Spurl Editions Editor Eva Richter in Conversation with Michael Subialka on Pirandello

Eva Richter in Conversation with Michael Subialka on Luigi Pirandello
Pirandello Society of America

Reprinted from the Pirandello Society of America online

William Weaver’s compelling translation of One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand, was first published in 1990 and has since gone out of print, becoming increasingly difficult to find. But in October 2018, a new press based in California, Spurl Editions, re-issued Weaver’s translation, bringing the unforgettable voice and sometimes disturbing vision of Pirandello’s protagonist, Vitangelo Moscarda, back to English readers again.

In November of 2018, PSA’s Michael Subialka sat down with the editor of Spurl Editions, Eva Richter, to discuss the press’s recent publication of William Weaver’s translation. You can find the rest of this conversation in the PSA journal’s recently-published 31st edition.

MS: We can’t help but point out the cover image you’ve chosen for the new edition, featuring Filippo Balbi’s painting “Testa anatomica.” Can you tell us more about what made you opt for this image?

ER: I came across this painting even before starting Spurl Editions. I thought it was beautiful, with the muted green-brown background accentuating the odd stretching men’s bodies that form the bodiless head. I thought it would make an eye-catching book cover; when I read Pirandello’s novel, it seemed to fit it perfectly. The multiple figures that make up the painted portrait call back to the novel’s theme that a person does not have one identity that is fixed in time, but rather multiple identities, based on who the person is with, where he is, how he perceives things around him, how he sees himself at that moment, and, further, the inevitable multiplicity of identities that any fictional character (such as Moscarda) takes on, based on who is reading the novel. The head itself, since it has no eyes or body, also seems somehow empty in the way that Moscarda ultimately seems to have emptied himself in the end.

MS: This connection between the image and Moscarda’s experience of multiplicity and self-dissolution seems compelling and speaks to a major theme across Pirandello’s works. In his famous essay from 1908, On Humor (L’umorismo), Pirandello argues that the self is indeed multiple and changing and that we need to be able to see ourselves from outside in order to jar ourselves out of our static self-conception toward a more vital one – much in the way that Moscarda’s journey of self-rediscovery begins with his estranged experience of seeing his own face. I think lots of us can probably relate to seeing ourselves in the mirror and feeling detached, or hearing someone else’s description of us and not recognizing ourselves. Do you think we’re meant to relate to this experience, or is Pirandello drawing something more like a limit case, something that we recognize but that also far exceeds our own, usual experiences?

ER: I agree that Pirandello is drawing something like a limit case, which is bound to exceed our own experiences. It is interesting to me that the narrative expressly acknowledges this—there are multiple instances where Moscarda remarks that although his thought processes may seem familiar to any reader, there is something essentially different about where Moscarda’s thoughts are taking him. Maybe, in this way, the reader is meant to become more alienated from him/herself through reading the novel. Those thoughts that the reader has, over many years, become accustomed to now seem strange, grotesque, and extreme, when viewed through the refracted lens of this narrative. The reader is forced to look at their own seemingly benign self-reflection as only the half-formed beginning of an idea that must lead to a total revolution of the self.

MS: This idea of a total revolution of the self speaks to what you mentioned before about Moscarda ending up “empty” by the end of the novel. Can you say more about that? Do you think that the ecstatic kind of immersion that he experiences with nature in the closing part of One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand should be taken seriously, or do you think he has lost his mind? And, in turn, do you think this novel is ultimately positive or negative or neither or both?

ER: I think that those ideas or interpretations exist in an interesting tension with one another. To me, the notion that Moscarda is “empty” by the end of the novel has to do with the narrative’s ultimate rejection of all those things that make a typical fictional character a “character.” Moscarda rejects language, discourse, and human relationships for the “wordless” sphere of nature. This may be a positive development, especially because he has gone past the more solipsistic thoughts that obsessed him in the beginning—but, of course, there is also something a little sickening in Moscarda’s withdrawal. And, because Moscarda’s withdrawal marks the end of the novel, it is like witnessing this character’s death.

MS: Maybe since we’re talking about the disappearance of the novel’s protagonist, now is a good time to change topic and ask a bit more about the specific translation and some of its nuts and bolts. For example, we noticed that you thank Bard College for its support of the publication. Could you say more about their involvement?

ER: William Weaver, who translated One, No One, and One Hundred Thousand, as well as other works by Pirandello, was a professor of literature at Bard College for many years. Bard College licensed the rights to publish his excellent translation to us.

MS: Weaver’s translations of Pirandello and other Italian authors are by now “classics,” and he played a huge role in helping to bring modern Italian literature to English-language audiences. Are there any aspects of his rendering of this novel that you particularly like or find compelling, or any things that you would have liked to see done differently?

ER: I think Mr. Weaver did a wonderful job with this translation, as well as with his translation of The Late Mattia Pascal. His use of modern, generally conversational vocabulary helps to imbue Moscarda with a personality that feels genuine; conversely, Mr. Weaver’s use of syntactically complex sentences and structures conveys that sense of an increasingly vertiginous philosophical analysis.

MS: Vertiginous is such a good way of describing the feeling of the novel’s conceptual development, and it reminds us of Pirandello’s earlier novel, The Late Mattia Pascal (Il fu Mattia Pascal, 1904), which Weaver also translated into English. That novel begins with a “philosophical” preface in which the narrator depicts the world spinning in the void of space, making its inhabitants lurch here and there, pointlessly, until they die. A somewhat bleak, existentialist kind of outlook. The Late Mattia Pascal is still in print, recently re-released in the New York Review Books series of Italian titles. But of course many of Pirandello’s works are no longer available – or were never available – in English. Honestly, we find it somewhat baffling that despite his international fame, his Nobel Prize, and everything else, Pirandello’s works have still not been completely translated into English. As someone in the business, we wonder if you have any thoughts about what kinds of obstacles might have held that process up. Is this a specifically “American” problem (there is, for example, a “complete works” translation in German, which was edited by the prolific Pirandello scholar Michael Rössner)?

ER: We find it baffling as well! Yet this seems to be a fairly widespread issue in American publishing. In other countries (such as Germany, France, etc.), you regularly see the complete translated works of an author published by the same publisher. I am not sure if there is something about the American market that discourages this kind of thing, if maybe American readers just want to read the “one classic,” instead of a writer’s full life’s work. Hopefully translators and publishers will continue to bring Luigi Pirandello’s works into English, so that we non-Italian readers can have access to the range of his fascinating work.


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A Journey Round My Skull by Frigyes Karinthy (Non-Fiction)

A Journey Round My Skull
Frigyes Karinthy

Frigyes Karinthy

Frigyes Karinthy

The mirror opposite me seemed to move. Not more than an inch or two, then it hung still. In itself, this would never have worried me. It might have been a mere hallucination, like the roaring trains. But what was happening now?

What was this—queer feeling—coming over me? The queerest thing was that—I didn’t know what was queer. Perhaps there was nothing else queer about it. Yet I was conscious of something I had never known before, or rather I missed something I had been accustomed to since I was first conscious of being alive, though I had never paid much heed to it. I had no headache nor pain of any kind, I heard no trains, my heart was perfectly normal. And yet…

And yet everything, myself included, seemed to have lost its grip on reality. The tables remained in their usual places, two men were just walking across the café, and in front of me I saw the familiar water-jug and match-box. Yet in some eerie and alarming way they had all become accidental, as if they happened to be where they were purely by chance, and might just as well be anywhere else. But—and this was the most incredible of all—I did not feel certain I was there myself, or that the man sitting there was I. There seemed no reason why the water-jug should not be sitting in my place on the seat, and I standing on the tray. And now the whole box of tricks was starting to roll about, as if the floor underneath it had given way. I wanted to cling on to something. But what was there to cling to? Not the table or the seat, for they, too, were rocking about like everything else. There wasn’t a fixed point anywhere…. Unless, perhaps, I could find one in my own head. If I could catch hold of a single image or memory or association that would help me to recognize myself. Or even a word might do. “There’s something wrong,” I stammered convulsively. “Ss-something—wr-wrong….” And then I caught sight of my face in the mirror. It had gone as white as chalk. Good God, then…!

