Friday, August 31, 2007

Thursday, August 30, 2007

Dream Reading

A friend in San Francisco gave me Waverley and I can't put it down, largely for set-pieces like this:

"Mac-Murrogh, the family bhairdh, an aged man, immediately took the hint, and began to chaunt, with low and rapid utterance, a profusion of Celtic verses, which were received by the audience with all the applause of enthusiasm. As he advanced in his declamation, his ardour seemed to increase. He had at first spoken with his eyes fixed on the ground; he now cast them around as if beseeching, and anon as if commanding attention, and his tones rose into wild and impassioned notes, accompanied with appropriate gesture. He seemed to Edward, who attended to him with much interest, to recite many proper names, to lament the dead, to apostrophize the absent, to exhort and entreat and animate those who were present. Waverley thought he even discerned his own name, and was convinced his conjecture was right, from the eyes of the company being at that moment turned towards him simultaneously. The ardour of the poet appeared to communicate itself to the audience. Their wild and sun-burned countenances assumed a fiercer and more animated expression; all bent forwards toward the reciter, many sprung up and waved their arms in ecstacy, and some laid their hands on their swords. When the song ceased, there was a deep pause, while the aroused feelings of the poet and of the hearers gradually subsided into their usual channel."

--Sir Walter Scott, Waverley, 1814

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Genre Envy

How the pleasure of the novel is essentially voyeuristic: "I'd like to see that."

How the pleasure of the lyric is essentially narcissistic: "I could do that."

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Toward a Theory of Aesthetic Response

"The odes of shao are completely beautiful and wholly good, the odes of wu are completely beautiful but not wholly good."

Monday, August 27, 2007

Dept. of Monday

"Pluck the quince
to serve a prince"

Friday, August 17, 2007

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Up With People

Good friends make bad moats.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

"Rain through the windowpanes that looked like melting silver"

"After all, life is not a Hindi movie," chides Khaled Hosseini, 357 pages into writing one.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007


Kasey's got Jacques Tourneur's "Canyon Passage" so exactly right that it only remains for me to say that Tourneur's take on the Old West is so disdainful of the provincial groupthink, frontier thuggery, and sexual capitalism gussied up as "family values" that none of his leads can finally live in the world the film pretends to celebrate: Manifest Destiny as covert boho suburban flight.

Monday, August 13, 2007

Dept. of Dead French Memoirists

"...and posterity will consider as a myth what we ourselves can only look back on as a dream."

Louis de Rouvroy, duc de Saint-Simon, Memoirs

Friday, August 10, 2007

Kevin Killian Intro, 8/9/07

Here's the intro I read for Kevin Killian last night at Tangent. (Matthew Stadler introduced Dodie.) Reading report to follow.
I can’t think of San Francisco anymore without thinking of Kevin Killian. He’s like the Sam Spade or Rice-A-Roni of poetry. Spend any time in the Bay Area, and before long you can’t see Kevin’s name without hearing the clang of the cable car. (*Ding ding dinga dinga ding!*).

Since I moved to Portland, I’m learning how to share Kevin with the rest of the world. For at least 7,506 unsuspecting Americans, he’s simply Amazon reviewer number 101, whose dazzling and occasionally acid reviews of everything from corporate gift baskets to glow-in-the-dark body jewelry, big budget movies to criminally under-read small press poetry, may be the most important conceptual writing project of our time.

Kevin’s also just returned from a V.I.P. reading engagement at Art Basel 38, the so-called “Olympic Games” of the art world. I guess like jazz or David Hasselhoff, Kevin’s had to go to Europe to find his true measure of glory. (Shame on us.) He’s just published a kind of Jamesian lamb-among-the-lions account of his trip to Switzerland, called “Diary of a Nobody.” In it, he stalks a pretentious art luminary paparrazi-style; recruits the passing talent to perform in his plays; and, as always, takes time to get the pulse of whatever the youth are up to. (There's not a being on the planet more generous to younger writers than Kevin is.)

Kevin’s zippy dissection of Art Basel reminds me of all the things I love about his work. His writing makes art seem sexy—that Kylie Minogue, Pollock-in-denim kind of sexy, the kind of sexy we usually reserve for movie stars and pop idols, but why? Why can’t Donald Judd shine just a little like Wynona? Why can’t high be low?

