Paperwork: A Brief History of Artists’ Scrapbooks

William Burroughs and Brion Gysin – spread from scrapbook

“Art historian Alex Kitnick muses that scrapbooks, like sketchbooks, act as ‘research and development’ for artists: Their pages show a variety of approaches to dealing with a framing device and each demonstrate a range of modes and energies. These thoughts are part of his essay in Paperwork, the catalogue accompanying this exhibition—cocurated by Kitnick and Andrew Roth—which features a breadth of journals and scrapbooks made by an impressive collection of artists, including Brigid Berlin, Richard Prince, and Monika Baer among twenty-some others. Here, twelve tidy vitrines house an unruly array of overlapping binders, notebooks, and otherwise ragtag accumulations of printed matter. Some works take on a diary role, creating an internal framework for self-examination and reconfiguration, like Isa Genzken’s I Love New York, Crazy City, 1996-97, which marries diary to ledger with photos, faxes, clippings, and correspondence. In the work of Ray Johnson and Brian Buczak, this internal life made physical becomes a currency between artists: Twenty pages of Johnson’ s Untitled, 1941, for example, are transformed by Buczak some thirty years later, creating a collection of campy in-jokes and ironic juxtapositions. See also the untitled books compiled by William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin from 1964 to 1977, which are chaotic and masterful, like a mixed media Ulysses: a cacophony of voices, references, and appropriations that huddle together in imperfect comfort. Others, such as Gerhard Richter’s open-ended ‘Atlas’ project and Geoffrey Hendricks’s untitled book finished in 2012, record their graphic fascinations into iterations rather than seeking a synthesis defined by the boundaries of the page. In Richter’s case, samples of landscape or group portrait photography are gridded together as if prototyping their relative effects. And, if books intrinsically rebel at their display in a gallery, frozen under glass, a four hour video, Scarphagia, 2013, by Karin Schneider and Louise Ward defies this: Projected on a wall, a pair of hands anonymously toil through each and every volume on display, providing an alternative, if not liberating, viewing experience. …”

William Burroughs and Brion Gysin, Untitled (scrapbook A), 1964–70
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A Different Tuning: Jean Follain

“I own one book I’d truly grieve losing, D’Après Tout by Jean Follain. My reasons are partly sentimental—I went to great trouble to get the book, and it found me when I felt lost in my writing life. Most of all though, the poems inside are ones I wish I’d written. Jean Follain (1903-1971) was a barrister and eventually a judge in Paris but came there as a student from Canisy in Normandy. Those facts mean little to me, but Heather McHugh, in her introduction to her translation of D’Après Tout makes much of Follian’s origins. The intimacy of his upbringing, she suggests, contributes to the size of his poems and their use of the commonplace to illuminate ‘the monumental.’ Because of his early, circumscribed conditions, his poems are ‘miniatures.’  Calling them miniatures, however, belies their echoing expansiveness. They are miniature in the sense that Sherwood Anderson’s stories in Winesburg, Ohio are incomplete or in the sense that James Joyce’s stories in Dubliners are inconclusive. They are whole, just not in a way readers immediately and consciously recognize. Little details subsume so much. To describe Follain, McHugh evokes what William Gass said of Faulkner, ‘Nothing was too mean for his imagination because he did not believe there was any insignificance on earth.’ Follain turns a reader’s attention to the rites of life. Minute ceremonies become tuning forks for the wider world. … The deliberately murky punctuation of Follain’s poetry can make them seem lists or collections—the clouds, the grass fire, the flowers in the ravines, the dying daylight, the boy and his “iron-gray smock,” the shoe. What seem separate, however, are truly tangled. The smoke is like the clouds, the rut in the road repeats the ravine, the color of the sweater matches the color of the clouds or smoke, the mass of clouds breaks up and dwindles to one boy on one road, the meditation on ‘half-heartedness,’ and ‘absence’ comes in half light, the flowers in the ravine foreshadow the boy’s vivid life amid others’ half-heartedness and absence. The poem becomes complete, at least in its own fashion, by creating a subconscious continuity, a homogenous atmosphere. …”
Signals to Attend

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Mad scientists of Stanisław Lem

