A BOUQUET ON THE DEATH OF THE PAPER CORPSE
May 2, 1997
I'm sorry, very sorry about the news that you're not going to be a regular visitor to my house--& sorry that such a huge chunk of great writing won't be sticking its outsized head above the dreck on the magazine racks of the Barnes & Nobles and Borders of our now market-safe world. Tant pis.
When someone asks me about the influences on my work or about my aesthetics, before I whack them I tell them to reach for a Corpse. Now I'll just have to whack them. When someone asked me about the poetry scene, it was easy to say "check out the Corpse."
This is a great blow to the community, for me every bit as unnerving as Allen's death. He was my teacher this past semester at Brooklyn College; you've been my teacher for nearly seven years, since Fielding Dawson turned me onto you. Yes, we are supposed to kill the teacher, kill the Buddha, but what happens when they go before you're quite ready to take that step?
Keep a good thought,
April 14, 1997
Dear President and Mrs. Clinton:
As a citizen of this great nation, I was delighted to hear that the United States Senate passed the resolution authored by Jesse Helms (R, North Carolina) banning all federal funding for art that includes sadomasochism. Our nation's familied and communities applaud the courage, moral leadership, and legal acumen that this action reflects.
Unfortunately, I am concerned that enforcement of this has been inadequate in the East Coast. Various institutions are sponsoring works of art in several genres (performance art, drama, happenings, and film/video) that clearly show advanced, systematic live performances of sadomasochism, and receive considerable amounts of federal funding. I am speaking about a performance in the Carolinas tentatively titled "The Citadel" in which women who are attempting to participate proactively in the state economy are being subjected to treatment straight out of the pages of Masoch and Sade. Recently, reports of another performance, tentatively titled "The Aberdeen Proving," include descriptions of sexual cruelty, roleplaying, and erotic slavery that would make anyone's blood curl.
Also in the area of video art, a recent video shows Airborne initiates being stuck with pins for a period of half an hour. As an aspiring filmaker, I must say I am somewhat jealous of the realistic performances that this anonymous director received, but nonetheless I believe that though the video may have been made through private auspices, the institution that sponsored the performance should be held to the same standards as anyone else, and federal funding for the Airborne Unit should therefore either cease or be subject to a moratorium
Though all these artists' rights of free speech and assembly are protected by the first amendment, clearly strict enforcement of federal funding laws is in order so as not to make a mockery of this great land. I appreciate these artists' ability to create lucid, comprehensive, well-financed and well-publicized works that serve as adroit metaphors for American sexual morality, but nonetheless swift action is needed to safeguard the nation's character.
In passing, I should note that the accumulation of the national debt to finance the F-22 fight plane would enhance the set of the performance and add clever references to the decline and fall of the Holy Roman Empire, but may nonetheless also be illegal due to Senator Helms initiative.
April 24, 1997
Yisgadal ve'yiskadash sh'mey rabo. I've had to say Kaddish for both E.C. and A.G. in the same month. When I got your letter about burying the Corpse, my heart sank as if receiving news about the death of friend. I think I even cried a little. No shit. Like the buy above, I pray for a resurrection. And I really look forward to talking with you about this extraordinary oasis in the desert of longing.
Maximum respect & a love supreme,
Bill Levy, Amsterdam
May 1, 1997
After fourteen years and sixty-three issues, all you are killing is the only magazine left in America to publish poetry, fiction, reviews, and articles that examined what people might really care about rather than what's supposed to be topical. While Laura, Andrei, and Jean prepare an anthology, why not find someone else to run E.C.? The world is full of literate wastrels dying to do something with their trust fund lives. Some of those mad bastards might not only produce a Corpse you'd like to read, but generally shine.
p.s. I'd do it just to edit the Body Bag.
May 2, 1997
New York University has a cool new librarian named Marvin Taylor. He is in charge of the Fales Library, which has started to rabidly collect new writing. For instance, they collect limited editions (rare Joe Brainard books), magazines, letters--they even collect my stuff. A friend of mine recently sold his collection of contemporary journals, letters, and poet-junk to them for $10,000 (mostly stuff from 1979 to now).
My point in writing to you is that you might try approaching them about buying a run of Exquisite Corpse. You might mention you've published a number of New York's "downtown" writers because NYU is extremely focused on expanding its collection of "downtown" literature. If they aren't interested in buying your magazines, you might want to donate it to them. It's a pretty serious collection they have, with a lot of exhibitions, readings, etc. You should write Marvin Taylor c/o:
New York University, Fales Library
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