Attention Span 2012 | Jennifer Scappettone
This is not a “best of” list, but a cluster of pairs of books I was lucky enough to relish in the midst of finishing projects that had me immersed in works 40-160 years old (or older), and of the immediacy of the occupations, whose greatest texts were transient. I’ve taken pains to draw attention to works by those outside my innermost circles of reference—though various intellectual confidantes have published spectacular works this year—and to point to at least a couple of things that won’t appear elsewhere on the ‘Span, due to their temporal or geographical non-proximity.
Claude Cahun, trans. Susan de Muth | Disavowals: or Cancelled Confessions | Tate | 2008
Entre Nous: The Art of Claude Cahun show at the Art Institute of Chicago | Chicago Loop | 2012
The image of Cahun gripping a Nazi badge between her teeth after having been released in 1945, an avowal if ever there was one, forms the aptest of codas to these disavowals. Their twin across la fa ille being
Nathanaël | Absence Where As (Claude Cahun and the Unopened Book) | Nightboat | 2009.
Irene Gammel and Suzanne Zelazo, eds. | Baroness Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven | Body Sweats: The Uncensored Writings of Elsa von Freytag-Loringhoven | MIT | 2011
Strategic delirium, across subject positions and idioms. And how many of us have heeded the Baroness’s riposte to Duchamp’s Fountain through a drain pipe called God?
two novels of a sort:
Gail Scott | The Obituary | Nightboat | 2012
The domestic architecture of Montreal and of its languages is delivered in unapologetically contaminated accents redolent of Joyce and of Baron Corvo’s Crabbe. And that’s not even to mention the sleuthing. Long awaited.
Robert Coover | Pinocchio in Venice | Simon & Schuster | 1991
Written in the same period in which Coover wrote “The End of Books.” (Further speculation on this point forthcoming next fall from me….)
Yelena Gluzman & Matvei Yankelevich, eds. | Emergency Index 2011 | Ugly Duckling | 2012
It was a crazy idea to hunt and gather a bound archive of global time-based art, in seemingly casual chronological order. They pulled it off.
Roland Greene and Stephen Cushman, eds. | The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics | 2012
I commend the editors for their explosion of the venerable tome to encompass contributions by younger and farflung scholars, as well as terms such as, gosh, xenoglossia and glossolalia. A Herculean collaboration, against obsolescence.
metacommentaries on the actual:
Tan Lin | Insomnia and the Aunt | Kenning | 2011
Disintegrating racial memory (or the notion of such) force-filtered through obsolete tube technology: Lin keeps delivering it, even in the leisure time of paper.
Dana Ward | The Crisis of Infinite Worlds | Futurepoem | forthcoming
Maps the bad infinite of slumberland-as-invective, Alicelike.
Jonathan Stalling | Yingelishi: Sinophonic English Poetry and Poetics | Counterpath | 2011
The most amazing aspect of this experiment in traduction, aural and written: that in “English,” one hears a banal set of stock-utterances in an abjected alien accent, while the Chinese text assumes the highfalutinness of poesy.
Frederick Bodmer, ed. Lancelot Hogben | The Loom of Language | Norton | 1944
A fascinating study-manifesto by a renegade linguist, aimed at world peace through revelation of the interrelations between languages, anarchy and traffic. Discovered in Rosselli’s personal library.
reenfleshed, the rebellious metaphysical:
Stacy Doris | Fledge: A Phenomenology of Spirit | Nightboat | 2012
“…which is my house if / I leave now you know since / I’m the milk of all cats / which time one and still me”
Return to 2012 directory.