Archive for June, 2009

29
Jun
09

Man in the Mirror

I’m not sure how many of you have ever driven through Gary, Indiana before but it is pretty much the worst city ever. It smells like cold french fries for some reason and is cartoonishly dilapidated. I went there on Saturday to visit Michael Jackson’s birthplace. Below you’ll find a Ghost Island exclusive photo recounting.

There is something elaborate that could be said about the sort of American Dream circa late empire story of Jackson’s life, but there really isn’t much point in belaboring it. Enjoy.

28
Jun
09

Against Completion

Pick up a book that you love but don’t read it cover to cover. Pick up a book you might love. Start into a book with your hands. The water damage makes tumors, topography.

Read a passage of Gertrude Stein. Read a page or less or more.

Completion, the impulse towards completion, and the desire to make a reader complete are all tied together and all fundamentally non-responsive to the condition of the book. Plot is not meaning is not the essence or ontological core of the book. The book is pages and language, so experience it as pages and language.

Take a language bath. Pull down five books that will go sentence by sentence and break you up a little bit. Completion holds you and things together. Completion is the logic of progress. Do not believe that heterodox reading challenges the state but realize that orthodox reading is within the logic of the state.

The book that asks for completion is making a demand on you. Make demands on your books. Take them up as tools and aides. Take them seriously as what they are. Does the book truly make that demand of completion? The author may, but what do you owe the author? What right has he to demand?

Books are objects that archive orders of language and language meaning shifts. The logic of completion is the logic of exhaustion and the logic maximization. Do not exhaust your books, do not enter into a relationship of need or demand, but rather of free entry, movement, exchange.

To complete, to exhaust, to close the book on a book is to foreclose the realm of the unread, the fantastic aporetic space of potential. Read the all words of a book in the order they are printed but do not complete the book. The act is less important that the framing. Read a passage of Kathy Acker, put down the book, trace the crack on the cover.

Which is to say, take your books seriously. Take seriously their status instead of the edifice of cultural expectations surrounding them. Do not lament the impossible spans of time it must take to complete a book, but instead rejoice that you can enter at will, stop, skip. Rejoice that there is and will be the unread into which you can project the fullness of your fantasy and desire.

26
Jun
09

PAGE 108

After we take that Deep Leep, let’s all take a Deep Breath and finish this shit . . . 

 

PAGE 108

And the cool evening flowed into the autumn rivers, and the somber tides became the sigh of birdsongs.

You: How can I escape this never ending maze?

Hollis Frampton: Whatever labrynths it involves itself in . . . it will eventually resolve itself in favor of the protagonist and that the protagonist is the spectator of the work. There’s going to be no momemnt when an identifiable person appears . . . [rather] it offers to the spectator the possibility of a posture that’s so active in relation to the work that it orders on the utopian or is utopian.

You: This is heaven? Where’s Sylvia? How can I get out?

Douglas Messerli impersonating F.T. Marinetti: The mysterious rulers of this desert island are the Paper People, cone-shaped beings “surmounted by circumflex book-hats,” who hiss their instructions into the ears of the Negro guards. In short, not only is this world ruled by people of the written word—not unlike bureaucratic paper pushers—but is metaphorically ruled by the author and readers—the ultimate Paper People who push and bully their raw entrapped characters into a bizarre series of events.

You: Do they know where She is?

HF: Now we are not perfectly free to make of language an agonist in the theater of desire which is itself defined by the limits of language. Every artistic dialogue that concluded in a decision to ostracize the word is disingenuous to the degree that it succeeds in concealing from itself its fear of the word . . . and the source of that fear: that language, in every culture, and before it may become an arena of discourse, is, above all, an expanding arena of power, claiming for itself and for its wielders, all that it can seize, and relinquishing nothing.

You: I? I must do what?

U as GI Joe: The Power lies within I?

DM as FTM: And indeed it does! Form . . . a coalition with a few revolutionary Paper People, the Negro guards and the Untameables, led by Mirmofim, lead the River People into rebellion, determining to attack and smash open the Cardboard Dam—metaphorically, the pent-up creativity of the working class.

Whether you want to or not, that Master Signifier is shaking in its boot heels. Get that Girl! and don’t get shark bit, turn to PAGE 102

26
Jun
09

I can’t wait for #9

DEEP LEAP 2 is now a free download. Ghost Islanders abound therein: Adam Johnson, Jesse Malmed, Sean Higgins, me.

