Newsstand Sophisticate

Jul 30
“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

May 17
groveatlanticinc:

The folks over at PWxyz have come out with another literary pie chart, this time for Samuel Beckett’s trilogy (MOLLOY, MALONE DIES, THE UNNAMABLE). Fabulous.
http://bit.ly/10CUFeQ

Three percent stone sucking.

groveatlanticinc:

The folks over at PWxyz have come out with another literary pie chart, this time for Samuel Beckett’s trilogy (MOLLOY, MALONE DIES, THE UNNAMABLE). Fabulous.

http://bit.ly/10CUFeQ

Three percent stone sucking.


May 16
“Nothing is so firmly believed as that which least is known.”  Michel de Montaigne (via berfrois)

Apr 26
wordpainting:

“Don’t be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful to me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.” ― Italo Calvino, If on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

I need a T-shirt that says “READ ITALO CALVINO”.

wordpainting:

“Don’t be amazed if you see my eyes always wandering. In fact, this is my way of reading, and it is only in this way that reading proves fruitful to me. If a book truly interests me, I cannot follow it for more than a few lines before my mind, having seized on a thought that the text suggests to it, or a feeling, or a question, or an image, goes off on a tangent and springs from thought to thought, from image to image, in an itinerary of reasonings and fantasies that I feel the need to pursue to the end, moving away from the book until I have lost sight of it. The stimulus of reading is indispensable to me, and of meaty reading, even if, of every book, I manage to read no more than a few pages. But those few pages already enclose for me whole universes, which I can never exhaust.” ― Italo CalvinoIf on a Winter’s Night a Traveler

I need a T-shirt that says “READ ITALO CALVINO”.

(via unabridgedbookstore)


Apr 24
“Perhaps I should be more suspicious of my belief that there is inherent value in literature. It could be pure, self-serving, soft-brained romanticism, the belief that probing the most delicate and subtle areas of the mind by, say, listening to music or reading will develop what’s human in you. There are abundant examples of reactionary, loony, virulently prejudiced artists and art lovers, so one can hardly insist that art is definitively good for the brain. But I believe that a lack of art is really bad for the brain. Art itself is inherently subversive. It’s destabilizing. It undermines, rather than reinforces, what you already know and what you already think. It is the opposite of propaganda. It ventures into distant ambiguities, it dismantles the received in your brain and refines what you can experience.” Deborah Eisenberg, “The Art of Fiction No. 218,” The Paris Review No. 204, Spring 2013