Thursday, November 30, 2006

What Out There Should Be in Here? Your Picks

I am quite sure a few of you literarily avid, intellectually gravid readers cherish some splendid non-English-writing authors in the contemporary scene. As I posted a few weeks ago, we tend to disseminate the Anglo word far more than we embrace the non-English world. Who are some of the stalwarts you've come across elsewhere and in a different tongue that merit our attention and aren't yet published in English? No, you don't need to translate that special book, simply raise a toast to its recognition by mentioning it here. curley

Monday, November 27, 2006

Mea Culpa

By the way and, by and by, the last blog was by me, Curley. Sorry to be so harsh and seemingly anonymous. The view therein is my own and does not reflect any of the other bloggers on this site. But to be fair, I am always enthralled by interspecies collaboration. Therefore, I am quite pleased that heterogeneous members of the animal kingdom can lay down their differences and become friendly with one another. So when I see a police officer on horseback, I am grateful to see pigs on horses and there doesn't seem to be any tension. At least between them. Oink, neigh!

Know Your Rights

These days, I wouldn't be surprised if you thought that the title of this blog came from The Clash's 1982 song. Alas, an important non-fiction read is distributed for free in ACLU offices, a few schools and community centers, and at the library (where I got mine). The pamphlet, "Know Your Rights," discusses what your legal rights are as a citizen (or non-citizen, and I love them too) when confronted by law enforcement. Unfortunately, when one is dealing with such a blatanly racist and trigger-happy police force like the NYPD, even knowing your rights won't save you. I write this in light of the fatal shooting death of Sean Bell, twenty-three years old, murdered by undercover officers the day of what should have been his wedding. Excessive force? Perhaps, but not really. Why not? Because the term 'excessive' points to extremity whereas the NYPD's typical treatment of African Americans and other people of color is excessive and, therefore, the excess becomes normative. My rage at this execution is deep; so is my sadness for Sean Bell and his family. To keep this on the literary track, I will quote an excerpt of Amiri Baraka's "Black Art": "Assassin poems, Poems that shoot/guns. Poems that wrestle cops into alleys/and take their weapons leaving them dead/with tongues pulled out and sent to Ireland." Ah, literary license; ah, Ireland's GNP, so mighty it can afford to exploit predominantly Eastern European nationals. Perhaps some American cops too.

Right on!

Just finished reading Peniel Joseph's WAITING 'TILL THE MIDNIGHT HOUR: A NARRATIVE HISTORY OF BLACK POWER IN AMERICA. Dear readers, get your hands on this superb book. Joseph contextualizes the parallel movement of black power to the civil rights movement with a historian's exhaustiveness, a poet's pen, and perfect pitch. He undertakes a rigorous analysis and assessment which are even-handed and sympathetic to the myriad forms of ideology, practice, and personality that set the stage for a crucial aspect of the struggle for liberation in this country. If only all historiography was so adroitly penned. This is an exciting and instructive read; I hope it finds a wide readership. Moreover, I hope that readership looks back fondly at the kind of liberatory efforts that are now casually neglected or debased in the service of the moribund politics of this country in this moment. curley

message from Apocohipster Hashshashin terminally obsessively seeks?
souks,Hashchish dens o' inequity,
in wanderin' sands o' desert, twistin' dark sinister
alleys, wi'in terminal
emergency wards o' minds shattered by Robopathic
societus Control
Machine, in Mosques o' Ecstasy, in bombed out
cathedrals o' Church o'
Poisoned Mind, in esoteric texts blown down desolate
streets in these
wasteland Zones o' Planet Terror...what?...
one be quite aware it can't possibly be "identity"-for
too long one has been
Hip that that there delusion is yet another chain
wrapped around human
flesh by cretin meglomaniacs o' societus...
a "self"? a "soul"? ah,man,NO!!! don'GO there!!!
perhaps a turquoise tent o' sky lies as if a veil
above one's skull?
a piercin' orb o' sun sets one's flesh 'n' lusts
be there ever an oasis where one might even for a
moment rest?
must one's fate be damned t' this absurd bizarre quest
for unspeakable
unthinkable insatiable desires for unknown 'n'
unrealizable ???...
more than likely-yes!
I who have crawled out o' putrid womb o' a world
damned by its
mediocrity,banality, ennui,
hypocrisy,greed,self-destruct praxis...
precocious manchild delinquent, sinister
adolescent,Wild Boy maleslut
whore, demented exile from wars 'n' revolutions,
survivor o' Night's
adventures in drugs sex 'n' rock 'n' roll...
archaic authentic Hipster Vagabond spoutin' spoken
word rants
t' rats 'n' alleycats 'n' Punks 'n' Bikers 'n'
citizens fleein' horrors
they brought on themselves...
be there a soothe? a Coolthe? for any o' us?
I might be crazy but I ain't n'Fool! Man,like,I
wouldn' even begin t' attempt
t' try t' answer ANY question!
obviously there be NO answers!
indubitibly all one can hope for be
another quicksilver GypsyMoon t' illuminate one's
perhaps be blessed wi' caress o' other flesh
a break from this insidious bullshit "reality"!
draggin' oneself on
down these roads
vultures 'n' stormcrows circlin' one's skull
gallows beckonin' dare one make one stupid mistake
or guillotines
or Marines
or radioactive massive mushrooms
on horizon
soarin' at one
vampirizin' any vague hope o' tomorrow...

