Archive for December, 2010

Interview(s) with Aase Berg

by on Dec.26, 2010

Go to 3 am for an interview with Aase Berg:

3:AM: Could you outline the history of the Swedish surrealist group of which you were one of the founding members in 1986?

AB: We were completely asocial. We mixed the philosophy and methods of the French Surrealists with drug experiments and political happenings. After a while we started to take interest in contemporary natural science, or, we interpreted it poetically, I should say, since we didn’t understand much in a proper way. But nowadays I look back and realize that we lacked the feministic perspective. The surrealist group of Stockholm as it was in those days, and also the original surrealist movement, are almost the opposite of my feministic point of view today.

Here is an episode of Babel where Aase recommends Eva-Kristina Olsson’s “Jag bryter hänget” in case of an apocalypse. It’s an amazing book; I should translate some pieces from it:

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"like a blood filled egg": silence = rage in Wojnarowicz's writing

by on Dec.26, 2010

Since David Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly was banned from the Smithsonian, a subsidiary controversy has arisen about the various versions of this video available on the internet, two of which (including the one banned from the Smithsonian) feature soundtracks added by other hands to Wojnarowicz’s silent ‘original’.

This controversy about silence versus sound in the various versions of “Fire in My Belly” is particularly interesting because of the special valences of silence in the context of AIDS in the late 80’s and 90’s, when Wojnarowicz was dying. The ACT-UP slogan famously equates silence with death, and Wojnarowicz echoes that logic across his writings.

Recently in a discussion of Rhianna, Lucas shared this quote from David Wojnarowicz’s Being Queer in America: A journal of disintegration (: (emphasis mine):
Continue reading “"like a blood filled egg": silence = rage in Wojnarowicz's writing” »

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Books of the Year (#4): Ronaldo Wilson

by on Dec.26, 2010

Here is an excerpt from a piece I wrote about Ronaldo Wilson’s two books, Poems of the Black Object and Narrative of the Brown Boy:

“… However, there are plenty of grotesque bodies that do not hold up as well as Bacon and Pitt. Both books are full of white father-figures who seem to have been subjected to this kind of violence, bleeding and broken bodies. This is in alternative to the main white father figure (he of the title of the first book) who seems extremely healthy, practices yoga etc. In difference to him, there are heaps of these white old guys who are almost dead. For example, in Black Object:

“You had no idea he was bleeding. If you knew, you would not have allowed him to take you to this hotel that you can barely remember. Continue reading “Books of the Year (#4): Ronaldo Wilson” »

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Books of the Year (#3): Sara Stridsberg

by on Dec.26, 2010

And when we started Montevidayo I wrote a post about trauma, Shutter Island and Sara Stridsberg (includes translated excerpt from The Dream Department):

“There is plenty of trauma in the book (she’s raped by stepdad for example), but the trauma doesn’t explain the hallucinatory vignettes, doesn’t turn them into symptoms of the trauma. The trauma saturates the vignettes. Solanas comes off as a courageous person, and the vignettes are beautiful and traumatic. These two (trauma, beauty) are of course not as separate as they are often imagined. It becomes an absolutely absorbing book about feminism, hysteria, violence; a kind of hagiography of sorts, in which Marilyn Monroe, Sylvia Plath, Ulrike Meinhof and Valerie Solanas are all connected as violent women martyred by the patriarchy.”

[I’m thinking about another post having to do with the relationship of trauma and contemporary wound culture and digital media, so I’ll probably dig this post up again soon.]

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Books of the year (#2): Kate Durbin's Ravenous Audience

by on Dec.26, 2010

I don’t know if I ever post a link to my review of Kate Durbin’s Ravenous Audience in Raintaxi. Anyway, I thought about it again today as I was trying with my horrible memory to remember books I read and liked in the first half of the year.

Here’s the opening of my review:

“Kate Durbin’s iconophilic, starving first book proclaims its poetics in its very title: Ravenous Audience. This is a poetics of a Plath-influenced engagement with the “peanut-crunching crowd.” If Judy Grahn’s famous “I’ve Come to Claim the Body of Marilyn Monroe” rewrites Plath’s “Lady Lazarus” as a grave-robbing, revenge fantasy about Monroe—picking up on the violent, B-movie element of Plath’s poem—Durbin lets both Plath and Monroe into her spectacle: both “celebrities” are invoked for their violence and their spectacular assemblages.”

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You put the oil in the pot, and you let it get hot…

by on Dec.25, 2010

Speaking of black swans and such, how ‘bout them oily pelicans?

