In today's mail - three of the twenty-eight booklets published by Semiotext(e) on the occasion of the Whitney Museum of American Art Biennial currently showing in New York City. Semiotext(e) has also organised some readings for the event. Here's what Peter Schjeldahl thinks of the exhibition in general - click.


Société Jamais-Jamais presents Alibis
poems in English and French by Pam Brown
translated by Jane Zemiro

Click on the cover to enlarge.

Now available. Order a copy here.

Here's an extract:


what’s graspable
on the starless night
of the blackout
as the gleaming cars 
snake cautiously 
up around 
that hillside curve
is the way
the absence of street light
suggests the past -
not a past
I ever knew,
but one I make up, tonight

a boy slides through it
on a silver scooter,
coming back
from synagogue,
curly tails 
dangling beneath 
an embroidered yarmulke
perched like a lid
to imagination’s
reckless feats 
or dimmer prospects -
sets of fraying notebooks 
filled with scripture

over the road
two very stoned spectres 
can’t figure out
how to turn off
the one 
working headlight
on their old
silver BMW
so they leave it on
& hurry off
on foot,
on pills probably,
fags attached
to lower lips,
flat battery 
a portent


an intense white light
shines down 
through folding greys
on the isolated city -
it transforms
to a plastic model,
to a distant maquette,
like toys on my horizon

that white plastic bag
has been drifting
from the gutter
to the road
for three days,
when the rainwater 
carries it off 
to the Tasman Sea
I think I’ll miss it 

*  *  *  *  *  *  *


ce qu'on peut saisir
par cette nuit sans étoiles
alors que des voitures reluisantes
serpentent prudemment
le long d'un virage de la colline
c'est la façon
dont l'absence d'éclairage des rues
évoque le passé -
pas un passé que
j'aie jamais connu
mais celui que j'invente, ce soir

un garçon glisse dans la rue 
sur un scooter en argent,
il revient 
de la synagogue,
des frisettes
qui pendent sous son yarmulke brodé
perché comme un couvercle
sur des exploits téméraires 
de l'imagination
ou peut-être même -
une série de cahiers effilochés
remplis de textes sacrés


de l'autre côté de la route
deux spectres complètement défoncés
n'arrivent pas à comprendre
comment éteindre
le seul phare
qui fonctionne encore
de leur vieille BMW argentée
alors ils y renoncent et se sauvent
à pied,
par à-coups,
bourrés de médicaments sans doute 
une clope attachée
à la lèvre inférieure,
la batterie plate
un présage


une lumière blanche, intense
les plis de gris 
couvrant et isolant la cité - 
elle se transforme
devient un modèle en plastique,
une maquette lointaine,
comme des jouets sur mon horizon

ce sac blanc en plastique
vole à la dérive
du caniveau
jusqu'à la route
depuis trois jours,
la pluie
finira par l'emporter
dans la mer de Tasman
je crois qu'il va me manquer


I began to read the political aesthetic work of Esther Leslie with Synthetic Worlds : Nature, Art and the Chemical Industry which considers the alliance between chemistry and art, going from the late eighteenth century to the period immediately following the Second World War. It's an absorbing book that opens new insights into the place of the material object and the significance of the natural, the organic, the inorganic and the synthesized in a poetics of science. I'm currently reading Derelicts : Thought Worms from the Wreckage.

Philosophy and art with the imagination to actually change the world: this is the unfinished dream of history and the heart of the revolutionary modernism of the early 20th century, which globalised war and exploitation managed indefinitely to defer. Esther Leslie reopens the cold case on filmmakers, artists, thinkers and other animals, exiled or otherwise Disneyfied, and finds still-warm fertile ground for a wild future as yet unfulfilled. From ideal homes with traces erased to utopian rivers drawn back to their source, the alienated subject of history discerns its rightful place in the present tense, with no room for buts or half-measures. The derelicts of history find new life beyond commodified thought: would that the same could be said for all their readers.

Further information and publication details - click here

Esther Leslie at AMM#8: Derelicts - Thought Worms from the Wreckage from Jimbo on Vimeo.

Esther Leslie on Walter Benjamin - click here