The Susurrus Glides, Selcouthly

Vladimir Zuev, Summer

Summery susurrus is here. Muggy to the point of maliciousness; I’ll just eat a banana, then split. To get right to it...

Duane Michals, on the benefits of skipping art school, in a recent interview by BOMBLOG:

SM: “Sometimes getting out of town gives you the anonymity and the balls to try things out you might never try at home.”
DM: “Exactly. You know, it was all on a lark. I wasn’t taking myself seriously as a photographer. I borrowed a camera, they wanted to give me a light meter and I wouldn’t take it. Here is my photo education: when you’re outside in bright light you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 250 or 500 or something, when you’re outside and it’s cloudy you put the thing on 16 and you put it on 60, and when you’re inside, you go by the window and you put the thing on 2.8 and the other thing on 30. That’s what I did and all my exposures were perfect. That was totally my education in photography.”
SM: So we should tell people to save the hundred grand they are going to spend on a BFA education?
DM: Yes! I was shocked. I don’t get it. I gave a graduation talk at The New School and I asked one of the students how much money they owed and he told me around 20000 dollars. I couldn’t believe it. Indentured servitude! And you know what they have to show for it? When they walk out they have a portfolio containing a hundred pictures of their girlfriend’s ass. That’s it. They sit around in seminars and talk about each other’s work and then they’re on the street. It’s pathetic. It’s like the cost of buying an apartment….”

SM: “I thought a good school was supposed to teach you the rules and the history of the rules, and then why you should break them?”
DM: “But you can do that all on your own. You don’t need school. See, I’ve always been self-motivated. I never needed anyone to give me an assignment. When I was in high school, I used to prepare for the scholastic contests. I would paint all summer on my own. I always liked working towards a goal, like a contest or an exhibition. I would constantly give myself assignments. What schools should do is free you to be you, and how to find your thing. I found my thing and my thing is . . . many things! I keep evolving....”

Nan Goldin said it best: “I care more about the content of a photograph than I do about the formal aspects of it.” There’s always going to be opposition in the Arts, at some point or time, whether or not the reflection is cast off of another reflection, that is cast off of another reflection, or cast off of another reflection’s object, or objective’s object or object’s objective, just as the sun’s light is reflected from a cloud—there is always going to be naysayers, and the sayers of the unsayable are the poets; O’Hara, do I hear thee in these quivering walls? Everyday I wake up, and there usually isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t look at myself in the mirror, to see what changes have occurred (nasolabial folds are slowly manifesting), to see if perhaps it’s all a pipe-dream, a fragile fantasy (phantom fantasy)—to get people to see the ‘anxious body’ manifest in front of them, would be like seeing an avalanche, an iceberg, slicing the starry innards of a so-called shatter-less ship.

My body feels like an avalanche; I’m caving-in to myself, or caving out of myself. I seek to locate every particle of my Being. Not surprisingly, it’s quite dewy. There is a kind of barrage of madness in stability. If I looked for myself in the places where I wouldn’t think I’d be (like where keys or remote controls get ‘lost’/‘misplaced’), I’d likely find pieces of myself, or another Self, a Statue of Me, a kind of Prelude to the idea of changing without changing.

I feel superimposed, at times, over the world, but the heavenlies pull me back again, cremating my existence into a silhouetted smoke beyond the understanding. Perennial manifestations of fire in the air (in the inner-air); what screams from the Matrix of my irregularity is never wayward, but is rather like a perpetual operatic drama that will always remain unmanageable.
What to say about Photography that hasn’t already been said? I have realized that I always (most of the time, anyhow) have to explain myself; or, rather, I often have to expel energy towards convincing people to participate/follow-through with the ideas that I’d like to experiment with and become a reality, and the most difficult part of all is not feeling an awkward blockage within the aura about it (which deflates the balloon); it’s easy to say that one could pay one’s models, but that takes it to a totally different nexus. My God, what happened to simply trusting the artist? What happened to wanting to create simply for the love of creating art? This “anyone can be a photographer”-Digital Age has really vampire-sucked the life out of what a ‘photographer’ is, or isn’t. Photography has become a sequestered, like sticking one’s tongue to a frozen pole—it just remains stuck until you pour something over it to loosen the connection; what I seek to pour over Photography is typically a particular approach that either makes one turn away, or makes one question my reasons, my approach(es), my understanding of what I’m seeking to do, and it’s just a blather of sewage that is often frustrating.

