recent books

warning: Creating default object from empty value in /home/members/autonomedia/sites/ on line 1418.

Opening the Seals

book blurbs: 
Paperback, 6"x9", 158 pp., $16

“I believe that we can bring the deepest language from the mind. This language. All of it. I believe that when we listen deep, deep as cavefolk cut, we find the scratch or cough in stone from which the letters rose, still rise — the written language that comes before all speech… For we are primates of the sign.’’

OPENING THE SEALS represents poet Robert Kelly’s workings, starting in 2000, with the radical suggestions by the historical linguist Patrick C. Ryan towards the reconstitution of what he calls Proto-Language — a linguistic substrate, ca. 100,000 BC, to all extant human languages — the real Nostratic before Nostratic, ‘our’ language. Ryan argues for a set of meaning-bearing monosyllabic sounds, that work like roots or racemes or perhaps leitmotifs in subsequent languages.

In Kelly’s poems, each section begins with one of the Meaning-Bearing Monosyllables, and “meditates as well as I can contrive on the sound and its range of meanings. And let me say that it is the range of meanings that Ryan finds subtended or implied by the syllable that first caught my attention and excited me: not so much, then, the sense of the sound as a root, but the sound as a complex aural seal, which has to be opened to find all the meanings it proposes — and thus connects…. As if the secret affinities of all things and processes in the world were already encoded in these beast sounds our sweet mouths still fashion.’’

ROBERT KELLY is the Asher B. Edelman Professor of Literature at Bard College and codirector of the Bard WrittenArts Program. He was the founding director of the Writing Program of the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, and is a contributing editor of Conjunctions.

2016 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints

book blurbs: 
2016 Autonomedia Calendar of Jubilee Saints Radical Heroes for the New Millennium! James Koehnline and the Autonomedia Collective Autonomedia's Jubilee Saints Calendar for 2016! Our 24tht annual wall calendar, with artwork by James Koehnline, and text by the Autonomedia Collective. Hundreds of radical cultural and political heroes are celebrated here, along with the animating ideas that continue to guide this project — a reprieve from the 500-year-long sentence to life-at-hard-labor that the European colonization of the "New World" and the ensuing devastations of the rest of the world has represented. It is increasingly clear — at the dawn of this new millennium — that the Planetary Work Machine will not rule forever! Celebrate with this calendar on which every day is a holiday! 32 pages, 12 x 16 inches, saddlestitched isbn 978-1-57027-308-7: price $9.95 : 32 pages Pay for two, and we will send a third calendar for free!

Placing Space, Picturing Time

book blurbs: 
Charles Stein's work comprises a complexly integrated field of poems, prose reflections, translations, drawings, photographs, lectures, conversations, and performances. His essay on Terry Winters' paintings examines a body of work that develop an abstract language that explores the interaction between information and imagination.

World War of Small Pastries

book blurbs: 
Translated by Shawn P. Wilbur & Joan Roelofs

From the Preface by Peter Lamborn Wilson:

94 pp. 4.5" x 7", $10.95 Fourier enjoys the honor of being the first thinker to push Rousseau to the logical conclusion of a complete condemnation of Civilization. Not only did he blame it for what we call Capitalism, he also saw it as the source of the evil of Work as “alienation’’ (to use Marx’s term). The fact that we must labor at what we do not love in order to “make a living’’ defines the essence of Civilization’s primal error.

Fourier ascribed his big revelation to a rigorous application of Newton’s law of attraction, not just as a cosmic force but also as a social force. Fourier realized that Passion, far from being the cause of “sin,’’ might actually serve to enable the emergence of a human society (he called it Harmony) in which everyone does exactly as they please; as a result, everything will be done well (passionately) and everyone will be happy. And if everyone is ecstatic and joyful, how could there exist any disorder or violence?

The present text is excerpted from Le Nouveau monde amoureux, Fourier’s magnum opus on “the New Word of Love,’’ which was too hot to publish during his lifetime. Food and sex are his answers to all problems. And if Fourier exalted erotic pleasure, he went even farther in his obsession with food….

Cosmonauts of the Future

book blurbs: 
This is the first ever English-language anthology collecting texts and documents from the still little-known Scandinavian part of the Situationist movement. The book covers over three decades of writing, from Asger Jorn’s Luck and Chance published in 1953, to the statements of the Situationist Antinational set up by Jens Jørgen Thorsen and J.V. Martin in 1974. The writings collected gravitate around the year 1962 when the Situationist movement went through it’s most dynamic and critical moments, and the disagreements about the relationship between art and politics came to a culmination, resulting in exclusions and the split of the Situationist International.

