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Jen George - Combining slapstick, surrealism, erotica, and social criticism, Jen George's sprawling creative energy belies the secret precision and unexpected tenderness of everything she writes

The Babysitter at Rest
Jen George, The Babysitter at Rest, Dorothy, 2016.

 Five stories—several as long as novellas—introduce the world to Jen George, a writer whose furiously imaginative new voice calls to mind Donald Barthelme and Leonora Carrington no less than Kathy Acker and Chris Kraus. In "Guidance/The Party," an ethereal alcoholic "Guide" in robes and flowing hair appears to help a thirty- three-year-old woman prepare a party for her belated adulthood; "Take Care of Me Forever" tragically lambasts the medical profession as a ship of fools afloat in loneliness and narcissism; "Instruction" chronicles a season in an unconventional art school called The Warehouse, where students divide their time between orgies, art critiques, and burying dead racehorses. Combining slapstick, surrealism, erotica, and social criticism, Jen George's sprawling creative energy belies the secret precision and unexpected tenderness of everything she writes.

"I had to judge a story contest of 600+ anonymous stories and I read each one and without hesitation Jen George's story was my favourite. I'm so happy this collection exists. I feel drunk with love for these stories. They're so funny and weird and true."—Sheila Heti

"Reading THE BABYSITTER AT REST is an immersion into a hidden world. It's a place which is at first recognizable, before it becomes completely warped. Jen George has a way of bending the narrative which is distinctly her own. Her stories are at once poignant and disciplined in their abstraction, and hilarious in their inappropriate and reckless abandon."—Matthew Barney
"With a weird, beautiful energy, George explores the challenges of woman-being: singlehood, self-doubt, motherhood, the dismaying fact of aging, the (dis)ability to love. A modern-day Jane Bowles, George engages these mysteries in prose that is funny, charming, dark, and insightful."—Deb Olin Unferth

Reading the stories of Jen George’s debut collection The Babysitter at Rest was akin to witnessing a distress signal explode directly into my face—a flare made out of the remnants of garbage, used paint brushes, thimbles full of absinth, giant mirrors, ice cream cones, dirty bikini bottoms, expired weight loss tea, dead horses, and black spinal fluid. There is absurdity in every story (a “forever baby,” a hospital’s “Mummification Room”), and yet I felt like I knew these absurdities from the reality of my own life—or, rather, I’d encountered them in a kind of danger that comes with age and knowledge. The wounds of self-doubt and painful self-awareness manifest in a myriad of ways throughout life, and, despite myself, I related deeply to the inner landscape of George’s narrators.
What unites these five stories is a distinct and alarming female loneliness—George’s characters wallow in a pool of stagnancy, the missed opportunities of their twenties. They are not, in any apparent way, successful, are possibly barren, and seem consumed by their failures. However, what saturates this loneliness is George’s deadpan humor. In the first story, “Guidance/The Party,” the narrator (a thirty-three year old woman) is given an unsentimental pep talk from “the Guide,” who will be her ethereal coach in preparation for a party she must host in order to be saved from her own inability to transition into adulthood:
‘Though you’re visibly aging, you’ve failed to transition properly and now is the last hour.’ The Guide enters my kitchen and looks over my tea collection: teas for energy, for shitting, for sleep, for being calm, for being present, for liking what I’ve been given, for being my inherent self—most of which are long expired.
Implied in this, the collection’s opening scene, is the image of a subject embodied by all she lacks, a woman who at thirty-three is already decaying. No babies, no boyfriends, no husband, no semblance of cherished stability, no book or art deal, a body that is going. That’s what you need a Guide for—to make you right, to make you whole, to force you back into the light of productivity no matter how undisciplined of a human you’ve become. (What has she been doing all this time, the Guide would like to know. “‘Looking around. Watching stuff on TV. Having weird dreams. Eating sandwiches.’”)
But there are remedies to all this. Roll your neck, whip your arms, elongate your neck to stave off the turkey wobble. No more sitting in the shower; no more television; no more social anxiety; no more complaining about not being a genius. Like a weird mash-up of a gender-neutral angel and bored Kardashian-like neighbor friend, the Guide wanders around the narrator’s apartment dispensing the implied wisdom and subtext of every self-help book and women’s magazine I’ve read: If you are not happy, you are failing. If you are not trying to be happy, you are losing. Even a faker of happiness is a winner in some way, or at least inspiring. That adage “Fake it ‘til you make it” seems forever apropos.
It is both hilarious and heartbreaking that the defining characteristic of George’s narrators are their earnest and damnedest attempts to flit through the narrow gates of acceptable 21st century adulthood, in this story portrayed to the hilarious extreme—the narrator takes it for granted that 10,001-ingedient mole sauce (with albino peacock talon paste), a self-given enema, diuretic “shit” teas, and large quantities of flower bouquets adorning a party everyone will show up to and probably rank as poor to middling are not just impressive, but sure proof of inhabiting an authentically adult sphere. This is her “last hour” party after all, and the stakes are high, at least in the eyes of the Guide, who, even so, leaves mid-story to get back to its own life. In the end, it’s left ambiguous as to if this party is truly a defining moment for the narrator’s continuing forward momentum, and something more than just a formidable and desperate public display of getting her shit together. Even after she throws the party, we won’t know if she ever does.
On the flip side, however, George’s harsh portrayals present us with a mainstream society that now seems rigged, destined towards its own insane horizon. What becomes revealed more than a woman’s various failures is the inherent absurdity of a patriarchal hierarchy where women are equated to sexual treats and the apogee of their existence is procreation. In a world where mothers are debating whether to name their unborn children Whirling Dervish (girl) or Phallus Maximus (boy), we must question everything.
The prize of the collection is “The Babysitter at Rest.” It is messy and perfect, and unlike any story I have read before. “I’ve been given a fresh start, a new beginning,” says the narrator. “It’s almost like being reborn, but without birth and childhood. I get to start as a young adult, when you are capable of looking after yourself and making decisions. When your body is in its prime. The only rules are you start pretty broke, and you have to have roommates.” The narrator is allowed to work in a newspaper office because she is interested in the arts, where her duties include ordering sandwiches and watering potted plants. Hobbies are essential here, so she takes up growing tomato seeds; she paints a little, but her roommate is better at this—she seems better than the narrator at everything. The narrator begins an affair with Tyler Burnett a pedophiliac chemical plant owner who is married to the successful artist she wishes she could be and with whom he has a forever baby, a baby that will never age and becomes the narrator’s main charge.
There’s such a dysfunctional dread to all this—for instance, the inappropriate sex scenes between her and Tyler Burnett who feeds the narrator ice cream and candy on their excursions to the ocean. “ ‘Child,’” he says, “ ‘please don’t pursue obscure aspirations of becoming something, though I know you wouldn’t know how to even if you wanted. It’d spoil you. You are better the way you are.’” To be a prize, she must remain hopeless. She fills her days with trips to the swimming pool, and eventually wears nothing but a bathing suit at all times, having inexplicably lost the rest of her wardrobe. As she watches Tyler’s forever baby, she realizes she can only interact with it a handful of ways, because it’s will never achieve the potential she and others squander.
‘It is a curse to have a forever baby’ [says Tyler Burnett]. ‘The baby will not inherit my property, my good looks. I thought the point of having a baby was so you could age and die. You could be released after cursing someone else into this existence. With this baby sealed in infancy, I fear I may live a very, very long time. I age, but I’m not dying. I can think of nothing worse.’
Tyler’s and the baby’s plight extend to the worlds in each of George’s stories—that there is no such thing as true success without a wink of acknowledgment that success is measured by the lame ideals of a condescending society that celebrates individualism and shuns community. The parody of the self-aggrandizing leader/artist is both a comical and sinister black hole: “ ‘Cry for my little penis, you stupid fucking bitch,’” says a painter to the narrator in “Take Care of Me Forever” as he paints himself into a matador scene with a pile of slain bulls at his feet. And she does, because when it comes to mourning, she could have been a professional, and this, unquestionably, is what the little penis wants.
These stories are weird, and get weirder as they get darker; that’s the beauty of the collection. In “Instruction” a group of art students attend an orientation that includes lying for five days on black trash bags without moving, eating, or drinking. They must vomit, shit, and infect themselves in a kind of pseudo cleanse meant to reveal the smallness of their existences. They have orgies, bury dead racehorses, and compete for the attention of the Teacher/older man with large hands who keeps a jar of nail clippings from the last thirty years on his desk and expects sexual dalliances in his office. The plot and characters descend into a kind of rabid whirlpool of sex, art, and narcissism. This final story makes the collection an homage to lost dreams of identity and recalls the first story “Guidance/The Pary”: ‘I first forgot who I was when I was very young,’ whispers the narrator to the Guide as it sleeps.
…At the moment of realization, I walked out of my backyard and into the street. I was able to see the world spinning. It went very fast and made me dizzy. A police officer pulled over and said, ‘What is a little girl doing out here alone?’ I said, ‘I don’t know.’ ‘Where do you live?’ he said. ‘I don’t know,’ I said… didn’t know the answer to any of his questions. I was someone else after that, and since then I’ve forgotten who I was and have become someone else completely over and over again.
The expectations of domineering authority figures (teachers, husbands, doctors, artists, ovulation machines) moves to obliterate these female narrators. It’s the plight of the protagonists and the hilarity of this kind of culture that creates one of the most tender and grittiest collections I have read. That forever baby haunts me—a baby who never ages, who traps adults into roles they are incapable of transcending, never evolving, who keeps the babysitter in a state of arrested development, forever at rest, but who itself, in a way, is saved from this awful mess, the mess of life, the mess of being a woman or a man: “ ‘Your father’s good looks and his property will never be yours because you will always remain a baby,’” says the narrator. “ ‘It is better this way.’” - Jennifer Christie             


The Time Complex. Post-Contemporary - Human agency and experience lose their primacy in the complexity and scale of social organization today. The leading actors are instead complex systems, infrastructures and networks in which the future replaces the present as the structuring condition of time

The Time Complex. Post-Contemporary, Ed. by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik, Name Publications, 2016.


Edited by Armen Avanessian and Suhail Malik, designed by Federico Pérez Villoro with drawings by Andreas Töpfer. Contributions by Benjamin Bratton, Elena Esposito, Victoria Ivanova, Laboria Cuboniks, Aihwa Ong, David Roden, Nick Srnicek & Alex Williams.

Time is changing. Human agency and experience lose their primacy in the complexity and scale of social organization today. The leading actors are instead complex systems, infrastructures and networks in which the future replaces the present as the structuring condition of time. As the political Left and Right struggle to deal with this new situation, we are increasingly wholly pre-empted and post-everything. The contributions in The Time Complex. Post-Contemporary re-localize the present as part of a changed, speculative time complex and draw a precise diagnosis of the situation in order to negotiate speculative predictions of a future presence.


Valery Oisteanu, king/queen/jack of all dada/east village “Absurdistan” – gallops on the hobbyhorse of our blasted times; and the poems here echo the blasts. Poems point to and mock the “Unending killing cycles,” while surreal images abound and become visual realities

Image result for Valery Oisteanu, Anarchy for a Rainy Day,

Valery Oisteanu, Anarchy for a Rainy DaySpuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2015.                            


To read Valery Oisteanu is to enter into yourself and emerge with a vocabulary you never knew existed. To read him is to regret the wasted life you lead before you read him. - Judith Malina

Valery Oisteanu, king/queen/jack of all dada/east village “Absurdistan” – gallops on the hobbyhorse of our blasted times; and the poems here echo the blasts.  Poems point to and mock the “Unending killing cycles,” while surreal images abound and become visual realities.  Dada is reincarnated in Oisteanu’s troubling vision where “Darkness evaporates into more darkness.” Despite the hi-jinks, the ebullient sexuality, dadaistic lust, there’s a deep abiding sadness here – over deaths (see especially “Mostly Unavailable”) and universal madness: poetry “from the forbidden dreams of the Asylum.” Mid-way into the book he cries – “Freedom is still a foreign word,” well, not here, not in the voice of Valery Oisteanu.  - Barry Wallenstein

Geologists have labeled our age the Anthropocene because man has become the most powerful force on earth even as he heads towards extinction, surrounded by clichés and useless artifacts. Valery Oisteanu knows this, and like a surreal Atlas astride the rubble, he rails against the Absurd, but it is a warning sheathed in love. Anarchy for a Rainy Day is a book of poems by a romantic. Read this book, and then keep it close; it is a life preserver. -  Ron Kolm

When I first heard the title to Valery Oisteanu’s new book, I began to sing. On a rainy day with a bit of anarchy in the wings almost anything can happen and, in these poems, often does. The readiness to embrace them is all. Valery Oisteanu is ready.
From his East Village perch in Manhattan, wandering close to home or traveling far and wide – Amsterdam, Bucharest, Paris, the Belgian Shore, Sardinia, Santorini, Venice, Rome, and more, each a place where he writes -- he reveals as only he can what makes living so poignant. Balanced by an incisive sense of mortality, his pleasures, despairs, rages, and humor enliven. Here, deft portraits, incandescent trysts, and solitary somersaults captivate. Here, in his solitude or with his friends, we learn not only “How to be a poem” but how such being in the full light of day can inspire beneficence and revolt. Love, of course, superb and erotic, predominates. And it is from and to love that Oisteanu writes some of his best poems.
In “Dancing with Nudes,” dedicated to the Belgian artist, Paul Delvaux, Oisteanu tells us: “A lonely skeleton strolls into rooms of seduction.” It is a place without “bad dreams, just abandonment in ecstasy” with “Lips touching, red nipples, breasts colliding”; a place of “dream paintings, breathing sexuality into the lifeless.” In another poem, “Khatmandu Prostitute,” Oisteanu chronicles a chance meeting with the same woman in a bus station after her work has finished. No longer dressed to entice, he recalls her as she was, whispering to him: “I love anal,” as she bites his lips in “my horizontal lingam temple”; a metaphorical lever that air lifts the poem but not before we discover that “Erotic carvings on the gates are laughing silently.” “The Jazz of Sex in Flight” paints a portrait of fleshy encounters where “Flashes of toxic psychedelic light/Radiate the bed with a blue glow all night” and “Bullet dreams of incomparable pleasure/…blaze behind the magician’s eyes.” A beautiful homage to his wife, Ruth, “A Miracle in Manhattan,” celebrates their “four-decade-long stream” where “All our desires flow like a dream/A dream within a dream within a dream.”  A second, equally beautiful poem to Ruth, “”The Wilderness of Her Lips,” tell us, almost as a leitmotif to the entire collection: “The astral goddess does her nightly dance.” 
These are heady way stations through the pages of this book, fonts of desire fulfilled that pull back the curtains to other scenes where different issues raise their tensions and laughter. What happens as age increases and “It,” meaning everything related to the body, “only gets worse” – a deep, sweetly serious bass line that configures the poem “Ripened Life Goes On”? Or how, in “A Zen-Dada Cyborg is Born,” Oisteanu emblazons an “absurdly sunny October day” with an unfortunate, nearly mythic fall and broken arm right “In front of St. Marks Church” – that theater devoted to avant-garde culture. In the poem, “Italian Faces and Places,” he studies the “impatient,” “grave,” “long,” “blasé,” “distorted,” “annoyed,” “confused,” “radiant Fellini-like” faces of those he meets or those that pass before him: “faces reminiscent of Dante’s Divine Comedy,” a charged reference within a moment of perception and appreciation. In a real or remembered St. Petersburg, Oisteanu encounters Lenin’s ghost, as he charts in brief the history of the city that carried the revolutionist’s name “for almost 70 years” before returning to its original with Putin, the new proto-czar, in charge, and “Pussy Riot,” our subversive female punk group, imprisoned with “forced labor” as a result. What has changed, in terms of politics and morality, between this new century and its brutal predecessor? Turning to Oisteanu’s immediate locale, the apartment where he lives, who can forget the wry humor of “The Golden Roaches,” unwanted inhabitants of his kitchen stove, their base transformed into “an existential tombstone”. Or his poem to the 9/11 terrorist attack, Manhattan itself become an exemplar of the surrealist game, cadavre exquis, but here envisioned as an “Exquisite Corpse Remembered and Dismembered,” with Billie Holiday’s rich rendition of “Autumn in New York” in concluding, somber counterpoint.
Filtered through the book, especially in the last section, which he dedicates to poets he knew well or fleetingly, but who touched him profoundly, he writes about Gellu Naum, founder of surrealism in their native Romania, and the illimitable Ira Cohen, Judith Malina, Tuli Kupfeberg, Ted Joans, Philip Lamantia, Eugenio Granell, Sarane Alexandrian, Peter Orlovsky, Barney Rossett, Taylor Mead, Harold Norse, and others and more. Oisteanu is one of them but happily with us in the here and now creating poems and his “violin collages”, as he calls them, ten of which appear in the book, in parallel with his many public readings, and his art and literary criticism.
Rooted in Dada and surrealism, which he revivifies, ever present, ever new, sensitive to the least alteration in the cosmic weather, Anarchy for a Rainy Day sings.
Go ahead: turn the dial on your inner ear to these poems and listen. Oisteanu is conducting an ensemble of visible invisibles from "manic panic street", "The sky roaring above Souda Bay" while "cats are flying freely over. secret gardens."
His gardens, but also mine. and yours. - Allan Graubard

