Baudelaire’s Nightmare

In 1859, the Paris Salon allowed photographs into its exhibition. This brought a howl of outrage from Baudelaire, who claimed that it would destroy painting, while the great unwashed would flock to the exhibition just to see themselves.

He was partly right, but more interestingly wrong. Continue reading

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Pop-up Books: An Homage

Last week, as I was picking up some films from the library of my alma mater, the University of New Hampshire, I stumbled onto their small but feisty exhibition on pop-up books (running through Dec. 15th, should you find yourself there). I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it definitely wasn’t the first thing that greeted me, a pop-up book featuring, of all things, the works of M.C. Escher.

Where do you think you're going?

If that wasn’t enough to draw me in, did I mention that the other book at the entrance was pop-up Elvis? Continue reading

Gunpowder, urine, & the post-production of the long poem

In “The Longing of the Long Poem,” Peter Middleton notes that long poems “resist the support institutions of poetry” since such texts, lacking the easy iterability of lyrics, are “[e]xpensive to print; tricky to handle digitally; too long to be read in their entirety at poetry readings; too big for anthologies; much too big for little magazines to be able to publish anything but short sections; almost always too long to teach within the constraints of a timetable; [and] exorbitantly demanding of a reader’s time.”  While, at 40 pages, my long poem, The Philosophy of Decomposition/Re-composition as Explanation (Delete Press, 2011), is not nearly as long as the works that Middleton discusses, I’m thrilled, nevertheless, that Delete Press decided to give my extended project, a mash-up/re-mix/collage of Poe’s “The Philosophy of Composition” and Stein’s “Composition as Explanation,” its wonderful and creative support.

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The Smiths Songs You May Be Missing, part 1: “The Smiths”

It’s true what folks say: if you own The Queen Is Dead, Singles, and Louder Than Bombs, then you own most of “the best songs” by The Smiths (the greatest band of all time). But there are still reasons to hunt down copies of their other records—the studio albums The Smiths, Meat Is Murder, and Strangeways Here We Come, as well as the compilation disc Hatful of Hollow. Over the next few days, I’ll try to convince you why.

Let’s begin at the beginning!

THE SMITHS (1984)

And right off the bat, you get a topless photo of Joe Dallesandro! Which is, of course, a pun: the (cropped) still is taken from Andy Warhol’s film Flesh (1968)…which was directed by Paul Morrissey.

You also get one of my all-time favorite Smiths songs:

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Brevity, part 7: Slow Motion

Note: This post is partly a reply to a question someone asked me, back-channel, about slow motion, but also partly due to my general interest in how time works in narrative, and in brevity and stasis (and “the ongoing”).

Slow motion is created by presenting film footage at a slower rate than it was shot at. The principle is as old as cinema itself. In 1879, Eadweard Muybridge invented the zoopraxiscope, which allowed him to project his 1870s photographic motion studies as animations. (Film projection is, interestingly, older than film-capture cameras.) It was observed immediately that repeating the photos 2:1 (double-printing), or spinning the zoopraxiscope slowly, would slow the motion down.

An aside: In conducting his motion studies, Muybridge lined up multiple cameras that were activated by tripwires. (The motion picture camera wouldn’t be invented until 1890.) This same technique would later be resurrected as “Time-Slice” or “Bullet-Time,” popularized by the Wachowskis in The Matrix.

After the jump I’ve arranged a partial history of slow motion in cinema. It isn’t intended to be an exhaustive list; rather, I’ll point out what I consider memorable or otherwise significant uses of slow motion.

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The Dominant, ctd.

Update: If a blog post can ever be said to be in honor of anyone, then consider this one in honor of Ruth Kligman. May she rest in peace.

In the comments section of my last post, Shya asked:

can someone write a truly romantic novel today? Or would it necessarily be a postmodern (or post-postmodern) exercise in romanticism?

I’d suspect that, even if we went back to Romantic Era, we’d have a hard time finding something “truly romantic.” As Pontius Pilate so insightfully asked Christ: Quid est veritas? (What is truth?)

So let’s leave aside truth for the moment, and try answering that question in a different way.

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Experimental Fiction as Genre and as Principle

Christopher Higgs at HTMLGIANT recently posted this question: “If you were teaching a class on American experimental fiction, what texts would you choose, and why?” He went on to list a set of possible books for an “Introduction to American Experimental Fiction” course:

Ishmael Reed – Mumbo Jumbo
William S. Burroughs – The Soft Machine
Kathy Acker – Blood and Guts in High School
Carole Maso – Aureole
Jean Toomer – Cane
David Markson – This Is Not A Novel
Gertrude Stein – Tender Buttons
Ben Marcus – The Age of Wire and String

This post won’t be about adding or subtracting books from his list (although I’d suggest Markson’s Wittgenstein’s Mistress over This Is Not a Novel, and Carole Maso’s The Art Lover or AVA over Aureole.) Rather, I want to talk about experimental fiction as a genre.

Because Chris’s question reminds me of a debate that comes up frequently in US experimental film circles…

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