the shock of juxtaposition unmitigated

MOBILE, A Study for a representation of the United States, by Michel Butor, Simon & Schuster, 1963

Through an error of the inter-library loan system, I read the french edition first, and it was a fortunate error: my french being at the schoolboy level, meanings leapt at me from a turmoil of incomprehensibility – the french that I knew, the occasional english phrases flashing – you get the sense of us that Olson means, speaking of the Mayans, “the ball still snarled”, plain meaning being the exception, the miracle

the whole things is a dream, the materials being our own flat realities, it is the dreamstate we get into in driving this country, in which we sleepdrive off a straight level highway, or, as, the two grayhound buses, some years ago, near Waco, Texas, in the middle of night, the middle of nowhere, vision ahead limitless, slamming together headon

as in dreams, time-space are shattered, within the punctuation of present place and incident, we get history, anthropology, etc. – the motif of indian attention to peyotl is apt

as is the dedication to Jackson Pollock, it is the first full-length prose work I know in which – as in Pound, Williams, Olson – the meanings are stripped of all literary trappings, lying (as pigments) nakedly side by side, the shock of juxtaposition unmitigated

has Butor read our poets, or did he get it from the painters? in any case, this is a re-emergence of an old tradition of franco-american interchange, one that involved Jefferson, Franklin, Crevecoeur and de Toqueville . . . it is also in the tradition of that secondary European greed, not the landgrabbers, but those who gathered, at second hand, the land’s natural life: as, Coleridge mining the Bartrams – here, Butor makes a feast of Audubon, picking the birds clean

(Paul Metcalf, in Fire Exit, No. 3 (ca. 1969), ed. William Corbett, p. 67.)

april 1–15, 2013

Books

  • Dennis Cooper, The Marbled Swarm
  • Thomas Pletzinger, Funeral for a Dog, trans. Ross Benjamin
  • B. S. Johnson, See the Old Lady Decently
  • Dion Fortune, Psychic Self-Defense
  • Charles Portis, Gringos
  • Honoré de Balzac, The Unknown Masterpiece & Gambara, trans. Richard Howard
  • Jack London, Martin Eden
  • Avram Davidson, The Investigations of Avram Davidson

Films

  • Spellbound, directed by Alfred Hitchcock

Exhibits

  • “Photography and the American Civil War,” Met

from melville to london

“There London rented the clubhouse where his boyhood idol Robert Louis Stevenson had stayed and set out for Melville’s paradise of Happar. Tuberculosis, leprosy, and elephantiasis had decimated Melville’s noble warriors. The survivors were mostly freaks and monsters.”

(Andrew Sinclair, introduction to Jack London’s Martin Eden, pp. 11–12.)

proud flesh

“Whatever I’ve done, good, bad, or indifferent, I’ve done it and nothing can be added or substracted from it. There was an interesting article, a couple weeks ago in the New York Times magazine. It was called Ezra Pound’s Silence. To me it’s perfectly fascinating. Pound’s silence, to me, was better than the last work of Olson and William Carlos Williams. That late work was bad, it shouldn’t have happened. They should have stopped. Pound knew this about himself. He knew somehow, that the best thing he could do was to listen to his heartbeats, to sleep, to eat three meals a day. He sat at his desk and waited, and it was very beautiful . . . Olson incidentally used a phrase, I picked it up again in one of his poems the other day, a phrase that, it’s a term that fascinated me too, that I used in Genoa. It’s the term proud flesh. It’s the flesh that grows when you cut yourself. Your body produces, it’s almost cancer-like, your body overproduces to compensate, then finally reduces itself back. This is the kind of thing that I’m talking about.”

(Paul Metcalf interviewed by Russell Banks, Lillabulero 12 (Winter 1973), pp. 32–3.)

march 16–31, 2013

Books

  • Franklin Bruno, The Accordian Repertoire
  • Stanley Elkin, Early Elkin
  • H. G. Wells The Island of Dr. Moreau
  • Charles Portis, True Grit
  • Charles Newman, New Axis
  • Charles Newman, White Jazz
  • Tom Whalen, Winter Coat
  • Tom Whalen, Elongated Figures
  • Calvin Tomkins, Marcel Duchamp: The Afternoon Interviews
  • Georges Perec, La Boutique obscure: 124 Dreams, trans. Daniel Levin Becker
  • Georges Perec, The Art of Asking Your Boss for a Raise, trans. David Bellos
  • Cordwainer Smith, You Will Never Be the Same
  • J. G. Ballard, The Day of Forever
  • Adolfo Bioy Casares & Silvina Ocampo, Where There’s Love, There’s Hate, trans. Suzanne Jill Levine & Jessica Ernst Powell
  • Karen Green, Bough Down

Films

  • Spring Breakers, directed by Harmony Korine
  • Games, dir. Curtis Harrington

Exhibits

  • “The Impressionist Line from Degas to Toulouse-Lautrec: Drawings and Prints from the Clark,” Frick
  • “Piero della Francesca in America,” Frick
  • National Museum of the American Indian
  • “Marcel Duchamp’s Nude Descending a Staircase: An Homage,” Francis M. Naumann Fine Art