Northamptonshire is sadly not normally recognised for its literary connections. We have all heard of the brilliant Alan Moore, writer of V for …What Charles Dickens thought of elections in Northants and our great unsung literary heroes
The plotless beauty of his writing, and its fearless look at the emptiness of his own life, put ‘the Scottish Beat’ on a par with Kafka and Camus.
My scow is tied up in Flushing, NY, alongside the landing stage of the Mac Asphalt and Construction Corporation. It is now just after five in the afternoon. Today at this time it is still afternoon, and the sun, striking the cinderblocks of the main building of the works has turned them pink. The motor cranes and the decks of the other scows tied up round about are deserted.
Half an hour ago I gave myself a fix.
So begins Cain’s Book, Alexander Trocchi‘s incredible novel of existential dread. Young Adam, its predecessor, is better known, but the latter is the “Scottish Beat’s” classic.
Asked to name the best existential literature, most of us would probably say Albert Camus, Jean-Paul Sartre or Franz Kafka. But Cain’s Book actually takes the reader one step further into the philosophical world of existential angst than any of them. It positively drowns us in a word of unremitting absurdity and meaninglessness.
A roman à clef, Cain’s Book details the life of one Joe Nechhi, a Glaswegian heroin addict living and working on a scow in New York’s Hudson harbor. It is a book almost entirely devoid of plot: Nechhi occasionally details trips into the city to score heroin, recollects his childhood in Glasgow, or talks of his attempts to write a book. What is incredible about the book is its unrelenting bleakness, and the sheer poetic quality of Trocchi’s writing.
Heroin for Trocchi, as Remainder author Tom McCarthy noted in a lecture on Cain’s Book recently, “is a moveable void: taking that void around the city with him, in him, he ensures that he inhabits negative space constantly. This is his poetic project and it’s also the way his whole perception system works at its most basic level (the two are the same).”
In real life, Trocchi seemed very glad to cut himself off from his peers, saying that his only concerns as a writer were “sodomy and lesbianism”, that those were the only interesting subjects in the previous 20 years of Scottish writing and that “I have written it all.”
Sadly, Cain’s Book was his last. As the 60s gave way to the 70s, Trocchi’s addiction to heroin took its toll and his talent lay pretty much squandered. The stories of his wild and tragic life are infamous and extensively documented in many of the leading “swinging 60s” biographies (Marianne Faithfull’s account of doing drugs with Trocchi is one of the best). Despite his addictions, and his sad death at the age of 59, Trocchi left us some of the bleakest, most beautiful writing to come out of the 60s.
In Cain’s Book the writing is all – the words ebb and flow like the inky blackness of the Hudson River. Trocchi’s descriptive powers are mesmerising: one barely even notices the lack of narrative drive until after the book has been put down.
His other books includes some interesting pseudonymous pornography for the Olympia Press. (Titles like Helen and Desire, Sappho of Lesbos and White Thighs deliver their smut with a Sadean political edge.) Young Adam, of course, was turned into a successful film starring Ewan McGregor, and helped to raise the author’s public perception a little. But it’s Cain’s book that best fulfils Trocchi’s hopes for “the invisible insurrection of a thousand minds”.
Reports from the Bibliographic Bunker
Jed Birmingham on William S. Burroughs Collecting
In the introduction to the bibliography of his work prepared by Joe Maynard and Barry Miles, William Burroughs spoke about how the “little mags” were a lifeline for him at a time when he had very few hopes for publishing his work. One of the most important of these independent publications was Jeff Nuttall’s My Own Mag: “1964… No. 4, Calle Larachi, Tangier. My Own Mag…smell of kerosene heaters, hostile neighbors, stones thudding against the door. Jeff Nuttall sent me a copy of My Own Mag and asked me to contribute. I recall that delivery of the first copies to which I had contributed was heralded by a wooden top crashing through the skylight.”
RealityStudio is proud to present a comprehensive archive of Jeff Nuttall’s influential zine. This archive features every page of every now rare issue, bibliographies, context and discussion by Jed Birmingham and Robert Bank. Special thanks are due in particular to Bank, curator of jeff-nuttall.co.uk, who provided the imagery and ample documentation of the archive. In an essay, Bank also explains how Nuttall’s cartoon “Perfume Jack” provides evidence for the publication history of My Own Mag.
