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Attention Span 2011 | Paul Stephens

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Craig Dworkin and Kenneth Goldsmith, eds. | Against Expression: An Anthology of Conceptual Writing | Northwestern | 2011

For me this was the year of the conceptual, as the following titles indicate.

Craig Dworkin | The Perverse Library | Information as Material | 2010

Use with caution: if you’re a small press bibliophile, this book may do serious damage to your book budget. This could be the most compelling survey to date of Anglo-American small press poetry publishing since 1970. Even if you don’t necessarily have a specialized interest in knowing precisely what the Constrained Balks Press of Toronto was publishing in 2002, you’ll enjoy The Perverse Library’s truly rad(ical) introduction.

Simon Morris | Getting Inside Jack Kerouac’s Head | Information as Material | 2010

Much more is going on here than may at first appear. Encountering GIJKH sent me into an all-night typing frenzy, during which I wrote a twelve page critical account of the book in relation to the complex textual and legal histories of On the Road. And you thought On the Road was just a bestselling novel about homosocial desire…

Rachel Haidu | The Absence of Work: Marcel Broodthaers, 1964-1976 | MIT | 2010

Everyone I know is either overemployed or underemployed, which makes this overview particularly timely. Here you will find an institutional critique of the post-Fordist art economy to last a lifetime.

Tan Lin | Various Cumbersome but Ingenious Titles | Various Presses | 2007-2011

Tan Lin may be our greatest living bard of the infosphere. He is so prodigious and so multimediatic that it would inimical to his project to name a single title. Insomnia and the Aunt (in a handsome chapbook edition) might be the best point of entry for non-professionals, but the many offshoots of the Heath […] and Seven Controlled Vocabularies projects are all worth a skim. If you’re un(der)employed, you might want to download online versions available at lulu.com or at Aphasic Letters.

Rob Fitterman | Now We Are Friends | Truck Books | 2010

So are we going to migrate to Google+? After already having migrated from Friendster to MySpace to Facebook? The coda in particular is an important contribution to the ongoing legacy of creep lit.

W.J.T. Mitchell and Mark B.N. Hansen, eds. | Critical Terms for Media Studies | Chicago | 2010

Scholars and non-scholars alike will find this a compelling survey of new media. Don’t be deceived by the prosaic title: this is really a collection of deeply informative essays on all aspects of contemporary new media studies.

Marcus Boon | In Praise of Copying | Harvard | 2010

It’s difficult to keep up with the reams of new criticism devoted to copyright in relation to literature and the arts (Paul K. St. Amour’s exceptional Modernism and Copyright deserves special mention in this category). Boon tackles “the madness of modern, capitalist framings of property” head on. You can procure a free online copy at the Harvard University Press web site (which will look better than the versions you’ll find on library.nu or AAAAARG.org).

Philip E. Aarons and Andrew Roth, eds. | In Numbers: Serial Publications by Artists Since 1955 | JRP Ringier | 2010 

Literary journals could learn a lot from artists’ journals. This sumptuous collection will make your coffee table proud, as well as provide countless hours of delight and instruction.

M. NourbeSe Philip | Zong! | Wesleyan | 2008

This title briefly went out of print and jumped in price on Amazon, but fortunately it’s been reissued as an affordable paperback. No brief summary will do much to prepare you for this complex multi-generic work, which demonstrates how compelling the new conceptual/archival/procedural poetries can be in terms of content as well as form.

Ian Hamilton Finlay | Selections | California | 2011

Eagerly anticipated. Long overdue. In the meantime, I’m making due with the amazing (but out of print and expensive enough to merit inclusion in the Perverse Library) Ian Hamilton Finlay: A Visual Primer (MIT 1992).

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Paul Stephens‘s recent critical writing has appeared in Social TextRethinking MarxismOpen Letter and Postmodern Culture. He has just completed a book manuscript titled The Poetics of Information Overload: From Gertrude Stein to Conceptual Writing. He lives in New York.

Stephens’s Attention Span for 2010. Back to 2011 directory.

Attention Span 2010 – Paul Stephens

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Seth Price | How to Disappear in America | Leopard | 2008

The ultimate how-to guide for the hobo Houdini in us all.  The book itself has almost disappeared from circulation—for now at least, it can be ordered online from Ooga Booga.

Robert Kelly | Fire Exit | Black Widow | 2009

R Kelly may have reached the height of his fame in the 70s; he may be reaching the height of his powers in his 70s. The strongest case yet made against flarf….

Monica de la Torre | Public Domain | Roof | 2008

Will the real Monica de la Torre please stand up? An important addition to the growing pantheon of conceptual writing.

Miles Champion | Eventually | The Rest Press | 2008

The cover, the endpapers, the front matter, the body, the colophon…. A true chapbook de résistance.

Stuart Bailey, ed. | Dot Dot Dot 18 & 19 | Dexter Sinister | 2009-2010

The ne plus ultra of contemporary meta-journal design. Not well enough known among poetry types, Dot Dot Dot regularly features writing by Seth Price, Angie Keefer, Liam Gillick and more. Conceptual? Relational? Quasi-conceptual? Or all of the above.

Clark Coolidge | The Act of Providence | Combo | 2010

The graphomanic master returns with a hometown epic. In the grand tradition of Maximus and Paterson—sort of.

Chris Burnett | SprawlCode: descriptions | Preacher’s Biscuit | 2006

Got forty dollars burning a hole in your pocket? You could buy one share of BP and hate yourself. Or you could procure this beautifully printed, brilliantly conceived book that somehow hasn’t yet sold out, despite having been printed in an edition of only 100 copies. Consider cornering the market. (Special shout out also to Journal of Artists’ Books 24 edited by Craig Dworkin and Kyle Schlesinger, which features a fascinating meta-road trip dialogue between Burnett and Tate Shaw.)

Reza Negarestani | Cyclonopedia: Complicity With Anonymous Materials | re: press | 2008

Page turning theory-fiction. One part Bataille, one part Deleuze, one part Said, one part Pynchon: put them in a blender and you have an inimitably paranoid critique of the global petrocracy as seen from the perspective of the underground noosphere.

Drew Daniel | 20 Jazz Funk Greats | Continuum | 2008

A completely engrossing account of Throbbing Gristle’s 20 Jazz Funk Greats. Just the right mix of fandom and critical distance. Read it as you listen to the album—you won’t be bored.

Larry Eigner, ed. Curtis Faville and Robert Grenier | Collected Poems | Stanford | 2010

Who wants a wi-fi Kindle for $139 when you can have the four-volume Collected Poems of Larry Eigner? At $120, 3,072 poems comes out to less than four cents each. A bargain in disguise.

More Paul Stephens here. Back to directory.