, everything
Love, children, hundreds of them, money, marriage—
—-ethics
, a politics of grace,
Up in the air, swirling, burning even or still, now
—-more than ever before?
Not that practically a boy, serious in corduroy car coat
—-eyes penetrating the winter twilight at 6th
& Bowery in 1961. Not that pretty girl, nineteen, who was
—-going to have to go, careening into middle-age so,
To burn, & to burn more fiercely than even she could imagine
—-so to go. Not that painter who from very first meeting
I would never & never will leave alone until we both vanish
—-into the thin air we signed up for & so demanded
To breathe & who will never leave me, not for sex, nor politics
—-nor even for stupid permanent estrangement which is
Only our human lot & means nothing. No, not him.
There’s a song, “California Dreaming”, but no, I won’t do that
I am 43. When will I die? I will never die, I will live
To be 110, & I will never go away, & you will never escape from me
—-who am always & only a ghost, despite this frame, Spirit
Who lives only to nag.
I’m only pronouns, & I am all of them, & I didn’t ask for this
—-You did
I came into your life to change it & it did so & now nothing
—-will ever change
That, and that’s that.
Alone & crowded, unhappy fate, nevertheless
—-I slip softly into the air
The world’s furious song flows through my costume.

— Ted Berrigan

 

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Miserable Miracle

 

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‘Every student, teacher and parent in France knows Claire Fontaine. Not the Paris-based collective founded in 2004, but the French brand of school supplies it is named after, whose logo is everywhere stamped on the tools of their trade. Instantly connoted locally and translatable as Clear Fountain (a play on R. Mutt’s 1917 Fountain?), Claire Fontaine is not a fictional female character, even though the collective occupies the third person singular feminine as its subject position. She describes herself in her biography as a ready-made artist stripped of use-value who intervenes in a world characterized, in part, by a ‘crisis of singularities’, or fixed identities.’ — Vivian Rehberg, Frieze


‘France (Burnt/Unburnt)’


‘P.I.G.S.’

 

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‘I have always really been interested in just one thing: death. Nothing else. I became a human being when, at the age of ten, I saw my grandfather dead, whom at that time I probably loved more than anyone else.

‘It is only since then that I have been a poet, an artist, a thinker. The vast difference which divides the living from the dead, the silence of death, made me realise that I had to do something. I began to write poetry. […] For me, the only thing I have to say, however small an object I am able to grasp, is that I am dying. I have nothing but disdain for those writers who also have something else to say: about social problems, the relationship between men and women, the struggle between races, etc., etc. It sickens my stomach to think of their narrow-mindedness. What superficial work they do, poor things, and how proud they are of it.’ — Dezső Kosztolányi

 

 

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Mad River


—-

 

 

