Monday, February 26, 2007

The Jonesian Archives: Wrath by JGM

Bone Box by B. Jones

Was out in the Jonesian Archives taking some photographs this afternoon. There are some amazing artifacts out there.

Circadian Pacemaker by D. Grimes

Anyway, thrown back in a dusty corner was this suitcase. There was a small card in B. Jones' handwriting that simply said: "Wrath by JGM".

Evidently Mr. Jones did something horrible to someone with the intials JGM. In response, JGM detroyed every item that had been receieved from Mr. Jones. These items were placed in a small suitcase.

As far as I can tell there are several bird's nest, dried roses, a clock, a broken chinese bottle, a decorative box with a dragon, the covers from a couple of books - Hell by Barbusse and The Secret History by Tartt, some jewelry, a few small watercolors, some old comic panels and quite a few shredded examples of Mr. Jones' writing.

I think that it is a beautiful thing. Every time I look into, I see new configurations of love and theft, of desire and heartbreak, and yes, or wrath.

More on flickr

Saturday, February 24, 2007

American Psycho Complete

It's American Pyscho Day over at Dennis Cooper's blog courtesy of SYpHA_69. Patrick Batemen would, I believe, be proud:

Soon I began taking notes. Lots of notes. Analyzing the novel’s internal timeline. Making a list of all the songs that get referenced in the book. Creating lists of the articles of clothing Patrick Bateman wears during the course of the novel.

Eventually, I became obsessed with the book. I decided that I would become one of the most obsessive American Psycho fan boys to ever walk the earth. I wanted to become, in other words, an American Psycho scholar (why not? I already classify myself as, among other things, an H.P. Lovecraft historian). It should also be observed that the book had a huge effect on my own writing (some of you may recall that on the Confusion day I created back in December I listed Bret Easton Ellis as one of my book’s primary influences, in particular the book American Psycho).

After many years working in bookstores, I found there were a few titles that inspired a certain "persistent interest": Naked Lunch, Stranger in a Strange Land, The Secret History, Perfume and Gravity's Rainbow come immediately to mind. Then there were those books that, for better or worse, cultivated a more obsessive fanaticism such as Catcher in the Rye, Dune and Lord of the Rings. You could almost spot the "fans" of these books walking in the door. (And I soon discovered that few could Virgil me down into the inner structures of a text as well as these truly obsessed fans - those to whom the inner "reality" of the book often held more weight than that of the external world.)

American Psycho, perhaps endemic to the current cultural climate, holds a tenuous middle ground between this persistent interest and fanaticism. In the late 90s, I met quite a few budding Patrick Batemans who would use lines from the book like a secret language for the initiated. Little Holden Caufields gone all the way through the rye.

I must admit that Ellis' first two books, Less Than Zero and Rules of Attraction, were guilty pleasures for me - connected in my memory with long waits in airport terminals. The sort of thing everybody was "reading at the time."

American Psycho was clearly of a different order. I found the book to be fascinating - like viewing an autopsy or watching a corpse decompose. I also thought it to be extremely funny - a crucial aspect lost on many readers. The device of describing the (always interchangeable) characters by long tedious catalogs of product and brands was effective and prescient, to say the least. I remember wondering at the time if any of it would make sense to a reader 100 years in the future. Doubtful. Still, American Psycho does stand as a hyperreal - and damning - portrait of late-20th century urban America.

Update: I just noticed that Dennis Cooper broke the sections down into separate links. The always excellent Jahsonic was kind enough to compile a complete list:

Tuesday, February 20, 2007

The Sibyl of Cumae from her shrine sang out her riddles

Book VI: The World Below of Virgil's Aeneid
Fitzgerald Translation, As Rendered by Termites

"If only the golden bough
Might shine for us in such a wilderness!"

From the Journals of B. Jones:

I’m standing next to a mountain
And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

Well, I’m standing next to a mountain

And I chop it down with the edge of my hand

I pick up all the pieces and make an island

Might even raise a little sand

- Jimi Hendrix, “Voodoo Child (Slight Return),” Electric Ladyland (1968).

4 July 1994 – I was working at Europa Books on the Drag in Austin, Texas. The store was closed for the holiday. I took the opportunity to take 4 hits of LSD.

In the back of the store was a cinderblock storeroom where I had set up a sort of office for myself. There was a hammock, a radio, many wooden shelves of books and a small desk. I often spent time back there after-hours. I liked it especially because there were no windows.

You could get fairly isolated back there.

So there I was full of LSD, with a cooler full of Shiner Bock, listening to Hendrix and reading Heidegger. I was having a good time – a very good time.

At some point, I pulled a copy of Virgil’s Aeneid from a stack nearby to reference some vital point now forgotten and was surprised to discover that the stack had become infested with termites.

