Figure 1

Don’t Let Me Be Universal
Or, the Postwar American Poem

By (Southern Methodist University)

She explains that much liver damage is drug-induced because the liver functions as a chemical purifier, stripping the blood of toxins by splitting poisons into less destructive chemical building blocks. The resulting toxins are excreted while the cleansed blood recirculates. When an overwhelmed liver fails to break down the blood’s contaminants (even beneficial ones, such as painkillers), the pollutants poison the liver cells instead.

Figure 16
Clement Greenberg and Friedel Dzubas
Ithaca, New York, 1970
Courtesy, Friedel Dzubas Estate Archives

Friedel Dzubas

Pictures from all stages of Dzubas’s art since the 40’s will in time to come thrust themselves increasingly into attention: enough of them to establish him once and for all where he belongs, which is on the heights.

Fig. 1.  Anselm Kiefer, Nigredo (1984; Philadelphia Museum of Art)

Finding Our Bearings with Art

I propose bearing as a marker of an artwork’s purposive comportment in and toward the world whose various relations and dimensions the work engages and discloses. I have chosen this term because at least five of its senses apply to artworks as I understand them. [1] Artworks have a manner of comportment, a bearing, e.g. bold, reflective, ironic, etc. [2] They are generative (in the sense of ‘bear fruit’) in that they provide disclosures. [3] They are purposively oriented and thus have bearings, principally toward an addressee, but also toward some determinate end, e.g. to be beautiful, to please, to rework culture, to witness suffering, etc. [4] Works of art also make use of the very world that they disclose, which leads me to say that artworks bear, in the sense of carry, extant possibilities, transforming them until they coalesce into a phenomenon that is bindingly eloquent. [5] Finally, artworks also bear (or fail to bear), in the sense of endure, the world they absorb in order to disclose whatever possibilities they are able to bear.

Sartoris, 1963
Oil on canvas
90 x 61 in (228.6 x 158 cm)
Courtesy of Loretta Howard Gallery

Greenberg on Dzubas

It’s important to understand that for the greater part of thirty years, Greenberg believed in this artist. But by 1977, his claim was that Dzubas had yet to construct a solid foundation for his future artistic development; that he had failed to “follow up on his achievements and achievedness”; that, instead, he had “let it all lie scattered.”

B-Side Modernism

In June of 2014, nonsite.org, with the support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, sponsored four fellows to do research in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at Emory University. Danowski’s synoptic ambition—to collect literally all poetry in English published in the 20th century, including the independent journals, short-run chapbooks and broadsides that gave modernism its distinctive energy—has created an opportunity to examine the materials out of which our accounts of the century have been made, without the influence of a shaping hand.

The work of our B-Side Fellows, presented here, takes the shapelessness of “everything” as a provocation to investigate the divergences between canonical accounts of modernism in poetry; to explore the many roads not taken, whether they manifest in the unedited arc of a career, in the one-off achievement, or the unclassified ephemera of a moment. What else might modernism have been? And how do such reconsiderations of modernism bear on what happens on the flip side of the mid-century divide? Edited by Jennifer Ashton and Oren Izenberg

Figure 5: Nadada. No. 2, 1965. “The Tristan Tzara Issue.”

“Crowded Air”:
Previous Modernisms in some 1964 New York Little Magazines

By (University of Chicago)

Like Ed Sanders’s antagonistically and aptly named Fuck You Press, whose publication list includes bootleg mimeograph printings of W.H. Auden and Ezra Pound, little magazines from 1964 serve as case studies for an avant-garde scene that grapples with the enshrinement of/resistance to previous avant-gardes…and an engagement with social antagonism….Ultimately, these scenes’ interest in social self-documentation is propelled by an attempt to get around the problem posed by the relegation of poems (of whatever aesthetic genealogy) to the cultural sphere.

1906_MSS0995_B007_I004_P001_PROD

‘Endless Talk’:
Beat Writers and the Interview Form

By (Kings College London)

While we don’t tend to think of William Burroughs in terms of his engagement with the interview, in fact the form underpins much of his (and his collaborators’) work from the 1960s forwards, including the cut-up. Taking the Beat concept of self-interviewing to its extreme conclusion, Burroughs and frequent collaborator Gysin, turn the form’s interrogative function on the artist and the artwork. In doing so they highlight the interview’s potential to be a critically engaged, radical form.

Figure 5: C Comics 2 (1965).

Joe Brainard’s Grid, or, the Matter of Comics

By (University of New Mexico)

A comic that merely uses Nancy, rather than a painting that appropriates Nancy, does not seek to elevate its subject matter. Instead, as is so often the case with Brainard’s Nancy drawings and paintings, the point is to devalue painting, to turn painting into a valueless form, by folding painting into comics.

Can We Criticize Foucault?

By (Free University of Brussels)

Foucault was highly attracted to economic liberalism: he saw in it the possibility of a form of governmentality that was much less normative and authoritarian than the socialist and communist left, which he saw as totally obsolete. He especially saw in neoliberalism a “much less bureaucratic” and “much less disciplinarian” form of politics than that offered by the postwar welfare state. He seemed to imagine a neoliberalism that wouldn’t project its anthropological models on the individual, that would offer individuals greater autonomy vis-à-vis the state.

Issue #16: Situation

The essays in this issue consider various ways we–our problems and works–emerge from and in our situation and the ways this fact can be figured in our poems and our paintings, and in our responses to them.

Against Affective Formalism: Matisse, Bergson, Modernism

By (National Gallery of Art), (The Ohio State University), (Emory University), (University of Illinois, Chicago), (Case Western Reserve University) and (Emory University)

Let me be clear, the problems I raise do not stem from a dissatisfaction with the way October authors repeat a kind of party line. In fact, I envy the unity and consistency of the resolve and of course their massive impact on the discipline (what is there, politically speaking, besides anti-hierarchy in the humanities?). My point is that the basic set of claims shared by many of these authors is mistaken.

On Problematization
Elaborations on a Theme in “Late Foucault”

Interpretations of the idea of problematization cut to the heart of different ways of engaging with Foucault’s ideas. It seems at first sight to provide a refined model of critical practice. On closer inspection, it turns out to be better interpreted as a contribution to a more descriptive understanding of the tasks of social inquiry.

The Real Problem with Selma
It doesn't help us understand the civil rights movement, the regime it challenged, or even the significance of the voting rights act

By (University of Pennsylvania)

The victory condensed in the forms of participation enabled by the VRA is necessary—a politics that does not seek institutional consolidation is ultimately no politics at all—but not sufficient for facing the challenges that confront us in this moment of rampant capitalist offensive against social justice, but neither are the essentially nostalgic modalities of protest politics often proposed as more authentic than the mundane electoral domain. It is past time to consider Prof. Legette’s aphorism and engage its many implications. And that includes a warrant to resist the class-skewed penchant for celebrating victories won in the heroic moment of the southern civil rights movement as museum pieces disconnected from subsequent black American political history and the broad struggle for social justice and equality.

Hearing the Tone of the Self:
Toward An Alternative Ethics of Translation

By (University of Louisville)

Attunement and transaction — rather than forcible replacement— are the preferred metaphors here for describing a good translation. And neither “attunement” nor “transaction” invokes a scenario in which something is being forcibly or forever transformed or deformed into something else.

“B-Side Modernism” Exhibition

An exhibition of images from The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library, selected by our B-Side Fellows to accompany the essays in Issue 15.

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