The Big Other Contributors List

contributorsThe contributors list at Big Other recently changed and I’m wondering what the new organizing logic is. Before, the list recorded the order in which contributors joined the site. Now it’s something else. At first glance I thought it was now in alphabetical order, but it isn’t. Perhaps it’s arbitrary? But the names seem grouped according to initial letter: A D Jameson, Amber Sparks. But even that doesn’t work, because the list starts and ends with A’s. And not all the J’s are together, and later on there’s a P, then an N, then two P’s. Next I thought that it might be in order of total page views, but then Greg Gerke’s name would be higher up. It’s also not in order of who’s made the most recent post, because it isn’t, and if so it would always be changing. And that would also be redundant, since the posts themselves establish that order. So I just don’t get the list’s logic; I’m hoping this post provokes discussion of this issue, though I’ll concede it isn’t important. But I don’t like things I don’t understand, though I’ll also concede that there’s no real reason why I should understand anything. I’ll also admit that I haven’t been posting much as of late. I’ve been busy with school, but also been trying to figure out what I should post here. Below you can see a photo that I posted; I’ve long thought that it might be cool for this site to have more visual art. I spent most of last year posting links to movies, so I thought I might spend this year posting photos. But Edward is kinda already covering that with his Bluets posts. So I’m left wondering what the new list’s logic is, and what I should post. Perhaps I’ll put up posts like this, metatextual musings on the subject of Big Other? Well, I’ll first wait and see if anyone responds to this post. Thank you for reading.

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Big Other Reaches One Million Page Views!

One Million Dots (detail) / Robert Barry. 1968

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Big Other Contributors’ News, #25

Ryan W. Bradley‘s story, “The Pit Bull’s Tooth,” is up at Wigleaf, and his chapbook, MILE  ZERO will be out in September from Maverick Duck Press.

Elaine Castillo had poems published in Issue 12 of > kill author, and a piece forthcoming from Used Furniture Review, both from her poetry manuscript CANDIDA: A TRANSLATION.  Several of her short films will be screened in Glasgow on April 9, for the Digital Desperados premiere night at the Center for Contemporary Arts.

Greg Gerke wrote about William H. Gass at The Nervous Breakdown–touching on his essay “The Soul Inside the Sentence,” his story “Mrs. Mean,” and meeting the man himself at the Strand Bookstore.

Paul Kincaid has had reviews of The Anatomy of Utopia, by Karoly Pinter, at SF Site; Nexus: Ascension, by Robert Boyczuk, in New York Review of Science Fiction 270, February 2011; and The Quantum Thief, by Hannu Rajaniemi, in Vector 265, Winter 2011. The BSFA also published a chapbook, Into the Woods: Robert Holdstock Remembered, which included “An Answer” as its introduction; “The Memory of Stories,” an interview Kincaid conducted with Holdstock; and “Robert Holdstock: A Roundtable Discussion,” in which Kincaid took part. Finally, Palgrave Macmillan have apparently published Teaching Science Fiction, edited by Andy Sawyer & Peter Wright, which contains Kincaid’s essay “Through Time and Space: A Brief History of Science Fiction,” in which he attempts to compress 500 years and the entire global endeavour of science fiction into just 6,000 words (don’t try this at home, kids).

Michael Leong‘s writing has recently appeared online at So and So Magazine; Action, Yes; Marsh Hawk Review; and Blackbox Manifold and in print in Hotel Amerika.  His manuscript The Philosophy of Decomposition / Re-composition as Explanation: A Poe and Stein Mash-up was a semi-finalist for the 2011 Sentence Book Award and will be published in the near future as a chapbook by Delete Press.  He will be reading from that work at the Northeast Modern Language Association (NeMLA) as well as giving a paper on generic hybridity in C.D. Wright’s long poem One Big Self.

John Madera was accepted to attend Brown University’s MFA in Literary Arts program, Fall 2011. “The Museum of Oddities & Eccentricities,” a collaboration with Lily Hoang, appears in Unfinished, Stories Finished by Lily Hoang (Jaded Ibis Press). He also reviewed Ted Pelton’s Bartleby, the Sportscaster (Rain Taxi: Review of Books, Spring 2011 Print Edition) and Renee Gladman’s Event Factory (The Review of Contemporary Fiction, 2011). Madera, along with John Reed, John Deming, and Tim Brown, took part in the National Book Critics Circle’s Celebrates Small Press Month panel, with Barbara Hoffert
moderating.

Amber Sparks‘s story, “A Brief, Bright Fire to Sweep the World Clean,” appeared in the March issue of PANK. The story was shortlisted for PANK’s 1001 Awesome Words Contest. Two of her previously published stories (“Tours of the Cities We Have Lost” from Unsaid 5, and “You Will Be the Living Equation” from Annalemma 7) were published in the latest issue of Zine Scene’s Reprint.

J. A. Tyler‘s second book, A Man of Glass & All the Ways We Have Failed, is now available from Fugue State Press. Please eat this book up.

John Dermot Woods and Lincoln Michel have begun posting their weekly comic strip, Animals in Midlife Crises, at The Rumpus. New jokes every Sunday!

Why I Hate the Avant-Garde, part 1

[Update: Part 2 is here]

Re: Greg’s most recent post on the term “avant-garde”—I’ve already discussed this somewhat here, here and here, but to recap:

  1. The term’s early 19th-century Socialist origins have mostly been forgotten. And that’s fine—language changes—but, personally, I find it deliciously perverse that the original Avant-Gardists, the Impressionists, essentially stole the term from Socialists, for use as a marketing term.
  2. It seems to me that anyone who wants to use the term today—especially if they want to use it to refer to some progressive art that’s free from any capitalist influence—would have to account for that history.
  3. People mostly don’t, though. Instead, they just use it interchangeably with terms like “experimental” and “unusual” and “innovative.” I consider this conflation very wrong-headed, not to mention not all that useful.
  4. For one thing, it assumes an incorrect model of how art and innovation actually proceed. It begins by positing that there’s a single conservative high art world, which follows a long and noble yet conservative tradition, and that there’s a single low art world, which is popular and commercial (i.e., crass). And then it assumes that there’s a small band of daring creative pioneers, huddled in some corner of the culture somewhere, who pass all artistic innovation to both the highs and the lows. (It’s the art world version of Reaganomics.)

I don’t truck with any of that. I think it’s important to remember history (even as it changes); I think it’s important to be as clear as possible in one’s terminology; and I regret any and all myopic views of the culture. (Not to mention, the notion of the avant-garde is rather elitist and racist: it posits a view of history in which all innovation flows from middle- and upper-class white folks.)

One need only look at recent music history to put the lie to the term “avant-garde.” Today Facebook showed me the following ad:

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