Implicit in the title of this collection is a ceremony of disintegration: shattering, fragmentation. A shedding of time. A shaking loose of the bonds of linearity and sequence. An immediacy of contact with the tools of construction so lucid and unsullied by the seductions of the future and the burdens of the past that the writing becomes a continuous doing and undoing, a joyful participation in the creation of a strange new alphabet of illimitable occurrence, a fetus of meaning in a placenta of ink.
The presentation is twofold: writing as writing (sentences, laminations, thought, “an undulant mind on soft display“), and concrete poetry -- letters arranged in eccentric patterns of visual energy. The writing is playful, probing, and provocative; sentences in paratactic leapfrog with their teasing proposals: “what restrains a superpower after guilt has lost its charm”; “as a windowsill is a place for elbows, so should a beach be a horizontal wonderment with the diesel fumes of military aggression”; “an unplugged brain is more dangerous than any taxpayer.” The emphasis with both strategies -- abstract and concrete, linguistic and visual -- is to advance an experience with language that becomes an ongoing textual genesis, Stein’s “continuous present.” It is also highly entertaining. Vassilakis is a funny guy, a postmodern Socrates with a quizzical cue stick.
This tendency toward showcasing the implements and machinery of language -- what Charles Bernstein calls “the desire for writing to be the end of its own activity, its very thatness” -- is most abundantly available in Vassilakis’s sections of concrete poetry. For instance, the configurations of letters displayed in the section titled “Rubber,” such as the entity on page 136 consisting of Os and Hs and Gs and Ss and Ts (which could spell the word ‘ghosts’ any number of times) (the letters are, in fact, rather pale) resembles some sort of wiggly-wobbly creature from the alphabet lagoon; Jean Tinguely’s Cyclops comes to mind, as do the Martians from War of the Worlds.
Wittgenstein wrote that “philosophical problems arise when language goes on holiday.” In Text Loses Time, language is on a holiday from time: sequence, servility, routine. We enter a hall of mirrors where words refer to one another. Where words bump one another like bumper cars, lean into the dark, return us to trance, the means by which we meander. Most importantly, it provides (I am drawing this quote from the Afterword by Nick Piombino)”, “an exit from the current pervasive cultural tendency to employ meaning and visual space according to needs and desire for personal advantage, corporate profit and social control… refuge in the microscopic details of immediate, unfiltered visual and internal perception…”
Fun Funhouse poster by Fantagraphics friend Tim Silbaugh. Bellingham-based DT's features fabulous front babe Diana Blanchard (wife of cartoonist Jim). Tom Price Desert Classic includes Fantagraphics alum/guitar hero Price and Fantagraphics resident genius Martin Bland on drums. Both acts have destroyed our store at recent events. Be there or be sober.
Several Fantagraphics employees have new projects out now or coming soon. Warehouse manager Nico Vassilakis has Text Loses Time, a new book of bracing poetry and text-based art from Many Penny Press (available at Georgetown Records, the conjoined twin of the Fantagraphics Bookstore & Gallery) -- stay tuned for an announcement of the book release party:
New sales guy Jason Miles has Dead Ringer, a new book that is part comic, part print portfolio, and all amazing, coming soon from La Mano:
And don't forget the new CD from Extravagant Bachelor, the ongoing exploits of Fox Hollow, Kristy Valenti's columns for Comixology, Jacob Covey's freelance design work... and much more that I'm unaware of, I'm sure.
Jacob Covey emailed myself, Adam Grano and Mike Baehr a few minutes ago with THIS link to an eBay auction that ends in 22 hours, promising to wear this item to work EVERY DAY if we buy it for him. We don't make enough to go in on $4K three ways, but if there's a wealthy benefactor out there with a sick sense of humor, we would really like to call his bluff. You have no idea how much this would improve office morale (for most of us, anyway).
P.S. Adam said he'd go $100 easy, as would I, and possibly as high as $300. So we really only need like $3500. As of now no one has bid, maybe the seller will even come down on the price if no one does.
P.P.S. Kevin Eastman should buy this for us just to have a ninja turtle walking around in Gary Groth's office every day.
UPDATE: Auction ended with no bids and was re-listed at $3,299. Hope is not lost.
Tom Spurgeon just made my day, and not just because his essential Comics Reporter is back up-and-running. No, I'm talkin' about this photo of Jeff Foxworthy and Wilson Fisk (a.k.a. the fuckin' Kingpin of Crime), from Halloween night circa 1996:
As per annual tradition, our company holiday party was held at the glamorous Sunset Bowl in beautiful downtown Ballard last weekend. Click here for a mess of photos by me and Eric Reynolds; below are a few highlights:
Kim Thompson takes on high-score leader Paul Baresh in a sudden-death winner-take-all showdown...
...from which Baresh emerges victorious! (That's the trophy.)
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