“A stroke!” The words flashed through my mind. I must have burst a blood vessel somewhere. At once came the realization that I had pictured it otherwise. I had always heard and, parrot-like, had repeated that a sudden death was infinitely easier and better than a long, painful illness. One moment and all is over—as cleanly as a man shot down. I did not know what I was talking about. Although the sensation lasted only a moment, that moment seemed longer than my whole previous lifetime. I was still only half-way through it, and the agony of waiting for its second half seemed more ghastly than the suspense of a prisoner who is to die at dawn. Men are not good at measuring time. They have only one standard—their tempo of experience, as in Wells’s Time Machine, where six months were compressed into a minute by manipulating the speed of impressions.

No one could possibly call such a death desirable, or prefer it to pain. Though I had no pain whatever, I felt that there could not be any tortures in comparison with which it would not be worse. Outside, the sun was shining and I could see its light, but in my head everything suddenly went dark. I had only one idea now. By hook or by crook, I must hang on and keep above water during the second half of that moment. If I failed, the next instant would see me no longer captain of the ship. No more should I be in command of the myriads of tiny atoms, cells and organs over which I had been king since my birth. All that rebellious multitude, having shaken off my despotic rule, would become an inert mass again and would return to its effortless, natural position under the sway of gravity. In plain English, I should collapse on the floor. That miserable rag, my body, being only common matter, would soon adjust itself, but what was to become of me, the lost rules of the empire? It was a ghastly moment—surely worse than the tortures of the Inquisition, I said to myself, as I began slowly to recover. This time it had not been a stroke, but I was the poorer by one more illusion. Never again should I long for a sudden death….

The experience had been an appalling one. Yet, on thinking it over, I asked myself if this was only because I had no real faith to uphold me? I had had a ghastly, giddy sensation that it was only here, on this side, that I could keep my hold. If that began to give, I should be helpless. Never could I throw my line on to the farther shore. Out yonder I saw nothing. And yet this was not all. I felt that something else had let me down. Past and future, as I had imagined them, did not exist. Reality was ever present. The indivisible moment was reality—the one moment unique and eternal. The moment that exists could neither be long nor short—it was the only possible mode of being. And from this magic circle which is the prison of the moment no escape was possible. When it came the moment of my death would be as immediate as that in which I was now struggling to pull myself together. It, too, would occur in the present and not at some time in the future, as I had always assured myself for my greater peace of mind. The future, save as a figure of speech, did not exist.

The doctor whom I called to consult shortly afterwards did not even examine me. Before I could describe half my symptoms he lifted his hand. “My dear fellow, you’ve neither aural catarrh nor have you had a stroke. And, for the time being, we needn’t worry about your psycho-analyst friend either. Nicotine poisoning, that’s what’s the matter with you.” His orders were for me to leave off smoking at once.

An excerpt from A Journey Round My Skull, by Frigyes Karinthy, translated from Hungarian by Vernon Duckworth Barker.

Photography, Publishing

Excerpt from In the Midst of Things (Photograph)

Excerpt from “In the Midst of things”
by Sarah Hiatt

In the Midst of Things by Sarah Hiatt

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Photographer Sarah Hiatt captures a side of adolescence that we only murkily remember: a feeling of weariness with the present moment, terror of the future, the awkwardness of being in between. Over the course of six years, Hiatt photographed her younger niece and nephews around their home as they grew up in the small town of Joplin, Missouri, for her series In the Midst of Things. The images serve as a coming-of-age story, a visual narrative created through their personal experiences and shaped by the photographer’s struggles with guilt, loss, and loneliness. As their aunt, Hiatt was able to depict the formation of memories and the sad passage of time in a uniquely intimate way.

Hiatt writes, “The photographs of my niece and nephews reflect the formation of identity, and the relationship the children have to one another, to their environment, to their bodies, and to me. They live in a rural, predominantly white area of the Ozarks. In this series, they are often seen in quiet spaces, isolated and surrounded by darkness. Their internal lives emerge through subtle gesture and expression. Their home seems a safe space as identities and relationships are built and nurtured within a domestic, womb-like environment. Children often physically and emotionally mature beyond those boundaries. Time extends while pushing us forward, upward, and out.”

As a native of the Ozarks, Hiatt brings a nuanced and honest perspective on rural America that is so often lacking in contemporary photography. In the stillness of Hiatt’s images, becoming an adult means growing out of, or growing into, one’s family, religion, society, gender role, and place. Hiatt’s photographs ask: Do we inevitably accept this place, these obligations, this repetition? Do we reject these constraints? Would anyone know the difference?

Sarah Hiatt earned her BFA from Missouri State University, and her MFA from Columbia College Chicago. Hiatt currently resides in Chicago, Illinois.


Excerpt from “Death to the Fascist Insect” (Non-Fiction)

Excerpt from “Death to the Fascist Insect”
The Symbionese Liberation Army
Edited by John Brian King

APRIL 3, 1974

[transcript of audio tape]

[a Polaroid photograph of Patricia Hearst posing as “Tania” with a gun in front of the SLA flag is enclosed with the tape]

the voice of Patricia Hearst (Tania) 

To those who would bear the hopes and future of our people, let the voice of their guns express the words of freedom.

I would like to begin this statement by informing the public that I wrote what I am about to say. It’s what I feel. I have never been forced to say anything on any tape. Nor have I been brain­washed, drugged, tortured, hypnotized, or in any way confused. As George Jackson wrote, “It’s me, the way I want it, the way I see it.”

Mom, Dad, I would like to comment on your efforts to sup­posedly secure my safety. The People in Need giveaway was a sham. You attempted to deceive the people, the SLA, and me in statements about your concern for myself and the people. You were playing games, stalling for time, time which the FBI was using in their attempts to assassinate me and the SLA elements which guarded me. You continued to report that you did everything in your power to pave the way for negotiations for my release. I hate to believe that you could have been so unimagi­native as not to have even considered getting Little and Remiro released on bail.

While it was repeatedly stated that my conditions would at all times correspond with those of the captured soldiers, when your own lawyer went to inspect the hole at San Quentin, he approved the deplorable conditions there, another move which potentially jeopardized my safety. My mother’s acceptance of the appointment to a second term as a UC regent, as you well knew, would have caused my immediate execution had the SLA been less than together about their political goals. Your actions have taught me a great lesson, and in a strange kind of way, I’m grateful to you.

Steven, I know that you are beginning to realize that there is no such thing as neutrality in time of war. There can be no com­promise, as your experience with the FBI must have shown you. You have been harassed by the FBI because of your supposed connections with so-called radicals, and some people have even gone so far as to suggest that I arranged my own arrest. We both know what really came down that Monday night, but you don’t know what’s happened since then. I’ve changed, grown. I’ve be­come conscious and can never go back to the life we led before. What I’m saying may seem cold to you and to my old friends, but love doesn’t mean the same thing to me anymore. My love has expanded as a result of my experiences to embrace all peo­ple. It’s grown into an unselfish love for my comrades here, in prison, and on the streets. A love that comes from the knowledge that “no one is free until we are all free.” While I wish that you could be a comrade, I don’t expect it. All I expect is that you try to understand the changes I’ve gone through.

