:: Buzzwords Archive: September 2008. Click here for the latest posts.

Noise Festival 2008 (published 30/09/2008)


Launched in 2006, NOISE is the UK’s first virtual creative festival, showcasing under-25s in any artistic discipline that can be presented digitally, including fashion, music, film, design, architecture, written word, graphic design, new media, fine art and illustration.

The best work submitted before 1st September 2008 will be judged by specially selected curators including Niven Govinden for written (and spoken) word, Badly Drawn Boy for Music, Zaha Hadid for Architecture, eco-chic designer Noki for Fashion, Habitat’s Tom Dixon for Product Design, former head of exhibitions at the Royal Academy of Art Norman Rosenthal for Fine Art, and Attik Design’s James Sommerville for Graphics, New Media and Advertising. The national call for submissions was launched on 25th February at 11 Downing Street.

The Gun Speaks (published 28/09/2008)

Trailer for Der Baader Meinhof Komplex (as profiled by Neal Ascherson in The Observer).

3:AM‘s 2002 interview with Richard Huffman.

The Missing Links (published 27/09/2008)

2891840385_a4d07a0529_m.jpgDer Baader Meinhof Komplex and the German cover of Tao Lin‘s eeeee eee eee. * The Soho Archives exhibition runs until November at the Photographer’s Gallery in London * Christopher Hitchens on Brideshead Revisited: “it is entirely possible to feel nostalgia for homelands, and for periods, which one has never experienced oneself. This applies to imagined times and places as well as to real ones: Waugh uses the phrase ‘secret garden’ and also — alluding to the Oxford of Lewis Carroll — to an ‘enclosed and enchanted garden’ reachable by a ‘low door in the wall’. The yearning for a lost or different upbringing is fairly universal, and one of Brideshead’s keys is precisely the one that unlocks the gate to it: Now, that summer term with Sebastian, it seemed as though I was being given a brief spell of what I had never known, a happy childhood, and though its toys were silk shirts and liqueurs and cigars and its naughtiness high in the catalogue of grave sins, there was something of nursery freshness about us that fell little short of the joy of innocence”. * Author signatures and publishers’ bindings. * The late David Foster Wallace: “…[I]f you’ve really learned how to think, how to pay attention, then you will know you have other options. It will be within your power to experience a crowded, loud, slow, consumer-hell-type situation as not only meaningful but sacred, on fire with the same force that lit the stars — compassion, love, the sub-surface unity of all things. Not that that mystical stuff’s necessarily true: the only thing that’s capital-T True is that you get to decide how you’re going to try to see it. You get to consciously decide what has meaning and what doesn’t. You get to decide what to worship. …In the day-to-day trenches of adult life, there is no such thing as atheism. There is no such thing as not worshipping. Everybody worships. The only choice we get is what to worship. And an outstanding reason for choosing some sort of god or spiritual-type thing to worship – be it JC or Allah, be it Yahweh or the Wiccan mother-goddess or the Four Noble Truths or some infrangible set of ethical principles — is that pretty much anything else you worship will eat you alive”. More here and there (including Tom McCarthy‘s tribute: “Infinite Jest, along with Whatever, was the best novel of the nineties. Here was a writer really getting to grips with the shape of the world and the shapes and shapings of literature: the challenges laid down to it by information technology, corporate culture, the manifold addictions that bind us to our bodies and to one another. The essays were even better: geometry and tornadoes, craft as represented by the art of tennis, pleasure by the horror of a luxury cruise. His death (’demapping’, as he’d say) is very sad”). * Donari Braxton interviews Hillary Raphael: “I have asked my readers (with varying degrees of success) to contribute to the narrative process online, either by uploading a backpacker sex story to tokyomonamour.com, or purchasing a pair of used panties (worn by a fictional character) on neogeisha.org. I do this because I hate being the only author of a book. It can feel lonely and masturbatory. It’s better when the story evolves post-publication”.


* Viking noir. * Houellebecq: “Other people, perhaps, have been able to make love while completely sober. I don’t envy them. All I have ever been able to accomplish while completely sober is to do my accounts, or pack my bags”. * The Beat the Dust Bookshop is now open for all your Offbeat needs. * Darwin’s London. * 3:AM‘s Steve Finbow on Murakami‘s latest in The Japan Times: “A fish-and- vegetable-eating fitness fanatic replaces the image of Murakami as a beer-swigging, chain-smoking Japanese version of Raymond Chandler and Raymond Carver”. * David Cameron and Graham Greene. * The riot grrrannies. * Minimum Rock’n’Roll. * Lies/Isle: a new experimental literary zine. * Sir Ben Kingsley pays tribute to Minor Threat! * An extract from Sam Jordison‘s latest (plus Sam on Sky News). * Lindsay Anderson, the “pepper in the arse of the establishment“: “As David Storey sees it, ‘the venom with which he attacked society was an expression of his own inability to come to terms with himself. He was what would be called in the old days a ‘passive homosexual’. At the Royal Court, Tony Richardson nicknamed him ‘the singing virgin’. He did remain virginal to the end as far as I was aware, and that was a cause of great pain to him — the fact it was a purely celibate existence. …Malcolm McDowell…later recalled that Anderson had expressed the hope that his gravestone might feature the inscription: ‘Surrounded by fucking idiots’.” * Please squeeze here. * Travis Jeppersen (see here for news of his forthcoming book) on Jeremiah Palacek. * Toby Litt [explaining what drives him to write]: “The things I think writing can and should do that it hasn’t done. Which amounts to trying to tell some sort of truth”. * The Times publish two extracts from the new Clash autobiography, and from the archives, a review of the band’s legendary gig at the Rainbow. * Popular Aristocracy. * Alasdair Gray: “Having said that, please enjoy Roger’s book. I will not authorise another biography”. * A great interview (film) with Mark Amerika. * A review of Chris Killen‘s new literary night in Manchester and an interview with the man himself. * On the Alasdair Gray biography. * Junot Diaz interviewed. * Saramago has started blogging. * Period Booker — who wants a literary award anyway?

