Controlling Interests: 35th anniversary ebook edition
In late 1979, James Sherry decided to end the run of ROOF magazine and begin ROOF books. Controlling Interests was the first title of the press, which continues on, active as ever. Our first problem was funding –– I remember writing letters to everyone I could think of -- relatives and old friends but not fellow poets -- and realizing the fundraising was not my forté. One way or another, we cobbled together the money for the typesetting, which was done be Skeezo (Barbara Barg, Joel Chassler) and for the offset printing. I remember one day James and I going into a print shop in Chelsea to look through the PMS color chart to decide on the color of the type-only cover: a very dark blue (which we changed to turquoise for the second edition). Back cover: totally blank. James has kept the book in print these past 34 years and you can still get the print edition from SPD for $12 (I think the first edition sold for $4 or $5).
But as of now you can get a digital copy too:
"It’s strange to think of Charles Bernstein’s insurrectionary Controlling Interests as a “classic,” but there (here) it is. Written in & on that paradigmatic moment when “guacamole has replaced turkey as / the national dish of most favor” – 1980, three years after the oil crisis and the slippage of fordism toward the modular elusiveness of post-fordist globalization – these texts register and report on the (local & partial) displacement of the arduous demands of production by the diffuse injunction to take up a “lifestyle” and consume. But they’re characterized by a sometimes savage exuberance that hardly fits the Jamesonian mantra of the pomo lamb lying down complacently with its late-capitalist lion. That’s evident not only in the sometimes overt accents of critique, but also in the pervasive madcap pleasures of bizarre one-upsmanship: no mode of production could be more modular and mobile than this carnival of madly compressed “turnover time.” Indeed things move fast enough that, if this were a carousel (why not?), a lot of the fixtures & bric-a-brac of their historical moment would go zooming off toward some asymptotic limit we might call a horizon. What we can dimly discern there is surprising, and makes this hyperbolically comic text also intensely moving: say Benjamin’s angel of history, struggling to recover blown shards of the wreckage of history (the sacred) before it’s too late; or some strange avatar of Thoreau (courtesy of Stanley Cavell) dreaming not that the language might be made whole – and make us whole – but that it already is (we are) if we can hear it. Controlling Interests points us toward the communal space articulated in those almost audible words. But it won’t let us forget that all of it – junk and junket and critical juggernaut, and the words that make and remake them – is “us” not “them.” So that: comedy, and empathy, and hope: arm in arm, neck & neck – we’re off ".
––Tenney Nathanson, University of Arizona (from Sagetrieb). (Go to Nathanson's whole article.)
"In the poems of CONTROLLING INTERESTS Bernstein continually reveals his desire for the concomitance of the individual and the world, of all language and experience . This book is one of the most original and imaginative in American lyric verse" --Douglas Messerli. (Go to Messerli's entire 1982 review.)
"Bernstein presents the reader with a world in which the articulation of an individual language is all but prevented by the official discourses that bombard the consciousness from all sides . He [is] on to something important"--Marjorie Perloff
"It is writing of absolute necessity, demanding not to be appreciated, but understood"--Ron Silliman.
Impossible outside you want always the other. A continual
recapitulation, & capture all that, against which our redaction
of sundry, promise, another person, fills all the
conversion of that into, which intersects a continual
revulsion of, against, concepts, encounter,
in which I hold you, a passion made of cups, amidst
frowns. Crayons of immaculate warmth ensnare our
somnambulance to this purpose alone.
The closer we look, the greater the distance from which
we look back. Essentially a hypnotic referral, like
I can’t get with you on that, buzzes by real fast, shoots
up from some one or other aquafloral hideaway,
emerging into air. Or what we can’t, the gentleman who
prefers a Soviet flag, floats, pigeoning the
answer which never owns what it’s really about.
Gum sole shoes. The one that’s there all the
time. An arbitrary policy, filled with noise, & yet
believable all the same. These projects alone contain
the person, binding up in an unlimited way what
otherwise goes unexpressed.