I have been given the choice of one, being released in a safe area, or two, joining the forces of the Symbionese Liberation Army and fighting for my freedom and the freedom of all op­pressed people. I have chosen to stay and fight. One thing which I have learned is that the corporate ruling class will do anything in their power in order to maintain their position of control over the masses, even if this means the sacrifice of one of their own. It should be obvious that people who don’t even care about their own children couldn’t possibly care about anyone else’s children. The things which are precious to these people are their money and power, and they will never willingly surrender either. People should not have to humiliate themselves by standing in lines in order to be fed, nor should they have to live in fear for their lives and the lives of their children, as Tyrone Guyton’s mother will sadly attest to.

Dad, you said that you were concerned with my life, and you also said that you were concerned with the life and interests of all oppressed people in this country, but you are a liar in both areas and, as a member of the ruling class, I know for sure that yours and Mom’s interests are never the interests of the people. Dad, you said that you would see about getting more job oppor­tunities for the people, but why haven’t you warned the people what’s going to happen to them, that actually the few jobs they still have will be taken away?

You, a corporate liar, of course will say that you don’t know what I’m talking about, but I ask you then to prove it, tell the poor and oppressed people of this nation what the corporate state is about to do, warn black and poor people that they are about to be murdered down to the last man, woman, and child. If you’re so interested in the people, why don’t you tell them what the energy crisis really is. Tell them how it’s nothing more than a manufactured strategy, a way of hiding industry’s real intentions. Tell the people that the energy crisis is nothing more than a means to get public approval for a massive program to build nuclear power plants all over the nation.

Tell the people that the entire corporate state is, with the aid of this massive power supply, about to totally automate the entire industrial state, to the point that in the next five years all that will be needed will be a small class of button pushers. Tell the people, Dad, that all of the lower class and at least half of the middle class will be unemployed in the next three years, and that the removal of expendable excess, the removal of unneeded peo­ple, has already started. I want you to tell the people the truth. Tell them how the law-and-order programs are just a means to remove so-called violent, meaning aware, individuals from the community in order to facilitate the controlled removal of unneeded labor forces from this country, in the same way that Hitler controlled the removal of the Jews from Germany.

I should have known that if you and the rest of the corporate state were willing to do this to millions of people to maintain power and to serve your needs, you would also kill me if nec­essary to serve those same needs. How long will it take before white people in this country understand that whatever happens to a black child happens sooner or later to a white child? How long will it be before we all understand that we must fight for our freedom?

I have been given the name Tania after a comrade who fought alongside Che in Bolivia for the people of Bolivia. I embrace the name with the determination to continue fighting with her spirit. There is no victory in half-assed attempts at revolution. I know Tania dedicated her life to the people, fighting with total dedication and an intense desire to learn, which I will contin­ue in the oppressed American people’s revolution. All colors of string in the web of humanity yearn for freedom!

Osceola and Bo, even though we’ve never met, I feel like I know you. Timing brought me to you and I’m fighting with your freedom and the freedom of all prisoners in mind. In the stren­uous jogs that life takes, you are pillars of strength to me. If I’m feeling down, I think of you, of where you are and why you are there, and my determination grows stronger. It’s good to see that your spirits are so high in spite of the terrible conditions. Even though you aren’t here, you are with other strong comrades, and the three of us are learning together, I in an environment of love and you in one of hate, in the belly of the fascist beast. We have grown closer to the people and become stronger through our experiences. I have learned how vicious the pig really is, and our comrades are teaching me to attack with even greater vicious­ness, in the knowledge that the people will win. I send greetings, to Death Row Jeff, Al Taylor, and Raymond Scott [prisoners]. Your concern for my safety is matched by my concern for yours. We share a common goal as revolutionaries knowing that com­rade George lives.

It is in the spirit of Tania that I say, “Patria o muerte, venceremos.”

Death to the Fascist Insect is a compilation of the writings and transcribed recordings of the Symbionese Liberation Army (1973–75), a radical left-wing group based in the Bay Area of California. This publication chronicles the militant, if half-baked, political theories that inspired the SLA, as well as the ways that the SLA used violence and manipulation of the media to further the group’s goal of provoking armed revolution from the underground.


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Photography by Julian Lucas

Photography by Julian Lucas

From Camera Lucida, by Roland Barthes:

The Photograph does not necessarily say what is no longer, but only and for certain what has been. This distinction is decisive. In front of a photograph, our consciousness does not necessarily take the nostalgic path of memory (how many photographs are outside of individual time), but for every photograph existing in the world, the path of certainty: the Photograph’s essence is to ratify what it represents. One day I received from a photographer a picture of myself which I could not remember being taken, for all my efforts; I inspected the tie, the sweater, to discovery in what circumstances I had worn them; to no avail. And yet, because it was a photograph I could not deny that I had been there (even if I did not know where). This distortion between certainty and oblivion gave me a kind of vertigo, something of a “detective” anguish (the theme of Blow-Up was not far off); I went to the photographer’s show as to a police investigation, to learn at last what I no longer knew about myself.

No writing can give me this certainty. It is the misfortune (but also perhaps the voluptuous pleasure) of language not to be able to authenticate itself. The noeme of language is perhaps this impotence, or, to put it positively: language is, by nature, fictional; the attempt to render language unfictional requires an enormous apparatus of measurements: we convoke logic, or, lacking that, sworn oath; but the Photograph is indifferent to all intermediaries: it does not invent; it is authentication itself; the (rare) artifices it permits are not probative; they are, on the contrary, trick pictures: the photograph is laborious only when it fakes. It is a prophecy in reverse: like Cassandra, but eyes fixed on the past, Photography never lies: or rather, it can lie as to the meaning of the thing, being by nature tendentious, never as to its existence. Impotent with regard to general ideas (to fiction), its force is nonetheless superior to everything the human mind can or can have conceived to assure us of reality—but also this reality is never anything but a contingency (“so much, no more”).

Julian Lucas (b. 1974, Chicago) is an American photographer living in Los Angeles who has been photographing since the mid ’90s. Julian became interested in photography while studying sociology at Portland State University. His photographic works range from the fine art nude to an exploration of human behavior and challenging social norms. Julian is an inquisitive viewer and incisive photographer of the human condition. Fascinated by identities that exist within society, his portraits attempt to define an innocence of personalities. His most recent study, Apt #31, chronicles everyday life within an intimate interior of a one-bedroom apartment. The photographs featured here are from his series “Vanglorious” and “The Color of Deficiency.” Visit his website here.


St. John of Kuttenberg (Short Story)

St. John of Kuttenberg
Ryan Napier


His father owned a silver mine in Kuttenberg. John was the second son—a good, obedient child. His father wanted him to be a lawyer, and John studied law at the University of Prague.

One Christmas, he returned to Kuttenberg to celebrate with his family. As always, there was a great feast—rabbit and venison, rich sauces, pastries and pies, barrels of wine. Before the meal, John’s father rose and prayed, thanking God for the feast and for their wealth. “We offer God our prayers,” said his father, “and in return, he blesses us. Our great faith is greatly rewarded.”

The dishes were passed, and the barrels of wine were tapped, but John did not eat or drink. The prayer had turned his stomach. For his father, John realized, faith was just another transaction, no different than a bargain with the butcher or the wine merchant: I pray to you, and you bless me. This was no faith at all.

That night, John dreamed that he was at an enormous feast, chained to his chair. He ate and ate until he was sick, but the feast would not end. Dishes were stacked on dishes, sauces dripped and congealed, flies buzzed and swarmed—and still the food kept coming. John woke before dawn, slipped out of the house, and rode back to Prague.

He tried to resume his studies, but the nightmare tortured him. Night after night, he sat at the endless feast. He began to read the gospels, and when he found Christ’s words to the rich young man—“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God”—he feared for his soul.