Hassan i Sabbah


PAUL BOWLES:"...Thus for a dedicated smoker,the
passage to the "other world" is
often a pilgrimage undertaken for the express purpose
of oracular consultation..."

Crescent Moon casts a sliver o' light
upon twistin' dark alleys
in labyrinthes o' NightSide
which Damned Embrace
upon ravaged Planet Terror
lunatic humanity spews forth
Mutant WildOne
chains 'n' spikes o' DADAPUNK
adorn heavy boots 'n' black leather rags
ANDROGYN-X Dervish O' Transgression
in terminal HEAT
longtongued 'n' obsessive LUST
boil wi'in his guts
flashfloods o' creativity
breakthru walls o' mind
fires burn t' ash
Robopathic slime o' Control Machine
embroyos dance in aquatic UFOs
"Mektoub,it be Written
'n' here I be!"
He hisses,like,King Cobra
muted hypnotic nuances
"I bring ya Anarchy! Sorcery!
Sensuality! Liberation!"

Hyenas devour icons
at Nightmare's Edge
maggots rats 'n' scorpions eat brainmeat
o' Robopathic cretins!
Babylon: Societus
Hell: "human" ekyisyence...

yet Tribes o' AModernist Vagabonds
Wild Tattooed 'n' Pierced
seminal Legacies
psyched on Haschisch 'n' lush
Kicks o' Flesh 'n' Altered Consciousness
Sinistre yet Possessed
by outraegeous tenderness
adversaries o' Death-eatin'
"pornographic" Rites in SOUKS
" Citizen be vile," says he
gigglin' hysterically
pukin' on "moral majorities"
'n' meglomaniac Robopathic creeds
he sprays mobs wi' bitter tears
o' Refugees
citizens melt like plastic
turn into naughahyde trees...

"MAN, yr " God" might as well be Dead!
Goddess Moon 'n' Horned God Rule!"
Underground ejaculates
Renegade 'n' Intrepid ApocoHipster Hashshashin Dervish
Vagabond Tribe:Collaboricide!!!
into this grotesque
soap opera sitcom "REAL TV"
they call "life"
insane sudden silence
horrified anticipation
masses o' Virus lurkin'
cravin' t' unleash their Plagues
cockroaches readin'
media hieroglyphics
o' Robopathic shit!
they're intensely afraid o' Renegade
somethin' in his eyes
unveils all transgressive Rebels
since lucifer lilith 'n' Cain
some ApocoHipster sneer
on Horny Goat lips
evokes chills
some insurrection o' leather
vibes o' ultra terminal alienation
'n' he comes wi' insidious Chants
orgiastic AModern Dances
"I'll give ya "truth"!
Blow yr asses away
wi' DADAPUNK HASHSHASHIN Runes 'n' Sigils!
I be some kind o' Astral Partisan
stroke ya wi'
Seditionary Passions!"

O Renegade Changeling
from amoeba t' Fallen Angel Manifest
no "THE BOOK" hype be this!
O Cain 'n' Lilith Villon Baudelaire Rimbaud
Lautreamont Artaud Genet Gysin Bowles
Eberhardt Burroughs Hakim Bey
Kathy Acker Hassan i Sabbah
Transgressive Hashshashins anonymous!
Rebop! Arabesque BeBop!
N'way they can stop
this Renegade!
There'll never be any weapons made
can ultimately annihilate this Freak!

