Commentaries - June 2015

Bright arrogance #14

How the weird enters the world, part one

Image from Edmund Joseph Sullivan's illustrations of Rubáiyát from 1913, appropriated in 1966 by the Grateful Dead

There is a large shelf in the poetry section of Powell’s Used Book Warehouse in Portland, Oregon that is weighed down exclusively by versions of Edward FitzGerald’s illustrious and legendarily loose translation of The Rubáiyát of Omar Khayyám. It is perhaps the destiny of only the greatest poems to become furniture, decorative shelf-filler, markers of conformity masquerading as taste. Ultimately, unread. Just as easily do these all-too-willingly adopted artifacts start to become emblems of an embarrassing past, haunting “used” stores with their overabundance like copies of Herb Alpert’s Whipped Cream and Other Delights.

'The Genealogy of Robert Grenier’s Drawing Poems' by Albert Gelpi

Imprint vol. 23 no. 1 (Fall 2004)
Published by The Associates of the Stanford University Libraries
republished with permission from the author and Stanford


Jay Sanders and Charles Bernstein interview each other on Close Listening

Bernstein and Sanders, photo by Susan Bee.

Whitney Museum curator of performance Jay Sanders and poet Charles Bernstein discuss their work in, on, and around sound, performance, installation, dance, poetry, theater, poetics, curating, editing, and essay writing. They also reflect on their previous collaboration curating the 2001 exhibition Poetry Plastique at the Marianne Boesky Gallery. This event was organized as part of the exhibition S/N, curated by the 2014–15 Helena Rubinstein Curatorial Fellows of the Independent Study Program. The event took place at The Kitchen in New York.

Feel beauty supply, post 4

To the pyramids!

I believe I am a few days late for my fourth post, the post in which I am finally to take you to the pyramids with Kant as our guide. My apologies. I haven’t neglected this expedition in thought, though perhaps in type. In fact one might say that I have been preparing for it at a somatic level for several weeks now by visiting Florida, a place that is not exactly Egypt, though no doubt a site in which European colonialism grappled with the dynamic sublime, and New York City, where one seemingly experiences the mathematical sublime of capital on every corner.

What I want to call attention to in this post is the telling nature of examples in philosophical texts, especially in a text like Kant’s. Unlike Hegel, Marx, or other nineteenth-century philosophies dependent on narratives of socio-historical development, Kant’s critiques are on the surface ahistorical.