Soon, he understood what he had to do. He wanted a pure faith—faith for its own sake, not for any benefit or reward. But only if his faith gave him nothing could he know that he truly believed. And so he decided to renounce the world.

He explained his decision in a long letter to his father, and his father replied, saying that if John became a monk, he would lose his inheritance. John was glad. In August, on the Feast of the Transfiguration, he joined the Cistercian brotherhood at Sedlec Abbey.

The brothers lived simply, tilling their fields and brewing their ale. Shoulder to shoulder with them, John sowed and plowed and prayed, and his soft white hands grew cracked and brown. He loved his life at the abbey—the dignity of the work, the satisfaction of his sweat, the low chants of the evensong, the fellowship with his brothers. He had renounced the world, and he was happy.

But as the years passed, he began to worry. If he was happy, how could he know if his faith was pure? He had renounced the world, but did that mean that he loved God? Perhaps he only loved life at the monastery. Had he made his own exchange, sordid as his father’s, trading earthly riches for this happiness?

The nightmares returned. The endless feast piled higher and higher.

John knew what he had to do. It was more painful to him than the break with his father, but that was how he knew it was right. After seven years, he left Sedlec Abbey.

With only the white robe on his back, he wandered east, into the forest. These were the lands of Count Czernin, famous for their white deer. John lived there alone, sleeping in the mud beside the river, eating acorns and grass.

He found himself thinking about the abbey, so he broke a branch from a wild rose bush and wrapped it around his thigh, and the thorns tore his flesh. Every morning, he twisted the branch to keep the wound from healing. He thought of little but his pain, and his faith became purer and purer.

The summer ended, and the leaves fell from the trees, and John grew weak and gaunt. His cheeks sank; his eyes bulged; his teeth dropped from his mouth one by one. Soon, his thigh was too thin for the circle of thorns; he twisted it tighter. The white deer no longer fled from him: he no longer seemed to be a living thing.

On New Year’s Day, the forest shone with frost. Count Czernin offered shelter in his castle, but John refused. He dug a hole in the snow-bank near the frozen river and pulled his robe around his body. The blood from his thigh stopped flowing, and the tips of his fingers turned black. He had never been more miserable, and he thanked God.

The sun set, and the wind screamed, and John wondered if he would survive the night. In a few hours, he might be in paradise.

At that thought, his soul sank. Paradise—that would be the reward for his faith. All his suffering would be exchanged for eternal bliss. It was yet another transaction. It had been there all along, tainting his faith, and he had not seen it.

John crawled out of his hole and put his forehead to the snowy earth. The tears froze on his cheeks. A prayer began to form in him: he feared it, but he knew that he had to pray it.

He shut his eyes and asked God to exclude him from paradise. For the purity of his faith, he renounced heaven.

He lay there for a long time. A strange warmth suffused him. Now that he had made his prayer, he was no longer afraid. He would be tortured forever in hell, but he was satisfied. It was finished. His faith could not be purer.

Finally, he raised his head, and there before him was Christ. The savior stood knee-deep in the snow.

“O Lord,” cried John, “see your servant! I have given up everything for your sake.”

But Christ frowned.

“What else can I give?” asked John. “I have renounced it all—even heaven! I have made my faith pure.”

“You must give up even that.”

Christ lifted John from the ground, untwisted the branch from his thigh, and kissed the black flesh of the wound. John fainted, and when he woke, the wound was closed, and he was alone. But a white stag stood on the opposite bank of the river. John crossed the ice and followed the stag to the edge of the forest. It began to run, and he lost it in a blinding field of snow.

On a hill, far in the distance, was Sedlec Abbey. John returned and lived a long life there among the brothers, content that God had taken everything from him.

Ryan Napier is the author of Four Stories about the Human Face (Bull City Press, 2018). His stories have appeared in Entropy, Queen Mob's Tea House, minor literature[s], and others. He lives in Massachusetts. Twitter: @ryanlnapier – Website:


Photography by Calin Kruse

Photography by Calin Kruse

Oh Cranium…

Oh cranium anus of the empty night

the sky blows away what dies

the wind brings absence to obscurity

Deserting a sky distorting the being

empty voice tongue heavy with coffins

being bumping against being

the head conceals the being

the sickness of the being vomits a black sun of spit.

Shirt pulled off in the water

blooming with hairs

when filthy happiness licks the lettuce

heart sick in the rain

in the vacillating light of drool she laughs blissfully.

—Georges Bataille

Calin Kruse is an analog photographer based in Leipzig, Germany. He is the publisher of dienacht Magazine & Publishing. He has been widely exhibited and published, especially in Germany, and his work has been featured on Vice, Zeit Magazin, and many more. Check out his latest photography on Instagram and on Facebook.


I Will Follow In Your Tracks by Laure Pubert (Photography)

I Will Follow in Your Tracks
Laure Pubert

When I left for Norway.

It was a quest.

An absence. The possibility of a link that might not have disappeared.

Leaving in search of someone whose shadow I had glimpsed in a novel – The Birds by Tarjei Vesaas.

This journey met an urgent need: to hold on to the trace of a possible encounter inspired by a fictional character.

I had to understand the loneliness of this lost soul.

A voiceless, faceless, ageless man.

I visited his land.

I searched for him in my investigations of what I saw. Provoking encounters he might have had, trailing furtive incarnations. Signs.

Fragments of reality displaced by a meeting or a place, gradually forming the sediments of a story behind the story, the tipping point of a shared memory.

— Laure Pubert

Laure Pubert is a photographer based in Paris. She started out as a public international law researcher before devoting herself to photography full-time in 2014, driven by the desire to find her place through her creative work. Her Book Je marcherai sur tes traces (I will follow in your tracks) was published by Editions Arnaud Bizalion in June 2018. Her work was recently exhibited at Maison de la photographie Robert Doisneau in France and has been included in group exhibitions and slideshows. You can buy her book here and visit her website here.


Concerning My Health by Girolamo Cardano (Non-Fiction)

Concerning My Health
Girolamo Cardano
An excerpt from The Book of My Life


My bodily state was infirm in many respects: by nature; as the result of several cases of disease; and in the symptoms of weakness which displayed themselves.

My head is afflicted with congenital discharges coming at times from the stomach, at times from the chest, to such an extent that even when I consider myself in the best of health, I suffer with a cough and hoarseness. When this discharge is from the stomach, it is apt to bring on a dysentery and a distaste for food. More than once I believed I had had a touch of poison, but I shortly and unexpectedly recovered.

Another trouble was a catarrh or rheum of the teeth, through the effects of which I began to lose my teeth, several at a time, from the year 1563 on. Before that I had lost but one or two. Now I have fourteen good teeth and one which is rather weak; but it will last a long time, I think, for it still does its share.

Indigestion, moreover, and a stomach not any too strong were my lot. From my seventy-second year, whenever I had eaten something more than usual, or had drunk too much, or had eaten between meals, or eaten anything not especially wholesome, I began to feel ill. I have set forth a remedy for the foregoing in the second book of my treatise On Guarding the Health.

In my youth I was troubled with congenital palpitation of the heart, of which I was absolutely cured by medical skill. I had hemorrhoids, also, and the gout, from which I was so nearly freed that I was more frequently in the habit of trying to call it back when it was not present, than of getting rid of it when I had it.

I ignored a rupture, another weakness, in its early stages; but later, from my sixty-second year on, I greatly regretted that I had not taken care of it, especially since I knew it to be an inheritance from my father. In the case of this rupture, something worthy of note occurred: the hernia had started from either side, and although it was neglected on the left side, was eventually healed completely in that part by natural processes. The right side, more carefully treated with ligatures and other attentions, grew worse. A cutaneous itching annoyed me constantly, now in this part, now in that.

