Newsstand Sophisticate

Jan 2

farmingtonlibrary:

book sculpture by Madrid-based Spanish artist Alicia Martín (x)

(via unabridgedbookstore)


Jul 30

Apollo, the god of light, of reason, of proportion, harmony, number—Apollo blinds those who press too close in worship. Don’t look straight at the sun. Go into a dark bar for a bit and have a beer with Dionysius, every now and then.

I talk about the gods, I am an atheist. But I am an artist too, and therefore a liar. Distrust everything I say. I am telling the truth.

Ursula K. Le Guin, Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness

Lazer Zeppelin or Spotlight?

I’m trying to get my website going after a long period of dithering and inaction. Check it out if you want to see me compare fiction to planetarium laser shows and nonfiction to a spotlight. 


“Predictions are uttered by prophets (free of charge); by clairvoyants (who usually charge a fee, and are therefore more honored in their day than prophets); and by futurologists (salaried). Prediction is the business of prophets, clairvoyants, and futurologists. It is not the business of novelists. A novelist’s business is lying.” Ursula K. Le Guin, Introduction to The Left Hand of Darkness

Jul 10

wwnorton:

"Like Herman Melville, his closest literary ancestor, he was unremembered when he died in 2009 at age 94, one more Ishmael, with a small coterie of followers."

The Daily Beast profiles the forgotten genius of James Purdy as Liveright Publishing Corporation releases his complete short stories and a new edition of his 1964 novel Cabot Wright Begins. John Waters has described Purdy’s short stories as “fairy tales for your twisted mind that should never be described to the innocent.”

James Purdy is excellent at uncovering the mysterious, haunted, hidden, creepy and beautiful reality beneath the surface of “normal” American life, and giving life to outsider characters. I learned about him from John Waters’s “101 Things I Love,” so I’m pleased to see Waters has written an introduction to his collected stories. I recommend beginning with his novel The Nephew.


High Art

Daniel Spaulding has written an interesting article in Briarpatch

At least one of [T.J.]Clark’s points still strikes me as crucial, though. When he mentions ‘the absence of a bourgeoisie,’ he doesn’t mean that there aren’t any CEOs. Rather, he means those CEOs don’t have a culture worthy of the name: they can’t project their way of life into art except by poaching from creative forces elsewhere in society. Hence they always look a bit out of place at their own museums. The art that truly ‘belongs’ to the bourgeoisie is self-evidently an indictment of the class. These are cultural clay feet at which we anti-capitalists ought to be hammering away with glee.

Put bluntly, there isn’t a way for the capitalist class to represent itself in art without immediately falling into grotesque self-mockery. But the rich are apparently fine with that – or else oblivious. The examples are endless. Last November, for instance, the artist Jeff Koons sold his sculpture Tulips – a bouquet of stainless steel balloon flowers resembling Tootsie Pops – for $33.6 million U.S., a sum just shy of the highest ever paid at auction for the work of a living artist. Koons’ lucky customer was the hotel magnate Steve Wynn, who has excoriated President Obama’s insufficiently abject support for ‘job creators’ like himself. How many jobs have Wynn’s millions of dollars in art purchases created, one wonders. Such is the logic of enlightened patronage today: sale by sale, press release by press release, the art world moves further beyond the reach of parody.”

You can read the whole thing, “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell,” at Briarpatch

I think it’s true (and has been for a while) that art’s ability to shock or be overtly, politically subversive has been waning to the point of nonexistence for a long time. That’s why it’s a more important task to change the economic and social conditions in which it’s made, or at the very least to foster community and mutual support between like-minded artists than imagine that art is either going to be supported by—or destroy!—an “unfair” art (or publishing or whatever) market. 


Jul 8
“In ‘Scènes de la vie de bohème,’ [Henry Murger] succeeded beyond his ambition. He succeeded not only in writing a popular book, one that was translated into twenty languages, successfully dramatized, candied into an opera, one that enabled its author to live in bourgeois comfort, but also in changing an image in the public mind. Grub Street, where dinnerless Gildon drew his venal quill, contemptible Grub Street, the haunt of apprentices and failures and Henry Murger, was transformed into glamorous bohemia. The unwilling expedient became a permanent way of life, became a cult with rituals and costumes, a doctrine adhered to not only by artists, young and old, rich and poor, but also in later years by designers, stylists, trade-paper sub-editors, interior decorators, wolves, fairies, millionaire patrons of art, sadists, nymphomaniacs, bridge sharks, anarchists, women living on alimony, tired reformers, educational cranks, economists, hopheads, dipsomaniac playwrights, nudists, restaurant keepers, stockbrokers, and dentists craving self-expression.” Malcolm Cowley, Exile’s Return

Jun 25

Jun 20

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