Thursday, February 13, 2014

Pierre Joris on Paul Celan, with reference to "The Meridian"

New PennSound podcast: 20-minute excerpt of my discussion with Pierre Joris on Paul Celan's experience of the Shoah: Joris makes reference to his translation and edition of Celan's 1960 speech, "The Meridian."

Saturday, February 1, 2014

educational utopia

The 1930s version of educational innovation (and its problems) circa 1960.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Rauschenberg's piece for Duchamp, 1960

Robert Rauschenberg, "Trophy II (for Teeny and Marcel Duchamp)" - 1960.

From 1959 to 1962, Robert Rauschenberg created a series of "Trophies," highly personal combines dedicated to those artists who had most influenced him. In "Trophy II (for Teeny and Marcel Duchamp)," he repurposed a seven-panel white painting, inbuing it with vibrant color, aseemblage, and references to Duchamp and his wife, Teeny. The left-hand panel refers to Teeny with its inovcation of letters T and Y, while the right-hand panel is a stand-in for Duchamp and includes an aluminum sheet in an oblique reference to the reflective surface of The Large Glass.

The Walker Art Center in Minneapolis owns this 1960 piece. I saw it at the Rauschenberg/Cage/Duchamp/Cunningham show at the Philadelphia Museum of Art in late December 2012.

Sunday, December 30, 2012

Ashbery's poem "Europe"

From a letter Frank O'Hara wrote to Ashbery on July 14, 1960: "Europe is carrying all before it, it is on everyone's lips and in their heads."

In an undated letter (from around 1960) Kenneth Koch wrote to Ashbery to say that of all the poems Ashbery was sending over rrom Paris, poems which were to form The Tennis Court Oath, "Europe" was the most influential. Koch desperately says of this piece, "I can't seem to do what you do. Huh! All I want to do is imitate you" (letter dated January 25, 1960).

On January 7, 1960, O'Hara says of the "long poem" ("Europe"): it is "the most striking thing since The Waste Land."

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Brion Gysin

Brion Gysin records in 1960.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

1960 materials at UbuWeb

Iannis Xenakis, NEG-ALE (1960)
Cioni Carpi, Punto e contrapunto (1960)
Joseph Cornell, Gnir Rednow (1960)
Ed van der Eisken, Handen (1960)
Stan VanDerBeek, Achooo Mr. Kerrooschev (1960)
Stan VanDerBeek, The Smiling Workman (1960)
Stan VanDerBeek, Blacks and Whites, Days and Nights (1960)
Stan VanDerBeek, Skullduggery Part II (1960-1961)
Harry Smith, Heaven and Earth Magic (1950-1960)
Alexander Kluge, Brutality in Stone (1960)
Norman McLaren and Evelyn Lambart, Lines: Vertical (1960)
Richard Myers, The Path (1960)
Nobuhiko Obayashi, Dandanko (1960)
Nobuhiko Obayashi, E no Naka no Shouja (1960)
Ken Jacobs, Little Stabs at Happiness (1969)

Gustav Metzger, Auto-Destructive Art Manifesto (1960)
Jose Lino Grunewald, aromamora; falo; sempre ceder (all 1960)
Friedrich Achleitner, o-i-study; ouch; alas! (all 1960)
John Cage, Tacet (1960)
Louis Zukofsky, Julia's Wild (1960)
Eugen Gomringer, The Poem as Functional Object (1960)
Luis Bunuel, A Statement (1960)

Files in History of Electronic/Electroacoustic Music (1937-2001)
Berio, Luciano - "Momenti" (1960)
Clementi, Aldo - "Collage II" (1960)
Kagel, Maurizio - "Transicion I" (1958-1960)
Maderna, Bruno - "Dimensioni II (Invenzione su una Voce)" (1960)
Mathews, Max - "Numerology" (1960)
Nono, Luigi - "Omaggio a Emilio Vedova" (1960)
Pousseur, Henri - "Electre" (1960)
Xenakis, Iannis - "Orient-Occident" (1960)
Stockhausen, Karlheinz - "Kontakte" (1958-1960)
Brion Gysin, Mektoub: Recordings 1960-1981 Link
Salvador Dali, Salvador Dali Speaks
Richard Maxfield, Pastoral Symphony and Amazing Grace
William Carlos Williams, Interviews with Walter Sutton, Recorded October 11 & 20; November 3 & 15, 1960

Above: early photograph of Ken Jacobs.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Anne Sexton, 1960

Anne Sexton in 1960. This biographical profile on YouTube includes several poems she read in (or is it that they were published in) 1960. The first poem is "Her Kind."

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Jerome Rothenberg: The real revolution is tragic

To read this short essay on Jerome Rothenberg in 1960, click here.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Nazis in the bookstore, 1960

This drawing illustrates an article published in a 1960 issue of the New York Times about the republication that year of Mein Kamp and the spate just then of books about the Nazis. What's a bookstore shopper to do?

Friday, September 2, 2011

visionary architecture at MoMA

Click here for more on the fall 1960 MoMA show called "Visionary Architecture."