In 1536 I was overtaken with — it scarcely seems credible — an extraordinary discharge of urine; and although for nearly forty years I have been afflicted with this same trouble, giving from sixty to one hundred ounces in a single day, I live well. Neither do I lose weight — that I wear the same rings is evidence of this; nor do I thirst inordinately. Many others, seized that same year by a similar disease, and who did not seek a remedy, held out much longer than those who sought medical aid.

The tenth of these infirmities is an annual period of sleeplessness lasting about eight days. These spells come in the spring, in the summer, in the autumn, and in the winter; so that almost a whole month, rarely less, is spent yearly, and sometimes two. This I am wont to cure by abstaining from certain kinds of food, especially heavy food, but I do not diminish the quality. This insomnia has never missed a year.

Several actual cases of sickness overtook me during my life. In the second month of my life I had the plague. The next serious illness occurred in or about my eighteenth year; I do not recall the exact date, other than that it happened in the month of August. I went almost three days without food, and spent the time wandering about the outskirts of the town, and through the gardens. When I returned home at nightfall, I pretended that I had dined at the home of my father’s friend Agostino Lanizario. How much water I drank in those three whole days I cannot truthfully say. On the last day, because I was not able to sleep, my heart palpitated wildly and the fever raged. I seemed to be on the bed of Asclepiades in which I was incessantly swung upward and downward until I thought I should perish in the night. When at length I slept, a carbuncle, which covered the upper false rib of my right side, broke, and from it, at first, there was a scanty black discharge. Luckily, owing to a dose of my father’s prescription which I swallowed four times a day, such a copious sweat broke out upon me that it drenched the bed and dripped down from the boards to the floor.

In my twenty-seventh year I was taken with the tertian fever. On the fourth day I was delirious, and on the seventh as well; on that day, also, I began to recover. Gout attacked me when I was at Pavia in my forty-fourth year, and when I was fifty-five I was troubled with daily fevers for forty days, at the crisis of which I was relieved of one hundred and twenty ounces of urine on October 13, 1555. In 1559, the year I returned to Pavia, I was taken with colic pains for two days.

The symptoms of weakness which attended my state of health were varied. To begin with, from my seventh year until I was almost twelve, I used to rise at night and cry out vaguely, and if my mother and my aunt, between whom I used to sleep, had not held me I often should have plunged out of bed. Likewise, my heart was wont to throb violently, but calmed down soon under the pressure of my hand. To this was due the peculiarity of my breathing. Until I was eighteen, if I went out in the wind, particularly a cold wind, I was not able to breathe; but if I held my breath as soon as I became aware of the difficulty, normal respiration was quickly restored. During the same period, from the hour of retirement until midnight I was never warm from my knees down. This led my mother, and others as well, to say that I would not live very long. On some nights, however, when I had warmed up, I became entirely drenched with a sweat so abundant and hot that those who were told of it could scarcely believe it.

When I was twenty-seven, I took double tertian fever, which broke on the seventh day. Later, I had daily fever for forty days when I was fifty-four years old.

In November of my fifty-sixth year, from drinking a mild draught of squill wine, I was taken with dysuria, very acute in form. First I fasted thirty-four hours; later, twenty more. I took some drops of pine gum and cured myself.

It was my custom — and a habit which amazed many — when I had no other excuse for a malady, to seek one, as I have said, from my gout. And for this reason I frequently put myself in the way of conditions likely to induce a certain distress — excepting only that I shunned insomnia as much as I could — because I considered that pleasure consisted in relief following severe pain. If, therefore, I brought on pain, it could easily be allayed. I have discovered, by experience, that I cannot be long without bodily pain, for if once that circumstance arises, a certain mental anguish overcomes me, so grievous that nothing could be more distressing. Bodily pain, or the cause of bodily distress — in which there is no disgrace — is but a minor evil. Accordingly I have hit upon a plan of biting my lips, of twisting my fingers, of pinching the skin of the tender muscles of my left arm until the tears come. Under the protection of this self-chastisement I live without disgracing myself.

I am by nature afraid of high places, even though they are extensive; also, of places where there is any report of mad dogs having been seen.

At times I have been tormented by a tragic passion so heroic that I planned to commit suicide. I suspect that this has happened to others also, although they do not refer to it in their books.

Finally, in my boyhood, I was afflicted for about two years with indications of cancer. There appeared, by chance, a start upon the left nipple. The swelling was red, dark, hard, and eating. Some swollen veins seemed to remove this toward my young manhood, and in that period a palpitation of the heart — before mentioned — succeeded the varices. From this cancerous growth came blood-blisters, full of blood, and an itching and foulness of the skin; and subsequently I was healed, contrary to all hope of any relief, by a natural sloughing of the mass of diseased skin, although I had removed some of the affections by means of medication.

Translated from Italian by Jean Stoner. Available from the New York Review of Books.


Atomic Rooms by Antonio Faccilongo (Photography)

Atomic Rooms
Antonio Faccilongo

Mao, obsessed with the possibility of a nuclear attack, made a law on housing policy. When the builder wanted to build new buildings, they also had to build large anti-atomic shelters where people could live for months – that meant basements had to be fitted out with electricity, plumbing, and sewer pipes.

A half-century after the buildings’ construction began, parts of this underground city in Beijing have been converted into living quarters; until 2010, it was perfectly legal to live in these spaces. In fact, people are still living in these places, but in recent years some of these have become activity centers where people share convivial moments.

Usually migrant workers, they can't afford private housing and, without the official resident permit known as the “hukou,” they have no access to low-cost government housing, so they find themselves living underground. Estimates suggest there may be more than one million people living underneath the Chinese capital. —Antonio Faccilongo

Antonio Faccilongo is an Italian documentary photographer based in Rome. After studying communication, he obtained a Master’s in Photojournalism. He then focused his attention on Asia and the Middle East, principally on Israel and Palestine, covering social, political, and cultural issues. His long-term projects have been exhibited internationally at numerous shows and festivals, including Les Rencontres d’Arles and the Buenos Aires Biennial, as well as screened at Visa pour l'image Perpignan and included in the global campaign #WomenMatter. Visit his website here.


Nada (Short Film)


by John Brian King

John Brian King is the photographer of LAX: Photographs of Los Angeles 1980–84 and Nude Reagan, both available from Spurl Editions. He is the writer and director of the art house film Redlands (2014) and the short film Model Test (2016). Visit his website here, and check out his latest photography series Sick City.

We will be selling John Brian King’s two photo books at Lit Crawl SF on October 20. Come see us!


1KM by Marina Caneve (Photography)

Marina Caneve

– 1 linear km long
| 10 floors
6000 residents

This series is part of my research into how to use photography in urban investigation. In Île-de-France today, the debate on whether to open the boundaries of metropolitan centers towards the suburbs is of prime importance and has been discussed for years. In this context I’ve been attracted to the rehabilitation and development of the housing complex La Caravelle at Villeneuve-la-Garenne (in the northern suburbs of Paris).

La Caravelle is a housing complex consisting of a one-kilometer-long plan built during “The Glorious Thirties” as a refuge for the myriad of people who were, at that time, looking for a place to live in France. This building was then considered an admirable plastic work designed by Jean Dubuisson.

At the beginning of the 21st century, in contrast with the ideals that led to this complex’s construction, something went wrong and the building had become an enclave estranged from the rest of the city, with one of the highest crime rates. My work focuses on the transformations of this place after the redevelopment made by Atelier Castro in 2003. I was attracted to the reorganization of these urban structures and, widely, to the ways that the complex’s connection with the city was restored.
— Marina Caneve

Marina Caneve (1988) is a visual artist focusing on photography with an interdisciplinary approach. She graduated from the IUAV (University of Architecture in Venice) in 2013, and from the KABK (Royal Academy of Arts, Den Haag) in 2017. Caneve’s work has been exhibited internationally at institutions such as the Fondazione Bevilacqua La Masa (Venice, 2017 and 2013), La Biennale di Venezia (Venice, 2016), and the Matèria gallery (Rome, 2016).

