Archive for December, 2012
by Kim Kim on Dec.31, 2012
not an introduction
So this summer I had two weeks with the kids and nothing better to do than to round them up and shoot a no-budget zombie-vampire-ghost film. Shoot might be an exaggeration, more like use the video function on an old kodak camera. This was partly inspired by some horror movie posts on here, David Lynch, Ringu etc. A very short script was quickly written and lost. Something about cornfields. I wanted to make a movie that was not jokey-scary but scary-scary. One idea was that if the kids were turned into monsters this might relieve their fear of horror.
For xmas my daughter got an English translation of a Swedish children’s book I remember from being her age. Lilla spöket Laban (“Little Spook Laban”) It’s about a family of ghosts that live just like real people except they’re ghosts and have to do ghost things like go to the big castle and rattle chains and scare chambermaids. Little Laban in this book fails to live up to his father’s ghost-standards (“Daddy Spook had made himself invisible as soon as the chambermaid moved toward the oak door. He was already on his way home to Mummy Spook to tell her how unsuccessful Little Laban was.”) and is suddenly left at the castle and becomes good friends with “The Prince”. The end.
What I like about it is that when the non-ghosts (real people) appear they seem to be the strange, inhuman ones, and you don’t want them to find you. Sort of like goldilocks seem inhuman when she appears in the little bear’s bed. You identify more with the bears.
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.30, 2012
Recently I’ve been thinking about the 1980s a lot. Well recently I’ve started to work on a kind of memoir of Sweden in the 1980s which is really more like a work of cultural history, hopefully in the line of a lot of Greil Marcus’s books.
Lately I’ve been thinking about the Danish poet Michael Strunge (1958-1986), a legendary 80s poet whose visionary poetry I read frequently and devotedly in the late 80s when I started to write poetry. He committed suicide in 1986 and that was part of his Rimbaud-like, Romantic image.
I was trying to find the book I read back then, Kristallskeppet (“The Chrystal Ship”), a selected poems in Swedish translation, but I can’t seem to find it anywhere, which is sad because it’s like my first book of poetry I ever owned (but luckily some Danes sent me some of his poems over facebook). As that title suggests, his poetry is full of sci-fi-ish visions of the city, fitting in very well with the kitsch-related stuff I’ve been posting on this blog – how kitsch not a lack, but an excess, related to Romanticism, how it’s about the poetic in an age of industrialism. It also engaged quite strikingly with the youth/pop culture of the era, including direct references to David Bowie and Ian Curtis.
Here are some quick excerpts very roughly translated (hopefully not too many huge errors, my Danish is shaky):
from “Elegy for Ian Curtis + may 1980”
Your voice was like that:
Smoky nights with unovercome childhood,
unhealed wounds behind the glass armor.
Plaster that tears so impossibly slowly
that the wound is experiences as a wound.
Your depression was clean and free for the worldangst.
You could see your own cancer growth
and did not want to cut it off,
that the cancer is the strongest
is death the closest and inhabits it.
So rather choose death’s naked honesty
than this hypocritical life,
where pain was a sign of life
but live became a sign of pain.
Skinlessness is the highest nakedness and death.
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.30, 2012
I Am A Medium
By Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle
Robert Fitterman & Vanessa Place real live at Ugly Duckling Cellar Series, 12/15/12,NYC.podcast (http://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/ugly-duckling-presse/id467482083)
Recently crowned the “Harbinger of death for the poetic art” Vanessa Place evanesced w/Robert Fitterman on the occasion of Ugly Duckling’s 2nd printing of their Notes on Conceptualisms (2009. Sold out!), reading from that, and from new work, at UDP’s Fort Apache, the Old American Can Co. in bruiser Brooklyn’s wastes.
Place, meticulous mistreated hair, replete with eyebrow (f)iercings, wore one form-fitting ashen shroud. RF clad in a cotton suit elected leather sneaks. She, theatrically subdued, he “naturalistic.” This was staging with a passion, killer conscious, well contained.
Continue reading “I Am A Medium: Geoffrey Cruickshank-Hagenbuckle on Place and Fitterman” »
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.28, 2012
I was intrigued a few weeks ago when in response to my first Larry Levis post, Milford gave a little history lesson of late 60s early 70s poetry: How supposedly Merwin had influenced a lot of poets to write deep image poetry, generating a “glut” of surrealist-ish poetry, which was then abandoned as those very same poets moved on to write personal narratives of interiority and sentimentality. Milford suggested that Levis’s own writing trajectory follows this path.
