A Radical Cut In The Texture Of Reality.

September 17, 2014

Revised list of ten books


After reading A Feminist Response to "List Ten Books that Stayed with you Some Way" I decided to redo my previous list. This new version was also made somewhat spontaneously, while at the same time attempting to correct my previous, perhaps unconscious, bias. Here's the new list:

1. Aliens & Anorexia – Chris Kraus
2. The Transformation – Juliana Spahr
3. Motion Sickness – Lynne Tillman
4. The Adventures and Misadventures of Maqroll – Alvaro Mutis
5. Ghostly Matters – Avery F. Gordon
6. The Manuscript Found in Saragossa – Jan Potocki
7. The Girl in the Road – Monica Byrne
8. Third Factory – Viktor Shklovsky
9. Event Factory – Renee Gladman
10. Ethics Of Luxury: Materialism And Imagination – Jeanne Randolph 


Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie


Things are better when left unfinished. Though he worked on it off and on for approximately twenty-three years, Pessoa never managed to finish his Book of Disquiet. It is a book of fragments upon fragments, left behind in a trunk along with a lifetime of other writings. As a writer Pessoa also continuously fragmented himself into other writers he famously called heteronyms: imaginary characters created to write in different styles. The Book of Disquiet was also written by one of these versions of self, a semi-heteronym called Bernardo Soares, an accountant working on Rua dos Douradores. With Adventures can be found anywhere, même dans la mélancolie we will continue to re-write these fragments. We are both sure and unsure of our task, much as Pessoa must have been as he continued to compose endless versions of the ever-growing original manuscript. Is our task to make the book a little bit happier or a little bit more contemporary? That is one humorous story we might sometimes tell ourselves. Perhaps there will soon be others.


September 12, 2014

Jacqueline Mabey wrote this on my timeline...


Jacqueline Mabey wrote this on my timeline:

"i've been thinking about your comments about only experiencing solidarity as a short-lived or temporary condition. and thinking that maybe that's critical to it: we stand in solidarity with others in order to reach some critical mass or moment of progressive chance, some change of state. so maybe solidarity is utopian in that it is no-place, it is nowhere you can inhabit permanently but a shifting space of alliances."

Followed by this link:

Students show solidarity by helping Columbia rape survivor carry her mattress


August 28, 2014

I don’t mind being wrong.


I don’t mind being wrong. I don’t mind writing things, and publishing them, and then later realizing they were in fact completely or partially wrong. I don’t mind someone reading something I wrote and disagreeing with it, or even thinking I’m an idiot. (Though I do at times feel it is my job as an artist to activate honest or vulnerable reactions in and around my words.) When I read something, I am not looking for it to tell me how things are. I want to consider it, question it, decide for myself, agree or disagree, be provoked or refuse to be provoked. I want to read two different, intelligent, well-written texts that argue almost opposite points of view and consider all the ramifications of how they relate to each other, conflict and intertwine. I’m not saying there is no truth, but rather truth is the thoughts we choose to fight for, and in doing so we must continuously consider other possible perspectives on each matter. I fear that people who want to be right see thought as a sport and they want to win. I’ve never been good at winning, so perhaps when I say ‘I don’t mind being wrong’ it is only a form of sour grapes. But I wonder: how is it possible to really know what one is doing? To write something and think: now I’ve really got it. Not to hope one might still think something remarkably different in the future, might still have the good fortune to completely contradict oneself. At the same time, I don’t want to only be wrong, I don’t want to get more and more wrong the further I go, or to be my own worst enemy. And realizing I was wrong about something in the past does not mean that suddenly now I’ve got it all figured out. Of course, constantly changing my mind about every single thing all the time is exhausting, so I agree (with myself) to think a few things for the time being. Time heals all wounds.


August 26, 2014

I have fallen in lust with this universe...



"The novelist Robert Anton Wilson once described art as an act of seduction. If this is true, then Polyamorous Love Song is Jacob Wren's sly invitation into a world of sex cults, neorealist filmmaking, and radical biological-warfare. It entices you with an alternate universe where all your strangest fantasies are not just a reality, but a new way of life for people all over the world. Contrary to my best judgement, I have fallen in lust with this universe... along with everyone in it."

- Alison as part of McNally Robinson's staff picks


August 22, 2014

A short text on certain aspects of collaboration


All of my work has been in (some sort of) collaboration and yet I’ve always found these experiences of working together difficult, often unpleasant, and continue mainly because I have some ideological belief in it: that in working together with other people it is possible to make something more compelling, more tender, more unexpected, more vulnerable than it is possible to make alone. I don’t know if I genuinely believe this (anymore), in reality, but I continue to believe it in some other sense: as an ideal or fantasy. Then the question becomes: how does this ideal or fantasy interact with the difficulty of the reality? What do I do with my frustrations and disappointments? How do I lower my expectations while at the same time working towards something worthwhile?

