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Ornithology, Reader's Block & book fairies: confessions of a pillowing page junky 


Dear Internet,

... or perhaps we should address this entry to David Markson, or the ghost thereof, whose Reader's Block we ingested this past week. This chapter, in the ongoing evolution of our becoming. And thus we are again (& again & again) under his spell. Under the influence.

««First and foremost, I think of myself as a reader»—Borges»—Markson. Recursively recursed. Becoming into you, The Internet. For prosperity's sake. From the mausoleumish stacks, books by dead writers. A mushrooming matrix of pure data. We write this from our own little mush room to a distant allocated recess of something larger than one man can comprehend.

A few months ago we confessed our acquisitions—that we were acquiring books faster than we could possibly read. This after almost 3 years in Rome where we burned most of the way through our stacks we brought to tie us over in our self-imposed exile.

We said then that we were through, in regards to this recent binge. But we lied. We still seem to be amassing books at an unreadable rate.

Imagine a world where you had to consciously think to breath. Or to digest your food.

«I have come to this place because I had no life back there at all.» Said Markson. 'Out of the blue' as he is want to do. Parrots are we. Talking birds. Reiterative.

Markson, the hybrid librarian/marathon man, whose bespectacled eyes ran The Strand's 18-miles, beyond just the spines, but to the fingertips. Who checked out books, added his marginal 2 cents & then checked them back in. We might have bandwagoned the posthumous treasure hunt for Markson's dog-eared copies had we not just ourselves fled The City.

Dog ears smeared with his fingerprints. Like when Garp bit Bonker's. We leave forensic impressions. Used books like messages in the bottles. At sea. «Take a deep breath»—says the fortune cookie.

In reality, The Strand is too claustrophobic for our tastes. Call us elitist, but selective curation saves time for better things. Our books we get here & there, but mostly off Amazon these days (we're not ashamed to admit). Lazily, unapologetically. Here's our acquisitions since our last confession:


In college we used to sleep in «the stacks» just for affect. We think it made a difference, but we kept no control standard. Now, on the 18th story overlooking a river. More often than not we use the stairs. Still no control standard for comparison.

To add fuel to the fire, there were two bookfairs this past weekend in the boroughs. The first was in Queens, at MOMA PS1, as put on by Printed Matter, Inc. This was specifically an 'art' book fair. We like the idea of 'art books,' but more often than not this equates to photos of butts & Andy Warhol. Or books OF art, but not very many examples where the book IS the medium ... the objet d'art.

«Jackson Pollock once held a job cleaning bird droppings from statues in New York Parks.» Sounds about right. Bird stoop.

Pages as leaves & leaves as pages. Birds as words & words as birds. A reader's digest. Of the 9 places we've lived in NYC, none had a stoop. One we entered beneath a stoop. This is our 9th life. Then what?

Also useful to know, you can substitute beaver butt secretions for vanilla.

Edizioni Corraini hosted a Bruno Munari exhibit in one of the art fair tents, the air-conditioned dome, though nothing like the more comprehensive Munari exhibit we saw at Ara Pacis.

dome couple

hipster book fairies at the Munari exhibit under 'the dome'

Acquisitions at this 'NY Art Book Fair' were mostly of the periodical variety—recent issues of Cura & Nero (both out of Rome so haven't seen a new issue in a while) & Gigantic (the recent issue of which moves past the paper medium & encourages you to just pick up the phone) & Bookforum.

This chapter in our 9th life, assembled from fragments. Holographic. Explosive articulates dangling precariously near the in-take valve. An i/o machine am i, or you.

In college we also made crystals once by dangling a string in a super-saturated solution of something or other. Maybe we were reading Cage at the time but whenever we think of this, we think of mesostic poems. Maybe this is all a dream.

A hyperlinked mesostic machine. Ever-growing, expanding , un-sublimating. Putting in words, setting in stone. «The names of the dead.» Dead, until read. The added weight of bold tags for the benefit of search engines. Searching for a hold, gathered & solidified from the super-saturated solution. From you, the Internet. Beyond that.

Met the dynamic duo, Franticham, that make up Red Fox Press, whose books we've touted here in the past. Traded an Ark Codex for their Fluxus Island—a distillation of their assemblage boxes.

franticham at red fox

Francis+Antic-Ham at the Red Fox table

As we are writing this, a textual excerpt from Ark Codex just went up on Keyhole.

