“The Libido for the Ugly” is the title of an essay the great American journalist, H.L. Mencken, wrote in the 1920s about the land and city-scapes he felt had been trampled into nightmare and belittling destitution as we, a hundred years later, are being trampled by presidential edicts which are the most invigorated corporate crusades to undo our Constitution and environment we have seen in generations.
Of this beautifully complex poem Vicuña writes by way of introduction: “The piece comprises three poems and was commissioned by Lila Zemborain for the book-catalog of the exhibition ‘Xul Solar and Borges: The Art of Friendship’ at the Americas Society in New York, 2013.
Translated from Spanish by Christopher Winks
I write these lines on the day of Hurricane Sandy, the biggest storm in history, the beginning of the future, lashing Manhattan.
Hexagram 25 / Wu Wang / Innocence (The Unexpected)
Video from my visit to the Tbilisi International Festival of Literature intercuts my reading of “Thank You for Saying Thank You” with a translation by, and conversation with, Paata Shamugia. Thanks to festival director Nuka Gambashidze. Video from Indigo, Georgian literary magazine.
Talking about the political present requires a technology of public speech, but the constructs and speech have shifted. Inside personal display cases of glass and crystal, upon screens actual or imagined, language takes on a speechified address to a dispersed and uneven public. In a series of somatic plays, Face Down by Brian Whitener faces the distance of political abstraction, the politics of affective life, the impossibility of writing in the political present. The book cannibalizes criticism, enacts it with bodies named A., B., C., and D. arranged like plastic toy soldiers, except in balaclavas. Written in an organized style of informatics, Face Down is seductive and terrifying in its desperate heat and abstract coolness. It is written with the powerlessness and with the power of political emotion.