Trans(e)literate (published 26/09/2008)


Andrew Gallix wonders what happened to e-lit:

Since its inception, e-lit has been struggling to free itself from its generic limitations and now seems to be on the verge of doing so. At long last. Although interesting, its early manifestations were hardly groundbreaking. Collaborative narratives are as old as literature itself. Generative poetry simply adds a technological twist to Tzara‘s hat trick, the surrealists’ automatic writing or Burroughs’ cut-ups. Interactive fiction has its roots in Cervantes and Sterne. Hypertexts seldom improve on gamebooks like the famous Choose Your Own Adventure series, let alone BS Johnson‘s infamous novel-in-a-box. Besides, if you really want to add sound and pictures to words, why not make a film?

So far, the brave new world of digital literature has been largely anti-climactic. [Chris] Meade himself confides that he is yet to be “seized by a digital fiction that is utterly compelling”. I can but concur. Technology – the very stuff e-lit is made of – has also turned out to be its Achilles heel. The slow switch to broadband limits its potential audience, e-readers are only adapted to conventional texts – and when was the last time you curled up in bed with a hypertext? In spite of all this, [Mark] Amerika may well be on to something when he claims that we are witnessing the emergence of a “digitally-processed intermedia art” in which literature and all the other arts are being “remixed into yet other forms still not fully developed”. My feeling is that these “other forms” will have less and less to do with literature. Perhaps e-lit is already dead?

Dirty books for fun and profit (published 24/09/2008)


Barney Rosset, Grove Press’s maverick publisher (of Henry Miller, William Burroughs, Jean Genet, Samuel Beckett) and subject of the documentary Obscene, is to receive a lifetime achievement award:

In 1951 Mr. Rosset got into publishing by accident when, at the suggestion of his ex-wife, he took over a stillborn company called Grove Press, whose entire list consisted of three reprints: Melville’s novel The Confidence Man, some writings by Aphra Behn and a volume of poems by Richard Crashaw. He quickly turned the company into what he later called “a breach in the dam of American Puritanism — a whiplashing live cable of zeitgeist.”

And yet, as the documentary suggests, he never completely lost his infatuation with film, and in the end it helped bring the company down. In the late ’60s Mr. Rosset made a killing distributing the sexually explicit Swedish film I Am Curious (Yellow), and he thought he could repeat the trick with other European imports, none of which found much of an audience. He also made some bad real estate decisions and in 1985 was forced to sell Grove, though he hung on to his magazine, Evergreen Review, which he continues to publish online.

Now 86 and a little shrunken, Mr. Rosset, who has just finished writing an autobiography, lives with Astrid Myers in a fourth-floor walkup near Union Square. There is a pool table in the living room, and the walls are lined with loose-leaf binders containing Grove-related photos and correspondence. Over a rum and Coke the other evening, Mr. Rosset recalled that in the famous 1959 obscenity case he had used Lady Chatterley as a kind of stalking horse for Miller’s Tropic of Cancer, a book he had discovered in college but whose raunchiness he thought would have a much tougher time in the courts.


“I loved that book,” he said. “When I was a young man, it never occurred to me that it was about sex. What interested me was that Miller didn’t like Americans very much.”

He went to California to meet Miller, Mr. Rosset recalled, and Miller refused to sell him the rights. “He had all sorts of silly reasons,” Mr. Rosset said. “Too many people would have it. It might become a college textbook.” Mr. Rosset eventually secured the book through the intervention of Maurice Girodias, the publisher of the Olympia Press in Paris, and Heinrich Ledig-Rowohlt, Miller’s German publisher.

In 1961 he set about the very expensive business of fighting for the book in the courts. “The greatest joy that came out of my life in publishing was when Tropic of Cancer went on trial in Chicago,” Mr. Rosset said. “The judge was a friend of my father’s, and at one point when the prosecutor accused me of just trying to make money, I took out my Henry Miller term paper from Swarthmore College and read from it. I remember leaving the courtroom and somehow getting lost going home. It was snowing. But I was so happy that I thought, ‘If I fall down and die right here, it will be fine.’ ”

Mr. Rosset went on: “All my life I followed the things that I liked — people, things, books — and when things were offered to me, I published them. I never did anything I really didn’t like. I had no set plan, but on the other hand we sometimes found ourselves on a trail.”

Further: Paris Review‘s interview with Rosset / Roy Kuhlman & his Grove Press covers