«Nonlinear? Discontinuous? Collage-like?»

«An assemblage?»

Said Markson, but also says we. Not in so many words.

The Mexican jumping beans we got last month in Oklahoma still jumping. Ticking like a geiger counter. They make great pets. Self-contained capsules. Perpetual motion. Perfect purring pets.

«Everything has been said before, but since nobody listens we have to keep going back and beginning all over again.» Andre Gide said that.

We also recently received a copy of another Red Fox publication—Dmitry Babenko's «Surf» Trash Poem—which the author himself sent us from Russia. But more importantly, we are now proud owners of his artist book, Ornithology.

There's something about one-of-a-kind art books. It's like the more a book is reproduced, the more it is diluted. 'For your eyes only.'

You too can be the proud beholder of a Babenko artist book. We can vouch that the Russian postal system & international wire transfers work (this is our second such acquisition). We can help put you in touch.

To horde, or to covet? To be held.

«Or of no describable genre?» says Markson.

«Obstinately cross-referential and of cryptic interconnective syntax in any case.»


After the bookfair at PS1, we went across the street to check out 5 Pointz. A few weeks ago we started to get all these hits here to 5cense from the New York Times ... ends up they did an article on street art & in the 5 Pointz section they linked to our pics we took on a visit there some 10 years ago. It's changed quite a bit since. Back then we just wandered right in, up to the roof. Now you have to get a permit. And the graffiti seems more polished, calculated, more like graffiti than art. A sandbox at that. And now evidently it's slated to become condominiums. R.I.P.

5 ptz

Yes, 10 years. A decade we've been doing this, whatever this is. If the word blogging existed back then we weren't aware of it. We knew the word to flâneur—this seemed some sort of expression of that. If we knew what this or that was we'd likely stop doing this. What is that saying about the definition of insanity? The key, to keep from going crazy, is to stop expecting results. We're glad we have very few followers or friends or hits. Frees us up to keep doing what we do. We aim to please only our selves, unapologetically.

Sunday was the Brooklyn Book Festival. We set our alarm & hauled books on the subway & set them up on a janky table & then sat there for 9 hours. Some people stopped by & said the covers were nice, otherwise we aren't so good at thrusting books in people's hands like other book mongers, or giving out free candy & whatnot. There's the people already in the know—you know who you are—thanks for stopping by.

Books as capsules. Encapsulated bodies of wordks. If we could easily merge d & k here we would ... dk. Doesn't wordk in majuscule, though the Dead Kennedy's iconically pulled it off.

Is this a novel? Ever a work in progress. Under dekonstruction.

«Someone nodded hello to Reader [...] ». Hello. This is a rechord of our existence. That we were there.

bkbf table

By alloofsively detaching & reattaching you eliminate the need for relevant segues. These are our words, now, shaken but not stirred. Induced by reading Markson. Who owns words? Oxford, Webster? Or word combinations, like saltwater taffy machine. Someone patented the machine we're sure, but who first put those words together to suggest a more general idea?

Picked up a book from the Two Dollar Radio table & Soho Press gave us a book that also feeds rescued chimps. And our table was next to theNewerYork, so we swapped something for their second issue which looks compelling. It was a nice day & didn't rain.

What is it about Markson? On what levels? Not necessarily sentences, surely not in stories. Juxtaposed packets of information. A whole life—a corpus—reduced to the where & when of death. In such a reductive process, in distilling other artists' juices, he spins his own life down to the centrifuged sum of everyone else's DNA. He writes off his own mortality, laughing his way to the grave. he died three years ago but you can still hear his voice echoing.

Lots of bad shit went down this past week. The Westgate center in Nairobi was one of the places we used to minimize our time at for this very reason, we could picture this happening before it did. The place most likely to make headline news—news that you'd never get a chance to read, unless your name itself could read from the neighboring obituary column. It was only a matter of time. In our final post from Nairobi we listed Westgate as one place we wouldn't miss.

Real-time deconstruction to re-assemble. Perspective gleaning. Applied method acting. What is terrorism? The acts, or the preventatives in place to keep such acts from happening? Or just relative inconveniences?  Maybe the reason we were interrogated & almost detained last week in Dublin is because of our time spent in Nairobi. Erratic travel, especially one-way. Flipped a switch somewhere. Maybe Homeland Security had chatter of something to do with Nairobi. Maybe they're reading this, still? Don't flatter yourself.

