Monday, March 27, 2006

Great Literary Taunts

In lieu of my own biting sarcasm I offer these spiteful gems:


"I feel so miserable without you, it's almost like having you here."
--- Stephen Bishop

"A modest little person, with much to be modest about."
--- Winston Churchill (about Clement Atlee)

"I've just learned about his illness. Let's hope it's nothing
trivial." --- Irvin S. Cobb

"I have never killed a man, but I have read many obituaries with
great pleasure." --- Clarence Darrow

"He has never been known to use a word that might send a reader to
the dictionary." --- William Faulkner (about Ernest Hemingway)

"He had delusions of adequacy." --- Walter Kerr

"I've had a perfectly wonderful evening. But this wasn't it." --- Groucho Marx

"They never open their mouths without subtracting from the sum of
human knowledge." --- Thomas Brackett Reed

"He loves nature in spite of what it did to him." --- Forrest Tucker

"I didn't attend the funeral, but I sent a nice letter saying I
approved of it." --- Mark Twain

"His mother should have thrown him away and kept the stork." --- Mae West

"Some cause happiness wherever they go; others whenever they go." --- Oscar Wilde

"He has no enemies, but is intensely disliked by his friends." --- Oscar Wilde

"He has Van Gogh's ear for music." --- Billy Wilde

Saturday, March 25, 2006


Another artist who used photography to document his ideas and his more material works is David Smith (bottom). I'm thinking of looking at how conceptual artists used the techniques and the mode of production inherent to photography in order to think though their ideas as well as to leave behind a trace of that endeavor. There's a lot more I want to say about this, but for now I just want to throw this up here for future reminder. It also intrigued me to compare this to the early use of photography as a method of capturing both a traumatic historical moment and the artist's contemplation/overcoming of it. The photo on the top is by the 19C photographer John Moran. And here's an intriguing description: "Perhaps as an antidote to the Civil War that ravaged the American landscape and psyche, John Moran made this carefully constructed, idyllic photograph of the Wissahickon Creek, just outside of Philadelphia. He presents an artist, perhaps his brother, the painter Thomas Moran, quietly sketching the beauty of the natural environment. The artist´s central position and his reflection, perfectly mirrored in the still pool of water in the foreground, seem to confirm both his importance and his harmony with his surroundings. The ability of the artist to bring order to his world is further suggested by the delicate retouching in the upper left of the photograph to remove the jarring intrusion of a building into this bucolic vista."

Saturday, March 18, 2006


even tho i've been on break, i've been unable to find time (well, more like motivation or maybe even thought-clarity) to write anything on this here blog. so in recompenese to you my dear, non-existent readers, i offer some things i did not write about.

i did not write about Jean Luc Nancy's ideas about community and love , which i think centers around his use of the term "exposure."

i did not write about Paul Mann's "Stupid Undergrounds." an amazing read but, finally, one of those things that, when you're done reading it you get the "is that all there is" blues. and this is simply b/c it leaves you with the feeling that there is indeed nothing left to say beyond pointing to further examples of its truth.

i did not write about any number of weird, violent, quirky "outsider" art practices that i get excited about, on average, every 36 seconds. for example, i did not write about the bands Harry Pussy, To Live and Shave in LA, Ron of Japan, The Beast People, The Pterodactyls, Nautical Almanac, Occassional Detroit, etc etc etc...

i did not write about performance practices that i find fascinating due to their extreme yet somehow beautiful dimensions. i failed to describe Coum Transmissions, the Vienna Actionists, John Duncan, the Badher Meinhof Group, Vito Acconci, Chris Burden, Carolee Schneeman, Yoko Ono....

on the everyday tip -- i did not write about meeting my friend Liz's friend from law school, Dave Choo, who was very funny and smart and nice and made me feel glad to have actually met a new person and who also made me feel less bad about living in and feeling a certain way about Detroit since he appreciated -- he got-- the city and its essense as this paradoxical empty/fullness .

i did not write about my cats.

i did not write about general states of political unrest that depress me and sometimes move me to tears. need i mention them? don't we know all too well where and why they occur? and the all too familiar feeling of frustration in the face of their seeming inevitability?

i did not write about looming and omnipresent career/academia anxieties.

i failed to recap an interesting conversation with my friend Sam about art/music and originality.

i did not express gratitude in writing for my friendships with Sarah, Shashi, Sam, Ryan, Mike, Brad, Michael, John, Julie, Lindsay, and Liz.

i did not relate my excitement or fears about attending Cornell's theory camp this summer.

i did not write about guilt, lust, or loneliness. i did not write about money.

anything else?

