The best intellectual moments I’ve had come from a mixing of disciplines. Maybe the first times I really felt this is freshman year of college, taking English Literature courses, Economics, third-year Calculus, and a seminar on the last 100 years in Germany. Keith Gessen
recently mentioned the parallel development of literature in a piece on DFW, “In the 1920s you have your Russian modernists and your Anglo-American modernists and German modernists, and they’re all very much alike but that makes sense because they knew each other and all read the same books, but you’ll also, if you look, find Bulgarian modernists and Portuguese modernists, and so on.” What’s always fascinated me is the zeitgeist carries across disciplines as well — modernism, for example, doesn’t just refer to thematically unlinked movements in different disciplines; modernism is a term that gets at something essential underlying intellectual pursuits from math to literature to philosophy to economics.
Posted in Continuum, Crazy Ideas, David Foster Wallace, De Certeau, Freedom of Religion, Infinity, Kandinsky, Picasso, Platonism, theory, To Read, What Is Art?, Zeitgeist
A couple weeks ago, I had the pleasure of attending with fellow No Record Press bloggers Dave Feinstein and Sarah Todd a reading by Keith Gessen and Charles Bock at New York’s Bowery Poetry Club. Dave and I met at the next-door Irish bar in time for happy hour and made it just that. The bartender briefly lost my credit card, resulting in a round of Jameson on the house.
We made it next door and paid our seven dollars. Then, like a drunken sorority girl studying in Milan, I bought nearly everything in sight (thanks for the loan, Maayan!). The difficulty and expense of obtaining books in Manila had prohibited me from taking advantage of the MOST ANTICIPATED BOOK RELEASE OF THE YEAR, which was something of a player in the earlier drama posted here, The Spectacle of Keith Gessen and Emily Gould (and Part II). In addition to All The Sad Young Literary Men, I also picked up the n+1 booklet “What We Should Have Known”, which promises to tell me about what I should have known six years ago: that I’m seven years behind the curve and never again to be in front of the eight ball. Continue reading
Posted in All The Sad Young Literary Men, Benjamin Kunkel, books, Coffee, Concentric Circles, Keith Gessen, n+1, originality, Politics, Relationships, theory, To Read, What Is Art?
I gave a lecture two weeks ago. Originally, I’d wanted to talk about what I call “automatic art.” The term refers to the process of using operations of chance (or mathematics) to create works of art. John Cage did this when he composed “12 Radios, 24 People,” which required the performers to adjust radios to predetermined frequencies on a predetermined schedule. While all the performers operations are controlled for, the location of the radios is not. Since different locations receive different combinations and strengths of radio stations, the piece cannot be the same in any two locations. Location, then, rather than any action by the performer, is the creative element in the piece. Cage’s algorithm simply permits location to enact its effect.
As I was preparing the lecture, I realized that to deliver a controlled, linear, sequentially-organized lecture on automatic processes and chance operations was sort of hypocritical. Or at odds with itself. The lecture had to be the product of a sequence of chance operations. Yet I still wanted it to function as a traditional lecture–providing facts and interpretation to the audience. So I rounded up all the concepts I’d considered for the lecture (including “Light Speed Travel,” “Finnegans Wake,” “Early Polar Expeditions“–I go for the gusto with these lectures), wrote them on little scraps of paper, and put them in a hat. Continue reading
Posted in Amnesia, Concentric Circles, Continuum, Crazy Ideas, Deconstruction, dream loading station, Fancy French Phrases, General Relativity, Interpretations of Finnegan's Wake, James Joyce, New York City, Paradoxes, Poetry Process, Psychotic Behavior, The Scientific Impulse, The Spectacle, theory, What Is Art?
Don’t I look like an ass now? In my last post on poetry, I
bragged blogged about how I don’t read The New Yorker anymore. Well, leave it to an old friend to call me out and send me a link to a terribly interesting article by Dan Chiasson from, yes, The New Yorker, about Frank O’Hara, the power of his personality, and how his poetry flows directly from his immense Gatsby-like creation of self.
Chiasson’s delightful prose aside, the article describes how poetry is a secondary activity to O’Hara’s life and personality. “O’Hara’s first real accomplishment was his personality, which became famous long before his poems did,” writes Chiasson. During the 1950s, art was cross-pollination: jazz mingled with literature and painting, and all art gossiped frantically over cocktails in bohemian New York. O’Hara’s personality was a magnetic combination of aesthetics and nuanced, designed taste. His circle of friends — and his poetry — perhaps better than any artist exemplified the “His personality was always a brilliant contrivance, practically a work of art: improvised, self-revising, full of feints.” Continue reading
Same warnings as last post. This post goes into political philosophy, the public and private distinction, Vaclav Havel, more thoughts on the nature of spectacle and n+1 and the future of the internet as medium of the spectacle.
In the last episode of “The Spectacle of Keith Gessen and Emily Gould,” I posited that there’s a meta-spectacle that exists around Gessen and Gould, one in which they willingly participate (albeit in different amounts), and it has already been speculated upon by the editors n+1 in a few issues. What this results in is a collapse of the distinction between art and artist, which is taking the notion of “careerism” in modern art a step further. The newsworthiness of an artist’s life becomes a substitute for
true traditional critique. And it’s at least somewhat weird and meta that both Gessen and Gould are smart enough to comment upon this even while it’s happening to them. Plenty more after the jump. Continue reading
Posted in Emily Gould, Gawker, Keith Gessen, Marxism, n+1, Political Philosophy, The Internets, The Power of the Powerless, The Spectacle, vaclav havel, What Is Art?
Warning: Literary scene-cum-blogosphere-cum-Marxist theory navel-gazing ahead. Most people will not give a shit about the following post — perhaps even less than they care about poetry! Fortunately for me, I do what I want, and Sarah wants to read this post, so that’s something. I’m pretty sure Dave doesn’t. Maybe by writing about it I can draw myself in closer to this spectacle?
There’s this Gawker post about the relationship between n+1 co-founder Keith Gessen and ex-Gawker contributor Emily Gould. It’s an interesting occasion to think about writers, celebrity, and Guy Debord’s theory of the spectacle. Plenty more after the jump. Continue reading