When we first got to Nairobi we had coffee with Binyavanga Wainana at Westgate, at the Israeli-owned ArtCaffe where the gunfire started. We felt like sitting ducks & he complained about the service & the quality of the tea, which at the time seemed a positive sign for Kenya. The world needs elitists for progress to happen. And perhaps sitting ducks as decoys. Two of our friends were in Westgate when all this went down. Both are OK. One hid in a bathroom, the other in the lighting department of Nakumatt. What makes it even more surreal is that we can still picture the layout of Westgate like the back of our hand. Those elephants flanking the entrance of Nakumatt. Crushed us to see that blood smeared photo.

And on the homefront, on the other side of Harlem, our Sikh friend was attacked by a bunch of bike-reading teens who called him Osama. Talk about senseless. Despite a broken jaw, he's over it already & will undoubtedly use the experience in a constructive way, to instigate change. They messed with the wrong Sikh.

Two steps back, one step forward? The world back-pedaling like lab rats on a treadmill? Or one step back, two steps forward? The world petaling, regardless, into what it is. We're getting off on the next stop, but not sure when that is.

It seems mostly what Markson does, getting back to Reader's Block, as well as in some of his other books, is to list people who are anti-semites or that died, in particular by suicide. I guess you could call this his shtick.

Is Markson Jewish? Does it matter? He's making up for all the other idiots like Ezra Pound. The only thing that bothered us is on what grounds does Markson apply this label? Schopenhauer, Kant, Marx, Heidegger, Rousseau, Chopin, Strauss, Stravinsky, Mahler, Wagner, Chaucer, Dostoyevsky, Fitzgerald, Cummings, Chekov, Capote, Hemingway, Miller, Wolfe, Gide, et al ... all anti-semites according to Markson.

Is Markson an anti-anti-semite? Mohammed, we'll give him that one. And Céline. But we forgive him. Let dead dogs lie, or lay?

The other night we had a dream that James Franco announced he was gay in the same way that Kirk Douglas's friend said «I am Spartacus.» This sparked a whole bunch of other Hollywood types, straight or not, to all come out and say, or tweet, «I am gay.» This went viral until virtually everyone on the entire planet came out of the closet & nobody could be sure of anyone's orientation & then it didn't matter. We woke up sad that we don't live in this world yet.

Disinformation as a constructive force. Monkey wrenching. Rising above.

Nowhere in the subsequent fallout & press around Singh's attack, in the above interview or elsewhere, does he feel the need to mention that Sikhism has nothing to do with Islam. Would that justify such nonsense regardless?  

If Markson was alive & kicking he'd would be blogging. And tweeting. If in 3rd person. «Protagonist having come upon his own name on one of the graves, though with meaningless remote dates?»

There's a cemetery where we run thru sometimes—Uptown Trinity Cemetery, around 153rd & Riverside ... formerly the location of the bird-lover Audubon's estate. It's small, but it's probably the tallest hill in Washington Heights, so has good elevation. And no one ever goes in there. Could've sworn we saw a grave labeled MARKSON one time running by. So today we went there to take a photo, but couldn't find it. Though we found HASKELL and GILLES.

Reader's Block

What's interesting though, is who failed at suicide. Like Joseph Conrad. Imagine how different our world would be had he succeeded. Would we have Apocalypse Now? Was Heart of Darkness a universal myth that sooner or later somebody would write?

Walking back & forth through the cemetery & reading the names was engaging. Kind of like reading Markson. «The names of the dead.» Affirming. Your whole life reduced to a name, or worse, a label.

This, this webbed log, is our library card. Where we check in & check out. Sometimes, in the real world, we remember to leave our name in the books we leave behind, but more often than not we forget. Post-it note to self. Last week in Malaga we left a copy of Motorman where the Gideon bible would be, though we forgot to include our name & URL. Si has encontrado, dárselo al próximo tipo.

«And reader? And reader?»

Self-assemblage and losing 'self' in the process ... the driving force in the slag heap of otherwise 'dead' organic matter. Our proteins have self-assembled, then & now. Self-organizing & then somehow taking on a driving will to self-replicate this informative order amidst a crumbling world of chaos.

«In the end one experiences only one's self. Said Nietzsche.» Said Markson.

Say we.

  >> NEXT: Hijacking Haute Surveillance & reflected venster winkelen in the nether regions

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[  com.Posted 2013  derek white  |  calamari press   ]