To explore My Own Mag, you can read the essays and bibliographies listed below. You can also view every page of every issue of My Own Mag by following the links to each issue.
- My Own Mag: Index of Names
- My Own Mag: A Bibliographic Nightmare by Jed Birmingham
- William Burroughs, My Own Mag, and Tangier
- Perfume Jack Solves the “Nightmare” by Robert Bank
- Perfume Jack Archive
- My Own Mag Bibliography by Maynard & Miles
- My Own Mag Bibliography (pdf) by Iain Sinclair
- The Evolution of the Cut-Up Technique in My Own Mag by Jed Birmingham
- The My Own Mag Community (subsection)
- Yay!: A Moving Times Supplement
- Jeff Nuttall Statement (Spring 1965) (pdf)
- Jeff Nuttall – Poems I Want to Forget (1965) (pdf)
- Presentation on William Burroughs, Jeff Nuttall and My Own Mag for Use in the Classroom (PowerPoint)
My Own Mag Archive
My Own Mag #1
No Burroughs appearance. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 1. Copies of this first issue were sent to Ray Gosling, Anselm Hollo, and William Burroughs.)
My Own Mag #2
“From H.B. William Burroughs” (2:3) (C93) January or February 1964. The cover describes it as “An Odour Fill Periodical.” (Bunker Note: Sinclair 2. Acknowledged by Burroughs as his first appearance in inscription at Lyon Sale. Gosling believed this to be the first issue.)
My Own Mag #3
No Burroughs appearance. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 3)
My Own Mag #4
“Warning Warning Warning Warning Warning Warning Warning Warning Warning” (4:4) (C94). Contains a 32 square grid manuscript. The cover describes the issue as “very late edition” and it is burned away in part on the bottom. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 4)
My Own Mag #5
“The Moving Times” (5:3-4) (C100). Described as “Special Tangiers Edition,” the cover has a full-page drawing of William Burroughs wearing a fez. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 5. Bomb Culture and Bank’s reading of Perfume Jack supports this conclusion)
My Own Mag #6
“Afternoon Ticker Tape” (6: 1-2) (C95). The Burrough (p. 1-2) edited by WSB and mimeographed by Nuttall, and it appears as the last two pages of My Own Mag. Run-off pages from the My Own Mag insertion were sent by Nuttall to WSB in Tangier who issued them there in Ex 3, Tangier 1964. A folder containing a variety of loose and stapled sections in no fixed order, one of which was The Burrough. Described on the cover as “Cut Up Issue,” most pages have been cut into eight squares which are stapled at edges to backing sheet. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 6)
My Own Mag #7
“Bring Your Problems to Lady Sutton Fix” (7:2,4) (C97); “Over the Last Skyscrapers a Silent Kite” (7:7-9) (C98). The title of the magazine is on page three and shows through a hole burned on first page. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 7. Burroughs cut-up comes from an article dated May 1964. I suggested that this could be issue 8. As the date for the Festival and Bank’s essay proves, such a reliance on Burroughs to date the magazines is a mistake.)
My Own Mag #8
“What in Horton Hotel Rue Vernet” (8:9-10) (C99). Described as “Special Festival Issue.” (Bunker Note: Sinclair 8; Burroughs’ cut-up includes a dateline from April 1964 prompting me to suggest this issue was Issue 7. As the date for the Festival and Bank’s essay proves, such a reliance on Burroughs to date the magazines is a mistake.)
