‘In Praise of Folly': Advice for 2014 or Any Year

Early 17th-century illustration for Erasmus' 'In Praise of Folly'

Excerpt from Erasmus' 'In Praise of Folly' (translated by John Wilson) Spoken by Folly in her own Person Do but observe our grim philosophers that are perpetually beating their brains on knotty subjects, and for the most part you'll find them grown old before they are scarcely young. And whence is it, but that their continual and restless thoughts insensibly prey upon their spirits and dry up their radical moisture? Whereas, on the contrary, my fat fools are as plump and round as a Westphalian hog, and never sensible of old age, unless … [Read more...]

In NYC: Catching Up With Peter Schumann
and the Bread and Puppet Theater

Celebrating 50 Years of the Bread and Puppet Theater. (Click for slide show.)

Peter Schumann: The Shatterer is the first solo museum exhibition of Bread and Puppet Theater founder and director Peter Schumann. The exhibition opened in November 2013 as part of the first season in the museum’s newly expanded galleries. It marks the 50th anniversary of the theater company and introduces New York audiences to a largely unseen body of work by one of the most independent, prolific, and complex artists of our time. -- Queens Museum … [Read more...]

Rotterdam Dress Code

Photo of Erik Lopes by Ben Schot [Rotterdam, 2013].

Ben Schot, Straight Up's man in Rotterdam, sent the photo. He noted in an email message: "I met the kid in the street on my way to the post office exactly in the spot where the graffiti was. Spooky figure, especially at night when the skeleton print on this suit lights up in the headlights of passing cars." Seems to me the costume and the graffiti make a graphic force field. … [Read more...]

A Thanksgiving Team: Burroughs & Mustill, Redux


A Straight Up tradition continues. William S. Burroughs's words of gratitude on Thanksgiving Day paired with a couple of collages by Norman O. Mustill. Look and listen. It's delish . . . Thanks for the wild turkey and the passenger pigeons, destined to be shit out through wholesome American guts — thanks for a Continent to despoil and poison — thanks for Indians to provide a modicum of challenge and danger — thanks for vast herds of bison to kill and skin leaving the carcasses to rot — thanks for bounties on … [Read more...]

Antwerp Public Linguistic Poem

‪ "It doesn't matter what happens. I like it when there are accidents. If anybody starts to argue that's OK. ... This is a public poem. This is the work I do for 45 years. I am completely meshuga. I do one every year." -- Alain Arias-Misson … [Read more...]

Chris Burden Saved From the ‘Clutches of History’

“America” featuring 625 painted-cardboard submarines [1987]

Roberta Smith really digs the Chris Burden show at the New Museum. "Extreme Measures" is not only "a superb survey, but also a kind of transfiguration," she writes in her NY Times review. "It liberates the Los Angeles-based Mr. Burden from the clutches of history." I'm uncertain of what she means by the "clutches of history." Perhaps it's nothing more than a grandiose way of saying that this is, as she also points out, "the first American solo museum exhibition of Mr. Burden’s work since 1988, and his first in New York." Smith's review … [Read more...]

19th-Century Balzac Meets 20th-Century Bellaart

Honoré de Balzac [by Gerard Bellaart, 1.XII,00]

Gerard Bellaart's masterly washed-pen drawing of Honoré de Balzac testifies to his great admiration for one of France's most prodigious writers. He is particularly fond of the 19th-century Balzac novel Illusions perdues, about a young poet living in Angoulême, a provincial town in "France profonde," who is desperate to make a name for himself in Paris. Gerard Bellaart in his studio. [JH, 2013] … [Read more...]

Seamus Heaney, R.I.P.


Seamus Heaney died today Fred just told me. that leaves very few of his caliber. attached an anatomical study as a sign of respect. the drawing was on the desktop when Fred brought me the sad news. I have mailed you the 'stone from delphi' which really sums up the poet and man. small precious stone from Heaney's 'station island' a day of mourning for eire -- Gerard Bellaart +++ Obituary in the Irish Times. … [Read more...]

Back-to-Back Writings From Underground Dos-à-Dos

Table of Contents for EAL's 'Stories That Will Buckle Your Knees ...'

+++ Incidental Intelligence: Anyone who cherishes raw truth, and especially those of us who were warmed by Carl Weissner's friendship, will appreciate EINE ANDERE LIGA as a mammoth achievement. But Milena Verlag ought to correct two claims on its Web site: 1) that this posthumous collection of his underground writings has a foreword written by Sean Penn -- it doesn't -- and 2) that Death in Paris (which comprises half of EAL in a German translation by Walter Hartmann) is Carl's "only novel in English." For the record, Death in Paris was the … [Read more...]

Brecht Never Taught at Podunk College

Bertolt Brecht

Two staff messages the other day led me to compare them. One went like this: I have a colleague who reads manuscripts for a literary magazine. Recently, I spent two hours looking at the contributions she has to vet. God, the bulk of them are awful. Actually, what makes them awful is their mediocrity. None of them are spectacularly bad, illiterate, crazy, or demented. That would be ok. Instead they're all submitted by these guys with MFAs. They all teach at some podunk college someplace. They all straddle a line between conventional novels … [Read more...]