Reading the new book of poetry by Valery Oisteanu, Anarchy for a Rainy Day, which is written in Surrealist style, the author himself an avowed member of this school, makes me think of an earlier, critically powerful critique of this literary and artistic movement.
In T.A.Z., Hakim Bey levels a ferocious attack, saying that for one thing — and I will get to his second complaint below — no matter how liberating Surrealism was in principle, the fact that its style lent itself so easily to appropriation by Madison Avenue and other capitalist-friendly users counts heavily against it. He writes, “Advertising, using Surrealism’s colonization of the unconscious to create desire, leads to the final implosion of Surrealism.” Bey argues that any purported avant garde must be judged not only by its productions but its ability to resist coopting.
It seems a bit harsh to blame inventive artists for what use is made of their innovations once they become known to a wider public. However, there is a further implication to Bey’s invective, one which has been heard and responded to in Anarchy. That idea is: while the first generation of Surrealists can be forgiven for not knowing the future, the current crop of Surrealists must acknowledge and confront how traduced and compromised their trademark style has been. To rephrase that, the only neo-Surrealists who deserve continuing respect are those who, like Oistenau, face up to and compose in full awareness of the dangers of dilution and compromise.
Oisteanu faces this problem by providing lyrical elegies for recently deceased male and female Surrealist masters in which he emphasizes that they stayed true to principles and, directly attributable to this, they were shunned or hunted out of existence by the mainstream, dying without recognition in the shadows. The concept is that no matter how much Surrealist styles have been denigrated by marketers, true uncompromising partisans of the movement have upheld its rebel heritage and suffered the consequences.
So, Oistenau hymns Harold Norse, saying he has been left out of
A virtual museum of the Beats
They who have forgotten you so soon
Omission accomplished.
He writes of Peter Orlovsky, left to die in a mental hospital,
Insanity follows him to Creedmore’s mental ward
But on that fragile morning, the last day of May
A sunflower blossomed and began bleeding petals
lone in death, alone and still, alone and naked
Folded arms, closed lips, heart full of unwritten poems.
And he tells a poet, barely known in the U.S.,
Sarane Alexandrian, never forgotten
Forever remembered, even in total silence.
Thus, part of the book is a Surrealist obituary column, memorializing these unknown greats and refusing to participate in the culture of “
Celebs-made USA, everywhere
each product different, flavors of the day … Fame and Name-Game casualties.
By doing so, the author calls on all second generation Surrealists to remain faithful to their remarkable but all-too frequently forgotton Surrealist forbears.
However, let’s return to Bey and his even more savage complaint against this artistic movement. “Surrealism was made for advertising, for commodification. Surrealism is in fact a betrayal of desire.” Why? Because “all projects for the ‘liberation of desire’ (Surrealism) which remain enmeshed in the matrix of work can only lead to the commodification of desire.” To rephrase that, Surrealism, for all its radicalism, did not defend alienated labor. This, Bey argues, can be seen not only in the focus of the movement’s creative attacks but in its affinity for ‘the Communist Party and its Work-ist ideology.”
Certainly, Bey’s assertions are open to challenge, but let’s set aside the question of the validity of his attacks on the earlier figures and take this as a second challenge to the new generation. The demand is that the newer Surrealists once and for all break their ties to contemporary work culture. Has Oisteanu been able to do this? Speaking frankly, I would have to say that in some ways Oisteanu falls short here. As was the case with Breton, Aragon and others, his unrelenting, fiery attacks on the state’s war-mongering, imperialism and environmental degradation are not matched by equally passionate attacks on the slavery of work.
Yet, if one reads with a less literal-minded search for denunciations of the world of labor, one can see in Oisteanu an important transmutation of Surrealist forms that has a bearing on this issue. One characteristic of early French Surrealist poetry (though not of all their novels) was a tendency to abstraction. It was a curious abstraction, of course, that of common nouns doing odd, discontinuous things like the characters in Magnetic Fields, who appear only to be joined to other abstractions: “A man standing in front of a perfume shop was listening to the rolling of a distant drum. The night that was gliding over his head came to rest on his shoulders.”
This type of writing is one reason for Bey’s criticism, his feeling that Surrealism is delinked from the life of ordinary people.
It can be argued that Oisteanu moves against this tendency, not by casting off abstraction, which is central to Surrealism’s self presentation, but by linking these abstractions to daily life. Perhaps, he owes some of this shift to being influenced by the O’Hara wing of the New York School. This means, for instance, he can discuss a mundane affair like stumbling on the street and ending in the hospital. Calling himself, modestly enough, Mr. Zen-dada, he narrates:
Mr. Zen-dada, Bacchus of the East Village
Ready to take off, to fly vertically
Tripped by Peter Stuyvesant’s ghost
Nearly surreally unconscious
Suddenly something snaps, shrinks rapidly
Left humerus on a sidewalk …
Falling like an old tree into a cloud.
Mr. Zen ends up in a hospital to say he has “a metal plate in my arms” and contemplates whether he can still “compose jazzoetry – jazz-inflected poetry.” He asks, plaintively, “Will I ever play the violin-collage as I did before?”
There are still abstractions, “Bacchus,” “a tree falling into a cloud,” and so on, but they are tied into prosaic events, giving them grittiness and reality. The same could be said of poems in which Oisteanu writes of his love for his wife,
Woman and man strung on life’s path
The sound of pleasure and pain
Your breath on my lips
tongue on my nipples
and of the horrors of visiting over-touristed Sicily,
The highway is winding to the east
the scooters, the cars, the trucks
Nearly invisible in the long tunnels
Love Sicily, hate the mass tourism.
In all these poems, Oisteanu braids together the strands of documentary observation with Surrealist ebullience, making Surrealist verse more quotidian.
It’s as if Bey threw down a gauntlet to second generation Surrealists, asking them, “Can you show me a Surrealist who has not sold out?” Oisteanu points a finger at Harold Norse, Sarane Alexandrian and others. Then Bey asks, “Can you show me a Surrealist poem that will speak to every woman and man, dropping the over-reliance on abstractions?” Oisteanu sets about writing them.
Anarchy for a Rainy Day shows that, while literature does not progress, in the sense of each generation producing better writing, it is moved forward by those who, while remaining in one literary current, can dialectically redirect the stream so that it no longer carries all the old silt.

- Jim Feast

Avant-gardist, art critic, hedonist, World traveler, Valery Oisteanu’s Anarchy for a Rainy Day is a poetic celebration of bohemian life. The reader joins the poet as he journeys through Europe, Nepal, South America, consorts with sex workers, activists, memorializes artists, and enjoys a long, loving and lustful marriage to his muse.
Some of these poems seduce with their sly wit and wordplay. 
“So please advise before it’s too late/How can I gauge my mental state? Also imperative that I can self medicate/” from “Letter to My Shrink”. Addressed to Sigmund Freud, who Oisteanu beautifully played in an off Broadway play, the poem resounds with a charming and urbane urgency.
A long time proponent of surrealism, the poet is also an accomplished art critic, and his language is infused with rich and unexpected resonance. “Take it from this poet in Absurdistan, New York/who wants to exchange a poem for a vagina/” from “Smoke of Radical Aggression”. 
Whether he is ranting about travels in Sicily, or reminiscing about a Katmandu sexworker, Oisteanu‘s quest for liberation unifies the dozens of knock out poems that comprise the handsome volume. His own collages add a poignant visual punch to accompanying text. This is the sagacious voice of a seasoned poet, one who mourns his lost friends while keeping an eye on the chaotic and ever changing New York City that is his home. 
A true romantic sentimentalist, Oisteanu memorializes cultural icons like Louise Bourgeois, Allen Ginsberg, Judith Malina, Robert Creeley, Ted Joans, my own beloved friend Janine Pomy Vega, Barney Rossett, and other creative luminaries. His haunting lines, “A sunflower blossomed and began bleeding petals” from the “Forest of Blue Glass Peter Orlovsky” are perfect homages. 
I especially loved the gorgeous love poems addressed to his wife. “I have shamelessly robbed the Garden of Eden/ Stolen a goddess for special sacrifice…” from “The Wilderness of Her Lips” to “A Miracle in Manhattan” ending with “A dream within a dream within a dream.”
This is a book to savor, to read randomly, to remind yourself of how magnified moments enrich and embroider our world. Valery Oisteanu’s voice is that of a true cosmopolitan, his unique sensuality seeping into essential words and images. - Ilka Scobie

Valery Oisteanu is a poet, writer, and artist of the avant-garde. Born in USSR (1943) and educated in Romania. He debuted as a poet with the collection Prosthesis in 1970 (Litera Press, Bucharest). A the age of 20, he adopted Dada and Surrealism as a philosophy of art and life and a few years later English as his primary language. Immigrating to New York City in 1972, he has been writing in English for the past 43 years. He is the author of 12 books of poetry, a book of short fiction, The King of Penguins (Linear Art Press, 2000), and a book of essays, The AVANT-GODS.
Over the last 10 years he wrote art criticism for Brooklyn Rail,, White Hot Magazine, and NY Arts. He is also a contributing writer for French, Spanish & Romanian art and literary magazines (La Page Blanche,, Viata Romaneasca, Observatorul Cultural,,, etc.)
As an artist he exhibits collages and assemblages on a regular basis at galleries in New York and also creates collages as covers and illustrations for books and magazines.  
He has performed in theater and in poetry-musical collaborations with jazz artists from all over the world in sessions known as Jazzoetry.
His work has appeared in international Surrealist publications of the last four decades, including Dream Helmet (1978), What Will Be (Brumes Blondes, 2014), A Phala (Sao Paola, Brazil), The Annual (Phasm Press, 2015). Member of Poets and Writers, Inc., New York (1977-2015) Founding member of PASS (Poets and Artists Surrealist Society) (1973-2015) “It’s the End of the World As We Know It” Award (2000) (Vault Literary Society award for exceptional cutting edge artists who consistently take risks with their art). Awarded CHIVOT Order of the Chevalier of the Tower, for the dissemination of Romanian Avant-Garde in Diaspora, 2010 Recipient of the Kathy Acker Award NYC 2013 for contribution to the avant-garde in Poetry Performance.


Marlon L. Fick - The Nowhere Man follows the life and travels of an American novelist, Bolivar Collins, from his youth to adulthood through the later half of the 20th century, a time of war and political turmoil

Marlon L. Fick, The Nowhere Man, Jaded Ibis Press, 2016.

The Nowhere Man follows the life and travels of an American novelist, Bolivar Collins, from his youth to adulthood through the later half of the 20th century, a time of war and political turmoil. Socially awkward and introverted, Collins looks for answers in books of philosophy, trying to understand the chaos around him and the chaos he feels. When he cannot find explanations for the mysteries of human behavior, human sexuality, love, war, etc., he attempts to apply philosophical explanations, which in turn results in a dark irony. Rapid changes in settings—from the United States, to France and Spain, then to Gabon, the Congo, and Zaire, then to Cuba, Nicaragua, and Mexico—echo Collin’s own evolution, while external forces beyond his control place him directly in the path of history: The man, who began as a bookish adolescent, is compelled to participate in the Nicaraguan Civil War, presumably as “a spy.” Caught between allegiances—the United States vs. his family, now Cuban—Collins becomes a fugitive, wanted by the FBI and the CIA.

“Marlon Fick is one of the most fluent writers in American today.” —Robert Haas

“Impressive and magnificent—a serene lyricism and narration which is both tender and passionate. Destined one day to be a classic.” —Myriam Moscona

“Marlon Fick is a writer of high energy, imagination, and intelligence. His work is for the human voice and the human ear.” —Thomas Lux

“Marlon L. Fick joins an honorable group of ex-patriot American writers—Katherine Ann Porter, Hart Crane—making the most out of the Latin Experience.” —Jonathan Holden


Gösta Oswald - This relatively short poetic work primarily inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Haywain Triptych and Dante’s The Divine Comedy is regarded as one of the most original and challenging texts in Swedish literature

Image result for Gösta Oswald, Rondo
Gösta Oswald, Rondo

Gösta Oswald was a prodigy of the Swedish modernist scene, publishing his first collection of poetry at the age of nineteen. His tragic death in a drowning accident in 1950, when he was just twenty-four years old, cut short a formidable literary career in the making. By that time the young man had published only one more text, the novel En privatmans vedermödor (A Private Man’s Hardships). The rest of his literary works  came out posthumously, the most notable of those being his highly experimental novel Rondo that was still unfinished at the time of Oswald’s death. This relatively short poetic work primarily inspired by Hieronymus Bosch’s The Haywain Triptych and Dante’s The Divine Comedy is regarded as one of the most original and challenging texts in Swedish literature.
In this intriguing piece, unfortunately available only in Swedish, writer and critic Carl Johan Malmberg mentions Rondo in the same breath as In Search of Lost Time, Finnegans Wake and Bottom’s Dream. This does not mean, of course, that the novel by the precocious Swedish talent is on a par with these heavy literary monuments, but rather that Oswald’s ambition of creating a work that would be marked by bold stylistic experiments with language as well as over-saturated with cultural and literary references placed him within the tradition of ground-breaking encyclopedic narratives represented by Proust, Joyce, and Arno Schmidt.
Hieronymus Bosch. The Pedlar, closed state of The Hay Wain.

Rondo lacks conventional plot. It is a poetic tapestry woven from a variety of motifs hearkening back both to the old masters such as Plutarch, Dante, Rabelais and the more recent ones: Dostoevsky, Hölderin, T. S. Eliot, Joyce. Structurally, Oswald’s text follows the arrangement of the scenes in The Hay Wain, as each part of the novel corresponds to a certain panel in the triptych. The most prominent theme of the novel is that of a metaphysical search. The main character Aran, named so after the group of Irish islands, is a wanderer just like the dog-deterring pedlar depicted on the closed shutters of Bosch’s triptych. The hostile environment in which the protagonist of Rondo wends his way, looking for a way out, is represented by the City, an allegorical dimension of suffering, sin, and death. The doomed City is counterpoised by Inis, a Beatrice-like character, who is the personification of love and beauty. The novel explores the beautiful and the grotesque in equal measure. It is written in gorgeous musical prose verging on baroque poetry and is replete with striking dream-like imagery.
Itself a product of intense artistic inspiration, Rondo, in its turn, has inspired Swedish composer Bo Nilsson to compose an orchestral tetralogy called Brief an Gösta Oswald (Letter to Gösta Oswald). The tetralogy consists of an overture and three cantatas based on the text of the novel. If you would like to learn more about this creative synthesis, there is an illuminating article by Anders Nilsson available online.
Gösta Oswald’s unfinished novel has not been translated into any language yet, which is understandable, given the fact that the author is virtually unknown outside Sweden. An important landmark of Swedish literary modernism, Rondo has to find its way to a wider readership. Publishers of literature in translation, it’s your chance. -

Tillgängliga verk:
faksimil   pdf   Christinalegender
faksimil   pdf   En privatmans vedermödor
faksimil   pdf   Rondo
faksimil   pdf   Skrifter I
faksimil   pdf   Skrifter II!/forfattare/OswaldG/titlar

Sun, Stone and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories

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Sun, Stone and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories, Ed. by Jorge F. Hernandez, Fondo de Cultura Economica, 2008.

