If you missed David Wolach and Rob Halpern's reading last Saturday night (perhaps the last in Brazil and Larsen's Life Long Dream Come True series?), I'm sure you've already heard what you missed!
Wolach read movingly from his new volume Occultations, of which he writes in the afterward,
"the writing...began as a subtle loss of motor function, which followed a sudden loss of balance. in late 2004, while it was becoming clear that the iraq occupation was going to last a long time (along with the bush regime), questions of domestic surveillance (just how are we being watched and how much?) began to more publicly meld into questions of outsourcing law enforcement and the suppression of information (just who is watching us? and how are we watching one another? in what capacity / to what end?). nearly at the same time, while working as a labor organizer and as a performing artist, this so-called body began to underline its own becoming, showing itself to be as degenerative (or as on-the-move) as our supposed rights. this head would fall to the side. these arms wouldn't move as quickly or as accurately as before. what strange processes were at work here? what I could not see or feel was what was really happening, said doctors, and what was really happening was programmed before i was born, they said."
According to Wolach (via email correspondence), the book was written using "corporeal procedures" in which the body undergoes a particular stress during composition:
"...some of the book writes thru CIA interrogation techniques, including the infamous Appendix M and the Bybee memorandum, which involve spelling out torture...All of the book writes thru corporeal procedure, but the first section involves a death ritual from eastern shamanism, another via a 1500 pg memo leaked that spells out how and who the Washington State Fusion Center is and how they operate: a group of federal, state, and especially outsourced private, agencies that get around habeas corpus, other constitutional 'liabilities,' etc., by loosely affiliating in this way. They do work ranging from interrogation, arrest, spying, infiltration (as in the case with our anti-war group in Olympia out here, spelled out on Amy Goodman's website if interested)."
Rob perfectly balanced Wolach's intensity with a bit of "juvenalia" (which, for Rob, means writing born from the head fully formed!). "Trolley's Kind" is the product of early writing workshops with Dodie Bellamy and Bob Gluck, and it certainly bears the marks of its mentorship (and I mean this in the best way!): sweet and funny and full of Rob's characteristic acumen, the narrative is brimming with both pathos and bathos. I've uploaded the whole thing here (using his xeroxed reading copy) as I'd guess those in attendance will want to return to those stunning passages in which a young Halpern morphs into Maria Falconetti in Dreyer's Joan of Arc...
Rob gets props for bravely sharing this narrative, but I'm convinced he mustered the courage thanks to the moral support of Dewey Dracucla, who curled up on the chair beside him half way through! For the rest of the weekend I heard folks using the phrase "You know, Rob..." like some newly coined colloquial term for rejection! Necessary reading for sure...Click on the arrow for full screen//download if you want to print a reading copy...