Who: Grant Maierhofer
Where: Moscow, Idaho
These are the works I’ve been returning to a good deal lately. In part because I’ve loved them for some time and they are reliable, and in part because I discovered them at the right time. Things aren’t great, of course. The importance of art or aesthetics waxes and wanes each day. These are works, then, that have managed to push through that skepticism and remained incredibly important to me in an impossible time. I feel confident that each of them can provide at least some comfort to most people interested in art that responds to the horrors and hefts of being.
I don’t know what art, literature, aesthetics can do for our time. It’s something I’ve been warring over pretty consistently since the election and before. I worry about losing sight of the political, or losing sight of the artful, and eventually—often—I’ll simply wind up checking out and staring off for hours at a time, or watching television. I’ve spoken with writers who, after November, felt newly-devoted to their work, and others who couldn’t think so much as sit down to write. I think it is important to devote energy to the world itself, and let this affect the work. Each of these seven, then, represent works that either stick to my consciousness so stubbornly that, dystopia or not, I can’t stop revisiting them, or works that seem to embody this blend of lived experience and devotion to aesthetics. Antonio Gramsci’s notion of the organic intellectual has stuck with me since reading about it. I think that’s where our attention should be. Destroying a sense of high and low culture and engaging with all of it.
Pandora's Handbag by Elizabeth Young - as far as books, this is my biggest obsession of late. Young wrote for numerous publications on just about any sort of writing you could think of, but was an early advocate of so-termed "transgressive" voices like those of Kathy Acker and Dennis Cooper, and was seen as a kind of proto-goth for her love of nihilistic ideas rendered in art and a tendency toward black clothing. For anyone even remotely interested in finding a new sense of wonder when looking at the book, you could certainly do much worse than starting here.
I don’t know where we stand as a culture regarding criticism. It seems like those who will make careers of it have established themselves and anybody else is sort of doomed. Young is wonderful, though, because although she addresses career concerns, the majority of her time is spent in direct relation to texts and their effect on her life and psyche.
Grant Maierhofer is the author of Postures (Publication Studio, 2015), Grobbing Thistle (Dostoyevsky Wannabe, 2016), and Flamingos (ITNA). His work is available via The Fanzine, Berfrois, 3:AM Magazine, and elsewhere. New books Gag (Inside the Castle) and Marcel (Dostoyevsky Wannabe) will both be out this year.