Mad scientists and inventors appear in the fiction of Stanisław Lem in the memoirs of Lem’s starfaring vagabond Ijon Tichy, collected in The Star Diaries and Memoirs of a Space Traveller, as well as in The Cyberiad. Most of Lem’s mad scientist stories fit into the format of stories about unusual inventions, known since the 19th century, most of them are devoid of ironic tone characteristic of most of Ijon Tichy’s stories and robots’ fables, and they are literary frames for various Lem’s theories. Lem’s mad scientists include professors Corcoran, who created several artificial universes in isolated lockers; Decantor, who created an immortal soul, Zazul, who cloned himself and was apparently killed by the clone who took his place; Diagoras, who created progressing makes of an ‘independent and self-perfecting device that is capable of spontaneous thought’ and was unwittingly used by two such devices as a communication medium; doctor Vliperdius, a robot doctor who runs an asylum for mentally ill robots; and professor A. Dońda. Kamil Rosiński suggested that a prototype to Lem’s brilliant eccentric scientists could have been psychologist and philosopher Mieczysław Choynowski [pl], who was Lem’s mentor for some time. Dońda catastrophically succeeded in his quest to prove massinformation equivalence, analogous to mass–energy equivalence: by accumulating a huge amount of useless information in a supercomputer, Donda made the total amount of information accumulated by humanity to cross a certain threshold, after which it all converted into a new universe, leaving humanity without any knowledge. Professor mathematician Ammon Lymphater from the 1961 short story ‘Lymphater’s Formula‘ after studying the biology of ants devised and constructed ‘It’ capable of instant precognition of everything within ‘Its’ rapidly expanding perception range. Realizing that the Superentity ‘It’ renders the human civilization redundant and obsolete, Lymphater destroys ‘It’. ‘It’ already knew Lymphater’s intentions, but not worried, knowing that sooner or later some one else will create ‘It’ again and again, eventually something would arise that would amount to an artificial God… ”
W – Mad scientists of Stanisław Lem, W – Ijon Tichy
LA Review of Books: The World According to Stanisław Lem
From Čapek to Lem: AI in Eastern European Science Fiction

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The Impressions – This Is My Country (1968)

“… These statistics would have made disheartening, if familiar reading to the late Curtis Mayfield. As a driving force in black music from the early ’60s through the mid-’70s, he was a seasoned documentor of the struggle of black Americans through his music and lyrics, which blended fluid, at times lush, melodic funk/soul with measured social commentary. Before launching a highly successful solo career, Mayfield was a member and later leader of Chicago-based vocal group The Impressions. Of all the mid-60 R&B vocal group heavyweights, their music, despite significantly lighter radio rotation, is arguably the most enduring. While the likes of The Temptations only began to produce socially conscious records around 1968-69, Mayfield and The Impressions had been consistent in doing so since the departure of original lead vocalist Jerry Butler in 1962. Paralleling the Civil Rights movement, it took different forms, but was invariably dignified and gently righteous, whether urging black Americans to ‘Keep On Pushin’ in their struggles, landscaping utopian visions which mirrored the more famous dreams of more famous others (‘People Get Ready’) or lending encouragement during times of uncertainty and setback (‘It’s Alright’, ‘We’re A Winner’). But it would be amiss of me to suggest that the music of The Impressions was a polemical belligerent brew. In fact, for the most part, it was as sweet as sweet soul music could be, the lion’s share of the songs occupying  themselves with that most perennial of concerns; finding, keeping or losing the girl. A shrewd move, guaranteeing an audience sizeable enough to ensure the other message found its way into as many homes as possible. Despite great success, and perhaps due to complications with record company distribution, their reputation seems to have declined over the years, certainly by comparison to their more conspicuous Detroit-based contemporaries. …”
The New Perfect Collection (Video)
Finally Gets a Definitive Biography. What Took So Long? (Video)
LitHub – To Write a Revolution on the Sky: On the Radical Legacy of Curtis Mayfield
W – This Is My Country, W – Curtis
YouTube: The Impressions – This Is My Country 1 / 10, Curtis (Full album) 1 / 8
YouTube: Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up 2:10:07

The Impressions rehearsing in the studio, Chicago circa 1965.
Posted in Music | Tagged | 1 Comment