Her dummy book Are They Rocks or Clouds?, which she is currently working on, was awarded the Cortona On The Move Prize and will be published in 2019. It was also displayed at the Fotografia Europea Reggio Emilia festival, receiving the Giovane Fotografia Italiana Award. A curator, she co-founded CALAMITA/Á, a research platform focusing on catastrophes, changes, memory, and politics. Visit her website here.


Excerpts from The Voice Imitator (Fiction)

Excerpts from The Voice Imitator
Thomas Bernhard



Even though I have always hated zoological gardens and actually find that my suspicions are aroused by people who visit zoological gardens, I still could not avoid going out to Schönbrunn on one occasion and, at the request of my companion, a professor of theology, standing in front of the monkeys’ cage to look at the monkeys, which my companion fed with some food he had brought with him for the purpose. The professor of theology, an old friend of mine from the university, who had asked me to go Schönbrunn with him had, as time went on, fed all the food he had brought with him to the monkeys, when suddenly the monkeys, for their part, scratched together all the food that had fallen to the ground and offered it to us through the bars. The professor of theology and I were so startled by the monkeys’ sudden behavior that in a flash we turned on our heels and left Schönbrunn through the nearest exit.


We had no luck with the weather and the guests at our table were repellent in every respect. They even spoiled Nietzsche for us. Even after they had had a fatal car accident and had been laid out in the church in Sils, we still hated them.


In order to save his wife’s life—she had a lung ailment—the man who went by the name of Ofner, the parish man-of-all-work and sexton, bought jointly with his wife, and as our doctor had advised him to, a small piece of wooded land in our neighborhood, high enough up to be out of the mists and in good clean air, and the two of them, after several years’ work—supported, of course, by the parish and their immediate neighbors—had built a small house on the property. When, however, the house was finished, Ofner fell ill, because building the house had really been too much for him, and died within a short time. His widow, for whom, after all, the house at the edge of the wood had been intended and who, even after her husband’s death, was visibly recovering from her lung ailment, had to get herself a dog, because, of course, now that she was alone, she was afraid. The dog barked at everyone who came within two hundred feet of her house, and as time went by, no one dared to go near it. For years the woman endured being on her own with the dog and without people, when suddenly, in a flash, she could no longer stand the situation and went out and bludgeoned the dog—who had served her so faithfully all the years—to death with a so-called Sappel, which loggers use for hauling logs, and threw herself on the mercy of her fellow human beings.


Last week we witnessed the spectacle of five cows running, one after the other, into the express train in which we had to return to Vienna and of seeing them cut all to pieces. After the track had been cleared by the train crew and even by the driver, who came along with a pickax, the train proceeded after a delay of about forty minutes. Looking out of the window I caught sight of the milkmaid as she ran screaming towards a farmyard in the dusk.


In the large reading room of the Salzburg University library, the librarian hanged himself from the large chandelier because, as he wrote in a suicide note, after twenty-two years of service he could no longer bear to reshelve and lend out books that were only written for the sake of wreaking havoc, and this, he said, applied to every book that had ever been written. This reminded me of my grandfather’s brother who was the huntsman in charge of the forest district of Altentann near Hennsdorf and who shot himself on the summit of the Zifanken because he could no longer bear human misery. He too left this insight of his in a note.


As long as doctors in hospitals are interested only in bodies and not in the soul, of which apparently they know next to nothing, we are bound to call hospitals institutions not only of public law but also of public murder and to call the doctors murderers and their accomplices. After a so-called amateur scholar from Ottnang am Hausruck, who had been admitted to the Vöcklabruck hospital because of a so-called curious condition, had been given a thorough physical examination, he had asked—as he states in a letter to the medical journal Der Arzt (The Doctor)—And what about my soul? To which the doctor who had been examining his body replied, Be quiet!

Read more about The Voice Imitator, by Thomas Bernhard, translated by Kenneth J. Northcott.

& COMING IN OCTOBER FROM SPURL EDITIONS: One, No One, and One Hundred Thousandan existentialist novel by Luigi Pirandello. Join our wait list now to find out more information!


Hotel Immagine (Photography)

Hotel Immagine
Simone Donati

Since early 2009 I have started looking into mass events where heterogeneous communities show similar patterns of behavior. Traveling around the peninsula in search of myths and icons of the contemporary imaginary, and participating in the most oddly assorted events, I understood how my country is the most grotesque, funny, naïve, and fanatic to live in and to photograph. I searched for what drives people to aggregate to pursue a personal interest, which in the representation on stages, real or ideal, becomes collective.
— Simone Donati

Simone Donati (1977) was born in Florence, where he now lives and works. Recently he has focused on the political and social situation of Italy. Donati was selected as one of three finalists in the portrait category of the 2008 Sony World Photography Awards and received the 3rd place at the 2010 Ponchielli prize with Welcome to Berlusconistan. His photographs have been part of solo and group shows in Italy and abroad and have been published in the main Italian and international magazines, including Der Spiegel, Le Monde Magazine, Monocle, Newsweek, Newsweek Japan, and Vanity Fair. In 2015 he published Hotel Immagine, his first self-published book, about his five-year project following myths and icons of the Italian contemporary imaginary. Visit his website here!


Bugs and Beasts Before the Law (Non-Fiction)

Bugs and Beasts Before the Law
Part I
From “The Criminal Prosecution and Capital Punishment of Animals,” by E. P. Evans (1884)


It is said that Bartholomew Chassenée, a distinguished French jurist of the sixteenth century (born at Issy-l’Evêque in 1480), made his reputation at the bar as counsel for some rats, which had been put on trial before the ecclesiastical court of Autun on the charge of having feloniously eaten up and wantonly destroyed the barley-crop of that province. On complaint formally presented by the magistracy, the official or bishop’s vicar, who exercised jurisdiction in such cases, cited the culprits to appear on a certain day and appointed Chassenée to defend them.

In view of the bad repute and notorious guilt of his clients, Chassenée was forced to employ all sorts of legal shifts and chicane, dilatory pleas and other technical objections, hoping thereby to find some loophole in the meshes of the law through which the accused might escape, or at least to defer and mitigate the sentence of the judge. He urged, in the first place, that inasmuch as the defendants were dispersed over a large tract of country and dwelt in numerous villages, a single summons was insufficient to notify them all; he succeeded, therefore, in obtaining a second citation, to be published from the pulpits of all the parishes inhabited by the said rats. At the expiration of the considerable time which elapsed before this order could be carried into effect and the proclamation be duly made, he excused the default or non-appearance of his clients on the ground of the length and difficulty of the journey and the serious perils which attended it, owing to the unwearied vigilance of their mortal enemies, the cats, who watched all their movements, and, with fell intent, lay in wait for them at every corner and passage. On this point Chassenée addressed the court at some length, in order to show that if a person be cited to appear at a place, to which he cannot come with safety, he may exercise the right of appeal and refuse to obey the writ, even though such appeal be expressly precluded in the summons. The point was argued as seriously as though it were a question of family feud between Capulet and Montague in Verona or Colonna and Orsini in Rome.


Chassenée is said to have been employed in several cases of this kind, but no records of them seem to have been preserved, although it is possible that they may lie buried in the dusty archives of some obscure provincial town in France, once the seat of an ecclesiastical tribunal. The whole subject, however, has been treated by him exhaustively in a book entitled Consilium primum, quod tractatus jure dici potest, propter multiplicem et reconditam doctrinam, ubi luculenter et accurate tractatur quaestio illa: De excommunicatione animalium insectorum.