Also other people, loved ones, radness: Lizzy Youle, Egan Frantz, Raven Munsell, Jashin Friedrich, George Olesky, Devin Bannon, Sarah Simon, Mat Trumbull, Nora Harrington….

CHECK IT OUT.

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Relatedly, westcoasters should check out the In the Light Cave show, which, full disclosure, also features me.

24
Jun
09

On looking back–popularity, obscurity, and: a proposal for moving forward.

As far as music goes, it is a commonly repeated enough point that we tend to heap attention too enthusiastically, too readily at the feet of those who show any hint of promise. The internet and the blog have, among other things, made bands shockingly available, have busted open the doors on a culture that tended to separate taste into camps: the mainstream and the obscure. So, this is my question: what does it now mean to be mainstream or obscure, when it seems that everyone knows about everything and can download it instantly?

A caveat: I will admit that it is entirely possible that I exist in my own niche and as a result will consistently misjudge other niches, even if those niches happen to be large. I live on the internet, I don’t watch MTV (saying this might prove my lack of knowledge about a “mainstream”), I don’t own a radio. I don’t have a single idea what is at the top of the billboard chart right now. If I am to be faulted in any way, it is to assume that my experiences of popularity and obscurity are in any way indicative of a greater trend. I am open to arguments against my logic. I do not think I am alone in this experience, though. If it is not universal, there are at least a few others.

Before, the mainstream was generally defined by popularity, and, some would say conformity, though not necessarily always as a pair. Radiohead, or the Beatles, for instance, managed to achieve a great deal of mainstream success while remaining artistically curious. Conversely, we have all known a band or two that attempts to achieve popularity by aping more popular acts.

The obscure was the difficult to find, the difficult to appreciate, or the niche work. A talented but difficult band that released a single 7″ single at some point in the not-so-distant past of a show they recorded in their mother’s basement might have been legendary to a select group, popular for 15 people. EG- the first Vashti Bunyan record. If you had it, or knew someone who had it, or even knew about it, you were in the know.

I believe that the mainstream as we knew it is no longer, replaced by competing niches with varying degrees of popularity. There will be no mass-cultural events quite like those my parents experienced: walking down the street and hearing Sgt. Pepper’s blasting from every window. The mass-cultural event as such has been destroyed, or fragmented and sped up by the internet. In their place, we have niche cultural events, which are both more available and more mercurial. The blog band. The band on the last episode of Grey’s Anatomy. That rapper who sampled ______’s song. The micro-event is the event sped up and spread out.

Continue reading ‘On looking back–popularity, obscurity, and: a proposal for moving forward.’

22
Jun
09

GARY LUTZ MAGICIAN

Damn. I mean, why do I even try? No seriously. Is Gary Lutz a magician?

Because if he’s not a magician, why is this on the first page of image results for the phrase ‘Gary Lutz Magician’??

20
Jun
09

Weekend Notes

Some Notes:

(1) I made a website to list my publications. It has links and things. I also made a section on the sidebar of this page for contributor sites, so I encourage all of you who have personal projects you want to promote to list them there. Anyways, mine is www.bensegal.blogspot.com

(2) I purchased Sam Lipsyte’s ‘Venus Drive’ a few months ago, read the first story, and put the book away because I was too overwhelmed with thesis-work for pleasure reading. Now I am being irresponsible and decided to do some pleasure reading in spite of the increased urgency regarding completion of my actual academic reading. Anyways, I am really psyched on it.

Lipsyte, more than many members of the Gordon Lish constellation, writes gritty, believable narratives. However, his stories rise above the genre of ‘masculine fuck-up tales’ because of the startling way that Lipsyte uses language. This collection is one of the first narrative-realist-literary books I’ve read in a very long time that doesn’t feel stale or conventional, that seems to take seriously the material possibilities of language as more than ornamentation but instead as a central element of the constitution of experience.

‘Venus Drive’ was released by Open City, a press perhaps best known for releasing David Berman’s ‘Actual Air’. Open City’s page for the book is HERE and contains a description, reviews, ordering information, and a sample story.

(3) Saw ‘Up’ in 3-d. I love 3-d. During the movie I teared up several times because it is the kind of emotionally hyper-manipulative film I love to see. I know it is not really related at all, but I imagined the old man in the movie to be Jacques Roubaud and the trip with the house to be his writing the books ‘Great Fire of London’ and ‘Some Thing Black’. Obviously they are two totally different things.




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