by Jaime KarnesPosted on January 10th, 2011 at 7:15 pm
BOMB magazine has been publishing conversations between artists, writers, actors, directors, and musicians since 1981. It is where art and culture collide to provide the most intimate, raw, and scarily real portraits of this and the last century’s most influential people. Issue 114 / Winter 2010 most exemplifies this magazine’s mission. From beginning to end, it is quite impossible to set this issue aside. From the poetry of Larry Eigner, who “using his index finger and thumb to type each letter of every poem” affects “the spatial and temporal ‘shape’ of [his] poems”—
back of the head
—to the translation by Jacquline Loss of Armando Suarez Cobain’s “Born on October Fourth,” a devastating portrait of a man yearning (as we do) for love. The narrator’s love object says, “I feel like I have known you years.” The narrator thinks: “I return to myself. I drink and agree. How tender—he thinks. And, after I remain silent for a bit. I am in a place that seems like happiness.”
And, if Cobain’s story isn’t enough to implore you to read the issue, how about an interview with recording artist “The Bug,” who Jace Clayton says is, “Soft-spoken, articulate, and generous,” but who also, “when you see him perform you realize that he’s a hardcore motherfucker who has dedicated his life to furthering the possibilities of music.” The Bug admits he, “Still wants to find vocalists who make the hairs on your arms stand on edge when you hear them, who have intensity and originality…” Much like this issue of BOMB.
Pulitzer-Prize winning poet Rae Armantrout, interviewed by Ben Lerner, comments:
The odd thing is I didn’t think about that as a conscious theme in this book [referring to Homer’s Odyssey]. It simply reflects an old preoccupation of mine. For some years this preoccupation had taken the form of an interest in quantum physics, which now, as you know, posits either the ‘standard method’, in which the smallest unit of matter is the ‘point particle’ or, alternatively, string theory, in which the basic unity of matter is a vibrating ‘string’. Maybe we could think of the word as a point particle and the line as a string.
Armantrout’s ideas pierce as heavy and deep as her poetry, and BOMB doesn’t miss a moment of it.
The final page covers a cartoon depiction of “Great Moments from the Letter of William S. Burroughs,” in which Peter Blegvad adds humor and simplicity to the already absurd Burroughs. In one picture, there is a rat in a cage, with a heading above that reads: “Mine is the love that dare not squeak its name.” Then, a man cross-legged in a chair, seemingly watching himself behind a sheer curtain, comments, “The only way I can write narrative is to get right outside my body and experience it. This can be exhausting and at times dangerous.” BOMB is not exhausting, though it’s the edgiest and most thorough glimpse of the pioneers of our time, old and new. Don’t let this issue escape.