Masha Gessen, one of the editors of ”Gay Propaganda”: ”This is really the first time that homosexuality has been discussed in public in Russia and this is the way it’s been discussed. So it’s very easy, it’s very easy to turn people who are already not particularly tolerant, not accustomed to talking about these things, to turn them violently against a social group and that’s exactly what’s happened. We’ve seen a huge rise in anti-gay violence”.
Masha Gessen, Joseph Huff-Hannon, and Colin Robinson announce the publication of Gay Propaganda: Russian Love Stories at Alexandra Restaurant.
In his introduction to Cypherpunks: Freedom and the Future of the Internet, Julian Assange—the founder of WikiLeaks and the subject of the new movie The Fifth Estate—writes, “On March 20, 2012, while under house arrest in the United Kingdom awaiting extradition, I met with three friends and fellow watchmen on the principle that perhaps in unison our voices can wake up the town.”
Cypherpunks is a transcription of that conversation. Assange’s interlocutors are Jacob Appelbaum, a founder of the San Francisco hackerspace Noisebridge; Andy Müller-Maguhn, a member of the German hacker group the Chaos Computer Club and co-founder of the European Digital Rights Association; and Jérémie Zimmermann, co-founder and spokesperson for La Quadrature du Net, “the most prominent European organization defending anonymity rights online and promoting awareness of regulatory attacks on online freedoms.
Getting a first look (in OR Books’ offices) at a story from Gordon Lish’s Goings: In Thirteen Sittings.
Yoko Ono, now 80 years of age, has been busy. The past year has seen her To The Light show at the Serpentine, her retrospective Half-A-Room in Frankfurt, her book, Acorn, her curation of this year’s Meltdown and her opening performance there, and now her new record, Take Me To The Land Of Hell, produced by Yoko, her son Sean Lennon, and Cibo Matto’s Yuka Honda. Billed once again as Yoko Ono Plastic Ono Band, this iteration sees contributions from Cornelius and Cibo Matto, tUnEyArDs, Questlove, Nels Cline and Andrew Wyatt. Her music continues to aim itself at what she calls “the society”: the global war machine, the political consensus on suffering, the difficulty of change. “We, the expendable people of the United States, ask to stop the violence, stop all wars,” she intones in ‘Cheshire Cat Cry’, before unleashing a howl of need and demand so gigantic it draws tears.
In conversation as in her work, she permits herself to make mistakes, to contradict herself, and to enjoy both. Grounded in the neo-Dadaist political techniques of the Fluxus movement, and with life experience of gigantic, tectonic loss – her family, her daughter, her husbands, who, she confesses in ‘Moonbeams’, the album’s opening track, “both left me housebound” – Ono has arrived at a moment of trust in herself. Though often accused of naivety or whimsy, hers is a confidence founded, she argues, in work, experience and difficulty rather than instinct. The distinction is important: while so many are dismissive about her, hateful towards her, her best response is her radical state of openness, her refusal to repeat herself. How ridiculous, she implies, to hate something that keeps changing, keeps moving – something that’s already next, already gone.
Artyom Matusov and Victor G. Jeffreys II put together a collage series on the heels of OR Books’ announcement that we will publish Gay Propaganda
a collection of stories and interviews with LGBT Russians, edited by Masha Gessen and Joseph Huff-Hannon. The dual language book, a provocative response to Russia’s ban on “homosexual propaganda”, will print in January 2014 in time for the Winter Olympics in Sochi. E-copies in Russian will be made available for free to anyone that wants them.
On Thursday, October 17, OR author Raja Shehadeh delivered the Edward W. Said Memorial Lecture at Columbia University. An elegant speaker, Shehadeh was recently profiled in The National.
Check out his OR catalog page here.
Nathanael West at Brown University, c. 1922-24
Last week, on October 17, it was writer Nathanael West’s 110th birthday.
To commemorate, here’s an excerpt from Joe Woodward’s biography of West, Alive Inside the Wreck, on the best way to enter West’s oeuvre:
With West, it’s always best to start with the wreckage and work your way back. It’s best to move quickly through the early promise, the idyllic youth, and into the complications that followed—his stumbling walk through college into manhood, how and why he returned to Hollywood again and again to write for the movies, how the withdrawn Easterner became the artist, the novelist. Paris, too. The novels. The final masterpiece outlined, but never finished.