*

p.s. Hey. ** _Black_Acrylic, Hi, Ben. Oh, well, of course re: The Call. Thanks for your lists, and for including PGL. I still haven’t read the Keenan or heard the new Consumer Electronics. I need to get on that. Man, I’m really hoping against hope for an actually positive outcome for you guys over there. And for us (France) too. ** David Ehrenstein, Hi. Thank you kindly about ‘PGL’. Wow, I don’t think you and I could have possibly seen the same Malick film. Mm, I can’t remember if that piece is in the Duras book. As I think I mentioned to you before, the Foucault book is centrally about him taking acid in Death Valley. ** Kat, Hey, Kat! Yeah, I’ve always liked Tyler’s stuff, yeah. Right: the new Moor Mother. She played in Paris about a week before I discovered her a couple of years ago, and not since, so far. I’ll check out that music you like. I don’t know it. Super thrilled you’re back too! And oh boy, the mindless outrage virtually every-online-where, it’s soul destroying. Miraculously, this blog space has remained almost completely free of that shit very happily. Bon day! ** Tosh Berman, Well, naturally, Mr. Berman. I ain’t no fool. So happy to read your great words about Ed’s book. Yeah, it’s phenomenal, and David did a spectacular job editing it. Thanks, Tosh! Have a great next 24 hours and beyond. ** liquoredgoat, Happy you liked the Escoria too. Yeah, I like the Billie Eilish. I’m interested in her whole thing. Although her doing a duet with Alicia Keys the other night was a bad sign to me, so my interest might be short lived. ** Sypha, My pleasure. Yeah, I caught the Eilish bug. Who’d have thunk. Look forward to your year end list whenever your year ends. ** Bill, It was a strong year. Your year end lists are always a treasure map. Whole bunch of stuff I don’t know yet, all duly noted and ready to be fed into Google’s window. Thanks a billion, pal. ** Adam Lehrer, Hi, Adam! Welcome, and thank you a lot for your lists. ‘Vernon Subutex’ is waiting for me by my right elbow. I would have included the Klein in my list if it hadn’t escaped my memory when I was listing things. Take care. ** Barkley, Hi, Barkley! Thanks very much for the tip re: the 1000 gecs member’s project. I didn’t know of it. I’ll get there pronto. Thanks a lot for spending time reading my stuff, and for liking Zac’s and my films. That’s very cool. I don’t know ‘3615 code Père’, and I’m on the serious hunt for ‘weird’ Xmas films right now, so I’ll see if I can find it somewhere. Yeah, thanks a whole bunch again. Hope all is great with you. ** Marcie Frank, Hi, Marcie, welcome! I don’t know that poetry book, but I will investigate it immediately, Thank you very much! ** KK, Hey, buddy! Yeah, it’s been ages. I’ve been wondering how you’re doing. That does sound nuts busy/intense: school. Enjoy the heavy input for one more semester. There are a few books on your list that I’ve been meaning to read for quite a while. I’ll get on that. And I totally spaced or I would have put the Eric Walker book on my list. Weird memory lapse. Me, I’m good, the usual busy, the usual good mixed with stressful, the usual drill. But good. Really good to see you! ** Jeff J, Yep, time’s speed is spooky. Yes, I listened to your conversation with David Leo Rice. It was very interesting indeed. I first read the Rattray way back. I knew him back in my NYC days. Extremely interesting writer and guy. Wonderful of Semiotext(e) to give his book new life. Semiotext(e) = god. I haven’t read Douglas Crase in a long time. He’s another person I knew in my NYC days, as he was close with a lot of my poet friends: Donald Britton, Tim Dlugos, others. I liked his work back then quite a bit. I need to catch up. He just fell off my radar for no reason. I’m looking to see all the films you mentioned, none of which I’ve seen yet. The Malick: I thought it was really extraordinary, maybe a little long, but just an unceasing avalanche of genius filmmaking and mind-blowing shots. Kind of sensory overload, extremely riveting and inspiring. And I found it very effecting in a way his films haven’t aimed to be for a few years. So, yeah, I thought it was incredible. I’ll seek out the Niblock and Montgomery and Wobble, thanks. You’re surprised I liked the Isidore Isou? Huh. I haven’t done a post on Vince Fecteau primarily because, as is the case with a number of my very favorite sculptors, reproduction just can’t represent his work adequately. But I should anyway. I’ll try. He’s one of the ultra-greats, in my opinion. ** Mark Gluth, Hi, Mark! It goes reasonably well with me. And with you? Your music list is always an immediate sonic grocery list. Quite a few things I haven’t heard. I’ve copied and pasted and will be trawling all available resources for the unknowns in hopes of getting hooked up. Isn’t your Kiddiepunk book due soon? I think so? So jonesing. ** SFTTS, Thank you for the pretty dot. ** Toniok, Hi, man! So very good to have you in here again! Old = new ultimately in the grand scheme of things. Cool lists’ contents. The Burritos! Nice! I hope you’re doing really great, man. ** Troy J Weaver, Hi, Troy. Well, including your great book is kind of the ultimate no brainer. Nice: the Kawabata and Ryu Murakami. I’m a big fan of both. Thanks so much! Excited for the minute your book is officially in the air. ** Josh Feola, Hi, Josh! Okay, what were the odds that you would make a very welcome return to this space on the very day that I’m reposting a text by you. That’s almost eerie in the good way. Of course I haven’t heard a single one of your music picks, and of course I’m going to hunt each and every one of them down and see what’s going on there. Thank you a lot, man. I really appreciate it. ** Steve Erickson, Was there some point when I actively disliked Billie Eilish, I don’t remember? If so, I guess I changed my mind. I think it could argued, torturously perhaps, that there’s not that much daylight between Eilish and Pharmakon. Thanks much for your lists. There are a few on both of them that I’ve been meaning and planning to imbibe. ** James, Hi, dude. Well, … of course! Love you too. ** Okay. Today I’ve restored another one of my old Varioso posts from my dead blog, i.e. a post consisting of things that interested me at the time but which didn’t seem to warrant an entire post to themselves. Hope you find valuable stuff therein. See you tomorrow.