“I’d definitely love to collaborate with you at some point” becomes either the echolocating sounds of cricket-noises, or I’m consistently lead on (though I’ve learned not to get too disappointed; ah, experience!—Shakespeare said that [e]xpectation is the root of all heartache, so I’m on top of the totem pole, in that regard)—Tom Clark once reverb’d: “Like musical instruments / Abandoned in a field / The parts of your feelings // Are starting to know a quiet / The pure conversion of your / Life into art seems destined // Never to occur.” Oh! But it always occurs, but history often repeats itself in patterns, in the proverbial ‘domino effect’; or, as Patricia Coelho would write: “[a]ccount history no empty chair….”—or shall I just ignore the red squiggly-lines underneath the texts of Art? That’s the color of the blood-life of Language, of Art, of Music, of Poetry, et al.

The thing is, Photography has a million eyes, and more than that. I strive to create, to be creative, to showcase it and to literally become the “process” of it, because (and this is usually where I’d say something about how “it’s in my blood” or “because I’m a visual poet,” and so, and those things are true, but it warrants more) it breathes with a thumping heartbeat within my heartbeat; my brain has eyes, has heartbeats; my body is a living example of creativity; creating art is outside of the wall, outside of the ineffable, per se, and when I come to terms with any attempt at making an explanation to the whys and whats and hows and consistently having to answer or explain-away or even (at times!) defending why I’m an artist, it just feels blasphemous to Art, in general. It just seems awkwardly-wrong. Words explain. What does Art do? It explains, yes, but it explains visually what no words could ever do. Art, a Visual Image, shatters language as written-word, or vocal commentary. I heard an artist once say that explaining ‘why’ or writing about one’s art can be akin to “making a really tasty meal, and instead of eating it, you’re given the recipe to read.” I agree with this, wholeheartedly, and it seems like a cliché’ to write about, all of this Art-talk-and-why-an-artist-shouldn’t-have-to-explain-oneself, etc., but I suppose the truth only hurts if one has been lying to oneself. This idea that it is the ‘camera’ that makes the art is foolishness. I love what Nobuyoshi Araki said about that: “Cameras have too often been the masters of photographers. A Photographer, a slave to a camera. No longer will I be a slave to my camera. To any camera.” Imagine the vitriol/laughter this would seemingly produce in many ‘art schools’ today! They’ll steer clear from these beautiful truths, like staying out of a river of swarming piranhas. Why should I be trying to convince people to ‘get it’ or even want to delve in to an artistic idea, or even an artistic thought? 

Imagine inserting photographs of stop-signs where punctual periods (‘.’) would be, without enlarging them, but keeping the images as the same size of the punctual period, would be a synchronicity not to be missed. The ‘.’ should be re-examined. Edmond Jabes once stated that the period at the end of a sentence is an eye. To me, they are like stop-signs, darkened, like black holes, or some kind of infinite void. If one reads a sentence, without reading too quickly, and allowing that sentence to soak in, one may fall into that very void, along with the sentence itself, which may or may not allow the sentence to collapse in on itself, collapsing in on the reader.

With that said, I’ve been walking through cemeteries lately. I find it incredibly appealing how gravestones appear to be quivering when you walk a certain way, in a dim-lit surrounding. Perhaps they’re quivering at the sight of human life. Gravestones are like unforgettable souvenirs. They seem to be in bondage, somehow; or, they are mirrors of what lies underneath them; or, they are simply trees that have been turned into conflicted Identities.


One of my favorite writers, Georges Perec, writes:

“Be present, be yourself. You are here. Objects are here. They are for you only, because you see them” (said by some Tibetan Lamaist). Contemplations of everything. Observing everything. Like Sherlock Holmes, who was based on real-life man, Joseph Bell, who once said: “In teaching the treatment of disease and accident, all careful teachers have first to show the student how to recognise accurately the case. The recognition depends in great measure on the accurate and rapid appreciation of small points in which the diseased differs from the healthy state. In fact, the student must be taught to observe. To interest him in this kind of work we teachers find it useful to show the student how much a trained use of the observation can discover in ordinary matters, such as the previous history, nationality, and occupation of a patient.” T.S. Eliot would write: “I learn a great deal by merely observing you, and letting you talk as long as you please, and taking note of what you do not say.” (“Taking note of what you do not say” makes me think of Williams, out of The Great American Novel: “Words cannot progress. There cannot be a novel. Break the words. Words are indivisible crystals. One cannot break them—Awu tsst grang splith gra pragh og bm— Yes, one can break them. One can make words. Progress? If I make a word I make myself into a word. Such is progress...”).

Vladimir Nabokov: “the more you love a memory the stronger and stranger it becomes.”