My Own Mag #9
“Extracts from Letter to Homosap” (9:11) (C101); “Personals Special to The Moving Times” (9:12) (C102). Has a special “Fall Out Shelter” cover and a brown-green stain running down the front. A small square has been cut from bottom of front page. “Special Post-Election” issue. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 9)
My Own Mag #10
All British Issue; No Burroughs appearance. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 10)
My Own Mag #11
“Dec. 29: Tuesday Was the Last Day for Singing Years” (11:14) (C105); Letter to Jeff Nuttall (11:12) (C106); Collage (11:13) (C107). In the form of a letter to Nuttall. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 11)
My Own Mag #12
“The Last Words of Dutch Schultz” (12:12-14) (C111); Letter to Sunday Times (12:15-16) (C113). (Bunker Note: Sinclair 12)
My Own Mag #13
“The Dead Star” (13:7-13) (C122). One of 500 numbered copies. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 13)
My Own Mag #14
Burroughs provides quotes to a Carl Weissner piece. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 14)
My Own Mag #15
“Nut Note on the Column Cut up Thing” (15:15) (C137); “WB Talking” (15:15) (C138); “Quantities of the Gas Girls” (15:16) (C139); Untitled (15:19) (C140). (Bunker Note: Sinclair 15)
My Own Mag #16
No Burroughs appearance (Bunker Note: Sinclair 16)
My Own Mag #17
September 1966No Burroughs appearance. (Bunker Note: Sinclair 17)
Source: My Own Mag | RealityStudio
I found this blog when looking for images of Duchamp and decided to copy and post it here. It links to my ‘Vandalising Rothko’ piece and at the time I had no idea what Yellowism was! I found it very interesting so I reposted it in full. It is clear that Vladimir Umanets was very influenced by Duchamp. I want to make it clear that I do not necessarily agree with what’s written here, I’m not sure I can even understand it! However, I believe that Umanets was motivated by a strong force and the question “What Is Art For?” is still a valid pursuit. He showed courage and commitment to do what he did but I’m not convinced by his philosophy at this stage.
Here’s an interesting post from Interdome about the treatment of Umanets i.e. giving him a two year prison sentence for defacing the Rothko:
As a case study, let’s look at Ai’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.
On the surface level, the photo set appears to mock artistic fetishism: Ai looks like he could not possibly give a fuck as he lets the valuable artifact shatter on the ground. There’s a sublime disregard in the pictures; it’s art against art like Kruger’s sentences are ads against ads. But as an artist, Ai can’t destroy art, he can only make more. From one urn, he gets three pictures. If I went into the Hirshhorn, grabbed one of the photos off the wall, and let it fall to ground like I didn’t give a fuck, I would be arrested and taken to jail. It’s only freedom of expression if you break something you own, otherwise it’s vandalism.
One true vandal learned this lesson (or taught it) very publicly when Vladimir Umanets was sentenced to two years in prison for writing “a potential work of yellowism” on a Mark Rothko painting in London’s Tate Modern. Yellowism is the idea that if anything can become art regardless of its use value, then we could imagine a third category of stuff past art, in light of which the art/non-art distinction dissolves. Both are equally potential works of yellowism, just like a soup can and a urinal are equally art objects. Umanets writing “a potential work of yellowism” on a Rothko is the same as Duchamp Sharpie-ing “a potential work of art” on a toilet while he takes a piss. Except Umanets isn’t an artist. We know he’s not an artist because he’s in jail in England, and England, Ai would remind us, has freedom of expression.
Umanets wasn’t looking for freedom of expression, but freedom from expression, out from under the artistic injunction to replace what you destroy. He wanted to break without buying, but that’s not in liberalism’s deal. And no one cries for a vandal.
Because Umanets is a vandal and not an artist, there won’t be any complaints from the U.S. State Department. Because this is England and not Russia, there won’t be a Human Rights Watch report, as there was for the band Pussy Riot when they were arrested for trespassing. Even anti-capitalist arts writers called for his head on a platter.
►► The Authors of the Death
by Marcin Lodyga
When looking from art perspective, one can say that yellowism is a dead territory where the richness of meanings and interpretations is reduced to one – to yellow. But one needs to remember that yellowists don’t announce the death of art. Art is and will be alive forever. They rather say that yellowism is dead, inert, homogeneous mass without creativity. Authors of the manifesto and definition of yellowism are the authors of the death – yellowists are the authors of a single interpretation. This death is positioned outside of art, like mirror.
Roland Barthes in “The Death of the Author” says: “To give a text an Author” and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it “is to impose a limit on that text.” Barthes argues against the method of reading that relies on aspects of the author’s identity — their political views, historical context, religion, ethnicity, psychology, or other biographical or personal attributes — to distill meaning from the author’s work. Yellowists want to impose a limit on the text, on art, and on ordinary reality too, but not by giving a “text” an author. Paraphrasing Barthes I say: To give a “text” a YELLOW and assign a single, corresponding interpretation to it is to impose a limit on the text. Barthes demands the death of the author (author disappears) because the author’s identity limits the text, the reading. In yellowism case author also disappears and yellow – the necessary “limitation” appears instead of the author.