Literature is perhaps Mexico's best landscape, encompassing both past and present, revealing the multiple colors of its geographic expanse and the shapes of its imagination and memory. The Short story provides our best and quickest view - or our most faithful mirror- of all things Mexican. This anthology presents a collection of twenty tales of extraordinary quality, written by the finest Mexican authors. - Josefina Vazquez Mota

The Big Read is the largest literature program in the history of the U.S. government. Created by the National Endowment for the Arts, in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and in cooperation with Arts Midwest, the Big Read is designed to revitalize the role of reading in American Culture and promote the transformative power of literature. Sun, Stone and Shadows: 20 Great Mexican Short Stories has the distinction of being the first book published expressly for The Big Read Program. Its stories, selected with U.S. readers in mind, represent a remarkable array of Mexico's rich and vibrant literary history. Sun, Stone and Shadows is a catalyst for cultural understanding and conversation between the people of Mexico and the United States. - Dana Gioia

It can be tricky reviewing an anthology. Especially a general anthology that strives to introduce the literature of a particular country or region, since in an attempt to be all-encompassing, these anthologies can seem too diffuse, without anything linking the included pieces.
When I first picked up Sun, Stone, and Shadows I was pleasantly surprised by two things: the quality of the authors included (more below) and the way these stories were grouped into five distinct sections. These sections—“The Fantastic Unreal,” “Scenes from Mexican Reality,” “The Tangible Past,” “The Unexpected in Everyday, Urban Life,” and “Intimate Imagination”—are good guideposts for readers and useful for introducing some of the overarching themes and styles found in Mexican literature.
One of the other things that’s interesting about this book is that it’s published by the Fondo de Cultura Economica in collaboration with the National Endowment for the Arts Big Read program and was also published in a Spanish version. As a result, this anthology will be the basis of two Big Read programs in the U.S. (both in Texas) and two programs in Mexico (including one in Ciudad Juarez, which, after reading 2666 totally freaks me out). According to the NEA press release this is in the tradition of the Big Read Russia and Big Read Egypt. Hopefully this aspect of the Big Read will continue to expand, both in terms of the countries involved, and in supporting Big Read events around the country that are based around these international titles.
In terms of the actual anthology, the authors included are a hit-list of some of the biggest names of Mexican literature: Octavio Paz, Carlos Fuentes, Salvador Elizondo, Juan Rulfo, Rosario Castellanos, Jorge Ibarguengoitia, Juan Garcia Ponce, Sergio Pitol, and Jose Emilio Pacheco, in addition to eleven more. It would’ve been nice to include some younger Mexican writers, but the editors decided to restrict this to writers born between 1887 and 1939, providing a decent range of material that fits nicely with the overall scope of the Big Read.
As someone who reads a lot of Latin American literature, I was already familiar with the work of most of these authors, although on several occasions, the stories included in this anthology were new to me. What I particularly appreciated about this book was that authors like Ibarguengoitia (who was published in that Avon mass market series of Latin American authors that came out in the 80s) and Elizondo (whose bizarre, yet captivating Farabeuf came out from Garland Press in the mid-eighties) are included here. Both are somewhat “risky” authors, whose work is pretty unconventional.
For instance, the Elizondo story included is “History According to Pao Cheng,” which is a metafictional piece in the vein of Cortazar’s “Continuity of Parks.” In “Pao Cheng,” a philosopher is sitting by the edge of a stream contemplating the flow of history and imagining life to come for several millennia, until he focuses on a particular moment, a particular city, and a particular man.
“The man is writing a story,” he said to himself. Pao Cheng read once again the words written on the pages. “The story’s title is History According to Pao Cheng, and it’s about a philosopher of ancient times who one day sat at the edge of a stream and began to ponder . . . Then I am but a memory of this man, and if this man should forget me, I shall die! . . .”
Another of my personal favorites is the absurd story “The Switchman” by Juan Jose Arreola—an author I wasn’t previously aware of but whom Jorge Luis Borges said “could have been born anywhere, and in any century.” “The Switchman” is about a strange train station and a man’s attempt to get to his destination.
“This part of the world is famous for its railroads, as you know. Up to now, we haven’t been able to work out all the details, but we’ve done wonders with the printing of timetables and the promotion of tickets. The railroad guidebooks criss-cross every populated area of the country; tickets are being sold to even the most insignificant and out-of-the-way whistle-stops. All we have to do now is to make the trains themselves conform to the indicated schedules—actually get the trains to their stations. That’s what people hereabouts are hoping for; meanwhile, we put up with the irregularities of the service, and our patriotism keeps us from any open display of annoyance.”
Overall, this is a solid anthology that will fit nicely into the Big Read program. I’m not sure if this book will be stocked in bookstores (hopefully it will be, but I’m not sure how FCE is distributed in the U.S.), but it is available through Amazon, and with a list price of $10, it’s a great bargain.
- Chad W. Post

Introduction, Jorge Hernandez
The Fantastic Unreal
Scenes from Mexican Reality
The Tangible Past
The Unexpected in Everyday, Urban Life
Intimate Imagination

Pablo Ruiz - What myths have been thought up to explain the transition from "nothing" to a work of art? And when did the "account of composition" turn into a literary genre of its own?

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Pablo Ruiz, Four Cold Chapters on the Possibility of Literature: (Leading Mostly to Borges and Oulipo), Dalkey Archive Press, 2014.

What can be said about the silence that precedes a poem or a story? What myths have been thought up to explain the transition from "nothing" to a work of art? And when did the "account of composition" turn into a literary genre of its own? These questions are the heart of Pablo M. Ruiz's excursion into the center(s) of literary creativity. Filled with paradoxes and parables, "Four Cold Chapters" takes in Borges, Perec, and Felisberto Hernandez, as well as several suggested but politely avoided doctoral dissertations, on its journey through the universe of writing (and writing about writing).

Pablo M. Ruiz is Assistant Professor of Latin American Literature at Tufts University. His literary essays, translations and travel pieces have been published in Variaciones Borges, Formules, Yzur, La Habana Elegante, and Hermano Cerdo.


Carlos Fonseca Suárez - Loosely based on the fascinating life story of the eccentric mathematician Alexander Grothendieck, Colonel Lágrimas is a world-spanning tour de force of history, politics, literature, mathematics, and philosophy that wears its learning lightly, forming an appealingly human story of the forces that have created the modern world

Colonel Lagrimas
Carlos Fonseca Suárez, Colonel Lágrimas, Trans. by Megan McDowell, Restless Books, 2016.               

excerpt 2

A dazzling debut about the demented final project of a brilliant mathematician, recalling the best of Bolaño, Borges, and Calvino, Coronel Lágrimas is an allegory of our hyper-informed age and of the clash between European and Latin American history.Holed away in a cabin in the Pyrenees, the world-famous and enigmatic mathematician Alexander Grothendieck is working furiously on a final project. But what exactly is this monumental, mysterious undertaking? Why did this man, one of the greatest geniuses of the century, a politically militant man himself, suddenly decide to abandon politics and society altogether? As the reader pursues the answer to these questions, two layered narratives emerge. One is a series of unforgettable characters that have transfixed the mathematician’s imagination: Chana Abramov, a woman obsessed with painting the same Mexican volcano a thousand times, Vladimir Vostokov, an anarchist in battle with technological modernity, and Maximiliano Cienfuegos, a simple man who will nonetheless become the symbol for the Colonel’s as well as Europe’s restless political conscience. The other is the protagonist’s life story: a picaresque journey that traverses the 20th century: from the Russia of the October Revolution to the Mexico of the anarchic 1920s, from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam, all the way back to France and from there to the Caribbean islands. Out of this Borgesian web emerges a tragicomic allegory for the political arch of the past century, one that began addicted to political action and ended up hooked on big data.
Loosely based on the fascinating life story of the eccentric mathematician Alexander Grothendieck, Colonel Lágrimas is a world-spanning tour de force of history, politics, literature, mathematics, and philosophy that wears its learning lightly, forming an appealingly human story of the forces that have created the modern world.

No one writes to the Colonel, and so the Colonel must write for himself: debut novelist Fonseca looks to the golden age of Latin American literature while pondering the mysteries of mathematics.
More to the point, Fonseca, who teaches at Cambridge, limns the mysterious life of the enigmatic mathematician Alexander Grothendieck, who, stateless, settled in the foothills of the French Pyrenees and filled thousands of pages with formulas, jottings, and diary entries. In Fonseca’s hands, this untidy, seemingly random archive becomes something of an alternative history of “an imploding century,” a time in which our erstwhile mathematician, a “monastic aristocrat” who answers to Colonel for reasons unknown, has seen manifold terrors, from the Spanish Civil War to Vietnam. The Colonel, for whom the adjectives mount in variety and number as the story progresses, nurses memories and perhaps a few hallucinations. Though the narrative centers closely on him, he is not alone: among other characters, there is an elusive refugee named Chana Abramov, whose monomania is to paint landscape after landscape of a volcano that she once populated with humans, then erased them one by one. Then there is pen pal Maximiliano Cienfuegos, who, having once played a game of chess with the Colonel, now receives packages from him for reasons unknown; “perhaps the colonel believed he heard aristocratic echoes in Maximiliano’s name,” writes Fonseca, “the irony of a name that played with a history, now almost forgotten, of impossible emperors and transatlantic projects.” Readers without groundings in Latin America will know little of that history, which, Fonseca’s novel insists, is fully part of the larger history of the world. Though the novel nods mostly to García Márquez, Fonseca plays with the possibilities of hypertext raised by Julio Cortázar, and there are hints of Bolaño and perhaps even of younger contemporary Daniel Galera (the latter in the Colonel’s diagnosis of prosopagnosia).
Sometimes precious and perhaps a little too short to contain all the author’s ambitions. Still, a lively, smart study of a decidedly offbeat character. - Kirkus Reviews

The Colonel of the title is aging and, from things said in passing, this book encompasses what could well be his last day and his final project, the aforementioned biographical trilogy of historical female alchemists. Apparently obsessed with a single mathematical formula which is repeated throughout the book, the Colonel has turned his back on the world, preferring to write about alchemy in the stillness of his Pyrenean home/prison/hermitage. And, it appears that he’s never had a military background, but has conferred the title of ‘colonel’ on himself.
As the book progresses, we learn a great deal about his past, including his refusal to speak Russian any longer, preferring Spanish and French, and the fact that he has prosopagnosia, meaning he is unable to recognise people. Many tantalising hints are placed through the book, but few are substantiated, almost as if we’re sharing the decline of mental faculties of the Colonel. We are also placed in the position of somehow spying on the Colonel as he goes about his day, able to open drawers and examine various writings and photos we find as the book progresses.
I found this a difficult book in that I kept waiting for something to happen — when I reached the end, it was almost a sense of ‘is that it?’ mixed with surprise that it was over. Not that I wanted it to continue, as frustration was making me impatient with the character and the author. I can’t say I hated it, I just was hoping for more. Sadly for me, it felt a bit like one of those thought exercises that got carried away and oops, it’s a novel.- Dean Fetzer

Carlos Fonseca’s biography is marked not only by constant territorial displacements — he was born in Costa Rica in 1987, grew up in Puerto Rico, did his studies in the United States and now lives in London — but also by the multiple literary traditions that interest him. Despite his young age, he has already accumulated a vast series of influences, ranging all the way from Latin American to European authors without eluding the United States. Reading his works, one feels the presence of voices as disparate as those of W.G. Sebald, Alexander Von Humboldt, Simón Bolívar and Roberto Bolaño, among others. Fonseca is, without a doubt, a cosmopolitan offspring of cultural globalization as well as an attentive inheritor of both literary and cultural history.
In 2015, the prestigious Spanish publisher Anagrama published his debut novel Coronel Lágrimas, a novel that was praised both by the Argentine writer Ricardo Piglia as well as by the legendary editor Jorge Herralde for its singularity, experimentation, intrigue and elegance. It couldn’t have been better described. Lágrimas is a novel inspired by the life of stateless mathematician and hermit Alexander Grothendieck. Through an attentive and rigorous attention to detail, Fonseca is able to construct a collage where the mathematician’s life finds its ultimate meaning amidst a series of series of historical, metaphysical and poetic fragments that end up giving shape to a fascinating literary artifact that shines like an eclectic mosaic.
After its extraordinary critical reception in Latin America and Spain, unusual for a debut novel, Fonseca has established himself as one of the most promising and interesting new voices of his generation.
In a typical cloudy afternoon in London — with Bloomsbury’s literary landscape as backdrop — I sat to talk with the author about the publication of the English translation of his novel, Colonel Lágrimas, which is out today from Brooklyn-based publisher Restless Books this coming October.
Tomás Peters....  read the interview

Colonel Lágrimas is a close-up of the eighty-three-year-old Lágrimas, writing away on an historical work ("an autobiography by means of a megalomaniacal catalog of other people's lives") in his Pyrenean retreat as death approaches. He's not an actual Colonel, but arguably the label fits him. (Or not: the militaristic connotations surely drown out anything else about it.) And:
The Colonel used to be mathematician, but no longer. The Colonel saw the war from the battlefield, but he was unarmed. The Colonel was famous, but he decided to stop being so.
       (The Colonel is, in fact, closely based on the mathematician Alexander Grothendieck (1928-2014), who abandoned mathematics and retreated to the Pyrenees. However, while Fonseca uses aspects of Grothendieck's life as the basis for his character, he also changes many features and details to fit his novel-vision.)
       The narrative voice in Colonel Lágrimas is essentially the unusual first person plural, though in fact the otherwise omniscient narrator only occasionally demands of readers this forced collusion; still, already in the second sentence readers are pulled in: "We have to come near". The reader is not allowed to pretend to be a neutral observer. Appropriately, perhaps: life-accounts, even as they are based on facts, are subjective. But the reader also doesn't have any say in how or where things are headed, even as the narrator pretends we're all in this together.
       The novel's early scenes also focus on the Colonel himself at work at biography -- a volume of: 'Portraits of Three Alchemical Divas' -- and allows some consideration of the nature of historical re-creation on the page. The work is a: "project of other people's lives, a kind of autobiographical amnesia" -- while the work in which the readers are participating (as readers, and as part of the 'we' of the text itself) is an anti-text, against the character's wishes. Because as far as the Colonel goes, he just : "wants to be forgotten"; he wants: "to erase all legacy".
       The narrator certainly won't let him: Colonel Lágrimas is a full life-examination, and while the Colonel is seen as an: "anachronistic child of his age" he is nevertheless witness and participant, indeed representative, in many ways:
He was there -- in the Mexico of the twenties, in the Spanish Civil War, in the Second World War, at Woodstock and Vietnam -- but always a little before or after, a little out of time and place.
       The account is an attempt to: "get, narratively speaking, from doodle to equation". To capture this unusual figure in a more exact form. (Though one has to wonder -- not that the narrator lets us ... -- whether an equation is in any way a better rendering than a doodle might be .....)
       Among the Colonel's defining features is his statelessness (in an age of the nation-state), allowing him also to be seen as "a true vagabond", condemned "to a kind of eternal pilgrimage" (even though he seems to have settled down fairly happily as a hermit in the Pyrenees for quite a while now ...).
       Fonseca has some nice ideas here, and the Colonel is in many ways a fascinating figure, but Fonseca's methods and approach aren't entirely successful. He's prone to some excess in expression, which works in part but, given its extent, can get tiresome too:
Is it nostalgia the colonel is feeling? Only if by nostalgia one means the presentiment and anxiety that the phantasmagorias of the past, projected onto the wall of the future, are stalking one's steps. 
       Shifting between the present -- the day, and how the octogenarian spends it -- and the Colonel's varied pasts, as well as his limited communications with a chosen one, Maximiliano Cienfuegos, with whom he shares a sometime-project, Les Vertiges du Siècle ('Vertigos of the Century', Maximiliano suggests), Fonseca builds up an evocative character-portrait. Yet it can feel like too much is being asked of the Colonel -- or what he (can) stand for, representative of so much of the past century, and that not enough room is made for the scope of his retreat.
       Though often intriguing, Colonel Lágrimas is only partially successful -- and often weighed down by the writing style (and the involuntary coöpting of the reader in(to) the narrative). - M.A.Orthofer

"Experience: Culture, Cognition, and the Common Sense" convenes a conversation with artists, musicians, philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and neuroscientists, each of whom explores aspects of sensorial and cultural realms of experience

Experience: Culture, Cognition, and the Common Sense, Ed. by Caroline A. Jones, David Mather and Rebecca Uchill, MIT Press, 2016.

