Murat Nemet-Nejat, Henry Steinberg, and Chantine Akiyama Poh joined Al Filreis in our Wexler Studio to discuss a published excerpt of dated sections or entries from Dodie Bellamy’s Vomit Journal. The text as published can be consulted here. In part because of time constraints, we listened to and discussed most although not all of these sections. Our recording came directly from Dodie — who graciously agreed to record a reading for us (it is now linked in our Bellamy PennSound page).
Author’s note: I was reading Elfriede Jelinek while watching Johanna Went videos, and at the same time writing an article in response to Dominic Fox’s Cold World, an eloquent but boy-centered rave in praise of extreme adolescent male nihilism which, in severely criticizing Ulrike Meinhof, the only woman mentioned in the book, also subliminally, and without naming it, criticized Chris Kraus’s piece on her in Aliens and Anorexia, and I just thought, well fuck you, why aren’t women allowed to express their admiration for each other without being accused
For a while I kept a copy of Harold Bloom’s Genius (subtitled A Mosaic of One Hundred Exemplary Creative Minds) in my bathroom, with the idea that I would read about one genius each time I shit. But ultimately it was too slowgoing. I slogged through pronouncements such as, “It is difficult to keep up with Whitman; perpetually he passes and surpasses us. Walt Whitman is the poem [sic?] of our climate, the genius of the shores of North America,”  and I was confounded by Bloom’s Kabbalah-inspired, baroquely elaborated, and ultimately senseless arrangement of the writers.
One evening with Jules and our daughter, Jessi, I wandered a warehouse of open studios near the Willamette River in northeast Portland. We came upon organic chemist David Cordes painting a narrative of organic chemistry and nationalism; a couple operating as florists who sold nothing and displayed no floral arrangements, but urged people to try their homemade sweetbread; and a woman who urged visitors to arrange glass designs from bowls of crushed glass, which she offered to fire in the kiln, with no mention of charge. A startling-lack-of-explicit commerce continued from studio space to studio space. Our last stop of the evening was a space where a tightrope was bolted a foot off the floor.
I’ll begin with a playlist of PennSound recordings having to do with letters. While listening to this playlist on repeat, I was interested in the ways the tracks expanded, derailed, parodied, critiqued, or otherwise complicated the idea of intimate address. The addressees include imagined ancestors, public figures, an owl, various abstractions and inanimate objects, as well as the workings of language itself. Recently I’ve been listening to this playlist on random and I keep noticing new connections and contrasts between tracks.