Inside yellowism the artistic kingdom of meanings and interpretations is erased together with the author. It doesn’t matter WHO made a piece of yellowism because all pieces were, are and will be about yellow only. Yellowism is permanent, boring, inert, homogeneous flat, ‘dead’ mass. Always was and always will be. Like in the forest where all the trees (meanings) ‘look’ the same – wherever you go you are in the same place anyway. A thousand kilometers left, two meters right or backwards – you are always in the same place. In yellowism the nature of the authors has “the identity of the indistinguishable forest”.
Barthes conclusion: “the birth of the reader must be ransomed by the death of the Author.” Yellowism conclusion: the death of meanings and the death of the author must be ransomed by the birth of single meaning – yellow.
“Sounds from the chamber”
piece of yellowism
for public audition in yellowistic chambers only
CD / audio recording of a walk through Miroslaw Balka exhibition Gravity made in the gallery space
executed in 2013
Anonymous asked: please can you explain the relevance of all the tits and bums on this site to yellowism. Is yellowism tits and bums? is that the context everything is reduced to?
5 Mar 2013 / 1 note
Anonymous asked: At least Marinetti was funny..
4 Mar 2013 / 1 note
►► Luncheon on the grass
(on the grass: Arthur Danto, Roy Turner, Joseph Kosuth, Marcin Lodyga)
What makes the difference between a Brillo box and a work of art consisting of a Brillo box is a certain theory of art. It is the theory that takes it up into the world of art, and keeps it from collapsing into the real object which it is. – Arthur Danto. But to expose the irrelevance of this idea when attributed to the tradition, we have only to ask what “real object”, “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” by Manet collapses into when the implicit theory which supported it is refuted. – ask another thinker Roy Turner (Philosophy Now magazine)
Marcin Lodyga starts: If “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” by Manet was placed in the context of yellowism, inside a yellowistic chamber, then it would stop to be a work of art and it would become a piece of yellowism – a pure expression of yellow color in the form of Manet painting. Inside yellowism the painting by Manet is not a work of art. We have only to ask what piece of yellowism “Le déjeuner sur l’herbe” by Manet collapses into when the implicit context of yellowism which supported it is refuted. The answer: it collapses into a work of art, it becomes a work of art again, it gains its previous status.
Painting is a kind of art. If you make paintings you are already accepting (not questioning ) the nature of art. One is then accepting the nature of art to be the European tradition of a painting-sculpture dichotomy. – nervously said Joseph Kosuth (“Art After Philosophy”). Dear Joseph – Marcin replies – in the context of yellowism – which is NOT a kind of total, huge conceptual art work, as you would consider it probably, painting is not a work of art. You said: “Art is the definition of art”, I say: yellowism is the definition of yellowism.
text by Marcin Lodyga
The Flaneur art blog- Should Umanets really be jailed for 2 years for defacing a Rothko? #yellowism –
New Post has been published onhttp://flaneur.me.uk/12/should-umanets-really-be-jailed-for-2-years-for-defacing-a-rothko-yellowism/
Should Umanets really be jailed for 2 years for defacing a Rothko? #yellowism
As a case study, let’s look at Ai’s Dropping a Han Dynasty Urn.
On the surface level, the photo set appears to mock artistic fetishism: Ai looks like he could not possibly give a fuck as he lets the valuable artifact shatter on the ground. There’s a sublime disregard in the pictures;…
justiceismine asked: Yellowism is neither art, nor anti-art but a cause. Some might ask if Yellowism is needed or say it’s pathetic/stupid but I say it deserves it’s place as did Jackson Pollock for example, which he did not get at his time.
6 Feb 2013 / 3 notes
spacecowboysparklefingers asked: No one is going to drink your yellow kool-aid. Your totalitarian snake oil ideology has been ineffectual and irrelevant since De Stijl/Neoplasticism tried it. There is no dialogue here, you won’t even respond to this with anything more than an “X”. Please don’t write on anymore Rothko’s (or any other pieces of art for that matter), they are not yours to write on, and some people really enjoy them. No one wants you here yellowism, go home.
