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“Ambros Adelwarth” as Contemporary Dance

Analogy

The fabulous Bill T. Jones/Arnie Zane Dance Company is currently working on a major new dance called Analogy, which involves using W.G. Sebald’s story of Ambros Adelwarth from The Emigrants as part of the program. Here’s the official description from the company’s website.

Analogy (working title) is the Company’s newest creation, currently in development. Bill T. Jones, along with Janet Wong (Associate Artistic Director of the Company) and the Company dancers, are developing a new evening-length work in two parts, focusing on the memory and the effect that powerful events have on the actions of individuals and-more importantly-on their often unexpressed inner life. In Analogy (working title), Jones continues to explore the intermingling of text, storytelling and movement, paying special attention to how new experiences can be had through the coalescing of these elements. Informing the work are two literary sources-an interview conducted by Jones with Dora Amelan (a French-Jewish nurse and social worker) chronicling her life experiences, as well as the story of Ambros Adelwarth, from W.G. Sebald’s celebrated historical novel, The Emigrants – that ruminate on the nature of service and duty, and inquire into the characteristics of a life well lived.

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Who Owns Words – Joseph McElroy’s “The Letter Left to Me”

Joseph_McElroy,_The_Letter_Left_to_Me,_cover

Who owns words? Can you inherit them? Do you have a special responsibility for words that have been written “to” you? These are just some of the questions raised by Joseph McElroy’s 1998 brief, rich novel The Letter Left to Me.

Inspired by Bibliomanic‘s intelligent passion for McElroy’s writing, I recently decided to dip back into my half shelf of McElroy’s books. I first encountered McElroy sometime in the early 1970s through A Smuggler’s Bible and have had a soft spot for his books ever since, especially Lookout Cartridge. I adore McElroy’s sentence-making and I’m attracted to the breadth of his interests, which includes technology, cognition, history, family, Brooklyn, sports, and more. Read more

Sebald and Photography – a Video Interview

Sebald Video Interview2

Spain’s Taller de Escritura Fuentetaja recently posted a short (5:05) video excerpt from a longer interview with W.G. Sebald, in which he talks about the role of photographs in his books. The interview is in English with Spanish subtitles. Although uncredited, it is a segment of the June 23, 1998 Amsterdam interview with Michaël Zeeman. The full text of the interview can be found in W.G. Sebald: History, Memory, Trauma. edited by Scott Denham and Mark McCulloh.
(Thanks, Juan and Kim!)

I would also point to a worthwhile article over at Numéro Cinq by Patrick Madden called “Walking, Researching, Remembering: W. G. Sebald’s The Rings of Saturn as Essay.”

Flaubert’s Grain of Sand

 Álvaro Sánchez-Montañés[photograph by Álvaro Sánchez-Montañés]

Here is a summer-themed post for all of those Vertigo readers who might find themselves on a beach in the coming months, trying to eject a few grains of sand from in between the toes.

On the opening page of The Rings of Saturn, W.G. Sebald’s narrator reflects briefly upon the walk through the county of Suffolk which he is about to relate to us in the remainder of the book.

In retrospect I became preoccupied not only with the unaccustomed sense of freedom but also with the paralysing horror that had overcome me at times with the traces of destruction, reaching far back into the past, that were evident even in that remote place.

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The Flamethrowers

I Volsci

In fiction, when someone is known only by the name of the place they came from, it’s often a sign that they will never be anything but an outsider wherever else they go. And that’s the case with the woman known only as Reno, the protagonist in Rachel Kushner’s The Flamethrowers (Scribner’s 2013). The Flamethrowers is a thoroughly engaging and finely written, if utterly conventional, novel. It takes place in the 1970s at the Bonneville Salt Flats (the Utah location where world speed records are routinely made and broken), the New York City downtown art scene, and various locations in Italy. Reno is an aspiring artist and motorcycle aficionado who moves to New York City to take on the art world at more or less the very moment when money and power are starting to dictate the terms of New York’s increasingly vicious and competitive gallery scene. But in addition to hailing from faraway Nevada, Reno has two more strikes against her – she’s naive and she’s female – and she soon learns that the role she is expected to play is to compete for and sleep with the male artists. Read more

Don’t Let Me Be Lonely

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Claudia Rankine’s Don’t Let Me Be Lonely: An American Lyric (St. Paul: Graywolf, 2004) is a book-length prose poem filled with photographs and a few non-photographic images. It toggles between meditation and anger on a wide range of subjects, including death, cancer, depression (and anti-depressants), suicide, rape, 9/11, racism, history, politics, and literature, but the central trope is the ubiquitous television set. A repeated image of a static-filled television screen serves to separate the segments of the poem, signalling that Rankine is about to change the channel on us. The book’s epigraph from Aime Cesaire is an admonition to not be a spectator: “And most of all beware, even in thought, of assuming the sterile attitude of the spectator,for life is not a spectacle, a sea of grief is not a proscenium, a man who wails is not a dancing bear…” In Rankine’s poem, the television is so much a symbol for the media, it’s simply the biggest source of bad news and despair. In one section, with the controversial vote count over the reelection of George W. Bush as the backdrop, Rankine writes: “I stop watching the news. I want to continue, watching, charting, and discussing the counts, the recounts, the hand counts, but I cannot. I lose hope.” Read more

BBC’s “A German Genius in Britain”

Graves

BBC producer Jessica Treen kindly let me listen to a preview of the upcoming BBC Radio 4 broadcast of “A German Genius in Britain.” It will be broadcast on May 29 at 11:30 (London time). After that, it will be available for one week on the BBC iPlayer. It should then be available for a full year on the BBC 4 website. The piece is thoroughly entertaining and manages to pack quite a lot about Sebald’s books and themes into a short 30-minute program. Sebald himself is heard, reading German and talking in English with KCRW’s Michael Silverblatt. Read more

Iain Sinclair Visits Sebald’s Britain

A_German_Genius_in_Britain

BBC Radio 4 is airing a 30-minute program on Thursday May 29 at 11:30 (London time). Fingers crossed, it will show up on the BBC’s online iPlayer before too long.

Here is the brief blurb from the BBC’s website: Read more

Searching for Sebald in Brooklyn, June 4-5, 2014

Katie Fleming Work in Progress

If you are near Brooklyn in early June, you might want to check out this event put on by the The Deconstructive Theatre Project.

Searching for Sebald at FiveMyles
558 St. Johns Place, Brooklyn
June 4 and 5
7:30 PM

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“The Lovely Disorder” of Suzanne Doppelt

 

Doppelt and SwensenCole Swensen and Suzanne Doppelt

“You see an object better by looking at it sideways rather than straight on” [RRW]

Perhaps because she sees herself as both a poet and a photographer, Suzanne Doppelt’s books place words and photographs on equal footing. Neither one illustrates or explains the other, they rarely even seem to refer directly to the other. And yet the text and the images find a kind of harmony and balance that is probably impossible to describe. To date, Doppelt has only had two of her books translated from her original French into English: RING RANG WRONG (Burning Deck,  2006) and The Field Is Lethal (Counterpath, 2011). Both deal with the cosmos, nature, mysterious powers, and, at times, philosophical concepts, yet the “world” that one steps into upon reading Doppelt seems delicate.  Eveything is permeable. Doppelt’s work is densely referential and allusive – and decidedly elusive. It’s almost a kind of attention-deficit poetics, with objects, ideas, voices, places, references, and more making momentary appearances in the poems as if they were transitory particles being recorded in an accelerator. Read more

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