Saturday, 10 September 2011


The second issue of Wave Composition is out and it's predictably crammed with essential reading.

Especially worthy of attention is Ed Sugden's Tree of Life review, which mounts a fervently savvy defence of this divisive film (Ed: "undoubtedly the most important cinematic work of the early century"). I defy anyone to grumble about Malick's "intellectualism" after reading this piece.

Also indispensable is the interview with L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poet Ron Silliman. Particularly trenchant on latter-day publishing contexts:
One of the problematic aspects of that type of interpretation ... is that Kathy [Acker] and Burroughs—and you can go back to Kerouac—all engage literature as being one with trade publishing. And that trade publishing represents access to a mass audience. Whereas historically the poem—and Pound’s almost the exception here, compared to the people who are not as famous as Pound, starting with William Carlos Williams—operate in very different economies through small presses and self-publishing. It’s not an accident that Whitman was a self-publisher, and Gertrude Stein was a self-publisher, and that George Oppen set up a press, and all of those people were doing those kind of things because they were working on a different kind of scale, getting the work out to the right people. The numbers of the right people being very different in that approach than in the approach of the novel. One of the problems with the novel is that it never was free of publishing as a phenomenon. As a result, always subject to the laws of the marketplace in its worst terms. Kathy was one of the bravest artists imaginable in terms of casting and recasting her work and asking the most basic questions about what is the nature of fiction, what is the fictive, what is its relationship to the body and the person and the self. And yet, at the same time the economy of what she was then doing was using it to reach almost a rock ‘n’ roll audience through large publishers that left her on the one hand able to eke out a living from her writing, and at the same time left her so vulnerable that when she came down with cancer she didn’t have health insurance, which is what killed her, the American medical system.

1 comment:

Stephen said...

Thanks for the shout out, Al!