6 Feb 2013 / 1 note
“You can start painting again, in yellowism”
signed and dated on the front
poster printed for the occasion of Duchamp season in Barbican, London
150 x 100 cm
executed in 2013
►► Rome outside of art
by Marcin Lodyga
Yellowism is not dadaism or neo-dadaism. If you think that yellowism is dadaism then actually you are a dadaist, because you try to devalue yellowism and make it meaningless. Dadaists were nihilists and they “promoted” nonsense. The fact that in yellowism everything means yellow leads to the wrong conclusion that everything means nothing and therefore yellowism is perceived as nihilism /dadaism. This is the big misunderstanding. The real consequence of yellowism existence is the philosophy of ONE and the vision of many different isms (existing outside of art) which can be reduced to (one) yellow-ism anyway. Although yellowism clones exist under different names – they are yellowism. In the future: many one-perspective “worlds”. Not only one “world” full of perspectives (meanings), many various subjective interpretations – like in postmodernism, especially postmodern art, but also many separate “worlds” (greenism, blueism, chairism) with one perspective each, concentrated on one meaning only. Yellowism, divided into many isms, will be positioned away from the forever developing, “organic” realm of art.
The total flattening announced by yellowists is more humanitarian than dadaism because it doesn’t leave people with nothing – inside the desert of meanings where you can watch only the wrecks and corpses of culture. Yellowists save one meaning (yellow) for everything and also they let you live in the “yellowistic totalitarian illusion of many”- you can exist in autonomous groups called greenism, blueism, chairism or skyism etc. but you will be a yellowist anyway. All roads lead to Rome. The universal Rome – the absolute truth will be always outside of art.
Dadaists are nihilists, they do not offer anything, they don’t show a new perspective, new possibilities, they replace everything with nothing. » Dada (…) wants nothing, absolutely nothing, and what it does is to make the public say ” We understand nothing, nothing, nothing “. “The Dadaists are nothing, nothing, nothing and they will surely succeed in nothing, nothing, nothing.” « 391, No. 12, Paris, March 1920 Francis Picabia who knows nothing, nothing, nothing.
Nihilists say that without absolute, universal, and transcendent values, there can be no real values at all. Friedrich Nietzsche, however, argues that the lack of such absolute values does not imply the absence of any values at all. Nietzsche “permits” the values of many different and even mutually exclusive perspectives. This is called “perspectivism” – all ideations take place from particular perspectives. This means that there are many possible conceptual schemes, or perspectives in which judgment of truth or value can be made. This leads (me) to postmodernism. Postmodernism is the consequence of Nietzsche’s perspectivism but is nihilistic. The proliferation of alternative perspectives, beliefs and values makes that postmodern society is foundationless.
This what we see in the galleries is the result of postmodernism or post-post modernism, or postpostpostmodernism, whatever. Many perspectives, many points of view, not one grand and universal but many interpretations closed inside the circle called “art”. In the future artists will resign from art, will abandon this circle. Art full of many perspectives will still exist but will be surrounded by – isms. Some artists will never leave the territory of art but there will be yellowists, greenists, chairists looking at them from outside – located in one perspective circles.
All the other isms are actually yellow-ism because, they have the same architecture, logic. Finally they can be reduced to yellowism, flattened to yellow-ism. However, people will need this totalitarian illusion of many isms, they will construct their own contexts, for example greenism,redism, chairism or godism, and they will be happy inside the isms but all the new one-meaning worlds can be always considered as yellowism.
Yellowism doesn’t replace (like dadaism) all the values with nothing, yellowism gives one sense instead of nonsense. Yellowism presents the vision of many autonomous territories around multiperspective art. Yellowism saves the ONE – whatever it is: blue, green, chair and offers the new grand philosophy of ONE.
Marcin Lodyga, Khadija Davies
Portrait of Members of Art & Language with Caps, in the Style of Jackson Pollock
signed and dated 18/01/13 on the front
magazine cover, pink ink
22.4 x 28.6 cm
Executed in 2013
The authors of manifesto and definition of yellowism Marcin Łodyga and Vladimir Umanets at The British Museum in London (January 2012).