This curious dissertation originated, as it appears, in an an application of the inhabitants of Beaune to the ecclesiastical tribunal of Autun for a decree of excommunication against certain noxious insects called hubris or hurebers, probably a kind of locust or harvest-fly. The request was granted, and the pernicious creatures were duly accursed. Chassenée now raises the query whether such a thing may be rightfully and lawfully done […], and how it should be effected. “The principal question,” he said, “is whether one can by injunction cause such insects to withdraw from a place in which they are doing damage, or to abstain from doing damage there, under penalty of anathema and perpetual malediction. And although in times past there has never been any doubt on this point, yet I have thought that the subject should be thoroughly examined anew, lest I should seem to fall into the vice censured by Cicero […], of regarding things which we do not know as if they were well understood by us, and therefore rashly giving them our assent.” He divides his treatise into five parts, or rather discusses the subject under five heads: “First, lest I may seem to discourse to the populace, how are these our animals called in the Latin language; secondly, whether these our animals can be summoned; thirdly, whether they can be summoned by procurators, and, if they are cited to appear personally, whether they can appear by proxy, i.e., through procurators appointed by the judge who summons them; fourthly, what judge, whether layman or ecclesiastic, is competent to try them, and how he is to proceed against them and to pass and execute sentence upon them; fifthly, what constitutes an anathema and how does it differ from an excommunication.”

At a later period of his life Chassenée was reminded of the legal principle thus laid down and urged to apply it in favour of clients more worthy of its protection than a horde of vagrant rodents. In 1540 he was president of the judicial assembly known as the Parliament of Provence on a memorable occasion when the iniquitous measure for the extirpation of heresy by exterminating the Waldenses in the villages of Cabrières and Merindol was under discussion. One of the members of the tribunal, a gentleman from Arles, Renaud d’Alleins, ventured to suggest to the presiding officer that it would be extremely unjust to condemn these unfortunate heretics without granting them a hearing and permitting an advocate to speak in their defence, so that they might be surrounded by all the safeguards of justice, adding that the eminent jurist had formerly insisted upon this right before the court of Autun and maintained that even animals should not be adjudged and sentenced without having a proper person appointed to plead their cause. Chassenée thereupon obtained a decree from the king commanding that the accused Waldenses should be heard; but his death, which occurred very soon afterwards, changed the state of affairs and prevented whatever good effects might have been produced by this simple act of justice.


Sometimes the obnoxious vermin were generously forewarned. Thus the grand-vicars of Jean Rohin, Cardinal Bishop of Autun, having been informed that slugs were devastating several estates in different parts of his diocese, on the 17th of August, 1487, ordered public processions to be made for three days in every parish, and enjoined upon the said slugs to quit the territory within this period under penalty of being accursed. On the 8th of September, 1488, a similar order was issued at Beaujeu. The curates were charged to make processions during the offices, and the slugs were warned three times to cease from vexing the people by corroding and consuming the herbs of the fields and the vines, and to depart; “and if they do not heed this our command, we excommunicate them and smite them with our anathema.” In 1516, the official of Troyes pronounced sentence on certain insects […], which laid waste the vines, and threatened them with anathema, unless they should disappear within six days. Here it is expressly stated that a counsellor was assigned to the accused, and a prosecutor heard in behalf of the aggrieved inhabitants. As a means of rendering the anathema more effective, the people are also urged to be prompt and honest in the payment of tithes. Chassenée, too, endorses this view, and in proof of its correctness refers to Malachi, where God promises to rebuke the devourer for man’s sake, provided all the tithes are brought into the storehouse.

Check back for our next installment of Bugs and Beasts Before the Law, which you can also read in full here.


Twentysix Abandoned Catalan Gasoline Stations (Photography)

Xavier Aragonès

I was once hired to do research for an industrial film about the history of transportation, a film that was to be made largely by shooting footage of still photographs; it was my job to find appro­priate photographs. Browsing through the stacks of the New York Public Library where books on the general subject of transportation were shelved, I came across the book by Ed Ruscha entitled Twentysix Gasoline Stations, a work first published in 1963 and consisting of photographs of just that: twenty-six gasoline stations. I remember thinking how funny it was that the book had been miscatalogued and placed alongside books about automo­biles, highways, and so forth. I knew, as the librarians evidently did not, that Ruscha’s book was a work of art and therefore belonged in the art division. But now, because of the considerations of postmodernism, I’ve changed my mind; I now know that Ed Rus­cha’s books make no sense in relation to the categories of art according to which art books are catalogued in the library, and that that is part of their achievement. The fact that there is nowhere within the present system of classification a place for Twenty six Gasoline Stations is an index of its radicalism with respect to established modes of thought.
— Douglas Crimp, “The Museum’s Old / The Library’s New Subject”

Xavier Aragonès (b.1979) explores through his landscape and architecture photography the sometimes subtle, sometimes traumatic effects of human activity on the places surrounding us. He has published two photobooks, both through the publishing house Camera Infinita: O. O. O. and Twentysix Abandoned Catalan Gasoline Stations. The latter was also featured in the form of an exhibition as part of the Revela-T 2018 international analog photography festival in Barcelona, Catalonia. You can buy his book HERE and please check out his website.


Olim Palus (Photography)


Everything started in 1926, when Benito Mussolini arranged for the great drainage of a piece of land in the center of Italy. Pioneers from northern Italy were called to work on this project, to defy nature and malaria, with the promise of a house and ten hectares of land to farm.

Littoria was born six years later, a project designed by the architect Oriolo Frezzotti, and one of the major creations of the Rationalist movement; the city quickly gained worldwide attention.

After World War II, the city changed its name to avoid any reference to Fascism; today, Latina has 120,000 residents and is surrounded on one side by the mountains and on the other side by the sea.

The photographs shown here depict the short, layered life of a very young Italian city. A vertical shifting vision, where the city opens itself up as it takes the shape of a contemporary archeology.

The city’s history, after all, is unique and fast-paced, as opposed to the thousand-year-old history of Italy, but it is still storing in its shape the sequence of its own path: pain, death, glory, identity, destruction.

— Gabriele Rossi


Gabriele Rossi was born in Latina in 1979. He studied photography in Rome and Milan before interning with Francesco Jodice on several editorial projects. Rossi returned to his hometown and found himself traveling backward through his memories, to compare how the city had changed. His photography book ITACA was published in 2017 by Yard Press, and he has been exhibited widely in Italy. Check out his website here.

Literature, Publishing, Photography

Carl Van Vechten, William Seabrook, and Marjorie Worthington

William Seabrook and Marjorie Worthington
Portraits by Carl Van Vechten (1880–1964)

Usually we took them in our stride, offering an apéritif, lunch, or dinner, and sometimes a trip in one of the little boats across the harbor to Les Sablettes. But when Carl Van Vechten and his vivacious wife, Fania, arrived, they expected more than that. At least, Carl did. For all his sophistication there was a streak of naïveté in Carlo that was perhaps part of his charm. 

We took him and Fania to Charley’s, where we enjoyed our dinner, and then Carl announced that he wanted to visit a Toulon brothel. I am quite sure he would never have asked to visit one in New York or any other American city, but because he was in France and because Marseilles had a certain reputation and Toulon, actually, was not far from Marseilles, he expected Toulon to be filled with houses of ill fame, all of them very exciting and special. 

The truth was, Willie and I were the last people to act as cicerones in the area of commercialized vice. When Willie wanted excitement he had his own ways of creating it, and the synthetic stuff likely to be found in brothels would have bored him to death. 