From Paul Mann's _Stupid Undergrounds_

Apocalyptic cults and youth gangs, garage bands and
wolfpacks, *colleges* and phalansteries, espionage networks
trading in vaporous facts and networks of home shoppers for
illicit goods; monastic, penological, mutant-biomorphic,
and anarcho-terrorist cells; renegade churches, dwarf
communities, no-risk survivalist enclaves, unfunded
quasi-scientific research units, paranoid think tanks,
unregistered political parties, sub-employed workers
councils, endo-exile colonies, glossolaliac fanclubs, acned
anorexic primal hordes; zombie revenants, neo-fakirs,
defrocked priests and detoxing prophets, psychedelic
snake-oil shills, masseurs of undiagnosed symptoms, bitter
excommunicants, faceless narcissists, ideological drag
queens, mystical technophiles, sub-entrepreneurial dealers,
derivative *derivistes*, tireless archivists of phantom
conspiracies, alien abductees, dupe attendants, tardy
primitives, vermin of abandoned factories, hermits, cranks,
opportunists, users, connections, outriders, outpatients,
wannabes, hackers, thieves, squatters, parasites,
saboteurs; wings, wards, warehouses, arcades, hells, hives,
dens, burrows, lofts, flocks, swarms, viruses, tribes,
movements, groupuscules, cenacles, isms, and the endlessly
multiplied hybridization of variant combinations of all
these, and more.... Why this stupid fascination with
stupid undergrounds? What is it about these throwaway
fanzines and unreadable rants, these neo-tattoos and
recycled apocalypses, this mountainous accumulation of
declassified factoids, these bloody smears, this incredible
noise? Why wade through these piles of nano-shit? Why
submit oneself to these hysterical purveyors, these
hypertheories and walls of sound? Why insist on picking
this particular species of nit? [...]

In the stupid underground any innovation
can be, at one and the same time, utterly radical and
worthless in advance. The trajectory past %cliche% is at
stake here as well, a trajectory that takes us not into
further innovation but into repetition itself: the
repetition of a cultural adventure long after its
domestication, but as if it were still an adventure. The
trajectory is thus seldom a straight line into the beyond,
a singular line of flight through becoming-imperceptible,
into the invisible. The complexity of these movements
suggests four trajectories, or four dimensions of the
trajectory as such:

to the apotheosis of stupidity, as sublime becomes
ridiculous as if without transition;

to the violent limit of the tolerable, the
very limit of recuperability;

to disappearance past the boundary of cultural
representation, a disappearance so critical that it
gives the lie to every other form of criticism;

and to what turns out, in the very midst of an
innovative frenzy, to be stupid repetition, an
autonomous, automatic repetition that drains cultural
forms of every meaning, even that of parody: the
stupefying force of repetition, which, we are told,
is the very trace of the death drive.[...]

The stupid underground is available to any ontological
or ideological reformulation,and hence a place to test the following paradox:
all cultural zones are both overdetermined and blank. [...]

Punk nihilism
was never more than the nihilism of the commodity itself.
You should not credit Malcolm McLaren with having realized
this just because he was once pro-situ. All he wanted was
to sell more trousers without boring himself to death;
indeed he is proof that the guy with the flashiest
*ressentiment* sells the most rags. And if he wasn't
bored, can he be said to have advanced the same favor to us? [...]
Everyone there knows all about
recuperation and it makes no difference. One can display
the most stringent self-criticism about the impossibility
of revolt and the next day proclaim the subversive effects
of noise, as if one were Russolo himself, Russolo in the
first place. The stupid underground is marked by the
simultaneous critical understanding of the fatality of
recuperation and a general indifference to the fact; it
ignores what it knows, and knows it. It acts as though it
forgets, until it virtually forgets, what it always
recalls. It responds to every critical reminder, even
those it throws at itself, with a *So what, fuck you.*[...]

