Also Available. . .

ALSO AVAILABLE FROM
THE OLIVER ARTS & OPEN PRESS

FICTION

“/” [root], Novel by Adam Engel (2016)

THE DECLINE AND FALL OF THE AMERICAN NATION, Novel
by Eric Larsen (2013)

THE END OF THE 19TH CENTURY, Novel by Eric Larsen (2012)

THE BLUE RENTAL, Texts by Barbara Mor, (2011)

ABLONG, Novel by Alan Salant (2010)

KIMCHEE DAYS, Novel by Timothy Gatto (2010)

TOPIARY, A Modular Novel by Adam Engel (2009)

NONFICTION

HOMER WHOLE: A Reading of the Iliad, by Eric Larsen (2017)

DANCE WITHOUT STEPS, Memoir by Paul Bendix (2012)

THE SKULL OF YORICK, Essays on the Cover-up of 9/11 by Eric
Larsen (2011)

AFGHANISTAN: A WINDOW ON THE TRAGEDY, by Alen Silva
(2011)

I HOPE MY CORPSE GIVES YOU THE PLAGUE, Essays by Adam
Engel (2010)

FROM COMPLICITY TO CONTEMPT, Essays by Timothy Gatto (2009)

POETRY

THE VICTORY OF SEX & METAL, Poem by Barbara Mor (2015)

A CROW’S DREAM, Poetry by Douglas Valentine (2012)

LISTENING TO THE THUNDER, Poems by Helen Tzagoloff (2012)

THE EXPEDITION SETS OUT, Poetry by Alan Salant (2011)

AUTUMN LAMP IN RAIN, Poetry by Han Glassman (2011)

CELLA FANTASTIK, Prose Cartoons by Adam Engel (2011)

Oliver titles are available from Amazon.com or through any bookseller

A Nation Without Qualities: Joseph A. Domino Reviews “The Man Without Qualities”

From The Huffington Post, A Review of Morris Berman’s The Man Without Qualities

by

Joseph A. Domino

In this sharply witty and insightful novel, Morris Berman depicts a version of choosing the “monastic” option, introduced in The Twilight of American Culture. Put the iPhones down, log out of Facebook. Take a couple of hours and have a coffee, listen to some classical music and read the New York Times. In this manner at the least do harm and do not participate in the corrupt hustle which has contaminated every institution in America. Get with a group of like-minded people. Maybe even band together and do something which helps others.

The Man Without Qualities is a quick, breezy read and comic, which is appropriate for political satire. A weighty seriousness would undermine the message, which seems to be the possibility of authenticity, not necessarily realization. We see early on when the leader of the authentic movement, a retired German literature professor, George Haskel, realized as the “Dullness Institute,” literally sends Hillary Clinton to Bellevue when she is challenged at an NYU rally by a question she or any other politician can’t possibly answer: “What can any candidate do us for us at this point in American history?” Addressing the crowd he continues, “Does anyone here really believe Hillary can turn things around? Shouldn’t we all just stop wishing and striving and just go home instead?” HRC’s response is laugh out loud funny: “‘You,’ she shrieked pointing at me. ‘You—‘ Her face swelled to twice its normal size, and turned purple. She was now rolling around the stage, apparently rabid.”

In this wishful fantasy, a hundred thousand people throwing their phones into the Potomac may be authentic, dropping out, but could also be viewed as treasonous by the worshipers of the almighty Hustle. Similarly, Americans who do not willingly embrace debt slavery (a subset of the Hustle) are probably not viewed as good Americans. So, the DI is a counter movement that turns into the Authentic Party. It madly gathers followers, some real-life personalities, and generates enough resources to sue some crooked corporations for “trillions.” Trillions? George wins the Nobel Peace Prize. Then, and I don’t think this gives much away, the AP turns revolutionary and plans a two-million person march on the White House to demand that the President step down. There is a confrontation in the Oval Office and while the President agrees to some concessions, he will not step down. So he tells George and his top level advisers that he will leave them for one hour to decide what to do. The military is on full alert. The book ends with this standoff, but it’s pretty clear what George has decided. Still, this leaves us wondering what the President will do.

I doubt Dr. Berman is suggesting that something like this is really possible, especially if we consider his conclusion at the end of Why America Failed. Thomas H. Naylor, in a January, 2012 review for Second Vermont Republic, writes, “Berman makes it very clear that his book has no “happy chapter” because the endgame is not going to be very pretty.”

