Category: Essays

fischl-bad-boy-tumbling-woman-intention-fear-bad-taste-haunted-robot Essays

Intention and Fear of Bad Taste

(This essay is a re-post from 2011.)

     In 2002 Eric Fischl, an American artist from New York City, presented a sculpted piece entitled Tumbling Woman which portrayed a naked female figure falling from a building in commemoration of the people who died in the 9-11 World Trade Center attacks. It was met with a considerable amount of controversy. There were numerous complaints from the public that the statue was “too disturbing” and a columnist from the New York Post even called out that the statue should suffer “immediate withdrawal…it [is] not appropriate in such a public place.”[1] As a result of this public outcry, Fischl announced, “It was a sincere expression of deepest sympathy for the vulnerability of the human condition—both specifically towards the victims of 11 September and toward humanity in general.”[2] His sympathy continues five years later in another interview with Robert Ayers from ARTINFO, in which he states, “It was an absolutely sincere attempt to put feelings into form and to share them, and it was met with such anger and anxiety in a way that used to be reserved for abstract sculpture, really.”[3] The sculpture itself was screened from view until it could eventually be removed from Rockefeller Center as a result of the complaints. Fischl’s experience with finding and exploiting such a disruptive image came to good use but at a price. Read more “Intention and Fear of Bad Taste”

Essays

Inherent Musicality (Feat. Bukowski & DOOM)

     Poetry has always maintained a tendency to lend itself to music. In the same manner, music also lends itself to the poetic construction of lyrics. Each of these, poetry and lyrics, find a shared space in which to describe, analyze and enjoy. This space utilizes a commonality of terms with which to examine and define both a poem and the lyrics to a song such as rhythm, tone, context, etc. With these basic similarities in mind it seems problematic for one to make the claim that the two are somehow mutually exclusive. Yet Simon Frith, in his book Performing Rites, makes just such a claim.[1] But what this argument fails to account for is the space that both poetry and lyrics share and the inherent musicality within each that allow both to traverse this space. Read more “Inherent Musicality (Feat. Bukowski & DOOM)”

Essays

The Wolf-Girl Nomadic: Becoming-animal & Post-human Feminine Subjectivity in…

“Dear Mother,
“The Devil has a river in Texas that is all his own
And it is made only for those who are grown.
Yours with love
Mollie”—Mollie Dent

“The tiger will never lie down with the lamb; he acknowledges no pact that is not reciprocal. The lamb must learn to run with the tigers.”—Angela Carter, “The Tiger’s Bride”

INTRODUCTION

     According to Texas folklore, roughly around 1834, John and Mollie Dent fled a dispute between neighboring trappers over a matter of profit arrangements and the selling of hides in which the ending result was a public argument and the fatal stabbing of Dent’s trapping partner, Will Marlo. As fugitives from justice, Dent and his wife Mollie left without sending word to their families and it was not until some months later that a letter postmarked from Galveston was received by Mollie’s parents which reads as a letter that provides the first epigraph above. In 1835, after settling into a brush cabin in what was then the Devil’s River area—today known as north Del Rio—Dent set to trapping beaver. By this time Mollie had become pregnant and, because of the danger of hostile local Native Americans, they were unwilling to travel. Earlier that year a group of American colonists pushing westward led by Dr. Charles Beale who had camped out for the night at Lake Espontosa (now known as Carrizo Springs) which was approximately a mile from where the Dents would later camp. The Beale party was raided by a Comanche tribe and most of the travelers were killed, their bodies and supplies thrown into the lake. Despite their reluctance, John and Mollie picked up and moved towards the lake area of Devil’s River. Apparently around the month of May, during a thunderstorm, Mollie went into labor. Due to complications with the birth, John made the decision to head west to look for help. Coming across a Mexican goat ranch, he explained about his wife’s condition and urged them to return with him. The Mexican ranchers obliged and were preparing to leave but, as luck would have it, a bolt of lightning struck Dent while on his horse and killed him instantly. The ranchers, in an attempt to follow Dent’s directions, set out to find Mollie but were not able to locate the lonely cabin until the following morning. Unfortunately, they were too late and she had died in the night. There were telltale bite marks on her body and wolf tracks all over the site. The child, which was nowhere to be found, was assumed to have been carried off by wolves and eaten. Jumping ahead ten years, in 1845, a young boy who lived near the area claimed to have seen a creature of some sort with long hair that looked like a naked girl attacking a herd of goats alongside a pack of wolves. The story was never taken seriously but still managed to make its way back into many of the local settlements. The following year a Mexican woman from the same area reported that she had seen two large wolves and a young girl feasting on the fresh kill of a goat. The woman attempted to approach the scene but frightened them off. The woman noted that the girl ran on all-fours for a number of strides before rising up and continuing on two feet, all the while keeping in pace with the wolves. So adamantly did the woman profess her story that the people of the Devil’s River area started looking out for this “wolf-girl.” Other accounts began to spring up and even local Apache stories told of child’s footprints seen alongside those of wolf tracks in locations near the river. A group of Mexican cattle herders organized a hunt for the wolf-girl and after three days search they were able to find and trap her near Espontosa Lake. Only making guttural noises, walking on all fours, and displaying wildly animalistic mannerisms, the wolf-girl was taken to a ranch house and locked in a room. She was offered food, water and clothing but accepted none of these, cowering in the corner instead. The people who had captured her left her alone for the night; they locked the door and had someone stand guard. The girl began to cry out and howl terribly, unnerving her captors. Her calls were answered by multiple howls from her wolf pack which closed in from all sides of the small house before eventually charging in and causing enough disruption and distraction for her to break out through a window. Other sightings were reported throughout the years, most notably in 1852 when a survey party spotted a young woman near Devil’s River suckling two wolf cubs. When she realized the men’s presence she scooped up the cubs and bolted back into the woods. Read more “The Wolf-Girl Nomadic: Becoming-animal & Post-human Feminine Subjectivity in Angela Carter’s “Peter and the Wolf””