Experience offers a reading experience like no other. A heat-sensitive cover by Olafur Eliasson reveals words, colors, and a drawing when touched by human hands. Endpapers designed by Carsten Höller are printed in ink containing carefully calibrated quantities of the synthesized human pheromones estratetraenol and androstadienone, evoking the suggestibility of human desire. The margins and edges of the book are designed by Tauba Auerbach in complementary colors that create a dynamically shifting effect when the book is shifted or closed. When the book is opened, bookmarks cascade from the center, emerging from spider web prints by Tomás Saraceno. Experience produces experience while bringing the concept itself into relief as an object of contemplation. The sensory experience of the book as a physical object resonates with the intellectual experience of the book as a container of ideas.

convenes a conversation with artists, musicians, philosophers, anthropologists, historians, and neuroscientists, each of whom explores aspects of sensorial and cultural realms of experience. The texts include new essays written for this volume and classic texts by such figures as William James and Michel Foucault. The first publication from MIT’s Center for Art, Science, & Technology, Experience approaches its subject through multiple modes.

Publication design by Kimberly Varella with Becca Lofchie, Content Object Design Studio.

ContributorsTauba Auerbach, Bevil Conway, John Dewey, Olafur Eliasson, Michel Foucault, Adam Frank, Vittorio Gallese, Renée Green, Stefan Helmreich, Carsten Höller, Edmund Husserl, William James, Caroline A. Jones, Douglas Kahn, Brian Kane, Leah Kelly, Bruno Latour, Alvin Lucier, David Mather, Mara Mills, Alva Noë, Jacques Rancière, Michael Rossi, Tomás Saraceno, Natasha Schüll, Joan W.Scott, Tino Sehgal, Alma Steingart, Josh Tenenbaum, Rebecca Uchill

Sensorium: Embodied Experience, Technology, and Contemporary Art, Ed. by Caroline A. Jones, MIT Press, 2015.

The relationship between the body and electronic technology, extensively theorized through the 1980s and 1990s, has reached a new technosensual comfort zone in the early twenty-first century. In Sensorium, contemporary artists and writers explore the implications of the techno-human interface. Ten artists, chosen by an international team of curators, offer their own edgy investigations of embodied technology and the technologized body. These range from Matthieu Briand's experiment in "controlled schizophrenia" and Janet Cardiff and Georges Bures Miller's uneasy psychological soundscapes to Bruce Nauman's uncanny night visions and François Roche's destabilized architecture. The art in Sensorium--which accompanies an exhibition at the MIT List Visual Arts Center--captures the aesthetic attitude of this hybrid moment, when modernist segmentation of the senses is giving way to dramatic multisensory mixes or transpositions. Artwork by each artist appears with an analytical essay by a curator, all of it prefaced by an anchoring essay on "The Mediated Sensorium" by Caroline Jones. In the second half of Sensorium, scholars, scientists, and writers contribute entries to an "Abecedarius of the New Sensorium." These short, playful pieces include Bruno Latour on "Air," Barbara Maria Stafford on "Hedonics," Michel Foucault (from a little-known 1966 radio lecture) on the "Utopian Body," Donna Haraway on "Compoundings," and Neal Stephenson on the "Viral." Sensorium is both forensic and diagnostic, viewing the culture of the technologized body from the inside, by means of contemporary artists' provocations, and from a distance, in essays that situate it historically and intellectually.Copublished with The MIT List Visual Arts Center.


Daniel Y. Harris has composed a wild poetic drama through realms of eros and spirituality. His writing is simultaneously playful and profound, transmuting ancient symbols and concepts into a contemporary wisdom, heretofore unknown in poetry

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Daniel Y. Harris, The Rapture of Eddy Daemon, BlazeVOX, 2016.                        

Finally: a posthuman translation of Shakespeare. I'm glad Daniel Y. Harris beat Watson at it. There are still large chunks of human in his kind lineation." Andrei Codrescu

In The Rapture of Eddy Daemon, Daniel Y. Harris has composed a wild poetic drama through realms of eros and spirituality. His writing is simultaneously playful and profound, transmuting ancient symbols and concepts into a contemporary wisdom, heretofore unknown in poetry. —Daniel C. Matt

 Daniel Y. Harris has a perfect ear. Pass it on. “It’s the last season of day one.” Crisp consonants frame smart vowels betwixt parentheses that host deliciously true songs. Whole verse thrums from peak to sprawl. He crafts high-frequency fluidity. Each sonnet is agleam with future friction, “revers(ing) this law of creation.” The litmus state, “Unborn in choiring wings,” reminds us that “The topos is in the billions.” Each fleck of this multiplicative joy ride earns a resounding “YES”! —Sheila E. Murphy 

 Though last words are rarely included in blurbs, Jack Spicer’s “My vocabulary did this to me” is apt praise for Daniel Y. Harris’ linguistic tour de force, The Rapture of Eddy Daemon, which is a procedural and meta-linguistic commentary on Shakespeare’s sonnets and so much more—from Faustian saga of human creation to an ode to the mechanical and posthuman methods of gaining access once again to the imagination. The circle/cycle is unbroken and broken simultaneously—and that is the joy of this big, ambitious, and brilliant riff on what “revision,” at its most exuberant boundary can mean. Read th is forever and then start again. —Maxine Chernoff

The fourteen-line sonnet form is the setting for this epic homage to the Bard. Harris’ bold achievement is nothing less than a sustained ecstatic idiom—a combinatoria, encyclopaedic in range, via which this daemon, this genius, this attendant spirit he calls Daemon eddies uninhibitedly. —Gregory Vincent St. Thomasino, author of The Valise and Editor of E·ratio To be Human or… Posthuman? That is the question Daniel Y. Harris asks in The Rapture of Eddy Daemon, his new techno-savvy collection; an alluring post-avant garde ‘frieze of parabola and rosaries... eccentricities and personae’. Outraged critics may balk at the esthétique du mal infusing this neon-lit sonnet-homage to the Bard, but disregard their slings and arrows – just fasten your seatbelt for this white-knuckle ride through a multifaceted New Inscape of poetic phantasmagorical visuality. —AC Evans

 The originality of Daniel Y. Harris’ writings is a multilayered surprisal, one of joyful momentum and challenging nuances that alters the reader’s understanding of language. In essence, one of the gifts of The Rapture of Eddy Daemon is its ability to advocate for poetic language, but too, for language in a general contextual awareness. This superb collection will create neoteric discernment for the reader ready to delve beyond what is currently being written. Harris has created, through Daemon’s interaction, something very new and deliberate, —something truthful into the paradigm of what creates rapture and its subsequent experiences. —Felino A. Soriano

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Daniel Y. Harris, The Underworld of Lesser Degrees, NYQ Books, 2015.

THE UNDERWORLD OF LESSER DEGREES by Daniel Y. Harris is a post-digital and post-human literary oeuvre whose vortices are replete with the language of kabbalah, alchemy, holy writ, and the nuances of digital technology and social media. In illuminating a wide array of literary styles and varied poesis, THE UNDERWORLD OF LESSER DEGREES balances an amalgam between nihilism and transcendentalism by burrowing through the minutiae of self and identity to conjure the image of a post-human self as an inventor, engraving tropes of originality from the littered density of the literary canon. The book scrapes the periphery of form and style, but not to extol a certain impossible obscurity, futility, abstraction, disdain, flippancy, or the realpolitik of viral media. Technology and hyperreality meet Judaic midrash and biblical exegesis in stanzas which seek to create a human being from the refuse of bandwidth. THE UNDERWORLD OF LESSER DEGREES for a new spiritus, geist and religious ethos for the 21st century.


Daniel Y. Harris, Esophagus Writ (with Rupert M. Loydell), The Knives Forks and Spoons Press, 2014.

I didn’t see it cited in the notes from the Introduction by the little-known but clearly scholarly Dr Theodolite Cardew, but I am sure that the anthropoetjests Messrs Harris and Loydell will have referenced directly or indirectly the influential works of Fartov and Belcher in their own scholarly ruminations on the meanings of in their new poetry collection Esophagus Writ.
In the way cosmic coincidence will commune with those of us who listen, it was uncanny that I am currently reading Burroughs’ The Ticket That Exploded because this work is cited in the notes of that Introduction – the quote ‘the word is now a virus’ – and to expand on this reference, our dynamic duo explore the ‘other half’ which includes the meanings of, and do so with the compelling organism of their refracting poetic words.
I say ‘refracting’ because the poems in this anthology are placed side by side: one on the left [generally tempting with an organic accessibility] and then the one on the immediate right a bifurcated refraction of its leftie [generally teasing with an organic complexity] – never a copy or mirror re-working. Thus the organism of these shared words and ideas becomes a mutual virus that infects both and then spreads across the whole as a parasitic creator of new meaning.
The dichotomy of these refracted new meanings can be exemplified in titles like The Museum of Oblivion/The Museum of Oblation; The Ghost of an Impoverished Past/The Gimp of a Tumescent Now; Enter Babe Rainbow/Enter Billy-Bob Bovary, the latter in which ‘I suddenly felt much better’ and ‘I felt better in my thong’ wrestle with the plurality implicit in the meanings of.
A closer analysis of any more of these refractions – an inspection surprisingly missing from the otherwise erudite and learned exploration of Dr Cardew – reveals how the prism of this poetic intercourse shifts and splits meanings of to startling [and intentional] obfuscations. From the domesticity of
‘My beautiful time bomb,
will you dance before we explode?
How is the weather inside today?’

[The Mystery of the Mind]
to the psychoanalysis of
‘Hell is glial. Heaven, a dendrite. Between
podes, the myelin of a normative stint
in living with charm and poised saunter.’

[The Mystery of the Brain]
where the damaged layers of both our expression and understanding are wrapped up in each focus, one on love and one on over-analysis so that neither explains though one may seem more palpable.
I won’t comment further on the poems for these are for the reader to mainline and in doing so find their veins of personal meanings because ‘Everything should become clear to the most idiotic among us’ [Advice to the Reader]. I have just injected a tiny droplet of the virus.
I will nearly close on an admittedly pedantic point: I take issue with the esteemed Dr Cardew’s citing of the Blinky Snoodle work ‘Stupid Groups of Animals’ in The Journal of Behavioural Science vol. 12, #2, 1993 as a paper in any way informing the theoretical basis of these poets’ work as this fraudulent fancy was roundly discredited in the subsequent volume of that venerated journal by the renown American anthropology expert Wyde I Ceen.
I will, however, fully conclude by stating that this work is above and beyond any academic reference points a demonstrative hoot. If the virus is Poetry, the vaccine is reading the meanings of this challenging quality. -   

Image result for Daniel Y. Harris, Hyperlinks of Anxiety,
Daniel Y. Harris, Hyperlinks of Anxiety, Cervena Barva Press, 2013.

HYPERLINKS OF ANXIETY is a post-digital and post-human literary oeuvre whose vortices are replete with the language of kabbalah, alchemy, holy writ and the nuances of digital technology and social media. In illuminating a wide array of literary styles and varied poesis, HYPERLINKS OF ANXIETY balances an amalgam between nihilism and transcendentalism by burrowing through the minutiae of self and identity to conjure the image of a post-human self as an inventor, engraving tropes of originality from the littered density of the literary canon. The book scrapes the periphery of form and style, but not to extol a certain impossible obscurity, futility, abstraction, disdain, flippancy, or the realpolitik of viral media. Technology and hyperreality meet Judaicmidrash and biblical exegesis in stanzas which seek to create a human being from the refuse of bandwidth. HYPERLINKS OF ANXIETY is a new spiritus, geist and religious ethos for the 21st century.

Daniel Y. Harris’s new volume of poetry brings together a range of texts – older and newer – evocative of the qualms and uncertainties of our new millennium. A subtle and highly affective read.
Sander L. Gilman

Is cyberspace the most recent iteration of the diaspora? Will the next Zohar be composed in computer code? Can notarikon generate lyric poems out of the discourses of pharmacology, neurology, biophysics…? Welcome to the Hotel Url, Daniel Y. Harris, sole owner and proprietor, where these questions—and others that the reader has yet to dream–will be answered. No need to be anxious: in less than a nanosecond, the hyperlinks elaborated in Harris’s poems will whisk you from catastrophe creation to apocalypse and beyond. Beam me up, Ezekiel!—Norman Finkelstein

Daniel Y. Harris combines impressive erudition with a profound awe for continuity–that the eternal energies underlying Life itself constantly (re)iterate and (re)incarnate in myriad waxing and waning forms. Ideas birth Art; Art births Ideas. In such fashion, to employ classic terms, the heart and mind forge a dynamic union resulting in both clarity of perception and depth of feeling. These are poems to be read and reread, concepts and descriptive phrases operating like portals into other worlds. In Hyperlinks of Anxiety, Harris functions as a twenty–first century, digital alchemist, adeptly yoking the abstract and concrete, offering us singular and transformative experiences, all the while reminding us that Poetry is trans-authorial, Mystery our only true teacher.—John Amen

