Friday, June 22, 2012

Gilles Deleuze From A to Z

Good old Semiotext(e). I remember buying their titles in the Compendium Bookshop in Camden in a previous life, when their books looked like this

They’ve undergone a redesign since, but Semiotext(e) can still be relied upon to surprise and delight.

This nicely produced DVD -- Gilles Deleuze From A to Z -- is essentially L’abécédairede de Gilles Deleuze, which was released in France in 2004, but with an important difference: subtitles (provided by the Deleuze translator Charles J. Stivale). I’ve been watching a letter every day. It’s a great treat. Compare and contrast with the documentary Derrida (which I also like, incidentally).

Here’s a taster of Deleuze (not Stivale’s subtitles btw):

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Happy Bloomsday!

Bloom was talking and talking with John Wyse and he quite excited with his dunducketymudcoloured mug on him and his old plumeyes rolling about.

― Persecution, says he, all the history of the world is full of it. Perpetuating national hatred among nations.

― But do you know what a nation means? says John Wyse.

― Yes, says Bloom.

― What is it? says John Wyse.

― A nation? says Bloom. A nation is the same people living in the same place.

― By God, then, says Ned, laughing, if that’s so I’m a nation for living in the same place for the past five years.

So of course everyone had a laugh at Bloom and says he, trying to muck out of it:

― Or also living in different places.

― That covers my case, says Joe.

― What is your nation if I may ask, says the citizen.

― Ireland, says Bloom. I was born here. Ireland.

The citizen said nothing only cleared the spit out of his gullet and, gob, he spat a Red bank oyster out of him right in the corner.

‘Cyclops’, Ulysses (1922) by James Joyce

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Joe Brainard

I’ve been meaning to say something about this wonderful book for some time.

Perhaps the best thing I can say about it is that it cheers me up whenever I look inside.

So if you need cheering up, seek it out.

As Paul Auster says in his introduction: “These little works . . . are not really about anything so much as what it means to be young, that hopeful, anarchic time when all horizons are open to us and the future appears to be without limits.”

To prove my point I have assembled the following: a short piece by Joe Brainard called “Life”, followed by some wholly inadequate scans of some of his drawings. Enjoy.


When I stop and think about what it’s all about I do come up with some answers, but they don’t help very much.

I think it is safe to say that life is pretty mysterious. And hard.

Life is short. I know that much. That life is short. And that it’s important to keep reminding oneself of it. That life is short. Just because it is. I suspect that each of us is going to wake up some morning to suddenly find ourselves old men (or women) without knowing how we got that way. Wondering where it all went. Regretting all the things we didn’t do. So I think that the sooner we realize that life is short the better off we are.

Now, to get to the basics. There are 24 hours a day. There is you and there are other people. The idea is to fill these 24 hours as best one can. With love and fun. Or things that are interesting. Or what have you. Other people are most important. Art is rewarding. Books and movies are good fillers, and the most reliable.

Now you know that life is not so simple as I am making it sound. We are all a bit fucked up, and here lies the problem. To try and get rid of the fucked up parts, so we can just relax and be ourselves. For what time we have left.

Joe Brainard, “Life”, The Collected Writings of Joe Brainard, ed. Ron Padgett

UPDATE: Nice piece on Brainard by Dan Chiasson in The New Yorker

Saturday, June 9, 2012

Friday, June 1, 2012

The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection 2012

Good news: my debut collection Emporium has been shortlisted for The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry Prize for First Full Collection 2012.

The shortlist:

Clare Best, Excisions (Waterloo Press)

Rachel Boast, Sidereal (Picador Poetry)

Olivia McCannon, Exactly My Own Length (Oxford Poets)

Ian Pindar, Emporium (Carcanet)

Heidi Williamson, Electric Shadow (Bloodaxe Books)

More details here. My thanks to the judges, and congratulations to everyone else on the list.