Do Come
follow clouds o' haschisch smoke
in Moon Crescent illuminated
terminal NightSide
sacrifice the Lie
thus be you Phoneix
prowl 'n' howl wi' Renegades
strip off layers o' shuck
expose Naked Lunch
o' authenticity
they call this all a dream?!
Renegade screams:
"O d'ya come be wi' me?
D'y'really Desire t' be Free?
C'mon, let's Dance
terminally depraved!
There's nothin' o' which t' be afraid...
initiate marvelous metamorphosis
from Robopath human
into Madjoub Dervish o' Transgression ApocoHipster
anticopywrite:Apocohipster Hashshashin-2004
AKA: Gypsy James O'Toole

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Milan Kundera Nude Pixxx

I love stories.  I love stories about evil monks and witches and submarines.  I love detective stories and comic books and when I see somebody on the golf course with a Jonathan Lethem novel or a Michael Chabron or an Everything Is Illuminated in their gloved hand, I hold up my arm and gyrate and scream "duck butter" because it's all so cool that you can drink coffee in stiff flannel while thumping your meat.  "Show it to me and pretend you're not a young professional."  I wonder why we don't have a hall of fame.  Because Philip Roth would be our Barry Bonds.  Or John Updike who is even better than To Kill a Mockingbird, and my high school English teacher had that tattooed around her goodies.

Friday, November 24, 2006

Hail and Thanksgiving for 4 Essays!

Ah, dear readers in the NYC area, you are fortunate sons and daughters this Black Friday. Lay aside your frenetic materialism and, one hopes, evanescent consumerism to pick up 4 Essays, a samizdat-pamphlet-newspaper-glory that carries the inimitable, iconic voices of American liberty, Eliza Anne Bonney, Henry William Brownejohns, Alexander Swartout, and Jonathan Ephrain Underhill. Do these essayists ring your liberty bell? If so, you were a febrile reader like myself of Three Weeks, one of the finest independent, subterranean compendia of scrawlings I've ever pored over and through. Or "perused," in the rococo, satirical language of the abovementioned scribes. Are these names pseudonyms? Not your business. In any case, the debut issue of 4 Essays is out with takes on the Pope, the President, the phenomenolgy of fear, and "banning things." Jonathan Swift is whistling laughter through his cranium in a Dublin cemetery at the presence of this new paper, that captures his spirit and yet maintains its unique spirit and vision. Writing this amusing and engaging is a must. Put down that shopping bag and scrounge around Greenpoint, Brooklyn to track this treasure down. You can also write for a copy: Four Essays P.O. Box 220191 Greenpoint, Brooklyn New York 11222. You can also send an e-mail plea to Enjoy! Curley

Monday, November 20, 2006

Bards and Bars

The other night, while drinking and discoursing in a neighborhood bar, an old woman came through the door and began to solicit for what seemed to be money. But no. She was a throwback to another era...not cadging coins or drinks merely. Like the bohemian bards of the old village scene (think Maxwell Bodenheim; wait, does anyone remember Max? He wrote a batch of stellar poems in the twenties and a fine memoir before his untimely death, MY LIFE AND LOVES IN GREENWICH VILLAGE), this woman was writing poems on the spot for cash. She asked me for a subject, scrawled a poem, and then gave it to me in exchange of two dollars. Was the poem worth two dollars (and vice versa)? I think so. Here it is in full.


Your entrance
restores all

Whose eyes
only beauty
are ever seeing

Whose touch
hope restores

to all
with freedoms

you call

The index card on which the poem was written also bears a signature. I
cannot decipher it confidently, but it looks like "Mickely."


Friday, November 17, 2006

Here Come the French!

Two new translations of stalwart French writers, Jacques Roubaud and Lydie Salvayre, will, yes, save your lives or allow you a kind of catharsis that rarely transpires. Rosemarie and Keith Waldrop have translated 150 poems of Roubaud in a volume entitled THE FORM OF A CITY CHANGES FASTER, ALAS, THAN THE HUMAN HEART. It is a lament for Paris, the old Paris, and this keen keen is a humorous lament, space and memory-affirming whether you live in Paris, New York City (where did it go?), or any domicile, near or far, that has undergone devastating changes. Lydie Salvayre's EVERYDAY LIFE reflects the blistering, boorish, and nearly maniacal subjectivity of a middle-aged secretary as she attempts to relinquish office power from a new secretary. If you've ever had a difficult time at work and wish to revisit the worst experience with precision and crushing candor, this book is for you. Both
titles are just published by Dalkey.


Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Film Noir Boxed Sets

Rx for a drowsy afternoon in late fall, baseball gone, elex now over too: Warner Video's Film Noir Classic Collection, Volumes One and Two (

Can you really afford to pass up "Clash by Night" with Barbra Stanwyck as a world weary gal come home to Monterey and a fisherman's hamfisted love?

Or "Crossfire" where Robert Ryan, perennially a thug, beats a man to death because he doesn't care for his religion? It was a daring theme then and now. Robert Young (Marcus Welby MD) discovers the crime and Ryan is gunned down on that same midcentury city streetcorner on the Warner lot that you've seen a dozen times in other old movies. As always, it looks spectacular.

They come five to a box and you can get your black and white fill of Robert Mitchum, Kirk Douglas, a very young Marilyn, Jane Greer and lots of others.

Chances are, if you haven't steeped yourself in this stuff already, you'll come away amazed at the quality of dialogue and filmmaking craft displayed in the best of these. Even if you get stuck watching one of the lesser entrants, you'll howl at the cliches that seem to come in torrents.


Is Anyone Going to be John O'Hara?

Does anyone even remember who he was?

While we are enamored of Richard Ford's sports writers and Richard Russo's upstate ne'er do wells, we wonder whether anyone is doing now what John O'Hara did for mundane Americans between 1930 and 1970. Some may recall that he was known as a "frank realist" in those days. I am not old enough to recall that personally but I've seen the paperbacks with their bold-print claims. Americans were more easily "shocked" then and my point is not to resurrect his sense of boundaries.

What I am wondering is, will anyone tell us what happens to lovers in cars on snowbound country roads late at night? Can there ever be a market again for his signature type of story: a few thousand words about a bank president unhappy that one of his tellers has taken to wearing loafers?

He wrote hundreds of these, it seems: extended vignettes about painfully ordinary folks, detailing with cold precision their inelegance and illuminating their generally unhappy fates.

I am not saying no one is doing it, or that no one can do it. I am just saying I don't know who they are and that I wish to.


November 14, 1851

Speaking of Melville, his MOBY DICK opus was first published 155 years ago today...

~Martin Scriblerus

Monday, November 13, 2006

Atmospheric Displacements

The experience of any text will invariably be conditioned by extra-literary circumstances, including one's psychological state(s) at the time of reading(s) and where, in fact, one reads. I cannot speak in depth about the first element, not being a depth psychologist, but would argue that the second element is of supreme importance. In my experience, reading a geographically specific text well outside or beyond the environment in which the novel or poem or whatever takes place will root and uproot one's reading marvelously.

For example, I re-read Joyce's ULYSSES while wandering about China, so my Chinese backdrop intensified and de-centered Leopold Bloom's Dublin wanderings. MOBY DICK, a tale which unfolds in New Bedford, Massachusetts, heads to the island of Nantucket (also in Massachusetts) and then high-tails it (o, the pun of it) to the high seas, was greatly affected by re-reading it in Dublin. Hawthorne and his Yankee tales pored over on a beach in San Diego? A marvelous transvaluation of vision, scenery, and setting! I wonder if anyone out there has been similarly dazzled by the cross-conditioning of text and terrain?


Friday, November 10, 2006

The Internet Can Be a Net, a Trap: What Will Saith the Novel?

The novel in either its traditional or experimental modes relishes distraction, digression, fragmentary and fleeting episodes, and linguistic upheavals.Now that e-mail has confounded discourse with attention deficits, tics, broken communication, unmediated derring-do, how might the novel prevail? In its desire for novelty, will the novel wrench its form back to systematic and blandly coherent expressions as a means of keeping itself antinomian to commercial culture and the disconnection of its body (bodiless?) politic?