A volume of collected poetry, a range of older/newer texts 'evocative of the qualms and uncertainties of our new millennium', drawn from numerous magazine publications including The Café Irreal, Exquisite Corpse, Mad Hatter's Review, Pinstripe Fedora, Poetry Salzburg Review and many others, including Stride.  The book is organized into two roughly equal parts: Section I 'Hyperlinks' with 29 poems and Section II 'Anxiety' with 27. The main volume is preceded by an Introductory Essay entitled 'Barely Listening: A Meditation on Daniel Y Harris' Hyperlinks of Anxiety' by Beth Hawkins Benedix from DePauw University. Benedix is an Associate Professor of Religious Studies and Literature, while Harris himself is also an artist and essayist holding a Master of Arts in Divinity from the University of Chicago. (The distinctive collage cover artwork of the present volume is by the author himself.) Previous publications by Harris include The New Arcana (with John Amen, 2012), Unio Mystica (2009) and Paul Celan and the Messiah's Broken Levered Tongue: An Exponential Dyad (with Adam Shechter, 2010). Harris was born in Paris and now lives in Orange County, California. 
We meet at that ancient crossroads: at the intersection of poetry and The Spiritual, at a time when the Digital Revolution amplifies dystopian speculations about 'wasteland' worlds of alienating modernity subsumed by 'virtual culture'. The two part structure of the book, says Benedix, 'prompts us as readers to think simultaneously in terms of antagonisms and resolutions, relations and oppositions'. In 'Section I: Hyperlinks' the wasteland is 'hostile and sleek, treacherous, seductive, inescapably feline, unmistakably academic', the lingo remorselessly on-trend, as in 'Confessions of a Blogger': 'I spin/henosis in blogland.... The zot in the stasis/of the Web...' In 'Section II: Anxiety' 'the air feels different', it projects a different atmosphere, a sense of optimism (perhaps) or 'anticipation of the as yet undiscovered', those unknown unknowns always a covert source of chronic anxiety. Here there are various epitaphs citing erudite influences, or points of reference; Derrida, Kafka, Hart Crane, the painter Pierre Bonnard, Balzac, Emerson and that ultimate cinematic icon of alienation, Travis Bickle (in Taxi Driver after John Ashbery).  The overriding influence is Paul Celan, whose modes of Shadow Speech and Murder Speech (Schattensprache and Mordersprache) inform two linguistic strategies; the nuanced 'difficult' hermeticism and the infernal ‘consumer’ speech which is a speech of death and dehumanization.The general stylistic ethos of the collection is minimalist, yet a diversity of form continually engages the reader. Most poems are stanzaic constructs, although there are some prosodic pieces such as 'Epic of the Uncreature' and 'Republic of the 'Sitrah Ahra' which belong to the sphere of prose poetry. There are also some sets or poem-sequences such as 'The Agon Poems I-V' and 'Bequest I-V' and 'Ten Plagues'. Many pieces are sparse filamentous quatrains, triplets and couplets suspended against a white page like 'Oblique I' and 'Oblique II'. While others like 'Lilith's Wing' and 'Transmigration' are unitary stand-alone stanzas.  Many titles project a techno- avant-garde feel such as 'Emoticon', 'Opuscule', 'Neutrality' or 'Parataxis' while others refer the terminology of mythico-mystical Judaism: 'Dybbuk', 'Shekhinah', 'Apocrypha', 'Shevirah', 'Balaam' reminding us that, as explained in About The Author, Harris specialized in the history of the hermeneutics of religion writing a dissertation on The Zohar, the thirteenth century quasi-Arabic kabbalistic text known as The Book of Splendor attributed the Moses De Leon.
In a radio broadcast of 1936 WB Yeats noted that, while TS Eliot was the most 'revolutionary' poet of his lifetime, his work represented a form of revolution that was 'stylistic alone', a product of the pessimism engendered by the First World War. Previous generations had rejected Victorian moral fervour in favour of Decadence and Aestheticism; the interwar generation marked a return to a new seriousness, matched by stylistic 'innovation'. The paradox being that 'radical' modernist techniques were now deployed in the service of various moral critiques of contemporary society typical of Calvinists, Greek Stoics, dour Roman Republicans, Hebrew Prophets and other prim ascetics. In the last century Conservative critics and Cultural Marxists alike tended to agree that contemporary life is dominated by a shallow narcissism, a hollow consumerism and the cult of celebrity. Now in the twenty-first century this fallen world has become a post-modern nightmare of emergent hyper-culture, of trans-national casino capitalism and of global mass media electronica. According to Baudrillard the hyper-real is best exemplified by virtual reality, a 'third order simulation' generated by mathematics and computer code, a cyber-model of existence disconnected from actual reality; a world of dead souls enmeshed in hyperlinks, as explored in many of Harris' poems that voice the angst and introspection of a new species: Dostoyevsky's Underground Man takes a ride with the Taxi Driver.
For Benedix Harris' most extended 'elucidation of the hyperreal world we occupy' is the poem entitled 'The Latecomer'; a treatise on 'the endless ways we have sold our souls, given in to the seductions of power and fame, to the sound of our own voices, given up on our longing for the sacred, on the possibility for connection...'  This infernal hyperreality is often defined by mere soundbites or false messianic fantasies of redemption. 'Akiba feared the moral nebulae and died believing General Bar Kokhba was messiah' ('Transmigration'). Thus Hyperlinks of Anxiety illustrates Yeats's point about Eliot. This volume is an elegant, poetical exercise where postmodern linguistic style and experimental forms are utilized in the service of an ancient, 'prophetic' message of redemption; a vatic spirit of mysticism that flows throughout history, and by virtue of which, in an indeterminate space 'between' the hyperlinks, lost souls may regain connection with the real (i.e. sacred) through an experience of the ‘deepest intimacy’.
For Harris 'spirit is the last hope' and through a transcendental interpretation of the faculty of hearing ('Our ears are caverns reaching to the roots of the spirit') we may, perhaps, amidst our resignation and anxiety understand - by some intervention of grace - that the 'world is open/and waiting for us./ We see it better now with our ears'. The soul of the reader may find meaning in breathing the pure life of the spirit: perhaps an epiphany can be attained through an experience of dread some poets may call Anxiety. -  A.C. Evans

In his latest collection, Hyperlinks of Anxiety, Daniel Y. Harris serves as Virgilian guide, muse, and interlocutor, offering an ever-engaging commentary on contemporary life while making impressive use of complex metaphors drawn from psychology, philosophy, and a wide range of religious texts.
The term “hyperlink” immediately offers metaphysical implications, suggesting omnidirectional movement and positing the existence of a fundamental interconnectedness; metaphorically speaking, the hyperlink implies that existence occurs in a context of inherent or at least possible union (cf. Harris’s chapbook, Unio Mystica). Harris, however, is not making an argument for Essentialism. Enamored with ideas, Harris is even more enamored with the inherent poetry and drama of ideas. Also, in his own way, Harris has been deeply influenced by and thoroughly absorbed the techno-dystopian zeitgeist that pervades much of contemporary thought, literature, and pop culture.
Reading Harris’s far-reaching and complex work, questions quickly arise: Is the hyperlink ultimately an access point to a transcendent and immutable essence (Substance or God) or simply an illusory endpoint in and of itself? To stretch the metaphor to the realm of human psychology, is mystical union with a source possible or is what we have come to refer to as Petrarchan yearning, characterized by desire for that which is inevitably and irrevocably missing, the best we can hope for? Are our lives inevitably virtual and impersonal, infected, much like compromised documents, by a proliferative virus of cultural, conventional, and transpersonal anxiety? And who are we if we can’t claim with certitude to be experiencing what we think we are experiencing? Furthermore, who is it who/that experiences? At what point does the virtual become more real than that which it purportedly represents?
              From the first poem, “Confessions of a Blogger,” we see Harris addressing the notion of contemporary identity:
Add a mix of theurgy
and hyperlink to neuts of gramme—I spin
henosis in blogland: neurons
in the wet gauze
of def, spores of tag—the zot in the stasis
of the Web…

Harris yokes the supernatural or mystical (“theurgy”) with the technical (“hyperlink,” “neuts of gramme”), suggesting that union and identity (“henosis”) occur, ultimately, in a virtual (“blogland”) domain. He goes on to explore the changing nature of relationship, writing

for countless others probing
the Net for my name—
me numbered, me squared
to a thousand and one
nights of the boolean me….

Here again identity is presented as a “countless” phenomenon, the “name” simply a vehicle or sign via which one accesses or links to a permutating function of the virtual, a “numbered and squared” version of an indefinable and perhaps inaccessible origin. The reference to “boolean” implies that even given the complexity of “the Net”—or perhaps due to the complexity of “the Net,” itself a metonymy for the techno-infused dissociative labyrinth of modern life—simplicity prevails in the human realms of ethics, morals, emotion, and cognition. Amidst a contemporary plethora of information and virtual options, interpretation in real time is navigated inchoately. The complexity of the parameters (“the Net”) has bred a counter-tendency towards the primitive and over-simplified, in terms of response. The “boolean me” is true or false, this or that, rigidly and reductively disjunctive, and grossly one-dimensional. In the face of a virtual reality that proliferates exponentially, human response has, ironically, regressed towards a more primal orientation, a facile polarization of possibilities, narrowing reliance on expedient and dismissive categorizations. Harris continues:
…linkrot of vanity
shaping me as helicoid
in search of myself—to break
me, pulp my savage accent,
my hack-herd packing words
in viruses with a thin

The poem concludes with a manifesto regarding the inevitable transmogrification of identity. The “hyperlink” is now referred to as a “linkrot of vanity,” a portal into the nullity of both the “search for myself” and the obfuscation or at least elusiveness of anything remotely personal or not part of a “hack-herd,” where “words” are “packed” into a “virus” characterized by the “mdash,” itself a truncation, non sequitur of sorts, a portal into a void or abyss, an infinitely proliferative limbo. Identity has been reduced to pure commercialism, mass packaging and production, a clonal and tautological construct, the “link” a black hole imploding into itself. 
              In a subsequent poem titled “I,” Harris again conjures the context of the pervasively deconstructive virtual and continues to explore what it means to “search for [self].” He writes,
am hypertext, timpani of digits, remain
landed in chips, sites, fissures, soft as code

The poem is written in the first person and is, in part, a personal lamentation regarding the elusive nature of identity and the phenomenon of personal suffering; however, Harris is ultimately a poet-philosopher, rather than a Confessionalist, and his voice addresses the “I” of humanity, the “I” of Life or Eros itself, perhaps even the “I” of God. Can we say that God exceeds material reality, or are God and material reality tantamount (confluence of pantheism and nihilism), existence itself characterized by dispensability, recyclability, and ephemerality? Is God yet another aspect of the virtual (also a subset, aspect, or extension of the material), perhaps the gestalt of the virtual, but a gestalt that oxymoronically fails to exceed the sum of its parts? Milton and the later Romantics (British and American) would appreciate Harris’s inquiry as would William Gibson, the creators of The Matrix, and aficionados of the Steampunk and Cyberpunk genres. 
In the later and epic “Thade the Dystopian,” Harris writes, channeling metaphysics through Thade,
I put my hands on my omentum and pray for what can save
a life from the urgency of dead referents….

But again, is it possible to be saved from, to transcend the “dead referents”? Perhaps with a hint of satire, Harris goes on to ponder whether the “urgency” mentioned is not perhaps the saving grace of our existence. Illusion though it may be, perhaps the “urgency of dead referents” is what gets us up in the morning. Harris/Thade proceeds to suggest, “Ciphers want to be deciphered.” And, “No closure, symbol, exergue, opening at the city center….” The poem concludes much as it begins: “…my name is Thade…just/Thade, extending a hand.” Identity is, again, tautological, a repetitive indicator pointing towards and imploding into its own nullity.
Harris has absorbed his Plato, Spinoza, and Locke, as well as a wide range of Eastern and Western religious texts, but he’s also ingested and transmuted Derrida, Foucault, Bronk, Ashbery, and the spirit of contemporary science fiction, represented most vividly by the development of technology and its central role in our lives. Harris writes in “Fire and Name (Version #3)”:
Extinction burns its ruined
force without insult given
or injury taken. It is its own

accuser and master, in wit bereft
of quick, overhearing names.

Existence is impersonal, operating without design, in contrast to the Greek depiction of Fate as associated with a pantheon of mercurial and easily offended Gods and Goddesses. Existence “burns” without discrimination, without intending “insult” or “taking injury.” This is not the palpable and visceral Eros we encounter in the Greek myths but, rather, a post-industrial, post-techno portrayal of a drier, more disinterested, perhaps even randomly dutiful energy, the prompting of which seems to occur without discernible method, the ongoing regression of a deist-like Primal Cause.
Harris proclaims that existence is its own “accuser [and] master,” suggesting that existence itself unfolds according to the dictates of an inherent anxiety (or ambivalence), governed by a cosmological virus of doubt as well as the counter-equivalent of an evolutionary certitude, one alternatingly compensating for the other.  And perhaps our own anxiety—what we might stretch to interpret as original sin—occurs as a byproduct or extension of this fundamental energy. What we dub human psychology is tantamount to the nature of existence itself. It is impossible, therefore, to anthropomorphize, is fallacious to suggest that something akin to human nature exists in any primary or non-derivative form. The notion of anthropomorphizing is itself founded on a collective grandiosity, presumptuousness, and intergenerational hubris.
Of particular interest is Harris’s statement that existence is “bereft/of quick,” “quick” constituting a reference to the living or the life force. This is a remarkable paradox, one that will clearly appeal to readers with a bent for portraits of dystopianism a la Philip Dick. If existence is devoid of life, what then is its chief characteristic? What is existence, an after-the-fact, a program devoid of programming, a randomness that occurs neither randomly nor with set design, but perhaps according to the dictates of both alternately in complement (teleology) and opposition (sabotage)?
          Harris ambitiously explores many issues and moves in numerous interrelated directions throughout his landmark Hyperlinks of Anxiety. At the core of his striking and memorable poems are inquiries into human identity and experience as well as metaphysical investigations into the nature of existence itself. Is Harris a nihilist? What we might call a material pantheist? Again, Harris is not taking a fixed philosophic position, and it is not necessary for us to assign him one. He is ultimately a poetic gadfly; offering possibilities, evoking and provoking, rather than promulgating a perspective, is his chief task. The range and scope of his work are compelling as are the complexity, integrality, and originality of his metaphors and references. Harris celebrates the music, history, and sublimity of thought. His work constitutes a true fete, the heart responding most fervently when the mind is also deeply engaged. - John Amen

Beth Benedix: Barely Listening: A Meditation on Daniel Y. Harris' Hyperlinks of Anxiety.
Daniel Morris: Tech support says 'Dead Don Walking': Tradition, the Internet, and Individual Talent

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Daniel Y. Harris, The New Arcana (with John Amen), New York Quarterly Books, 2012.

THE NEW ARCANA is a multi-genre extravaganza featuring verse, fiction, mock journalism and academic writing, drama, and art. Both referencing and transcending various literary precedents, the book is a pronouncement for the 21st Century, an exploration of and commentary on the fast-paced and mercurial nature of life in the 2000s. Co-written by poets John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris, the book presents a compelling, jazz-like, and satirical style, a third voice born from the mingling of two distinct individual voices. THE NEW ARCANA is a memorable literary statement—a manifesto for our time—as well as a proclamation regarding the transformative qualities of true collaboration.

