Tom Bradley mentions me and the Offbeats in his brilliant essay on Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink (a small publishing house) which features in the latest issue of Exquisite Corpse (June 2009). Here’s the relevant extract:
Crossing Enigmatic Ink: Locus of the Enigmatic Polygeneration
“…Weltanschaungen, however earnestly professed by the immediate consciousness, are mere mental fads among scribblers. We’re all just trying to give a few copies of our books the widest possible angle of dispersion, in the hope that someone might accidentally bury a fragment of a page in a jar in the preservative desert, Qumran-wise. All contrived explanations of the world that may or may not obtain on the far side of our dust jackets are just temporary means of distraction from the unscientific horror of being remaindered and pulped. In the meantime we busily concoct for our output critical neologisms that might hawk a few vendible price units. We’re almost as prolific confecting generic tags as we are writing stuff to paste them on. We secrete names of Movements for the mongers to itemize, and busily stake claims to the most squalid promo gimmicks, as we fall prey to the teasefully withheld blandishments of that Babylonian harlot best described by Andrew Gallix —
…an increasingly reactionary publishing world driven by marketing departments (who have transformed “literary fiction” into a genre) and their academic lackeys (in thrall to the Booker novel)…
— and Jonathan Penton, of Make It New Media:
And when we live with the sort of impersonal, venal corporations that control Twenty-First Century industry, literature suffers. The so-called “publishers” that currently produce the majority of America’s books don’t understand or care about literature that does not immediately make a clear profit. They put fiction and poetry next to blockbuster movies and celebrity tell-alls, and do not see the point. And they haven’t just purchased our printing presses — they’ve purchased the names of the publishers of yesteryear, and attempt to harness the goodwill once generated by these publishers, portraying themselves as the continuing keepers of culture while pushing books down the eternal spiral of the lowest common denominator.
Either spirit exists or it’s a phantasm — or maybe it constitutes some mentally masturbatory Heisenberg quibble that doesn’t exist but nevertheless obtains. In any case, the most intimate access we have to the collective soul’s ungenerated immateriality comes in, and on, books. In this postlapsarian shit-hole of an earth, the naked spirit is presented as nearly unencumbered with existence as it can be via a thin layer of inky molecules on paper (a hundred-percent green, in Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink’s case). A book is the closest the insensible can come to being sensed, as John of Patmos knew. In his insular malnourishment he made a bagel sandwich of it:
And I saw a mighty angel come down from heaven, clothed with a cloud: and a rainbow was upon his head, and his face was as it were the sun, and his feet as pillars of fire. And he had in his hand a little book open…And he said unto me, Take the little book, and eat it up.
— Revelation 10:1-2, 9
Writing, if good, transcends time as handily as space, and constitutes the only human permanence. We have no idea what the kithara sounded like before or after Milesian Timotheus added a string to it. Apelles’ paintings are lost tantalizations. Meanwhile, Plato’s dialogues are realer, more present, than the dork in the next cubicle.
And, just as Soul is captured best in print, so proportionally vast is the sacrilege that occurs when literature gets stolen, raped, pimped, whored-out, used as corporocratic asswipe. This makes resistance to big media nothing less than the most important dharma of generated existence. HarperCollins vulgarizes the only non-ephemeral part of us. And despite the majority of our seven authors’ cries denying the existence of the “s” word, they will all join in the following exhortation —
Extend to “communications corporations” the same malign neglect with which you treat the stupid movies their books are churned out for no other purpose than to be turned into. Wish them entropized into papier mache by the blizzard of broken glass that will result when globally warmed hurricanes move north. Leave them languishing at the bottom of a demolition site to warm the thermically equilibrious heart of GX Jupitter-Larsen himself. Supercellular mesocyclones can blow the Big Apple all the way up the Brahmins’ fart-hole, for all anyone who loves lit cares. Odessos-Schmodessa.
Let proximity itself go down the same municipal sewer system. Digital connectivity has rendered physical locality irrelevant and made polyversality the new thing. A generically schizoid reviewer can be sitting right here in Nagasaki writing an article for a magazine in Baton Rouge about a publisher in a London quantumly bilocated, spookily acted upon, in Ontario — and, throughout the entire transaction neither a single cubic inch of flesh will have been pressed, nor gustable cock sucked.
To the same degree that carefully drafted prose sails above extempore gab, the quality of schmoozing has been enhanced. When a school of scribblers eschews congregation at a specific longitude-latitude, what the PR folks call “the presentation self” gets wholesomely idealized. When, to paraphrase Hugh Fox’s epigraph, the Who gets unsecured by landscape, all the somatic curses of generated existence are stripped away. Once space has been erased by the miracle of email, so has time, in terms of its effects on the human frame.
The envy inspired by exquisitely smooth foreheads and cheeks; the superciliousness engendered by wrinkles and arthritic gaits; the mutual revulsion that results in commingling the disparate B.O.s of maturity and im-; the disharmony of voices cracked with senectitude and late teen hormones; the ambiguous eros ignited when the androgyne grace of late adolescence rubs against grizzled moobs; the subcortical whiffs of the Freudian family-disease that obtrude on every animal awareness when figures substitutable for parent and spawn rub elbows, when personal encounters take place among people separable by more than a sibling’s number of years — none of this signifies through the hermetic medium of the internet.
In a creation where particles can spookily act upon each other at a distance of quadrillions of light years, and, in the meantime, the foreclosed home right next door, upon being scheduled for demolition, spookily begins to sport the name of our fifth planet in disembodied black light — the seven ages of man are as days in the week, and a generation can span an open-ended number of decades.
In a universe ruled by karma and rebirth, “generation” is a bad word, denoting as it does the stifling of spirits in coats of crass skin, the greatest disservice that can be done. Nevertheless, Hugh Fox got to christen the Invisible Generation, Andrew Gallix the Offbeats. So I’ll invent a name to embrace Crossing Chaos Enigmatic Ink’s stable. It will be a “sticky statement,” many-worldly enough to encompass the catalogue’s quantum proclivities, and will also contain a mnemonicism referring back to the brand name from whose womb this septuple existent is undergoing parturition. I’ll make the name doubly apt, as these writers produce electricity as well as useful heat:
The Enigmatic Polygeneration …”