Not Translation Nation

At a PEN literary conference at the New School a couple of years ago, Rick Moody made the trenchant point that America is principally an export society, sending its cultural and literary products out into the world without showing any real interest in receiving into its borders the products of other nations. How true. Dalkey Archive has made a formidable effort to remedy this imbalance and I recommend our readers to suppport this fine imprint. They translate contemporary fiction and the books are consistently top notch. Their website is and they have a fine supplementary on-line journal called CONTEXT (you can find a free print version here and there as well).It's time to see what the writers in Bulgaria and Cameroon are up to.

j curley

Access over 1 million songs - Yahoo! Music Unlimited.

Has the Nobel Ever Been Neutral? Some questions (not rhetorical)

The question of political bias in literary affairs has once again emerged with Orhan Pamuk's winning of the 2006 Nobel Prize for Literature.Pamuk has been outspoken about the Armenian genocide, an event (and intention) the Turkish authorities refuse to acknowledge. Is he being heralded for extra-literary activities? If so, is this any different from any writer to win the award in certain historically turbulent periods? Have not the Nobel Prize and most international literary prizes been politically motivated?Should we be surprised by the work being prized along with the person? Concerned? Curley has none of the answers but perhaps you do.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Metaphysical Brawlers

I see that Albert Camus was born on this date in 1913. His rift with Sartre occurred after many bitter exchanges in the newspapers and reflected their fundamental philosophical contrasts. Some of the differences were niggling,others were crucial. No matter, a conflict of ideas lead to the demise of their friendship and initiated different directions in their works.

Essentially the same was the feuding between poets Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov two decades later. I suppose these break-ups were tragic to some extent and maybe expose the limits of creative/intellectual collaboration, but it is nonetheless inspiring to see literary wars based on ideas, not egos or peripheral issues of the trade. The literary world has always been a community in conflict, of conflict; why not feud and frenzy with ardor and depth?

Last year, Ben Marcus won my affections for his full-on assault on Jonathan Franzen's ideas about literature.But that was a one-sided affair. What can we quarrel about, dear reader, dear writer?Bring on the Metaphysical Brawlers!


Monday, November 06, 2006

Les Neiges!

Jon, thought you might be interested to know that I just read Pamuk's Snow and followed that with Simenon's Dirty Snow, the latter set in Occupied France. Who knows, maybe there's a Yellow Snow...It could be a follow up to Martin Amis's Yellow Dog.

best, Martin Scriblerus

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

Pageturners in the Night

Just returned from a jaunt to Minnesota, a joyous journey, but a stark reminder of the difference between large and small city (or country) literary communities.Through my old friend, the poet Zach Barocas, I met several of the twin cities' finest poets, including Amanda Nadelberg (her new book, Isa the Truck Named Isadore, sparkles), and the fine folks who run Coffee House Press.The scene there is small and cohesive but not suffocating; there is a delight in each other's company and earnest efforts to help each other's creative labors to reach fruition.Here in New York, there are myriad literary activities, readings, scenes, yet the spirit of community stretches itself all too thin.Perhaps this is a symptom of magnitude, quite probably it is an intractable condition of the metropolis.But oh, to effect the kind of closeness and kinship of those
little cities and little towns where words and worlds merge warmly beyond the metropolis's gates and horizons....

jon curley

The Office Hallway Smirk

A few posts ago I talked about the American Shrug--where actors in commercials often put on a "don't blame me for being lucky" act. Today I am pointing out another behavioral tic in America, but this one is played out in what passes for "real life" for many of us--in office hallways and in elevators.

It's the Office Hallway Smirk. In the feudal state of Corporate America, millions labor anonymously from one another though pulling for the same profit margin. Most participants know its a sham existence but have not figured out how you get out of it without turning into a homeless person. From this stoic recognition is born the Smirk.

You'll encounter it on your way to the copy machine: as you pass your office-casual counterpart, you see their lips compress but without a smile; you see their eyes widen just slightly and their gaze very briefly meets yours as they go by. That's the whole thing. This minimalist gesture stands in for a greeting today among colleagues.

Careful analysis reveals that it signifies "I know we are both more or less trapped here and while I neither know you well nor feel any special sympathy for you, I am forced to acknowledge both your presence and your struggle to exist, like myself, as a fully realized human being inside this impersonal machine. Furthermore, please don't blame me for I have struggles of my own at which you would not care to guess."

An emotionally repressed people, Americans have mastered the art of the Smirk; probably most folks would prefer to ignore their colleague utterly. But the Smirk is a guilt-based reaction, and we find it useful to assuage the fact that we view our colleague as an inconvenience to our solitude.