“I have an adage: “To do the thing is easy enough, but to put yourself in a position to do it is extremely difficult.” In other words, you have to be perceptive about yourself. And you have to allow the authority of yourself to conflict with the authority of the world, so you can create something the world doesn’t yet have, which is what art is about to a great extent. At least it is to me. So whatever people gravitate towards, poetry, painting, or film, or whatever, it’s the putting themselves in the position to do it that’s very difficult.”—
Carl Andre in conversation with Phong Bui and Michèle Gerber Klein, The Brooklyn Rail, February 2012.
“When I worked on the first version of Marry Me A Little, [Sondheim's] position in the world of theater was very different; a lot of people criticized his work for its purported coldness, lack of melodic rewards, technical virtuosity over natural beauty. All of those people have died and burned in hell, and he is now generally held to be the finest practitioner of his art in the last 50 years. He is a natural teacher, and he’s direct, which I prefer. I’m not afraid of informed criticism. For criticism to wound, it has to be malicious, intelligent, well-crafted, and perfectly aimed. Given the laughably low-level of dramatic criticism in America, most artists worth their salt in theater are permanently safe from pain.”—Craig Lucas on the difference in working with Sondheim then and now, in The Brooklyn Rail.
AN UPDATE FROM BEYOND THE POETIC GRAVE
Some things I have been lovin’ on lately:
1. Bernadette Mayer (my girl Bernie, hollar!) with a list of writing experiment ideas
2. This ridiculous piece at Brooklyn Rail sings to my GRE subject test woes
3. The Magritte Poems by Hannah Weiner OK well duh this is just great try to get me to NOT be lovin’ on this.
4. Some stuff from the other poetic wiener: John Wieners mass Mass post over at Jacket2
5. Sontag’s “The Aesthetics of Silence”
6. “Veronica’s Monocle: On Anger and Late Girlhood” by Katharine Jager ~~ think Dana Ward linked to this; a great essay on Heathers
7. I saw Evan Kennedy & Dana Ward read on Saturday & it tore me up inside; life is delicate & destructive
Thomas Tryon's The Other in The Brooklyn Rail
That [twins] Niles and Holland might also be the perfect metaphor for Hegel’s Master-Slave dialectic should not put off the casual reader. Make no mistake: This is a horror novel in a literary darling’s dress. Readers seeking a nail-biting, page-turning plot complete with gore and mayhem will not be disappointed. But while the scene of an impaled boy will haunt long after the page has passed, it is the underlying themes illuminated in each chilling interaction between twin and twin that will ultimately disturb.
—The Other won’t help anyone find the prefect costume this year—unless you’re a thirteen-year-old male twin—but it will make you think twice about staying at that Connecticut farm house you’ve had your eye on. It will also makes you doubt the benefits of a strong imagination.
Here is my modest proposal: beyond endless video montages and the cold mannerist obsessionality of the taste for appropriation and reenactment that has become hegemonic in the art world, the heart of any artistic response to the present should perhaps be the cultivation of the monstrous and its concomitant affect, namely disgust. Disgust here can be thought of as the visceral register of a monstrosity that can no longer be excluded from the realm of the aesthetic, as it was for Aristotle and Kant, but should be its arrhythmic heart, its hot and volatile core. It is important to keep in mind the link to aesthetic judgments of taste or gustus, which gives us the “gust” in dis-gust, the ill wind in the soft-flapping sails of revulsion. Dis-gust is an aesthetic judgement of dis-taste.
What I am calling for, then, is a new art of monstrosity which is able to occupy a certain semi-autonomous distance from the circuits of capture and commodification.
“And happy, happy humanity, so soon to receive the care packages addressed to it at such great cost by the rebels of the nineteenth century! How very lucky the insurgents of Lyons and Fourmies have turned out to be – albeit posthumously! The millions of human beings shot, imprisoned, tortured, starved, brutalized and systematically humiliated must surely be at peace, in their cemeteries and mass graves, to know how history has made sure that the struggle in which they died has enabled their descendants, isolated in their air-conditioned apartments, to learn from their daily dose of TV how to repeat that they are happy and free. ‘The Communards went down, fighting to the last man, so that you too could buy a Philips hifi.’ A fine legacy indeed – one that must surely warm the cockles of all those revolutionaries of the past.”—A quintessentially scathing and comical Raoul Vaneigem excerpt from The Revolution Of Everyday Life, up here at The Brooklyn Rail.
“It is not difficult, for example, to heat up a pot of water. But really, you’re heating five gallons of water in a giant stock pot on a tiny New York stove, and you’re forced to angle the pot in a way that makes part of the gas flame lick out over the edge, just enough so that after an hour, which is how long it takes to get five gallons of water to 160 degrees on a single burner, the oven mitt that was hanging on the wall behind the pot catches fire—and suddenly things become difficult. Suddenly you’re using kitchen tongs to pull the smoldering oven mitt off its nail—and into the water you just spent an hour heating up. This is demoralizing. And morale continues to tank when you finally have your five gallons of 160-degree water and realize that if you pour 14 pounds of grain into it, then basic laws of water displacement dictate that the mixture will no longer fit your six-gallon pot. So you decide to pour the water into the grains, rather than the other way around, and you try to transfer 45 pounds of piping hot water into the only large-enough container you have, which happens to be a round cooler with an impressive capacity but a smallish mouth, and the water ends up mostly missing the mouth and tipping over the cooler full of grains—all of this happening just before your roommate comes home and wants to know why there’s an inch of scalding liquid and a pile of wet barley on the kitchen floor.”—“Home Is Where the Brew Is” by Dave Kim
Still on an Identity Politics buzz, this recent interview with Nayland Blake at The Brooklyn Rail really dilated my pupils.
I had caught his show at Matthew Marks the day before I read this interview, and while the exhibition did not do much for me, I am the glad the show was scheduled at the same time as The New Museum’s 1993.