[The stupud underground]is merely a symptom of order itself.
Everything has been
recuperated, but what is recuperated and put to death
returns, returns ferociously, and it is the return of its
most immanent dead that most threatens every form of order.
The repressed does not come back as a living being but as
the ghost it always was, and not to free us but to haunt
us. It returns as repetition; when we see it in the
mirror, as our mirror, we pretend not to recognize it. The
fury of the punk or skinhead is the fury of this stupid
repetition, and it is far more destructive than the most
brilliant modernist invention. It ruins everything and
leaves it all still in place, still functioning as if it
mattered, never relieving us of its apparition, never
pretending to go beyond it, draining it of value without
clearing it away. That is why one cannot dismiss it
according to the logic of the new, whereby the only
admissible revolutionary force must conform to the movement
of progress and innovation. The rhetoric of innovation is
parroted by the stupid underground, because it still obeys
the superficial form of the avant-garde. But it obeys it
long after it is dead, and as if that death didn't matter,
as if history had never occurred in the first place, as if
everything retro just suddenly appeared, in all its
original vacuity. As if it were even better, more
powerful, once it is dead, so long as one insists that it
is and pretends that it isn't. It is the blind repetition
of every exhausted logic far past the point of termination
that generates the most virulent negation. The stupid
persistence of the dead has taken the place of the
critical. [...]

'labyrinths and jokes' was originally released on lp in 1998 in a small
edition of only 500 copies. six tracks of diverse and creative noise
from six completely bizarre bands. 1. nautical almanac's anti-system -
started in 1994 as a party killing trash-noise rock band, the nautical
almanac has since developed into a two piece of incredibly talented
machine builders. 2. isis and werewolves - this is punk prog at it's
sloppiest and goofiest. the drummer and guitarist were such lazy
burnout's that the keyboardist left town to create a heavy metal
monster called andrew w.k. the drummer and tape manipulator aaron
dilloway would go on to form the band wolf eyes, while the guitarist
steve kenney moved to new orleans to play in the hard rock outfit metal
wolf. 3. ron of japan - this duo of 15 year old female misfits have
since gone into retirement. but what they innocently recorded in their
bedroom in 1995 ended up being some heavily influential music. 4.
andrew wilkes- krier - before he was known as andrew w.k., andrew was
going under his full name and playing a wide variety of insane noise.
the track here is a dark cloud of droning violins and ghost like
screeches and moans. 5. the mini-systems - the most unhealthy band of
all time. the mini-systems was nate young's project prior to his
forming of wolf eyes. his partner was one anthony miller, a musical
genius who now goes by the name of maximum cloud. at one time they were
the kings of circut-bent junk noise, though drugs and love would
eventually get in the way, leaving the two no choice but to disband. 6.
the beast people - the ugliest, sickest growlers ever! though he won't
admit it to your face, the beast people was a performance art group led
by aaron dilloway of wolf eyes. occasional contributors to the project
included james harper of nautical almanac, andrew w.k., detroit noise
dj andy roach, and nate young. completely psychedelic cave noise.
cut-up growls and screams, recorded completely in the red. fucking
sick! as crude as it gets! on hanson

Sunday, March 05, 2006

and the oscar goes to...

Yay! Philip Seymour Hoffman! I heart Seymour (I prefer to call him "Seymour.)

The Oscars were pretty rad this year: John Stewart, Robert Altman (Lily Tomlin and Meryl Streep were hilarious introducers), all the nominated movies were, I thought, fairly stellar. And, again, PSH won! And he thanked his mom in such a charming way....Plus, he played Capote. So cool.

non-oedipal genealogies/music vs poetry

Quickly, since I have waaay too much shit to do to justify blog-posting-- I think musicians could teach (young) poets a lot about incorporating, moving past, learning from their "elders." I am sick of the "kill yr idols" model of innovation. Even though punk coined the term (kill yr idols), in practice, they've really moved away from that reductive phrase; they aren't half so antagonistic about it as young poets seem to be. (The "we vs them" mentality of the poetry world is very simplistic, and I don't know that all the work justifies the arrogance.) From what I've experienced in seeing/hearing people working together on projects across the lame "age-divide," and in conversations about it with musician friends, they have a much healthier and more open sense of what it means to be in relation to their influences -- for example, Nate Young from Wolf Eyes, pictured here with Anthony Braxton. Which reminds me of the funny interview I did with Nate, John, and Aaron; I should *really* fucking publish that one day.

Cross-generational collaboration anyone?