Writer, artist and Soho dandy Sebastian Horsley has died of a suspected heroin overdose, just days after after a play based on his memoir opened in London. As Toby Young says, “I’ve met a few Soho characters in my day and most of them were drunken bores. Not Sebastian.” He continues:
“He styled himself an artist, but his true genius was for conversation. Aphorisms and one-liners came pouring out of his mouth like gusts of fresh air, blowing away received wisdom and herd opinion like so many cobwebs. He was steeped in the works of Oscar Wilde, but could just as easily quote Balzac or Flaubert. I never spent an evening with him without having to write down something he’d said immediately afterwards.”
Asked by 3:AM‘s Sophie Parkin as to why Dandy in the Underworld couldn’t have a happy ending, Horsley replied, “Because anything that consoles is fake. You see, the good ended happily, and the bad unhappily, that is what fiction means.”
Today as people everywhere are raising a glass in honor of Bloomsday, Joshua Cohen traces the heirs of Joyce’s Ulysses, from Wales to Russia to Turkey to Argentina:
I wrote a book called Witz. It’s capacious (800 pages). It’s complex (puns in a dozen languages: fun in a daze of longuages). And it’s about a Wandering Jew – the Last Jew in the world.
A friend of my father called after having tried a page to say, “It’s like the Jewish Ulysses.” That wasn’t a compliment. Problem is, James Joyce‘s Ulysses is already the Jewish Ulysses; featuring, as it does, Leopold Bloom – that Dubliner born Jewish, raised Protestant, converted to Catholicism to marry Marion “Molly” née Tweedy, who at the end of the novel says “Yes” a lot. That’s what I said to my father’s friend. “Yes,” I said, “yes.”
That wasn’t a compliment either: I knew he wouldn’t get the reference. I began wondering. If Ulysses was the Jewish Ulysses – and the Irish Ulysses, too, one would think – shouldn’t other cultures have Ulyssi of their own? Having worked as a weekly book reviewer, I came across marketese like this all the time: “Known in its nation of origin as the Icelandic Ulysses” – publicity talk for “a difficult but ultimately rewarding novel by a dead man from Reykjavik.” In other words, the summa of a culture.
The best work of art, in any medium, that I’ve come across this year is Douglas Gordon and Philippe Parreno’s film Zidane. Almost exclusively following Zizou through an entire football game – a game during most of which he’s not really ‘doing’ much other than meandering one way and another or indulging his nervous tick of scraping the top of his foot against the grass – it’s a brilliant disquisition on time, event-space, mediation, consciousness and, of course, repetition. During half-time we pan out from the stadium to find out what else is going on in the world during the game, and see, among footage of various trade pacts being signed, space missions being launched and so on, the inevitable image of a roadside bomb in Iraq’s aftermath – and one of the blood-soaked, screaming victims is wearing a Zidane t-shirt. I think it’s a major masterpiece.
3:AM and Verso Books are giving away 5 copies of both of Wu Ming‘s historical epics. Wu Ming are a collective of Italian writers who have redefined the notions of collaboration and identity in modern literature. Following their bestselling novel Q, the group crafted Manituana — a genre–breaking reimagining of the Revolutionary War. Now comes [...]
William Gass on Musil and the hovering life. * William Gass interviewed by Douglas Glover (audio). * Rorschach Audio on the radio transmissions in Cocteau’s Orphée. * The only surviving recording of Virginia Woolf, 1937. * Mina Loy‘s “Feminist Manifesto” (via). * An interview with Micheline Aharonian Marcom. * Deborah Levy in The Observer. * [...]
On Thursday 13th March from 6-7.15pm Michael Horovitz and Barry Miles will present an exploration of the life and work of William S Burroughs at the Gower Street branch of Waterstones (corner of Malet St, opposite the University of London Union building), with special reference to Miles’ William S Burroughs: A Life which was published [...]
3:AM is listed among PolicyMic‘s “10 Literary Blogs Every 20-Something Should Read“. This is how Daniel Lefferts describes us: 3:AM has everything — fiction, flash fiction, poetry, interviews, criticism — but its sensibility is consistent throughout: blunt, funny, angrily academic. Their tagline says it best: “Whatever it is, we’re against it.”