However, since all our friends expected us to show them the sights, we walked with the Van Vechtens to a part of the town that was almost as unfamiliar to us as it was to them. As I remember it, there was a row of houses over near one of the gates in what remained of the wall that had surrounded Toulon in medieval times. Over each house, on the glass transom, was written in elaborate lettering, a name: Adele, Nanette, Mignon, etc. And over the name was a naked light bulb, painted red. 

We went along the row and came back to the first one, Adele’s house, because it was the largest and therefore promised the most elaborate entertainment. We rang a bell and the door was opened for us after a while by a rather drab female whom we took to be a servant. She led us into a large square room, and to a wooden table along a wall. She took our order for drinks, and disappeared. 

We looked around. Anything less like a house of joy would have been hard to find. The floor and walls were bare. In a corner was an upright piano and a bench but no piano player. In fact, a lugubrious silence filled the room, and we waited for our drinks with the hope they would brighten things up, at least for us. They took a long time coming and when they arrived were served by a short squat little man with a handlebar mustache, wearing sloppy trousers and carpet slippers. 

Carlo asked him where everyone was and he shrugged his shoulders. Adele was not working tonight, he said, and her regular customers had the delicacy to stay away. It appeared that Adele’s father had just died, and the house was in mourning. 

However, he added, as we started to leave, there was one girl on duty, “une brave jeune fille,” and he would send her to us immediately. In the meantime, since the “girls” were permitted to drink only champagne, would we not like to order a bottle? Of the very best? It was obvious that he disapproved of our marc, the local eau de vie, which Willie had ordered for all of us in a vain effort to show we were not tourists. The French were always great sticklers for form, and in the circumstances champagne was the proper thing to drink, even the sweet, sickening stuff he opened for us with a pop and a flourish. It didn’t make us feel any gayer. 

Pretty soon a young woman entered the room and came up to our table. She was wearing a plain dark skirt and blouse and she looked vaguely familiar. It was the little slattern who had opened the door for us, only now her dark hair was brushed and she looked cleaner. She sat down with us and accepted a glass of wine. Then she looked at us expectantly. 

Willie spoke to the girl, using the patois of the region, and Carlo listened as if he understood, and I grew very nervous. I looked at Fania and she looked at me and we didn’t need words in any language to understand each other. We made an excuse and asked the girl to show us where the powder room was, just as though we were at “21” or the Colony, and if the girl looked puzzled it was only for a moment. She caught on quickly enough that we wanted to talk to her. 

When we got out of sight, Fania took a handful of francs from her bag and I found fifty of my own to add to them. “Say no to the Messieurs,” I managed to say. She understood, parfaitement, and thanked us. After all, with a death in the family . . . you understand . . . and the funeral tomorrow . . . one didn’t feel exactly like . . . It was understood. And she thanked us. 

Carlo and Willie were as relieved as we were to be out on the street again. The hour was late, and the Van Vechtens were catching a train for Italy early in the morning. We took them back to the Grand Hotel, still good friends in spite of the fact that we, as well as Toulon, had failed to live up to our reputation.


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Halfway Mountain by Giulia Mangione (Photography)


From the Publisher: According to the World Happiness Report, a yearly survey of the state of global happiness, commissioned by the United Nations, Denmark is often ranked as the “happiest country in the world.” While studying photography in Denmark in 2014, Italian Giulia Mangione had to work on a final project. Most of her classmates went to far away countries. Giulia decided to stay to understand what made Denmark the happiest country in the world. 

“People often ask me if the Danes are really the happiest people in the world. I still don’t have an answer to this. But I know what I like about the Danes. I like that they use cemeteries as places to celebrate life more than death. I like their innate sense of freedom in being what they want to be. I like the fact that Danes go to ‘højskole’ (High School) to learn something for life, to be aware of what they are good at and what makes them happy.”

Giulia Mangione is a visual artist and social documentarist exploring identity, nationality and belonging through photography, film and writing. She is based in Copenhagen, Denmark. Visit her website here, and buy her book Halfway Mountain here


The Three Sneezes (Short Story)

The Three Sneezes
by Roger Duvoisin

Via The Public Domain  Review

Via The Public Domain Review

Jean-Marie the Farmer climbed up a tree to cut some wood for his stove. His donkey, standing below, closed his eyes and went to sleep. 

Just then a stranger on horseback happened to pass by. “Heh, there,” cried the stranger, “have you ever sawed wood before?”

“Why, if all the wood I have sawed in my life was gathered together it would make a fine forest,” Jean-Marie shouted back.

“One wouldn’t think so,” said the stranger.

“Why not?” demanded Jean-Marie.

“Because when you have sawed through that branch on which you are sitting, both you and the branch will fall to the ground.”

“Be off with you, stranger,” said Jean-Marie. “I can see that you know nothing about sawing wood.”

So the stranger went off, and Jean-Marie went on sawing. Presently there was a terrible crash, and both he and the branch fell to the ground.

Jean-Marie picked himself up, and when he had rubbed all his bruises and found that his back was not broken, he bethought himself of the stranger’s words. “Surely that was a wonderful man,” he thought, “for he told me that the branch and I would fall to the ground, and so we did. He must know the future. I will go after him, and ask him a thing or two.”

So Jean-Marie got on his donkey, and away they went after the stranger. Presently they came to a turn in the road, and there was the stranger, ambling along on his horse as though nothing had happened. 

“Ho, there!” cried Jean-Marie.

“What is it?” said the stranger, stopping his horse. 

“I see that you can read the future, so I want to ask you a thing or two.”

“What makes you think I can read the future?”

“You said that when I had sawed through the branch, both of us would fall to the ground, and so we did.”

“Oh,” said the stranger, smiling, “I see. Well, ask me your questions, but I warn you I can only answer one of them.”

“Very well,” said Jean-Marie, “just answer me this. When am I going to die?”

“That’s easy,” said the stranger. “You will die when your donkey has sneezed three times.” And with that he rode away. 

“My donkey never sneezes,” thought Jean-Marie, “so I shall live a long time.” And he started for home feeling very happy.

Now donkeys are very stubborn, and they always do just the very thing they should not. When they should walk, they will not budge, and when they should keep still they are always walking away. So it was not very long before the donkey opened his mouth and…

“Aatshoum!” he sneezed, loud and long. 

Jean-Marie was aghast. All his happiness was changed to terror. He jumped down and pressed both hands against the donkey’s nose to stop the next sneeze (for everybody knows one always sneezes more than once). When the danger seemed past, he resumed his trip, but now he did not dare to ride. Instead, he walked beside the donkey so as to prevent any more sneezes. 

Presently they came to a freshly plowed field, and there Jean-Marie paused to admire the rich brown earth. What a fine crop of wheat would grow there next summer. Forgetting all about the sneezes, he bent down to feel it with his hands, and…

“Aaatshoum!” sneezed the donkey for the second time.

Jean-Marie snatched his hat and put it over the donkey’s nose and held it tight.

“Two sneezes already! Two horrible sneezes!” he lamented. “I am only one single sneeze from death, one miserable donkey sneeze. Surely I am the most unhappy man alive. I am sure that stranger must have been the devil. He not only told the future, he is making my donkey sneeze. He bewitched my donkey!”

But he was holding the hat too tightly over the donkey’s nose, and the donkey, finding he could not breathe, reared up and kicked Jean-Marie very severely.

“Some other remedy must be found,” said Jean-Marie. “For if my donkey sneezes again I am a dead man.”

Then he had an idea. He picked up two round stones and placed them in the donkey’s nostrils, like corks in a bottle. “There, just let him try to sneeze that out,” he thought. But he had reckoned without the contrariness of donkeys.


The stones flew out like bullets from a gun. They hit Jean-Marie in the face.

“Ah! Ah!” said Jean-Marie. “I am dead. Very, very dead.”

And he lay down in the road, for it is not right for a dead man to stand up.