© Sylwester Kolton.
►► Discipline and punish.The birth of the black hole
Yellowists see the whole domain of reality and the whole domain of art as gigantic readymades which can be transported into the context of yellowism. Yellowism is a specific prison, a ghetto in which you are free from freedom, in which the freedom of interpretation doesn’t exist. Every content placed in this territory defines yellow color. It requires a noetic discipline. You have to respect the internal yellowism law. Yellowism is a bit like a black hole – most of the information about the matter that went into forming the black hole is lost. In the end yellowism only remembers the total mass, charge, and angular momentum. The physical form of objects and beings transported from art and reality is preserved, but all the forms carry only one, always and forever the same, identical message. You can observe that something is moving inside, you can watch pieces of yellowism free from the past and future; there is a movement but there is actually no time.
Yellowists don’t punish art, they don’t take a revenge on art or reality. Manifesto of yellowism is not a death sentence for art. Yellowists don’t destroy and don’t create. Yellowism is not vandalism and it’s not a form of creation. There is no postmodern, Derrida’s deconstruction, any destruction or creative construction inside yellowism. There is something else: flatstruction. Everything is flattened to yellow, all interpretations are ironed to one flat surface, to one meaning. The total flattening (flatstruction) is a state of permanent homogeneity. Yellowists don’t create and they don’t destroy, they make everything flat therefore, inside yellowism, deconstruction, creativity, vandalism, surrealism or fascism or anything else is flattened to one, to the expression of yellow.
Artists push the boundaries of art and are imprisoned in their seeming freedom. Yellowists are free outside of art. They resigned from art, they overstepped the boundary and the fact that everything can be about yellow gives them the almost cosmic freedom.
text by Marcin Lodyga
►► A dead animal
Today you can overstep the border, you can be a bit like Alice through the looking glass, you don’t have to, together with other artists, push the boundaries of art further anymore, now it’s time to cross it and discover the another, still unknown for many, space called yellowism. Of course, you can stay where you are and run your artistic life in harmony with the motion of postmodernism. Yellowists don’t announce the end of art; they say in manifesto: art is a forever developing whole. They don’t promote a slogan: “art is dead”, they rather say that yellowism is dead and always was dead and always will be dead. Therefore they don’t want to replace art with yellowism. They just introduce a new autonomous territory, specific environment which is parallel to the context of art. They give you a vision of time in culture when the resignation from art will be a trend. Yellowists show you the possibility of alternative existence in which the fact that you abandon art is considered as the most creative decision. It doesn’t matter what the condition of art will be after twenty or hundred years – yellowism will be still the same. Any changes and any progress around yellowism are and will be, metaphorically speaking, like a tank of formaldehyde for a dead animal.
text by Marcin Lodyga
- Why Modernism is favourable to Post-Modernism in the arts (beatsviews.wordpress.com)
- Toward Reader Theory (keltblog.wordpress.com)
- Letter From An Alien: Deconstruction #fridayflash (quietgirlriot.wordpress.com)
- No thing (3ammagazine.com)
- Roland Barthes (earthpages.wordpress.com)
- Death of the Writer, Birth of the Journalist (nothingconsequential.wordpress.com)
- Life Imitates Art? (americanpomo.wordpress.com)
- Here’s a Potential Piece of Yellowism Documentary (animalnewyork.com)
childhood memories of times gone by
sitting outside the ruins
looking at the destruction
and then the phoenix rising
the coloured glass the broken stones
the tower still standing like
some kind of miracle growth
how did that happen?
we learnt more that day than i ever realised
sitting on the grass with our packed lunches
and someone was laughing
but i couldn’t see who it was
lost in some reverie about lady godiva
burning in the courtyard
the mist descending
covering the darkness
no light in this history of gloom
the droning engines
and bombs dropping
no escape now
no more meaning
in this world of flame and heartbreak
and unreasoning death
let me rise in the phoenix light
until there is no tomorrow
and nothing left to cry about
and then there will be peace
then i will be able to live again
“In the depth of winter, I finally learned that within me there lay an invincible summer.” ― Albert Camus