I was intrigued by this not just because I liked Wrecking Crew – the Levis book I quoted from – but also because I wondered what would make somebody abandon this very lively, spasmodic poetry in favor of the type of personal narratives that so much of American poetry seemed to be about when I started writing poetry (in the late 80s).
I’m also interested in how that “glut” (too many poets, writing too much poetry etc) reflects our own current “glut” of excess, our “plague ground” as Joyelle put it way back when this debate began. There are of course tons of similarities – the expansion of the number of authors (through MFAs, GI bill etc), an interest in translation, an interest in “surrealism” (by which it might just mean non-American-based poetry).
Continue reading “From "Wrecking Crew" to "Maturity" in American Poetry: Larry Levis #2” »
"Maybe this is the reason I have no intestines": Aase Berg, Lovecraft, Fan Fictions, Juvenilia, Guinea Pigs
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.26, 2012
I was really pleased to find Mattias Forshage’s online anthology of poems by members of the Surrealist Group of Stockholm, ranging from the early days in the 1980s until today. This group had a strong influence on me when I was writing in the 90s (through Aase’s books, through their journal, Stora Saltet), while I was living in New York. (Funny how “influence” works – I was living in NYC but felt no affinity to the poetry going on there.)
Anyway, since my translation of Aase Berg’s Dark Matter is now for sale on the Black Ocean web site, I thought I would translate a couple of Berg’s poems from that anthology. This also relates to my post the other day about my interest in “fan fiction.”
Here is Berg’s poem from 1993 (a few years before With Deer was first published), which is excerpted from an autobiographical piece in the journal “Mannen på gatan” (#2), and it’s overtly a fan fiction of one of Aase’s favorites, HP Lovecraft:
Lovecraft’s creatures on the opposite roof
The roofs have started to worry me. They belong to the wild. One hopes for innocence from the roofs – in these areas where nothing every happens. But why are there so many sickeningly slow creatures crawling on them? This happens every night, in the twilight when the lamps blink in all the rooms and I start to get nervous. They are part humans but part not. They have strange little gazes which glow sometimes, and which seem mindlessly empty. I often sit much too close and look at their twitchy silhouettes. If they saw me it would mean death. That’s why I don’t dare move. That is how one should handle the evil, earned that in childhood: remain motionless. Sometimes a strange odor enters the room when I look at them – a smell that is not part of the human sense of smell. They seem troubled by the light from the windows, but they do not seem to have any plans on breaking in. I actually realize that they live in another domain; they come from another world that stay on its side and that, as long as nothing unexpected happens will never converge with reality. If we confront each other we will be annihilated, but such a confrontation seems unlikely. And above all of this, above the creatures on the blue-purple roofs, hoves a nervous starry sky that does not look like the normal one.
And then there’s this early guinea pig poem that is obviously a precedent for guinea pig poems that are in the actual book:
The Guinea Pigs
The guinea pigs naturally live in the vents. Especially in those fluttering and unexpected moments when I look up and see a guinea pig there, looking bored. IN the kitchen there’s a vent and also in the bathroom. There is moss growing in the vents. There is thankfully a grate in front of the vents in the bathroom. The bathroom ceiling is suspiciously low compared to the ceiling in the other rooms. I have a feeling that it is in this between-space that the guinea pigs reside when I want to get a hold of them to use them for something. When I lay in the bathroom I can hear the senile thumps up there, as they happen to run into each other. Sometimes I wonder what they eat. I suspect tht they are eating their own bodies from behind and from the front. Further, I suspect that it is the guinea pigs that are eating me from within when I sleep. Maybe this is the reason I have no intestines.
Relevant might also be Mattias Forshage’s post about the connection between horror movies (“splatter” movies) and Surrealism (in English). Excerpt:
Partial in favour of horror? To this crime I plead guilty. Friends of mine have noted that I will seek out and enjoy odd remarkable scenes and atmospheres even in such movies that are quite obviously poorly done, poorly held together, largely banal, or quite despicable. There is an important overall lesson hidden here, in that surrealist appropriation of cinema is shamelessly hedonistic in the sense that it focuses on anything that manifests and stimulates the poetic spirit, regardless of the quality of the craft, the smartness and brilliance, the cultural value, sociological interpretations, deconstructivist interpretations, deliberate populism, cult value or irony. On the other hand, the banalities I happily endure for the sake of these scattered moments and aspects are dependent on my selective affinity for this particular genre – confronted with the same level of banality in action or science fiction, or especially comedy or porn, it won’t take me many minutes to give up the waiting for moments of poetic productivity, which are probably there in those genres too.