I dropped the book and watched in hallucinogenic amazement as the tiny insects worked to salvage their thrown-down world.

Carefully opening the book again, I found that they had burrowed through the pages. Sections of the poem’s text were split by small tunnels lined with dirt. Beautiful. I was fascinated and slightly horrified. It seemed to me that there were millions of termites all of a sudden, I checked around my shoes, my hands and arms. I wondered if they had colonized every book in the back room? Fragments of the text caught my eye as the insects worked with precision to reconstruct a new universe.

The letters creating Aeneas seemed to scatter off the page, termites carrying him away in their mouths. “This is for the Queen…”

Book IV-VI of Virgil's Aeneid
Fitzgerald Translation, As Rendered by Termites

"There were the sentences
In which the Sibyl of Cumae from her shrine
Sang out her riddles, echoing in the cave,
Dark sayings muffling truths, the way Apollo
Pulled up her raging, or else whipped her on,
Digging the spurs beneath her breast."

If you are curious as to where Jones went with all of this nonsense:

Ezra With A Voice Full Of Dust

Ezra Pound with the face of time, voice full of dust, wandering around Venice looking lost...

What thou lovest well remains,
the rest is dross
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee
What thou lov'st well is thy true heritage
Whose world, or mine or theirs
or is it of none?
First came the seen, then thus the palpable
Elysium, though it were in the halls of hell,
What thou lovest well is thy true heritage
What thou lov'st well shall not be reft from thee

The ant's a centaur in his dragon world.
Pull down thy vanity, it is not man
Made courage, or made order, or made grace,
Pull down thy vanity, I say pull down.
Learn of the green world what can be thy place
In scaled invention or true artistry,
Pull down thy vanity,
Paquin pull down!
The green casque has outdone your elegance.

"Master thyself, then others shall thee beare"
Pull down thy vanity
Thou art a beaten dog beneath the hail,
A swollen magpie in a fitful sun,
Half black half white
Nor knowst'ou wing from tail
Pull down thy vanity
How mean thy hates
Fostered in falsity,
Pull down thy vanity,
Rathe to destroy, niggard in charity,
Pull down thy vanity,
I say pull down.

But to have done instead of not doing
This is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
this is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Thanks to Jeff G.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

On Diableries

Several years ago, a good friend gave me a book called Diablieries: La Vie Quotidenne Chez Satan a la fin du 19e Siecle. It was published by in France by Ballard in 1978 and edited by Jac Remise.

It is one of my most prized books. The images within depicting the daily life of Satan are endlessly fascinating. Every page is printed on dark glossy paper with richly textured black and white images of skeletons, demons and Satan occupying their eternal time by fishing and flirting with women, cooking up infernal cuisines, drinking, gambling and generally carrying on in delighful and humorous fashions.

From what I can gather, they were originally created in the 19th century as small tabletop dioramas by, perhaps, three enigmatic sculptors. (There is some speculation that because of the heretical nature of the sculptures and their subversive commentary on French society of the time, that the creators had no desire to be well-known.) With the advent of photography, images were made of the sculptures - as stereo-photographs and rear-projection tissues. The original sculptures appear to have been destroyed.

I have posted a few detail scans that I made. Check out the sites below for a much more comprehensive catalog of Diablieries.


The history of these amazing tissue views is gradually coming to light following many years of almost complete ignorance as to their creators, purpose (if any!) and methods of production. Stereo World volume 30 #4 contains a good article on the classification of Diableries by Bob Schreiber - much of the research carried out in collaboration with the late Tex Treadwell.

It is now generally believed that these views were produced as social satire on the regime of Louis Napoleon Bonaparte who, as Napoleon III, was Emperor of France from 1852 to 1870. More overt lampooning of him and his government was liable to lead to a long period of imprisonment!

There are a myriad of small, almost hidden, messages within these views and work is currently in progress to reveal more information. They can, so far, be attributed to Hennetier and Habert. They were created on table-tops with small clay models that were used again and again in different poses. An idea of scale can be had from a careless view where the table legs are visible, and one view which features a real stuffed blackbird.

From Diableries: Early Visual Media:

The most popular Diableries are the "tissue" versions since they are made to view with transmitted light from behind, revealing the most wonderfull coulors and light effect similar as seen in a Vue d'Optique viewed by back-light in a peepshow box. Many non-transparent versions are found also and both are equally interesting for the serious collector!

Because of their rarity, most Diableries will be illustrated here as single images. Where possible, I will add, both, links to stereo versions & color images.

To my knowledge, only one book is devoted interely on these fascinating views, written by Jac Remise, the same author of the well known "Magie Lumineuse" illustrating the Pre-cinema.

This book mention 72 different Diableries as one complete set. Perhaps this is true, Although I feel that some of the views do not all belong to one single set. Several other views mentioned in the 139 title list could be part of the majority of views depicted in Jac Remise's wonderfull publication.