In The Art of Recklessness, Dean Young brings New York School surrealism into new relief. He talks of a poetry that contains the kind of stage-spanning acrobatic leaps you might have seen in vaudeville a century ago, or in balletic parodies performed by out-sized, operatic personae fluent in various arcane argots: at times witty, other times ludicrous, often madcap, always comic. The New Arcana, a collaboration of poets / artists John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris, demonstrates exactly the kind of reckless logic, syntax, and imagination that Young describes.
The book is a wildly antic collage of dramatic scenes, verse, diary and yearbook entries, phrases in Hebrew, clip art, illustrations, snapshots, and doctored photographs. Amen’s interest in alchemy goes back at least as far as his earlier book, At the Threshold of Alchemy, while Daniel Y. Harris’s immersion in the Kabbalah of Jewish mysticism underpins his book, Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue, selected by the Jewish Daily Forward as one of the most important Jewish poetry books of 2010.
In the first darkly comic “Section I,” we meet Jughead Jones and the flighty, unfaithful Sadie Shorthand who, like university students in every generation, sit in cafes and alternately discuss the nature of reality and their “fluttering day.” Here’s Sadie:
“Who I am essentially is always three steps ahead of who I am incidentally,” Sadie replied. “Even you, Mr. Don Juan, are an illusion.”
“’Touche,’ conceded Jughead and tucked a $20 bill into Sadie’s g-string.” Added to the narration are various artifacts or documents, submitted as if in evidence in a court of law, as the transcript of a radio show, or in mimicry of a graphic novel. The text, for example, quotes Sadie’s senior yearbook: “To be God—now that’s a strong karma” and includes clip art of a corset next to a fanged reptile. Tangential or irrelevant items—like a photo of aging parents—trail the characters. Jughead and Sadie are, at the outset, madly in love. A character referred to as “I” or “I and I” enters the scene rather like the Stage Manager in Our Town, and comments on the lovers:
Infatuation glows like a right angle––
Beware the bare, eroded slope of Eros
Inevitably, discord occurs between the lovers. In Act III, Jughead sits alone in the café. In Act IV, more discord. “You really need to figure out what’s next for you, Sadie./ Math, theology, whatever. Why don’t you put out a book?” Jughead quips. Sadie responds, “Well, Jug, the truth is, you’re my first book. /I’ve been editing you since we met.” In Act V, Jughead is outside Sadie’s apartment, under the eave, watching her, “sketching in his resentment pad.”
The romance ends badly. Actions and interactions appear to be intentionally senseless. The text parodies and mocks literary prizes, adult chat rooms, and breast-feeding. Illogical documents appear: Austin Halford’s text on the Dark Ages and the Renaissance of Literary Insurgence is quoted in Act II. Enrico the Insouciant’s  irrational equations appear in Act VI, where Yolanda the Crone eats a kefir and tofu sandwich. Following a detailed list of the cluttered contents of his apartment, one Eidenberry Whatever dies while wearing his adult diapers. (“I wish I’da met him when our parts was still workin’,” says Jacqueline the Mum, an ancient rock bank musician.)
Section Two continues a legal theme with a Judge and Lead Advocate Hortense, as well as other odd Dramatis Personae, like Constance Carbuncle, Justin Nurm, Dr. Yistrum Lee, Bus Driver, Don the Commuter, Freddie Brill or Sir Adrian the Fop-Murderer, and Thaddeus Felino. Section Three plays out a theme hinted at in Section One: the absurdity of artistic and literary striving and fame is demonstrated in portraits of six wacky artists, many prodigies, all coming to no good.
Klaus Krystog de Moliva combines an interest in music with toxicology. The poet-prodigy Ann Chuong-Sandrik dies at 29 by auto-asphyxiation. Marvin  Fegley Waife, famous for “semen” poems first written when he was 11, and author of vaginal sestinas and lacteal villanelles, dies of heart failure at 20. Sally Pixton, began her critical essay on  Thomas Carlyle, when she was 11,  published her first book at age 13, graduated from Harvard at 14—well, you get the idea. She is dead at 28 of snakebite. The only one in the pantheon not dead, it seems is Marguerita Voeckers De Winter, a recluse whose photo remarkably resembles the photo of the poet John Amen. (So if she, being a recluse, is dead, we might not know.) In deliberate obfuscation, the pagination of this part of the book wavers back and forth between “Section Two” and “Section Three.” Where are we really?
Amen and Harris regularly wander into lexicography and malapropism, engaging in theological discussions of the Creator, “the Premier Cause, […] shondly [sic] beyond reproach”; enlisting dozens of poisons, from pesticides to biocides, as actors in the drama; and inventing delicious words like sluther, preffy, ran-moral, sufferal, anthroid sufferal, axan, de-terra, and so on. Here’s another sample:
In sucal yoifs, sufferal in exspansion may randily be an effecting of the Premier Cause’s sal-wiring or auto-mandalated karmica.
Interspersed with this nonsense are passages of lyric clarity: “My doppelganger and I now sport interchangeable heads.”
The fifth and final section consists of twenty wonderful seven-line cantos that conjure Eliot’s Prufrock and Stevens’ guitarist, but written in country slang and revolving around the life of one ordinary stereo salesman named JD who “strum [sic] his red guitar as sunrise/drape over the house.” He “skim [sic] headlines […]/ consider [sic] a sick day, sick with success and failure.” Gritty, evocative verses are hidden like gems in the pockets of this text. America of the 1980s, for Amen and Harris, is a matter of “revolving doors [that] spin like a dervish, diner grills steaming with cheeseburgers, steaks, eggs, French fries; ice cream scoops are blazing, cash registers chiming; intercom voices bellowing discount deals in strip malls, casinos, convenience stores [. . .]” They create a portrait of the American temperament and cast of mind that resonates with our current national malaise and depression:
dollar bills sucked into vending machines, credit cards flashing, fives and tens and twenties whisked from wallets and purses, the I want I want of ten million shrieking souls determined to have fun have fun
This is heady stuff. In the metaphor of the book’s title—obliquely referencing James Merrill’s occult communications with angels and spirits in his epic narrative, The Changing Light at SandoverThe New Arcana deals mixed genres and mysterious (not to say weird) significances, dramatis personae, dialogue, stage directions, and a panoply of visual props. It presents a vat of comic madness into which riffs, visual imagery, collages and much else have been mischievously stirred. - Zara Raab

The New Arcana, by John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris is a comico–philosophical jeu d’esprit; like Samuel Beckett’s early poem “Whoroscope,” it seems sometimes to have as chief butt the 17th century philosopher René Descartes and his numberless descendants.  For soon after the beginning of the book we find the expostulation:
“Flame, clangor, holy superstition of cause and effect.
La religion de séquentialité!

And indeed for Descartes and the Cartesian religion, to be alive, awake and sane meant avoir de la suite dans les idées – to entertain only appropriate & approved sequences of mental events – and this is precisely what Amen and Harris refuse to do.  As part of their strategy, their characters tend to conjoin math and theology, much like Descartes, but in a different spirit:
“I’m at my best when I think of myself mathematically.” (Jughead)
“I’m at my worst when I think of myself theologically.” (Sadie)

Jughead Jones and Sadie Shorthand, we should inform the reader, were two very precocious philosophers, the latter one wearing at present a g–string and four–inch heels – perhaps she does burlesque?  When he was ten, JJ said to his father: “Dad, what you call your life is just an epistemological construct.”  And SS quoted the following on her senior yearbook: “To be God—now that’s a strange karma.” Who could gainsay either one?
Don’t expect any monkey business or openly titillating shenanigans between those two, though: that sort of thing is the main locus of sequential, even obsessively sequential, thought, and as such it is not welcome here.  Anyhow, unless you’re unremittingly into sex, all these characters will hold your interest and often make you laugh.
After JJ and SS, we meet CC: “Cult prodigy, mystic and healer” Constance Carbuncle has mental issues – “a potent Kali complex,” among others.  We also meet Don the Commuter, a character who ends up being killed by a drunken driver while eating a pork taco on his lunch break, on November 1st 2002, quite appropriately on the Día de los muertos.
“‘Well, she was standing there lecturing a pigeon, for God’s sake,’ said Don the Commuter, testifying at Constance Carbuncle’s competency hearing.  ‘I could tell right away that she was probably a bad driver.  She said something about field meters, and the pigeon squawked, and then she pulled out the knife.  It looked like a steak knife.  A pretty good knife.  One I’d like to keep in my car.  By the way,’ Don added, ‘I’d like it included in the record that I’ve shaved twice a day without fail since the age of fifteen, often while driving to and/or from work.’”
I cannot describe here the tenth of the crazy Olympus Amen and Harris have erected, but I cannot let the Parisian professors go unmentioned.  The Sorbonnagre Jean–Pierre Mouyabaise, whose dates are given as 1923–2007, and whose family name seems a combination of mayonnaise and bouillabaisse, is what our English departments call a “theoretician.”  If The New Arcana has the diffusion and the success it deserves, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some new doctoral dissertations connecting Mouyabaise with Paul de Man and Bakhtin.  And then there is the female counterpart, Professor Claudia Binot–Glas, whose “seminal work” is titled “The Speculum of Panatomism.”
For the sake of balance and of equal time I should mention, finally, JD, a male character known only by his initials, and by the fact that all that is written about him (though not what he says) must contain verbs only in the infinitive.  He is definitely against theorizing:
“‘The theoretical,’ JD says, ‘is for the caged and collared lapdog’.”
The New Arcana is the poetic jeu of two very fine esprits. - Ricardo Nirenberg

arcana [noun]:(Spirituality, New Age, Astrology & Self–help/Alternative Belief Systems) either of the two divisions (the minor arcana and the major arcana) of a pack of tarot cards.
Sometimes you can judge a book by its cover, especially when the cover art boasts a glossy texture and a modern, cutting–edge feel which accurately mirrors the lush and lively text. The New Arcana both inside and out, offers a stylish, sexy, intellectually challenging, genre–jumping discourse which poses several questions: How can we live productively and contentedly in this frenetic and kinetic, high–tech world without succumbing to dementia or despair or death; how to choose between ambition and ennui; and to what extent are we willing to die for our art. Beyond the camp and hyperbole, this is a serious work that avoids pretension by not taking itself too seriously&—it is, at once, a multi–faceted mockumentary, replete with sound bites, sidebars, and a deconstruction of the lexicon, and a veritable theater of the obscene and absurd. John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris have embarked on a daring and daunting collaborative effort that demands a good deal of attention, but rewards us with highly caffeinated, and often hilarious, entertainment.
Over milk, hypodermic restlessness, and mango sherbet, Sadie and Jughead

discuss their fluttering day.

Since it is de rigueur these days for reviewers to compare the work at hand to a seminal literary work of the past, please indulge me while I opine that The New Arcana, in spirit and form, lies somewhere between The Waste Land and Plato’s Republic, with a bit of Alice in Wonderland,in all its satirical whimsy, tossed in. But perhaps it would be more useful to forego the comparisons and discuss why this book is unique, and important, in its own right.
My ennui shall be my tabernacle,

temple, Delphi.

It shall lead me through rapacious waters

past sirens and reefs, deliver me

safe to Ithaca.

The cadence, throughout, is in striking alignment with the content. There is a vibrant breathlessness to the prose, which perfectly captures the wild fluctuations and hysteria of our daily lives. At heart, Messrs. Amen and Harris are poets and, as such, the dialogue is peppered with lyrically appealing, spiritually astute, imagery:
A hot wind whips across the eternal landscape;
archaic symbols are sold at auction north of Disneyland

to diehard antique–mongers and melancholy pedants…

Then, a flipped coin fell from the blue sky like an afterthought.

Will you stick round to hear the details—how it landed—

as they are cast and analyzed by the aging excommunicants?

Although there is no overt attempt to derange the senses, á la surrealism, the authors do play havoc with the reader’s notions of what, exactly, is vital to the zeitgeist. It is no accident that the book begins, “Our Father who art.” While, at first glance, there is a seemingly religious significance, it soon becomes clear that the real focus is on the word “art,” and how we define it. All roads lead to the Muse, who manifests in many colorful variations: high art co–exists peacefully with low art (i.e., discussing Descartes while stuffing money in a g–string); and the abandonment (or, even, annihilation) of the creative force altogether. Of course, there is also a healthy undercurrent of fetishist sex, if you are so inclined.
There are five discrete chapters, each one setting up a dichotomy (or maybe an existential crisis, depending on your interpretation). The first dramatic presentation, drawing on pop culture and wild imagination, features Jughead Jones (wasn’t he a character in the Archie comics?) and Sadie Shorthand (isn’t our language these days a sort of texted shorthand?)
Alas, I am being bombarded by wings, black embers,

velcro, and coupons, Sadie thinks, removing her 4–inch
heels, hanging the riding crop on the smoke–yellow wall…

Too late, between crumbs of Cartesian hypochondria,
saturated fat of dictum, logic, syllogism…

The high–spirited debate focuses on the value of math versus theology, which can also be translated as: abstract versus concrete; spiritual versus physical; and, within the context of literature, experimental versus linear. The authors are decidedly on the side of free expression.

And, oh, did I mention there is sex?

It seems fitting that the sexual deviance of choice is adults masquerading as babies. But once you get past the symbolism of dirty diapers and breast–pumped milk, you can see this regression as a way to mitigate the stress of overwhelming stimuli that living in the real word entails, or, quite simply, a desire to shirk responsibility:

…Jug and Sadie confabbing in the milk–white kitchen,

pacifiers and Lego kits

strewn about the floor, bills unpaid…

In Chapter 2, we are treated to a mock trial in a kangaroo court, wherein the competency of one Constance Carbuncle is to be determined. The real question, though, is whether madness is a necessary by–product of a think–outside–the–box worldview.
Constance Carbuncle

waved goodbye

to a few more neurons:

warrior cells and regenerative dendrites

were insufficient to counter her family’s wacked legacy.

But who are the final arbiters of Constance’s fate? Justin Nurm, Constance’s lover, “once flew into a rage when a hotdog vendor neglected to offer him mustard for his salty pretzel” and has “a penchant for eating lightly sautéed worms.” Dr. Yistrum Lee “challenged the dust mites to a vocabulary duel” and “once stuck a pencil up his right nostril while tweezing his left eyebrow.” Lead Advocate Hortense rehearses his closing statement in front of an albino doll. Let the judges themselves be judged!
“The actors…sit with their backs to the audience. They speak

neither to each other nor to the audience, as if they are completely

disassociated from both themselves and their immediate surroundings.”

By the next chapter, and as depicted in the above stage directions of this play–within–a–play, the characters have descended into apathy and disconnectedness. In this regard, perhaps I should not have been so hasty in discounting comparisons — there really are elements of The Waste Land here, although the sprinkling of foreign phrases is in French (and sometimes Hebrew) rather than Latin. T.S. Eliot staged a séance; Harris and Amen reference the tarot deck—both are intrinsically linked to the concepts of sex and death. The torrent of non–sequiturs denotes a similar decline in engagement, both due to untenable outside forces. But while The Waste Land, in each successive stanza, plunges further into chaos, The New Arcana does not, in the end, give in to pessimism, even despite the fact that most of the young practitioners of the new art have drawn the death card. The last chapter culminates in dialectical verse, laid out symmetrically on the page, which attempt to restore order and reconcile all previous disparities.
The New Arcana is not for the lazy reader. But for those who believe that contemporary American writing ought to push as many envelopes as possible, this book is not only worth the intellectual investment—it’s a really enjoyable ride!
Cindy Hochman is the editor–in–chief of the online journal First Literary Review–East. Her poems are upcoming in the New York Quarterly, CLWN WR, and the Cancer Project Anthology. Her latest chapbook is The Carcinogenic Bride. - Cindy Hochman

Let’s get the summary out of the way right here at the beginning: there are no problems with The New Arcana, it is an immensely enjoyable – albeit not easy – read, but problems may arise when the reader approaches it with the habitual intention of understanding it. Even if he is able to set aside that old habit, he will not be initiated into any great secrets; his mind will not be enlightened but definitely enlivened. The authors seem to have faithfully followed Tristan Tzara’s Dadaist dictum: “Art is a private thing, the artist makes it for himself, a comprehensible work is the product of a journalist. We need works that are strong, straight, precise, and forever beyond understanding.”
In his earlier three volumes of poetry John Amen was progressively pushing the boundaries of the genre, almost to the breaking point in the last one (At the Threshold of Alchemy, 2011; by contrast, a volume of intensely personal and confessional poems). Did he step over that threshold in The New Arcana, or is this a temporary detour from his rapidly evolving style? The latter must be the case, because the book is a collaborative effort with Daniel Y. Harris, in itself a radical departure for any poet from his usually solitary work. In addition, the collaborator is known to dabble in Hebrew mysticism in his own poetry which makes it tempting to ascribe this eccentric and esoteric project to his influence.
A reader still seeking the message may be determined to trace some of the strophes to one or the other poet, but such an exercise is not only unnecessary but impossible. True, most poets speak for themselves in their own voices most of the time, but in this book the two authors speak from the wings of a stage through a long cast of characters, each one defined only by some deformity their lines reveal. No other description is provided for them, and one is free to speculate. However, speculation is not the way to approach the text but by absorption, spiritual osmosis. The trickiest part is that some whole chapters – excerpts from plays, essays, interviews and doctoral theses − are given to voices that get a long biography, but when the uninitiated reader, innocent of the sly intricacies of the work, tries to look up any of these names they turn out to be totally fictitious. And so are the names quoted in the numerous authentic–looking footnotes and references. Only the authors’ names are true, but their biographies provided in the back are spoofs, and in their photos their faces are disguised behind goggles. A reader starting the book from the back is given a clear clue as to the tone of the rest.
Not quite though; the general tone is indeed Surrealist, but it spreads over a great variety of approaches, ranging from a few actually coherent and powerful poems (most notably in Section Two, attributed to a Larry Ormerod) and vivid one–liner metaphors to long–winded academic dissertations and extensive marginalia. The contorted academese texts will equally amuse academics and those whom they intimidate with their esoteric language. In a footnote the authors even quote themselves at considerable length but fail to cite a reference. (How about “From a paper in progress?”) The marginalia are extensions of the poetic lines, designed to beguile with more deception rather than explain anything. The last section is a prose poem in twenty short paragraphs written or told by a JD who may or may not be an amalgam of the two poets. That may be true of all the other characters as well. The liveliest and perhaps the most personal voice is that of Constance Carbuncle who appears in the first part of Section Two.
One section (Apotheosis) is a long poem (broken up by marginalia) written postmortem by a French professor, two years after his death; the bleak nonexistence of the dead is rendered in a poetic language and elegant metaphors worthy of Baudelaire. Paradoxically, this elegiac lamentation is the strongest part of the book, probably because it is not really about death but the fear of death.
I am the vacuum of absence. I am cold ash and the final illusion of a dying ember.