Nevertheless, I will argue that horror is one of the major forms of popular surrealism. It very often represents that necessary fundamental break with realist conventions, both in literature, film and other media, and in life experience. Indeed, in life experience such realist conventions are even more stifling than in fiction, by reducing everything to a banal version decided by the least common denominator, represented by the least ambitious or hopeful reconstruction of a normality, denying all deep ambiguity, the complex sum of possibilities and determinations, the entire sphere of the unknown… This entire sphere of unusual events, overdetermined and multilayered reality, significant chance, adventure and radical doubt, calling all conventional consensus views and all lazy dull habit into question, is typically labelled as “supernatural”, and, wherever the contrast becomes acute with the conventional reductive interpretation of things and thus the strategy of habitual work-consumption-rest treadmill, as “horrifying”. So all of this fiction, the popular representations of this entire sphere of events, the popular imagination about its implications, are typically grouped together under the heading of “horror”.
This of course is an interested comparison with “The Manifesto of Parapornography” by another Surrealist Group member, Carl Michael Edenborg, which we discussed a while back on Montevidayo (Action Books will soon publish the entire book).
by Dan Hoy on Dec.21, 2012Comments Off on On Earth: In Honor of Living Posthumously (December 21, 2012) :denial, earth, honor, posthumously, shelter more...
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.20, 2012
“Extraordinary and urgent, a coded warning smuggled out of dark.”
“Aase Berg’s poetry is discomforting because it lacks boundaries . . . When I read her I notice how my consciousness tries to separate, divide up and make sense of her almost hallucinatory images, but they always glide back together. I get nauseous and almost seasick from her texts.”
—Åsa Beckman, author of I Myself A House of Light – Postmodern Swedish Women Poets
“Berg’s hallucinatory, post-cataclysmic epic takes place in an unremitting future-past. Continue reading ““The hermaphrodite is collapsing into a red giant”: Dark Matter by Aase Berg is on Sale” »
by Carina on Dec.19, 2012
Four days ago I was standing in a kitchen drinking coffee out of an actual coffee mug and watching the news on a wall-mounted TV. The president was crying onscreen. I was applying peppermint chapstick to my chapped lips and making final edits to a speech which I was reading out loud and would not be the one to give. Two nights ago I was lying in a bed watching the news again on television and I could not sleep afterwards, only woke hourly in the middle of a dream in which the president instituted The Hunger Games as a reaction to the Newtown shooting and I was to pay tribute and I did not want to die. Since last Friday, I have been watching too much news, and thinking a lot about what signifies. What is the different between ten bullets and a conversation about ten bullets? What is the ratio of theory to an actual body?
Below are some notes from A Theory of The Ingenue. Think of them while you watch the news in your kitchen, in your bathrobe, drinking coffee, considering children.
THE PASSION OF THE SIGNIFIER.
When the signifier is not itself it is a body gesturing to its own exteriority. It wants to be a thing it is the thing and the thing it wants to be is an absence. This is a gap which must be filled by a spectacle.
The spectacle is a text because it is a body. So travels the corridor of meaning and inhabits simultaneously every strata of signification.
A cadaverous disposition empiricized still a conversion. There is a high correlation between the manual and the tendency, which is to say, it creates a typeface. A typeface is a kind of freakout. A freakout is a kind of difference. A commercial.
Feminine beauty in the commercial is a double itself, a font. A font is a double of nothing, you can wear it. It is a doublet it is french it is fashionable & weight-bearing. Also: to cast; to melt; to be found.
THE PASSION OF THE SIGNIFIER
So the state sponsors an institution call it a Language or call it a Theatre.
Inside of the theatre there is a small door. The door is analogous to itself, as such. Inside of the door is a receptacle which is the world. The spectator may not choose to enter it, it is. The spectator may not choose to be an organism it is. An organism is necessarily inside of a receptacle which is the world. So a body is a world inside of a theatre which is a world through which one might enter the receptacle through a door.