 

Barbara Mor: “The Most Significant Voice in American Poetry.”

CRITICAL APPRAISALS: NAUSEATING ALLEGORIES OF EMPIR:E THE VICTORY

OF SEX & METAL, by Barbara Mor

A REVIEW OF BARBARA  MOR’S

the Victory of sex & Metal

from

 THE DRIFTLESS AREA REVIEW

February 15, 2016

“Six days later Dean was killed in an auto accident on his way to Salinas, giving rise to one of Hollywood’s greatest myths, and Mor was left at the beginning of a life disarticulating the “nauseous allegories” of America, picking apart the bleeding flesh and conflagrations that underlie our national fanfare.” – Edgar Garcia on The Blue Rental

Erudite, angry, chthonic, volcanic – the poetry of Barbara Mor (October 3, 1936 — January 24, 2015) erupts from the page, burning like a supernova, witnessing the underbelly of an American empire gone to seed, her cries into the void like King Lear shouting at the sea. The release of the Victory of sex & Metal (The Oliver Arts & Open Press) represents the most significant voice in American poetry. Mor embodied everything the United States worked hard to exclude, despite the constant incantations about equality, opportunity, and hard work. Mor existed on the fringes of society, her biography a litany of personal pain, disaster, and humiliation. She wrote a critically-acclaimed work of feminist scholarship, yet could barely get a mop job at the same university. Beyond the academic tome, she put out two slim volumes of poetry. (The first being The Blue Rental.)

the Victory of sex & Metal is a continuation (of sorts) to The Blue Rental. Mor works against the grain of contemporary poetry. This slim volume the opposite of the delicate, sensitive, yet emotionally inert tone of modern academic poetry. Her voice is angry, but also very, very smart. She mixes together personal confession with history, mythology, and geology. Scenes abruptly change from her observations on a city bus to discussing Norse mythology to looking back millions of years ago to ancient landscapes and charismatic megafauna. She is political, but not a narrow-gauge partisan. Her style is an idiosyncratic admixture of Ezra Pound, David Lynch, and Crazy Cat Lady. It is the American Master Narrative as re-imagined by Hieronymus Bosch. Being at the bottom of the socioeconomic food chain, she feels no need to pull her punches or obey the unspoken rituals and shibboleths of the middle-class. Not everyone will like what she has to say. But no one liked what Cassandra said either.

The poem’s narrative follows the adventures and misadventures of Knife Boy and Mechanical Girl. Mor’s hyper-caffeinated poetry approaches a kind of mysticism one sees in outsider art:

i think im wearing old levis brown baggy longsleevd

sweater no bra no cosmetics no jewelry after all    it is hell

here    im in hell    but prefer not do not identify

black guy jonesing for a fuck behind me at busstop here

the goddess Hel queen of his darkness [black/white] we

share her bones bony necessity   to serve ubiquity sensate

time she wallows in blood he wants it suck’d id drain

it all the red stuff unsanguind shadow disappears thus

down here magic throat otherwise fuckoff man fuck off

my skin crawls under masks and subterfuges refuges

in time we inhabit now in night essential to inhabit what

place findable alley garage cardboard box someone

dream sometimes beautiful or hit the CarlsJrBK allnite

booth 1 cup coffee eternal refills until dawn means it is

safe to close yr eyes somewhere park benches are 4 or

crosstown busrides for this 1 ride eternal refills when

drivers let it sometimes they want to talk flirt cute in

the moving emptiness sometimes they hate a whore

not open for bizness or drive into her as night splayd

out around their big machine

 

At first blush, the poetry seems amateurish, the misspelling, the sentence fragments, and the unfocused imagery. (Hence the previous insinuation about Mor’s style as Crazy Cat Lady.) The Crazy Cat Lady is a pop culture archetype, but also can be a neighbor, a fellow citizen, we would prefer not to think about. The insanity (however defined), the loneliness, and sharing domestic space with a horde of half-feral cats aren’t characteristics that make the thinkpiece-reading populace comfortable. Mor makes us uncomfortable and that’s her value. Modern conversation has taken the word “problematic” and used it as a shorthand, either to short-circuit a conversation (“Your views are problematic.”) or miss the point entirely (yourfaveisproblematic still hasn’t figured out what satire is).