The Situationists did not win, and the almost forgotten Scandinavian fractions even less so. The book broadens the understanding of the Situationist movement by bringing into view the wild and unruly activities of the Scandinavian fractions of the organisation and the more artistic, experimental, and actionist attitude that characterised them. They did, nevertheless, constitute a decisive break with the ruling socio-economic order through their project of bringing into being new forms of life. Only an analysis of the multifaceted and often contradictory Situationist revolution will allow us to break away from the dull contemplation of yet another document of Debord’s archive or yet another drawing by Jorn. There is a lot to be learned from the history of revolutionary failure. It is along these lines that this book points forward beyond the crisis-ridden capitalist order that survives today.

Texts by: Asger Jorn, Jørgen Nash, Jens Jørgen Thorsen, Bauhaus Situationniste, Jacqueline de Jong, Gordon Fazakerley, Gruppe SPUR, Dieter Kunzelman, J.V. Martin, and Guy Debord. Translated by: Peter Shield, James Manley, Anja Buchele, Matthew Hyland, Fabian Tompsett, and Jakob Jakobsen.

Bio: Mikkel Bolt Rasmussen is an art historian and political theorist. He is associate professor at the University of Copenhagen and has published books and articles on the revolutionary tradition and modern art. Jakob Jakobsen is an artist and political organizer. He ran the Copenhagen Free University, cofounded the artist run TV station tvtv and has participated in exhibitions all over the world.

304 pages, 5.75 x 8

Duke & Jill

book blurbs: 
From a review by Mike Lindgren: For years I have been clamoring for a book that collects all of the hard-to-find Duke and Jill stories of my friend and mentor, the downtown writer and poet Ron Kolm, and finally I have been obliged. Thanks to Bud Smith and his Unknown Press, these iconic tales of the East Village of yore are now snugly in place between two paperback covers.

Some background is in order. Ron Kolm is perhaps best known as one of the co-founders of the Unbearables, a loose literary collective of writers and poets who take their founding principles from a grab-bag of postmodernist dicta, including the literature of constraint and the concept of the temporary autonomous zone: a scruffy tribe of proudly low-rent situationists.

Kolm himself came to New York in 1970, worked at the Strand alongside Patti Smith and Richard Hell, and made a name for himself as a poet and editor in the downtown scene’s burgeoning literary underground. Along the way he started writing, almost as an afterthought, a series of comic riffs based on the misadventures of a pair of scruffy anonymous losers he had come to know in the bars and seedy squats around St. Mark’s Place, then a festering hub of the East Village’s proto-punk scene.

The resultant stories seeped out gradually by installments, appearing in such now-legendary periodicals as Between C and D and Public Illumination Magazine. Separately, they were amusing, ribald, scabrous slices of life on the margins in a city that has now vanished. Taken collectively, they represent not only a cultural document of major historical importance but a sharply fresh set of urban parables, a group of surreal micro-narratives whose gruff wit and anarchic energy remain strikingly appealing.

“Duke and Jill do drugs,” goes the now-famous opening of the first tale. “They live on the corner of Avenue A and 10th Street, in a mostly burnt-out building… Bad things keep happening to them.” The cunning parody of the sing-songy rhythms of a children’s primer establishes the tone of sardonic whimsy that will run through the tales collectively, as well as establishing a subtle irony. Duke and Jill really are children, as it turns out, not in the Rousseauvian countercultural utopian mode — hippie platitudes come in for constant mockery and contempt in these stories — but in a far harsher sense. Their lives are dominated by the child’s self-absorption, by an essential amorality and inability to postpone gratification. Duke sees the world around him not through the child’s eyes of wonder and beauty, but as an alien terrain full of threats and menaces; he is no more able to plan or work or conceive of consequences and results than a toddler, and as a result his world is a whirling grotesquerie of drug-addled catastrophe.

The vitality of the book’s recording of a very specific time and place in the history of urban bohemia also transcends that of the mere historical. A central tenet of Kolmean aesthetic theory, which I intend to treat more fully in a series of future monographs, is the concept of witness, an idea that Kolm shares, however unlikely it may seem, with certain religious and spiritual traditions. The true writer, Kolm avers, writes not out of a desire to express himself, but rather in response to an uncentered but compelling sense of obligation, a duty to record the emotional contours of the narrative landscape in a kind of supra-categorical imperative. However sordid and unseemly Duke and Jill’s existence, it somehow still demands documentation — and that gives the stories their radical authority. Kolm is fond, in conversation, of praising a piece of vivid writing as having “the stink of reality” — a phrase he has borrowed from Ezra Pound, and a quality he bestows as a compliment. Duke and Jill have the stink of reality to spare.