The Dramaturg and The Reviewer Emerge from the Crisis of Publicity
Then the founders authorized on-site availability it was an appearance.
Appearances became important. It was befriending by a critic. A critic called a reviewer
attempts to make an order & is one.
The appearance is that of a performance, which is to say, it desires only a mask. The purpose of the mask is to mark the absence of the embodied face, which signifies nothing, because it is all.
THE FATHER IS ALWAYS A FATHER HE IS A GENRE
Inside of this genre there is a language it is an image. The image is of a disconnected limb. This is the absence for which the double has long longed. The double is a double of itself disconnected.
THE MOTHER IS ALWAYS A FATHER IT IS A GENRE
Then the spectre goes social and the passion speaks through it. The passion becomes the material of itself. Then there is a kind of lashing / it is a dreamscene of the unconscious. In this scene, the passion interviews its substitute. They play a game involving potentially infinite combinations. As such, the passion recognizes its paranoia. The paranoia is a result of the substitute’s mask. Throughout the scene, the substitute wears a mask. Initially, it is interesting.
THE HUMAN CHILD EMERGES IN AN ESSENTIAL MOMENT OF CONSTRAINT
His prop is an eye it is a lens setting fire to the signified. As an apparatus, its primary function is to normalize. Having a primary function as such it is deemed inorganic. At birth, premature, through the mother regressed phobia to perversion. This masquerade binds the metaphysical to the object. It is thus recognizable as a human child to all save the mother, for whom it is an established reflection.
by Dan Hoy on Dec.17, 2012
After those days the eternal knowledge of the God of truth withdrew from me and your mother Eve. Since that time we learned about dead things, like men. Then we recognized the god who had created us. For we were not strangers to his powers. And we served him in fear and slavery.
– The Apocalypse of Adam
As we slouch ever closer to the Great Conjunction of December 21, 2012, let us turn our attention to the Corbières mountains, where Eric Freysselinard, Prefect of the Aude department in south-central France, has banned access to the famous Pic de Bugarach.
Freysselinard’s stated concern is public safety, given the mountain’s reputation as one of the few sacred places on Earth that will survive the coming Apocalypse. Although he has yet to be called out on it in the mainstream press, this is the secular equivalent of locking all the animals out of the ark just as the rain is starting to fall.
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.16, 2012
[David Applegate, frequent commentor of this site and maker of strange music, wrote this piece about Montevidayoan Dan Hoy:]
“Revelations & Confessions: Blood Work Volume II” by Dan Hoy, an occult science-fiction chapbook
Dan Hoy’s new chapbook “Revelations & Confessions: Blood Work Volume II” from Slim Princess Holdings introduces so many ideas, it seem to overflow its short length. Thoughts on sexuality, technology, pornography, and free will explode from its thirty-three pages. Taking the pulp science-fiction trope of aliens versus humans as its central conceit, the chapbook follows a narrative arc which begins with the invention and subjugation of the human race by aliens and culminates with the reclamation of human autonomy. In the opening poem, Hoy writes: “Aliens / invent human beings / out of aliens / and fuck them.” A few poems later: “People are… / forced to fuck each other” as sex slaves under alien authority. When we arrive at: “The morning / dew / is alien cum / on my face” it becomes clear the aliens are functioning in these poems as a metaphor for nature at large; the nature which invents human beings out of itself and lays them low by imbuing them with a sexuality which appears, at first, as a degraded drive which can only lead to misery.
by Joyelle McSweeney on Dec.14, 2012
In light of various conversations going on on this site, I’m wondering what you all think about the photos of Richard Mosse. A slideshow of his work may be seen here.
Foliage reflects infrared light and camouflage absorbs it, so infrared-sensitive film can reveal camouflaged troops and buildings, as well as produce the pink tints in these pictures. In this way, Mosse highlights the eastern Congo’s natural bounty while acknowledging both the medium’s origins and, he points out, the West’s tendency to see in the Congo only darkness and insanity.
In this account, Mosse is clearly using the film with an editorial viewpoint– he chooses exoticism of hot pink verdency (paradox!) versus the ‘Heart of Darkness’ angle which erects a permanent dark shade over Africa under which ‘extermination’ is conducted.
