Commentaries - February 2009

Robert Coover on the history of the future of narrative — a video recording of a recent lecture: LINK. Coover will be here February 23–24. You can go here at 6:30 PM on 2/23 or at 10:30 AM on 2/24 and watch by live video stream.

Our perception of space depends as much on what we hear as on what we see. — Max Neuhaus

Neuhaus died last Tuesday at 69. He was the creator of site-specific works of sound sculpture. On the “audio and video recordings” page of his web site, you can click on a link and watch a wonderful eight-minute video about his famous piece, Times Square, which is installed under a street grate where Broadway and 7th Avenue converge. Seems to passersby like a steeam hatch, but as you walk over it you hear a deeply resonant and wavery body-piercing drone.

Here’s a little bit of Neuhaus on Ubuweb.

The Times obit, facing its apparent responsibility to say something about Neuhaus’ childhood, quotes his sister thus: “He was a pot banger from an early age.”

Joseph Kosuth, No Number #6 (On Color, Blue) (1991), neon tubing with argon gas and mercury. In the Chicago Museum of Contemporary Art’s permanent collection: “I am only describing language, not explaining anything.” (Neon on wall, circa 1997, displayed at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago; the original neon is blue.) A succint definition of Conceptual art, in “Inquiry into the foundations of the concept ‘art,’ as it has come to mean,” given by Joseph Kosuth, requires “a linguistic rather than plastic context.”

On Thursday evening, Lisa New returned to Penn to read from her forthcoming memoir, Jacob’s Cane: One Family’s Journey from the Four Lands of Lithuania to the Ports of Baltimore and London, A Memoir in Five Generations, which is being published by Basic Books in the fall. But it was more than a reading. Lisa left Penn about ten years ago (been that long?) to join the faculty at Harvard. She had and has lots of ties to Philly, and the room was full of family. And Erin Gautsche (KWH program coordinator) did her magical thing, producing (with help from the students) a fabulous Mediterranean spread for the reception. All in all, a memorably warm evening inside 3805 Locust on a bitterly cold night outside. The Writers House web calendar entry describes the event further, and provides links to the video recording as well as to the audio-only recording (mp3). And I took some photos also — not great in quality but they give you a sense of the spirit of the gathering.

Above at right: Nancy Bentley, Lisa New, and Jim English.

Michael Davidson’s positive review of my recent book is being published in CLIO. Here is a link to a PDF copy.

Citation: Davidson, Michael. [review of The Counter-Revolution of the Word]. Clio 38.1 (Fall, 2008): 117–122.