Even though the BP oil spill continues to have environmental, political, and economic repercussions, we now have enough distance from the immediate catastrophe to allow for some reflection. I’m particularly interested in the public response to images such as this:

Photo by Win McNamee

Continue reading “You put the oil in the pot, and you let it get hot…” »

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Best Books of the Year

by on Dec.25, 2010

So everyone is making these lists of the best books of the year. I don’t know if these are the best ones, but here are some books I really liked:

Sara Stridsberg – Drömfakulteten, Darling River
My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me – anthology of contemporary fairytales edited by Kate Bernheimer
Unclean Women – Alissa Nutting
Nick Demske by Nick Demske
Johan Jönson’s Livdikt
Serial Killers by Mark Seltzer
Ronaldo Wilson – Poems of the Black Object, Narrative of the Brown Boy
Continue reading “Best Books of the Year” »

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Omar Little as the God of War

by on Dec.25, 2010

Omar Little, if you didn’t already know, is a black gay character in The Wire who steals from drug dealers.  He also happens to be one of the few characters to consistently live by a self-professed moral code.  This despite his robberies and the drug lords who repeatedly, if unsuccessfully, make him their target.  Continue reading “Omar Little as the God of War” »

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Warhol and "The Original"

by on Dec.24, 2010

The 43 Million Dollar Painting

In my last post, I tried to think about the challenges to the priority of ‘the original’ caused by a specific work disseminated (legally and illegally) across the internet: David Wojnarowicz’s Fire in My Belly, currently accessible on line in at least four different versions (one un-authorized version with the Damianda Galas soundtrack on YouTube and three official versions, one labeled ‘original’, on the P.P.O.W. gallery’s Vimeo channel.)

The new exhibition of Andy Warhol films, including the 13 Screen Tests and the films Empire, Kiss, and Sleep at MOMA, raises connected issues. After five columns discussing the films, Ken Johnson’s NYT review concludes with a paean against the digitalized format in which these films, originally shot in 16 mm, are displayed at MOMA. Johnson argues that Warhol was a forerunner of “Structural Film, which, like Modernist painting, calls attention to the properties of the medium.” Regarding MOMA’s exhibition of digital versions of the film, he concludes,

“You don’t have to get too close to the projections to see the pixels, which are distracting. It is like seeing a movie on television, and that casts in doubt their status as works of art.

“Are they authentic artworks, reproductions, documents, or some kind of in-between hybrid? With popoular movies that focus on plot, character and illusory scenes, it matters less whether we see them as film or digital projections. With Structural Film, truth to the original is more imperative.

“We would not accept a machine-made reproduction as an adequate substitute for a famous painting; a purist justifiably would say the same about film. So here we are between a rock and a hard place. We get to see the films, but once removed and not the way Warhol meant them to be seen. Then again, were he alive today, would he care? Probably not.”

Johnson’s review, while thoughtful, to me mashes together a lot of contradictory ideas about Andy Warhol. The idea that his work would be degraded by being on TV is itself an a-contextual reading of Warhol, taking him out of his own heady absorption in mass media and television in particular. As Warhol writes in The Philosophy of Andy Warhol (From A to B and Back Again), “A whole day of life is like a whole day of television. TV never goes off the air once it starts for the day, and I don’t either. At the end of the day the whole day will be a movie. A movie made for TV.” [5] Continue reading “Warhol and "The Original"” »

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Meta-Montevidayo

by on Dec.24, 2010

Kyle Minor wrote a nice post about Montevidayo on HTML Giant.

Excerpt:
“At Montevidayo, though, it’s the active form of essaying that is most often driving the argument forward, to an extent to which the argument is not reducible to anything less than all fifteen paragraphs it took to make the argument. To make the matter of excerpting even more difficult, the posts at Montevidayo often assume that the Montevidayo reader has already read previous Montevidayo posts, and is as actively involved with the conversation and its conversants (posters will often refer to one another by their first names — Johannes, or Joyelle) as the poster.”

I have noticed that I often make the mistake that the same people read the blog every day. I’ll try to change that to make it seem less like a closed loop.

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Patti Smith on Swedish TV

by on Dec.24, 2010

Here’s an episode of Babel about Patti Smith. You’ll be able to understand it mostly because mostly it’s in English:

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Bolano on Swedish TV

by on Dec.24, 2010

You can watch this if you know Swedish or Spanish. Nice images too of Mexico.

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Another Post About MFA Students: Insiders and Outsiders

by on Dec.23, 2010

For a week I’ve been thinking about the persistent models of insiders-vs-outsiders in American poetry. It seems to be a very crude model but all the same an incredibly persistent model.
Continue reading “Another Post About MFA Students: Insiders and Outsiders” »

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