What a jolly good year we’ve had. Every village is democracy, democracy, democracy these days. Every villager is Mother Suu, Mother Suu, Mother Suu now. Long live Mother Suu!
Of late even some oligarchs have become slightly socially responsible. After Mother Suu, one of those tycoons might plunge into politics to become ASEAN’s Berlusconi in the mafia state of Myanmar. Touch wood! Long live Mother Suu!
In 2006, Kenneth Goldsmith posted a 30 second clip of Maria Osmond reciting Hugo Balls' 1918 sound poem "Karawane" on the TV show Ripley's Believe It or Not; it was taken from a CD supplement to Greil Marcus's Lipstick Traces. Now a video clip of the full 2 1/2 minute segment has surfaced, which includes Osmond's introduction to Dada and sound poetry. (Thanks to Jay Sanders for alerting me to the clip.)
Taken from a Ripley's Believe It Or Not segment on sound poetry from the mid-80s. According to producer Jed Rasula, "Marie Osmond became co-host with Jack Palance. In the format of the show, little topic clusters (like "weird language") were introduced by one of the hosts. In this case, the frame was Cabaret Voltaire. Marie was required to read Hugo Ball's sound poem "Karawane" and a few script lines. Much to everybody's astonishment, when they started filming she abruptly looked away from the cue cards directly into the camera and recited, by memory, "Karawane." It blew everybody away, and I think they only needed that one take. A year or so after it was broadcast, Greil Marcus approached me, wanting to use Marie Osmond's rendition of Hugo Ball for a cd produced in England as sonic companion to his book Lipstick Traces; so I was delighted to be able to arrange that."
Wanda Corn and Tirza True Latimer's Seeing Gertrude Stein: Five Stories (the catalog and exhibition) makes a compelling case for Stein as the genius (or possibly genie) behind the many portraits of her, which Corn sees as a striking act of self-fashioning – creating a remarkably legible body of work, popular and iconic, to accompany her allegedly illegible writing. Before hearing Corn's lecture in Paris last year, as part of the Stein Collects show, I hadn't thought of the portraits as a discrete body of work. But now I am convinced that Stein recognized the significance of the photographs, paintings, and sculptures for putting into views a set of identities that are as much a part of her work as The Making of Americans. With that in mind, Corn was able to identify distinct sets of images and it is apparent that Stein recomposed her image over her lifetime. There has been a fair amount written about Stein as celebrity. What interests me here, though, is something slightly different: Stein as image fabricator, who used the portrait as a way of supplementing her writing (in a similar way to how The Autobiography works in tandem with its looking glass other, "Stanzas in Meditation"). Stein was acutely engaged with verbal portraiture, from her early word portraits on (and in the Making of Americans as well). These images, created for widely different purposes by many different artists and journalists, became, for Stein, portraits by other means.
Der Hammer, a publication from Vienna's Alte Schmiede, has just published this issue of German translations, including multiple versions of "Johnny Cake Hollow" – a preview of a book in the works from Edition Korrespondenzen, translated by Peter Waterhouse, Katharine Apostle and the Versatorium crew at the University of Vienna, Comparative Literature program. Video of our Alte Schmiede reading was posted her last month.