10 Comments

  1. REALLY great stuff today!

    Dezső Kosztolányi reminds me of a depressed Donald Cammell

    Samu and David Armstrong are GORGEOUS!

    Here’s an excellent piece on Oliver Sacks (who as y’all know is one of my heroes) by his cousin — a rather good TV comedy writer

    I guess we’re at loggerheads about the Malick. Ordinarily I like his work but this one is in Fugue State for three hours. And for Fugue State I much prefer Michael Snow’s “La Region Centrale”

  2. Black Bile, looks like a picture from  to the 1978 autobiographical book Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo,is it related ?

  3. Hi Dennis,

    because my computer has some serious but kinda funny problems I did not (yet) participate in the year end lists…
    After some time between 30 seconds and 15 minutes the screen gets white and the only way to recover is to switch off and on the computer. So it is kind of thrilling to do or write something – I never know when it is over.
    More important: we will make it to Berlin and to the PGL screening on saturday. I am thrilled to watch the movie and see you guys.

  4. Dennis!

    How are things?
    I wrote a comment on yesterday’s post, but I guess you didn’t see it.

    I just found out ‘Permanent Green Light’ is on Filmin, (a VOD platform in Spain), which means I’ll see it soon!

    Wow, Alexander Binder. Cool stuff.

    Much love.

  5. I have a Bragolin – Crying Boy painting on my wall in Dundee. Had it there for a good few years and the building hasn’t burned to the ground… yet.

    Re the UK Election, my folks here in Leeds have all cast their votes for Corbyn today, while I voted SNP via post already last week. I feel optimistic right now but then I always do before my dreams get destroyed haha. Anyway, here’s desperately hoping for a positive result this evening.

  6. 3615 code Père Noël was released fairy recently on blu-ray by Camera Obscura, which seems to now mostly be purchasable via german amazon. (www.blu-ray.com/movies/Deadly-Games-Blu-ray/176195/) It’s also available on the streaming service Shudder, as well as being not so officially uploaded elsewhere.
    (drive.google.com/file/d/1JYmU7Gb111dywShcw7UN1m8UgX0WWFut/view)
    Hope this helps you on your weird Christmas movie quest and good luck with finding more!

  7. Hey Dennis, yeah stuff’s swell on my end. I just finished the first chapter of the book I briefly mentioned to ya at Michael’s place. Sometimes it’s the small victories….

    Hopefully you’ll find something in the list grabs ya. A bunch of it is is kinda abstract, serious in intent, electronic or ‘classical’ stuff. I feel like it’s this newish type of thing happening these last few years.

    Yeah, Come Down To Us comes out in March per Monsieur Salerno. Truthfully, it’s the book of mine of which I’m most proud. It looks like it will be part of a trilogy of projects all comeing out at the same time: along with a zine Steven and I did that is kinda related to the book, and a audio project where I recorded some fiction pieces and Steven built them into compositions with his own droney music happening along side the reading.

    Would it be cool if I put together a blog day for the release(s)?

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  9. Speaking of lists, here’s the Gay City News version of my music one, featuring many addenda: https://www.gaycitynews.nyc/stories/2019/27/best-2019-music-2019-12-12-gcn.html?fbclid=IwAR2-wch-e0BcZL4LeYVUVj5Zts3g3QO4rJTicSaS810Vd6y-9VDtSpUk39U

    Alexander Binder should do the artwork for Anthology Film Archives’ next calendar, which features a 3-week long “satanic panic” series. (Black mass on opening night, which should be fun!)

    Eilish’s “Xanny” makes me think of showtunes, especially Sondheim. I can see her going further in that direction as she grows up.

  10. This is quite the enigmatic and various (?), varied (?), varioso, Dennis. Obviously I can’t complain about Boyd Holbrooke. What’s the Miserable Miracle, with the link to nyrb.com?

    I think I’m trying to make up for the dearth of dark movies back around Halloween. Saw “The Wretched” at the indie horror fest, a charming YA-ish flick with some charm and nice visuals.

    Bill

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