Most of the Stereo Diableries are anonymous, although 25 images depicted in the book have a signature in the plaster. The same names are occasionally also found on the diableries in the extented diablerie list wich proves their connection.

Three different names are found in the plaster of the "72" series. Hennetier (14), Habert (10), Cougny (1). I supose these names where not the creators of the Diablerie series but the sculptors who made the mouldings on demand. Cougny turns up only one time. Hennetier is mostly seen in this set and also in the other Diableries, subsequent to the number 72.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Look up, Hannah! Look up!

A Jewish Barber: I'm sorry but I don't want to be an emperor. That's not my business. I don't want to rule or conquer anyone. I should like to help everyone if possible; Jew, Gentile, black men, white. We all want to help one another. Human beings are like that. We want to live by each others' happiness, not by each other's misery. We don't want to hate and despise one another. In this world there is room for everyone. And the good earth is rich and can provide for everyone. The way of life can be free and beautiful, but we have lost the way. Greed has poisoned men's souls; has barricaded the world with hate; has goose-stepped us into misery and bloodshed. We have developed speed, but we have shut ourselves in. Machinery that gives abundance has left us in want. Our knowledge as made us cynical; our cleverness, hard and unkind. We think too much and feel too little. More than machinery we need humanity. More than cleverness, we need kindness and gentleness. Without these qualities, life will be violent and all will be lost. The aeroplane and the radio have brought us closer together. The very nature of these things cries out for the goodness in man; cries out for universal brotherhood; for the unity of us all. Even now my voice is reaching millions throughout the world, millions of despairing men, women, and little children, victims of a system that makes men torture and imprison innocent people. To those who can hear me, I say "Do not despair." The misery that has come upon us is but the passing of greed, the bitterness of men who fear the way of human progress. The hate of men will pass, and dictators die, and the power they took from the people will return to the people. And so long as men die, liberty will never perish.

(In a passionate raging voice now)

Soldiers! Don't give yourselves to these brutes who despise you, enslave you; who regiment your lives, tell you what to do, what to think and what to feel! Who drill you, diet you, treat you like cattle and use you as cannon fodder! Don't give yourselves to these unnatural men---machine men with machine minds and machine hearts! You are not machines! You are men! With the love of humanity in your hearts! Don't hate! Only the unloved hate; the unloved and the unnatural. Soldiers! Don't fight for slavery! Fight for liberty! In the seventeenth chapter of St. Luke, it is written that the kingdom of God is within man, not one man nor a group of men, but in all men! In you! You, the people, have the power, the power to create machines, the power to create happiness! You, the people, have the power to make this life free and beautiful, to make this life a wonderful adventure. Then in the name of democracy, let us use that power. Let us all unite. Let us fight for a new world, a decent world that will give men a chance to work, that will give youth a future and old age a security. By the promise of these things, brutes have risen to power. But they lie! They do not fulfil that promise. They never will! Dictators free themselves but they enslave the people! Now let us fight to free the world! To do away with national barriers! To do away with greed, with hate and intolerance! Let us fight for a world of reason, a world where science and progress will lead to the happiness of us all. Soldiers, in the name of democracy, let us unite!

(Here, Chaplin pauses, seeming to gather himself, and the picture soon fades out to a scene of refugee Hannah (Paulette Goddard) with her family in a peaceful field, seemingly hearing his words.)

Hannah, can you hear me? Wherever you are, look up! Look up, Hannah! The clouds are lifting! The sun is breaking through! We are coming out of the darkness into the light! We are coming into a new world; a kinder world, where men will rise above their greed, their hate and their brutality. Look up, Hannah! The soul of man has been given wings and at last he is beginning to fly. He is flying into the rainbow! Into the light of hope! Look up, Hannah! Look up!

Hannah's Father: Hannah?

Hannah: Shhh. Listen.


Monday, February 12, 2007

Place on the lids of the dead man that word

Pont Mirabeau, the site of Celan's suicide.
Photo by Thomas Kirchhoff

When a Czech Stalinist tribunal in 1950 condemned Zavis Kalandra, a surrealist poet and survivor of Hitler's camps, Andre Breton urged Eluard to intercede for the comrade they had both known. Eluard solemnly refused, and Kalandra was hanged. Against this background, Celan's liturgic lines for a writer he valued, "In Memoriam Paul Eluard," bind poetry to solidarity and death:

Place in his grave for the dead man the words
he spoke so as to live...

Place on the lids of the dead man that word
he denied to the one
who said thou to him...

- From Paul Celan - Poet, Survivor, Jew by John Felstiner

Celan's grave site at "Cemetiere parisien de Thias," 31st division
Photo by Thomas Kirchhoff

Kirchoff's Celan photographs are simply stunning. Those stones on Celan's grave...

