Monthly Archives: March 2011

A Radically Coherent excerpt: BOMB HANOI

March 9, 2011
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A Radically Coherent excerpt: BOMB HANOI

David Antin, champion of avant-garde sensibility, performance poet, critic, and peerless conversationalist was once David Antin, small press magazine editor. As an excerpt—from Antin’s Radical Coherency: Selected Essays on Art and Literature, 1966 to 2005—recently published by Design Observer recalls, Antin’s days editing some/thing with his friend Jerome Rothenberg were not without their difficulties. Without giving everything away, we’ll quickly make mention that the excerpt is taken from the book’s Introduction, in which Antin charts his course from linguistics doctoral student to critic of art and literature. Along the way he encounters a cast of characters that reads like a Who’s Who of twentieth-century cultural life: Alex Katz, Andy Warhol, Frank Stella, John Ashbery, LeRoi Jones, John Baldessari, Frank O’Hara, Stan Brakhage, Allen Ginsberg, and paintings by Klee, Kandinsky, and Kirchner, among others. Zoning in on one particular episode that featured Andy Warhol designing the cover of some/thing‘s Vietnam issue, Antin remembered: When I went to see Andy I showed him our previous issues and told him about the Vietnam issue we were planning, he said, “Great!” What he’d really like to do was a Vietcong flag. But I said, “What we’d like you to do is take a prowar . . .

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Arthur Koestler’s Dialogue with Death

March 4, 2011
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Arthur Koestler’s Dialogue with Death

Yesterday marked the twenty-eighth anniversary of the death of Arthur Koestler (1905-83), one of the twentieth century’s more complicated—and controversial—figures: a former Communist Party member and anti-totalitarian scribe; a university dropout, born in Budapest to a mother who was once a patient of Freud, who later renounced his citizenship; a pioneer of science studies with an intrepid interest in the paranormal; and a man frequently preoccupied with death and uncertainty who committed suicide. Among his numerous biographies, novels, and essays is the work Dialogue with Death: The Journal of a Prisoner of the Fascists in the Spanish Civil War, which chronicles the fall of Málaga in 1937, when Koestler was a German exile writing for a British newspaper. Arrested by Nationalist forces, Koestler spent the next three months in a prison cell in Seville, watching fellow prisoners meet their execution without notice and living in constant fear that his life could end at any moment. The result is a mix of Doestoevskian insight and journalistic observation. Part journal and part reconstruction, Dialogue with Death is Koestler’s conversation with himself, filled with moments of eerily “Olympian calm” and “colorless disappointment.” Koestler reads Nerval, Bunin, Stevenson, Tolstoy, Plato, St. Simeon, and others, . . .

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A Journey to Isolarion: March’s free e-book

March 2, 2011
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A Journey to Isolarion: March’s free e-book

Oxford is a city that with a rich history and receptive memory: a crossroads where the Thames changes its name to Isis; land of the ford, Tolkien, Murdoch, and Bayley; home of Pressed Steel to the east and a certain medieval University on its left-facing bank. The quintessential—yet entirely unique—university town. Or is it? You’ll want to consider this before departing on your own pilgrimage, with art publisher and writer James Attlee, in our free e-book for the month of March, Isolarion: A Different Oxford Journey. Isolarion takes its title from a type of fifteenth-century map that isolates a particular area in order to present it in detail, and that’s just what the book does for Oxford’s Cowley Road. Drawing from sources ranging from Burton’s The Anatomy of Melancholy and Cage’s 4’33” to readings of Lucretius and contemporary art, our guide engages with every aspect of Cowley Road’s eclectic culture: pornography emporiums, sensory deprivation tanks, halal shops, and car factories included. Accompanied by a notebook and a tape recorder, Attlee records the immediate details of his surroundings and revels in the allegorical depths of the everyday. The result? This eloquent hymn in praise of the invigorating, complex nature of the . . .

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Riley’s Order

March 1, 2011
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Riley’s Order

By all accounts, Atsuro Riley is having a banner year. Just this week, Romey’s Order, Riley’s first collection (voiced by the invented boy-speaker named in the book’s title) was one of five books nominated for the inaugural Believer Poetry Award. The poet, the son of an ex-serviceman father and a Japanese mother, was raised in rural South Carolina and his work bears the unmistakable imprint of the local Southern idiom. In Romey’s Order, Riley’s poetic language, with its frequent syllabic stresses and percussive compounds, both clangs and languishes in vivid descriptions of lowcountry life. Riley is no stranger to praise, though—or to the varied attentions of the American literary community. Previously the recipient of a Pushcart Prize, Poetry magazine’s Wood Prize, and the Witter Bynner Award from the Library of Congress, Riley added the Kate Tufts Discovery Award to his accolades just this past January. An early review by Dominic Luxford in the Believer’s October 2010 issue remembers how all of this first came to be: In December of 2001, Atsuro Riley stepped onto the poetry scene, seemingly from out of nowhere, with a nearly perfected style. These were poems you would expect at the height of a poet’s career, . . .

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