And it is this authority, in turn, that establishes these stories as the truest reflection of their zeitgeist that we are likely to have. The deeper into the new millennium we get, the more the period these stories document — that is, the early 1980s — begins to sink into a hazy, sepia-toned reverie that is quite at odds with the reality of the time, with its violence and despair and fraud and paranoia. Even many of the participants or survivors of the era, one notices, are hard-put to resist romanticizing the period or speaking of it in nostalgic generalities. This is part of why the Duke and Jill stories remain so bracingly corrective and relevant. Duke and Jill are the farthest thing possible from rebels or revolutionaries; they are lazy, untalented, larcenous, petty thieves and criminals, and Kolm is ruthless, even gleeful, in documenting their greed and fecklessness. The stories have no redeeming morals, no pat endings — and despite the conclusion’s elegiac tone, which echoes Joyce’s “The Dead” as surely as the beginning references children’s literature — no future. That is their beauty, and their doom.

106 pp., paperbound, 5" x 8", $13.00

Class Wargames

book blurbs: 
Why should radicals be interested in playing wargames? Surely the Left can have no interest in such militarist fantasies? Yet, Guy Debord – the leader of the Situationist International – placed such importance on his invention of The Game of War that he called it his most significant accomplishment. Intrigued by this claim, a multinational group of artists, activists and academics formed Class Wargames to investigate the political and strategic lessons to be learnt from playing his ludic experiment. While the ideas of the Situationists continue to be highly influential in the development of subversive art and politics, relatively little attention has been paid to their strategic orientation. Determined to correct this deficiency, Class Wargames is committed to exploring how Debord used the metaphor of the Napoleonic battlefield to propagate a Situationist analysis of modern culture and politics.

The Essence of Jargon

book blurbs: 
A poet, translator, and co-editor (of the letters of her late husband, Situationist Guy Debord) who has written extensively on the etymology and history of European slang, Alice Becker-Ho examines argot as a form of self-defense from the State, a code for people who survived outside the law. “In slang, loan words are above all borrowings of one dangerous class from another; that these loan words, confirmed in different slangs, go back to common sources, themselves blended initially into a sort of melting pot before being redistributed via a host of different routes….”

In a Qu*A*re Time and Place

book blurbs: 
In this book Tim Stüttgen considers the paradigm of (post-)slavery as an important epistemological break within predominantely white Gender and Queer Studies, as well as within critical Film and Cultural Studies. Departing from what E. Patrick Johnson has proposed as a specifically intersectional »quAre«, instead of an »unmarked white queer perspective«, this book contrasts Deleuze’s cinema theory with Frantz Fanon, queer theories of color, the history of the African diaspora and utopian quAre futurisms to establish notions of a black locality, mobility and temporality in what Stüttgen calls the first emancipatory black cinema: Blaxploitation. Digging deeper in the imagery and temporalities of Blaxploitation film, his analysis deals with the sexualization of racism and mass media imagery of armed black liberation struggles, and shows the development of more and more complex spaces, main characters and representational constellations, including black revolutionary women (with guns) and also queer subtexts. Following the analysis of a specifically black movement-image, the book engages in a comprehensive intersectional reading of John Coney’s legendary 1974 Sun Ra film Space is the Place, crystallizing the concept of a »black time-image« that interconnects formal aesthetic concepts to afro-futurist queer utopias. By producing these sorts of »quAre assem- blages« Stüttgen ultimately aims at an epistemological renewal of the dominant discourses on race, class and gender, that helps to at least temporarily suspend reifying identity pat- terns at stake, and rethink them critically based on the principles of intersectionality and heterogeneity.

State in Time

book blurbs: 
Become a citizen of the first global state of the universe! The NSK State in Time emerged in 1992, evolving in the context of the dissolution of Yugoslavia and the transformation Neue Slowenische Kunst. Existing both as artwork and social formation, a state that encompasses all time but holds no territory, the NSK State in Time has for two decades pushed the boundaries of artistic and political practice. This volume collects together for the first time analyses of the NSK State in Time, including its relationship with the changing context of Eastern Europe, the connection between aesthetics and the state, the rise of NSK folk art, and documents the First NSK Citizen’s Congress in 2010.
Syndicate content