Patti Smith Makes a Pilgrimage to French Guiana in This Exclusive Excerpt From Her New Memoir

“In 1965 I had come to New York City from South Jersey just to roam around, and nothing seemed more romantic than to write poetry in a Greenwich Village café. I finally got the courage to enter Caffè Dante on MacDougal Street. The walls were covered with printed murals of the city of Florence and scenes from The Divine Comedy. A few years later I would sit by a low window that looked out into a small alley, reading Mrabet’s The Beach Café. A young fish-seller named Driss meets a reclusive, uncongenial codger who has a café with only one table and one chair on a rocky stretch of shore near Tangier. The slow-moving atmosphere surrounding the café captivated me. Like Driss, I dreamed of opening a place of my own: the Café Nerval, a small haven where poets and travelers might find the simplicity of asylum. … Some months before our first wedding anniversary Fred told me that if I promised to give him a child he would first take me anywhere in the world. I chose Saint-Laurent du Maroni, a border town in northwest French Guiana. I had long wished to see the remains of the French penal colony where hard-core criminals were once shipped before being transferred to Devil’s Island. In The Thief’s Journal Jean Genet had written of Saint-Laurent as hallowed ground and of its inmates with devotional empathy. He had ascended the ladder toward them: reform school, petty thief, and three-time loser; but as he was sentenced, the prison he’d held in such reverence was closed, the last living inmates returned to France. Genet served his time in Fresnes Prison. Devastated, he wrote: I am shorn of my infamy. At 70, Genet was reportedly in poor health and most likely would never go to Saint-Laurent himself. I envisioned bringing him its earth and stone. Though often amused by my quixotic notions, Fred did not make light of this self-imposed task. He agreed without argument. I wrote a letter to William Burroughs, whom I had known since my early 20s. William, close to Genet and possessing his own romantic sensibility, promised to assist me in delivering the stones. …”
W – The Thief’s Journal by Jean Genet, amazon
YouTube: Patti Smith – Three Stones for Jean Genet

Bagne de Saint-Laurent-du-Maroni RELEGUES vs LIBERES
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Seven dirty words

“The seven dirty words are seven English-language curse words that American comedian George Carlin first listed in his 1972 ‘Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television’ monologue. … At the time, the words were considered highly inappropriate and unsuitable for broadcast on the public airwaves in the United States, whether radio or television. As such, they were avoided in scripted material and bleep censored in the rare cases in which they were used. Broadcast standards differ in different parts of the world, then and now, although most of the words on Carlin’s original list remain taboo on American broadcast television. The list was not an official enumeration of forbidden words, but rather were compiled by Carlin to flow better in a comedy routine. Nonetheless, a radio broadcast featuring these words led to a Supreme Court 5–4 decision in 1978 in FCC v. Pacifica Foundation that the FCC’s declaratory ruling did not violate either the First or Fifth Amendments, thus helping define the extent to which the federal government could regulate speech on broadcast television and radio in the United States. During a performance in 1966, comedian Lenny Bruce said he had been arrested for saying nine words. … In 1972, comedian George Carlin released his fourth stand-up album Class Clown. One track on the album, ‘Seven Words You Can Never Say on Television’, was a monologue in which he identified these words and expressed amazement that they could not be used regardless of context. … Carlin was arrested for disturbing the peace when he performed the routine at a show at Summerfest in Milwaukee in 1972. On his next album, 1973’s Occupation: Foole, he performed a similar routine titled ‘Filthy Words’, dealing with the same list and many of the same themes. Pacifica station WBAI broadcast this version of the routine uncensored on October 30 that year. …”
Open Culture – George Carlin Performs His “Seven Dirty Words” Routine: Historic and Completely NSFW (Video)
YouTube: George Carlin – 7 dirty words (best part)

George Carlin’s 1972 Summerfest performance is undoubtedly one of the Big Gig’s biggest moments.
Posted in Documentary | Tagged | 1 Comment

Vittorio De Sica – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963)

Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963), winner of the 1965 Oscar for Best Foreign Film, is a trio of stories directed by Vittorio De Sica in the omnibus fashion so popular at the time (just the year prior, he had contributed to the similarly structured Boccaccio ‘70, alongside Federico Fellini, Mario Monicelli, and Luchino Visconti). Spearheaded by international super-producer Carlo Ponti—helping to ensure global distribution and award-worthy prestige—the film is, first and foremost, a collaborative compendium of what partially defined the popular perception of its versatile director and its two leads, Sophia Loren and Marcello Mastroianni. … Here, an exuberant Loren plays Adelina Sbaratti, a boisterous young woman who illegally hawks cigarettes on the street. Facing financial punishment and jail time for her unlawful transactions, she stumbles upon a legal exemption for pregnant women. Apparently, the powers that be cannot arrest one with child until six months after delivery. The epiphany of sovereignty through sustained offspring—which sets up a humorous conceit that may or may not have any grounding in actual law—means Adelina and her initially acquiescent husband, Carmine (Mastroianni), must keep up the child-rearing for as long as it takes. ‘Children are a wonderful thing,’ says family friend Pasquale (Aldo Giuffrè), who is soon primed to make a move on the perpetual mother-to-be. As it turns out, they are also valuable in a pinch. Carmine first appears with a carefree, confident charm, a characterization ideal for Mastroianni’s gifts as a self-assured leading man. Soon, however, this wise-guy grows weary from the ever-increasing litter of boys and girls (and the exertion it takes to make them), ultimately retreating to his mother’s equally chaotic residence in order to get some rest. Everything so far is played for unequivocal laughs, though concern creeps into the picture (in a still comical fashion) when the ceaseless reproduction becomes overwhelming for the exhausted father. He recognizes the benefits of the increasing brood, and surely ‘the will is there,’ but their reproductive luck eventually runs out. …”
MUBI – De Sica and His Dynamic Duo Do What They Do Best: Close-Up on “Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow”
W – Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
YouTube: Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow (1963) – Trailer

Posted in Italy, Movie | Tagged , | 1 Comment

History of compiler construction

ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator And Computer) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Glen Beck (background) and Betty Snyder (foreground) program the ENIAC in building 328 at the Ballistic Research Laboratory (BRL).

“In computing, a compiler is a computer program that transforms source code written in a programming language or computer language (the source language), into another computer language (the target language, often having a binary form known as object code or machine code). The most common reason for transforming source code is to create an executable program. Any program written in a high-level programming language must be translated to object code before it can be executed, so all programmers using such a language use a compiler or an interpreter. Thus, compilers are very important to programmers. Improvements to a compiler may lead to a large number of improved features in executable programs. … Software for early computers was primarily written in assembly language, and before that directly in machine code. It is usually more productive for a programmer to use a high-level language, and programs written in a high-level language can be reused on different kinds of computers. Even so, it took a while for compilers to become established, because they generated code that did not perform as well as hand-written assembler, they were daunting development projects in their own right, and the very limited memory capacity of early computers created many technical problems for practical compiler implementations. … The first implemented compiler was written by Grace Hopper, who also coined the term ‘compiler’, referring to her A-0 system which functioned as a loader or linker, not the modern notion of a compiler. … The FORTRAN team led by John W. Backus at IBM introduced the first commercially available compiler, in 1957, which took 18 person-years to create. … By 1960, an extended Fortran compiler, ALTAC, was available on the Philco 2000, so it is probable that a Fortran program was compiled for both IBM and Philco computer architectures in mid-1960. The first known demonstrated cross-platform high-level language was COBOL. In a demonstration in December 1960, a COBOL program was compiled and executed on both the UNIVAC II and the RCA 501. …”
W – History of compiler construction
W – Compiler-compiler
W – Just-in-time compilation
Timeline of Computer History
YouTube: 1961 | IBM 7094 : First Computer To Sing, Daisy Bell, Ivan Sutherland Sketchpad Demo 1963, Graphic 1, a 1960s stylus-based graphical display system – AT&T Archives, 1968 “Mother of All Demos” by SRI’s Doug Engelbart and Team, The Incredible Machine (1968)

The Atlas Computer debuts – A joint project of England’s Manchester University, Ferranti Computers, and Plessey, Atlas comes online nine years after Manchester’s computer lab begins exploring transistor technology.
Posted in Computing | Tagged | 1 Comment