But this is military film creating this hot pink effect– and hot pink affect– military film, developed to create better ‘targets’ for the picking off of camouflaged soldiers. Yet in Mosse’s hand, this military tool, this imaging weapon, creates a riot of artifice, a huge tide of inhuman, otherworldly pink which marks the soldiers and refugees as incredibly human, as if human-ness had concentrated in these human forms having been pushed out of the landscape by pink itself.Looked at still another way, the soliders pose in the photos like the glamorous subjects they are. Perhaps the violence of that wrenching pink is funneled through or conducted to them, rather than pressing down upon them. Perhaps this is an other element, the element not of darkness or of foreignness but of ambient violence, of war, a landscape made hyperluciferian by the lens of war itself.
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.14, 2012
[When scholarly books are published in Sweden, the authors tend to include a summary written in English. This is the summary of poet/critic Maria Margareta Österholm’s book A Girl Laboratory in Chosen Parts: Skeva Girls in Swedish and Finland Swedish Literature from 1980 to 2005, just published by the brilliant Swedish feminist press Rosenlarv.]
Girlhood is a recurring theme and problem in contemporary Swedish and Finland Swedish literature. The writings of Monika Fagerholm, Mare Kandre and Inger Edelfeldt and many other authors are full of girls not wanting or not being able to be Proper Girls. The literary girls I am writing about do not sit well with heteronormativity and try to tell other stories about girlhood. In my dissertation I explore some of the notions of fe- mininity in literature from 1980 to 2005. In this summary I will mention some of the most important aspects, starting points and elaborations of this book.
This thesis, its thinking and writing, is inspired by a wide range of feminist, queer and aesthetic theory, focusing on femininity. Because of this the very first part is an attempt to situate both the books and theories I use in Swedish debates about literature, fe- minism and femininity from the 1980’s and forth.
A crucial point of departure for me is the collaboration between literature and theory and especially how literature can be seen as theory and a way of creating knowledge. The literary texts in this thesis bring to mind Teresa de Lauretis’s views on feminist writing:
[T]hey also construct figures, at once rhetorical and narrative, that in resisting the logic of those concep- tions, point to another cognition, a reading otherwise of gender, sexuality and race. This is the sense in which these texts »do» feminist theory and are not simply feminist fiction.
I use a variation, hybrid and/or translation of queer – skev in Swedish – in my exploration of how gender is subverted and called in to question. The word skev draws on the original me- aning of queer, strange or twisted; its coinage was influenced by Norwegian and Danish attempts to translate queer. Using skev as a variation and translated hybrid of queer I also hope to capture forms of normativity not strictly tied to sexual desire – taking queer one step further but also back to the original meaning of the word. Skev, as I write about it, is a way to talk about subversive or uncomfortable girlhoods that are not easily pinned down. To elaborate skev as a theoretical notion is one of the aims of the thesis.
In the term gurlesque I found another way of thinking about and beyond proper girlhoods. Gurlesque is a mix of feminism, fe- mininity, the cute, the disgusting and the grotesque. It has everyth- ing to do with being a Riot Grrrl in the nineties and at the same time it’s not a movement or easily defined, says Arielle Greenberg, poet and literary critic who coined the term. She wanted to put a name on something she saw, a way of bringing girls and girliness to the front in literature:
Continue reading “"The Girl Laboratory": The Gurlesque and Swedish Literature by Maria Margareta Österholm” »
by Johannes Goransson on Dec.13, 2012
I’ve often heard the name Larry Levis but I haven’t read his until yesterday when I had 10 minutes to aimlessly wander around the contemporary poetry section of the library, and I just kind of picked a book at random, which I white liked.
I get a gun and go
shoot an airplane full of holes,
and stare at the thing on the runway
until its covered with rust.
This takes years.
I turn forty somewhere, waiting
for the jet underneath me to
clear its throat of burned
I love the humorous compression of time! Also, I usually hate how in James-Wright-influenced poems there’s this poetic moment at the end, where it’s supposed “earned”; I tend to feel, why not just get the poem interesting from the beginning. But here I like the ending in large part because it seems so sudden and un-earned. I think what makes these poems good are that they are always on the verge of total tastelessness and the narrator is often obscene and bordering on losing control in a very tasteless, spectacular way.
I take my last paycheck
and walk out wondering, touching
the quiet, visible gears
that aren’t turning, that run
on oil and starlight and wait
The gears are
as still as heaven or 2 clear eyes
and the sky goes suddenly blue,
clean as a bullet hole.