Friday, February 11, 2011


The May-June 1960 issue of The Evergreen Review was devoted to pataphysics. It was edited by Roger Shattuck and Simon Watson Taylor.

Sunday, January 30, 2011

"Cubism" peaked in 1960

According to Google Labs' fairly new "Books Ngam Viewer," which tracks usage of words and phrases in all the books Google has scanned dating from 1800 through 2000, the use of the word "Cubism" (and closely varients) peaked in 1960. Click on the image for a larger view.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

cyborgs and space

Manfred Clymes and Nathan Kline co-wrote an essay called "Cyborgs and Space" and published it in Astronautics in 1960. Here's the subtitle-ish lead: "Altering man's bodily functions to meet the requirements of extraterrestrial environments would be more logical than providing an earthly environment for him in space... Artifact-organism systems would extend man's unconscious, self-regulatory controls." Here is a link to the article.

Monday, January 24, 2011

a cat named Delmore

At lunch one day in 1960, Josephine Herbst gave John Cheever a gift: a cat named Delmore. (Source: Susan Cheever, Home Before Dark, p. 144.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Frost 50 years later (early '61)

From a New Yorker-affiliated blog:

- - -

January 20, 2011
Robert Frost and J.F.K., Fifty Years Later
Posted by Ian Crouch

Robert Frost at JFK inauguration.jpgIt was a bright and blustery day in Washington fifty years ago today for the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. An old newsreel reporting the day’s events notes that the city was recovering from a blizzard and that “battalions of snow fighters kept Pennsylvania Avenue clear for the swearing-in ceremony.” That earnest footage also communicates the enthusiasm that accompanied the event for many in the country. It was “the smoothest transition of power in history” from Eisenhower to Kennedy, the newsreader informs us. Nixon, recently defeated, even manages to smile brightly. Yet it was a new day, a new age: Kennedy was, at forty-three, then the youngest President and the first born in the twentieth century. (The past, though, had not been completely thrown off, judging by the top hats that Eisenhower and Kennedy wore to some of the festivities.)

The anniversary marks Kennedy’s brief but era-defining inauguration address, but it also marks another coming together of custom and modernity, of the past and the future: the eighty-six-year-old Robert Frost reciting “The Gift Outright,” which ends with the lines:

Such as we were we gave ourselves outright
(The deed of gift was many deeds of war)
To the land vaguely realizing westward,
But still unstoried, artless, unenhanced,
Such as she was, such as she would become.

Frost was born in another century, and would die a little more than two years later. Photographs from the event show him stooped and braced against the weather: the wind and glare that day prevented him from reading his poem, “Dedication,” so he recited “The Gift Outright” instead, the Washington Post remembered this week. In a way, Frost’s appearance seems as incongruous as those top hats; I remember as a kid being shocked that Frost and Kennedy could have ever met, let alone have shared a stage. To my younger mind, any poet as famous as Frost must have been a contemporary of Hawthorne’s or something, from another time completely. Not so, of course, but I’ve not entirely shaken the idea.

The swearing-in of a new President has produced notable work from other writers. There’s Jonathan Franzen’s exceedingly fine and sad essay, “Inauguration Day, January 2001,” which is collected in “How to be Alone.” Franzen’s title alludes to Robert Lowell’s “Inauguration Day, January 1953,” a somber mood piece out of New York, another city locked in winter’s cold grip, with its eyes glancing toward Washington and Eisenhower:

Ice, ice. Our wheels no longer move.
Look, the fixed stars, all just alike
as lack-land atoms, split apart,
and the Republic summons Ike,
the mausoleum in her heart.

Friday, January 7, 2011

Dorn on Olson in '60

I'd like to own a copy of this book. If anyone knows how I can get a copy, please email me at afilreis [at] Thanks!

Kenneth Patchen in 1960

Thursday, January 6, 2011

charting use of the term "communism" in books

Here's a chart showing the use of the word "communism" in all the books that Google has scanned for its GoogleBooks collection. As a student of 1960 and of American communism/anticommunism, I'm really not surprised that usage of the word "communism" was still on the rise in 1960--that it peaked around then, just after that year. Maybe this merely says that writers take a while to incorporate words into formal writing ("book writing") and that actual use (orally and in print journalism) peaked during the heyday of McCarthyism (1949-1954) but found its way into books a little later. Such charts are merely suggestive, anyway, and are hardly definitive. The chart is hard to see, so just click on it for a larger view. Look closely and you'll discern a little dip during the several World War II years when the U.S. and the Soviet Union were allies. Perhaps the term "brothers" was more in use then. Another little downward turn at the end of the 1950s and then up up up in the late 50s and early 60s. Another bump up during the Reagan years.

Slate's weekly "culture gabfest" discussed this new little feature provided by Google, which Steve Metcalf expressing reasonable doubts about its effect on the humanities. I'm with him, but feel pretty sure that (a) I won't give up nuanced close reading of the words (e.g. each slightly distinct rhetorical use of the word "communism" in 1960) and (b) I won't--because one can't--draw any definitive conclusions from the charting. Nonetheless, the chart above does tell some kind of story. That peak circa '60 does seem significant. Time, then, for more reading....