Becoming a better writer is, and will always be, about practicing the craft, just as it is with anything else. If the hours that I spent writing to people early on in my twenties (whether handwritten or via email) could be turned into fortunes of some sort, I would be a wealthy gent. It was just yesterday that I spent daydream-like moments pondering all of the “love letters” that I had written to former sweethearts in the past and especially those sweethearts that could write equally well to the extent that our commonplace, everyday language within our exchanges gradually turned into poetics (not that I’ve had that many to write to at such an intricately-poetic capacity, but nonetheless). As if language can BECOME poetic, as if it wasn’t already poetic in a subliminal way(?); words began to become far more about putting together Impressionistic Imagescapes to, not necessarily ‘one up’ the other with these poetic exchanges, but to essentially write maniacally because one had to, because this love-force closes all barriers, clogs schisms with magical contents, and gives one a kind of pinnacle of enchantingness that seems to be directly underneath some divine pull. It had to come out. It is what love does to a person, madness!, perhaps, madness!, of some sort, and you just feed off of the other person’s love, and poetry comes from that particular geographic thumping in the very existence of one’s being-alive-ness.


How gloriously enchanting/frightening (but far more magical, at least with the right amount of fuel [literally]) to have been randomly chased on motorcycle by a gray wolf? THIS


Trailer to the documentary about artist, Renaldo Kuhler, ROCATERRANIA, which is (and I quote from thegodfaceis.blogspot.com):

“…a feature length documentary exploring the secret world of scientific illustrator and visionary artist Renaldo Kuhler. This screening is presented by Phantasmaphile.
In the last four decades, seventy-six-year-old Renaldo Kuhler has created hundreds of plates for the North Carolina Museum of Natural Sciences, illustrating diverse flora and fauna for obscure scientific journals and reference books. Before the making of this documentary, no one knew that Kuhler is also a prolific visionary artist—and the creator of an entire imaginary world called Rocaterrania.

Rocaterrania is a tiny nation of eastern European immigrants who purchased a tract of land along the Canadian border—just north of the Adirondack Mountains in New York— after growing restless with America’s notions of “democracy.”  Over the next six decades, Rocaterrania saw two revolutions and the rise and fall of a succession of czars, dictators, and presidents among a cast of characters vaguely resembling Russian historical figures. But, as the film reveals, each change in government reflects a deeper meaning for Renaldo, an outsider who struggled to escape an emotionally abusive family and searched for freedom within a real nation threatened by forces of conformity.

Rocaterrania unveils Kuhler’s astounding body of work to the world and reveals the powerful story of his life in the process. Among other themes, the film is about the insidious nature of conformity, the courage to be one’s true self, and the redemptive power of artistic creation.  Featuring an eclectic original score by Merge Records recording artists Shark Quest.

A link to the trailer HERE.


Many say “epic” for something outrageously wonderful, but when I look at a really crappy photo that I’ve taken, I say: “Ehh Pic”. Irony, especially when absurd, is so soothing. Like Aloe. Staring at an undeveloped roll of film, I hear “the man behind the curtain” inside of the film, saying, “Go on! Do look behind the curtain!” which is contrary to the typical.

Wallace Stevens: “fictive things / Wink as they will.” 

Walt Whitman: “To be surrounded by beautiful, curious, breathing, laughing flesh is enough...”

Isn’t it really just enough?

 by Oren Eliav


“the pleasures of merely circulating”

Painting by Michael Olodort

Pierre Bayard: “Our relation to books is a shadowy space haunted by the ghosts of memory, and the real value of books lies in their ability to conjure these spectres.”

Yves Klein: “Nothing exists except in a book, which is the imagination.”

Ghosts, haunting other ghosts?

Speaking of books, texts, ghosts, dreams, I will share some links that I have uprooted from the nest-egg that are worth their weight in gold:

Time, Space and Ghosts of Form: Giorgio de Chiricos Hebdomeros by Ed Sugden

It starts:

