Wednesday, January 18, 2017


End of  the year

A bright sunny day to be alone in NYC waiting for Christmas as in mind I am walking from the youth hostel in Flensburg, Germany in 1964, to the Catholic church for Mass to discover of course it was in German, unlike the Latin of my whole childhood and looking back now one of the unintended consequences of giving up the Latin Mass was a reinforcement of local ethnic and national distinctions all of which were kept imperfectly to be sure, in check in a small way as the common use of Latin in itself was a real way of saying there was something more than that crummy place--- and all are such--- where one comes from

In the new year

This AM sitting in the car for alternate side of the street parking I was missing in a very deep way the late George Kamen who some of you knew was a psychoanalyst and a good friend and best man at my wedding to  Anna Saar.... the provocation to thought: reading Thomas Mann's essay on Freud in which Mann writes, there is no deeper knowledge without experience of disease... but he suggests that freedom or a form of health comes when we remove the walls that are created by age so we can again have the truth within the pangs and anguishes of youth...

                                      PART THREE


        Some months ago I published a blog post that opened with the description of the burial of the remains of Pati Hill, the writer and photocopier artist,  in Stonington, CT.  I then went on to reveal prepared slides from a number of my unpublished books: EMPTY AMERICAN LETTERS, JUST LIKE THAT, NOTHING DOING...

       This was probably a futile exercise, an example of the foreboding frustration at what was then becoming apparent: my ST. PATRICK'S DAY another day in Dublin was destined to fail to find any recognition beyond a long review in the Dublin Review of Books by George O'Brien.

      To be more complete: the Irish Echo did run a little article mostly written by myself

         And there was a short review article by the former owner of the Facsimile Bookstore in NYC--- an Irish bookshop which back then was just off Fifth Avenue on 55th Street :


         The first sections then called of ST. PATRICK'S DAY Dublin 1974 appeared in the Spring, 1982 issue of the Review of Contemporary Fiction which was devoted to the work of Douglas Woolf and Wallace Markfield.  There also brief selections from a work of VIKTOR SHKLOVSKY on Andrei Bely and a selection from a novel by KENNETH TINDALL  entitled THE BANKS OF THE SEA.  

       I would hope that anyone who might read these lines would need no introduction to the work of Markfield, Woolf, Tindall and Shklovsky.  Though it is possible Tindall is quite obscure though still among the living.  His first novel GREAT HEADS was the last literary novel published by Grove Press , when Grove Press was the best publisher in the United States ( think, Beckett, Genet, Burroughs, Rechy,  Henry Miller, Kerouac).  After Great Heads came out Tindall found himself in Denmark where he became a mailman and married with children but continued to write and was a translator.  He lived in the Beat Hotel in Paris when the more famous also resided there.
      The Banks of the Sea is a book of great pain and violence mental and physical... it moves about the Lower East Side of Manhattan when there were cargo cults of the desperate young...
       I wonder if anyone else knows Kenneth Tindall?

                                    PART THREE

        SOME books I am liking and hope others might have read them or would want to read them.

        BOSCH & BRUEGEL  by Joseph Leo Koerner. (Princeton University Press) .  A beautiful illustrated study of these two artists free mostly of the art work jargon which allows us to look again closely at these two painters... rare it is that an art writer is able to do this, who allows us to see for ourselves... most art writing draws attention to the writer instead of...

MEDITERRANEAN A Cultural Landscape by Predrag Matvejevic ( University of California Press, 1999).  The book is just that, a meditation on that sea... introduced by the author of DANUBE Claudio Magris who mentions  that Matvejevic writes "being different is not in itself a value." 

FIBRILS  by Michel Leiris (Yale University Press).  Finally book three of Leiris's autobiography RULES OF THE GAME, translated by Lydia Davis...  a bit more problematic as it reveals Leiris as one of those "useful idiots" who the communists so wonderfully used for their own purposes in covering up massacre after massacre...the book opens with Leiris in China and there is nothing worse than the French for celebrating Maoism in its most vile version... and of course if you fly in first class, stay in first class hotels etc... anyplace can seem wonderful... but fortunately the whole book is not given over to this aberrant detour as there is... (more to come in a future post)

KID GLOVES  by Adam Mars-Jones.  Some know his book on Ozu's Late Spring, NORIKO SMILING  which is one of the great evocative books that lets me see this movie and why it went deep into my central nervous system...  Mars-Jones also has book of stories LANTERN LECTURE  which like Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes are about the only two books of fiction published by English writers that can be honorably compared to B.S. Johnson and Alan being truly modern books...there is really nothing else in English prose fiction... [but please  I am not forgetting Anthiny Burgess for a moment] but KID GLOVES  is Mars-Jones's detailed beautiful description of his father and the relationship of father/son.  I am totally jealous of his accomplishment. [more also later]  It exists in a beautiful edition from Particular books a imprint of Penguin Books

THE GOLDEN COCKEREL by Juan Rulfo.. finally more from Juan Rulfo 

And then there are those constant standbys as I think of certain modern books:
"I" by Wolfgang Hilbig
PATERSON by William Carlos Williams
Ulysses by James Joyce
and two books by Gregor Von Rezzori  THE ORIENT EXPRESS and ANECDOTAGE

three quotes:  "They strolled through Central Park and on Fifth Avenue.  The steps in front of the Metropolitan  were as usual covered with a motley array of people looking like participants in a pseudo-folklore tramp's ball. What are all these people doing hanging around art treasures, Denise wondered "like beggars in front of a church."  He was about to answer  that this was indeed a kind of church: a temple of culture.  Nowadays on Sunday morning, educated people went to a museum rather than to church" 157-158

"the hectic monotony of the Manhattan every day."

"With nary a pang he departed from Europe, which was already trading in its identity for a tidy chunk of America."

          I am such a lousy typist.  

         I can't go on typing out quotes.... but Von Rezzori has the right sour tone:   

                        even years later 

for the moment today 
when we find ourselves in the United States  with a new president who was voted against by the rich--- who according to those who opposed him--- is actually working only in the interests of the rich to the exclusion of the poor proles who had voted for him... 

though the new president is the first president to attempt to talk directly to the American public via Twitter...  a constant "fireside chat" as one heard FDR made in another dire time... 

but in this day, right now: the atomization of the individual is now nearly complete... see the work of Ernst Junger

that moment we were always warned of.... growing up when facing God at the particular judgement... alone... alone...alone... no witnesses to be called, no commentators, no excuses... only absolutely self-centered even when pretending to be interested in some particular other...

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