Or a different kind of question: how does one live and take energy from one’s own loneliness? I know, as a teenager, I thought it perfectly reasonable to assume that working with others would make me feel less alienated, less isolated. For the most part it has not. I now fear I pinned my teenage hopes on the wrong misguided solution. I now wonder if there was some other question: how to be alienated together (from both each other and the world)? I associate being in a group with talking. What would it mean for me to associate it with silence? Or music? In a conversation about working in collectives, someone once told me there was a Columbian (I think it was Columbian) expression: “He with the most spit wins.” This made me laugh out loud in recognition. But am I even thinking about collectives anymore? What about leadership? What kind of leadership allows all members to flourish? Or a model where, for different things, at different times, we each take turns being in charge?

In a completely different text, I recently wrote: “I keep circling round and round this idea that what politics needs today is a different way of thinking about time, that the problem with Marxism is it was working towards victory in the future, while what we need is more like a victory of living together in mutual loneliness, a victory-in-the-present-as-future-that-will-never-come, which sounds frustrating, and probably is. But how to imagine this impossible present-future hybrid as not frustrating, as something good, something desirable, a struggle and strength worth having, as possible. Trying to imagine the things I am not yet able to imagine.”

A short text should end with a fantasy and the fantasy is as follows: I have an idea for how we should do it and you have an idea for how we should do it. I don’t much care for your idea and you don’t much care for mine. But we respect each other enough. So we try to think together what aspects of your idea are most important to you and what aspects of my idea are most important to me, to come up with a third idea that is so much more remarkable than anything either of us could ever come up with on our own. And we realize we have made a breakthrough, cherish this fact, want to keep going so it might someday happen again. And perhaps such things happen every day. Or perhaps togetherness really becomes magical when we leave, once and for all, the realm of ideas behind.


August 11, 2014

The BookThug Interview with Jacob Wren author of Polyamorous Love Song

"And yet in that feeling that my position is marginal, there's also the hope that anything can happen..."


August 8, 2014

A convention-busting novel about breaking social and aesthetic norms.


Polyamorous Love Song is a dream-like novel about the meaning and value of dreams, a convention-busting novel about breaking social and aesthetic norms. Wren has successfully married content and form, but it is important to remember to what end. Form is prescriptive. The value of a polyamorous love song would be the new kinds of love stories it would allow us to tell. This Polyamorous Love Song is dark, murky, anarchistic, but also deeply aspirational – a form to better reflect the conflicting desires of our lives and our dreams.

- Jade Colbert for The Globe and Mail.

[Read the rest of the review here.]


August 6, 2014

Seven quotations on failure


Failure exists in Relation to goals. Nature has no goals and so can’t fail. Humans have goals, and so they have to fail. Often the wonderful configurations produced by failure reveal the pettiness of the goals. Of course we have to go on striving for success, otherwise we could not genuinely fail. If Buster Keaton wasn’t genuinely trying to put up his house it wouldn’t be funny when it falls down on him.
– Cornelius Cardew

I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times, I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.
– Michael Jordan

Lacan is not this kind of poet of failure. The truly traumatic thing is that miracles – not in the religious sense but in the sense of free acts – do happen, but it’s very difficult to come to terms with them. So we should reject this idea of a poetry of failure. For Lacan, Real is not this kind of Thing-in-itself that we cannot approach; Real is, rather, freedom as a radical cut in the texture of reality.
– Slavoj Žižek

Steven Soderbergh: A lot of people who write about art don’t understand the importance of failure, the importance of process. Woody Allen can’t leap from Annie Hall to Manhattan. He has to make Interiors in between to get to Manhattan. You’ve got to let him do that.

Interviewer: But if someone’s making a good number of films regularly, the margin for error is greater than if you’re only making three in your life.

Steven Soderbergh: Yeah, but you’re going to make some mistakes. Every time you make something that somebody likes, your impulse is to remind them that if you hadn’t made some of these other things that they hated, you wouldn’t have been able to make the thing that they liked. The attitude toward the stuff they don’t like is so extreme because they don’t understand the role that it has in your development.

I assumed that everything would lead to complete failure, but I decided that didn't matter – that would be my life.
– Jasper Johns

Success and failure are greatly overrated. But failure gives you a whole lot more to talk about.
– Hildegard Knef

If at first you don't succeed, failure may be your style.
– Quentin Crisp