What becomes of time and space when an adequate language to describe them does not exist?
Throughout the twentieth century, it has been precisely this question which experimental writers have wrestled with above any other (Alfred Jarry, ‘imagine the perplexity of a man outside of time and space’). Confronted with being on the cusp of history, one step beyond the cresting waves of time, works grappling with the ‘new’ have demonstrated and conceptualised this crisis of identity. Vast spatial blanks, like the terra incognita of maps, have undergirded works from Tristram Shandy to Moby-Dick to The Cantos to The Maximus Poems to House of Leaves. In isolating and describing the impact of the ‘new’ within these works and others like them, it is not sufficient to rely on the common tautological bind which equates and justifies their form precisely by their form, their experimentation by their experimentation (Ezra Pound, ‘to break the pentameter, that was the first heave’). There can only be so much system smashing before the smashed system becomes the system anyway (ad infinitum), and the printed page can only look different so many times. Language in this construction, dangerously, becomes a resource, there to be exploited until hollow, governed by facile laws of primacy and property, a territory to be taken over, regulated and controlled. Attempts to do away with this problem by making belatedness the key condition of art’s ultimate transcendence must be seen to have failed (albeit often gloriously) precisely because they necessarily reconstitute and reaffirm the conditions of their own antitheses, leaving us in a wilderness of broken, crumbling forms, mere rusting arrowheads pointing out from the loam.

I have really gotten into the Ghost Box label in recent days, which has been christened into my brain; in essence, Hauntology. Specifically, bands like The Caretaker, Wretched Excess, The Focus Group, Belbury Poly, etc. This particular link, Hauntologists mine the past for musics future is a beautiful write-up about the genre, and so is this link: Hauntology: A peculiar sonic fiction. From that post, here is a basic definition of this beautiful genre:

The discourse developed around Jacques Derrida’s concept of ‘Hauntology’ and its application to music in the minds of writers like Simon Reynolds, K-Punk and David Toop is one of the most discussed philosophical and aesthetic musical ideas of recent years. Derrida’s original use of the phrase can be linked to a sense of ‘threading the present through the past’, or a ghostly re-imagining of the past defining our existence. But in its musical sense, Hauntology has been used to describe a gathering of disparate artists dealing in “haunted” sonics; music resonating with the emotions and feelings of past analog, and digital ghosts. While there are many interpretations of the concept, we’ve taken it to cover artists who have tried to to re-engage with intangible musical feelings and experiences that have affected their formative years or that have become forever ingrained on their sonic psyche, without merely rehashing them as pastiche. Looking specifically at the British musical landscape of the early 21st century, it’s been said that after the ‘death of rave’ we’re experiencing a sort of creative comedown, where the dubbed ectoplasmic traces of the musical past are caught in an ever-decreasing feedback loop of nostalgia seeping through music and other artistic forms, resonating echoes of intangible elements from days gone by. Our selection veers from The Caretaker's apparitional sample morphology, through Ariel Pink’s exquisite MOR narco-pop, the Ghost Box label’s miniaturised vision of middle England, onto Burial’s mournful rave dreams, all leaving an abstract yet indelible mark on this very particular musical landscape we find ourselves in today.

My recent studies have sent me into those of the voices of post-mortem persons (not really), of foretokened similarities, the undergrowths of birds’ wings, the sounds upon a crap table, keys unlocking doors, door-knobs twisting by unfamiliar hands, or familiar hands in an unfamiliar way, or un-human hands (omnivorous?), a deeper shadow always seems to rest upon the kiosk when one begins delving into the beautifully-bizarre, and my round-the-clock alert (inside of my body, apparently) grabbed me (without a hunch!) and I’ve discovered something that may not be as fulfilling and surprising and interesting as what it may seem, but The Folk-lore and Folk-stories of Wales by Marie Trevelyan, is one that has me right where it wants me. The idea of a “corpse-candle” intrigues me greatly, but also one particular Welsh myth. A vampire myth, at that. One of a vampire chair. Yes, a vampire chair. The story goes something like this (and I’m quoting from another source):

The story says that this chair feeds on blood and whoever sits in it will stand up finding teeth marks on their body. (…) (There was) a chair in an old Glamorganshire house which would “bite” the hands of any clergyman who sat in it, drawing blood. More horrible was the vampire bed in a house in Cardiff. This apparently sucked the life out of a poor little baby. At the body of the dead child was a red mark and the doctor who examined it said: “It was just as though something had caught at the child’s throat and sucked the blood, as one would suck an egg.” The grieving father later slept in the bed and also felt his life ebbing away. He survived but found a similar red mark on his throat. Amazingly, the family did not throw away the bed, but kept it in a spare room! Trevelyan claimed to have seen it there. Old Welsh country furniture is making high prices on the antiques market right now. This well cared for old bed may even now be on display in some emporium, just waiting for an unwitting purchaser...

Moving along now.