I am absolute love and the purity of horror,

an implosion without reference,

an incubator for what will never be born,

what will never die,

This is presented as “panatomist” poetry in the extensive but humorous gibberish in the footnotes. The authors’ newly invented concept of “panatomism” is often referred to as commonly known concept and thus never defined except in such a convoluted way that there is no concise quote that could summarize it. Ambivalence is the leitmotif here; it could be this, or could be that.
Not all the literary discourses parody academic style, some parts go well beyond that; they actually make sense or contain a kernel of truth. For example, in one of the purported dissertations the writer ascribes the invention of automatic poetry to the Surrealists and extols the virtues of the method (clipping all the words of a promising paragraph and then putting them together in random order) in eliminating intentionality and theme from the resulting poem, leaving a reader without comprehension but still curious, hung up in anxiety. That is the true purpose of art, say the Surrealists and the panatomists, as indirectly endorsed by the authors through an intermediary, another invented character: “Authenticity is achieved through the instantiation of a sustained paradox,”
Actually, randomized writing method was described in a poem by Tristan Tzara almost a hundred years ago under the aegis of Dadaism. Pairing disparate images together − as we find in this book – is a conceit of Surrealism, and it is hard to detect evidence of automatic poetry here, but the method is – like every other theory – is endorsed and rejected at the same time, apparently in the name of creating a paradox. Incomprehensibility is wholeheartedly supported in numerous instances in the make–believe but also credible literary criticism that intersperse the poetic material: “…we are often most alive when our not–knowing is most pronounced.” The thought practically punctuates the book in different formulations. Tzara would approve.
For a taste of what could be the product of automatic poetry see below (mixing in obscure technical terms, an ubiquitous panatomist ploy, almost ensures incomprehensibility):
with Kagome lattice,

is spun glass: geophysics
of war paint,

chromium alloy to the dead
the tilting head, chalk red.”

Pure nonsense, would say the traditionalist, but to Dadaists it is pure poetry, free of a biased message. What better way is there to exclude unintended content that our unexpressed, unformulated and deeply ingrained assumptions might unconsciously suggest? If indeed all themes are suspect, it is better to avoid any content at all, even the possibility of one, by totally eliminating intentionality from the creative process as guaranteed by automatic writing. At least, that is the theory as this reader understands it. Understand? Please excuse the use of the dirty word…
The best poems in this collection are the old–fashioned comprehensible kind, regardless of what the marginalia next to it might say, but they would lose their essence if only quoted in part, because their power lies in making a statement in three or four stanzas that cohere into one whole, each line as essential as a layer of bricks in a tower. Parts of these poems would not do justice to the whole poem, whoever wrote them. Whether we call this wonderfully incomprehensible medley neo–Dadaist, surrealist or panatomist, behind it there are two very cultured (not only sophisticated!), creative and whimsical minds. One day it will be a classic, maybe another hundred years from now when poets of the time rediscover Dadaism again.
Just one more thought: essays presented within the framework of fiction or independently published fiction pieces written in scholarly or journalist jargon pose a special problem to the critic. How much of it is meant to be fact and how much fiction? This genre is the reverse of creative nonfiction and should have its own name. How about essay fiction? Fictional essay? - Paul Sohar

John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris’s THE NEW ARCANA from NYQ Books is an unusual book. It posits poetry as a tesseract — a four–dimensional look at a traditional cube — and is original in scope and execution. THE NEW ARCANA uses as many forms as authors Amen and Harris could, including but not limited to: mock autobiographies, faux academic writing and journalism, and poetry of as many types and descriptions as possible. All of this was intended to get at the poetic version of Bill Clinton’s “Third Way” — a different way to approach poetry than is normally the case.
Before we go any further, this might be a good time to ponder the definition of the word arcana. According to the online version of Macmillan’s Dictionary, arcana means “things that are mysterious and difficult to understand.” This definition is absolutely essential to remember before you dive into the ocean of words Amen and Harris have provided, as otherwise you might not follow their reasoning.
Some of those words are quite meaningful, as this poem from p.12 shows — note that the line breaks are correct, but the way the poem looks on the page is different than what I’ve been able to render due to the WordPress interface:
I’ve grown weary

of my residual self, for whom change

is a game of mercy with a suspicious stranger.

La vérité en peinture — clamped, sifted, raked, rotted

down to inherited imagery

through which I am again deceived.

Wait, not mercy after all,

but a clashing of fists — mea culpa. (poem quoted in its entirety — BC)

As this poem is in Part 1, which is all about a love affair gone bad and the very strange occurrences that follow from that, it’s especially appropriate. And while it shows a postmodern sentiment, it’s still comprehensible to most lovers of poetry and is not so arcane that it can’t be understood in context or out of it. (A neat trick, that.)
In Part II, there’s this poem about suburban life that rings true (from p. 35):

The patio party; I’m tired of these spoiled suburbanites.

I prefer back–river ingénues and trailer–park bullies

brimming with rage and remorse

(first three lines quoted — BC)

As this section is about an extremely unusual person, her quest for plastic surgery, and whether or not she’s a genius — a section that weaves poetry, faux journalism, and more into its eclectic mix — and she’s the suburbanite in question, this poem packs an extremely powerful punch.
The strength of THE NEW ARCANA is in its willingness to take risks. Some of them do not come off; I especially did not understand the four lines of “Mistress, I’ve forgotten my safe word” at escalating volume (shown by the use of font–size and bolding) on p. 99. But it’s good that Amen and Harris are willing to experiment, as they blend postmodern sentiment with more traditional forms of poetry, academic writing, and more.
And these risks mostly pay off, as THE NEW ARCANA is the most eclectic and innovative anthology I’ve ever read. Bar none.
Now, is this an easy book to read? Far from it. There are sections that read like plays for a few pages, until the section abruptly ends or transmogrifies into something else. There’s some material that’s obviously not meant seriously (such as faux biographies of people who exist only in the authors’ minds, complete with obviously bogus pictures), mixed in with some trenchant observations, then mixed further with some rather odd assessments regarding sex.
But is it a good book for poetry enthusiasts?
Upon reflection, I think it is. So long as you know going in that this is a postmodern anthology of sorts — and that due to its experimental nature, some pages seem to have more resonance than others — you are likely to enjoy the unusual angle of view authors Amen and Harris have come up with.
And their subtle, yet biting wit and sly amounts of dry humor are well worth the price of admission.
Poets and poetry enthusiasts should get a great deal out of Amen and Harris’s work, especially if they give THE NEW ARCANA more than one chance to work its wiles and captivate their attention.
- Barb Caffrey

Too often, poetry is reduced to long–winded lectures in a classroom or pages in obscure literary journals. It’s rare to find poets willing to joke about what the process has become and the race within the academy to add more journal credits to one’s academic CV, but in their collaborative, mixed–genre collection, The New Arcana, John Amen and Daniel Y. Harris offer a blazing satire of academia and a critique of the hyper–consumerism in American culture.
The New Arcana is broken into five sections and filled with absurd characters that had me laughing harder and harder after each turn of the page. The book mixes poetry, fiction, drama, and random photos that look like they were pasted from a Google search. The result is a hysterical satire that should be read by academics that take themselves too seriously.
My favorite section is the first, which features the characters Jughead Jones, Sadie Shorthand, Yolanda the Crone, Albert the Bore, and others. For the most part, Jughead and Sadie were the most memorable to me, especially since the first few pages highlight some of their ridiculous, pseudo–intellectual lines. On one page, Sadie says, “Mathematics is a thousand ladders to nowhere. Theology is a newborn sibyl cooling in the darkness.” Their actions remind me of hipster intellectuals I knew in college, trying to outsmart each other in dive bars or diners.
Amen and Harris enhance the spoof by developing backstory and history for the characters. Sadie is given credit for creating a book called The Crazy Tape, and the writers brilliantly added fake blurbs and journal reviews about it, perhaps to prove how academics strive to find the next hot movement, no matter how obscure it is. One of the fake reviews calls The Crazy Tape, “her (Sadie’s) generation’s literary Big Bang,” adding that Sadie “is like a demiurge in a postmodern Genesis.”
The first section also works best when it addresses consumerism and our appetite for destruction and human tragedy, themes that play out in most of the other sections too. On one page, Sadie is pondering buying a “multi–slice CT scanner, some baklava, an HD television.” A few pages earlier, one of the characters is drawn to a car crash and watches with other gawking drivers, unable to turn away.
As the book progresses, the characters become more bizarre. Section two features a character named Constance Carbuncle who has to undergo a competency test, and during the trial, she speaks utter gibberish to the judge. As in the first section, here Amen and Harris use outlandish comments by other characters to provide the history of some of the protagonists. A painter named Albay Thompson is quoted in the section through his fake memoir. He describes Constance’s eyebrows as “eaves of a floating palace, perches for disenfranchised griffins.”
What’s especially impressive is that Amen and Harris keep the farce going throughout the book. Even the author bios are just as off the wall as the rest of the collection and feature Amen and Harris wearing goofy goggles, though they stepped forth from some futuristic reality. The New Arcana serves as a reminder to not take publishing and academia so seriously, and it offers a sharp critique of consumerism and our culture’s appetite for destruction, tragedy, and the misfortunes of others. - Brian Fanelli

more reviews:

Image result for Daniel Y. Harris, Paul Celan and the Messiah's Broken Levered Tongue
Daniel Y. Harris, Paul Celan and the Messiah's Broken Levered Tongue (with Adam Shechter), Cervena Barva Press, 2010. 

As Ron Sukenick so aptly put it in his last book "Mosaic Man," Jews are both proto and posthuman. Adam Shechter and Daniel Y. Harris are possessed of that molten globe of fiery perdition that draws the brighter children of the tribe to the flame. Add poetry and oy! What can I say? Shechter and Harris have made another journey to the hellchamber of Jewish mystery/creation/death and came out in company, a big company that includes a lot of fried geniuses, but most if all they came out, and it’s good to see them.Andrei Codrescu

Jake Marmer: The Messiah Cut-Up

I can’t begin to comprehend/surround all that is transpiring here in this Harris/Shechter collaboration/fusion—I'll need other readings toward adequate bearings—but as Seine suicide Paul Celan hovers among these pages of prayerful heresies—"no Shabbos–always Shabbos"—I experience a language that wields "pen as scalpel," and I feel flayed but grateful for this awakening into wild inquiry/attack. By way of thousands of years of Jewish history & of their own lives slashed out in poems & prose pieces of mesmerizing power, even as they wonder if they've gone too far, these two visionaries/revisionists have made something powerful & new here, something of charismatic complication. Oi Vey, & mazel tov. — William Heyen

Each Thursday, The Arty Semite features excerpts and reviews of the best contemporary Jewish poetry. This week Jake Marmer writes about the surrealist dialogues of Adam Schechter and Daniel Y. Harris.

The family of Jewish Surrealists and Dadaists is extensive, ranging from Dada’s founding poet Tristan Tzara, to French filmmaker Nelly Kaplan, to American media artist Man Ray. This family has now experienced a seismic shift with the inclusion of two new members — Adam Shechter and Daniel Y. Harris, whose chapbook “Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue: An Exponential Dyad” was published by Cervena Barva Press earlier this year. The previous collaborative work of these two authors, “Seven Dead Kafkas and a Fork,” has been featured in Exquisite Corpse, the prestigious online journal of Surrealism, but this is their debut appearance in print.
The chapbook is a dialogue that exiles itself from easily identifiable goals and whose subject escapes specific plot lines. Perhaps, this work is an attempt to re–map the history of Jewish esoteric mythology, focusing on Messianic obsessions as well as a kaleidoscope of traumas — national, universal, metaphysical, and the authors’ own.
Here’s a segment, where Harris takes the voice of Paul Celan, the great Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor, who committed suicide by jumping into the Seine river, while Shechter responds as the Messiah:

Paul Celan

Bare signs and ciphers, fisherman’s bait — found
me ten days later. Do you remember
the Bug River, émigré historian
of dead mothers?
Flows the pneuma, the mail
piled up, students pinned to their benches
at the Ecole Normale — no one
to wear
Hölderlin’s head.
You swallowed
me too

The Messiah

It was the red milk that
drained from their breasts, granite
Obliquely reverse—pure nausea
That drew me to the air.
I sensed, as I do
The needed gap
The textual hole
No tongue, no lips — you were always incinerated
and half way there — my most favored residue.
Really Celan, I told my Tzaddikim,
His stolid head will hang with your apples
Eyes empty of suppressed chronology
Feathers and leaves at his ears — in your Orchard.
And they laughed at the sunlight gelatin,
Their own turgid feet dismembered
Ornamenting my diametric mechanism
with the sudden vacuous shaft
that even breaks my concentration.

Paul Celan

Then jocular,
in league with the axis,
ruah’s doyen,
stilled by a grate of vowels — antic
yes-tones of no
with my rucksack of psalms.
Sinai lodestar.

The Messiah

Look for the anxiety calm
at the gouged crest — the Mosaic crust
in your eyelashes.
Sweat dust in your hands.

In this vein, the poets take turns addressing each other as various characters: Paul Celan and the Messiah, Shabbetai Tzvi and Nathan of Gaza, the Lubavitcher Rebbe and a Baal Teshuva. No matter what masks they don, however, or which settings they’re in, their two voices are distinct. Harris takes the tone of an overeducated madman, whose range of reference and highfalutin’ vocabulary is forbidding, yet, in its disorientation and piling–on, there’s a visceral music and, at times, irony. Shechter is basically a trickster, a shaman: one minute he erects edifices to Freud, Hassidic philosophy and poetic melancholy, and the next moment he emerges from behind them and laughingly shatters them into dust. Here’s a particularly memorable sampling of Shechter channeling:


If you have sex (even try) with your mother, I will kill you. I apologize for being so blunt, but creation can tire. Please do not overreact. In exchange for your mother’s body, I will mysticalize your hopelessness, and there will be literature. I assure you, the ultimate pleasure derived from this muted desperation will far outweigh the physical attainment of her. And don’t try anything stupid! Contrary to popular belief, I cannot be killed. That is a fallacy of literature’s hopeful byproduct, religion.

Having said all that, please reproduce.

Aside from the Surrealist mode, the dialogue occasionally veers into straightforward bits of autobiographical narrative. It is as if the dybbuks possessing the two authors take off for an impromptu vacation, and the two temporarily relieved writers converse in almost–human language.

Here’s Harris, speaking as himself:
Memory is a hunger artist, Adam, and my memory is the ruined prayer of Mnemosyne. As a boy of ten, freshly usurped from Paris, my entire physical presence was relegated to two eyes and large extended ears attached to a long thin torso. Our Brookline home was filled with books and imitation Louis XIV furniture. My father composed on his mother’s piano – serial chromaticism – I would later understand it to be, and my mother taught French. We lived a quiet, French–Jewish life in Boston’s colonial suburbia, save the physical violence dispensed upon me by my mother. Littered among biographies of Arnold Schoenberg and a vast collection of books from the Biblioteque de la Pleiade, were police reports and psychiatric evaluations. At twelve, the daughter of Yves Oppert, my mother, broke my arm. At thirteen, she broke my father’s collarbone. Similarly, here are two pieces from Shechter:I have always been a tower of words crashing down in parental trickery – at thirteen years old they bribed me out of my Bar Mitzvah. Instead we took a trip to Disney World. At Epcot Center, not within the borders of any one specific national recreation but in between the numinous synthetic signifiers, I became a Man – three Jews wandering, loud shameful arguing in the Goy Land of Fun – Fun for the whole Jewish family. That was my parsha.