The above passage smashes together a casual racism (black guy jonesing for sex) and a depressing setting (hanging around in Carl Jr’s or Burger King drinking coffee all night). Her depiction of African-Americans is problematic. So, what are you going to do about it? No, seriously. Barbara Mor charged poetry pokes the sternum of the armchair Social Justice Warrior. Because she lacks any kind of practical power or socioeconomic clout, she is hyper-sensitive to everyday injustices. In an interview with Adam Engel at the end of the book, she hits the nail on the head:

The Left, long contemptuous of “religion,” ineptly confronts the giant psychophysical social surges and erotic convulsions of Jihad and Holy War. Liberals and Leftists are afraid to confront “God” – except with the dry disdain that characterizes believers in secular rather than metaphysical Solutions. Turning chickenshit into formula. PC became a strategy for avoiding Root confrontation: a way to parade as Radical while not “offending” anyone.

A generation of earnest young politicians was educated to think you can solve a problem by correctly labeling it: Thats racist! Thats sexist! Thats religiously intolerant!

Well, yeah, duh, so what else is at the root?

Mor wants to get down to the root. The Left remains adept at constructing linguistic edifices and cataloging injustices. But this becomes fatuous window-dressing because of discomfort and unease when it comes to acquiring power. Social justice can only be implemented when your guys are in power. The Tea Party gets it. Trump supporters get it. Bernie Sanders supporters get it. Why doesn’t Occupy Wall Street get it? The recent flap about Madeleine Albright’s dingbat statement about women supporting Bernie Sanders is the latest example of the Left losing sight of The Big Picture. Distasteful as this sounds, justice can only occur through the acquisition of POWER. Without real POWER, you’re wasting your time.

 

Mor was attuned to the fact that America is no longer an empire. Look at the infrastructure, the school system, and the unmitigated disaster that we call a healthcare system. She understood the consequences of genuflecting towards the idols of “No new taxes” and the Right’s perverted melding of Church and State. While occupying the Far Left of the political dial, Mor understood the Hobbesian, Social Darwinist realities of this neoliberal capitalist hellscape. She saw everyday what those on both the Left and Right chose to ignore, downplay, or euphemize away. Or as Mor says,

                                this is the caffeinesweat of gods

they run like flutteredfilm thru our eyes as they feastd

once in greatHalls some tossd bones in a dumpsite are

their names nothing utters  and they still act &they

still hunger in their gross machinery they outstrip

the movie why am i concerned it wonders as agony

inevitable a recycling of myth or minerals food&drink

of the same gods (we are) &they cannot eat w/out

ghosts of the eaten multiplied in shadows hunched in

audiences of shadows who still watch them 24/7 in

some empty skullTheater auras of stale nicotine

how we pass the time

Mor is the prick of conscience that we wish would go away. The images haunt us with their David Lynch-esque dreaminess, teetering between cheeseball Americana and surreal nightmare.

Her poetry is ferocious, disturbing, alienating, typographically eccentric, and angry. She recalls a time when Poetry was a fist. With mass shootings, crumbling streets, and corporations “moving to Ireland” (for tax purposes), perhaps it is high time to confront the problems of this hollowed-out empire with fists and fury. Mor’s nauseous allegories of empire deserve an answer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Tribute to Barbara Mor

THE OLIVER ARTS  & OPEN PRESS: A TRIBUTE TO BARBARA MOR

CLICK HERE to find readings-aloud from The Great Cosmic Mother 1987) by poet & activist Barbara Mor (1936-2015).  On this amazing web site, further,  be introduced to “Barbara Mor, ‘Relentless Love’: Letters 1988-2002 from a Writer’s Best Friend.” Herewith a small sample of the immense riches that await the curious reader:

COVER_GCM_“Through a grapevine of serious and hence little-known writers, I have only just heard of the passing (January 24, 2015) of the best friend we ever had—Barbara Mor.

“Before the barest bones of Barbara’s life, how we became close, and some of the soul-sustaining things she wrote to me over many years, I want to emphasize that Barbara Mor taught us with her life and work that what we do matters, in the midst of a civilization-gone-mad whose overwhelming mission has been the suicidal turning of living things into controlled and commodified corpses. Between the lines of all she wrote I find a warning and a hope. If we do not work at the root of the problem we only make it worse.”