Found in an NYC Junk Shop: Forgotten Postcards between Two Haiku Masters

“Found at the bottom of an old mailbox in a New York antiques store, what’s written on the back of these postcards perfectly captures the iconic arts scene in New York’s early 1960s– a city that was hosting the likes of Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Jack Kerouac and countless more forgotten artists, jazz musicians and poets of an era gone by… The handwritten notes and unreleased poetry brought to life with illustrations, are all from a Haiku poet known as the Arizona Zipper, addressed to Cor Van de Heuvel, another Haiku poet particularly influential in bringing Haiku to New York and the United States in the 1960s. Together, the pair were the pioneers of American Haiku poetry in the 1960s. But for those that don’t know, by now you might very well be asking yourself– what the heck is Haiku?! Haiku is the ancient Japanese art of a very short form of poetry. You probably attempted it at some point in English class as a school kid, but despite its short form, it’s surprisingly technical and has quite a few rules. Haiku consists of three lines of poetry with 5, 7 and 5 syllables. The idea of restricting syllables is to choose your words very carefully to sum up a moment perfectly– think quality over quantity. The poems are focused and descriptive, the subject of nature or one of the seasons. The essence of haiku is ‘cutting’ (kiru), often represented by the comparison of two ideas and a kireji (‘cutting word’) between them, a kind of verbal punctuation mark which signals the moment of separation, but also characterises their similarities. A little bit of an enigma, we like to think of it as poetry’s secret code language. Cor discovered haiku in San Francisco in 1959 when Manhattan was the centre of a blossoming arts and poetry scene. Both Cor Van de Heuvel and his correspondent Arizona Zipper (or A.Z. In his postcards) began writing haiku in Maine on the East Coast. The pair didn’t stick strictly to the 5, 7, 5 rule when it came to haiku, and instead adopted a looser style, that kept the same focus. Cor van den Heuvel started writing haiku in a small cottage by the Webhannet River in Maine, a year after discovering it during a poetry reading at a San Francisco coffee house. During the 1960s he was the house poet for coffee houses in Boston and New York, and made a name for himself by reading haiku over live music, mostly jazz. …”
Messy Nessy
W – Cor van den Heuvel
Cor van den Heuvel’s Haiku
JUXTA Interview: Jim Kacian Interviews Cor van den Heuvel

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Journeys of Frodo – Barbara Strachey

Journeys of Frodo: An Atlas of J. R. R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings by Barbara Strachey is an atlas based on the fictional realm of Middle-earth, which traces the journeys undertaken by the characters in Tolkien‘s epic. The book comprises 51 two-colour maps (a general map of Middle-earth and 50 numbered maps) at various scales, all based on the original The Lord of the Rings maps drawn by Christopher Tolkien from his father’s sketches. Each map is on a right-hand page in landscape format and depicts physical features in black and contour lines in red. Routes taken by characters on roads and paths are shown in dashed black and red; routes off-road are in red only. Arrows show the direction of travel and dates are listed in red. Scales along the top and left of each map show the distance east/west (mainly east) and north/south (mainly south) from Bag End. At the bottom of each map is a scale showing miles to the inch and an indication of the lunar phase or phases visible at the dates given. Each numbered map is accompanied by a description on the facing left-hand page, in which Strachey describes the portion of the route indicated, often justifying her topographical decisions with quotes from the book. In some cases she points out discrepancies in the topographical descriptions, occasionally for instance altering the course of a road or a river on the grounds that it would otherwise be inconsistent with Tolkien’s other descriptions of the terrain. Christopher Tolkien refers to Journeys of Frodo a number of times in The History of The Lord of the Rings, often agreeing with Strachey’s conclusions, and sometimes disagreeing. Nancy-Lou Patterson, reviewing the work in Mythlore, calls it a ‘delightful contribution’ to the understanding of The Lord of the Rings, agreeing with Strachey’s comment that when she first read the novel, she wished she had had ‘a complete set of maps covering the journeys of Frodo and his companions’. Patterson writes that Strachey’s maps ‘with their charming directness and laconic simplicity, come very close to the spirit of Tolkien’s own line drawings, and form a genuine visual parallel to his novels’. …”
Creepy Boromir and Black Swans on the River
YouTube: Journeys of Frodo: Lord of the Rings Atlas, Vintage Book

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