At eighteen, I am sorry to say I believed I was Jesus and was in fact plagued by other out of control Jewish boy thoughts.
The thrust of trauma, drama, and disorientation is so harsh that catharsis does not exactly arrive, and yet somehow follows behind the imagistic onslaught at all times. Not surprisingly, the book ends with a melt–down, which, however is not devoid of hope, or at least irony: the ghost of Paul Celan appears, addressing Paul Celan himself, as well as Daniel and Adam, and advises all:
Eke’s davar to hunks of swill,
the dry eye, pink, blur–crust
to pilaster strip – sees
Lecha Dodi marry itself.  -
Jake Marmer

One of the most challenging collections I have ever reviewed for The Pedestal Magazine was Unio Mystica, Daniel Y. Harris’s wide–eyed exploration of Judaism and the Kabala that closed my featured look at Cross Cultural Communications in April of last year. As I did at the outset of that review, I offer once again this disclaimer and caveat: I am not Jewish, nor have I studied the Kabala in depth. Further, I have only an undergraduate history student’s understanding and insight into such monumental events in Jewish history as the Roman occupation of Jerusalem, Spain’s Reconquista, and countless pogroms, enslavements, and massacres in Europe and Asia that culminated in the Holocaust. Compared to the wealth of historical, religious, cultural, and literary knowledge of Harris (a Master of Arts in Divinity) and Shechter (founder and, along with Harris, editor of The Blue Jew Yorker), I am at several obvious disadvantages. Thus, I beg the more educated (and Jewish!) reader’s patience and pardon for the mistakes I will probably/inevitably make in analyzing Harris’s and Shechter’s dynamic, educated, erudite, and ultimately overwhelming long poem.
I can, however, say with all confidence that Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue is not only a dynamic, educated, erudite, and overwhelming work, but also a major work, one that I think will be (or, at least, should be) counted among the most imaginative and provocative American long poems of the 2010s. In just 60 pages, the two poets take the reader on a whirlwind journey through Jewish history, the Hebrew alphabet, the culture of the Diaspora, the intricacies of familial relationships and poetic inspiration, and the very mind and body of God.
Our Virgils through this drama of eons are three. The first is Paul Celan, a Romanian Jewish poet and Holocaust survivor whose years in Auschwitz informed much of his work, including the notable poem “Todesfugue.” He was also profoundly influenced by the surrealist movement, a fact which can be seen in his hybridized language choices and quickly shifting imagery.
A brief digression now, but one I promise will provide a solid map for the esoteric terrain ahead. In researching for this review I, of course, read Wikipedia’s entry on Celan (while noting with bemusement Harris’s reference to the much–criticized free encyclopedia as the “obese child” of “the google monster”). In doing so I came across a quote from a speech about the state of the German language after the Holocaust that Celan gave when accepting a literature award from the city of Bremen. I reproduce it here, because I think this quote cuts to the heart of the efforts of our two remaining Virgils, Harris and Shechter, in Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue.
Only one thing remained reachable, close and secure amid all losses: language. Yes, language. In spite of everything, it remained secure against loss. But it had to go through its own lack of answers, through terrifying silence, through the thousand darknesses of murderous speech. It went through. It gave me no words for what was happening, but went through it. Went through and could resurface, ‘enriched’ by it all.
While Harris and Shechter do not focus primarily or even predominantly upon the Holocaust, the language in their poem serves much this function. Language preserves Jewish culture, history, and religion from loss through its capacity to cycle through millennia and through its ability to bridge centuries. In one of the most interesting passages, for example, prophet, visionary, and excommunicant Nathan of Gaza speaks to a young (and somewhat bored) messiah named Shabbatai Tzvi, whose name plays upon that of kabbalist and later Islamic convert Shabbatai Zevi, whom Nathan proclaimed to be the messiah. In this excerpt, Nathan and Tzvi converse not only about the Kabala, but also about the collapse of the Shabbatean movement the two men founded. Note the ease with which Harris and Shechter here juggle not only Jewish mysticism, but also details from Zevi’s life (his imprisonment in the Castle at Abydos, for example) and the nature of time itself.
Nathan of Gaza

(To Tzvi)

The breastplate of your tract
is purged—acrostic formed by Torah
and backsliding bodies of demons.
The Sea of Reeds is a River of Dragons.

(To himself)

You think you’re a Lurianic
zelem? Try the butcher! The one who choked
on a leg of lamb, after eating nine borek.

(to Tzvi)

Left of the lower
golem, that is the black-purple
boils of tehiru, primordial man
was inflated by a demiurge—veiled
consort in arch and prepuce. You are imprisoned

for our good on aion in the Castle of Abydos.

Shabbatai Tzvi

Nathan, bro, lets not be too hard on ourselves
here. Don’t forget the dream. That was real
my man! I mean I think your mother must
have hidden your Zyprexa that morning,
but schizophrenics are genuine psychics just the same.

(Clearing his throat and getting serious)

Nathan, the fact of the matter is that they
used us, bro. Listen, I’m not saying that we
didn’t have good times. But they played us
for a couple of self-important jerks!

Man!!! We were the anti–psychotic medicine
for World Jewry in its completely destroyed
17th Century pogrom-ed out state. Where would
they be with out us? Do you hear me Nathan?

I am the Messiah!

Celan also believed that, following World War II, the German language in which he wrote needed to go through a change. In Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue, Harris and Shechter write in lively and ever–evolving English, to the limits of which they constantly strain. In this passage, for example, the poets attempt to describe the Tetragrammaton—that is, the four Hebrew letters that make up YHWH, or Yahweh, in English. This is an interesting feat, considering that those four letters—Yod, Heh, Vav (or Waw), and Heh—later became the Latinate Jehovah, or IHVH, in perhaps the ultimate transmigration and transformation of language.
In this passage, Celan learns of his mother’s death at the hands of the Nazis. This was a significant event in his life as it was his mother who taught him German, the language in which he would later write. Harris and Shechter symbolize this linguistic gift by the “deposit” of “a mummified Yod” in young Celan’s “tiny cupped hand.”
Here, Celan, as seen by Harris and Shechter, struggles not only with the contradiction between Semitic and Germanic language, but also with the ultimate meaning of language and the existence of God following and in the face of the Holocaust.

Paul Celan

Purified disquiet interned with idiom
at nadir’s retort, hollow
and hectic, my name
manshaped: words signal
expulsion with burnt bronchial

tubes—psaltar, in slots,
liquidates share, the copied
person pillorying since Eden.

Born into a thousand exiles,
dates are cancers—remove the amygdala,
yizkor of barbaric recall and undo birth:

Yahwhc lungs abetted by doxology,
never tissued. No writ. No gist.
No stock. No shoot.

Yod: return uber and sub to the bestiary.
Heh: return homunculus and dolt.
Vav: return Aleph to its rude cosmology.
Heh: return implode to stasis.


As Celan struggles with the very prefixes that lead to this latest and worst attempt at exterminating the Jews—that is, the “above” and “below” in Nazi concepts such as “übermensch” and “subhuman”—Harris and Shechter struggle through the 21st Century’s own linguistic paradoxes, several of which have been brought about by the advent of the internet. The book is peppered with email exchanges between the two, in which they discuss not only their shared project and its theological and cultural ramifications, but also their family history; Harris’s grandfather Yves Oppert aided the French Resistance before being murdered by a Vichy policeman, while Shechter’s Brooklynite grandfather committed suicide after failing to live up to his ambitions. Inevitably, their communications and poetic ruminations pull them into the whirlwind history of Judaism and the Jewish people and bring them face to face with Celan himself in the poem’s enigmatic final lines.
Like Unio Mystica before it, Paul Celan and the Messiah’s Broken Levered Tongue is not for the casual reader. Unless one is either highly educated in Jewish history or familiar with the Kabala, piecing through this dizzying and dense array of language will prove next to impossible without the aid of a few good research books and/or a good search engine. Nonetheless, it’s a journey that should be undertaken. Not only is this long poem innovative, thoughtful, disturbing, and sometimes hilarious, it’s also exciting. Harris and Shechter know how to play with language, how to break it, reshape it, and how to bring it to heel. Their journey through thousands of years of history and religious thought is nothing short of an epic. - JoSelle Vanderhooft

Image result for Daniel Y. Harris, Paul Celan and the Messiah's Broken Levered Tongue

Daniel Y. Harris, Unio Mystica, Cross-Cultural Communications, 2009.

“Harris's poetry transmutes ancient symbols and concepts into contemporary wisdom. His work stretches and surprises our imagination.”–Daniel C. Matt

Whenever I review a book on a subject with which I am only partially familiar or entirely unfamiliar, I like to state my limitations upfront; and when it comes to the Jewish mysticism explored in Daniel Y. Harris’s Unio Mystica, I am on deeply unfamiliar ground. As readers may have noticed (and will see later in this review), I am a Catholic who is more at home with the mystical work of St. John of the Cross, St. Teresa of Avilla, and St. Hildegard of Bingen than I am with the Kabbalah, about which my reading has been sparse and ventured little beyond adolescent curiosity. My lack of dialogue with this text is the biggest limitation I face when discussing this chapbook, which is grounded largely in Jewish mysticism, Talmudic commentaries, and rabbinical writings. Though I will proceed as carefully through these gaps in my knowledge as I can, I may still make a number of errors. Thus, I beg the more informed reader’s patience and charity.
Even with allowances made for my own ignorance, I can say that Unio Mystica is a startling and provocative collection that dazzles both in image and execution, and which, I think, will push most readers (even those familiar with Jewish mysticism) towards dictionaries and encyclopedias of angels and philosophy in order to better engage with its mysteries.
Helpfully for novice and master alike, Harris has included quotations from the works that inspire each of this chapbook’s thirty–four pieces. Indeed, the following poem often reads like a commentary on the idea or quotation that precedes it. Consider, for example, “Orchard” (which, coincidentally, Harris has dedicated to Cross–Cultural Communications’ founder and publisher Stanley Barkan).
Four entered into the orchard of mystical knowledge: Ben Azzai, Ben
Zoma, Aher and Rabbi Akiva…Ben Azzai looked and died…Ben Zoma
looked and was affected mentally…Aher cut down the plants…Rabbi
Akiva departed in peace.
–Talmud: Tractate, Hagigah 14b

This is where peace is shaped through declensions
of nothing: Eckhart’s nicht, Saint John of the Cross’s nada,
the Taoist wu, the Buddhist sunyata, and the Kabbalist

ayin. This is where peace is ghost–faint, sun–dark
and sequenced through pardes, the pomegranate orchard,
Edenic alias, where Akiva eyed the mystical shape

of the Godhead. The sacral grid emits the words of Akiva’s
vassals, generations later, and we hear the shibboleths,
idyllic as anyone who emerges unscathed from millennial

hysterics. This is where peace, then, is the colored strand
of yihudim–the future primordial, unified, departing in peace,
which is the arrival, before a name occupies our attention.

The four holy men mentioned in the Talmudic quotation are the four rabbis of the Mishnaic period, and from what I can understand this account of their visit to paradise (“pardes”) is a fairly famous story. As with all mystical accounts, the story is multilayered, as is the term “pardes.” From what I have gleaned while doing research for this review, pardes is also an acronym that stands for an understanding of the Torah on four different levels: literal/simple, allegorical, comparative, and mystical. It seems to me, then, that the four rabbis symbolize these levels in ascending order. For example, one who understood the Torah on only a literal level would be overloaded in front of the full godhead, and one interested only in dissecting the Torah (the comparative level) would cut down the plants of paradise. Only the mystic (who arrives at this understanding only through mastering the preceding levels) can look on paradise unscathed.
Although paradise is often conceived of as a place of blithe and rather unremarkable happiness in today’s popular culture, Harris (and these four rabbis) sees it as a far more dangerous plane. It is, Harris explains, a null place, a place of peaceful nothingness that many world religions and their sects speak of and which few individuals can understand without proper reflection. It is a slippery place that names alone cannot describe, as it is often the very act of naming which takes away from or undermines a pardes–like (prerequisite) understanding.
As you can probably see, Harris’s poetry touches on deep and deeply complicated themes and concepts, and each piece must be read on multiple levels, which means that exploring each poem in any detail requires near–Talmudic commentary. While I would very much like to wrestle with more of the poems in Unio Mystica, doing so would, unfortunately, take up the bulk of space allotted for the other two chapbooks slated to be reviewed. The desire to do so, however, exists, which means, I think, that Harris’s work has accomplished what mystical poetry of all religions sets out to do: invite the reader into meditation, thought, and an openness to sitting with the unknown. This is a dizzying and deeply satisfying book for me simply because it has whetted my thirst for the divine and further contemplation.
- JoSelle Vanderhooft

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Daniel Y. Harris and Irene Koronas, heshe egregore, Swan World,  

heshe egregore by daniel y harris and irene koronas is a composite unbook of unpoetry engaged with the appropriated concept of male and female archetypes skewing traditional notions of authorship in an unfettered void where authenticity and originality are a shared wiki culture phished scooped reblogged retweed regrammed and reposted ad infinitum for file sharing sampling and trolling in the digital arena of the internet to repurpose words —maximillian pissante

Scheherazade 1001  The logic of a base is misnomer and defamation.
Eddy overrehearses his punk-garage band, Libido
of Eunuch’s, antipop single “Brat Crud Harbinger,”
grafted as condemned stock and mutation mass,
itching to pierce the shape-shifters on a night
of tribunals in flash drives. Sequences of toxic
side-effects coaxed from pricked licks and one
octave chants, court triumphalists to mock-up
and bulk. Eddy Daemon sashays his effete bod
against the press and the bleak community who
seek his agony as black-purple lump strangled
beside a hacked-off head. They’re spoilsports
of an ancient peoplehood. We’re the bystanders.
Eddy’s the falsely accused executioner’s heir.

Nebuchadnezzar 587  
Fatigued with indolence, blunted by a clichéd
Mesmerism—haggard, stony, half-buried wreck
and autoclave of ambition, Eddy Daemon sports
a gigantic horn of spite and ushers in a minute
era of hyphenation and circumventing sleights:
nerve-gleamed, raw-seamed, witty-sullen-jowled,
ghost-crabbed, thorn-tattered, messiah-hived-sick,
god-castrated, sod-smutted, swivel-jerked and tasty
morseled feminazi as manbearpig in low mondaze.
How unjubilant and malice-yielded! Nothing stays
the course, gloss-throated and flaked in foaming
at the mouth. Cylinders and spires pass from sight.
There’s no chance to get a bearing. Even to scroll
back to Ezra’s Walt concession stigmatizes clarity.

Anthropoid 3761

It all comes down to the prophesied sedge:
achenes and solid stems, the blackthorned scag
skullcap and skinsuit of woody lobes with spikelets.
In the marsh, the worn down nub of concupiscent
curds ribs the mascary buggered one or another
as plunger-name of the raw crease. Today, Eddy’s
nosed, clutching his sachet of cosmetics in his gold
clipped komodo-dragon bag. No nostalgia. No edits.
No quiddity with its affected monism. It’s the last
season of day one. We’re on our way kthxbai! Omg
liek u wana c my fab nu jurnal? Dude, no, you make
me sick n00b. Something about searing sophistry
and prelapsarian catpiss. Incomplete, bottomline.
Eddy prostrates before the doorjamb in defeat.

(Excerpt from Underscotch Zorg: A Posthuman Love Epic):


The Night Moses de Leon Died”       “The Art of Formation

The Art of Yihudim”     “Strangers and Friends—Cultural Identity and Community


Transmigration”    “The Latecomer”     “The Ballad of Don Notarikon”     The Composer

Between Worlds”    “Daemon”        Tvo Poems        Three Poems       Three Poems