            As I was eating in a restaurant on the 13th of June, which was considered my “pre-Birthday dinner,” a 40-something waitress who works at this particular restaurant that has become accustomed by my service over the years, and who also has shed about fifty pounds (in her words), and was on a television show about losing weight not too long ago (also in her words), and who has said to me in the past that she “likes my style,” and has once referred to me as Waldo (because of a particular red-and-whitish-grey sweater that I was wearing one winter, which reminded her of him, and also because I wear vintage, Moscot frames), came behind me and began rubbing my freshly-shaven head, which startled me briefly, but only briefly.
            “Did that freak you out a bit?” she said. “A little bit,” I said, in a concealingly-jokingly way, so of course I only partially meant it, but not to any serious extent, but merely the sudden feel of someone’s hand on a part of your body is always apt to make one's mind shatter into a nervous light of some sort (at least for me, although it sounds far more dramatic than it really is, but nonetheless), so it is what it is. She laughed and seemed apologetic, which made me feel strange, because I didn’t really mean that I was literally ‘freaked out’ by her rubs upon my head, considering, but I decided not to say anything else about it, other than the typical.
            I find it interesting how a random touch, from a random person (that really isn’t so random because you ‘know’ them in that here-I-am-again-it’s-nice-to-see-you-again kind of way) isn’t so bad at all, especially when it’s obviously out of friendliness, as well as out of possible attraction(?). I feel flattered that older women look at me the way that they sometimes do, and this is just speaking out of mere observation, and not out of some egomaniacal way (God forbid!).
            With that said, some peoples’ silences have their own scents. Their own sense. Their own senses. What is it that continuously moves us—that nobody truly minds when they are halfway to the point of realizing that they have found something new and interesting and challenging about themselves—to the extent that we’re beyond “feeling” like emotional messes, when, if only we could become like an octupus where three-fifths of its neurons are not to be found in the brain, but rather in its arms? This is the dawn of some unpopular coinage that may or may not become popular. If it doesn’t become popular, then all’s well. If it does become popular, then show me the money!



I wonder if the Headless Horseman was relying mostly on the eyes of his horse? or does the supernatural horror, the mere strength of it, guide him intuitively, like ghosts that are “in the know”? Imagine horror as going into different places, moving in even more unknown “unknown territories”—


Whoever you are: some evening take a step
Out of your house, which you know so well.
Enormous space is near; your house lies where it begins,
Whoever you are.
Your eyes find it hard to tear themselves
From the sloping threshold, but with your eyes
Slowly, slowly, lift one black tree
Up, so it stands against the sky: skinny, alone.
With that you have made the world. The world is immense
And like a word that is still growing in the silence.
In the same moment that your will grasps it,
Your eyes, feeling its subtlety, will leave it.



Overheard, March 8th, 2013: 

“Do you think I care if I get fired?! If someone hits me, I’m gonna knock ‘em out!” (the young blonde girl who was the listener, in this case, had a smile on her face while her co-worker yelled out the said quote, while random customers were obviously drawn to her loud speech. I spoke to this particular blonde girl in a time past, who I find to be very attractive, but not so personable. The first experience talking with her, I was put off by her nonchalant, uncaring, foul attitude. The second experience was far more pleasant. She must have had a better day. I learned that she has a daughter, to name a few things.) I walked on, while an old woman wearing maroon-colored lipstick who was pushing a shopping cart smiled widely at me as we passed one another.


“All fathers are interested in the children they have procreated (they have permitted to exist) in mere confusion or pleasure; it was natural that the magician should fear for the future of that son, created in thought, limb by limb and feature by feature, in a thousand and one secret nights”—“The text mocks the magician’s worries that his son will discover that he is a phantom, as opposed to ‘real’ people among whom the magician includes himself: “He feared his son might . . . discover in some way that his condition was there of a mere image. Not to be a man, (but rather) to be the projection of another man’s dream...”


A few days ago, I photographed a waitress bending over into an ice-box to extract scoops of icecream for an elderly man, of which I used the flash (partially to garner attention [which I usually shy away from], and partially because I have to use the flash in darker environments, because of certain mechanical woes with the particular camera that I was using). After the flash went off and a thunderous rumble went through my solar plexus, the waitress (still bent over) looks over at me and says (not necessarily saying it to me, but was looking at me when she said it), “Oh, no he didn’t,” as if saying it to the elderly man. The elderly man smiled and held out his bowl waiting for his scoops of icecream, never acknowledging me, nor acknowledging that he was captured on film.

Naomi Shihab Nye: “The train whistle still wails its ancient sound / but when it goes away, shrinking back / from the walls of the brain / it takes something different with it every time.”

Someone throw me an Eephus...

 Head: Inner and Outerscape (Profile), 1966 by Anton van Dalen