Kevin probes the unsettling erotics of fandom like nobody else I know. His work explores the way celebrity has of exposing our most intimate fears and desires publicly, almost collaboratively, in the ritualized obsessions of the superfan, the collector, the Amazon reviewer. Kevin’s writing, itself so often collaborative, is also a brave experiment (really a mercy mission) to make poetry sexy again. He treats the frumpy act of placing words on the page as if it deserved all the razzing, glamour, adulation and scandal that the famous get, even the B-list ones, and even at its most satirical, I’ve never read Kevin’s work, or seen it performed, without feeling somehow larger, like being a poet is an important and totally hot kind of thing to be.

Kevin, you’re not a nobody. You’re an Alp, and we’re thrilled to have you read for us in Portland.

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Dept. of Friendly Reminders

If you're anywhere within a hundred miles of Portland tomorrow, come hear San Francisco Wunderkammern Dodie Bellamy & Kevin Killian read for Tangent.
The Tangent Reading Series presents

Dodie Bellamy and Kevin Killian
This Thursday, August 9 @ 7:00 p.m.
Clinton Corner Cafe
2633 SE 21st Ave. in Portland
Admission is free

Come early, and have dinner, if you like. Please stay after and join us for conversation and festivities!

Dodie Bellamy will be introduced by Matthew Stadler
Kevin Killian will be introduced by Rodney Koeneke

Dodie Bellamy's essays and reviews have appeared in The Village Voice, The San Francisco Chronicle, Bookforum, Out/Look and The San Diego Reader as well as numerous literary journals and web sites. In January, 2006, she curated an installation of Kathy Acker's clothing for White Columns, New York's oldest alternative art space. With Kevin Killian, she has edited over 130 issues of the literary/art zine Mirage #4/Period(ical). Her latest collection, Academonia, was published by Krupskaya in 2006. Other books include Pink Steam and The Letters of Mina Harker. Her book Cunt-Ups won the 2002 Firecracker Alternative Book Award for poetry.

Kevin Killian has written a book of poetry, Argento Series (2001), two novels, Shy (1989) and Arctic Summer (1997), a book of memoirs, Bedrooms Have Windows (1989), and a book of stories, Little Men (1996), that won the PEN Oakland award for fiction. A second collection, I Cry Like a Baby, was published by Painted Leaf Books in 2001. He and Peter Gizzi are currently (2007) editing Jack Spicer's complete poems. For the San Francisco Poets Theater Killian has written thirty plays, including Stone Marmalade (1996, with Leslie Scalapino) and Often (2001, with Barbara Guest). He is most recently the author of Selected Amazon Reviews, edited by Brent Cunningham (Hooke Press, 2006).

Tuesday, August 07, 2007


The way the ‘70s seeped into the mainstream? Via crafts.

Macrame as anarcho-political act.

Monday, August 06, 2007

Goodbye, Gandhigiri

Bollywood bad boy Sanjay Dutt (in pink at left) was sentenced last week to six years in prison for his involvement in the 1993 Mumbai bombings. My interest in Bollywood peters out around 1980, but Sanjay's father, Sunil Dutt, was one of the great stars of postwar Indian cinema, and his mother, Nargis, virtually invented the modern Bollywood heroine in her landmark films of the 1950s with Raj Kapoor.

That Nargis, born a Muslim, and Dutt, a Hindu, met on the set of "Mother India" in 1957 made them emblematic of the nation's aspirations to unity and post-Partition peace. Sanjay's most famous role was that of Munna Bhai, a Mumbai mob boss who 'converts' to the teachings of Mahatma Gandhi ('Gandhigiri'). Which gives his arrest for receiving arms from his Muslim underworld buddies an especially ironic twist: aspiration turned to fantasy turned to farce.

Friday, August 03, 2007

Misunderstandings Between Friends

We just found out that one of Auden's teachers, "Mr. Brian," is really Brian Oaster, a very talented illustrator and 'webtoonist' who does an online strip called Misunderstandings Between Friends. We endured First Thursday in the Pearl yesterday to go to the launch of his new book, At Home On Earth; came home with a signed illustration of zeppelins. Congratulations, Mr. Brian.

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Dept. of Monkeys on Backs

Who is GoodReads and how is it I got addicted?