Photos of Paris places important to Paul Celan's life: Photos by Thomas Kirchhoff
American Poetry Review: John Felstiner excerpt from "The One and Only Circle": Translating Celan
Art Inspired by Celan

Monday, February 05, 2007

When you come opposite to Palodes...

Pan, Mikhail Vrubel, 1900

From UNI lecturer Steiner looks to the future of futurity By Eric McHenry

Entitled A Passage from Plutarch, or The Sleep of Oracles, Steiner's lecture began, fittingly, with a passage from Plutarch. In it, the great first-century Greek chronicler recalls the death of the god Pan, and its proclamation from the island of Paxi to travelers on a passing ship.

"And the caller, raising his voice, said, 'When you have come opposite to Palodes, announce that great Pan is dead,' " Steiner quoted. "'So when we came opposite to Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thanus from the stern looked toward the land and said the words as he had heard them. "Great Pan is dead." Even before he had finished, there was a great cry of lamentation not of one person, but of many.'"

Steiner called Plutarch's description of that disembodied cry in the night "one of the most haunting passages in Western literature.

"Its grip on the imagination has never lessened," he said, "and there is gathered around it centuries of commentary." For scholars, thinkers, and artists from François Rabelais to Elizabeth Barrett Browning, he observed, the death of Pan has signified the end of paganism.

From De Defectu Oraculorum (Περὶ τῶν Ἐκλελοιπότων Χρηστηρίων) by Plutarch as published in Vol. V of the Loeb Classical Library edition, 1936

"As for death among such beings, I have heard the words of a man who was not a fool nor an impostor. The father of Aemilianus the orator, to whom some of you have listened, was Epitherses, who lived in our town and was my teacher in grammar. He said that once upon a time in making a voyage to Italy he embarked on a ship carrying freight and many passengers. It was already evening when, near the Echinades Islands, the wind dropped, and the ship drifted near Paxi. Almost everybody was awake, and a good many had not finished their after-dinner wine. Suddenly from the island of Paxi was heard the voice of someone loudly calling Thamus, so that all were amazed. Thamus was an Egyptian pilot, not known by name even to many on board. Twice he was called and made no reply, but the third time he answered; and the caller, raising his voice, said, 'When you come opposite to Palodes, announce that Great Pan is dead.' On hearing this, all, said Epitherses, were astounded and reasoned among themselves whether it were better to carry out the order or to refuse to meddle and let the matter go. Under the circumstances Thamus made up his mind that if there should be a breeze, he would sail past and keep quiet, but with no wind and a smooth sea about the place he would announce what he had heard. So, when he came opposite Palodes, and there was neither wind nor wave, Thamus from the stern, looking toward the land, said the words as he had heard them: 'Great Pan is dead.' Even before he had finished there was a great cry of lamentation, not of one person, but of many, mingled with exclamations of amazement. As many persons were on the vessel, the story was soon spread abroad in Rome, and Thamus was sent for by Tiberius Caesar. Tiberius became so convinced of the truth of the story that he caused an inquiry and investigation to be made about Pan; and the scholars, who were numerous at his court, conjectured that he was the son born of Hermes and Penelopê."

Saturday, February 03, 2007

A Fist Hammering On Our Skull

In I. A. Richards's Practical Criticism we find the following: "The question of belief or disbelief, in the intellectual sense, never arises when we are reading well. If unfortunately it does arise, either through the poet's fault or our own, we have for the moment ceased to be reading and have become astronomers, or theologians, or moralists, persons engaged in quite a different type of activity." To which the answer should be: No, we have become men. To read great literature as if it did not have upon us an urgent design, to be able to look untroubled on the day after reading Pound's LXXXIst Canto, is to do little more than make entries in a librarian's catalogue. When he was twenty, Kafka wrote in a letter: "If the book we are reading does not wake us, as with a fist hammering on our skull, why then do we read it? So that it shall make us happy? Good God, we would also be happy if we had no books, and such books as make us happy we could, if need be, write ourselves. But what we must have are those books which come upon us like ill-fortune, and distress us deeply, like the death of one we love better than ourselves, like suicide. A book must be an ice-axe to break the sea frozen inside us."

Students of English Literature, of any literature, must ask those who teach them, as they must ask themselves, whether they know, and not in their minds alone, what Kafka meant.
- George Steiner, To Civilize Our Gentlemen

Ezra Pound at the grave of James Joyce

From Pound's LXXXIst Canto:

But to have done instead of not doing
This is not vanity
To have, with decency, knocked
That a Blunt should open
To have gathered from the air a live tradition
or from a fine old eye the unconquered flame
this is not vanity.
Here error is all in the not done,
all in the diffidence that faltered . . .

Thursday, February 01, 2007

Bird of Appetite

Bone, originally uploaded by Incognita Nom de Plume.